Volume 1, Chapter 7 -- Sketch of the Revolutions in Tartary.

Our limits do not admit of any detailed account of the history of those numerous and warlike pastoral nations, which in all ages have occupied the vast bounds of that region, which has been usually denominated Scythia by the ancients, and Tartary by the moderns: yet it seems necessary to give in this place, a comprehensive sketch of the revolutions which have so strikingly characterized that storehouse of devastating conquerors, to elucidate the various travels into Tartary which are contained in this first book of our work; and in this division of our plan, we have been chiefly guided by the masterly delineations on the same subject, of the eloquent historian of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.[1]

In their navigation of the Euxine, and by planting colonies on its coasts, the Greeks became acquainted with Western Scythia, extending from the Danube, along the northern frontiers of Thrace, to mount Caucasus. The great extent of the ancient Persian Empire, which reached at one period from the Danube to the Indus, exposed its whole northern frontier to the Scythian nations, as far to the east as the mountains of Imaus or Caf, now called the Belur-tag. The still more eastern parts of Scythia or Tartary were known of old to the Chinese, and stretch to the utmost north-eastern bounds of Asia. Thus from the Danube and Carpathian mountains, in long. 26°. E, to the promontory of Tschuts-koi-nos, or the East Cape of Asia, in long. 190°. E. this vast region extends in length 160 degrees of longitude, or not less than 8000 miles. Its southern boundaries are more difficultly ascertainable: but, except where they are pressed northwards by the anciently civilized empire of China, these may be assumed at a medium on the thirty-fifth degree of north latitude; from, whence Scythia or Tartary extends in breadth to the extremity of the frozen north.

Next to the nomadic nations of Western Scythia, who encountered and baffled the arms of Darius, King of Persia, under the general name of Scythians, who were perhaps congeneric, or the same with those afterwards known by the name of Goths, the dreaded name of the Huns became known to the declining Roman Empire. But our object does not require us to attempt to trace the history of these nations, under their various appellations of Huns, Topa, Geougen, Turks, Chozars, and others, till the establishment of the vast empire of Zingis connected the history and devastating conquests of the Tartars with the affairs of modern Europe.[2]

In the beginning of the thirteenth century, Temugin, the son of a Mogul chief, laid the foundations of a vast empire in the north east of Tartary or Mongolia. His father had reigned over thirteen hordes or tribes of the Moguls, Moals, or Monguls: and as it was not customary for these warlike tribes to submit to be ruled over by a boy. Temugen, who at the death of his father was only thirteen years of age, had to contend with his revolted subjects, and had to obey a conqueror of his own nation. In a new attempt to recover the command over the subjects of his, father, he was more successful: and under the new appellation of Zingis, which signifies most great, he became the conqueror of an empire of prodigious extent. In person, or by means of his lieutenants, he successfully reduced the nations, tribes, or hordes of Tartary or Scythia, from China to the Volga, and established his undisputed authority over the whole pastoral world. He afterwards subjugated the five northern provinces of China, which were long imperfectly known under the name of Kathay; and successively reduced Carisme or Transoxiana, now great Bucharia, Chorassan, and Persia: and he died in 1227, after having exhorted and instructed his sons to persevere in the career of conquest, and more particularly to complete the conquest of China.

The vast empire established by Zingis, was apportioned among his four principal sons, Toushi, Zagatai, Octai, and Tuli, who had been respectively his great huntsman, chief judge, prime minister, and grand general. Firmly united among themselves, and faithful to their own and the public interest, three of these brothers, and their families and descendants, were satisfied with subordinate command; and Octai, by general consent of the maols, or nobles, was proclaimed Khan, or emperor of the Moguls and Tartars. Octai was succeeded by his son Gayuk; after whose death, the empire devolved successively on his cousins Mangou or Mangu, and Cublai, the sons of Tuli, and the grandsons of Zingis. During the sixty-eight years of the reigns of these four successors of Zingis, the Moguls subdued almost all Asia, and a considerable portion of Europe. The great Khan at first established his royal court at Kara-kum in the desert, and followed the Tarter custom of moving about with the golden horde, attended by numerous flocks and herds, according to the changes of the season: but Mangu-Khan, and Cublai-Khan, established their principal seat of empire in the new city of Pe-king, or Khan-balu, and perfected the conquest of China, reducing Corea, Tonkin, Cochin-china, Pegu, Bengal, and Thibet, to different degrees of subjection, or tribute, under the direct influence of the great Khan, and his peculiar lieutenants.

