This article throws light upon the top seven chinese rulers of the Khitan dynasty.
1. Tai Chung:
Backed by his mother the younger son of Apoki, Tai Chung succeeded to the throne.
He too continued to plunder the Chinese territory. The Shado Emperor Tekwang sent his son-in-law to defend the frontiers, but he went over to the side of the rebels.
The Khitans, with their tents and carts, invaded China.
Mao Ki Re made a frantic appeal that he is allowed to continue to rule and serve his people, but it fell on deaf ears. His army was badly defeated. His son-in-law, Shi King Tau became the Emperor and in return for the help received from the Khitans, he gave them a province and many presents.
Yen Ching (modern Peking) became one of the administrative centres of the Khitans. Thus the foundation of the future glory of Peking was laid. The dynasty founded by Tai Chung came to be known as the Lyayo dynasty.
The Khitan Empire within China was divided into twelve Provinces. Besides, Manchuria and the Northern Tartar territoy was also theirs. Tai Chung organised his Empire on the Chinese pattern. He sent presents every year to the Chinese court. It is probable that it was because Shanking Tung violated their treaty that Tai Chung began to raid and plunder the Chinese territories. Ultimately however, he was defeated by the Chinese armies and had to flee to Yunchi. There he regrouped his forces and penetrated into the Chinese Capital, Pujan.
The Chinese Emperor and his mother begged for mercy, even sending the royal Chariot to receive him, but he spurned it, saying: ‘I have taken a vow to conquer the whole of China. I have no time to travel in chariots for the sake of appearances.’ The following day the Khitan conqueror entered the Chinese capital wearing a Sumerian cap and mounted on a horse. All the Chinese officers prostrated themselves before him, but after entering the city he declared that people need have no fear as he was, after all, only a man.
Three weeks later he was formally crowned as Emperor according to Chinese rites and an amnesty was declared to mark the occasion. The Emperor now began to be called “Mahalyao”. He appointed Khitan Governors for every province, giving them interpreters so that they might be able to carry on the work of administration. When the Khitan army was short of food, it looted the people to make up the shortage.
In Shansi province almost all the Khitan governors were killed by the Chinese commander, Lyu Chi Yuvan. Putting his brother-in-law in charge of the capital, Tai Chung set out with a large retinue. Crossing the Hwang Ho he reached Chang Te but fell ill after he had proceeded as far as Lyayo Chang and died there. The Khitan carried his corpse to the North.
2. Shi Chung (Bu Yu):
After Tai Chung, his nephew Bu Yu, son of Turyuk, succeeded to the throne. He was a cruel but large-hearted man. Although addicted to drinking, he was a good artist and a well-read person. He was with his uncle in China when he died. The Chinese general was unable to take advantage of the hundred thousand soldiers at his command and fell into the trap Bu Yu laid for him when he went to a drinking party, and was thrown into prison. Bu Yu then declared that his uncle’s behest was that he should occupy the throne.
But his grandmother was backing the second son of Tai Chung, and as a result struggle began between the two rival claimants. The army did not side with the grand-mother so she had to suffer defeat and was sent to some place in the North where the remains of Apoki were to be found.
After ruling for five years Bu Yu ordered the army to loot the people in order to make up for a shortage of supplies. The army refused to obey him. They revolted and killed Bu Yu.
3. Mu Chung (Shu Lu):
Shu Lu, the son of Tai Chang, was the next to come to the throne. He had no interest in the affairs of the state and spent his nights in drinking bouts and the days in sleeping, and that is why he was nicknamed the “sleeper”. In 959, the second king of the Chao dynasty seized a number of towns from the Khitans, but Mu Chung declared that he did not mind as long as they retained at least some of the towns. In 960, the Soong dynasty was established.
This dynasty followed a policy of appeasing the Tartars, while the Khitans continued their plundering raids. The Soong Emperor, Tai Chu, decided to lead an attack against them in person. Mu Chung was killed and in his place the son of Shi Chung came to the throne.
4. Ching Chung:
The Khitan emperors now began to assume Chinese names. In 970, the Chinese armies defeated the Khitans. However, after 975 the relations between the two improved and there were exchanges of emissaries on a number of occasions. The Khitans began to imbibe chinese culture very rapidly and when the Soong Emepror, Tai Chu died a special delegation was sent to convey condolence on their behalf.
In 978, however, war broke out again. The new Soong emperor Tai Chung (976-97) seized Tu Ming (Peking) and ten thousand Khitans were killed in the battle. But frequent battles had made the area desolate that the Soong army soon left it.
