CHAPTER V. THE MONGOL CONQUEST OF CHINA
The area of the undertakings conducted under his eye was more vast and included a greater number of countries than was the case with any other conqueror. Not a country from the Euxine to the China Sea escaped the tramp of the Mongol horsemen, and if we include the achievements of his immediate successors, the conquest of Russia, Poland, and Hungary, the plundering of Bulgaria, Roumania, and Bosnia, the final subjection of China and its southern tributaries must be added to complete the tale of Mongol triumph. The sphere of Mongol influence extended beyond this large portion of the earth's surface, just as the consequence of an explosion cannot be restricted to the immediate scene of the disaster. If we may include the remarkable achievements of his descendant Baber, and of that prince's grandson Akbar, in India three centuries later, not a country in Asia enjoyed immunity from the effect of their successes. Perhaps the most important result of their great outpouring into Western Asia - which certainly was the arrest of the Mohammedan career in Central Asia, and the diversion of the current of the fanatical propagators of the Prophet's creed against Europe - is not yet as fully recognized as it should be. The doubt has been already expressed whether the Mongols would ever have risen to higher rank than that of a nomad tribe but for the appearance of Genghis. Leaving that supposition in the category of other interesting but problematical conjectures, it may be asserted that Genghis represented in their highest forms all the qualities which entitled his race to exercise governing authority. He was, moreover, a military genius of the very first order, and it may be questioned whether either Caesar or Napoleon can as commanders be placed on a par with him. Even the Chinese said that he led his armies like a god. The manner in which he moved large bodies of men over vast distances without an apparent effort, the judgment he showed in the conduct of several wars in countries far apart from each other, his strategy in unknown regions, always on the alert, yet never allowing hesitation or overcaution to interfere with his enterprise, the sieges which he brought to a successful termination, his brilliant victories, a succession of "suns of Austerlitz," all combined make up the picture of a career to which Europe can offer nothing that will surpass, if indeed she has anything to bear comparison with it. After the lapse of centuries, and in spite of the indifference with which the great figures of Asiatic history have been treated, the name of Genghis preserves its magic spell. It is still a name to conjure with when recording the great revolutions of a period which beheld the death of the old system in China, and the advent in that country of a newer and more vigorous government which, slowly acquiring shape in the hands of Kublai and a more national form under the Mings, has attained the pinnacle of its utility and strength under the influence of the great emperors of the Manchu dynasty. But great as is the reputation Genghis has acquired it is probably short of his merits. He is remembered as a relentless and irresistible conqueror, a human scourge; but he was much more. He was one of the greatest instruments of destiny, one of the most remarkable molders of the fate of nations to be met with in the history of the world. His name still overshadows Asia with its fame, and the tribute of our admiration cannot be denied.
The death of Genghis did not seriously retard the progress of the war against the Kins. He expressed the wish that war should be carried on in a more humane and less vindictive manner, but he did not advocate there being no war or the abandonment of any of his enterprises. His son and successor Ogotai was indeed specially charged to bring the conquest of China to a speedy and victorious conclusion. The weakness of the Mongol confederacy was the delay connected with the proclamation of a new Khan and the necessity of summoning to a Grand Council all the princes and generals of the race, although it entailed the suspension and often the abandonment of great enterprises. The death of Genghis saved India but not China. Almost his last instructions were to draw up the plan for attacking and turning the great fortress of Tunkwan, which had provided such an efficient defense for Honan on the north, and in 1230, Ogotai, who had already partitioned the territory taken from the Kins into ten departments, took the field in person, giving a joint command to his brother Tuli, under whom served the experienced generals Yeliu Chutsia, Antchar, and Subutai. At first the Mongols met with no great success, and the Kins, encouraged by a momentary gleam of victory, ventured to reject the terms offered by Ogotai and to insult his envoy. The only important fighting during the years 1230-31 occurred round Fongsian, which after a long siege surrendered to Antchar, and when the campaign closed the Kins presented a bold front to the Mongols and still hoped to retain their power and dominions.