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A Chinese Biographical Dictionary/Chao Hêng


153 Chao Hêng 趙恒 (originally 元侃). A.D. 968-1022. Third son of Chao Huang, whom he succeeded in 997 as third Emperor of the Sung dynasty. Mild, affectionate, capable, he was devoted to Taoism and superstition. He began by restoring his uncle's title, and treated his elder brother well all through his reign. In 1002 the death of the ruler of Hsia gave him an opportunity of crushing that State; but the kindly monarch contented himself with admonishing the new ruler, who submitted and was ennobled as Prince in 1006. In 1004 the Kitan Tartars invaded China; but through the courage and constancy of K'ou Chun they were forced to agree to a treaty of peace, under which, in return for a yearly subsidy, the integrity of China was secured. In 1008, chiefly owing to the report of Ting Wei that there was a large surplus in the treasury, the Emperor began a series of Imperial sacrifices which cost vast sums. Written revelations were at this time frequently received from God, and the documents were lodged in special temples. Auspicious grasses and double-eared stalks of grain poured in from the provinces, and general pardons in return for the supposed favour of Heaven became common. In 1015 a descendant of Chang Tao-ling received an honorary title. Confucius was likewise honoured, and temples to him in all the District cities were decreed in 1011. The Emperor promoted education and agriculture; and in 1014 the population was returned at 22,976,965. The power of the eunuchs was repressed; and one was put to death in 1010. In 1020 the insanity of the Emperor led K'ou Chun to propose the Regency of the young heir; but the Empress 劉 Liu, a clever woman of low birth, who since 1012 had interfered more and more, aided by Ting Wei and the eunuch 雷允恭 Lei Yün-kung, got rid of K'ou Chun; and on the Emperor's death the trio seized supreme power. An error, however, in preparing the Emperor's grave enabled Wang Tsêng to get the upper hand. Canonised as 文明武定章聖元孝皇帝, with the temple name of 真宗.