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Western Xia

Western Xia



Location of Western Xia in 1111 (green in north west)
Capital Xingqing
Languages Tangut, Chinese
Religion Primary:
Chinese folk religion
Government Monarchy
 -  1038–1048 Emperor Jingzong
 -  1206–1211 Emperor Xiangzong
 -  1226–1227 Emperor Mozhu
Historical era Post-classical history
 -  Li Jiqian rebels against Song dynasty 984
 -  Dynasty established by Emperor Jingzong 1038
 -  Subjugated by Mongol Empire 1210
 -  Destroyed by Mongol Empire after rebellion 1227
 -  1142 est. 800,000 km² (308,882 sq mi)
 -  peak est. 3,000,000 
Today part of  China
History of China
History of China
Neolithic c. 8500–c. 2100 BCE
Xia dynasty c. 2100–c. 1600 BCE
Shang dynasty c. 1600–c. 1046 BCE
Zhou dynasty c. 1045–256 BCE
 Western Zhou
 Eastern Zhou
   Spring and Autumn
   Warring States
Qin dynasty 221–206 BCE
Han dynasty 206 BCE – 220 CE
  Western Han
  Xin dynasty
  Eastern Han
Three Kingdoms 220–280
  Wei, Shu and Wu
Jin dynasty 265–420
  Western Jin
  Eastern Jin 16 Kingdoms
Southern and Northern Dynasties
Sui dynasty 581–618
Tang dynasty 618–907
  (Second Zhou 690–705)
5 Dynasties and
10 Kingdoms

Liao dynasty
Song dynasty
  Northern Song W. Xia
  Southern Song Jin
Yuan dynasty 1271–1368
Ming dynasty 1368–1644
Qing dynasty 1644–1911
Republic of China 1912–1949
People's Republic
of China

Republic of
China on Taiwan


The Western Xia (

  • 宁夏新闻网 (Ningxia News Web): 西夏研究 (Xixia Research).
  • 宁夏新闻网 (Ningxia News Web): 文化频道.

External links

  1. ^ a b c Stein (1972), pp. 70–71.
  2. ^ Wang, Tianshun [王天顺] (1993). Xixia zhan shi [The Battle History of Western Xia] 西夏战史. Yinchuan [银川], Ningxia ren min chu ban she [Ningxia People's Press] 宁夏人民出版社.
  3. ^ Bian, Ren [边人] (2005). Xixia: xiao shi zai li shi ji yi zhong de guo du [Western Xia: the kingdom lost in historical memories] 西夏: 消逝在历史记忆中的国度. Beijing [北京], Wai wen chu ban she [Foreign Language Press] 外文出版社.
  4. ^ Li, Fanwen [李范文] (2005). Xixia tong shi [Comprehensive History of Western Xia] 西夏通史. Beijing [北京] and Yinchuan [银川], Ren min chu ban she [People's Press] 人民出版社; Ningxia ren min chu ban she [Ningxia People's Press] 宁夏人民出版社.
  5. ^ Zhao, Yanlong [赵彦龙] (2005). "Qian tan xi xia gong wen wen feng yu gong wen zai ti [A brief discussion on the writing style in official documents and documental carrier] 浅谈西夏公文文风与公文载体." Xibei min zu yan jiu [Northwest Nationalities Research] 西北民族研究 45(2): 78-84.
  6. ^ Qin, Wenzhong [秦文忠], Zhou Haitao [周海涛] and Qin Ling [秦岭] (1998). "Xixia jun shi ti yu yu ke xue ji shu [The military sports, science and technology of West Xia] 西夏军事体育与科学技术." Ningxia da xue xue bao [Journal of Ningxia University] 宁夏大学学报 79 (2): 48-50.
  7. ^ Dorje (1999), p. 444.
  8. ^ Leffman, et al. (2005), p. 988.
  9. ^ Lü, Jianfu [呂建福], 2002. Tu zu shi [The Tu History] 土族史. Beijing [北京], Zhongguo she hui ke xue chu ban she [Chinese Social Sciences Press] 中囯社会科学出版社. p. 311–312.
  10. ^ a b c d May, Timothy (2012). The Mongol Conquests in World History. London:  
  11. ^ C. P. Atwood Encyclopedia of Mongolia and the Mongol Empire, p.590
  12. ^ a b de Hartog, Leo (2004). Genghis Khan: Conqueror of the World. New York City:  
  13. ^ J. Bor Mongol hiigeed Eurasiin diplomat shashtir, vol.II, p.204
  14. ^ Rossabi, William (2009). Genghis Khan and the Mongol empire. Seattle:  
  15. ^ Jack Weatherford Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World, p.85
  16. ^  
  17. ^ Kessler, Adam T. (2012). Song Blue and White Porcelain on the Silk Road.  
  18. ^ a b Kohn, George C. (2007). Dictionary of Wars (3rd ed.). New York City:  
  19. ^  
  20. ^ a b c Ebrey, Patricia Buckley (2012). East Asia: A Cultural, Social, and Political History (3rd ed.).  
  21. ^ Emmons, James B. (2012). Li, Xiaobing, ed. Genghis Khan. China at War: An Encyclopedia ( 
  22. ^  
  23. ^  
  24. ^  
  25. ^  
  26. ^ a b c  
  27. ^ Hartog 2004, pg. 134
  28. ^  
  29. ^ de Hartog, Leo (2004). Genghis Khan: Conqueror of the World. New York City:  
  30. ^  
  31. ^  
  32. ^ a b c de Hartog, Leo (2004). Genghis Khan: Conqueror of the World. New York City:  
  33. ^ Lange, Brenda (2003). Genghis Khan. New York City:  
  34. ^  
  35. ^ Sinor, D.; Shimin, Geng;  
  36. ^  
  37. ^ Boland-Crewe, Tara and Lea, David, ed. (2002). The Territories of the People's Republic of China. London:  
  38. ^  
  39. ^ Franke, Herbert and Twitchett, Denis, ed. (1995). The Cambridge History of China: Vol. VI: Alien Regimes & Border States, 907–1368. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pg. 214.
  40. ^ Mote 1999, pg. 256
  41. ^  


