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Jintsong to the change in the Capital.
Jintsong, the sixth son of the late ruler, was only thirteen years of age when his father died, and the reins of authority were placed in the hands of his mother. Being a woman not less capable than ambitious, she retained the chief authority until her death, which took place eleven years later, and thus for one-fourth of his long reign Jintsong enjoyed nothing more than the name of power.
The first acts of the Empress-mother were marked by a wisdom and an appreciation of the national wants which never left her government. The unpopular taxes on tea and salt —which the expenses of a prolonged war had rendered it necessary to continue—were repealed, and a board was appointed with authority to supervise the taxation so that the people might not be oppressed. Having thus provided for the interests of the masses, the Empress determined to proceed with vigour against the magicians, spiritualists, and other impostors, who, encouraged by the late ruler, were prospering on the credulity of the nation. To such a pass had the machinations of these personages come that in several provinces they had compelled the doctors to give up their profession by inducing the people to consult them instead in all cases of sickness. An order was issued for the destruction of their meeting-houses, and of their laboratories where they either concocted their noxious drugs or performed their weird ceremonies, and it was carried into execution with all the energy of a body of men who felt that their own interests had THE EMPRESS-MOTHER. 253
been endangered by the foibles of the Emperor Chintsong In truth, the danger to public morality and national interests. had reached such a pass that extreme measures were necessary to again place the condition of public affairs on a satisfactory and durable foundation.
During the ten years' rule of the Empress-mother there was peace in the land, and her conduct appears to have been throughout most exemplary, although in the last year of her life, whether through a freak of vanity, or with some ulterior design, she usurped certain functions which were considered the prerogative of an Emperor. Her death took place in A.D. 1033, when Jintsong became the responsible ruler of China, and his first act was to pay exceptional honours to the memory of the great minister, Kaochun, who had been disgraced by his father.
During the peace, which had now endured for more than ten years, the rebel who first appeared in the previous reign had consolidated his power, and dying, left a large tract of country to his son. The Tartars of Leaoutung had seen the growth of this new state with some feeling of dismay, and had sought to compass its destruction by the conquest of the territory of the Hiuho in western Kansuh. In this they failed; and Chao Yuen, the grandson of the founder of this state, became the stronger and the more confident. The Kmperor sent him the patent of Prince of Hia ; but this young ruler, seeing how easy a prey were his northern provinces, thought rather of attacking him than of living with his neighbour on terms of peace and friendship. Meantime he drilled his soldiers every day after the fashion of the Chinese manual, collected arms and munitions of war, and, out of his just appreciation of the decline in the efficiency of the Chinese army through a long peace, originated a policy inimical to the Emperor, and favourable to the Tartars, who had recently striven to bring about the ruin of his state. In A.D. 1034 he turned his arms for the first time against the Chinese, and he employed them with success. He could plead as an excuse that a border governor had given him some justification for commencing hostilities by invading a portion of his territory. He lost some of the fruits of this campaign the following year in a campaign with the Tibetans, when one of his lieutenants was defeated and taken prisoner. Nothing dispirited, he renewed the war with fresh troops, and placed one hundred and fifty thousand well-trained soldiers in the field. The Tibetans, who then held possession of all the country touching China on the west, could not hold their own against this overwhelming force, and were compelled to give ground before their adversary.
Encouraged by his success, Chao Yuen resolved to assume a higher style than that of Prince of Hia, and "because he came of a family several of whose members had in times past borne the Imperial dignity," he took the title of Emperor. Peaceful as Jintsong's disposition was, he resented the assumption by a neighbour of a dignity equal to his own, and instead of taking measures to improve his relations with this ruler he spared no effort to form a league against him. Having met with some degree of success in these plans, he issued a proclamation forbidding his subjects to hold any intercourse with the people of Hia, and placed a price on the head of their king. Chao Yuen, enraged at this slight to his honour, answered threat with threat, and returned Jintsong the letters-patent which had on various occasions been sent him by Chinese rulers. The war thus provoked proved long, and disastrous for the arms of the Empire.
