Het'um the Historian's

History of the Tartars

[The Flower of Histories of the East]

[Book Three]

Chapter 16

The Land Where the Tartars First Lived

The land where the Tartars first lived is located on the far side of the great Belgean Mountain [Burqan Qaldun], mentioned in the History of Alexander. The Tartars lived in that province like brute beasts, possessing neither writing nor [religious] faith. They tended flocks of animals and moved from place to place searching for fodder for their herds. They were unskilled in arms, scorned by, and tributary to, everyone. Formerly there were many Tartar peoples, commonly known as Moghols. They so multiplied that they divided into seven main peoples who are considered the most venerable among them.

The first of the Tartar peoples is called Tartar after the district of their ancient habitation; the second, Tankut [Tangut]; the third, Kunat [Oirat]; the fourth, Ealis [Chelair]; the fifth, Sonik' [Sunit]; the sixth, Mongi [Merkit]; the seventh, Depat' [Tibet]. As we said, these seven Tartar peoples were subject to their neighbors until it happened that a certain poor old man, a ditch digger, had this vision in his sleep: he saw a soldier, entirely white, handsome, and mounted on a white horse. The rider called him by his name, saying: "Chingiz, it is the will of immortal God that you become princely overseer of the Tartars and lord over the Mongol peoples. Through you they shall be freed from servitude to their neighbors a condition they have long endured, experiencing quarrels and exploitation from nearby lords. And the tax which you give to them shall in turn be taken from them." Chingiz was filled with great joy upon hearing this message of God [g32], and he related the vision he had seen to everyone. However their leaders and grandees did not want to believe the veracity of the vision and some laughed at the old man. The following night these same leaders saw the white soldier and the same vision which old Chingiz had related to everyone. And they received the decree from immortal God to obey Chingiz and to make everyone obey his orders. Thus those seven leaders and grandees of the seven Tartar peoples gathered in an assembly and agreed to obey Chingiz as their natural lord.

Then they set up his throne amongst them, spread out on the ground a very black sheepskin, and seated Chingiz upon it. The seven great leaders raised him and placed him on the throne with great joy and clamour, and called him Khan, the first Emperor, and honored him by kneeling before him, as Emperor and lord. Now regarding this ceremony which the Tartars held [for enthroning] their first Emperor and lord, and regarding the sheepskin, let no one be surprised. Perhaps they had no other attractive fabric or did not know how to make something better.

One could be surprised by [their behavior] in modern times, for despite the fact that these very Tartars possess many kingdoms and immeasurable wealth, since the lordship and riches of Asia are in their hands, and since they rule to the very borders of Hungary, nonetheless, in no way have they sought to alter their old ways and customs. This is especially true for the chiefs who, when enthroning an Emperor of the Tartars, entirely retain that arrangement which their ancestors used [g33]. I personally was present at the enthronement of two of their Emperors. But now let us return to our earlier narration.

Chingiz-Khan, who became Emperor by the general consent and will of all the Tartars, before undertaking anything, wanted to discover whether all the Tartars would obey him loyally. Therefore he issued [three] decrees that all were to keep. The first decree was that all Tartars should believe in and obey immortal God, by Whose consent he himself had received the dignity of the kingship. The Tartars kept this first decree, for thereafter they began to call upon God, and to this day in all of their affairs, the Tartars call upon the name of the Lord. The second command [Chingiz] gave was that an overseer be set up over each group of ten men; one over 1000 men; and one over 10,000 men; and 10,000 soldiers were called a tuman. He decreed, further, that the seven leaders or generals who ruled over the seven Tartar peoples, forever renounce all degrees of honor which they had previously held, and do so for good.

Next he issued a frightful and unbelievable decree, for he ordered each of those seven Tartar generals to bring his eldest son, and to behead him with his own hand. Although the command appeared inhuman and impious, no one dared to disobey, for they knew that [Chingiz] was lord through divine providence. Therefore whatever order he gave, they fulfilled at once.

