Monday, 18 February 2013

Genghis Khan's War with the Jin Dynasty


Not long after being declared Overlord of Western Xia, Genghis Khan received emissaries from Emperor Xuan Zong of the Jin (or Jurchen) Dynasty. The Jin with a population of 20 million had an army of 600,000 to 700,000 men. It was a wealthy nation that controlled the trade along the Silk Road. Arrogant in his approach the Jin Emperor demanded tribute and submission from the Mongols as his vassals.

Genghis Khan was not yet thinking about war again, but his people over time had suffered much at the hands of the overbearing Jin. Plus he needed some money to provide for his troops and grow his force. The Jin had plenty of it and used silver as their currency Furthermore his spies had reported to him of Jin internal discord caused by their harsh rule of conquered peoples. He knew from other intelligence that the Jin army was busy fighting wars against the Chinese and Tanguts on other fronts. So he prayed on it and came to his soldiers announcing that ‘Heaven had promised him a victory’.

Approximately seventy thousand Mongols led by Genghis Khan attacked the Jin Dynasty in 1211. Using clever military tactics combined with a divide and conquer strategy they were able to pillage the rural areas forcing refugees into the cities. Soon these cities were overcrowded and were lacking sufficient food to feed everyone. As a result the Jin troops started murdering their peasants pushing the remaining populace towards revolt.

With the help of Chinese and Muslim engineers the Mongols build siege engines. These enabled them to successfully capture and sack the Jin cities. When they besieged the Jin capital of Zhongdu (now Beijing) the Emperor agreed to give the Genghis Khan huge amounts of gold, silver, silk and horses to avoid the same fate for his city. Soon the Emperor moved his court away to Kaifeng. Feeling double crossed the Mongol leader tore Zhongdu apart.

From there he took his men deep into China raiding as they went. The spoils were enormous and the Jin defections added to his army.

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