Death Of The Sultan


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 tre
sures.--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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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