Jin dynasty (1115–1234)

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Jin dynasty
Amba-an Ancu-un.png
Jin dynasty (blue) circa 1141
Capital Huining
Languages Middle Chinese, Jurchen, Khitan
Religion Buddhism,
Chinese folk religion
Government Monarchy
 •  1115–1123 Emperor Taizu (first)
 •  1234 Emperor Modi (last)
 •  Founded by Wanyan Aguda 28 January 1115
 •  Destruction of Liao dynasty 1125
 •  Capture of Bianliang from Song dynasty 9 January 1127
 •  Mongol invasion 1211
 •  Fall of Caizhou to Mongol Empire 9 February 1234
 •  1126 est.[1] 2,300,000 km2 (890,000 sq mi)
 •  1142 est. 3,000,000 km2 (1,200,000 sq mi)
Currency Chinese coin, Chinese cash
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Liao dynasty
Song dynasty
Mongol Empire
Southern Song
Eastern Liao
Eastern Xia
Today part of China (PRC), Russia, North Korea, Mongolia
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The Jin dynasty (Jurchen: Anchun Gurun; Chinese: 金朝; pinyin: Jīn Cháo; Wade–Giles: Chin dynasty, IPA: [tɕín tʂʰɑ̌ʊ̯]); Manchu: Aisin Gurun; Khitan language: Nik, Niku;[2][3] Mongolian: Altan Ulus; 1115–1234), officially the Great Jin (Chinese: 大金; pinyin: Dà Jīn), also known as the Jurchen dynasty, was founded by the Wanyan clan of the Jurchen people, the ancestors of the Manchu people who established the Qing dynasty some 500 years later. The name is sometimes written as Kin to differentiate it from an earlier Jìn dynasty of China whose name is identically spelled using the Latin alphabet.[4]

The Jurchen tribes were united by the chieftain and later first Jin emperor, Wanyan Aguda, who overthrew the Khitan Liao dynasty. During the reign of Aguda's successor, the Jin declared war against the Song dynasty and conquered much of northern China. The Song were forced to flee south of Yangtze River. The Jin dynasty fell after their defeat against the rising Mongol Empire, a steppe confederation that had formerly been a Jurchen vassal.


The Jin dynasty was officially known as the "Great Jin" at that time. Furthermore, the Jin emperors referred to their state as Zhongguo (中國) like some other non-Han dynasties.[5] Non-Han rulers expanded the definition of "China" to include non-Han peoples in addition to Han people, whenever they ruled China.[6] Yuan, Jin, and Northern Wei documents indicate the usage of "China" by dynasties to refer to themselves began earlier than previously thought.[7]


The Jin dynasty was created in what would become northern Manchuria by the Jurchen tribal chieftain Wanyan Aguda (完顏阿骨打) in 1115. Aguda adopted for his state the Chinese name for gold, itself a translation of "Anchuhu" River, which meant "golden" in Jurchen.[8] The Jurchens' early rival was the Liao dynasty, which had held sway over northern China, including Manchuria and part of the Mongol region, for several centuries. In 1121, the Jurchens entered into the Alliance on the Sea with the Song dynasty and agreed to jointly invade the Liao. While the Song armies faltered, the Jurchens succeeded in driving the Liao to Central Asia. In 1125, after the death of Aguda, the Jin broke the alliance with the Song and invaded North China. When the Song reclaimed the southern part of the Liao where Han Chinese lived, they were "fiercely resisted" by the Han Chinese population there who had previously been under Liao rule, while when the Jurchens invaded that area, the Han Chinese did not oppose them at all and handed over the Southern Capital (modern day Beijing, then known as Yanjing) to them.[9] On January 9, 1127, Jin forces ransacked Kaifeng, capital of the Northern Song dynasty, capturing both Emperor Qinzong and his father, Emperor Huizong, who had abdicated in panic in the face of Jin forces. Following the fall of Kaifeng, the succeeding Southern Song dynasty continued to fight the Jin for over a decade, eventually signing the Treaty of Shaoxing in 1141, which called for the cession of all Song land north of the Huai River to the Jin and the execution of Song General Yue Fei in return for peace. The peace treaty was formally ratified on 11 October 1142 when a Jin envoy visited the Song court.[10]

