History of Yanqing County

This page presents the very little information I have managed to find about the history of Beijing's Yanqing County. It is all to be taken with a healthy grain of salt. Corrections and additional information are most welcome.

 

Prehistory:

 

The most striking thing I've found about the prehistory of Yanqing County is the Shanrong people (山戎族). The Shanrong are mentioned in every Chinese article I've come across on the subject, but I can not find any mention of them in any non-Chinese source. So who were the Shanrong people? According to Baidu Baike, they are:

 

山戎族

古代北方民族名,又称 北戎 , 匈奴 的一支。活动地区在今 河北省 北部。见《春秋·庄公三十年》、《汉书·匈奴传上》。后亦为北方少数民族的泛称。Shanrong People
Ancient northern ethnic group's name, also called Beirong, a branch of the Xiongnu/Huns. Active in the northern part of modern Hebei Province. See 《春秋·庄公三十年》、《汉书·匈奴传上》 [I'm not going to try translating the names of these books. Presumably they already have standard English names] Later also a general term for ethnic minorities of the north.

Well, that's all very vague. Wikipedia, like all the non-Chinese sources I've come across, makes no mention of the Shanrong, as I already said, but does mention other prehistoric cultures found in southeastern Inner Mongolia, northern Hebei, and western Liaoning. I suspect these may be relevant to figuring out who the Shanrong are from a Western point of view because it would seem that historically Yanqing has been more closely linked to that area than to downtown Beijing. It should also be noted that Baidu Baike identifies the Shanrong as a branch of the Xiongnu, who are commonly associated with the Huns, although Wikipedia seems to cast some doubt on that.

I'll start with the other prehistoric cultures occupying the area of southeastern Inner Mongolia, northern Hebei and western Liaoning:

  1. Lower Xiajiadian Culture/夏家店下层文化 2200 - 1600 BC.
  2. Upper Xiajiadian Culture/夏家店上层文化 1000- 600 BC.

One could perhaps also add the older Hongshan Culture/红山文化 of 4700 - 2900 BC. But none of this tells us anything about the Shanrong exactly. All it does is perhaps provide some possible antecedents to the Shanrong. And then there is absolutely no guaruntee. The wikipedia article on the Xiongnu, of whom the Shanrong are supposed to be a branch, tells us:

The Xiongnu (Chinese: 匈奴; Pinyin: Xiōngnú; Wade-Giles: Hsiung-nu); were a nomadic people from Central Asia, generally based in present day Mongolia and China. From the 3rd century BC they controlled a vast steppe empire extending west as far as the Caucasus. They were active in the areas of southern Siberia, western Manchuria and the modern Chinese provinces of Inner Mongolia, Gansu and Xinjiang. Relations between the Han Chinese and the Xiongnu were complicated and included military conflict, exchanges of tribute and trade, and marriage treaties.

The bulk of information on the Xiongnu comes from Chinese sources. What little is known of their titles and names comes from transliterations of Chinese character phoneticizations of their language. Only about 20 Xiongnu words[1] belonging to the Altaic languages are known[2], and only a single Xiongnu sentence survives from the Chinese documents.

 

Ah, right. "Western Manchuria", but no mention of northern Hebei let alone Yanqing. Also note that it say used to say [the article seems to have been edited since I last read it] ancient, perhaps legendary records said that the Xiongnu were descended from a son of the final ruler of the Xia dynasty, and that the Chinese of the Spring and Autumn period believed the remnants of the Xia were the people of the state of Qi/杞 who, "due to internal differences and strife", fled to the north and west.

 

Here's what wikipedia has to say about the Qi:

Qi (Chinese: 杞 ) was a minor feudal state that appeared in Chinese history from the beginning of the Shang Dynasty (16th c. BCE) until the Warring States Period circa 445 BCE.

