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Death Of The Sultan





1220

Pursuit of the sultan.--The two ladies.--Character of the
queen-mother.--Khatun.--Her retirement.--Samarcand.--Fortifications
of the place.--Water-works.--Gates and towers.--Crowds of people
seeking refuge.--Encampment.--Arrival of the Monguls.--Dissensions
within the city.--A deputation.--Massacre.--Escape of the
governor.--Forlorn condition of the sultan.--The sultan sends away
his treasures.--His flight and his despondency.--Narrow escape.--Rage
of his pursuers.--Visit from his son Jalaloddin.--His dying
words.--Death and burial.--Khatun at Karazm.--Her cruelty to her
captives.--Dissension.--Khatun's escape.--Her obstinacy.--Cause of
her hatred of Jalaloddin.--The siege of the fortress.--The governor's
hopes.--Want of rain.--Great suffering.--The queen made captive.--Cruel
treatment of the queen-mother.


In the mean time, while Jughi and the other generals were ravaging the
country with their detachments, and besieging and capturing all the
secondary towns and fortresses that came in their way, as related in
the last chapter, Genghis Khan himself, with the main body of the
army, had advanced to Samarcand in pursuit of the sultan, who had, as
he supposed, taken shelter there. Samarcand was the capital of the
country, and was then, as it has been since, a great and renowned
city.

Besides the sultan himself, whom Genghis Khan was pursuing, there were
the ladies of his family whom he wished also to capture. The two
principal ladies were the sultana and the queen-mother. The
queen-mother was a lady of very great distinction. She had been
greatly renowned during the lifetime of her husband, the former
sultan, for her learning, her piety, the kindness of her heart, and
the general excellence of her character, so far as her dealings with
her subjects and friends were concerned, and her influence throughout
the realm had been unbounded. At some periods of her life she had
exercised a great deal of political power, and at one time she bore
the very grand title of Protectress of the faith of the world. She
exercised the power which she then possessed, in the main, in a very
wise and beneficial manner. She administered justice impartially. She
protected the weak, and restrained the oppressions of the strong. She
listened to all the cases which were brought before her with great
attention and patience, and arrived almost always at just conclusions
respecting them. With all this, however, she was very strict and
severe, and, as has almost always been the case with women raised to
the possession of irresponsible power, she was unrelenting and cruel
in the extreme whenever, as she judged, any political necessity
required her to act with decision. Her name was Khatun.[E]

Khatun was not now at Samarcand. She was at Karazm, a city which was
the chief residence of the court. She had been living there in
retirement ever since the death of her husband, the present sultan's
father.

Samarcand itself, as has already been said, was a great and splendid
city. Like most of the other cities, it was inclosed in a double wall,
though, in this case, the outer wall surrounded the whole city, while
the inner one inclosed the mosque, the palace of the sultan, and some
other public buildings. These walls were much better built and more
strongly fortified than those of Bokhara. There were twelve iron
gates, it is said, in the outer wall. These gates were a league apart
from each other. At every two leagues along the wall was a fort
capable of containing a large body of men. The walls were likewise
strengthened with battlements and towers, in which the men could fight
under shelter, and they were surrounded by a broad and deep ditch, to
prevent an enemy from approaching too near to them, in order to
undermine them or batter them down.

The city was abundantly supplied with water by means of hydraulic
constructions as perfect and complete as could be made in those days.
The water was brought by leaden pipes from a stream which came down
from the mountains at some distance from the town. It was conveyed by
these pipes to every part of the town, and was distributed freely, so
that every great street had a little current of water running through
it, and every house a fountain in the court or garden. Besides this,
in a public square or park there was a mound where the water was made
to spout up in the centre, and then flow down in little rivulets and
cascades on every side.

The gates and towers which have been described were in the outer wall,
and beyond them, in the environs, were a great many fields, gardens,
orchards, and beautifully-cultivated grounds, which produced fruits of
all sorts, that were sent by the merchants into all the neighboring
countries. At a little distance the town was almost entirely concealed
from view by these gardens and orchards, there being nothing to be
seen but minarets, and some of the loftier roofs of the houses, rising
above the tops of the trees.

