One fact will have been noticed during the latter portion of the period that has now closed, and that is the increasing interest and participation in Chinese affairs of the races neighboring to, but still outside, the empire. A large number of the successful generals, and several of the princely families which attained independence, were of Tartar or Turk origin; but the founder of the new dynasty, which restored the unity of the empire, was of pure Chinese race, although a native of the most northern province of the country. Chow Kwang Yu was born in Pechihli, at the small town of Yeoutou, on the site of which now stands the modern capital of Pekin. His family had provided the governor of this place for several generations, and Chow himself had seen a good deal of military service during the wars of the period. He is described as a man of powerful physique and majestic appearance, to whose courage and presence of mind the result of more than one great battle was due, and who had become in consequence the idol of the soldiery. The ingenuity of later historians, rather than the credulity of his contemporaries, may have discovered the signs and portents which indicated that he was the chosen of Heaven; but his army had a simple and convincing method of deciding the destiny of the empire. Like the legionaries of Rome, they exclaimed, "The empire is without a master, and we wish to give it one. Who is more worthy of it than our general?" Thus did Chow Kwang Yu become the Emperor Taitsou and the founder of the Sung dynasty.
Taitsou began his reign by proclaiming a general amnesty, and he sent the proclamation of his pardon into provinces where he had not a shred of authority. The step was a politic one, for it informed the Chinese people that they again had an emperor. At the same time he ordered that the gates and doors of his palace should always be left open, so that the humblest of his subjects might have access to him at any time. His own words were that "his house should resemble his heart, which was open to all his subjects." He also devoted his attention to the improvement of his army, and particularly to the training of his officers, who were called upon to pass an examination in professional subjects as well as physical exercises. A French writer said, forty years ago, that "The laws of military promotion in the states of Europe are far from being as rational and equitable as those introduced by this Chinese ruler." His solicitude for the welfare of his soldiers was evinced during a campaign when the winter was exceedingly severe. He took off his own fur coat, and sent it to the general in command, with a letter stating that he was sorry that he had not one to send to every soldier in the camp. A soldier himself, he knew how to win a soldier's heart, and the affection and devotion of his army never wavered nor declined. He had many opportunities of testing it. His first war was with the Prince of Han, aided by the King of Leaoutung, whom he speedily vanquished, and whose capacity for aggression was much curtailed by the loss of the frontier fortress of Loochow. His next contest was with an old comrade-in-arms named Li Chougsin, whom he had treated very well, but who was seized with a foolish desire to be greater than his ability or power warranted. The struggle was brief, and Li Chougsin felt he had no alternative save to commit suicide.
The tranquillity gained by these successes enabled Taitsou to institute a great reform in the civil administration of the empire, and one which struck at the root of the evil arising from the excessive power and irresponsibility of the provincial governors. Up to this date the governors had possessed the power of life and death without reference to the capital. It had enabled them to become tyrants, and had simplified their path to complete independence. Taitsou resolved to deprive them of this prerogative and to retain it in his own hands, for, he said, "As life is the dearest thing men possess, should it be placed at the disposal of an official who is often unjust or wicked?" This radical reform greatly strengthened the emperor's position, and weakened that of the provincial viceroys; and Taitsou thus inaugurated a rule which has prevailed in China down to the present day, where the life of no citizen can be taken without the express authority and order of the emperor. Taitsou then devoted his attention to the subjugation of those governors who had either disregarded his administration or given it a grudging obedience. The first to feel the weight of his hand was the viceroy of Honan; but his measures were so well taken, and the military force he employed so overwhelming, that he succeeded in dispossessing him and in appointing his own lieutenant without the loss of a single man. The governor of Szchuen, believing his power to be greater than it was, or trusting to the remoteness of his province, publicly defied Taitsou, and prepared to invade his dominions. The emperor was too quick for him, and before his army was in the field sixty thousand imperial troops had crossed the frontier and had occupied the province. By these triumphs Taitsou acquired possession of some of the richest provinces and forty millions of Chinese subjects.
