« AnteriorContinua »
THE SUNG FAMILY
Kublai at last announced his intention of foi of retrieving the honour of his arms in this a
Kublai was the more induced to adopt ti because numerous internal troubles raised fe hension in his breast. Already the great mas people were showing that they bore their ne love, and that they would not long consent to remain apathetic subjects of an alien rule. In Fuhkien, Houkwang, and Kiangnan the Mongol garrisons were kept constantly on the alert, and indeed had often to resort to extreme measures against the disaffected inhabitants. Some years before the final abandonment of all further designs upon Japan or Annam, a fanatic had proclaimed a revival of the Sung dynasty in Fuhkien, and his auguries, drawn from the position of the planets, of coming misfortune to the Mongols, sufficed to bring one hundred thousand supporters to his side. Kublai was thoroughly alarmed at this popular demonstration, which showed the hollowness of the Mongol conquest, and, suspicious of the members of the Sung family in his power, he caused them to be brought before him, with Wen Tien Sang, the last and most faithful of their ministers. The members of the Sung family were banished to Tartary, and Wen Tien Sang, whose fidelity remained proof to the end, and who refused to enter the Mongol service, was publicly executed. Notwithstanding these sweeping measures, the populace was far from being either cowed or won over; and Kublai found in the sentiment of the Chinese towards his race the most potent inducement to abstain from costly and hazardous expeditions against the few of his neighbours who were willing to give their lives in defence of their freedom.
But although his necessities compelled him to abandon the expensive dreams of military conquest which he had formed, his restless spirit urged him to attempt other means for the accomplishment of his purpose. He sent, therefore, a mission and a skilful envoy to visit the courts of the states and islands of Southern Asia ; and the presents brought back from hospitable potentates flattered the declining years of the aged Emperor, who saw, because he wished to see, in their courtesy the formal recognition of his power.
thi Whether encouraged by the result of this embassy, or from some other cause that is unknown, Kublai came to the sudden determination to renew the war with the King of Annam; and he again entrusted the task to his son Togan who had been appointed Viceroy of Yunnan. The active, command was divided between two generals, and a squadron co-operated with the land forces from the sea. The Mongols were victorious in seventeen encounters, and the vanquished prince of Annam, so late exulting in the confidence of victory, was obliged to seek personal safety by a timely flight. As has often proved the case under similar circumstances, the true danger of the undertaking did not reveal itself until all open opposition had been overcome. The Annamite army had been overthrown, the king had fled no man knew whither, and the capital was in the hands of the national enemy. There was no one left to dispute the authority of the Mongols, and apparently their work was done.
At this point Apachi, the most experienced of the commanders, recommended that Togan should order the return of the army to its own country. All the objects of the war had been, he said, attained, and the Annamites had been forcibly reminded that the Mongols could, when they chose, administer the necessary chastisement for any act of hostility. There was no inducement to delay the return march, and provisions were daily becoming more scarce and the heat more intense. But Togan put off his decision until his army had become so reduced by its privations that the safer plan seemed to be to remain in its position until it had recruited its exhausted strength. Meanwhile the Annamites gathered from all sides, their neighbours came to their assistance, and their king suddenly returned from his place of safety to put himself at their head. Togan was at length compelled to give the order of retreat, and the Mongol army, although victorious in the field, was constrained to make a hasty and undignified exit from Annam. Kublai was so indignant at this untoward and unexpected result that he removed Togan from his governorship, and forbade him to visit the court. The King of Annam completed by his tact the task which his valour and judgment had carried far towards a successful
A FRENCH EMPIRE.
conclusion, for when he had vanquished the Mongol army, and expelled it from his dominions, he sent a letter of apology for having so long opposed Kublai by arms, together with an image of solid gold in the shape of tribute. For this reign Annam made good its claims to independence, and, partly from its situation, partly also, perhaps, from its unimportance, it has succeeded in maintaining it ever since. If in the present age it is exposed to any immediate danger, it is at the hands of our gallant and courteous neighbours, the French, who only require the appearance of another Dupleix to carve out a fresh empire in the kingdoms of the IndoChinese peninsula along the banks of the Mekong and the Songkoi, and on the shores of the Gulf of Tonquin.