Once Chingiz-Khan had tested his people's resolve, and saw that they were ready to obey him to the point of death, he stipulated a day on which all should be ready to go to war. So the Tartars rode out against their close neighbors [g34], and subjected them. Thus those who formerly were their lords, now became their servants. Subsequently Chingiz-Khan surged forth against many other peoples and soon conquered them, for he accomplished everything with few soldiers, and he was successful in everything.

Once it came to pass that Chingiz-Khan was raiding, accompanied by only a few of his cavalry, and the foe arose before him with a multitude. During the clash, Chingiz-Khan defended himself but the horse he was riding was slain. As soon as the Tartars saw their lord fallen flat in battle, they despaired of salvation and turned to flight, saving themselves from the enemy. The latter speedily pursued the fugitives, unaware that the King was lying there on the ground. Then Chingiz-Khan sprang up and hid himself in the bushes, thereby eluding the danger of death. Those who returned to the plain from the fight began stripping the corpses and searching for people in hiding. And it happened that a bird, called an owl [or eagle] by many, came and perched on the bushes in which the Emperor was concealed. When the searchers saw that bird perched on the bushes, they reasoned that no one was there, and without looking further for the one they were seeking, left the place, saying to themselves that should someone have been concealed there, that bird would never have perched.

In the dark of night, Chingiz-Khan went to his own people, traveling by untrodden paths, out of fear of the enemy. And he narrated to them, in order and accurately, what had happened to him. Then the Tartars offered thanks to immortal God. As for that bird which seemed, after God, the liberator of Chingiz-Khan, it became so honored by them [g35] that whoever possessed a feather of it was considered fortunate. The Tartars wear that feather on their heads with great honor. I have mentioned this matter here to explain why it is that Tartars wear feathers on their heads.

Chingiz-Khan became the Emperor of all those districts on the far side of the Belgean Mountain, conquering them without problems. Matters continued this way until he saw another vision, as will be related below. Let no one be surprised that I have not placed dating in this part of the narration. Although I asked many people about such, I was unable to find anyone who could fully inform me about it. I believe that this is because the Tartars then were unfamiliar with accurate chronology, for they had no script. Thus events and their dates passed by without being recorded by anyone, and so were forgotten.

Chapter 17

Chingiz-Khan, First Emperor of the Tartars

After Chingiz-Khan had put under his sway all the kingdoms and districts near Belgean Mountain, he saw another vision one night. Once more the white warrior appeared and said to him: "Chingiz-Khan, it is the will of immortal God that you pass the Belgean Mountain and head westward, conquering kingdoms, districts and territories and placing many peoples under your domination. So that it will be believed that these words reflect the will of immortal God, arise and go with your people to Mount Belgean [g36], to the spot where the sea borders it. There you shall descend, and make nine genuflections toward the East, worshipping immortal God. Then the All-Powerful Himself will show you the road by which you may cross the mountain." When Chingis-Khan saw that vision, he arose with delight and feared nothing. Because the first vision had come true, he now had credence in other visions. Therefore he quickly assembled his people from all parts and ordered them to follow him with their women, children, and all their belongings. They went to the place by the mountain where the sea was vast and deep and no through road or pass appeared. Chingiz-Khan quickly descended from his horse as immortal God had commanded—and so did his people—genuflecting nine times toward the East and requesting the help of omnipotent, immortal God, that He show them the road and passes by which to advance. They spent that night in prayer, and in the morning arose and saw that the sea had parted from the mountain by nine feet, leaving a broad road. The Tartars, one and all, were astounded by that sight and fervently offered thanks to immortal God. They traveled along the road which they found had opened before them and directed their course to the west.