The state of Qi was said to have been founded when the first king of the Shang Dynasty enfeoffed the direct descendants of the royal family of the deposed Xia Dynasty in the area that is now Qi County in Kaifeng, eastern Henan. The state of Qi gradually moved eastward to the area of Xintai in Shandong Province until it was finally destroyed by King Hui of Chu. One of these progeny of the Xia Dynasty, Chunwei, was supposed to have become the king of the Xiongnu in later Chinese history.

The state of Qi was apparently very small in scale, as it is rarely mentioned in ancient Chinese documents except to say that "its affairs are not worth mentioning." It is perhaps best known as the inspiration for a popular Chinese idiom, 杞人憂天 (qǐ rén yōu tiān, literally, "Qi people lament heaven" or "the people of Qi worry about the sky"), which is said to refer to the fact that the people of Qi often talked anxiously about the sky falling down on their heads. The idiom is used when mocking a person's needless anxiety over an impossible, inconsequential, or inevitable matter.

Not a lot of information. But key to my little study here is that they, or at least the rulers, were apparently direct descendents of the royal family of Xia, and that one of them, Chunwei, is supposed to have become the king of the Xiongnu.

Now this is very, very confusing. A descendant of Xia becomes king of the Xiongnu. A descendant of the presumably Sinitic Xia becomes king of the apparently Altaic Xiongnu. Or, as wikipedia puts it:

The original geographic location of Xiongnu is generally placed at the Ordos. According to Sima Qian, the Xiongnu were descendants of Chunwei (淳維), possibly a son of Jie, the final ruler of the Xia Dynasty. However, while there is no direct evidence contradicting this account, there is no direct evidence supporting it either.

So I'm going with Chunwei as ancestor of the Xiongnu as a convenient little myth.

But wait- why "apparently Altaic Xiongnu"? It seems that some scholars have linked the Xiongnu language to the Yeniseian languages. A couple of interesting quotations from that article on the Yeniseian languages:

"Attempts have been made by Russian scholars to establish a relationship with Burushaski or the Sino-Tibetan languages, and Yeniseian frequently forms part of the Dene-Caucasian hypothesis or variants thereof."

And:

"The Yeniseian languages have been described as having up to four tones or no tones at all. The 'tones' are concomitant with glottalization, vowel length, and breathy voice, not unlike the situation reconstructed for Old Chinese before the development of true tones in Chinese. The Yeniseian languages have highly elaborate verbal morphology, to an extreme found elsewhere in Eurasia only in Burushaski and, to a lesser extent, in Basque and the Languages of the Caucasus. (All of these languages are ergative as well.)"

I will not attempt to speculate on the reliability of the wikipedia article or the quality of the scholarship that linked up all these widely scattered languages. But it is interesting to see a potential link between the Xiongnu and Sino-Tibetan languages and apparent similarities in the tones of the Yeniseian languages and Old Chinese. But just to keep the waters nicely muddied, try this from the article on the Xiongnu:

Recent genetics research dated 2003[4] confirms the studies[5] indicating that the Turkic peoples,[6] originated from the same area and therefore are possibly related.

As archaeological indicate, petroglyph sites in Yinshan and Helanshan dated from the 9th millennium BC to 19th century had been discoverd, the rock art of the Yinshan and Helanshan consists mainly of engraved signs (petroglyphs) and only minimally of painted images.[7] Through gathered data, scholar like Ma Liqing had make a comparison between the petroglyphs (which he presumed to be the sole extant of possible Xiongnu's writings), and the Orkhon script (the earliest known Turkic alphabet) recently, and argued a new connection between both of them.[8]

But this is all a wild goose chase so far. Let's get back to what I can establish:

Basically all I've found of prehistoric Yanqing is the Shanrong people, who were a branch of the Xiongnu. That's all I can say with any certainty. So what can I find about the Shanrong? Well, for that I have to turn to Chinese sources, many of which must be translated. As an example to show just how pathetically unhelpful non-Chinese sources are, the closest I can find to a mention of the Shanrong people in wikipedia is this from the article on the State of Yan:

The borders of the Yan were approximately in a horizontal shape, stretching from the mountains of Shanxi Province to the Liaodong Peninsula. As the most northeastern of all the Chinese states during this time period, it suffered several invasions from Mongolia. The border states of Zhao and Qi were its main enemies. The mountainous border in the west between the Zhao and the Yan became the area in which the armies belonging to the two kingdoms often clashed. Despite this, the war between the Zhao and the Yan usually dragged on into a stalemate, requiring the help of other kingdoms to conclude.

