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China
by Demetrius Charles Boulger
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It was immediately after this successful war that Genghis was seized with his fatal illness. Signs had been seen in the heavens which the Mongol astrologers said indicated the near approach of his death. The five planets had appeared together in the southwest, and so much impressed was Genghis by this phenomenon that on his death-bed he expressed "the earnest desire that henceforth the lives of our enemies shall not be unnecessarily sacrificed." The expression of this wish undoubtedly tended to mitigate the terrors of war as carried on by the Mongols. The immediate successors of Genghis conducted their campaigns after a more humane fashion, and it was not until Timour revived the early Mongol massacres that their opponents felt there was no chance in appealing to the humanity of the Mongols. Various accounts have been published of the cause of his death; some authorities ascribing it to violence, either by an arrow, lightning, or drowning, and others to natural causes. The event seems to have unquestionably happened in his camp on the borders of Shansi, August 27, 1227, when he was about sixty-five years of age, during more than fifty of which he had enjoyed supreme command of his own tribe.

The area of the undertakings conducted under his eye was more vast and included a greater number of countries than was the case with any other conqueror. Not a country from the Euxine to the China Sea escaped the tramp of the Mongol horsemen, and if we include the achievements of his immediate successors, the conquest of Russia, Poland, and Hungary, the plundering of Bulgaria, Roumania, and Bosnia, the final subjection of China and its southern tributaries must be added to complete the tale of Mongol triumph. The sphere of Mongol influence extended beyond this large portion of the earth's surface, just as the consequence of an explosion cannot be restricted to the immediate scene of the disaster. If we may include the remarkable achievements of his descendant Baber, and of that prince's grandson Akbar, in India three centuries later, not a country in Asia enjoyed immunity from the effect of their successes. Perhaps the most important result of their great outpouring into Western Asia—which certainly was the arrest of the Mohammedan career in Central Asia, and the diversion of the current of the fanatical propagators of the Prophet's creed against Europe—is not yet as fully recognized as it should be. The doubt has been already expressed whether the Mongols would ever have risen to higher rank than that of a nomad tribe but for the appearance of Genghis. Leaving that supposition in the category of other interesting but problematical conjectures, it may be asserted that Genghis represented in their highest forms all the qualities which entitled his race to exercise governing authority. He was, moreover, a military genius of the very first order, and it may be questioned whether either Caesar or Napoleon can as commanders be placed on a par with him. Even the Chinese said that he led his armies like a god. The manner in which he moved large bodies of men over vast distances without an apparent effort, the judgment he showed in the conduct of several wars in countries far apart from each other, his strategy in unknown regions, always on the alert, yet never allowing hesitation or overcaution to interfere with his enterprise, the sieges which he brought to a successful termination, his brilliant victories, a succession of "suns of Austerlitz," all combined make up the picture of a career to which Europe can offer nothing that will surpass, if indeed she has anything to bear comparison with it. After the lapse of centuries, and in spite of the indifference with which the great figures of Asiatic history have been treated, the name of Genghis preserves its magic spell. It is still a name to conjure with when recording the great revolutions of a period which beheld the death of the old system in China, and the advent in that country of a newer and more vigorous government which, slowly acquiring shape in the hands of Kublai and a more national form under the Mings, has attained the pinnacle of its utility and strength under the influence of the great emperors of the Manchu dynasty. But great as is the reputation Genghis has acquired it is probably short of his merits. He is remembered as a relentless and irresistible conqueror, a human scourge; but he was much more. He was one of the greatest instruments of destiny, one of the most remarkable molders of the fate of nations to be met with in the history of the world. His name still overshadows Asia with its fame, and the tribute of our admiration cannot be denied.

The death of Genghis did not seriously retard the progress of the war against the Kins. He expressed the wish that war should be carried on in a more humane and less vindictive manner, but he did not advocate there being no war or the abandonment of any of his enterprises. His son and successor Ogotai was indeed specially charged to bring the conquest of China to a speedy and victorious conclusion. The weakness of the Mongol confederacy was the delay connected with the proclamation of a new Khan and the necessity of summoning to a Grand Council all the princes and generals of the race, although it entailed the suspension and often the abandonment of great enterprises. The death of Genghis saved India but not China. Almost his last instructions were to draw up the plan for attacking and turning the great fortress of Tunkwan, which had provided such an efficient defense for Honan on the north, and in 1230, Ogotai, who had already partitioned the territory taken from the Kins into ten departments, took the field in person, giving a joint command to his brother Tuli, under whom served the experienced generals Yeliu Chutsia, Antchar, and Subutai. At first the Mongols met with no great success, and the Kins, encouraged by a momentary gleam of victory, ventured to reject the terms offered by Ogotai and to insult his envoy. The only important fighting during the years 1230-31 occurred round Fongsian, which after a long siege surrendered to Antchar, and when the campaign closed the Kins presented a bold front to the Mongols and still hoped to retain their power and dominions.

In 1232 the Mongols increased their armies in the field, and attacked the Kins from two sides. Ogotai led the main force against Honan, while Tuli, marching through Shensi into Szchuen, assailed them on their western flank. The difficulties encountered by Tuli on this march, when he had to make his own roads, were such that he entered the Kin territories with a much reduced and exhausted army. The Kin forces gained some advantage over it, but by either a feigned or a forced retreat, Tuli succeeded in baffling their pursuit, and in effecting a junction with his brother Ogotai, who had met with better fortune. Tuli destroyed everything along his line of march, and his massacres and sacks revived the worst traditions of Mongol ferocity. In these straits the Kins endeavored to flood the country round their capital, to which the Mongols had now advanced, but the Mongols fell upon the workmen while engaged in the task, and slew ten thousand of them. When the main Kin army accepted battle before the town of Yuchow, it was signally defeated, with the loss of three of its principal generals, and Ninkiassu fled from Kaifong to a place more removed from the scene of war. The garrison and townspeople of Kaifong—an immense city with walls thirty-six miles in circumference, and a population during the siege, it is said, of one million four hundred thousand families, or nearly seven million people—offered a stubborn resistance to the Mongols, who intrusted the conduct of the attack to Subutai, the most daring of all their commanders. The Mongols employed their most formidable engines, catapults hurling immense stones, and mortars ejecting explosives and combustibles, but twelve months elapsed before the walls were shattered and the courage and provisions of the defenders exhausted. Then Kaifong surrendered at discretion, and Subutai wished to massacre the whole of the population. But fortunately for the Chinese, Yeliu Chutsai was a more humane and a more influential general, and under his advice Ogotai rejected the cruel proposal.

At this moment, when it seemed impossible for fate to have any worse experience in store for the unfortunate Kins, their old enemies, the Sungs, wishing to give them the coup de grace, declared war upon them, and placed a large army in the field under their best general, Mongkong, of whom more will be heard. The relics of the Kin army, under their sovereign Ninkiassu, took shelter in Tsaichau, where they were closely besieged by the Mongols on one side and the Sungs on the other. Driven thus into a corner, the Kins fought with the courage of despair and long held out against the combined efforts of their enemies. At last Ninkiassu saw that the struggle could not be prolonged, and he prepared himself to end his life and career in a manner worthy of the race from which he sprang. When the enemy broke into the city, and he heard the stormers at the gate of his palace, he retired to an upper chamber and set fire to the building. Many of his generals, and even of his soldiers, followed his example, preferring to end their existence rather than to add to the triumph of their Mongol and Sung opponents. Thus came to an end in 1234 the famous dynasty of the Kins, who under nine emperors had ruled Northern China for one hundred and eighteen years, and whose power and military capacity may best be gauged by the fact that without a single ally they held out against the all-powerful Mongols for more than a quarter of a century. Ninkiassu, the last of their rulers, was not able to sustain the burden of their authority, but he at least showed himself equal to ending it in a worthy and appropriately dramatic manner.