However, as is found in the histories of the Tartars, after Chingiz-Khan and the Tartars crossed that mountain, they experienced the deprivations of hunger and thirst for some days. They found the land a desert and they were unable to drink the bitter and salty waters. So it remained until they sighted a pleasant land where all the necessities were abundantly available. Chingiz-Khan remained in that fertile land for many days. However, by the providence of God [g37], he became gravely ill—so ill that recovery seemed hopeless. Thus Chingiz-Khan, Emperor of the Tartars, summoned his twelve sons before him and advised them always to be united and of one mind. And he taught them a lesson: he ordered that each of his sons bring an arrow apiece, and when they were all gathered together, he commanded the eldest to break the entire bundle if he could. He took the twelve arrows and attempted to rend them, but was unable. Then the bundle was given to the second son, then to the third, and to the rest, son by son, but none was able to do it. Then [Chingiz] ordered the youngest son to divide up the arrows individually and to break them one by one. And he easily broke all of them. Then Chingiz-Khan turned to his sons and said: "My sons, why was it that you were unable to break the arrows I gave you?" They replied: "Because, lord, they were very many all together." "But why was it that your youngest brother was able to break them?" "Because, lord, they were divided up one by one." And Chingiz-Khan said: "Thus it is among you, for as long as you are of one heart and soul, your rule will always hold firm. But when you separate from each other, your lordship will quickly be turned to naught." Chingiz-Khan gave many other very good precepts which the Tartars preserved. In their language these are called the Yasax of Chingiz-Khan, that is the Statutes of Chingiz-Khan.

Subsequently, before dying, he set up the wisest and best of his sons, named Ogedei-Khan, as lord and inheritor of the empire. Having done this, Chingiz-Khan died in peace, and his son Ogedei was placed on the throne of his father's kingdom.

Before concluding this narration, we should note [g38] the extent to which Tartars revere the number nine. This is in remembrance of the nine genuflections which the white warrior had commanded them to make to immortal God on Mount Belgean, and the road of nine feet in width over which they passed. Thus they consider that number to be lucky. Should someone want to present something to the lord of the Tartars, he must offer nine things if he wants his gift to find favor. If nine items are proffered, it is sufficient for that gift to be regarded as fortunate and good. The Tartars observe this custom to the present day.

Chapter 18

Ogedei, Second Emperor of the Tartars

Ogedei-Khan, who succeeded his father turned out to be a robust and wise man. The Tartars liked him, unanimously showing loyalty and obedience to him. Now Ogedei-Khan wondered in what manner he could conquer all of Asia. First, he wanted to assay the strength of the kings of Asia and fight with the most powerful. [For he thought that he would easily overcome the rest if he conquered the mightiest. oe31] He selected a brave captain for this [named Gebesabada (? Chormaghun), oe31] and sent 10,000 cavalry troops with him [and commanded them to enter the lands of Asia and view (oe31) the state and condition of these lands; and if they found any mighty lord whom they were unable to resist, they should turn back. What Ogedei-Khan commanded was accomplished, for the captain with his 10,000 Tartars, suddenly entered the lands of Asia. There he took cities and lands, because the inhabitants were caught unawares and were unable to make ready for battle or defend themselves. [The Tartars] killed all the men of arms, but they did no harm to the people. They took horse, harness, food and all other things that they needed and continued on until they came to the mountain of Cocas [Caucasus]. Because of this mountain, no one can pass from the interior of Asia to Greater Asia without the consent of the people of a city that King Alexander fortified on a narrow sea which borders the mountain of the Caucasus. This city was taken by the 10,000 Tartars in such manner that its inhabitants had no time to defend themselves. When they took the city and everything therein, they put all the men and women to the sword and then broke down all of the city's walls, so that when they came back again they would find no barrier against them. This city in antiquity was called Alexander, but now it is called the Iron Gate. News of the Tartar's arrival spread throughout all the countries and lands. As a result, the King of Georgia, named Ynaims [Iwane Zakarean/Mxargrdzeli] assembled his troops and came against the Tartars, fighting them in the Morgam [Mughan] plain. The battle lasted for a long while, but in the end the Georgians were forced to flee. The Tartars continued on until they came to a city in Turkey called Arseon [Erzurum] when they learned that the Sultan of Turkey was nearby and that he had assembled his host together. Therefore the Tartars did not dare advance farther, and, seeing that they could not beat the Sultan of Turkey, they returned by another route to their lord, whom they found in the city called Amelect [Amalic]. They informed him of all they had done and learned in the land of Asia. oe32]

As a result of this, Ogedei-Khan selected a certain brave and wise general, named Payton [Baiju] and entrusted him with 30,000 Tartar soldiers, termed damak or reconnaissance troops. He commanded them to go [g39] over the same road which the 10,000 had traversed, not tarrying until they reached the country of the kingdom of the Turks; and then, if possible, to try to resist the Sultan of the country of the Turks, who was reputed to be the mightiest of all the princes of Asia. But should it happen that they be unable to oppose him, they should not engage in battle, but instead make camp in some good country and notify one of his sons nearby to send them help, and then they could safely begin a battle.

