Siege of the capital of the Golden Empire, Kaifeng. Source: Yin Shilin, Zhang Jianyo China 5000 years stories... SPB., 2008
Mongolian steppe on the eve of the invasion
The Tatars, as we wrote about in the previous article, were Jin's allies in the Mongol steppe for a long time. But for some reason, friction began between them. In 1198, the Jurchens made a campaign in the Mongol steppe, which ended in nothing, while Genghis Khan destroyed the Tatars, which for several centuries had been the hegemon in this steppe region and was in alliance with the southern empire. Genghis Khan received the approval of Ambassador Jin and the title of Zhao-Tao - the leader of punitive expeditions. And Jin lost a reliable ally, acquiring an extremely dubious partner, as it will become clear later.
The name "Tatars" remained a common noun for centuries, especially in the European and Russian traditions, where their invasion in 1237 was designated in the annals as Tatar-Mongolian.
It so happened that the emperor Chang-tsong, who had been ruling since 1188, died in 1207, and was replaced by the emperor Wei-shao-wang, who received the name Yong-tszi and Xing-sheng. The empire traditionally notified all neighbors about the change of ruler. When Timuchin learned the name of the new emperor from the ambassador, he did not go to the Jin court with a tribute, being an official official of the empire, but said:
“I thought that the sovereign of the Middle State would be a man given by Heaven. But when this person can also be a sovereign, then why should I go to him to worship? "
The fact is that Genghis Khan was personally acquainted with Wei-shao-wan, who was the head of the embassy to the Mongols and made a depressing impression on the Mongol leader.
But Genghis Khan began a war with another empire on the territory of modern China, the Tangut state of Xi Xia. Here the Mongols practiced the skills of war with cities, and also secured their western flank before the start of the war with the Golden Empire, to which they had irrational, from the point of view of modern man, claims:
“Altan Khan [Emperor Jin] ... expected submission and obedience from Genghis Khan; in addition, - reported Rashid ad-Din, - the sovereigns of Hitai killed several people from the older generations of Genghis Khan ... For these reasons, enmity and strife arose between them. When the Almighty Truth gave Genghis Khan strength and power, and a large army gathered to him, he considered it necessary for himself to take revenge and avenge the old enmity [and] set out with a large army to fight against Altan Khan. "
Jurchen warriors. Reconstruction by M.V. Gorelik
The outbreak of war
At the same time, various calamities, hunger, diseases, and threatening heavenly signs fell on the Jin empire, while the "border robbers", as the chronicle of the steppe dwellers called them, had already tried their teeth on the borders of the empire:
"In the second month, a strong wind blew from the north, from which houses were destroyed and trees were broken."
On the second moon, between February 15 - March 11, 1211, Genghis Khan, having broken through a powerful system of engineering fortifications, began an invasion of the south and southeast of the Golden Empire, two armies and an embassy were sent to meet him with a request to stop the invasion.
Immediately began the flight of both noble persons and entire ethnic groups to the Mongols. Thus, the Khitan princes Yelyu Ahan and Yelyu Tukhua, who dreamed of restoring the Liao empire, went over to Chinggis Khan, especially since he “avenged” the ancient rulers of these lands, the Khitan.
The Mongols seriously prepared to overcome the fortifications, since they already had the experience of war with the urban empire of Xi Xia. They treated horses with particular care, preferring to use warriors at work. Genghis Khan prudently left two tumens in his rear to control the steppe so that the scattered tribes of opponents would not unite in his absence.
At first, this campaign of Genghis Khan looked more like a raid. Many towns and small fortresses were taken on the border. Rashid ad-Din especially emphasizes the capture of the city of Sigin with large houses, the sons of Khan Jochi, Chagatai and Ogedei as the most important event. While the capture of a large city was indeed a significant event for the Mongols, at the same time, they did not dare to capture the entire region.
In the summer, no hostilities took place, perhaps that is why the generals Qian Dzyanu (Duji Qianjianu) and Cheng-yu, the sons of the future emperor Xuanzong (1213–1223), did nothing.
In the fall, Jebe was sent on a campaign, who captured cities most often by cunning.
The armies of the empire, without engaging in battle, retreated. Their retreat turned into a flight, which, of course, was taken advantage of by the Mongols, who pounced on them like hounds. The local residents offered the commanders a battle, pointing out the features of the terrain that would help defeat the Mongols, but the "general" Cheng-yu did not want to listen to them.
The commanders preferred to retreat. Cheng-yu's army reached the Yanghe River, where it was completely dispersed.
