CHAPTER VI. KUBLAI AND THE MONGOL DYNASTY
After Tou Timour's death the imperial title passed to Tohan Timour, who is best known by his Chinese title of Chunti. He found a champion in Bayan, a descendant of the general of that name, who successfully defended the palace against the attack of a band of conspirators. In 1337 the first distinct rebellion on the part of the Chinese took place in the neighborhood of Canton, and an order for the disarmament of the Chinese population aggravated the situation because it could not be effectually carried out. Bayan, after his defense of the palace, became the most powerful personage in the state, and to his arrogance was largely due the aggravation of the Mongol difficulties and the imbittering of Chinese opinion. He murdered an empress, tyrannized over the Chinese, and outshone the emperor in his apparel and equipages, as if he were a Wolsey or a Buckingham. For the last offense Chunti could not forgive him, and Bayan was deposed and disgraced. While these dissensions were in progress at Pekin the Chinese were growing more daring and confident in their efforts to liberate themselves from the foreign yoke. They had adopted red bonnets as the mark of their patriotic league, and on the sea the piratical confederacy of Fangkue Chin vanquished and destroyed such navy as the Mongols ever possessed. But in open and regular fighting on land the supremacy of the Mongols was still incontestable, and a minister, named Toto, restored the sinking fortunes of Chunti until he fell the victim of a court intrigue - being poisoned by a rival named Hamar. With Toto disappeared the last possible champion of the Mongols, and the only thing needed to insure their overthrow was the advent of a capable leader who could give coherence to the national cause, and such a leader was not long in making his appearance.
The deliverer of the Chinese from the Mongols was an individual named Choo Yuen Chang, who, being left an orphan, entered a monastery as the easiest way of gaining a livelihood. In the year 1345, when Chunti had been on the throne twelve years, Choo quitted his retreat and joined one of the bands of Chinese who had thrown off the authority of the Mongols. His physique and fine presence soon gained for him a place of authority, and when the chief of the band died he was chosen unanimously as his successor. He at once showed himself superior to the other popular leaders by his humanity, and by his wise efforts to convince the Chinese people that he had only their interests at heart. Other Chinese so-called patriots thought mainly of plunder, and they were not less terrible to peaceful citizens than the most exacting Mongol commander or governor. But Choo strictly forbade plundering, and any of his band caught robbing or ill-using the people met with prompt and summary punishment. By this conduct he gained the confidence of the Chinese, and his standard among all the national leaders became the most popular and attracted the largest number of recruits. In 1356 he captured the city of Nankin, which thereupon became the base of his operations, as it was subsequently the capital of his dynasty. He then issued a proclamation declaring that his sole object was to expel the foreigners and to restore the national form of government. In this document he said, "It is the birthright of the Chinese to govern foreign peoples and not of these latter to rule in China. It used to be said that the Yuen or Mongols, who came from the regions of the north, conquered our empire not so much by their courage and skill as by the aid of Heaven. And now it is sufficiently plain that Heaven itself wishes to deprive them of that empire, as some punishment for their crimes, and for not having acted according to the teaching of their forefathers. The time has now come to drive these foreigners out of China." While the Mongols were assailed in every province of the empire by insurgents, Choo headed what was the only organized movement for their expulsion, and his alliance with the pirate, Fangkue Chin, added the command of the sea to the control he had himself acquired over some of the wealthiest and most populous provinces of Central China. The disunion among the Mongols contributed to their overthrow as much as the valor of the Chinese. The Emperor Chunti had quite given himself up to pleasure, and his debaucheries were the scandal of the day. The two principal generals, Chahan Timour and Polo Timour, hated each other, and refused to co-operate. Another general, Alouhiya, raised the standard of revolt in Mongolia, and, while he declared that his object was to regenerate his race, he, undoubtedly, aggravated the embarrassment of Chunti.