The Mongols: Genghis Khan
Three thousand years is a period of time long enough to produce great
changes, and in the course of that time a great many different nations and
congeries of nations were formed in the regions of Central Asia. The term
Tartars has been employed generically to denote almost the whole race. The
Monguls are a portion of this people, who are said to derive their name from
Mongol Khan, one of their earliest and most powerful chieftains. The
descendants of this khan called themselves by his name, just as the
descendants of the twelve sons of Jacob called themselves Israelites, or
children of Israel, from the name Israel, which was one of the designations
of the great patriarch from whose twelve sons the twelve tribes of the Jews
descended. The country inhabited by the Monguls was called Mongolia.
To obtain a clear conception of a single Mongul family, you must
imagine, first, a rather small, short, thick-set man, with long black hair,
a flat face, and a dark olive complexion. His wife, if her face were not so
flat and her nose so broad, would be quite a brilliant little beauty, her
eyes are so black and sparkling. The children have much the appearance of
young Indians as they run shouting among the cattle on the hill-sides, or,
if young, playing half-naked about the door of the hut, their long black hair
streaming in the wind.
Like all the rest of the inhabitants of Central Asia, these people
depended almost entirely for their subsistence on the products of their flocks
and herds. Of course, their great occupation consisted in watching their
animals while feeding by day, and in putting them in places of security by
night, in taking care of and rearing the young, in making butter and cheese
from the milk, and clothing from the skins, in driving the cattle to and for
in search of pasturage, and, finally, in making war on the people of other
tribes to settle disputes arising out of conflicting claims to territory, or
to replenish their stock of sheep and oxen by seizing and driving off the
flocks of their neighbors.
The animals which the Monguls most prized were camels, oxen and cows,
sheep, goats, and horses. They were very proud of their horses, and they rode
them with great courage and spirit. They always went mounted in going to war.
Their arms were bows and arrows, pikes or spears, and a sort of sword or
sabre, which was manufactured in some of the towns toward the west, and
supplied to them in the course of trade by great traveling caravans.
Although the mass of the people lived in the open country with their
flocks and herds, there were, notwithstanding, a great many towns and
villages, though such centres of population were much fewer and less important
among them than they are in countries the inhabitants of which live by tilling
the ground. Some of these towns were the residences of the khans and of the
heads of tribes. Others were places of manufacture of centres of commerce,
and many of them were fortified with embankments of earth or walls of stone.
The habitations of the common people, even those built in the towns, were
rude huts made so as to be easily taken down and removed. The tents were made
by means of poles set in a circle in the ground, and brought nearly together
at the top, so as to form a frame similar to that of an Indian wigwam. A hoop
was placed near the top of these poles, so as to preserve a round opening
there for the smoke to go out. The frame was then covered with sheets of a
sort of thick gray felt, so placed as to leave the opening within the hoop
free. The felt, too, was arranged below in such a manner that the corner of
one of the sheets could be raised and let down again to form a sort of door.
The edges of the sheets in other places were fastened together very carefully,
especially in winter, to keep out the cold air.
Within the tent, on the ground in the centre, the family built their
fire, which was made of sticks, leaves, grass, and dried droppings of all
sorts, gathered from the ground, for the country produced scarcely any wood.
Countries roamed over by herds of animals that gain their living by pasturing
on the grass and herbage are almost always destitute of trees. Trees in such
a case have no opportunity to grow.
The tents of the Monguls thus made were, of course, very comfortless
homes. They could not be kept warm, there was so much cold air coming
continually in through the crevices, notwithstanding all the people's
contrivances to make them tight. The smoke, too, did not all escape through
the hoop-hole above. Much of it remained in the tent and mingled with the
atmosphere. This evil was aggravated by the kind of fuel which they used,
which was of such a nature that it made only a sort of smouldering fire
instead of burning, like good dry wood, with a bright and clear flame.
The discomforts of these huts and tents were increased by the custom
which prevailed among the people of allowing the animals to come into them,
especially those that were young and feeble, and to live there with the
In process of time, as the people increased in riches and in mechanical
skill, some of the more wealthy chieftains began to build houses so large and
so handsome that they could not be conveniently taken down to be removed, and
then they contrived a way of mounting them upon trucks placed at the four
corners, and moving them bodily in this way across the plains, as a table is
moved across a floor upon its castors. It was necessary, of course, that the
houses should be made very light in order to be managed in this way. They
were, in fact, still tents rather than houses, being made of the same
materials, only they were put together in a more substantial and ornamental
manner. The frame was made of very light poles, though these poles were
fitted together in permanent joinings. The covering was, like that of the
tents, made of felt, but the sheets were joined together by close and strong
seams, and the whole was coated with a species of paint, which not only
closed all the pores and interstices and made the structure very tight, but
also served to ornament it; for they were accustomed, in painting these
houses, to adorn the covering with pictures of birds, beasts, and trees,
represented in such a manner as doubtless, in their eyes, produced a very
These movable houses were sometimes very large. A certain traveler who
visited the country not far from the time of Genghis Khan says that he saw one
of these structures in motion which was thirty feet in diameter. It was drawn
by twenty-two oxen. It was so large that it extended five feet on each side
beyond the wheels. The oxen, in drawing it, were not attached, as with us, to
the centre of the forward axle-tree, but to the ends of the axle-trees, which
projected beyond the wheels on each side. There were eleven oxen on each side
drawing upon the axle-trees. There were, of course, many drivers. The one
who was chief in command stood in the door of the tent or house which looked
forward, and there, with many loud shouts and flourishing gesticulations,
issued his orders to the oxen and to the other men.
The household goods of this traveling chieftain were packed in chests
made for the purpose, the house itself, of course, in order to be made as
light as possible, having been emptied of all its contents. These chests
were large, and were made of wicker or basket-work, covered, like the house,
with felt. The covers were made of a rounded form, so as to throw off the
rain, and the felt was painted over with a certain composition which made it
impervious to the water. These chests were not intended to be unpacked at
the end of the journey, but to remain as they were, as permanent storehouses
of utensils, clothing, and provisions. They were placed in rows, each on its
own cart, near the tent, where they could be resorted to conveniently from
time to time by the servants and attendants, as occasion might require. The
tent placed in the centre, with these great chests on their carts near it,
formed, as it were, a house with one great room standing by itself, and all
the little rooms and closets arranged in rows by the side of it.
Some such arrangement as this is obviously necessary in case of a great
deal of furniture or baggage belonging to a man who lives in a tent, and who
desires to be at liberty to remove his whole establishment from place to place
at short notice; for a tent, from the very principle of its construction, is
incapable of being divided into rooms, or of accommodating extensive stores of
furniture or goods. Of course, a special contrivance is required for the
accommodation of this species of property. This was especially the case with
the Monguls, among whom there were many rich and great men who often
accumulated a large amount of movable property. There was one rich Mongul, it
was said, who had two hundred such chest-carts, which were arranged in two
rows around and behind his tent, so that his establishment, when he was
encamped, looked like quite a little village.
The style of building adopted among the Monguls for tents and movable
houses seemed to set the fashion for all their houses, even for those that
were built in the towns, and were meant to stand permanently where they were
first set up. These permanent houses were little better than tents. They
consisted each of one single room without any subdivisions whatever. They
were made round, too, like the tents, only the top, instead of running up to a
point, was rounded like a dome. There were no floors above that formed on the
ground, and no windows.
Such was the general character of the dwellings of the Monguls in the
days of Genghis Khan. They took their character evidently from the wandering
and pastoral life that the people led. One would have thought that very
excellent roads would have been necessary to have enabled them to draw the
ponderous carts containing their dwellings and household goods. But this was
less necessary than might have been supposed on account of the nature of the
country, which consisted chiefly of immense grassy plains and smooth river
valleys, over which, in many places, wheels would travel tolerably well in any
direction without much making of roadway. Then, again, in all such countries,
the people who journey from place to place, and the herds of cattle that move
to and fro, naturally fall into the same lines of travel, and thus, in time,
wear great trails, as cows make paths in a pasture. These, with a little
artificial improvement at certain points, make very good summer roads, and in
the winter it is not necessary to use them at all.
