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Searches for an Imaginary Kingdom

The trefoil of the Mouse-Hole

Lev Gumilev


11. Jamuqa-sechen under Investigation

Why Is This Important?

We have just established three important and regrettable propositions: (1) Chinggiskhan's victory over his competitors in the territory of the Great Steppe is inexplicable if we take account solely of the undoubted facts, and worse than that, given the particular arrangement of forces could not have been realised. Yet it did take place, so we have missed something; (2) both historical versions, the secret and the official, give distorted accounts of the course of events, are full of silences and contradictions, extremely tendentious and do not complement one another; (3) Mongol society was not primitive and amorphous, but the contradictions between it and the Nestorian khanates were mitigated only by political necessity. The demand for compromise with subjugated neighbours arose only after the Steppe, where Nestorians formed the majority of the population, had been united. But until 1206 the Mongols and Christians had fought one another, and the balance of numbers had been on the side of the latter. So why and how did they lose?

Here we have to turn to a most painstaking analysis, to an investigation of the psychology of the main participants in the early thirteenth-century tragedy. Special approaches are needed here and the methods of Sherlock Holmes, Father Brown and even Agatha Christie. Here we shall pose the problems: how did a particular crime take place, who committed it and who benefited from it? In other words, we shall try to squeeze out a grain of truth from the false sources. It is also good that we have a key in our hands to all locks to all doors. This is one of the participants in the events, the Jajirat prince Jamuqa-sechen, Chinggiskhan's best friend and main enemy. The turning point, after which historical Mongolia arose like a phoenix from the ashes, is reflected in their mutual relationship as in the heart of a crystal.

{245} Two ways are possible to investigate this question a completely trite one, and a not very trite one. The first would consist of the author writing out all mentions of Jamuqa in the sources, putting the notes in chronological order and drawing the conclusion that the problem is complex and for the time being insoluble. This way would be a very good one for a thesis. The second way is to follow the facts of (not the questions about) Jamuqa's life and attempt to sort out the motives for his conduct. This way we can exclude the bias of the two basic sources, the Collection of Chronicles and the Secret History, of which the first treats the whole canvas of events as Chinggiskhan's struggle with his enemies, and the second as his relations with his friends Accordingly, with Rashid ad-Din Jamuqa is merely an unprincipled adventurer, and it is incomprehensible how he had such popularity that 75% of Mongols supported him against Chinggiskhan, while in the Secret History the author in general cannot and does not want to tie up the ends. This is where the weak spot is found which affords the chance for historical criticism to be brought into play It is on this we shall concentrate our attention.

At the Site of Bayidaraq-Belchir

Above we noted Jamuqa's inexplicable conduct in the first clashes with Chinggiskhan his departure after the victory at Dalan-baljut and the plundering of the people who had chosen Jamuqa as a khan after the defeat of the anti-Chinggis coalition at Koyiten. Now let us turn our attention to the part Jamuqa played in the Mongol-Naiman war of 1202. Let us recall that after the first success of the Mongol and Kerait raid on the Naiman Buyiruq-qan, the allies were caught by the main Naiman army of Kokse'u-sabraq Ong-qan left Temujin in danger, but was defeated by the Naiman who pursued him and was rescued from his trouble by Temujin's magnanimity for which he adopted him as a son Moreover, Jamuqa, his recent enemy, is for some reason at the Kerait headquarters and gives Ong-qan advice which he accepts despite the opposition of his grandees, for example, Gunn-ba'atur who accuses Jamuqa of insincerity. As a result, instead of the friendship between the related and allied tribes of Mongols and Kerait being strengthened, war for some reason suddenly broke out and ended in the complete defeat of the Kerait, {246} despite the fact that they had preponderant numbers and the initiative.

The account of these events in Rashid ad-Din and the author of the Secret History diverges quite sharply in places, [+32] but as regards what took place at the site of Bayidaraq-belchir it coincides down to the details. Not only the sequence of events, but even the participants` words are given similarly. This cannot be a chance coincidence, so it puts us on our guard. After all, the aims and attitudes of both authors were opposed, as we have seen above, but here both authors found something important for each of them. If we take into account that a feature of the author of the Secret History is his desire to engage in psychological explanation, while Rashid ad-Din has a tendency to superficial explanation - but it is explanation - then it becomes clear: first, that this story has a double meaning, an internal and a superficial one; and, second, that we can even penetrate to the deep meaning, for there would have been no need for the author of the Secret History to insert this story had its deep meaning not become clear, though not at once, but in the course of the further narration.

