It would seem that, at first, Genghis Khan did not know what was become of the fugitives. At any rate, it was not until the next year that he attempted to pursue them. Then, hearing where they were and what they were doing, he prepared an expedition to penetrate into the country of the Irtish and attack them. It was in the dead of winter when he arrived in the country. He had hurried on at that season of the year in order to prevent Tukta Bey from having time to finish his fortifications. Tukta Bey and those who were with him were amazed when they heard that their enemy was coming at that season of the year. The defenses which they were preparing for their fortress were not fully completed, but they were at once convinced that they could not hold their ground against the body of troops that Genghis Khan was bringing against them in the open field, and so they all took shelter in and near the fortress, and awaited their enemy there.
The winters in that latitude are very cold, and the country through which Genghis Khan had to march was full of difficulty. The branches of the river which he had to cross were obstructed with ice, and the roads were in many places rendered almost impassable by snow. The emperor did not even know the way to the fortress where Tukta Bey and his followers were concealed, and it would have been almost impossible for him to find it had it not been for certain tribes, through whose territories he passed on the way, who furnished him with guides. These tribes, perceiving how overwhelming was the force which Genghis Khan commanded, knew that it would be useless for them to resist him. So they yielded submission to him at once, and detached parties of horsemen to go with him down the river to show him the way.
Under the conduct of these guides Genghis Khan passed on. In due time he arrived at the fortress of Ardish, and immediately forced Tukta Bey and his allies to come to an engagement. Tukta's army was very soon defeated and put to flight. Tukta himself, and many other khans and chieftains who had joined him, were killed; but the Prince Kushluk was once more fortunate enough to make his escape.
He fled with a small troop of followers, all mounted on fleet horses, and after various wanderings, in the course of which he and they who were with him endured a great deal of privation and suffering, the unhappy fugitive at last reached the dominions of a powerful prince named Gurkhan, who reigned over a country which is situated in the western part of Asia, toward the Caspian Sea, and is named Turkestan. This is the country from which the people called the Turks, who afterward spread themselves so widely over the western part of Asia and the eastern part of Europe, originally sprung.
Gurkhan received Kushluk and his party in a very friendly manner, and Genghis Khan did not follow them. Whether he thought that the distance was too great, or that the power of Gurkhan was too formidable to make it prudent for him to advance into his dominions without a stronger force, does not appear. At any rate, for the time being he gave up the pursuit, and after fully securing the fruits of the victory which he had gained at Ardish, and receiving the submission of all the tribes and khans that inhabited that region of country, he set out on his return home.
It is related that one of the khans who gave in his submission to Genghis Khan at this time made him a present of a certain bird called a shongar, according to a custom often observed among the people of that region. The shongar was a very large and fierce bird of prey, which, however, could be trained like the falcons which were so much prized in the Middle Ages by the princes and nobles of Europe. It seems it was customary for an inferior khan to present one of these birds to his superior on great occasions, as an emblem and token of his submission to his superior's authority. The bird in such a case was very richly decorated with gold and precious stones, so that the present was sometimes of a very costly and magnificent character.
Genghis Khan received such a present as this from a chieftain named Urus Inal, who was among those that yielded to his sway in the country of the Irtish, after the battle at which Tukta Bey was defeated and killed. The bird was presented to Genghis Khan by Urus with great ceremony, as an act of submission and homage.
What, in the end, was the fate of Prince Kushluk, will appear in the next chapter.
Idikut.—The old system of farming revenues.—Evils of farming the revenue.—Modern system.—Disinterested collectors.—Independent and impartial courts.—Waste of the public money.—Shuwakem.—Idikut's quarrel with Gurkhan's tax-gatherers.—Rebellion.—He sends to Genghis Khan.—His reception of the embassy.—Idikut's visit to Genghis Khan.—Gurkhan in a rage.—Jena.—Subsequent history of Kushluk.—Kushluk's final defeat and flight.—Hotly pursued by Jena.—Kushluk's death.—Genghis Khan's triumph.
There was another great and powerful khan, named Idikut, whose tribe had hitherto been under the dominion of Gurkhan, the Prince of Turkestan, where Kushluk had sought refuge, but who about this time revolted from Gurkhan and went over to Genghis Khan, under circumstances which illustrate, in some degree, the peculiar nature of the political ties by which these different tribes and nations were bound to each other. It seems that the tribe over which Idikut ruled was tributary to Turkestan, and that Gurkhan had an officer stationed in Idikut's country whose business it was to collect and remit the tribute. The name of this collector was Shuwakem. He was accustomed, it seems, like almost all tax-gatherers in those days, to exact more than was his due. The system generally adopted by governments in that age of the world for collecting their revenues from tributary or conquered provinces was to farm them, as the phrase was. That is, they sold the whole revenue of a particular district in the gross to some rich man, who paid for it a specific sum, considerably less, of course, than the tax itself would really yield, and then he reimbursed himself for his outlay and for his trouble by collecting the tax in detail from the people. Of course, it was for the interest of the tax-gatherer, in such a case, after having paid the round sum to the government, to extort as much as possible from the people, since all that he obtained over and above the sum that he had paid was his profit on the transaction. Then, if the people complained to the government of his exactions, they could seldom obtain any redress, for the government knew that if they rebuked or punished the farmer of the revenue, or interfered with him in any way, they would not be able to make so favorable terms with him for the next year.
The plan of farming the revenues thus led to a great deal of extortion and oppression, which the people were compelled patiently to endure, as there was generally no remedy. In modern times and among civilized nations this system has been almost universally abandoned. The taxes are now always collected for the government directly by officers who have to pay over not a fixed sum, but simply what they collect. Thus the tax-gatherers are, in some sense, impartial, since, if they collect more than the law entitles them to demand, the benefit inures almost wholly to the government, they themselves gaining little or no advantage by their extortion. Besides this, there are courts established which are, in a great measure, independent of the government, to which the tax-payer can appeal at once in a case where he thinks he is aggrieved. This, it is true, often puts him to a great deal of trouble and expense, but, in the end, he is pretty sure to have justice done him, while under the old system there was ordinarily no remedy at all. There was nothing to be done but to appeal to the king or chieftain himself, and these complaints seldom received any attention. For, besides the natural unwillingness of the sovereign to trouble himself about such disputes, he had a direct interest in not requiring the extorted money to be paid back, or, rather, in not having it proved that it was extorted. Thus the poor tax-payer found that the officer who collected the money, and the umpire who was to decide in case of disputes, were both directly interested against him, and he was continually wronged; whereas, at the present day, by means of a system which provides disinterested officers to determine and collect the tax, and independent judges to decide all cases of dispute, the evils are almost wholly avoided. The only difficulty now is the extravagance and waste with which the public money is expended, making it necessary to collect a much larger amount than would otherwise be required. Perhaps some future generation will discover some plain and simple remedy for this evil too.
* * * * *
The name of the officer who had the general charge of the collection of the taxes in Idikut's territory for Gurkhan, King of Turkestan, was, as has already been said, Shuwakem. He oppressed the people, exacting more from them than was really due. Whether he had farmed the revenue, and was thus enriching himself by his extortions, or whether he was acting directly in Gurkhan's name, and made the people pay more than he ought from zeal in his master's service, and a desire to recommend himself to favor by sending home to Turkestan as large a revenue from the provinces as possible, does not appear. At all events, the people complained bitterly. They had, however, no access to Gurkhan, Shuwakem's master, and so they carried their complaints to Idikut, their own khan.
Idikut remonstrated with Shuwakem, but he, instead of taking the remonstrance in good part and relaxing the severity of his proceedings, resented the interference of Idikut, and answered him in a haughty and threatening manner. This made Idikut very angry. Indeed, he was angry before, as it might naturally be supposed that he would have been, at having a person owing allegiance to a foreign prince exercising authority in a proud and domineering manner within his dominions, and the reply which Shuwakem made when he remonstrated with him on account of his extortions exasperated him beyond all bounds. He immediately caused Shuwakem to be assassinated. He also slew all the other officers of Gurkhan within his country—those, probably, who were employed to assist Shuwakem in collecting the taxes.
The murder of these officers was, of course, an act of open rebellion against Gurkhan, and Idikut, in order to shield himself from the consequences of it, determined to join himself and his tribe at once to the empire of Genghis Khan; so he immediately dispatched two embassadors to the Mongul emperor with his proposals.
The envoys, accompanied by a suitable troop of guards and attendants, went into the Mongul country and presently came up with Genghis Khan, while he was on a march toward the country of some tribe or horde that had revolted from him. They were very kindly received; for, although Genghis Khan was not prepared at present to make open war upon Gurkhan, or to invade his dominions in pursuit of Prince Kushluk, he was intending to do this at some future day, and, in the mean time, he was very glad to weaken his enemy by drawing off from his empire any tributary tribes that were at all disposed to revolt from him.
