Uyghurs and Khitans - Horseback Mongolia
Uyghurs and Khitans

Uyghurs and Khitans

The Uyghurs

The Uyghurs were Turkish-speaking nomads living in Central Asia. They must not be mistaken for the present Uyghurs who are settled. The second kingdom of blue Turkish people suffered a lot from bloody plots. Subjects began to rebel. Uyghurs excelled in mutiny and managed to overthrow the Turkish. The khan Peilo claime`d independence and established links with Tang's China. His heir Moyanchur throned in 747 and had to face up to riots from Uyghur nobles. These events show how wrong is the European myth of the rigid authority of Oriental leaders. Quite the reverse, Central Asia's leaders had little political power. Aristocrats had so much freedom that they were able to settle a system of control and balance. This political structure was very efficient in the nomadic monarchies.

After beating the rebels, the khan Moyanchur led the Uyghurs to wars to secure the country. He beat the Turgesh and Kyrgyz nations. Later, the Uyghurs led campaigns to protect from enemies and establish their hegemony. Uyghurs took part in several battles and Chinese rebellions. For example, they had relationships with Tibet, and these three kingdoms – Uyghur, Chinese, Tibetan – fought against it, forming alliances and coalitions.

This fighting weakened the Uyghur kingdom. In the 9th century, the Uyghurs had to face up to separatist branches. Notably the Kyrgyz lord Ajo, who declared the independence of his nation in 818 and threathened the Uyghurs to invade the territory... which occurred in 840. The Kyrgyz army took the capital and the treasure and threw out all the inhabitants. The remaining Uyghurs, led by Pan, ran away towards Zungaria. Some ran away to extreme East in Manchuria.

The Uyghurs loved the spirits of nature and demons. But in the second part of the 8th century, they converted to Manichaean belief that Iran had introduced. This belief mixed Christianity and agnosticism. This new religion introduced a new alphabet, derived from Sogdian writing.


The Khitans

The Khitans were a Mongolian minority. Although they're not direct forefathers of the contemporary Mongolians, they spoke a language similar to the one spoken in the future Western Manchuria. The Khitan system was based upon an elected monarchy. The representatives of the eight Khitan clans elected a single representative for three years. Doing this way, the Khitans could spend most of the 9th century without taking part to the wars of their neighbours.

But in 907, a brilliant leader, Elui Ambagan, refused to leave his function and he self-proclaimed emperor. The following year, he conquered the neighbouring countries, which strengthened his position in Central Asia. When he died, his son Deguan received a kingdom as solid as the one before. In 936, Deguan annexed 16 Chinese provinces, among which Beijing. That's how Deguan forced the Chinese people to recognise his title.

In 946, Deguan took the Chinese capital and announced the birth of the Liao dynasty. The new empire fulfilled several tasks, like making business with South China and pacify the northeastern people. From 966 to 973, the Liao Empire is at war with Tartary. The Liao Khitans moved towards South. They spent the twenty following years keeping under control the Tartary people.

Jurchen people were Manchu-speaking people. The Liao dynasty was drawning in war expenses, and the Jurchen took advantage of the opportunity to attack. The Liao dynasty ended in 1125.

The prince Elui Dashi tried to lead several attacks against the Jurchen, but he could not manage to save his kingdom. With the few inhabitants remaining, he ran away towards West, where he met the Seljuks. In 1141, the Seljuk sultan Sanjar attacked them. Elui Dashi managed to defeat him and settled in Central Asia where he formed a small state. Later, these Khitans were also defeated, like Kara-Khitans.

The aristocrat nomads used the Iranian phonics alphabet or runes. The government of the Liao Empire was based upon the Chinese administrative model. The Khitans were very cultivated. The academy Han-Lin gave lessons of Chinese and Khitan language to princes.


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