History of Zhangjiakou

Pre-Qin Era

There are many paleolithic remains like Nihewan, Xiaochangliang,and Maquangou located in Guyuan county, which indicated human activities dating back as far as 1.36 million to 2 million years ago, thus becoming one of the earliest sites of human activities in human history and constituting a challenge against the notion that humanity originated from East Africa. 

Around 2500 BC, the legendary ancestors of Chinese people, Huangdi, Yandi, and Chiyou used to live in area of Zhuluo County, and later fought the Battle of Zhuolu and Battle of Banquan, almagating different tribes into a single Huaxia tribe, thus beginning Chinese history.

During Spring and Autumn period, Xiongnu and Donghu people inhabited the northern area while Yan State (since around 11th century BC) and Dai state (since 7th century BC) occupied the southern area. In 475 BC, Dai was occupied by Zhao Wuxu of Zhao State. In 300 BC, King Wuling of Zhao established Dai Commandery, managing the area of ancient Dai state with its administrative center in Dai, currently Daiwangcheng, Yu County. During the same period of time, King Zhao of Yan sent General Qin Kai who was once captured by Donghu people and thus became familiar with their tactics to defeat Donghu. Following that, Yan State built Great Wall in its border extending from Zaoyang (currently northeast of Xuanhua) to Xiangping (currently north of Liaoyang). In 283 BC, King Zhao established Shanggu Commandery. :15-16 In 265 BC, Li Mu, a famous general of Zhao, commanded and deployed troops in Dai to protect against Xiongnu. After arriving in Dai, initially Li Mu banned any counterattack against Xiongnu to preserve the strength for years, which however incurred the discontent of King of Zhao. As a result, Li Mu was sacked. Following Zhao troops’ defeat later, King of Zhao reinistated Li Mu. Viewing Zhao troops as cowards, Xiongnu grew arrogant and underestimated Zhao’s strength. Finally, Li Mu led troops and ambushed Xiongnu, causing hundreds of thousands of casulties and great damage of Xiongu, thus ensuring decades of peace in Zhao’s borderlands.

In 228 BC, Wang Jian, a Qin general defeated Zhao army and occupied its capital, Handan. Jia, a son of Zhao king, escaped to Dai, currently northeast of Yu County and declared himself as the King of Dai. In alliance with Xi, King of Yan, the combined army, commanded by Crown Prince Dan was defeated at Yishui. In 222 BC, Wang Ben, a Qin general defeated Yan state and then, attacked Dai. He captured Jia and ended Dai as a state. Jia feared humiliation and committed suicide.

Qin-Han Era
During Qin dynasty, Shihuangdi sent Meng Tian, commanding 300,000 troops to defend his empire from Xiongnu’s attacks. They spent 10 years connecting the Great Wall of Yan, Qin and Zhao, thus building Great Wall of Qin, the first Great Wall of 10,000 li, its 80-kilometer-long relics currently located in Batou(坝头), or Erdaogou(二道沟) in local slang, to the north of Zhangjiakou downtown area. The southern area of Zhangjiakou was under jurisdiction of Dai Commandery and Shanggu Commandery.

During Han dynasty, most part of the area belonged to You Prefecture while some parts belonged to Wuhuan, Xiongnu and Xianbei.[3]:15-16 When Liu Bang established Han dynasty, he granted Dai and the tile of King of Dai to his brother Liu Zhong in 201 BC. One year later, Liu Zhong was defeated by Modu Chanyu of Xiongnu and escaped, thus demoted. In 196 BC, Chen Xi, the chancellor of Zhao, rebelled against the emperor and occupied more than 20 cities soon after. As a result, Liu Bang commanded an army in person from Luoyang. During the war, the empress launched a coup d’état and killed Han Xin, the most important general who helped establsh Han dynasty. With the help of Fan Kuai and Zhou Bo, Liu Bang defeated Chen Xi very soon. Following the rebellion, Liu Bang granted the title of King of Dai to his third son, Liu Heng, later Emperor Wen of Han.