The folly of the Sungs had completed the discomfiture of the Kins, and had brought to their own borders the terrible peril which had beset every other state in Asia, and which had in almost every case entailed destruction. How could the Sungs expect to avoid the same fate, or to propitiate the most implacable and insatiable of conquering races? They had done this to a large extent with their eyes open. More than once in the early stages of the struggle the Kin rulers had sent envoys to beg their alliance, and to warn them that if they did not help in keeping out the Mongols, their time would come to be assailed and to share in the common ruin. But Ningtsong did not pay heed to the warning, and scarcely concealed his gratification at the misfortunes of his old opponents. The nearer the Mongols came, and the worse the plight to which the Kins were reduced, the more did he rejoice. He forgave Tuli the violation of Sung territory, necessary for his flank attack on Honan, and when the knell of the Kins sounded at the fall of Kaifong, he hastened to help in striking the final blow at them, and to participate, as he hoped, in the distribution of the plunder. By this time Litsong had succeeded his cousin Ningtsong as ruler of the Sungs, and it is said that he received from Tsaichau the armor and personal spoils of Ninkiassu, which he had the satisfaction of offering up in the temple of his ancestors. But when he requested the Mongols to comply with the more important part of the convention, by which the Sung forces had joined the Mongols before Tsaichau, and to evacuate the province of Honan, he experienced a rude awakening from his dream that the overthrow of the Kins would redound to his advantage, and he soon realized what value the Mongols attached to his alliance. The military capacity of Mongkong inspired the Sung ruler with confidence, and he called upon the Mongols to execute their promises, or to prepare for war. The Mongol garrisons made no movement of retreat, and the utmost that Litsong was offered was a portion of Honan, if it could be practically divided. The proposition was probably meant ironically, but at all events Litsong rejected it, and sent Mongkong to take by force possession of the disputed province. The Mongol forces on the spot were fewer than the Chinese, and they met with some reverses. But the hope of the Sungs that the fortune of war would declare in their favor was soon destroyed by the vast preparations of the Mongols, who, at a special kuriltai, held at Karakoram, declared that the conquest of China was to be completed. Then Litsong's confidence left him, and he sent an appeal for peace to the Mongols, giving up all claim to Honan, and only asking to be left in undisturbed possession of his original dominions. It was too late. The Mongols had passed their decree that the Sungs were to be treated like the Kins, and that the last Chinese government was to be destroyed.

In 1235, the year following the immolation of Ninkiassu, the Mongols placed half a million men in the field for the purpose of destroying the Sung power, and Ogotai divided them into three armies, which were to attack Litsong's kingdom from as many sides. The Mongol ruler intrusted the most difficult task to his son Kutan, who invaded the inaccessible and vast province of Szchuen, at the head of one of these armies. Notwithstanding its natural capacity for offering an advantageous defense, the Chinese turned their opportunities to poor account, and the Mongols succeeded in capturing all its frontier fortresses, with little or no resistance. The shortcomings of the defense can be inferred from the circumstances of the Chinese annalists making special mention of one governor having had the courage to die at his post. For some reason not clearly stated the Mongols did not attempt to retain possession of Szchuen on this occasion. They withdrew when they were in successful occupation of the northern half of the province, and when it seemed as if the other lay at their mercy. In the two dual provinces of Kiangnan and Houkwang, the other Mongol armies met with considerable success, which was dimmed, however, by the death of Kuchu, the son and proclaimed heir of Ogotai. This event, entailing no inconsiderable doubt and long-continued disputes as to the succession, was followed by the withdrawal of the Mongol forces from Sung territory, and during the last six years of his life Ogotai abstained from war, and gave himself up to the indulgence of his gluttony. He built a great palace at Karakoram, where his ancestors had been content to live in a tent, and he intrusted the government of the old Kin dominions to Yeliu Chutsai, who acquired great popularity among the Chinese for his clemency and regard for their customs. Yeliu Chutsai adopted the Chinese mode of taxation, and when Ogotai's widow, Turakina, who acted as regent after her husband's death, ordered him to alter his system and to farm out the revenues, he sent in his resignation, and, it is said, died of grief shortly afterward. Ogotai was one of the most humane and amiable of all the Mongol rulers, and Yeliu Chutsai imitated his master. Of the latter the Chinese contemporary writers said "he was distinguished by a rare disinterestedness. Of a very broad intellect, he was able, without injustice and without wronging a single person, to amass vast treasures (D'Ohsson says only of books, maps, and pictures), and to enrich his family, but all his care and labors had for their sole object the advantage and glory of his masters. Wise and calculating in his plans, he did little of which he had any reason to repent."

During the five years following the death of Ogotai, the Mongols were absorbed in the question who should be their next Great Khan, and it was only after a warm and protracted discussion, which threatened to entail the disruption of Mongol power, and the revelation of many rivalries among the descendants of Genghis, that Kuyuk, the eldest son of Ogotai, was proclaimed emperor. At the kuriltai held for this purpose, all the great Mongol leaders were present, including Batu, the conqueror of Hungary, and after the Mongol chiefs had agreed as to their chief, the captive kings, Yaroslaf of Russia and David of Georgia, paid homage to their conqueror. We owe to the monk Carpino, who was sent by the Pope to convert the Mongol, a graphic account of one of the most brilliant ceremonies to be met with in the whole course of Mongol history. The delay in selecting Kuyuk, whose principal act of sovereignty was to issue a seal having this inscription: "God in Heaven and Kuyuk on earth; by the power of God the ruler of all men," had given the Sungs one respite, and his early death procured them another. Kuyuk died in 1248, and his cousin, Mangu, the son of Tuli, was appointed his successor. By this time the Mongol chiefs of the family of Genghis in Western Asia were practically independent of the nominal Great Khan, and governed their states in complete sovereignty, and waged war without reference to Karakoram. This change left the Mongols in their original home of the Amour absolutely free to devote all their attention to the final overthrow of the Sungs, and Mangu declared that he would know no rest until he had finally subjected the last of the Chinese ruling families. In this resolution Mangu received the hearty support of his younger but more able brother, Kublai, to whom was intrusted the direction in the field of the armies sent to complete the conquest of China.

Kublai received this charge in 1251, so that the Sungs had enjoyed, first through the pacific disposition of Ogotai, and, secondly, from the family disputes following his death, peace for more than fifteen years. The advantage of this tranquillity was almost nullified by the death of Mongkong, a general whose reputation may have been easily gained, but who certainly enjoyed the confidence of his soldiers, and who was thought by his countrymen to be the best commander of his day. When the Chinese emperor, Litsong, saw the storm again approaching his northern frontier, he found that he had lost the main support of his power, and that his military resources were inferior to those of his enemy. He had allowed himself to be lulled into a false sense of security by the long inaction of the Mongols, and although he seems to have been an amiable prince, and a typical Chinese ruler, honoring the descendants of Confucius with the hereditary title of duke, which still remains in that family, and is the only title of its kind in China, and encouraging the literary classes of his country, he was a bad sovereign to be intrusted with the task of defending his realm and people against a bold and determined enemy.

Kublai prepared the way for his campaigns in Southern China by following a very wise and moderate policy in Northern China similar to that begun by Muhula, and carried out with greater effect by Yeliu Chutsai. He had enjoyed the advantage of a Chinese education, imparted by an able tutor named Yaochu, who became the prince's private secretary and mentor in all Chinese matters. At his instigation, or, at least, with his co-operation, Kublai took in hand the restoration of the southern portion of Honan, which had been devastated during the wars, and he succeeded in bringing back its population and prosperity to that great province of Central China. He thus secured a base for his operations close to the Sung frontier, while he attached to his person a large section of the Chinese nation. There never was any concealment that this patronage of Chinese officials, and these measures for the amelioration of many millions of Chinese subjects, were the well calculated preliminaries to the invasion of Southern China and the extinction of the Sung dynasty.

If Kublai had succeeded in obtaining a wise adviser in Yaochu, he was not less fortunate in procuring a great general in the person of Uriangkadai, the son of Subutai, and his remarkable and unvarying successes were largely due to the efforts of those two men in the cabinet and the field. The plan of campaign, drawn up with great care and forethought by the prince and his lieutenant, had the double merit of being both bold and original. Its main purpose was not one that the Sung generals would be likely to divine. It was determined to make a flank march round the Sung dominions, and to occupy what is now the province of Yunnan; and, by placing an army in the rear of their kingdom, to attack them eventually from two sides. At this time Yunnan formed an independent state, and its ruler, from his position behind the Sung territory, must have fancied himself secure against any attack by the Mongols. He was destined to a rude awakening. Kublai and Uriangkadai, marching across Szchuen and crossing the Kinchakiang, or "river of golden sand," which forms the upper course of the Great River, on rafts, burst into Yunnan, speedily vanquished the frontier garrisons, and laid siege to the capital, Talifoo. That town did not hold out long, and soon Kublai was in a position to return to his own state, leaving Uriangkadai with a considerable garrison in charge of Yunnan. That general, believing that his position would be improved by his resorting to an active offensive, carried the standard of his race against the many turbulent tribes in his neighborhood, and invaded Burma whose king, after one campaign, was glad to recognize the supremacy of the Mongols. The success and the boldness, which may have been considered temerity, of this campaign, raised up enemies to Kublai at the court of Karakoram, and the mind of his brother Mangu was poisoned against him by many who declared that Kublai aspired to complete independence. These designs so far succeeded, that in 1257 Mangu finally deprived Kublai of all his commands, and ordered him to proceed to Karakoram. At this harsh and unmerited treatment Kublai showed himself inclined to rebel and dispute his brother's authority. If he had done this, although the provocation was great, he would have confirmed the charges of his accusers, and a war would have broken out among the Mongols which would probably have rent their power in twain in Eastern Asia. But fortunately Yaochu was at hand to give prudent advice, and after much hesitation Kublai yielded to the impressive exhortations of his experienced and sagacious minister. He is reported to have addressed Kublai in the following terms: "Prince! You are the brother of the emperor, but you are not the less his subject. You cannot, without committing a crime, question his decisions, and, moreover, if you were to do so, it would only result in placing you in a more dangerous predicament, out of which you could hardly succeed in extricating yourself, as you are so far distant from the capital where your enemies seek to injure you. My advice is that you should send your family to Mangu, and by this step you will justify yourself and remove any suspicions there may be."

