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A Chinese Biographical Dictionary/Chao Huang

160 Chao Huang 趙炅 (originally 匡乂, changed by Chao K'uang-yin to 光義). A.D. 939-997. Brother of Chao K'uang-yin, whom he succeeded in 976 as second Emperor of the Sung dynasty. He showed some indecent haste to change the year-title, and exhibited a harshness — foreign to his general character — towards his younger brother and nephew, which drove them to commit suicide. But altogether he was mild, forbearing, and economical, and an ardent student, especially of history. He paid great attention to education and to revenue. In 982 the chin shih were first ranged in the existing three classes. In 987 the empire, which since the suppression of the Northern Han State in 979 had almost equalled in extent the China of the T'ang dynasty, was divided into fifteen provinces, each under a Governor; and thus the power of the former great provincial Governors finally ceased. A rising in Ssǔch'uan in 994 led to the appointment of a eunuch General, 王繼恩 Wang Chi-ên; but the Emperor, warned, as he said, by his historical studies, refused to admit eunuchs to the Central Government. The northern frontier was constantly disturbed by the Liao Tartars, with whom began in 981 a series of wars, which coupled with the establishment of the Western Hsia State, greatly impaired the power of the dynasty. Occasional droughts and famines are recorded, but on the whole the reign was a time of peace and prosperity. The Emperor degraded his eldest son on account of his sympathy with his uncle; and he chose his third son to be Heir Apparent in 995. A plot to set the Heir aside was made by the Empress, and Wang Chi-ên and other eunuchs, aided by certain statesmen, but it was foiled by Lü Tuan. Between 982 and 989 a temple and pagoda for a relic of Buddha were built at enormous expense, in spite of the remonstrance of 田錫 T'ien Hsi. Canonised as 神功聖德文武皇帝, with the temple name of 太宗.