As for Rashid ad-Din, he inserted this history only to strengthen his assertion of Jamuqa's inclination "to hypocrisy and ill-intentions". This becomes particularly clear when he conveys the words of Gurin-ba'atur, Ong-qan's senior noyan. Rashid ad-Din specially concentrates attention on Gurin-ba'atur, because for him he is the main person of the event described: Ong-qan's noyan accuses Jamuqa of slander and hypocrisy. Rashid ad-Din is much less interested in all the rest. That is why we have almost identical texts.

We learn that Chinggis and Ong-qan had a battle with the Naiman, that it was not completed and the opponents spent the night opposite one another intending to take up arms again the next {247} day. We further learn that suddenly during the night Ong-qan and all the Kerait left Chinggis for some reason. Then, Ong-qan caught up with Jamuqa; a conversation took place between them. After this we are told of Chinggis's reaction to Ong-qan's departure and the rout of the Kerait by the Naiman.

All is by no means without cause. The chief point is why did Ong-qan leave? Why did Ong-qan desert Chinggis, since he was linked with him by bonds of friendship? It is clear that a quarrel took place that evening between Ong-qan and Chinggis. It was because of this that Ong-qan left, but he did not consider this a final break (Gurin-ba'atur regarded this quarrel the same way). Ong-qan, after being routed by the Naiman who had pursued him, turned to Chinggis for help, the man whom, at first glance, he had so suddenly and treacherously left (unless we paid attention to the exceeding suddenness of what happened). Had this been treachery, cowardice, would he have been able to count on Chinggis's help? And would the latter have helped him? But Chinggis sent a force to help Ong-qan. That means he had a right to ask. It means he had the last word in the evening's quarrel. He then said "No" and left. His request for help was his "Yes"!

In fact, let us turn our attention to what followed all these events. The Secret History says about this: "... Ong-qan said: 'So, once my anda, Yisugei-ba'atur, saved my lost ulus for me, a second time my son Temujin saved my ruined ulus for me ... It is just as if I have no sons, only Senggum alone. I would make my son Temujin Senggum's elder brother!'" [+33] The significance of this step by Ong-qan is not open to doubt. The affirmation of Chinggis as Senggum's elder brother is an affirmation of the Kerait inheritance. That was the subject of the quarrel, that was why Ong-qan at first said "no"; that is the true cause of his leaving. His "yes" was compelled by pressure of circumstances, it was payment for help. His request for help was also his "yes". That is why he called Chinggis in his moment of difficulty and why Chinggis willingly responded and achieved what he aspired to. And then: "After these speeches Ong-qan went with Chinggiskhan to the Black Forest on the Tu`ula and they took their vows to one another as father and son." [+34] Ong-qan did not do this at all joyfully (but one's word is one's word), and it is not for nothing that we afterwards find in Rashid ad-Din a story that {248} Ong-qan subsequently even prepared an attempt on Chinggis's life. [+35] The Secret History continues: "Chinggiskhan, though, thought to strengthen their mutual good-will. For this he decided to ask the hand of Senggum's younger sister for Jochi ... " [+36] Chinggiskhan receives a polite refusal, and "during these negotiations Chinggiskhan privately cooled both towards Ong-qan and towards Nilqa-Senggum.


Nevertheless, I Do Not Believe the Texts, and This Is Why

It seems everything is clear, but what was Jamuqa's part in this story? It is incomprehensible, just as puzzling as his appearance in Ong-qan's and Chinggis's headquarters when he had just been fighting them, and as his disappearance from the narrative after the scene which took place during Ong-qan's departure. This puzzle is concealed in the words which Jamuqa said to Ong-qan, in Ong-qan's silence and in Gurin-ba'atur's reply. Gurin-ba'atur's reply throws light on one circumstance which assisted neither the author of the Secret History nor Rashid ad-Din to learn the true cause of Ong-qan's departure. The point was that only three people knew what had happened: Ong-qan, Chinggis and Jamuqa. All the other witnesses of the event knew far from everything and saw what took place distortedly. In fact, Gurin-ba'atur, a honest, sincere, but not too bright warrior, said (according to Rashid ad-Din): "It ill befits to make such hypocritical speeches between friends and relatives", [+37] or (according to the Secret History): "Why out of servility do you so dishonour and revile your honest brothers?" [+38] Accepting Jamuqa's words literally, satisfied with the surface meaning, Gurin-ba'atur shows, in rebutting Jamuqa, that he had no cause to seek a deep meaning. It seems to him that Jamuqa is slandering Chinggis. And, not doubting Ong-qan's attitude to his words, despite the fact that Ong-qan is for some reason silent, he sharply cuts Jamuqa short. It is clear that he does not know what took place, and if he perceives what is taking place as dissension, it is as a temporary one. {249} Therefore, in his conception Jamuqa's words are base; Jamuqa in his opinion is simply trying to use the opportunity to sow the seeds of hatred, and so his attempts have to be stopped. That is Gurin-ba'atur's logic and that of any Kerait observing the leaders" conversation from the sidelines.

