CHAPTER V. THE MONGOL CONQUEST OF CHINA
If Kublai had succeeded in obtaining a wise adviser in Yaochu, he was not less fortunate in procuring a great general in the person of Uriangkadai, the son of Subutai, and his remarkable and unvarying successes were largely due to the efforts of those two men in the cabinet and the field. The plan of campaign, drawn up with great care and forethought by the prince and his lieutenant, had the double merit of being both bold and original. Its main purpose was not one that the Sung generals would be likely to divine. It was determined to make a flank march round the Sung dominions, and to occupy what is now the province of Yunnan; and, by placing an army in the rear of their kingdom, to attack them eventually from two sides. At this time Yunnan formed an independent state, and its ruler, from his position behind the Sung territory, must have fancied himself secure against any attack by the Mongols. He was destined to a rude awakening. Kublai and Uriangkadai, marching across Szchuen and crossing the Kinchakiang, or "river of golden sand," which forms the upper course of the Great River, on rafts, burst into Yunnan, speedily vanquished the frontier garrisons, and laid siege to the capital, Talifoo. That town did not hold out long, and soon Kublai was in a position to return to his own state, leaving Uriangkadai with a considerable garrison in charge of Yunnan. That general, believing that his position would be improved by his resorting to an active offensive, carried the standard of his race against the many turbulent tribes in his neighborhood, and invaded Burma whose king, after one campaign, was glad to recognize the supremacy of the Mongols. The success and the boldness, which may have been considered temerity, of this campaign, raised up enemies to Kublai at the court of Karakoram, and the mind of his brother Mangu was poisoned against him by many who declared that Kublai aspired to complete independence. These designs so far succeeded, that in 1257 Mangu finally deprived Kublai of all his commands, and ordered him to proceed to Karakoram. At this harsh and unmerited treatment Kublai showed himself inclined to rebel and dispute his brother's authority. If he had done this, although the provocation was great, he would have confirmed the charges of his accusers, and a war would have broken out among the Mongols which would probably have rent their power in twain in Eastern Asia. But fortunately Yaochu was at hand to give prudent advice, and after much hesitation Kublai yielded to the impressive exhortations of his experienced and sagacious minister. He is reported to have addressed Kublai in the following terms: "Prince! You are the brother of the emperor, but you are not the less his subject. You cannot, without committing a crime, question his decisions, and, moreover, if you were to do so, it would only result in placing you in a more dangerous predicament, out of which you could hardly succeed in extricating yourself, as you are so far distant from the capital where your enemies seek to injure you. My advice is that you should send your family to Mangu, and by this step you will justify yourself and remove any suspicions there may be."
Kublai adopted this wise course, and proceeded in person to Karakoram, where he succeeded in proving his innocence and in discomfiting his enemies. It is said that Mangu was so affected at the mere sight of his brother that he at once forgave him without waiting for an explanation and reinstated him in all his offices. To ratify this reconciliation Mangu proclaimed that he would take the field in person, and that Kublai should hold joint command with himself. When he formed this resolution to proceed to China in person, he appointed his next brother, Arikbuka, to act as his lieutenant in Mongolia. It is necessary to recollect this arrangement, as Mangu died during the campaign, and it led to the separation of the Chinese empire and the Mongolian, which were divided after that event between Kublai and Arikbuka.