The Monguls, like the ancient Jews, were divided into tribes, and these
were subdivided into families; a family meaning in this connection not one
household, but a large congeries of households, including all those that were
of known relationship to each other. These groups of relatives had each its
head, and the tribe to which they pertained had also its general head. There
were, it is said, three sets of these tribes, forming three grand divisions of
the Mongul people, each of which was ruled by its own khan; and then, to
complete the system, there was the grand khan, who ruled over all.
A constitution of society like this almost always prevails in pastoral
countries, and we shall see, on a little reflection, that it is natural that
it should do so. In a country like ours, where the pursuits of men are so
infinitely diversified, the descendants of different families become mingled
together in the most promiscuous manner. The son of a farmer in one state
goes off, as soon as he is of age, to some other state, to find a place among
merchants or manufacturers, because he wishes to be a merchant or a
manufacturer himself, while his father supplies his place on the farm perhaps
by hiring a man who likes farming, and has come hundreds of miles in search of
work. Thus the descendants of one American grandfather and grandmother will
be found, after a lapse of a few years, scattered in every direction all over
the land, and, indeed, sometimes all over the world.
It is the diversity of pursuits which prevails in such a country as ours,
taken in connection with the diversity of capacity and of taste in different
individuals, that produces this dispersion.
Among a people devoted wholly to pastoral pursuits, all this is
different. The young men, as they grow up, can have generally no inducement
to leave their homes. They continue to live with their parents and relatives,
sharing the care of the flocks and herds, and making common cause with them in
every thing that is of common interest. It is thus that those great family
groups are formed which exist in all pastoral countries under the name of
tribes or clans, and form the constituent elements of the whole social and
political organization of the people.
In case of general war, each tribe of the Monguls furnished, of course, a
certain quota of armed men, in proportion to its numbers and strength. These
men always went to war, as has already been said, on horseback, and the
spectacle which these troops presented in galloping in squadrons over the
plains was sometimes very imposing. The shock of the onset when they charged
in this way upon the enemy was tremendous. They were armed with bows and
arrows, and also with sabres. As they approached the enemy, they discharged
first a shower of arrows upon him, while they were in the act of advancing at
the top of their speed. Then, dropping their bows by their side, they would
draw their sabres, and be ready, as soon as the horses fell upon the enemy, to
cut down all opposed to them with the most furious and deadly blows.
If they were repulsed, and compelled by a superior force to retreat, they
would gallop at full speed over the plains, turning at the same time in their
saddles, and shooting at their pursuers with their arrows as coolly, and with
as correct an aim, almost, as if they were still. While thus retreating the
trooper would guide and control his horse by his voice, and by the pressure of
his heels upon his sides, so as to have both his arms free for fighting his
These arrows were very formidable weapons, it is said. One of the
travelers who visited the country in those days says that they could be shot
with so much force as to pierce the body of a man entirely through.
It must be remembered, however, in respect to all such statements
relating to the efficiency of the bow and arrow, that the force with which an
arrow can be thrown depends not upon any independent action of the bow, but
altogether upon the strength of the man who draws it. The bow, in
straightening itself for the propulsion of the arrow, expends only the force
which the man has imparted to it by bending it; so that the real power by
which the arrow is propelled is, after all, the muscular strength of the
archer. It is true, a great deal depends on the qualities of the bow, and
also on the skill of the man in using it, to make all this muscular strength
effective. With a poor bow, or with unskillful management, a great deal of it
would be wasted. But with the best possible bow, and with the most consummate
skill of the archer, it is the strength of the archer's arm which throws the
arrow, after all.
It is very different in this respect with a bullet thrown by the force of
gunpowder from the barrel of a gun. The force in this case is the explosive
force of the powder, and the bullet is thrown to the same distance whether it
is a very weak man or a very strong man that pulls the trigger.
But to return to the Monguls. All the information which we can obtain in
respect to the condition of the people before the time of Genghis Khan comes
to us from the reports of travelers who, either as merchants, or as
embassadors from caliphs or kings, made long journeys into these distant
regions, and have left records, more or less complete, of their adventures,
and accounts of what they saw, in writings which have been preserved by the
learned men of the East. It is very doubtful how far these accounts are to be
believed. One of these travelers, a learned man named Salam, who made a
journey far into the interior of Asia by order of the Caliph Mohammed Amin
Billah, some time before the reign of Genghis Khan, says that, among other
objects of research and investigation which occupied his mind, he was directed
to ascertain the truth in respect to the two famous nations Gog and Magog, or,
as they are designated in his account, Yagog and Magog. The story that had
been told of these two nations by the Arabian writers, and which was
extensively believed, was, that the people of Yagog were of the ordinary size
of men, but those of Magog were only about two feet high. These people had
made war upon the neighboring nations, and had destroyed many cities and
towns, but had at last been overpowered and shut up in prison.
Salam, the traveler whom the caliph sent to ascertain whether their
accounts were true, traveled at the head of a caravan containing fifty men,
and with camels bearing stores and provisions for a year. He was gone a long
time. When he came back he gave an account of his travels; and in respect to
Gog and Magog, he said that he had found that the accounts which had been
heard respecting them were true. He traveled on, he said, from the country of
one chieftain to another till he reached the Caspian Sea, and then went on
beyond that sea for thirty or forty days more. In one place the party came to
a tract of low black land, which exhaled an odor so offensive that they were
obliged to use perfumes all the way to overpower the noxious smells. They
were ten days in crossing this fetid territory. After this they went on a
month longer through a desert country, and at length came to a fertile land
which was covered with the ruins of cities that the people of Gog and Magog
In six days more they reached the country of the nation by which the
people of Gog and Magog had been conquered and shut up in prison. Here they
found a great many strong castles. There was a large city here too,
containing temples and academies of learning, and also the residence of the
The travelers took up their abode in this city for a time, and while they
were there they made an excursion of two days' journey into the country to see
the place where the people of Gog and Magog were confined. When they arrived
at the place they found a lofty mountain. There was a great opening made in
the face of this mountain two or three hundred feet wide. The opening was
protected on each side by enormous buttresses, between which was placed an
immense double gate, the buttresses and the gate being all of iron. The
buttresses were surmounted with an iron bulwark, and with lofty towers also of
iron, which were carried up as high as to the top of the mountain itself. The
gates were of the width of the opening cut in the mountain, and were
seventy-five feet high; and the valves, lintels, and threshold, and also the
bolts, the lock, and the key, were all of proportional size.
Salam, on arriving at the place, saw all these wonderful structures with
his own eyes, and he was told by the people there that it was the custom of
the governor of the castles already mentioned to take horse every Friday with
ten others, and, coming to the gate, to strike the great bolt three times with
a ponderous hammer weighing five pounds, when there would be heard a murmuring
noise within, which were the groans of the Yagog and Magog people confined in
the mountain. Indeed, Salam was told that the poor captives often appeared on
the battlements above. Thus the real existence of this people was, in his
opinion, fully proved; and even the story in respect to the diminutive size of
the Magogs was substantiated, for Salam was told that once, in a high wind,
three of them were blown off from the battlements to the ground, and that, on
being measured, they were found but three spans high.
This is a specimen of the tales brought home from remote countries by the
most learned and accomplished travelers of those times. In comparing these
absurd and ridiculous tales with the reports which are brought back from
distant regions in our days by such travelers as Humboldt, Livingstone, and
Kane, we shall perceive what an immense progress in intelligence and
information the human mind has made since those days.
Chapter XVI: Conquests In China
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
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 overrun 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
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
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
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
Chapter XIX: The Fall Of Bokhara
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.
At length the army reached the great plain in which Bokhara was situated,
and encamped before the town. Bokhara was very large and very populous, as
may well be supposed from its outer wall of thirty miles in circuit, and
Genghis Khan did not expect to make himself master of it without considerable
difficulty and delay. He was, however, very intent on besieging and taking
it, not only on account of the general wealth and importance of the place, but
also because he supposed that the sultan himself was at this time within the
walls. He had heard that the sultan had retreated there with his flying
squadron, taking with him all his treasure.
