Mongol invasion of China

Mongol invasion of China

Overview
The Mongol invasion of China lasted over 6 decades and particularly involved the defeat of the Jin Dynasty, Western Xia
Western Xia
The Western Xia Dynasty or the Tangut Empire, was known to the Tanguts and the Tibetans as Minyak.The state existed from 1038 to 1227 AD in what are now the northwestern Chinese provinces of Ningxia, Gansu, eastern Qinghai, northern Shaanxi, northeastern Xinjiang, southwest Inner Mongolia, and...

, the Dali Kingdom, and the Southern Song, which finally fell in year 1276. The Mongols under Kublai Khan
Kublai Khan
Kublai Khan , born Kublai and also known by the temple name Shizu , was the fifth Great Khan of the Mongol Empire from 1260 to 1294 and the founder of the Yuan Dynasty in China...

 established the Yuan Dynasty
Yuan Dynasty
The Yuan Dynasty , or Great Yuan Empire was a ruling dynasty founded by the Mongol leader Kublai Khan, who ruled most of present-day China, all of modern Mongolia and its surrounding areas, lasting officially from 1271 to 1368. It is considered both as a division of the Mongol Empire and as an...

 in China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

 and crushed the last Song resistance in 1279, which marked the onset of all of China under the Yuan. This was the first time that whole China was ruled by a non-Chinese ruler.

At the time of the kurultai
Kurultai
Kurultai is a political and military council of ancient Mongol and Turkic chiefs and khans. The root of the word "Khural" means political "meeting" or "assembly" in the Mongolian language, it is also a verb for "to be established"...

, Genghis Khan
Genghis Khan
Genghis Khan , born Temujin and occasionally known by his temple name Taizu , was the founder and Great Khan of the Mongol Empire, which became the largest contiguous empire in history after his death....

 was involved in a dispute with Western Xia
Western Xia
The Western Xia Dynasty or the Tangut Empire, was known to the Tanguts and the Tibetans as Minyak.The state existed from 1038 to 1227 AD in what are now the northwestern Chinese provinces of Ningxia, Gansu, eastern Qinghai, northern Shaanxi, northeastern Xinjiang, southwest Inner Mongolia, and...

 — which eventually became the first of his wars of conquest.
Discussion
Ask a question about 'Mongol invasion of China'
Start a new discussion about 'Mongol invasion of China'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Unanswered Questions
Encyclopedia
The Mongol invasion of China lasted over 6 decades and particularly involved the defeat of the Jin Dynasty, Western Xia
Western Xia
The Western Xia Dynasty or the Tangut Empire, was known to the Tanguts and the Tibetans as Minyak.The state existed from 1038 to 1227 AD in what are now the northwestern Chinese provinces of Ningxia, Gansu, eastern Qinghai, northern Shaanxi, northeastern Xinjiang, southwest Inner Mongolia, and...

, the Dali Kingdom, and the Southern Song, which finally fell in year 1276. The Mongols under Kublai Khan
Kublai Khan
Kublai Khan , born Kublai and also known by the temple name Shizu , was the fifth Great Khan of the Mongol Empire from 1260 to 1294 and the founder of the Yuan Dynasty in China...

 established the Yuan Dynasty
Yuan Dynasty
The Yuan Dynasty , or Great Yuan Empire was a ruling dynasty founded by the Mongol leader Kublai Khan, who ruled most of present-day China, all of modern Mongolia and its surrounding areas, lasting officially from 1271 to 1368. It is considered both as a division of the Mongol Empire and as an...

 in China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

 and crushed the last Song resistance in 1279, which marked the onset of all of China under the Yuan. This was the first time that whole China was ruled by a non-Chinese ruler.

Conquest of Jin Dynasty


At the time of the kurultai
Kurultai
Kurultai is a political and military council of ancient Mongol and Turkic chiefs and khans. The root of the word "Khural" means political "meeting" or "assembly" in the Mongolian language, it is also a verb for "to be established"...