When Baiju with the 30,000 soldiers reached the realm of the Turks, travelling day by day, he learned that the sultan from whom the first Tartars had fled, had already died, and that his son named Kiadati [Ghiyath al-Din Kai Khusrau], had succeeded him. When [Ghiyath al-Din] heard about the coming of the Tartars, he was horrified and summoned as many mercenary troops as he could from foreigners and from the Latins. He had in his service, among others, a group of Latins led by two commanders, one named Yohannes Liminad [Iohnn de la Limynate] from Cyprus, and the other, Vonip'akios [Boniface de Moulins] from Venice. [The Turkish Sultan] also sent to neighboring sultans promising favors and gifts to anyone who came. And thus, gathering a great multitude of warriors, he went to the place where the Tartars were encamped. However, the Tartars were in no way perturbed. Instead, they valiantly waged war at Konsedrak [Kose-Dagh]. In the end the Tartars were the victors and the Turks were defeated. In this way the Tartars captured the kingdom of the country of the Turks in the the year of our Lord 1244 [g40].

Chapter 19

Jinon-Khan [Guyuk-Khan], Third Emperor of the Tartars

After a short while Ogedei-Khan died [1241]. His kingdom was [eventually] inherited by his son, Guyuk [Khan 1246-48], who was short-lived. He was succeeded by one of his extremely powerful relations, named Mango [Mongke-Khan, 1251-59] who put numerous territories under his sway. Gaining confidence, he crossed the Cathay sea and tried to take an island [? Japan]. But while he was besieging the island, men from that place—who are extremely shrewd and clever—sent other men to secretly dive into the sea. They persisted at their task underneath the boat which Mongke was crossing in, suspected by no one, until by evening they created holes in the vessel. The ship went down to the deep, and Mongke-Khan drowned.

Now the Tartars who were with him turned back and elected Mongke's brother, Qubilai-Khan, as their lord [1262]. Qubilai-Khan ruled the Tartars for forty-two years. He converted to Christianity and built the city called Eons [Beijing] in the kingdom of Cathay, a city said to be greater than Rome. In this city Qubilai-Khan ruled as Emperor to the last day of his life [d.1294].

Let us now pause in this account of the Tartar [Great] Khans and say something about the three sons of Ogedei-Khan, and about Hulegu and his successors [g41].

Chapter 20

Ogedei's Eldest Son, Jochi

Jochi, eldest son of Ogedei-Khan, invaded westward with a great host of cavalry, which his father had given him. He found fertile, pleasant, and rich territories there, and conquered the kingdom of Turkestan and lesser Persia, extending his lordship to the Phison River. He always remained with his band, which grew in possessions and numbers. To the present the successors of Jochi hold the lordship in those parts. Two brothers now rule that province, one named Kapar [Chapar] and the other Doaks [Toqta]. Having divided between themselves the land and the retainers, they dwell in peace and comfort.

