CHAPTER IV. THE SUNGS AND THE KINS
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the clan had preferred independence to the maintenance of friendly relations with their greatest neighbor, and they had withdrawn northward into Manchuria.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.