He accordingly received the embassadors of Idikut in a very cordial and friendly manner. He readily acceded to the proposals which Idikut made through them, and, in order to give full proof to Idikut of the readiness and sincerity with which he accepted his proposals, he sent back two embassadors of his own to accompany Idikut's embassadors on their return, and to join them in assuring that prince of the cordiality with which Genghis Khan accepted his offers of friendship, and to promise his protection.
Idikut was very much pleased, when his messengers returned, to learn that his mission had been so successful. He immediately determined to go himself and visit Genghis Khan in his camp, in order to confirm the new alliance by making a personal tender to the emperor of his homage and his services. He accordingly prepared some splendid presents, and, placing himself at the head of his troop of guards, he proceeded to the camp of Genghis Khan. The emperor received him in a very kind and friendly manner. He accepted his presents, and, in the end, was so much pleased with Idikut himself that he gave him one of his daughters in marriage.
As for Gurkhan, when he first heard of the murder of Shuwakem and the other officers, he was in a terrible rage. He declared that he would revenge his servant by laying waste Idikut's territories with fire and sword. But when he heard that Idikut had placed himself under the protection of Genghis Khan, and especially when he learned that he had married the emperor's daughter, he thought it more prudent to postpone his vengeance, not being quite willing to draw upon himself the hostility of so great a power.
Prince Kushluk remained for many years in Turkestan and in the countries adjoining it. He married a daughter of Gurkhan, his protector. Partly in consequence of this connection and of the high rank which he had held in his own native land, and partly, perhaps, in consequence of his personal courage and other military qualities, he rapidly acquired great influence among the khans of Western Asia, and at last he organized a sort of rebellion against Gurkhan, made war against him, and deprived him of more than half his dominions. He then collected a large army, and prepared to make war upon Genghis Khan. Genghis Khan sent one of his best generals, at the head of a small but very compact and well-disciplined force, against him. The name of this general was Jena. Kushluk was not at all intimidated by the danger which now threatened him. His own army was much larger than that of Jena, and he accordingly advanced to meet his enemy without fear. He was, however, beaten in the battle, and, when he saw that the day was lost, he fled, followed by a small party of horsemen, who succeeded in saving themselves with him.
Jena set out immediately in pursuit of the fugitive, accompanied by a small body of men mounted on the fleetest horses. The party who were with Kushluk, being exhausted by the fatigue of the battle and bewildered by the excitement and terror of their flight, could not keep together, but were overtaken one by one and slain by their pursuers until only three were left. These three kept close to Kushluk, and with him went on until Jena's party lost the track of them.
At length, coming to a place where two roads met, Jena asked a peasant if he had seen any strange horsemen pass that way. The peasant said that four horsemen had passed a short time before, and he told Jena which road they had taken.
Jena and his party rode on in the direction which the peasant had indicated, and, pushing forward with redoubled speed, they soon overtook the unhappy fugitives. They fell upon Kushluk without mercy, and killed him on the spot. They then cut off his head, and turned back to carry it to Genghis Khan.
Genghis Khan rewarded Jena in the most magnificent manner for his successful performance of this exploit, and then, putting Kushluk's head upon a pole, he displayed it in all the camps and villages through which he passed, where it served at once as a token and a trophy of his victory against an enemy, and, at the same time, as a warning to all other persons of the terrible danger which they would incur in attempting to resist his power.
THE STORY OF HUJAKU.
China.—The Chinese wall.—The frontier.—Outside the wall.—Origin of the quarrel with the Chinese.—Yong-tsi.—Genghis Khan's contempt for him.—Armies raised.—Hujaku.—Many of the khans come over on Genghis's side.—Victory over Hujaku.—Genghis Khan is wounded.—Hujaku disgraced.—Restored again.—Dissensions among the Chinese.—Advance of the Monguls.—Hujaku's rebellion.—Death of Yong-tsi.—Hujaku advances.—The battle.—Hujaku's victory.—Kan-ki's expedition.—Hujaku enraged.—Failure.—Kan-ki's second trial.—The sand-storm.—Kan-ki's desperate resolution.—The attack.—Hujaku's flight.—He is killed in the gardens.—Kan-ki is pardoned and promoted.
The accounts given us of the events and transactions of Genghis Khan's reign after he acquired the supreme power over the Mongul and Tartar nations are imperfect, and, in many respects, confused. It appears, however, from them that in the year 1211, that is, about five years after his election as grand khan, he became involved in a war with the Chinese, which led, in the end, to very important consequences. The kingdom of China lay to the southward of the Mongul territories, and the frontier was defended by the famous Chinese wall, which extended from east to west, over hills and valleys, from the great desert to the sea, for many hundred miles. The wall was defended by towers, built here and there in commanding positions along the whole extent of it, and at certain distances there were fortified towns where powerful garrisons were stationed, and reserves of troops were held ready to be marched to different points along the wall, wherever there might be occasion for their services.
The wall was not strictly the Chinese frontier, for the territory on the outside of it to a considerable distance was held by the Chinese government, and there were many large towns and some very strong fortresses in this outlying region, all of which were held and garrisoned by Chinese troops.
The inhabitants, however, of the countries outside the wall were generally of the Tartar or Mongul race. They were of a nation or tribe called the Kitan, and were somewhat inclined to rebel against the Chinese rule. In order to assist in keeping them in subjection, one of the Chinese emperors issued a decree which ordained that the governors of those provinces should place in all the large towns, and other strongholds outside the wall, twice as many families of the Chinese as there were of the Kitan. This regulation greatly increased the discontent of the Kitan, and made them more inclined to rebellion than they were before.
Besides this, there had been for some time a growing difficulty between the Chinese government and Genghis Khan. It seems that the Monguls had been for a long time accustomed to pay some sort of tribute to the Emperor of China, and many years before, while Genghis Khan, under the name of Temujin, was living at Karakorom, a subject of Vang Khan, the emperor sent a certain royal prince, named Yong-tsi, to receive what was due. While Yong-tsi was in the Mongul territory he and Temujin met, but they did not agree together at all. The Chinese prince put some slight upon Temujin, which Temujin resented. Very likely Temujin, whose character at that time, as well as afterward, was marked with a great deal of pride and spirit, opposed the payment of the tribute. At any rate, Yong-tsi became very much incensed against him, and, on his return, made serious charges against him to the emperor, and urged that he should be seized and put to death. But the emperor declined engaging in so dangerous an undertaking. Yong-tsi's proposal, however, became known to Temujin, and he secretly resolved that he would one day have his revenge.
At length, about three or four years after Temujin was raised to the throne, the emperor of the Chinese died, and Yong-tsi succeeded him. The very next year he sent an officer to Genghis Khan to demand the usual tribute. When the officer came into the presence of Genghis Khan in his camp, and made his demand, Genghis Khan asked him who was the emperor that had sent him with such a message.
The officer replied that Yong-tsi was at that time emperor of the Chinese.
"Yong-tsi!" repeated Genghis Khan, in a tone of great contempt. "The Chinese have a proverb," he added, "that such a people as they ought to have a god for their emperor; but it seems they do not know how to choose even a decent man."
It was true that they had such a proverb. They were as remarkable, it seems, in those days as they are now for their national self-importance and vanity.
"Go and tell your emperor," added Genghis Khan, "that I am a sovereign ruler, and that I will never acknowledge him as my master."
When the messenger returned with this defiant answer, Yong-tsi was very much enraged, and immediately began to prepare for war. Genghis Khan also at once commenced his preparations. He sent envoys to the leading khans who occupied the territories outside the wall inviting them to join him. He raised a great army, and put the several divisions of it under the charge of his ablest generals. Yong-tsi raised a great army too. The historians say that it amounted to three hundred thousand men. He put this army under the command of a great general named Hujaku, and ordered him to advance with it to the northward, so as to intercept the army of Genghis Khan on its way, and to defend the wall and the fortresses on the outside of it from his attacks.
In the campaign which ensued Genghis Khan was most successful. The Monguls took possession of a great many towns and fortresses beyond the wall, and every victory that they gained made the tribes and nations that inhabited those provinces more and more disposed to join them. Many of them revolted against the Chinese authority, and turned to their side. One of these was a chieftain so powerful that he commanded an army of one hundred thousand men. In order to bind himself solemnly to the covenant which he was to make with Genghis Khan, he ascended a mountain in company with the envoy and with others who were to witness the proceedings, and there performed the ceremony customary on such occasions. The ceremony consisted of sacrificing a white horse and a black ox, and then breaking an arrow, at the same time pronouncing an oath by which he bound himself under the most solemn sanctions to be faithful to Genghis Khan.
