2016 New History
P. O. Box 1-44, Nankang, Taipei 11529, Taiwan, R. O. C.
02-2782-9555 # 226

The Spirit of a Prince Haunted the Country: “The Affair of Prince
Ji” and Political Developments in Late Southern Song China

Cheng-hua Fang

Department of History, National Taiwan University

When Emperor Ningzong died in 1224, Chancellor Shi Miyuan successfully enthroned Zhao Yun as Emperor Lizong, and another imperial son, Zhao Hong, who had been adopted as Ningzong’s son in 1221, was ennobled as Prince Ji and ordered to leave the capital and go to Huzhou. After a short-lived coup attempt to enthrone Prince Ji failed in early 1222, Zhao Hong was murdered by Shi Miyuan’s agent. Controversy erupted lasting the next fifty years. Protestors insisted the innocent death of Zhao Hong would cause Heaven’s anger, which would eventually punish the Song with disasters. The appointment of Zhao Hong’s heir could represent the emperor’s confession of his mistake be an efficient method to quiet the anger of Heaven. However, Emperor Lizong and his successors considered the heir of Prince Ji as a potential threat to imperial authority, and so they tried to prohibit this request by punishing the protestors. Even though many officials were demoted for arguing on behalf of the heir of Prince Ji, most civil officials and literati still believed that it was the only way for the emperor ease Heaven’s anger and solve the state crisis. The opposition between the emperor and bureaucrats resulted in the instability of Song politics. Even after the end of the Song Dynasty, the fact that the emperor had refused to appoint an heir of Prince Ji was considered by literati as the primary factor causing the decline of the Southern Song.


Keywords: Song Lizong, Shi Miyuan, Neo-Confucianism, Prince Ji, loyalist armies