Battle of Hunegen
Genghis Khan took the large city of Fu-chzheu, and the commanders of the Golden Empire hoped that the nomads, who received such a huge prize, burdened with prey, would not be able to advance immediately.
But contrary to their assumptions, Genghis Khan crossed the Elukhin ridge, moving towards the Great Wall of China. The commander Zhebe, who was walking in front, approached the Chabchiala fortress (Tszyu-yong-guan), which was part of the Great Wall of China. Here he became convinced that it was almost impossible to take it. And in Syun-de-fus, not far from here, Genghis Khan is located. So the Mongol army was divided. Tszyu-jin and other commanders of the Golden Empire thought that now they would be able to defeat the divided troops of the Mongols, since, according to the "Secret Legend", they had the best troops from the Jurchen, Khitan and Chinese.
This is how the battle began at Hunegen or Hunegen Hill or Elukhin. The Secret Legend emphasizes the extreme importance of this battle, which was then often recalled at the court of Genghis Khan.
So, a huge army of the empire moved on the Mongols of Zhebe:
“At the time when Genghis Khan received [about this] notification,” wrote Rashid-ad-Din, “[his] army, having cooked food, was busy eating. They poured out the cauldrons, hastily set out and, awaiting the arrival of the enemy, stood up in two detachments. "
Chinggis Khan's army became a reserve regiment. Chzhebe, using his favorite tactics, began to retreat to the Xun-te-fu cape. Thus, the enemy's army occupied the entire valley and lost its advantage, which it had at the expense of numbers. Chjebe was able to significantly reduce the length of the front in his favor, after which the flight ceased, and he fell in his ranks on the randomly pursuing troops. Control was lost, the Jurchen, Khitan and Chinese infantry obeyed their generals and did not have a common command. Following the blow from the side of Chepe, the scattered enemy was attacked by the head of the Mongols himself. The rout was complete. On the shoulders of the retreating enemy, the Mongols also broke through the impregnable fortress Tszui-yung-guan.
The road to the middle capital of Jin was open. At this time, "General" Lian-tan brought order to the panic-stricken capital. Governor Tashan-i sent an army of 20 there, and the Mongols, seeing such a demonstration of power, retreated from the city of Yanzin (Beijing).
The emperor appointed a bold and determined governor as "minister", and at the meeting he explained the situation. His report, made at the beginning of the XIII century, gives an answer to the questions that arise again today - how did the "wild Mongols from the wild steppes" manage ... I will quote his words:
“Since the beginning of the war, the Mongolian army acts collectively, and we defend ourselves separately. When they attack our scattered troops with their common forces, we are constantly being defeated. So, it is more profitable for us to gather people for protection in the main cities and with united forces to resist the enemy. "
The Jurchens, who themselves only a hundred years ago conquered Liao and part of the Song thanks to the shock columns of the cavalry, were unable to concentrate their forces.
But his words did not find a response from the emperor Wei-shao-wang, it was not for nothing that Genghis Khan considered him narrow-minded. Opponents of Tashan-yi objected that the temporary withdrawal of troops from different regions of the empire in order to protect key facilities and concentration of troops is inappropriate, since it would reduce the territory of the empire and undermine the emperor's prestige. So the formal demands of prestige won out over rational arguments.
The Mongols immediately took advantage of this situation. The battle took place near the western capital of Sijing (present-day Datong), where only 7 thousand Jingians were defeated, and the governor Hushahu (Hashile Chzhi-chung), who had lost the battle, was appointed commander of the right wing of the empire's troops.
In addition to the troubles in management, a struggle began against the power of the Jurchens of the subordinate ethnic groups of the Jin Empire, which the Mongols took advantage of. In the winter of 1211/1212, a thousand-man rebelled in Manchuria, the Khitan Yelui Luge and Jin lost these lands, and he became a subject of Genghis Khan. The Khitan and even the Jurchens fled from the army. The same can be said about the Chinese, for example, the ambassador or "general" Min-an went over to the side of the Mongol khan.
The empire began to experience a shortage of local managers, in modern parlance. The Mongols captured, more precisely, defeated and plundered a huge territory from the northern regions of the modern Shanxi province, from the borders of Xi Xia, to the modern Liaoning province, the indigenous lands of the Jurchens.
Once the leaders of the Jurchen stood up personally at the head of the troops, now their emperor became a completely civilian official, according to the Chinese model, and could not lead the hostilities personally. Because of which there was a constant leapfrog in the military administration, for example, the "general", the governor of the western capital, Khushan, was demoted and sent to the village, then returned to duty.
