The Travels of Marco Polo, by Marco Polo

Chapter lxv.

How the Great Kaan Conquered the Province of Manzi.

You must know that there was a King and Sovereign lord of the great territory of Manzi who was styled FACFUR, so great and puissant a prince, that for vastness of wealth and number of subjects and extent of dominion, there was hardly a greater in all the earth except the Great Kaan himself. 1 But the people of his land were anything rather than warriors; all their delight was in women, and nought but women; and so it was above all with the King himself, for he took thought of nothing else but women, unless it were of charity to the poor.

In all his dominion there were no horses; nor were the people ever inured to battle or arms, or military service of any kind. Yet the province of Manzi is very strong by nature, and all the cities are encompassed by sheets of water of great depth, and more than an arblast-shot in width; so that the country never would have been lost, had the people but been soldiers. But that is just what they were not; so lost it was.2

Now it came to pass, in the year of Christ’s incarnation, 1268, that the Great Kaan, the same that now reigneth, despatched thither a Baron of his whose name was BAYAN CHINCSAN, which is as much as to say “Bayan Hundred Eyes.” And you must know that the King of Manzi had found in his horoscope that he never should lose his Kingdom except through a man that had an hundred eyes; so he held himself assured in his position, for he could not believe that any man in existence could have an hundred eyes. There, however, he deluded himself, in his ignorance of the name of Bayan.3

This Bayan had an immense force of horse and foot entrusted to him by the Great Kaan, and with these he entered Manzi, and he had also a great number of boats to carry both horse and food when need should be. And when he, with all his host, entered the territory of Manzi and arrived at this city of COIGANJU— whither we now are got, and of which we shall speak presently — he summoned the people thereof to surrender to the Great Kaan; but this they flatly refused. On this Bayan went on to another city, with the same result, and then still went forward; acting thus because he was aware that the Great Kaan was despatching another great host to follow him up.4

What shall I say then? He advanced to five cities in succession, but got possession of none of them; for he did not wish to engage in besieging them and they would not give themselves up. But when he came to the sixth city he took that by storm, and so with a second, and a third, and a fourth, until he had taken twelve cities in succession. And when he had taken all these he advanced straight against the capital city of the kingdom, which was called KINSAY, and which was the residence of the King and Queen.

And when the King beheld Bayan coming with all his host, he was in great dismay, as one unused to see such sights. So he and a great company of his people got on board a thousand ships and fled to the islands of the Ocean Sea, whilst the Queen who remained behind in the city took all measures in her power for its defence, like a valiant lady.

Now it came to pass that the Queen asked what was the name of the captain of the host, and they told her that it was Bayan Hundred–Eyes. So when she wist that he was styled Hundred–Eyes, she called to mind how their astrologers had foretold that a man of an hundred eyes should strip them of the kingdom.5 Wherefore she gave herself up to Bayan, and surrendered to him the whole kingdom and all the other cities and fortresses, so that no resistance was made. And in sooth this was a goodly conquest, for there was no realm on earth half so wealthy.6 The amount that the King used to expend was perfectly marvellous; and as an example I will tell you somewhat of his liberal acts.

In those provinces they are wont to expose their newborn babes; I speak of the poor, who have not the means of bringing them up. But the King used to have all those foundlings taken charge of, and had note made of the signs and planets under which each was born, and then put them out to nurse about the country. And when any rich man was childless he would go to the King and obtain from him as many of these children as he desired. Or, when the children grew up, the King would make up marriages among them, and provide for the couples from his own purse. In this manner he used to provide for some 20,000 boys and girls every year.7

I will tell you another thing this King used to do. If he was taking a ride through the city and chanced to see a house that was very small and poor standing among other houses that were fine and large, he would ask why it was so, and they would tell him it belonged to a poor man who had not the means to enlarge it. Then the King would himself supply the means. And thus it came to pass that in all the capital of the kingdom of Manzi, Kinsay by name, you should not see any but fine houses.

This King used to be waited on by more than a thousand young gentlemen and ladies, all clothed in the richest fashion. And he ruled his realm with such justice that no malefactors were to be found therein. The city in fact was so secure that no man closed his doors at night, not even in houses and shops that were full of all sorts of rich merchandize. No one could do justice in the telling to the great riches of that country, and to the good disposition of the people. Now that I have told you about the kingdom, I will go back to the Queen.