Having composed these internal troubles with enemies of Chinese race, Taitsou resumed his military operations against his old opponents in Leaoutung. Both sides had been making preparations for a renewal of the struggle, and the fortress of Taiyuen, which had been specially equipped to withstand a long siege, was the object of the emperor's first attack. The place was valiantly defended by a brave governor and a large garrison, and although Taitsou defeated two armies sent to relieve it, he was compelled to give up the hope of capturing Taiyuen on this occasion. Some consolation for this repulse was afforded by the capture of Canton and the districts dependent on that city. He next proceeded against the governor of Kiangnan, the dual province of Anhui and Kiangsu, who had taken the title of Prince of Tang, and striven to propitiate the emperor at the same time that he retained his own independence. The two things were, however, incompatible. Taitsou refused to receive the envoys of the Prince of Tang, and he ordered him to attend in person at the capital. With this the Tang prince would not comply, and an army was at once sent to invade and conquer Kiangnan. The campaign lasted one year, by which time the Tang power was shattered, and his territory resumed its old form as a province of China. With this considerable success Taitsou's career may be said to have terminated, for although he succeeded in detaching the Leaoutung ruler from the side of the Prince of Han, and was hastening at the head of his forces to crush his old enemy at Taiyuen, death cut short his career in a manner closely resembling that of Edward the First of England. Taitsou died in his camp, in the midst of his soldiers; and, acting on the advice of his mother, given on her death-bed a few years before, "that he should leave the throne to a relation of mature age," he appointed his brother his successor, and as his last exhortation to him said, "Bear yourself as becomes a brave prince, and govern well." Many pages might be filled with the recitation of Taitsou's great deeds and wise sayings; but his work in uniting China and in giving the larger part of his country tranquillity speaks for itself. His character as a ruler may be gathered from the following selection, taken from among his many speeches: "Do you think," he said, "that it is so easy for a sovereign to perform his duties? He does nothing that is without consequence. This morning the thought occurs to me that yesterday I decided a case in a wrong manner, and this memory robs me of all my joy."
The new emperor took the style of Taitsong, and during his reign of twenty-three years the Sung dynasty may be fairly considered to have grown consolidated. One of his first measures was to restore the privileges of the descendant of Confucius, which included a hereditary title and exemption from taxation, and which are enjoyed to the present day. After three years' deliberation Taitsong determined to renew his brother's enterprise against Taiyuen, and as he had not assured the neutrality of the King of Leaoutung, his task was the more difficult. On the advance of the Chinese army, that ruler sent to demand the reason of the attack on his friend the Prince of Han, to which the only reply Taitsong gave was as follows: "The country of the Hans was one of the provinces of the empire, and the prince having refused to obey my orders I am determined to punish him. If your prince stands aside, and does not meddle in this quarrel, I am willing to continue to live at peace with him; if he does not care to do this we will fight him." On this the Leaou king declared war, but his troops were repulsed by the covering army sent forward by Taitsong, while he prosecuted the siege of Taiyuen in person. The fortress was well defended, but its doom was never in doubt. Taitsong, moved by a feeling of humanity, offered the Prince of Han generous terms before delivering an assault which was, practically speaking, certain to succeed, and he had the good sense to accept them. The subjugation of Han completed the pacification of the empire and the triumph of Taitsong; but when that ruler thought to add to this success the speedy overthrow of the Khitan power in Leaoutung he was destined to a rude awakening. His action was certainly precipitate, and marked by overconfidence, for the army of Leaoutung was composed of soldiers of a warlike race accustomed to victory. He advanced against it as if it were an army which would fly at the sight of his standard, but instead of this he discovered that it was superior to his own forces on the banks of the Kaoleang River, where he suffered a serious defeat. Taitsong was fortunate enough to retain his conquests over the southern Han states and to find in his new subjects in that quarter faithful and valiant soldiers. The success of the Leaou army was also largely due to the tactical skill of its general, Yeliu Hiuco, who took a prominent part in the history of this period. When Taitsong endeavored, some years later, to recover what he had lost by the aid of the Coreans, who, however, neglected to fulfill their part of the contract, he only invited fresh misfortunes. Yeliu Hiuco defeated his army in several pitched battles with immense loss; on one occasion it was said that the corpses of the slain checked the course of a river. The capture of Yangyeh, the old Han defender of Taiyuen, who died of his wounds, completed the triumph of the Leaou general, for it was said, "If Yangyeh cannot resist the Tartars they must be invincible." Taitsong's reign closed under the cloud of these reverses; but, on the whole, it was successful and creditable, marking an improvement in the condition of the country and the people, and the triumph of the Sungs over at least one of their natural enemies.
