History of Kaifeng
Kaifeng is one of the Eight Ancient Capitals of China. As with Beijing, there have been many reconstructions during its history.
In 364 BC during the Warring States period, the State of Wei founded a city called Daliang (大梁) as its capital in this area. During this period, the first of many canals in the area was constructed linking a local river to the Yellow River. When the State of Qin conquered the State of Wei, Kaifeng was destroyed and abandoned except for a mid-sized market town, which remained in place.
Early in the 7th century, Kaifeng was transformed into a major commercial hub when it was connected to the Grand Canal as well as through the construction of a canal running to western Shandong.
In 781 during the Tang dynasty, a new city was reconstructed and named Bian (汴). Bian was the capital of the Later Jin (936–946), Later Han (947–950), and Later Zhou (951–960) of the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period. The Song dynasty made Bian its capital when it overthrew the Later Zhou in 960. Shortly afterwards, the city underwent further expansion.
During the Song, when it was known as Dongjing or Bianjing, Kaifeng was the capital, with a population of over 400,000 living both inside and outside the city wall. Typhus was an acute problem in the city. The historian Jacques Gernet provides a lively picture of life in this period in his Daily Life in China on the Eve of the Mongol Invasion, 1250-1276, which often draws on Dongjing Meng Hua Lu, a nostalgic memoir of the city of Kaifeng.
In 1049, the Youguosi Pagoda – or Iron Pagoda as it is called today – was constructed measuring 54.7 metres (179 ft) in height. It has survived the vicissitudes of war and floods to become the oldest landmark in this ancient city. Another Song-dynasty pagoda, Po Tower [zh], dating from 974, has been partially destroyed.
Another well-known sight was the astronomical clock tower of the engineer, scientist, and statesman Su Song (1020–1101 AD). It was crowned with a rotating armillary sphere that was hydraulically-powered (i.e. by water wheel and a water clock), yet it incorporated an escapement mechanism two hundred years before they were found in the clockworks of Europe and featured the first known endless power-transmitting chain drive.
Kaifeng reached its peak importance in the 11th century as a commercial and industrial center at the intersection of four major canals. During this time, the city was surrounded by three rings of city walls and probably had a population of between 600,000 and 700,000. It is believed that Kaifeng was the largest city in the world from 1013 to 1127.
This period ended in 1127 when the city fell to Jurchen invaders during the Jingkang Incident. It subsequently came under the rule of the Jurchen Jin dynasty, which had conquered most of North China during the Jin–Song Wars. While it remained an important administrative center, only the area inside the inner city wall of the early Song remained settled and the two outer rings were abandoned.
As the imperial capital of the Song, Kaifeng was conveniently situated along the Grand Canal for logistics supply but militarily vulnerable due to its position on the floodplains of the Yellow River.
Kaifeng served as the Jurchen “southern capital” from 1157 (other sources say 1161) and was reconstructed during this time. The Jurchen kept their main capital further north until 1214 when they were forced to move the imperial court southwards to Kaifeng in order to flee from the onslaught of the Mongols. In 1232 they succumbed to the combined Mongol and Song forces in the Mongol siege of Kaifeng. The Mongols captured the city and in 1279 conquered all of China.
At the beginning of the Ming dynasty in 1368, Kaifeng was made the capital of Henan province.
In 1642, Kaifeng was flooded by the Ming army with water from the Yellow River to prevent the peasant rebel Li Zicheng from taking over. After this disaster, the city was abandoned again.
In 1662, during the reign of the Kangxi Emperor in the Qing dynasty, Kaifeng was rebuilt. Another reconstruction in 1843 followed flooding in 1841, shaping Kaifeng as it stands today.
On 6 June 1938, the city was occupied by the invading Japanese Imperial Army.
Kaifeng is also known for having the oldest extant Jewish community in China, the Kaifeng Jews.
Kaifeng remained the capital of Henan province until 1954, when it was moved to Zhengzhou.
In 1969, the former President of the People’s Republic of China, Liu Shaoqi, died from medical neglect while under house arrest in Kaifeng.
Source From: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kaifeng#History