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Emperor Huizong: Daoist, Poet, Painter, Captive

Monday, 10 March, 2014

Emperor Huizong came to the Song throne in the first month of 1100, a few months after his seventeenth birthday, and reigned almost twenty-six years, till the Jurchen invasion in late 1125. Since his reign ended so badly, traditional historians have viewed Huizong's many pursuits as his vices, not his virtues. His love of art was seen as self-indulgence, his faith in Daoism as self-delusion, his trust in Cai Jing as irresponsible. So long as one sets aside this moral framework, however, there are ample sources to look at Huizong and his reign afresh, to consider how he understood monarchy and its challenges, what he got from Daoism, how he made use of the resources of the throne, why he chose to ally with the Jurchen, and other related issues.†

Patricia Buckley Ebrey is Professor of History at the University of Washington, where she has taught since 1997. Her scholarly interests have ranged broadly across social and cultural history, and include work on family history, women's history, and visual culture. Her first book was The Aristocratic Families of Early Imperial China: A Case Study of the Po-ling Ts'ui Family (1978). Other notable books include Family and Property in Sung China: YŁan Ts'ai's Precepts for Social Life (1984), Confucianism and Family Rituals in Imperial China: A Social History of Writing About Rites (1991), The Inner Quarters: Marriage and the Lives of Chinese Women in the Sung Period† (1993), which won the 1993 Levenson Prize for the best book in China studies, and The Cambridge Illustrated History of China (1996, 2010), which has been translated into eight languages; and Accumulating Culture: The Collections of Emperor Huizong (2008), which won the 2010 Shimada Prize for the best book in East Asian art history or archaeology. Her most recent book, Emperor Huizong, will be published in early 2014




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