Kublai adopted this wise course, and proceeded in person to Karakoram, where he succeeded in proving his innocence and in discomfiting his enemies. It is said that Mangu was so affected at the mere sight of his brother that he at once forgave him without waiting for an explanation and reinstated him in all his offices. To ratify this reconciliation Mangu proclaimed that he would take the field in person, and that Kublai should hold joint command with himself. When he formed this resolution to proceed to China in person, he appointed his next brother, Arikbuka, to act as his lieutenant in Mongolia. It is necessary to recollect this arrangement, as Mangu died during the campaign, and it led to the separation of the Chinese empire and the Mongolian, which were divided after that event between Kublai and Arikbuka.

Mangu did not come to his resolution to prosecute the war with the Sungs any too soon, for Uriangkadai was beginning to find his isolated position not free from danger. Large as the army of that general was, and skillfully as he had endeavored to improve his position by strengthening the fortresses and recruiting from the warlike tribes of Yunnan, Uriangkadai found himself threatened by the collected armies of the Sungs, who occupied Szchuen with a large garrison and menaced the daring Mongol general with the whole of their power. There seems every reason to believe that if the Sungs had acted with only ordinary promptitude they might have destroyed this Mongol army long before any aid could have reached it from the north. Once Mangu had formed his resolution the rapidity of his movements left the Sungs little or no chance of attacking Uriangkadai. This campaign began in the winter of 1257, when the troops were able to cross the frozen waters of the Hoangho, and the immense Mongol army was divided into three bodies, while Uriangkadai was ordered to march north and effect a junction with his old chief Kublai in Szchuen. The principal fighting of the first year occurred in this part of China, and Mangu hastened there with another of his armies. The Sung garrison was large, and showed great courage and fortitude. The difficulty of the country and the strength of several of their fortresses seconded their efforts, and after two years' fighting the Mongols felt so doubtful of success that they held a council of war to decide whether they should retreat or continue to prosecute the struggle. It has been said that councils of war do not come to bold resolutions, but this must have been an exception, as it decided not to retreat, and to make one more determined effort to overcome the Chinese. The campaign of 1259 began with the siege of Hochau, a strong fortress, held by a valiant garrison and commander, and to whose aid a Chinese army under Luwenti was hastening. The governor, Wangkien, offered a stout resistance, and Luwenti succeeded in harassing the besiegers; but the fall of the fortress appeared assured, when a new and more formidable defender arrived in the form of dysentery. The Mongol camp was ravaged by this foe, Mangu himself died of the disease, and those of the Mongols who escaped beat a hasty and disorderly retreat back to the north. Once more the Sungs obtained a brief respite.

The death of Mangu threatened fresh disputes and strife among the Mongol royal family. Kublai was his brother's lawful heir, but Arikbuka, the youngest of the brothers was in possession of Karakoram, and supreme throughout Mongolia. He was hostile to Kublai, and disposed to assert all his rights and to make the most of his opportunities. No Great Khan could be proclaimed anywhere save at Karakoram, and Arikbuka would not allow his brother to gain that place, the cradle of their race and dynasty, unless he could do so by force of arms. Kublai attempted to solve the difficulty by holding a grand council near his favorite city of Cambaluc, the modern Pekin, and he sent forth his proclamation to the Mongols as their Khan. But they refused to recognize one who was not elected in the orthodox fashion at Karakoram; and Arikbuka not merely defied Kublai, but summoned his own kuriltai at Karakoram, where he was proclaimed Khakhan in the most formal manner and with all the accustomed ceremonies. Arikbuka was undoubtedly popular among the Mongols, while Kublai, who was regarded as half a Chinese on account of his education, had a far greater reputation south of the wall than north of it. Kublai could not tolerate the open defiance of his authority, and the contempt shown for what was his birthright, by Arikbuka; and in 1261 he advanced upon Karakoram at the head of a large army. A single battle sufficed to dispose of Arikbuka's pretensions, and that prince was glad to find a place of refuge among the Kirghiz. Kublai proved himself a generous enemy. He sent Arikbuka his full pardon, he reinstated him in his rank of prince, and he left him virtually supreme among the Mongol tribes. He retraced his steps to Pekin, fully resolved to become Chinese emperor in reality, but prepared to waive his rights as Mongol Khan. Mangu Khan was the last of the Mongol rulers whose authority was recognized in both the east and the west, and his successor, Kublai, seeing that its old significance had departed, was fain to establish his on a new basis in the fertile, ancient and wide-stretching dominions of China.

Before Kublai composed the difficulty with Arikbuka he had resumed his operations against the Sungs, and even before Mangu's death he had succeeded in establishing some posts south of the Yangtsekiang, in the impassability of which the Chinese fondly believed. During the year 1260 he laid siege to Wochow, the modern Wouchang, but he failed to make any impression on the fortress on this occasion, and he agreed to the truce which Litsong proposed. By the terms of this agreement Litsong acknowledged himself a Mongol vassal, just as his ancestors had subjected themselves to the Kins, paid a large tribute, and forbade his generals anywhere to attack the Mongols. The last stipulation was partly broken by an attack on the rear of Uriangkadai's corps, but no serious results followed, for Kublai was well satisfied with the manner in which the campaign terminated, as there is no doubt that his advance across the Yangtsekiang had been precipitate, and he may have thought himself lucky to escape with the appearance of success and the conclusion of a gratifying treaty. It was with the reputation gained by this nominal success, and by having made the Sungs his tributaries, that Kublai hastened northward to settle his rivalry with Arikbuka. Having accomplished that object with complete success, he decided to put an end to the Sung dynasty. The Chinese emperor, acting with strange fatuity, had given fresh cause of umbrage, and had provoked a war by many petty acts of discourtesy, culminating in the murder of the envoys of Kublai, sent to notify him of his proclamation as Great Khan of the Mongols. Probably the Sung ruler could not have averted war if he had shown the greatest forbearance and humility, but this cruel and inexcusable act precipitated the crisis and the extinction of his attenuated authority. If there was any delay in the movements of Kublai for the purpose of exacting reparation for this outrage, it was due to his first having to arrange a difficulty that had arisen in his relations with the King of Corea. That potentate had long preserved the peace with his Mongol neighbors, and perhaps he would have remained a friend without any interruption, had not the Mongols done something which was construed as an infraction of Corean liberty. The Corean love of independence took fire at the threatened diminution of their rights, they rose en masse in defense of their country, and even the king, Wangtien, who had been, well disposed to the Mongol rulers, declared that he could not continue the alliance, and placed himself at the head of his people. Seeing himself thus menaced with a costly war in a difficult country on the eve of a more necessary and hopeful contest, Kublai resorted to diplomacy. He addressed Wangtien in complimentary terms and disclaimed all intention of injuring the Coreans, with whom he wished to maintain friendly relations, but at the same time he pointed out the magnitude of his power and dilated on the extent of the Mongol conquests. Half by flattery and half by menace Kublai brought the Corean court to reason, and Wangtien again entered into bonds of alliance with Cambaluc and renewed his old oaths of friendship.

At this point of the long struggle with the Sungs it will be appropriate to consider what was the exact position of Kublai with regard to his own Chinese subjects, who now formed the backbone of his power. By this time Kublai had become to all practical intents and purposes a Chinese emperor. He had accepted all the traditional functions of the typical Hwangti, and the etiquette and splendor of his court rivaled that of the Sungs. He had not merely adopted the Chinese system of taxation and the form of administration to which the larger portion of his officials, being of Chinese race, had been accustomed, but he declared himself the patron of learning and of Buddhism, which had gained a hold on the minds of the Mongols that it has not lost to the present day. One of the most popular of his early measures had been the order to liberate all the literate class among his Chinese prisoners, and they had formed the nucleus of the civil service Kublai attached to his interests and utilized as his empire expanded. In his relations with Buddhism Kublai showed not less astuteness, and in realizing that to attain durable success he must appeal to the religious side of human character, he showed that he had the true instincts of a statesman.