5. Shing Chung:
Till the death of Ching Chung the looting and plunder continued. After him his twelve year old son sat on the throne with his mother as -gent who had been an intimate of a chinese general. In 986, after the failure of a Chinese offensive the Khitans succeeded in defeating all the Soong Emperor again launched an attack and defeated the Khitans, where upon a large number of families crossed the Hwang Ho and sought shelter China. The Soong Emperor thus gained a strong force to assist him.
Disgusted with endless wars, the Khitan king and the Queen mother collected their whole army and attacked the Soong Emperor. It was in this battle that the Khitans used a species of cannon for the first time in history. It was a device on the bow and arrow principle which threw huge stones and Thinks of wood. Here they were not successful, but in Shang Chao they practically sounded the Soong armies although their commander was wounded and had to withdraw to his tent. A truce was then negotiated and a settlement took place.
In return for the part of their territory seized by the Chinese, the khitans were to receive compensation. In 1010 the Queen mother died and her death was followed soon after by that of her lover, the Chinese general on the death of Cheng Chung, Shing Chung became the new emperor. After this no major strife with the Khitans is reported.
Shing Chung, the son of Cheng Chung, now came to the throne. By this time the Tungtos (Tibetans) had grown quite strong. In 1028, the Tungto king captured the Uigur town of Chang Chang. Feeling the increasing pressure of the Tibetans the Soong Emperor then tried to get back the provinces he had lost.
But on such proposal of the Soong ambassador the Khitan king replied: ‘Our people are not too keen on war. But if as compensation we get another Chinese province I shall be satisfied. The emissary of the Soong Emperor explained that he was willing to increase the value of the presents that were being sent him but the treaty between the two should not be broken. Shing Chung realised the force of his arguments.
He next demanded a princess, to which the emissary replied: ‘Marriage ties lead to quarrels. Exchange of presents is a better tie between two peoples. A hundred thousand ounces of silver is all that is sent as the dowry of a first-rate princess, but this is less than the presents that are being offered to you. Shing Chung replied: ‘Very well, when you come next I will let you know which I prefer, the present or the princess’.
The Chinese Emissary came again. It was decided that instead of 200,000 bales of silk, 300,000 would be given. Further, that China should see that the Po Hang dam was not destroyed, that the arimes on the borders would not be increased and that the Khitans would not give shelter to refugees from China.
In 1044, the Khitans attacked the Tungtos on the plea that they had given shelter to refugees. The Khitans were victorious. In 1054, to mark the completion of fifty years of peaceful relations between the two countries, Shing Chung sent his portrait to China and asked for Jung Chung’s in exchange. The following year, after completing twenty five years of his rule, Shing Chung died and his son ascended the throne. Shing Chung had been a devout Buddhist and had appointed Buddhist monks to many high offices.
Relation between the Soong and Khitan emperors continued to be cordial, but nothing could prevent the Khitan nomads from carrying on occasional raids on the borders. Realising that war would prove too costly, the Chinese preferred to tolerate them.
Customs and Manners:
The Khitans spent the months of February and March in hunting. Later they would break the ice-crust on the Tarur river in order to catch fish. They also hunted snipe. In the summer they went to Tyan Shan in order to spend the autumn in hunting deer in the mountains. Two of their tribes, the Syao, reperesenting the royal Ghei family, and the Yuyerut, representing the royal Khitan family, were considered superior to all others.
Before Apoki, a democratic form of administration had prevailed, but Apoki abolished that and introduced the monarchical system of government.
For carrying on the administration there was a political assembly. The executive committee and the central staff were referred to as the ‘south side’ people, because they lived in the southern part of the place.
Tagin: The Royal Prince.
Ilipur: Assistant Minister.
Linya: The Professor or Priest.
Ilgin: Title of the Provincial Governor.
Four of their tribes, i. e. the Ghei, Shikhi, Muchen and Botaskoi had a special function and special rights. All the youths of these tribes between the ages of fifteen and twenty five were subject to compulsory military service.
When the Khitans went for battle they sacrificed a grey bull and a white horse. The practice of sacrificing a white horse was followed by the Huns and later by the Mongols. This sacrifice was meant for appeasing the deities of the heavens, earth and the sun. When the king died a gold image of him was kept in a separate tent and every month wine was drunk there in his memory.
