Founding Of The Mongol Empire By Genghis Khan

Author:      Howorth, Henry H.

Founding Of The Mongol Empire By Genghis Khan

 

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1203

 

 

 

 

     The origin and early history of the Mongols are very obscure, but from

Chinese annals we learn of the existence of the race, from the sixth to the

ninth century, in regions around the north of the great desert of Gobi and

Lake Baikal in Eastern Asia.  The name Mongol is derived from the word mong,

meaning "brave" or "bold." Chinese accounts show that it was given to the

Mongol race long before the time of Genghis Khan.  It is conjectured that the

Mongols were at first one tribe of a great confederacy whose name was probably

extended to the whole when the power of the imperial house which governed it

gained the supremacy.  The Mongol khans are traced up to the old royal race of

the Turks, who from a very early period were masters of the Mongolian desert

and its borderland.  Here from time immemorial the Mongols "had made their

home, leading a miserable nomadic life in the midst of a wild and barren

country, unrecognized by their neighbors, and their very name unknown

centuries after their kinsmen, the Turks, had been exercising an all-powerful

influence over the destinies of Western Asia."

 

     But at the beginning of the thirteenth century arose among them a chief,

Genghis Khan, the "very mighty ruler," whose prowess was destined to lead the

Mongolian hordes to the conquest of a vast empire, extending over China and

from India through Persia and into Russia.

 

     Who and what this mighty ruler was, and by what achievements he advanced

to lay the foundations of his empire, are told by Howorth, not only with an

authoritative fidelity to history, but with a literary art that is no less

faithful in its appreciation of oriental character and custom.

 

     Among the men who have influenced the history of the world Genghis Khan

holds a foremost place.  Popularly he is mentioned with Attila and with Timur

as one of the "scourges of God," one of those terrible conquerors whose march

across the page of history is figured by the simile of a swarm of locusts, or

a fire in a Canadian forest; but this is doing gross injustice to Genghis

Khan.  Not only was he a conqueror, a general whose consummate ability made

him over throw every barrier that must intervene between the chief of a small

barbarous tribe of an obscure race and the throne of Asia, and this with a

rapidity and uniform success that can only be compared to the triumphant march

of Alexander, but he was far more than a conqueror.  Alexander, Napoleon, and

Timur were all more or less his equals in the art of war.  But the colossal

powers they created were merely hills of sand, that crumbled to pieces as soon

as they were dead.

 

     With Genghis Khan matters were very different: he organized the empire

which he had conquered so that it long survived and greatly thrived after he

was gone.  In every detail of social and political economy he was a creator;

his laws and his administrative rules are equally admirable and astounding to

the student.  Justice, tolerance, discipline - virtues that make up the modern

ideal of a state - were taught and practised at his court.  And when we

remember that he was born and educated in the desert, and that he had neither

the sages of Greece nor of Rome to instruct him, that unlike Charlemagne and

Alfred he could not draw his lessons from a past whose evening glow was still

visible in the horizon, we are tempted to treat as exaggerated the history of

his times, and to be sceptical of so much political insight having been born

of such unpromising materials.

 

     It is not creditable to English literature that no satisfactory account

of Genghis Khan exists in the language.  Baron D'Ohsson in French, and Erdmann

in German, have both written minute and detailed accounts of him, but none

such exists in English, although the subject has an epic grandeur about it

that might well tempt some well-grounded scholar to try his hand upon it.

 

     Genghis Khan received the name of Temudjin.  According to the vocabulary

attached to the history of the Yuen dynasty, translated from the Chinese by

Hyacinthe, temudjin means the best iron or steel.  The name has been

confounded with temurdji, which means a smith, in Turkish.  This accounts for

the tradition related by Pachymeres, Novairi, William of Ruysbrok, the

Armenian Haiton, and others, that Genghis Khan was originally a smith.

 

     The Chinese historians and Ssanang Setzen place his birth in 1162;

Raschid and the Persians in 1155.  The latter date is accommodated to the fact

that they make him seventy-two years old at his death in 1227, but the

historian of the Yuen dynasty, the Kangmu, and Ssanang Setzen are all agreed

that he died at the age of sixty-six, and they are much more likely to be

right.  Mailla says he had a piece of clotted blood in his fist when born - no

bad omen, if true, of his future career.  According to De Guignes, Karachar

Nevian was named his tutor.

 

     Ssanang Setzen has a story that his father set out one day to find him a

partner among the relatives of his wife, the Olchonods, and that on the way he

was met by Dai Setzen, the chief of the Kunkurats, who thus addressed him:

"Descendant of the Kiyots and of the race of the Bordshigs, whither hiest

thou?"

