The Death Of Yemuka
The victory complete.--Exaggeration.--The plunder.--Great
accession.--The khans submit.--Sankum and Yemuka.--Hakembu and his
daughter.--Hakembu's fears.--Temujin's gratitude.--His reply.--Yemuka
makes his escape.--Arrives in Tayian's dominions.--Tayian's
conversations with Yemuka.--Yemuka's representations of Temujin's
character.--Plots formed.--Alakus.--The plots revealed to Temujin.--He
is deceived.--The young Prince Jughi.--Council of war.--Yemuka and
Tayian.--Temujin crosses the frontier.--His advance.--Preparations
for battle.--Kushluk and Jughi.--Great battle.--Temujin again
victorious.--Tayian killed.--Yemuka is beheaded.
In the mean time, while these events had been occurring in the country
of the Naymans, whither Vang Khan had fled, Temujin was carrying all
before him in the country of Vang Khan. His victory in the battle was
complete; and it must have been a very great battle, if any reliance
is to be placed on the accounts given of the number slain, which it
was said amounted to forty thousand. These numbers are, however,
greatly exaggerated. And then, besides, the number slain in such
barbarian conflicts was always much greater, in proportion to the
numbers engaged, than it is in the better-regulated warfare of
civilized nations in modern times.
At all events, Temujin gained a very grand and decisive victory. He
took a great many prisoners and a great deal of plunder. All those
trains of wagons fell into his hands, and the contents of many of them
were extremely valuable. He took also a great number of horses. Most
of these were horses that had belonged to the men who were killed or
who had been made prisoners. All the best troops that remained of Vang
Khan's army after the battle also went over to his side. They
considered that Vang Khan's power was now entirely overthrown, and
that thenceforth Temujin would be the acknowledged ruler of the whole
country. They were accordingly ready at once to transfer their
allegiance to him.
Very soon Temujin received the news of Vang Khan's death from his
father-in-law Tayian, and then proceeded with more vigor than before
to take possession of all his dominions. The khans who had formerly
served under Vang Khan sent in their adhesion to him one after
another. They not only knew that all farther resistance would be
useless, but they were, in fact, well pleased to transfer their
allegiance to their old friend and favorite. Temujin made a sort of
triumphal march through the country, being received every where with
rejoicings and acclamations of welcome. His old enemies, Sankum and
Yemuka, had disappeared. Yemuka, who had been, after all, the leading
spirit in the opposition to Temujin, still held a body of armed men
together, consisting of all the troops that he had been able to rally
after the battle, but it was not known exactly where he had gone.
The other relatives and friends of Vang Khan went over to Temujin's
side without any delay. Indeed, they vied with each other to see who
should most recommend themselves to his favor. A brother of Vang Khan,
who was an influential and powerful chieftain, came among the rest to
tender his services, and, by way of a present to conciliate Temujin's
good will, he brought him his daughter, whom he offered to Temujin as
an addition to the number of his wives.
Temujin received the brother very kindly. He accepted the present
which he brought him of his daughter, but, as he had already plenty of
wives, and as one of his principal officers, the captain of his
guards, seemed to take a special fancy to her, he very generously, as
was thought, passed over the young lady to him. Of course, the young
lady herself had nothing to say in the case. She was obliged to
acquiesce submissively in any arrangement which her father and the
other khans thought proper to make in respect to the disposal of her.
The name of the prince her father was Hakembu. He came into Temujin's
camp with many misgivings, fearing that, as he was a brother of Vang
Khan, Temujin might feel a special resentment against him, and,
perhaps, refuse to accept his submission and his proffered presents.
When, therefore, he found how kindly he was received, his mind was
greatly relieved, and he asked Temujin to appoint him to some command
in his army.
Temujin replied that he would do it with great pleasure, and the more
readily because it was the brother of Vang Khan who asked it.
