Reasons for victory of Jin Dynasty in North China

SSDD

Ad Honorem
Aug 2014
3,900
India
#1
Why did Jin Dynasty win over Song dynasty in North China? was it because of Song military blunders, organizational deficiencies and lack of good horses?Or simply as Jurchens were Steppe Nomads so it was impossible to stop them?
 

Bart Dale

Ad Honorem
Dec 2009
7,095
#2
Keep in mind I don't think the Jin were entirely barbarian nomads by this time. They had been dealing with the Chinese for years. I think of them at least half civilized, like the the Goths in Rome.

The Southern Song were able.to hold their own against the Jin, so the Northern Song defeat was not just due to the Jurchens being nomads. What did the Southern Song do differently?
 
Feb 2018
186
US
#3
The Jurchen were agriculturalists and hunter gatherers (the Khitan were more nomadic, since their origin was closer to the eastern Mongolian steppe). The Jurchen Jin were much more aggressive in battle than the Khitan Liao, who emphasized strategic maneuvering before battle more. Details to my knowledge are fuzzy, but the Jin had even more heavily armored cavalry than the Liao and effectively punished weak infantry formations with great shock attacks.

Keep in mind the Northern Song had been at peace with the Liao for over a century. A large part of this was due to the Northern Song's hydraulic and forest belt defense system that covered the entire plains front of the Song/Liao border. When the Jurchen started crushing the Liao in Manchuria, the Song agreed to an alliance with the Jurchen, sensing an easy opportunity to retake the Beijing area they had always claimed was theirs. In order to advance north, the Song destroyed their border defense system but performed abysmally in battle against the weakened Liao due to their lack of practice and martial emphasis in society. After the Jurchen finished off the Liao, now the Song had no border defense system any longer and had been exposed as clearly second class soldiers. Since the Song were relying on their manmade forest and water belt, they had not invested in heavily fortified cities to hold the Yellow River barrier. So the Jin just had to beat the Song in battle and press forward very quickly, allowing them to capture Henan and Shandong in less than a decade of overrunning Manchuria.

The Song were eventually able to stabilize by fortifying the Yangtze and Huai rivers along with their navy. They had to come up with new strategic doctrines: that took time, but the Jin ran out of steam after they had captured the capital Kaifeng and Luoyang, and their logistics ran into difficulty when they pressed beyond the Yangtze. So these strategic problems gave the Song room to vastly upgrade their southern defensive system, and Yue Fei the opportunity to train a highly effective army that could beat the Jin on the field. In later wars the Jin could usually win on the field, but they ran into large problems campaigning south of the major rivers, since the Song navy was so much better. For example, Wuzhu's invasion of 1128-9 ended up with the Song trapping his army south of the Yangtze at Huangtiandang, with heavily fortified cities in front of him and the Song navy and army behind him. Wuzhu was able to extricate himself, but it was a close call, and the strategic initiative was lost. The Song also had better gunpowder weapons for some time, and once the war got serious they were able to actually find and promote good commanders like Yue Fei and Han Shizong instead of their peacetime deadwood generals.

The short gist is the Jin were extremely skilled in battle and exploited their tactical successes very quickly, leaving the Song no time to react. But Jin had to take time to absorb a huge amount of newly conquered territory, allowing the Song time to revamp their strategies and tactics to a new situation.
 

SSDD

Ad Honorem
Aug 2014
3,900
India
#4
The Jurchen were agriculturalists and hunter gatherers (the Khitan were more nomadic, since their origin was closer to the eastern Mongolian steppe). The Jurchen Jin were much more aggressive in battle than the Khitan Liao, who emphasized strategic maneuvering before battle more. Details to my knowledge are fuzzy, but the Jin had even more heavily armored cavalry than the Liao and effectively punished weak infantry formations with great shock attacks.

