National Geographic : 1901 Jul
CHINA: HER HISTORY AND DEVELOP MENT* BY JOHN BARRETT, FORMERLY MINISTER TO SIAM DYNASTY upon dynasty, includ ing the great Sung, from 960 to 1126, followed. In this period were wars of the Chinese against the Khitans and the Kins, until finally the invincible Mongols commenced their conquest, and the way was prepared for those famous men of Chinese history, Genghis and Kublai Khan. No more interesting chapter in the history of any nation can be found than the record of the conquering armies of these Mon golian Alexanders or Caesars or Napo leons. It is doubtful if any one of these three was a greater man than Genghis or Kublai Khan. Genghis, his son Okkodai, and his grandson Kublai were natural leaders of men and possessed rare military genius. They made in vasions and conquests equal in danger and difficulties to that of Hannibal into Italy, Alexander into India, Caesar into Great Britain, and Napoleon into Egypt or Russia. Marco Polo has sung the praises of Kublai, but the records of China tell likewise of his reign. Genghis and Kublai Khan, with Confucius, Men cius, and Li Hung Chang, are the five great names of Chinese history that come readily to-our minds. The Khitan Tatars, who had harassed the Chinese and were in turn harassed by the Khin Tatars, went down with the Khins before the Mongols under the leadership of Genghis. He extended his empire from the Caspian to the China Sea. His sway embraced forty con quered kingdoms, and he was making war on the Chinese when he died-about nine hundred years ago-and ordered his valiant son Okkodai to continue his labors. Okkodai was pursuing the invasion of China with slow but sure results, for the Chinese resisted with wonderful brav ery, when he died, and was succeeded by the mighty Kublai. He was the real conqueror of China. At Yaishau he fought the greatest battle in the annals of China; 200,000 men were killed, in cluding Ti Ping, the last emperor of the Sung dynasty. It was fortunate for his torical record that Marco Polo was in Asia during the reign of Kublai; other wise the foreign world would never have appreciated the greatness of the man and his kingdom. When he passed away, in 1224, at the ripe age of 83, he was absolute autocrat of the most ex tensive empire of all time. THE MONGOL SWAY Thus in China there sat upon a throne almost in modern days an emperor who practically held all Asia and part of Europe in his grasp. No Roman, no Greek, no ancient or modern European king has ever held such sway; and yet some superficial critics class China as a land of barbarians, without history or civilization which can be compared with that of Europe or America. It is sug gestive of later events that his only signal defeat was experienced when he strove to annex Japan. Two great ex peditions against the intrepid islanders suffered disaster, and Japan remained in dependent. Kublai even favored Chris tianity. He was a good monarch, and ruled his people with kindness, but his successors were not equal to their re sponsibilities. Thus again history repeated itself. * Concluded from the June number.