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Art. V1.-History of the Mongols, from the Ninth to the
Nineteenth century. By HENRY H. HOWORTH, F.S.A. Part 1. The Mongols Proper and the Kalmuks. London:
1876. Part 2. (In two divisions.) London: 1880. AT T the time when the Danes were carrying fire and sword
through the eastern shires of this island and the northern provinces of France, there first appeared in the north-east corner of Asia a race of warriors formidable to their neighbours by their military prowess, and destined to exercise a wider sway, and to carry the terror of their name farther, than even the legionaries of Imperial Rome. Issuing several centuries later from their unknown and almost impenetrable retreat in the wild but fertile country of the region of the Amour, they swept all opposition from their path, whether on the part of the other nomads, who speedily assimilated themselves with the rising clan, or of the civilisations of China and of Europe. Neither the numbers of the Celestials, nor the chivalry of the Latin and Teuton nations, availed against the heavier-armed and impetuous horsemen who swarmed round the banners of the Mongol leaders. It needed but that Batu Khan should have been a second Genghis to have placed Europe at the feet of the same race which gave dynasties to China and most of the states of Asia, including, at a later period, Hindostan. During two centuries the Mongols were indisputably the first soldiers in the world, for not only were their strength and valour of the highest quality, but their tactics were based on scientific principles superior to those known to any of their opponents. The deeds of this conquering people have occupied a large place in the world's history, and must excite interest whenever recounted; but, until Mr. Howorth took upon himself the laborious task of collecting all the information bearing upon the subject, the reader had considerable difficulty in arriving at even a general idea with regard to their history. The excuse for remaining in ignorance upon the subject is removed by the publication, within the last four years, of the three goodly volumes which it has been the privilege and pleasure of Mr. Howorth to write. Of the labour he has expended in making his work so complete that it will not require to be repeated, it is impossible to speak too highly. With almost unexampled assiduity he has ransacked every available source of information, from the history of Abul Ghazi to the learned writings of Professor Gregorieff, and every circumstance in the annals of the Mongols, in all their ramifications, during ten centuries, is preserved and written down in his pages. This Herculean task being thus completely and, as we shall proceed to show, satisfactorily performed, it is the more to be regretted that Mr. Howorth did not permit himself to devote closer attention to his style and method of arrangement. He has been content to sacrifice form to substance, and, while students of history will benefit by his great assiduity, it is probable that he himself will suffer by not receiving the full recognition his meritorious achieve. ment deserves. Mr. Howorth has, however, undoubtedly succeeded in erecting a durable monument among thinking men to his own erudition and powers of research.
In the Chinese histories of the Tang dynasty (618-907 A.D.) mention is repeatedly made of a great nomadic race called Shi-wei on the northern frontier, and in the ninth century the Mongu clan is specially referred to. During several centuries these people lived on terms of friendship with the Chinese, sending their tribute to the capital, and carrying on general commercial relations with the Empire. They were much less a source of trouble than the Hioungnou, the nomad tribes holding Gobi and the adjoining districts, and they might even be considered in the light of allies of the Chinese, with some of whose ruling families they claimed blood connexion. On the other hand, ethnographical distinctions apart, the Shi-wei and the Hioungnou occupied towards China precisely the same position. They were both nomadic peoples living by the spoil of the chase, and by what their right hands could win, brought into contact with the civilisation and the wealth of China. The rich cities and fertile provinces of that country offered a temptation not to be resisted, and early in the eleventh century we find that the Mongus or Mongols were implicated in raids within the frontier. On this occasion they were completely baffled, and the Imperial troops inflicted several defeats with much loss upon them. During the next hundred years matters progressed after a very similar manner, and then the Mongol chief Kabul Khan went to the court of the Kin Emperor, and took an oath of fealty to him. This pledge sat very lightly on his conscience, and shortly after his return (1137 A.D.) he began hostilities against the Chinese. In this war Kabul was victorious, and no fewer than three armies sent by the Kin ruler to defend the frontier were defeated and destroyed. He also successfully carried on a bitter contest with his nomadic neighbours, and, on his death, left to his heirs the beginnings of the great Empire which it was to be their task to consolidate and extend. We may pass on to his grandson Yissugei,
who was the first to openly refuse to recognise the claims of China to suzerain rights, and to declare himself the ruler of an independent people under the style of · Emperor of the · Great Mongols. Under his guidance the power of the Mongols greatly increased, and his influence was exercised towards the close of his life in restoring to Wang Khan, ruler of the Keraits--who is identified with the celebrated Prester John—the kingdom which his uncle Gurkhan had appropriated. Yissugei did not live long after this event, dying, as the legend puts it, of poison given him by his hereditary enemies, the Tartars, while accepting their hospitality. He had done much towards the consummation of the ambitious dreams of his ancestors, and he left their full realisation to the abler hands of his son Temujin, known to all the world as Genghis Khan.