There were so many people who flocked into Samarcand from the
surrounding country for shelter and protection, when they learned that
Genghis Khan was coming, that the place would hardly contain them. In
addition to these, the sultan sent over one hundred thousand troops to
defend the town, with thirty generals to command them. There were
twenty large elephants, too, that were brought with the army, to be
employed in any service which might be required of them during the
siege. This army, however, instead of entering the city at once,
encamped about it. They strengthened the position of the camp by a
deep ditch which they dug, throwing up the earth from the ditch on the
side toward the camp so as to form a redoubt with which to defend the
ground from the Monguls. But as soon as Genghis Khan arrived they were
speedily driven from this post, and forced to take shelter within the
walls of the city. Here they defended themselves with so much vigor
and resolution that Genghis Khan would probably have found it very
difficult to take the town had it not been for dissensions within the
walls. It seems that the rich merchants and other wealthy men of the
city, being convinced that the place would sooner or later fall into
the hands of the Monguls, thought it would be better to surrender it
at once, while they were in a condition to make some terms by which
they might hope to save their lives, and perhaps their property.

But the generals would not listen to any proposition of this kind.
They had been sent by the sultan to defend the town, and they felt
bound in honor, in obedience to their orders, to fight in defense of
it to the last extremity.

The dissension within the city grew more and more violent every day,
until at length the party of the inhabitants grew so strong and
decided that they finally took possession of one of the gates, and
sent a large deputation, consisting of priests, magistrates, and some
of the principal citizens, to Genghis Khan, bearing with them the keys
of the town, and proposing to deliver them up to him if he would spare
the garrison and the inhabitants. But he said he would make no terms
except with those who were of their party and were willing to
surrender. In respect to the generals and the soldiers of the garrison
he would make no promises.

The deputation gave up the keys and Genghis Khan entered the city. The
inhabitants were spared, but the soldiers were massacred wherever they
could be found. A great many perished in the streets. A considerable
body of them, however, with the governor at their head, retreated
within the inner wall, and there defended themselves desperately for
four days. At the end of that time, finding that their case was
hopeless, and knowing that they could expect no quarter from the
Monguls in any event, they resolved to make a sally and cut their way
through the ranks of their enemies at all hazards. The governor,
accordingly, put himself at the head of a troop of one thousand horse,
and, coming out suddenly from his retreat, he dashed through the camp
at a time when the Monguls were off their guard, and so gained the
open country and made his escape. All the soldiers that remained
behind in the city were immediately put to the sword.

In the mean time, the sultan himself, finding that his affairs were
going to ruin, retreated from province to province, accompanied by as
large a force as he could keep together, and vainly seeking to find
some place of safety. He had several sons, and among them two whose
titles were Jalaloddin and Kothboddin. Jalaloddin was the oldest, and
was therefore naturally entitled to be his father's successor; but,
for some reason or other, the queen-mother, Khatun, had taken a
dislike to him, and had persuaded her son, the sultan, to execute a
sort of act or deed by which Jalaloddin was displaced, and Kothboddin,
who was a great favorite of hers, was made heir to the throne in his
place.

The sultan had other sons who were governors of different provinces,
and he fled from one to another of these, seeking in vain for some
safe retreat. But he could find none. He was hunted from place to
place by detachments of the Monguls, and the number of his attendants
and followers was continually diminishing, until at last he began to
be completely discouraged.

At length, at one of the cities where he made a short stay, he
delivered to an officer named Omar, who was the steward of his
household, ten coffers sealed with the royal signet, with instructions
to take them secretly to a certain distant fortress and lock them up
carefully there, without allowing any one to know that he did it.

These coffers contained the royal jewels, and they were of inestimable
value.

