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Vang Khan

The Fall Of Bokhara

The Story Of Hujaku

The First Battle

Establishment Of The Empire

Temujin In Exile

Battles And Sieges

The Death Of Vang Khan


Pastoral Life In Asia

The Monguls

Adventures Of Prince Kushluk

Rupture With Vang Khan

The Death Of Yemuka

The Sultan Mohammed

Grand Celebrations

Death Of The Sultan

Conquests In China

The War With The Sultan

Yezonkai Khan



Idikut.--The old system of farming revenues.--Evils of farming the
revenue.--Modern system.--Disinterested collectors.--Independent and
impartial courts.--Waste of the public money.--Shuwakem.--Idikut's
quarrel with Gurkhan's tax-gatherers.--Rebellion.--He sends to
Genghis Khan.--His reception of the embassy.--Idikut's visit to
Genghis Khan.--Gurkhan in a rage.--Jena.--Subsequent history of
Kushluk.--Kushluk's final defeat and flight.--Hotly pursued by
Jena.--Kushluk's death.--Genghis Khan's triumph.

There was another great and powerful khan, named Idikut, whose tribe
had hitherto been under the dominion of Gurkhan, the Prince of
Turkestan, where Kushluk had sought refuge, but who about this time
revolted from Gurkhan and went over to Genghis Khan, under
circumstances which illustrate, in some degree, the peculiar nature of
the political ties by which these different tribes and nations were
bound to each other. It seems that the tribe over which Idikut ruled
was tributary to Turkestan, and that Gurkhan had an officer stationed
in Idikut's country whose business it was to collect and remit the

tribute. The name of this collector was Shuwakem. He was accustomed,
it seems, like almost all tax-gatherers in those days, to exact more
than was his due. The system generally adopted by governments in that
age of the world for collecting their revenues from tributary or
conquered provinces was to farm them, as the phrase was. That is,
they sold the whole revenue of a particular district in the gross to
some rich man, who paid for it a specific sum, considerably less, of
course, than the tax itself would really yield, and then he reimbursed
himself for his outlay and for his trouble by collecting the tax in
detail from the people. Of course, it was for the interest of the
tax-gatherer, in such a case, after having paid the round sum to the
government, to extort as much as possible from the people, since all
that he obtained over and above the sum that he had paid was his
profit on the transaction. Then, if the people complained to the
government of his exactions, they could seldom obtain any redress, for
the government knew that if they rebuked or punished the farmer of the
revenue, or interfered with him in any way, they would not be able to
make so favorable terms with him for the next year.

The plan of farming the revenues thus led to a great deal of extortion
and oppression, which the people were compelled patiently to endure,
as there was generally no remedy. In modern times and among civilized
nations this system has been almost universally abandoned. The taxes
are now always collected for the government directly by officers who
have to pay over not a fixed sum, but simply what they collect. Thus
the tax-gatherers are, in some sense, impartial, since, if they
collect more than the law entitles them to demand, the benefit inures
almost wholly to the government, they themselves gaining little or no
advantage by their extortion. Besides this, there are courts
established which are, in a great measure, independent of the
government, to which the tax-payer can appeal at once in a case where
he thinks he is aggrieved. This, it is true, often puts him to a great
deal of trouble and expense, but, in the end, he is pretty sure to
have justice done him, while under the old system there was ordinarily
no remedy at all. There was nothing to be done but to appeal to the
king or chieftain himself, and these complaints seldom received any
attention. For, besides the natural unwillingness of the sovereign to
trouble himself about such disputes, he had a direct interest in not
requiring the extorted money to be paid back, or, rather, in not
having it proved that it was extorted. Thus the poor tax-payer found
that the officer who collected the money, and the umpire who was to
decide in case of disputes, were both directly interested against him,
and he was continually wronged; whereas, at the present day, by means
of a system which provides disinterested officers to determine and
collect the tax, and independent judges to decide all cases of
dispute, the evils are almost wholly avoided. The only difficulty now
is the extravagance and waste with which the public money is expended,
making it necessary to collect a much larger amount than would
otherwise be required. Perhaps some future generation will discover
some plain and simple remedy for this evil too.

* * * * *

The name of the officer who had the general charge of the collection
of the taxes in Idikut's territory for Gurkhan, King of Turkestan,
was, as has already been said, Shuwakem. He oppressed the people,
exacting more from them than was really due. Whether he had farmed the
revenue, and was thus enriching himself by his extortions, or whether
he was acting directly in Gurkhan's name, and made the people pay more
than he ought from zeal in his master's service, and a desire to
recommend himself to favor by sending home to Turkestan as large a
revenue from the provinces as possible, does not appear. At all
events, the people complained bitterly. They had, however, no access
to Gurkhan, Shuwakem's master, and so they carried their complaints
to Idikut, their own khan.