Finally, the Golden Empire received a respite, since Genghis Khan went to Mongolia. During this time, new forces, Uighurs and Karluk Turks, have joined him. The fame and wealth captured in China attract desperate heroes to the Mongols.
In the spring of 1212, three columns of the Mongols entered Jin again. The reason was Jin's refusal to let ambassadors to the Song Dynasty empire.
A battle took place in the Tongguan Gorge. The gullibility with which the swaggering commanders of the Golden Empire approached the war with the barbarians from the north again led to the defeat of the army, which met the invasion:
"Such an extermination of the Kitadians began, it is written in the" Secret Legend ", as if we were breaking dry branches."
Having passed the already plundered north, they continued the war with the empire, taking Datong, the western capital. In 1213 the Mongols plundered in the southern provinces of Jin, took the city of Chang-de-fu. Simultaneously with their attacks, Sun began a campaign against the Golden Empire. But if the Jurchens were able to cope with them, then this could not be done with the Mongols.
After the disgrace, "General" Khushan, as I wrote above, was returned to service, but he turned his troops to the capital and made a coup, the Emperor Wei-shao-wang was executed to please the Mongols, and Prince I-bath was placed on the throne under the name Xuanzong.
By that time, the Mongols defeated and took by storm all the cities up to the river. Yellow River, and the new emperor asked for peace. He sent the daughter of the murdered emperor to wife Genghis Khan, and the "conqueror of the universe" agreed to a truce.
Genghis Khan left the plundered Golden Empire through Tszyu-yong-guan, and the left wing of the Mongol army returned along the coast of the East China Sea, where the lands of the Jurchen tribes conquered them without a fight.
Emperor Xuanzong and his advisers understood that it was impossible to defeat the Mongols without concentration of forces, but there were few opportunities to concentrate efforts. As the report of one of the officials showed, the prolonged lack of training of troops, the appointment to command positions or the offspring of noble families, or due to their impressive appearance (!) Severely hurt the army.
Despite the fact that during the battles brave and skillful commanders appeared, they could not compete with the Mongols either in quality, or in the level of training, and, most likely, in motivation. Although they successfully defeated the troops of Xi Xia and Song. And hostilities took place against Xia, whose troops attacked the borders by order of the Mongols in 1214. Despite the fact that Xia was defeated and sent her gifts to Emperor Jin, a decade of hostilities began, which exhausted both countries in the face of the Mongols.
This meant that, although the Mongols defeated a huge number of cities north of the Yellow River, the Jurchens still exercised control over them, even the northern capital of Dalichen was captured by the nomads only in the winter from 1214 to 1215.
Jin, plundered and losing part of the land, had significant forces, and the Mongols could not yet seize the country.
It seems that the Mongols initially did not have such a goal, the goal was to put under control the agricultural states, expose them to exo-exploitation and control the threats from them. That is why in 1214, returning to the steppe, the head of the Mongols ordered to chop up a huge full, tens of thousands of young men and women.
But the truce lasted only a month.
The fact is that after it began, the emperor decided to move with his court from Yanzin (Beijing) to the southern capital, Kaifeng. During the transition, part of the army, consisting of ethnic Khitan and Tatars, as Rashid ad-Din writes, raised an uprising and called for help from the Mongols, who did not fail to take advantage of the situation. These rebel troops will take part in the siege of Beijing.
The Mongols captured 862 cities in the north of the country in 1215, nevertheless, they besieged the average capital for a whole year. Those besieged from hunger ate human flesh. And the defending troops and commanders of the empire took part in the siege. After the capture of Zhongdu or Yanzin (Beijing), the commander-in-chief of the city Cheng-hoi and his son took poison. And Genghis Khan made unacceptable demands to the emperor of the Golden Empire: the emperor should be called "wan" and a vassal of Genghis Khan, and also give up the lands north of the Yellow River.
The nomads could not yet completely overcome the agricultural state with a huge population. But ten years of wars against Xi Xia and Jin were not in vain. The Mongols mastered new ways of waging battle: if before this city they had to take by cunning, now they possessed the technical means of siege, having mastered the technologies from the sedentary states.
And it was here that a multilingual army began to take shape, intended only for wars of conquest and robbery. From the subjects of Jin, 48 military units were created (Ambis L.).
