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Dominions Of Genghis Khan

Battles And Sieges

Establishment Of The Empire

The Death Of Yemuka

The Monguls

Yezonkai Khan

The Sultan Mohammed

The Fall Of Bokhara

Temujin In Exile

Rupture With Vang Khan

The Death Of Vang Khan

Vang Khan

Adventures Of Prince Kushluk

Victorious Campaigns

Death Of The Sultan


The First Battle

Pastoral Life In Asia

The Story Of Hujaku

The War With The Sultan

The First Battle


Temujin's accession.--Discontent.--Taychot and Chamuka.--Arrangements
for the battle.--Temujin's ardor.--Porgie.--Exaggerated
statements.--The battle.--Bravery of Temujin and Porgie.--Influence
of Temujin's example.--Taychot slain.--The victory.--Rewards and
honors.--Temujin's rising fame.--His second wife.--Purta carried
away captive.--Customary present.--Purta and Vang Khan.--Purta's
return.--Birth of her child.--Jughi.--Temujin's wonderful
dream.--Disaffection among his subjects.--A rebellion.--Temujin
discouraged.--Temujin plans a temporary abdication.--Arrangement
of a regency.--Temujin's departure.

In the language of the Monguls and of their neighbors the Tartars, a
collection of tribes banded together under one chieftain was
designated by a name which sounded like the word orda. This is the
origin, it is said, of the English word horde.

The orda over which Yezonkai had ruled, and the command of which, at
his death, he left to his son, consisted of a great number of separate
tribes, each of which had its own particular chieftain. All these
subordinate chieftains were content to be under Yezonkai's rule and
leadership while he lived. He was competent, they thought, to direct
their movements and to lead them into battle against their enemies.
But when he died, leaving only a young man thirteen years of age to
succeed him, several of them were disposed to rebel. There were two of
them, in particular, who thought that they were themselves better
qualified to reign over the nation than such a boy; so they formed an
alliance with each other, and with such other tribes as were disposed
to join them, and advanced to make war upon Temujin at the head of a
great number of squadrons of troops, amounting in all to thirty
thousand men.

The names of the two leaders of this rebellion were Taychot and

Young Temujin depended chiefly on his mother for guidance and
direction in this emergency. He was himself very brave and spirited;
but bravery and spirit, though they are of such vital importance in a
commander on the field of battle, when the contest actually comes on,
are by no means the principal qualities that are required in making
the preliminary arrangements.

Accordingly, Temujin left the forming of the plans to his mother,
while he thought only of his horses, of his arms and equipments, and
of the fury with which he would gallop in among the enemy when the
time should arrive for the battle to begin. His mother, in connection
with the chief officers of the army and counselors of state who were
around her, and on whom her husband Yezonkai, during his lifetime, had
been most accustomed to rely, arranged all the plans. They sent off
messengers to the heads of all the tribes that they supposed would be
friendly to Temujin, and appointed places of rendezvous for the
troops that they were to send. They made arrangements for the stores
of provisions which would be required, settled questions of precedence
among the different clans, regulated the order of march, and attended
to all other necessary details.

In the mean time, Temujin thought only of the approaching battle. He
was engaged continually in riding up and down upon spirited horses,
and shooting in all directions, backward and forward, and both to the
right side and to the left, with his bow and arrow. Nor was all this
exhibition of ardor on his part a mere useless display. It had great
influence in awakening a corresponding ardor among the chieftains of
the troops, and among the troops themselves. They felt proud of the
spirit and energy which their young prince displayed, and were more
and more resolved to exert themselves to the utmost in defending his

There was another young prince, of the name of Porgie, of about
Temujin's age, who was also full of ardor for the fight. He was the
chieftain of one of the tribes that remained faithful to Temujin, and
he was equally earnest with Temujin for the battle to begin.

At length the troops were ready, and, with Temujin and his mother at
the head of them, they went forth to attack the rebels. The rebels
were ready to receive them. They were thirty thousand strong,
according to the statements of the historians. This number is probably
exaggerated, as all numbers were in those days, when there was no
regular enrollment of troops and no strict system of enumeration.

At any rate, there was a very great battle. Immense troops of horsemen
coming at full speed in opposite directions shot showers of arrows at
each other when they arrived at the proper distance for the arrows to
take effect, and then, throwing down their bows and drawing their
sabres, rushed madly on, until they came together with an awful shock,
the dreadful confusion and terror of which no person can describe. The
air was filled with the most terrific outcries, in which yells of
fury, shrieks of agony, and shouts of triumph were equally mingled.
Some of the troops maintained their position through the shock, and
rode on, bearing down all before them. Others were overthrown and
trampled in the dust; while all, both those who were up and those who
were down, were cutting in every direction with their sabres, killing
men and inciting the horses to redoubled fury by the wounds which
they gave them.

