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- China - 20/83 -


acquiesce in his defeat, and he endeavored to form another expedition, but the Chinese sailors mutinied and refused to embark. They were supported by all the Chinese ministers at Pekin, and Kublai felt himself compelled to yield and abandon all designs of conquest beyond the sea.

The old success of the Mongols did not desert them on land, and Kublai received some consolation for his rude repulse by the Japanese in the triumph of his arms in Burmah. The momentary submission of the King of Burmah, or Mien, as it was, and is still, called by the Chinese, had been followed by a fit of truculence and open hostility. This monarch had crossed over into Indian territory, and had assumed the title of King of Bengala in addition to his own. Emboldened by his success, he did not conceal his hostility to the Mongols, sent a defiant reply to all their representations, and even assumed the offensive with his frontier garrisons. He then declared open war. The Mongol general, Nasiuddin, collected all the forces he could, and when the Burmese ruler crossed the frontier at the head of an immense host of horse, foot, and elephants, he found the Mongol army drawn up on the plain of Yungchang. The Mongols numbered only 12,000 select troops, whereas the Burmese exceeded 80,000 men with a corps of elephants, estimated between 800 and 2,000, and an artillery force of sixteen guns. Notwithstanding this numerical disadvantage the Mongols were in no way dismayed by their opponents' manifest superiority; but seldom has the struggle between disciplined and brute force proved closer or more keenly contested. At first the charge of the Burmese cavalry, aided by the elephants and artillery, carried all before it. But Nasiuddin had provided for this contingency. He had dismounted all his cavalry, and had ordered them to fire their arrows exclusively against the elephant corps; and as the Mongols were then not only the best archers in the world, but used the strongest bows, the destruction they wrought was considerable, and soon threw the elephants into hopeless confusion. The crowd of elephants turned tail before this discharge of arrows, as did the elephants of Pyrrhus, and threw the whole Burmese army into confusion. The Mongols then mounting their horses, charged and completed the discomfiture of the Burmese, who were driven from the field with heavy loss and tarnished reputation. On this occasion the Mongols did not pursue the Burmese very far, and the King of Burmah lost little or no part of his dominions, but Nasiuddin reported to Pekin that it would be an easy matter to add the kingdom of Mien to the Mongol empire. Kublai did not act on this advice until six years later, when he sent his kinsman Singtur with a large force to subdue Burmah. The king took shelter in Pegu, leaving his capital Amien at the mercy of the conqueror. The Mongol conquests were thus brought down to the very border of Assam. In Tonquin and Annam the arms of Kublai were not so successful. Kublai's son Togan made an abortive campaign in these regions. Whenever an open force had to be overcome, the Mongol army was successful, but when the Mongols encountered the difficulties of a damp and inclement climate, of the absence of roads, and other disadvantages, they were disheartened, and suffered heavily in men and morale. With the loss of his two generals, and the main portion of his army, Togan was lucky in himself escaping to China. Kublai wished to make another effort to subdue these inhospitable regions and their savage inhabitants, but Chinese public opinion proved too strong, and he had to yield to the representations of his ministers.

Kublai was the more compelled to sacrifice his feelings on this point, because there were not wanting indications that if he did not do so he would find a Chinese rebellion on his hands. Notwithstanding his many successes, and his evident desire to stand well with his Chinese subjects, it was already clear that they bore their new leader little love. Several of the principal provinces were in a state of veiled rebellion, showing that the first opportunity would be taken to shake off the Mongol yoke, and that Kublai's authority really rested on a quicksand. The predictions of a fanatic were sufficient to shake the emperor on his throne, and such was Kublai's apprehension that he banished all the remaining Sung prisoners to Mongolia, and executed their last faithful minister, who went to the scaffold with a smile on his face, exclaiming, "I am content; my wishes are about to be realized." It must not be supposed from this that Kublai's authority had vanished or become effete. It was absolutely supreme over all declared enemies, but below the surface was seething an amount of popular hostility and discontent ominous to the longevity of the Mongol dynasty. The restless ambition of Kublai would not be satisfied with anything short of recognition, in some form or other, of his power by his neighbors, and he consequently sent envoys to ail the kingdoms of Southern Asia to obtain, by lavish presents or persuasive language, that recognition of his authority on which he had set his heart. In most cases he was gratified, for there was not a power in Eastern Asia to compare with that of the Mongol prince seated on the Dragon Throne of China, and all were flattered to be brought into connection with it on any terms.

These successful and gratifying embassies had only one untoward result: they induced Kublai to revert to his idea of repairing the overthrow of his son Togan in Annam, and of finally subjugating that troublesome country. The intention was not wise, and it was rendered more imprudent by its execution being intrusted to Togan again. Another commander might have fared better, but great as was his initial success, he could not hope to permanently succeed. Togan began as he formerly commenced by carrying all before him. He won seventeen separate engagements, but the further he advanced into the country the more evident did it appear that he only controlled the ground on which he stood. The King of Annam was a fugitive; his capital was in the hands of the Mongols, and apparently nothing more remained to be done. Apachi, the most experienced of the Mongol commanders, then counseled a prompt retreat. Unfortunately the Mongol prince Togan would not take his advice, and the Annamites, gathering fresh forces on all sides, attacked the exhausted Mongols, and compelled them to beat a precipitate retreat from their country. All the fruits of early victory were lost, and Togan's disgrace was a poor consolation for the culminating discomfiture of Kublai's reign. The people of Annam then made good their independence, and they still enjoy it, so far as China is concerned; though Annam is now a dependency of the French republic.

