It happened, after some time, that a north wind began to blow with great force, and the ships of the Mongols, which lay near the shore of the island, were driven foul of each other.
Today’s installment concludes Japan Repels the Mongols,
the name of our combined selection from Edward H Parker and Marco Polo published around 1300. The concluding installment, by Marco Polo from Travels of Marco Polo, was published around 1300.
If you have journeyed through all of the installments of this series, just one more to go and you will have completed a selection from the great works of four thousand words. Congratulations!
Previously in Japan Repels the Mongols.
Of so great celebrity was the wealth of Cipango (Japan), that a desire was excited in the breast of the grand khan Kublai, now reigning, to make the conquest of it, and to annex it to his dominions. In order to effect this, he fitted out a numerous fleet, and embarked a large body of troops, under the command of two of his principal officers, one of whom was named Abba-catan, and the other Vonsancin.
The expedition sailed from the ports of Zaitun and Kinsai and, crossing the intermediate sea, reached the island in safety; but in consequence of a jealousy that arose between the two commanders, one of whom treated the plans of the other with contempt and resisted the execution of his orders, they were unable to gain possession of any city or fortified place, with the exception of one only, which was carried by assault, the garrison having refused to surrender.
Directions were given for putting the whole to the sword, and in obedience thereto the heads of all were cut off, excepting of eight persons, who, by the efficacy of a diabolical charm, consisting of a jewel or amulet introduced into the right arm, between the skin and the flesh, were rendered secure from the effects of iron, either to kill or wound, Upon this discovery being made, they were beaten with a heavy wooden club, and presently died.
It happened, after some time, that a north wind began to blow with great force, and the ships of the Mongols, which lay near the shore of the island, were driven foul of each other. It was determined thereupon, in a council of the officers on board, that they ought to disengage themselves from the land; and accordingly, as soon as the troops were re-embarked, they stood out to sea. The gale, however, increased to so violent a degree that a number of the vessels foundered. The people belonging to them, by floating upon pieces of the wreck, saved themselves upon an island lying about four miles from the coast of Cipango.
The other ships, which, not being so near to the land, did not suffer from the storm, and in which the two chiefs were embarked, together with the principal officers, or those whose rank entitled them to command a hundred thousand or ten thousand men, directed their course homeward, and returned to the Grand Khan.
Those of the Mongols who remained upon the island where they were wrecked, and who amounted to about thirty thousand men, finding themselves left without shipping, abandoned by their leaders, and having neither arms nor provisions, expected nothing less than to become captives or to perish; especially as the island afforded no habitations where they could take shelter and refresh themselves. As soon as the gale ceased and the sea became smooth and calm, the people from the main island of Cipango came over with a large force, in numerous boats, in order to make prisoners of these shipwrecked Mongols, and, having landed, proceeded in search of them, but in a straggling, disorderly manner. The Mongols, on their part, acted with prudent circumspection, and, being concealed from view by some high land in the centre of the island, while the enemy were hurrying in pursuit of them by one road, made a circuit of the coast by another, which brought them to the place where the fleet of boats was at anchor. Finding these all abandoned, but with their colors flying, they instantly seized them, and, pushing off from the island, stood for the principal city of Cipango, into which, from the appearance of the colors, they were suffered to enter unmolested.
Here they found few of the inhabitants besides women, whom they retained for their own use, and drove out all others. When the King was apprised of what had taken place, he was much afflicted, and immediately gave directions for a strict blockade of the city, which was so effectual that not any person was suffered to enter or to escape from it during six months that the siege continued. At the expiration of this time the Mongols, despairing of succor, surrendered upon the condition of their lives being spared.
These events took place in the course of the year 1264. The Grand Khan having learned some years after that the unfortunate issue of the expedition was to be attributed to the dissension between the two commanders, caused the head of one of them to be cut off; the other he sent to the savage island of Zorza, where it is the custom to execute criminals in the following manner. They are wrapped round both arms, in the hide of a buffalo fresh taken from the beast, which is sewed tight. As this dries, it compresses the body to such a degree that the sufferer is incapable of moving or in any manner helping himself, and thus miserably perishes.
Edward H Parker begins here.
This ends our series of passages on Japan Repels the Mongols by Edward H Parker and Marco Polo from their books A Thousand Years of the Tartars and Travels of Marco Polo (respectively) published in 1895 (Parker) and c. 1300 (Polo). This blog features short and lengthy pieces on all aspects of our shared past. Here are selections from the great historians who may be forgotten (and whose work have fallen into public domain) as well as links to the most up-to-date developments in the field of history and of course, original material from yours truly, Jack Le Moine. – A little bit of everything historical is here.
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