The king maintained the horses, while every soldier was expected to bring with him his own saddle, bow and arrows, spear, axe, hammer, a small flag, flask, a ration bag, a piece of felt, an umbrella, two hundred feet of rope and a bag of fodder. The Khitans would set out in the month of November on their expeditions of loot and plunder, returning in February.
They would scatter as soon as they entered a village and, not content with loot, they would pluck the fruit from the trees and burn the houses. They would round up children and women old and young, and carry them off. They would attack towns in small groups. When they approached a mountain pass or narrow passage, they would appoint guards for safety. In contrast to the highly mobile Khitan army, the Chinese army consisted mainly of foot-soldiers, who carried huge quantities of stores with them and consequently became easily tired. ,
In 1067, the Khitans began to call their dynasty the “Mahalyayo” dynasty. While the Soong Emperor sat on the throne, the Khitans sent him a good-will mission to express their friendship. At the same time they fortified their towns and strengthened their border forces. In 1074, an emissary was sent with complaints to the Chinese court.
He succeeded in getting some concessions and also settling the question of boundary. Meanwhile, quarrels broke out within the Khitan family as a result of which the prince and his mother lost their lives. After a reign lasting 47 years, Tau Chung died in 1101 and his grandson Yen Hi ascended the throne.
6. Tyan Chu Ti:
The Chinese Emperor had died just a year before Tyan Chu came to the throne. Immediately after coming to power Tyan sent a mission to the Chinese court. At this time the Chinese were engaged in a war with the Tibetans, whose Empire had begun to break up. The Chinese had sought the help of the Khitans against the Tungtos and the Khitans agreed to mediate between the two powers.
Tyan Chu Ti was a short-tempered and greedy person, who had to face the revolt of the Nechena tribe, led by their Chief, Akuta. The Botaskoi army was sent against the rebels but Akuta defeated them: After a number of defeats Tyan Chu himself led an army against them but Akuta defeated him in every battle. As against the Khitans, who called themselves the Lya tribe (Iron), Akuta named his tribe Kin, or “golden“, and assumed the title of Kin Emperor.
Later, the Batskoi tribe also revolted and their commander, Kao Yung Chung, proclaimed himself Emperor. The whole of the modern Lyao Tung valley, except Mukden, was under their control, but ultimately the Chinese Emperor sent a huge army against them and their leader was killed.
In 1108, there was a severe drought in their territory and people in their hunger killed one another to feed themselves. Tyan Chu made his uncle the commander, because it was his influence that had saved Mukden. But he was defeated by the Nechens, who seized all the important towns. They sent a list of demands to the Khitans, the foremost being that the Kin chief should be recognised as the Emperor of the’ Khitans.
The Khitans sent a crown and other presents to placate Akuta, but he refused to be satisfied with these and continued his advance until he seized their capital. Tyan Chu fled to Yven Yeng, where he forced his second son to commit suicide so that he might not stand in the way of his younger son becoming king. This, however, set the people against him. His followers left him, he had to flee from town to town and while proceeding from Tendus, he was killed by his own servants.
7. Te Chung:
After the death of Tyan Chu, Te Chung, who had been placed in command of Peking assumed control of the kingdom. The Kins were negotiating with the Chinese and demanded that Akuta be recognised as the equal to the Chinese Emperor. The Soong family thought it wise to accede to this demand and going further gave up their claim to Peking and Tyan Chin.
The Kins later began to claim the whole of China north of the Hwang Ho. Failing to receive a satisfactory reply from the Soong Emperor the Kin General crossed the Hwang Ho, and without encountering much resistance, seized the territory which is now known as Kang Shang Phu.
The victors demanded five million ounces of gold, ten million ounces of silver and a million yards of silk. The Soong Emperor immediately sent two hundred thousand ounces of gold and four millon ounces of silver, promising to pay the rest by installments. But the Kins soon attacked them again and were ultimately successful in defeating the Soong armies completely.
It was in these battles that the weapons which Chengiz Khan used later were first tested. After the capital had been wrested from him the Soong Emperor surrendered to the Kin commander Chun Muho who rather than assuming the troublesome responsibility of running the administration of the kingdom proposed to accept a heavy ransom. He demanded ten million ounces of gold, a hundred million
throne and the Kins carried him, his queen and several thousand attendants to their territory. Thereafter Shansi, Santung, Chi Li and Honan, became part of the Kin Empire.
The Khitan Empire had come to a close, but one of their princes, Yu Lu Daisi founded a vast Empire which is known in history as the Karakhitai Empire.