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Conquests In China

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Rupture With Vang Khan

Death Of The Sultan

The Fall Of Bokhara

The Death Of Vang Khan

The First Battle

The War With The Sultan

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The Sultan Mohammed

Pastoral Life In Asia

The Story Of Hujaku

Vang Khan

Grand Celebrations

Establishment Of The Empire

Yezonkai Khan

Temujin In Exile


Yezonkai Khan





1163-1175

Yezonkai Behadr.--Orthography of Mongul names.--Great
diversities.--Yezonkai's power.--A successful warrior.--Katay.--The
Khan of Temujin.--Mongol custom.--Birth of Genghis Khan.--Predictions of
the astrologer.--Explanation of the predictions.--Karasher.--Education
of Temujin.--His precocity.--His early marriage.--Plans of Temujin's
father.--Karizu.--Tayian.--Death of Yezonkai.


The name of the father of Genghis Khan is a word which can not be
pronounced exactly in English. It sounded something like this,
Yezonkai Behadr, with the accent on the last syllable, Behadr, and
the a sounded like a in hark. This is as near as we can come to
it; but the name, as it was really pronounced by the Mongul people,
can not be written in English letters nor spoken with English sounds.

Indeed, in all languages so entirely distinct from each other as the
Mongul language was from ours, the sounds are different, and the
letters by which the sounds are represented are different too. Some of
the sounds are so utterly unlike any sounds that we have in English
that it is as impossible to write them in English characters as it is
for us to write in English letters the sound that a man makes when he
chirps to his horse or his dog, or when he whistles. Sometimes writers
attempt to represent the latter sound by the word whew; and when,
in reading a dialogue, we come to the word whew, inserted to express a
part of what one of the speakers uttered, we understand by it that he
whistled; but how different, after all, is the sound of the spoken
word whew from the whistling sound that it is intended to represent!

Now, in all the languages of Asia, there are many sounds as impossible
to be rendered by the European letters as this, and in making the
attempt every different writer falls into a different mode. Thus the
first name of Genghis Khan's father is spelled by different travelers
and historians, Yezonkai, Yesukay, Yessuki, Yesughi, Bissukay,
Bisukay, Pisukay, and in several other ways. The real sound was
undoubtedly as different from any of these as they were all different
from each other. In this narrative I shall adopt the first of these
methods, and call him Yezonkai Behadr.



Yezonkai was a great khan, and he descended in a direct line through
ten generations, so it was said, from a deity. Great sovereigns in
those countries and times were very fond of tracing back their descent
to some divine origin, by way of establishing more fully in the minds
of the people their divine right to the throne. Yezonkai's residence
was at a great palace in the country, called by a name, the sound of
which, as nearly as it can be represented in English letters, was
Diloneldak. From this, his capital, he used to make warlike
excursions at the head of hordes of Monguls into the surrounding
countries, in the prosecution of quarrels which he made with them
under various pretexts; and as he was a skillful commander, and had
great influence in inducing all the inferior khans to bring large
troops of men from their various tribes to add to his army, he was
usually victorious, and in this way he extended his empire very
considerably while he lived, and thus made a very good preparation for
the subsequent exploits of his son.

The northern part of China was at that time entirely separated from
the southern part, and was under a different government. It
constituted an entirely distinct country, and was called Katay.[A]
This country was under the dominion of a chieftain called the Khan of
Katay. This khan was very jealous of the increasing power of Yezonkai,
and took part against him in all his wars with the tribes around him,
and assisted them in their attempts to resist him; but he did not
succeed. Yezonkai was too powerful for them, and went on extending
his conquests far and wide.

At last, under the pretense of some affront which he had received from
them, Yezonkai made war upon a powerful tribe of Tartars that lived in
his neighborhood. He invaded their territories at the head of an
immense horde of Mongul troops, and began seizing and driving off
their cattle.

The name of the khan who ruled over these people was Temujin. Temujin
assembled his forces as soon as he could, and went to meet the
invaders. A great battle was fought, and Yezonkai was victorious.
Temujin was defeated and put to flight. Yezonkai encamped after the
battle on the banks of the River Amoor, near a mountain. He had all
his family with him, for it was often the custom, in these
enterprises, for the chieftain to take with him not only all his
household, but a large portion of his household goods. Yezonkai had
several wives, and almost immediately after the battle, one of them,
named Olan Ayka, gave birth to a son. Yezonkai, fresh from the battle,
determined to commemorate his victory by giving his new-born son the
name of his vanquished enemy. So he named him Temujin.[B] His birth
took place, as nearly as can now be ascertained, in the year of our
Lord 1163.

