Imatges de pàgina


of the spoil, sent an embassy to propose that to the province of Yen, which his armies had failed to conquer, there should be added several neighbouring cities as well. Akouta had no difficulty in exposing the unreasonable nature of this demand, and compelled Hoeitsong to make large concessions in other matters to obtain his consent to an arrangement which he was fully resolved to break at the first favourable opportunity. For the sake of maintaining an appearance of unity in face of the yet unsubdued Khitans, the old oaths were re-sworn, and the formalities of a defensive and offensive alliance performed over again.

Akouta then turned with all his energy to the task of finally vanquishing the Khitan king on the one hand, and that prince's victorious general Sioua on the other. The latter enterprise appeared the more difficult, and was the first essayed. Meantime the fragments of the two defeated Chinese armies had been collected and placed under the command of a fresh general, while Akouta detached a large body of his troops to attack the Prince of Yen on the north. Akouta's force was completely successful, while the Chinese troops remained passive spectators of the fray. Sioua and the Regent Princess, lately rejoicing at the repulse of Hoeitsong's armies, saw their hopes shattered like a house of cards at the first contact with the Kins, and were compelled to flee for safety. The province of Yen was thus at last subdued; but it had been conquered by the valour of the Kins, not by that of the Chinese, and Akouta had no intention of resigning his hold over it.

In the meanwhile Akouta was prosecuting in person the campaign against the unfortunate Khitan king, the descendant of the great Apaoki. With the few troops left at his disposal, the latter strove to check the victorious career of his opponent, but bad fortune attended all his measures. The strategy by which he sought to replace the want of numbers and of confidence was foiled, and the loss of his eldest son in battle further disheartened this last scion of a royal race. Despairing of success, he resolved to abstain from further effort, and to take refuge within the dominions of the Prince of Hia; but even there he found no certain shelter from his enemies, and was fain to retire into the desert. During two years he led there a wandering existence, when he had often to go without proper nourishment, and was constantly in fear of his pursuers. In the year A.D. 1125 a detachment of the Kin army took him prisoner, and he died shortly afterwards of an illness brought on by physical suffering and grief at his misfortunes. With his death, the illustrious dynasty of the Khitans or Leaous reached its termination. It had held power from a period fifty years * before the accession of the Sungs to this date, when the hand of destiny was already beckoning to those Chinese rulers, although half their course had not yet been run.

The great chief Akouta had not lived to behold the final triumph of his arms. Seized with a violent illness he had died suddenly in A.D. 1123, leaving his Empire to his brother Oukimai. The Chinese themselves praise his extraordinary aptitude for war, and in a not less degree that rare gift, the capacity of judging one's fellows and knowing how best to employ their talents, which carried him to the height of fortune, and rendered it true to say of him that he succeeded with everything which he undertook. In his character may be seen the germ of the great qualities which enabled the Manchus to complete, five hundred years later, the task almost accomplished by their ancestors the Kins.

Meanwhile the much-disputed province of Yen had been placed under the nominal authority of the Emperor by the treachery of one of the Kin governors, but Hoeitsong did not long rejoice in the possession of a province which he had so much coveted. He was obliged to send Oukimai the head of the rebellious governor, and to acquiesce in the re-establishment of Kin authority. Numerous signs were seen in the air predicting a coming change, and the public mind was much

* A.D. 907-1125. "Even in their ashes lived their wonted fires." A Khitan prince, at the head of the relics of his army and his race, like an Asiatic yEneas, crossed the Gobi Desert, and penetrated into Central Asia, where, after conquering several Mahomedan states, he founded the kingdom of the Kara Khitay (in which name its origin is proclaimed), and assumed the title of Gurkhan. This dynasty endured for 77 years (a.d. 1124-1201), when it was extinguished by Koshluk,the King of the Naimans. The Gurkhan is one of the potentates identified with Prester John.


exercised by the doubts and dangers which beset the Sung ruler. The Kins, full of the exultation of victory, demanded the surrender of all the country north of the Hoangho, and their ambassadors warned the Chinese ministers in no uncertain language that they would be conferring a real benefit on the Sung House by complying without delay or useless opposition. There is a wisdom of the highest character in timely concessions, but few distressed potentates have ever recognized it. The Kin troops proceeded to carry out the plan proposed by their ruler, and Hoeitsong bent before the approaching storm. He resigned his place to his son Kintsong, who was to bear the whole brunt of the danger; but even by a cowardly abdication Hoeitsong could not escape all the penalty of the acts of weakness and irresolution which had reduced the state to this helpless condition in the face of a powerful foe.

