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A History of China by Wolfram Eberhard

In 1125 the Kitan empire was destroyed


seems that after 1127 a good number of farmers had left Honan and the Yellow River plains when the Juchen conquered these places and showed little interest in fostering agriculture; more left the border areas of Southern Sung because of permanent war threat. Many of these lived miserably as tenants on the farms of the gentry between Nanking and Hangchow. Others migrated farther to the south, across Kiangsi into southern Fukien. These migrants seem to have been the ancestors of the Hakka which in the following centuries continued their migration towards the south and who from the nineteenth century on were most strongly concentrated in Kwangtung and Kwangsi provinces as free farmers on hill slopes or as tenants of local landowners in the plains.

The influx of migrants and the increase of tenants and their poverty seriously threatened the state and cut down its defensive strength more and more.

At this stage, Chia Ssu-tao drafted a reform law. Chia had come to the court through his sister becoming the emperor's concubine, but he himself belonged to the lesser gentry. His proposal was that state funds should be applied to the purchase of land in the possession of the greater gentry over and above a fixed maximum. Peasants were to be settled on this land, and its yield was to belong to the state, which would be able to use it to meet military expenditure. In this way the country's military strength was to be restored.

Chia's influence lasted just ten years, until 1275. He began putting the law into effect in the region south of Nanking, where the principal estates of the greater gentry were then situated. He brought upon himself, of course, the mortal hatred of the greater gentry, and paid for his action with his life. The emperor, in entering upon this policy, no doubt had hoped to recover some of his power, but the greater gentry brought him down. The gentry now openly played into the hands of the approaching Mongols, so hastening the final collapse of the Sung. The peasants and the lesser gentry would have fought the Mongols if it had been possible; but the greater gentry enthusiastically went over to the Mongols, hoping to save their property and so their influence by quickly joining the enemy. On a long view they had not judged badly. The Mongols removed the members of the gentry from all political posts, but left them their estates; and before long the greater gentry reappeared in political life. And when, later, the Mongol empire in China was brought down by a popular rising, the greater gentry showed themselves to be the most faithful allies of the Mongols!

(5) The empire of the Juchen in the north (1115-1234)

1 _Rapid expansion from northern Korea to the Yangtze_

The Juchen in the past had been only a small league of Tungus tribes, whose name is preserved in that of the present Tungus tribe of the Jurchen, which came under the domination of the Kitan after the collapse of the state of Po-hai in northern Korea. We have already briefly mentioned the reasons for their rise. After their first successes against the Kitan (1114), their chieftain at once proclaimed himself emperor (1115), giving his dynasty the name "Chin" (The Golden). The Chin quickly continued their victorious progress. In 1125 the Kitan empire was destroyed. It will be remembered that the Sung were at once attacked, although they had recently been allied with the Chin against the Kitan. In 1126 the Sung capital was taken. The Chin invasions were pushed farther south, and in 1130 the Yangtze was crossed. But the Chin did not hold the whole of these conquests. Their empire was not yet consolidated. Their partial withdrawal closed the first phase of the Chin empire.

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