Such were the circumstances of our hero's birth, for it was this
Temujin who afterward became renowned throughout all Asia under the
name of Genghis Khan. Through all the early part of his life, however,
he was always known by the name which his father gave him in the tent
by the river side where he was born.

Among the other grand personages in Yezonkai's train at this time,
there was a certain old astrologer named Sugujin. He was a relative of
Yezonkai, and also his principal minister of state. This man, by his
skill in astrology, which he applied to the peculiar circumstances of
the child, foretold for him at once a wonderful career. He would grow
up, the astrologer said, to be a great warrior. He would conquer all
his enemies, and extend his conquests so far that he would, in the
end, become the Khan of all Tartary. Young Temujin's parents were, of
course, greatly pleased with these predictions, and when, not long
after this time, the astrologer died, they appointed his son, whose
name was Karasher, to be the guardian and instructor of the boy. They
trusted, it seems, to the son to give the young prince such a
training in early life as should prepare him to realize the grand
destiny which the father had foretold for him.

There would be something remarkable in the fact that these predictions
were uttered at the birth of Genghis Khan, since they were afterward
so completely fulfilled, were it not that similar prognostications of
greatness and glory were almost always offered to the fathers and
mothers of young princes in those days by the astrologers and
soothsayers of their courts. Such promises were, of course, very
flattering to these parents at the time, and brought those who made
them into great favor. Then, in the end, if the result verified them,
they were remembered and recorded as something wonderful; if not, they
were forgotten.

Karasher, the astrologer's son, who had been appointed young Temujin's
tutor, took his pupil under his charge, and began to form plans for
educating him. Karasher was a man of great talents and of considerable
attainments in learning, so far as there could be any thing like
learning in such a country and among such a people. He taught him the
names of the various tribes that lived in the countries around, and
the names of the principal chieftains that ruled over them. He also
gave him such information as he possessed in respect to the countries
themselves, describing the situation of the mountains, the lakes, and
the rivers, and the great deserts which here and there intervened
between the fertile regions. He taught him, moreover, to ride, and
trained him in all such athletic exercises as were practiced by the
youth of those times. He instructed him also in the use of arms,
teaching him how to shoot with a bow and arrow, and how to hold and
handle his sabre, both when on horseback and when on foot. He
particularly instructed him in the art of shooting his arrow in any
direction when riding at a gallop upon his horse, behind as well as
before, and to the right side as well as to the left. To do this
coolly, skillfully, and with a true aim, required great practice as
well as much courage and presence of mind.

Young Temujin entered into all these things with great spirit. Indeed,
he very soon ceased to feel any interest in any thing else, so that by
the time that he was nine years of age it was said that he thought of
nothing but exercising himself in the use of arms.

Nine years of age, however, with him was more than it would be with a
young man among us, for the Asiatics arrive at maturity much earlier
than the nations of Western Europe and America. Indeed, by the time
that Temujin was thirteen years old, his father considered him a
man--at least he considered him old enough to be married. He was
married, in fact, and had two children before he was fifteen, if the
accounts which the historians have given us respecting him are true.

Just before Temujin was thirteen, his father, in one of his campaigns
in Katay, was defeated in a battle, and, although a great many of his
followers escaped, he himself was surrounded and overpowered by the
horsemen of the enemy, and was made prisoner. He was put under the
care of a guard; for, of course, among people living almost altogether
on horseback and in tents, there could be very few prisons. Yezonkai
followed the camp of his conqueror for some time under the custody of
his guard; but at length he succeeded in bribing his keeper to let him
escape, and so contrived, after encountering many difficulties and
suffering many hardships, to make his way back to his own country.

He was determined now to make a new incursion into Katay, and that
with a larger force than he had had before. So he made an alliance
with the chieftain of a neighboring tribe, called the Naymans; and, in
order to seal and establish this alliance, he contracted that his son
should marry the daughter of his ally. This was the time when Temujin
was but thirteen years old. The name of this his first wife was
Karizu--at least that was one of her names. Her father's name was
Tayian.

Before Yezonkai had time to mature his plans for his new invasion of
Katay, he fell sick and died. He left five sons and a daughter, it is
said; but Temujin seems to have been the oldest of them all, for by
his will his father left his kingdom, if the command of the group of
tribes which were under his sway can be called a kingdom, to him,
notwithstanding that he was yet only thirteen years old.





Next: The First Battle
Previous: The Monguls



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