We do not know, and have no right to suppose, how Ong-qan's departure was arranged. Did he leave alone, or did Chinggis move off at the same time; we do not know how they agreed or how far they observed the conditions. But suddenly it was Chinggis who violated the agreement and lingered in order to create the impression that Ong-qan had betrayed him?! Considerations of prestige are always of great significance. We do not know any of this, but we do know enough to understand the conduct of the three heroes of the tale. It was determined by two factors: a disagreement, and that none of the Mongols and Kerait knew of its true causes or even of the disagreement itself.

Why does Ong-qan himself keep silent in these very important negotiations? Why does he not object and not agree, so that his military commander answers for him? Is it not because he heard in Jamuqa's flattering and false words something more than the simple-hearted Gurin-ba'atur? And is that not why he is silent, overwhelmed by what he has heard?

What was it that Jamuqa uttered? According to Rashid ad-Din: "O khan of khans, you, of course, know my senior and junior relatives are like sparrows that make their way from the summer grazing grounds to the winter pastures; in other words, Chinggiskhan, my relative, intends to fly. I have always said that I am your sparrow." [+39] In this version Jamuqa tries to present his sworn brother as a cunning and perfidious man.

According to the Secret History: "It is a well-known matter that my anda Temujin has long exchanged emissaries with the Naiman. That is why he has not moved up with us now (!) Khan, khan! I, now, am a permanently present gull, but my anda is a migratory bird, a lark". [+40] The sense seems to be the same, but the image is different. The author of the Secret History, sympathising with Jamuqa, gave his words quite a different tone. That it was he who distorted the source and not Rashid ad-Din is seen from the sharp tone of {250} Gurin-ba'atur's reply which is more apt with Rashid ad-Din's version where the sense of the phrase conceals an allegory of flight. The specific expression "my senior and junior relatives" refers both to Ong-qan and to Chinggis who was one and a half years younger than Jamuqa. The load of this part of the phrase is light and it only puts us on our guard, prepares the question - what did Jamuqa want to say by this? But all the same it awakens our first suspicions: associations with the words "flight" and "relatives". Ong-qan might think, for example, that Jamuqa is talking of him and there and then mentally ask: "So what?'

The second part of the phrase bears the main load: "In other words, Chinggiskhan, my relative, intends to fly." In the Secret History Jamuqa indicates where - "to the Naiman" - and explains: "That is why he has not moved up with us now ... It is clear that he has deserted to the Naiman. That is why he is late!"

We do not know all the upheavals of this terrible night. The only thing clear is that all that occurred was much more complex than the scheme which the sources give. Perhaps there was only a quarrel between Ong-qan and Chinggis and there was no agreement to part. Perhaps Ong-qan decided in fact to leave Chinggis secretly. Perhaps it was not a quarrel, but Chinggis's delay which made him leave. These are all hypotheses which give no answer to the problem. But we can indicate the line along which events developed: Ong-qan's leaving the battlefield set the question of where to go before both Chinggis and Ong-qan himself. It is difficult to say what Ong-qan had in view, but it is clear that Chinggis least of all wanted his ally to find a common language with the Naiman. Consequently, he should set himself the aim of preventing such a combination, whether it entered into Ong-qan's plans or not. Here Jamuqa again appears. The very fact that after the battles at Dalan-baljut and Koyiten Jamuqa turned up in the same camp as Chinggis is surprising. We cannot yet explain it. But Jamuqa's new position is an unarguable fact, despite the fact that it by no means embellishes the Jajirat prince.