You must know that she was conducted to the Great Kaan, who gave her an honourable reception, and caused her to be served with all state, like a great lady as she was. But as for the King her husband, he never more did quit the isles of the sea to which he had fled, but died there. So leave we him and his wife and all their concerns, and let us return to our story, and go on regularly with our account of the great province of Manzi and of the manners and customs of its people. And, to begin at the beginning, we must go back to the city of Coiganju, from which we digressed to tell you about the conquest of Manzi.

NOTE 1. — Faghfúr or Baghbúr was a title applied by old Persian and Arabic writers to the Emperor of China, much in the way that we used to speak of the Great Mogul, and our fathers of the Sophy. It is, as Neumann points out, an old Persian translation of the Chinese title Tien-tzu, “Son of Heaven”; Bagh-Púr = “The Son of the Divinity,” as Sapor or Sháh-Púr = “The Son of the King.” Faghfur seems to have been used as a proper name in Turkestan. (See Baber, 423.)

There is a word, Takfúr, applied similarly by the Mahomedans to the Greek emperors of both Byzantium and Trebizond (and also to the Kings of Cilician Armenia), which was perhaps adopted as a jingling match to the former term; Faghfur, the great infidel king in the East; Takfur, the great infidel king in the West. Defréméry says this is Armenian, Tagavor, “a king.” (I.B., II. 393, 427.)

[“The last of the Sung Emperors (1276) ‘Facfur’ (i.e. the Arabic for Tien Tzu) was freed by Kúblái from the (ancient Kotan) indignity of surrendering with a rope round his neck, leading a sheep, and he received the title of Duke: In 1288 he went to Tibet to study Buddhism, and in 1296 he and his mother, Ts’iuen T’aï How, became a bonze and a nun, and were allowed to hold 360 k’ing (say 5000 acres) of land free of taxes under the then existing laws.” (E. H. Parker, China Review, February, March 1901, p. 195.)— H.C.]

NOTE 2. — Nevertheless the history of the conquest shows instances of extraordinary courage and self-devotion on the part of Chinese officers, especially in the defence of fortresses — virtues often shown in like degree, under like circumstances, by the same class, in the modern history of China.

NOTE 3. — Bayan (signifying “great” or “noble”) is a name of very old renown among the Nomad nations, for we find it as that of the Khagan of the Avars in the 6th century. The present BAYAN, Kúblái’s most famous lieutenant, was of princely birth, in the Mongol tribe called Barin. In his youth he served in the West of Asia under Hulaku. According to Rashiduddin, about 1265 he was sent to Cathay with certain ambassadors of the Kaan’s who were returning thither. He was received with great distinction by Kúblái, who was greatly taken with his prepossessing appearance and ability, and a command was assigned him. In 1273, after the capture of Siang–Yang (infra, ch. lxx.) the Kaan named him to the chief command in the prosecution of the war against the Sung Dynasty. Whilst Bayan was in the full tide of success, Kúblái, alarmed by the ravages of Kaidu on the Mongolian frontier, recalled him to take the command there, but, on the general’s remonstrance, he gave way, and made him a minister of state (CHINGSIANG). The essential part of his task was completed by the surrender of the capital King-szé (Lin-ngan, now Hang-chau) to his arms in the beginning of 1276. He was then recalled to court, and immediately despatched to Mongolia, where he continued in command for seventeen years, his great business being to keep down the restless Kaidu. [“The biography of this valiant captain is found in the Yuen-shi (ch. cxxvii.). It is quite in accordance with the biographical notices Rashid gives of the same personage. He calls him Bayan.” (Bretschneider, Med. Res. I. p. 271, note).]

[“The inventory, records, etc., of Kinsai, mentioned by Marco Polo, as also the letter from the old empress, are undoubted facts: complete stock was taken, and 5,692,656 souls were added to the population (in the two Chên alone). The Emperor surrendered in person to Bayan a few days after his official surrender, which took place on the 18th day of the 1st moon in 1276. Bayan took the Emperor to see Kúblái.” (E. H. Parker, China Review, XXIV. p. 105.)— H.C.]

