chapter  4
2 Pages

Emperor Renzong of the Yuan Dynasty (1285–1320, reigned 1311–1320)

Emperor Renzong 仁宗, personal name Ayurbarwada, was the younger brother of Wuzong 武宗 (reigned 1307-1311), the third emperor of the Mongol Yuan Dynasty. His succession to the throne as the fourth Yuan emperor was the first peaceful and smooth transition in Yuan imperial history. He was proficient in Chinese, had a deep appreciation of Chinese painting and calligraphy, and was strong in Ruist learning and Chinese history. He sought to improve the Yuan government by strengthening the importance of Ruist scholar officials in the bureaucracy, and he sponsored the translation of Chinese books into Mongolian in order to acquaint the Mongolian elite with the Chinese experience of governance and the Chinese tradition of thought. He also endorsed the publication and wider diffusion of Chinese works. His reform efforts, however, were resisted by the Mongolian princes and a large number of the ruling elite, all of whom were anxious to protect their powers or their hereditary privileges, or both. Resistance was fierce because the reforms were often perceived to be a direct threat to the habits, culture and way of life of the steppe peoples and their sense of identity. The transformation that Renzong had laboured to achieve was therefore limited in scope and exerted little influence on the actual orientation of the government. His reign lasted only ten years.