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were directed to march on the maiden fortress of Taiyuen, which still flaunted the defiant banner of the Hans in the face of the Sung power. While the main army sat down in front of the Han capital, a strong body of troops was despatched to take up a position to the north-east of the city at Cheling Koan, where it would be able to intercept any relieving force that the Tartars of Leaoutung might attempt to send. The king of that people despatched an embassy to ask the Emperor for what reasons he was waging war with his friend, the Prince of Han ; but Taitsong was not in the humour to give a very satisfactory response. He replied with the haughtiness of a great monarch : “That the country of the Hans was one of the provinces of the Empire, and that, its prince having refused to obey his orders, he was determined to punish him. If your prince stands aside and does not meddle in this quarrel, I am willing to continue to live at peace with him; if he does not care to do this, we will fight him.” The Leaou King, enraged at this reply, declared war, and sent a large army to the relief of Taiyuen. It was, however, checked by the corps despatched for that purpose, and compelled to halt before it reached the scene of action.
Taitsong pressed the siege of Taiyuen in person, and with unexampled vigour. He was prudent enough, however, to leave his opponent a golden bridge for retreat, and before delivering the final assault he offered him terms that were not only honourable but generous. Lieouki Yuen, Prince of Han, had the good sense to accept the propositions of the Emperor, and, recognizing that further resistance to the Sungs would be futile, he presented himself at the head of his officers in the Emperor's camp. Lieouki Yuen became one of the minor princes attached to the Court, and the subjection of his dominions removed the last of the great feudatories who had asserted their independence of the central authority. The conquest of this northern province brought the Empire face to face with the Tartar kingdom of Leaoutung, which had interfered in the affairs of the Empire on so many occasions during the preceding century, and which was now in its turn to feel the reviving power of the Chinese sovereign.
A GREAT DEFEAT.
Taitsong anticipated being able to bring his war with the King of Leaoutung to a conclusion in a single campaign; but in this sanguine expectation he showed too little consideration for the proverbial uncertainty of war. The first successes were his. Several cities opened their gates, and some of the Tartar officials, thinking that the evening of their master's fortunes had arrived, hastened to welcome the day-star of Sung power. Taitsong, anxious to return to his capital, acted with a degree of precipitation which was highly imprudent when it is remembered that the Tartar army of Leaoutung had won a reputation for military prowess during a long career of unvaried success. Taitsong went out to meet the gathering strength of the Tartars in the hope that he would be able to strike a final blow before it could be concentrated ; but although he fell upon one corps and defeated it, he was in turn attacked by the main body. The battle was fought with great stubbornness on the banks of the Kaoleang river, and the Tartars vindicated their claims to be considered good soldiers by inflicting a severe defeat on the Chinese army. More than ten thousand of the Emperor's best troops fell on the field, and he himself had the greatest difficulty in effecting his escape, although he left all his baggage in the hands of the victorious Tartars. This defeat was a rude shock to Taitsong's dreams of speedy success, and it might have been followed by fresh troubles in the recently conquered province of Pehan, but that he himself and his generals strove, by the display of greater energy, to repair the disaster. The fighting for some time after this great encounter partook of a desultory character, the success going now to one side, now to the other ; but the measures taken by Taitsong were so far effectual that his authority in the newly won province of Pehan remained undisputed and indisputable. In fact, the people and soldiers of the whilom Prince of Han became the chief supporters of the Sung ruler in his war with the Tartars of Leaoutung. Yangyeh, the hero of this border war, had been the faithful general of the Hans to the last, and the most prominent of the defenders of the fortress-city of Taiyuen.
There can be no doubt that the Tartars were indebted for
their successes to the skill and martial qualities of their general, Yeliu Hiuco. It was the division under his command which had turned the fate of the day at Kaoleang, and in all the later contests he carried off the palm on both sides for tactical knowledge as well as for the personal characteristics essential to a great commander. For nearly twenty years he remained the chief prop and supporter of the Khitan or Leaou state, which, but for him, would have failed to maintain itself against the determined onslaughts of the Chinese. After the campaign of which the defeat at Kaoleang was the salient feature, peace endured for several years, although Taitsong's thoughts were constantly turning on the theme of how he might overthrow the power which had baffled him.
