In 1210 the Mongols began the first great assault against the Chin, the moment they had conquered the Hsia. In the years 1215-17 the Mongols took the military key-positions from the Chin. After that there could be no serious defence of the Chin empire. There came a respite only because the Mongols had turned against the West. But in 1234 the empire finally fell to the Mongols.
Many of the Chin entered the service of the Mongols, and with their permission returned to Manchuria; there they fell back to the cultural level of a warlike nomad people. Not until the sixteenth century did these Tunguses recover, reorganize, and appear again in history this time under the name of Manchus.
The North Chinese under Chin rule did not regard the Mongols as enemies of their country, but were ready at once to collaborate with them. The Mongols were even more friendly to them than to the South Chinese, and treated them rather better.
THE PERIOD OF ABSOLUTISM
(A) The Mongol Epoch (1280-1368)
1 Beginning of new foreign rules
During more than half of the third period of “Modern Times” which now began, China was under alien rule. Of the 631 years from 1280 to 1911, China was under national rulers for 276 years and under alien rule for 355. The alien rulers were first the Mongols, and later the Tungus Manchus. It is interesting to note that the alien rulers in the earlier period came mainly from the north-west, and only in modern times did peoples from the north-east rule over China. This was due in part to the fact that only peoples who had attained a certain level of civilization were capable of dominance. In antiquity and the Middle Ages, eastern Mongolia and Manchuria were at a relatively low level of civilization, from which they emerged only gradually through permanent contact with other nomad peoples, especially Turks. We are dealing here, of course, only with the Mongol epoch in China and not with the great Mongol empire, so that we need not enter further into these questions.
Yet another point is characteristic: the Mongols were the first alien people to rule the whole of China; the Manchus, who appeared in the seventeenth century, were the second and last. All alien peoples before these two ruled only parts of China. Why was it that the Mongols were able to be so much more successful than their predecessors? In the first place the Mongol political league was numerically stronger than those of the earlier alien peoples; secondly, the military organization and technical equipment of the Mongols were exceptionally advanced for their day. It must be borne in mind, for instance, that during their many years of war against the Sung dynasty in South China the Mongols already made use of small cannon in laying siege to towns. We have no exact knowledge of the number of Mongols who invaded and