The key sentence: "As the most northeastern of all the Chinese states during this time period, it suffered several invasions from Mongolia."

We'll start with this:

Remains of Shanrong in the Beijing area during the Spring and Autumn and Warring States periods has been found to focus on the north mountainous area the area located in the Jundu Hill, north of Badaling in Yanqing County.

From August,1985 to december,1987, the operators of cultural relics from Beijing disinhumed more than five hundreds tombs of Shanrong during the Spring and Autumn and Warring States periods in the three places of Yuhuangmiao, Guchengcun and Hulugou in Yanqing county and more than eight thousand Shanrong-distinctive relics of variety came to light. These remains and the relics play an important role in the historical research of Shanrong in the Beijing area.

Well, the English is less than ideal, but we have them placed in Yanqing county during the Spring and Autumn and Warring States periods, 770 - 221 BC. This would seem to give us some overlap with the Upper Xiajiadian Culture (1000 - 600 BC), although that's hardly proof of anything. Trying to stick with the facts, remember that.

The Shanrong people:

So trying to figure out what was happening in and around prehistoric Yanqing is rather frustrating, as is trying to figure out exactly who the Xiongnu and Shanrong were and where they came from. But what can we find out about the Shanrong? Fortunately, 延庆文化网 has an online exhibition of the Shanrong. The foreword is interesting:

长城既是人类活动的伟大象征,也是一个重要的地理标志——它与400毫 米等降雨线大体重合,它是高原和平原之间的落差,干旱与半干旱两大地区在此分道扬镳,但更为重要的是草原民族与农耕民族在这里树立起各自家园的文化藩篱 ——长城的重要意义不在于它阻挡了匈奴人的铁骑,而在于以它为背景搭建了一个舞台,一个要等到工业时代来临时才能被部分打破的舞台——燕山长城地带。两侧 的人类群体在这个拉锯地带上演了一幕幕他们之间爱与恨、战争与交流的悲喜剧。数千年来,燕山长城地带,这个无怨无悔地燃烧着麦秸和荒草、燃烧着东胡北狄和 夷夏大防的熔炉,成为推动中华文明乃至东亚大陆历史发展的动力源。

Now, I had to fudge on a bit of the translation because there's a clause in there that neither lzh nor I can make head nor tail of, but here goes:

As the Great Wall is a great symbol of human activity, it is also an important geographical marker- it largely follows the 400 millimetre rainfall line, it is the drop in elevation from the plateau to the plain, it‘s here that the arid and semi-arid regions part company, but most importantly it is here that the grasslands peoples and agricultural peoples built a cultural barrier between each of their homes. The important significance of the Great Wall is not that it stopped the heavy cavalry of the Xiongnu, but with it as a backdrop a stage was set up, a stage that had to wait until the coming of the industrial age for part of it to be damaged- the Yan Shan Great Wall belt. Scene by scene, the peoples of both sides acted out their tragicomedy of love and hate, war and communication in this zone of seesaw struggle. Over thousands of years, this crucible burning with neither resentment nor regret wheat straw and weeds, burning Donghu Northern Di and Yi and Xia, became a source of energy pushing forward the development of Chinese civilisation and the history of continental East Asia.

Well, it's very vague and a bit overwrought in places, but it's just a foreword, a teaser to get you all interested in these mysterious Shanrong people, and besides, I like how it sets the scene.