To reward the prince for this act of adhesion to his cause, Genghis Khan made him king over all that portion of the country, and caused him to be every where so proclaimed. This encouraged a great many other khans and chieftains to come over to his side; and at length one who had the command of one of the gates of the great wall, and of the fortress which defended it, joined him. By this means Genghis Khan obtained access to the interior of the Chinese dominions, and Yong-tsi and his great general Hujaku became seriously alarmed.
At length, after various marchings and counter-marchings, Genghis Khan learned that Hujaku was encamped with the whole of his army in a very strong position at the foot of a mountain, and he determined to proceed thither and attack him. He did so; and the result of the battle was that Hujaku was beaten and was forced to retreat. He retired to a great fortified town, and Genghis Khan followed him and laid siege to the town. Hujaku, finding himself in imminent danger, fled; and Genghis Khan was on the point of taking the town, when he was suddenly stopped in his career by being one day wounded severely by an arrow which was shot at him from the wall.
The wound was so severe that, while suffering under it, Genghis Khan found that he could not successfully direct the operations of his army, and so he withdrew his troops and retired into his own country, to wait there until his wound should be healed. In a few months he was entirely recovered, and the next year he fitted out a new expedition, and advanced again into China.
In the mean time, Hujaku, who had been repeatedly defeated and driven back the year before by Genghis Khan, had fallen into disgrace. His rivals and enemies among the other generals of the army, and among the officers of the court, conspired against him, and represented to the emperor that he was unfit to command, and that his having failed to defend the towns and the country that had been committed to him was owing to his cowardice and incapacity. In consequence of these representations Hujaku was cashiered, that is, dismissed from his command in disgrace.
This made him very angry, and he determined that he would have his revenge. There was a large party in his favor at court, as well as a party against him; and after a long and bitter contention, the former once more prevailed, and induced the emperor to restore Hujaku to his command again.
The quarrel, however, was not ended, and so, when Genghis Khan came the next year to renew the invasion, the councils of the Chinese were so distracted, and their operations so paralyzed by this feud, that he gained very easy victories over them. The Chinese generals, instead of acting together in a harmonious manner against the common enemy, were intent only on the quarrel which they were waging against each other.
At length the animosity proceeded to such an extreme that Hujaku resolved to depose the emperor, who seemed inclined rather to take part against him, assassinate all the chiefs of the opposite party, and then finally to put the emperor to death, and cause himself to be proclaimed in his stead.
In order to prepare the way for the execution of this scheme, he forbore to act vigorously against Genghis Khan and the Monguls, but allowed them to advance farther and farther into the country. This, of course, increased the general discontent and excitement, and prepared the way for the revolt which Hujaku was plotting.
At length the time for action arrived. Hujaku suddenly appeared at the head of a large force at the gates of the capital, and gave the alarm that the Monguls were coming. He pressed forward into the city to the palace, and gave the alarm there. At the same time, files of soldiers, whom he had ordered to this service, went to all parts of the city, arresting and putting to death all the leaders of the party opposed to him, under pretense that he had discovered a plot or conspiracy in which they were engaged to betray the city to the enemy. The excitement and confusion which was produced by this charge, and by the alarm occasioned by the supposed coming of the Monguls, so paralyzed the authorities of the town that nobody resisted Hujaku, or attempted to save the persons whom he arrested. Some of them he caused to be killed on the spot. Others he shut up in prison. Finding himself thus undisputed master of the city, he next took possession of the palace, seized the emperor, deposed him from his office, and shut him up in a dungeon. Soon afterward he put him to death.
This was the end of Yong-tsi; but Hujaku did not succeed, after all, in his design of causing himself to be proclaimed emperor in his stead. He found that there would be very great opposition to this, and so he gave up this part of his plan, and finally raised a certain prince of the royal family to the throne, while he retained his office of commander-in-chief of the forces. Having thus, as he thought, effectually destroyed the influence and power of his enemies at the capital, he put himself once more at the head of his troops, and went forth to meet Genghis Khan.
Some accident happened to him about this time by which his foot was hurt, so that he was, in some degree, disabled, but still he went on. At length he met the vanguard of Genghis Khan's army at a place where they were attempting to cross a river by a bridge. Hujaku determined immediately to attack them. The state of his foot was such that he could not walk nor even mount a horse, but he caused himself to be put upon a sort of car, and was by this means carried into the battle.
The Monguls were completely defeated and driven back. Perhaps this was because Genghis Khan was not there to command them. He was at some distance in the rear with the main body of the army.
Hujaku was very desirous of following up his victory by pursuing and attacking the Mongul vanguard the next day. He could not, however, do this personally, for, on account of the excitement and exposure which he had endured in the battle, and the rough movements and joltings which, notwithstanding all his care, he had to bear in being conveyed to and fro about the field, his foot grew much worse. Inflammation set in during the night, and the next day the wound opened afresh; so he was obliged to give up the idea of going out himself against the enemy, and to send one of his generals instead. The general to whom he gave the command was named Kan-ki.
Kan-ki went out against the enemy, but, after a time, returned unsuccessful. Hujaku was very angry with him when he came to hear his report. Perhaps the wound in his foot made him impatient and unreasonable. At any rate, he declared that the cause of Kan-ki's failure was his dilatoriness in pursuing the enemy, which was cowardice or treachery, and, in either case, he deserved to suffer death for it. He immediately sent to the emperor a report of the case, asking that the sentence of death which he had pronounced against Kan-ki might be confirmed, and that he might be authorized to put it into execution.
But the emperor, knowing that Kan-ki was a courageous and faithful officer, would not consent.
In the mean while, before the emperor's answer came back, the wrath of Hujaku had had time to cool a little. Accordingly, when he received the answer, he said to Kan-ki that he would, after all, try him once more.
"Take the command of the troops again," said he, "and go out against the enemy. If you beat them, I will overlook your first offense and spare your life; but if you are beaten yourself a second time, you shall die."
So Kan-ki placed himself at the head of his detachment, and went out again to attack the Monguls. They were to the northward, and were posted, it seems, upon or near a sandy plain. At any rate, a strong north wind began to blow at the time when the attack commenced, and blew the sand and dust into the eyes of his soldiers so that they could not see, while their enemies the Monguls, having their backs to the wind, were very little incommoded. The result was that Kan-ki was repulsed with considerable loss, and was obliged to make the best of his way back to Hujaku's quarters to save the remainder of his men.
He was now desperate. Hujaku had declared that if he came back without having gained a victory he should die, and he had no doubt that the man was violent and reckless enough to keep his word. He determined not to submit. He might as well die fighting, he thought, at the head of his troops, as to be ignobly put to death by Hujaku's executioner. So he arranged it with his troops, who probably hated Hujaku as much as he did, that, on returning to the town, they should march in under arms, take possession of the place, surround the palace, and seize the general and make him prisoner, or kill him if he should attempt any resistance.
The troops accordingly, when they arrived at the gates of the town, seized and disarmed the guards, and then marched in, brandishing their weapons, and uttering loud shouts and outcries, which excited first a feeling of astonishment and then of terror among the inhabitants. The alarm soon spread to the palace. Indeed, the troops themselves soon reached and surrounded the palace, and began thundering at the gates to gain admission. They soon forced their way in. Hujaku, in the mean time, terrified and panic-stricken, had fled from the palace into the gardens, in hopes to make his escape by the garden walls. The soldiers pursued him. In his excitement and agitation he leaped down from a wall too high for such a descent, and, in his fall, broke his leg. He lay writhing helplessly on the ground when the soldiers came up. They were wild and furious with the excitement of pursuit, and they killed him with their spears where he lay.
Kan-ki took the head of his old enemy and carried it to the capital, with the intention of offering it to the emperor, and also of surrendering himself to the officers of justice, in order, as he said, that he might be put to death for the crime of which he had been guilty in heading a military revolt and killing his superior officer. By all the laws of war this was a most heinous and a wholly unpardonable offense.
But the emperor was heartily glad that the turbulent and unmanageable old general was put out of the way, for a man so unprincipled, so ambitious, and so reckless as Hujaku was is always an object of aversion and terror to all who have any thing to do with him. The emperor accordingly issued a proclamation, in which he declared that Hujaku had been justly put to death in punishment for many crimes which he had committed, and soon afterward he appointed Kan-ki commander-in-chief of the forces in his stead.
CONQUESTS IN CHINA.
