IN attempting to give an account of the Mongols, the historian is confronted with many serious obstacles. At the outset, it would seem as though the stories of these wandering tribes could never be co-ordinated; the incidents of their history are so heterogeneous in character, that it seems an impossible task to pick out a connecting thread running through them all. The internal events, which should assist the historian in tracing the development and confederation of the various tribes, baffle and retard him. The early history is shrouded in myth and mystery. At so late an epoch in the progress of humanity, the student might not unreasonably expect trustworthy evidence and records. But, in reviewing the early period of the Mongolian State, it is a matter of exceptional importance to separate the historical elements from the fictitious, and this is a task involving much discrimination and patience. Every piece of information seems, on its own merits and taken by itself, to be petty and negligible; nor is it easy to discover any positive relation of any consequence between disconnected and sporadic occurrences. There are no central figures, no outstanding personalities, before the time of Jenghiz. The darkness is broken by no brilliant flashes but only by tiny gleams that serve but to intensify the obscurity. We cannot mark cause and effect; we cannot explain, by the recognised canons of historical judgment, the phenomena displayed by the Mongol history. On the other hand, if the events of their internal progress are sporadic and disconnected, if they seem to violate the normal course of national growth, when we come to examine the external events and the expansion of these savage tribes, we find ourselves confronted by facts that are equally inexplicable. Insignificant at home and enormous abroad may be said to sum their salient characteristics, in any case during the earlier periods. It is precisely on account of their foreign relations that a knowledge of the Mongols is essential to the student. Without their effect on the human race outside their borders, the Mongols could be suffered to remain in obscurity.

The difficulties that await the investigator are not exhausted. He has to work with a telescope instead of a microscope. Not only has a vast extent of territory to be kept under constant observation, but movements and actions among neighbouring peoples must be watched closely. The history of the Mongols knows no geographical boundaries. The settled limits of nations were swiftly and ruthlessly overthrown. Unchecked by human valour, they were able to overcome the terrors of vast deserts, the barriers of mountains and seas, the severities of climate, and the ravages of famine and pestilence. No dangers could appal them, no stronghold could resist them, no prayer for mercy could move them. Wherever their fancy roamed, their hordes followed. Flourishing cities perished in a night, leaving no memorial but ruins and mounds of piled-up corpses. The quiet that followed the Mongol invasions was not the calm that settled on a world wearied of strife, eager to foster once again the fruits of civilisation: it was the gasp of expiring nations in their death-agony, before the eternal silence of the tomb. They made their deserts and they called it peace. To follow the destinies of the Mongols, it is necessary to think in continents not in countries, for like an irresistible torrent the armies of the Khans swept over the map of Asia and Europe. A knowledge of no single language will suffice to equip a student for the task of investigating the Mongol races with any profundity. Besides the Tartar languages, some acquaintance is essential with the languages of the peoples with whom the Mongols came into contact. Their armies ranged over all Central Asia, pushing on eastwards to China and westwards to Russia and even to Germany. As a result, the student must be prepared to deal with sources in many tongues, and with more freedom and greater facility than is the case when dealing with other nations.

But if this combination of circumstances invests a study of the Mongols with difficulty, it constitutes an equally potent reason for undertaking the task. We are confronted with a new power in history, with a force that was to bring to an abrupt end, as a deus ex machina, many dramas that would otherwise have ended in a deadlock, or would have dragged on an interminable course. The very magnitude of the Mongol influence and the colossal area of their operations should prove an additional incentive to the student, and render an attempt to estimate the nature and scope of the changes which ensued alike attractive and fruitful.

In Europe the Mongols overran Russia, Hungary, and Silesia; to the upheaval which they brought about, the establishment of the Turkish Empire, and consequently the growth of the Renaissance, must be directly attributed. This same upheaval reacted on the contests between Saracen and Crusader and, nearer home, on the antagonism of the Papacy and the Empire. The extermination of the Assassins (1256), a task beyond the power of Europe or Syria, was a matter of comparative ease to the Mongols. Before the terror which their name inspired, Europe seemed utterly demoralised and incapable of resistance, and, had not the Mambaks intervened (1260) and beaten back the invaders at a critical moment, there is little doubt but that a great portion of Europe would have succumbed to Tartar rule.


Unification of Asia 


The convulsion caused by the Mongols in Europe, great though it was, cannot be compared to that produced in Asia. The destruction of Baghdad and the overthrow of the Caliphate (1258), the annihilation of the Kin or Golden Dynasty which ruled the northern half of China (1234), the conquest of Southern China, of Kharazm, Persia, and the surrounding countries, the establishment of the rule of the Moguls in India, are some of the events any of which alone would suffice to make a knowledge of the Mongol power indispensable to the general historian. It is not accurate to regard the Mongols merely as a ravaging horde. After sacking Baghdad, Halagu founded an observatory; after conquering China, Kublai established a university at Cambalu (Pekin). The "scourge of God" does not smite blindly. It is a noteworthy phenomenon that a successful barbarian attack on civilisation, however destructive be its ravages at the moment, is ultimately followed by a great revival, and this revival may often be traced to the very catastrophe which seemed destined to overwhelm culture in irretrievable ruin. In the sphere of religion, this may be observed by the Assyrian (B.c. 587) and Roman (A.D. 70) conquests of Judaea, which, in the end, created and strengthened the diaspora and made the outer world acquainted with the moral teachings of the Pentateuch and Prophets. In the spheres of the arts and humanities, the Roman conquest of Greece, the Turkish conquest of the Byzantine Empire, are instances which go to prove how the accumulated stores of learning may be released and rendered accessible to a wider circle. The Arab conquest of Spain gave the light of science, medicine, philosophy, and poetry to Europe in the Dark Ages. The capture of Jerusalem led directly to the establishment of the schools in Jamnia, the ruthless persecution of Hadrian produced the academies of Babylon, and "on the day when the Temple was destroyed, the Messiah was born."

The same statement may be made of the Mongols. The fall of Baghdad transferred the seat of the humanities to Egypt. At the same time it dispersed many scholars and humanists who survived the débacle. Their dispersion throughout the Muslim lands brought academic strength to the places where they settled, while the removal of the literary centre of gravity from Baghdad to Cairo facilitated the access of the Western world to the culture of the Orient. But, apart from mere negative results, the growth of the Mongol power was responsible for other developments in the East. The first and foremost of these was the unification of Asia. This must not be interpreted in the modern sense of political unity or homogeneity. The Mongol government secured tranquillity within its vast borders. The roads were open and a traveller could, as things went, count upon a safe journey, unless he had the misfortune to pass within range of the Emperor's funeral cortege, in which case his fate was death. There was complete religious toleration, and it is only a superficial judgment that will ascribe this to spiritual indifference on the part of the Mongols. Economic changes were also introduced; thus the service of posts, though utilised by the Arabs previously, was largely increased, and the use of paper money was sanctioned by Gaikhatu Khan in 1294 and previously by Kublai. No nation can claim to excel in every branch of human activity, and the deficiency of the Mongols in the domain of literature was made good in other directions.


Mongol and Tartar


It is necessary to begin a sketch of the Mongols with a brief account of their origin, and an explanation or rather an enumeration of the names by which they are known. The name Mongol itself was first applied to certain tribes inhabiting Central Asia. It has come to be a generic name, far more catholic and comprehensive, but it is doubtful whether the various tribes surrendered their own individual names in favour of a uniform imperial designation. "Mongol" as a national name would seem to be more frequent in the mouths of foreigners. It is also known to Europe in the form of Mogul, a title which is more properly restricted to the Mongol rulers of India and which has probably arisen through the Arabic Mughul. As to the etymology of the name, opinions are divided, the most generally accepted being that of Sanang Setzen (b. 1604) who derives the name from the word Mong which, in the Chinese language, has the signification of brave.