 

     "I am seeking a bride for my son," was his reply.  Dai Setzen then said

that he recently had a dream, during which a white falcon had alighted on his

hand.  "This," he said, "Bordshig, was your token.  From ancient days our

daughters have been wedded to the Bordshigs, and I now have a daughter named

Burte who is nine years old.  I will give her to thy son."

 

     "She is too young," he said; but Temudjin, who was present, urged that

she would suit him by and by.  The bargain was thereupon closed, and, having

taken a draught of koumiss and presented his host with two horses, Yissugei

returned home.

 

     On his father's death Temudjin was only thirteen years old, an age that

seldom carries authority in the desert, where the chief is expected to

command, and his mother acted as regent.  This enabled several of the tribes

which had submitted to the strong hand of Yissugei to reassert their

independence.  The Taidshuts, under their leaders Terkutai, named Kiriltuk,

i.e., the Spiteful, the great-grandson of Hemukai, and his nephew Kurul

Bahadur, were the first to break away, and they were soon after joined by one

of Yissugei's generals with a considerable following.  To the reproaches of

Temudjin the latter answered: "The deepest wells are sometimes dry, and the

hardest stones sometimes split; why should I cling to thee?" Temudjin's

mother, we are told, mounted her horse, and taking the royal standard called

Tuk (this was mounted with the tails of the yak or mountain cow, or, in

default, with that of a horse; it is the tau or tu of the Chinese, used as the

imperial standard, and conferred as a token of royalty upon their vassals, the

Tartar princes) in her hand, she led her people in pursuit of the fugitives,

and brought a good number of them back to their allegiance.

 

     After the dispersion of the Jelairs, many of them became the slaves and

herdsmen of the Mongol royal family.  They were encamped near Sarikihar, the

Saligol of Hyacinthe, in the district of Ulagai Bulak, which D'Ohsson

identifies with the Ulengai, a tributary of the Ingoda, that rises in the

watershed between that river and the Onon.  One day Tagudshar, a relative of

Chamuka, the chief of the Jadjerats, was hunting in this neighborhood, and

tried to lift the cattle of a Jelair, named Jusi Termele, who thereupon shot

him.  This led to a long and bitter strife between Temudjin, who was the

patron of the Jelairs, and Chamuka.  He was of the same stock as Temudjin, and

now joined the Taidshuts, with his tribe the Jadjerats.  He also persuaded the

Uduts and Nujakins, the Kurulas and Inkirasses, to join them.

 

     Temudjin struggled in vain against this confederacy, and one day he was

taken prisoner by the Taidshuts.  Terkutai fastened on him a cangue - the

instrument of torture used by the Chinese, consisting of two boards which are

fastened to the shoulders, and when joined together round the neck form an

effectual barrier to desertion.  He one day found means to escape while the

Taidshuts were busy feasting.  He hid in a pond with his nostrils only out of

water, but was detected by a pursuer named Surghan Shireh.  He belonged to the

Sulduz clan; had pity on him; took him to his house; hid him under some wool

in a cart so that his pursuers failed to find him, and then sent him to his

own people.  This and other stories illustrate one phase of Mongol character.

We seldom hear among them of those domestic murders so frequent in Turkish

history; pretenders to the throne were reduced to servitude, and generally

made to perform menial offices, but seldom murdered.  They illustrate another

fact: favors conferred in distress were seldom forgotten, and the chroniclers

frequently explain the rise of some obscure individual by the recollection of

a handsome thing done to the ruler in his unfortunate days.

 

     Another phase of Mongol character, namely, the treachery and craft with

which they attempt to overreach one another in war, may be illustrated by a

short saga told by Ssanang Setzen, and probably relating to this period of

Temudjin's career.  It is curious how circumstantial many of these traditions

are.  "At that time," he says, "Buke Chilger of the Taidshuts dug a pitfall in

his tent and covered it with felts.  He then, with his brothers, arranged a

grand feast, to which Temudjin was invited with fulsome phrases.  'Formerly we

knew not thine excellence,' he said, 'and lived in strife with thee.  We have

now learnt that thou art not false, and that thou art a Bogda of the race of

the gods.  Our old hatred is stifled and dead; condescend to enter our small

house.'

 

     "Temudjin accepted the invitation, but before going he was warned by his

mother: 'Rate not the crafty foe too lightly,' she said.  'We do not dread a

venomous viper the less because it is so small and weak.  Be cautious!'

