CHAPTER III. A LONG PERIOD OF DISUNION

His brother and successor, Hwaiti, fared somewhat better at first, but notwithstanding some flashes of success the Lin Tartars marched further and further into the country, capturing cities, defeating the best officers of the Tsins, and threatening the capital. In A.D. 310 Linsong, the Han chief, invaded China in force and with the full intention of ending the war at a blow. He succeeded in capturing Loyang, and carrying off Hwaiti as his prisoner. The capital was pillaged and the Prince Royal executed. Hwaiti is considered the first Chinese emperor to have fallen into the hands of a foreign conqueror. Two years after his capture, Hwaiti was compelled to wait on his conqueror at a public banquet, and when it was over he was led out to execution. This foul murder illustrates the character of the new race and men who aspired to rule over China. The Tartar successes did not end here, for a few years later they made a fresh raid into China, capturing Hwaiti's brother and successor, Mingti, who was executed, twelve months after his capture, at Pingyang, the capital of the Tartar Hans.

After these reverses the enfeebled Tsin rulers removed their capital to Nankin, but this step alone would not have sufficed to prolong their existence had not the Lin princes themselves suffered from the evils of disunion and been compelled to remove their capital from Pingyang to Singan. Here they changed their name from Han to Chow, but the work of disintegration once begun proceeded rapidly, and in the course of a few years the Lin power crumbled completely away. Released from their most pressing danger by the fall of this family, the Tsin dynasty took a new lease of life, but it was unable to derive any permanent advantage from this fact. The last emperors of this family were weak and incompetent princes, whose names need not be given outside a chronological table. There would be nothing to say about them but that a humble individual named Linyu, who owed everything to himself, found in the weakness of the government and the confusion in the country the opportunity of distinction. He proved himself a good soldier and able leader against the successors of the Lin family on one side, and a formidable pirate named Sunghen on the other. Dissatisfied with his position, Linyu murdered one emperor and placed another on the throne, and in two years he compelled his puppet, the last of the Later Tsins, to make a formal abdication in his favor. For a considerable portion of their rule they governed the whole of China, and it is absolutely true to say that they were the least worthy family ever intrusted with so great a charge. Of the fifteen emperors who ruled for one hundred and fifty-five years there is not more than the founder whose name calls for preservation on his own merits.

Although Linyu's success was complete as far as it went, his dynasty, to which he gave the name of Song, never possessed exclusive power among the Chinese. It was only one administration among many others, and during his brief reign of three years he could do nothing toward extending his power over his neighbors, although he may have established his own the more firmly by poisoning the miserable Tsin emperor whom he deposed. His son and successor, Chowti, was deposed and murdered after a brief reign of one year. His brother Wenti succeeded him, and he was soon drawn into a struggle for power, if not existence, with his northern neighbor the King of Wei, who was one of the most powerful potentates in the empire. The principal and immediate bone of contention between them was the great province of Honan, which had been overrun by the Wei ruler, but which Wenti was resolved to recover. As the Hoangho divides this province into two parts, it was extremely difficult for the Wei ruler to defend the portion south of it, and when Wenti sent him his declaration of war, he replied, "Even if your master succeeds in seizing this province I shall know how to retake it as soon as the waters of the Hoangho are frozen." Wenti succeeded in recovering Honan, but after a protracted campaign, during which the Wei troops crossed the river on the ice, his armies were again expelled from it, and the exhausted combatants found themselves at the close of the struggle in almost the same position they had held at the commencement. For a time both rulers devoted their attention to peaceful matters, although Topatao, king of Wei, varied them by a persecution of the Buddhists, and then the latter concentrated all his forces with the view of overwhelming the Song emperor. When success seemed certain, victory was denied him, and the Wei forces suffered severely during their retreat to their own territory. This check to his triumphant career injured his reputation and encouraged his enemies. A short time after this campaign, Topatao was murdered by some discontented officers.