His son and successor, Chintsong, must be pronounced fortunate in that the first year of his reign witnessed the death of Yeliu Hiuco. The direct consequence of his death was that the Chinese were, for the first time, successful in their campaign against the Leaous. But this satisfactory state of things did not long continue, and the Leaous became so aggressive and successful that there was almost a panic among the Chinese, and the removal of the capital to a place of greater security was suggested. The firm counsel and the courageous demeanor of the minister Kaochun prevented this course being adopted. He figuratively described the evil consequences of retreat by saying, "Your majesty can, without serious consequences, advance a foot further than is absolutely necessary, but you cannot retire, even to the extent of an inch, without doing yourself much harm." Chintsong, fortunately for himself and his state, adopted this course; and the Tartars thought it best to come to terms, especially as the Chinese emperor was willing to pay annually an allowance in silk and money as the reward of their respecting his frontier. The arrangement could not have been a bad one, as it gave the empire eighteen years of peace, The country, no doubt, increased greatly in prosperity during this period; but the reputation of Chintsong steadily declined. He seems to have been naturally superstitious, and he gave himself up to fortune tellers and soothsayers during the last years of his reign; and when he died, in A.D. 1022, he had impaired the position and power of the imperial office. Yet, so far as can be judged, the people were contented, and the population rose to over one hundred million.
Chintsong was succeeded by his sixth son, Jintsong, a boy of thirteen, for whom the government was carried on by his mother, a woman of capacity and good sense. She took off objectionable taxes on tea and salt--prime necessaries of life in China--and she instituted surer measures against the spiritualists and magicians who had flourished under her husband and acquired many administrative offices under his patronage. After ruling for ten peaceful years she died and Jintsong assumed the personal direction of affairs. During the tranquillity that had now prevailed for more than a generation a new power had arisen on the Chinese frontier in the principality of Tangut or Hia. This state occupied the modern province of Kansuh, with some of the adjacent districts of Koko Nor and the Gobi Desert. Chao Yuen, the prince of this territory, was an ambitious warrior, who had drawn round his standard a force of one hundred and fifty thousand fighting men. With this he waged successful war upon the Tibetans, and began a course of encroachments on Chinese territory which was not to be distinguished from open hostility. Chao Yuen was not content with the appellation of prince, and "because he came of a family several of whose members had in times past borne the imperial dignity," he adopted the title of emperor. Having taken this step, Chao Yuen wrote to Jintsong expressing "the hope that there would be a constant and solid peace between the two empires." The reply of the Chinese ruler to this insult, as he termed it, was to declare war and to offer a reward for the head of Chao Yuen.
It was soon made evident that Chao Yuen possessed the military power to support an imperial dignity. He defeated the emperor's army in two pitched battles at Sanchuen and Yang Moulong, and many years elapsed before the Sung rulers can be held to have recovered from the loss of their best armies. The Khitans of Leaoutung took advantage of these misfortunes to encroach, and as Jintsong had no army with which to oppose them, they captured ten cities with little or no resistance. The Chinese government was compelled to purchase them back by increasing the annual allowance it paid of gold and silk. A similar policy was resorted to in the case of Chao Yuen, who consented to a peace on receiving every year one hundred thousand pieces of silk and thirty thousand pounds of tea. Not content with this payment, Chao Yuen subsequently exacted the right to build fortresses along the Chinese frontier. Soon after this Chao Yuen was murdered by one of his sons, whose betrothed he had taken from him. If Jintsong was not fortunate in his wars he did much to promote education and to encourage literature. He restored the colleges founded by the Tangs, he built a school or academy in every town, he directed the public examinations to be held impartially and frequently, and he gave special prizes as a reward for elocution. Some of the greatest historians China has produced lived in his reign, and wrote their works under his patronage; of these Szemakwang was the most famous. His history of the Tangs is a masterpiece, and his "Garden of Szemakwang" an idyll. He was remarkable for his sound judgment as well as the elegance of his style, and during the short time he held the post of prime minister his administration was marked by ability and good sense. The character of Jintsong was, it will be seen, not without its good points, which gained for him the affection of his subjects despite his bad fortune against the national enemies, and his reign of thirty years was, generally speaking, prosperous and satisfactory. After the brief reign of his nephew, Yngtsong, that prince's son, Chintsong the Second, became emperor.