This was, however, a mistake. The sultan was not there. He had gone
there, it is true, at first, and had taken with him the most valuable of his
treasures, but before Genghis Khan arrived he had secretly withdrawn to
Samarcand, thinking that he might be safer there.
In truth, the sultan was beginning to be very much disheartened and
discouraged. Among other things which occurred to disturb his mind, certain
letters were found and brought to him, as if they had been intercepted, which
letters gave accounts of a conspiracy among his officers to desert him and go
over to the side of Genghis Khan. These letters were not signed, and the
sultan could not discover who had written them, but the pretended conspiracy
which they revealed filled his soul with anxiety and distress.
It was only a pretended conspiracy after all, for the letters were
written by a man in Genghis Khan's camp, and with Genghis Khan's permission or
connivance. This man was a Mohammedan, and had been in the sultan's service;
but the sultan had put to death his father and his brothers on account of some
alleged offense, and he had become so incensed at the act that he had deserted
to Genghis Khan, and now he was determined to do his former sovereign all the
mischief in his power. His intimate knowledge of persons and things connected
with the sultan's court and army enabled him to write these letters in such a
way as to deceive the sultan completely.
It was past midsummer when the army of Genghis Khan laid siege to
Bokhara, and it was not until the spring of the following year that they
succeeded in carrying the outer wall, so strongly was the city fortified and
so well was it defended. After having forced the outer wall, the Monguls
destroyed the suburbs of the town, devastated the cultivated gardens and
grounds, and pillaged the villas. They then took up their position around the
inner wall, and commenced the siege of the city itself in due form.
The sultan had left three of his greatest generals in command of the
town. These men determined not to wait the operations of Genghis Khan in
attacking the walls, but to make a sudden sally from the gates, with the whole
force that could be spared, and attack the besiegers in their intrenchments.
They made this sally in the night, at a time when the Monguls were least
expecting it. They were, however, wholly unsuccessful. They were driven back
into the city with great loss. The generals, it seems, had determined to risk
all on this desperate attempt, and, in case it failed, at once to abandon the
city to its fate. Accordingly, when driven into the city through the gates on
one side, they marched directly through it and passed out through the gates on
the other side, hoping to save themselves and the garrison by this retreat,
with a view of ultimately rejoining the sultan. They, however, went first in a
southerly direction from the city toward the River Amoor. The generals took
their families and those of the principal officers of the garrison with them.
The night was dark, and they succeeded in leaving the city without being
observed. In the morning, however, all was discovered, and Genghis Khan sent
off a strong detachment of well-mounted troops in pursuit. These troops,
after about a day's chase, overtook the flying garrison near the river. There
was no escape for the poor fugitives, and the merciless Monguls destroyed them
almost every one by riding over them, trampling them down with their horses'
hoofs, and cutting them to pieces with their sabres.
In the mean time, while this detachment had been pursuing the garrison,
Genghis Khan, knowing that there were no longer any troops within the city to
defend it, and that every thing there was in utter confusion, determined on a
grand final assault; but, while his men were getting the engines ready to
batter down the walls, a procession, consisting of all the magistrates and
clergy, and a great mass of the principal citizens, came forth from one of the
gates, bearing with them the keys of the city. These keys they offered to
Genghis Khan in token of surrender, and begged him to spare their lives.
The emperor received the keys, and said to the citizens that he would
spare their lives on condition that, if there were any of the sultan's
soldiers concealed in the city, they would give them up, and that they would
also seize and deliver to him any of the citizens that were suspected of being
in the sultan's interest. This they took a solemn oath that they would do.
The soldiers, however - that is, those that remained in the town - were
not delivered up. Most of them retired to the castle, which was a sort of
citadel, and put themselves under the command of the governor of the castle,
who, being a very energetic and resolute man, declared that he never would
There were a great many of the young men of the town, sons of the leading
citizens, who also retired to the castle, determined not to yield to the
Genghis Khan, having thus obtained the keys of the city itself, caused
the gates to be opened, and his troops marched in and took possession. He had
promised the citizens that his soldiers should spare the lives of the people
and should not pillage the houses on condition that the magistrates delivered
up peaceably the public magazines of grain and other food to supply his army;
also that all the people who had buried or otherwise concealed gold and
silver, or other treasures, should bring them forth again and give them up, or
else make known where they were concealed. This the people promised that they
After having entered the town, Genghis Khan was riding about the streets
on horseback at the head of his troop of guards when he came to a large and
very beautiful edifice. The doors were wide, and he drove his horse directly
in. His troops, and the other soldiers who were there, followed him in. There
were also with him some of the magistrates of the town, who were accompanying
him in his progress about the city.
After the whole party had entered the edifice, Genghis Khan looked
around, and then asked them, in a jeering manner, if that was the sultan's
"No," said they, "it is the house of God."
The building was a mosque.
On hearing this, Genghis Khan alighted from his horse, and, giving the
bridle to one of the principal magistrates to hold, he went up, in a very
irreverent manner, to a sacred place where the priests were accustomed to sit.
He seized the copy of the Koran which he found there, and threw it down under
the feet of the horse. After amusing himself for a time in desecrating the
temple by these and other similar performances, he caused his soldiers to
bring in their provisions, and allowed them to eat and drink in the temple, in
a riotous manner, without any regard to the sacredness of the place, or to the
feelings of the people of the town which he outraged by this conduct.
A few days after this Genghis Khan assembled all the magistrates and
principal citizens of the town, and made a speech to them from an elevated
stand or pulpit which was erected for the purpose. He began his speech by
praising God, and claiming to be an object of his special favor, in proof of
which he recounted the victories which he had obtained, as he said, through
the Divine aid. He then went on to denounce the perfidious conduct of the
sultan toward him in making a solemn treaty of peace with him and then
treacherously murdering his merchants and embassadors. He said that the
sultan was detestable tyrant, and that God had commissioned him to rid the
earth of all such monsters. He said, in conclusion, that he would protect
their lives, and would not allow his soldiers to take away their household
goods, provided they surrendered to him fairly and honestly all their money
and other treasures; and if any of them refused to do this, or to tell where
their treasures were hid, he would put them to the torture, and compel them to
The wretched inhabitants of the town, feeling that they were entirely at
the mercy of the terrible hordes that were in possession of the city, did not
attempt to conceal any thing. They brought forward their hidden treasures,
and even offered their household goods to the conqueror if he was disposed to
take them. They were only anxious to save, if possible, their dwellings and
their lives. Genghis Khan appeared at first to be pleased with the submissive
spirit which they manifested, but at last, under pretense that he heard of
some soldiers being concealed somewhere, and perhaps irritated at the
citadel's holding out so long against him, he ordered the town to be set on
fire. The buildings were almost all of wood, and the fire raged among them
with great fury. Multitudes of the inhabitants perished afterward from want
and exposure. The citadel immediately afterward surrendered, and it would
seem that Genghis Khan began to feel satisfied with the amount of misery which
he had caused, for it is said that he spared the lives of the governor and of
the soldiers, although we might have expected that he would have massacred
The citadel was, however, demolished, and thus the town itself, and all
that pertained to it, became a mass of smoking ruins. The property pillaged
from the inhabitants was divided among the Mongul troops, while the people
themselves went away, to roam as vagabonds and beggars over the surrounding
country, and to die of want and despair.
What difference is there between such a conqueror as this and the captain
of a band of pirates or of robbers, except in the immense magnitude of the
scale on which he perpetrates his crimes?
The satisfaction which Genghis Khan felt at the capture of Bokhara was
greatly increased by the intelligence which he received soon afterward from
the two princes whom he had sent to lay siege to Otrar, informing him that
that city had fallen into their hands, and that the governor of it, the
officer who had so treacherously put to death the embassadors and the
merchants, had been taken and slain. The name of this governor was Gayer
Khan. The sultan, knowing that Genghis Khan would doubtless make this city
one of his first objects of attack, left the governor a force of fifty
thousand men to defend it. He afterward sent him an additional force of ten
thousand men, under the command of a general named Kariakas.