The conquest of Persia was completed by Holagu, the son of Tuli and grandson of Zingis, who of course was' brother to the two successive emperors, Mangu and Cublai. From Persia, the Moguls spread their ravages and conquests over Syria, Armenia, and Anatolia, or what is now called Turkey in Asia; but Arabia was protected by its burning deserts, and Egypt was successfully defended by the arms of the Mamalukes, who even repelled the Moguls from Syria.

Batu, another son of Tuli, conquered Turkestan and Kipzak,[3] Astracan and Cazan, and reduced Georgia and Circassia to dependence. Advancing from the Black Sea to Livonia on the Baltic, Moscow and Kiow were reduced to ashes, and Russia submitted to pay tribute. Their victorious arms penetrated into Poland, in which they destroyed the cities of Lublin and Cracow; and they even defeated the confederate army of the dukes of Silesia, the Polish palatines, and the great master of the Teutonic knights, at Lignitz, the most western extremity of their destructive march. From Lignitz they turned aside into Hungary, and reduced the whole of that country to the north of the Danube. During the winter, they crossed the Danube on the ice. Gran, the capital of Hungary, was taken by storm, and Bela, the unfortunate king of Hungary, had to take shelter in one of the islands at the head of the Adriatic. So terrible was the alarm in Europe, that the inhabitants of Sweden and the north of Germany neglected, in 1238, to send their ships, as usual, to the herring-fishery on the coast of England; and, as observed by Gibbon, it is whimsical enough to learn, that the price of herrings in the English market was lowered in consequence of the orders of a barbarous Mogul khan, who resided on the borders of China.[4] The tide of ruin was stemmed at Newstadt in Austria, by the bravery of fifty knights and twenty cross-bow-men; and the Tartars, awed by the fame of the valour and arms of the Franks, or inhabitants of western Europe, raised the siege on the approach of a German army, commanded by the emperor Frederic the Second. After laying waste the kingdoms of Servia, Bosnia, and Bulgaria, the adventurous Batu slowly retreated from the Danube to the Volga, and established his seat of command in the city and palace of Serai, both of which he had caused to be built upon the eastern arm of that noble river. Another of the sons of Tuli, Shaibani-khan, led a horde of 15,000 Tartar families into the wilds of Siberia; and his descendants reigned above three centuries at Tobolsk, in that secluded region, and even reduced the miserable Samoyedes in the neighbourhood of the polar circle.

Such was the establishment and extent of the first Tartar or Mogul empire. The descendants of Cublai gave themselves up to luxury in the palace of Peking, amidst a mischievous crowd of eunuchs, concubines, and astrologers, and their Mogul army, dissolved and dispersed in a vast and populous country, forgot the discipline and bravery of their ancestors. The secondary Mogul sovereigns of the west, assumed entire independence; and the great khan was satisfied with the empire of China and eastern Mongalia. In 1367, one hundred and forty years after the death of Zingis, roused to rebellion by a dreadful famine, in which thirteen millions of the inhabitants of China perished, the native Chinese expelled their degenerate Mogul oppressors, and the great khan became a wanderer in the desert. The vast empire established by Zingis and his immediate successors was now broken down into four vast fragments, each a powerful empire, Mongalia, Kipzak, Zagtai or Transoxiana, and Persia; and these four khans often contended with each other. On their ruins in lesser Asia, arose the formidable, more permanent, and still subsisting empire of the Ottoman Turks, whose youthful energies threatened the subversion of the last remains of the Greek empire, which they at last effected, and might perhaps have conquered the whole of Western Europe, if their progress had not been arrested by the power of a new Mogul dynasty.