Gurin-ba'atur speaks with him as an equal and does not hesitate to display the disdain which shows through his speech and which Jamuqa somehow deserved. The supposition of a new stage in the relations between Jamuqa and Chinggis alone can throw light on a number of obscure corners in the Secret History. Jamuqa continually finds himself among Chinggis's enemies, but plays a double {251} game there. Here he plays Chinggis's hand, frightening Ong-qan from reconciliation with the Naiman. To do this it was enough to say that Chinggis himself had already come to an agreement with the enemy; this single phrase was enough for the terrified Ong-qan to turn to flight.

But why did Ong-qan believe Jamuqa and not take this talk as slander, like Gurin-ba'atur? Because he knew of his own quarrel with Chinggis which his associates did not, but which Jamuqa evidently did. Therefore, the latter's news was able to seem truthful to the Kerait khan. And how was he not to fear Chinggis's perfidy when he was trying to become his heir? But then how was Jamuqa so well informed? If not from Ong-qan, which is excluded, then only from Chinggis. It means that the enmity of these two outstanding Mongols was only a screen concealing ... but let us refrain from conclusions and analyse the further events.


Among the Kerait and Naiman

There never have been and cannot be collisions in which all gain. In our case, Ong-qan's legitimate heir, Nilqa, a quite brave and decisive man turned out to have lost. He had been used to the thought that the throne of the Kerait khanate would be granted him, but he was pushed aside, though politely, yet irrevocably. Therefore, he naturally found himself in the camp of those dissatisfied with his not too popular father and his over-insistent friend and, being a sincere man, expressed his point of view directly, declaring with regard to Jochi's match with his sister: "Well, perhaps our kinsfolk have to sit at your door and only by chance glance at the seat of honour. But your kinsfolk should sit at our seat of honour and look towards the door." [+41]

As soon as this became known a deputation came to Senggum consisting of Jamuqa, evidently having completely made his peace with the Kerait, Altan and Quchar, Mongol aristocrats who in their day had raised Temujin to Chinggiskhan, the Kara-Khitan Ebugejin-Noyakin and two heroes: To'oril of the Soge'en tribe [+42] {252} and Qachi'un-beki. [+43] They proposed to help the disgraced prince to regain his right to the throne after dealing with Chinggiskhan, but they did not advise him to go against his father at all. In fact, the khan was persuaded and gave his agreement to lure Chinggis under pretence of matchmaking and kill him. Fidelity to his friends and to his word was not a distinguishing feature of the Kerait ruler.

The composition of the deputation tells us a lot. First, its social appearance: the entire Mongol clan nobility which had, it seems, by now left Chinggiskhan. And it is important that the conspiracy only failed because two simple horseherds, Badai and Kishliq, betrayed their noble lord and informed Chinggiskhan of the intended attempt on his life. Here we have before us a moment of social disagreement; potential "people of long will" stand forth against the clan nobility which is trying to base itself on a neighbouring power. Second, the presence of representatives from the Kara-Khitan khanate shows the continuing efforts of the Uighur-Nestorians to achieve the unification of the steppe. There is no direct indication of the part played by Uighur merchants in organising the anti-Chinggis coalition, but the disposition of forces in 1203 suggests this. Muhammed, enemy of the infidel, was on the throne in Khwarizm. [+44] It is true that in 1204 he had to ask for Kara-Khitan help against the Gurids, but before this his relations with the gurkhan had been strained and this had reflected on the trade between the Far and Near East. Muslim merchants tried to seize the profitable trade with Siberia, and while the Kara-Khitan emissary was raising the Kerait against Chinggis the Muslim merchant Asan was buying up squirrel and sable pelts from the Mongols. [+45]

In itself the existence of trade tells us nothing, but the fact that the author of the Secret History recalled it in describing the most dramatic moment in Chinggiskhan's war with the Kerait shows its importance for the thirteenth-century reader. The author, after all, is no partisan of Christianity and seizes the chance to stress that at the critical moment it was Muslims, not Nestorians, who were Chinggiskhan's friends.

{253} But Jamuqa's position is the most interesting thing for us. He starts with a slander against Chinggis who had allegedly reached an agreement with the Naiman Tayang-qan. It seems no one believes this, because the causes for hating Chinggis lie on another plane. But slander is not neglected in morally preparing public opinion, even if it does no real harm to one's opponent because of its complete absurdity.