With thrse soldiers the governor shut himself up in the city. He knew
very well that if he surrendered or was taken he could expect no mercy, and he
went to work accordingly strengthening the fortifications, and laying in
stores of provisions, determined to fight to the last extremity. The captain
of the guard who came to assist him had not the same reason for being so very
obstinate in the defense of the town, and this difference in the situation of
the two commanders led to difficulty in the end, as we shall presently see.
The Mongul princes began the siege of Otrar by filling up the ditches
that encircled the outer wall of the town in the places where they wished to
plant their battering-rams to make breaches in the walls. They were hindered
a great deal in their work, as is usual in such cases, by the sallies of the
besieged, who rushed upon them in the night in great numbers, and with such
desperate fury that they often succeeded in destroying some of the engines, or
setting them on fire before they could be driven back into the town. This
continued for some time, until at last the Mongul princes began to be
discouraged, and they sent word to their father, who was then engaged in the
siege of Bokhara, informing him of the desperate defense which was made by the
garrison of Otrar, and asking his permission to turn the siege into a blockade
- that is, to withdraw from the immediate vicinity of the walls, and to
content themselves with investing the city closely on every side, so as to
prevent any one from going out or coming in, until the provisions of the town
should be exhausted, and the garrison be starved into a surrender. In this
way, they said, the lives of vast numbers of the troops would be saved.
But their father sent back word to them that they must do no such thing,
but must go on and fight their way into the town, no matter how many of the
men were killed.
So the princes began again with fresh ardor, and they pushed forward
their operations with such desperate energy that in less than a month the
outer wall, and the works of the besieged to defend it, were all in ruins. The
towers were beaten down, the ramparts were broken, and many breaches were made
through which the besiegers might be expected at any moment to force their way
into the town. The besieged were accordingly obliged to abandon the outer
walls and retire within the inner lines.
The Monguls now had possession of the suburbs, and, after pillaging them
of all that they could convert to their own use, and burning and destroying
every thing else, they advanced to attack the inner works; and here the
contest between the besiegers and the garrison was renewed more fiercely than
ever. The besieged continued their resistance for five months, defending
themselves by every possible means from the walls, and making desperate
sallies from time to time in order to destroy the Monguls' engines and kill
At length Kariakas, the captain of the guard, who had been sent to assist
the governor in the defense of the town, began to think it was time that the
carnage should cease and that the town should be surrendered. But the
governor, who knew that he would most assuredly be beheaded if in any way he
fell into the hands of the enemy, would not listen to any proposal of the
kind. He succeeded, also, in exciting among the people of the town, and among
the soldiers of the garrison, such a hatred of the Monguls, whom he
represented as infidels of the very worst character, the enemies alike of God
and man, that they joined him in the determination not to surrender.
Kariakas now found himself an object of suspicion and distrust in the
town and in the garrison on account of his having made the proposal to
surrender, and feeling that he was not safe, he determined to make a separate
peace for himself and his ten thousand by going out secretly in the night and
giving himself up to the princes. He thought that by doing this, and by
putting the Monguls in possession of the gate through which his troops were to
march out, so as to enable them to gain admission to the city, his life would
be spared, and that he might perhaps be admitted into the service of Genghis
But he was mistaken in this idea. The princes said that a man who would
betray his own countrymen would betray them if he ever had a good opportunity.
So they ordered him and all his officers to be slain, and the men to be
divided among the soldiers as slaves.
They nevertheless took possession of the gate by which the deserters had
come out, and by this means gained admission to the city. The governor fled
to the citadel with all the men whom he could assemble, and shut himself up in
it. Here he fought desperately for a month, making continual sallies at the
head of his men, and doing every thing that the most resolute and reckless
bravery could do to harass and beat off the besiegers. But all was in vain.
In the end the walls of the citadel were so broken down by the engines brought
to bear upon them, that one day the Monguls, by a determined and desperate
assault made on all sides simultaneously, forced their way in, through the
most dreadful scenes of carnage and destruction, and began killing without
mercy every soldier that they could find.
The soldiers defended themselves to the last. Some took refuge in narrow
courts and lanes, and on the roofs of the houses - for the citadel was so
large that it formed of itself quite a little town - and fought desperately
till they were brought down by the arrows of the Monguls. The governor took
his position, in company with two men who were with him, on a terrace of his
palace, and refused to surrender, but fought on furiously, determined to kill
any one who attempted to come near him. His wife was near, doing all in her
power to encourage and sustain him.
[See Governor On The Terrace]
Genghis Khan had given orders to the princes not to kill the governor,
but to take him alive. He wished to have the satisfaction of disposing of him
himself. For this reason the soldiers who attempted to take him on the
terrace were very careful not to shoot their arrows at him, but only at the
men who were with him, and while they did so a great many of them were killed
by the arrows which the governor and his two friends discharged at those who
attempted to climb up to the place where they were standing.
After a while the two men were killed, but the governor remained alive.
Yet nobody could come near him. Those that attempted it were shot, and fell
back again among their companions below. The governor's wife supplied him
with arrows as fast as he could use them. At length all the arrows were
spent, and then she brought him stones, which he hurled down upon his
assailants when they tried to climb up to him. But at last so many ascended
together that the governor could not beat them all back, and he was at length
surrounded and secured, and immediately put in irons.
The princes wrote word at once to their father that the town was taken,
and that the governor was in their hands a prisoner. They received orders in
return to bring him with them to Bokhara. While on the way, however, another
order came requiring them to put the prisoner to death, and this order was
What was the fate of his courageous and devoted wife has never been
Chapter XXI: Death Of The Sultan
In the mean time, while Jughi and the other generals were ravaging the
country with their detachments, and besieging and capturing all the secondary
towns and fortresses that came in their way, as related in the last chapter,
Genghis Khan himself, with the main body of the army, had advanced to
Samarcand in pursuit of the sultan, who had, as he supposed, taken shelter
there. Samarcand was the capital of the country, and was then, as it has been
since, a great and renowned city.
Besides the sultan himself, whom Genghis Khan was pursuing, there were
the ladies of his family whom he wished also to capture. The two principal
ladies were the sultana and the queen-mother. The queen-mother was a lady of
very great distinction. She had been greatly renowned during the lifetime of
her husband, the former sultan, for her learning, her piety, the kindness of
her heart, and the general excellence of her character, so far as her dealings
with her subjects and friends were concerned, and her influence throughout the
realm had been unbounded. At some periods of her life she had exercised a
great deal of political power, and at one time she bore the very grand title
of Protectress of the faith of the world. She exercised the power which she
then possessed, in the main, in a very wise and beneficial manner. She
administered justice impartially. She protected the weak, and restrained the
oppressions of the strong. She listened to all the cases which were brought
before her with great attention and patience, and arrived almost always at
just conclusions respecting them. With all this, however, she was very strict
and severe, and, as has almost always been the case with women raised to the
possession of irresponsible power, she was unrelenting and cruel in the
extreme whenever, as she judged, any political necessity required her to act
with decision. Her name was Khatun. ^*
[Footnote *: Pronounced Cah-toon.]
Khatun was not now at Samarcand. She was at Karazm, a city which was the
chief residence of the court. She had been living there in retirement ever
since the death of her husband, the present sultan's father.
Samarcand itself, as has already been said, was a great and splendid
city. Like most of the other cities, it was inclosed in a double wall,
though, in this case, the outer wall surrounded the whole city, while the
inner one inclosed the mosque, the palace of the sultan, and some other public
buildings. These walls were much better built and more strongly fortified
than those of Bokhara. There were twelve iron gates, it is said, in the outer
wall. These gates were a league apart from each other. At every two leagues
along the wall was a fort capable of containing a large body of men. The
walls were likewise strengthened with battlements and towers, in which the men
could fight under shelter, and they were surrounded by a broad and deep ditch,
to prevent an enemy from approaching too near to them, in order to undermine
them or batter them down.
