sexta-feira, 12 de março de 2010

Genghis - The Conqueror!

(Part III)

Once again, I feel utterly motivated to continue my profound and well researched dissertation about Genghis Khan, since the messages just don't stop arriving to our comment box.
It feels so good to be appreciated...
Speaking about self-appreciation, let me tell you about what Genghis once said regarding the greatest happiness in life.
His (modest) opinion was as follows: "The greatest pleasure is to vanquish your enemies, to chase them before you, to rob them of their wealth, to see those dear to them bathed in tears, to ride their horses, to clasp to your bosom their wives and daughters".
Close to 1000 years afterwards, I see these as the words of a guy with what I call "The Hunger".
Have you ever felt hungry, and I don't mean just hungry for food ?
Hunger gives a new sense of perspective to some things.
The difference between a hungry guy and a guy with "The Hunger" is this (at least in my more or less vivid imagination): A hungry guy can say "I'm so hungry I could eat a horse!". A guy with "The Hunger" would say: "I'm going to eat that horse! I'm going to eat it raw if I have to, and I'll kick the ass of anyone who stands between me and that horse!"
In my opinion, Genghis was a guy with "The Hunger".
Let's now learn something more about him through his own words:
In time of peace Genghis counselled his soldiers to be quiet as calves, but in war to rush on his enemies like hungry falcons fall on their prey.
"There does not live a braver man than Yissutai (one of his generals). No march can fatigue him, he feels neither thirst nor hunger and he thinks his soldiers ought to be like himself. This is why he is not fit to command. It is necessary that a general should be sensible to either hunger or thirst, for he ought to be able to feel the sufferings of his army. His marches should be moderate, and he ought to feed both his men and his horses".
"I give the command of troops to those who join courage and skill. To those who are active and alert I confide the care of the baggage. To the dullards I confide a pole and make them tend the cattle. It is thus I have won my victories and my sons will continued to be victorious if they follow my example".
And one of the instruments of those victories was the Mongol warrior.
The Mongol warrior was implicitly obedient - what seems a little odd at first since the Mongol army was composed of nomads who constantly led the lives of danger, but that was one of the secrets of their sucess, enforced by Genghis.
The coward and the (unauthorized...) plunderer were equally put to death. A sentry found asleep at his post was executed without question.
Each warrior had to pay his chief a certain number of horses, cattle, pieces of felt, among other things. When he was absent at war, his wife had to pay his contributions. In retribution for his services, the Mongol warrior received a percentage of booty, devided according to fixed principles. The end result: a warrior had to win battles or else he and his family would starve - it was as simple as that, and that was a powerful psychological combination.
In Marco Polo's words, when going on distant expeditions the Mongols took no gear with them except two leathern bottles for milk, a little earthen (others say iron) pot to cook their meat in and a little tent to shelter them from the rain. And in cases of great urgency they would ride ten days on end (each warrior had several horses with him on campaign) without lighting a fire or taking a meal. On such occasions they would sustain themselves with the blood of their horses, opening a vein and letting the blood jet into their mouth, drinking till they had enough, and stauching it.
Pretty tough, huh ?
Each warrior carried a bow, arrows and an axe; a file to sharpen the points of his arrows; a sieve, an awl, needles and thread. The picked troops could also carry slightly curved sabres and had their heads and body covered by leathern armour covered with pieces of iron.
All Mongol males between the ages of 16 and 60 were liable for military service.
It is thought that the Mongol army, at least under Genghis, never exceeded the number of 150.000, whereas, for instance, the Chin empire could and did muster four times that number of troops.
The bow was the Mongol main offensive weapon. It was a composite reflex bow, made from yak horn, sinew and wood or bamboo. They also used the much vaunted Mongol horse, that could be watered once a day and feed for the most part on grass. Some say that those horses could travel 600 miles in nine days - no mean feat, considering they had to carry an armed guy on their back.
Genghis is the one that united and gave a sense of purpose to the Mongols, and converted them into a formidable fighting force, seldom defeated in battle. According to D'Ohsson, the Mongols in their original homes were among the most wretched of mankind. They were so poor that only their chiefs had iron stirrups.
With this to start with, Genghis (and his followers) conquered all the nations and empires mentioned in my previous post, and more.
In recorded history, Genghis it the one that during his lifetime conquered the biggest expanse of territory.
Caesar had the benefit and the resources of an already huge empire behind him.
Alexander had the benefit of a formidable fighting machine, created by his father.
Napoleon...well, Napoleon is simply out of his league when compared to Genghis.
Therefore, no doubts must subsist that Genghis must be considered top notch, regarding the second criteria mentioned in my initial post.
I'll get back to you on this.