The career of Wanganchi, an eccentric and socialistic statesman, who wished to pose as a great national reformer, and who long possessed the ear and favor of his sovereign, lends an interest to the reign of the second Chintsong. Wanganchi did not possess the confidence or the admiration of his brother officials, and subsequent writers have generally termed him an impostor and a charlatan. But he may only have been a misguided enthusiast when he declared that "the State should take the entire management of commerce, industry, and agriculture into its own hands, with the view of succoring the working classes, and preventing their being ground to the dust by the rich." The advocacy of such a scheme is calculated to earn popularity, as few of those who are to benefit by it stop to examine its feasibility, and Wanganchi might have been remembered as an enlightened thinker and enthusiastic advocate of the rights of the masses if he had not been called upon to carry out his theories. But the proof of experience, like the touch of Ithuriel's spear, revealed the practical value of his suggestions, and dissolved the attractive vision raised by his perfervid eloquence and elevated enthusiasm. His honesty of purpose cannot, however, be disputed. On being appointed to the post of chief minister he took in hand the application of his own project. He exempted the poor from all taxation. He allotted lands, and he supplied the cultivators with seeds and implements. He also appointed local boards to superintend the efforts of the agricultural classes, and to give them assistance and advice. But this paternal government, this system of making the state do what the individual ought to do for himself, did not work as it was expected. Those who counted on the agricultural laborer working with as much intelligence and energy for himself as he had done under the direction of a master were doomed to disappointment. Want of skill, the fitfulness of the small holder, aggravated perhaps by national calamities, drought, flood, and pestilence, being felt more severely by laborers than by capitalists, led to a gradual shrinkage in the area of cultivated land, and at last to the suffering of the classes who were to specially benefit from the scheme of Wanganchi. The failure of his scheme, which, to use his own words, aimed at preventing there being any poor or over-rich persons in the state, entailed his disgrace and fall from power. But his work and his name have continued to excite interest and speculation among his countrymen down to the present day. His memory has been aspersed by the writers of China, who have generally denounced him as a free-thinker and a nihilist, and although, twenty years after his death, a tablet bearing his name was placed in the Hall of Confucius as the greatest Chinese thinker since Mencius, it was removed after a brief period, and since then both the name and the works of Wanganchi have been consigned to an oblivion from which only the curiosity of European writers has rescued them.
Chintsong's reign was peaceful, but he seems to have only avoided war by yielding to all the demands of the Tartars, who encroached on the frontier and seized several Chinese cities. His son Chetsong was only ten when he became emperor, and the administration was carried on by his mother, the Empress Tefei, another of the capable women of Chinese history. Her early death left Chetsong to rule as he listed, and his first acts of independent authority were not of happy augury for the future. He had not been on the throne many months before he divorced his principal wife without any apparent justification, and when remonstrated with he merely replied that he was imitating several of his predecessors. The censor's retort was, "You would do better to imitate their virtues, and not their faults." Chetsong did not have any long opportunity of doing either, for he died of grief at the loss of his favorite son, and it is recorded that, as "he did not expect to die so soon," he omitted the precaution of selecting an heir. Fortunately the mischief of a disputed successor was avoided by the unanimous selection of his brother Hoeitsong as the new emperor. He proved himself a vain and superstitious ruler, placing his main faith in fortune tellers, and expecting his subjects to yield implicit obedience to his opinions as "the master of the law and the prince of doctrine." Among other fallacies, Hoeitsong cherished the belief that he was a great soldier, and he aspired to rank as the conqueror of the old successful enemy of China, the Khitans of Leaoutung. He had no army worthy of the name, and the southern Chinese who formed the mass of his subjects were averse to war, yet his personal vanity impelled him to rush into hostilities which promised to be the more serious because a new and formidable power had arisen on the northern frontier.