 

     "He replied: 'You are right, mother, therefore do you, Khassar, have the

bow ready: Belgutei, you also be on your guard: you, Chadshikin, see to the

horse; and you, Utsuken, remain by my side.  My nine Orloks, you go in with

me; and you, my three hundred and nine bodyguards, surround the yurt.'

 

     When he arrived he would have sat down in the middle of the treacherous

carpet, but Utsuken pulled him aside and seated him on the edge of the felt.

Meanwhile a woman was meddling with the horse and cut off its left stirrup.

Belgutei, who noticed it, drove her out, and struck her on the leg with his

hand, upon which one Buri Buke struck Belgutei's horse with his sword.  The

nine Orloks now came round, helped their master to mount the white mare of

Toktanga Taishi of the Kortshins; a fight began, which ended in the defeat and

submission of the enemy."

 

     Once more free, Temudjin, who was now seventeen years old, married Burte

Judjin.  He was not long in collecting a number of his men together, and soon

managed to increase their number to thirteen thousand.  These he divided into

thirteen battalions of one thousand men each, styled gurans, each guran under

the command of a gurkhan.  The gurkhans were chosen from his immediate

relatives and dependents.  The forces of the Taidshuts numbered thirty

thousand.  With this much more powerful army Temudjin risked an encounter on

the banks of the Baldjuna, a tributary of the Ingoda, and gained a complete

victory.  Abulghazi says the Taidshuts lost from five thousand to six thousand

men. The battle-field was close to a wood, and we are told that Temudjin,

after his victory, piled fagots together and boiled many of his prisoners in

seventy caldrons - a very problematical story.

 

     Among his neighbors were the Jadjerats, or Juriats, the subjects of

Chamuka, who, according to De Guignes, fled after the battle with the

Taidshuts.

 

     One day a body of the Jadjerats, who were hunting, encountered some of

Temudjin's followers, and they agreed to hunt together.  The former ran short

of provisions, and he generously surrendered to them a large part of the game

his people had captured.  This was favorably compared by them with the harsh

behavior of their suzerains, the Taidshut princes, and two of their chiefs,

named Ulugh Bahadur and Thugai Talu, with many of the tribe went to join

Temudjin.  They were shortly after attacked and dispersed by the Taidshuts.

This alarmed or disgusted several of the latter's allies, who went over to the

party of Temudjin.  Among these were Chamuka, who contrived for a while to

hide his rancor; and the chiefs of the Suldus and Basiuts.  Their example was

soon followed by the defection of the Barins and the Telenkuts, a branch of

the Jelairs.

 

     Temudjin's repute was now considerable, and De Mailla tells us that

wishing to secure the friendship of Podu, chief of the Kieliei, or Ykiliesse

(i.e., the Kurulats), who lived on the river Ergone (i.e., the Argun), and who

was renowned for his skill in archery, he offered him his sister Termulun in

marriage.  This was gladly accepted, and the two became fast friends.  As a

sign of his good-will, Podu wished to present Temudjin with fifteen horses out

of thirty which he possessed, but the latter replied: "To speak of giving and

taking is to do as merchants and traffickers, and not allies.  Our elders tell

us it is difficult to have one heart and one soul in two bodies.  It is this

difficult thing I wish to compass; I mean to extend my power over my neighbors

here; I only ask that the people of Kieliei shall aid me."

 

     Temudjin now gave a grand feast on the banks of the Onon, and distributed

decorations among his brothers.  To this were invited Sidsheh Bigi, chief of

the Burgins or Barins, his own mother, and two of his step-mothers.  A skin of

koumiss, or fermented milk, was sent to each of the latter, but with this

distinction: in the case of the eldest, called Kakurshin Khatun, it was for

herself and her family; in that of the younger, for herself alone.  This

aroused the envy of the former, who gave Sichir, the master of ceremonies, a

considerable blow.  The undignified disturbance was winked at by Temudjin, but

the quarrel was soon after enlarged.  One of Kakurshin's dependents had the

temerity to strike Belgutei, the half-brother of Temudjin, and wounded him

severely in the shoulder, but Belgutei pleaded for him.  "The wound has caused

me no tears.  It is not seemly that my quarrels should inconvenience you," he

said.  Upon this Temudjin sent and counselled them to live at peace with one

another, but Sidsheh Bigi soon after abandoned him with his Barins.  He was

apparently a son of Kakurshin Khatun, and therefore a step-brother of

Temudjin.

