Imatges de pàgina

thousand men. Kublai sent one of his officers to inspect, and apparently also to instruct, the forces of this new ally and dependent.

In the following years Kublai's attention was frequently directed to the consideration of the subject of how he might best accomplish the chastisement of the Japanese, and as soon as the result of the Chinese war had become well assured, he adopted more active measures for the attainment of his object. In A.D. 1274 he sent a small fleet of three hundred vessels and fifteen thousand men against Japan, but the result was unfortunate. The Japanese attacked it off the island of Tsiusima, and inflicted a great defeat upon the Mongols. Apparently the larger portion of this fleet consisted of the contingent provided by the King of Corea; and Kublai does not seem to have thought that his military honour was in any degree involved in this disaster, for in the years immediately following he showed greater inclination than at any previous time to come to terms with the Japanese. The Japanese, inflated by their naval victory, and confident in their insular position, refused to yield, in either form or substance, to the pretensions of Kublai, and, at last, either anxious to show the firmness of their resolve or desirous of bringing the tedious discussions to an end, they caused some of the Mongol envoys to be murdered in A.D. 1280. This violation of the laws common to all humanity, left Kublai no choice save to vindicate his majesty. He was the less disinclined to make the attempt because the conquest of Southern China had been completed, and a large body of disbanded Chinese troops, who had deserted from the Sungs, were available for military operations. At the time it must have seemed that the Japanese had chosen a bad moment for bringing their differences with a formidable enemy to a head.

During the year A.D. 1280-81, great preparations were made in all the harbours of Kiangsu, Chekiang, and Fuhkien for the expedition which was to punish and subdue the bold islanders who had openly defied the great conquerors of the continent. The fleets and the armies released by the destruction of the last vestiges of Sung power were concentrated in the eastern seaports, and a large number of the survivors INVASION OF JAPAN. 363

of the Chinese armies were re-enlisted for the purposes of this war. The total force to be employed considerably exceeded one hundred thousand men, of whom it is not probable that more than one-third were Mongols. The large number of native troops employed is shown by, among other circumstances, the harbours from which they set out, which were Kincsay and Zayton (Chinchow), the nearest and most convenient for the despatch of the troops stationed in the south. A preferable plan, because minimizing the sea-voyage for the inexpert Mongol sailors, would have been to have concentrated the army of invasion in Corea, and to have thence directed it against Japan. But this would have involved much preliminary marching to and fro, and the courage of the Chinese recruits would probably have evaporated long before a start could have been made. Moreover, the war was far from popular with the Mongols themselves, and the principal object of the Pekin Council was to get the business done as quickly as possible, and before the army had relaxed the energy which counts for so much in the prosecution of a war. Although, therefore, it entailed a long sea-voyage, it was from the harbours of Zayton and Kincsay that this great armada set sail.

As is often the case in an army composed of mixed nationalities, two generals were appointed to the command, one a Chinese and the other a Mongol; but the arrangement did not in this or in any other instance conduce to harmony. Numerous points arose for settlement, but they proved only provocative of dissension. One general fell ill and had to resign his command, and another disappeared during a storm at sea. When the wind-shattered fleet reached the islets off the south-western coast of Japan, it was reduced in numbers and the men were disheartened in courage. The Japanese fleet was hovering round it in readiness to attack whenever a favourable opportunity offered, and on the chief island of Kiusiu the Japanese forces mustered in great numbers. A fresh storm destroyed many more of Kublai's war-junks, and drove others out to sea to be never again heard of ; and when the army, in despair, endeavoured to construct fresh vessels for their return journey the Japanese assailed them with all their forces. After an unequal contest, in which the Mongols seem to have made a strenuous resistance, the relics of this army were compelled to surrender. While the lives of the Chinese and Coreans were spared, all the Mongols were put to the sword, and very few escaped to tell Kublai the mournful tidings of the greatest disaster which had ever befallen his arms or those of any of his race.

It was no part of the Mongol character to acquiesce in defeat. Their enterprises had on some previous occasions been checked, and not succeeded to the full measure of their hopes; but they had always returned in greater force to complete what they had been compelled to leave half finished. Brought face to face with a new and formidable element, the determination of the race was of a sufficiently practical kind to recognize that no advantage could be gained by rushing blindfold against an obstacle that defied their utmost effort, and the common sense of the Mongols revolted against the resumption of an operation that was seen to be most costly and unlikely to result in anything save discomfiture and disappointment. But Kublai was only a mortal, and the spectacle of his shattered vessels and his slaughtered thousands appealed to him strongly for revenge. What had been merely the prompting of ambition now presented itself to him with all the force of a sacred duty. A Mongol had never yet acquiesced in the immutability of defeat. Was it reserved for the proud Kublai to be the first to make so important a departure from the accepted policy and traditions of his race and House?