In the distribution of the vast empire of Zingis, we have already seen that Zagathai, one of his sons, received the subordinate rule of Transoxiana, or the rich country on the rivers Jihon or Amu, and the Sir or Sihon, the Oxus and Jaxartes of the ancients. This extensive and fertile country, now called Western Turkestan, Great Bucharia, Kharism, Chorassan, and Balk, with some other smaller territories, is bounded on the west by the Caspian, on the east by the Belur-tag or Imaus, on the north by the deserts of western Tartary, and on the south by the mountains of the Hindoo-koh, and the desert of Margiana. The descendants of Zagatai were long considered as the khans or sovereigns of this fair empire, which fell into civil war and anarchy, through the divisions and subdivisions of the hordes, the uncertain laws of succession, and the ambition of the ministers of state, who reduced their degenerate masters to mere state puppets, and elevated or deposed successive khans at their pleasure; and the divided and distracted country was subjected or oppressed by the invasions of the khans of Kashgar, who ruled over the Calmucks or Getes in eastern Turkestan, or little Bucharia, on the cast of Imaus or the Belur-tag.

In this state of misery and depression, a new hero arose, in 1361, to vindicate and re-establish the fame and empire of the Moguls.[5] Timour, usually called Tamerlane, was the son of the hereditary chief of Cash, a small but fruitful territory about forty miles to the south of Samarcand. He was the fifth in descent from Carashar-Nevian, who had been vizir or prime minister to Zagathai, of which sovereign Timour was descended in the female line. After various fortunes, he in 1370, rendered himself absolute sovereign of Transoxiana, then called Zagatai, after its first Mogul ruler; but for some time, he affected to govern as prime minister, or general, to a nominal khan of the house of Zingis, who served as a private officer at the head of his family horde in the army of his servant. After establishing his authority in Zagatai, and conquering Kharism, and Candahar, he turned his arms against Persia or Iran, which had fallen into disorganization by the extinction of the descendants of the great Holacou, and which country he reduced under subjection. He successively reduced Cashgar, or eastern Turkestan, and Kipzak or western Tartary, and invaded Syria and Anatolia. In this invasion, in 1402, was fought the great battle of Angora, in which Bajazet, the great sultan of the Turks, was defeated and taken prisoner. By this great victory, the progress of the Turkish arms was checked for a time, and perhaps Europe was saved on that day from being subjected to the law of Mahomet. Yet the vast empire which Timour established, fell into fragments after his death, in 1405, and his descendants have sunk into oblivion; while the race of Othman and Bajazet still rule over a large empire in Europe and Asia, nearly commensurate with the eastern Roman empire, still called Rumi in the east.

Having thus traced an outline of the revolutions of empire in Tartary, down to what may be considered as modern history, it is only necessary farther to mention, that all eastern Tartary and Mongalia is now subject to China, and Kipzac and all the northern to Russia. Hardly any part of it now remains independent, except Zagatai; or Transoxiana, Kharism, Candabar, and the deserts of Western Tartary: the former of which is subject to the Usbeks, and the latter to the Kirguses.

[1] Gibbon, Dec. and Fall, IV. 355.
[2] Decl. and Fall, XI. 402.
[3] Dashte Kipzak, or the plain of Kipzak, extended on both sides of the Volga, towards the Jaik or Ural, and the Borysthenes or Dnieper, and is supposed to have given name to the Cosacs.--Gibb.
[4] As reported by Gibbon, from Matthew Paris, p. 396, forty or fifty herrings were sold for a shilling. This must be an error, perhaps for 40 or 50 thousand; as a shilling of these days was worth at least from fifteen to twenty modern shillings in effective value, and within memory herrings have often sold, in a very plentiful fishery, for a shilling the cart-load, when salt could not be had in sufficient quantity.--E.
[5] Decl. and Fall. XII. I.


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