Wednesday 2 August 2017

Great Jin Dynasty of China

The Great Jin Dynasty of China was one of the last dynasties of China to predate the Mongol Invasion in the 13th century. The dynasty lasted from 1114 CE when Aguda(later Emperor Taizu of Jin) united the Jurchen tribes under his rule and rebelled against the Liao dynasty until Mongol conquest of Jin in 1234 CE.

Between 1115 and 1123, the Jin and Song dynasties negotiated and formed the Alliance Conducted at Sea against the Liao dynasty. Under the conditions of the alliance, the Song dynasty would attack the Liao dynasty from the south, while in return, the Jin dynasty would hand over control of the Liao dynasty's Sixteen Prefectures to them. By the time of death of the first Emperor Taizu in 1123 CE, the Jin dynasty had conquered most of the Liao dynasty's territories and emerged as a major power in northern China.

Emperor Taizu of Jin

After the death of Taizu of Jin, the first emperor of Jin, Taizong of Jin became the emperor in 1123 CE. In 1125, Jin forces attacked the Khitan-led Liao dynasty and succeeded in capturing Emperor Tianzuo, the last Liao ruler, thereby ending the Liao dynasty's existence. In same year under Taizong, the Jin dynasty broke its alliance with the Song dynasty and invaded north China. In August 1126, captured Emperors Huizong and Qinzong of the Song dynasty. He died in Mingde Palace in 1135 and was buried in the He Mausoleum.

Emperor Taizong of Jin

Xizong of Jin succeeded Taizong to become the third emperor of the Jin Dynasty and ruled from 1135 CE to 1150 CE. In 1137, Emperor Xizong abolished the Qi kingdom, a vassal state of the Jin dynasty ruled by Liu Yu. In 1139, the Jin and Song dynasties arrived at a treaty, however, in 1140, Emperor Xizong decided to wage war against the Song dynasty. But in 1141, Jin general Wanyan Zongbi and his army were defeated by Song forces leading to Jin dynasty agreeing to negotiate for peace again with the Song dynasty.

Jade ornament with flower design, Jin dynasty, Shanghai Museum

Wanyan Liang
succeeded Xizong to become the fourth emperor of Jin Dynasty in 1150 CE. In 1161, after the Jin dynasty lost the Battle of Caishi against the Southern Song dynasty, his subordinates rebelled against him and assassinated him. Wanyan Liang was succeeded by Emperor Shizong of Jin who ruled from 1161 CE to 1189 CE.

Wanyan Liang

Emperor Shizong of Jin was succeeded by Emperor Zhangzong(1168 CE – 29 December 1208 CE) who reigned from 1189 CE to 1208 CE. He established Confucian temples in all prefectures and counties of his empire. When, in 1206, the troops of the Southern Song chancellor Han Tuozhou invaded the Jin dynasty, trying to reunify China from the south, Emperor Zhangzong's armies defeated the invaders.

The Chengling Pagoda of Zhengding, Hebei Province

Wanyan Yongji became the seventh emperor of Jin Dynasty in 1208 and ruled untill 1213 CE. Starting from the early 13th century, the dynasty began to feel the pressure of Mongols from the north. Genghis Khan first led the Mongols into Western Xia territory in 1205 and ravaged it four years later. In 1211 about 50,000 Mongol horsemen invaded the Jin Empire and began absorbing Khitan and Jurchen rebels. The Jin army had a half million men with 150,000 cavalry but they abandoned Datong.

Genghis Khan

Xuanzong of Jin became the eighth emperor of Jin Dynasty in 1213 CE and ruled until 1224 CE. He abandoned the central capital and moved the government to the "southern capital" Kaifeng, making it the official seat of the Jin dynasty's power. In 1216, a hawkish faction in the Jin imperial court persuaded Emperor Xuanzong to attack the Song dynasty, but in 1219 they were defeated at the same place by the Yangtze River where Wanyan Liang had been defeated in 1161. He was succeeded by his second son, Wanyan Shouxu (Emperor Aizong).

Yangtze River

By 1220, the Jin dynasty now faced a two front war with Mongols(North) and Southern Song Dynasty that they could not afford. Emperor Aizong (reign 15 January 1224 – 9 February 1234) won a succession struggle against his brother and then quickly ended the war and went back to the capital. He made peace with the Tanguts of Western Xia, who had been allied with the Mongols. Genghis Khan died in 1227. His successor, Ögedei Khan, invaded the Jin dynasty again in 1232 with assistance from the Southern Song dynasty.

Ögedei Khan

When the Mongols besieged Kaifeng in 1233, Emperor Aizong fled south to the city of Caizhou. On 9 February 1234, the allied forces of the Mongols and Southern Song dynasty besieged Caizhou and conquered the city. Emperor Aizong did not wish to be remembered in history as the emperor who witnessed the fall of the Jin dynasty, so he passed his throne to his general Wanyan Chenglin (Wanyan Chengyi's brother), and then committed suicide by hanging himself. 

Jin dynasty fresco

When Wanyan Chenglin(Emperor Mo of Jin) received news of Emperor Aizong's death, he gathered his followers and held a ceremony for the late emperor. He was the emperor of Jin Dynasty for a single day(9th Feb 1234). By the time the ceremony ended, Caizhou had been overrun by Mongol forces. Wanyan Chenglin was killed in action. His death marked the end of the Jin dynasty.The territory of the Jin dynasty was to be divided between the Mongols and the Song dynasty. However, due to lingering territorial disputes, the Song dynasty and the Mongols eventually went to war with one another over these territories.

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