Empress Xing, born Xing Shi, was an empress of the Song dynasty, chosen as the primary consort for Emperor Gaozong when she was just eight years old in 1115. She hailed from Bianjing and was deeply connected to the royal court. However, in 1127, disaster struck during the Jin–Song Wars when the capital, Kaifeng, was seized by the Jurchens in the Jingkang Incident. Emperor Qinzong, along with his predecessor, Emperor Huizong, and a vast portion of the imperial court, including Empress Xing, were captured and forcibly exiled to Manchuria. Tragically, many of these captives, including Xing, faced significant hardships during this period. It is known that she tried to take her own life to evade the abuse she faced at the hands of her captors but was unsuccessful and ultimately died in captivity in 1139.
Meanwhile, Emperor Gaozong had evaded capture since he wasn’t present in the capital during its fall. He took the initiative, resisting the Jurchens and establishing the Southern Song dynasty. In honor of his lost consort, Gaozong declared Xing as the Empress in absentia. Even after learning about her unfortunate demise, Emperor Gaozong was hesitant to fill the Empress’s position due to his deep respect and memories of Xing. It wasn’t until 1143, upon persistent persuasion from his mother and advisors, that he finally appointed Consort Wu as the new Empress.
Empress Wu (11 September 1115 – 12 December 1197) was a Chinese empress consort of the Song dynasty, married to Emperor Gaozong of Song. She played an influential part in politics of the Southern Song dynasty for 35 years having caused the abdication of three subsequent monarchs: Emperor Gaozong in 1162, Emperor Xiaozong in 1189, and Emperor Guangzong in 1194.
Spouse: Emperor Gaozong of Song
Emperor Gaozong of Song, also known as Zhao Gou, was the tenth emperor of the Chinese Song dynasty and the first of the Southern Song dynasty. He ruled from 1127 to 1162 and continued to exert influence as a retired emperor until his death in 1187. After escaping the fall of the capital Bianjing to the Jurchen-led Jin dynasty in 1127, Gaozong established the Southern Song court and faced challenges, including Jin invasions and a brief deposition in 1129. However, he successfully consolidated his political position and oversaw the continued conflict with Jin. In 1141, he collaborated with Chancellor Qin Hui to negotiate the Treaty of Shaoxing, ceding the Central Plains to Jin but securing two decades of peace for the Southern Song. Gaozong’s rule saw internal stability, economic growth, and control over the military, but his controversial treatment of the national hero Yue Fei affected his historical reputation. Despite his only biological son’s early death, Gaozong adopted Zhao Yuan as his heir and abdicated in his favor in 1162, remaining a de facto ruler until his death in 1187 at the age of 80.