The Jin dynasty (Wade-Giles romanization Chin, also called Juchen dynasty, Juchen also spelled Jurchen, Pinyin Nüzchen, or Ruzhen, Wade-Giles romanization Nü-chen, or Ju-chen, Mongolian Jürched, or Jürchid) ruled an empire formed by the Tungus Juchen (or Jurchen) tribes of Manchuria. The empire covered much of Inner Asia and all of present-day North China.
Originally subjects of the Liao, an Inner Asian dynasty created in the 10th century by the Khitan tribes, the Juchen, with the aid of the Chinese Song dynasty, threw off the rule of their overlords and established their own dynasty between 1115 and 1122.
The Jin Dynasty was founded by the ethnic minority known as the Juchen who originated from the Heilongjiang River and Songhua River regions and the Changpai Mountain area. In 1115, one of the Juchen tribal leaders, by the name of Wanyan Aguda, unified the whole Juchen group and established the Jin Dynasty in Acheng City (currently in Heilongjiang Province). Later, the capital city was moved to Yanjing (currently Beijing and finally settled in Bianjing (currently Kaifeng).
Before and after the founding of the Jin Dynasty, there were constant battles between Liao (916-1125), Jin and Northern Song (960-1127).
Initially, Jin launched a series of attacks on Liao. This resulted in the five major cities of Liao being captured by the Jin army one after another.
In 1125, the Liao Dynasty was completely defeated by the Jin Dynasty.
After that, the Jin court focused all its military forces on fighting with the Northern Song. Due to the incompetence of the late Song's rulers, the Jin army easily conquered Northern Song's capital city, Kaifeng, in 1127. Thus the Jin Dynasty ended the Northern Song.
After that, the Jin Dynasty gradually unified the vast areas in the north along the Yellow River. After the founding of the Southern Song, the Jin court fell into further confrontation with them. During the reign of Emperor Shizong and Emperor Zhangzong, the national strength of the Jin Dynasty was at its zenith, with the Xixia (western Xia, a regime founded by another ethnic minority called the Dangxiang) made into a subordinate country and the weak Southern Song forced to make peace by paying tribute.
Interestingly, communication with other countries, especially the Song Dynasty, led to the Jin Dynasty gradually adopting a feudal system, resulting in a well developed social economy. Traditionally, the Juchen people lived from fishing and hunting, with livestock husbandry as their dominant industry. Under the influence of the Han people, agriculture, commerce and the handicraft industry made great progress. Significant cultural advancements in drama and literature were also made in the Jin Dynasty.
During the late Jin Dynasty, rulers became corrupt and there was a dramatic surge in national uprisings. What was worse, the Jin court in that period made enemies simultaneously with Xixia, the Northern Song and the Mongolian Kingdom. In 1234, the Jin army was finally defeated by the allied forces of the Northern Song and the Yuan Dynasty was founded by Mongolia. After 119 years, the Jin Dynasty came to an end.
As a nomadic tribe, the Jurchen people lived in the watersheds of the Heilongjiang and Songhua Rivers and the Changbai Mountain areas. They lived by hunting and fishing. In the beginning, the Liao Dynasty always asked them for pearls and hunting birds – Peregrine Falcons. In addition, the Liao officials often went to the Jurchen tribe to prey upon the people. The actions of the Liao Dynasty led to the Jurchen people's strong opposition. In the end, the Jurchen people established their own regime, the Jin Dynasty, and destroyed the Liao Dynasty in 1125, allying with the Northern Song Dynasty (960 - 1127).
After routing the Liao Dynasty, the Jin Dynasty began to aim its attentions at the Northern Song Dynasty. In 1127, Emperor Taizong Wanyan Sheng captured Kaifeng and kidnapped Emperors Huizong and Qingzong of the Northern Song. Thereafter, the Northern Song Dynasty collapsed, and the surviving royal members moved to the south and reestablished the Song Dynasty historically named the Southern Song Dynasty (1127 - 1279). Later, the Jin Dynasty continually started wars against the Southern Song Dynasty and the Western Xia Dynasty (1032 - 1227), and finally forced the Southern Song and Western Xia Dynasties to submit to them. Then, the Jin Dynasty came to its peak in the rule of Emperors Shizong and Zhangzong.
However, in the early 13th century, the Mongolian people, who submitted to the Jin Dynasty originally, gradually grew in strength as the Jin Dynasty declined. They didn't pay tribute to the Jin Dynasty any more. Facing that situation, the Jin Dynasty wrongly chose to break off communication with the Western Xia Dynasty and attack the Southern Song Dynasty and the Mongolian People. As a result, the Jin Dynasty was trapped in an isolated condition, with enemies in three directions. The Mongolian army launched wars against the Western Xia Dynasty, and the Jin Dynasty turned a deaf ear to the Western Xia's requests for help.
In the end, the Western Xia went over to the Mongolian people to attack the Jin Dynasty together. The Jin Dynasty was thus threatened in the west and north. To lessen the pressure, the Jin Dynasty moved their capital from Huining to Bianjing (Beijing), and adopted the stratagem of giving up the north and plotting against the south. Unluckily, the Jin Dynasty lost their territory to the Mongolian people in the north, and was frustrated by the Southern Song Dynasty in the south. Finally, the Jin Dynasty was destroyed under the converging attack of the Southern Song Dynasty and the Mongolian people in 1234.
Webpage © Jan-Erik Nilsson, Gothenburg, Sweden, 2002