Chapter 21

Ogedei-Khan's Second Son, Baiju

Baiju, the second son of Ogedei-Khan, went with those Tartar troops given him by his father and invaded the northern regions, reaching as far as the kingdom of Komania. The Komans who had many armed men, resisted the Tartars, thinking to protect their country. But in the end they were defeated and went as fugitives as far as the kingdom of Hungary. To this day there are many Komans living there. Now after Baiju had expelled all the Komans from the kingdom of Komania, he passed to [g42] the kingdom of Russia, and subjugated that as well. And he conquered the country of the Kacar [? Khazars] and the kingdom of the Bulgars, and traversed the road over which the Komans had fled, reaching as far as the kingdom of Hungary. After this, the Tartars headed toward the kingdom of Germany until they reached a river which flows through the duchy of Austria. The Tartars planned to cross a bridge at the place, but the duke of Austria and other neighbors fortified the approaches to the bridge, preventing the Tartars from using it. Enraged by this, Baiju commanded all to cross and he himself went first into the river, subjecting his own person and his people to the danger of death. Before reaching the other shore, the horses gave out due to the breadth of the river and the strength of the current. Thus Baiju drowned, together with a huge multitude of his followers. When those who had not yet entered the water saw this, struck with dread and shame, they returned in great sorrow to the kingdom of Russia and Komania and held them, as was said. Thereafter the Tartars did not go to the country of Germany. [The heirs of Baiju hold the lordship of the realms of Khwarezmia, Komania and Russia; and the current lord is Chaghatai, third son of Ogedei-Khan. oe36] They dwell in peace and quiet.

Chapter 22

Yohaghata [Chaghatai], Third Son of Ogedei

Ogedei-Khan's third son, Chaghatai, invaded southward to lesser India with the Tartars given him by his father. He encountered many deserts, mountains, and unwatered barren lands until he was unable [g43] to proceed through those districts; for not only had he lost a multitude of men, but many animals as well. He then turned westward and after many trials reached his brother, Jochi, to whom he related the episodes of his journey. Now Jochi was sympathethic to his brother and humanely gave him part of the lands which he and his people had conquered. Thereafter those two brothers always lived together, and to this day their heirs dwell there, with the successors of the younger honoring the successors of the elder. Multiplying in their territories, they live in peace and tranquility. The current, living heir of Jochi is named Paraxi [Boraq].

Chapter 23

Mongke-Khan, Fourth Ruler of the Tartars

In A.D. 1253 when lord Het'um, King of the Armenians, observed that the Tartars had completely subjugated all the kingdoms, districts, and territories up to the realm of the Turks, he consulted with his advisors and resolved to go in person to the King of the Tartars, to more easily obtain his favor and friendship, and to try to arrange a peace treaty with him. But first he sent baron Smbat, Constable of the Armenian kingdom, his brother, to obtain a decree of safe conduct for his journey. Thus Smbat, the King's brother, went to the Tartar Khan [in Karakorum, 1247] to graciously arrange the affairs of his patron. Four years later he returned to the Armenians [1251] to relate what he had seen and heard. Then the King of the Armenians [in 1254] went in secret so that he would not be recognized in the country of the Turks which he had to traverse. And as God willed it [g44], the Tartar general who had defeated the Sultan of the Turks graciously received the Armenian King and had him conducted as far as the kingdom of [Greater] Armenia and to the Iron Gate. Thence other Tartar commanders accompanied him to Ameghek [Amelic, southeast of Lake Balkash] where Mongke, Khan of the Tatars, resided. Mongke received him honorably [and gave him great gifts and favors, oe37].

Now after some days had passed, the King of the Armenians beseeched the Khan regarding the peace treaty and other matters he desired. With the consent of the Khan, the King of the Armenians put [seven] requests before him. First, he urged the Khan to convert to Christianity and to accept baptism together with his people; second, he requested that eternal peace and friendship be established between them [between the Tartars and the Christians, oe37]; third, that it be possible to construct Christian churches in all of the Tartar countries and that the Armenians be freed from taxes and other burdens [that in all the lands that the Tartars had conquered and would conquer, the Christians—priests, clerks, and all religious persons—should be free of all taxes, oe37]; fourth, that the Holy Land and the Holy Sepulcher be wrested from the Turks [Saracens, oe37] and given to the Christians; fifth, that the Caliph in Baghdad, the head of the [Muslim] religion, be done away with [that he would command the Tartars in Turkey to help in the destruction of the city of Baghdad and the Caliph (the chief and teacher of the false faith of Mahmet), oe37]; sixth, that all the Tartars [stationed close to the realm of Armenia, oe37] come to his aid when requested; seventh, that all the districts of the land of Armenians which the Turks had conquered be returned to him. [The seventh request was that all the lands that the Saracens had taken that had belonged to the realm of Armenia and had since come into the Tartars' hands, be freely restored to him; and also that all the lands he might conquer from the Saracens he might hold in peace without any dispute from the Tartars. oe37]