The Niuche or Chorcha Tartars, who had assumed a distinct name and place in the vicinity of the modern Kalgan, about the year 1000 A.D., had become subservient to the great Khitan chief Apaoki, and their seven hordes had remained faithful allies of his family and kingdom for many years after his death. But some of the clan had preferred independence to the maintenance of friendly relations with their greatest neighbor, and they had withdrawn northward into Manchuria. For some unknown reason the Niuche became dissatisfied with their Khitan allies, and about the year 1100 A.D. they had all drawn their forces together as an independent confederacy under the leadership of a great chief named Akouta. The Niuche could only hope to establish their independence by offering a successful resistance to the King of Leaoutung, who naturally resented the defection of a tribe which had been his humble dependents. They succeeded in this task beyond all expectation, as Akouta inflicted a succession of defeats on the hitherto invincible army of Leaoutung. Then the Niuche conqueror resolved to pose as one of the arbiters of the empire's destiny, and to found a dynasty of his own. He collected his troops, and he addressed them in a speech reciting their deeds and his pretensions. "The Khitans," he said, "had in the earlier days of their success taken the name of Pintiei, meaning the iron of Pinchow, but although that iron may be excellent, it is liable to rust and can be eaten away. There is nothing save gold which is unchangeable and which does not destroy itself. Moreover, the family of Wangyen, with which I am connected through the chief Hanpou, had always a great fancy for glittering colors such as that of gold, and I am now resolved to take this name as that of my imperial family. I therefore give it the name of Kin, which signifies gold." This speech was made in the year 1115, and it was the historical introduction of the Kin dynasty, which so long rivaled the Sung, and which, although it attained only a brief lease of power on the occasion referred to, was remarkable as being the first appearance of the ancestors of the present reigning Manchus.
Like other conquerors who had appeared in the same quarter, the Kins, as we must now call them, owed their rise to their military qualifications and to their high spirit. Their tactics, although of a simpler kind, were as superior to those of the Leaous as the latter's were to the Chinese. Their army consisted exclusively of cavalry, and victory was generally obtained by its furious attacks delivered from several sides simultaneously. The following description, taken from Mailla's translation of the Chinese official history, gives the best account of their army and mode of fighting:
"At first the Niuche had only cavalry. For their sole distinction they made use of a small piece of braid on which they marked certain signs, and they attached this to both man and horse. Their companies were usually composed of only fifty men each, twenty of whom, clothed in strong cuirasses, and armed with swords and short pikes, were placed in the front, and behind those came the remaining thirty in less weighty armor, and with bows and arrows or javelins for weapons. When they encountered an enemy, two men from each company advanced as scouts, and then arranging their troops so as to attack from four sides, they approached the foe at a gentle trot until within a hundred yards of his line. Thereupon charging at full speed, they discharged their arrows and javelins, again retiring with the same celerity. This maneuver they repeated several times until they threw the ranks into confusion, when they fell upon them with sword and pike so impetuously that they generally gained the victory."
The novelty, as well as the impetuosity, of their attack supplied the want of numbers and of weapons, and when the Khitans raised what seemed an overwhelming force to crush the new power that ventured to play the rival to theirs in Northern China, Akouta, confident in himself and in his people, was not dismayed, and accepted the offer of battle. In two sanguinary battles he vanquished the Khitan armies, and threatened with early extinction the once famous dynasty of Leaoutung. When the Sung emperor heard of the defeats of his old opponents, he at once rushed to the conclusion that the appearance of this new power on the flank of Leaoutung must redound to his advantage, and, although warned by the King of Corea that "the Kins were worse than wolves and tigers," he sent an embassy to Akouta proposing a joint alliance against the Khitans. The negotiations were not at first successful. Akouta concluded a truce with Leaoutung, but took offense at the style of the emperor's letter. The peace was soon broken by either the Kins or the Khitans, and Hoeitsong consented to address Akouta as the Great Emperor of the Kins. Then Akouta engaged to attack Leaoutung from the north, while the Chinese assailed it on the south, and a war began which promised a speedy termination. But the tardiness and inefficiency of the Chinese army prolonged the struggle, and covered the reputation of Hoeitsong and his troops with ignominy. It was compelled to beat a hasty and disastrous retreat, and the peasants of Leaoutung sang ballads about its cowardice and insufficiency.