Subsequent events are still more interesting. Although Chinggis, warned of treachery, managed to move off, the hostile coalition overtook him. But the dust raised by his opponents" advance guard again told him of the Kerait attack and Chinggiskhan "seized his gelding, loaded up and rode off. A little longer and it would have been too late. It turns out, Jamuqa approached ..." [+46] What is this? Carelessness or treachery? Had Jamuqa been a consistent enemy of Chinggis, as Rashid ad-Din depicts him, [+47] he should have flung himself into the chase, but instead of this he halted to meet the main forces and began to explain to Ong-qan how strong and careful the Mongols were. Meanwhile, the Mongols had managed to make their preparations for battle. Finally, when Ong-qan proposed that Jamuqa should lead the battle, he refused and, moreover, gave Chinggiskhan the precise disposition of the Kerait force, [+48] thanks to which certain victory was snatched from Ong-qan's hands. After this the author of the Secret History as it were forgets about Jamuqa, but Rashid ad-Din fills the gap, relating that Jamuqa again engaged in a conspiracy, this time against Ong-qan. He urged several Mongol and Tatar leaders to organise a third party hostile to both Chinggis and Ong-qan. The latter damaged and plundered the grazing grounds of the conspirators, but by so doing deprived himself of his allies, part of whom returned to Chinggis and part went over to the Naiman. [+49] Among the latter was Jamuqa.

It may, and even should, seem strange that Jamuqa, constantly accusing Chinggiskhan of links with the Naiman, himself appeared on their side; but we have seen how much his actions failed to result in any benefit, so it is time to stop simply being surprised. But before we seek the explanation of such unusual behaviour by the wise {254} (sechen) Jajirat prince, let us look at how he behaved in Tayang-qan's camp. It was just the same as in Ong-qan's headquarters and before it. Jamuqa, commanding the united forces of the Mongol tribes not conquered by Chinggis, was regarded by the Naiman as a most valuable ally and Tayang-qan trusted him. Before the battle Jamuqa tried to frighten his ally by describing the strength of the Mongols, then led off his troops and sent news to Chinggiskhan that the Naiman khan was demoralised and the offensive could be started. His advice was constructive, the Naiman suffered complete defeat, and then all Jamuqa's Mongols surrendered to Chinggiskhan.

Now we can pose the question: for whose benefit did Jamuqa operate in consistently betraying Chinggiskhan's opponents, who trusted him? Or, more precisely, who was the true beneficiary from Jamuqa's advice? Only one man - Chinggiskhan! Furthermore, if there had been no Jamuqa, if no one had urged Nilqa-Senggum into a reckless, untimely conflict, scared the gawping Chinggiskhan, exposed the Naiman flank during the battle, then Chinggiskhan would hardly have succeeded in overcoming the brave and warlike nomads, including the Mongols themselves. And here only a single solution occurs: what if the sworn brothers remained friends to the end? But let us see how Chinggiskhan himself perceived the situation that had developed.


The Ruin of Jamuqa

While up to now the differences between the two versions we have investigated concerned details, in the last act of the tragedy of Jamuqa-sechen they are extremely significant. The author of the Secret History and Rashid ad-Din agree and differ on the following points. [+50]

(a) after the defeat of the Naiman Jamuqa was deprived of the support of the Mongol tribes and was left with a small detachment; but Rashid ad-Din determined the size of this detachment as 60 men, while the Secret History says 5 horsemen. In the second case this is a band;

(b) the soldiers seized Jamuqa and brought him before Chinggis, but he punished them for betraying their "natural lord". {255} According to Rashid ad-Din, however, only thirty warriors were executed and the rest were incorporated in the army;

(c) Jamuqa was executed: according to Rashid ad-Din by being dismembered like the worst enemy; according to the Secret History he himself asked to be killed "without bloodshed", despite the fact that Chinggiskhan offered him the second place in the kaganate and a renewal of friendship.

Thus, not only the account of what happened, but also its interpretation and the description of Chinggiskhan's chief rival are so varied that we are entitled to pose the question: who are we to believe?

Most probably both versions are inexact, like any tendentious source of information. However, the extent to which reality is distorted plays an important part. It is not all the same whether we are close to or far from the truth. So, let us formulate our task more clearly: which variant is preferable for research and criticism? Let us sort out the differences point by point:

(a) 60 horsemen at that time was a military formation. Such a detachment could make a retreat. The Altai mountains, the Kipchak steppes, the rich Seven Streams area were ready to accept heroes struggling against military despotism. But five men were nothing. Any Mongol detachment could catch them, while they themselves could not risk plundering anyone's grazing ground and would have to feed themselves by hunting and hide from everyone, which is very difficult. Based on these considerations it seems that the Secret History version is more probable and the psychology of men so persecuted that their nerves failed to hold out becomes understandable.