After this, one of his sons joined him with quite a large force, but
very soon a large body of Monguls came up, and, after a furious
battle, the sultan's troops were defeated and scattered in all
directions; and he was again obliged to fly, accompanied by a very
small body of officers, who still contrived to keep near him. With
these he succeeded, at last, in reaching a very retired town near the
Caspian Sea, where he hoped to remain concealed. His strength was now
spent, and all his courage gone. He sank down into a condition of the
greatest despondency and distress, and spent his time in going to the
mosque and offering up prayers to God to save him from total ruin. He
made confession of his sins, and promised an entire amendment of life
if the Almighty would deliver him from his enemies and restore him to
his throne.

At last the Mongul detachment that was in pursuit of him in that part
of the country were informed by a peasant where he was; and one day,
while he was at his prayers in the mosque, word was brought to him
that the Monguls were coming. He rushed out of the mosque, and, guided
by some friends, ran down to the shore and got into a boat, with a
view of escaping by sea, all retreat by land being now cut off.

He had scarce got on board the boat when the Monguls appeared on the
shore. The men in the boat immediately pushed off. The Monguls, full
of disappointment and rage, shot at them with their arrows; but the
sultan was not struck by any of them, and was soon out of the reach of
his pursuers.

The sultan lay in the boat almost helpless, being perfectly exhausted
by the terror and distress which he had endured. He soon began to
suffer, too, from an intense pain in the chest and side, which
gradually became so severe that he could scarcely breathe. The men
with him in the boat, finding that he was seriously sick, made the
best of their way to a small island named Abiskun, which is situated
near the southeastern corner of the sea. Here they pitched a tent, and
made up a bed in it, as well as they could, for the sufferer. They
also sent a messenger to the shore to bring off a physician secretly.
The physician did all that was in his power, but it was too late. The
inflammation and the pain subsided after a time, but it was evident
that the patient was sinking, and that he was about to die.

It happened that the sultan's son, Jalaloddin, the one who had been
set aside in favor of his brother Kothboddin, was at this time on the
main land not far from the island, and intelligence was communicated
to him of his father's situation. He immediately went to the island to
see him, taking with him two of his brothers. They were obliged to
manage the business very secretly, to prevent the Monguls from finding
out what was going on.

On the arrival of Jalaloddin, the sultan expressed great satisfaction
in seeing him, and he revoked the decree by which he had been
superseded in the succession.

"You, my son," said he, "are, after all, the one among all my children
who is best able to revenge me on the Monguls; therefore I revoke the
act which I formerly executed at the request of the queen, my mother,
in favor of Kothboddin."

He then solemnly appointed Jalaloddin to be his successor, and
enjoined upon the other princes to be obedient and faithful to him as
their sovereign. He also formally delivered to him his sword as the
emblem and badge of the supreme power which he thus conferred upon
him.

Soon after this the sultan expired. The attendants buried the body
secretly on the island for fear of the Monguls. They washed it
carefully before the interment, according to custom, and then put on
again a portion of the same dress which the sultan had worn when
living, having no means of procuring or making any other shroud.

As for Khatun, the queen-mother, when she heard the tidings of her
son's death, and was informed, at the same time, that her favorite
Kothboddin had been set aside, and Jalaloddin, whom she hated, and
who, she presumed, hated her, had been made his successor, she was in
a great rage. She was at that time at Karazm, which was the capital,
and she attempted to persuade the officers and soldiers near her not
to submit to the sultan's decree, but to make Kothboddin their
sovereign after all.

While she was engaged in forming this conspiracy, the news reached the
city that the Monguls were coming. Khatun immediately determined to
flee to save her life. She had, it seems, in her custody at Karazm
twelve children, the sons of various princes that reigned in different
parts of the empire or in the environs of it. These children were
either held as hostages, or had been made captive in insurrections and
wars, and were retained in prison as a punishment to their fathers.
The queen-mother found that she could not take these children with
her, and so she ordered them all to be slain. She was afraid that the
Monguls, when they came, might set them free.