Well, from one source I thought rather unlikely, we have this:

1985年8月至1987年12月,北京的文物工作者在延庆县境内发掘出玉皇庙、古城村、葫芦沟三处春秋战国之际的山戎墓葬五百余座,出土各类富有特色的山戎文物八千余件。这些遗迹和遗物,对于研究北京地区山戎的历史情况,有着很重要的意义。

玉皇庙墓地是一处很重要的大型墓地,占地在2万平方米以上,共有墓葬三百五十余座,这是迄今为止在北京地区发现的我国青铜时代北方少数 民族文化遗存中规 模最大、年代最早、文物最丰富的一处墓地。据已经发掘的墓葬看,均为长方形竖穴土坑墓。墓内的殉牲现象很普遍,被杀殉的牲畜主要是牛、羊、狗,其中以殉狗 最为普遍,不论男女老幼,大多殉狗。殉牲的方式,都是将牲畜杀死以后,只取其头和腿,拿来作象征性的祭祀。牲头和牲腿的摆放方式,多是将牲腿放在下面,而 把牲头放在牲腿之上,一般是以一条牲腿加上一个牲头,代表一个牲畜。多数死者都用麻布覆面,这是山戎民族的葬俗特点之一,直到今天,我们还有在死者脸上盖 上黄纸的习俗,他们也许表达的是同一种丧葬意思。根据有关民族志的材料,这类覆面的意义,在于祈望死者的灵魂附体安息,不要再出窍祸害生人,以保氏族后代 平安无恙。同时,在葫芦沟墓地还发现了一处石祭坛。这可能是山戎原始宗教举行仪式和活动的处所。

My terrible translation:

From August 1985 until December 1987, Beijing cultural relics workers in Yanqing County excavated over 500 Shanrong graves of the Spring and Autumn and Warring states periods at the three sites of Yuhuangmiao, Guchengcun, Hulugou and unearthed over 8000 pieces of every kind of cultural relic richly characteristic of the Shanrong. These historical remains and relics have a very important significance with regards to the situation of the research of the history of the Shanrong in the Beijing area.

The Yuhuangmiao tomb area is a very important large tomb area, covering an area of over twenty thousand square metres, with over 350 tombs in total. Up till now this is the largest scale, earliest, most abundant in cultural relics tomb area of China's northern ethnic minority cultures of the bronze age discovered in the Beijing area. Judging by already excavated tombs, without exception the tombs are vertical rectangular coffin pits. Animal sacrifices within the tombs are very widespread, the main domestic animals to be sacrificed being cattle, sheep and dogs, with dogs being the most commonly sacrificed, regardless of male, female, old or young, the majority sacrificed dogs. The method of sacrificing domestic animals was to, after having killed the animal, to only take the legs and head to offer a symbolic sacrifice. The method of placing the placing the head and leg of the animal in general was to place the animal leg on the bottom and place the animal head on top of the animal leg, in general one animal head was placed on top of one animal leg to represent a sacrifice. The majority of the dead had a cloth (linen? sackcloth? hessian?) covering their face, which is one of the characteristics of Shanrong burial customs. Right up to today we still have the custom of covering dead peoples faces with yellow paper. Probably they were expressing the same kind of funerary meaning. According to materials about the ideals of ethnic groups, the significance of this kind of covering the face lies in the hope that the spirit of the dead person will rest close to the body and won't come back out and bring disaster on or hurt the living, to protect the good health and safety of later generations of the clan. At the same time at the Hulugou tomb area a stone funeral altar was discovered. Perhaps this was the original place the Shanrong held religious ceremonies and activities.