The migration south

After taking over Northern China, the Jin dynasty became increasingly Sinicized. About three million people, half of them Jurchens, migrated south into northern China over two decades, and this minority governed about thirty million people. The Jurchens were given land grants and organized into hereditary military units: 300 households formed a mou-ke (company) and 7-10 moukes formed a meng-an (battalion).[11] Many married Hans, although the ban on Jurchen nobles marrying Hans was not lifted until 1191. After Jin Emperor Tàizōng died in 1135, the next three Jin emperors were grandsons of Wányán Āgǔdǎ by three different princes. Young Jin Emperor Xīzōng (r. 1135–1149) studied the classics and wrote Chinese poetry. He adopted Han cultural traditions, but the Jurchen nobles had the top positions.

Later in life, Emperor Xīzōng became an alcoholic and executed many officials for criticizing him. He also had Jurchen leaders who opposed him murdered, even those in his own Wanyan family clan. In 1149 he was murdered by a cabal of relatives and nobles, who made his cousin Wányán Liàng the next Jin emperor. Because of the brutality of both his domestic and foreign policy, Wanyan Liang was posthumously demoted from the position of emperor. Consequently, historians have commonly referred to him by the posthumous name of King Hǎilíng.[12]

Rebellions in the north

Having usurped the throne, Wanyan Liang embarked on the program of legitimizing his rule as an emperor of China. In 1153, he moved the empire's main capital from Huining Fu in northern Manchuria (south of present-day Harbin) to the former Liao capital, Yanjing (now Beijing).[12][13] Four years later, in 1157, to emphasize the permanence of the move, he razed the nobles’ residences in Huining.[12][13] Hǎilíng also reconstructed the former Song capital, Bianjing (now Kaifeng), which had been sacked in 1127, making it the Jin's southern capital.[12]

China, 1142
Jade ornament with flower design, Jin dynasty, Shanghai Museum.

Prince Hǎilíng also tried to suppress dissent by killing Jurchen nobles, executing 155 princes.[12] To fulfill his dream of becoming the ruler of all China, Prince Hǎilíng attacked the Southern Song in 1161. Meanwhile, two simultaneous rebellions erupted in Manchuria: one of Jurchen nobles, led by Hǎilíng's cousin, soon-to-be crowned Wányán Yōng (完顏雍), and the other of Khitan tribesmen. Hǎilíng had to withdraw Jin troops from southern China to quell the uprisings. The Jin were defeated in the Battle of Caishi and Battle of Tangdao. With a depleted military force, Prince Hǎilíng failed to make headway in his attempted invasion of the Southern Song. Finally he was assassinated by his own generals in December of 1161, due to his defeats. His son and heir was also assassinated in the capital.[12]

Marble statue of a Buddhist monk, Jin dynasty, 1180
Wooden Bodhisattva statue, Jin dynasty, Shanghai Museum

Although crowned in October, Wányán Yōng was not officially recognized as Jin Emperor Shìzōng (世宗) until the murder of Prince Hǎilíng's heir.[12] The Khitan uprising was not suppressed until 1164; their horses were confiscated so that the rebels had to take up farming. Other Khitan and Xi cavalry units had been incorporated into the Jin army. Because these internal uprisings had severely weakened the Jin's capacity to confront the Southern Song militarily, the Jin court under Emperor Shizong began negotiating for peace. The Treaty of Lóngxīng (隆興和議) was signed in 1164 and ushered in more than 40 years of peace between the two empires.

In the early 1180s, Emperor Shìzōng instituted a restructuring of 200 meng'an units to remove tax abuses and help Jurchens. Communal farming was encouraged. The Jin empire prospered and had a large surplus of grain in reserve. Although learned in Chinese classics, Shizong was also known as a promoter of Jurchen language and culture; during his reign, a number of Chinese classics were translated into Jurchen, the Imperial Jurchen Academy was founded, and the Imperial examinations started to be offered in the Jurchen language.[14] Shizong's reign (1161–1189) was remembered by the posterity as the time of comparative peace and prosperity, and the emperor himself was compared to the legendary Yao and Shun[14]

