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CHAPTER XXII.

THE TARTAR DOMINATION.

The Conquest-Genghis Khan and his People-Creation and Rapid Disintegration of the Mongol Empire-The Golden Horde-The Real Character of the Tartar Domination-Religious Toleration-Tartar System of Government -Grand Princes-The Princes of Moscow-Influence of the Tartar Domination-Practical Importance of the Subject.

THE Tartar invasion, with its direct and indirect consequences, is a subject which has far more than a mere antiquarian interest. To the influence of the Mongols are commonly attributed many peculiarities in the actual condition and national character of the Russians of the present day, and some writers would even have us believe that the men whom we call. Russians are simply Tartars half disguised by a thin varnish of European civilisation. Under these circumstances it may be well to inquire what the Tartar domination really was, and how far it affected the historical development and national character of the Russian people. If I cannot throw on the subject all the light that could be desired, I may at least do something towards dispelling certain current fallacies which too often gain credence.

The story of the conquest may be briefly told. In 1224 the chieftains of the Poloftsi-one of those pastoral tribes which roamed on the Steppe and habitually carried on a predatory warfare with the

Russians of the south-sent deputies to Mistislaf the Brave, Prince of Gallicia, to inform him that their country had been invaded from the south-east by strong, cruel enemies called Tartars*-strange-looking men with brown faces, eyes small and wide apart, thick lips, broad shoulders, and black hair. "To-day," said the deputies, "they have seized our country, and to-morrow they will seize yours if you do not help us."

Mistislaf had probably no objection to the Poloftsi being annihilated by some tribe stronger and fiercer than themselves, for they gave him a great deal of trouble by their frequent raids; but he perceived the force of the argument about his own turn coming next, and thought it wise to assist his usually hostile neighbours. For the purpose of warding off the danger he called together the neighbouring Princes, and urged them to join him in an expedition against the new enemy. The expedition was undertaken,

and ended in disaster. On the Kalka, a small river falling into the Sea of Azof, the Russian army met the invaders, and was completely routed. The country was thereby opened to the victors, but they did not follow up their advantage. After advancing for some distance they suddenly wheeled round and disappeared.

Thus ended unexpectedly the first visit of these unwelcome strangers. Thirteen years afterwards they

The word is properly "Tatar," and the Russians write and pronounce it in this way, but I have preferred to retain the less correct and better known mode of writing it.

returned, and were not so easily got rid of. An enormous horde crossed the River Ural, and advanced into the heart of the country, pillaging, burning, devastating, and murdering. Nowhere did they meet with serious resistance. The Princes made no attempt to combine against the common enemy. Nearly all the principal towns were laid in ashes, and the inhabitants were killed or carried off as slaves. Having conquered Russia, they advanced Westward, and threw all Europe into alarm. The panic reached even England, and interrupted, it is said, for a time the herring fishing on the coast. Western Europe, however, escaped their ravages. After visiting Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, Servia, and Dalmatia, they retreated to the Lower Volga, and the Russian Princes were summoned thither to do homage to the victorious Khan.

At first the Russians had only very vague notions as to who this terrible enemy was. The old chronicler remarks briefly:-"For our sins unknown peoples have appeared. No one knows who they are or whence they have come, or to what race and faith they belong. They are commonly called Tartars, but some call them Tauermen, and others Petchenegs. Who they really are is known only to God, and perhaps to wise men deeply read in books." Some of these "wise men deeply read in books supposed them to be the idolatrous Moabites who had in Old Testament times harassed God's chosen people, whilst others thought that they must be the descendants of the men whom Gideon had driven out, of whom a revered saint had prophesied that they would come in

the latter days and conquer the whole earth, from the East even unto the Euphrates, and from the Tigris even unto the Black Sea.

We are now happily in a position to dispense with such vague ethnographical speculations. From the accounts of several European travellers who visited Tartary about that time, and from the writings of various Oriental historians, we know a great deal about these barbarians who conquered Russia and frightened the Western nations.

The germ of the vast Horde which swept over Asia and advanced into the centre of Europe was a small pastoral tribe living in the hilly country to the north of China, near the sources of the Amoor. This tribe was neither more warlike nor more formidable than its neighbours till near the close of the twelfth century, when there appeared in it a man who is described as "a mighty hunter before the Lord." Of him and his people we have a brief description by a Chinese author of the time:"A man of gigantic stature, with broad forehead and long beard, and remarkable for his bravery. As to his people, their faces are broad, flat, and fourcornered, with prominent cheek-bones; their eyes have no upper eyelashes; they have very little hair in their beards and moustaches; their exterior is very repulsive." This man of gigantic stature was no other than Genghis Khan. He began by subduing and incorporating into his army the surrounding tribes, conquered with their assistance a great part of Northern China, and then, leaving one of his generals to complete the conquest of

the Celestial Empire, he led his army westward with the ambitious design of conquering the whole world. "As there is but one God in heaven," he was wont to say, "so there should be but one ruler on earth; " and this one universal ruler he himself aspired to be.

A European army necessarily diminishes in force and its existence becomes more and more imperilled as it advances from its base of operations into a foreign and hostile country. Not so a Horde like that of Genghis Khan in a country such as that which it had to traverse. It had and needed no base of operations, for it took with it its flocks, its tents, and all its worldly goods. Properly speaking, it was not an army at all, but rather a people in movement. The grassy steppes fed the flocks, and the flocks fed the warriors; and with such a simple commissariat system there was no necessity for keeping up communications with the point of departure. Instead of diminishing in numbers, the Horde constantly increased as it moved forwards. The nomadic tribes which it encountered on its way, composed of men who found a home wherever they found pasture and drinking-water, required little persuasion to make them join the onward movement. By means of this terrible instrument of conquest Genghis succeeded in creating a colossal Empire, stretching from the Carpathians to the eastern shores of Asia, and from the Arctic Ocean to the Himalayas. he did not realise his dream of becoming the ruler of the whole earth, he could at least boast that never in the history of the world had a single man ruled over such vast possessions.

If

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