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against the troublesome Taijuts, and had received at the hands of the Chinese the title of Wang or King. His subjects had subsequently risen against him, and Wang Khan had found shelter and safety with Temujin. In a few years Wang Khan was reinstated in his authority over the Keraits, through the generous assistance of the Mongol chieftain, and Temujin no doubt flattered himself that he had secured a staunch ally for his further schemes; but human ingratitude is proverbial, and Wang Khan was no exception to the rule.
In A.D. 1199 Temujin and Wang Khan declared war upon the Naimans, a great people holding the larger portion of Jungaria ; but, before the campaign had fairly commenced, the alliance between the Mongol and the Kerait had been weakened by the insidious practices of Chamuka. Wang Khan then drew off his troops, and Temujin was constrained to retreat. The Kerait chief fared as badly as his treachery deserved, for the Naimans pursued him with vigour, and inflicted great losses upon his force. Indeed it was only Temujin's timely aid that saved him from complete destruction. On several occasions an attempt was made to cement anew this alliance, but Wang Khan, either jealous of the greater fame of his neighbour, or apprehensive of future danger from his ambition, was always half-hearted in his promises of friendship, and not indisposed to array his troops against Temujin whenever it suited his purpose. In A.D. 1202 he took a more decided step, and formed a confederacy amongst all the tribes friendly to himself for the purpose of arresting the career of the Mongols. The mask of hollow friendship was at last thrown aside, and the features of bitter hatred clearly revealed. The issue was simply whether Temujin or Wang Khan was to be supreme on the great Mongolian steppe.
The first encounter was disastrous to the arms of Temujin. The hostile armies came into contact at a place near the modern Ourga, where the mounds over the slain that day are still shown as the record of one of the most famous battles in Mongol history. The impetuosity of the charge of the Mongol horsemen broke the line of Wang Khan's army, and his best troops wavered before the shock. But the odds were
all in favour of the Kerait, and Temujin's wearied followers were at last compelled to retreat. After this disaster Temujin was reduced to the lowest straits, and it seemed as if the fruits of many years of wise government, and boldness in the field, were to be lost in a single day. Temujin himself never despaired of the result, and with a chosen band of followers, small in numbers, but formidable in their fidelity to their chief, and by reason of their discipline, he continued what seemed an unequal, if not a hopeless struggle. In A.D. 1203 he surprised Wang Khan in his camp, and compelled him to take refuge among the Naimans, by whom, in defiance of the laws of hospitality, and of the forbearance due to the unfortunate, he was put to death. The consequences of this event were important, as the Kerait people then became tributary to Temujin, whose authority was thus extended from the Amour to the Kin frontier. To the west there remained the powerful confederacy of the Naimans hostile and unsubdued.
Temujin's next task was to settle his future relations with these western neighbours. The Naiman chief was fully resolved to come to conclusions with the Mongols, and Temujin found in him a more formidable antagonist than Wang Khan had been. Both sides were eager for the fray, and the two forces encountered each other on one of the wide plains north of the Tian Shan in the heart of Jungaria. The battle was long and stubbornly contested. The Naimans fought with the utmost resolution, resisting their opponents long after the result of the battle had been virtually decided, and after their chief had been carried, covered with wounds, out of the press of the combat. The Naimans, and the tribes in alliance with them, were thus subjected, and Temujin's triumph was rendered the more complete by the capture of his old enemy Chamuka.
It was on his return from this great expedition, when he had accomplished some of the chief objects of his life, that Temujin resolved to express to the surrounding nations, by some higher title than he had yet assumed, the military power he had formed and consolidated. On his way back from the country of the Naimans he turned southwards into the kingdom of Hia, which divided with the Kins and Sungs the sovereignty of the Chinese Empire, and with his usual success defeated the army sent to oppose him. His stay in Hia was on this occasion brief, and having garrisoned two fortified places within its frontier, he returned to his great camping-place near the Onon to celebrate the completion of the first portion of the task he had resolved to accomplish.
All the Mongol chiefs were summoned from far and near to the Grand Council or Kuriltai of their nation, a banner of nine white yak-tails was placed in the centre of the camp, and on the appointed day the warriors of this race of conquerors assembled round the national ensign to hear the decision of their great leader. It was then proclaimed that Temujin would no longer be content with the minor title of Gur Khan, which had fallen in dignity by the overthrow of so many of the name; but that he would take the style of Genghis † Khan. If we consider the significance of this proclamation by the light of the great events which followed it, and of which it may be considered the direct precursor, it would be difficult to assign greater importance to any other event of a similar kind in the world's history. The assemblage which gathered that day, in the year A.D. 1206, on the spot near which their great chief was born, was called upon to witness the consummation of one great triumph, and the inauguration of a still more brilliant period of military conquest and success. The subjection of the Keraits and Naimans was a very creditable exploit; but it sank into insignificance in comparison with the conquest of China, and of the states of Western and Central Asia.
Genghis was too versed in the ways of men to reserve all the honours for himself. Having assumed a title which overshadowed every other, he showered dignities on his followers.
* This custom was adhered to for several generations-in fact, until the gradual dissolution of the Mongol confederacy. It often resulted in the loss of half-won kingdoms, and sometimes afforded a respite to nations on the verge of extinction.
† Genghis, or any of the numerous other spellings employed by different writers, means “Very Mighty Khan.” The Chinese translation, "Chingsze," is rendered by Douglas "perfect warrior." Mailla says that it is the reputed sound of the bird of heaven.
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 into 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
Their military supremacy arose from their superiority in all essentials as a fighting power to their neighbours. Much of their knowledge was borrowed from China, where the art of disciplining a large army, and maneuvring 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.”