CHAPTER V. THE MONGOL CONQUEST OF CHINA
Muhula more than justified the selection and confidence of his sovereign. In the year 1218-19 he invaded Honan, defeated the best of the Kin commanders, and not merely overran, but retained possession of the places he occupied in the Kin dominions. The difficulties of Utubu were aggravated by an attack from Ningtsong, the Sung emperor, who refused any longer to pay tribute to the Kins, as they were evidently unable to enforce the claim, and the Kin armies were as equally unfortunate against their southern opponents as their northern. Then Utubu endeavored to negotiate terms with Muhula for the retreat of his army, but the only conditions the Mongol general would accept were the surrender of the Kin ruler and his resignation of the imperial title in exchange for the principality of Honan. Utubu, low as he had sunk, declined to abase himself further and to purchase life at the loss of his dignity. The sudden death of Muhula gained a brief respite for the distressed Chinese potentate, but the advantage was not of any permanent significance; first of all because the Kins were too exhausted by their long struggle, and, secondly, because Genghis hastened to place himself at the head of his army. The news of the death of Muhula reached him when he was encamped on the frontier of India and preparing to add the conquest of that country to his many other triumphs in Central and Western Asia. He at once came to the conclusion that he must return to set his house in order at home, and to prevent all the results of Muhula's remarkable triumphs being lost. What was a disadvantage for China proved a benefit for India, and possibly for Europe, as there is no saying how much further the Mongol encroachment might have extended westward, if the direction of Genghis had not been withdrawn. While Genghis was hastening from the Cabul River to the Kerulon, across the Hindoo Koosh and Tian Shan ranges, Utubu died and Ninkiassu reigned in his stead.
One of the first consequences of the death of Muhula was that the young king of Hia, believing that the fortunes of the Mongols would then wane, and that he might obtain a position of greater power and independence, threw off his allegiance, and adopted hostile measures against them. The prompt return of Genghis nipped this plan in the bud, but it was made quite evident that the conquest of Hia was essential to the success of any permanent annexation of Chinese territory, and as its prince could dispose of an army which he boasted numbered half a million of men, it is not surprising to find that he took a whole year in perfecting his arrangements for so grave a contest. The war began in 1225 and continued for two years. The success of the Mongol army was decisive and unqualified. The Hias were defeated in several battles, and in one of them fought upon the frozen waters of the Hoangho. Genghis broke the ice by means of his engines, and the Hia army was almost annihilated. The king Leseen was deposed, and Hia became a Mongol province.
It was immediately after this successful war that Genghis was seized with his fatal illness. Signs had been seen in the heavens which the Mongol astrologers said indicated the near approach of his death. The five planets had appeared together in the southwest, and so much impressed was Genghis by this phenomenon that on his death-bed he expressed "the earnest desire that henceforth the lives of our enemies shall not be unnecessarily sacrificed." The expression of this wish undoubtedly tended to mitigate the terrors of war as carried on by the Mongols. The immediate successors of Genghis conducted their campaigns after a more humane fashion, and it was not until Timour revived the early Mongol massacres that their opponents felt there was no chance in appealing to the humanity of the Mongols. Various accounts have been published of the cause of his death; some authorities ascribing it to violence, either by an arrow, lightning, or drowning, and others to natural causes. The event seems to have unquestionably happened in his camp on the borders of Shansi, August 27, 1227, when he was about sixty-five years of age, during more than fifty of which he had enjoyed supreme command of his own tribe.