Shìzōng's grandson, Emperor Zhāngzōng (章宗) (r. 1189–1208) venerated Jurchen values, but he also immersed himself in Chinese culture and married an ethnic Han woman. The Taihe Code of law was promulgated in 1201 and was based mostly on the Tang Code. In 1207 the Song tried to invade, but the Jin forces effectively repulsed them. In the peace agreement the Song had to pay higher annual indemnities and behead Hán Tūozhòu (韩侂胄), the leader of their war party.[15]

Fall of Jin

Starting from the early 13th century the Jin dynasty began to feel the pressure of Mongols from the north. Genghis Khan first led the Mongols into Western Xia territory in 1205 and ravaged it four years later. In 1211 about 50,000 Mongols on horses invaded the Jin Empire and began absorbing Khitan and Jurchen rebels. The Jin army had a half million men with 150,000 cavalry but abandoned the “western capital” Datong (see also Badger's Mount Campaign). The next year the Mongols went north and looted the Jin "eastern capital", and in 1213 they besieged the "central capital", Zhongdu (Beijing). In 1214 the Jin made a humiliating treaty but retained the capital. That summer, Jin Emperor Xuānzōng (宣宗) abandoned the central capital and moved the government to the "southern capital" of Kaifeng, making it the official seat of Jin dynasty power. In 1216 a war faction persuaded Xuānzōng to attack the Song, but in 1219 they were defeated at the same place by the Yangtze River where Prince Hǎilíng had been defeated in 1161. The Jin now faced a two front war that they could not afford. Furthermore, the Jin Emperor Āizōng (哀宗) won a succession struggle against his brother and then quickly ended the war and went back to the capital. He made peace with the Tanguts (Western Xia), who had been allied with the Mongols.

Many Han Chinese and Khitan defected to the Mongols to fight against the Jin. Two Han Chinese leaders, Shi Tianze, Liu Heima (劉黑馬, Liu Ni),[16] and the Khitan Xiao Zhala defected and commanded the 3 Tumens in the Mongol army.[17] Liu Heima and Shi Tianze served Ogödei Khan.[18] Liu Heima and Shi Tianxiang led armies against Western Xia for the Mongols.[19] There were 4 Han Tumens and 3 Khitan Tumens, with each Tumen consisting of 10,000 troops.

Shi Tianze was a Han Chinese who lived in the Jin dynasty (1115–1234). Interethnic marriage between Han and Jurchen became common at this time. His father was Shi Bingzhi (史秉直, Shih Ping-chih). Shi Bingzhi was married to a Jurchen woman (surname Na-ho) and a Han Chinese woman (surname Chang), it is unknown which of them was Shi Tianze's mother.[20] Shi Tianze was married to two Jurchen women, a Han Chinese woman, and a Korean woman, and his son Shi Gang was born to one of his Jurchen wives.[21] His Jurchen wive's surnames were Mo-nien and Na-ho, his Korean wife's surname was Li, and his Han Chinese wife's surname was Shi.[20] Shi Tianze defected to the Mongol Empire's forces upon their invasion of the Jin dynasty. His son Shi Gang married a Kerait woman, the Kerait were Mongolified Turkic people and considered as part of the "Mongol nation".[22][23]

The Yuan dynasty created a "Han Army" out of defected Jin troops.[24]

Genghis Khan died in 1227 while his armies were conquering the Western Xia dynasty. His son Ögedei Khan invaded the Jin Empire in 1232 with assistance from the Southern Song. The Jurchens tried to resist; but when the Mongols besieged Kaifeng in 1233, Āizōng fled south to the city of Caizhou. An allied army of Song and Mongols looted the capital, and the next year Āizōng committed suicide to avoid being captured when the Mongols besieged Caizhou, ending the Jin dynasty in 1234.[12] The territory of the Jin was to be divided between the Mongols and the Song. However, due to lingering territorial disputes, the Song and the Mongols eventually went to war with one another over these territories.

In Empire of The Steppes, René Grousset reports that the Mongols were always amazed at the valor of the Jin warriors, who held out until seven years after the death of Genghis Khan.


Contemporary Chinese writers ascribed Jurchen success in overwhelming the Liao and Northern Song mainly to their cavalry. Already during Aguda's rebellion against the Liao, all Jurchen fighters were mounted. It was said that the Jurchen cavalry tactics were a carryover from their hunting skills.[25] Jurchen horsemen were provided with heavy armor; on occasions, they would use a team of horses attached to each other with chains (拐子马, guaizi ma)[25]

The Chengling Pagoda of Zhengding, Hebei province, built between 1161 and 1189.

