Temujin In Exile


Temujin's popularity.--Rivals and enemies

appear.--Plots.--Yemuka--Wisulujine.--Yemuka's disappointment.--His

rage.--Conspiracy formed.--Progress of the league.--Oath of the

conspirators.--The oath.--Karakorom.--Plan formed by Temujin.--The

campaign.--Unexpected arrival of Vang Khan.--His story.--Temujin's

promises.--Result of the battle.--Temujin victorious.--State of things

at Karakoro
.--Erkekara.--Preparations for the final conflict.--Erkekara

vanquished.--Vang Khan restored.--Temujin's popularity.

Vang Khan gave Temujin a very honorable position in his court. It was

natural that he should do so, for Temujin was a prince in the prime of

his youth, and of very attractive person and manners; and, though he

was for the present an exile, as it were, from his native land, he was

not by any means in a destitute or hopeless condition. His family and

friends were still in the ascendency at home, and he himself, in

coming to the kingdom of Vang Khan, had brought with him quite an

important body of troops. Being, at the same time, personally

possessed of great courage and of much military skill, he was prepared

to render his protector good service in return for his protection. In

a word, the arrival of Temujin at the court of Vang Khan was an event

calculated to make quite a sensation.

At first every body was very much pleased with him, and he was very

popular; but before long the other young princes of the court, and

the chieftains of the neighboring tribes, began to be jealous of him.

Vang Khan gave him precedence over them all, partly on account of his

personal attachment to him, and partly on account of the rank which he

held in his own country, which, being that of a sovereign prince,

naturally entitled him to the very highest position among the

subordinate chieftains in the retinue of Vang Khan. But these

subordinate chieftains were not satisfied. They murmured, at first

secretly, and afterward more openly, and soon began to form

combinations and plots against the new favorite, as they called him.

An incident soon occurred which greatly increased this animosity, and

gave to Temujin's enemies, all at once, a very powerful leader and

head. This leader was a very influential chieftain named Yemuka. This

Yemuka, it seems, was in love with the daughter of Vang Khan, the

Princess Wisulujine. He asked her in marriage of her father. To

precisely what state of forwardness the negotiations had advanced does

not appear, but, at any rate, when Temujin arrived, Wisulujine soon

began to turn her thoughts toward him. He was undoubtedly younger,

handsomer, and more accomplished than her old lover, and before long

she gave her father to understand that she would much rather have him

for her husband than Yemuka. It is true, Temujin had one or two wives

already; but this made no difference, for it was the custom then, as,

indeed, it is still, for the Asiatic princes and chieftains to take as

many wives as their wealth and position would enable them to maintain.

Yemuka was accordingly refused, and Wisulujine was given in marriage

to Temujin.

Yemuka was, of course, dreadfully enraged. He vowed that he would be

revenged. He immediately began to intrigue with all the discontented

persons and parties in the kingdom, not only with those who were

envious and jealous of Temujin, but also with all those who, for any

reason, were disposed to put themselves in opposition to Vang Khan's

government. Thus a formidable conspiracy was formed for the purpose of

compassing Temujin's ruin.

The conspirators first tried the effect of private remonstrances with

Vang Khan, in which they made all sorts of evil representations

against Temujin, but to no effect. Temujin rallied about him so many

old friends, and made so many new friends by his courage and energy,

that his party at court proved stronger than that of his enemies, and,

for a time, they seemed likely to fail entirely of their design.

At length the conspirators opened communication with the foreign

enemies of Vang Khan, and formed a league with them to make war

against and destroy both Vang Khan and Temujin together. The accounts

of the progress of this league, and of the different nations and

tribes which took part in it, is imperfect and confused; but at

length, after various preliminary contests and manoeuvres,

arrangements were made for assembling a large army with a view of

invading Vang Khan's dominions and deciding the question by a battle.

The different chieftains and khans whose troops were united to form

this army bound themselves together by a solemn oath, according to the

customs of those times, not to rest until both Vang Khan and Temujin

should be destroyed.

The manner in which they took the oath was this: They brought out into

an open space on the plain where they had assembled to take the oath,

a horse, a wild ox, and a dog. At a given signal they fell upon these

animals with their swords, and cut them all to pieces in the most

furious manner. When they had finished, they stood together and called

out aloud in the following words:

"Hear! O God! O heaven! O earth! the oath that we swear against Vang

Khan and Temujin. If any one of us spares them when we have them in

our power, or if we fail to keep the promise that we have made to

destroy them, may we meet with the same fate that has befallen these

beasts that we have now cut to pieces."

They uttered this imprecation in a very solemn manner, standing among

the mangled and bloody remains of the beasts which lay strewed all

about the ground.

