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Nayan enabled Kublai to return to Pekin, but it did not close the war. Kaidu remained unconquered, and resolved to tempt the decision of Fortune. He was advancing eastwards as rapidly as he could, receiving many reinforcements from the tribes and Mongol chiefs on his line of march, and not to be deterred from his undertaking by the overthrow of his ally Nayan, or by the power of Kublai, or by the reputation of the great general Bayan.
In this quarter Kublai's arms had met with a preliminary disaster before Bayan had had time to reach Karakoram. Kanmala, prince of Tsin, and son of Kublai, endeavoured to arrest Kaidu's march at Hanghai, near the banks of the Selinga river ; but being forced to engage in a general battle, he was signally defeated, and owed his life to the personal valour and devotion of Tutuka, a Kipchak officer. The consequences of this reverse were considered to be so grave that Kublai again took the field in person, and, although no fighting is reported to have occurred, it may be assumed from Kaidu's retreat that Kublai succeeded in fully restoring his authority in the north. Kublai's prompt return also signified that he, for his part, did not desire to push matters to an extremity with Kaidu. He thought it more prudent to leave him the proverbial golden bridge for retreat.
After Kublai's departure, the war still lingered on in this quarter, and, indeed, it continued until after his death. On the whole, Kublai's lieutenants succeeded in maintaining their positions and in repelling the frequent attacks made against them. But they did not attempt to carry on an offensive war against Kaidu. They were well content to rest upon their laurels. Bayan, who arrived late upon the scene, was alone not satisfied with doubtful success. Wherever he appeared, the result of the fighting was sure to be complete and unequivocal; and in the steppes of Mongolia his strategy and tactics were as conspicuous as they had been on the banks of the Great River and against the armies of the Sungs. On one occasion he was, with a portion of his army, entrapped into an ambuscade, but his presence of mind and cool courage extricated him from the dangerous predicament, and his assailants left two thousand of their number slain
upon the ground, and the rest prisoners in his hands. This was the last military achievement of the great Bayan, the most remarkable of Kublai's generals, perhaps of all the Mongol commanders, with, of course, the exception of Genghis himself.
Bayan was too great a man to escape the shafts of the envious. In A.D. 1293, Kublai was so far influenced by the representations of those at the court that he ordered him to return to Pekin ; and having removed him from his high military command, gave him instead the post of a minister of state. On Kublai's death, a few months later, Bayan reappeared upon the scene to determine by his powerful voice the elevation of Prince Timour to the throne. That prince happened to be absent at the seat of war when his father died, and he owed his undisputed succession to the firmness shown by Bayan in his interests. Bayan did not long survive this change in the person of the ruler. A few months after the day when he drew his sword in support of the cause of the absent prince, he died at the comparatively early age of fifty-nine, leaving behind him a great reputation for skill as a general and highmindedness as a man. His character appeals to our sympathy with the irresistible claims of a magnanimous and courageous soldier, who endeavoured on all occasions to mitigate the horrors of war and to temper the rage of his fierce soldiery. If Kublai had possessed many supporters like Bayan, or perhaps known how to make use of their services, the Yuen dynasty would probably have occupied the throne of China for a longer period, and attained a greater amount of popularity in that country than it did.
After Kublai's last journey to the northern frontier, his bodily infirmities increased so much that it was generally perceived that the end could not be far distant. In A.D. 1 294, after the appearance of a comet in the preceding year, which the Chinese took advantage of to warn him to reform his administration, Kublai fell ill and died. He was then in the eightieth year of his age, and had occupied the throne for thirty-five years. Twenty-three years had elapsed since he first gave his dynasty the Chinese name of Yuen, and to the private the details to
during the last sixteen years he had been the acknowledged ruler of the whole of China.
With regard to the private character and domestic life of this prince, we owe most of the details to that vivacious gossip and remarkable traveller, Marco Polo. That Kublai was destitute of natural affection could not be sustained in face of his evidently unaffected grief at the loss of his wife Honkilachi, and his eldest son Chinkin ; but there is much corroborative evidence of the charges brought against him by the Chinese historians, of having been too much addicted to such weaknesses as the love of money and a morbid inclination for superstitious practices; and he was also undoubtedly of a sensual nature. But admitting these faults and shortcomings, there remains a long list of virtues and high qualities in his favour. If he was not the greatest of Chinese Emperors, and that he certainly was not, his character is sufficiently vindicated by the events of his reign. They show him to have been well able to maintain a great Empire at its height, and to lead his people into the paths of peace and prosperity.
Kublai's long reign is not less remarkable if regarded from the standpoint of its being the climax of the triumph of a more vigorous race over a weaker. The greatest of the Mongol achievements, greater in its way than the march across Asia to the confines of Austria and the Persian Gulf, was undoubtedly the conquest of China. It had foiled the efforts of Genghis and his immediate successors, and all the credit of success was reserved for Kublai. The praise for having accomplished the most arduous of all the undertakings that formed part of the original Mongol programme belongs, therefore, to this prince. The Chinese were subdued and reduced by him to the condition of subjects of the Great Khan ; but there can also be no question that they were throughout the most unwilling of subjects. Kublai showed that he knew how to conquer them ; but it was above his capacity to reconcile them to his rule. Perhaps the task was impossible; but his later public acts were conspicuously deficient in the tact and judgment required for popularising his authority. The triumph of the Mongols was incon
THE INEVITABLE RESULT.
testable on the basis of their superior military strength and knowledge; but it had no secure foundation in any portion of the country south of the Hoangho. Even before Kublai's death it was clear that it could not long endure ; and when he disappeared, the inevitable result came clearly into view.
THE DECLINE OF THE MONGOLS.
OWING to the prompt measures of Bayan, Prince Timour, Kublai's grandson, was proclaimed Emperor under the style of Chingtsong. He retained possession of the throne for thirteen years, during which he governed the country with moderation and with a palpable desire to win the sympathy of the people over whom he reigned. Ill health, and anxiety on the score of the claims of others to the throne, prevented his undertaking any extensive operations at a distance from the base of his power, and Timour's reign was the very opposite to his father's, in that it beheld no foreign wars or costly expeditions on the sea. The bent of his own inclination was further strengthened by a great famine which visited the northern provinces and produced a vast amount of suffering. The preservation of peace became a matter of sheer necessity. When the scarcity passed away, it left other evils in its train, and prominent among these were the exactions of bands of brigands who traversed the country with almost complete impunity. Timour's attention was repeatedly called to the subject, but all he could do availed but little.
When, however, these brigands attempted to combine, and sought to attain other objects than mere plunder, their formidable character vanished. In small parties they were to be dreaded, but as soon as they collected in the proportions of an army they came within the reach of the Mongol garrisons, and were speedily dispersed. The anxiety shown by Timour to relieve the necessities of his suffering subjects and to repress the exactions of tyrannical governors, obtained