As the Liao Empire fell apart and the Song retreated beyond the Yangtze, the army of the new Jin dynasty absorbed many soldiers who formerly fought for the Liao or Song.[25] The new Jin empire adopted many of the Song's weapons, including various machines for siege warfare and artillery. In fact, the Jin use of cannons, grenades, and even rockets to defend besieged Kaifeng against the Mongols in 1233 is considered the first ever battle in human history in which gunpowder was used effectively, even though it failed to prevent the eventual Jin defeat.[25]

On the other hand, the Jin was not particularly good at naval warfare. Both in 1129–30 and in 1161 Jin forces were defeated by the Southern Song navies when trying to cross the Yangtze River into the core Southern Song territory (see Battle of Tangdao and Battle of Caishi), even though for the latter campaign the Jin had equipped a large navy of their own, using Chinese shipbuildiers and even Chinese captains who had defected from the Southern Song.[25]

In 1130 the Jin army reached Hangzhou and Ningbo in southern China. But heavy Chinese resistance and the geography of the area halted the Jin advance, and they were forced retreat and withdraw, and they had not been able to escape the Song navy when trying to return until they were directed by a Chinese defector who helped them escape in Chenkiang. Southern China was then cleared of the Jurchen forces.[26][27]

The Jin Great Wall

In order to prevent incursion from the Mongols, a large construction program was launched. The records show that two important sections of the Great Wall were completed by the Jurchen Jin dynasty.

The Great Wall as constructed by the Jurchens differed from the previous dynasties. Known as the Border Fortress or the Boundary Ditch of the Jin, it was formed by digging ditches within which lengths of wall were built. In some places subsidiary walls and ditches were added for extra strength. The construction was started in about 1123 and completed by about 1198. The two sections attributable to the Jin Dynasty are known as the Old Mingchang Walls and New Great Walls, together stretching more than 2,000 kilometers in length.[1]


The government of the Jin dynasty merged Jurchen customs with institutions adopted from the Liao and Song dynasties.[28] The predynastic Jurchen government was based on the quasi-egalitarian tribal council.[29] Jurchen society at the time did not have a strong political hierarchy. The Shuo Fu (說郛) records that the Jurchen tribes were not ruled by central authority and locally elected their chieftains.[28] Tribal customs were retained after Aguda united the Jurchen tribes and formed the Jin dynasty, coexisting alongside more centralized institutions.[30] The Jin dynasty had five capitals, a practice they adopted from the Balhae and the Liao.[31] The Jin had to overcome the difficulties of controlling a multi-cultural empire composed of territories once ruled by the Liao and Northern Song. The solution of the early Jin government was to establish separate government structures for different ethnic groups.[32]


In the 17th century, the Jurchen chief Nurhaci combined the three Jurchen tribes after thirty years of struggle and founded the Later Jin dynasty (1616–1636). Nurhaci's eighth son and heir, Hung Taiji, later changed the name of his people from Jurchen to Manchu in 1635. The next year, he changed the name of the Later Jin to Qing in 1636. However, the Qing Imperial family, the Aisin Gioro, are unrelated to the Jin Jurchen Imperial family, the Wanyan.

List of emperors

Part of a series on the
History of Manchuria
Sovereigns of Jin dynasty 1115–1234
Temple Name
Miao Hao
Posthumous Name
Shi Hao
Birth Name
Years of
Era Name
Nian Hao
and Years
Convention: "Jin" + temple name or posthumous name
(1) Wányán Āgǔdǎ
Wányán Min

Shōuguó (收國, 1115–1116) 
Tiānfǔ (天輔, 1117–1123)

(1) Wányán Wúqǐmǎi
Wányán Shèng
1123–1135 Tiānhuì (天會, 1123–1135)
(1) Wányán Hélá
Wányán Dǎn

Tiānhuì (天會, 1135–1138) 
Tiānjuàn (天眷, 1138–1141) 
Huángtǒng (皇統, 1141–1149)

(2) Hǎilíngwáng
Wányán Dígǔnǎi
Wányán Liàng

Tiāndé (天德, 1149–1153) 
Zhènyuán (貞元, 1153–1156) 
Zhènglóng (正隆, 1156–1161)