The second name, Tartar, should more correctly be spelt Tatar, as in Persian. The first "r" has been inserted in consequence of a fanciful connection with Tartarus; the paronomasia was attributed variously to Innocent IV and to others (Ad sua Tartara Tartari detrudentur). Various theories were held in the Middle Ages with regard to the origin of the Tartars. According to Roger Bacon, they were the soldiers of Antichrist; Friar John of Pian di Carpine believed them to be remnants of the ten tribes whom Alexander the Great endeavoured to shut up in the mountains by the Caspian. Most, however, of these fanciful speculations were based on the contemporary estimate of the character of the invading hordes, not on geographical or ethnological considerations. Fear, not history, was their source. As a matter of fact the Turkish elements in the Mongol confederacy repudiated the name Tartar which, according to Howorth, was sometimes applied generically by the Chinese to all their Northern neighbours and it was thus that it came to be applied to the Mongols. But there was a specific race, Tartar, from which the generic term was derived. This we might guess from the fact that the name Tartar was known in the West long before the days of Mongol supremacy and when the Mongols were only an obscure tribe."

Mongol, then, and Tartar were names of two tribes living in the Eastern portion of Central Asia, to the north-west of China, by the river Uldza and by the Kerulen, Orkhon, Onon, and other tributaries to the great river Amur. The origin of these tribes is shrouded in an obscurity which for the present purpose requires no investigation. It is sufficient to pick up the thread of the story at the place where, having formed a powerful confederacy, they proceeded to launch forth their hordes in all directions and play a prominent part on the stage of general history. A brief enumeration of the component elements would resolve itself into a mere list of names, but a few of the more important tribes deserve mention. Of these the chief was that known as the Kipchaks, who ultimately spread over the districts to the north of the Black Sea and the Caspian, practically from the Danube to the Ural. They were one of the five sections of the Turks under Oghuz Khan, whence their later Arabic name of Ghuzz (Uzes, Guzes) is derived. To Europe they were known as Cumans, from Comania (Kamistdn) in Persia, a name derived from the river Kuma. In the ninth century their expansion brought them to the Volga, and having conquered territory round the banks of that river they made themselves a thorn in the side of Russia, until their incorporation by the Mongols in the Golden Horde during the thirteenth century.


Jenghiz Khan


The Eastern neighbours of the Kipchaks were the Kankali, whose territory lay to the north of Lake Aral, between the Ural river and Lake Balkash. They were also part of Oghuz Khan's Turkish subjects; Rubruquis and other travellers, in the course of their wanderings, visited and mentioned them. Many of the Kankali were in the service of the Khwarazm Shah until the overthrow of the latter by Jenghiz Khan. Farther eastward, to the south of the Ob and Yenisey rivers, were the Naimans, also Turks, in whose district was the famous town Karakorum, which Ogdai Khan made his capital. In 1211 Kushluk, Khan of the Naimans, usurped the sovereignty of the Kara Khitai. In the time of Rubruquis, the Naimans were, according to that traveller, subjects of Prester John, but Mangu Khan claimed their allegiance. To the south of the Naimans, in the western part of Mongolia, stretching towards China were the Uighurs. By the close of the eighth century their power increased and they had diplomatic relations with China. This tribe was one of the centres of Nestorian Christianity. To the north of the Uighurs, beyond the lands of the Keraits, were the Merkits, who have been described by Marco Polo and Rashid. They were conquered by Jenghiz Khan in 1197. These were the chief tribes in the Mongol Confederacy.

As regards the origins of the Mongols, it is not necessary to say much. Many fables are told about the various tribes and their heroes; among the most interesting of these is the story of the ancestral hero, nourished when a child by a wolf, thus furnishing an Eastern parallel to Romulus and Remus. But until the twelfth century the influence exercised on the outside world was insignificant. Mention is first made of the Mongols in Chinese records, in the history of the Tang Dynasty (618-690), and scattered references occur later, for instance in 984 and in 1180.

Rashid traces the descent of the Mongols back to Japhet, but of course the greater part of the early period is merely mythical. It is only near the period of Jenghiz Khan that safe ground is reached. During the Kin Dynasty in China, it is known that many Mongols, probably with their Khan, Kabul, became subject to the Chinese Emperor Tai-Tsung from 1123-1137, but rebelled in 1138 after his death. This rebellion marks the beginning of the rise of the Mongols. It was at this period that they suffered from internal dissension; the feud between the Mongol and Tartar tribes was ended by the triumph of the former through the instrumentality of Jenghiz Khan. This hero was the son of Yesukai, who was the grandson of Kabul Khan. While Yesukai in 1154-1155 was ravaging the Tartar lands, his wife Ogelen Eke (or Yulun) gave birth to a first-born son who was called Temujin, after the name of the Tartar chieftain recently slain by Yesukai. The name Temujin is most probably Chinese by etymology and means "excellent steel." The similarity of the Turkish Temurji (smith) is perhaps the origin of the fable that Jenghiz was himself a smith. Temujin, later known by his style of Jenghiz Khan, was born at a place called Deligun Buldagha, near the Onon. The name of the spot has remained until the present time; by Rubruquis it is called Onan Kerule. When he was thirteen years of age, his father Yesukai died, leaving to his son a small nucleus of subjects. At the outset Jenghiz was confronted with many difficulties. The spirit of disaffection which prevailed among his followers soon developed into revolt. A general rising jeopardised the prospects of the youthful chieftain, but the energy and capability of his mother Yulun recovered some of the lost ground for him. A long period of unending strife ensued. With the Naimans, whose centre is said to have been Karakorum, and the Keraits, Jenghiz had to wage war continuously, and with varying success. Once he was captured and tortured, but managed to escape with his life. At length after many years he succeeded in consolidating his position. Finally, after a series of victories Jenghiz overcame his last opponent, Wang Khan, and became supreme over the nucleus of the Mongols. From the date of the Kuriltai, or general convocation, which took place after this event, in 1203, the beginning of the empire is usually considered to date. The title of Khan, was, however, assumed in 1206 at another assembly by the river Onon. The period from this date until 1227, when Jenghiz died, comprises the era of extension and conquest. The first object of attack was China, which consisted of two main divisions: the Northern, with Yenkin (near Pekin) as its capital, and the Southern, the chief town of which was Lingan, also called Hangchow or Kinsai.