As soon as she was gone the city fell into great confusion on account
of the struggles for power between the two parties of Jalaloddin and
Kothboddin. But the sultana, who had made the mischief, did not
trouble herself to know how it would end. Her only anxiety was to save
her own life. After various wanderings and adventures, she at last
found her way into a very retired district of country lying on the
southern shore of the Caspian, between the mountains and the sea, and
here she sought refuge in a castle or fortress named Ilan, where she
thought she was secure from all pursuit. She brought with her to the
castle her jewels and all her most valuable treasures.

But Genghis Khan had spies in every part of the country, and he was
soon informed where Khatun was concealed. So he sent a messenger to a
certain Mongul general named Hubbe Nevian, who was commanding a
detachment in that part of the country, informing him that Khatun was
in the castle of Ilan, and commanding him to go and lay siege to it,
and to take it at all hazards, and to bring Khatun to him either dead
or alive.

Hubbe immediately set off for the castle. The queen-mother, however,
had notice of his approach, and the lords who were with her urged her
to fly. If she would go with them, they said, they would take her to
Jalaloddin, and he would protect her. But she would not listen to any
such proposal. She hated Jalaloddin so intensely that she would not,
even to save her life, put herself under his power. The very worst
possible treatment, she said, that she could receive from the Monguls
would be more agreeable to her than the greatest favors from the hand
of Jalaloddin.

The ground of this extreme animosity which she felt toward Jalaloddin
was not any personal animosity to him; it arose simply from an
ancient and long-continued dislike and hatred which she had borne
against his mother!

So Khatun refused to retire from the danger, and soon afterward the
horde of Monguls arrived, and pitched their camp before the castle
walls.

For three months Hubbe and his Monguls continued to ply the walls of
the fortress with battering-rams and other engines, in order to force
their way in, but in vain. The place was too strong for them. At
length Genghis Khan, hearing how the case stood, sent word to them to
give up the attempt to make a breach, and to invest the place closely
on all sides, so as to allow no person to go out or to come in; in
that way, he said, the garrison would soon be starved into a
surrender.

When the governor of the castle saw, by the arrangements which Hubbe
made in obedience to this order, that this was the course that was to
be pursued, he said he was not uneasy, for his magazines were full of
provisions, and as to water, the rain which fell very copiously there
among the mountains always afforded an abundant supply.

But the governor was mistaken in his calculations in respect to the
rain. It usually fell very frequently in that region, but after the
blockade of the fortress commenced, for three weeks there was not the
smallest shower. The people of the country around thought this failure
of the rain was a special judgment of heaven against the queen for the
murder of the children, and for her various other crimes. It was,
indeed, remarkable, for in ordinary times the rain was so frequent
that the people of all that region depended upon it entirely for their
supply of water, and never found it necessary to search for springs or
to dig wells.

The sufferings of the people within the fortress for want of water
were very great. Many of them died in great misery, and at length the
provisions began to fail too, and Khatun was compelled to allow the
governor to surrender.

The Monguls immediately seized the queen, and took possession of all
her treasures. They also took captive all the lords and ladies who had
attended her, and the women of her household, and two or three of her
great-grandchildren, whom she had brought with her in her flight. All
these persons were sent under a strong guard to Genghis Khan.

Genghis Khan retained the queen as a captive for some time, and
treated her in a very cruel and barbarous manner. He would sometimes
order her to be brought into his tent, at the end of his dinner, that
he might enjoy his triumph by insulting and deriding her. On these
occasions he would throw her scraps of food from the table as if she
had been a dog.

He took away the children from her too, all but one, whom he left with
her a while to comfort her, as he said; but one day an officer came
and seized this one from her very arms, while she was dressing him and
combing his hair. This last blow caused her a severer pang than any
that she had before endured, and left her utterly disconsolate and
heart-broken.

Some accounts say that soon after this she was put to death, but
others state that Genghis Khan retained her several years as a
captive, and carried her to and fro in triumph in his train through
the countries over which she had formerly reigned with so much power
and splendor. She deserved her sufferings, it is true; but Genghis
Khan was none the less guilty, on that account, for treating her so
cruelly.





Next: Victorious Campaigns

Previous: Battles And Sieges



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