The new Chancellor Cai Que ( 蔡確 ; 1036–1093) held Shen responsible for the disaster and loss of life.  Along with abandoning the territory which Shen Kuo had fought for, Cai ousted Shen from his seat of office.  Shen's life was now forever changed, as he lost his once reputable career in state governance and the military.  Shen was then put under probation in a fixed residence for the next six years. However, as he was isolated from governance, he decided to pick up the ink brush and dedicate himself to intensive scholarly studies. After completing two geographical atlases for a state-sponsored program, Shen was rewarded by having his sentence of probation lifted, allowing him to live in a place of his choice.  Shen was also pardoned by the court for any previous faults or crimes that were claimed against him. 
Emperors could choose whether to supervise the policy bureaucracy or to pursue scholarship, cults, hobbies, or women instead. However, Frederick W. Mote argues that most Song emperors – who spent much of their childhood confined and isolated within a luxurious palace – were aloof conformists detached from the world of normal affairs and thus relied on officialdom to administer the government.  While the mainstream view is that the Song court exercised the highest degree of restraint and courtesy towards civil officials, the new protocol of enhanced deferential treatment by officials towards the emperor during conferences and meetings further eroded the emperor's close contact with his ministers.