Imatges de pàgina


Muhule and Porshu, tried friends in many a dire emergency, the companions of his misfortunes and of his hour of triumph, the skilful leaders of armies, were exalted to a position next to himself. The one was made prince on his right side, the other on his left, for, he said, "It is to you that I owe my Empire. You are and have been to me as the shafts of a carriage, or the arms to a man's body." All the subordinate officers, and those who had in any way contributed to his greatness, were rewarded in proportion, and Genghis, on the advice of his Oighur minister Tatakhun, instituted the custom of giving to each of the officials a seal of office. These insignia were for the first time distributed on this auspicious occasion. The meeting of all the Mongol clans promoted among the race increased confidence in their own strength, and the chosen chiefs departed to their various posts with a more accurate knowledge of the plans of their great leader. It was clearly foreseen that Genghis had no intention of remaining inactive because all his nomad neighbours had been subdued. He had in his mind a richer and an easier prey than any furnished by the shepherd-warriors of the extensive regions of Mongolia and Jungaria.

In A.D. 1207 he led a fresh expedition 4into the dominions of the King of Hia, who, in a vague way, acknowledged himself the vassal of the Kin Emperor, and captured Wuhlahai, one of that ruler's strong places. The fame of this victory brought him the tribute of one section of the Kirghiz tribe, and the repression of a revolt among the Naimans added further to his reputation. In the following year his lieutenants obtained several successes over other tribes along the western portions of the Altai, and Genghis renewed in person his enterprise against Hia. In A.D. 1209 he devoted all his strength to the complete conquest of that state. The Mongol troops, augmented by almost all the desert tribes, flocked from every side towards the Hia frontier. The king of that country placed all his forces in the field, but the prowess of his opponent had unnerved both himself and his people.

In the first battle of this final campaign the eldest son of the king was defeated, and his best general taken prisoner. The Mongols pressed on to the Hoangho, bearing down all opposition. An attempt to flood the country failed, and the King of Hia, in order to avert a complete overthrow, offered to conclude a peace and friendly alliance. Genghis accepted his proposition, and married the king's daughter, thus adding to his own the great military power of this north-western kingdom. By this achievement he not only deprived the Kin Emperor of a powerful ally, but he threatened his country from the west, as well as from the north, through the land of the Keraits. There was no further obstacle in the way of the collision, long expected, between the rising vigour of the Mongols and the waning power of the Kins ; and in A.D. 1210, the year after the final humbling of Hia, the war broke out which was to decide the question of supremacy in Northern China.

The Mongols owed their remarkable success to their admirable discipline, and to their close study of the art of war. Their military supremacy arose from their superiority in all essentials as a fighting power to their neighbours. Much kof their knowledge was borrowed from China, where the art of disciplining a large army, and manoeuvring it in the field, had been brought to a high state of perfection many centuries before the time of Genghis. But the Mongols carried the teaching of the past to a further point than any of the former or contemporary Chinese commanders, indeed, than any in the whole world had done; and the revolution which they effected in tactics was not less remarkable in itself, and did not leave a smaller impression upon the age, than the improvements made in military science by Frederick the Great and Napoleon did in their day. The Mongol played in a large way in Asia the part which the Normans on a smaller scale played in Europe. Although the landmarks of their triumph have now almost wholly vanished, they were for two centuries the dominant caste in most of the states of Asia.*

* Much might be said about the military knowledge, the armour, engines of war, etc., of this extraordinary people. The reader curious in these matters will find the details in Sir H. Howorth's " History of the Mongols." But we may be excused for pointing out that no writer has given, in words with anything approaching the same effect, a picture of the great " out-pouring " of the Mongols, and of the military triumphs of Genghis, so graphic, brilliant, and impressive, as that contained in Gibbon's immortal " Decline and Fall."

[ocr errors]



Encouraged by a long succession of victories, Genghis turned his arms against the Kins, whose struggle with the Sungs for undivided empire in China had reached a lull through the mutual exhaustion of the combatants. Some years before, when Madacou occupied the northern throne, a Kin ambassador had been received by Genghis with scant courtesy. This act is attributed to his contempt for the individual, but it probably arose from more complex sentiments. The ambassador returned to the capital, breathing vengeance against the Mongol, and besought his master to resent the slight cast upon his honour by the outrage thus offered to his representative; but Madacou had sufficient wisdom to refrain from attacking where he saw that he would, probably, be only courting defeat. In a few years Madacou died, and it so happened that his successor Chonghei was the very ambassador whom Genghis had received in this unceremonious fashion.