The city was abundantly supplied with water by means of hydraulic
constructions as perfect and complete as could be made in those days. The
water was brought by leaden pipes from a stream which came down from the
mountains at some distance from the town. It was conveyed by these pipes to
every part of the town, and was distributed freely, so that every great street
had a little current of water running through it, and every house a fountain
in the court or garden. Besides this, in a public square or park there was a
mound where the water was made to spout up in the centre, and then flow down
in little rivulets and cascades on every side.
The gates and towers which have been described were in the outer wall,
and beyond them, in the environs, were a great many fields, gardens, orchards,
and beautifully-cultivated grounds, which produced fruits of all sorts, that
were sent by the merchants into all the neighboring countries. At a little
distance the town was almost entirely concealed from view by these gardens and
orchards, there being nothing to be seen but minarets, and some of the loftier
roofs of the houses, rising above the tops of the trees.
There were so many people who flocked into Samarcand from the surrounding
country for shelter and protection, when they learned that Genghis Khan was
coming, that the place would hardly contain them. In addition to these, the
sultan sent over one hundred thousand troops to defend the town, with thirty
generals to command them. There were twenty large elephants, too, that were
brought with the army, to be employed in any service which might be required
of them during the siege. This army, however, instead of entering the city at
once, encamped about it. They strengthened the position of the camp by a deep
ditch which they dug, throwing up the earth from the ditch on the side toward
the camp so as to form a redoubt with which to defend the ground from the
Monguls. But as soon as Genghis Khan arrived they were speedily driven from
this post, and forced to take shelter within the walls of the city. Here they
defended themselves with so much vigor and resolution that Genghis Khan would
probably have found it very difficult to take the town had it not been for
dissensions within the walls. It seems that the rich merchants and other
wealthy men of the city, being convinced that the place would sooner or later
fall into the hands of the Monguls, thought it would be better to surrender it
at once, while they were in a condition to make some terms by which they might
hope to save their lives, and perhaps their property.
But the generals would not listen to any proposition of this kind. They
had been sent by the sultan to defend the town, and they felt bound in honor,
in obedience to their orders, to fight in defense of it to the last extremity.
The dissension within the city grew more and more violent every day,
until at length the party of the inhabitants grew so strong and decided that
they finally took possession of one of the gates, and sent a large deputation,
consisting of priests, magistrates, and some of the principal citizens, to
Genghis Khan, bearing with them the keys of the town, and proposing to deliver
them up to him if he would spare the garrison and the inhabitants. But he
said he would make no terms except with those who were of their party and were
willing to surrender. In respect to the generals and the soldiers of the
garrison he would make no promises.
The deputation gave up the keys and Genghis Khan entered the city. The
inhabitants were spared, but the soldiers were massacred wherever they could
be found. A great many perished in the streets. A considerable body of them,
however, with the governor at their head, retreated within the inner wall, and
there defended themselves desperately for four days. At the end of that time,
finding that their case was hopeless, and knowing that they could expect no
quarter from the Monguls in any event, they resolved to make a sally and cut
their way through the ranks of their enemies at all hazards. The governor,
accordingly, put himself at the head of a troop of one thousand horse, and,
coming out suddenly from his retreat, he dashed through the camp at a time
when the Monguls were off their guard, and so gained the open country and made
his escape. All the soldiers that remained behind in the city were
immediately put to the sword.
In the mean time, the sultan himself, finding that his affairs were going
to ruin, retreated from province to province, accompanied by as large a force
as he could keep together, and vainly seeking to find some place of safety.
He had several sons, and among them two whose titles were Jalaloddin and
Kothboddin. Jalaloddin was the oldest, and was therefore naturally entitled
to be his father's successor; but, for some reason or other, the queen-mother,
Khatun, had taken a dislike to him, and had persuaded her son, the sultan, to
execute a sort of act or deed by which Jalaloddin was displaced, and
Kothboddin, who was a great favorite of hers, was made heir to the throne in
The sultan had other sons who were governors of different provinces, and
he fled from one to another of these, seeking in vain for some safe retreat.
But he could find none. He was hunted from place to place by detachments of
the Monguls, and the number of his attendants and followers was continually
diminishing, until at last he began to be completely discouraged.
At length, at one of the cities where he made a short stay, he delivered
to an officer named Omar, who was the steward of his household, ten coffers
sealed with the royal signet, with instructions to take them secretly to a
certain distant fortress and lock them up carefully there, without allowing
any one to know that he did it.
These coffers contained the royal jewels, and they were of inestimable
After this, one of his sons joined him with quite a large force, but very
soon a large body of Monguls came up, and, after a furious battle, the
sultan's troops were defeated and scattered in all directions; and he was
again obliged to fly, accompanied by a very small body of officers, who still
contrived to keep near him. With these he succeeded, at last, in reaching a
very retired town near the Caspian Sea, where he hoped to remain concealed.
His strength was now spent, and all his courage gone. He sank down into a
condition of the greatest despondency and distress, and spent his time in
going to the mosque and offering up prayers to God to save him from total
ruin. He made confession of his sins, and promised an entire amendment of
life if the Almighty would deliver him from his enemies and restore him to his
At last the Mongul detachment that was in pursuit of him in that part of
the country were informed by a peasant where he was; and one day, while he was
at his prayers in the mosque, word was brought to him that the Monguls were
coming. He rushed out of the mosque, and, guided by some friends, ran down to
the shore and got into a boat, with a view of escaping by sea, all retreat by
land being now cut off.
He had scarce got on board the boat when the Monguls appeared on the
shore. The men in the boat immediately pushed off. The Monguls, full of
disappointment and rage, shot at them with their arrows; but the sultan was
not struck by any of them, and was soon out of the reach of his pursuers.
The sultan lay in the boat almost helpless, being perfectly exhausted by
the terror and distress which he had endured. He soon began to suffer, too,
from an intense pain in the chest and side, which gradually became so severe
that he could scarcely breathe. The men with him in the boat, finding that he
was seriously sick, made the best of their way to a small island named
Abiskun, which is situated near the southeastern corner of the sea. Here they
pitched a tent, and made up a bed in it, as well as they could, for the
sufferer. They also sent a messenger to the shore to bring off a physician
secretly. The physician did all that was in his power, but it was too late.
The inflammation and the pain subsided after a aime, but it was evident that
the patient was sinking, and that he was about to die.
It happened that the sultan's son, Jalaloddin, the one who had been set
aside in favor of his brother Kothboddin, was at this time on the main land
not far from the island, and intelligence was communicated to him of his
father's situation. He immediately went to the island to see him, taking with
him two of his brothers. They were obliged to manage the business very
secretly, to prevent the Monguls from finding out what was going on.
On the arrival of Jalaloddin, the sultan expressed great satisfaction in
seeing him, and he revoked the decree by which he had been superseded in the
"You, my son," said he, "are, after all, the one among all my children
who is best able to revenge me on the Monguls; therefore I revoke the act
which I formerly executed at the request of the queen, my mother, in favor of
He then solemnly appointed Jalaloddin to be his successor, and enjoined
upon the other princes to be obedient and faithful to him as their sovereign.
He also formally delivered to him his sword as the emblem and badge of the
supreme power which he thus conferred upon him.
Soon after this the sultan expired. The attendants buried the body
secretly on the island for fear of the Monguls. They washed it carefully
before the interment, according to custom, and then put on again a portion of
the same dress which the sultan had worn when living, having nv means of
procuring or making any other shroud.
As for Khatun, the queen-mother, when she heard the tidings of her son's
death, and was informed, at the same time, that her favorite Kothboddin had
been set aside, and Jalaloddin, whom she hated, and who, she presumed, hated
her, had been made his successor, she was in a great rage. She was at that
time at Karazm, which was the capital, and she attempted to persuade the
officers and soldiers near her not to submit to the sultan's decree, but to
make Kothboddin their sovereign after all.