In the meanwhile the popular disaffection was steadily increasing. The Sung Emperor, whose place of imprisonment had been several times changed, was sent to Tibet to be instructed in the doctrines of Buddhism ; but this did not prevent insurrections in Fuhkien and Kwantung. The necessity for exceptional precautions at the capital and in all the garrisoned towns, where the Mongols, literally speaking, slept with their arms ready to their hands, showed that the people were far from being reconciled to their fate. In their contempt for the barbarian conqueror, they would not even give his attempt at governing them with a fair show of justice and moderation a hearing. It was condemned before anything could be said in its defence. The Chinese people would have none of it. They eagerly expected the hour of deliverance from a foreign yoke, and submitted with such patience as they could muster to the tyranny of Kublai's administrators, and to the bungling, although well-meaning, efforts of that ruler to propitiate their good-will.
Much of the failure of Kublai's endeavours to popularize his authority must be attributed to the tyrannical acts and oppressive measures of his principal ministers, who were mostly natives of Western or Northern Asia, and who regarded the Chinese with unfriendly eyes. Prominent among these were two farmers of the taxes, who ground the people down by harsh exactions, and, although Kublai dismissed and punished them as soon as their iniquities became
too glaring to be passed over, their successors followed very much in their footsteps. Nor were the exactions confined to the civil authorities. The older Kublai became the more was he attached to Buddhism, and the lamas, or priests of that religion, acquired greater influence under his patronage. Encouraged by the royal favour, one of these ventured to plunder the tombs of the Sung Emperors, and when arrested at the instigation of a Chinese official the Emperor ordered his release and permitted him to retain possession of his ill-gotten plunder. This brutal and injudicious clemency added fuel to the flame of popular indignation.
The failure of his enterprise against Japan had not wholly cured Kublai of his desire to undertake expeditions beyond the sea. To avenge an insult offered to one of the envoys he was constantly sending into the Southern Archipelago, Kublai fitted out a large expedition against Kuava, a state identified with the island of Java. The Mongols as usual overcame the resistance openly offered them, but they were outmanoeuvred, and suffered heavy losses in several skirmishes. Their commander, seeing that there was not much prospect of speedily conquering the country of Kuava, at once withdrew his forces and returned to China with vast booty, but little glory. A smaller expedition to the islands of Loochoo, which in the seventh century had been subjected by the Soui Emperor, Yangti, was not more fortunate, being obliged, on the death of its commander, to return to Chinese harbours without having accomplished any tangible result.
While these causes of discontent were in operation there were other circumstances threatening the fabric of Mongol supremacy in the very foundations of its power. The quarrel between Kublai and his brother, Arikbuka, has already been described ; but although terminating with the success of Kublai, it left behind it the seeds of future trouble. Kublai's cousin, Kaidu, of the family of Ogotai, had, at an earlier period, assumed an attitude of marked hostility towards his kinsman, and the lapse of time only seemed to intensify the bitterness of their rivalry. But although Kaidu never wanted the inclination to molest his more successful opponent, it was
WAR OF MONGOLS.
long before he could collect sufficient strength to work him any harm. But about the period we have now reached he had been joined by Nayan, a member of the House of Genghis, who had gathered together a power of considerable dimensions in Tartary, and had formed a bond between all the tribes and chieftains of Northern Asia in their common antipathy to Kublai. By the year A.D. 1287 Kaidu's plans were in a fair way towards completion, and a general revolt throughout Mongolia had been arranged and was on the point of breaking out. Fortunately for him, Kublai received intelligence of this scheme, and he resolved to strike a blow against Nayan before Kaidu could come to his assistance.
He sent his great general Bayan to Karakoram to maintain his authority there and to retard the advance of Kaidu, while he himself marched to encounter Nayan in the region which is now Manchuria. Nayan had made strenuous preparations for the war, but he was taken by surprise when he found that the Emperor was marching to attack him in overwhelming strength. Nayan's army probably did not exceed forty thousand men, while Kublai's may be computed at about one hundred thousand, better armed and with more formidable engines of war. Kublai, at this time more than seventy years of age, inspected his army from a tower erected on the backs of four elephants fastened together, and, having been informed by the soothsayers that the auguries were favourable and that he was promised victory, no longer delayed the signal for attack. The collision between these representatives of the same race proved bitter and protracted, and the result long hung doubtful in the balance. Nayan's followers fought with great valour, but the more desperate their resistance the more complete did it make Kublai's victory. Those who escaped the carnage of that day were glad to find safety in the woods of Northern Manchuria ; but Nayan himself, who is said to have been a Christian, fell a prisoner into the hands of the great Emperor. It was a custom among the Mongols not to shed the blood of their own princes, so Kublai ordered that Nayan should be sewn up in a sack and then beaten to death. The overthrow of