War continued.—Rich and fertile country.—Grand invasion.—Simultaneous attack by four armies.—Enthusiasm of the troops.—Captives.—Immense plunder.—Dreadful ravages.—Base use made of the captives.—Extent of Mongul conquests.—The siege of Yen-king.—Proposed terms of arrangement.—Difference of opinion.—Consultation on the subject.—The conditions accepted.—Terms of peace agreed upon.—Consultations.—The emperor's uneasiness.—Abandonment of the capital.—Revolt of the guards.—The siege of the capital renewed.—Wan-yen and Mon-yen.—Their perplexity.—Suicide proposed.—Wan-yen in despair.—His suicide.—Mon-yen's plan.—Petition of the wives.—Sacking of the city by Mingan.—Massacres.—Fate of Mon-yen.—Treasures.—Conquests extended.—Governors appointed.
After the death of Hujaku, the Emperor of China endeavored to defend his dominions against Genghis Khan by means of his other generals, and the war was continued for several years, during which time Genghis Khan made himself master of all the northern part of China, and ravaged the whole country in the most reckless and cruel manner. The country was very populous and very rich. The people, unlike the Monguls and Tartars, lived by tilling the ground, and they practiced, in great perfection, many manufacturing and mechanic arts. The country was very fertile, and, in the place of the boundless pasturages of the Mongul territories, it was covered in all directions with cultivated fields, gardens, orchards, and mulberry-groves, while thriving villages and busy towns were scattered over the whole face of it. It was to protect this busy hive of wealth and industry that the great wall had been built ages before; for the Chinese had always been stationary, industrious, and peaceful, while the territories of Central Asia, lying to the north of them, had been filled from time immemorial with wild, roaming, and unscrupulous troops of marauders, like those who were now united under the banner of Genghis Khan. The wall had afforded for some hundreds of years an adequate protection, for no commander had appeared of sufficient power to organize and combine the various hordes on a scale great enough to enable them to force so strong a barrier. But, now that Genghis Khan had come upon the stage, the barrier was broken through, and the terrible and reckless hordes poured in with all the force and fury of an inundation. In the year 1214, which was the year following that in which Hujaku was killed, Genghis Khan organized a force so large, for the invasion of China, that he divided it into four different battalions, which were to enter by different roads, and ravage different portions of the country. Each of these divisions was by itself a great and powerful army, and the simultaneous invasion of four such masses of reckless and merciless enemies filled the whole land with terror and dismay.
The Chinese emperor sent the best bodies of troops under his command to guard the passes in the mountains, and the bridges and fording-places on the rivers, hoping in this way to do something toward stemming the tide of these torrents of invasion. But it was all in vain. Genghis Khan had raised and equipped his forces by means, in a great measure, of the plunder which he had obtained in China the year before, and he had made great promises and glowing representations to his men in respect to the booty to be obtained in this new campaign. The troops were consequently full of ardor and enthusiasm, and they pressed on with such impetuosity as to carry all before them.
The Emperor of China, in pursuing his measures of defense, had ordered all the men capable of bearing arms in the villages and in the open country to repair to the nearest large city or fortress, there to be enrolled and equipped for service. The consequence was that the Monguls found in many places, as they advanced through the country, nobody but infirm old men, and women and children in the hamlets and villages. A great many of these, especially such as seemed to be of most consequence, the handsomest and best of the women, and the oldest children, they seized and took with them in continuing their march, intending to make slaves of them. They also took possession of all the gold and silver, and also of all the silks and other rich and valuable merchandise which they found, and distributed it as plunder. The spoil which they obtained, too, in sheep and cattle, was enormous. From it they made up immense flocks and herds, which were driven off into the Mongul country. The rest were slaughtered, and used to supply the army with food.
It was the custom of the invaders, after having pillaged a town and its environs, and taken away all which they could convert to any useful purpose for themselves, to burn the town itself, and then to march on, leaving in the place only a smoking heap of ruins, with the miserable remnant of the population which they had spared wandering about the scene of desolation in misery and despair.
They made a most cowardly and atrocious use, too, of the prisoners whom they conveyed away. When they arrived at a fortified town where there was a garrison or any other armed force prepared to resist them, they would bring forward these helpless captives, and put them in the fore-front of the battle in such a manner that the men on the walls could not shoot their arrows at their savage assailants without killing their own wives and children. The officers commanded the men to fire notwithstanding. But they were so moved by the piteous cries which the women and children made that they could not bear to do it, and so they refused to obey, and in the excitement and confusion thus produced the Monguls easily obtained possession of the town.
There are two great rivers in China, both of which flow from west to east, and they are at such a distance from each other and from the frontiers that they divide the territory into three nearly equal parts. The northernmost of these rivers is the Hoang Ho. The Monguls in the course of two years overran and made themselves masters of almost the whole country lying north of this river, that is, of about one third of China proper. There were, however, some strongly-fortified towns which they found it very difficult to conquer.
Among other places, there was the imperial city of Yen-king, where the emperor himself resided, which was so strongly defended that for some time the Monguls did not venture to attack it. At length, however, Genghis Khan came himself to the place, and concentrated there a very large force. The emperor and his court were very much alarmed, expecting an immediate assault. Still Genghis Khan hesitated. Some of his generals urged him to scale the walls, and so force his way into the city. But he thought it more politic to adopt a different plan.
So he sent an officer into the town with proposals of peace to be communicated to the emperor. In these proposals Genghis Khan said that he himself was inclined to spare the town, but that to appease his soldiers, who were furious to attack and pillage the city, it would be necessary to make them considerable presents, and that, if the emperor would agree to such terms with him as should enable him to satisfy his men in this respect, he would spare the city and would retire.
The emperor and his advisers were much perplexed at the receipt of this proposal. There was great difference of opinion among the counselors in respect to the reply which was to be made to it. Some were in favor of rejecting it at once. One general, not content with a simple rejection of it, proposed that, to show the indignation and resentment which they felt in receiving it, the garrison should march out of the gates and attack the Monguls in their camp.
There were other ministers, however, who urged the emperor to submit to the necessity of the case, and make peace with the conqueror. They said that the idea of going out to attack the enemy in their camp was too desperate to be entertained for a moment, and if they waited within the walls and attempted to defend themselves there, they exposed themselves to a terrible danger, without any countervailing hope of advantage at all commensurate with it; for if they failed to save the city they were all utterly and irretrievably ruined; and if, on the other hand, they succeeded in repelling the assault, it was only a brief respite that they could hope to gain, for the Monguls would soon return in greater numbers and in a higher state of excitement and fury than ever. Besides, they said, the garrison was discontented and depressed in spirit, and would make but a feeble resistance. It was composed mainly of troops brought in from the country, away from their families and homes, and all that they desired was to be released from duty, in order that they might go and see what had become of their wives and children.
The emperor, in the end, adopted this counsel, and he sent a commissioner to the camp of Genghis Khan to ask on what terms peace could be made. Genghis Khan stated the conditions. They were very hard, but the emperor was compelled to submit to them. One of the stipulations was that Genghis Khan was to receive one of the Chinese princesses, a daughter of the late emperor Yong-tsi, to add to the number of his wives. There were also to be delivered to him for slaves five hundred young boys and as many girls, three thousand horses, a large quantity of silk, and an immense sum of money. As soon as these conditions were fulfilled, after dividing the slaves and the booty among the officers and soldiers of his army, Genghis Khan raised the siege and moved off to the northward.
In respect to the captives that his soldiers had taken in the towns and villages—the women and children spoken of above—the army carried off with them all that were old enough to be of any value as slaves. The little children, who would only, they thought, be in the way, they massacred.
The emperor was by no means easy after the Mongul army had gone. A marauding enemy like that, bought off by the payment of a ransom, is exceedingly apt to find some pretext for returning, and the emperor did not feel that he was safe. Very soon after the Monguls had withdrawn, he proposed to his council the plan of removing his court southward to the other side of the Hoang Ho, to a large city in the province of Henan. Some of his counselors made great objections to this proposal. They said that if the emperor withdrew in that manner from the northern provinces that portion of his empire would be irretrievably lost. Genghis Khan would soon obtain complete and undisputed possession of the whole of it. The proper course to be adopted, they said, was to remain and make a firm stand in defense of the capital and of the country. They must levy new troops, repair the fortifications, recruit the garrison, and lay in supplies of food and of other military stores, and thus prepare themselves for a vigorous and efficient resistance in case the enemy should return.
But the emperor could not be persuaded. He said that the treasury was exhausted, the troops were discouraged, the cities around the capital were destroyed, and the whole country was so depopulated by the devastations of the Monguls that no considerable number of fresh levies could be obtained; and that, consequently, the only safe course for the government to pursue was to retire to the southward, beyond the river. He would, however, he added, leave his son, with a strong garrison, to defend the capital.
