Saturday, March 28, 2009

Khubilai Khan ordered naval attack on Cambodia. most likely under the reign of King Jayavarman VIII ... but it failed

Kublai Khan, the grandson of Genghis Khan
Khubilai Khan’s Lost Fleet : History’s Greatest Naval Disaster
by James P Delgado 240pp, Bodley Head, £15.99

The divine wind blows out

Kevin Rushby discovers the real reasons for Khubilai Khan's failure to invade Japan

Saturday 28 March 2009
Kevin Rushby
The Guardian


In 1974 a Japanese fisherman called Kuniichi Mukae was digging for clams on the small island of Takashima when his spade hit something hard in the sand. Pulling the object out, Mukae saw it was a small piece of bronze. He gave it a wash and tossed it into his toolbox, where it lay forgotten. What the fisherman did not know was that he had just uncovered the key to two of the most significant events in Japanese history: the failed naval invasions of 1274 and 1281 by, of all people, the Mongols – a warrior race not usually associated with armadas.

As James Delgado points out in his engaging and highly readable account of those attacks, the legends that grew up around them had a huge impact on the development of a Japanese national psyche. Both fleets were despatched by Khubilai Khan and defeated, not apparently by the outnumbered samurai waiting on the beaches, but by storms that were later recast as kamikaze, divine winds, sent by the gods as proof of their special favour. This belief in divine favouritism would have remarkable consequences centuries later, but the immediate effect of the attempted invasions was to drive a wedge between Japan and her neighbours that had not previously existed. By the 17th century this had become so severe that Japan isolated itself from the rest of the world for more than 200 years. Even when the nation emerged from self-imposed house arrest in the 1850s, its militaristic assertiveness would feed on the legend of hostile neighbours eager to invade.

Delgado writes with an attractively direct style, but it takes some time to get to his main story: the marine archaeological discoveries of recent years. He starts by recounting the growth of the Mongol empire, from the perspective of China and the far east. This is helpful: our images of the Mongols are so much bound to the ideas of horsemen rolling westwards that we forget that Khubilai Khan was the ruler of a sophisticated and diverse society. In capturing the Song dynasty lands of central and southern China, he had become the world's greatest, and richest, emperor. His subjects traded far and wide, their ships far exceeding European vessels of the time, in both size and technological development. Within China goods were carried along the Grand Canal, a 200ft-wide channel that ran for 2,100 miles and connected a further 30,000 miles of waterways. Significantly, the emperor also inherited a powerful navy with ships capable of firing porcelain shells packed with gunpowder and nails. When the outlying islands of Japan refused to kowtow to him, Khubilai ordered a mammoth invasion designed to crush them into submission.

The first foray went well to begin with, but the invaders faltered when they reached the third island and were finally driven away by a storm. When a second, far larger, fleet arrived seven years later, the samurai fought valiantly but without any real hope of victory. Their resistance held the attackers long enough, however, for a storm to come to Japan's rescue again, sinking hundreds of anchored vessels and drowning thousands of troops. Those already ashore were captured and beheaded. This second defeat was a huge blow to Khubilai Khan. Not only that, but the myth of Mongol invincibility had sunk with his ships and Khubilai's Yuan dynasty would prove to be one of the shortest in Chinese history.

At this point Delgado's story starts to motor – you can tell that his real enthusiasm is for jumping into a wetsuit and diving under the waves to see for himself. His guide in this is a marine engineer called Torao Mozai who in 1978 decided to spend his retirement investigating the truth behind Japan's legendary rescue by the "divine wind". As a second world war veteran who had served with men who became kamikaze pilots, he well knew the power of the myth; what astonished him was the lack of firm evidence. Underwater archaeology was completely unknown in Japan, but Mozai persisted, and his tenacity drew rewards. Hearing of the archaeological work being carried out near his home, Kuniichi Mukae went to his tool kit and dug out the piece of bronze that he had unearthed a few years before.