Conquest of Turkestan and Khwarazm


This Empire was ruled by the Sung Dynasty and the Northern by the Kin. The Kin rulers were supreme over Tartary. Subject to their sway were the Khitans, who had previously been supplanted in the dominion of the Northern Empire. Preliminary invasions of Hia or Tangut, the province to the west of the Yellow River, were successfully undertaken in 1208; the Kin army was defeated and the territory within the great wall reduced to submission. These victories paved the way for an attack on a larger scale, and in 1213 three grand armies were despatched. The main expedition under the command of Jenghiz himself and Tule-, his youngest son, followed a south­eastern direction. He sent his three other sons—Juji, Jagatai, and Ogdai­ with another force to form his right wing and operate on the south, while the remainder, under his brothers, were despatched to the east in the direction of the sea. It is unnecessary to follow the steps of these armies in detail; it is sufficient to record their complete success. The subjugation of the Hia occupied him from 1208 to 1212, and the Kin and Kara-Khitai in Eastern Turkestan from 1212 to 1214. Having crushed these foes, Jenghiz turned his ambitions to the western horizon. His dominions now reached as far as the territory of Muhammad, the Shah of Khwarazm. This mighty empire was bounded on the west by Kurdistan, Khfizistan, and the Persian Gulf; to the east it reached nearly to the Indus. It included the littoral of Lake Aral, and partly of the Caspian, on the north. It comprised Azarbaijan, Iraq Ajami, Fars, Kirman, Mukran (Beluchistan), Sistan, Khurasan, Afghanistan, the Pamirs, Sughd, and Mawara-an-Nahr (Transoxiana) among its main portions. The empire had been originally founded by Anushtigin, a slave of Malik Shah the Seluk. At the time of Jenghiz, Muhammad, the Shah of Khwarazm, was at the height of his power, and it is estimated that he could put into the field an army of half a million soldiers. War was inevitable; the insatiable ambition of Jenghiz supplied the casus belli; the execution by Muhammad of the Mongol envoys was alleged as a pretence. In 1219 Jenghiz left his capital Karakorum with two divisions under his sons Juji and Jagatai. Massacre and pillage were the concomitants of their victories. Piles of corpses and the blackened traces of ruined cities marked their progress. Pity was unknown to them; the most atrocious treachery and disregard of oaths and of promises of quarter were employed to hunt out and extirpate the scattered survivors of their barbarity. The flourishing cities of Tashkent, Nur, Bukhara, Samarqand, and Balkh were utterly destroyed, and their inhabitants ruthlessly butchered, according to the well-known Mongol principle, "Stone dead bath no fellow." Muhammad fled to Nishapur, but was pursued to the shores of the Caspian, where he died, leaving a shattered wreck of a kingdom to his son Jalal-ad-Din. Merv and Nishapur shared the fate of the other cities. Finally Jenghiz and Jalal-ad-Din met in battle on the banks of the Indus; the latter was utterly defeated but managed to escape to Delhi, where he found a refuge and peace for a while at the court of the Sultan. The last act of Jenghiz in this campaign was to massacre all the inhabitants of Herat, since they had ventured to depose his nominee from the governorship. According to Douglas, 1,600,000 people were slain within the walls.


Empire of Jenghiz Khan


Jenghiz returned, but did not long enjoy the fruits of peace. Not even the enormous booty which his victories had brought him could induce the conqueror to spare his neighbours. The death of the last of the Kin Dynasty in 1223 removed the final shadow of autonomy in North China, and Jenghiz was now face to face with the Sung Dynasty in the South. He set out on a fresh expedition, but died in 1227 by the Sale river in Mongolia. The funeral escort that bore his corpse homeward slaughtered every person whom they met, in order to prevent the news of his death from being divulged.

Jenghiz Khan deserves to be remembered as a ruler, not only as a conqueror. In the intervals of bloodshed, he found time to promote the arts of peace and order. He organised a regular service of posts and couriers, and rendered the highways secure for travellers. His tolerance to all religious beliefs was probably due less to superstition than to indifference. Not being deeply attached to any definite faith, he was not anxious that one creed should secure preponderance. Divines, physicians, and learned men were exempted from taxes. Perhaps the only plea by which a captive might save his life was that of learning, though few instances of such clemency are preserved. Jenghiz introduced the use of the Uighur character, and caused his subjects to acquire the art of writing. He compiled a code of laws, or rather authorised the codification of existing tribal customs, which he raised to a legal value, and to which he imparted the sanction of his authority. His personal habits were such as could be expected from his character. The joys of the chase, mingled with frequent drinking-bouts, were the normal relaxations of Jenghiz. His wives and concubines numbered five hundred. But, though he ruled his subjects with an iron hand, his death found him at the zenith of popularity.

The Empire of Jenghiz Khan was the largest that ever fell to one conqueror. The brain reels at the thought of the slaughter by which it was achieved. In China over eighteen millions of human beings were slain by his armies. No plague, no other "Scourge of God," has ever smitten so severely. Howorth would seek to palliate his record, but it is impossible to do so.

The death of Jenghiz was followed by an interregnum of two years. The affairs of state were administered without interruption by the sons of the late chief and by the officers whom he had appointed. At length, in 1229, a Kuriltai was held in order to elect an overlord. It is important to notice the names of four sons of Jenghiz whose claims were considered at this Kuriltai, for their subsequent dissensions contributed in no small degree to the disruption of the Empire. Juji, the eldest son, had died during his father's lifetime, but the claims to the succession which were his by right of primogeniture passed, according to Mongol custom, to his family. His three brothers, in order of age, were Jagatai, Ogdai, and Tule. The pretensions of Juji's family might without injustice have been passed over in favour of Jagatai, but the Kuriltai had no free choice. Jenghiz before his death had settled the destinies of his sons and, although he ventured to break down the regular Mongol ideas of inheritance, the force of his authority remained binding beyond the grave. The Kuriltai, after due deliberation and no little hesitation, carried out the commands of Jenghiz. Ogdai, who was elected chief Khan and successor to his father, retained Tule near the seat of government, appointing him to various official posts. The family of Juji received possessions in the west, Jagatai in the Uighur country. For the present there was loyal co-operation between the brothers, and with the accession of Ogdai a new stage in the history of Mongol expansion begins.


Conquest of Northern China


This expansion proceeded in both directions, towards China and towards Europe. The death of Jenghiz found the Mongol possessions extending "from the China Sea to the Dnieper." In China, the Kin Dynasty had been beaten and reduced to submission. In the west, the kingdom of Khwarazm had been destroyed and its ruler driven far away from his home. Numerous expeditions had spread the fame of the Mongols and shaken Europe with terror. The time was ripe for another ebullition. In China the subjugated Kin were beginning to show signs of revival. Sporadic hostilities had occurred. In 1228 and again in 1230 the Mongols were defeated; the battles, though by no means serious in character, were sufficient to raise false hopes among the Chinese; the Mongols no longer appeared to be invincible. Eventually Ogdai roused himself to punish the rebels and determined to teach them an enduring lesson. It was not merely the effect of the Kin victories and various incidents of a provocative nature that set the Mongols in motion; it was the prospect of further conquests beyond the territories of the Kin. The Southern division of China under the Sung Dynasty, probably alarmed at the fate of the Kin, had endeavoured to propitiate the Mongols and avoid any collision with them. It is in any case doubtful whether this course would have had any efficacy, but a political error at this juncture gave the Mongols a casus belli, which when they had finished with the Kin they were not slow to utilise. The Sung Emperor refused to grant the Mongol armies leave to pass through his dominions, and slew their envoy. This refusal was to cost him dear. Meanwhile Ogdai marched against the Kin from the north; Tule invaded Honan from Paoki, in the Shensi province. After various campaigns, battles, and massacres, the Kin were finally swept out of existence in 1234, and the descendants of Jenghiz maintained the supreme rule until displaced by the Ming Dynasty in 1368.

The overthrow of the Kin was speedily followed up by an attack on the Sung. The Sung Emperor had ended by assisting the Mongols in their war against the Kin. His reward was to have been the province of Honan. This the Mongols refused to evacuate. Having secured all that they desired from the Sung Emperor, they were in no mood to keep their promise, and alleging as a pretext his former refusal of a passage to the Mongol forces, they despatched an army in 1235.


