PRINCIPAL COMBATANTS: Xiongnu (Hsiung-nu; later known as the Huns) vs. Han China
PRINCIPAL THEATER(S): Northwestern China
MAJOR ISSUES AND OBJECTIVES: Conquest of the border region.
OUTCOME: The Xiongnu acquired the border territory and the Xiongnu leader, Mo Du, was given the Han emperor’s daughter in marriage.
APPROXIMATE MAXIMUM NUMBER OF MEN UNDER ARMS:
Xiongnu, 300,000; Han forces unknown
CASUALTIES: Unknown, but probably heavy among the Han
TREATIES: Treaty between Mo Du and Gaozu (Kao Tsu), 200 B.C.E.
The Xiongnu were a collection of Mongol tribes, which would later become known to the West as the Huns. Some time before 200 B.C.E., the various Xiongnu tribes were unified under the leader Mo Du. At the head of an army of 300,000, Mo Du (or Mao-tun, fl. c. 209–174 B.C.E.) invaded northwestern China. His forces were met by an army under Gaozu (256–195 B.C.E.), first of the Han emperors. Gaozu was quickly overwhelmed; however, his forces sought refuge in a fortified border town. Held under siege, Gaozu at last surrendered and made a treaty with Mo Du, whereby he ceded to the Xiongnu much border territory and betrothed his daughter to Mo Du.