, Genghis Khan
Genghis Khan
Genghis Khan , born Temujin and occasionally known by his temple name Taizu , was the founder and Great Khan of the Mongol Empire, which became the largest contiguous empire in history after his death....

 was involved in a dispute with Western Xia
Western Xia
The Western Xia Dynasty or the Tangut Empire, was known to the Tanguts and the Tibetans as Minyak.The state existed from 1038 to 1227 AD in what are now the northwestern Chinese provinces of Ningxia, Gansu, eastern Qinghai, northern Shaanxi, northeastern Xinjiang, southwest Inner Mongolia, and...

 — which eventually became the first of his wars of conquest. Despite problems in taking well-defended Western Xia cities, he substantially reduced the Western Xia dominion by 1209, when peace with Western Xia was made. He was acknowledged by their emperor
Emperor
An emperor is a monarch, usually the sovereign ruler of an empire or another type of imperial realm. Empress, the female equivalent, may indicate an emperor's wife or a woman who rules in her own right...

 as overlord. This marks the first in a line of successes in defeating all the kingdoms and dynasties in China which wasn't complete until Kublai Khan
Kublai Khan
Kublai Khan , born Kublai and also known by the temple name Shizu , was the fifth Great Khan of the Mongol Empire from 1260 to 1294 and the founder of the Yuan Dynasty in China...

's rule. A major goal of Genghis was the conquest of the Jin Dynasty with the aid of the Song Dynasty, allowing the Mongols
Mongols
Mongols ) are a Central-East Asian ethnic group that lives mainly in the countries of Mongolia, China, and Russia. In China, ethnic Mongols can be found mainly in the central north region of China such as Inner Mongolia...

 to avenge earlier death of a Mongol Khan, gain the riches of northern China and mostly to establish the Mongols as a major power among the Chinese world order.

Chingis Khan (Genghis Khan) declared war in 1211, and at first the pattern of operations against the Jin Dynasty was the same as it had been against Western Xia. The Mongols were victorious in the field, but 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
Assault
In law, assault is a crime causing a victim to fear violence. The term is often confused with battery, which involves physical contact. The specific meaning of assault varies between countries, but can refer to an act that causes another to apprehend immediate and personal violence, or in the more...

 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 trebuchet
Trebuchet
A trebuchet is a siege engine that was employed in the Middle Ages. It is sometimes called a "counterweight trebuchet" or "counterpoise trebuchet" in order to distinguish it from an earlier weapon that has come to be called the "traction trebuchet", the original version with pulling men instead of...

s, "Muslim phao", which had a maximum range of 300 metres compared to 150 metres of the ancient Chinese predecessor. It played a significant role in taking the Chinese strongholds and was as well used against infantry units on 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
Yellow River
The Yellow River or Huang He, formerly known as the Hwang Ho, is the second-longest river in China and the sixth-longest in the world at the estimated length of . Originating in the Bayan Har Mountains in Qinghai Province in western China, it flows through nine provinces of China and empties into...

. With the help of Chenyu Liu, one of the top officers who betrayed Jin, Genghis defeated the Jin forces, devastated northern China, captured numerous cities, and in 1215 besieged, captured and sacked the Jin capital of Yanjing
Yanjing
Yanjing can refer to:* Yanjing the ancient capital of the State of Yan, former name of Beijing* Yanjing Beer* A fictional analog of China in Tamora Pierce's Emelan universe....

 (the modern-day Beijing). But the Jin emperor, Xuan Zong, did not surrender, but moved his capital to Kaifeng
Kaifeng
Kaifeng , known previously by several names , is a prefecture-level city in east-central Henan province, Central China. Nearly 5 million people live in the metropolitan area...

. There, his successors were eventually defeated in 1234.

Conquest of the Tangut Xi Xia Dynasty


When Genghis Khan united the Mongolia
Mongolia
Mongolia is a landlocked country in East and Central Asia. It is bordered by Russia to the north and China to the south, east and west. Although Mongolia does not share a border with Kazakhstan, its western-most point is only from Kazakhstan's eastern tip. Ulan Bator, the capital and largest...

n plateau, a small band of the Keraits under Nilqa Senggum sought refuge in Xi Xia, or Western Xia
Western Xia
The Western Xia Dynasty or the Tangut Empire, was known to the Tanguts and the Tibetans as Minyak.The state existed from 1038 to 1227 AD in what are now the northwestern Chinese provinces of Ningxia, Gansu, eastern Qinghai, northern Shaanxi, northeastern Xinjiang, southwest Inner Mongolia, and...