Expansion westward


At this stage it is desirable to turn back to events in the West. The last years of Jenghiz Khan were marked by signs of activity among the conquered cities of Khwarazm. When Muhammad Shah, defeated by the Mongol armies, died of illness on the Caspian shore, he left a son Jalal­ad-Din. The destruction of the Khwarazmian empire deprived the latter of a throne. A beaten fugitive from his Mongol pursuers, he reached Delhi. Here the Sultan received him with kindness and gave him his daughter in marriage. Jalal-ad-Din watched for a favourable opportunity, and, with the aid of his father-in-law, succeeded in regaining piecemeal large portions of his lost heritage. He crossed the Indus and marched north. Although his troops were few in number and had suffered severely from the hardships of the journey, he effected the expulsion of his surviving brother Ghiyath-ad-Din, who ruled Iraq Ajami, Khurasan, and Mazandaran, and seized his dominions. He attacked and defeated the Caliph of Baghdad. In 1226 he captured Tiflis in Georgia, between the Black Sea and the Caspian, and, in the following year, overcame a small Mongol army. The important city of Khilat, in Armenia, now fell into his hands and his power increased on all sides. But vengeance fell upon him swiftly and suddenly. Ogdai sent a large force to reduce him, and before the news of its coming reached Jalal-ad-Din he was surrounded in Diyarbakr. No chance of combat remained, for the Khwarazmian troops were far away. Jalal-ad-Din took refuge in flight but was slain by a Kurd. His death brought an end to the Khwarazm Shahs and their kingdom. But the Mongols did not cease their campaign. The horror inspired by their name was such that their victims abandoned all thoughts of resistance. It is related that the whole population of a large village obeyed the command of a single Mongol, and stood in a line while he slaughtered them, one by one. Terror and devastation spread all over the country. By 1236 they had overcome Erbil, Diyarbakr, Khilat, Mesopotamia, Azarbaijan, Georgia, and Armenia. They made terrible examples of Kars and Tiflis. The Caliph of Baghdad preached a jihad (sacred war) against them and won a victory at Jabal Hamrin on the Tigris. In 1238 he was, however, defeated, and the Mongol armies marched northwards.

The hordes of Mongols seemed as inexhaustible as they were irresistible. In 1235 Ogdai organised three large expeditions: against Korea, the Sung Dynasty, and the country beyond the river Volga. The King of Korea had submitted to Jenghiz Khan in 1218, but subsequently various incidents stirred up discord between vassal and overlord. The murder of a Mongol envoy in 1231 was followed by a victorious invasion, led by Sabutai, who set up Mongol governors in many cities of Korea. In 1232 a popular upheaval resulted in the assassination of many of these officials, and the King of Korea, frightened of the consequences, fled to the island of Siang-Hua on the west coast. Ogdai summoned him to appear before his judgment-seat to answer for these acts; a refusal led to the expedition of 1235. By 1241 the Korean King submitted and gave the required hostages.

The expedition against the Sung Dynasty, though generally successful, effected no permanent conquests, and the Southern Dynasty was not finally reduced until the time of Kublai Khan, the second son of Tule.


Invasion of Europe


The third army requires further mention, for this force swept down upon the West like an overwhelming avalanche. No crowning mercy, such as the victory of Tours in 732 against the tide of Islam, saved the destinies of Europe. Divided, and distracted by internal strife, the Christian countries could offer no opposition to the invading hordes. The Mongol wave spent its energy and fell back, shattered by no rock or impediment. Had not the death of Ogdai recalled Batu and his generals, there is little doubt but that Paris and Rome would have shared the fate of Kiev and Moscow.

It was originally the wish of Ogdai to lead the Western army in person, but on reflection he changed his mind and assigned the command to Batu the son of Juji. With Batu the renowned Sabutai was associated as adviser. Ogdai's sons and nephews accompanied the expedition. The forces met in Great Bulgaria in 1237. The Mongol onslaught was characterised by its usual speed; indiscriminate slaughter, rape, and destruction, as before, marked their path. A list of Mongol victories resolves itself into a catalogue of doomed towns and ravaged country-sides. Blow after blow followed in quick succession. Bulgar, Ryazan, Moscow, Vladimir, are but a few of the places that succumbed. Princes, bishops, nuns, and children were slain with savage cruelty. It is impossible to describe the barbarities that prolonged the death of the unfortunate inhabitants. None remained to weep or to tell the tale of disaster. Novgorod was saved by a thaw which melted the ice and turned the country into an impassable swamp. Koselsk was the scene of such exceptional severity that the Mongols themselves noted the occasion by calling this place "Mobalig," town of woe. In 1240 the Mongols advanced still further, towards the Dnieper. Pereslavl, Chernigov, Glokhov, and finally the metropolitan city Kiev, were destroyed. The Mongols divided their forces, one part marching against Poland and the other through the Carpathians against Hungary. At Mohi on the Theiss the whole chivalry of Hungary was crushed in an overwhelming defeat. The nobility and clergy shared the fate of the common soldiers, and the King Bela IV escaped as a fugitive to the Adriatic. In the same year (1241) Henry, Duke of Silesia, was overthrown at Liegnitz near Breslau by the Mongols, and the whole of Silesia was given up to slaughter. The area over which the Mongol hordes were spreading seemed limitless; no country was safe. Bath followed up the capture of Pesth by crossing the Danube and assaulting Gran, which he took. Europe was now prostrate, and no saviour arose to ward off the Mongols. But the death of Ogdai, in the same year as that of Pope Gregory IX, involved the return of Batu to Karakorum, in order to assist in the election of a new Khan, and the western portions of Europe were freed from the terror of the Mongol armies.


The recall of Batu saves Europe


The coming of the Mongols found Europe utterly unprepared and heedless. The first invasion of 1222, when the forces of Jenghiz Khan crossed the Caucasus and ravaged parts of Russia, created little notice.

The west of Europe seems to have been ignorant of the event, but in the years 1235-1238 two circumstances combined to awaken the Christian kings to a knowledge of the perils awaiting them. The first of these was an embassy from the Ismailiyah, and the second was the arrival of the Mongol armies under Ban and his generals. Those Ismdiliyah, or Ishmaelites, who are known to the general historian by the name of "Assassins," were themselves marked out by the Mongols as a prey, but they escaped attention until the time of Hulagu. Stirred by premonition,  or roused by the fate of their neighbours, they strove to effect a combination against the all-conquering Mongols among all nations, even those mutually hostile, that were confronted by this same foe whose coming would involve them all in common ruin. The efforts of the Assassins were not limited to the rulers in their immediate neighbourhood. In 1238 they sent envoys to the Kings of France and England, asking their aid. The fame of this sect was great among the crusaders. Many distinguished men, Muslim and Christian, had fallen victims to their daggers, and Saladin himself narrowly escaped assassination. It would have been thought that, seeing the terror of their dreaded enemies, the Christian princes would have awakened to a sense of their position and have concluded an alliance, at least until such time as the Mongols had been repulsed. Who knows what the effect of such an alliance might have been? Apart from all military results, it is impossible to estimate the effect on Europe of friendly intercourse and military co-operation on a large scale with the Easterns. But the warning fell on deaf ears.

The Emperor Frederick II did indeed realise what was at stake. He wrote an extremely important letter to Henry III urging combined action, and giving what was for that time a fairly accurate account of the Mongols.


The Papacy and the Mongols


Other rulers also bestirred themselves. In 1241, a few weeks before the battle of Liegnitz, the Landgrave of Thuringia appealed for aid to the Duke of Brabant, and the Church assisted in publishing the danger by proclaiming fasts and intercessions. In an often misquoted passage, Matthew Paris relates that in 1238 the fishermen from Friesland and Gothland, "dreading their attacks, did not, as was their custom, come to Yarmouth, in England, at the time of the herring-fisheries, at which place their ships usually loaded; and, owing to this, herrings in that year were considered of no value, on account of their abundance, and about forty or fifty, although very good, were sold for one piece of silver, even in places at a great distance from the sea."