But if it fared badly with the Chinese, the armies of Akouta continued to be victorious, and the Khitans fled not less precipitately before him than the Chinese did before them. Their best generals were unable to make the least stand against the Kin forces. Their capital was occupied by the conqueror, and the last descendant of the great Apaoki fled westward to seek an asylum with the Prince of Hia or Tangut. He does not appear to have received the protection he claimed, for after a brief stay at the court of Hia, he made his way to the desert, where, after undergoing incredible hardships, he fell into the hands of his Kin pursuers. With his death soon afterward the Khitan dynasty came to an end, after enjoying its power for two hundred years, but some members of this race escaped across the Gobi Desert, and founded the brief-lived dynasty of the Kara Khitay in Turkestan. Akouta died shortly before the final overthrow of the Leaoutung power, and his brother Oukimai ruled in his place.
The ill-success of Hoeitsong's army in its joint campaign against Leaoutung cost the emperor his share in the spoil. The Kins retained the whole of the conquered territory, and the Sung prince was the worse off, because he had a more powerful and aggressive neighbor. The ease of their conquest, and the evident weakness of the Chinese, raised the confidence of the Kins to such a high point that they declared that the Sungs must surrender to them the whole of the territory north of the Hoangho, and they prepared to secure what they demanded by force of arms. The Chinese would neither acquiesce in the transfer of this region to the Kins nor take steps to defend it. They were driven out of that portion of the empire like sheep, and they even failed to make any stand at the passage of the Hoangho, where the Kin general declared that "there could not be a man left in China, for if two thousand men had defended the passage of this river we should never have succeeded in crossing it." Hoeitsong quitted his capital Kaifong to seek shelter at Nankin, where he hoped to enjoy greater safety, and shortly afterward he abdicated in favor of his son Kintsong. The siege of Kaifong which followed ended in a convention binding the Chinese to pay the Kins an enormous sum--ten millions of small gold nuggets, twenty millions of small silver nuggets, and ten million pieces of silk; but the Tartar soldiers soon realized that there was no likelihood of their ever receiving this fabulous spoil, and in their indignation they seized both Hoeitsong and Kintsong, as well as any other members of the royal family on whom they could lay their hands, and carried them off to Tartary, where both the unfortunate Sung princes died as prisoners of the Kins.
Although the Kins wished to sweep the Sungs from the throne, and their general Walipou went so far as to proclaim the emperor of a new dynasty, whose name is forgotten, another of the sons of Hoeitsong, Prince Kang Wang, had no difficulty in establishing his own power and in preserving the Sung dynasty. He even succeeded in imparting a new vigor to it, for on the advice of his mother, who pointed out to him that "for nearly two hundred years the nation appears to have forgotten the art of war," he devoted all his attention to the improvement of his army and the organization of his military resources. Prince Kang Wang, on becoming emperor, took the name of Kaotsong, and finally removed the southern capital to Nankin. He was also driven by his financial necessities to largely increase the issue of paper money, which had been introduced under the Tangs. As both the Kins and the Mongols had recourse to the same expedient, it is not surprising that the Sungs should also have adopted the simplest mode of compensating for a depleted treasury. Considering the unexpected difficulties with which he had to cope, and the low ebb to which the fortunes of China had fallen, much might be forgiven to Kaotsong, who found a courageous counselor in the Empress Mongchi, who is reported to have addressed him as follows: "Although the whole of your august family has been led captive into the countries of the north, none the less does China, which knows your wisdom and fine qualities, preserve toward the Sungs the same affection, fidelity, and zeal as in the past. She hopes and expects that you will prove for her what Kwang Vouti was for the Hans." If Kaotsong did not attain the height of this success, he at least showed himself a far more capable prince than any of his immediate predecessors.