While she was engaged in forming this conspiracy, the news reached the
city that the Monguls were coming. Khatun immediately determined to flee to
save her life. She had, it seems, in her custody at Karazm twelve children,
the sons of various princes that reigned in different parts of the empire or
in the environs of it. These children were either held as hostages, or had
been made captive in insurrections and wars, and were retained in prison as a
punishment to their fathers. The queen-mother found that she could not take
these children with her, and so she ordered them all to be slain. She was
afraid that the Monguls, when they came, might set them free.
As soon as she was gone the city fell into great confusion on account of
the struggles for power between the two parties of Jalaloddin and Kothboddin.
But the sultana, who had made the mischief, did not trouble herself to know
how it would end. Her only anxiety was to save her own life. After various
wanderings and adventures, she at last found her way into a very retired
district of country lying on the southern shore of the Caspian, between the
mountains and the sea, and here she sought refuge in a castle or fortress
named Ilan, where she thought she was secure from all pursuit. She brought
with her to the castle her jewels and all her most valuable treasures.
But Genghis Khan had spies in every part of the country, and he was soon
informed where Khatun was concealed. So he sent a messenger to a certain
Mongul general named Hubbe Nevian, who was commanding a detachment in that
part of the country, informing him that Khatun was in the castle of Ilan, and
commanding him to go and lay siege to it, and to take it at all hazards, and
to bring Khatun to him either dead or alive.
Hubbe immediately set off for the castle. The queen-mother, however, had
notice of his approach, and the lords who were with her urged her to fly. If
she would go with them, they said, they would take her to Jalaloddin, and he
would protect her. But she would not listen to any such proposal. She hated
Jalaloddin so intensely that she would not, even to save her life, put herself
under his power. The very worst possible treatment, she said, that she could
receive from the Monguls would be more agreeable to her than the greatest
favors from the hand of Jalaloddin.
The ground of this extreme animosity which she felt toward Jalaloddin was
not any personal animosity to him; it arose simply from an ancient and
long-continued dislike and hatred which she had borne against his mother!
So Khatun refused to retire from the danger, and soon afterward the horde
of Monguls arrived, and pitched their camp before the castle walls.
For three months Hubbe and his Monguls continued to ply the walls of the
fortress with battering-rams and other engines, in order to force their way
in, but in vain. The place was too strong for them. At length Genghis Khan,
hearing how the case stood, sent word to them to give up the attempt to make a
breach, and to invest the place closely on all sides, so as to allow no person
to go out or to come in; in that way, he said, the garrison would soon be
starved into a surrender.
When the governor of the castle saw, by the arrangements which Hubbe made
in obedience to this order, that this was the course that was to be pursued,
he said he was not uneasy, for his magazines were full of provisions, and as
to water, the rain which fell very copiously there among the mountains always
afforded an abundant supply.
But the governor was mistaken in his calculations in respect to the rain.
It usually fell very frequently in that region, but after the blockade of the
fortress commenced, for three weeks there was not the smallest shower. The
people of the country around thought this failure of the rain was a special
judgment of heaven against the queen for the murder of the children, and for
her various other crimes. It was, indeed, remarkable, for in ordinary times
the rain was so frequent that the people of all that region depended upon it
entirely for their supply of water, and never found it necessary to search for
springs or to dig wells.
The sufferings of the people within the fortress for want of water were
very great. Many of them died in great misery, and at length the provisions
began to fail too, and Khatun was compelled to allow the governor to
The Monguls immediately seized the queen, and took possession of all her
treasures. They also took captive all the lords and ladies who had attended
her, and the women of her household, and two or three of her
great-grandchildren, whom she had brought with her in her flight. All these
persons were sent under a strong guard to Genghis Khan.
Genghis Khan retained the queen as a captive for some time, and treated
her in a very cruel and barbarous manner. He would sometimes order her to be
brought into his tent, at the end of his dinner, that he might enjoy his
triumph by insulting and deriding her. On these occasions he would throw her
scraps of food from the table as if she had been a dog.
He took away the children from her too, all but one, whom he left with
her a while to comfort her, as he said; but one day an officer came and seized
this one from her very arms, while she was dressing him and combing his hair.
This last blow caused her a severer pang than any that she had before endured,
and left her utterly disconsolate and heart-broken.
Some accounts say that soon after this she was put to death, but others
state that Genghis Khan retained her several years as a captive, and carried
her to and fro in triumph in his train through the countries over which she
had formerly reigned with so much power and splendor. She deserved her
sufferings, it is true; but Genghis Khan was none the less guilty, on that
account, for treating her so cruelly.
Chapter XXII: Victorious Campaigns
After this Genghis Khan went on successfully for several years, extending
his conquests over all the western part of Central Asia, while the generals
whom he had left at home were extending his dominions in the same manner in
the eastern portion. He overran nearly all of Persia, went entirely around
the Caspian Sea, and even approached the confines of India.
In this expedition toward India he was in pursuit of Jalaloddin.
Immediately after the death of his father, Jalaloddin had done all in his
power to raise an army and carry on the war against Genghis Khan. He met with
a great deal of embarrassment and difficulty at first, on account of the plots
and conspiracies which his grandmother had organized in favor of his brother
Kothboddin, and the dissensions among his people to which they gave rise. At
last, in the course of a year, he succeeded, in some measure, in healing this
breach and in raising an army; and, though he was not strong enough to fight
the Monguls in a general battle, he hung about them in their march and
harassed them in various ways, so as to impede their operations very
essentially. Genghis Khan from time to time sent off detachments from his
army to take him. He was often defeated in the engagements which ensued, but
he always succeeded in saving himself and in keeping together a portion of his
men, and thus he maintained himself in the field, though he was growing weaker
and weaker all the time.
At last he became completely discouraged, and, after signal defeat which
he met with from a detachment which had been sent against him by Genghis Khan,
he went, with the few troops that remained together, to a strong fortress
among the mountains, and told the governor that it seemed to him useless to
continue the struggle any longer, and that he had come to shut himself up in
the fortress, and abandon the contest in despair.
The governor, however, told him that it was not right for a prince, the
descendant of ancestors so illustrious as his, and the inheritor of so
resplendent a crown, to yield to discouragement and despondency on account of
the reverses of fortune. He advised him again to take the field, and to raise
a new army, and continue the contest to the end.
Jalaloddin determined to follow this advice, and, after a brief period of
repose at the castle, he again took the field.
He made great exertions, and finally succeeded in getting together about
twenty thousand men. This was a small force, it is true, compared with the
numbers of the enemy; but it was sufficient, if well managed, to enable the
prince to undertake operations of considerable importance, and Jalaloddin
began to feel somewhat encouraged again. With his twenty thousand men he
gained one or two victories too, which encouraged him still more. In one of
these cases he defeated rather a singular stratagem which the Mongul general
contrived. It seems that the Mongul detachment which was sent out in this
instance against Jalaloddin was not strong enough, and the general, in order
to make Jalaloddin believe that his force was greater than it really was,
ordered all the felt caps and cloaks that there were in the army to be stuffed
with straw, and placed on the horses and camels of the baggage, in order to
give the appearance of a second line of reserve in the rear of the line of
real soldiers. This was to induce Jalaloddin to surrender without fighting.
But in some way or other Jalaloddin detected the deceit, and, instead of
surrendering, fought the Monguls with great vigor, and defeated them. He
gained a very decided victory, and perhaps this might have been the beginning
of a change of fortune for him if, unfortunately, his generals had not
quarreled about the division of the spoil. There was a beautiful Arabian
horse which two of his leading generals desired to possess, and each claimed
it. The dispute became, at last, so violent that one of the generals struck
the other in his face with the lash of his whip. Upon this the feud became a
deadly one. Both parties appealed to Jalaloddin. He did not wish to make
either general an enemy by deciding in favor of the other, and so he tried to
compromise the matter. He did not succeed in doing this; and one of the
generals, mortally offended, went off in the night, taking with him all that
portion of the troops which was under his command.