(1) Wányán Wūlù
Wányán Yōng
1161–1189 Dàdìng (大定, 1161–1189)
(1) Wányán Jǐng
1189–1208 Míngchāng (明昌, 1190–1196) 

Chéng'ān (承安, 1196–1200) 
Tàihé (泰和, 1200–1208)

(2) Wèishàowáng
Wányán Yǒngjì
1208–1213 Dà'ān


(1) Wányán Xún
1213–1224 Zhēnyòu


(1) Wányán Shǒuxù
1224–1234 Zhèngdà


Wányán Chénglín
1234 (2)

(1) Quite long and thus not used when referring to this sovereign.
(2) Did not exist

Emperors family tree

See also



  1. Lua error in Module:Citation/CS1/Identifiers at line 47: attempt to index field 'wikibase' (a nil value).
  2. 关于契丹小字中的 “金”
  3. 天朝万顺(岁)”臆解可以休矣
  4. Lipschutz, Leonard (1 August 2000). Century-By-Century: A Summary of World History. iUniverse. p. 59. ISBN 9780595125784. Retrieved 28 June 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Zhao 2006, p. 7.
  6. Zhao 2006, p. 6.
  7. Zhao 2006, p. 24.
  8. Franke 1994, p. 221.
  9. eds. Twitchett & Franke & Fairbank 1994, p. 39.
  10. Robert Hymes (2000). John Stewart Bowman, ed. Columbia Chronologies of Asian History and Culture. Columbia University Press. p. 34. ISBN 978-0-231-11004-4.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. Mark C. Elliot, The Manchu Way: The eight banners and ethnic identity in late imperial China (Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 2001), p. 60.
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 12.4 12.5 12.6 12.7 Ethics of China 7 BC To 1279 by Sanderson Beck
  13. 13.0 13.1 Tao (1976), p. 44
  14. 14.0 14.1 Tao (1976), Chapter 6. "The Jurchen Movement for Revival", Pages 69-83.
  15. Chinese History - Song dynasty 宋 event history (www.chinaknowledge.de)
  16. Collectif 2002, p. 147.
  17. May 2004, p. 50.
  18. Schram 1987, p. 130.
  19. eds. Seaman, Marks 1991, p. 175.
  20. 20.0 20.1 ed. de Rachewiltz 1993, p. 41.
  21. Kinoshita 2013, p. 47.
  22. [books.google.com/books?id=nCIPD1V39QkC&pg=PA14#v=onepage&q&f=false Watt 2010], p. 14.
  23. Kinoshita 2013, p. 47.
  24. Hucker 1985, p.66.
  25. 25.0 25.1 25.2 25.3 25.4 Tao (1976), Chapter 2. "The Rise of the Chin dynasty", Pages 21-24.
  26. René Grousset (1970). The Empire of the Steppes: A History of Central Asia (reprint, illustrated ed.). Rutgers University Press. p. 137. ISBN 0-8135-1304-9. Retrieved 14 December 2011. The emperor Kao-tsung had taken flight to Ningpo (then known as Mingchow) and later to the port of Wenchow, south of Chekiang. From Nanking the Kin general Wu-chu hastened in pursuit and captured Hangchow and Ningpo (end of 1129 and beginning of 1130. However, the Kin army, consisting entirely of cavalry, had ventured too far into this China of the south with its flooded lands, intersecting rivers, paddy fields and canals, and dense population which harassed and encircled it. We-chu, leader of the Kin troops, sought to return north but was halted by the Yangtze, now wide as a sea and patrolled by Chinese flotillas. At last a traitor showed him how he might cross the river near Chenkiang, east of Nanking (1130).<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  27. Jacques Gernet (1996). A history of Chinese civilization (2, illustrated, revised ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 357. ISBN 0-521-49781-7. Retrieved 14 December 2011. Nanking and Hangchow were taken by assault in 1129 and in 1130 the Jürchen ventured as far as Ning-po, in the north-eastern tip of Chekiang.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  28. 28.0 28.1 Franke 1994, p. 265.
  29. Franke 1994, pp. 265–266.
  30. Franke 1994, p. 266.
  31. Franke 1994, p. 270.
  32. Franke 1994, p. 267.


External links

Preceded by
Liao dynasty
Dynasties in Chinese history
Succeeded by
Yuan dynasty