So the translation is atrocious, I know. Help and suggestions for improving those areas I've either fudged or completely buggered up would be appreciated. Anyway, there you have it, a brief introduction to what kind of people these Shanrong may have been and what kind of lives (apart from harrassing Yan) they may have led. Now let's see what else I can dredge up. This article, a large part of which is identical to what is translated above, expands on the theme of Shanrong culture:

平底陶罐: 从墓地出土的陶器来看,山戎文化的陶器自有特点、自成系统,它不仅与中原地区和燕文化的陶器群面貌迥然不同,而且与东北辽西地区夏家店上层文化——东胡文 化的陶器群面貌也差异明显。山戎的陶器多为手制,器形不大规整,制作粗糙,火候低而不均,陶质疏松,显示出技术的落后。

Flat-bottomed pottery jars: judging by the pottery unearthed from tombs, Shanrong culture pottery has its own characteristics, has its own system. Not only are its features widely different from the pottery of the Central Plains and Yan cultures, they're also clearly different from the features of the Northeast's Liaoxi area's Upper Xiajiadian and Donghu cultures' pottery. Most Shanrong pottery was handmade, the shapes of the utensils were not regular, their manufacture was crude, after firing the bottom wasn't flat, the quality of the pottery was loose, showing its backward technology.

So obviously the Shanrong people were not the Upper Xiajiadian people, as I suspected. And more from the same article:

青铜器的种类很多,包括兵器、工具、装饰器、车马具和容器等。山戎的青铜容器,明显地表现出 两种文化因素,一种是体现了山戎文化土著特色的器物,如铸工粗糙的双耳青铜复和兽头环耳三足杯;另一种是体现燕国和中原文化因素的器物,如蟠螭纹铜、云纹 铜盘等。这使我们清楚地看到两种文化发生接触、相互交流的情况。从出土的器物中可以看出,当时的山戎已经进入了青铜时代,过着以游牧经济为主的生活。

There were many kinds of bronze ware, including weapons, tools, ornaments, equipment for horses and carts, containers, and more. Shanrong bronze containers clearly show clearly show elements of two kinds of culture. One kind embodies the original characteristics of the utensils of Shanrong culture, such as the coarse casting of twin-eared bronze products and tripod cups with beast's heads and ring ear. Another kind embodies elements of the wares of the cultures of the State of Yan and the Central Plains, like bronze etched with coiled wingless dragons, cloud etched bronze plates , etc. Through this we can clearly see the situation of contact and mutual communication between two different cultures. From the unearthed wares we can see that at that time the Shanrong had already entered the Bronze Age, with nomadic herding being their main way of life.

Now both lzh and I tried our best to find the proper names of all those different bronze things, and what is written there is the best we could come up with.

So basically the Shanrong were nomadic herders with their own distinct culture who sacrificed animals when a person died, had their own unique if rather backward pottery and a mixture of their own and Yan and Central Plains bronze ware and a nasty habit of attacking Yan, Zhao and Qi. And they were quite powerful, too. I still can't figure out why I've found no reference to them in non-Chinese sources.

And should you want more information about the Shanrong people, I suggest you check out that online exhibition.

Moving on:

I haven't managed to find a lot of information about the period between the Shanrong and, well, now. Mostly just a few tantalising little glimpses into what may have been happening. I suppose for starters we could begin with Baidu Baike's brief rundown of Yanqing's history:

春秋时期,延庆县曾是山戎族活动地区。春秋晚期和战国初期地属燕国。秦统一全国后,地属上谷郡。西汉开始在延庆境内设县; 唐末开始在延庆境内设州。此后二 千多年来先后建有居庸县、夷舆县、妫川县、缙山县、永宁县、四海县和延庆县,并曾先后设置过儒州、镇州、龙庆州、隆庆州和延庆州。

During the Spring and Autumn period Yanqing County was an area where the Shanrong people were active. In the later part of the Spring and Autumn period and the early Warring States period the area belonged to the State of Yan. After Qin unified China, the land belonged to the Shanggu Prefecture. At the start of the Western Han a county was established in Yanqing; towards the end of the Tang a zhou [an administrative division of ancient times] was established in Yanqing. From this time over two thousand years Juyong County, Yiyu County, Guichuan County, Jinshan County, Yongning County Sihai County and Yanqing County were established one after the other, as were Ru Zhou, Zhen Zhou, Longqing Zhou, Longqing Zhou [different characters for long], and Yanqing Zhou.