At this time two facts were clearly apparent. The Chinese were sunk in a low state of religious disbelief, and the Sung rulers were not disposed to play the part of regenerators of their country. The second fact was that the only vigorous religion in China, or, indeed, in Eastern Asia, was Buddhism, which, since the establishment of Brahmanism in India, had taken up its headquarters in Tibet, where, however, the supreme authority was still secular—that is to say, it was invested in the hands of a prince or king, and not in those of a priest or Grand Lama. It so happened that there was resident at Kublai's court a Tibetan priest, of the family which had always supplied the Sanpou with his minister, who gained the ear of Kublai, and convinced him how politic and advantageous to him personally it would be if he were to secure the co-operation and sympathy of his priestly order. Kublai fell in with his plans, and proclaimed his friend Pakba Lama, and sent him back to Tibet, there to establish the ecclesiastical authority, which still exists in that country, in intimate alliance and sympathy with the Chinese rulers. By this and other similar proceedings Kublai gained over to his side several influential classes among the Chinese people, and many reflecting persons thought they saw in him a true regenerator of the empire, and a worthy successor of their greatest rulers. It was, therefore, with a thoroughly pacified country, and to a great extent a contented people, that Kublai began his last war with the rulers of Southern China.

In 1263 Kublai issued his proclamation of war, calling on his generals "to assemble their troops, to sharpen their swords and their pikes, and to prepare their bows and arrows," for he intended to attack the Sungs by land and sea. The treason of a Chinese general in his service named Litan served to delay the opening of the campaign for a few weeks, but this incident was of no importance, as Litan was soon overthrown and executed. Brief as was the interval, it was marked by one striking and important event—the death of Litsong, who was succeeded by his nephew, Chowki, called the Emperor Toutsong. Litsong was not a wise ruler, but, compared with many of his successors, he might be more accurately styled unfortunate than incompetent. Toutsong, and his weak and arrogant minister, Kiassetao, hastened to show that there were greater heights of folly than any to which he had attained. Acting on the advice of a renegade Sung general, well acquainted with the defenses of Southern China, Kublai altered his proposed attack, and prepared for crossing the Yangtsekiang by first making himself supreme on its tributary, the Han River. His earlier attack on Wouchang has been described, and his compulsory retirement from that place had taught him the evil of making a premature attack. His object remained the same, but instead of marching direct to it across the Yangtsekiang he took the advice of the Sung general, arid attacked the fortress of Sianyang on the Han River, with the object of making himself supreme on that stream, and wresting from the Sungs the last first-class fortress they possessed in the northwest. By the time all these preliminaries were completed and the Mongol army had fairly taken the field it was 1268, and Kublai sent sixty thousand of his best troops, with a large number of auxiliaries, to lay siege to Sianyang, which was held by a large garrison and a resolute governor. The Mongol lines were drawn up round the town, and also its neighbor of Fanching, situated on the opposite bank of the river, with which communication was maintained by several bridges, and the Mongols built a large fleet of fifty war junks, with which they closed the Han River and effectually prevented any aid being sent up it from Hankow or Wouchang. Liuwen Hoan, the commandant of Sianyang, was a brave man, and he commanded a numerous garrison and possessed supplies, as he said, to stand a ten years' siege. He repulsed all the assaults of the enemy, and, undaunted by his isolation, replied to the threats of the Mongols, to give him no quarter if he persisted in holding out, by boasting that he would hang their traitor general in chains before his sovereign. The threats and vaunts of the combatants did not bring the siege any nearer to an end. The utmost that the Mongols could achieve was to prevent any provisions or re- enforcements being thrown into the town. But on the fortress itself they made no impression. Things had gone on like this for three years, and the interest in the siege had begun to languish, when Kublai determined to make a supreme effort to carry the place, and at the same moment the Sung minister came to the conclusion to relieve it at all hazards.

The campaign of 1270 began with a heroic episode—the successful dispatch of provisions into the besieged town, under the direction of two Chinese officers named Changkoua and Changchun, whose names deserve to be long remembered for their heroism. The flotilla was divided into two bodies, one composed of the fighting, the other of the store-ships. The Mongols had made every preparation to blockade the river, but the suddenness and vigor of the Chinese attack surprised them, and, at first, the Chinese had the best of the day. But soon the Mongols recovered, and from their superior position threatened to overwhelm the assailing Chinese squadron. In this perilous moment Changchun, devoting himself to death in the interest of his country collected all his war-junks, and making a desperate attack on the Mongols, succeeded in obtaining sufficient time to enable the storeships under Changkoua to pass safely up to Sianyang. The life of so great a hero as Changchun was, however, a heavy price to pay for the temporary relief of Sianyang, which was more closely besieged than ever after the arrival of Kublai in person.

After this affair the Mongols pushed the siege with greater vigor, and instead of concentrating their efforts on Sianyang they attacked both that fortress and Fanching from all sides. The Mongol commander, Alihaya, sent to Persia, where the Mongols were also supreme, for engineers trained in the working of mangonels or catapults, engines capable of throwing stones of 160-pounds' weight with precision for a considerable distance. By their aid the bridges across the river were first destroyed, and then the walls of Sianyang were so severely damaged that an assault appeared to be feasible. But Fanching had suffered still more from the Mongol bombardment, and Alihaya therefore attacked it first. The garrison offered a determined resistance, and the fighting was continued in the streets. Not a man of the garrison escaped, and when the slaughter was over the Mongols found that they had only acquired possession of a mass of ruins. But they had obtained the key to Sianyang, the weakest flank of which had been protected by Fanching, and the Chinese garrison was so discouraged that Liuwen Hoan, despairing of relief, agreed to accept the terms offered by Kublai. Those terms were expressed in the following noble letter from the Mongol emperor: "The generous defense you have made during five years covers you with glory. It is the duty of every faithful subject to serve his prince at the expense of his life, but in the straits to which you are reduced, your strength exhausted, deprived of succor and without hope of receiving any, would it be reasonable to sacrifice the lives of so many brave men out of sheer obstinacy? Submit in good faith to us and no harm shall come to you. We promise you still more; and that is to provide each and all of you with honorable employment. You shall have no grounds of discontent, for that we pledge you our imperial word."

It will not excite surprise that Liuwen Hoan, who had been, practically speaking, deserted by his own sovereign, should have accepted the magnanimous terms of his conqueror, and become as loyal a lieutenant of Kublai as he had shown himself to be of the Sung Toutsong. The death of that ruler followed soon afterward, but as the real power had been in the hands of the Minister Kiassetao, no change took place in the policy or fortunes of the Sung kingdom. At this moment Kublai succeeded in obtaining the services of Bay an, a Mongol general who had acquired a great reputation under Khulagu in Persia. Bayan, whose name signifies the noble or the brave, and who was popularly known as Bayan of the Hundred Eyes, because he was supposed to see everything, was one of the greatest military leaders of his age and race. He was intrusted with the command of the main army, and under him served, it is interesting to state, Liuwen Hoan. Several towns were captured after more or less resistance, and Bayan bore down with all his force on the triple cities of Hankow, Wouchang, and Hanyang. Bayan concentrated all his efforts on the capture of Hanyang, while the Mongol navy under Artchu compelled the Chinese fleet to take refuge under the walls of Wouchang. None of these towns offered a very stubborn resistance, and Bayan had the satisfaction of receiving their surrender one after another. Leaving Alihaya with 40,000 men to guard these places, Bayan marched with the rest of his forces on the Sung capital, Lingan or Hangchow, the celebrated Kincsay of medieval travelers. The retreating fleet and army of the Sungs carried with them fear of the Mongols, and the ever-increasing representation of their extraordinary power and irresistible arms. In this juncture public opinion compelled Kiassetao to take the lead, and he called upon all the subjects of the Sung to contribute arms and money for the purpose of national defense. But his own incompetence in directing this national movement deprived it of half its force and of its natural chances of success. Bayan's advance was rapid. Many towns opened their gates in terror or admiration of his name, and Liuwen Hoan was frequently present to assure them that Kublai was the most generous of masters, and that there was no wiser course than to surrender to his generals.

The Mongol forces at last reached the neighborhood of the Sung capital, where Kiassetao had succeeded in collecting an army of 130,000 men; but many of them were ill-trained, and the splendor of the camp provided a poor equivalent for the want of arms and discipline among the men. Kiassetao seems to have been ignorant of the danger of his position, for he sent an arrogant summons to the Mongols to retire, stating also that he would grant a peace based on the Yangtsekiang as a boundary. Bayan's simple reply to this notice was, "If you had really aimed at peace you would have made this proposition before we crossed the Kiang. Now that we are the masters of it, it is a little too late. Still if you sincerely desire it, come and see me in person, and we will discuss the necessary conditions." Very few of the Sung lieutenants offered a protracted resistance, and even the isolated cases of devotion were confined to the official class, who were more loyal than the mass of the people. Chao Maofa and his wife Yongchi put an end to their existence sooner than give up their charge at Chichow, but the garrison accepted the terms of the Mongols without compunction, and without thinking of their duty. Kiassetao attempted to resist the Mongol advance at Kien Kang, the modern Nankin, but after an engagement on land and water the Sungs were driven back, and their fleet only escaped destruction by retiring precipitately to the sea. After this success Nankin, surrendered without resistance, although its governor was a valiant and apparently a capable man. He committed suicide sooner than surrender, and among his papers was found a plan of campaign, after perusing which Bay an exclaimed, "Is it possible that the Sungs possessed a man capable of giving such prudent counsel? If they had paid heed to it, should we ever have reached this spot?" After this success Bayan pressed on with increased rather than diminished energy, and the Sung emperor and his court fled from the capital. Kublai showed an inclination to temporize and to negotiate, but Bayan would not brook any delay. "To relax your grip even for a moment on an enemy whom you have held by the throat for a hundred years would only be to give him time to recover his breath, to restore his forces, and in the end to cause us an infinity of trouble."

