Mongol invasion of China
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|Mongol invasion of China|
|Part of Mongol conquests|
One of major battles at the Badger Mouth during the Mongol–Jin War.
|a) Mongol Empire
b) Mongol Empire
c) Mongol Empire
d) Mongol Empire
|a) Western Xia
b) Jin Dynasty †)
c) Western Xia †)
d) Song Dynasty †)
Kingdom of Dali †)
|Commanders and leaders|
|a) Genghis Khan
b) Genghis Khan
c) Genghis Khan (possibly †)
Möngke Khan (possibly †)
|a) Emperor Huanzong (1205)
Emperor Li Anquan
Wei-ming Ling-kung (1209-1210)
b) Emperor Weishaowang of Jin †
Emperor Xuanzong of Jin †
Emperor Aizong of Jin †
Emperor Modi of Jin †
c) Emperor Xianzong (1225-1226)
d) Emperor Lizong of Song
Emperor Duzong of Song
Emperor Gong of Song
Emperor Duanzong of Song
Emperor Huaizong of Song †
|a) Total numbers unknown, over 30,000 in 1209
b) Mongols - 90,000-120,000
Song Dynasty - 300,000 soldiers in 1234
d) Over 450,000
|a) total numbers unknown, over 270,000 in 1209
b) Over 1,000,000
c) unknown, over 300,000
d) Over 1,500,000
|Casualties and losses|
b) Moderately heavy
d) Very heavy but fewer than Song
b) Very heavy
c) Unknown but very heavy
d) Over 10,000,000 including civilians
The Mongol invasion of China spanned six decades in the 13th century and involved the defeat of the Jin Dynasty, Western Xia, the Dali Kingdom and the Southern Song, which finally fell in 1279. The Mongol Empire under Genghis Khan started the conquest with small-scale raids into Western Xia in 1205 and 1207. By 1279, the Mongol leader Kublai Khan had established the Yuan Dynasty in China and crushed the last Song resistance, which marked the onset of all of China under the Mongol Yuan rule. This was the first time in history that the whole of China was conquered and subsequently ruled by a foreign or non-native ruler, compared with the Manchus (who established the Qing Dynasty) who did so a few centuries later.
Conquest of Xi-Xia
In the late 1190s and early 1200s, Temujin, soon to be Genghis Khan, began consolidating his power in Mongolia. Following the death of the Kerait leader Ong Khan to Temujin's emerging Mongol Empire in 1203, Keriat leader Nilqa Senggum led a small band of followers into Western Xia, also known as Xi-Xia. However, after his adherents took to plundering the locals, Nilqa Senggum was expelled from Western Xia territory.
Using his rival Nilga Senggum's temporary refuge in Western Xia as a pretext, Temujin launched a raid against the state in 1205 in the Edsin region. The Mongols plundered border settlements and one local Western Xia noble accepted Mongol supremacy. The next year, 1206, Temujin was formally proclaimed Genghis Khan, ruler of all the Mongols, marking the official start of the Mongol Empire. In 1207, Genghis led another raid into Western Xia, invading the Ordo region and sacking Wulahai, the main garrison along the Yellow River, before withdrawing in 1208.
In 1209, the Genghis undertook a larger campaign to secure the submission of Western Xia. After defeating a force led by Kao Liang-Hui outside Wulahai, Genghis captured the city and pushed up along the Yellow River, defeated several cities, and besieged the capital, Yinchuan, which held a well fortified garrison of 150,000. The Mongols, at this point inexperienced at siege warfare, attempted to flood out the city by diverting the Yellow River, but the dike they built to accomplish this broke and flooded the Mongol camp. Nevertheless, Emperor Li Anquan, still threatened by the Mongols and receiving no relief from the Jin Dynasty, agreed to submit to Mongol rule, and demonstrated his loyalty by giving a daughter, Chaka, in marriage to Genghis and paying a tribute of camels, falcons, and textiles.
After their defeat in 1210, Western Xia served as faithful vassals to the Mongol Empire for almost a decade, aiding the Mongols in their war against the Jin Dynasty. In 1219, Genghis Khan launched his campaign against the Khwarazmian dynasty in Central Asia, and requested military aid from Western Xia. However, the emperor and his military commander Asha refused to take part in the campaign, stating that if Genghis had too few troops to attack Khwarazm, then he had no claim to supreme power. Infuriated, Genghis swore vengeance and left to invade Khwarazm, while Western Xia attempted alliances with the Jin and Song dynasties against the Mongols.