These preparations had been made thus far very secretly; but tidings

of what was going on came, before a great while, to Karakorom, Vang

Khan's capital. Temujin was greatly excited when he heard the news. He

immediately proposed that he should take his own troops, and join with

them as many of Vang Khan's soldiers as could be conveniently spared,

and go forth to meet the enemy. To this Vang Khan consented. Temujin

took one half of Vang Khan's troops to join his own, leaving the other

half to protect the capital, and so set forth on his expedition. He

went off in the direction toward the frontier where he had understood

the principal part of the hostile forces were assembling. After a long

march, probably one of many days, he arrived there before the enemy

was quite prepared for him. Then followed a series of manoeuvres

and counter-manoeuvres, in which Temujin was all the time

endeavoring to bring the rebels to battle, while they were doing all

in their power to avoid it. Their object in this delay was to gain

time for re-enforcements to come in, consisting of bodies of troops

belonging to certain members of the league who had not yet arrived.

At length, when these manoeuvres were brought to an end, and the

battle was about to be fought, Temujin and his whole army were one day

greatly surprised to see his father-in-law, Vang Khan himself, coming

into the camp at the head of a small and forlorn-looking band of

followers, who had all the appearance of fugitives escaped from a

battle. They looked anxious, way-worn, and exhausted, and the horses

that they rode seemed wholly spent with fatigue and privation. On

explanation, Temujin learned that, as soon as it was known that he had

left the capital, and taken with him a large part of the army, a

certain tribe of Vang Khan's enemies, living in another direction, had

determined to seize the opportunity to invade his dominions, and had

accordingly come suddenly in, with an immense horde, to attack the

capital. Vang Khan had done all that he could to defend the city, but

he had been overpowered. The greater part of his soldiers had been

killed or wounded. The city had been taken and pillaged. His son, with

those of the troops that had been able to save themselves, had escaped

to the mountains. As to Vang Khan himself, he had thought it best to

make his way, as soon as possible, to the camp of Temujin, where he

had now arrived, after enduring great hardships and sufferings on the


Temujin was at first much amazed at hearing this story. He, however,

bade his father-in-law not to be cast down or discouraged, and

promised him full revenge, and a complete triumph over all his enemies

at the coming battle. So he proceeded at once to complete his

arrangements for the coming fight. He resigned to Vang Khan the

command of the main body of the army, while he placed himself at the

head of one of the wings, assigning the other to the chieftain next in

rank in his army. In this order he went into battle.

The battle was a very obstinate and bloody one, but, in the end,

Temujin's party was victorious. The troops opposed to him were

defeated and driven off the field. The victory appeared to be due

altogether to Temujin himself; for, after the struggle had continued a

long time, and the result still appeared doubtful, the troops of

Temujin's wing finally made a desperate charge, and forced their way

with such fury into the midst of the forces of the enemy that nothing

could withstand them. This encouraged and animated the other troops to

such a degree that very soon the enemy were entirely routed and driven

from off the field.

The effect of this victory was to raise the reputation of Temujin as a

military commander higher than ever, and greatly to increase the

confidence which Vang Khan was inclined to repose in him. The victory,

too, seemed at first to have well-nigh broken up the party of the

rebels. Still, the way was not yet open for Vang Khan to return and

take possession of his throne and of his capital, for he learned that

one of his brothers had assumed the government, and was reigning in

Karakorom in his place. It would seem that this brother, whose name

was Erkekara, had been one of the leaders of the party opposed to

Temujin. It was natural that he should be so; for, being the brother

of the king, he would, of course, occupy a very high position in the

court, and would be one of the first to experience the ill effects

produced by the coming in of any new favorite. He had accordingly

joined in the plots that were formed against Temujin and Vang Khan.

Indeed, he was considered, in some respects, as the head of their

party, and when Vang Khan was driven away from his capital, this

brother assumed the throne in his stead. The question was, how could

he now be dispossessed and Vang Khan restored.

Temujin began immediately to form his plans for the accomplishment of

this purpose. He concentrated his forces after the battle, and soon

afterward opened negotiations with other tribes, who had before been

uncertain which side to espouse, but were now assisted a great deal in

coming to a decision by the victory which Temujin had obtained. In the

mean time the rebels were not idle. They banded themselves together

anew, and made great exertions to procure re-enforcements. Erkekara

fortified himself as strongly as possible in Karakorom, and collected

ample supplies of ammunition and military stores. It was not until the

following year that the parties had completed their preparations and

were prepared for the final struggle. Then, however, another great

battle was fought, and again Temujin was victorious. Erkekara was

killed or driven away in his turn. Karakorom was retaken, and Vang

Khan entered it in triumph at the head of his troops, and was once

more established on his throne.

Of course, the rank and influence of Temujin at his court was now

higher than ever before. He was now about twenty-two or twenty-three

years of age. He had already three wives, though it is not certain

that all of them were with him at Vang Khan's court. He was extremely

popular in the army, as young commanders of great courage and spirit

almost always are. Vang Khan placed great reliance upon him, and

lavished upon him all possible honors.

He does not seem, however, yet to have begun to form any plans for

returning to his native land.