He was not long in collecting a number of his men together, and soon managed to increase their number to thirteen thousand.
Continuing Ghengis Khan Founds the Mongol Empire,
our selection from History of the Mongols by Henry H. Howorth published in 1888. For works benefiting from the latest research see the “More information” section at the bottom of these pages. The selection is presented in six easy 5 minute installments.
Previously in Ghengis Khan Founds the Mongol Empire.
Temudjin struggled in vain against this confederacy, and one day he was taken prisoner by the Taidshuts. Terkutai fastened on him a cangue — the instrument of torture used by the Chinese, consisting of two boards which are fastened to the shoulders, and when joined together round the neck form an effectual barrier to desertion. He one day found means to escape while the Taidshuts were busy feasting. He hid in a pond with his nostrils only out of water, but was detected by a pursuer named Surghan Shireh. He belonged to the Sulduz clan; had pity on him; took him to his house; hid him under some wool in a cart so that his pursuers failed to find him, and then sent him to his own people. This and other stories illustrate one phase of Mongol character. We seldom hear among them of those domestic murders so frequent in Turkish history; pretenders to the throne were reduced to servitude, and generally made to perform menial offices, but seldom murdered. They illustrate another fact: favors conferred in distress were seldom forgotten, and the chroniclers frequently explain the rise of some obscure individual by the recollection of a handsome thing done to the ruler in his unfortunate days.
Another phase of Mongol character, namely, the treachery and craft with which they attempt to overreach one another in war, may be illustrated by a short saga told by Ssanang Setzen, and probably relating to this period of Temudjin’s career. It is curious how circumstantial many of these traditions are.
At that time,” he says, “Buke Chilger of the Taidshuts dug a pit-fall in his tent and covered it with felts. He then, with his brothers, arranged a grand feast, to which Temudjin was invited with fulsome phrases. ‘Formerly we knew not thine excellence,’ he said, ‘and lived in strife with thee. We have now learnt that thou art not false, and that thou art a Bogda of the race of the gods. Our old hatred is stifled and dead; condescend to enter our small house.’
Temudjin accepted the invitation, but before going he was warned by his mother: ‘Rate not the crafty foe too lightly,’ she said. ‘We do not dread a venomous viper the less because it is so small and weak. Be cautious!’
He replied: ‘You are right, mother, therefore do you, Khassar, have the bow ready: Belgutei, you also be on your guard: you, Chadshikin, see to the horse; and you, Utsuken, remain by my side. My nine Orloks, you go in with me; and you, my three hundred and nine bodyguards, surround the yurt.’
When he arrived he would have sat down in the middle of the treacherous carpet, but Utsuken pulled him aside and seated him on the edge of the felt. Meanwhile a woman was meddling with the horse and cut off its left stirrup. Belgutei, who noticed it, drove her out, and struck her on the leg with his hand, upon which one Buri Buke struck Belgutei’s horse with his sword. The nine Orloks now came round, helped their master to mount the white mare of Toktanga Taishi of the Kortshins; a fight began, which ended in the defeat and submission of the enemy.”
Once more free, Temudjin, who was now seventeen years old, married Burte Judjin. He was not long in collecting a number of his men together, and soon managed to increase their number to thirteen thousand. These he divided into thirteen battalions of one thousand men each, styled gurans, each guran under the command of a gurkhan. The gurkhans were chosen from his immediate relatives and dependents. The forces of the Taidshuts numbered thirty thousand. With this much more powerful army Temudjin risked an encounter on the banks of the Baldjuna, a tributary of the Ingoda, and gained a complete victory. Abulghazi says the Taidshuts lost from five thousand to six thousand men. The battlefield was close to a wood, and we are told that Temudjin, after his victory, piled fagots together and boiled many of his prisoners in seventy caldrons — a very problematical story.
Among his neighbors were the Jadjerats, or Juriats, the subjects of Chamuka, who, according to De Guignes, fled after the battle with the Taidshuts.
One day a body of the Jadjerats, who were hunting, encountered some of Temudjin’s followers, and they agreed to hunt together. The former ran short of provisions, and he generously surrendered to them a large part of the game his people had captured. This was favorably compared by them with the harsh behavior of their suzerains, the Taidshut princes, and two of their chiefs, named Ulugh Bahadur and Thugai Talu, with many of the tribe went to join Temudjin. They were shortly after attacked and dispersed by the Taidshuts. This alarmed or disgusted several of the latter’s allies, who went over to the party of Temudjin. Among these were Chamuka, who contrived for a while to hide his rancor; and the chiefs of the Suldus and Basiuts. Their example was soon followed by the defection of the Barins and the Telenkuts, a branch of the Jelairs.
Temudjin’s repute was now considerable, and De Mailla tells us that wishing to secure the friendship of Podu, chief of the Kieliei, or Ykiliesse (i.e., the Kurulats), who lived on the river Ergone (i.e., the Argun), and who was renowned for his skill in archery, he offered him his sister Termulun in marriage. This was gladly accepted, and the two became fast friends. As a sign of his good-will, Podu wished to present Temudjin with fifteen horses out of thirty which he possessed, but the latter replied: “To speak of giving and taking is to do as merchants and traffickers, and not allies. Our elders tell us it is difficult to have one heart and one soul in two bodies. It is this difficult thing I wish to compass; I mean to extend my power over my neighbors here; I only ask that the people of Kieliei shall aid me.”
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