Zhangjiakou was a major battleground during Han–Xiongnu War. In 127 BC, Xiongnu cavalry attacked Shanggu (currently Huailai), Yuyang. The Emperor Wu of Han launched a successful counterattack. In 124 BC, Xiongnu cavalry invaded Dai Commandery. Emperor Wu ordered Wei Qing commanding 100,000 troops to counterattack. Wei Qing left the Great Wall more than 600 to 700 kilometers, encircled Xiongnu’s head, Youxianwang (右贤王). In 122 BC, 50,000 Xiongnu invaded Shanggu, killed hundreds of people. In next March, Huo Qubing commanded 10,000 cavalry to counterattack and achieved success. In 119 BC, Wei Qing and Huo Qubing each commanded 50,000 cavalry. Huo Qubing departed from Dai Commandery, marchced 2000 li northward crossing Gobi desert. Finnally, Han troops defeated Xiongnu under Yizhixie completely. Following the success, a new office, the Colonel-Protector of the Wuhuan (护乌桓校尉), was established in Shanggu in order to prevent contact between the Wuhuan with the Xiongnu and to use them to monitor the Xiongnu activities. In 106 BC, Emperor Wu of Han organized the Western Han Dynasty into 13 province-sized prefectures, each administered by a cishi (刺史) or inspector, thus putting Shanggu and Dai under the jurisdiction of You Prefecture.

Following Xin dynasty, Lu Fang (卢芳) rebelled against Han but was defeated. Then, Emperor Guangwu of Han granted him the King of Dai. In 48 AD, Eastern Han dynasty established Colonel-Protector of the Wuhuan in Ningcheng (宁城), Shanggu (currently, Ningyuanbao Qiaodong District), representing Han’s management of Wuhuan. Meanwhile, Han also opened Hu Market (胡市) to conduct regular exchanges with Wuhuan in Ningcheng. From 110 AD, Ningcheng also began to manage affairs with Xianbei.

Jin-Sui Era
In 274, Western Jin divided Shanggu Commandery and established Guangning Commandery (广宁郡) in Xialuo (下洛, in the west of present Zhuolu), which was disestablished during Northern Qi.

During the period known as Sixteen Kingdoms in Chinese history when the northern China was repeatedly invaded and occupied various nomadic peoples from further north, Zhangjiakou area became part of Dai, Former Yan, ultimately ruled by Northern Wei of Xianbei. In 310,by helping Jin’s Liu Kun, the governor of Bingzhou to fight Xiongnu state of Han Zhao, Tuoba Yilu, the supreme chieftain of the Tuoba, was appointed Duke of Dai by Western Jin and since 315, the King of Dai. In 376, Dai was conquered by Former Qin state.

Former Qin fell into disarray in 383 following its defeat by Jin forces at the Battle of Fei River. In 386, Tuoba Gui, the grandson of Tuoba Shiyijian, the last King of Dai, took the opportunity to reestablish Dai and soon changed its name from Dai to Wei. Initially, Tuoba Gui was a vassal of Later Yan but claimed imperial title in 397 after defeating Murong Bao of Yan in Battle of Canhe Slope. Later, Tuoba Gui was given the title of Emperor Daowu of Northern Wei.

In 423, in order to defend itself from Rouran’s invasions, Northern Wei built a Great Wall from Chicheng to the east and Wuyuan (五原) to the West, and established Huaihuang, Rouxuan (柔玄, in present Shangyi), Woye (沃野, in present Wuyuan County, Inner Mongolia) as two of the Six Frontier Towns. Later on, Yuyi was added. In 523, a uprising happened in Huaihuang, thus starting the Rebellion of Six Frontier Towns, an anti-Sinicization movement among northern peoples. In 525, Du Luozhou(杜洛周) led Shanggu Uprising, leading to many similar uprising to respond, including Gao Huan’s. Next year, Du Luozhou broke through Juyong Pass and occupied You Prefecture.

Tang-Song Era
In 645, Taizong of Tang had a north march in Jiming Mountain (鸡鸣山) during his campaign against Xueyantuo. In 822, Tang established Longmen County (龙门县) and Huai’an County (怀安县), thus the first appearance of Huai’an. In 866. Tang established Xinzhou (新州), the administrative center located to the west of Zhuolu. In 899, Wuzhou (武州) was established with its administrative center in Xuanhua. Meanwhile, Wende County (文德县) was established, the administrative center in present Xuanhua.