He accordingly took with him a few favorites of his immediate family and a small body of troops, and commenced his journey—a journey which was considered by all the people as a base and ignoble flight. He involved himself in endless troubles by this step. A revolt broke out on the way among the guards who accompanied him. One of the generals who headed the revolt sent a messenger to Genghis Khan informing him of the emperor's abandonment of his capital, and offering to go over, with all the troops under his command, to the service of Genghis Khan if Genghis Khan would receive him.
When Genghis Khan heard thus of the retreat of the emperor from his capital, he was, or pretended to be, much incensed. He considered the proceeding as in some sense an act of hostility against himself, and, as such, an infraction of the treaty and a renewal of the war. So he immediately ordered one of his leading generals—a certain chieftain named Mingan—to proceed southward at the head of a large army and lay siege to Yen-king again.
The old emperor, who seems now to have lost all spirit, and to have given himself up entirely to despondency and fear, was greatly alarmed for the safety of his son the prince, whom he had left in command at Yen-king. He immediately sent orders to his son to leave the city and come to him. The departure of the prince, in obedience to these orders, of course threw an additional gloom over the city, and excited still more the general discontent which the emperor's conduct had awakened.
The prince, on his departure, left two generals in command of the garrison. Their names were Wan-yen and Mon-yen. They were left to defend the city as well as they could from the army of Monguls under Mingan, which was now rapidly drawing near. The generals were greatly embarrassed and perplexed with the difficulties of their situation. The means of defense at their disposal were wholly inadequate, and they knew not what to do.
At length one of them, Wan-yen, proposed to the other that they should kill themselves. This Mon-yen refused to do. Mon-yen was the commander on whom the troops chiefly relied, and he considered suicide a mode of deserting one's post scarcely less dishonorable than any other. He said that his duty was to stand by his troops, and, if he could not defend them where they were, to endeavor to draw them away, while there was an opportunity, to a place of safety.
So Wan-yen, finding his proposal rejected, went away in a rage. He retired to his apartment, and wrote a dispatch to the emperor, in which he explained the desperate condition of affairs, and the impossibility of saving the city, and in the end declared himself deserving of death for not being able to accomplish the work which his majesty had assigned to him.
He enveloped and sealed this dispatch, and then, calling his domestics together, he divided among them, in a very calm and composed manner, all his personal effects, and then took leave of them and dismissed them.
A single officer only now remained with him. In the presence of this officer he wrote a few words, and then sent him away. As soon as the officer had gone, he drank a cup of poison which he had previously ordered to be prepared for him, and in a few minutes was a lifeless corpse.
In the mean time, the other general, Mon-yen, had been making preparations to leave the city. His plan was to take with him such troops as might be serviceable to the emperor, but to leave all the inmates of the palace, as well as the inhabitants of the city, to their fate. Among the people of the palace were, it seems, a number of the emperor's wives, whom he had left behind at the time of his own flight, he having taken with him at that time only a few of the more favored ones. These women who were left, when they heard that Mon-yen was intending to abandon the city with a view of joining the emperor in the south, came to him in a body, and begged him to take them with him.
In order to relieve himself of their solicitations, he said that he would do so, but he added that he must leave the city himself with the guards to prepare the way, and that he would return immediately for them. They were satisfied with this promise, and returned to the palace to prepare for the journey. Mon-yen at once left the city, and very soon after he had gone, Mingan, the Mongul general, arrived at the gates, and, meeting with no effectual resistance, he easily forced his way in, and a scene of universal terror and confusion ensued. The soldiers spread themselves over the city in search of plunder, and killed all who came in their way. They plundered the palace and then set it on fire. So extensive was the edifice, and so vast were the stores of clothing and other valuables which it contained, even after all the treasures which could be made available to the conquerors had been taken away, that the fire continued to burn among the ruins for a month or more.
What became of the unhappy women who were so cruelly deceived by Mon-yen in respect to their hopes of escape does not directly appear. They doubtless perished with the other inhabitants of the city in the general massacre. Soldiers at such a time, while engaged in the sack and plunder of a city, are always excited to a species of insane fury, and take a savage delight in thrusting their pikes into all that come in their way.
Mon-yen excused himself, when he arrived at the quarters of the emperor, for having thus abandoned the women to their fate by the alleged impossibility of saving them. He could not have succeeded, he said, in effecting his own retreat and that of the troops who went with him if he had been encumbered in his movements by such a company of women. The emperor accepted this excuse, and seemed to be satisfied with it, though, not long afterward, Mon-yen was accused of conspiracy against the emperor and was put to death.
Mingan took possession of the imperial treasury, where he found great stores of silk, and also of gold and silver plate. All these things he sent to Genghis Khan, who remained still at the north at a grand encampment which he had made in Tartary.
After this, other campaigns were fought by Genghis Khan in China, in the course of which he extended his conquests still farther to the southward, and made himself master of a very great extent of country. After confirming these conquests, he selected from among such Chinese officers as were disposed to enter into his service suitable persons to be appointed governors of the provinces, and in this way annexed them to his dominions; these officers thus transferring their allegiance from the emperor to him, and covenanting to send to him the tribute which they should annually collect from their respective dominions. Every thing being thus settled in this quarter, Genghis Khan next turned his attention to the western frontiers of his empire, where the Tartar and Mongul territory bordered on Turkestan and the dominions of the Mohammedans.
THE SULTAN MOHAMMED.
Mohammedan countries on the west.—Sultan Mohammed.—Karazm.—Proposed embassy.—Makinut and his suite.—Speech of the embassador.—Father and son.—The sultan not pleased.—Private interview.—Anger of the sultan.—Conversation.—Makinut returns a soft answer.—The sultan is appeased.—Treaty made.—Genghis Khan is pleased.—Opening of the trade.—The exorbitant merchants.—Their punishment.—The next company.—Their artful management.—Genghis Khan fits out a company.—Embassadors.—Mohammedans.—Messengers from the court.—Large party.—Roads doubly guarded.—The Calif of Bagdad.—Mohammed's demand and the calif's reply.—The sultan calls a council.—Mohammed's plan for revenge.—March of the army.—Failure.—The calif's plans.—Objections to them.—Arguments of the calif.—Message to Genghis Khan.—Artful device.—The answer of Genghis Khan.—The caravan arrives at Otrar.—The governor's treachery.—The party massacred.—Genghis Khan hears the tidings.—He declares war.—Preparations.
The portion of China which Genghis Khan had added to his dominions by the conquests described in the last chapter was called Katay, and the possession of it, added to the extensive territories which were previously under his sway, made his empire very vast. The country which he now held, either under his direct government, or as tributary provinces and kingdoms, extended north and south through the whole interior of Asia, and from the shores of the Japan and China Seas on the east, nearly to the Caspian Sea on the west, a distance of nearly three thousand miles.
Beyond his western limits lay Turkestan and other countries governed by the Mohammedans. Among the other Mohammedan princes there was a certain Sultan Mohammed, a great and very powerful sovereign, who reigned over an extensive region in the neighborhood of the Caspian Sea, though the principal seat of his power was a country called Karazm. He was, in consequence, sometimes styled Mohammed Karazm.
It might perhaps have been expected that Genghis Khan, having subdued all the rivals within his reach in the eastern part of Asia, and being strong and secure in the possession of his power, would have found some pretext for making war upon the sultan, with a view of conquering his territories too, and adding the countries bordering on the Caspian to his dominions. But, for some reason or other, he concluded, in this instance, to adopt a different policy. Whether it was that he was tired of war and wished for repose, or whether the sultan's dominions were too remote, or his power too great to make it prudent to attack him, he determined on sending an embassy instead of an army, with a view of proposing to the sultan a treaty of friendship and alliance.
The time when this embassy was sent was in the year 1217, and the name of the principal embassador was Makinut.
Makinut set out on his mission accompanied by a large retinue of attendants and guards. The journey occupied several weeks, but at length he arrived in the sultan's dominions. Soon after his arrival he was admitted to an audience of the sultan, and there, accompanied by his own secretaries, and in the presence of all the chief officers of the sultan's court, he delivered his message.
He gave an account in his speech of the recent victories which his sovereign, Genghis Khan, had won, and of the great extension which his empire had in consequence attained. He was now become master, he said, of all the countries of Central Asia, from the eastern extremity of the continent up to the frontiers of the sultan's dominions, and having thus become the sultan's neighbor, he was desirous of entering into a treaty of amity and alliance with him, which would be obviously for the mutual interest of both. He had accordingly been sent an embassador to the sultan's court to propose such an alliance. In offering it, the emperor, he said, was actuated by a feeling of the sincerest good-will. He wished the sultan to consider him as a father, and he would look upon the sultan as a son.