After defeating Khwarazm in 1221, Genghis prepared his armies to punish Western Xia for their betrayal, and in 1225 he attacked with a force of approximately 180,000. After taking Khara-Khoto, the Mongols began a steady advance southward. Asha, commander of the Western Xia troops, could not afford to meet the Mongols as it would involve an exhausting westward march from the capital Yinchuan through 500 kilometers of desert, and so the Mongols steadily advanced from city to city. Enraged by Western Xia's fierce resistance, Genghis engaged the countryside in annihilative warfare and ordered his generals to systematically destroy cities and garrisons as they went. Genghis divided his army and sent general Subutai to take care of the westernmost cities, while the main force under Genghis moved east into the heart of the Western Xia Empire and took Ganzhou, which was spared destruction upon its capture due to it being the hometown of Genghis's commander Chagaan.
In August 1226, Mongol troops approached Wuwei, the second-largest city of the Western Xia empire, which surrendered without resistance in order to escape destruction. In Autumn 1226, Genghis took Liangchow, crossed the Helan Shan desert, and in November lay siege to Lingwu, a mere 30 kilometers from Yinchuan. Here, in the Battle of Yellow River, the Mongols destroyed a force of 300,000 Western Xia that launched a counter-attack against them.
Genghis reached Yinchuan in 1227, laid siege to the city, and launched several offensives into Jin to prevent them from sending reinforcements to Western Xia, with one force reaching as a far as Kaifeng, the Jin capital. Yinchuan lay besieged for about six months, after which Genghis opened up peace negotiations while secretly planning to kill the emperor. During the peace negotiations, Genghis continued his military operations around the Liupan mountains near Guyuan, rejected an offer of peace from the Jin, and prepared to invade them near their border with the Song. However, in August 1227, Genghis died of a historically uncertain cause, and, in order not to jeopardize the ongoing campaign, his death was kept a secret. In September of 1227, Emperor Mozhu surrendered to the Mongols and was promptly executed. The Mongols then mercilessly pillaged Yinchuan, slaughtered the city's population, plundered the imperial tombs west of the city, and completed the effective annihilation the Western Xia state.
Conquest of Jin Dynasty
One of the major goals of Genghis Khan was the conquest of the Jin Dynasty, allowing the Mongols to avenge the earlier death of a Mongol Khan, gain the riches of northern China and to establish the Mongols as a major power in the Chinese world.
Genghis Khan declared war in 1211, and while Mongols were victorious in the field, they were frustrated in their efforts to take major cities. In his typically logical and determined fashion, Genghis and his highly developed staff studied the problems of the assault of fortifications. With the help of Chinese engineers, they gradually developed the techniques to take down fortifications. Islamic engineers joined later and especially contributed counterweight trebuchets, "Muslim phao", which had a maximum range of 300 meters compared to 150 meters of the ancient Chinese predecessor. It played a significant role in taking the Chinese strongholds and was as well used against infantry units on the battlefield. This eventually would make troops under the Mongols some of the most accomplished and most successful besiegers in the history of warfare.
As a result of a number of overwhelming victories in the field and a few successes in the capture of fortifications deep within China, Genghis had conquered and consolidated Jin territory as far south as the Great Wall by 1213. He then advanced with three armies into the heart of Jin territory, between the Great Wall and the Yellow River. With the help of Chenyu Liu, one of the top officers who betrayed Jin, as well as the Southern Song, who wanted revenge on Jin, Genghis defeated the Jin forces, devastated northern China, captured numerous cities, and in 1215 besieged, captured and sacked the Jin capital of Yanjing (modern-day Beijing). However, the Jin emperor, Xuan Zong, did not surrender, but moved his capital to Kaifeng. There, his successors were eventually defeated in 1234.
