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0321 Notes on Marco Polo : vol.1
Notes on Marco Polo : vol.1 / Page 321 (Color Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000246
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158. CINGHIS   305

« A false rumour spread that they were Magi or Christians, that they worked miracles, and that they had come to avenge the tyranny of the Mussulmans against the Christians. It was also said that they had a tent in the shape of a church, and a miraculous cross, in front of which a bushel of barley was laid; the whole army would take from this to feed their horses, without the corn growing less; and when all had made an end of taking of the corn, the [full] bushel was still there. » Polo attributes the favour shown by Chinghiz-khan to the Christians to the success they had predicted for him against Ong-khan by their divination with twigs (Vol. I, 166). The truth is that he showed them no special favour and that the exemptions he granted their clergy from taxes and villain service, which are recalled in subsequent edicts, were the same as for the ministers of other creeds.

THE DATE OF CHINGHIZ-KHAN'S DEATH. — Though with a much lesser margin of uncertainty,

the true date of the death of Chinghiz-khan is not much easier to establish than the date of his birth. Polo's assertion that Chinghiz survived Ong-khan's defeat (A. D. 1203) only by six years is of course a glaring error. According to YULE (Y, I, 245), Chinghiz-khan died on August 18, 1227; most historians give the same date. The question, however, is not so simple, and BARTHOLD (EI, s. v. « Cingiz-khan ») contented himself by saying that the death took place in the first half of ramadan A. H. 624 — August 1227, the sources disagreeing as to the day. VLADIMIRCOV (Cingiz-

khan, 150) is no more definite than BARTHOLD.

The date of August 18, 1227, corresponds to the one given for the death of the conqueror by Juwaini, « on the fourth of ramadan 624 » (I, 144 8), and was copied from him by Bar Hebraeus (Historia Dynastiarum, POCOCKE transi., 305). In his Hist. de Gentchiscan (p. 51), GAUBIL also says that Chinghiz-khan died after giving, on August 18, 1227, his last instructions to his sons and generals. But, in a note of the following page, GAUBIL adds that, according to a certain history of the Mongols, Chinghiz fell ill on August 18, but died only seven days later. I do not know of which abridged text GAUBIL made use in the first passage. The information given in his subsequent note is the only one which is found in the YS (I, 9 b), where we read : « In the 22nd year, which was ting-hai (1227)..., in the autumn, the seventh month, on the day jên-wu (August 18, 1227), [the Emperor] fell ill (T; if pu-yü) ; on the day chi-ch'ou (August 25, 1227), he died... » Neither the Secret History nor the Shêng-wu ch'in-chêng lu says anything about Chinghiz-khan's death; this was certainly because of some sort of taboo, and not because, as alleged in WANG Kuo-wei's edition of the latter work (64 b), there is a lacuna in our mss. Consequently, the only date to be found in Chinese sources for the death of Chinghiz-khan is August 25, 1227, one week later than the date given by Juwaini. The day chi-ch'ou was the twelfth of the month, so that there is an intrinsic contradiction in CORDIER'S statement (Hist. gén. de la Chine, II, 222) that Chinghiz-khan died « on the twelfth of the seventh month (August 18, 1227) ». GROUSSET (L'Empire des steppes, 309) is mistaken when he says that the date of August 18, 1227, is given in the YS.

But Rasidu-'d-Din has a different story, which he relates and which occurs in several places in the course of his biography of Chinghiz-khan :

a. (Ber, II, Pers. text, 140; transi., 85-86) : « Serious astrologers (munajjiman) have written down the date of his death, ... and their report is that he died in the gaga yil (= Mong. yaqai,