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The Story Of Hujaku





1211

China.--The Chinese wall.--The frontier.--Outside the wall.--Origin
of the quarrel with the Chinese.--Yong-tsi.--Genghis Khan's contempt
for him.--Armies raised.--Hujaku.--Many of the khans come over on
Genghis's side.--Victory over Hujaku.--Genghis Khan is wounded.--Hujaku
disgraced.--Restored again.--Dissensions among the Chinese.--Advance
of the Monguls.--Hujaku's rebellion.--Death of Yong-tsi.--Hujaku
advances.--The battle.--Hujaku's victory.--Kan-ki's expedition.--Hujaku
enraged.--Failure.--Kan-ki's second trial.--The sand-storm.--Kan-ki's
desperate resolution.--The attack.--Hujaku's flight.--He is killed in
the gardens.--Kan-ki is pardoned and promoted.


The accounts given us of the events and transactions of Genghis Khan's
reign after he acquired the supreme power over the Mongul and Tartar
nations are imperfect, and, in many respects, confused. It appears,
however, from them that in the year 1211, that is, about five years
after his election as grand khan, he became involved in a war with the
Chinese, which led, in the end, to very important consequences. The
kingdom of China lay to the southward of the Mongul territories, and
the frontier was defended by the famous Chinese wall, which extended
from east to west, over hills and valleys, from the great desert to
the sea, for many hundred miles. The wall was defended by towers,
built here and there in commanding positions along the whole extent of
it, and at certain distances there were fortified towns where powerful
garrisons were stationed, and reserves of troops were held ready to be
marched to different points along the wall, wherever there might be
occasion for their services.

The wall was not strictly the Chinese frontier, for the territory on
the outside of it to a considerable distance was held by the Chinese
government, and there were many large towns and some very strong
fortresses in this outlying region, all of which were held and
garrisoned by Chinese troops.

The inhabitants, however, of the countries outside the wall were
generally of the Tartar or Mongul race. They were of a nation or tribe
called the Kitan, and were somewhat inclined to rebel against the
Chinese rule. In order to assist in keeping them in subjection, one of
the Chinese emperors issued a decree which ordained that the governors
of those provinces should place in all the large towns, and other
strongholds outside the wall, twice as many families of the Chinese as
there were of the Kitan. This regulation greatly increased the
discontent of the Kitan, and made them more inclined to rebellion than
they were before.

Besides this, there had been for some time a growing difficulty
between the Chinese government and Genghis Khan. It seems that the
Monguls had been for a long time accustomed to pay some sort of
tribute to the Emperor of China, and many years before, while Genghis
Khan, under the name of Temujin, was living at Karakorom, a subject of
Vang Khan, the emperor sent a certain royal prince, named Yong-tsi, to
receive what was due. While Yong-tsi was in the Mongul territory he
and Temujin met, but they did not agree together at all. The Chinese
prince put some slight upon Temujin, which Temujin resented. Very
likely Temujin, whose character at that time, as well as afterward,
was marked with a great deal of pride and spirit, opposed the payment
of the tribute. At any rate, Yong-tsi became very much incensed
against him, and, on his return, made serious charges against him to
the emperor, and urged that he should be seized and put to death. But
the emperor declined engaging in so dangerous an undertaking.
Yong-tsi's proposal, however, became known to Temujin, and he secretly
resolved that he would one day have his revenge.

At length, about three or four years after Temujin was raised to the
throne, the emperor of the Chinese died, and Yong-tsi succeeded him.
The very next year he sent an officer to Genghis Khan to demand the
usual tribute. When the officer came into the presence of Genghis Khan
in his camp, and made his demand, Genghis Khan asked him who was the
emperor that had sent him with such a message.

The officer replied that Yong-tsi was at that time emperor of the
Chinese.

"Yong-tsi!" repeated Genghis Khan, in a tone of great contempt. "The
Chinese have a proverb," he added, "that such a people as they ought
to have a god for their emperor; but it seems they do not know how to
choose even a decent man."

It was true that they had such a proverb. They were as remarkable, it
seems, in those days as they are now for their national
self-importance and vanity.

"Go and tell your emperor," added Genghis Khan, "that I am a sovereign
ruler, and that I will never acknowledge him as my master."

When the messenger returned with this defiant answer, Yong-tsi was
very much enraged, and immediately began to prepare for war. Genghis
Khan also at once commenced his preparations. He sent envoys to the
leading khans who occupied the territories outside the wall inviting
them to join him. He raised a great army, and put the several
divisions of it under the charge of his ablest generals. Yong-tsi
raised a great army too. The historians say that it amounted to three
hundred thousand men. He put this army under the command of a great
general named Hujaku, and ordered him to advance with it to the
northward, so as to intercept the army of Genghis Khan on its way, and
to defend the wall and the fortresses on the outside of it from his
attacks.