In 1293, enemies tried to poison the emperor’s ear against Bayan, and they seemed to have succeeded; for Kúblái despatched his heir, the Prince Teimur, to supersede him in the frontier command. Bayan beat Kaidu once more, and then made over his command with characteristic dignity. On his arrival at court, Kúblái received him with the greatest honour, and named him chief minister of state and commandant of his guards and the troops about Cambaluc. The emperor died in the beginning of the next year (1294), and Bayan’s high position enabled him to take decisive measures for preserving order, and maintaining Kúblái’s disposition of the succession. Bayan was raised to still higher dignities, but died at the age of 59, within less than a year of the master whom he had served so well for 30 years (about January, 1295). After his death, according to the peculiar Chinese fashion, he received yet further accessions of dignity.

The language of Chinese historians in speaking of this great man is thus rendered by De Mailla; it is a noble eulogy of a Tartar warrior:—

“He was endowed with a lofty genius, and possessed in the highest measure the art of handling great bodies of troops. When he marched against the Sung, he directed the movements of 200,000 men with as much ease and coolness as if there had been but one man under his orders. All his officers looked up to him as a prodigy; and having absolute trust in his capacity, they obeyed him with entire submission. Nobody knew better how to deal with soldiers, or to moderate their ardour when it carried them too far. He was never seen sad except when forced to shed blood, for he was sparing even of the blood of his enemy. . . . His modesty was not inferior to his ability. . . . He would attribute all the honour to the conduct of his officers, and he was ever ready to extol their smallest feats. He merited the praises of Chinese as well as Mongols, and both nations long regretted the loss of this great man.” De Mailla gives a different account from Rashiduddin and Gaubil, of the manner in which Bayan first entered the Kaan’s service. (Gaubil, 145, 159, 169, 179, 183, 221, 223–224; Erdmann, 222–223; De Mailla, IX. 335, 458, 461–463.)

NOTE 4. — As regards Bayan personally, and the main body under his command, this seems to be incorrect. His advance took place from Siang-yang along the lines of the Han River and of the Great Kiang. Another force indeed marched direct upon Yang-chau, and therefore probably by Hwai-ngan chau (infra, p. 152); and it is noted that Bayan’s orders to the generals of this force were to spare bloodshed. (Gaubil, 159; D’Ohsson, II. 398.)

NOTE 5. — So in our own age ran the Hindu prophecy that Bhartpúr should never fall till there came a great alligator against it; and when it fell to the English assault, the Brahmans found that the name of the leader was Combermere = Kumhír-Mír, the Crocodile Lord!

—“Be those juggling fiends no more believed

That palter with us in a double sense;

That keep the word of promise to our ear

And break it to our hope!”

It would seem from the expression, both in Pauthier’s text and in the G. T., as if Polo intended to say that Chincsan (Cinqsan) meant “One Hundred Eyes”; and if so we could have no stronger proof of his ignorance of Chinese. It is Pe-yen, the Chinese form of Bayan, that means, or rather may be punningly rendered, “One Hundred Eyes.” Chincsan, i.e. Ching-siang, was the title of the superior ministers of state at Khanbaligh, as we have already seen. The title occurs pretty frequently in the Persian histories of the Mongols, and frequently as a Mongol title in Sanang Setzen. We find it also disguised as Chyansam in a letter from certain Christian nobles at Khanbaligh, which Wadding quotes from the Papal archives. (See Cathay, pp. 314–315.)

But it is right to observe that in the Ramusian version the mistranslation which we have noticed is not so undubitable: “Volendo sapere come avea nome il Capitano nemico, le fu detto, Chinsambaian, cioè Cent’occhi.”

A kind of corroboration of Marco’s story, but giving a different form to the pun, has been found by Mr. W.F. Mayers, of the Diplomatic Department in China, in a Chinese compilation dating from the latter part of the 14th century. Under the heading, “A Kiang-nan Prophecy,” this book states that prior to the fall of the Sung a prediction ran through Kiang-nan: “If Kiang-nan fall, a hundred wild geese (Pê-yen) will make their appearance.” This, it is added, was not understood till the generalissimo Peyen Chingsiang made his appearance on the scene. “Punning prophecies of this kind are so common in Chinese history, that the above is only worth noticing in connection with Marco Polo’s story.” (N. and Q., China and Japan, vol. ii. p. 162.)