When the Tartar Khan had consulted with his princes and grandees, he replied to the King of Armenia: "I accept your requests. I shall accept baptism and adopt the Christian religion and show concern that all of my subjects do likewise, without, however, any coercion. Regarding the second request, let there be eternal peace between us, an alliance covering both offensive and [g45] defensive operations. [The second request we will that perpetual peace and love be established among the Christians and the Tartars; but we will that you pledge that the Christians will hold good peace and true love toward us as we shall do toward them. oe38] Similarly we wish that all Christian churches, clergy and laity, enjoy freedom, and that no one harass the Armenians. [And we will that all Christian churches, priests, clerks and all other persons, of whatever persuasion they be, secular or religious persons, shall be free and delivered of all taxes, and also they shall be defended from all manner of hurt both of body and goods. oe38] Were it possible, we should like to revere the Holy Land in person; however, being occupied with other matters, we are sending our brother Hulegu to take it and return the Holy Land to the Christians. As for doing away with the Caliph of Baghdad, we entrust that task to Baiju, commander of the Tartars, and to his people residing in the realm of the Turks and thereabouts. The Tartars shall aid the Armenians in everything, and those lands which belonged to the Armenians should be returned to them without delay. [We shall command our brother Halcon [Hulegu] to go with you to accomplish this deed, and shall deliver the Holy Land from the Saracens and restore it to the Christians; and we shall send our command to Baiju and to the other Tartars in Turkey and to the others that are in those countries that they shall obey our brother Halcon. And he shall go to take the city of Baghdad, and destroy the Caliph as our mortal enemy. oe38] We command furthermore, as a special favor, that all fortresses and country which we capture should be given to the Armenian King for the defense of the land of Armenia. [We grant with good will that all the lands which the King of Armenia requested should be restored to him and we command our brother Halcon [Hulegu] that he yield to him all the lands that were of his lordship; and moreover we give him all the lands that he may conquer against the Saracens, and of our special favor, we give him all the castles near his land. oe38]

Chapter 24

The Baptism of Mongke-Khan

Mongke, after accepting the requests of the Armenian King with charitable munificence, had himself baptized by the chancellor of the Armenian kingdom who was a bishop. His house, and numerous other esteemed and noble men and women were baptized with him. Then he appointed troops to accompany his brother, Hulegu, in aiding the Holy Land. Now Hulegu and the King of Armenia travelled together [with a great company of troops, oe39] until they had crossed the Phison River. Hulegu conquered the entire realm [of Persia, oe39] in three [six, oe39] months' time. He went as far as the kingdom of the Assassins. These people were faithless and lived without laws, and would kill themselves on the direction of their king [g46]. [And they took all the lands and countries up to where the Assassins dwelled. These are men without any faith or belief except what their lord, called the Old Man of the Mountain, taught them; and they are so obedient to their lord that they put themselves to death at his command. oe39] They had a fortress named Dikaton [? Gird-Kuh] which was supplied with all the necessities, and extremely secure. Hulegu ordered one of his generals to besiege it with his Tartar troops [and not depart until he had taken it, oe39]. After twenty-seven years, the place was taken because of the privations caused by the siege. It was at this place [when Hulegu had begun the seige, oe39] that the King of Armenia, honored with many gifts by Hulegu, returned to his kingdom after three and a half years.