In the campaign which ensued Genghis Khan was most successful. The
Monguls took possession of a great many towns and fortresses beyond
the wall, and every victory that they gained made the tribes and
nations that inhabited those provinces more and more disposed to join
them. Many of them revolted against the Chinese authority, and turned
to their side. One of these was a chieftain so powerful that he
commanded an army of one hundred thousand men. In order to bind
himself solemnly to the covenant which he was to make with Genghis
Khan, he ascended a mountain in company with the envoy and with others
who were to witness the proceedings, and there performed the ceremony
customary on such occasions. The ceremony consisted of sacrificing a
white horse and a black ox, and then breaking an arrow, at the same
time pronouncing an oath by which he bound himself under the most
solemn sanctions to be faithful to Genghis Khan.

To reward the prince for this act of adhesion to his cause, Genghis
Khan made him king over all that portion of the country, and caused
him to be every where so proclaimed. This encouraged a great many
other khans and chieftains to come over to his side; and at length one
who had the command of one of the gates of the great wall, and of the
fortress which defended it, joined him. By this means Genghis Khan
obtained access to the interior of the Chinese dominions, and Yong-tsi
and his great general Hujaku became seriously alarmed.

At length, after various marchings and counter-marchings, Genghis Khan
learned that Hujaku was encamped with the whole of his army in a very
strong position at the foot of a mountain, and he determined to
proceed thither and attack him. He did so; and the result of the
battle was that Hujaku was beaten and was forced to retreat. He
retired to a great fortified town, and Genghis Khan followed him and
laid siege to the town. Hujaku, finding himself in imminent danger,
fled; and Genghis Khan was on the point of taking the town, when he
was suddenly stopped in his career by being one day wounded severely
by an arrow which was shot at him from the wall.

The wound was so severe that, while suffering under it, Genghis Khan
found that he could not successfully direct the operations of his
army, and so he withdrew his troops and retired into his own country,
to wait there until his wound should be healed. In a few months he was
entirely recovered, and the next year he fitted out a new expedition,
and advanced again into China.

In the mean time, Hujaku, who had been repeatedly defeated and driven
back the year before by Genghis Khan, had fallen into disgrace. His
rivals and enemies among the other generals of the army, and among the
officers of the court, conspired against him, and represented to the
emperor that he was unfit to command, and that his having failed to
defend the towns and the country that had been committed to him was
owing to his cowardice and incapacity. In consequence of these
representations Hujaku was cashiered, that is, dismissed from his
command in disgrace.

This made him very angry, and he determined that he would have his
revenge. There was a large party in his favor at court, as well as a
party against him; and after a long and bitter contention, the former
once more prevailed, and induced the emperor to restore Hujaku to his
command again.

The quarrel, however, was not ended, and so, when Genghis Khan came
the next year to renew the invasion, the councils of the Chinese were
so distracted, and their operations so paralyzed by this feud, that he
gained very easy victories over them. The Chinese generals, instead of
acting together in a harmonious manner against the common enemy, were
intent only on the quarrel which they were waging against each other.

At length the animosity proceeded to such an extreme that Hujaku
resolved to depose the emperor, who seemed inclined rather to take
part against him, assassinate all the chiefs of the opposite party,
and then finally to put the emperor to death, and cause himself to be
proclaimed in his stead.

In order to prepare the way for the execution of this scheme, he
forbore to act vigorously against Genghis Khan and the Monguls, but
allowed them to advance farther and farther into the country. This, of
course, increased the general discontent and excitement, and prepared
the way for the revolt which Hujaku was plotting.

At length the time for action arrived. Hujaku suddenly appeared at the
head of a large force at the gates of the capital, and gave the alarm
that the Monguls were coming. He pressed forward into the city to the
palace, and gave the alarm there. At the same time, files of soldiers,
whom he had ordered to this service, went to all parts of the city,
arresting and putting to death all the leaders of the party opposed to
him, under pretense that he had discovered a plot or conspiracy in
which they were engaged to betray the city to the enemy. The
excitement and confusion which was produced by this charge, and by the
alarm occasioned by the supposed coming of the Monguls, so paralyzed
the authorities of the town that nobody resisted Hujaku, or attempted
to save the persons whom he arrested. Some of them he caused to be
killed on the spot. Others he shut up in prison. Finding himself thus
undisputed master of the city, he next took possession of the palace,
seized the emperor, deposed him from his office, and shut him up in a
dungeon. Soon afterward he put him to death.

This was the end of Yong-tsi; but Hujaku did not succeed, after all,
in his design of causing himself to be proclaimed emperor in his
stead. He found that there would be very great opposition to this, and
so he gave up this part of his plan, and finally raised a certain
prince of the royal family to the throne, while he retained his
office of commander-in-chief of the forces. Having thus, as he
thought, effectually destroyed the influence and power of his enemies
at the capital, he put himself once more at the head of his troops,
and went forth to meet Genghis Khan.