According to the patriarchal ideas of government which prevailed in those days, the relation of father to son involved not merely the idea of a tie of affection connecting an older with a younger person, but it implied something of pre-eminence and authority on the one part, and dependence and subjection on the other. Perhaps Genghis Khan did not mean his proposition to be understood in this sense, but made it solely in reference to the disparity between his own and the sultan's years, for he was himself now becoming considerably advanced in life. However this may be, the sultan was at first not at all pleased with the proposition in the form in which the embassador made it.
He, however, listened quietly to Makinut's words, and said nothing until the public audience was ended. He then took Makinut alone into another apartment in order to have some quiet conversation with him. He first asked him to tell him the exact state of the case in respect to all the pretended victories which Genghis Khan had gained, and, in order to propitiate him and induce him to reveal the honest truth, he made him a present of a rich scarf, splendidly adorned with jewels.
"How is it?" said he; "has the emperor really made all those conquests, and is his empire as extensive and powerful as he pretends? Tell me the honest truth about it."
"What I have told your majesty is the honest truth about it," replied Makinut. "My master the emperor is as powerful as I have represented him, and this your majesty will soon find out in case you come to have any difficulty with him."
This bold and defiant language on the part of the embassador greatly increased the irritation which the sultan felt before. He seemed much incensed, and replied in a very angry manner.
"I know not what your master means," said he, "by sending such messages to me, telling me of the provinces that he has conquered, and boasting of his power, or upon what ground he pretends to be greater than I, and expects that I shall honor him as my father, and be content to be treated by him only as his son. Is he so very great a personage as this?"
Makinut now found that perhaps he had spoken a little too plainly, and he began immediately to soften and modify what he had said, and to compliment the sultan himself, who, as he was well aware, was really superior in power and glory to Genghis Khan, notwithstanding the great extension to which the empire of the latter had recently attained. He also begged that the sultan would not be angry with him for delivering the message with which he had been intrusted. He was only a servant, he said, and he was bound to obey the orders of his master. He assured the sultan, moreover, that if any unfavorable construction could by possibility be put upon the language which the emperor had used, no such meaning was designed on his part, but that in sending the embassage, and in every thing connected with it, the emperor had acted with the most friendly and honorable intentions.
By means of conciliating language like this the sultan was at length appeased, and he finally was induced to agree to every thing which the embassador proposed. A treaty of peace and commerce was drawn up and signed, and, after every thing was concluded, Makinut returned to the Mongul country loaded with presents, some of which were for himself and his attendants, and others were for Genghis Khan.
He was accompanied, too, by a caravan of merchants, who, in consequence of the new treaty, were going into the country of Genghis Khan with their goods, to see what they could do in the new market thus opened to them. This caravan traveled in company with Makinut on his return, in order to avail themselves of the protection which the guard that attended him could afford in passing through the intervening countries. These countries being filled with hordes of Tartars, who were very little under the dominion of law, it would have been unsafe for a caravan of rich merchandise to pass through them without an escort.
Genghis Khan was greatly pleased with the result of his embassy. He was also much gratified with the presents that the sultan had sent him, which consisted of costly stuffs for garments, beautiful and highly-wrought arms, precious stones, and other similar articles. He welcomed the merchants too, and opened facilities for them to travel freely throughout his dominions and dispose of their goods.
In order that future caravans might go and come at all times in safety, he established guards along the roads between his country and that of the sultan. These guards occupied fortresses built at convenient places along the way, and especially at the crossing-places on the rivers, and in the passes of the mountains; and there orders were given to these guards to scour the country in every direction around their respective posts, in order to keep it clear of robbers. Whenever a band of robbers was formed, the soldiers hunted them from one lurking-place to another until they were exterminated. In this way, after a short time, the country became perfectly safe, and the caravans of merchants could go and come with the richest goods, and even with treasures of gold and silver, without any fear.
At first, it would seem, some of the merchants from the countries of Mohammed asked too much for their goods. At least a story is told of a company who came very soon after the opening of the treaty, and who offered their goods first to Genghis Khan himself, but they asked such high prices for them that he was astonished.
"I suppose," said he, "by your asking such prices as these, you imagine that I have never bought any goods before."
He then took them to see his treasures, and showed them over a thousand large chests filled with valuables of every description; gold and silver utensils, rich silks, arms and accoutrements splendidly adorned with precious stones, and other such commodities. He told them that he showed them these things in order that they might see that he had had some experience in respect to dealings in merchandise of that sort before, and knew something of its just value. And that, since they had been so exorbitant in their demands, presuming probably upon the ignorance of those whom they came to deal with, he should send them back with all their goods, and not allow them to sell them any where in his dominions, at any price.
This threat he put in execution. The merchants were obliged to go back without selling any of their goods at all.
The next company of merchants that came, having heard of the adventure of the others, determined to act on a different principle. Accordingly, when they came into the presence of the khan with their goods, and he asked them the prices of some of them, they replied that his majesty might himself fix the price of the articles, as he was a far better judge of the value of such things than they were. Indeed, they added that if his majesty chose to take them without paying any thing at all he was welcome to do so.
This answer pleased the emperor very much. He paid them double price for the articles which he selected from their stores, and he granted them peculiar privileges in respect to trading with his subjects while they remained in his dominions.
The trade which was thus opened between the dominions of the sultan and those of Genghis Khan was not, however, wholly in the hands of merchants coming from the former country. Soon after the coming of the caravan last mentioned, Genghis Khan fitted out a company of merchants from his own country, who were to go into the country of the sultan, taking with them such articles, the products of the country of the Monguls, as they might hope to find a market for there. There were four principal merchants, but they were attended by a great number of assistants, servants, camel-drivers, etc., so that the whole company formed quite a large caravan. Genghis Khan sent with them three embassadors, who were to present to the sultan renewed assurances of the friendly feelings which he entertained for him, and of his desire to encourage and promote as much as possible the commercial intercourse between the two countries which had been so happily begun.
The three embassadors whom Genghis Khan selected for this service were themselves Mohammedans. He had several persons of this faith among the officers of his court, although the Monguls had a national religion of their own, which was very different from that of the Mohammedans; still, all forms of worship were tolerated in Genghis Khan's dominions, and the emperor was accustomed to take good officers into his service wherever he could find them, without paying any regard to the nature of their religious belief so far as their general duties were concerned. But now, in sending this deputation to the sultan, he selected the embassadors from among the Mohammedans at his court, thinking that it would please the sultan better to receive his message through persons of his own religious faith. Besides, the three persons whom he appointed were natives of Turkestan, and they were, of course, well acquainted with the language of the country and with the country itself.
Besides the merchants and the embassadors, Genghis Khan gave permission to each of his wives, and also to each of the great lords of his court, to send a servant or messenger with the caravan, to select and purchase for their masters and mistresses whatever they might find most curious or useful in the Mohammedan cities which the caravan might visit. The lords and ladies were all very glad to avail themselves of the opportunity thus afforded them.
All these persons, the embassadors and their suite, the merchants and their servants, and the special messengers sent by the lords and ladies of the court, formed, as may well be supposed, a very numerous company. It is said that the caravan, when ready to commence its march, contained no less than four hundred and fifty persons.
Every thing being at last made ready, the caravan set out on its long journey. It was accompanied by a suitable escort, and, in order to provide still more effectually for the safety of the rich merchandise and the valuable lives committed to it, Genghis Khan sent on orders beforehand to all the military stations on the way, directing the captains to double the guard on their respective sections of the road while the caravan was passing.
By means of these and other similar precautions the expedition accomplished the journey in safety, and arrived without any misfortune in the Mohammedan country. Very serious misfortunes, however, awaited them there immediately after their arrival, arising out of a train of events which had been for some time in progress, and which I must now go back a little to describe.
It seems that some difference had arisen some time before this between the Sultan Mohammed and the Calif of Bagdad, who was the great head of the Mohammedan power. Mohammed applied to the calif to grant him certain privileges and powers which had occasionally been bestowed on other sultans who had rendered great services to the Mohammedan empire. He claimed that he had merited these rewards by the services which he had rendered. He had conquered, he said, more than one hundred princes and chieftains, and had cut off their heads and annexed their territories to his dominions, thus greatly enlarging and extending the Mohammedan power.
Mohammed made this demand of the calif through the medium of an embassador whom he sent to Bagdad. The calif, after hearing what the embassador had to say, refused to comply. He said that the services which Mohammed had rendered were not of sufficient importance and value to merit the honors and privileges which Mohammed demanded. But, although he thus declined complying with Mohammed's request, he showed a disposition to treat the sultan himself with all proper deference by sending an embassador of his own to accompany Mohammed's embassador on his return, with instructions to communicate the reply which the calif felt bound to make in a respectful and courteous manner.
