Despite his long reign of over 40 years, Renzong is not widely known. His reign marked the high point of Song influences and powers but was also the beginning of its slow disintegration that would persist over the next century and a half. One possible reason behind its weakness is its interpretation of its own foreign policy.
The official policy of the Song Dynasty at the time was one of pacifism and this caused the weakening of the military.
Western Xia took advantage of this deterioration and waged small scale wars against Song dynasty near the borders. When Renzong came into power, he issued decrees to strengthen the military and paid massive bribes to the Liao government, an adversary of Western Xia, in the hope that this would ensure the safety of Song dynasty.
However these policies involved a heavy price. Taxes were increased severely and the peasants lived in a state of perpetual poverty.
This eventually caused organized rebellions to take place throughout the country and the breakdown of the government.
Emperor Renzong elevated the 46th generation descendants of Confucius to the current title of Duke Yansheng. They were previously of lower noble ranks. Renzong died in 1063 without an heir.
According to the fourteenth century literary work Outlaws of the Marsh, the first twenty-seven years of Renzong"s rule were known as the "Era of Three Abundances." But this was followed by a great plague around the year 1048 that decimated the population.
The imperial emissary who had been sent to the Divine Teacher"s monastery recklessly entered the Suppression of Demons Hall, thinking the stories of demons a hoax to delude gullible people.