The Garden Guide

Book: Journey and Embassy to Samarkand
Chapter: Vii. The City of Samarkand

China and Beijing

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When the lord departed from the city, to make war on the Turk, and to destroy Damascus, he ordered that all those who had to follow his host, should bring their women; and he did this because he intended to be absent from the city, fighting his enemies, for seven years, and he swore that he would not enter the castle, until that time was completed. When the lord returned to the city, the ambassadors from China arrived, with orders to say that the lord held that land, subject to the emperor of China, and to demand the payment of tribute every year, as it was seven years since any had been paid. The lord answered that this was true, but that he would not pay it. This tribute had not been paid for nearly eight years, nor had the emperor of China sent for it, and the reason why he did not send for it, was this. The emperor of China died, leaving three sons, to whom he bequeathed his territories. The eldest son wished to take the shares of the other two. He killed the youngest but the middle one fought with the eldest, and defeated him, and he, from despair at the consequences which he dreaded would follow his treatment of his youngest brother, set fire to his palace, and perished with many of his followers. The middle brother, therefore, reigned alone {Choo-yuen-chang, the founder of the Ming Dynasty, was the son of a common labourer, and served during his youth as scullion in a temple. He rose from a soldier to the command of a band of robbers, and thence to be the conqueror of provinces, and founder of a Dynasty. He drove the Mongols out of China, and in 1368, having expelled the Yuen Dynasty of the lineage of Genghis Khan, he became emperor of China, and is known in history as Hung-woo. He restored tranquillity to China, and drove the Mongols into their native deserts. In 1399 Hung-woo was succeeded by his grandson Keen-wan, much against the wishes of his sons. This prince disgraced all his uncles but one, the prince of Yen, who advanced with a large army to avenge his brothers. He captured Nankin, degraded the young emperor, and committed many acts of cruelty. The new emperor took the name of Yung-la in 1403, and transferred the capital from Nankin to Pekin; whence he carried his victorious arms far into the deserts of Tartary. He died in 1425. This is the passage in Chinese history, which is somewhat differently related in the text by the Spanish knight; and it was after these victories that Yung-la sent his insolent message to Timur. It would have been answered by the invasion of China, had not death cut short the career of the mighty conqueror}. As soon as he was quietly established in his own empire, he sent these ambassadors to Timur Beg, to demand the tribute which was formerly paid to his father, but we did not hear whether he resented the answer which was given by Timur.