The Jurchen tribes were united by the chieftain and later first Jin emperor, Wanyan Aguda, who overthrew the Khitan Liao Dynasty. During the reign of Aguda’s successor, the Jin declared war against the Song Dynasty and conquered much of northern China. The Song were forced to flee south of Yangtze River. The Jin Dynasty fell after their defeat against the rising Mongol Empire, a steppe confederation that had formerly been a Jurchen vassal.
Wanyan Hanpu, was a leader of the Jurchen Wanyan clan in the early tenth century. According to the ancestral story of the Wanyan clan, Hanpu came from Goryeo (Korea) when he was sixty years old, reformed Jurchen customary law, and then married a sixty-year-old local woman who bore him three children. His descendants eventually united Jurchen tribes into a federation and established the Jin dynasty in 1115. In 1136 or 1137, Hanpu was retrospectively given the temple name Jin Shizu or “first ancestor of Jin.”
The Jīn Dynasty Manchu: Aisin Gurun; Khitan language: Nik, Niku; Mongolian: Altan Ulus; 1115–1234), also known as the Jurchen (Jurched) Dynasty, was founded by the Wanyan clan of the Jurchens, the ancestors of the Manchus who established the Qing Dynasty some 500 years later. The name is sometimes written as Jinn to differentiate it from an earlier Jìn Dynasty of China whose name is identically spelled using the Latin alphabet.
Because the early Jurchens had no written records, the story of Hanpu was first transmitted orally. According to the History of Jin (compiled in the 1340s), Hanpu arrived from Goryeo at the age of sixty and settled among the Jurchen Wanyan clan. Other sources claim that Hanpu was from Silla, the state that had ruled the Korean peninsula since 668 but that was destroyed by Goryeo in 935. The same story recounts that when Hanpu left Goryeo, his two brothers remained behind, one in Goryeo and one in the Balhae area. Because the Jurchens considered Hanpu to be the sixth-generation ancestor of Wanyan Wugunai (1021–1074), historians postulate that Hanpu lived in the early tenth century, when the Jurchens still consisted of independent tribes, or sometime between the founding of Goryeo in 918 and its destruction of Silla in 935.
The Wanyan clan then belonged to a group of Jurchen tribes that Chinese and Khitan documents called “wild”, “raw”, or “uncivilized” (shēng 生). These “wild Jurchens” lived between the Changbai Mountains in the south (now at the border between North Korea and Northeast China) and the Sungari River in the north, outside the territory of the rising Liao dynasty (907–1125) and little influenced by Chinese culture.
To resolve an endless cycle of vendettas between two clans, Hanpu managed to make both parties accept a new rule: from then on, the family of a killer would compensate the victim’s relatives with a gift of horses, cattle, and money. Historian Herbert Franke has compared this aspect of Jurchen customary law to the old Germanic practice of Wergeld. As a reward for putting an end to the feuds, Hanpu was married to a sixty-year-old woman who then bore him one daughter and two sons. A lost book called the Shenlu Ji states that Hanpu’s wife was 40 years old. Hanpu and his descendants were then formally received into the Wanyan clan