During the period of Five Dynasties, Zhangjiakou area, like other places in northern China, underwent repeated changes of rules of different dynasties. In 937, in order to enlist the help from Khitan people to defeat Later Tang, Shi Jingtang of Later Jin (Five Dynasties) agreed to cede Sixteen Prefectures to Khitan, later Liao Dynasty, in which Xinzhou, Weizhou, Wuzhou, Yuzhou were included. The Sixteen Prefectures held strategic locations in the north and because the Great Wall was across Zhangjiakou area, the cession left China in a vulnerable position against the invasions from the north. In 951, Yelu Ruan, the Emperor Shizong of Liao intended to attack Later Zhou in the south despite the reluctance of many subordinate tribes. While passing Huoshendian, the west of Xinzhou, a rebellion broke out and Yelu Gecha and Yelu Pendu assassinated the drunken emperor. The rebellion was put down very soon by Shizong’s successor, Yelu Jing, the Emperor Muzong of Liao.

During the reign of Emperor Jingzong of Liao, the empress Xiao Yanyan often took part in politics and war. She often stationed troops in Yanzicheng (燕子城, present Zhangbei), the name of which is believed to derive from Xiao Yanyan in preparations for the War against Song. Attracted by the beautiful scenery in Zhangjiakou area, she built two royal gardens, Shanghuayuan (上花园, literally, Upper Garden) and Xiahuayuan (下花园, literally, Lower Garden, in present Xiahuayuan District). Xiao resided there often and enlisted many talent in his war with Song dynasty.

In 1168, the Emperor Shizong of Jin traveled to Helihudongchuan. Seeing the fully blossoming yellow flowers, he named the yellow flowers Jinlianhua (金莲花) and the place became Jinlianchuan (金莲川, literally, the River of Golden Lotus).

Yuan-Ming-Qing Era

In August 1211, during the Battle of Yehuling, Genghis Khan’s 90,000 strong force destroyed the 450,000 strong Jin dynasty army. In 1251, Möngke Khan became the Khagan of the Mongol Empire. He put Kublai, his brother, in charge of affairs of northern China. Kublai established Jinlianchuan Mufu, enlisting many talent of Han people like Liu Bingzhong to assist his governance. Kublai regularly consulted them and discussed politics, religion ranging from Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism.

In 1307, Külüg Khan or the Emperor Wuzong of Yuan began the construction of Yuan Zhongdu (元中都) in Onggachatu where the court was moved. However, before full completion, Emperor Wuzong died soon and his successor Wuzong’s brother, Emperor Renzong of Yuan called it off. In August 1329, during Tianli Incident following the War of the Two Capitals, the new emperor Khutughtu Khan Kusala was poisoned to death by El Temür in Zhongdu. Zhongdu was later destroyed in 1357 during the Red Turban Rebellion as the rebels marched towards Shangdu.The water-scarce city was historically the chief northern gate in the Great Wall to China for Europeans travelling along the Northern Tea Road, often through the Juyong Pass.From at least 1571, the city was an important horse market for Mongolian mounts imported into China. From 1727 it was an important station for the Kyakhta trade between Russia and China. In early autumn long lines of camels would come in from all quarters for the conveyance of the tea chests from “Kalgan” (Zhangjiakou) to Kyakhta across the Gobi Desert. Each caravan usually made three journeys in the winter. In the 19th century some Russian merchants had permanent residences and warehouses just outside the gate.

Modern History
In October 1909, Kalgan was connected by railway with Peking. The 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica noted that, in Kalgan, “the ordinary houses have an unusual appearance, from the fact that they are mostly roofed with earth and become covered with green-sward” and that “on the way to Peking the road passes over a beautiful bridge of seven arches, ornamented with marble figures of animals”.

In 1937, the Japanese occupied the region and made Kalgan the capital of the autonomous Cha-nan (South Chahar) Province. The Federated Mengjiang Commission was set up to supervise the economic affairs, banking, communications, and industry of Japanese-occupied Inner Mongolia (Mengjiang).

In the early 1960s, at the height of Sino-Soviet tensions, Zhangjiakou was considered one of the most important cities in China for military strategy reasons. Zhangjiakou was aptly nicknamed, “Beijing’s Northern Door”, because whoever controlled Zhangjiakou was in a good position to either attack (in the case of the Soviets) or defend (in the case of the Chinese) Beijing.

Zhangjiakou will host some of the events in the 2022 Winter Olympics.

Source From: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zhangjiakou#History