The Mongols actively lured the Golden subjects over to their side, for example, Yelyu Chutsai, "long beard", as Genghis Khan, heir to the Liao emperors called him, became an adviser to the great khan in the western campaign, his astrologer, and later the author of the government reform of conquered China under Ogedei ...
In 1216, Chinggis Khan installed his associate Mukhali go as a wan (prince of the state) of all the conquered lands in China and handed him a nine-tailed bunchuk, a symbol meaning that the great khan himself is continuing the war.
Exhaustion of forces
Chinggis Khan, having received information about the wealth of the "West", turned his gaze to Central Asia, but the war of the Jin Empire with the Mongols continued despite a sharp decrease in the size of the former.
The Mongols used all the methods, as it is customary to call it now in science, exo-exploitation. The purpose of which was the constant receipt of a surplus product through wars, raids and robberies. The problem that the pre-state Jurchen society faced, having quickly conquered the Liao empire, did not face the Mongols. They had the strength and capabilities, and they had to fight the strong and wealthy sedentary ethnic groups that had already formed, albeit a primitive, but civilization. What next.
And Xi Xia and Great Jin are at war with each other in 1217, 1218 and 1219. Peace proponents in both courts were in the minority, and clashes continued. Under these conditions, Xia turned to Song for an alliance. In 1221, the Tanguts and the Chinese, dividing their zones of responsibility, began a siege of Gongzhou (near modern Zhengzhou), which cost them 10 thousand killed. Finally, in 1224, peace was concluded, and Emperor Jin was recognized as an older brother by Xi Xia. It was a belated peace, while the main forces of Genghis Khan were in the west, the two northern states in China were depleting each other.
If Xi Xia fell in 1227 under the blows of the Mongols, then the struggle against Jin advanced more heavily among the Mongols.
The last days of the Golden Empire
After the return of the Mongols from the western campaign, the situation changed dramatically, if earlier the Jin lands were considered as a source of material values for the Mongols, now the question was about the complete subordination of these lands as part of the Mongol empire. Moreover, all the loot in previous campaigns was handed out.
For this, the Mongols had both the strength and the cadres capable of solving such problems. First of all, the question arose about the complete destruction of the population and the transformation of Chinese lands into pastures, but the "long beard", adviser and astrologer of Genghis Khan Eluy Chutsai persuaded to impose taxes on the conquered Jin lands since 1231.
After the death of Genghis Khan, who died in a campaign against Xi Xia, his heir Ogedei decided to complete the conquest he had begun and personally set out against the remnants of Jin in 1231. The same Jebe was in front. Ogedei, like his father, passed through Chabchial (Tszyu-yong-guan), here he defeated the Jin field army and began sieging cities. But he fell ill, the fortunetellers associated his illness with the Chinese evil spirits, against whom they put their spells and thus saved the great khan.
The Mongols' ally was the Southern Song empire, claiming lands that had once been torn away by the Jin. Liaodong fell in 1233.
In 1233 the Mongols also reached Kaefin, crossing the Yellow River, Subedei led the siege of the capital. Emperor Jin Aizong and the remaining forces retreated to Caizhou (Runan). The Song army also arrived here, which built siege engines and actively stormed the city's towers.
The Jin ambassadors warned Emperor Song that they would be next, but the Sung people, blinded by the desire for revenge, did not take these words.
So the last stronghold of the Jurchens fell under the blows of the Mongols and Sunts, the emperor hanged himself.
The Sung people, claiming the southern lands beyond the Yellow River, received an immediate rebuff, and the Mongol war began against the Chinese Sung empire.
To be continued ...
Sources and literature:
Secret legend. Mongolian Chronicle of 1240 titled Mongol-un niruca tobciyan, Moscow, 1941.
Rashid ad-Din. Collection of chronicles. Volume I. Book 2. M., 1952.
Hambis L. Documents sur l'histoire des Mongols à l'époque des Ming. Paris, 1969.
History of the Golden Empire / Per. G.M. Rozova, comments. A.G. Malyavkina. Novosibirsk: Publishing house of the Institute of Archeology and Ethnography SB RAS, 1998.
History of the East. T. II. M., 1993.
Kradin N.N. Nomads of Eurasia. Almaty. 2017.
Kychanov E.I. Essays on the history of the Tangut state. M., 1968.
Articles from this series:
China and Mongols. Prologue.
China and Mongols. Iron Empire.
On the Mongolian border. Xi Xia Empire.
On the eve of the Mongol invasion. Golden empire
Mongol nomadic empire. How and why?
Mongol sword over the Xia empire