Chapter 25

How Mongke-Khan's Brother, Hulegu, Wasted Assyria and Entered the Kingdom of Persia

Hulegu, after seeing to what was necessary and proper for the preservation of the kingdom of Persia, went to a district in the land called Sotlok' [Soloch, plain of Hamadan]. There he gave himself over to recreation and rest for the entire summer. But at the coming of winter, he besieged the city of Baghdad where the head and teacher of the Muhammedan religion lived. Hulegu called up 30,000 Tartar troops who were in the country of the Turks. After assembling his people from all parts, he attacked that city and quickly took it. [When he had gathered his host, he had the city of Baghdad assailed on all sides, until they took it by force; and they put to the sword the men and women they encountered. oe39] The Caliph was arrested and led before Hulegu; and they found such astounding wealth there that it was truly a wonder to behold. The city of Baghdad was taken in the year 1258 [g47].

Chapter 26

How Hulegu Took the City of Baghdad and Did Away with the Caliph, Head of the Saracen Religion; the Death of the Caliph

Once Hulegu had done what he willed with the city of Baghdad, he commanded that the Caliph be brought before him and had all his treasures put in front of him. Hulegu asked him: "Do you realize that all the things you see were yours?" And the Caliph replied: "Yes." Then Hulegu reproached him: "How is it that with all this wealth you did not have mercenary troops and call your neighbors to preserve yourself and your country from the might of the Tartars?" The Caliph replied: "I thought that my people would be sufficient." Then Hulegu said to him: "You were called Caliph, head of all those holding the religion of Mahmet, yet you choked on your wealth. Now such a great leader should be fed on no other food. This huge amount of wealth is the food which you so loved and kept with insatiable greed." Having said this, Hulegu ordered that the Caliph be placed in a room and that pearls and gold be set before him, so that he eat of them as much as he pleased. He decreed that no other food or drink be given to him. Thus did that wretched, greedy, covetous man dismally end his life. Thereafter no caliph resided in Baghdad [g48].

Chapter 27

Regarding the Persecution of Saracens

After conquering Baghdad and the surrounding areas, Hulegu divided the districts among his generals and administrators as he saw fit. He decreed that kindness be shown to Christians everywhere and that the maintenance of fortresses and cities be entrusted to them, while the Saracens were thrown into the meanest servitude.

The wife of Hulegu, named Dukos saron [Dokuz khatun], was a Christian descended from the line of those kings who had come from the East, guided by the Star, to be present at the birth of the Lord. This woman, an extremely devout Christian, [caused all the Christian churches there to be rebuilt, oe40] and all the Saracen mosques demolished. All their religious celebrations in honor of the head of the faith [Muhammad] were prevented, and thus were the Saracens put into servitude from which the did not emerge for some time thereafter.

Chapter 28

How Hulegu Conquered the City of Antioch

Then Hulegu relaxed for a year in the city of Edessa. He sent to the King of Armenia for him to come to him with his troops, for he planned to go to the Holy Land to deliver it to the Christians. King Het'um set out with 12,000 cavalry and 40,000 infantry and went to Hulegu. [For in this period, the realm of Armenia was prospering, so that [Het'um] had xii thousand horsemen and xii thousand infantry; and I saw that in my day. oe40] Het'um said to [Hulegu]: "Your Excellency, the Sultan of Aleppo holds sway over the entire country of Syria and the city of [g49] Jerusalem is located in that kingdom. Therefore, if you capture the main city of Aleppo first, you will be lord of the entire country of Syria." Hulegu accepted the advice and ordered that Aleppo be besieged. The city was very strong, fortified with walls, heavily populated and wealthy. Hulegu courageously attacked it, making use of underground passages, with machinery called mules, with bowmen, catapults, and various other sorts of weapons. Despite the fact that the city seemed impregnable, he took it in nine days, discovering an unbelievable amount of treasure there. In the center of the city was a fortress which he took with rock-hurling devices, after twelve [eleven, oe41] days. [So Aleppo was taken and after that, the entire realm of Syria in the year 1260. oe41].

Chapter 29

The Taking of Damascus and the Holy Land as Far as the Egyptian Desert

After this, Hulegu took the city of Damascus together with the sons and wife of the Sultan of Aleppo. The latter went to Hulegu seeking their return and also mercy, but his hopes were frustrated. For Hulegu sent him with his wife and children to the kingdom of Persia, so that Syria would remain tranquil. Hulegu gave to the King of Armenia a large part of the booty and numerous fortresses close to his kingdom. The Armenian King had these fortified as he chose.