Conquest of Yunnan
Möngke Khan dispatched Kublai to the Dali Kingdom in 1253 to outflank the Song. The Gao family, dominated the court, resisted and murdered Mongol envoys. The Mongols divided their forces into three. One wing rode eastward into the Sichuan basin. The second column under Uryankhadai took a difficult way into the mountains of western Sichuan. Kublai himself headed south over the grasslands, meeting up with the first column. While Uryankhadai galloping in along the lakeside from the north, Kublai took the capital city of Dali and spared the residents despite the slaying of his ambassadors. The Mongols appointed King Duan Xingzhi as local ruler and stationed a pacification commissioner there. After Kublai's departure, unrest broke out among the Black jang. By 1256, Uryankhadai, the son of Subutai had completely pacified Yunnan.
Use of Chinese soldiers in other campaigns
During their campaigns, the Mongol Empire recruited many nationalities in their warfare, such as those of Central and East Asia. The Mongols employed Chinese troops, especially those who worked catapults and gunpowder to assist them in other conquests. In addition to Chinese troops, many scholars and doctors from China accompanied Mongol commanders to the west.
During the invasion of Transoxania in 1219, along with the main Mongol force, Genghis Khan used a Chinese specialist catapult unit in battle. They were used in Transoxania again in 1220. The Chinese may have used the catapults to hurl gunpowder bombs, since they already had them by this time  (although there were other siege engineers and technologies used in the campaigns too). While Genghis Khan was conquering Transoxania and Central Asia, several Chinese who were familiar gunpowder were serving with Genghis's army. "Whole regiments" entirely made out of Chinese were used by the Mongols to command bomb hurling trebuchets during the invasion of Iran. Historians have suggested that the Mongol invasion had brought Chinese gunpowder weapons to Central Asia. One of these was the huochong, a Chinese mortar. Books written around the area afterward depicted gunpowder weapons which resembled that of China.
One thousand northern Chinese engineer squads accompanied the Mongol Khan Hulagu during his conquest of the Middle East. 1,000 Chinese participated in the Siege of Baghdad (1258). The Chinese General Guo Kan was one of the commanders during the siege and appointed Governor of Baghdad after the city was taken. But this is probably wrong since Hulagu's associate, Nasir al-Din Tusi claims that the darugha was a certain Asuta Bahadur or according to Rashid and Bar Heabreus, Ali Bahadur who repulsed the Mamluk charge under the shadow Caliph in 1262.
Conquest of Song China
At first, the Mongols allied with Song China as both had a common enemy in the form of Jin. However, this alliance broke down with the destruction of Jur'chen Jin in 1234. After Song forces captured the former Chinese capitals of Luoyang, Chang'an and Kaifeng from the Mongols and killed a Mongol ambassador, the Mongols declared war. Very soon, the Mongol armies had forced the Song back to the Yangtze, and the two sides would be engaged in a four-decade war until the fall of the Song in 1276.
While the Mongol forces had success against the non-Han Chinese states of the Jin and Xia, conquering the Song took much more time. The Song forces were equipped with the best technology available at the time, such as an ample supply of gunpowder weapons like fire lances, rockets and flamethrowers. However, intrigues at the Song court would favour the Mongols. The fierce resistance of the Song forces resulted in the Mongols having to fight the most difficult war in all of their conquests. The Chinese offered the fiercest resistance of among all the Mongols fought, the Mongols required every single advantage they could gain and "every military artifice known at that time" in order to win. They looked to peoples they already conquered to acquire any military advantage.
After several indecisive wars, the Mongols unsuccessfully attacked the Song garrison at Hechuan when their Great Khan, Möngke, died of cholera or dysentery. However, the general responsible for this defence was not rewarded and instead punished by the Song court. Discouraged, he defected to the Mongols. He suggested to Möngke's successor, Kublai, that the key to the conquest of Song was the capture of Xiangyang, a vital Song stronghold.
The Mongols quickly enclosed Xiangyang and defeated any attempt to reinforce it by the Song. After a siege that lasted several years, and with the help of Muslim artillery created by Iraqi engineers, the Mongols finally forced the city of Xiangyang to surrender. The dying Song Dynasty sent its armies against the Mongols at Yehue under the incompetent chancellor Jia Sidao. Predictably, the battle was a disaster. Running out of troops and supplies, the Song court surrendered to the Mongols in 1276.