The story is told, in all the picturesque language of Oriental fancy, of how Yissugei, hunting with his brothers in the country of the Tartars, had come across a single chieftain and his wife, Ogelen Eke. Yissugei exclaimed, This woman will bear a
. valiant son,' and forth with they carried her off to his home. Yissugei made her his wife, and she became the mother of a boy who was called Temujin, from the name of an opponent whom Yissugei had just defeated in battle. This notable event took place at Dilun Boldak on the Onon, which becomes the Shilka branch of the Amour, and the balance of evidence favours the supposition that it occurred in the year 1162 A.D., although the Chinese and some other accounts place it five years earlier. At first it appeared as if the death of Yissugei would be followed by the disintegration of the clan. Several of the leading chiefs refused to obey a boy, or to accept a woman as regent, and, withdrawing themselves from the confederation, sought to establish independent administrations. Temujin was too young as yet to battle for his own cause, but his mother, the Tartar captive of fifteen years before, raised the royal standard and presented a bold front to the rebels. Soon Temujin was able to take his own part, but he fared badly, being made captive by his enemies, who forced him to submit to the indignity of the cangue.
From the state of servitude to which he was reduced he had the good fortune to escape, but he nearly fell into a greater danger. The caution of his mother and the devotion of a few personal friends, added to his own intrepidity, saved him from this fresh peril. Temujin was now seventeen years of age. and many who had deserted the young prince were attracted back to him by the evidences of valour and sagacity which he was already showing. At this period his following mustered thirteen thousand men,
whom he divided into thirteen battalions or gurans. He appointed officers and instituted an effective form of discipline, thus acquiring the nucleus of a regular army. He promptly turned the advantage derived from this military efficiency to account against his neighbours, and on one occasion he defeated with heavy loss a Tartar force of three times his own number. From this time onwards Temujin's power steadily increased, and slowly but surely he was welding into a consolidated state the whole of the tribes of Mongolia, although these included races opposed to each other by hereditary feuds. Towards the close of the twelfth century Temujin assisted the Chinese in a war with the Tartars, and for this he received a title of honour from the Chinese general. This circumstance affords proof of the vigilance of the Celestial government in this direction, and also that the Mongols had at this time not yet broken off all friendly intercourse with it.
While matters were apparently progressing thus favourably, a league was suddenly formed between all his enemies and rivals against the young Mongol chief, and not only was his career arrested, but he was compelled to seek safety by flight into the desert. He did not despair, and rallying round him the relics of his army, and profiting by the disunion of his opponents, he speedily regained all, and more than all, he had lost. The completeness of his success was fully attested by the conquest of the country of the Keraits and the death of their chief, Wang Khan. To this triumph he added a not less important one over the Naimans, and one of the principal results of this latter success was that he secured the services of Tatakun, an Oighur Turk, at that period the most lettered people in Asia. Tatakun became one of Temujin's most trusted advisers, and was appointed tutor to his sons. It was after this campaign that a general council was summoned at a place near the sources of the Onon, for the purpose of conferring a higher title on the leader who had raised his clan to the rank of a great people. At this assembly it was decided that, as the title of Gur Khan had been humbled by the overthrow of so many of that rank, Temujin should take the new and higher name of Genghis, Jingis, or Zingis Khan, or in whatever other way it may be spelt, meaning Very mighty Khan.'
· ' Within a very short time after the assumption of this style Genghis resolved to give lustre to it by undertaking a great expedition into the northern provinces of China, then divided into two kingdoms. In the north the Tartar dynasty of the Kins had established a kingdom with its capital near the modern Pekin, and including the provinces of Pechili, Shansi,
Shantung, Honan, and parts of Shensi and Kiangnan, while in the south the native Sungs still bore sway. In 1209, on the occasion of a new Kin emperor ascending the throne, Genghis was requested to pay him tribute, a demand usually made of all the desert chiefs. To comply with this Genghis flatly refused, saying that he would never debase himself before an imbecile like the Kin emperor. This act was considered tantamount to a declaration of war, and both sides prepared for the struggle.
Genghis had carefully considered the question of the invasion of China, and had come to the conclusion that there was nothing impossible in an attempt to overthrow the Kins, who were much hampered in their movements by the Chinese kingdom of the Sungs. In 1211 the Mongol army set out on its great expedition from the banks of the Kerulon, and, having traversed the intervening desert, appeared in front of the Great Wall, garrisoned in this portion by the Ongut tribe. The treachery of their chief saved the invaders the trouble of forcing the great barrier erected by Tsin-Hoangti; and the northern provinces of China lay open and exposed at their feet without a blow. Mr. Howorth describes the results of this the first of Genghis's campaigns on a large scale in the following words :- At length in 1212 he laid siege to Taitong-fu. • This successfully resisted his attack, and having been wounded by an arrow he retired once more into the desert. His invasion of China had been an almost continuous success. He • had broken the prestige of the Kin soldiery, and had tested • the skill of his officers.'
This success was the greatest possible encouragement to the Mongols to renew the attack; and, in the following year, Genghis led a fresh and larger host into Pechili. All the other tribes, notably the Tanguts, were excited by these victories, and seized the opportunity to assail the much-harassed Kins, who, far from showing a united front to their enemies, were engaged in intrigues and quarrels that effectually sapped their strength. Genghis's second campaign closed with his conclusive triumph. An imperial princess was given to the conque
a wife, accompanied by a large dower in jewels and slaves. The Mongols then withdrew, laden with booty, but with the full resolve to speedily return.
Each of the years immediately following witnessed a fresh inroad into China on the part of the Mongols, further concessions by the Kin emperor, and the gradual extension of the sway of Genghis across the Great Wall and the Hoang-ho in the direction of the interior of China. These events struck terror to the heart of the