The artefact was soon recognised as a bronze seal dating from 1277 and once the property of a Mongol army commander. Mozai was now certain he could locate the lost fleet. Bringing in expertise from the US, he started excavations. Over the seasons, the finds grew more and more exciting. One site even yielded up the armour, personal possessions and partial skeleton of "Commander Wang", one of Khubilai's officers. Careful analysis of the ships' woodwork suggested that the fleet may have been in such poor condition that it was vulnerable to any bad weather. Haste and inexperience had scuppered the Mongol plans, and the "divine wind" seems, at best, an imaginative exaggeration.

I would have liked more of this, but Delgado is soon back into the history books, teasing out the repercussions of the failed invasions for our modern world. The Yuan navy was certainly weakened, but perhaps the disappearance of Mongol invincibility was most significant. Khubilai never tried to return to Japan, but ordered further attacks on Vietnam, Cambodia and Java. All failed. In Vietnam the military leader Tran Hung Dao used his experiences fighting the invaders to write a definitive treatise on guerrilla warfare – a text that, almost 700 years later, inspired General Giáp in his battles against the French and later the Americans. No doubt, had Khubilai Khan captured Japan he would have gone on to expand the Chinese empire throughout south-east Asia and our modern world map might have looked very different indeed.

With interest in China and its history at an all-time high, we've seen everything from John Keay's scholarly overview, China, to more popular accounts such as Gavin Menzies's 1421. This trim volume, covering only a small part of a vast subject, is nevertheless a valuable addition to the shelves.

Kevin Rushby's Paradise: A History of the Idea that Rules the World is published by Robinson

27 comments:

Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

Killer&Thief&assassin

Human-Right respect

Anonymous said...

Jayavaraman VII, an Indian Royal decent was lucky because Kublai Khan was a grand son of the first Genghis Khan. If Gengish Khan came, Cambodia was perhaps, a dead nation.

Anonymous said...

good to see that some organization is befriended with khmer people. after all cambodia has existed for over two years. we have long history of existence. it's good that there are friends of cambodia and the khmer people from all over the world. god bless cambodia.

Anonymous said...

history also told us that Genghis Khan empire was the largest on the planet during that time, stretching from the coast of present china all the way to turkey. see, great civilization come and go for the last 10,000 years; nothing is really set in stone. god bless all earthly people, and especially god bless cambodia.

a Kaun Khmer knows said...

Jayavaraman 8 (VIII) was not Jayavaraman 7 (VII).

The invasion in Khmer Empire by Kublai Khan army led by Sagatu didn't fail, because Jayavaraman 8 (VIII) surrendered without a fight. He did not dare to fight against General Sagatu of Kublai Khan, Jayavaramn 8 paid an annual tribute to Kublai Khan, so we all should know the facts.
And we know how in the old day the loser Kings paid a tribute to the powerful Kings? Gold and more great stuffs.

Jayavaraman 8 (VIII) was too busy killing and destroying the Buddhists converting all the Buddhist Temples to Hindu. He was a puppet of Kublai Khan. Jayavaraman 8 was not the son of Jayavaramn 7.

Our Khmer Empire started to decline during Indravaraman II, the son of Jayavaman 7, then the puppet of Kublai Khan, Jayavaramn 8and Kings after him.

Our Economy was sucked by Kublai Khan, then we became weaker until Siam took all at last. Later we became a Bankrupt nation until today.

We Khmers were told that all Varaman Kings were all great. Bullshit!!!!

Anonymous said...

1:44AM. If you didn't clarify I mistook Jayavaramn VIII (8) as Jayavaraman VII (7). Thanks.

Kublai Khan was the world richest back then, but all his gold was piling and building a garnd palace royal called Forbidden City in China made China rich.
He didn't take all gold from Cambodia because he was thousand miles from Cambodia, but Siam did clean up all from our bank account.

Anonymous said...

a grand palace be corrected in my
1:53AM.

Anonymous said...

Now we have more gold, gem and oil, and we are busy cleaning up our own bank account by the helps from ah Youn Kantorb.

Anonymous said...

