Today in Chinese history: the Siege of Kaifeng ends (1233)

Chinese history isn’t really what we cover around here, but I’m making an exception for the 1232-1233 Siege of Kaifeng. Why? Well, partly because the Mongols were involved, but also because, from the standpoint of military history, there were some incredible things happening in China in this period. The Jin, who were the ruling dynasty in northern China and the target of the Mongols’ offensive, were using early gunpowder weapons (the Mongols may have been using gunpowder by this point as well, but there’s no great evidence for it). Some of them appear to have been quite devastating, while others were probably more useful in terms of terrifying the enemy than in physically injuring them, but nevertheless they all played a role in the Jins’ lengthy, ultimately unsuccessful but still pretty impressive defense of the city. At least one of them, the “fire-lance,” had actually been around for a couple of centuries by this point, but Kaifeng offers one of the first detailed accounts of its use, by a Jin official who lived through the siege.

Source: Today in Chinese history: the Siege of Kaifeng ends (1233)


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