In A.D. 985 an opportunity of realizing this object seemed to offer itself when the Coreans sent an embassy to his court complaining of the conduct of the Tartars, and asking for assistance against them. Taitsong listened to their complaints with sympathy, and proposed an offensive and defensive alliance against the common enemy. At the same time he ordered several armies under his best generals to take the field, and to invade Leaoutung. The Tartars were probably taken by surprise, for the first battles were won by the Chinese, and the Tartars were forced to retire on several sides. The Emperor was congratulating himself on the success of his plans, and on the victories reported daily by messengers from his army, when the appearance of Yeliu Hiuco in the field changed the fortune of the war, and checked his felicitations. A defeat, scarcely less disastrous than that on the Kaoleang, to his principal army near the fortress of Kikieou Koan, north of the modern Pekin, was hardly announced when the news came that Hiuco had followed up his success with remarkable energy, and driven the remnants of the beaten army into the river Chaho. The loss was so great on that day that we are told that the corpses of the slain arrested the course of the river. Other defeats followed this first decisive turn in the tide of war against the Emperor. His general, Panmei, was beaten with hardly less loss at Feihou, and all the fruits of previous success were nullified. The Tartars were left virtual masters of the field.
During the remaining years of Taitsong's reign the Tartars carried on incessant hostilities with the Chinese, inflicting immense loss upon the peaceable inhabitants of the border districts. They turned also upon the Coreans, who had made some show of combining with the Emperor, but who now averted the penalty by making an abject surrender to their formidable neighbours. The ill success of this foreign war was, no doubt, a strong inducement to many within the realm to put forward their complaints, and to air grievances which were more imaginary than real. “A man of the people” came forward in Szchuen as the redresser of public wrongs, and gave the authorities considerable trouble for many years. Taitsong was compelled to largely increase the garrison, and to carry on regular warfare in the mountainous districts of that province before the strong arm of the law was fully reasserted. Having clearly shown that violence and the breach of civil rights are not the way to obtain fresh privileges, Taitsong took steps to provide a remedy for the small grievance of which an ambitious and self-seeking agitator had sought to avail himself for the advancement of his own interests.
No glimmer of success in the war with the Tartars lit up the last years of the reign of Taitsong. They were still victorious and defiant, when his last illness seized this able ruler, who had governed China during twenty-two years with wisdom and moderation. The failure of his wars with the Tartars must, we think, be attributed to the exceptional ability of the Tartar Yeliu Hiuco, who vanquished every opponent he was called upon to meet. But Taitsong's reverses in the wars with the Tartars cannot blot out his success in Pehan, and the skill he showed in maintaining peace within the limits of his wide-stretching dominions. Like the modern strategist, he sought to direct the movements of a campaign from his palace, and on several occasions it would appear that his arms suffered a reverse because his generals had not adhered to his instructions. It is, however, as a wise administrator, and as a prince anxious to promote the best interests of his people, that he most deserves to be remembered.
Chintsong, Taitsong's third son, succeeded him; and the surrender of a rebel who had availed himself of Hiuco's victories to revive the pretensions of the Hans, afforded a favourable promise of a peaceful and satisfactory reign. But certainly a more important event was the death of Hiuco, to whom the Chinese historians ungrudgingly allow the foremost place among the generals of the age. When the long-standing quarrel between the two neighbours again came to the arbitrament of arms, the loss of this wise commander was regretted, and felt as much by his people as it was rejoiced in by the Chinese. The Tartars were the first to resume hostilities, but when they did so it was with such little skill that they were repulsed without difficulty by one of the border governors. Chintsong proceeded in person to the frontier with a large army, and on his approach the Tartars thought it prudent to retire.
His attention was then called away to Szchuen, where the late insurrection had broken out afresh, principally through the mistakes made by the officials left in charge of the province by Taitsong. This disturbance entailed further bloodshed, and the inhabitants had suffered much from the horrors of civil war before Chintsong succeeded in re-establishing order in this vast dependency. Having restored internal tranquillity, all Chintsong's thoughts turned on peace, and he set himself the task of reforming the administration in which great changes had been rendered necessary by the indiscriminate appointment of incompetent individuals to the ranks of the mandarins, or salaried officials. In one day he is said to have either suspended or removed from their posts one hundred and ninety-six thousand of these servants of the State!
But the Tartars of Leaoutung were not disposed to leave undisturbed so easy a prey as they had found the Chinese border provinces to be, and their incursions became daily more daring and more successful. So discouraged were the Chinese generals by their long ill fortune that they feared to encounter their opponents in the field, and their panic infected the court. In the year A.D. 1004 the Chinese ministers were so far discouraged by the failure of the war with Leaoutung