Who dared to fight against the rich and powerful Kublai Khan back then? You must be kidding. Sure they had to surrender to survive.
China was under his his rule, don't get mad why Jayavaramn 8 surrendered like the rest of the world without a fight.

Today Mongolia has about 2.7 million Mongolians and Mongol may be taken by China, pnly time will tell.

Anonymous said...

Here KI did it again.
Lied to the reader saying Kublai Khan attacked on Khmer Empire while Jayavaramn 8 reigned was failed.

Darn it.

Anonymous said...

Thanks to the Thai, Lao, , Burmese, and Viet for blocking the Mongolian from invading the Khmer Empire.

Anonymous said...

Folks,
Khmer Empire under Jayavaraman 8was threatned not yet physical invasion. The empire was spared after Jayavaraman 8 paid a tribute to Kublai Khan Royal Court then he was deposed out by his son in law in 1295.

We don't need to thank those small nations back then like Viet, Laos, Thai and Burmese for that. Kublai Khan was only aiming toward the big and richest country in SEA which was Khmer Empire.

King Jayavaraman 8 din't want war with the powerful Mongolian empire, one can say surrender without a fight to save our azz, is alright.

Didn't King Sihanouk do the same like Jayavaraman 8 to Youn neighborh although he hates them? Just that Ah Youn live next door to us, and so they invade us through making themselves Khmers and live with us and killed us through making us fight each others. This is tough, but most radical Khmers brainwashed by ah Younfake Khmers din't understand only blame.

Anonymous said...

Youn looking to exterminate us Khmers that's different from Kublai Khan looking for treasure to build his empire, like builing his grand naval ships to invade more Kingdoms. Kublai Khan became Buddhist and Youn became more evils.
And since our little Kingdom is between those powerful gangsters Youn and Siam who have superpower behind them, not much King Sihanouk could do. Either way we still got killed by Youn most.

Anonymous said...

3 21AM,
Kublai Khan invaded Khmer Empire in 1283.
http://www.absoluteastronomy.com/timeline/Mongol_Empire

1283 Kublai Khan's Mongol Empire invades the Khmer empire of present-day Cambodia; King Jayavarman VIII decides to pay tribute rather than fight the invasion, buying peace and preserving the empire.

I should say thanks to King Jayavaraman 8 for hsi surrender, acknowledging Kublai Khan's power and bringing gifts suhc as Gold and expensive gifts to Kublai is a smart way to do.

Viets were lucky because at that time 1285 Kublai Khan's army became weaker after more than one attempts to invade Japan and so many soldiers had to invade other nations. Besides Youn didn't have much for Kublai Khan to take it anyway.

Anonymous said...

Khmer King surrendered to Kublai Khan and why KI said "Khubilai Khan ordered naval attack on Cambodia. most likely under the reign of King Jayavarman VIII ... but it failed"?

Stupid KI.

Anonymous said...

Eh, he used his name Heng Soy, so if it is Soy or it is Heng. He cannot be both at the same time. Soy again. His intail-lee- gent is screwed up.

Free Spy said...

Like I said I don't trust KI. Some dysfunctional sitcom members of KI like this Heng Soy is like a redneck Khmer fundamentalist.
Jayavaraman Viii submitted and paid tribute to Kublai Khan. Why did KI say "failed"?

Anonymous said...

Pouk Ah Scam Rainxy loves to twist our history and destroying so that they can replaced it with westerner history.

Please don't listen to their bullshits.

Free Spy said...

Wouldn't you like to know I am a big supporter of Sam Rainsy, 7:47 AM? Raisny has nothing to do with some egotists of KI.

Anonymous said...

Nope, I don't care to know about losers.

Anonymous said...

11;18pm. These losers don't earn six figure dude from prestige schools in the US and UK.

Anonymous said...

The question for all you reader is this: Why didn't Kubla Khan attack Khmer Empire under Jayavaraman VII--the greatest king of Khmer Empire? The Khan attacked when the Khmer Empire already weaken under Jayavaraman VIII. Was the attack after Chu Dakuan visit?