(b) The information that half the warriors who brought the bound Jamuqa to Chinggiskhan were included in the army is expressed very unclearly, and we can even imagine that those granted mercy had not taken part in capturing their prince, but had merely been his relatives. Rashid ad-Din's text is composed in a succinct and elliptical way and for this reason alone inspires less confidence than the precise information of the Secret History.

(c) The question of the method of execution. Mongols killed people readily, but simply. Either they broke the spine, or they tore out the heart and sacrificed it to their banner. A long drawn out execution with torture is not characteristic of the nomads, {256} but of the Near Eastern Muslims. Therefore, again the Secret History version deserves to be preferred, the more so since its author was contemporary with the events and wrote his work for people who would have rapidly realised any ethnographic absurdity, while the readers of the Collection of Chronicles would have paid no attention to such details.

But the most important thing is that the interpretation of Jamuqa's character and conduct proposed by Rashid ad-Din is not at all convincing. On the one side, it is said that he was "extremely intelligent and cunning", and on the other, he is depicted as an unprincipled intriguer who "more than once fled from Chinggiskhan and went away to his enemies, Ong-qan and Tayang-qan". [+51] But for some reason they accepted him, although they, too, were not stupid. Evidently, they had some basis for that.

Rashid ad-Din, considering that simple ambition possessed Jamuqa, does not even attempt to explain what his popularity rested on. Yet it is not enough to be a bad man to carry peoples and rulers with you!

And it is not chance that such solid historians as V.V. Bartol'd, B.Ya. Vladimirtsov, S.A. Kozin, interpreting the text critically, proposed the reverse conception: Jamuqa is the leader of steppe democracy, struggling against the aristocracy, [+52] or, on the contrary: an aristocrat, a lord, warring with the people's leader, [+53] or a man having "democratic tendencies, but... who himself does not know what he wants and rushes from one side to another". [+54] The last opinion is, perhaps, closest to the image which the author of the Secret History so nicely depicted, but we cannot accept even that since our observations urge us along a different road. Uncovering the false should necessarily precede searching for the truth.


Cause for Thought

The author of the Secret History, a contemporary of and participant in the events, describes the encounter of the sworn brothers who were at odds with one another as follows: "And Chinggiskhan said: {257} "This is what you are to say to Jamuqa: Here you and I have come together. We shall be friends. Again becoming my second shaft, you surely will not think differently from me again? Now uniting we shall call to mind what we have forgotten, we shall rouse the sleeper. However much our paths diverged, nevertheless you were always my fortunate and sacred friend. In days of truly mortal battle you were concerned for me with both heart and soul. However much we thought differently, yet in the days of fierce battles you suffered for me with all your heart. I shall recall when this was. First, you served me at the time of the battle with the Kerait at Qaraqaljit-elet, sending to warn me of Ong-qan's dispositions; second, you served me, vividly telling me how you frightened the Naiman, mortifying them with your word, killing them with your mouth'" [+55]

However unexpectedly, Chinggiskhan thanks Jamuqa precisely for his being in the enemy camp at critical moments; in other words, for spying and diversionary activity carried out for Chinggiskhan's benefit. This does not differ from our observations and is confirmed by them. And from this point of view it is understandable why it was important for Chinggis that Jamuqa should be at liberty and considered his worst enemy and thus gain the approval of mighty khans opposed to Chinggis. If Chinggis had been able to release Jamuqa without noise and publicity, of course, he would have done it, but the idiot nokors spoilt the whole game because the whole steppe knew of the capture of the Mongol khan's main opponent. No one had to be any the wiser, and Jamuqa was executed and all those necessary were informed.

In order to formalise the death sentence legally for a prisoner of war, he had to be found guilty and declared a war criminal. Mere participation in war was in no case considered a sin; no one was tried for boldness in battle. Then Chinggiskhan recalled the battle at Dalan-baljut and ordered the prisoner to be told: "You perfidiously and unjustly caused a battle over the mutual stealing of herds between Jochi-Darmala and Taichar. You attacked and we fought ... But now, they tell me, you do not want to accept either the friendship offered you, nor mercy for your life. In that case you will be allowed to die without bloodshed." [+56]

In the Secret History version only one thing is doubtful: that the initiative for execution came from Jamuqa himself. And it is all the {258} stranger that in Rashid ad-Din there is the same version, although in another aspect. Moreover, with the Persian compiler this episode is so slurred over that its interpretation may be ignored; we only note that in this case both tales derive from a single primary source, and let the reader judge how far it can be trusted.