Nevertheless, despite the growing feeling of insecurity, no active steps were taken. The envoys were given empty answers. Nothing but the quarrel between Emperor and Pope occupied men's minds. Some alleged that Frederick II had manufactured the scare in order to help his cause. Others, whose lack of political foresight was only equalled by their ignorance of the Mongols, suggested that, if Europe remained inactive, Mongols and Muslims would destroy one another and the triumph of the Cross would be assured. The mass of the population were too apathetic to be moved: nothing except the thoughts of Crusades could arouse them from their torpor. Pope Gregory IX had written letters of sympathy to the Queen of Georgia and to the King of Hungary, when these rulers had been smitten by the Mongol scourge, but his mind was concentrated on his quarrels with the Emperor. He died shortly after the battle of Liegnitz, when the death of Ogdai recalled the Mongols and gave Europe a breathing-space. The successor to Gregory was Innocent IV, who was elected in 1243. He, as none before him, understood what was at issue, and conceived two main plans for saving Christendom from the Mongols —attack and persuasion. In order to stimulate the former, he ordered a new combination of forces against them, and invested the expedition with the dignity of a crusade by offering to all who fought against the "ministers of Tartarus" spiritual privileges similar to those offered to the crusaders. Little came of these efforts, but the second plan, though equally ineffective, has proved of infinite value to later ages on account of the information thus gleaned concerning the Mongols.

The Pope imagined that, if the Mongols could be converted to Christianity, they would be restrained from attacking Europe through religious fears. Wonderful stories of Prester John filled Europe; it was possible that the Mongols were in some way connected with this strange monarch. There were the legends ascribing to the Mongols Semitic origin: they were the lost ten tribes, shut up by Alexander within impenetrable mountains, from which they had broken forth to ravage the world. In short the soil was ripe for the seed of the gospel, and the monk would succeed where the knight had failed.

This fond hope resulted in the missions of Friars John of Pian di Carpine and Benedict the Pole in 1245, and of Friar William of Rubruck (Rubruquis) in 1253. The former were envoys of the Pope, the latter of Louis IX. The itineraries of these travellers have been preserved, and can well be ranked with the accounts of Marco Polo and Don Clavijo. The mass of information contained therein constitutes one of the principal sources of extant knowledge concerning the Mongols of this period. Diplomatically and spiritually the mission of Friar William was as unsuccessful as that of his predecessors, but from the point of view of the historian both journeys were signally fruitful.


Ogdai and Kuyuk


Ogdai's death, which delivered Europe, occurred in his fifty-sixth year, on 11 December 1241. His comparatively early end was due to excessive intemperance, a fault to which Mongols were prone. His chief pleasure lay in hunting. He built a palace for himself at Karakorum, to which he gave the name of Ordu Balig or City of the Camp. The site of the palace and the marvels that were to be seen there have long been disputed, but the Central Asiatic expeditions of N. Yadrintsev (1889), of the Helsingfors Ugro-Finnish Society in 1890, and of Radlov in 1891, have succeeded in fixing the position. The use of paper currency was known to Ogdai, but it is uncertain whether he actually adopted this expedient. Certain reforms are also ascribed to him, notably the curbing of the extortionate demands and requisitions imposed by the princes and state officials upon the common people. His personal gentleness forms a contrast to the severity of Jagatai; but there was little evidence of tenderness in his government. The policy of rule by brute force was not modified until the later reigns of Mangu and Kublai.

After the death of Ogdai, the succession did not pass to either of his nominees, Kuchu or Shiramun, the son of Kuchu. The former was the third son of Ogdai and had predeceased his father in 1236. Shiramun was kept from the throne by the instrumentality of Turakina, the widow of the late Khan; Kuyuk, the eldest son of Ogdai, was ultimately, in 1246, elected as Khan, as Turakina wished.

The Kuriltai at which Kuyuk was chosen is of interest because of the presence of Friar John of Pian di Carpine, who gives a full description of the ceremony in his itinerary. The between the houses of Jagatai and Ogdai was all this while increasing, but the dominion of the house of Ogdai was not yet ended. The reign of Kuyuk, on the whole uneventful, is noteworthy on account of various incidents. A Musulman called‘Abd-ar-Rahman was allowed to purchase the farming of the taxes; this circumstance was greatly resented, because the efforts to distribute the taxes on a just basis were beginning to bear good fruit. The foreign wars were maintained and armies sent against Korea, the Sung, and Persia. Both in Mesopotamia and in Armenia the conquests and ravages of the Mongols continued. At the court of Kuyuk Nestorian Christians frequently appeared; Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, and Shamanism were tolerated on an equal footing.

At the death of Kuyuk (1248) considerable confusion ensued; Kaidu, grandson of Ogdai, and Chapar, son of Kaidu, successively held the Khanate for short and troublous periods. Discontent among the nobles and rival claims robbed the titular rulers of every shadow of authority, and finally in 1251 Mangu, the son of Tule, was elected Khan. The feud between the houses of Jagatai and Ogdai was quelled and the house of Ogdai ruled no more. The house of Tule, youngest son of Jenghiz, now took the lead.

The accession of Mangu brought a settlement to the political strife. A period of prosperity followed. Rubruquis, whose visit happened at this time, bears testimony that the luxury prevalent at Mangu's court was not incompatible with the stability of the State, efficiency in government, order and peace thoughout the Empire. Internal administration was wise and popular. The Mongols were beginning to learn the lesson of ruling as well as of conquering. But fresh conquests were soon undertaken; a new outburst was ready.


Downfall of the Assassins


Reference has already been made to the Assassins. The Mongols decided that these dangerous foes could no longer be tolerated, and orders for their extermination were given. Hulagu, the brother of Mangu, was appointed for this work at the Kuriltai of 1252. He sent his chief general Kitubuka in advance to invade Kuhistan, where the Assassins were strongest, and after various military operations and the capture of important towns and castles laid siege to Maimundiz, a fort of great strength. Rukn-ad-Din, the head of the Assassins, surrendered to Hulagu. Once in his power, Rukn-ad-Din was forced to dismantle all his fortresses and strongholds, the investment of which might have caused the Mongols some trouble. Later on he set out on a journey to Mangu, who refused to receive him, and ultimately Rukn-ad-Din was slain on the homeward journey. His end synchronised with the termination of the political power of the Assassins.


The fall of the Caliphate of Baghdad


Having freed the world from the Assassins, the Mongols advanced against the citadel of Islam. Baghdad, the Rome of the Muslim faith, vied with and surpassed Mecca in importance. The first four Caliphs had ruled from Medina; the Umayyads who rose to power in 661 under Meawiyah transferred the seat of government to Damascus. On the fall of the Umayyads in 750 the capital was again changed, and Baghdad, which was built by Mansur in 762, became the centre of empire. The position of the Caliph, or Successor to Mahomet, was in many respects comparable to that of the Papacy. Endowed, at the outset, with temporal as well as spiritual power, the holders of the office were gradually divested of the former. Lieutenants and governors made themselves independent; separate states soon began to break the unity of the Empire of Islam. But the spiritual ascendancy of the Caliphate maintained, to a far higher degree than in the case of the Papacy, both the union of all Muslim states and the authority of the Caliph in politics, international and domestic; it was the destruction of Baghdad by the Mongols that brought the old Caliphate to an end. Resurrected by the Mamluks of Egypt, it was a shadow and the holder of the office a puppet, maintained in a fettered pomp that scarcely concealed the name of captivity. Sultans such as Baibars found the presence of a Caliph convenient in order to legitimate their claims and procure popular support, but the power of the Caliphate was gone. The Ottoman Turks, who conquered Egypt in 1517, compelled the last Abbasid, Mutawakkil, to resign his claims in their favour. By virtue of this and of the possession of the sacred relics of the Prophet, the Sultans at Constantinople claim today to be the vice-gerents of Allah over all Islam.

