By Patricia Buckley Ebrey
China was once the main complicated kingdom on this planet while Huizong ascended the throne in 1100 CE. In his eventful twenty-six-year reign, the artistically proficient emperor guided the music Dynasty towards cultural greatness. but Huizong will be identified to posterity as a political failure who misplaced the throne to Jurchen invaders and died their prisoner. the 1st complete English-language biography of this significant monarch, Emperor Huizong is a nuanced portrait that corrects the existing view of Huizong as decadent and negligent. Patricia Ebrey recasts him as a ruler really ambitious--if an excessive amount of so--in pursuing glory for his flourishing realm.
After a rocky commence attempting to triumph over political animosities at courtroom, Huizong grew to become his awareness to the nice he may possibly do. He significantly elevated the court's charitable ventures, founding faculties, hospitals, orphanages, and paupers' cemeteries. An comprehensive artist, he surrounded himself with impressive poets, painters, and musicians and outfitted palaces, temples, and gardens of unsurpassed elegance. what's usually neglected, Ebrey issues out, is the significance of spiritual Daoism in Huizong's knowing of his function. He taken care of Daoist religious masters with nice deference, wrote scriptural commentaries, and prompt his topics to undertake his ideals and practices. This devotion to the Daoist imaginative and prescient of sacred kingship finally alienated the Confucian mainstream and compromised his skill to govern.
Readers will welcome this vigorous biography, which provides new dimensions to our realizing of a passionate and paradoxical ruler who, such a lot of centuries later, keeps to motivate either admiration and disapproval.
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Extra info for Emperor Huizong
74 The girl selected to marry Huizong was then in her sixteenth year, making her two years younger than Huizong. Surnamed Wang, all that is known of her family is that they came from the capital and her father served as a prefect. Wives of princes would be selected from respectable families, but Huizong, of course, would not have been involved in the selection of this particular young woman. In the sixth month of 1099 Huizong’s wedding took place, and Miss Wang was brought to Huizong’s mansion to become his wife.
They were given ample allowances and all the symbolic privileges of high rank, such as the right to large retinues and to wear the garments and other symbolic manifestations of high rank. But they had to guard against giving the impression that they had political aspirations. No emperor could allow ambitious or scheming officials to gather around a potential rival for the throne. One way for princes to prove their lack of political ambitions was to give every indication that they enjoyed their indulged life—to immerse themselves in the pleasures of dogs, horses, wine, and women.
Until he was five or six, Huizong’s world would have been the women’s quarters, the world of his step-mothers, step-grandmothers and even step-great-grandmothers, not to mention the numerous relatively young palace women and the dozens of wet nurses, both those currently nursing children and those kept on as children’s nursemaids. Those in charge of these children looked for signs that they would grow up to be intelligent and well mannered. One of Huizong’s brothers who lived only to four and a half was described as good looking and quick witted.