 

     About 1194 Temudjin heard that one of the Taidshut chiefs, called Mutchin

Sultu, had revolted against Madagu, the Kin Emperor of China, who had sent his

chinsang ("prime minister"), Wan-jan-siang, with an army against him.  He

eagerly volunteered his services against the old enemies of his people, and

was successful.  He killed the chief and captured much booty; inter alia was a

silver cradle with a covering of golden tissue, such as the Mongols had never

before seen.  As a reward for his services he received from the Chinese

officer the title of jaut-ikuri - written "Tcha-u-tu-lu" in Hyacinthe, who

says it means "commander against the rebels." According to Raschid, on the

same occasion Tului, the chief of the Keraits, was invested with the title of

wang ("king").  On his return from this expedition, desiring to renew his

intercourse with the Barins, he sent them a portion of the Tartar booty.  The

bearers of this present were maltreated.  Mailla, who describes the event

somewhat differently, says that ten of the messengers were killed by Sidsheh

Bigi to revenge the indignities that had been put on his family.  Temudjin now

marched against the Barins, and defeated them at Thulan Buldak.  Their two

chiefs escaped.  According to Mailla they were put to death.

 

     In 1196 Temudjin received a visit from Wang Khan, the Kerait chief, who

was then in distress.  His brother Ilkah Sengun, better known as Jagampu

Keraiti, had driven him from the throne.  He first sought assistance from the

chief of Kara Khitai, and, when that failed him, turned to Temudjin, the son

of his old friend.  Wang Khan was a chief of great consequence, and this

appeal must have been flattering to him.  He levied a contribution of cattle

from his subjects to feast him with, and promised him the devotion of a son in

consideration of his ancient friendship with Yissugei.

 

     Temudjin was now, says Mailla, one of the most powerful princes of these

parts, and he determined to subjugate the Kieliei, the inhabitants of the

Argun, but he was defeated.  During the action, having been hit by twelve

arrows, he fell from his horse unconscious, when Bogordshi and Burgul, at some

risk, took him out of the struggle.  While the former melted the snow with

some hot stones and bathed him with it, so as to free his throat from the

blood, the latter, during the long winter night, covered him with his own

cloak from the falling snow.  He would, nevertheless, have fared badly if his

mother had not collected a band of his father's troops and come to his

assistance together with Tului, the Kerait chief, who remembered the favors he

had received from Temudjin's father.  Mailla says that returning home with a

few followers, he was attacked by a band of robbers.  He was accompanied by a

famous crossbowman, named Soo, to whom he had given the name of Merghen. While

the robbers were within earshot, Merghen shouted: "There are two wild ducks, a

male and a female; which shall I bring down?"

 

     "The male," said Temudjin.

 

     He had scarcely said so when down it came.  This was too much for the

robbers, who dared not measure themselves against such marksmanship.

 

     The Merkits had recently made a raid upon his territory, and carried off

his favorite wife, Burte Judjin.  It was after her return from her captivity

that she gave birth to her elder son, Juji, about whose legitimacy there seems

to have been some doubt in his father's mind.  It was to revenge this that he

now (1197) marched against them, and defeated them near the river Mundsheh (a

river "Mandzin" is still to be found in the canton Karas Muren). He abandoned

all the booty to Wang Khan.  The latter, through the influence of Temudjin,

once more regained his throne, and the following year (1198) he headed an

expedition on his own account against the Merkits, and beat them at a place

named Buker Gehesh, but he did not reciprocate the generosity of his ally.

 

     In 1199 the two friends made a joint expedition against the Naimans. This

tribe was now divided between two brothers who had quarrelled about their

father's concubine.  One of them, named Buyuruk, had retired with a body of

the people to the Kiziltash mountains.  The other, called Baibuka - but

generally referred to by his Chinese title of Taiwang, or Tayang - remained in

his own proper country.  It was the latter who was now attacked by the two

allies, and forced to escape to the country of Kem Kemdjut - i.e., toward the

sources of the Yenissei.  Chamuka, the chief of the Jadjerats, well named

Satchan, or "the Crafty," still retained his hatred for Temudjin.  He now

whispered in the ear of Wang Khan that his ally was only a fair-weather

friend.  Like the wild goose, he flew away in winter, while he himself, like

the snowbird, was constant under all circumstances. These and other

suggestions aroused the jealousy of Wang Khan, who suddenly withdrew his

forces, and left Temudjin in the enemy's country.  The latter was thereupon

forced to retire also.  He went to the river Sali or Sari. Gugsu Seirak, the

Naiman general, went in pursuit, defeated Wang Khan in his own territory, and

captured much booty.  Wang Khan was hard pressed, and was perhaps only saved

by the timely succor sent by Temudjin, which drove away the Naimans.  Once

more did the latter abandon the captured booty to his treacherous ally.  After

the victory, he held a Kuriltai, on the plains of Sari or Sali, to which Wang

Khan was invited, and at which it was resolved to renew the war against the

Taidshuts in the following year.  The latter were in alliance with the

Merkits, whose chief, Tukta, had sent a contingent, commanded by his brothers,

to their help.  The two friends attacked them on the banks of the river Onon.