Keep in mind the Northern Song had been at peace with the Liao for over a century. A large part of this was due to the Northern Song's hydraulic and forest belt defense system that covered the entire plains front of the Song/Liao border. When the Jurchen started crushing the Liao in Manchuria, the Song agreed to an alliance with the Jurchen, sensing an easy opportunity to retake the Beijing area they had always claimed was theirs. In order to advance north, the Song destroyed their border defense system but performed abysmally in battle against the weakened Liao due to their lack of practice and martial emphasis in society. After the Jurchen finished off the Liao, now the Song had no border defense system any longer and had been exposed as clearly second class soldiers. Since the Song were relying on their manmade forest and water belt, they had not invested in heavily fortified cities to hold the Yellow River barrier. So the Jin just had to beat the Song in battle and press forward very quickly, allowing them to capture Henan and Shandong in less than a decade of overrunning Manchuria.

The Song were eventually able to stabilize by fortifying the Yangtze and Huai rivers along with their navy. They had to come up with new strategic doctrines: that took time, but the Jin ran out of steam after they had captured the capital Kaifeng and Luoyang, and their logistics ran into difficulty when they pressed beyond the Yangtze. So these strategic problems gave the Song room to vastly upgrade their southern defensive system, and Yue Fei the opportunity to train a highly effective army that could beat the Jin on the field. In later wars the Jin could usually win on the field, but they ran into large problems campaigning south of the major rivers, since the Song navy was so much better. For example, Wuzhu's invasion of 1128-9 ended up with the Song trapping his army south of the Yangtze at Huangtiandang, with heavily fortified cities in front of him and the Song navy and army behind him. Wuzhu was able to extricate himself, but it was a close call, and the strategic initiative was lost. The Song also had better gunpowder weapons for some time, and once the war got serious they were able to actually find and promote good commanders like Yue Fei and Han Shizong instead of their peacetime deadwood generals.

The short gist is the Jin were extremely skilled in battle and exploited their tactical successes very quickly, leaving the Song no time to react. But Jin had to take time to absorb a huge amount of newly conquered territory, allowing the Song time to revamp their strategies and tactics to a new situation.
But why did Song dynasty perform poorly against Liao? Also How Beijing area got under Liao dynasty to begin with?
 

Bart Dale

Ad Honorem
Dec 2009
7,095
#5
But why did Song dynasty perform poorly against Liao? Also How Beijing area got under Liao dynasty to begin with?

It may be southern China was less suitable.for.cavalry, and any Song defiecencynin cavalry.would not be as big a problem. But northern China may have been more vulnerable, and I see to recall the Song dynssty having trouble securing all the horses it needed. Against armies that relied heavily on cavalry, the Song were at a disadvantage, but perhaps better defenses allowed infantry to play a bigger role.for the Sothern Song. The use of the navy implies this.
 

heylouis

Ad Honorem
Apr 2013
6,397
China
#6
But why did Song dynasty perform poorly against Liao? Also How Beijing area got under Liao dynasty to begin with?
Beijing under Liao is not part of Song history.

after tang, multiple regime co-existed, among which the "later tang" claimed emperor.
however, similar to (late time period of) tang, the "later tang" controls loosely on local provinces, which was hijacked by military war lords.
among the war lords, one called Shi Jingtang declared rebellion, and asked for the aid from khitan.
for the price of aid, later khitan asked the area containing beijing, and Shi ceded it to khitan.

that is when khitan to become Liao, a mixed regime of khitan and han culture, and that is when beijing under liao's control.

northern song failed to conquer beijing when liao fell. that is mostly induced by the corruption and inner conflicts of northern song.
also, more importantly, as argued, northern song should in fact aid liao, rather than hit it more.
the northern song neither had the clear mind, nor it had the proper military preparation.
 
May 2009
1,255
#8
Keep in mind I don't think the Jin were entirely barbarian nomads by this time. They had been dealing with the Chinese for years. I think of them at least half civilized, like the the Goths in Rome.

The Southern Song were able.to hold their own against the Jin, so the Northern Song defeat was not just due to the Jurchens being nomads. What did the Southern Song do differently?
Naval superiority was definitely a major factor because many of the Jin/Southern Sung conflicts were fought on the water. This pushed the Sung to really expand their navy and develop new types of ships and naval armaments. The Jin did the same, mostly with the help of Sung defectors, but their navy couldn't match the Sung. This was the arms race of its time.
 

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