When the envoy arrived at Genghis's quarters to inform him that there was a new Kin Emperor, the great Khan turned to him and asked the name of the new ruler. On learning who it was, Genghis expressed his contempt in the strongest manner, by turning towards the south, and spitting on the ground, saying, " I thought that your sovereigns were of the race of the gods ; but do you suppose that I am going to do homage to'such an imbecile as that?" Chonghei brooded over this second affront, and allowed his personal pique to so far influence his policy that, when an occasion offered, he did not hesitate to assume the offensive against the Mongols. Genghis would have attacked him with or without an excuse; Chonghei simply went out of his way to supply one. In A.D. 12 io, when the Mongol campaign against Hia had been brought to a termination, Chonghei's troops attacked, and, from the account, apparently defeated a small detachment of Genghis's army. This added fuel to the flame, and war forthwith commenced along the whole frontier.

Genghis did not undertake this great enterprise without due deliberation. Information had been brought him from several quarters of the decline of the Kin power, and the abortive result of the later campaigns against the Sungs had done much towards giving fresh courage to the numerous internal enemies of this alien dynasty. The Khitans were again breaking out into rebellion, and their chief, Yeliu Liuko, concluded a convention for joint action with the Mongol leader. Genghis issued a proclamation to all the tribes of the desert, reminding them of the wrongs they had suffered at the hands of the Kins, and that if they desired vengeance they had only to follow him. The appeal was generally responded to, and Genghis found himself at the head of an army vastly superior in numbers to any that had yet gathered round his banner. It was at this conjuncture that Chonghei's rash act removed whatever chance there may have been of the preservation of peace.

In March, A.D. 1211, Genghis broke up his camp on the banks of the Kerulon, and, leaving a small force of trusty troops to maintain order in his rear, advanced to the Great Wall. That barrier had often before failed to keep out the lawless tribes of the north, and there is little surprising in its having proved unable to arrest the career of Genghis's great host . At the point where Genghis attacked it, the custody of this line of fortification had been entrusted to a local tribe, whose chief, far from attempting to defend his charge, surrendered the passage to the Mongols for a sum of money. The outer defence of the Kins was -thus pierced through without the necessity arising for striking a blow. The Mongol army, under the command of Genghis, four of his sons and his general, Chepe Noyan, afterwards celebrated above all INVASION OF CHINA. 301

others in the wars in Western Asia, poured through the opening thus made, and proceeded to lay waste the province of Shansi. The Kin army was some time assembling, and Genghis and his generals were permitted to carry everything before them almost up to the gates of the capital. When the Kin army did take the field, its fortune was only indifferent. Several minor engagements were fought, but no decisive battle took place. The Mongols overran the northern districts of Pechihli, Shansi, and Shensi, and no doubt secured an immense amount of plunder ; but the overthrow of a settled government, even when unpopular, is a much more difficult task than the subjugation of nomad tribes. During nearly two years Genghis remained encamped on Kin territory, but in August, A.D. 1212, having received a wound before the walls of Taitong or Siking, which resisted all his efforts, he collected his troops and retreated into Mongolia. The success he had met with had been very considerable, but the Kin Emperor was still resolved to defend his independence. It required twenty more years of constant fighting to crush this semi-Chinese potentate. If we contrast the resistance offered by him to the " irresistible" Mongols with that shown by all the western countries from Khwaresm to Hungary and Poland, we shall arrive at a fair idea of the stability and innate strength of a Chinese ruler at this period, although China was then almost as a house divided against itself. He had wealth, numbers, and reputation at his back; and although slow to adopt new ideas, or to sanction necessary changes, he was, even when at his weakest, a formidable opponent for the greatest of conquerors, with inferior resources. The Khitan insurgent Yeliu Liuko had been equally fortunate. He had defeated the Kin general Houcha sent against him, and, with the aid of a small force lent by Genghis, captured the chief city in Leaoutung. Liuko was then proclaimed King of Leaou, in the capacity of a Mongol vassal. He chose Hienping as his capital, and rendered opportune service to Genghis two years later by winning a decided victory over the Kin army. We shall see later on that Genghis did not forget, when the occasion offered, to reciprocate these timely services rendered against his great enemy.

« AnteriorContinua »