Mohammed received the calif's embassador very honorably, and in his presence concealed the anger which the answer of the calif excited in his mind. As soon as the embassador was gone, however, he convened a grand council of all the great chieftains, and generals, and ministers of state in his dominions, and announced to them his determination to raise an army and march to Bagdad, with a view of deposing the calif and reigning in his stead. The great personages assembled at the council were very ready to enter into this scheme, for they knew that if it was successful there would be a great many honors and a great deal of booty that would fall to their share in the final distribution of the spoil. So they all engaged with great zeal in aiding the sultan to form and equip his army. In due time the expedition was ready, and the sultan commenced his march. But, as often happens in such cases, the preparations had been hindered by various causes of delay, and it was too late in the season when the army began to move. The forces moved slowly, too, after they commenced their march, so that the winter came on while they were among the passes of the mountains. The winter was unusually severe, and the troops suffered so much from the frosts and the rains, and from the various hardships to which they were in consequence exposed, that the sultan found it impossible to go on. He was consequently obliged to return, and begin his work over again. And the worst of it was, that the calif was now aware of his designs, and would be able, he knew, before the next season, to take effectual measures to defend himself.
When the calif heard of the misfortunes which had befallen the sultan's army, and his narrow escape from the dangers of a formidable invasion, he was at first overjoyed, and he resolved at once on making war upon the rebellious sultan. In forming his plans for the campaign, the idea occurred to him of endeavoring to incite Genghis Khan to invade the sultan's dominions from the east while he himself attacked him from the west; for Bagdad, the capital of the calif, was to the westward of the sultan's country, as the empire of the Monguls was to the eastward of it.
But when the calif proposed his plan to his counselors, some of them objected to it very strenuously. The sultan and the people of his country were, like the calif himself, Mohammedans, while the Monguls were of another religion altogether, or, as the Mohammedans called them, unbelievers or infidels; and the counselors who objected to the calif's proposal said that it would be very wrong to bring the enemies of God into the country of the faithful to guard against a present and temporary danger, and thereby, perhaps, in the end occasion the ruin both of their religion and their empire. It would be an impious deed, they thought, thus to bring in a horde of barbarian infidels to wage war with them against their brethren.
To this the calif replied that the emergency was so critical that they were justified in availing themselves of any means that offered to save themselves from the ruin with which they were threatened. And as to the possibility that Genghis Khan, if admitted to the country as their ally, would in the end turn his arms against them, he said that they must watch, and take measures to guard against such a danger. Besides, he would rather have an open unbeliever like Genghis Khan for a foe, than a Mohammedan traitor and rebel like the sultan. He added, moreover, that he did not believe that the Mongul emperor felt any animosity or ill will against the Mohammedans or against their faith. It was evident, indeed, that he did not, for he had a great many Mohammedans in his dominions, and he allowed them to live there without molestation. He even had Mohammedan officers of very high rank in his court.
So it was finally decided to send a message and invite him to join the calif in making war on the sultan.
The difficulty was now to contrive some means by which this message could be conveyed through the sultan's territories, which, of course, lay between the dominions of the calif and those of Genghis Khan. To accomplish this purpose the calif resorted to a very singular device. Instead of writing his communication in a letter, he caused it to be pricked with a needle and some indigo, by a sort of tattooing process, upon the messenger's head, in such a manner that it was concealed by his hair. The messenger was then disguised as a countryman and sent forth. He succeeded in accomplishing the journey in safety, and when he arrived Genghis Khan had only to cause his head to be shaved, when the inscription containing the calif's proposal to him at once became legible.
This method of making the communication was considered very safe, for even if, from any accident, the man had been intercepted on the way, on suspicion of his being a messenger, the sultan's men would have found nothing, in searching him, to confirm their suspicions, for it is not at all probable that they would have thought of looking for a letter among his hair.
Genghis Khan was well pleased to receive the proposals of the calif, but he sent back word in reply that he could not at present engage in any hostile movement against the sultan on account of the treaty of peace and commerce which he had recently established with him. So long as the sultan observed the stipulations of the treaty, he felt bound in honor, he said, not to break it. He knew, however, he added, that the restless spirit of the sultan would not long allow things to remain in the posture they were then in, and that on the first occasion given he would not fail to declare war against him.
Things were in this state when the grand caravan of merchants and embassadors which Genghis Khan had sent arrived at the frontiers of the sultan's dominions.
After passing the frontier, the first important place which they reached was a city called Otrar. They were received very courteously by the governor of this place, and were much pleased with the opportunity afforded them to rest from the fatigues of their long journey. It seems, however, after all, that the governor's friendship for his guests was only pretended, for he immediately wrote to the sultan, informing him that a party of persons had arrived at his city from the Mongul country who pretended to be merchants and embassadors, but that he believed that they were spies, for they were extremely inquisitive about the strength of the garrisons and the state of the defenses of the country generally. He had no doubt, he added, that they were emissaries sent by Genghis Khan to find out the best way of invading his dominions.
One account states that the motive which induced the governor to make these representations to the sultan was some offense which he took at the familiar manner in which he was addressed by one of the embassadors, who was a native of Otrar, and had known the governor in former times when he was a private person. Another says that his object was to have the expedition broken up, in order that he might seize for himself the rich merchandise and the valuable presents which the merchants and embassadors had in their possession.
At any rate, he wrote to the sultan denouncing the whole party as foreign emissaries and spies, and in a short time he received a reply from the sultan directing him to put them all to death, or otherwise to deal with them as he thought proper. So he invited the whole party to a grand entertainment in his palace, and then, at a given signal, probably after most of them had become in some measure helpless from the influence of the wine, a body of his guards rushed in and massacred them all.
Or, rather, they attempted to massacre them all, but one of the merchants' men contrived in the confusion to make his escape. He succeeded in getting back into the Mongul country, where he reported what had happened to Genghis Khan.
Genghis Khan was greatly exasperated when he heard these tidings. He immediately called together his sons, and all the great lords and chieftains of his court, and recited to them the story of the massacre of the merchants in such a manner as to fill their hearts with indignation and rage, and to inspire them all with a burning thirst for revenge.
He also immediately sent word to the sultan that, since by so infamous an action he had violated all the engagements which had subsisted between them, he, from that instant, declared himself his mortal enemy, and would take vengeance upon him for his treacherousness and cruelty by ravaging his country with fire and sword.
This message was sent, it was said, by three embassadors, whose persons ought to have been considered sacred, according to every principle of international law. But the sultan, as soon as they had delivered their message, ordered their heads to be cut off.
This new massacre excited the rage and fury of Genghis Khan to a higher pitch than ever. For three days, it is said, he neither ate nor slept, and seemed almost beside himself with mingled vexation, grief, and anger. And afterward he busied himself night and day with the arrangements for assembling his army and preparing to march, and he allowed himself no rest until every thing was ready.
THE WAR WITH THE SULTAN.
Marshaling of the army.—Arms and armor.—Provision for contingencies.—The army commences its march.—Jughi's division.—Preparations of the sultan.—His army.—His plan.—The sultan meets Jughi.—Opinion of the generals.—Jughi's decision.—The battle commenced.—Neither party victorious.—Jughi withdraws.—His reception by his father.—The Monguls victorious.—The sultan's plans.—Flying squadron.—Genghis Khan.
Genghis Khan made his preparations for a war on an immense scale. He sent messengers in every direction to all the princes, khans, governors, and other chieftains throughout his empire, with letters explaining to them the cause of the war, and ordering them to repair to the places of rendezvous which he appointed, with all the troops that they could raise.
He gave particular directions in respect to the manner in which the men were to be armed and equipped. The arms required were the sabre, the bow, with a quiver full of arrows, and the battle-axe. Each soldier was also to carry a rope, ropes and cordage being continually in demand among people living on horseback and in tents.
The officers were to wear armor as well as to carry arms. Those who could afford it were to provide themselves with a complete coat of mail. The rest were to wear helmets and breast-plates only. The horses were also to be protected as far as possible by breast-plates, either of iron, or of leather thick and tough enough to prevent an arrow from penetrating.
When the troops thus called for appeared at the place of rendezvous appointed for them, Genghis Khan found, as is said, that he had an army of seven hundred thousand men!
The army being thus assembled, Genghis Khan caused certain rules and regulations, or articles of war, as they might be called, to be drawn up and promulgated to the troops. One of the rules was that no body of troops were ever to retreat without first fighting, whatever the imminence of the danger might be. He also ordered that where a body of men were engaged, if any subordinate division of them, as one company in a regiment, or one regiment in a battalion, should break ranks and fly before the order for a retreat should have been given by the proper authority, the rest were to leave fighting the enemy, and attack the portion flying, and kill them all upon the spot.