 Dynasty. After his adherents took to plundering the locals, however, Nilqa Senggum was expelled from the Tangut territory. In response to the initial offer of refuge, Genghis Khan launched his first campaign against the Xi Xia Dynasty in 1205. The Mongols plundered border settlements and one of the local Tangut nobles accepted Mongol supremacy
Supremacy
Supremacy may refer to:* Supremacism, a philosophy that one is superior to others, so dominate, control or rule those who are not* Acts of Supremacy, 16th century laws in England concerning King Henry VIII and the church...

. In 1207, Genghis sacked Wulahai, the main garrison along the Huang River. In 1209, the Khagan undertook a larger campaign to secure the submission of the Tanguts. He conquered Wulahai and followed up to the Huang River up to the capital, Zhongxing. Not only were the Xi Xia Dynasty well fortified, but they had some 150,000 soldiers, nearly twice the size of the army of Genghis. He attempted to flood the capital by diverting the river. But the Mongols wiped out their own camp instead of the Tangut. Nevertheless, they survived their dangerous mistake. Even so, the Xia Emperor Li Anquan agreed to present a daughter to Genghis Khan together with a large tribute
Tribute
A tribute is wealth, often in kind, that one party gives to another as a sign of respect or, as was often the case in historical contexts, of submission or allegiance. Various ancient states, which could be called suzerains, exacted tribute from areas they had conquered or threatened to conquer...

 including camels. The Mongols left garrison and the Xi Xia entered the Mongol orbit.

In 1218, the Mongols invaded the Xia when the Emperor refused to send hostages and troops. They besieged the capital again, and the Xia Emperor Li Zunxu fled west, leaving his son to make peace.

The next year, when Genghis Khan demanded the Xia to contribute troops for his campaign against Khorazm, the vassal
Vassal
A vassal or feudatory is a person who has entered into a mutual obligation to a lord or monarch in the context of the feudal system in medieval Europe. The obligations often included military support and mutual protection, in exchange for certain privileges, usually including the grant of land held...

 emperor of Western Xia had refused to take part in the campaign, and Genghis had vowed punishment. While he was in Central Asia
Central Asia
Central Asia is a core region of the Asian continent from the Caspian Sea in the west, China in the east, Afghanistan in the south, and Russia in the north...

, the Western Xia and the Jin had formed an alliance against the Mongols. After rest and a reorganization of his armies, Genghis prepared for war against his biggest foes. By this time, advancing years had led Genghis to prepare for the future and to assure an orderly succession among his descendants. He selected his third son Ogedei
Ögedei Khan
Ögedei Khan, born Ögedei was the third son of Genghis Khan and second Great Khan of the Mongol Empire by succeeding his father...

 as his successor and established the method of selection of subsequent khans
Khan (title)
Khan is an originally Altaic and subsequently Central Asian title for a sovereign or military ruler, widely used by medieval nomadic Turko-Mongol tribes living to the north of China. 'Khan' is also seen as a title in the Xianbei confederation for their chief between 283 and 289...

, specifying that they should come from his direct descendants
Kinship
Kinship is a relationship between any entities that share a genealogical origin, through either biological, cultural, or historical descent. And descent groups, lineages, etc. are treated in their own subsections....

. Meanwhile, he studied intelligence
Intelligence
Intelligence has been defined in different ways, including the abilities for abstract thought, understanding, communication, reasoning, learning, planning, emotional intelligence and problem solving....

 reports from Western Xia and Jin and readied a force of 180,000 troops for a new campaign.

Before his last campaign against the Xia, Genghis demanded the submission of the Xia. A Xia general declined the demand on behalf of the Xia Emperor. Mongol armies under Genghis quickly attacked the Xi Xia and besieged the capital of Xi Xia in 1227. The Tanguts surrendered right before Genghis died. After the Mongols captured the capital of the Xia, they massacred and pillaged what remained of the city and its inhabitants. The Tanguts left alive joined the service of the Mongol Empire
Mongol Empire
The Mongol Empire , initially named as Greater Mongol State was a great empire during the 13th and 14th centuries...