Well trained in its duties, and skilfully led by its great chief, the Hia army was able to take the field several weeks before the slower moving and less efficient forces of the Chinese ruler. The advantage of this celerity was shown by the capture of several towns, and by the moral strength which attaches to those who strike the first successful blow. Before Jintsong's troops had reached the frontier, Chao Yuen had advanced to a considerable distance within the Chinese territory. The armies encountered for the first time near the town of Sanchuen, when, after a stubborn fight of three days' duration, the advantage remained with the Hias. They came together again close to the town of Yang Moulong, and as both armies were in great force and equally confident of victory, this may be considered the decisive battle of the war. Each felt it to be so, and the commanders on either side A SIGNAL VICTORY. 255
resorted to various schemes to obtain some slight advantage of position over their opponent. In these preliminary manoeuvres, Chao Yuen, who commanded in person, showed greater skill than Jintsong's lieutenants, and his plan of action was so ably conceived that he succeeded in surrounding the Chinese army, and in taking it at a great disadvantage. The Chinese fought with desperation, but the result was never in doubt. One after another their generals fell fighting bravely in the thick of the combat, and when night closed the flower of Jintsong's army encumbered the plain. Jinfou, the commanding-officer, was wounded in several places, and entreated by one of his soldiers to quit the field, but he exclaimed, "I withdraw! the general of this army. The battle is indeed lost, but I can and ought to die." His body was afterwards found amid the thickest of the slain.
From this rude shock the Chinese did not easily recover. The consequences of so signal a defeat were made less serious than might have been anticipated by the prudence and good judgment shown by other commanders on the same frontier; but the success of the Hia king remained undimmed by any reverse. Jintsong was threatened by a fresh danger at this crisis. The Tartars of Leaoutung, seeing in this defeat a fresh chance for renewing their incursions, attacked the border towns, and acquired possession of no fewer than ten cities. These they restored under the terms of a treaty in A.D. 1042; but the bad days, when the Empire trusted for peace and for the preservation of its rights to the skill of diplomatists rather than to the strong arm of a great government, were again threatening to return. The Tartars had obtained an ample recompense for their expedition in the plunder of several rich districts; but over and above this the weakness of the Emperor consented to give them an increased allowance of silk and money in addition to the annual present granted by Chintsong.
In the same year negotiations were opened with Chao Yuen, the victorious king of Hia, and, although technical difficulties were raised in the path of the conclusion of a peace, Jintsong taking the matter into his own hands soon brought it to a speedy and successful issue. Seeing that Chao Yuen was restored to all his dignities, and that the Emperor agreed to pay him each year one hundred thousand pieces of silk and thirty thousand pounds of tea, there was little in this treaty for the Chinese to feel proud of, although at the time it arrested what appeared to be a grave danger from a successful soldier. In the following year the concessions were further augmented by the right conceded to Chao Yuen to construct fortified places on his frontier; but, although thus endeavouring to conclude and maintain a solid peace, there was distrust on both sides.
Jintsong was able, after these treaties, and especially after the death of his principal opponent, to devote himself with greater assiduity to his natural inclination for peace. Among the most notable of his acts were the re-establishment of the colleges on their ancient footing as under the Tangs, and some other measures which he sanctioned for the advancement of national education. On the recommendation of his minister Fang Chung Yen, he caused a college to be built in every town, and appointed lecturers and professors to hold examinations and to direct the studies of the collegians. Jintsong was especially interested in the raising of the standard of public speaking, and gave prizes for excellence in recitation. On the occasion of a visit to the chief college in the capital, dedicated to Confucius, Jintsong, wishing to show his respect for the man and the cause he represented, paid his memory the peculiar honour of prostrating himself before the door of the college.
Some years later, when his reign was approaching its close (a.d. 1060), he took steps for the publication of the great history of the Tangs as described in the official records of the Empire. The chief historians of the day were entrusted with its preparation, and as these included, among others of scarcely less note, the celebrated Ssemakwang, there is no doubt that this work, which filled two hundred and twentyfive volumes, is one of the most remarkable in the literature of China. The writings of Ssemakwang, Ginyang Sieou, Lieouju, and others, redeem Jintsong's reign from the character of mediocrity which might otherwise attach to it, if they do not absolutely stamp it as the golden age of literature