Yet in 1250 the Caliphate was still a formidable foe. Mustasim, who held the office, could count on the allegiance of many princes. Egypt, Rum, Fars, Kirman, Erbil, and Mosul were all loyal, although at the time of Hulagu's attack several feudatories had accepted the Mongol sway. Nevertheless many internal causes contributed to the downfall of the Caliphate. The feud between Sunni and Shi'ah sapped the forces of Islam. The Caliph, though devoted to luxury, was a pious recluse who abandoned the affairs of state to his viziers; of these it must be said that their conduct can only be cleared from the blackest treachery to Church and State by the plea of almost incredible folly and ineptitude. Hulagu wrote to Mustasim, accusing him of sheltering Mongol enemies and of withholding support from the Mongols when they crushed the Assassins; he also demanded complete submission and the dismantling of the fortifications of Baghdad. To this the Caliph, mainly relying on mistaken ideas of his powers and the amount of help that his vassals would afford, returned a refusal couched in boastful terms. Hulagu advanced and laid siege to Baghdad, which fell on 15 February 1258. The Caliph suffered a terrible death; the city was given up to pillage and the inhabitants to slaughter. The massacre exceeded even the usual Mongol limits; 800,000 perished and scarcely a stone remained standing. Horror and woe spread to the confines of Islam; no event in the annals of the Faith roused such consternation. Baghdad was the centre of the arts; literature and science found a home under the aegis of the Caliph. The Muslim rulers fostered and endowed the humanities, and encouraged the progress of civilisation at a time when Europe was swathed in obscurantism. Philosophy and scholasticism flourished; rhetoric and all forms of learning and education were cultivated. In the realms of art, learning, and commerce, no less than in the sphere of religion, Baghdad was the cynosure of all Muslim eyes; its fall brought about a complete re-arrangement in the political world also. Fresh boundaries, alliances, and centres of government had to be found. Yet the great catastrophe had some effects that were beneficial. Cairo, the new focus of Islam, was nearer Europe and more accessible. The scattering of Muslim savants, diffusing learning among many places, gave the impetus to a renaissance in Islam. It gave Egypt a short breathing-space to prepare for the Mongol attack, with the con­sequence that the victory of Qutuz at 'Ain Jahat in 1260, which warded off the danger from Egypt, saved Christendom as well; the signal service that the Sultan of Egypt rendered to Europe was beyond the power of any Western king to accomplish.


Defeat of the Mongols by the Mamluks, 1260 


The fall of Baghdad was the prelude to the invasion of Syria. Even so great an object-lesson failed to teach the Muslims the necessity of union. The feud between Shiah and Sunni still continued, carefully fostered by the Mongols to their own advantage. Hulagu favoured the former, and took precautions to preserve the tomb of Ali from destruction. Some of the princes of Syria submitted. Nasir Salah-ad-Din Yasuf, a descendant of the famous Saladin, who was prince of Aleppo and also of Damascus, defied the Mongols and prepared to offer a brave resistance. He sent his wives to Egypt, where the Sultan Qutuz protected them, and gathered an army for battle, north of Damascus. But under the influence of terror his men fled; Hulagu marched to Aleppo, capturing and destroying as he went. The town fell and was razed to the ground; death or captivity was the lot of the victims. Damascus surrendered and was spared. Antioch surrendered but was destroyed. A terrible famine and pestilence broke out and completed the devastation of Syria, Mesopotamia, and the surrounding lands. Hulagu meditated a march on Jerusalem and probably after that a campaign against Egypt; but while at Aleppo the news of the death of Mangu reached him. He was obliged to return for the great Kuriltai, just as the death of Ogdai had previously recalled Batu. The leadership of the Mongol army was given to Ketbogha.

Qutuz, the Sultan of Egypt at this time, 1260, was a Khwarazmian Mamluk, who had displaced the son of Aibak and seized the throne. Roused by the approach of the foe, he gathered an army and anticipated their attack. The Mamluks advanced to Acre, where they reckoned on the support of the Crusaders. The latter were too timid to offer any aid, and the burden of the war lay on Qutuz alone. At Ain Jalutt (1260) the armies met. The bravery of Qutuz and of Baibars, his general, won the day and Ketbogha was slain. For the first time in history the Mongols were fairly and indisputably beaten in a decisive battle. The effect was magical. Wherever the news of the Mamluk victory became known, men gave themselves up to the wildest transports of rejoicing. The spell was broken at last, and it was clear that the superhuman power, claimed by Mongol boasts and credited by the fears of their victims, was a myth. Damascus rose and cast off the Mongol yoke. The Mamluk did not remain satisfied with the fruits of a single victory. The Mongols, broken and crushed, were driven out of Syria beyond Emesa. Qutuz reinstated, where possible, the former officials as governors under his command and reduced the country to order. His return was a triumphant progress; he was accompanied by prayers and thanksgiving. Wherever he passed signs of popular joy were manifest. Extraordinary preparations were made to welcome the conqueror. As he drew nearer to his own kingdom the celebrations became grander, and the decorations of the towns and villages increasingly costly. All Cairo united to honour its victorious ruler as no other before, but Qutuz was treacherously robbed of the fruits of his victory. He was stabbed by his general Baibars, who usurped his master's throne and rode into Cairo, a second Zimri, amid the plaudits destined for his murdered lord. The erstwhile Mamluk slave, who had saved the proud sovereigns of Europe and had succeeded in a task which they dared not undertake, fell a victim in the height of his glory to the dagger of another slave.


Hulagu and the Il-khans


The land which Hulagu had conquered became his own, and he retained possession of such parts as were not recaptured from him. The dynasty which he founded in Persia ruled for several generations under the title of Il-khans, acknowledging the Khan of the Eastern Mongols as their overlord. In 1282 Ahmad Khan became a Muslim. Islam had entirely permeated Persia by 1295, when Ghazan Khan succeeded to the throne, but it did not altogether eradicate many superstitions. Ghazan broke off his allegiance to the Supreme Khan. The inauguration of independence by the Il-khans is marked by the alteration in the legend on their coins. Abu-Said (1316) was the last of the great Il-khans, and after his death (1335) the kingdom split into petty states, which by 1400 were incorporated by Timur in his dominions.

In the meanwhile there had been considerable military activity on the eastern borders of the Empire. Reference has been made to the continual hostilities that disturbed the relations between the Sung Dynasty in Southern China and the Mongols. In 1252 the latter ordered a great forward movement. Kublai, the brother of Mangu, was to advance into Yunnan, a province outside the Sung borders to the south-west, and in 1253 he assembled his forces at Shensi as a preliminary step. The Mongols were favoured with their usual success, but Kublai was a man of different temperament from his predecessors. He saw that the policy of wanton destruction and indiscriminate slaughter, though effective for inspiring terror in the foe and thus aiding the conqueror, was inimical to the future government of the captured area. It was easier to rule a settled country than a desert waste. Industry and commerce can be overthrown with ease and speed, but cannot be revived except with infinite trouble and delay. Moreover Kublai's nature was averse to bloodshed. His ambition sought to effect great conquests with the minimum loss of life. Thus Tali, an important city of Nanchao in Yunnan, was taken by him without causing a single death. After this exploit Kublai returned to Mangu, leaving the famous general Uriang Kadai, the son of Sabutai, to continue the campaign. With various intervals the war continued until 1257. The Mongols captured Annam (Tongking) in 1257, and achieved many successes. Kublai, who had been appointed governor at Honan, had not abandoned his policy of conciliation. The popularity which he gained from the wise and considerate treatment of his subjects provoked the jealousy of Mangu, who sent a Mongol called Alemdar from Kara­korum to supersede Kublai. The latter, however, returned to Mangu, and by tact and submission recovered the favour of the Khan and the position of which he had been deprived.