With the desire to rule all of China, Kublai established the Yuan Dynasty and became Emperor of China. However, despite the surrender of the Song court, resistance of the Song remnants continued. In an attempt to restore the Song dynasty, several Song officials set up a government in Guangdong, aboard the vast Song navy, which still maintained over a thousand ships. Realizing this, Kublai sent his fleet to engage the Song fleet at the battle of Yamen in 1279, winning a decisive victory in which the last Song emperor and his loyal officials committed suicide. Following this, the Mongols established their rule over all of China. The Yuan Dynasty had ruled China for about a century, until the fall of Dadu in 1368.
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- Reuven Amitai-Preiss Mongols and Mamluks: The Mamluk-Ilkhanid War, 1260–1281 p. 189
- Angus Donal Stewart The Armenian kingdom and the Mamluks, p. 54
- Michael Biran The empire of the Qara Khitai in Eurasian history: between China and the Islam, p.143
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- Kenneth Warren Chase (2003). Firearms: a global history to 1700 (illustrated ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 58. ISBN 0-521-82274-2. Retrieved 2011-11-28. "Chinggis Khan organized a unit of Chinese catapult specialists in 1214, and these men formed part of the first Mongol army to invade Transoania in 1219. This was not too early for true firearms, and it was nearly two centuries after catapult-thrown gunpowder bombs had been added to the Chinese arsenal. Chinese siege equipment saw action in Transoxania in 1220 and in the north Caucasus in 1239-40."
- The Devil's Horsemen: The Mongol Invasion of Europe by James Chambers, p.71
- The Mongol Warlords: Genghis Khan, Kublai Khan, Hulegu, Tamerlane (illustrated ed.). Brockhampton Press. 1998. p. 86. ISBN 1-86019-407-9. Retrieved 2011-11-28. "Though he was himself a Chinese, he learned his trade from his father, who had accompanied Genghis Khan on his invasion of Muslim Transoxania and Iran. Perhaps the use of gunpowder as a propellant, in other words the invention of true guns, appeared first in the Muslim Middle East, whereas the invention of gunpowder itself was a Chinese achievement"
- Arnold Pacey (1991). Technology in world civilization: a thousand-year history (reprint, illustrated ed.). MIT Press. p. 46. ISBN 0-262-66072-5. Retrieved 2011-11-28. "During the 1250s, the Mongols invaded Iran with 'whole regiments' of Chinese engineers operating trebuchets (catapults) throwing gunpowder bombs. Their progress was rapid and devastating until, after the sack of Baghdad in 1258, they entered Syria. There they met an Islamic army similarly equipped and experienced their first defeat. In 1291, the same sort of weapon was used during the siege of Acre, when the European Crusaders were expelled form Palestine."
- Ahmad Hasan Dani, Chahryar Adle, Irfan Habib, ed. (2003). History of Civilizations of Central Asia: Development in contrast : from the sixteenth to the mid-nineteenth century 5 (illustrated ed.). UNESCO. p. 474. ISBN 92-3-103876-1. Retrieved 2011-11-28. "Indeed, it is possible that gunpowder devices, including Chinese mortar (huochong), had reached Central Asia through the Mongols as early as the thirteenth century.71 Yet the potential remained unexploited; even Sultan Husayn's use of cannon may have had Ottoman inspiration."
- Arnold Pacey (1991). Technology in world civilization: a thousand-year history (reprint, illustrated ed.). MIT Press. p. 46. ISBN 0-262-66072-5. Retrieved 2011-11-28. "The presence of these individuals in China in the 1270s, and the deployment of Chinese engineers in Iran, mean that there were several routes by which information about gunpowder weapons could pass from the Islamic world to China, or vice versa. Thus when two authors from the eastern Mediterranean region wrote books about gunpowder weapons around the year 1280, it is not suprising that they described bombs, rockets and fire-lances very similar to some types of Chinese weaponry."
- Josef W. Meri (2005). Josef W. Meri, ed. Medieval Islamic Civilization: An Encyclopedia. Psychology Press. p. 510. ISBN 0-415-96690-6. Retrieved 2011-11-28. "This called for the employment of engineers to engaged in mining operations, to build siege engines and artillery, and to concoct and use incendiary and explosive devices. For instance, Hulagu, who led Mongol forces into the Middle East during the second wave of the invasions in 1250, had with him a thousand squads of engineers, evidently of north Chinese (or perhaps Khitan) provenance."
