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TWO KURILTAIS. 327
armies. The siege continued throughout six months, and might have proceeded still further but for the death of the head Khan Mangu, who fell a victim to this disease. The Mongol generals at once resolved to retire into Shensi and to abandon for this occasion the attempt to seize Hochau.
Mangu's death, which seemed at first sight calculated to arrest the Mongol campaigns against the Sungs, proved in reality the cause of their speedy and triumphant consummation, by again bringing Kublai to the front as their director. The troubles which immediately followed the death of the Khan Mangu produced a lull in the war, but, as soon as these were temporarily settled, Kublai turned all his attention to the consolidation of his position in the new sphere he had chosen, which was the Chinese Empire, in preference to an authority, weakened in significance, over the disjointed sections of the Mongol people.
Kublai was Mangu's proper heir, but his younger brother
Arikbuka held possession of the centre of power in Mongolia.
Arikbuka was also supported by all those who had grudged
Kublai his good fortune and who had intrigued against him
during the life of Mangu. It was clearly unsafe for Kublai
to trust himself within his brother's power, but unless he went
to Karakoram to attend the Kuriltai of the nation it was
impossible to give validity to his proclamation as Mangu's
successor. Kublai took a short road out of the difficulty by
holding a council of his chief officers and supporters near
Pckin, when he assumed the functions and authority of the
Great Khan. Arikbuka and the mass of the Mongols refused
to recognize this illegal proceeding, and Arikbuka, with all
the necessary formalities, and supported by the principal
members of his House, took the same title at Karakoram.
There can be no doubt that Arikbuka made up for much of
the weakness of his claim by the manner of his election and
by his popularity among the Mongols.
In A.D. 1261 Kublai marched at the head of a large army upon Karakoram, and, having defeated his brother, made good the superiority of his claims in the most forcible way that is recognized. Arikbuka fled to the Kirghiz, but he soon accepted the generous terms offered him by his brother. He was reinstated in the rank due to a prince of the blood; but Kublai returned to China, whither his tastes urged him, with the fixed determination to bring the long wars in that country to a conclusion. Discord within the ranks of the Mongols was to break out again at a later period and to cause grave anxiety to Kublai. But it became a matter of secondary importance, for henceforth we have to think of Kublai not as the Great Khan of the Mongols, but as the first Emperor of the Yuen dynasty of China.
Before the death of Mangu, Kublai had obtained some minor successes over the Sung forces in the province of Houkwang, and when the tidings reached him he did not withdraw his troops from the positions he had seized on the southern bank of the Yangtse-kiang. The excessive confidence felt by the Sungs in the impassability of that river had led them to neglect the defences of their towns in its neighbourhood. Kublai turned their mistake to the best possible advantage. The chief credit of forcing the passage of this river appears to have belonged to Tong Wen Ping, who, having captured some Chinese vessels, filled them with his most determined soldiers, and crossed in face of the Sung army. Kublai promptly reinforced this advanced-guard with his main body, when siege was laid to the important city of Wochow, the capital of the great dual province of Houkwang. The Mongol cavalry carried their raids into the province of Kiangsi, capturing the towns of Liukiang and Chouichow.
But meanwhile the garrison of Wochow held stoutly to its post, and large numbers of troops were fast assembling at Hanyang, the town in the fork formed by the Han and Kiang rivers. Unable to make any impression on the fortifications of Wochow, and apprehensive of the consequences of an abortive assault under the circumstances in which he found himself, Kublai turned a ready ear to the peace proposals sent by Litsong, who was terrified by the appearance of the Mongols in Kiangsi. As a matter of fact, the Mongol army, with a very uncertain command of the passage of the river, and surrounded by numerous and rapidly increasing foes, was in a most dangerous position, out of which the panic of the Chinese alone extricated it. If Mongkong had only lived to have the command at this juncture, Kublai would in all probability never have regained the northern bank of the river he had so adventurously crossed, and the whole fortune of the war might have been changed. But as the event happened, Litsong acknowledged himself a Mongol vassal, paid a large tribute, and forbade his generals to take any offensive steps against Kublai's army. The Mongols withdrew across the Yangtse-kiang, the fame of this expedition and the treaty it produced bringing fresh lustre to their arms. None the less must Kublai's venture against Wochow be pronounced to have been imprudent, and one out of which he came with better fortune than he had any reason to anticipate.
It was fresh from this success—from having made the Sung Emperor a Mongol vassal—that Kublai came to settle as described the question of supremacy with his brother Arikbuka, and when he returned triumphant from Karakoram the thought that was uppermost in his mind was that nothing short of the annexation of the Sung territory would suffice to satisfy his own ambition, and to meet what he considered to be the political necessities of the day. Fresh cause of grievance had arisen between the neighbours. The Sungs sought to evade the terms of the treaty, and went so far as to murder the envoys sent by Kublai to announce his proclamation as Great Khan. This conduct further embittered the contest and rendered the preservation of peace impossible.
During this period Kublai had neglected no means of making himself popular with his new subjects, by many of whom he was already regarded with more friendly eyes than any foreign ruler had ever been, and he had greatly strengthened his position in Northern China by adopting many native customs and by attaching to his person a chosen band of Chinese advisers. But perhaps the most important step he sanctioned was the personal interest he took in promoting Buddhism, and in gaining over to his interests the powerful class of the lamas. There appears to have been in this age a religious indifference, equal in its way to the political and THE GREAT LAMA. 331
social decay plainly visible outside the vigorous ranks of the Mongols. The Buddhist lamas as a class were alone capable of making a resolute effort for a great and definite object . Sunk to a certain degree in the prevailing apathy, they still possessed cohesion among themselves, and stood apart from the rest of the nation on so many points, that their aid could not but be most useful to any individual knowing how to utilize their services. Kublai took them under his patronage, and they became his most devoted and trustworthy assistants.
Prominent among these was a young Tibetan, sprung from a family which during more than six centuries had given ministers to the kings of Tibet; and Kublai, despite his youth, made him the supreme lama, with the title of Pakba Lama. At a later period he sent him back to his own country with seals of office, and under Kublai's patronage he succeeded in making himself not only the chief religious, but the supreme secular authority as well in his own country. This may be considered the first proclamation of a Grand Lama, and it arose from the unbiassed conviction of Kublai, who saw in it a step towards the consolidation of his power. It was made the simpler of execution because Uriangkadai had conquered Western Szchuen and the approaches to the valley of the Sanpu. Scarcely less wisdom was shown in the proclamation granting their liberty to all the men of letters who had been taken prisoners by the Mongols during the long wars of this period. The Chinese were shrewd enough to see that Kublai represented the best traditions in their history, and that he endeavoured to guide his policy in accordance with them, whereas Litsong was typical only of weakness and decay.
Fresh troubles had arisen with the people of Corea who, ever tenacious of their liberty, refused to abide by the terms of the treaties imposed upon them by armies that were irresistible so long as they remained. One king had retired to a small island rather than sign his own disgrace, whilst another, although the friend of Kublai, had been seized with the national fervour, and placed himself at the head of the popular movement. But Kublai, knowing well the danger that always lurks in the despair of a people, resorted to