Well, the first question is, if all these different counties and zhou were established one after the other over two thousand years from the latter days of the Tang Dynasty, doesn't that take us into the 2800s or 2900s? I had no idea I was so old. Secondly, some of those old names for Yanqing are quite interesting. Take Yiyu County, for one example: The territory of the Yi? Isn't Yi an old term for the people of east China in ancient times? Also, some of those names are still in use in Yanqing, with Longqing being the really glaringly obvious example, but also Gui is still the name of a river in the centre of the county. Anyway, the article continues:

1912年,延庆州改为延庆县。1928年成立察哈尔省,延庆县属之。1937年8月25日,日本侵略军占领延庆后,延庆 县隶属三个伪政府统治。以延庆县 城为中心设延庆县,隶属伪蒙疆自治政府察南政厅(后改为宣化省);刘斌堡以东隶属伪华北自治政府昌平县。1941年八路军开辟了“平北”抗日根据地,今延 庆县分属昌延联合县和龙延怀联合县。1944年撤销昌延联合县,重设延庆县,与日伪所设的延庆县并存。

In 1912 Yanqing Zhou became Yanqing County. In 1928 Chahar Province was established, with Yanqing County being a part of it. On the 25 August 1937, after the invading Japanese army captured Yanqing, Yanqing County was under the jurisdiction of the the three puppet governments. With Yanqing county town as the centre, Yanqing County was established, under the jurisdiction of the Chanan [Southern Chahar?] Zhengting of the puppet Mengjiang Autonomous Government (which later became Xuanhua Province); the are east of Liubinbao was under the jurisdiction of Changping County of the puppet North China Autonomous Government. In 1941 the Eighth Route Army opened its "Pingbei" anti-Japanese base area and modern Yanqing was divided into the Changyan United County and the Longyanhuai United County. In 1944 the Changyan United County was disestablished and Yanqing County reestablished, existing side by side with the Yanqing County established by the Japanese puppet regime.

Now, there's a lot in there that I'm really not sure of, especially all those weird Japanese collaborationist place names and that last clause. Help would be appreciated. But anyway, we now have nothing but a list of the various administrative divisions established in what is now Yanqing in the "two thousand years" since the end of the Tang filling the gap between the Tang and the anti-Japanese war, followed by a brief sketch of what happened in Yanqing during the war. But it continues:

1945年9月20日,八路军解放了延庆县城,以青龙桥为界,青龙桥以南为国民党统治区,青龙桥以北为共产党领导的解放 区。1946年10月12日,国民 党军队侵占延庆县城之后,再次出现分属共产党和国民党管理的两个延庆县。1948年5月19日,解放军解放了延庆县城。延庆县属察哈尔省,1952年改属 河北省,1958年10月划归北京市.

On the 20 September 1945, The Eighth Route Army liberated Yanqing county town, with Qinglong Bridge as the boundary. South of Qinglong Bridge was the area ruled by the Guomindang [Kuomintang/KMT/Nationalist Party] and north of the Qinglong Bridge was the liberated area under the leadership of the Communist Party. On the 12 October 1946, after the Guomindang army invaded Yanqing county town, once again there were two separate Yanqing Counties ruled respectively by the Communist Party and the Guomindang. On the 19 May 1948, the PLA liberated Yanqing county town. Yanqing County belonged to Chahar Province, but in 1952 came under the jurisdiction of Hebei Province. It was incorporated into Beijing Municipality in October 1958.

So we get a brief rundown of the last civil war, then Yanqing is transferred from Chahar (which was carved up between Inner Mongolia and Hebei) to Hebei to Beijing. And that article is actually a little more detailed than others I've found on the history of Yanqing.

And just a quick note about the war, with the proviso that this is a story told to me by my father-in-law. Some time during the war, the Japanese killed every last inhabitant of a village five li/2.5 km east of my in-laws' village. He also said that the Japanese fed the bodies to the dogs.

I have also been forbidden from climbing a certain mountain behind thein-laws' village because apparently during the war a lot of people were killed up there, and since that time a lot of people have fallen to their deaths, more than one would normally expect.