The successful employment of cavalry by the Kins naturally led the Chinese to think of employing the same arm against them, although the inhabitants of the eighteen provinces have never been good horsemen. Kaotsong also devoted his attention especially to the formation of a corps of charioteers. The chariots, four-wheeled, carried twenty-four combatants, and these vehicles drawn up in battle array not only presented a very formidable appearance, but afforded a very material shelter for the rest of the army. Kaotsong seems to have been better in imagining reforms than in the task of carrying them out. After he had originated much good work he allowed it to languish for want of definite support, and he quarreled with and disgraced the minister chiefly responsible for these reforms. A short time after this the Kins again advanced southward, but thanks to the improvement effected in the Chinese army, and to the skill and valor of Tsongtse, one of Kaotsong's lieutenants, they did not succeed in gaining any material advantage. Their efforts to capture Kaifong failed, and their general Niyamoho, recognizing the improvement in the Chinese army, was content to withdraw his army with such spoil as it had been able to collect. Tsongtse followed up this good service against the enemy by bringing to their senses several rebellious officials who thought they saw a good opportunity of shaking off the Sung authority. At this stage of the war Tsongtse exhorted Kaotsong, who had quitted Nankin for Yangchow, to return to Kaifong to encourage his troops with his presence, especially as there never was such a favorable opportunity of delivering his august family out of the hands of the Kins. Tsongtse is reported to have sent as many as twenty formal petitions to his sovereign to do this, but Kaotsong was deaf to them all, and it is said that his obtuseness and want of nerve caused Tsongtse so much pain that he died of chagrin.
The death of Tsongtse induced the Kins to make a more strenuous effort to humiliate the Sungs, and a large army under the joint command of Akouta's son, Olito, and the general Niyamoho, advanced on the capital and captured Yangchow. Kaotsong, who saved his life by precipitate flight, then agreed to sign any treaty drawn up by his conqueror. In his letter to Niyamoho he said, "Why fatigue your troops with long and arduous marches when I will grant you of my own will whatever you demand?" But the Kins were inexorable, and refused to grant any terms short of the unconditional surrender of Kaotsong, who fled to Canton, pursued both on land and sea. The Kin conquerors soon found that they had advanced too far, and the Chinese rallying their forces gained some advantage during their retreat. Some return of confidence followed this turn in the fortune of the war, and two Chinese generals, serving in the hard school of adversity, acquired a military knowledge and skill which made them formidable to even the best of the Kin commanders. The campaigns carried on between 1131 and 1134 differed from any that had preceded them in that the Kin forces steadily retired before Oukiai and Changtsiun, and victory, which had so long remained constant in their favor, finally deserted their arms. The death of the Kin emperor, Oukimai, who had upheld with no decline of luster the dignity of his father Akouta, completed the discomfiture of the Kins, and contributed to the revival of Chinese power under the last emperor of the Sung dynasty. The reign of Oukimai marks the pinnacle of Kin power, which under his cousin and successor Hola began steadily to decline.
The possession of Honan formed the principal bone of contention between the Kins and Sungs, but after considerable negotiation and some fighting, Kaotsong agreed to leave it in the hands of the Kins, and also to pay them a large annual subsidy in silk and money. He also agreed to hold the remainder of his states as a gift at the hands of his northern neighbor. Thus, notwithstanding the very considerable successes gained by several of the Sung generals, Kaotsong had to undergo the mortification of signing a humiliating peace and retaining his authority only on sufferance. Fortunately for the independence of the Sungs, Hola was murdered by Ticounai, a grandson of Akouta, whose ferocious character and ill-formed projects for the subjugation of the whole of China furnished the Emperor Kaotsong with the opportunity of shaking off the control asserted over his actions and recovering his dignity. The extensive preparations of the Kin government for war warned the Sungs to lose no time in placing every man they could in the field, and when Ticounai rushed into the war, which was all of his own making, he found that the Sungs were quite ready to receive him and offer a strenuous resistance to his attack. A peace of twenty years' duration had allowed of their organizing their forces and recovering from an unreasoning terror of the Kins. Moreover, there was a very general feeling among the inhabitants of both the north and the south that the war was an unjust one, and that Ticounai had embarked upon a course of lawless aggression which his tyrannical and cruel proceedings toward his own subjects served to inflame.