Raschid says in the country of Onon, i.e., the great desert of Mongolia.  The

confederates were beaten.  Terkutai Kiriltuk and Kuduhar, the two leaders of

the Taidshuts, were pursued and overtaken at Lengut Nuramen, where they were

both killed.  Another of their leaders, with the two chiefs of the Merkits,

fled to Burghudshin, i.e., Burgusin on Lake Baikal, while the fourth found

refuge with the Naimans.

 

     This victory aroused the jealousy of certain tribes which were as yet

independent of Temudjin, namely, the Kunkurats, Durbans, Jelairs, Katakins,

Saldjuts, and Taidshuts, and they formed a confederacy to put him down.  We

are told that their chiefs met at a place called Aru Bulak, and sacrificed a

horse, a bull, a ram, a dog, and a stag, and striking with their swords, swore

thus: "Heaven and earth, hear our oaths, we swear by the blood of these

animals, which are the chiefs of their kind, that we wish to die like them if

we break our promises."

 

     The plot was disclosed to Temudjin by his father-in-law, Dai Setzen, a

chief of the Kunkurats.  He repaired to his ally, Wang Khan, and the two

marched against the confederates, and defeated them near the Lake Buyur.  He

afterward attacked some confederate Taidshuts and Merkits on the plain of

Timurkin, i.e., of the river Timur or Temir, and defeated them.  Meanwhile the

Kunkurats, afraid of resisting any longer, marched to submit to him.  His

brother, Juji Kassar, not knowing their errand, unfortunately attacked them,

upon which they turned aside and joined Chamuka.

 

     That inveterate enemy of Temudjin had at an assembly of the tribes,

Inkirasses, Kurulasses, Taidshuts, Katakins, and Saldjuts, held in 1201, been

elected gurkhan.  They met near a river, called Kieiho by Mailla; Kian, by

Hyacinthe; and Kem, by Raschid, and then adjourned to the Tula, where they

made a solemn pact praying that "whichever of them was unfaithful to the rest

might be like the banks of that river which the water ate away, and like the

trees of a forest when they are cut into fagots." This pact was disclosed to

Temudjin by one of his friends who was present, named Kuridai.  He marched

against them, and defeated them at a place north of the Selinga, called Ede

Kiurghan, i.e., site of the grave mounds.  Chamuka fled, and the Kunkurats

submitted.

 

     In the spring of 1202, Temudjin set out to attack the tribes Antshi and

Tshagan.  These were doubtless the subjects of Wangtshuk and Tsaghan,

mentioned by Ssanang Setzen.  They were probably Tungusian tribes.  The

western writers tell us that Temudjin gave orders to his soldiers to follow up

the beaten enemy, without caring about the booty, which should be fairly

divided among them.  His relatives, Kudsher, Daritai, and Altun, having

disobeyed, were deprived of their share, and became, in consequence, his

secret enemies.  Ssanang Setzen has much more detail, and his narrative is

interesting because, as Schmidt suggests, it apparently contains the only

account extant of the conquest of the tribes of Manchuria.  He says that while

Temudjin was hawking between the river Olcho and the Ula, Wangtshuk Khakan, of

the Dschurtschid (Niutchi Tartars of Manchuria), had retired from there.

Temudjin was angry, and went to assemble his army to attack the enemy's

capital.  But as a passage was forbidden him across the river Ula, and the

road was blockaded, the son of Toktanga Baghatur Taidshi, named Andun Ching

Taidshi, coupled ten thousand horses together by their bridles, and pressed

into the river, forced a passage, and the army then began to besiege the town.

 

     Temudjin sent word to Wangtshuk, and said, "If you will send me ten

thousand swallows and one thousand cats then I will cease attacking the town";

upon which the required number was procured.  Temudjin fastened some lighted

wool to the tail of each and let them go; then the swallows flew to their

nests in the houses, and the cats climbed and jumped on the roofs; the city

was fired, by which means Temudjin conquered Wangtshuk Khakan, and took his

daughter Salichai for his wife.  He then marched farther eastward to the river

Unegen, but he found it had overflowed its banks, whereupon he did not cross

it, but sent envoys to Tsaghan Khakan of the Solongos, i.e., of the Solons.