"Indeed," said he to Hakembu, "I owe you all the kind treatment in my
power for your brother's sake, in return for the succor and protection
for which I was indebted to him, in my misfortunes, in former times,
when he received me, a fugitive and an exile, at his court, and
bestowed upon me so many favors. I have never forgotten, and never
shall forget, the great obligations I am under to him; and although in
later years he turned against me, still I have never blamed either him
or his son Sankum for this, but have constantly attributed it to the
false representations and evil influence of Yemuka, who has always
been my implacable enemy. I do not, therefore, feel any resentment
against Vang Khan for having thus turned against me, nor do I any the
less respect his memory on that account; and I am very glad that an
opportunity now occurs for me to make, through you, his brother, some
small acknowledgment of the debt of gratitude which I owe him."
So Temujin gave Hakembu an honorable post in his army, and treated him
in all respects with great consideration. If he acted usually in this
generous manner, it is not at all surprising that he acquired that
boundless influence over the minds of his followers which aided him so
essentially in attaining his subsequent greatness and renown.
In the mean time, although Sankum was killed, Yemuka had succeeded in
making his escape, and, after meeting with various adventures, he
finally reached the country of Tayian. He led with him there all that
portion of Vang Khan's army that had saved themselves from being
killed or made prisoners, and also a great number of officers. These
broken troops Yemuka had reorganized, as well as he could, by
collecting the scattered remnants and rearranging the broken
squadrons, and in this manner, accompanied by such of the sick and
wounded as were able to ride, had arrived in Tayian's dominions. He
was known to be a general of great abilities, and he was very
favorably received in Tayian's court. Indeed, Tayian, having heard
rumors of the rapid manner in which Temujin was extending his
conquests and his power, began to be somewhat jealous of him, and to
think that it was time for him to take measures to prevent this
aggrandizement of his son-in-law from going too far.
Of course, Tayian held a great many conversations with Yemuka in
respect to Temujin's character and schemes. These Yemuka took care to
represent in the most unfavorable light, in order to increase as much
as possible Tayian's feelings of suspicion and jealousy. He
represented Temujin as a very ambitious man, full of schemes for his
own aggrandizement, and without any sentiments of gratitude or of
honor to restrain him in the execution of them. He threw wholly upon
him the responsibility of the war with Vang Khan. It grew, he said,
out of plots which Temujin had formed to destroy both Vang Khan and
his son, notwithstanding the great obligations he had been under to
them for their kindness to him in his misfortunes. Yemuka urged Tayian
also to arouse himself, before it was too late, to guard himself from
"He is your son, it is true," said he, "and he professes to be your
friend, but he is so treacherous and unprincipled that you can place
no reliance upon him whatever, and, notwithstanding all your past
kindness to him, and the tie of relationship which ought to bind him
to you, he will as readily form plans to compass your destruction as
he would that of any other man the moment he imagines that you stand
in the way of the accomplishment of his ambitious schemes."
These representations, acting upon Tayian's natural apprehensions and
fears, produced a very sensible effect, and at length Tayian was
induced to take some measures for defending himself from the
threatened danger. So he opened negotiations with the khans of various
tribes which he thought likely to join him, and soon formed quite a
powerful league of the enemies of Temujin, and of all who were willing
to join in an attempt to restrict his power.
These steps were all taken with great secrecy, for Yemuka and Tayian
were very desirous that Temujin should know nothing of the league
which they were forming against him until their arrangements were
fully matured, and they were ready for action. They did not, however,
succeed in keeping the secret as long as they intended. They were
generally careful not to propose to any khan or chieftain to join
them in their league until they had first fully ascertained that he
was favorable to the object of it. But, growing less cautious as they
went on, they at last made a mistake. Tayian sent proposals to a
certain prince or khan, named Alakus, inviting him to join the league.
These proposals were contained in a letter which was sent by a special
messenger. The letter specified all the particulars of the league,
with a statement of the plans which the allies were intending to
pursue, and an enumeration of the principal khans or tribes that were
Now it happened that this Alakus, who reigned over a nation of
numerous and powerful tribes on the confines of China, was, for some
reason or other, inclined to take Temujin's side in the quarrel. So he
detained the messenger who brought the letter as a prisoner, and sent
the letter itself, containing all the particulars of the conspiracy,
at once to Temujin. Temujin was greatly surprised at receiving the
intelligence, for, up to that moment, he had considered his
father-in-law Tayian as one of his best and most trustworthy friends.