  • Dorje, Gyurme (1999). Footprint Tibet Handbook with Bhutan. 2nd Edition. Footprint Handbooks, Bath, England. ISBN 1-900949-33-4.
  • Leffman, David, et al. (2005). The Rough Guide to China. 4th Edition. Rough Guides, New York, London, Delhi. ISBN 978-1-84353-479-2.
  • Kwanten, Luc. "Chingis Kan's Conquest of Tibet, Myth or Reality". Journal of Asian History 8.1 (1974): 17–23.
  • Ferenczy, Mary: "The Formation of Tangut Statehood as Seen by Chinese Historiographers". In: Louis Ligeti (editor): Tibetan and Buddhist Studies Commemorating the 200th Anniversary of the Birth of Alexander Csoma de Körös. Vol. 1, Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest 1984, ISBN 963-05-3902-0, p. 241–249.
  • Stein, R. A. (1972). Tibetan Civilization. Faber and Faber. London and Stanford University Press. ISBN 0-8047-0806-1 (cloth); ISBN 0-8047-0901-7 (paper).
  • Mote, F. W. (1999). ‘’Imperial China: 900–1800’’. Cambridge, Mass. : Harvard University Press. ISBN 0-674-01212-7.


See also

Temple Name Posthumous Name Personal Name Reign Dates
Jǐngzōng 景宗 Wǔlièdì 武烈帝 Lǐ Yuánhào 李元昊 1038–1048
Yìzōng 毅宗 Zhāoyīngdì 昭英帝 Lǐ Liàngzuò 李諒祚 1048–1067
Huìzōng 惠宗 Kāngjìngdì 康靖帝 Lǐ Bǐngcháng 李秉常 1067–1086
Chóngzōng 崇宗 Shèngwéndì 聖文帝 Lǐ Qiánshùn 李乾順 1086–1139
Rénzōng 仁宗 Shèngzhēndì 聖禎帝 Lǐ Rénxiào 李仁孝 1139–1193
Huánzōng 桓宗 Zhāojiǎndì 昭簡帝 Lǐ Chúnyòu 李純佑 1193–1206
Xiāngzōng 襄宗 Jìngmùdì 敬穆帝 Lǐ Ānquán 李安全 1206–1211
Shénzōng 神宗 Yīngwéndì 英文帝 Lǐ Zūnxū 李遵頊 1211–1223
Xiànzōng 獻宗 none Lǐ Déwàng 李德旺 1223–1226
Mòdì 末帝 none Lǐ Xiàn 李晛 1226–1227
450 years after the destruction of the Tangut empire, the "Kingdom of Tenduc or Tangut" was still shown on some European maps as China's northwestern neighbor

Rulers of Western Xia

The destruction of Western Xia during the second campaign was near total. According to John Man, Western Xia is little known to anyone other than experts in the field precisely because of Genghis Khan's policy calling for their complete eradication. He states that "There is a case to be made that this was the first ever recorded example of attempted genocide. It was certainly very successful ethnocide."[38] However, some members of the Western Xia royal clan emigrated to western Sichuan, northern Tibet, even possibly northeast India, in some instances becoming local rulers.[39] A small Western Xia state was established in Tibet along the upper reaches of the Yarlung River, while other Western Xia populations settled in what are now the modern provinces of Henan and Hebei.[40] In China, remnants of the Western Xia persisted into the middle of the Ming dynasty.[41]