Of course, I have no idependent confirmation of either of these stories and absolutely no documentary evidence, so they should be taken with an appropriate grain of salt, but I do believe that folk and oral histories are just as valid as what is officially or academically documented.

So what happened, apart from the establishment, disestablishment, reestablishment, and coexistence of various counties and zhou, in that huge, huge gap between the Shanrong and the Japanese invasion?

Well, this article tells us about a bunch of tombs from the Warring States, Han and Tang all the way through to the Liao and Jin being dug up. Apparently Nan Caiyuan "has now turned out to be the largest burying area of ancient tombs recently discovered in Beijing, and it has also provided very important archaeological materials for studying the history of the Yanqing County." Apart from the usual terrible English and lack of details, the article does manage to tell us this:

First, no matter whether it is Han Tomb or Tang Tomb, the large number of unearthed relics and the burial forms are quite different to that of the central China, nor the same as those found in other counties in Beijing area. This shows that Yanqing, a county lying in between the Central and the north China, has always been the hotspot for the collision and blending of the Central China culture and the north grassland culture.

Ah, thanks, People's Daily, but I think we'd already managed to figure this out. Now how's about, instead of telling us that this find is really important for the study of Yanqing's history and repeating what we've known for a long time already, actually telling us why these finds are important and how, exactly, they improve our knowledge of Yanqing's history.

And now we have this article about the discovery of 290 ancient tombs in Yanqing. It's typically short on details, offering not much more than this:

The archaeologists also unearthed 870 historical artifacts, including pottery utensils, china objects, bronze basins, iron items, stone articles, and jade ornaments, said Zhang Shiqun, an expert with the institute.

The unearthed funeral objects will be sent to museums and the tombs will be circled in a protection zone outside the construction project, Zhang said.

The most valuable discovery is that chamber walls of the Tang tombs were decorated with carved bricks that pattern windows, doors, pillars, lanterns, and even a colored fresco representing a beautiful woman, according to Zhang.

The delicate brick carving shows that the Tang tomb owners were members of noble families, he said.


Moving on, we do manage to discover that Genghis Khan paid a visit to the Kangxi Grassland:

公元十二世纪,女真人建立了北起黑龙江南到淮河流域的强大帝国,是为金朝。当时,康西草原一带属金德兴府(今涿鹿)下辖 的妫川县。十三世纪初,蒙古族兴 起。公元1211年7月,成吉思汗以哲别为先锋,率军南下,首先攻破乌沙堡(今张北县西北),9月攻陷德兴府,占据妫川县(今怀来县东部和康西草原一 带)。金朝居庸关守将见蒙军势大,遂弃关南逃。成吉思汗军直抵中都(今北京)城,久攻不下,12月撤兵北归。此后,金朝将缙山县(今延庆)升为镇州,并加 强了镇州至德兴一线的防务。公元1213年秋,成吉思汗再次出兵,金军与蒙军在妫河激战,金兵大败。金尚书完颜纲将大印丢进妫河逃走。蒙军占领镇州后,遂 经八达岭进攻居庸关。蒙军攻居庸关不下,成吉思汗依计从小道绕过居庸关,直抵南口,然后兵分三路,掠夺了黄河以北除中都、檀、顺等城之外的在部分州县。金 元帅遣都元帅完颜晖与蒙军议和。金朝以献童男女各五百、绣衣三千件、御马三千匹和大批金银珠宝,并将歧国公主献给成吉思汗为条件,向蒙古屈服。1214年 4月,成吉思汗出居庸关过妫河北还。