Some accident happened to him about this time by which his foot was
hurt, so that he was, in some degree, disabled, but still he went on.
At length he met the vanguard of Genghis Khan's army at a place where
they were attempting to cross a river by a bridge. Hujaku determined
immediately to attack them. The state of his foot was such that he
could not walk nor even mount a horse, but he caused himself to be put
upon a sort of car, and was by this means carried into the battle.

The Monguls were completely defeated and driven back. Perhaps this was
because Genghis Khan was not there to command them. He was at some
distance in the rear with the main body of the army.

Hujaku was very desirous of following up his victory by pursuing and
attacking the Mongul vanguard the next day. He could not, however, do
this personally, for, on account of the excitement and exposure which
he had endured in the battle, and the rough movements and joltings
which, notwithstanding all his care, he had to bear in being conveyed
to and fro about the field, his foot grew much worse. Inflammation set
in during the night, and the next day the wound opened afresh; so he
was obliged to give up the idea of going out himself against the
enemy, and to send one of his generals instead. The general to whom he
gave the command was named Kan-ki.

Kan-ki went out against the enemy, but, after a time, returned
unsuccessful. Hujaku was very angry with him when he came to hear his
report. Perhaps the wound in his foot made him impatient and
unreasonable. At any rate, he declared that the cause of Kan-ki's
failure was his dilatoriness in pursuing the enemy, which was
cowardice or treachery, and, in either case, he deserved to suffer
death for it. He immediately sent to the emperor a report of the case,
asking that the sentence of death which he had pronounced against
Kan-ki might be confirmed, and that he might be authorized to put it
into execution.

But the emperor, knowing that Kan-ki was a courageous and faithful
officer, would not consent.

In the mean while, before the emperor's answer came back, the wrath
of Hujaku had had time to cool a little. Accordingly, when he received
the answer, he said to Kan-ki that he would, after all, try him once
more.

"Take the command of the troops again," said he, "and go out against
the enemy. If you beat them, I will overlook your first offense and
spare your life; but if you are beaten yourself a second time, you

shall die."

So Kan-ki placed himself at the head of his detachment, and went out
again to attack the Monguls. They were to the northward, and were
posted, it seems, upon or near a sandy plain. At any rate, a strong
north wind began to blow at the time when the attack commenced, and
blew the sand and dust into the eyes of his soldiers so that they
could not see, while their enemies the Monguls, having their backs to
the wind, were very little incommoded. The result was that Kan-ki was
repulsed with considerable loss, and was obliged to make the best of
his way back to Hujaku's quarters to save the remainder of his men.

He was now desperate. Hujaku had declared that if he came back without
having gained a victory he should die, and he had no doubt that the
man was violent and reckless enough to keep his word. He determined
not to submit. He might as well die fighting, he thought, at the head
of his troops, as to be ignobly put to death by Hujaku's executioner.
So he arranged it with his troops, who probably hated Hujaku as much
as he did, that, on returning to the town, they should march in under
arms, take possession of the place, surround the palace, and seize the
general and make him prisoner, or kill him if he should attempt any
resistance.

The troops accordingly, when they arrived at the gates of the town,
seized and disarmed the guards, and then marched in, brandishing their
weapons, and uttering loud shouts and outcries, which excited first a
feeling of astonishment and then of terror among the inhabitants. The
alarm soon spread to the palace. Indeed, the troops themselves soon
reached and surrounded the palace, and began thundering at the gates
to gain admission. They soon forced their way in. Hujaku, in the mean
time, terrified and panic-stricken, had fled from the palace into the
gardens, in hopes to make his escape by the garden walls. The soldiers
pursued him. In his excitement and agitation he leaped down from a
wall too high for such a descent, and, in his fall, broke his leg. He
lay writhing helplessly on the ground when the soldiers came up. They
were wild and furious with the excitement of pursuit, and they killed
him with their spears where he lay.

Kan-ki took the head of his old enemy and carried it to the capital,
with the intention of offering it to the emperor, and also of
surrendering himself to the officers of justice, in order, as he said,
that he might be put to death for the crime of which he had been
guilty in heading a military revolt and killing his superior officer.
By all the laws of war this was a most heinous and a wholly
unpardonable offense.

But the emperor was heartily glad that the turbulent and unmanageable
old general was put out of the way, for a man so unprincipled, so
ambitious, and so reckless as Hujaku was is always an object of
aversion and terror to all who have any thing to do with him. The
emperor accordingly issued a proclamation, in which he declared that
Hujaku had been justly put to death in punishment for many crimes
which he had committed, and soon afterward he appointed Kan-ki
commander-in-chief of the forces in his stead.





Next: Conquests In China

Previous: Idikut



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