The Sung fortunes showed some slight symptoms of improving when Kiassetao was disgraced, and a more competent general was found in the person of Chang Chikia. But the Mongols never abated the vigor of their attack or relaxed in their efforts to cut off all possibility of succor from the Sung capital. When Chang Chikia hoped to improve the position of his side by resuming the offensive he was destined to rude disappointment. Making an attack on the strong position of the Mongols at Nankin he was repulsed with heavy loss. The Sung fleet was almost annihilated and 700 war-junks were taken by the victors. After this the Chinese never dared to face the Mongols again on the water. This victory was due to the courage and capacity of Artchu. Bayan now returned from a campaign in Mongolia to resume the chief conduct of the war, and he signalized his return by the capture of Changchow. At this town he is said to have sanctioned a massacre of the Chinese troops, but the facts are enwrapped in uncertainty; and Marco Polo declares that this was only done after the Chinese had treacherously cut up the Mongol garrison. Alarmed by the fall of Changchow, the Sung ministers again sued for peace, sending an imploring letter to this effect: "Our ruler is young and cannot be held responsible for the differences that have arisen between the peoples. Kiassetao the guilty one has been punished; give us peace and we shall be better friends in the future." Bayan's reply was severe and uncompromising. "The age of your prince has nothing to do with the question between us. The war must go on to its legitimate end. Further argument is useless." The defenses of the Sung capital were by this time removed, and the unfortunate upholders of that dynasty had no option save to come to terms with the Mongols. Marco Polo describes Kincsay as the most opulent city of the world, but it was in no position to stand a siege. The empress-regent, acting for her son, sent in her submission to Bayan, and agreed to proceed to the court of the conqueror. She abdicated for herself and family all the pretensions of their rank, and she accepted the favors of the Mongol with due humility, saying, "The Son of Heaven (thus giving Kublai the correct imperial style) grants you the favor of sparing your life; it is just to thank him for it and to pay him homage." Bayan made a triumphal entry into the city, while the Emperor Kongtsong was sent off to Pekin. The majority of the Sung courtiers and soldiers came to terms with Bayan, but a few of the more desperate or faithful endeavored to uphold the Sung cause in Southern China under the general, Chang Chikia. Two of the Sung princes were supported by this commander, and one was proclaimed by the empty title of emperor. Capricious fortune rallied to their side for a brief space, and some of the Mongol detachments which had advanced too far or with undue precipitancy were cut up and destroyed.

The Mongols seem to have thought that the war was over, and the success of Chang Chikia's efforts may have been due to their negligence rather than to his vigor. As soon as they realized that there remained a flickering flame of opposition among the supporters of the Sungs they sent two armies, one into Kwantung and the other into Fuhkien, and their fleet against Chang Chikia. Desperate as was his position, that officer still exclaimed, "If heaven has not resolved to overthrow the Sungs, do you think that even now it cannot restore their ruined throne?" but his hopes were dashed to the ground by the capture of Canton, and the expulsion of all his forces from the mainland. One puppet emperor died, and then Chang proclaimed another as Tiping. The last supporters of the cause took refuge on the island of Tai in the Canton estuary, where they hoped to maintain their position. The position was strong and the garrison was numerous; but the Mongols were not to be frightened by appearances. Their fleet bore down on the last Sung stronghold with absolute confidence, and, although the Chinese resisted for three days and showed great gallantry, they were overwhelmed by the superior engines as well as the numbers of the Mongols. Chang Chikia with a few ships succeeded in escaping from the fray, but the emperor's vessel was less fortunate, and finding that escape was impossible, Lousionfoo, one of the last Sung ministers, seized the emperor in his arms and jumped overboard with him. Thus died Tiping, the last Chinese emperor of the Sungs, and with him expired that ill-fated dynasty. Chang Chikia renewed the struggle with aid received from Tonquin, but when he was leading a forlorn hope against Canton he was caught in a typhoon and he and his ships were wrecked. His invocation to heaven, "I have done everything I could to sustain on the throne the Sung dynasty. When one prince died I caused another to be proclaimed emperor. He also has perished, and I still live! Oh, heaven, shall I be acting against thy desires if I sought to place a new prince of this family on the throne?" sounded the dirge of the race he had served so well.

Thus was the conquest of China by the Mongols completed. After half a century of warfare the kingdom of the Sungs shared the same fate as its old rival the Kin, and Kublai had the personal satisfaction of completing the work begun by his grandfather Genghis seventy years before. Of all the Mongol triumphs it was the longest in being attained. The Chinese of the north and of the south resisted with extraordinary powers of endurance the whole force of the greatest conquering race Asia had ever seen. They were not skilled in war and their generals were generally incompetent, but they held out with desperate courage and obstinacy long after other races would have given in. The student of history will not fail to see in these facts striking testimony of the extraordinary resources of China, and of the capacity of resistance to even a vigorous conqueror possessed by its inert masses. Even the Mongols did not conquer until they had obtained the aid of a large section of the Chinese nation, or before Kublai had shown that he intended to prove himself a worthy Emperor of China and not merely a great Khan of the Mongol Hordes.



CHAPTER VI

KUBLAI AND THE MONGOL DYNASTY

While Bayan was winning victories for his master and driving the Chinese armies from the field, Kublai was engaged at Pekin in the difficult and necessary task of consolidating his authority. In 1271 he gave his dynasty the name of Yuen or Original, and he took for himself the Chinese title of Chitsou, although it will never supersede his Mongol name of Kublai. Summoning to his court the most experienced Chinese ministers, and aided by many foreigners, he succeeded in founding a government which was imposing by reason of its many-sidedness as well as its inherent strength. It satisfied the Chinese and it was gratifying to the Mongols, because they formed the buttress of one of the most imposing administrations in the world. All this was the distinct work of Kublai, who had enjoyed the special favor of Genghis, who had predicted of him that "one day he will sit in my seat and bring you good fortune such as you have had in my time." He resolved to make his court the most splendid in the world. His capital Cambaluc or Khanbalig—"the city of the Khan"—stood on or near the present site of Pekin, and was made for the first time capital of China by the Mongols. There were, according to Marco Polo, twelve gates, at each of which was stationed a guard of 1,000 men, and the streets were so straight and wide that you could see from one end to the other, or from gate to gate. The extent given of the walls varies: according to the highest estimate they were twenty-seven miles round, according to the lowest eighteen. The khan's palace at Chandu or Kaipingfoo, north of Pekin, where he built a magnificent summer palace, kept his stud of horses, and carried out his love of the chase in the immense park and preserves attached, may be considered the Windsor of this Chinese monarch. The position of Pekin had, and still has, much to recommend it as the site of a capital. The Mings, after proclaiming Nankin the capital, made scarcely less use of it, and Chuntche, the first of the Manchus, adopted it as his. It has since remained the sole metropolis of the empire.

When Kublai permanently established himself at Pekin he drew up consistent lines of policy on all the great questions with which it was likely he would have to deal, and he always endeavored to act upon these set principles. In framing this system of government he was greatly assisted by his old friend and tutor Yaochu, as well as by other Chinese ministers. He was thus able to deal wisely and also vigorously with a society with which he was only imperfectly acquainted; and the impartiality and insight into human character, which were his main characteristics, greatly simplified the difficult task before him. His impartiality was shown most clearly in his attitude on the question of religion; but it partook very largely of a hard materialism which concealed itself under a nominal indifference. At first he treated with equal consideration Buddhism, Mohammedanism, Christianity, and even Judaism, and he said that he treated them all with equal consideration because he hoped that the greatest among them would help him in heaven. If some doubt may be felt as to the sincerity of this statement, there can be none as to Kublai's effort to turn all religions to a political use, and to make them serve his turn. Some persons have thought he showed a predilection for Christianity, but his measures in support of Buddhism, and of his friend the Pakba Lama, are a truer indication of his feelings. But none were admitted into his private confidence, and his acts evinced a politic tolerance toward all creeds. But his religious tolerance or indifference did not extend to personal matters. He insisted on the proper prayers being offered to himself and the extreme reverence of the kow-tow. Priests were appointed and specially enjoined to offer up prayers on his behalf before the people, who were required to attend these services and to join in the responses. Images of himself were also sent to all the provincial towns for reverence to be offered. He also followed the Chinese custom of erecting a temple to his ancestors, and the coins that passed current bore his effigy. Thus did Kublai more and more identify himself with his Chinese subjects, and as he found his measures crowned with success he became himself more wedded to Chinese views, less tolerant of adverse opinions, and more disposed to assert his sovereign majesty.

