Abandoned by most of his troops, he fled to the desert Baldjuna, where he was reduced to great straits.
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.
When he arrived at home he discovered that Arghassun had appropriated his golden lute; upon which he ordered Boghordshi and Mukuli to kill him. They seized him, gave him two skins full of strong drink, and then went to the Khan, who had not yet risen. Boghordshi spake outside the tent: “The light already shines in your Ordu. We await your commands; that is, if your effulgent presence, having cheerfully awoke, has risen from its couch! The daylight already shines. Condescend to open the door to hear and to judge the repentant culprit, and to exercise your favor and clemency.” The Khan now arose and permitted Arghassun to enter, but he did not speak to him. Boghordshi and Mukuli gave him a signal with their lips. The culprit then began: “While the seventy-tuned Tsaktsaghai unconcernedly sings ‘tang, tang,’ the hawk hovers over and pounces suddenly upon him and strangles him before he can bring out his last note, ‘jang.’ So did my lord’s wrath fall on me and has unnerved me. For twenty years have I been in your household, but have not yet been guilty of dishonest trickery. It is true I love smoked drink, but dishonesty I have not in my thought. For twenty years have I been in your household, but I have not practised knavery. I love strong drink, but am no trickster.” Upon which Temudjin ejaculated, “My loquacious Arghassun, my chattering Churtchi!” and pardoned him.
Temudjin now seems to have been master of the country generally known as Eastern Dauria, watered by the Onon, the Ingoda, the Argun; and also of the tribes of the Tungusic race that lived on the Nonni and the Upper Amur. The various victims of his prowess began to gather together for another effort. Among these were Tukta, the chief of the Merkits, with the Naiman leader, Buyuruk Khan, the tribes Durban, Katagun, Saldjut, and Uirat, the last of whom were clients of the Naimans. Wang Khan was then in alliance with him. At the approach of the enemy they retired into the mountains Caraun Chidun, in the Khinggan chain, on the frontiers of China, where they were pursued. The pursuers were terribly harassed by the ice and snow, which Mailla said was produced by one of their own shamans, or necromancers, and which proved more hurtful to them than to the Mongols. Many of them perished, and when they issued from the defiles they were too weak to attack the two allies. The latter spent the winter at Altchia Kungur. Here their two families were united by mutual betrothals; as these, however, broke down, ill-feeling was aroused between them, and Chamuka had an opportunity of renewing his intrigues. He suggested that Temudjin had secret communications with the Naimans, and was not long in arousing the jealousy of Wang Khan and his son Sengun. They attempted to assassinate him, but he was warned in time.
He now collected an army and marched against the Keraits. His army was very inferior in numbers, but attacked the enemy with ardor. Wang Khan’s bravest tribe, the Jirkirs, turned their backs, while the Tunegkaits were defeated, but numbers nevertheless prevailed, and Temudjin was forced to fly. This battle, which is renowned in Mongol history, was fought at a place called Kalanchin Alt. Raschid says this place is near the country of the Niuchis, not far from the river Olkui. Some of the Chinese authorities call it Khalagun ola and Hala chon, and D’Ohsson surmises that it is that part of the Khinggan chain from which flow the southern affluents of the Kalka, one of which is called Halgon in D’Anville’s map. Mailla, however, distinctly places it between the Tula and the Onon, which is probably right. Abandoned by most of his troops, he fled to the desert Baldjuna, where he was reduced to great straits. Here are still found many grave mounds, and the Buriats relate that this retired place, protected on the north by woods and mountains, was formerly an asylum. A few firm friends accompanied him. They were afterward known as Baldjunas, a name compared by Von Hammer with that of Mohadshirs, borne by the companions of Mahomet’s early misfortunes. Two shepherds, named Kishlik and Badai, who had informed him of Wang Khan’s march, were created Terkhans.
Having been a fugitive for some time, Temudjin at length moved to the southeast, to the borders of Lake Kara, into which flows the river Uldra; there he was joined by some Kunkurats, and he once more moved on to the sacred Mongol lake, the Dalai Nur. Thence he indited the following pathetic letter to Wang Khan:
1. O Khan, my father, when your uncle, the Gur Khan, drove you for having usurped the throne of Buyuruk, and for having killed your brothers Tatimur Taidshi and Buka Timur, to take refuge at Keraun Kiptchak, where you were beleaguered, did not my father come to your rescue, drive out, and force the Gur Khan to take refuge in Ho Si (the country west of the Hwang-ho), whence he returned not? Did you not then become Anda (i.e., sworn friend) with my father, and was not this the reason I styled you ‘father’?
2. When you were driven away by the Naimans, and your brother, Ilkah Sengun, had retired to the far east, did I not send for him back again; and when he was attacked by the Merkits, did I not attack and defeat them? Here is a second reason for your gratitude.
3. When in your distress you came to me with your body peering through your tatters, like the sun through the clouds, and worn out with hunger, you moved languidly like an expiring flame, did I not attack the tribes who molested you; present you with abundance of sheep and horses? You came to me haggard. In a fortnight you were stout and well-favored again. Here is a third service we have done you.
4. When you defeated the Merkits so severely at Buker Gehreh, you gave me none of the booty; yet shortly after, when you were hard pressed by the Naimans, I sent four of my best generals to your assistance, who restored you the plunder that had been taken from you. Here is the fourth good office.
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