In this same year, 1257, Mangu held a Kuriltai and determined to lead the army against the Sung. Kublai accompanied him, and three strong forces invaded the province of Suchuan. Two years were spent in conquests, and in the Mongol operations the gentle spirit of Kublai asserted itself. Finally, in 1259 siege was laid to Hochau at the junction of the Kialing and the Feu, near the point where these rivers join the Yangtse Kiang. The besiegers suffered much from dysentery, and Mangu himself succumbed to the disease. The funeral procession, which bore the dead Khan to his last resting-place at Burkan Kaldun, according to previous custom slew all whom they met en route, to prevent the intelligence of the death of the Khan from preceding the bier.

Mangu's sudden death created some difficulty in the appointment of a successor. The vast extent of the Empire prevented a Kuriltai from being summoned at once. According to the Mongol custom, the new Khan should be chosen from among the brothers of Mangu, and of these Hulagu was in Syria, Kublai in China. Of Mangu's other brothers, the next in age to Hulagu was Arikbuka, who was in command at Karakorum. To him Kublai sent, asking for reinforcements and supplies. Arikbuka complied and sent Kublai an invitation to attend the Kuriltai which had been convoked at Karakorum to elect a new Khan. Kublai, fearing a trap, declined and summoned a Kuriltai of his own at Shangtu. To this assembly neither Hulagu nor the descendants of Jagatai were invited, owing to the time which must elapse before they could attend. The conduct of the war rendered it imperative that a new head should be chosen for the state without delay. Kublai was elected for this office with the usual pomp and festivities. The election was scarcely valid, as the entire electorate was not present. Of the absentees, Hulagu acquiesced, but Arikbuka and the supporters of the houses of Jagatai and Ogdai were disaffected.

Nevertheless Kublai was on the throne, and his reign lasted thirty-five years. His achievements were considerable, and he ruled over a wider extent than any Mongol or indeed any other sovereign. He was the first to govern by peaceful means. By this time the head of the Mongols had become invested with the state of an Emperor. The splendour of his court and the magnificence of his entourage easily surpassed that of any Western ruler. The change though gradual was now accomplished. It was strikingly significant of Mongol development. The rude leader of nomads, governing by the sword, with no thoughts of settlement but only of rapine and conquest, had given place to a cultured monarch, eager for the good government of his subjects and the prosperity of his kingdom.


The reign of Kublai


The beginning of his reign found him assailed by civil war. Arikbuka raised the standard of rebellion and collected a large force. Kublai and his generals were active; their clemency gained over many of Arikbuka's followers, who were enraged at the cruelties that he perpetrated. Arikbuka was defeated in 1261 but spared. Again he rebelled and again he was defeated (1264). He came in utter abasement to Kublai, who pardoned him once more, but soon afterwards he died. At his death all the other rebels submitted, with the exception of Kaidu. The war with the Sung Dynasty was a legacy to Kublai from his late brother. When the news of the death of Mangu reached Kublai, he was besieging Wuchang. The Chinese general concluded a treaty with him but did not inform the Chinese Emperor of the terms of peace. It was agreed that Kublai should retreat, leaving Wuchang seemingly unconquered, on condition that the Emperor paid tribute and acknowledged the Mongol Khan as overlord. In view of Arikbuka's rebellion Kublai accepted the conditions. Later on he sent to demand their fulfilment, but the Chinese Emperor, having no knowledge of any treaty, naturally repudiated Kublai's claims. After various delays, hostilities were resumed in 1267 and continued with great vigour. Finally, in 1279, after many victories and conquests, the whole country was subjugated, the young Emperor being drowned in the last naval battle. The whole of China was now in the hands of the Mongols. They were successful in Korea and in Burma, both of which were subdued, but the expeditions to Java and Japan resulted in failure.

Kublai was a generous patron of literature. The culture and religion of China had great attractions for him. While Islam was making headway among the Western Mongols, Buddhism was encroaching from the East. Hulagu became a Muslim and Kublai a Buddhist; thus Shamanism was threatened on both sides. The name of Lama was given by the Mongols to the Buddhist priests. Kublai introduced the Chinese ritual of ancestor-worship, and built a large temple in which Jenghiz, Ogdai, and the other Khans were commemorated and worshipped. He also ordered that the Uighur characters should be discarded, since he deemed it beneath the dignity of the Mongols to use a script borrowed from foreigners. In 1269 a new national mode of writing was invented by the chief Lama and published. Kublai's encouragement of learning was remarkable. He caused Jamal-ad-Din, a Persian astronomer, to draw up a calendar; he founded an academy and schools. The Chinese classics were translated at his bidding, and a history of the Mongols compiled in order to familiarise the young men with the exploits of their ancestors.

An administrative council of twelve was set up, with the object of assisting the Khan in state affairs; the vast empire was sub-divided into twelve provinces, so as to secure effective local government by decentralisation. The postal service was maintained with great care; hostelries, horses, couriers, and vehicles were provided throughout the Empire. Perhaps the most abiding memorial to the greatness of Kublai was the new capital that he built near Yenkin, which had been the capital of the Chinese sovereigns. The city that he created was known by the names Tatu (Daitu or Taitu) or "Great Court," Khan Balig (Kambalu, Cambaluk) or "Khan's town," and Pekin. The description of this wonderful town given by Marco Polo seems reminiscent of the marvels of the Arabian Nights; he too gave the inspiration of Coleridge's lines, "In Xanadu did Kubla Khan a stately pleasure-dome decree." The currency was reformed, block-printing, far in advance of Europe, being utilised for the paper coinage. The army was re-organised, and a valuable system of roads and canals constructed. Trees were planted in many places for the benefit of the public; the welfare of the subject was now the chief care of the ruler. Every act of Kublai, in politics, government, war, court ceremonial, literature, religion, and personal habits, shows clearly how far the Mongol state had progressed.


Death of Kublai


Kublai died in 1294, at the age of eighty, having reigned thirty-five years. After his death the history of the Mongols ceases to call for much detailed comment. The reigns of his successors are of little interest to the general historian, for the Empire begins to pass from the zenith of its power and it remains but to trace the course of decay. Within fifty years of the death of Kublai the Empire was smitten by a series of floods and earthquakes. The Mongol power weakened and rebellion spread. In 1355 a Buddhist priest raised an army in China to drive out the Mongols. Korea joined in the revolt and Pekin was captured. The Khan fled and made good his escape, but the Mongol troops were driven out. In 1368 the revolution was over. A new dynasty, called the Ming or "Bright," was set up, and the priest who had led the revolt became Emperor (Hung-Wu). The descendants of Jenghiz were driven away for ever. But worse was in store. Hung-Wu carried the campaign beyond his own confines. The Eastern Mongols were vigorously attacked and continually beaten. In the reign of Biliktu (died 1378) the Mongols were expelled from Liau Tung. He was succeeded in the next year by Ussakhal, who was slain after the great disaster that overtook the Mongols at Lake Buyur, when the Chinese completely broke the power of their former conquerors. Hereafter the supremacy passed from one branch of the Mongols to another. They became scattered and autonomous, except in so far as the jurisdiction of the Chinese compelled their obedience. Yet the tale of disruption is illuminated by occasional flashes of the old Mongol greatness. The Mongols, who were driven to the North by the Ming, gradually recovered and measured their strength with the foe. They raided Tibet and China, and one of the results of these expeditions was to bring them more into touch with Buddhism. In 1644 the Ming Dynasty was overthrown by the Manchus, who ruled China until the recent proclamation of the republic; the Manchus effectually subdued the Eastern Mongols, who henceforward are merged in the Chinese Empire.