The war began in 1161 A. D., with an ominous defeat of the Kin navy, and when Kaotsong nerved himself for the crisis in his life and placed himself at the head of his troops, Ticounai must have felt less sanguine of the result than his confident declaration that he would end the war in a single campaign indicated. Before the two armies came into collision Ticounai learned that a rebellion had broken out in his rear, and that his cousin Oulo challenged both his legitimacy and his authority. He believed, and perhaps wisely, that the only way to deal with this new danger was to press on, and by gaining a signal victory over the Sungs annihilate all his enemies at a blow. But the victory had to be gained, and he seems to have underestimated his opponent. He reached the Yangtsekiang, and the Sungs retired behind it. Ticounai had no means of crossing it, as his fleet had been destroyed and the Sung navy stood in his path. Such river junks as he possessed were annihilated in another encounter on the river. He offered sacrifices to heaven in order to obtain a safe passage, but the powers above were deaf to his prayers. Discontent and disorder broke out in his camp. The army that was to have carried all before it was stopped by a mere river, and Ticounai's reputation as a general was ruined before he had crossed swords with the enemy. In this dilemma his cruelty increased, and after he had sentenced many of his officers and soldiers to death he was murdered by those who found that they would have to share the same fate. After this tragic ending of a bad career, the Kin army retreated. They concluded a friendly convention with the Sungs, and Kaotsong, deeming his work done by the repulse of this grave peril, abdicated the throne, which had proved to him no bed of roses, in favor of his adopted heir Hiaotsong. Kaotsong ruled during the long period of thirty-six years, and when we consider the troubled time through which he passed, and the many vicissitudes of fortune he underwent, he probably rejoiced at being able to spend the last twenty-five years of his life without the responsibility of governing the empire and free from the cares of sovereignty.
The new Kin ruler Oulo wished for peace, but a section of his turbulent subjects clamored for a renewal of the expeditions into China, and he was compelled to bend to the storm. The Kin army, however, had no cause to rejoice in its bellicoseness, for the Chinese general, Changtsiun, defeated it in a battle the like of which had not been seen for ten years. After this a peace was concluded which proved fairly durable, and the remainder of the reigns of both Oulo and Hiaotsong were peaceful and prosperous for northern and southern China. Both of these princes showed an aversion to war and an appreciation of peace which was rare in their day. The Kin ruler is stated to have made this noble retort when he was solicited by a traitor from a neighboring state to seize it: "You deceive yourself if you believe me to be capable of approving an act of treason whatever the presumed advantage it might procure me. I love all peoples of whatever nation they may be, and I wish to see them at peace with one another." It is not surprising to learn that a prince who was so thoroughly imbued with the spirit of civilization should have caused the Chinese classics to be translated into the Kin language. Of all the Kin rulers he was the most intellectual and the most anxious to elevate the standard of his people, who were far ruder than the inhabitants of southern China.
Hiaotsong was succeeded by his son Kwangtsong, and Oulo by his grandson Madacou, both of whom continued the policy of their predecessors. Kwangtsong was saved the trouble of ruling by his wife, the Empress Lichi, and after a very short space he resigned the empty title of emperor, which brought him neither satisfaction nor pleasure. Ningtsong, the son and successor of Kwangtsong, ventured on one war with the Kins in which he was worsted. This the last of the Kin successes, for Madacou died soon afterward, just on the eve of the advent of the Mongol peril, which threatened to sweep all before it, and which eventually buried both Kin and Sung in a common ruin. The long competition and the bitter contest between the Kins and Sungs had not resulted in the decisive success of either side. The Kins had been strong enough to found an administration in the north but not to conquer China. The Sungs very naturally represent in Chinese history the national dynasty, and their misfortunes rather than their successes appeal to the sentiment of the reader. They showed themselves greater in adversity than in prosperity, and when the Mongol tempest broke over China they proved the more doughty opponent, and the possessor of greater powers of resistance than their uniformly successful adversary the Kin or Golden Dynasty.