"Bring me tribute, or we must fight," he said; upon which Tsaghan Khakan was

frightened, sent him a daughter of Dair Ussun, named Kulan Goa, with a tent

decorated with panther skins, and gave him the tribes of Solongos and Bughas

as a dowry, upon which he assisted Tsaghan Khakan, so that he brought three

provinces of the Solongos under his authority.

 

     Ssanang Setzen at this point introduces one of those quaint sagas, which,

however mythical in themselves, are true enough to the peculiar mode of

thought of the Mongols to make them very instructive.  The saga runs thus:

 

     "During a three years' absence of her husband, Brute Judjin sent

Arghassun Churtshi, i.e., Arghassun the lute-player, to him.  When the latter

was introduced, he spoke thus: 'Thy wife, Burte Judjin Khatun, thy princely

children, the elders and princes of thy kingdom, all are well.  The eagle

builds his nest in a high tree; at times he grows careless in the fancied

security of his high-perched home; then even a small bird will sometimes come

and plunder it and eat the eggs and young brood: so it is with the swan whose

nest is in the sedges on the lake.  It, too, trusts too confidently in the

dark thickets of reeds, yet prowling water falcons will sometimes come and rob

it of eggs and young.  This might happen to my revered lord himself!'

 

     "These words aroused Temudjin from his confident air.  'Thou hast spoken

truly,' he said, and hied him on his way homeward.  But when some distance

still from home he began to grow timid.  'Spouse of my young days, chosen for

me by my noble father, how dare I face thee, home-tarrying Burte Judjin, after

living with Chulan, whom I came across in my journey?  It would be shameful to

seem unfriendly in the assembly of the people.  One of you nine Orloks hie you

to Burte Judjin and speak for me.'

 

     "Mukuli, of the Jelair tribe, volunteered, and when he came to her,

delivered this message: 'Besides protecting my own lands I have looked around

also elsewhere.  I have not followed the counsel of the greater and lesser

lords.  On the contrary, I have amused myself with the variegated colors of a

tent hung with panther skins.  Distant people to rule over, I have taken

Chulan to be my wife: the Khan has sent me to tell you this.'" His wife seems

to have understood the enigmatical phrases, for Setzen says: "The sensible (!)

Burte Judjin thus replied: 'The wish of Burte Judjin and of the whole people

is that the might of our sovereign may be increased.  It rests with him whom

he shall befriend or bind himself to.  In the reedy lakes there are many swans

and geese.  If it be his wish to shoot arrows at them until his finger be

weary, who shall complain?  So also there are many girls and women among our

people.  It is for him to say who the choicest and luckiest are.  I hope he

will take to himself both a new wife and a new house.  That he will saddle the

untractable horse.  Health and prosperity are not wearisome, nor are disease

and pain desirable, says the proverb.  May the golden girth of his house be

immortal.'" ^1

 

[Footnote 1: I.e., "May the band that binds the felts and spars of the yurt

never decay"; in other words, may he ever be prosperous - a favorite Mongol

wish.]

 

     When he arrived at home he discovered that Arghassun had appropriated his

golden lute; upon which he ordered Boghordshi and Mukuli to kill him. They

seized him, gave him two skins full of strong drink, and then went to the

Khan, who had not yet risen.  Boghordshi spake outside the tent: "The light

already shines in your Ordu.  We await your commands; that is, if your

effulgent presence, having cheerfully awoke, has risen from its couch!  The

daylight already shines.  Condescend to open the door to hear and to judge the

repentant culprit, and to exercise your favor and clemency." The Khan now

arose and permitted Arghassun to enter, but he did not speak to him.

Boghordshi and Mukuli gave him a signal with their lips.  The culprit then

began: "While the seventy-tuned Tsaktsaghai unconcernedly sings 'tang, tang,'

the hawk hovers over and pounces suddenly upon him and strangles him before he

can bring out his last note, 'jang.' So did my lord's wrath fall on me and has

unnerved me.  For twenty years have I been in your household, but have not yet

been guilty of dishonest trickery.  It is true I love smoked drink, but

dishonesty I have not in my thought.  For twenty years have I been in your

household, but I have not practised knavery.  I love strong drink, but am no

trickster." Upon which Temudjin ejaculated, "My loquacious Arghassun, my

chattering Churtchi!" and pardoned him.