In the midst of such scenes as these Temujin and Porgie fought
furiously with the rest. Temujin distinguished himself greatly. It is
probable that those who were immediately around him felt that he was
under their charge, and that they must do all in their power to
protect him from danger. This they could do much more easily and
effectually under the mode of fighting which prevailed in those days
than would be possible now, when gunpowder is the principal agent of
destruction. Temujin's attendants and followers could gather around
him and defend him from assailants. They could prevent him from
charging any squadron which was likely to be strong enough to
overpower him, and they could keep his enemies so much at bay that
they could not reach him with their sabres. But upon a modern field of
battle there is much less opportunity to protect a young prince or
general's son, or other personage whose life may be considered as
peculiarly valuable. No precautions of his attendants can prevent a
bomb's bursting at his feet, or shield him from the rifle balls that
come whistling from such great distances through the air.

At any rate, whether protected by his attendants or only by the
fortune of war, Temujin passed through the battle without being hurt,
and the courage and energy which he displayed were greatly commended
by all who witnessed them. His mother was in the battle too, though,
perhaps, not personally involved in the actual conflicts of it. She
directed the manoeuvres, however, and by her presence and her
activity greatly encouraged and animated the men. In consequence of
the spirit and energy infused into the troops by her presence, and by
the extraordinary ardor and bravery of Temujin, the battle was gained.
The army of the enemy was put to flight. One of the leaders, Taychot,
was slain. The other made his escape, and Temujin and his mother were
left in possession of the field.

Of course, after having fought with so much energy and effect on such
a field, Temujin was now no longer considered as a boy, but took his
place at once as a man among men, and was immediately recognized by
all the army as their prince and sovereign, and as fully entitled, by
his capacity if not by his years, to rule in his own name. He assumed
and exercised his powers with as much calmness and self-possession as
if he had been accustomed to them for many years. He made addresses
to his officers and soldiers, and distributed honors and rewards to
them with a combined majesty and grace which, in their opinion,
denoted much grandeur of soul. The rewards and honors were
characteristic of the customs of the country and the times. They
consisted of horses, arms, splendid articles of dress, and personal
ornaments. Of course, among a people who lived, as it were, always on
horseback, such objects as these were the ones most highly prized.

The consequence of this victory was, that nearly the whole country
occupied by the rebels submitted without any farther resistance to
Temujin's sway. Other tribes, who lived on the borders of his
dominions, sent in to propose treaties of alliance. The khan of one of
these tribes demanded of Temujin the hand of his sister in marriage to
seal and confirm the alliance which he proposed to make. In a word,
the fame of Temujin's prowess spread rapidly after the battle over all
the surrounding countries, and high anticipations began to be formed
of the greatness and glory of his reign.

In the course of the next year Temujin was married to his second wife,
although he was at this time only fourteen years old. The name of his
bride was Purta Kugin. By this wife, who was probably of about his own
age, he had a daughter, who was born before the close of the year
after the marriage.

In his journeys about the country Temujin sometimes took his wives
with him, and sometimes he left them temporarily in some place of
supposed security. Toward the end of the second year Purta was again
about to become a mother, and Temujin, who at that time had occasion
to go off on some military expedition, fearing that the fatigue and
exposure would be more than she could well bear, left her at home.
While he was gone a troop of horsemen, from a tribe of his enemies,
came suddenly into the district on a marauding expedition. They
overpowered the troops Temujin had left to guard the place, and seized
and carried off every thing that they could find that was valuable.
They made prisoner of Purta, too, and carried her away a captive. The
plunder they divided among themselves, but Purta they sent as a
present to a certain khan who reigned over a neighboring country, and
whose favor they wished to secure. The name of this chieftain was Vang
Khan. As this Vang Khan figures somewhat conspicuously in the
subsequent history of Temujin, a full account of him will be given in
the next chapter. All that is necessary to say here is, that the
intention of the captors of Purta, in sending her to him as a present,
was that he should make her his wife. It was the custom of these khans
to have as many wives as they could obtain, so that when prisoners of
high rank were taken in war, if there were any young and beautiful
women among them, they were considered as charming presents to send to
any great prince or potentate near, whom the captors were desirous of
pleasing. It made no difference, in such cases, whether the person who
was to receive the present were young or old. Sometimes the older he
was the more highly he would prize such a gift.

Vang Khan, it happened, was old. He was old enough to be Temujin's
father. Indeed, he had been in the habit of calling Temujin his son.
He had been in alliance with Yezonkai, Temujin's father, some years
before, when Temujin was quite a boy, and it was at that time that he
began to call him his son.

Accordingly, when Purta was brought to him by the messengers who had
been sent in charge of her, and presented to him in his tent, he said,

"She is very beautiful, but I can not take her for my wife, for she is
the wife of my son. I can not marry the wife of my son."