Having embellished his capital, it is not surprising to find that he drew up a strict court ceremonial, and that he proscribed gorgeous dresses for those who were to be allowed to approach him. His banquets were of the most sumptuous description. Strangers from foreign states were admitted to the presence, and dined at a table set apart for travelers, while the great king himself feasted in the full gaze of his people. His courtiers, guard, and ministers attended by a host of servitors, and protected from enemies by 20,000 guards, the flower of the Mongol army; the countless wealth seized in the capitals of numerous kingdoms; the brilliance of intellect among his chief adherents and supporters; the martial character of the race that lent itself almost as well to the pageantry of a court as to the stern reality of battle; and finally the majesty of the great king himself—all combined to make Kublai's court and capital the most splendid, at that time, in the world. Although Kublai's instincts were martial, he gave up all idea of accompanying his armies in the field after his war with Arikbuka. As he was only forty-four when he formed this decision, it must be assumed that he came to it mainly because he had so many other matters to attend to, and also, no doubt, because he felt that he possessed in Bayan a worthy substitute.

The most fortunate and successful monarch rarely escapes without some misfortune, and Kublai was not destined to be an exception to the rule. The successes of the Mongol navy undoubtedly led Kublai to believe that his arms might be carried beyond the sea, and he formed the definite plan of subjecting Japan to his power. The ruling family in that kingdom was of Chinese descent, tracing back its origin to Taipe, a fugitive Chinese prince of the twelfth century before our era. The Chinese in their usual way had asserted the superior position of a Suzerain, and the Japanese had as consistently refused to recognize the claim, and had maintained their independence. As a rule the Japanese abstained from all interference in the affairs of the continent, and the only occasion on which they departed from this rule was when they aided Corea against China. In 1266 Kublai sent two embassadors by way of Corea to Japan with a letter from himself complaining that the Japanese court had taken no notice of his accession to power, and treated him with indifference. The mission never had a chance of success, for the Coreans succeeded in frightening the Mongol envoys with the terrors of the sea, and by withholding their assistance prevented them reaching their destination. The envoys returned without having been able to deliver their letter. Kublai decided that the Japanese were hostile to him, and he resolved to humble them. He called upon the King of Corea to raise an auxiliary force, and that prince promised to supply 1,000 ships and 10,000 men. In 1274 he sent a small force of 300 ships and 15,000 men to begin operations in the direction of Japan; but the Japanese navy came out to meet it, and attacking it off the island of Tsiusima, inflicted a crushing defeat. As this expedition was largely composed of the Corean contingent Kublai easily persuaded himself that this defeat did not indicate what would happen when he employed his own Mongol troops. He also succeeded in sending several envoys to Japan after his first abortive attempt, and they brought back consistent reports as to the hostility and defiance of the Japanese, who at last, to leave no further doubt on the subject, executed his envoy in 1280. For this outrage the haughty monarch swore he would exact a terrible revenge, and in 1280-81, when the last of his campaigns with the Sungs had been brought to a triumphant conclusion, he collected all his forces in the eastern part of the kingdom, and prepared to attack Japan with all his power.

For the purposes of this war he raised an army of over 100,000 men, of whom about one-third were Mongols; and a fleet large enough to carry this host and its supplies was gathered together with great difficulty in the harbors of Chekiang and Fuhkien. It would have been wiser if the expedition had started from Corea, as the sea voyage would have been greatly reduced; but the difficulty of getting his army to that country, and the greater difficulty of feeding it when it got there, induced him to make his own maritime possessions the base of his operations. From the beginning misfortunes fell thick upon it, and the Japanese, not less than the English when assailed by the Spanish armada and Boulogne invasions, owed much to the alliance of the sea. Kublai had felt bound to appoint a Chinese generalissimo as well as a Mongol to this host, but it did not work well. One general fell ill and was superseded, another was lost in a storm, and there was a general want of harmony in the Mongol camp and fleet. Still the fleet set sail, but the elements declared themselves against Kublai. His shattered fleet was compelled to take refuge off the islets to the north of Japan, where it attempted to refit, but the Japanese granted no respite, and assailed them both by land and sea. After protracted but unequal fighting the Mongol commander had no choice left but to surrender. The conquerors spared the Chinese and Coreans among their prisoners, but they put every Mongol to the sword. Only a stray junk or two escaped to tell Kublai the tale of the greatest defeat the Mongols had ever experienced. Thirty thousand of their best troops were slaughtered, and their newly-created fleet, on which they were founding such great expectations, was annihilated, while 70,000 Chinese and Coreans remained as prisoners in the hands of the victor. Kublai executed two of his generals who escaped, but it is clear no one was to blame. The Mongols were vanquished because they undertook a task beyond their power, and one with which their military experience did not fit them to cope. The most formidable portion of their army was cavalry, and they had no knowledge of the sea. Nor could their Chinese auxiliaries supply this deficiency; for, strange as it may appear, the Chinese, although many of them are good fishermen and sailors, have never been a powerful nation at sea. On the other hand, the Japanese have always been a bold and capable race of mariners. They have frequently proved that the sea is their natural element, and all the power and resources of Kublai availed not against the skill and courage of these hardy islanders. Kublai was reluctant to acquiesce in his defeat, and he endeavored to form another expedition, but the Chinese sailors mutinied and refused to embark. They were supported by all the Chinese ministers at Pekin, and Kublai felt himself compelled to yield and abandon all designs of conquest beyond the sea.

The old success of the Mongols did not desert them on land, and Kublai received some consolation for his rude repulse by the Japanese in the triumph of his arms in Burmah. The momentary submission of the King of Burmah, or Mien, as it was, and is still, called by the Chinese, had been followed by a fit of truculence and open hostility. This monarch had crossed over into Indian territory, and had assumed the title of King of Bengala in addition to his own. Emboldened by his success, he did not conceal his hostility to the Mongols, sent a defiant reply to all their representations, and even assumed the offensive with his frontier garrisons. He then declared open war. The Mongol general, Nasiuddin, collected all the forces he could, and when the Burmese ruler crossed the frontier at the head of an immense host of horse, foot, and elephants, he found the Mongol army drawn up on the plain of Yungchang. The Mongols numbered only 12,000 select troops, whereas the Burmese exceeded 80,000 men with a corps of elephants, estimated between 800 and 2,000, and an artillery force of sixteen guns. Notwithstanding this numerical disadvantage the Mongols were in no way dismayed by their opponents' manifest superiority; but seldom has the struggle between disciplined and brute force proved closer or more keenly contested. At first the charge of the Burmese cavalry, aided by the elephants and artillery, carried all before it. But Nasiuddin had provided for this contingency. He had dismounted all his cavalry, and had ordered them to fire their arrows exclusively against the elephant corps; and as the Mongols were then not only the best archers in the world, but used the strongest bows, the destruction they wrought was considerable, and soon threw the elephants into hopeless confusion. The crowd of elephants turned tail before this discharge of arrows, as did the elephants of Pyrrhus, and threw the whole Burmese army into confusion. The Mongols then mounting their horses, charged and completed the discomfiture of the Burmese, who were driven from the field with heavy loss and tarnished reputation. On this occasion the Mongols did not pursue the Burmese very far, and the King of Burmah lost little or no part of his dominions, but Nasiuddin reported to Pekin that it would be an easy matter to add the kingdom of Mien to the Mongol empire. Kublai did not act on this advice until six years later, when he sent his kinsman Singtur with a large force to subdue Burmah. The king took shelter in Pegu, leaving his capital Amien at the mercy of the conqueror. The Mongol conquests were thus brought down to the very border of Assam. In Tonquin and Annam the arms of Kublai were not so successful. Kublai's son Togan made an abortive campaign in these regions. Whenever an open force had to be overcome, the Mongol army was successful, but when the Mongols encountered the difficulties of a damp and inclement climate, of the absence of roads, and other disadvantages, they were disheartened, and suffered heavily in men and morale. With the loss of his two generals, and the main portion of his army, Togan was lucky in himself escaping to China. Kublai wished to make another effort to subdue these inhospitable regions and their savage inhabitants, but Chinese public opinion proved too strong, and he had to yield to the representations of his ministers.