 

     Temudjin now seems to have been master of the country generally known as

Eastern Dauria, watered by the Onon, the Ingoda, the Argun; and also of the

tribes of the Tungusic race that lived on the Nonni and the Upper Amur.  The

various victims of his prowess began to gather together for another effort.

Among these were Tukta, the chief of the Merkits, with the Naiman leader,

Buyuruk Khan, the tribes Durban, Katagun, Saldjut, and Uirat, the last of whom

were clients of the Naimans.  Wang Khan was then in alliance with him. At the

approach of the enemy they retired into the mountains Caraun Chidun, in the

Khinggan chain, on the frontiers of China, where they were pursued. The

pursuers were terribly harassed by the ice and snow, which Mailla said was

produced by one of their own shamans, or necromancers, and which proved more

hurtful to them than to the Mongols.  Many of them perished, and when they

issued from the defiles they were too weak to attack the two allies. The

latter spent the winter at Altchia Kungur.  Here their two families were

united by mutual betrothals; as these, however, broke down, ill-feeling was

aroused between them, and Chamuka had an opportunity of renewing his

intrigues.  He suggested that Temudjin had secret communications with the

Naimans, and was not long in arousing the jealousy of Wang Khan and his son

Sengun.  They attempted to assassinate him, but he was warned in time.

 

     He now collected an army and marched against the Keraits.  His army was

very inferior in numbers, but attacked the enemy with ardor.  Wang Khan's

bravest tribe, the Jirkirs, turned their backs, while the Tunegkaits were

defeated, but numbers nevertheless prevailed, and Temudjin was forced to fly.

This battle, which is renowned in Mongol history, was fought at a place called

Kalanchin Alt.  Raschid says this place is near the country of the Niuchis,

not far from the river Olkui.  Some of the Chinese authorities call it

Khalagun ola and Hala chon, and D'Ohsson surmises that it is that part of the

Khinggan chain from which flow the southern affluents of the Kalka, one of

which is called Halgon in D'Anville's map.  Mailla, however, distinctly places

it between the Tula and the Onon, which is probably right.  Abandoned by most

of his troops, he fled to the desert Baldjuna, where he was reduced to great

straits.  Here are still found many grave mounds, and the Buriats relate that

this retired place, protected on the north by woods and mountains, was

formerly an asylum.  A few firm friends accompanied him.  They were afterward

known as Baldjunas, a name compared by Von Hammer with that of Mohadshirs,

borne by the companions of Mahomet's early misfortunes.  Two shepherds, named

Kishlik and Badai, who had informed him of Wang Khan's march, were created

Terkhans.

 

     Having been a fugitive for some time, Temudjin at length moved to the

southeast, to the borders of Lake Kara, into which flows the river Uldra;

there he was joined by some Kunkurats, and he once more moved on to the sacred

Mongol lake, the Dalai Nur.  Thence he indited the following pathetic letter

to Wang Khan:

 

     "1. O Khan, my father, when your uncle, the Gur Khan, drove you for

having usurped the throne of Buyuruk, and for having killed your brothers

Tatimur Taidshi and Buka Timur, to take refuge at Keraun Kiptchak, where you

were beleaguered, did not my father come to your rescue, drive out, and force

the Gur Khan to take refuge in Ho Si (the country west of the Hwang-ho),

whence he returned not?  Did you not then become Anda (i.e., sworn friend)

with my father, and was not this the reason I styled you 'father'?

 

     "2. When you were driven away by the Naimans, and your brother, Ilkah

Sengun, had retired to the far east, did I not send for him back again; and

when he was attacked by the Merkits, did I not attack and defeat them?  Here

is a second reason for your gratitude.

 

     "3. When in your distress you came to me with your body peering through

your tatters, like the sun through the clouds, and worn out with hunger, you

moved languidly like an expiring flame, did I not attack the tribes who

molested you; present you with abundance of sheep and horses?  You came to me

haggard.  In a fortnight you were stout and well-favored again.  Here is a

third service we have done you.

 

     "4. When you defeated the Merkits so severely at Buker Gehreh, you gave

me none of the booty; yet shortly after, when you were hard pressed by the

Naimans, I sent four of my best generals to your assistance, who restored you

the plunder that had been taken from you.  Here is the fourth good office.

 

     "5. I pounced like a jerfalcon onto the mountain Jurkumen, and thence

over the lake Buyur, and I captured for you the cranes with blue claws and

gray plumage, that is to say, the Durbans and Taidshuts.  Then I passed the

lake Keule.  There I took the cranes with blue feet; that is, the Katakins,

Saldjuts, and Kunkurats.  This is the fifth service I have done you.

