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north by way of Hochung, while the latter, at the head of an army composed mainly of cavalry, marched through the difficult Han country of Southern Shensi and Northern Szchuen for the purpose of invading Honan from the west. Having overcome almost incredible difficulties, although by the violation of Sung territory, Tuli burst on the Kin garrisons with a fury resembling that of the mountain torrents of the inaccessible region through which he had forced his way; but the Kins recovering from their panic saw that they were only opposed by a handful of men exhausted by a long march under arduous circumstances. A desperate battle ensued near the Yu Mountain, when the Mongols were obliged to retreat from the field. Their destruction would have been inevitable but that the Kins fancied they had completed their work, and did not follow up this advantage with any vigour. It may have been that the rapid successes of Ogotai on the Hoangho compelled the recall of this army from the south-west for the defence of the capital. When Tuli found that he was not pressed he resumed his march through Honan. The annals of the period are full of the deeds of ferocity he committed—of the thousands he slaughtered among the garrisons he captured and the armies he defeated.
The two armies of Ogotai and Tuli at last joined each other in the neighbourhood of the capital, and the Kin forces were confined to this town and the few other fortresses that remained in their possession. An attempt to flood the country was foiled, and ten thousand labourers sent to break the dykes were massacred to the last man by the infuriated Mongols. In a great battle at Ynchow the Kin army suffered a crushing defeat, losing three of the most trusted of its generals. No further obstacle remained to prevent the siege of the capital. Before Kaifong was completely beleaguered, Ninkiassu, the Kin Emperor, fled with a portion of the garrison to Kouete on the borders of Kiangsu, but his flight only precipitated his fall. The garrison of Kaifong, although disheartened by the desertion of its leader, continued to offer a brave resistance. The Mongol commander Subutai pressed it hard with the fire of numerous catapults, from which were hurled stones of considerable size, and he also employed AN AVERTED MASSACRE. 3*3
his prisoners in filling up the ditches of this city-fortress. The Kins were fighting for their lives, and in their desperation they succeeded for a long time in baffling the superior skill and persistency of the Mongol attack. At one stage in the siege operations Subutai was compelled to withdraw from before the town, but he speedily returned with renewed courage and force. After a siege, which lasted more than twelve months, the garrison of Kaifong reached the limit of its powers of resistance, and was fain to surrender almost at discretion. The spoil obtained by the victors was immense, and it is said that the inhabitants, and those who had taken refuge within its walls, reached the enormous number of fourteen hundred thousand families, or, at least, seven million persons. Subutai, true to the traditions of Genghis and Tuli, wished to put them all to the sword; but Yeliu Chutsai, who had already befriended the Chinese on several occasions, interceded with Ogotai, and obtained the rejection of his barbarous proposal.
The surrender of the capital did not deprive the Kins of all their means of defence; and the war continued in a desultory manner until the following year. It might even have gone on for a longer period but for the active intervention of the Sungs, who, in a fatuous spirit of indifference to the dangers that threatened them, assisted with all their power in making the triumph of the Mongols more complete. Ninkiassu in his supreme hour of distress had almost discovered a capable commander in Usien, when the Sung general Mongkong crossed the frontier and drove him into the mountains of Mateng. After this the result was no longer in doubt . On one side pressed by the Mongols, and on the other by the Sungs, Ninkiassu and the last of his army retired to Tsaichau, where they were soon closely beleaguered. The siege of this place was rendered famous by the valour shown by the last defenders of fallen royalty. Never did the abilities of the great Mongkong, in after years the mainstay of the Sungs, shine more conspicuously; never was the impetuosity of the Mongols more strikingly evinced than on this occasion. But, at the least, the Kins proved themselves worthy of their steel. In the end Ninkiassu, finding all hope in vain, wished to abdicate in favour of a younger kinsman, who might hope to escape the storm then imminent, and renew the struggle under more favourable auspices; but even whilst in the act of performing the ceremony of abdication he was interrupted by the tidings that the Mongol stormers were in the heart of the city.
There was no longer any room for hope that the contest could be renewed. It was only left to the last of the Tartar Kins to die with such honour as human instincts truly divine to be praiseworthy. Ninkiassu had fought an up-hill battle, and he had lost it. He fell before an accumulation of dangers and difficulties that were well-nigh irresistible. Unfortunate in his life, and not showing in the face of peril the resolution and firmness that might have been expected from him, he encountered his fate at the last with fortitude. The enemy was at his gate, and a stronger and more daring monarch laid claim to his throne. His army was dispersed, his treasury bankrupt, his people discouraged and in despair. There was no longer any hope of better times, of the revival which sometimes comes when fortune is at its lowest ebb. Ninkiassu had but the choice of two courses, to grace the triumph of his conqueror with his presence and draw out his days in hopeless imprisonment, or to meet death without fear or misgiving. He chose the latter. When the flames of his palace lit up with a lurid flame the horizon, the enemy was already master of his last city. Ninkiassu killed himself with his own sword, and his example was followed by several of his generals and many of his soldiers. In one sense, the Mongols were left little more than a barren triumph.
With Ninkiassu expired, in the year A.D. 1234, the dynasty of the Kins, who had given Northern China nine princes in the course of one hundred and eighteen years. Formidable as the Mongols were as soldiers, brilliant as was the military capacity of their chiefs, and valuable as the aid of the Sungs proved to be, it took them more than a whole generation to conquer the northern provinces of China, and to sweep out of existence an alien dynasty which never secured the sympathy of its subjects. By as much as we regard the Mongols as a A TRIBUTE OF RESPECT. 315
formidable people and as a race of born conquerors, by not less should their victims the Kins be respected, because they fought better in defence of their rights than did either the great Mahomedan states of Western Asia, or the principalities of Eastern Europe, when assailed by the same foe.
THE SUNGS AND THE MONGOLS.
The Sungs had been induced to ally themselves with the Mongols by the desire to recover some of their lost possessions from the Kins. The intensity of their hatred for the dynasty which had established itself within their frontier blinded them to the dangers that might arise from the new race steadily encroaching southwards and carrying all before it in its career from the north. The Sungs knew nothing of the Mongols, whereas the Kins were their bitterest enemies. To compass the ruin of the race which had imposed tribute upon him and stripped him of his glory was the fondest wish in the heart of the Sung Emperor. The successes of the Mongols, and the reduction of the Kin garrisons, which became necessary in consequence of the defeats on the northern confines, afforded the ruler of Southern China the long-wished-for opportunity of shaking off a thraldom which had always been irksome and hateful to him. That he did not hesitate to avail himself of it is rather to his credit than otherwise; but prudence should have impelled him to abstain from taking any direct step towards promoting the triumph of the Mongols.
When Genghis undertook the conquest of Hia, the Kin ruler despatched an embassy to the Sung capital to ask the Emperor Ningtsong to join with him in opposing the Mongol invasion. The Sungs refused to regard the interests of the two realms as identical, and declined to help their neighbour in distress. The warning of the Kin ambassador that the Kins were beset by the danger to-day, but that to-morrow it