Kintsong endeavoured by a proffer of friendship to arrest the further advance of the Kin army, but his offers were treated with scorn.

The Chinese troops were defeated in several engagements, and failed to defend the crossing of the Hoangho, where a small body of determined troops could have successfully arrested the advance of a host . The Kin general exclaimed, when he found his men marshalled on the southern bank without having encountered any opposition, that "there could not be a man left in China, for if two thousand men had defended the passage of this river, we should never have succeeded in crossing it." The invaders then continued their march on the capital, from which Hoeitsong fled for safety to Nankin, leaving his son to make the best stand he could against the invader. The Kin general Walipou carried everything before him, and menaced the capital Kaifong; but the Kins had not yet determined how far they should prosecute their enterprise against the Sungs. There were many among them who considered that the Hoangho marked the proper limit of their sway. Fresh negotiations ensued, and a treaty was concluded, on the strength of which Hoeitsong returned to Kaifong.

But Walipou himself desired above all things to humble the Sungs by the occupation of their capital, and he refused to abide by the terms of the treaty. Although compelled once to beat a retreat, Walipou returned in greater force, when the armies which the next Emperor Kintsong, encouraged by his previous withdrawal, sent out to meet him were beaten with heavy loss. The Kins then laid close siege to the capital, Kaifong. The garrison, mustering in all seventy thousand men, prepared to defend itself to the last extremity, while fresh troops were ordered from the south. Thirty thousand men arrived from Kwantung, and took up a position near the Tartar camp before Kaifong. There was even some reason for hope that the want of supplies might oblige Walipou to retreat before many months if only the place could hold out for a short period. Such was the view of Prince Kang Wang and of the braver spirits among the Chinese; but his brother Kintsong was altogether in favour of a 'peaceful settlement and for buying off the national enemy. A successful assault, when the ramparts and gates were captured by the Kins, seemed to justify Kintsong's view, and Kaifong would then have fallen into the hands of the Tartars but that Walipou refused to waste valuable lives in the street fighting for which the Sung generals had made elaborate preparations. Kintsong thereupon proceeded to the Kin camp to arrange the terms of the peace which had become inevitable.

The Tartars, true to their nature, demanded, in the first place, a large sum of money, which Kintsong was weak enough to promise, although he knew well that he could not procure it . When Walipou's followers discovered that there was not much likelihood of their obtaining the spoil, which they had probably in their greed already apportioned, there was so loud an outcry that Kintsong was detained a prisoner and prevented returning to his capital. The late ruler Hoeitsong, and all the members of the Royal House resident at Kaifong, were induced to seek the shelter of the Tartar camp. They were then conveyed into Tartary, where both Hoeitsong and Kintsong died at long intervals. The later triumphs of the Kins are undoubtedly to be attributed to the inadequate measures taken by these two Emperors for the defence of their dominions.


Walipou was not satisfied with the plunder of the capital and the carrying off of almost all the members of the reigning House. He aspired to give China a new dynasty. A creature of the Court was proclaimed Emperor, and enjoyed nominal power while the Kin army was close at hand; but as soon as Walipou retreated he was set aside. The Sung dynasty was restored in the person of Kang Wang, who took the name of Kaotsong, and the condition of the realm reverted to its former footing, with the exception that the Kin state or Empire, as it was justly called, represented a larger and more powerful autocracy than that of the Khitans had been. Henceforth, until their conquest by the Mongols, these two Empires ruled concurrently over China. The Sungs retain in history the exclusive right to the dynastic title, but the Kins continued to represent a more vigorous community, a stronger government, and a greater military power. They would, probably, in course of time have succeeded in extending their authority over the southern as well as the northern provinces which had fallen so rapidly into their grasp, but for the sudden growth of the Mongol power under the brilliant leadership of Genghis Khan and his successors.

The causes of the decadence of the Sungs and of the inability of these later Emperors to oppose the Tartar hordes and armies arc sufficiently clear, if they do not absolutely lie on the surface. "For nearly two hundred years," wrote the Empress to Kang Wang, "the nation appears to have forgotten the art of war," and although the virtuous Sungs strove to promote the best interests of the people, they forgot that self-preservation is the first law not only of individuals, but of communities. Ruler succeeded ruler, who made it his chief object to maintain peace, and the state-policy consisted in paying the necessary price to buy off the danger threatened by the neighbouring tribes. Sometimes a young ruler, new to the practices of the court, and desirous of witnessing the parade of war, would depart from precedent and resolve to subdue turbulent races, or to wrest lost provinces from an alien ruler; but in every case he repented of his freak when brought face to face with the grim reality. He repented the more quickly, indeed, because he speedily found that war is

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