Subsequently, Hulegu sent presents to [sent for, oe41] the duke of Antioch [Bohemond VI] who was a relative of the King of Armenia [son-in-law of the King of Armenia, oe41], and ordered that all the districts [g50] of his kingdom which the Saracens had held be returned to him. He also bestowed many other favors on him. Having put these affairs in order, he immediately wanted to go against Jerusalem to return it to the Christians. But just then, bad tidings from a reliable source reached him regarding the death of his brother and the fact that the throne of the Tartar Khanate was vacant [and that the lords wanted to make him Emperor, oe42]. As soon as he heard this [news about his brother's death, oe42], [Hulegu] fell into deep sorrow and advanced no farther. Instead, he made his way east, leaving his son [named Abagha, oe41] in Tabriz. He appointed a general named Kit-Bugha [and gave him 10,00 troops, oe41] to hold the kingdom of the country of Syria, to take Jerusalem, and return it to the Christians.

Chapter 30

Qubilai-Khan, Fifth Ruler of the Tartars

When Hulegu reached the land of Persia, he received news that the nobility and grandees had already seated his brother Qubilai on the throne of the Tartar Khanate. [Once Hulegu heard this he went no farther, but returned again to Tabriz where he had left his son, household, and servants. oe42]. While in Tabriz he learned that Partat [Berke] was coming with great preparation into his lands. Hulegu immediately assembled the entire multitude of his people and went against his adversaries on a certain frozen river. There a ferocious battle took place. But from the weight of the multitude of soldiers and horses, the ice gave way and 30,000 Tartars drowned from both sides. The remaining two armies turned back greatly saddened over their losses.

Meanwhile Kit-Bugha, whom Hulegu had left in Syria and Palestine, conducted the affairs of those regions peacefully and greatly loved the Christians [g51]. For he, too, was a descendant of those three kings who had come to adore the nativity of the Lord. Kit-Bugha was interested in returning the Holy Land to the Christians but the devil fomented discord between him and the Christians of those parts. For in the country of Tepel Fordis [Belfort] in the lordship of the Sidonites were numerous villages and districts where the Saracens lived and provided the Tartars with set taxes. It happened that some men from Sidon and Belfort gathered together, went to the Saracens' villages and fields, looted them, killed many Saracens and took others into captivity together with a great deal of livestock. A certain nephew of Kit-Bugha who resided there, taking along but few cavalry, pursued the Christians who had done these things to tell them on his uncle's behalf to leave the booty. But some of the Christians attacked and killed him and some other Tartars. When Kit-Bugha learned of this, he immediately took the city of the Sidon and destroyed most of the walls [and killed as many Christians as he found. But the people of Sidon fled to an island, and only a few were slain. oe43]. Thereafter the Tartars no longer trusted the Christians, nor the Christians the Tartars. But later the Tartars were expelled from the country of Syria, as I shall relate below.

Chapter 31

The Death of Hulegu and How the Sultan Took Back the Land of Syria and Egypt

While Hulegu was battling with Berke, as was described above, the Sultan of Egypt [Kutuz] with his assembled troops arose from [g52] Egypt and went to Henialek [Haymelot, Ain Jalut] in Palestine and began warring with the Tartar general Kit-Bugha [A.D. 1260]. Kit-Bugha was slain there while those Tartars who narrowly escaped made their way to [Cilician] Armenia. Thereafter the country of Syria once again fell under the domination of the Saracens, excluding a few cities on the coast which the Christians held. Learning about this, Hulegu assembled his troops and sent to the King of Armenia, the King of Georgia, and other eastern Christians [in Syria, oe43] that they come in readiness to battle the Sultan of Egypt. When he himself had assembled his soldiers, he fell ill and died after fifteen days. This was a great loss, since the Holy Land would not be captured again. His son, Abagha, succeeded him, and at his request his uncle, Qubilai-Khan, confirmed him in his father's lordship in the year 1264.


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