Genghis Khan - Jacob Abbott

The Adventures Of Prince Kushluk.

Prince Kushluk, as the reader will perhaps recollect, was the son of Tayian, the khan of the Naymans, who organized the grand league of khans against Temujin at the instigation of Yemuka, as related in a preceding chapter. He was the young prince who was opposed to Jughi, the son of Temujin, in the great final battle. The reader will recollect that in that battle Tayian himself was slain, as was also Yemuka, but the young prince succeeded in making his escape.

He was accompanied in his flight by a certain general or chieftain named Tukta Bey. This Tukta Bey was the khan of a powerful tribe. The name of the town or village which he considered his capital was Kashin. It was situated toward the southwest, not far from the borders of China. Tukta Bey, taking Kushluk with him, retreated to this place, and there began to make preparations to collect a new army to act against Temujin. I say Temujin, for these circumstances took place immediately after the battle, and before Temujin had received his new title of Genghis Khan.

Temujin, having learned that Tukta Bey and the young prince had gone to Kashin, determined at once to follow them there. As soon as Tukta Bey heard that he was coming, he began to strengthen the fortifications of his town and to increase the garrison. He also laid in supplies of food and military stores of all kinds. While he was making these preparations, he received the news that Temujin was advancing into his country at the head of an immense force. The force was so large that he was convinced that his town could not long stand out against it. He was greatly perplexed to know what to do.

Now it happened that there was a brother of Tayian Khan's, named Boyrak, the chief of a powerful horde that occupied a district of country not very far distant from Tukta Bey's dominions. Tukta Bey thought that this Boyrak would be easily induced to aid him in the war, as it was a war waged against the mortal enemy of his brother. He determined to leave his capital to be defended by the garrison which he had placed in it, and to proceed himself to Boyrak's country to obtain re-enforcements. He first sent off the Prince Kushluk, so that he might be as soon as possible in a place of safety. Then, after completing the necessary arrangements and dispositions for the defense of his town, in case it should be attacked during his absence, he took his oldest son, for whose safety he was also greatly concerned, and set out at the head of a small troop of horsemen to go to Boyrak.

Accordingly, when Temujin, at the head of his forces, arrived at the town of Kashin, he found that the fugitives whom he was pursuing were no longer there. However, he determined to take the town. He accordingly at once invested it, and commenced the siege. The garrison made a very determined resistance. But the forces under Temujin's command were too strong for them. The town was soon taken. Temujin ordered his soldiers to slay without mercy all who were found in arms against him within the walls, and the walls themselves, and all the other defenses of the place, he caused to be leveled with the ground.

He then issued his proclamation, offering peace and pardon to all the rest of the tribe on condition that they would take the oath of allegiance to him. This they readily agreed to do. There were a great many subordinate khans, both of this tribe and of some others that were near, who thus yielded to Temujin, and promised to obey him.

All this took place, as has already been said, immediately after the great battle with Tayian, and before Temujin had been enthroned as emperor, or had received his new title of Genghis Khan. Indeed, Temujin, while making this expedition to Kashin in pursuit of Kushluk and Tukta Bey, had been somewhat uneasy at the loss of time which the campaign occasioned him, as he was anxious to go as soon as possible to Karakorom, in order to take the necessary measures there for arranging and consolidating his government. He accordingly now determined not to pursue the fugitives any farther, but to proceed at once to Karakorom, and postpone all farther operations against Kushluk and Tukta until the next season. So he went to Karakorom, and there, during the course of the winter, formed the constitution of his new empire, and made arrangements for convening a grand assembly of the khans the next spring, as related in the last chapter.

In the mean time, Tukta Bey and the Prince Kushluk were very kindly received by Boyrak, Tayian's brother. For a time they all had reason to expect that Temujin, after having taken and destroyed Kashin, would continue his pursuit of the prince, and Boyrak began accordingly to make preparations for defense. But when, at length, they learned that Temujin had given up the pursuit, and had returned to Karakorom, their apprehensions were, for the moment, relieved. They were, however, well aware that the danger was only postponed; and Boyrak, being determined to defend the cause of his nephew, and to avenge, if possible, his brother's death, occupied himself diligently with increasing his army, strengthening his fortifications, and providing himself with all possible means of defense against the attack which he expected would be made upon him in the coming season.

Boyrak's expectations of an attack were fully realized. Temujin, after having settled the affairs of his government, and having now become Genghis Khan, took the first opportunity in the following season to fit out an expedition against Tukta Bey and Boyrak. He marched into Boyrak's dominions at the head of a strong force. Boyrak came forth to meet him. A great battle was fought. Boyrak was entirely defeated. When he found that the battle was lost he attempted to fly. He was, however, pursued and taken, and was then brought back to the camp of Genghis Khan, where he was put to death. The conqueror undoubtedly justified this act of cruelty toward his helpless prisoner on the plea that, like Yemuka, he was not an open and honorable foe, but a rebel and traitor, and, consequently, that the act of putting him to death was the execution of a criminal, and not the murder of a prisoner.

