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In the year 1211, that is, about five years after my election as The Most Glorious Khan, I became involved in a war with the Chinese, which led, in the end, to very important consequences. The kingdom of China lay to the southward of the Mongol territories, and the frontier was defended by the famous Chinese wall, which extended from east to west, over hills and valleys. The wall was defended by towers, built here and there in commanding positions along the whole extent of it, and at certain distances there were fortified towns where powerful garrisons were stationed, and reserves of troops were held ready to be marched to different points along the wall, wherever there might be occasion for their services.


The wall continued from the great Gobi Desert to the sea, for many hundred miles


The wall was not strictly the Chinese frontier, for the territory on the outside of it to a considerable distance was held by the Chinese government, and there were many large towns and some very strong fortresses in this outlying region, all of which were held and garrisoned by Chinese troops. The inhabitants, however, of the countries outside the wall were generally of the Tartar or Mongol race. They were of a nation or tribe called the Kitan, and were somewhat inclined to rebel against the Chinese rule. In order to assist in keeping them in subjection, one of the Chinese emperors issued a decree which ordained that the governors of those provinces should place in all the large towns, and other strongholds outside the wall. This regulation greatly increased the discontent of the Kitan, and made them more inclined to rebel. Besides this, there had been for some time a growing difficulty between the Chinese government and myself. We Mongols had been for a long time accustomed to pay some sort of tribute to the Emperor of China, and many years before, while Genghis Khan, under the name of Temujin, was living at Karakorom, a subject of Vang Khan, the emperor sent a certain royal prince, named Yong-tsi, to receive what was due. While Yong-tsi was in the Mongol territory he and I had met, but we did not agree on even the slightest point.


The Chinese prince insulted me several times, which I deeply resented. My character, at that time, was marked with a great deal of pride and spirit; therefore, I opposed the payment of the tribute. Yong-tsi became very displeased with me, and, on his return, made serious charges against me to the emperor, and urged that I should be seized and put to death. But the emperor declined engaging in so dangerous an undertaking. . Yong-tsi’s proposal, however, became known to me, and I secretly resolved that he would one day have my revenge.

At length, about three or four years after I became the All Powerful and Great Genghis Khan, the emperor of the Chinese died, and Yong-tsi succeeded him. The very next year Yong-tsi sent an officer to me with a demand for the usual tribute. When the officer came into my presence and made his demand, I asked him who was the emperor that had sent him with such a message. The officer replied that Yong-tsi was at that time emperor of the Chinese.



“Yong-tsi?” I repeated in a tone of great contempt. I continued on with “The Chinese have a Proverb that such people as Chinese ought to have a God for their emperor; but it seems they do not know how to choose even a decent man.”

It was true that they had such a proverb. They were as remarkable, it seems, in those days as they are now for their national self-importance and vanity.

” Go and tell your emperor,” I added, “that I am a sovereign ruler, and that I will never acknowledge him as my master.”

When the messenger returned with this defiant answer, Yong-tsi was very much enraged, and immediately began to prepare for war. I commenced at once for my war preparations. I sent envoys to the leading khans who occupied the territories outside the wall inviting them to join me. I raised a great army, and put several divisions of it under the charge of my most able generals. Yong-tsi raised a great army too. It amounted to three hundred thousand men. He put this army under the command of a great general named Hujaku, and ordered him to advance with it to the north, to intercept my army on its way, and to defend the wall and the fortresses on the outside of it from my attacks.


In the campaign which ensued I was most successful. My Mongols took possession of a great many towns and fortresses beyond the wall, and every victory that they gained made the tribes and nations that inhabited those provinces more and more disposed to join them. Many of them revolted against the Chinese authority, and turned to my side. One of these was a chieftain so powerful that he commanded an army of one hundred thousand men. To bind himself solemnly to the covenant which he was to make with me, he ascended a mountain in company with the envoy and with others who were to witness the proceedings, and there performed the ceremony customary on such occasions. The ceremony consisted of sacrificing a white horse and a black ox, and then breaking an arrow, at the same time pronouncing an oath by which he placed himself under the most solemn sanctions to be faithful to me.


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