The Mongol Empire can scarcely be said ever to have formed a homogeneous unity; for this reason it is impossible to deal with all those tribes bearing the common designation Mongol or Tartar as a single corporate body. It is difficult to get a general view and to place isolated incidents in their proper setting. This difficulty in finding a true perspective involves a certain amount of individual treatment of the various tribes, and from the time of Kublai onward the historian is compelled to trace the course of the scattered bodies one by one. The fate of the successors of Kublai has been recounted. It now remains to deal with various other branches of the Mongol Confederacy.


The western Mongols : Timur


The Khalkhas, or Central Mongols, whose territory was the ancient Mongol home, where Jenghiz had begun his career, after diplomatic relations with Russia and contact with Christianity, were finally merged in the Chinese Empire at the conference of Tolonor. To this great meeting the Emperor Kang-hi summoned the chiefs of the Khalkhas in 1691, and with great ceremony they performed the "kowtow" in the imperial presence; with this act their separate existence as a nation came to an end.

The Keraits and Torgods for a long period were distracted by internal feuds. The kingdom of the mysterious Prester John, who has been identified with Wang Khan, is placed in their land. Later they had diplomatic and also hostile relations with Russia, Turkey, and the Cossacks. Ayuka Khan, one of their great leaders, invaded the Russian territory as far as Kazan, but made peace with Peter the Great at Astrakhan in 1722. After some time, however, fear of the Russians and discontent at their oppressions caused them to adopt the expedient of wholesale emigration. The extraordinary spectacle was witnessed of 70,000 families breaking up their homes and marching away with all their chattels. The old nomad spirit seemed to have revived. They travelled to China where they were most hospitably received, but the price paid for release from Russian tyranny was the surrender of their nationality. China completely assimilated them. Thus China, Russia, and the steppes were absorbing or scattering great divisions of the former Mongol Empire.

Of the western Mongols, importance centres round the descendants of Jagatai, who passed through many vicissitudes until the rise of Timur Leng (Timor the lame), or Timurlane (Tamerlane, Tamburlaine), of Samarqand. In the year 1336, scarcely more than a century after the death of Jenghiz Khan, Timur was born at Kesh in Transoxiana, to the south of Samarqand. The Mongol hold of Central Asia was still firm, but disintegration was spreading rapidly. It was the destiny of Timur to rouse the Mongols to fresh exploits and distant victories. The direct result of his invasion of India was the rise of the Mongol Dynasty at Delhi, better known as the Moguls. Much light is thrown on Tinifir and his reign by the narrative of Ruy Gonzalez de Clavijo, who came on an embassy to his court in the years 1403-6.

Besides this, there are several accounts of the great conqueror, but they are mostly ex parte statements written either by inveterate enemies or flattering court scribes. Yet it is not difficult to form a fair estimate of the man. In his youth he had the benefit of a fair education. He was as versed in literature as he was proficient in military skill. He was a Muslim by faith, but had no scruples about attacking and slaughtering his co-religionists. At the outset of his career, from about 1358 onward, he had to struggle for supremacy among the scattered tribes of the neighbourhood and the hordes to the north of the Jaxartes. In this he may be compared to Jenghiz. By dint of persistence he succeeded in becoming supreme among the Jagatai tribes, and in 1369, having overcome and slain Husain, his brother-in-law and former ally, he was proclaimed sovereign at Balkh and ruled in Samarqand. He was now at the age of thirty-three, and he waged incessant warfare for the next thirty years.


Conquest of India: defeat of the Ottomans


The chief of his exploits was the celebrated invasion of India. Timur was prompted by the double motive of zeal to spread the faith and the prospect of rich plunder. He crossed the Indus in 1398, after having passed the mountains of Afghanistan. Multan was conquered and the Musulman leader Shihab-ad-Din defeated. After other victories, notably the capture of Bhatnir, the road to Delhi lay open. Before the gates the army of Sultan Muhammad of Delhi was drawn up under the famous general Malin Khan; against Mongol ferocity the bravery of the Indians was useless, and after a bloody battle Timur entered Delhi on 17 December 1398. The sack of Delhi and the massacre of the inhabitants followed, and utter ruin spread far and wide. It is said that for the next fifty years the country was so impoverished that the mints ceased to issue gold and silver coins; copper currency sufficed for the needs of the miserable survivors.

Timur did not stay long. Passing along the flank of the Himalayas he captured Meerut and returned to Samargand through Kashmir. In the Khutbah, or prayer for the reigning monarch that is recited every Friday in the mosques, the names of Timar and his descendants were inserted, thus legitimising the subsequent claims of Babur.

From Samarqand Timur soon marched to the west. In 1401 Baghdad was taken and sacked, the horrors almost equalling the scenes enacted under Hulagu. The captives were beheaded and towers constructed of the heads as a warning, but mosques, colleges, and hospitals were spared. Karbala and Aleppo were taken and Damascus destroyed, Persia and Kurdistan were reconquered. He reduced the Mongols round the shores of the Caspian and penetrated to the banks of the Ural and the Volga. Advancing through Asia Minor, he met the Ottoman Sultan Bayazid I, then at the height of his power, at Angora in 1402. The Turks were beaten and the Sultan captured. Timur dragged the fallen monarch after him to grace his triumph; according to the story utilised by Marlowe, he was imprisoned in a cage. Timar, now in his seventieth year, next planned a great expedition to China. He actually set out on the march, but died in 1405 at Otrar near Kashgar. His atrocities were enormous but not comparable to those of other Mongol Khans. He made no attempt to consolidate his conquests, and after his death the decay was quick. Samarqand and Transoxiana were ruled by his son and grandson, but the various petty dynasties that soon arose weakened each other by warfare. Finally Muhammad Shaibani or Shahi Beg, the head of the Uzbeg Mongols, captured Samargand and Bukhara and between 1494 and 1500 displaced all the dynasties of the Timurids.


The Golden Horde


Parallel to the advance of Buddhism in the East, was the growth of Islam in the West. Nowhere did the faith of Mahomet find more fruitful soil than among the Il-khans of Persia, who traced their descent to Hulagu, the conqueror of Baghdad. Between Egypt and the Il-khans there was often warfare. In 1303 Nasir, Sultan of Egypt, overthrew a Mongol army at Marj-as-Suffar. But the relations between the two powers were sometimes friendly. The same Nasir made an extradition treaty with Abu-Said, the nephew of Ghazdi, whose army had been defeated at Marj-as-Suffar. The smaller states which succeeded the Il-khans were finally swept away by Timur before 1400.

The descendants of the victorious general Batu were the famous Golden Horde or Western Kipchaks. Batu ruled from Lake Balkash to Hungary. He was succeeded in 1255 by his brother Bereke, in whose reign a crusade against the Mongols was preached by the Pope. But the Mongols carried the war into the enemy's country and invaded Poland and Silesia. Cracow and Beuthen were captured and vast masses of slaves were led away. The result of these operations was that the Mongols maintained a suzerainty over the Russians. Several European princes and princesses intermarried with them; they were on friendly terms with the Sultans of Egypt, perhaps owing to the hostility between the Mamluks and the Il-khans. In 1382 Tuqtamish sacked Moscow and several important Russian towns, but the campaign of slaughter was resented by Timur his overlord, who utterly crushed him. Gradually all these Mongol tribes were absorbed by Russia or the Ottoman Turks, but from the Uzbegs on the Caspian Babur set forth on his journey to India and founded the Indian Empire of the Moguls, to which Sir Thomas Roe was sent on an embassy in 1615-1619. The lingering Khanates were crushed by the expansion of Russia, and either as subjects or protectorates have lost all independence.