Jalaloddin did every thing in his power to bring the disaffected general
back again; but, before he could accomplish this purpose, Genghis Khan came up
with a large force between the two parties, and prevented their effecting a
Jalaloddin had now no alternative but to retreat. Genghis Khan followed
him, and it was in this way that, after a time, both the armies reached the
banks of the Indus, on the borders of India.
Jalaloddin, being closely pursued, took his position in a narrow defile
near the bank of the river, and here a great battle was fought among the rocks
and precipices. Jalaloddin, it is said, had only thirty thousand men at his
command, while Genghis Khan was at the head of an army of three hundred
thousand. The numbers in both cases are probably greatly exaggerated, but the
proportion may perhaps be true.
It was only a small portion of the Mongul army that could get into the
defile where the sultan's troops had posted themselves; and so desperately did
the latter fight, that it is said they killed twenty thousand of the Monguls
before they gave in. In fact, they fought like wild beasts, with desperate
and unremitting fury, all day long. Toward night it became evident to
Jalaloddin that it was all over with him. A large portion of his followers
were killed. Some had made their escape across the river, though many of
those who sought to do so were drowned in the attempt. The rest of his men
were completely exhausted and discouraged, and wholly unable to renew the
contest on the following day.
Jalaloddin had exposed himself very freely in the fight, in hopes,
perhaps, that he should be killed. But Genghis Khan had given positive orders
that he should be taken alive. He had even appointed two of his generals to
watch carefully, and to see that no person should, under any circumstances,
kill him. He wished to take him alive, in order to lead him through the
country a prisoner, and exhibit him to his former subjects as a trophy of his
victory, just as he had done and was still doing with the old queen Khatun,
But Jalaloddin was determined that his conqueror should not enjoy this
pleasure. He resolved to attempt to save himself by swimming the river. He
accordingly went first, breathless, and covered with dust and blood from the
fight, to take a hurried leave of his mother, his wives, and his children,
who, as was customary in those countries and times, had accompanied him in his
campaign. He found them in his tent, full of anxiety and terror. He took
leave of them with much sorrow and many tears, trying to comfort them with the
hope that they should meet again in happier times. Then he took off his armor
and his arms, in order that he might not be impeded in crossing the river,
reserving, however, his sword and bow, and a quiver full of arrows. He then
mounted a fresh horse and rode toward the river.
When he reached the bank of the river, the horse found the current so
rapid and the agitation of the water so great that he was very unwilling to
advance; but Jalaloddin spurred him in. Indeed, there was no time to be lost;
for scarcely had he reached the shore when Genghis Khan himself, and a party
of Monguls, appeared in view, advancing to seize him. They stopped on the
bank when they saw Jalaloddin ride into the water among the rocks and
whirlpools. They did not dare to follow him, but they remained at the
water-side to see how his perilous adventure would end.
As soon as Jalaloddin found that he was out of their reach, he stopped at
a place where his horse found a foothold, and turned round toward his pursuers
with looks of hatred and defiance. He then drew his bow, and began to shoot
at them with his arrows, and he continued to shoot untileall the arrows in his
quiver were exhausted. Some of the more daring of the Monguls proposed to
Genghis Khan that they should swim out and try to take him. But Genghis Khan
would not allow them to go. He said the attempt would be useless.
"You can do nothing at all with him," said he. "A man of such cool and
determined bravery as that will defy and defeat all your attempts. Any father
might be proud to have such a son, and any son proud to be descended from such
When his arrows were all expended, Jalaloddin took to the river again;
and his horse, after a series of most desperate struggles among the whirlpools
and eddies, and the boiling surges which swept around the rocks, succeeded at
length in carrying his master over. The progress of the horse was watched
with great interest by Genghis Khan and his party from the shore as long as
they could see him.
As soon as Jalaloddin landed, and had recovered a little from the fatigue
and excitement of the passage, he began to look around him, and to consider
what was next to be done. He found himself entirely alone, in a wild and
solitary place, which he had reason to fear was infested with tigers and other
ferocious beasts of prey, such as haunt the jungles in India. Night was coming
on too, and there were no signs of any habitations or of any shelter. So he
fastened his horse at the foot of a tree, and climbed up himself among the
branches, and in this way passed the night.
The next morning he came down and began to walk along the bank of the
river to see what he could find. He was in a state of great anxiety and
distress. Suddenly, to his great relief and joy, he came upon a small troop
of soldiers, accompanied by some officers, who had escaped across the river
from the battle as he had done. Three of these officers were his particular
friends, and he was overjoyed to see them. They had made their way across the
river in a boat which they had found upon the bank at the beginning of the
defeat of the army. They had spent the whole night in the boat, being in
great danger from the shoals and shelving rocks, and from the impetuosity of
the current. Finally, toward morning, they had landed, not far from the place
where Jalaloddin found them.
Not long after this he came upon a troop of three hundred horsemen, who
had escaped by swimming the river at a place where the water was more smooth,
at some distance below. These men told him that about six miles farther down
the stream there was a body of about four thousand men who had made their
escape in a similar manner. On assembling these men, Jalaloddin found himself
once more at the head of a considerable force.
The immediate wants of the men were, however, extremely pressing, for
they were all wholly destitute of food and of every other necessary, and
Jalaloddin would have been greatly embarrassed to provide for them had it not
been for the thoughtfulness and fidelity of one of the officers of his
household on the other side of the river. This officer's name was
Jamalarrazad. As soon as he found that his master had crossed the river,
knowing, too, that a great number of the troops had attempted to cross
besides, and that, in all probability, many of them had succeeded in reaching
the other bank, who would all be greatly in want of provisions and stores the
next morning, he went to work at once, during the night, and loaded a very
large boat with provisions, arms, money, and stuff to make clothing for the
soldiers. He succeeded in getting off in this boat before his plan was
discovered by the Monguls, and in the course of the next morning he reached
the opposite bank with it, and thus furnished to Jalaloddin an abundant
provision for his immediate necessities.
Jalaloddin was so much pleased with the conduct of Jamalarrazad in this
affair that he appointed him at once to a very high and responsible office in
his service, and gave him a new title of honor.
In the mean time, Genghis Khan, on the other side of the river, took
possession the next morning of Jalaloddin's camp. Of course, the family of
the sultan fell into his hands. The emperor ordered all the males to be
killed, but he reserved the women for a different fate. Among the persons
killed was a boy about eight years old, Jalaloddin's oldest son.
Jalaloddin had ordered his treasure to be sunk in the river, intending,
probably, to come back and recover it at some future time. But Genghis Khan
found out in some way where it was sunk, and he sent divers down for it, and
thus obtained possession of it as a part of his booty.
After this, Jalaloddin remained five or six years in India, where he
joined himself and his army with some of the princes of that country, and
fought many campaigns there. At length, when a favorable opportunity
occurred, he came back to his own country, and fought some time longer against
the Monguls there, but he never succeeded in gaining possession of any
Genghis Khan continued after this for two or three years in the
Mohammedan countries of the western part of Asia, and extended his conquests
there in every direction. It is not necessary to follow his movements in
detail. It would only be a repetition of the same tale of rapine, plunder,
murder, and devastation. Sometimes a city would surrender at once, when the
conqueror approached the gates, by sending out a deputation of the magistrates
and other principal inhabitants with the keys of the city, and with
magnificent presents, in hopes to appease him. And they usually so far
succeeded in this as to put the Mongul soldiery in good humor, so that they
would content themselves with ransacking and plundering the place, leaving the
inhabitants alive. At other times the town would attempt to resist. The
Monguls would then build engines to batter down the walls, and to hurl great
stones over among the besieged. In many instances there was great difficulty
in obtaining a sufficient supply of stones, on account of the alluvial
character of the ground on which the city stood. In such cases, after the
stones found near were exhausted, the besiegers would cut down great trees
from the avenues leading to the town, or from the forests near, and, sawing
the trunk up into short lengths, would use the immense blocks thus formed as
ammunition for the engines. These great logs of heavy wood, when thrown over
the walls, were capable of doing almost as much execution as the stones,
though, compared with a modern bomb-shell - a monstrous ball of iron, which,
after flying four or five miles from the battery, leaving on its way a fiery
train through the air, descends into a town and bursts into a thousand
fragments, which fly like iron hail in every direction around - they were very
In sawing up the trunks of the trees into logs, and in bringing stones
for the engines, the Monguls employed the prisoners whom they had taken in war
and made slaves of. The amount of work of this kind which was to be done at
some of the sieges was very great. It is said that at the siege of Nishabur -
a town whose inhabitants greatly offended Genghis Khan by secretly sending
arms, provisions, and money to Jalaloddin, after they had once surrendered to
the Monguls and pretended to be friendly to them - the army of the Monguls
employed twelve hundred of these engines, all of which were made at a town at
some distance from the place besieged, and were then transported, in parts, by
the slaves, and put together by them under the walls. While the slaves were
employed in works of this kind, they were sometimes protected by wooden
shields covered with raw hides, which were carried before them by other
slaves, to keep off and extinguish the fiery darts and arrows which were shot
at them from the wall.