To start with Jamuqa talks exceedingly self-confidently: "Black crows have taken it into their head to seize the drake. Slaves have taken it into their head to raise their hand against their khan. With the khan, my anda, what do they give for this? The grey mousers have taken it into their head to seize the curly-crested duck. The household slaves have taken it into their .head to rise against their natural lord. With the khan, my anda, what do they give for this?" [+57] Evidently the captured prince was sure it would turn out badly for those who had betrayed him . .. and he was right. But what does this certainty rely on? Of course, exactly such betrayers of their natural lord, Badai and Kishliq, who had warned Chinggiskhan of the Kerait raid, received the highest mercy. And Jamuqa's nokors themselves, who could not but know their people's customs, expected rewards, not execution, from the khan. Otherwise they would not have entered the lion's den. So, Jamuqa knew something they did not. This "something" was Chinggis's proposal that Jamuqa become the second shaft of the cart of state for the services he had performed. But then his tone changes (of course, in the source, how it was in reality we do not know): "Now, my khan, anda, you graciously offer me friendship. But, you see, we did not become friends when it was the time to do so."

What sort of a declamation is this? If Jamuqa had been recognised as Chinggis's friend, neither the Kerait, nor the Naiman would have relied on his advice and would not have been betrayed by him, and the Mongols would not have become lords of the Great Steppe in the course of two years. That is what Chinggis thanks Jamuqa for, that in the enemy camp he helped him achieve victory; consequently, Jamuqa's utterances are not directed at the khan's ears, but at the widest dissemination among Mongol society. Then: "What is my friendship to you, when the whole world is before you? You will, of course, dream of me in the dark nights. I shall, of course, oppress your thoughts in the light of day. I have become a louse behind your collar, or a thorn in your hem." This is convincing as the {259} words or thoughts of Chinggis himself, but not of Jamuqa. A blown agent is of no use, many obstacles can be foreseen and it is easier to be rid of him, even if only to avoid compromising conversations with wide repercussions. But from Jamuqa's point of view? He helped the khan to achieve victory, and clearly not in order to become its victim. To be killed by his friend is more shameful than to fall at the hands of the enemy. Therefore, the interpretation of the Secret History seems doubtful to me and I think that its author put the khan's thoughts, or those of his closest advisers and noyans, in Jamuqa's mouth. And he did this to remove from them the responsibility for the execution of the prisoner - he himself, he said, wanted this. But he did not start to speak badly of the executed man, because none of those in the know would have believed this, and the interpretation of the events would have come under suspicion.


Faith in History

It is well known that historical necessity and chance are neighbours, but to apply this thesis in particular circumstances is complex and demands, if not artistry, at least craftsmanship. In our case, however, it is this approach which is constructive. The unification of the steppe was a historical necessity, but that it was not the Kerait, Naiman or Kara-Khitan, but the Mongols who fulfilled this task -there we have a series of chances determined by a combination of the will and feelings of many participants in the events.

Chinggiskhan's army, or the party of the "people of long will", was weaker, not merely than the Kerait and Naiman khanates, or the Merkit and Tatar tribal alliances, but even than their own anti-Chinggis Mongol aristocracy and, as we have seen, the victory went to Chinggis thanks to his endurance, skilful diplomacy, ability to attract and foster the men he needed and to the help of Jamuqa-sechen without which the nine-tailed white banner would have been dragged in the grass along with the khan's severed head. Then the "kingdom of the pontiff John" would have changed from a dream into reality, but the general course of history would have been violated only in details. Well, there would have been less on some distant campaigns, and somewhat more written literary and historical texts.

For our subject, though, the Mongol victory is a fact of enormous significance, because their ideological system was incompatible {260} with Christianity. This did not mean that Mongols and Nestorians were unable to get along with one another on the same grazing grounds or go on distant campaigns shoulder to shoulder. But this meant that both religions had to make room so as not to hinder one another, and Chinggiskhan understood this before all his companions and perhaps also his conquered opponents.