- Josef W. Meri, Jere L. Bacharach, ed. (2006). Medieval Islamic Civilization: L-Z, index 2 (illustrated ed.). Taylor & Francis. p. 510. ISBN 0-415-96692-2. Retrieved 2011-11-28. "This called for the employment of engineers to engaged in mining operations, to build siege engines and artillery, and to concoct and use incendiary and explosive devices. For instance, Hulagu, who led Mongol forces into the Middle East during the second wave of the invasions in 1250, had with him a thousand squads of engineers, evidently of north Chinese (or perhaps Khitan) provenance."
- Lillian Craig Harris (1993). China considers the Middle East (illustrated ed.). Tauris. p. 26. ISBN 1-85043-598-7. Retrieved 2010-06-28.
- Gloria Skurzynski (2010). This Is Rocket Science: True Stories of the Risk-Taking Scientists Who Figure Out Ways to Explore Beyond Earth (illustrated ed.). National Geographic Books. p. 1958. ISBN 1-4263-0597-4. Retrieved 2011-11-28. "In A.D. 1232 an army of 30,000 Mongol warriors invaded the Chinese city of Kai-fung-fu, where the Chinese fought back with fire arrows...Mongol leaders learned from their enemies and found ways to make fire arrows even more deadly as their invasion spread toward Europe. On Christmas Day 1241 Mongol troops used fire arrows to capture the city of Budapest in Hungary, and in 1258 to capture the city of Baghdad in what's now Iraq."
- Colin A. Ronan (1995). The Shorter Science and Civilisation in China 5 (illustrated ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 250. ISBN 0-521-46773-X. Retrieved 2011-11-28. "Moreover, many Chinese were in the first wave of the Mongolian conquest of Iran and Iraq - a Chinese general, Guo Kan, was first governor of Baghdad after its capture in ad 1258. As the Mongols had a habit of destroying irrigation and"
- Original from the University of Michigan Thomas Francis Carter (1955). The invention of printing in China and its spread westward (2 ed.). Ronald Press Co. p. 174. Retrieved 2011-11-28. "The name of this Chinese general was Kuo K'an (Mongol, Kuka Ilka). He commanded the right flank of the Mongol army in its advance on Baghdad and remained in charge of the city after its surrender. His life in Chinese has been preserved"
- Thomas Francis Carter (1955). The invention of printing in China and its spread westward (2 ed.). Ronald Press Co. p. 171. Retrieved 2010-06-28. "Chinese influences soon made themselves strongly felt in Hulagu's dominions. A Chinese general was made the first governor of Baghdad,5 and Chinese engineers were employed to improve the irrigation of the Tigris-Euphrates basin"
- Jacques Gernet (1996). A history of Chinese civilization. Cambridge University Press. p. 377. ISBN 0-521-49781-7. Retrieved 2010-10-28.
- Lillian Craig Harris (1993). China considers the Middle East (illustrated ed.). Tauris. p. 26. ISBN 1-85043-598-7. Retrieved 2010-06-28. "The first governor of Baghdad under the new regime was Guo Kan, a Chinese general who had commanded the Mongols' right flank in the siege of Baghdad. Irrigation works in the Tigris-Euphrates basin were improved by Chinese engineers"(Original from the University of Michigan)
- The Mongol Warlords: Genghis Khan, Kublai Khan, Hulegu, Tamerlane (illustrated ed.). Brockhampton Press. 1998. p. 57. ISBN 1-86019-407-9. Retrieved 2011-11-28. "For his part Kublai dedicated himself totally to the task, but it was still to be the Mongol's thoughest war. The Sung Chinese showed themselves to be the most resilient of foes. Southern China was not only densely populated and full of strongly walled cities. It was also a land of mountain ranges and wide fast-flowing"
- L. Carrington Goodrich (2002). A Short History of the Chinese People (illustrated ed.). Courier Dover Publications. p. 173. ISBN 0-486-42488-X. Retrieved 2011-11-28. "Unquestionably in the Chinese the Mongols encountered more stubborn opposition and better defense than any of their other opponents in Europe and Asia had shown. They needed every military artifice known at that time, for they had to fight in terrain that was difficult for their horses, in regions infested with diseases fatal to large numbers of their forces, and in boats to which they were not accustomed."
- Li Bo, Zheng Yin, "5000 years of Chinese history", Inner Mongolian People's publishing corp, ISBN 7-204-04420-7, 2001.