Sometimes, too, the places where the engines were set up were protected
by wooden bulwarks, which, together with the frame-work itself of the engines,
were covered with raw hides, to prevent their being set on fire by the enemy.
The number of raw hides required for this purpose was immense, and to obtain
them the Monguls slaughtered vast herds of horses and cattle which they
plundered from the enemy.
In order to embarrass the enemy in respect to ammunition for their
engines, the people of a town, when they heard that the Monguls were coming,
used to turn out sometimes in mass, several days before, and gather up all the
stones they could find, and throw them into the river, or otherwise put them
out of the way.
In some cases, the towns that were threatened, as has already been said,
did not attempt to resist, but submitted at once, and cast themselves on the
mercy of the conqueror. In such cases the Mongul generals usually spared the
lives of the inhabitants, though they plundered their property. It sometimes
happened, too, that after attempting to defend themselves for some time, the
garrison would become discouraged, and then would attempt to make some terms
or conditions with the conqueror before they surrendered. In these cases,
however, the terms which the Monguls insisted upon were often so hard that,
rather than yield to them, the garrison would go on fighting to the end.
In one instance there lived in a town that was to be assailed a certain
sheikh, or prince, named Kubru, who was a man of very exalted character, as
well as of high distinction. The Mongul general whom Genghis Khan had
commissioned to take the town was his third son, Oktay. Oktay had heard of
the fame of the sheikh, and had conceived a very high respect for him. So he
sent a herald to the wall with a passport for the sheikh, and for ten other
persons such as he should choose, giving him free permission to leave the town
and go wherever he pleased. But the sheikh declined the offer. Then Oktay
sent in another passport, with permission to the sheikh to take a thousand men
with him. But he still refused. He could not accept Oktay's bounty, he said,
unless it were extended to all the Mohammedans in the town. He was obliged to
take his lot with the rest, for he was bound to his people by ties too strong
to be easily sundered.
So the siege went on, and at the end of it, when the town was carried,
the sheikh was slain with the rest in the streets, where he stood his ground
to the last, fighting like a lion.
All the Mohammedan chieftains, however, did not possess so noble a spirit
as this. One chieftain, when he found that the Monguls were coming, caused
himself to be let down with ropes from the wall in the night, and so made his
escape, leaving the town and the garrison to their fate.
The garrisons of the towns, knowing that they had little mercy to expect
from their terrible enemies, fought often very desperately to the last, as
they would have done against beasts of prey. They would suddenly open the
gates and rush out in large bands, provided with combustibles of all kinds and
torches, with which they would set fire to the engines of the besiegers, and
then get back again within the walls before the Monguls could recover
sufficiently from the alarm and confusion to intercept them. In this manner
they destroyed a great many of the engines, and killed vast numbers of men.
Still the Monguls would persevere, and, sooner or later, the place was
sure to fall. Then, when the inhabitants found that all hope was over, they
had become so desperate in their hatred of their foes that they would
sometimes set the town on fire with their own hands, and throw themselves and
their wives and children into the flames, rather than fall into the hands of
their infuriated enemies.
The cruelties which the Monguls perpetrated upon their unhappy victims
when, after a long resistance, they finally gained possession of a town, were
indeed dreadful. They usually ordered all the people to come out to an open
space on the plain, and there, after taking out all the young and able-bodied
men, who could be made useful in bringing stones and setting up engines, and
other such labors, and also all the young and beautiful women, to be divided
among the army or sold as slaves, they would put the rest together in a mass,
and kill them all by shooting at them with arrows, just as if they had been
beasts surrounded in a chase, excepting that the excitement and pleasure of
shooting into such a mass of human victims, and of hearing the shrieks and
cries of their terror, was probably infinitely greater to their brutal
murderers than if it had been a herd of lions, tigers, and wolves that they
It is said by the historians that in one case the number of people
ordered out upon the plain was so great that it took four days for them to
pass out and assemble at the appointed place, and that, after those who were
to be spared had been separated from the rest, the number that were left to be
slain was over one hundred thousand, as recorded by the secretaries who made
an enumeration of them.
In another case the slaughter was so great that it took twelve days to
count the number of the dead.
Some of the atrocities which were perpetrated upon the prisoners were
almost too horrible to be described. In one case a woman, quite advanced in
years, begged the Monguls to spare her life, and promised that, if they would
do so, she would give them a pearl of great value.
They asked her where the pearl was, and she said she had swallowed it.
The Monguls then immediately cut her down, and ripped her body open with their
swords to find the pearl. They found it, and then, encouraged by this
success, and thinking it probable that other women might have attempted to
hide their jewels in the same way, they proceeded to kill and cut open a great
number of women to search for pearls in their bodies, but they found no more.
At the siege of a certain city, called Bamiyan, a young grandson of
Genghis Khan, wishing to please his grandfather by his daring, approached so
near the wall that he was reached by an arrow shot by one of the archers, and
killed. Genghis Khan was deeply affected by this event, and he showed by the
bitterness of his grief that, though he was so utterly heartless and cruel in
inflicting these woes upon others, he could feel for himself very acutely when
it came to his turn to suffer. As for the mother of the child, she was
rendered perfectly furious by his death. She thought of nothing but revenge,
and she only waited for the town to be taken in order that she might enjoy it.
When, at last, a practicable breach was made, and the soldiers began to pour
into the city, she went in with the rest, and insisted that every man, woman,
and child should be put to death. Her special rage was directed against the
children, whom she seemed to take special pleasure in destroying, in vengeance
for the death of her own child. The hatred and rage which she manifested
against children extended even to babes unborn, and these feelings she evinced
by atrocities too shocking to be described.
The opinions which Genghis Khan entertained on religious subjects appear
from a conversation which he held at one time during the course of his
campaigns in Western Asia with some learned Mohammedan doctors at Bokhara,
which was the great seat at that time of science and philosophy. He asked the
doctors what were the principles of their religion. They replied that these
principles consisted of five fundamental points:
1. In believing in one God, the creator of all things, and the supreme
ruler and governor of the universe.
2. In giving one fortieth part of their yearly income or gains to the
3. In praying to God five times every day.
4. In setting apart one month in each year for fasting.
5. In making a pilgrimage to the temple in Mecca, there to worship God.
Genghis Khan told them that he believed himself in the first of these
articles, and he approved of the three succeeding ones. It was very well, he
said, to give one fortieth of one's income to the poor, and to pray to God
five times a day, and to set apart a month in the year for a fast. But as to
the last article, he could not but dissent from it entirely, for the whole
world was God's house, and it was ridiculous, he said, to imagine that one
place could really be any more fitting than another as a place for worshiping
The learned doctors were much dissatisfied with this answer. They were,
in fact, more displeased with the dissent which the emperor expressed from
this last article, the only one that was purely and wholly ritual in its
character, than they were gratified with the concurrence which he expressed in
all the other four. This is not at all surprising, for, from the times of the
Pharisees down to the present day, the spirit of sectarianism and bigotry in
religion always plants itself most strongly on the platform of externals. It
is always contending strenuously for rites, while it places comparatively in
the background all that bears directly on the vital and spiritual interests of
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