The emperor also made formal provision for the event of his dying in the course of the campaign. In this case a grand assembly of all the khans and chieftains of the empire was to be convened, and then, in the presence of these khans and of his sons, the constitution and laws of the empire, as he had established them, were to be read, and after the reading the assembly were to proceed to the election of a new khan, according to the forms which the constitution had provided.
After all these affairs had been arranged, Genghis Khan put his army in motion. He was obliged, of course, to separate it into several grand divisions, and to send the several divisions forward by different roads, and through different sections of the country. So large a body can never be kept together on a long march, on account of the immense quantity of food that is required, both for the horses and the men, and which must be supplied in the main by the country itself which they traverse, since neither horses nor men can carry food with them for more than a very few days.
Genghis Khan put one of the largest divisions under the command of his son Jughi, the prince who distinguished himself so much in the conflicts by which his father raised himself to the supreme power.
Jughi was ordered to advance with his division through Turkestan, the country where the Prince Kushluk had sought refuge, and which still remained, in some degree, disaffected toward Genghis Khan. Genghis Khan himself, with the main body of the army, took a more southerly route directly toward the dominions of the sultan.
In the mean time the sultan himself had not been idle. He collected together all the forces that he could command. When they were mustered, the number of men was found to be four hundred thousand. This was a large army, though much smaller than that of Genghis Khan.
The sultan set out upon his march with his troops to meet the invaders. After advancing for some distance, he learned that the army of Jughi, which had passed through Turkestan, was at the northward of his position, and he found that by turning in that direction he might hope to meet and conquer that part of the Mongul force before it could have time to join the main body. He determined at once to adopt this plan.
He accordingly turned his course, and marched forward into the part of the country where he supposed Jughi to be. At length he came to a place where his scouts found, near a river, a great many dead bodies lying on the ground. Among the others who had fallen there was one man who was wounded, but was not dead. This wounded man told the scouts that the bodies were those of persons who had been slain by the army of Jughi, which had just passed that way. The sultan accordingly pressed forward and soon overtook them. Jughi was hastening on in order to join his father.
Jughi consulted his generals in respect to what it was best to do. They advised him to avoid a battle.
"We are not strong enough," said they, "to encounter alone the whole of the sultan's army. It is better that we should retreat, which we can do in an orderly manner, and thus join the main body before we give the enemy battle. Or, if the sultan should attempt to pursue us, he can not keep his army together in doing so. They will necessarily become divided into detachments on the road, and then we can turn and destroy them in detail, which will be a much surer mode of proceeding than for us to attack them in the mass."
Jughi was not willing to follow this advice.
"What will my father and my brothers think," said he, "when they see us coming to them, flying from the enemy, without having fought them, contrary to his express commands? No. We must stand our ground, trusting to our valor, and do our best. If we are to die at all, we had better be slain in battle than in flight. You have done your duty in admonishing me of the danger we are in, and now it remains for me to do mine in trying to bring you out of it with honor."
So he ordered the army to halt, and to be drawn up in order of battle.
The battle was soon commenced, and it was continued throughout the day. The Monguls, though fewer in numbers, were superior to their enemies in discipline and in courage, and the advantage was obviously on their side, though they did not gain a decisive victory. Toward night, however, the sultan's troops evinced every where a disposition to give way, and it was with great difficulty that the officers could induce them to maintain their ground until the darkness came on and put an end to the conflict. When at length the combatants could no longer see to distinguish friend from foe, the two armies withdrew to their respective camps, and built their fires for the night.
Jughi thought that by fighting during this day he had done all that his father required of him to vindicate the honor of the army, and that now it would be most prudent to retreat, without risking another battle on the morrow. So he caused fresh supplies of fuel to be put upon the camp-fires in order to deceive the enemy, and then marched out of his camp in the night with all his men. The next morning, by the time that the sultan's troops were again under arms, he had advanced far on his march to join his father, and was beyond their reach.
He soon rejoined his father, and was received by him with great joy. Genghis Khan was extremely pleased with the course which his son had pursued, and bestowed upon him many public honors and rewards.
After this other great battles were fought between the two armies. At one of them, a great trumpet fifteen feet long is mentioned among the other martial instruments that were used to excite the men to ardor in making the charge.
In these battles the Monguls were victorious. The sultan, however, still continued to make head as well as he could against the invaders, until at length he found that he had lost one hundred and sixty thousand of his men. This was almost half of his army, and the loss enfeebled him so much that he was convinced that it was useless for him any longer to resist the Monguls in the open field; so he sent off his army in detachments to the different towns and fortresses of his kingdom, ordering the several divisions to shut themselves up and defend themselves as well as they could, in the places assigned to them, until better times should return.
The sultan, however, did not seek shelter in this way for himself. He selected from his troops a certain portion of those who were most active and alert and were best mounted, and formed of them a sort of flying squadron with which he could move rapidly from place to place through the country, wherever his aid might be most required.
Genghis Khan, of course, now prepared to attack the cities where the several divisions of the sultan's army had intrenched themselves. He wished first to get possession of Otrar, which was the place where the embassadors and the merchants had been massacred. But the city was not very large, and so, instead of marching toward it himself, he gave the charge of capturing it to two of his younger sons, whom he sent off for the purpose at the head of a suitable detachment.
He himself, with the main body, set off upon a march toward the cities of Samarcand and Bokhara, which were the great central cities of the sultan's dominions.
THE FALL OF BOKHARA.
Description of the town Bokhara.—Zarnuk.—An immediate surrender.—Nur.—Fate of Nur.—The siege of Bokhara commenced.—The sultan's anxiety.—Intercepted letters.—The deserter.—The outer wall taken.—Grand sortie made by the garrison.—Evacuation of the town.—Pursuit.—The fugitives overtaken.—Surrender.—Conditions made.—The governor of the citadel.—Genghis Khan enters the city.—Valuables surrendered.—The emperor in the mosque.—Desecration of the mosque.—Genghis Khan makes a speech.—The inhabitants give up every thing.—Conflagration.—Surrender of the citadel.—The town utterly destroyed.—News of the fall of Otrar.—Plans for the defense of Otrar.—Sorties.—The proposal made to Genghis Khan.—The siege renewed.—The outer walls taken.—Desperate conflicts.—Kariakas and the governor.—Treason.—Punishment of treason.—The Monguls enter the town.—Citadel stormed.—Desperation of the governor.—Courage and devotion of his wife.—The governor's fate.
Bokhara was a great and beautiful city. It was situated in the midst of a very fine and fertile country, in a position very favorable for the trade and commerce of those days. It was also a great seat of learning and of the arts and sciences. It contained many institutions in which were taught such arts and sciences as were then cultivated, and students resorted to it from all the portions of Western Asia.
The city proper was inclosed with a strong wall. Besides this there was an outer wall, thirty miles in circumference, which inclosed the suburbs of the town, and also a beautiful region of parks and gardens, which contained the public places of amusement and the villas of the wealthy inhabitants. It was this peaceful seat of industry and wealth that Genghis Khan, with his hordes of ruthless barbarians, was coming now to sack and plunder.
The first city which the Monguls reached on their march toward Bokhara was one named Zarnuk. In approaching it a large troop rode up toward the walls, uttering terrific shouts and outcries. The people shut the gates in great terror. Genghis Khan, however, sent an officer to them to say that it was useless for them to attempt to resist him, and to advise them to surrender at once. They must demolish their citadel, he said, and send out all the young and able-bodied men to Genghis Khan. The officer advised them, too, to send out presents to Genghis Khan as an additional means of propitiating him and inducing him to spare the town.
The inhabitants yielded to this advice. The gates were thrown open. All the young men who were capable of bearing arms were marshaled and marched out to the Mongul camp. They were accompanied by the older men among the inhabitants, who took with them the best that the town contained, for presents. Genghis Khan accepted the presents, ordered the young men to be enrolled in his army, and then, dismissing the older ones in peace, he resumed his march and went on his way.
He next came to a town named Nur. One of the men from Zarnuk served as a guide to show the detachment which was sent to summon the city a near way to reach it. Nur was a sort of sacred town, having many holy places in it which were resorted to by many pilgrims and other devotees.
The people of Nur shut the gates and for some time refused to surrender. But at last, finding that it was useless to attempt to resist, they opened the gates and allowed the Monguls to come in. Genghis Khan, to punish the inhabitants, as he said, for even thinking of resisting him, set aside a supply of cattle and other provisions to keep them from starving, and then gave up all the rest of the property found in the town to be divided among his soldiers as plunder.