He immediately called a grand council of war to consider what was to
Temujin had a son named Jughi, who had now grown up to be a young man.
Jughi's father thought it was now time for his son to begin to take
his place and act his part among the other princes and chieftains of
his court, and he accordingly gave him a seat at this council, and
thus publicly recognized him, for the first time, as one of the chief
personages of the state.
The council, after hearing a statement of the case in respect to the
league which Tayian and the others were forming, were strongly
inclined to combine their forces and march at once to attack the enemy
before their plans should be more fully matured. But there was a
difficulty in respect to horses. The horses of the different hordes
that belonged to Temujin's army had become so much exhausted by the
long marches and other fatigues that they had undergone in the late
campaigns, that they would not be in a fit condition to commence a new
expedition until they had had some time to rest and recruit. But a
certain khan, named Bulay, an uncle of Temujin's, at once removed this
objection by offering to furnish a full supply of fresh horses for the
whole army from his own herds. This circumstance shows on what an
immense scale the pastoral occupations of the great Asiatic
chieftains were conducted in those days.
Temujin accepted this offer on the part of his uncle, and preparations
were immediately made for the marching of the expedition. As soon as
the news of these preparations reached Yemuka, he urged Tayian to
assemble the allied troops immediately, and go out to meet Temujin and
his army before they should cross the frontier.
"It is better," said he, addressing Tayian, "that you should meet and
fight him on his own ground, rather than to wait until he has crossed
the frontier and commenced his ravages in yours."
"No," said Tayian, in reply, "it is better to wait. The farther he
advances on his march, the more his horses and his men will be spent
with fatigue, the scantier will be their supplies, and the more
difficult will he find it to effect his retreat after we shall have
gained a victory over him in battle."
So Tayian, though he began to assemble his forces, did not advance;
and when Temujin, at the head of his host, reached the Nayman
frontier--for the country over which Tayian reigned was called the
country of the Naymans--he was surprised to find no enemy there to
defend it. He was the more surprised at this from the circumstance
that the frontier, being formed by a river, might have been very
easily defended. But when he arrived at the bank of the river the way
was clear. He immediately crossed the stream with all his forces, and
then marched on into the Nayman territory.
Temujin took good care, as he advanced, to guard against the danger
into which Tayian had predicted that he would fall--that of exhausting
the strength of his men and of his animals, and also his stores of
food. He took good care to provide and to take with him abundant
supplies, and also to advance so carefully and by such easy stages as
to keep both the men and the horses fresh and in full strength all the
way. In this order and condition he at last arrived at the spot where
Tayian had formed his camp and assembled his armies.
Both sides immediately marshaled their troops in order of battle.
Yemuka was chief in command on Tayian's side. He was assisted by a
young prince, the son of Tayian, whose name was Kushluk. On the other
hand, Jughi, the young son of Temujin, who had been brought forward at
the council, was appointed to a very prominent position on his
father's side. Indeed, these two young princes, who were animated by
an intense feeling of rivalry and emulation toward each other, were
appointed to lead the van on their respective sides in commencing the
battle; Jughi advancing first to the attack, and being met by Kushluk,
to whom was committed the charge of repelling him. The two princes
fought throughout the battle with the utmost bravery, and both of them
acquired great renown.
The battle was commenced early in the morning and continued all day.
In the end, Temujin was completely victorious. Tayian was mortally
wounded early in the day. He was immediately taken off the field, and
every possible effort was made to save his life, but he soon ceased to
breathe. His son, the Prince Kushluk, fought valiantly during the
whole day, but toward night, finding that all was lost, he fled,
taking with him as many of the troops as he could succeed in getting
together in the confusion, and at the head of this band made the best
of his way into the dominions of one of his uncles, his father's
brother, where he hoped to find a temporary shelter until he should
have time to determine what was to be done.
As for Yemuka, after fighting with desperate fury all day, he was at
last, toward night, surrounded and overpowered, and so made prisoner.
Temujin ordered his head to be cut off immediately after the battle
was over. He considered him, not as an honorable and open foe, but
rather as a rebel and traitor, and, consequently, undeserving of any