We cannot doubt that the failure of the emperor's endeavor to popularize his rule was as largely due to the tyrannical acts and oppressive measures of some of his principal ministers as to unpopular and unsuccessful expeditions. Notwithstanding the popular dislike of the system, and Kublai's efforts to put it down, the Mongols resorted to the old plan of farming the revenue, and the extortion of those who purchased the right drove the Chinese to the verge of rebellion, and made the whole Mongol regime hateful. Several tax farmers were removed from their posts, and punished with death, but their successors carried on the same system. The declining years of Kublai's reign were therefore marred by the growing discontent of his Chinese subjects, and by his inability or unwillingness to put down official extortion and mismanagement. But he had to cope with a still greater danger in the hostility of some members of his own family. The rivalry between himself and his brother Arikbuka formed one incident of his earlier career, the hostility of his cousin Kaidu proved a more serious peril when Kublai was stricken in years, and approaching the end of his long reign.

Kaidu was one of the sons of Ogotai, and consequently first cousin to Kublai. He held some high post in Mongolia, and he represented a reactionary party among the Mongols, who wished the administration to be less Chinese, and who, perhaps, sighed for more worlds to conquer. But he hated Kublai, and was jealous of his pre-eminence, which was, perhaps, the only cause of his revolt. The hostility of Kaidu might have remained a personal grievance if he had not obtained the alliance of Nayan, a Mongol general of experience and ability, who had long been jealous of the superior reputation of Bayan. He was long engaged in raising an army, with which he might hope to make a bid for empire, but at last his preparations reached the ear of Kublai, who determined to crush him before his power had grown too great. Kublai marched against him at the head of 100,000 men, and all the troops Nayan could bring into the field were 40,000, while Kaidu, although hastily gathering his forces, was too far off to render any timely aid. Kublai commanded in person, and arranged his order of battle from a tower supported on the backs of four elephants chained together. Both armies showed great heroism and ferocity, but numbers carried the day, and Nayan's army was almost destroyed, while he himself fell into the hands of the victor. It was contrary to the practice of the Mongols to shed the blood of their own princes, so Kublai ordered Nayan to be sewn up in a sack, and then beaten to death. The war with Kaidu dragged on for many years, and there is no doubt that Kublai did not desire to push matters to an extremity with his cousin. Having restored the fortunes of the war by assuming the command in person, Kublai returned in a short time to Pekin, leaving his opponent, as he hoped, the proverbial golden bridge by which to retreat. But his lieutenant, Bayan, to whom he intrusted the conduct of the campaign, favored more vigorous action, and was anxious to bring the struggle to a speedy and decisive termination. He had gained one remarkable victory under considerable disadvantage, when Kublai, either listening to his detractors or desirous of restraining his activity, dismissed him from his military posts and, summoning him to Pekin, gave him the uncongenial office of a minister of State. This happened in 1293, and in the following year Kublai, who was nearly eighty, and who had occupied the throne of China for thirty-five years, sickened and died, leaving behind him a great reputation which has survived the criticism of six centuries in both Europe and China.

Kublai's long reign marked the climax of the Mongol triumph which he had all the personal satisfaction of extending to China. Where Genghis failed, or attained only partial success, he succeeded to the fullest extent, thus verifying the prophecy of his grandfather. But although he conquered their country, he never vanquished the prejudices of the Chinese, and the Mongols, unlike the Manchus, failed completely to propitiate the good will of the historiographers of the Hanlin. Of Kublai they take some recognition, as an enlightened and well-meaning prince, but for all the other emperors of the Yuen line they have nothing good to say. Even Kublai himself could not assure the stability of his throne, and when he died it was at once clear that the Mongols could not long retain the supreme position in China.

But Kublai's authority was sufficiently established for it to be transmitted, without popular disturbance or any insurrection on the part of the Chinese, to his legal heir, who was his grandson. Such risk as presented itself to the succession arose from the dissensions among the Mongol princes themselves, but the prompt measures of Bayan arrested any trouble, and Prince Timour was proclaimed emperor under the Chinese style of Chingtsong. A few months after this signal service to the ruling family, Bayan died, leaving behind him the reputation of being one of the most capable of all the Mongol commanders. Whether because he could find no general worthy to fill Bayan's place, or because his temperament was naturally pacific, Timour carried on no military operations, and the thirteen years of his reign were marked by almost unbroken peace. But peace did not bring prosperity in its train, for a considerable part of China suffered from the ravages of famine, and the cravings of hunger drove many to become brigands. Timour's anxiety to alleviate the public suffering gained him some small measure of popularity, and he also endeavored to limit the opportunities of the Mongol governors to be tyrannical by taking away from them the power of life and death. Timour was compelled by the sustained hostility of Kaidu to continue the struggle with that prince, but he confined himself to the defensive, and the death of Kaidu, in 1301, deprived the contest of its extreme bitterness although it still continued.

Timour was, however, unfortunate in the one foreign enterprise which he undertook. The ease with which Burmah had been vanquished and reduced to a tributary state emboldened some of his officers on the southern frontier to attempt the conquest of Papesifu--a state which may be identified with the modern Laos. The enterprise, commenced in a thoughtless and light- hearted manner, revealed unexpected peril and proved disastrous. A large part of the Mongol army perished from the heat, and the survivors were only rescued from their perilous position, surrounded by the numerous enemies they had irritated, by a supreme effort on the part of Koko, the viceroy of Yunnan, who was also Timour's uncle. The insurrectionary


China - 20/83

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