The Story Of Hujaku


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.--H

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


"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


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


"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


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.