 

     "6. Do you not remember, O Khan, my father, how on the river Kara, near

the mount Jurkan, we swore that if a snake glided between us, and envenomed

our words, we would not listen to it until we had received some explanation?

Yet you suddenly left me without asking me to explain.

 

     "7. O Khan, my father, why suspect me of ambition?  I have not said, 'My

part is too small, I want a greater;' or 'It is a bad one, I want a better.'

When one wheel of a cart breaks, and the ox tries to drag it, it only hurts

its neck.  If we then detach the ox, and leave the vehicle, the thieves come

and take the load.  If we do not unyoke it, the ox will die of hunger.  Am I

not one wheel of thy chariot?"

 

     With this letter Temudjin sent a request that the black gelding of Mukuli

Bahadur, with its embroidered and plated saddle and bridle, which had been

lost on the day of their struggle, might be restored to him; he also asked

that messengers, might be sent to treat for a peace between them. Another

letter was sent to his uncle Kudshir, and to his cousin Altun.

 

     This letter is interesting, because it perhaps preserves for us some

details of what took place at the accession of Genghis.  It is well known that

the Mongol Khan affected a coy resistance when asked to become chief. The

letter runs thus: "You conspired to kill me, yet from the beginning did I tell

the sons of Bartam Bahadur (i.e., his grandfather), as well as Satcha (his

cousin), and Taidju (his uncle).  Why does our territory on the Onon remain

without a master?  I tried to persuade you to rule over our tribes. You

refused.  I was troubled.  I said to you, 'Kudshir, son of Tekun Taishi, be

our khan.' You did not listen to me; and to you, Altun, I said, 'You are the

son of Kutluk Khan, who was our ruler.  You be our khan.' You also refused,

and when you pressed it on me, saying, 'Be you our chief,' I submitted to your

request, and promised to preserve the heritage and customs of our fathers.

Did I intrigue for power?  I was elected unanimously to prevent the country,

ruled over by our fathers near the three rivers, passing to strangers.  As

chief of a numerous people, I thought it proper to make presents to those

attached to me.  I captured many herds, yurts, women, and children, which I

gave you.  I enclosed for you the game of the steppe, and drove toward you the

mountain game.  You now serve Wang Khan, but you ought to know that he is

fickle.  You see how he has treated me.  He will treat you even worse."

 

     Wang Khan was disposed to treat, but his son Sengun said matters had gone

too far, and they must fight it out.  We now find Wang Khan quarrelling with

several of his dependents, whom he accused of conspiring against him.

Temudjin's intrigues were probably at the bottom of the matter.  The result

was that Dariti Utshegin, with a tribe of Mongols, and the Sakiat tribe of the

Keraits, went over to Temudjin, while Altun and Kudshir, the latter's

relations, who had deserted him, took refuge with the Naimans.

 

     Among the companions of his recent distress, a constant one was his

brother Juji Kassar, who had also suffered severely, and had had his camp

pillaged by the Keraits.  Temudjin had recourse to a ruse.  He sent two

servants who feigned to have come from Juji, and who offered his submission on

condition that his wife and children were returned to him.  Wang Khan readily

assented, and to prove his sincerity sent back to Juji Kassar some of his

blood in a horn, which was to be mixed with koumiss, and drunk when the oath

of friendship was sworn.  Wang Khan was completely put off his guard, and

Temudjin was thus able to surprise him.  His forces numbered about four

thousand six hundred, and he seems to have advanced along the banks of the

Kerulon, toward the heights of Jedshir, between the Tula and the Kerulon, and

therefore toward the modern Urga, where Wang Khan was posted.  In the battle

which followed, and which was fought in the spring of 1203, the latter was

defeated; he fled to the Naimans, and was there murdered.  Temudjin was

sincerely affected by the death of the old man.

 

     The Naiman chief, Tayang, had his skull encased in silver and bejewelled,

and afterward used it as a ceremonial cup; a custom very frequent in Mongolia.

Such cups have been lately met with in Europe, one of which was exhibited at

the great exhibition of 1851, where it was shown as the skull of Confucius.

Another, or perhaps the same, which was encased in marvellous jeweller's work,

has been lately destroyed; the gold having been barbarously melted by the

Jews.  By the death of Wang Khan, Temudjin became the master of the Kerait

nation, and thus both branches of the Mongol race were united under one head.

 

     He now held a kuriltai, where he was proclaimed khan.  There is some

cunfusion about the period when he adopted the title of Genghis, but the

probability is that he did so three years later.  The earlier date (1203) is

the one, however, from which his reign is often reckoned to have commenced.

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