Patricia Buckley Ebrey
Harvard University Press 2014
The Song Chinese emperor Huizong (r. 1100-1126 CE) has long been regarded as a failure due to his dynasty’s defeat in their war against the Jurchens. In Emperor Huizong (Harvard University Press, 2014), however, Patricia Buckley Ebrey offers a more nuanced interpretation of his life and reign. Ebrey provides readers with a portrait of Huizong as a devout Daoist who devoted considerable attention to artistic interests. Focusing on Huizong’s efforts as an artist and collector, Ebrey presents him as an emperor of noteworthy cultural significance, one who not only was one of the leading calligraphers of his age but who made notable contributions to painting and poetry as well. Ebrey also examines Huizong’s role as a ruler, analyzing his relationships with his officials and how those relationships shaped the policies of his government. What emerges from her pages is the story of an emperor who, by favoring aesthetic concerns over administrative matters, made errors in judgment that in the end brought about his abdication and captivity.