, founding Mongol clan Tangud.

Conquest of Yunnan


Mongke Khan
Möngke Khan
Möngke Khan , born Möngke, , was the fourth Great Khan of the Mongol Empire from July 1, 1251 – August 11, 1259. He was the first Great Khan from the Toluid line, and made significant reforms to improve the administration of the Empire during his reign...

 dispatched Kublai to the Dali Kingdom in 1253 to outflank the Song. The Gao family, dominated the court, resisted and murdered Mongol envoy
Diplomat
A diplomat is a person appointed by a state to conduct diplomacy with another state or international organization. The main functions of diplomats revolve around the representation and protection of the interests and nationals of the sending state, as well as the promotion of information and...

s. The Mongols divided their forces into three. One wing rode eastward into the Sichuan
Sichuan
' , known formerly in the West by its postal map spellings of Szechwan or Szechuan is a province in Southwest China with its capital in Chengdu...

 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 Subotai had completely pacified Yunnan
Yunnan
Yunnan is a province of the People's Republic of China, located in the far southwest of the country spanning approximately and with a population of 45.7 million . The capital of the province is Kunming. The province borders Burma, Laos, and Vietnam.Yunnan is situated in a mountainous area, with...

.

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
Ambassador
An ambassador is the highest ranking diplomat who represents a nation and is usually accredited to a foreign sovereign or government, or to an international organization....

, 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
Han Chinese
Han Chinese are an ethnic group native to China and are the largest single ethnic group in the world.Han Chinese constitute about 92% of the population of the People's Republic of China , 98% of the population of the Republic of China , 78% of the population of Singapore, and about 20% of the...

 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 a plethora of gunpowder weapons like fire lance
Fire lance
The fire lance or fire spear is one of the first gunpowder weapons in the world.- Description :The earliest fire lances were spear-like weapons combining a bamboo tube containing gunpowder and projectiles tied to a Chinese spear. Upon firing, the charge ejected a small projectile or poison dart...

s, rockets and flamethrower
Flamethrower
A flamethrower is a mechanical device designed to project a long controllable stream of fire.Some flamethrowers project a stream of ignited flammable liquid; some project a long gas flame. Most military flamethrowers use liquids, but commercial flamethrowers tend to use high-pressure propane and...

s. 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.

After several indecisive wars, the Mongols unsuccessfully attacked the Song garrison at Hechuan
Hechuan
Hechuan is a district in the northern part of Chongqing, China, located at the meeting point of the Jialing, Fu and Qu rivers, with a history of 1500 years...

 when their Great Khan, Mongke, died of cholera
Cholera
Cholera is an infection of the small intestine that is caused by the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. The main symptoms are profuse watery diarrhea and vomiting. Transmission occurs primarily by drinking or eating water or food that has been contaminated by the diarrhea of an infected person or the feces...

 or dysentry. 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 Mongke'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
Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

 artillery created by Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

i 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
Yuan Dynasty
The Yuan Dynasty , or Great Yuan Empire was a ruling dynasty founded by the Mongol leader Kublai Khan, who ruled most of present-day China, all of modern Mongolia and its surrounding areas, lasting officially from 1271 to 1368. It is considered both as a division of the Mongol Empire and as an...

 and became Emperor of China
Emperor of China
The Emperor of China refers to any sovereign of Imperial China reigning between the founding of Qin Dynasty of China, united by the King of Qin in 221 BCE, and the fall of Yuan Shikai's Empire of China in 1916. When referred to as the Son of Heaven , a title that predates the Qin unification, the...

. 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
Guangdong
Guangdong is a province on the South China Sea coast of the People's Republic of China. The province was previously often written with the alternative English name Kwangtung Province...

, 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
Battle of Yamen
The naval Battle of Yamen took place on 19 March 1279 and is considered to be the last stand of the Song Dynasty against the invading Mongol-controlled Yuan Dynasty...

 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
Khanbaliq
Khanbaliq or Dadu refers to a city which is now Beijing, the current capital of the People's Republic of China...

in 1368.

Sources

  • Li Bo, Zheng Yin, "5000 years of Chinese history", Inner Mongolian People's publishing corp, ISBN 7-204-04420-7, 2001.