Idikut remonstrated with Shuwakem, but he, instead of taking the
remonstrance in good part and relaxing the severity of his
proceedings, resented the interference of Idikut, and answered him in
a haughty and threatening manner. This made Idikut very angry. Indeed,
he was angry before, as it might naturally be supposed that he would
have been, at having a person owing allegiance to a foreign prince
exercising authority in a proud and domineering manner within his
dominions, and the reply which Shuwakem made when he remonstrated with
him on account of his extortions exasperated him beyond all bounds. He
immediately caused Shuwakem to be assassinated. He also slew all the
other officers of Gurkhan within his country--those, probably, who
were employed to assist Shuwakem in collecting the taxes.

The murder of these officers was, of course, an act of open rebellion
against Gurkhan, and Idikut, in order to shield himself from the
consequences of it, determined to join himself and his tribe at once
to the empire of Genghis Khan; so he immediately dispatched two
embassadors to the Mongul emperor with his proposals.

The envoys, accompanied by a suitable troop of guards and attendants,
went into the Mongul country and presently came up with Genghis Khan,
while he was on a march toward the country of some tribe or horde that
had revolted from him. They were very kindly received; for, although
Genghis Khan was not prepared at present to make open war upon
Gurkhan, or to invade his dominions in pursuit of Prince Kushluk, he
was intending to do this at some future day, and, in the mean time, he
was very glad to weaken his enemy by drawing off from his empire any
tributary tribes that were at all disposed to revolt from him.

He accordingly received the embassadors of Idikut in a very cordial
and friendly manner. He readily acceded to the proposals which Idikut
made through them, and, in order to give full proof to Idikut of the
readiness and sincerity with which he accepted his proposals, he sent
back two embassadors of his own to accompany Idikut's embassadors on
their return, and to join them in assuring that prince of the
cordiality with which Genghis Khan accepted his offers of friendship,
and to promise his protection.

Idikut was very much pleased, when his messengers returned, to learn
that his mission had been so successful. He immediately determined to
go himself and visit Genghis Khan in his camp, in order to confirm the
new alliance by making a personal tender to the emperor of his homage
and his services. He accordingly prepared some splendid presents, and,
placing himself at the head of his troop of guards, he proceeded to
the camp of Genghis Khan. The emperor received him in a very kind and
friendly manner. He accepted his presents, and, in the end, was so
much pleased with Idikut himself that he gave him one of his daughters
in marriage.

As for Gurkhan, when he first heard of the murder of Shuwakem and the
other officers, he was in a terrible rage. He declared that he would
revenge his servant by laying waste Idikut's territories with fire and
sword. But when he heard that Idikut had placed himself under the
protection of Genghis Khan, and especially when he learned that he had
married the emperor's daughter, he thought it more prudent to postpone
his vengeance, not being quite willing to draw upon himself the
hostility of so great a power.

Prince Kushluk remained for many years in Turkestan and in the
countries adjoining it. He married a daughter of Gurkhan, his
protector. Partly in consequence of this connection and of the high
rank which he had held in his own native land, and partly, perhaps, in
consequence of his personal courage and other military qualities, he
rapidly acquired great influence among the khans of Western Asia, and
at last he organized a sort of rebellion against Gurkhan, made war
against him, and deprived him of more than half his dominions. He then
collected a large army, and prepared to make war upon Genghis Khan.
Genghis Khan sent one of his best generals, at the head of a small but
very compact and well-disciplined force, against him. The name of this
general was Jena. Kushluk was not at all intimidated by the danger
which now threatened him. His own army was much larger than that of
Jena, and he accordingly advanced to meet his enemy without fear. He
was, however, beaten in the battle, and, when he saw that the day was
lost, he fled, followed by a small party of horsemen, who succeeded in
saving themselves with him.

Jena set out immediately in pursuit of the fugitive, accompanied by a
small body of men mounted on the fleetest horses. The party who were
with Kushluk, being exhausted by the fatigue of the battle and
bewildered by the excitement and terror of their flight, could not
keep together, but were overtaken one by one and slain by their
pursuers until only three were left. These three kept close to
Kushluk, and with him went on until Jena's party lost the track of

At length, coming to a place where two roads met, Jena asked a peasant
if he had seen any strange horsemen pass that way. The peasant said
that four horsemen had passed a short time before, and he told Jena
which road they had taken.

Jena and his party rode on in the direction which the peasant had
indicated, and, pushing forward with redoubled speed, they soon
overtook the unhappy fugitives. They fell upon Kushluk without mercy,
and killed him on the spot. They then cut off his head, and turned
back to carry it to Genghis Khan.

Genghis Khan rewarded Jena in the most magnificent manner for his
successful performance of this exploit, and then, putting Kushluk's
head upon a pole, he displayed it in all the camps and villages
through which he passed, where it served at once as a token and a
trophy of his victory against an enemy, and, at the same time, as a
warning to all other persons of the terrible danger which they would
incur in attempting to resist his power.

Next: The Story Of Hujaku

Previous: Adventures Of Prince Kushluk

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