During the following years Kublai made energetic preparations towards repairing this defeat, and in A.D. 1283 he had, with the assistance of the Corean king, equipped a fresh fleet for this service ; but he found greater difficulty in procuring sailors to man it. Several mutinies, which assumed alarming proportions, arose from the dislike generally prevailing to embark on this voyage; and Kublai's plans advanced very slowly towards realization. At last, in A.D. 1286, after a sharp protest from the President of the Council, Lieousiuen, Kublai gave orders for the abandonment of all further designs upon Japan. Bitter as the decision must have FREE-BORN ISLANDERS. 365

been to this haughty ruler, it was resolved that no fresh preparations should be made for the retrieval of the late defeat, and that the brave islanders of Japan should be left to enjoy the liberty which they had shown they knew how to defend. The Mongols might well rest satisfied with what they had accomplished, although, like many great continental peoples, they had to confess on the sea a superior in a race of freeborn islanders, inferior in numbers, and also in the science and machinery of war. It will be seen that their successful defence inspired the Japanese with a spirit of aggression, and that they became at a later period the assailants in a struggle with the inhabitants of the mainland.

The conquest of Yunnan by Kublai at an earlier stage in his career, and the subsequent successes of Uriangkadai, had led to the institution of relations with the rulers and peoples of the Indo-Chinese peninsula. Several of these had been reduced to a state of more or less dependence upon the Mongol general in that region; but the principal of them, the King of Mien or Burmah, who arrogated to himself the title of King of Bengal as well, was inveterately hostile and defiant. While the Sung dominions remained only partly subdued, the Mongols were unable to act with any vigour in this quarter, and sought to obtain by diplomacy the recognition of their authority by the sovereign of Mien. But this potentate, trusting in his wealth, the numbers of his people, and the extent of his dominions from the borders of Yunnan to the Gulf of Bengal, if not to the Gangetic Delta, haughtily refused to abate one jot of his authority. He would be an independent prince or nothing.

The Mongol garrisons in Yunnan were, therefore, reduced to the lowest possible limits in order that an active force might be placed in the field; and when the King of Mien crossed the frontier at the head of a large army, he found the Mongols drawn up to receive him on the plains of Yungchang. The numbers were greatly in favour of the Mien ruler, who had not only a large body of cavalry, but, like another Pyrrhus, had brought into the field a strong contingent of elephants. The Burmese army exceeded fifty thousand men, and included, according to one authority eight hundred, according to another two thousand, elephants; whereas, at the highest estimate, the Mongols mustered no more than twelve thousand men in all. The Burmese possessed also an artillery force of sixteen guns. Despite, therefore, the wellknown valour and great military qualities of the Mongols, the result of this battle appeared to be more than doubtful when the two armies halted in face of each other. The struggle proved long and bitterly contested. The superiority of the Burmese in cavalry, added to the advantage they possessed in their corps of elephants—manned with artillery and slingers—gave an impetuosity to their first attack which Kublai's soldiers were unable to resist . The Mongol commander had foreseen this result, and had provided against it . Dismounting his cavalry, he ordered his whole force to direct their arrows upon that part of the Burmese battle which was composed of the elephants. Before this hailstorm, for the Mongols were then incomparably the best archers in the world (although the age which we are accustomed to think of as the golden period of English archery—when the traditions of Robin Hood preserved their force, and when the bowmen turned the day at Cressy and Poictiers), the onset of the elephants was speedily checked and thrown into confusion, and these infuriated animals rushed through the ranks of the Burmese, carrying confusion in their train. The Mongols then remounted their horses and completed the effect of this panic by charging the main body of the enemy. The latter were driven with heavy loss from the field, and the Mongols brought the campaign to a brilliant conclusion by the capture of several towns on the Irrawaddi. The Mongol general was compelled by the heat of the weather to withdraw his troops to the cooler quarters of Northern Yunnan, leaving the Burmese king with a shattered reputation, but still untouched and practically secure in the interior of his dominions. The Mongols only retired with the determination that they would return to complete their triumph, and the local commander, Nasiuddin, sent a report to Kublai that it would be an easy matter to add the dominions of the King of Mien to his Empire.

Six years after this campaign, in which the Mongols fully

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