Kublai was the more compelled to sacrifice his feelings on this point, because there were not wanting indications that if he did not do so he would find a Chinese rebellion on his hands. Notwithstanding his many successes, and his evident desire to stand well with his Chinese subjects, it was already clear that they bore their new leader little love. Several of the principal provinces were in a state of veiled rebellion, showing that the first opportunity would be taken to shake off the Mongol yoke, and that Kublai's authority really rested on a quicksand. The predictions of a fanatic were sufficient to shake the emperor on his throne, and such was Kublai's apprehension that he banished all the remaining Sung prisoners to Mongolia, and executed their last faithful minister, who went to the scaffold with a smile on his face, exclaiming, "I am content; my wishes are about to be realized." It must not be supposed from this that Kublai's authority had vanished or become effete. It was absolutely supreme over all declared enemies, but below the surface was seething an amount of popular hostility and discontent ominous to the longevity of the Mongol dynasty. The restless ambition of Kublai would not be satisfied with anything short of recognition, in some form or other, of his power by his neighbors, and he consequently sent envoys to ail the kingdoms of Southern Asia to obtain, by lavish presents or persuasive language, that recognition of his authority on which he had set his heart. In most cases he was gratified, for there was not a power in Eastern Asia to compare with that of the Mongol prince seated on the Dragon Throne of China, and all were flattered to be brought into connection with it on any terms.

These successful and gratifying embassies had only one untoward result: they induced Kublai to revert to his idea of repairing the overthrow of his son Togan in Annam, and of finally subjugating that troublesome country. The intention was not wise, and it was rendered more imprudent by its execution being intrusted to Togan again. Another commander might have fared better, but great as was his initial success, he could not hope to permanently succeed. Togan began as he formerly commenced by carrying all before him. He won seventeen separate engagements, but the further he advanced into the country the more evident did it appear that he only controlled the ground on which he stood. The King of Annam was a fugitive; his capital was in the hands of the Mongols, and apparently nothing more remained to be done. Apachi, the most experienced of the Mongol commanders, then counseled a prompt retreat. Unfortunately the Mongol prince Togan would not take his advice, and the Annamites, gathering fresh forces on all sides, attacked the exhausted Mongols, and compelled them to beat a precipitate retreat from their country. All the fruits of early victory were lost, and Togan's disgrace was a poor consolation for the culminating discomfiture of Kublai's reign. The people of Annam then made good their independence, and they still enjoy it, so far as China is concerned; though Annam is now a dependency of the French republic.

We cannot doubt that the failure of the emperor's endeavor to popularize his rule was as largely due to the tyrannical acts and oppressive measures of some of his principal ministers as to unpopular and unsuccessful expeditions. Notwithstanding the popular dislike of the system, and Kublai's efforts to put it down, the Mongols resorted to the old plan of farming the revenue, and the extortion of those who purchased the right drove the Chinese to the verge of rebellion, and made the whole Mongol regime hateful. Several tax farmers were removed from their posts, and punished with death, but their successors carried on the same system. The declining years of Kublai's reign were therefore marred by the growing discontent of his Chinese subjects, and by his inability or unwillingness to put down official extortion and mismanagement. But he had to cope with a still greater danger in the hostility of some members of his own family. The rivalry between himself and his brother Arikbuka formed one incident of his earlier career, the hostility of his cousin Kaidu proved a more serious peril when Kublai was stricken in years, and approaching the end of his long reign.

Kaidu was one of the sons of Ogotai, and consequently first cousin to Kublai. He held some high post in Mongolia, and he represented a reactionary party among the Mongols, who wished the administration to be less Chinese, and who, perhaps, sighed for more worlds to conquer. But he hated Kublai, and was jealous of his pre-eminence, which was, perhaps, the only cause of his revolt. The hostility of Kaidu might have remained a personal grievance if he had not obtained the alliance of Nayan, a Mongol general of experience and ability, who had long been jealous of the superior reputation of Bayan. He was long engaged in raising an army, with which he might hope to make a bid for empire, but at last his preparations reached the ear of Kublai, who determined to crush him before his power had grown too great. Kublai marched against him at the head of 100,000 men, and all the troops Nayan could bring into the field were 40,000, while Kaidu, although hastily gathering his forces, was too far off to render any timely aid. Kublai commanded in person, and arranged his order of battle from a tower supported on the backs of four elephants chained together. Both armies showed great heroism and ferocity, but numbers carried the day, and Nayan's army was almost destroyed, while he himself fell into the hands of the victor. It was contrary to the practice of the Mongols to shed the blood of their own princes, so Kublai ordered Nayan to be sewn up in a sack, and then beaten to death. The war with Kaidu dragged on for many years, and there is no doubt that Kublai did not desire to push matters to an extremity with his cousin. Having restored the fortunes of the war by assuming the command in person, Kublai returned in a short time to Pekin, leaving his opponent, as he hoped, the proverbial golden bridge by which to retreat. But his lieutenant, Bayan, to whom he intrusted the conduct of the campaign, favored more vigorous action, and was anxious to bring the struggle to a speedy and decisive termination. He had gained one remarkable victory under considerable disadvantage, when Kublai, either listening to his detractors or desirous of restraining his activity, dismissed him from his military posts and, summoning him to Pekin, gave him the uncongenial office of a minister of State. This happened in 1293, and in the following year Kublai, who was nearly eighty, and who had occupied the throne of China for thirty-five years, sickened and died, leaving behind him a great reputation which has survived the criticism of six centuries in both Europe and China.

Kublai's long reign marked the climax of the Mongol triumph which he had all the personal satisfaction of extending to China. Where Genghis failed, or attained only partial success, he succeeded to the fullest extent, thus verifying the prophecy of his grandfather. But although he conquered their country, he never vanquished the prejudices of the Chinese, and the Mongols, unlike the Manchus, failed completely to propitiate the good will of the historiographers of the Hanlin. Of Kublai they take some recognition, as an enlightened and well-meaning prince, but for all the other emperors of the Yuen line they have nothing good to say. Even Kublai himself could not assure the stability of his throne, and when he died it was at once clear that the Mongols could not long retain the supreme position in China.

But Kublai's authority was sufficiently established for it to be transmitted, without popular disturbance or any insurrection on the part of the Chinese, to his legal heir, who was his grandson. Such risk as presented itself to the succession arose from the dissensions among the Mongol princes themselves, but the prompt measures of Bayan arrested any trouble, and Prince Timour was proclaimed emperor under the Chinese style of Chingtsong. A few months after this signal service to the ruling family, Bayan died, leaving behind him the reputation of being one of the most capable of all the Mongol commanders. Whether because he could find no general worthy to fill Bayan's place, or because his temperament was naturally pacific, Timour carried on no military operations, and the thirteen years of his reign were marked by almost unbroken peace. But peace did not bring prosperity in its train, for a considerable part of China suffered from the ravages of famine, and the cravings of hunger drove many to become brigands. Timour's anxiety to alleviate the public suffering gained him some small measure of popularity, and he also endeavored to limit the opportunities of the Mongol governors to be tyrannical by taking away from them the power of life and death. Timour was compelled by the sustained hostility of Kaidu to continue the struggle with that prince, but he confined himself to the defensive, and the death of Kaidu, in 1301, deprived the contest of its extreme bitterness although it still continued.

Timour was, however, unfortunate in the one foreign enterprise which he undertook. The ease with which Burmah had been vanquished and reduced to a tributary state emboldened some of his officers on the southern frontier to attempt the conquest of Papesifu—a state which may be identified with the modern Laos. The enterprise, commenced in a thoughtless and light- hearted manner, revealed unexpected peril and proved disastrous. A large part of the Mongol army perished from the heat, and the survivors were only rescued from their perilous position, surrounded by the numerous enemies they had irritated, by a supreme effort on the part of Koko, the viceroy of Yunnan, who was also Timour's uncle. The insurrectionary movement was not confined to the outlying districts of Annam and Burmah, but extended within the Chinese border, and several years elapsed before tranquillity was restored to the frontier provinces.

Timour died in 1306 without leaving a direct legitimate heir, and his two nephews Haichan and Aiyuli Palipata were held to possess an equal claim to the throne. Haichan was absent in Mongolia when his uncle died, and a faction put forward the pretensions of Honanta, prince of Gansi, who seems to have been Timour's natural son, but Aiyuli Palipata, acting with great energy, arrested the pretender and proclaimed Haichan as emperor. Haichan reigned five years, during which the chief reputation he gained was as a glutton. When he died, in 1311, his brother Palipata was proclaimed emperor, although Haichan left two sons. Palipata's reign of nine years was peaceful and uneventful, and his son Chutepala succeeded him. Chutepala was a young and inexperienced prince who owed such authority as he enjoyed to the courage of Baiju, a brave soldier, who was specially distinguished as the lineal descendant of the great general, Muhula. The plots and intrigues which compassed the ruin of the Yuen dynasty began during this reign, and both Chutepala and Baiju were murdered by conspirators. The next emperor, Yesun Timour, was fortunate in a peaceful reign, but on his death, in 1328, the troubles of the dynasty accumulated, and its end came clearly into view. In little more than a year, three emperors were proclaimed and died. Tou Timour, one of the sons of Haichan, who ruled before Palipata, was so far fortunate in reigning for a longer period, but the most interesting episode in his barren reign was the visit of the Grand Lama of Tibet to Pekin, where he was received with exceptional honor; but when Tou Timour attempted to compel his courtiers to pay the representative of Buddhism special obeisance he encountered the opposition of both Chinese and Mongols.