Mongol religious understanding was by no means a primitive pagan faith or the practice of shamanist exultation. At the head of the cult were soothsayers who had enormous influence and limited the power of the khans. About 1207 the wizard Kokochu, [+58] son of one of Chinggiskhan's first associates, Monglik, evidently overestimating his influence among the people, beat up the khan's brother, Qasar, with the help of his own six brothers and then slandered him, foretelling to Chinggiskhan that Qasar would take the throne from him. Only the intervention of the queen, his mother, saved Qasar from execution, but not from disgrace. After this Kokochu became insolent and started to entice people from among those subordinate to the princes of the khan's clan. When Chinggis's step-brother, Temuge-otchigin, demanded his people back, Kokochu and his brothers were made to beg for forgiveness on their knees. At Otchigin's request Chinggiskhan summoned to his headquarters the retainers who had gone too far, the wizard's spine was broken, while his father and brothers were given a dressing down and forgiven. According to the Secret History the wizard's body was carried off to heaven, but Chinggiskhan explained that Tenggeri (heaven), disliking him, took away not only his soul, but his body as well. Afterwards the executed man's relatives became quiet[+58a] and the conflict between the spiritual and lay authorities ended in favour of the latter.

The Nestorians benefited as a result of this brief and tragic history, since Chinggis and his successors began to enlist their services for the state, without asking them to renounce their faith. Nevertheless, the empire that was created can by no means be called a Christian one; and now we have to turn our attention to the deity in ancient Mongol religion who was Christ's competitor. That same deity for whose victory Jamaqa-sechen perished.


[+32] The fate of Buyiruq is the most important difference. According to Rashid ad-Dm, he fled from the Mongols to the Kem-Kemjiut region to the Kirghiz, i.e. to the upper reaches of the Emsei (Rashid ad-Din, Sbornik letopisei, 1,2,112), but perished four years later in the summer of 1206, being seized while hunting "in Ulugh Tagh, in a place they call the river Sokau" (ibid., 150). According to the Secret History he was killed in the same place, but in 1202, and Kokse'u-sabraq was the avenger of his khan (Sokrovennoe skazanie, 158). Both texts are authentic and neither deserves precedence/ We have to leave the question open until the "logic of events" has been established and allows us to make an internal criticism of the sources.

[+33] Sokrovennoe skazanie, 164.

[+34] Ibid.

[+35] Rashid ad-Din, Sbornik letopisei, I, 2,116.

[+36] Sokrovennoe skazanie, 165.

[+37] Rashid ad-Din, Sbornik letopisei, I, 2,113.

[+38] Sokrovennoe skazanie, 160.

[+39] Rashid ad-Din, Sbornik letopisei, I, 2,113.

[+40] Sokrovennoe skazanie, 160.

[+41] Sokrovennoe skazanie, 165.

[+42] The great-great-grandson of an enslaved prisoner of war accepted into the family of his masters with the title of "younger brother" (see Sokrovennoe skazanie, 180) and thus placed on the same footing as the aristocratic family.

[+43] Rashid ad-Din gives two other names in place of these Tagai-Kulakai of the Mangqut and Mukur-Kuran of the Nirun-Mongols, i.e. the most aristocratic section of them (Rashid ad-Din, Sbornik letopisei, I, 2,123).

[+44] He in fact ascended the throne in the spring of 1197, but was officially proclaimed on 3 August 1200 (V.V. Bartol'd, Turkestan, 375).

[+45] Sokrovennoe skazanie, 182.

[+46] Ibid., 170.

[+47] "Jamuqa was an envious man, an ill-wisher to Chinggiskhan and extremely crafty and unprincipled in nature" (Rashid ad-Din, Sbornik letopisei, I, 2, 122).

[+48] Sokrovennoe skazanie, 170.

[+49] Rashid ad-Din, Sbornik letopisei, I, 2, 132.

[+50] Sokrovennoe skazanie, 200, 201, Rashid ad-Dm, Sbornik letopisei, I, 1, 190-2.

[+51] Rashid ad-Din, Sbornik letopisei, I, 1,191.

[+52] V.V. Bartol'd, "Obrazovanie imperii Chingiskhana", 111.

[+53] S.A. Kozin, Introduction to Sokrovennoe skazanie, 39.

[+54] B.Ya. Vladimirtsov, Obshchestvennyi stroi mongolov, 84-5.

[+55] Sokrovennoe skazanie, 201.

[+56] Ibid., 200.

[+57] Ibid.

[+58] In Chinese wu is one who has dealings with spirits. The nickname of Kokochu was Teb-Tenggen, translated into Persian as But-Tengri - image of heaven. See P. Kafarov, "Starinnoe mongol'skoe skazanie o Chingiskhane", 237.

[+58a] Sokrovennoe skazanie, 246.



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