In the 12th century AD the Jurchen established a powerful empire stretching from the Amur River in the north south to the Huai River valley, the Jin Dynasty. At that time the area around the Kangxi Grassland belonged to Guichuan County under the jurisdiction of Jindexing Prefecture (modern Zhuolu [a county in Hebei]). At the beginning of the 13th century the Mongolian people rose up. In July 1211, Genghis Khan with Zhebie [Mongolian general] as the vanguard, he led the army south, first breaking through Wushabao (the northwest of modern Zhangbei County), then in September capturing Jindexing Prefecture, occupying Guichuan County (the area of modern eastern Huailai County and the Kangxi Grassland). The general of the Jin Dynasty's Juyongguan Garrison, on seeing the strength of the Mogolian army, abandoned his post and fled south. Genghis Khan's army headed for Zhongdu (modern Beijing), but didn't attack, and in December he withdrew his army to the north. From then on, the Jin Dynasty made Jinshan County (modern Yanqing) Zhen Zhou, and strengthened the defensive line from Zhen Zhou to Dexing. In the autumn of 1213 AD, Genghis Khan sent his troops out again, and the Jin and Mongol armies fought fiercely at the Gui River, the Jin soldiers being heavily defeated. The high official of Jin Wan Yangang [just guessing that's his name] threw the Great Seal into the Gui River and fled. After the Mongolian army occupied Zhen Zhou, it immediately crossed Badaling and attacked Juyongguan. Not being able to break through Juyongguan, Genghis Khan had to use a small path to pass Juyongguan, heading straight for Nankou, then he sent his soldiers on three separate routes, pillaging zhou and counties north of the Yellow River apart from towns such as Zhongdu, Tan, and Shun.

Now this is the kind of thing I'm looking for, exciting things happening in places I'm familiar with, but I just haven't managed to find that much of it.

The Kangxi Grassland also gets a mention in this story about the emperor Kangxi fighting people in the north, but only towards the end.

Now let's add this article about a discovery from the Jiuyanlou section of the Ming Dynasty Great Wall, which does contain a few details, but not much, and no explication, with everything we've learnt so far and you could be forgiven for thinking that Yanqing County has been of some serious strategic importance since the Spring and Autumn period. An impression that would be reinforced by a quick trip up the Badaling Expressway, in which you will pass under the Great Wall twice (Juyongguan and Badaling, the latter via a tunnel through the mountain on which Badaling sits) and pass a third section (Shuiguan).

Or let's play another favourite game of mine and look at the place names. Here's a list from the Baidu Baike article on Yanqing County of the one community (社区) and thirty two village committees (村委会) under Zhangshanying Township (张山营镇):

张山营镇 辖1个社区(张山营镇社区)、32个村委会(大庄科村、佛峪口村、水峪村、胡家营村、姚家营村、东门营村、下 营村、西五里营村、前黑龙庙村、后 黑龙庙村、西卓家营村、下卢凤营村、上卢凤营村、张山营村、马庄村、小河屯村、上板泉村、下板泉村、玉皇庙村、西羊坊村、辛家堡村、丁家堡村、靳家堡村、 田宋营村、吴庄村、龙聚山庄村、晏家堡村、中羊坊村、黄柏寺村、上郝庄村、韩郝庄村、苏庄村)。

Note the prevalence of the character 营 That means camp, barracks or battalion. That character appears in the name of the township itself, a name that is taken from one of the villages under the township, and in the names of 10 of the thirty two villages, or roughly one third of the villages, namely 张山营, 胡家营村、姚家营村、东门营村、下营村、西五里营村, 西卓家营村、下卢凤营村、上卢凤营村、张山营村 and 田宋营村.

Now, Zhangshanying is in the northwest of Yanqing County, whereas the Great Wall runs through the mountains along the border with Changping in the south, on the opposite side of the Guanting Reservoir. The Kangxi Grassland mentioned in those articles about Genghis Khan and the Kangxi emperor are in the southwest of the county, also on the opposite shore of the reservoir. This, to me, only reinforces the impression that Yanqing has a long and proud military history. I would be surprised if all those 营 referred to the camps of nomadic herders.

Well, all of this brings us back up more modern times, when, as already noted, Yanqing was first a part of Chahar, then after much chopping and changing and division during the war, Hebei, then finally Beijing.

And that, sadly, is a good summary of all I've found about the history of Yanqing County so far.

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