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China History Jin Dynasty
1115 --- 1234
The Jin (or Kin) Dynasty was a regime established by the Jurchen (Nuzhen) tribe. The founder was Wanyan Aguda. The Dynasty was headed by nine successive emperors and reigned for 120 years.
Establishment of the Jin Dynasty

The ancestors of the Jurchen people had lived in the Changbai Mountains and the Helongjiang Valley long before. The name "Jurchen" did not appear in historical records until the Five Dynasties Period (907 - 960) when it was under the control of the Khitan (Qidan). During the early years of the Liao (916 - 1125) reign, the clan community of the Primary Society still dominated within the tribe. With the widespread adoption of iron tools and the fast growing population, the tribe achieved a position of great influence. By the time of the closing years of the Liao, the Jurchen tribe had become a formidable power in Northern China.

The Jurchen tribe consisted of dozens of clans in which the Wanyan clan was the largest. In 1113, Wanyan Aguda succeeded as the chieftain of the clan union and united all them which marked a new era in Jurchen tribe history.

In 1114, Wanyan Aguda performed a ritual with his armies on the bank of the Lailiu River (present day Jianlalin River between Heilongjiang and Jilin provinces) and declared war on the Liao. After his victories in Ningjiang and Chuhedian, Aguda established a new dynasty ?C the Great Jin Dynasty in 1115 and proclaimed himself emperor. History records Aguda as Emperor Taizu.

Initially, the Jin Dynasty established its capital city in Huining Prefecture (presently Baicheng, south of Acheng, Heilongjiang Province), and later moved to Yanjing (present day Beijing City). Lastly the capital was moved to Bianjing on the site of modern Kaifeng City in Henan Province.

Conquest of the Liao and the Song

For a long period, Jin people were oppressed by the Khitan people. So, soon after winning a decisive victory in the battle of Hubudagang, the Jin carried out its plan to conquer the Liao. In 1120, the Jin Dynasty made an alliance with the Northern Song (960 -1127) to defeat the Liao. In 1125, the Liao Emperor Tianzuo was captured and his dynasty collapsed. The Jin then took total control of Northern China.

Soon afterwards, the Jin then turned against the Northern Song. Emperor Taizong (Wanyan Sheng), greatly encouraged by the victory over the Liao, launched a general war against the Song. The Song put up a strong resistance but due to the weak court and ineffective leadership, the Jin army gained successive victories. In 1127, the Jin army took Kaifeng, the capital city and captured the Song emperor. Following the fall of the Northern Song, the remainder of the court fled south and established a new dynasty - Southern Song (1127 - 1279).

The newly founded Southern Song (1127 - 1279) soon became a target for the Jin. However, this proved less successful due to the resistance of Yuefei, Han Shizhong and other heroes. The Jin army suffered heavy setbacks and could no longer match the Song. Thus a period of coexistence between the two rival powers came into being.

Rule of the Jin Dynasty

Administration System
During the "tribal union" period, the premier and the union chieftains (called bojilie in Jurchen language) shared the administration of the various Jurchen tribes. This system was abolished following the founding of the Jin Dynasty. A committee was formed that consisted of four and later five chief executives who acted as the highest authority under the emperor. The system was subject to further innovation after a number of Liao and Song territories were conquered during Emperor Taizong's reign. Liao and Song administrative procedures were adopted but further reforms were introduced by Emperor Xizong and the Prince of Hailing. When Emperor Shizong came to power, a complete political system was set up. The Shangshu Department, as a primary body, helped the central government conduct state affairs.

Military Service System
The military service system of the Jin was a combination of various components. Based on that of the Jurchen, it showed its own unique character by absorbing those of the Khitan, the Bohai, the Yi and the Han. As well as laying emphasis on the use of cavalry, the Jin made efforts to establish and develop other armed forces. The troops consisted of soldiers of many nationalities, both mercenaries and conscripts. The officers enjoyed a high status in the social strata of the country. This system was to have a great influence upon the military strategy of later dynasties.

Social Economy
During the early years of the Jin, the frequency of hostilities caused the economy to stagnate. With a view to promoting commercial development, Emperor Taizu, adopted a policy of reducing trade barriers which included the establishment of a trading relationship with the Song. This soon had an effect and expedited the recovery and development of commerce. Furthermore, he revitalised agriculture through tax reduction and exemptions so as to encourage the farming community to trade with the neighbouring tribes. This brought about economic prosperity from the reign of the Prince of Hailing to the reign of Emperor Zhangzong. The flourishing economy also benefited from a monetary reform that was introduced in 1198 during the reign of Emperor Zhangzong. For the first time, silver was used as legal tender. This reform was an important milestone in the history of currency and was to have a far-reaching influence on the currency system of later dynasties and even modern times.

The Jin rulers adopted a positive attitude towards the Han culture. Chinese, Khitan and Jurchen script were used simultaneously, although later, the Khitan script was abolished so as to encourage the popular use of Chinese calligraphy. Emperor Zhangzong became a keen collector of books written in Chinese which did much to promote cultural development. Many writers emerged during this period and one named Yuan Haowen was especially eminent in the fields of poetry, prose and treatise. His work is representative of the highest literary achievements of the Jin. The Jin Dynasty made an important contribution to the field of art. They had inherited the characteristics of Liao architecture and absorbed that of the Song. One of the finest examples of their architecture is the Lugou Bridge. Completed between 1188 and 1192, it is the oldest existing multi-arched stone bridge in the Beijing area. The exquisite sculptures on the bridge and its ornamental columns demonstrate a practical application of the aesthetic principles of unity and variation which are a great attraction to this day.
Decline and collapse of the Jin Dynasty

An uneasy period of peace during which the rival Jin and Southern Song existed side by side was made possible by the Jin allying themselves with the Western Xia. This gave the Jin a dominant position from which they were able to demand tribute from the Song. However, the Jin underestimated the growing threat from their ancient enemies, the Mongolians.

In effect, surrounded by Mongolia to the north, the Western Xia to the west, and the Southern Song to the south, the Jin was in an unfavourable situation. Rather than taking the sensible step of uniting with the Western Xia and Song to oppose the Mongols, the Jin foolishly attacked the Song while attempting to resist the Mongols. This policy resulted in the Jin's isolation with no possibility of assistance. To counter threats from the west and the north, the Jin removed their capital from Zhongdu (present Beijing city) to Bianjing (present Kaifeng City in Henan Province). They sought to make gains in the south to compensate for the loss of their northern territory. Leaving the northern territory to the mercy of the Mongols they began a campaign against the Southern Song with little, if any, success. In 1233, the Mongolian army led by Ogodei conquered Bianjing. The emperor of the Jin fled to Caizhou (Runan County in Henan Province). In the next year, the Mongolian army, assisted by the Song army, captured Caizhou and put an end to the Jin Dynasty.

During the Jin's span of 120 years, nine emperors had occupied the throne. At its peak, the population numbered some 44.7 million people while the territory extended from the Outer Xing'an Mountain in the north, to the Huai River in the south and from the sea coast in the east, to Shaanxi in the west.
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