But I should suppose that the Persian historian Wassáf had also heard a bungled version of the same story, which he tells in a pointless manner of the fortress of Sináfúr (evidently a clerical error for Saianfu, see below, ch. lxx.): “Payan ordered this fortress to be assaulted. The garrison had heard how the capital of China had fallen, and the army of Payan was drawing near. The commandant was an experienced veteran who had tasted all the sweets and bitters of fortune, and had borne the day’s heat and the night’s cold; he had, as the saw goes, milked the world’s cow dry. So he sent word to Payan: ‘In my youth’ (here we abridge Wassáf’s rigmarole) ‘I heard my father tell that this fortress should be taken by a man called Payan, and that all fencing and trenching, fighting and smiting, would be of no avail. You need not, therefore, bring an army hither; we give in; we surrender the fortress and all that is therein.’ So they opened the gates and came down.” (Wassáf, Hammer’s ed., p. 41).

NOTE 6. — There continues in this narrative, with a general truth as to the course of events, a greater amount of error as to particulars than we should have expected. The Sung Emperor Tu Tsong, a debauched and effeminate prince, to whom Polo seems to refer, had died in 1274, leaving young children only. Chaohien, the second son, a boy of four years of age, was put on the throne, with his grandmother Siechi, as regent. The approach of Bayan caused the greatest alarm; the Sung Court made humble propositions, but they were not listened to. The brothers of the young emperor were sent off by sea into the southern provinces; the empress regent was also pressed to make her escape with the young emperor, but, after consenting, she changed her mind and would not move. The Mongols arrived before King-szé, and the empress sent the great seal of the empire to Bayan. He entered the city without resistance in the third month (say April), 1276, riding at the head of his whole staff with the standard of the general-inchief before him. It is remarked that he went to look at the tide in the River Tsien Tang, which is noted for its bore. He declined to meet the regent and her grandson, pleading that he was ignorant of the etiquettes proper to such an interview. Before his entrance Bayan had nominated a joint-commission of Mongol and Chinese officers to the government of the city, and appointed a committee to take charge of all the public documents, maps, drawings, records of courts, and seals of all public offices, and to plant sentinels at necessary points. The emperor, his mother, and the rest of the Sung princes and princesses, were despatched to the Mongol capital. A desperate attempt was made, at Kwa-chau (infra, ch. lxxii.) to recapture the young emperor, but it failed. On their arrival at Ta-tu, Kúblái’s chief queen, Jamui Khatun, treated them with delicate consideration. This amiable lady, on being shown the spoils that came from Lin-ngan, only wept, and said to her husband, “So also shall it be with the Mongol empire one day!” The eldest of the two boys who had escaped was proclaimed emperor by his adherents at Fu-chau, in Fo-kien, but they were speedily driven from that province (where the local histories, as Mr. G. Phillips informs me, preserve traces of their adventures in the Islands of Amoy Harbour), and the young emperor died on a desert island off the Canton coast in 1278. His younger brother took his place, but a battle, in the beginning of 1279 finally extinguished these efforts of the expiring dynasty, and the minister jumped with his young lord into the sea. It is curious that Rashiduddin, with all his opportunities of knowledge, writing at least twenty years later, was not aware of this, for he speaks of the Prince of Manzi as still a fugitive in the forests between Zayton and Canton. (Gaubil; D’Ohsson; De Mailla; Cathay, p. 272.) [See Parker, supra, p. 148 and 149. — H.C.]

There is a curious account in the Lettres Édifiantes (xxiv. 45 seqq.) by P. Parrenin of a kind of Pariah caste at Shao-hing (see ch. lxxix. note 1), who were popularly believed to be the descendants of the great lords of the Sung Court, condemned to that degraded condition for obstinately resisting the Mongols. Another notice, however, makes the degraded body rebels against the Sung. (Milne, p. 218.)

NOTE 7. — There is much about the exposure of children, and about Chinese foundling hospitals, in the Lettres Édifiantes, especially in Recueil xv. 83, seqq. It is there stated that frequently a person not in circumstances to pay for a wife for his son, would visit the foundling hospital to seek one. The childless rich also would sometimes get children there to pass off as their own; adopted children being excluded from certain valuable privileges.

Mr. Milne (Life in China), and again Mr. Medhurst (Foreigner in Far Cathay), have discredited the great prevalence of infant exposure in China; but since the last work was published, I have seen the translation of a recent strong remonstrance against the practice by a Chinese writer, which certainly implied that it was very prevalent in the writer’s own province. Unfortunately, I have lost the reference. [See Father G. Palatre, L’Infanticide et l’Oeuvre de la Ste. Enfance en Chine, 1878. — H.C.]

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