After Tou Timour's death the imperial title passed to Tohan Timour, who is best known by his Chinese title of Chunti. He found a champion in Bayan, a descendant of the general of that name, who successfully defended the palace against the attack of a band of conspirators. In 1337 the first distinct rebellion on the part of the Chinese took place in the neighborhood of Canton, and an order for the disarmament of the Chinese population aggravated the situation because it could not be effectually carried out. Bayan, after his defense of the palace, became the most powerful personage in the state, and to his arrogance was largely due the aggravation of the Mongol difficulties and the imbittering of Chinese opinion. He murdered an empress, tyrannized over the Chinese, and outshone the emperor in his apparel and equipages, as if he were a Wolsey or a Buckingham. For the last offense Chunti could not forgive him, and Bayan was deposed and disgraced. While these dissensions were in progress at Pekin the Chinese were growing more daring and confident in their efforts to liberate themselves from the foreign yoke. They had adopted red bonnets as the mark of their patriotic league, and on the sea the piratical confederacy of Fangkue Chin vanquished and destroyed such navy as the Mongols ever possessed. But in open and regular fighting on land the supremacy of the Mongols was still incontestable, and a minister, named Toto, restored the sinking fortunes of Chunti until he fell the victim of a court intrigue—being poisoned by a rival named Hamar. With Toto disappeared the last possible champion of the Mongols, and the only thing needed to insure their overthrow was the advent of a capable leader who could give coherence to the national cause, and such a leader was not long in making his appearance.

The deliverer of the Chinese from the Mongols was an individual named Choo Yuen Chang, who, being left an orphan, entered a monastery as the easiest way of gaining a livelihood. In the year 1345, when Chunti had been on the throne twelve years, Choo quitted his retreat and joined one of the bands of Chinese who had thrown off the authority of the Mongols. His physique and fine presence soon gained for him a place of authority, and when the chief of the band died he was chosen unanimously as his successor. He at once showed himself superior to the other popular leaders by his humanity, and by his wise efforts to convince the Chinese people that he had only their interests at heart. Other Chinese so-called patriots thought mainly of plunder, and they were not less terrible to peaceful citizens than the most exacting Mongol commander or governor. But Choo strictly forbade plundering, and any of his band caught robbing or ill-using the people met with prompt and summary punishment. By this conduct he gained the confidence of the Chinese, and his standard among all the national leaders became the most popular and attracted the largest number of recruits. In 1356 he captured the city of Nankin, which thereupon became the base of his operations, as it was subsequently the capital of his dynasty. He then issued a proclamation declaring that his sole object was to expel the foreigners and to restore the national form of government. In this document he said, "It is the birthright of the Chinese to govern foreign peoples and not of these latter to rule in China. It used to be said that the Yuen or Mongols, who came from the regions of the north, conquered our empire not so much by their courage and skill as by the aid of Heaven. And now it is sufficiently plain that Heaven itself wishes to deprive them of that empire, as some punishment for their crimes, and for not having acted according to the teaching of their forefathers. The time has now come to drive these foreigners out of China." While the Mongols were assailed in every province of the empire by insurgents, Choo headed what was the only organized movement for their expulsion, and his alliance with the pirate, Fangkue Chin, added the command of the sea to the control he had himself acquired over some of the wealthiest and most populous provinces of Central China. The disunion among the Mongols contributed to their overthrow as much as the valor of the Chinese. The Emperor Chunti had quite given himself up to pleasure, and his debaucheries were the scandal of the day. The two principal generals, Chahan Timour and Polo Timour, hated each other, and refused to co-operate. Another general, Alouhiya, raised the standard of revolt in Mongolia, and, while he declared that his object was to regenerate his race, he, undoubtedly, aggravated the embarrassment of Chunti.

In 1366, Choo, having carefully made all the necessary preparations for war on a large scale, dispatched from Fankin two large armies to conquer the provinces north of the Yangtsekiang, which were all that remained in the possession of the Mongols. A third army was intrusted with the task of subjecting the provinces dependent on Canton, and this task was accomplished with rapidity and without a check. Such Mongol garrisons as were stationed in this quarter were annihilated. The main Chinese army of 250,000 men was intrusted to the command of Suta, Choo's principal lieutenant and best general, and advanced direct upon Pekin. In 1367 Suta had overcome all resistance south of the Hoangho, which river he crossed in the autumn of that year. The Mongols appeared demoralized, and attempted little or no resistance. Chunti fled from Pekin to Mongolia, where he died in 1370, and Suta carried the capital by storm from the small Mongol garrison which remained to defend it. Choo hastened to Pekin to receive the congratulations of his army, and to prove to the whole Chinese nation that the Yuen dynasty had ceased to rule. The resistance offered by the Mongols proved surprisingly slight, and, considering the value of the prize for which they were fighting, quite unworthy of their ancient renown. The real cause of their overthrow was that the Mongols never succeeded in propitiating the good opinion and moral support of the Chinese, who regarded them to the end as barbarians, and it must also be admitted that the main force of the Mongols had drifted to Western Asia, where the great Timour revived some of the traditions of Genghis. At the end of his career that mighty conqueror prepared to invade China, but he died shortly after he had begun a march that boded ill to the peace and welfare of China. Thus, with the flight of Chunti, the Mongol or Yuen dynasty came to an end, and the Mongols only reappear in Chinese history as the humble allies of the Manchus, when they undertook the conquest of China in the seventeenth century.



CHAPTER VII

THE MING DYNASTY

Having expelled the Mongols, Choo assumed the style of Hongwou, and he gave his dynasty the name of Ming, which signifies "bright." He then rewarded his generals and officers with titles and pecuniary grants, and in 1369, the first year of his reign after the capture of Pekin, he erected a temple or hall in that city in honor of the generals who had been slain, while vacant places were left for the statues of those generals who still held command. But while he rewarded his army, Hongwou very carefully avoided giving his government a military character, knowing that the Chinese resent the superiority of military officials, and he devoted his main efforts to placing the civil administration on its old and national basis. In this he received the cordial support of the Chinese themselves, who had been kept in the background by their late conquerors, whose administration was essentially military. Hongwou also patronized literature, and endowed the celebrated Hanlin College, which was neglected after the death of Kublai. He at once provided a literary task of great magnitude in the history of the Yuen dynasty, which was intrusted to a commission of eighteen writers. But a still greater literary work was accomplished in the codified Book of Laws, which is known as the Pandects of Yunglo, and which not merely simplified the administration of the law, but also gave the people some idea of the laws under which they lived. He also passed a great measure of gratuitous national education, and, in order to carry out this reform in a thoroughly successful manner, he appointed all the masters himself. He also founded many public libraries, and he wished to establish one in every town, but this was beyond the extent of his power. Not content with providing for the minds of his subjects, Hongwou did his utmost to supply the needs of the aged. He cut down the court expenses and issued sumptuary laws, so that he might devote the sums thus economized to the support of the aged and sick. His last instructions to the new officials, on proceeding to their posts, were to "take particular care of the aged and the orphan." Thus did he show that the Chinese had found in him a ruler who would revive the ancient glories of the kingdom.

The frugality and modesty of his court have already been referred to. The later Mongols were fond of a lavish display, and expended large sums on banquets and amusements. At Pekin one of their emperors had erected in the grounds of the palace a lofty tower of porcelain, at enormous expense, and had arranged an ingenious contrivance at its base for denoting the time. Two statues sounded a bell and struck a drum at every hour. When Hongwou saw this edifice, he exclaimed, "How is it possible for men to neglect the most important affairs of life for the sole object of devoting their attention to useless buildings? If the Mongols in place of amusing themselves with these trifles had applied their energies to the task of contenting the people, would they not have preserved the scepter in their family?" He then ordered that this building should be razed to the ground. Nor did this action stand alone. He reduced the size of the harem maintained by all the Chinese as well as the Mongol rulers, and he instituted a rigid economy in all matters of state ceremonial. Changtu, the Xanadu of Coleridge, the famous summer palace of Kublai, had been destroyed during the campaigns with the Mongols, and Hongwou systematically discouraged any attempt to embellish the northern capital, Pekin, which, under the Kin and Yuen dynasties, had become identified with foreign rulers. Pekin, during the whole of the Ming dynasty, was only a second-rate city, and all the attention of the Ming rulers was given to the embellishment of Nankin, the truly national capital of China.

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