Genghis reached Yinchuan in 1227, laid siege to the city, and launched several offensives into Jin to prevent them from sending reinforcements to Western Xia, with one force reaching as a far as Kaifeng, the Jin capital.[29] Yinchuan lay besieged for about six months, after which Genghis opened up peace negotians while secretly planning to kill the emperor.[30] During the peace negotiations, Genghis continued his military operations around the Liupan mountains near Guyuan, rejected an offer of peace from the Jin, and prepared to invade them near their border with the Song.[31][32] However, in August 1227, Genghis died of a historically uncertain cause, and, in order not to jepoardize the ongoing campaign, his death was kept a secret.[33][34] In September of 1227, Emperor Mozhu surrendered to the Mongols and was promptly executed.[32][35] The Mongols then mercilessly pillaged Yinchuan, slaughtered the city's population, plundered the imperial tombs west of the city, and completed the effective annihilation the Western Xia state.[20][32][36][37]

In August 1226, Mongol troops approached Wuwei, the second-largest city of the Western Xia empire, which surrendered without resistance in order to escape destruction.[25] At this point, Emperor Xianzong died, leaving Mozhu to deal with a collapsing state as the Mongols encroached on the capital.[26] In Autumn 1226, Genghis took Liangchow, crossed the Helan Shan desert, and in November lay siege to Lingwu, a mere 30 kilometers from Yinchuan.[26][27] Here, in the Battle of Yellow River, the Mongols destroyed a force of 300,000 Western Xia that launched a counter-attack against them.[26][28]

After defeating Khwarazm in 1221, Genghis prepared his armies to punish Western Xia for their betrayal. Meanwhile, Emperor Shenzong stepped down from power in 1223, leaving his son, Xianzong, in his place. In 1225, Genghis attacked with a force of approximately 180,000.[21] After taking Khara-Khoto, the Mongols began a steady advance southward. Asha, commander of the Western Xia troops, could not afford to meet the Mongols as it would involve an exhausting westward march from the capital Yinchuan through 500 kilometers of desert, and so the Mongols steadily advanced from city to city.[22] Enraged by Western Xia's fierce resistance, Genghis engaged the countryside in annihilative warfare and ordered his generals to systematically destroy cities and garrisons as they went.[18][20][23] Genghis divided his army and sent general Subutai to take care of the westernmost cities, while the main force under Genghis moved east into the heart of the Western Xia Empire and took Ganzhou, which was spared destruction upon its capture due to it being the hometown of Genghis's commander Chagaan.[24]

In 1219, Genghis Khan launched his campaign against the Khwarazmian dynasty in Central Asia, and requested military aid from Western Xia. However, the emperor and his military commander Asha refused to take part in the campaign, stating that if Genghis had too few troops to attack Khwarazm, then he had no claim to supreme power.[18][19] Infuriated, Genghis swore vengeance and left to invade Khwarazm, while Western Xia attempted alliances with the Jin and Song dynasties against the Mongols.[20]

After their defeat in 1210, Western Xia attacked the Jin dynasty as punishment for their refusal to aid them against the Mongols.[17] The following year, the Mongols joined Western Xia and began a 23-year-long campaign against Jin. The same year, 1211, Li Anquan abdicated the throne, and subsequently died, after Shenzong seized power.

In 1209, the Genghis undertook a larger campaign to secure the submission of Western Xia. After defeating a force led by Kao Liang-Hui outside Wulahai, Genghis captured the city and pushed up along the Yellow River, defeated several cities, and besieged the capital, Yinchuan, which held a well-fortified garrison of 150,000.[15] The Mongols, at this point inexperienced at siege warfare, attempted to flood out the city by diverting the Yellow River, but the dike they built to accomplish this broke and flooded the Mongol camp.[10] Nevertheless, Emperor Li Anquan, still threatened by the Mongols and receiving no relief from the Jin Dynasty, agreed to submit to Mongol rule, and demonstrated his loyalty by giving a daughter, Chaka, in marriage to Genghis and paying a tribute of camels, falcons, and textiles.[16]