But, although Boyrak himself was thus taken and slain, Kushluk and Tukta Bey succeeded in making their escape. They fled to the northward and westward, scarcely knowing, it would seem, where they were to go. They at last found a place of refuge on the banks of the River Irtish. This river rises not far from the centre of the Asiatic continent, and flows northward into the Northern Ocean. The country through which it flows lay to the northwestward of Genghis Khan's dominions, and beyond the confines of it. Through this country Prince Kushluk and Tukta Bey wandered on, accompanied by the small troop of followers that still adhered to them, until they reached a certain fortress called Ardish, where they determined to make a stand.

They were among friends here, for Ardish, it seems, was on the confines of territory that belonged to Tukta Bey. The people of the neighborhood immediately flocked to Tukta's standard, and thus the fugitive khan soon found himself at the head of a considerable force. This force was farther increased by the coming in of broken bands that had made their escape from the battle at which Boyrak had been slain at the same time with Tukta Bey, but had become separated from him in their flight.

It would seem that, at first, Genghis Khan did not know what was become of the fugitives. At any rate, it was not until the next year that he attempted to pursue them. Then, hearing where they were and what they were doing, he prepared an expedition to penetrate into the country of the Irtish and attack them. It was in the dead of winter when he arrived in the country. He had hurried on at that season of the year in order to prevent Tukta Bey from having time to finish his fortifications. Tukta Bey and those who were with him were amazed when they heard that their enemy was coming at that season of the year. The defenses which they were preparing for their fortress were not fully completed, but they were at once convinced that they could not hold their ground against the body of troops that Genghis Khan was bringing against them in the open field, and so they all took shelter in and near the fortress, and awaited their enemy there.

The winters in that latitude are very cold, and the country through which Genghis Khan had to march was full of difficulty. The branches of the river which he had to cross were obstructed with ice, and the roads were in many places rendered almost impassable by snow. The emperor did not even know the way to the fortress where Tukta Bey and his followers were concealed, and it would have been almost impossible for him to find it had it not been for certain tribes, through whose territories he passed on the way, who furnished him with guides. These tribes, perceiving how overwhelming was the force which Genghis Khan commanded, knew that it would be useless for them to resist him. So they yielded submission to him at once, and detached parties of horsemen to go with him down the river to show him the way.

Under the conduct of these guides Genghis Khan passed on. In due time he arrived at the fortress of Ardish, and immediately forced Tukta Bey and his allies to come to an engagement. Tukta's army was very soon defeated and put to flight. Tukta himself, and many other khans and chieftains who had joined him, were killed; but the Prince Kushluk was once more fortunate enough to make his escape.

He fled with a small troop of followers, all mounted on fleet horses, and after various wanderings, in the course of which he and they who were with him endured a great deal of privation and suffering, the unhappy fugitive at last reached the dominions of a powerful prince named Gurkhan, who reigned over a country which is situated in the western part of Asia, toward the Caspian Sea, and is named Turkestan. This is the country from which the people called the Turks, who afterward spread themselves so widely over the western part of Asia and the eastern part of Europe, originally sprung.

Gurkhan received Kushluk and his party in a very friendly manner, and Genghis Khan did not follow them. Whether he thought that the distance was too great, or that the power of Gurkhan was too formidable to make it prudent for him to advance into his dominions without a stronger force, does not appear. At any rate, for the time being he gave up the pursuit, and after fully securing the fruits of the victory which he had gained at Ardish, and receiving the submission of all the tribes and khans that inhabited that region of country, he set out on his return home.

It is related that one of the khans who gave in his submission to Genghis Khan at this time made him a present of a certain bird called a shongar, according to a custom often observed among the people of that region. The shongar was a very large and fierce bird of prey, which, however, could be trained like the falcons which were so much prized in the Middle Ages by the princes and nobles of Europe. It seems it was customary for an inferior khan to present one of these birds to his superior on great occasions, as an emblem and token of his submission to his superior's authority. The bird in such a case was very richly decorated with gold and precious stones, so that the present was sometimes of a very costly and magnificent character.

Genghis Khan received such a present as this from a chieftain named Urus Inal, who was among those that yielded to his sway in the country of the Irtish, after the battle at which Tukta Bey was defeated and killed. The bird was presented to Genghis Khan by Urus with great ceremony, as an act of submission and homage.

What, in the end, was the fate of Prince Kushluk, will appear in the next chapter.

Mongol Camp