Vang Khan, however, received Purta under his charge, gave her a place
in his household, and took good care of her.

When Temujin returned home from his expedition, and learned what had
happened during his absence, he was greatly distressed at the loss of
his wife. Not long afterward he ascertained where she was, and he
immediately sent a deputation to Vang Khan asking him to send her
home. With this request Vang Khan immediately complied, and Purta set
out on her return. She was stopped on the way, however, by the birth
of her child. It was a son. As soon as the child was born it was
determined to continue the journey, for there was danger, if they
delayed, that some new troop of enemies might come up, in which case
Purta would perhaps be made captive again. So Purta, it is said,
wrapped up the tender limbs of the infant in some sort of paste or
dough, to save them from the effects of the jolting produced by the
rough sort of cart in which she was compelled to ride, and in that
condition she held the babe in her lap all the way home.

She arrived at her husband's residence in safety. Temujin was
overjoyed at seeing her again; and he was particularly pleased with
his little son, who came out of his packing safe and sound. In
commemoration of his safe arrival after so strange and dangerous a
journey, his father named him Safe-arrived; that is, he gave him for a
name the word in their language that means that. The word itself was

The commencement of Temujin's career was thus, on the whole, quite
prosperous, and every thing seemed to promise well. He was himself
full of ambition and of hope, and began to feel dissatisfied with the
empire which his father had left him, and to form plans for extending
it. He dreamed one night that his arms grew out to an enormous length,
and that he took a sword in each of them, and stretched them out to
see how far they would reach, pointing one to the eastward and the
other to the westward. In the morning he related his dream to his
mother. She interpreted it to him. She told him it meant undoubtedly
that he was destined to become a great conqueror, and that the
directions in which his kingdom would be extended were toward the
eastward and toward the westward.

Temujin continued for about two years after this in prosperity, and
then his good fortune began to wane. There came a reaction. Some of
the tribes under his dominion began to grow discontented. The
subordinate khans began to form plots and conspiracies. Even his own
tribe turned against him. Rebellions broke out in various parts of his
dominions; and he was obliged to make many hurried expeditions here
and there, and to fight many desperate battles to suppress them. In
one of these contests he was taken prisoner. He, however, contrived to
make his escape. He then made proposals to the disaffected khans,
which he hoped would satisfy them, and bring them once more to submit
to him, since what he thus offered to do in these proposals was pretty
much all that they had professed to require. But the proposals did not
satisfy them. What they really intended to do was to depose Temujin
altogether, and then either divide his dominions among themselves, or
select some one of their number to reign in his stead.

At last, Temujin, finding that he could not pacify his enemies, and
that they were, moreover, growing stronger every day, while those that
adhered to him were growing fewer in numbers and diminishing in
strength, became discouraged. He began to think that perhaps he really
was too young to rule over a kingdom composed of wandering hordes of
men so warlike and wild, and he concluded for a time to give up the
attempt, and wait until times should change, or, at least, until he
should be grown somewhat older. Accordingly, in conjunction with his
mother, he formed a plan for retiring temporarily from the field;
unless, indeed, as we might reasonably suspect, his mother formed the
plan herself, and by her influence over him induced him to adopt it.

The plan was this: that Temujin should send an embassador to the court
of Vang Khan to ask Vang Khan to receive him, and protect him for a
time in his dominions, until the affairs of his own kingdom should
become settled. Then, if Vang Khan should accede to this proposal,
Temujin was to appoint his uncle to act as regent during his absence.
His mother, too, was to be married to a certain emir, or prince, named
Menglik, who was to be made prime minister under the regent, and was
to take precedence of all the other princes or khans in the kingdom.
The government was to be managed by the regent and the minister until
such time as it should be deemed expedient for Temujin to return.

This plan was carried into effect. Vang Khan readily consented to
receive Temujin into his dominions, and to protect him there. He was
very ready to do this, he said, on account of the friendship which he
had borne for Temujin's father. Temujin's mother was married to the
emir, and the emir was made the first prince of the realm. Finally,
Temujin's uncle was proclaimed regent, and duly invested with all
necessary authority for governing the country until Temujin's return.
These things being all satisfactorily arranged, Temujin set out for
the country of Vang Khan at the head of an armed escort, to protect
him on the way, of six thousand men. He took with him all his family,
and a considerable suite of servants and attendants. Among them was
his old tutor and guardian Karasher, the person who had been appointed
by his father to take charge of him, and to teach and train him when
he was a boy.

Being protected by so powerful an escort, Temujin's party were not
molested on their journey, and they all arrived safely at the court of
Vang Khan.

Next: Vang Khan

Previous: Yezonkai Khan

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