Using his rival Nilga Senggum's temporary refuge in Western Xia as a pretext, Temujin launched a raid against the state in 1205 in the Edsin region.[10][11][12] The Mongols plundered border settlements and one local Western Xia noble accepted Mongol supremacy.[13] The next year, 1206, Temujin was formally proclaimed Genghis Khan, ruler of all the Mongols, marking the official start of the Mongol Empire. while Li Anquan killed Huanzong of Western Xia in a coup d'état and installed himself as Emperor Xiangzong. In 1207, Genghis led another raid into Western Xia, invading the Ordo region and sacking Wulahai, the main garrison along the Yellow River, before withdrawing in 1208.[12][14]

In the late 1190s and early 1200s, Temujin, soon to be Genghis Khan, began consolidating his power in Mongolia. Following the death of the Kerait leader Ong Khan to Temujin's emerging Mongol Empire in 1203, Keriat leader Nilqa Senggum led a small band of followers into Western Xia, also known as Xi-Xia.[10] However, after his adherents took to plundering the locals, Nilqa Senggum was expelled from Western Xia territory.[10]

After Renzong's death, Emperor Huanzong of Western Xia came into power and Western Xia's power began to fail. After Genghis Khan unified the northern grasslands of Mongolia, the Xianbei who resided near Mt. Yin self-proclaimed to be "White Mongols" and joined them. They received the same treatment as the Mongols and partook in their westward conquests in Central Asia and Europe.[9]

Conquest by the Mongols

In 1115, the Jürchen Jin dynasty was established and Liao emperor fled to Western Xia in 1123. Chongzong submitted to the Jin demand of the Liao emperor and Western Xia became a vassal state of Jin. After Jin Dynasty attacked and took parts of the northern territories from the Song, initiating the Southern Song period, Western Xia also attacked and took several thousands square miles of land. Immediately following Renzong's coronation, many natural disasters occurred and Renzong worked to stabilize the economy. The kingdom developed a Tangut script to write its own Tibeto-Burman language.[1][8]

After Jingzong's death (1048), Yizong became the emperor at the age of two. His mother became the regent and during Yizong's reign, Liao Dynasty launched an invasion of Western Xia, causing Western Xia to submit to Liao Dynasty as a vassal state. After Yizong's death, Huizong was put under house arrest by his mother, and she attacked Song Dynasty. The attack was a failure, and Huizong took back power from his mother. After Chongzong became emperor, his grandmother (Huizong's mother) became regent again and launched invasion of Liao Dynasty and Song Dynasty. Again, both campaigns ended in defeat and Chongzong took direct control of Western Xia. He ended wars with both Liao and Song and focused on domestic reform.

Early history

The foundation of Western Xia goes back to the year 982 under Li Jiqian. However, only in 1038 did the Tangut chieftain Li Yuanhao (son of Li Deming, who also ordered the creation of a Tangut script and the translation of Chinese classics into Tangut) named himself emperor of Da Xia and demanded the Song emperor recognise him as an equal. The Song court recognised Li Yuanhao as governor but not as "emperor", a title it regarded as exclusive to the Song emperor. After intense diplomatic contacts, in 1043 the Tangut state accepted the recognition of the Song emperor as emperor in exchange for annual gifts, which implied tacit recognition on the part of the Song of the military power of the Tangut.

The Tuoba clan of the Xianbei of Tuyuhun founded the Western Xia. After the Tibetans destroyed the Tuyuhun in 670, its famous prince, Tuoba Chici, who controlled the Dangxiang Qiang submitted to the Tang, which "bestowed" upon him the royal name of Li (李). Towards the end of the Tang, the Tuoba brought troops to suppress the Huang Chao Rebellion (874–884) on behalf of the Tang court and took control of the Xia State, or Xia Zhou, in northern Shaanxi in 881. After the Tang fell in 907, the Tuoba descendants formally declared resistance against the expanding Northern Song in 982 and proclaimed independence to establish the Western Xia in 1038.


"Western Xia" is the literal translation of the state's Chinese name. It is derived from its location on the western side of the Yellow River, in contrast to the Liao (916–1125) and Jin (1115–1234) dynasties on its east and the Song in the southeast. The English term "Tangut" comes from the Mongolian name for the country, Tangghut (Taŋɣud), believed to reflect the same word as "Dangxiang" (traditional Chinese: 党項) found in Chinese literature.

The full title of the Western Xia as named by their own state is "" reconstructed as /*phiow¹-bjij²-lhjij-lhjij²/ which translates as "The Great Xia State of the White and the Lofty" (白高大夏國), or called "mjɨ-njaa" or "khjɨ-dwuu-lhjij" (萬秘國). The region was known to the Tanguts and the Tibetans as Minyak.[1][7]



  • Name 1
  • Foundations 2
  • Early history 3
  • Conquest by the Mongols 4
  • Rulers of Western Xia 5
  • See also 6
  • References 7
  • Notes 8
  • External links 9


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