Anonymous said...

If you voted for CPP (Cambodian People's Party):

Also known as:

Communist Party of Kampuchea
Khmer Revolution Party
Khmer Rouge Party
Khmer Krorhorm Party - គណបក្សខ្មែរក្រហម

You're support the killing of 1.7 million innocent Khmer peoples from 1975 to 1979 in Cambodia.

You're support the killing at least twelve innocent men, women and children on March 30, 1997 Grenade Attack in Cambodia.

You're support assassination of journalists in Cambodia.

You're support political assassination and killing in Cambodia.

You're support attempted assassination and murder of leader of the free trade union in Cambodia.

You're support corruptions in Cambodia.

You're support murder of Piseth Pilika (Hun Sen's affaire).

You're support Hun Sen Regime burn poor people's house down to the ground and leave them homeless.


Hun Sen, Chea Sim and Heng Samrin was a former Khmer Rouge commanders.

Now, Hun Sen, Chea Sim and Heng Samrin are Khmer Rouge leaders, since their leader (Pol Pot) is dead.

From 1975 to 1979, these Khmer Rouge commanders responsible for killing 1.7 million innocent Khmer peoples in Cambodia.

From 1980 to present, these Khmer Rouge leaders responsible for killing innocent men, women and children on March 30, 1997, assassinated journalists, political assassination and killing, murder of Piseth Pilika (Hun Sen's affaire) and attempted assassinate and murder of leader of the free trade union in Cambodia.

When is the ECCC going to bring these three criminals to U.N. Khmer Rouge Tribunal?

Khmer Rouge Regime is a genocide organization.

Hun Sen Regime is a terrorist organization.
Hun Sen Bodyguards is a terrorist organization.
Hun Sen Death Squad is a terrorist organization.
Cambodian People's Party is a terrorist organization.

I have declare the current Cambodian government which is lead by the Cambodian People's Party as a terrorist organization.

Whoever associate with the current Cambodian government are associate with a terrorist organization.


Khmer Rouge Regime had committed:

Torture
Execution
Massacre
Atrocities
War Crimes
Crimes Against Humanity
Starvations
Overwork to Death
Slavery
Rapes
Abuses
Assault and Battery


Cambodian People's Party Hun Sen Regime had committed:

Assassination
Murder
Killing
Terrorism
Drive by Shooting
Intimidation
Death Threat
Threatening
Human Rights Abuses
Human Trafficking
Drugs Trafficking
Under Age Child Sex
Mass Evictions
Land Grabbing
Corruptions
Illegal Firearms
Illegal Logging
Acid Attacks
Injustice
Steal Votes
Violate the Constitution


These are the Trade Marks of Hun Sen's Khmer Rouge Regime.

Under Hun Sen Regime, no criminals that has been committed murder and all other crimes within Hun Sen's government ever been brought to justice.


Statement of Heng Peov
http://ia311543.us.archive.org/1/items/HengPoevStatementofHengPoev/Statement_of_Heng_Peov.pdf


Information change without notice as it become available.

Anonymous said...

3:06AM.
Kublai Khan was just born (DOB 1215) in the same year King Jayavaraman Vii died in 1215.

Jayavaraman 8 devoted to Hindu. The history didn't write much about him, he may had persecuted many Buddhists. That's why his reign was weak. May be the reasons Kublai Khan attacked Jayavaraman 8.

Anonymous said...

It could be another reasons why some powerful monks surrendered to Siamese and helped weakend our empire since then. If you killed your own people, their families had no choice but find a way to survive.

Anonymous said...

I think your assumption could be truth. Kublai Khan attacked Khmer Empire under Jayavaraman 8, now we learned at least Varaman Kings were not all great. This one Jayavaraman 8 indeed weaked the empire not Trasak Ph'em myth we Khmers and Burmese always talk about. I think our economy gradually declined from dividing to feed Kublai Khan army. And when the Siam attacked our economy collapsed until today.

You gave me something to think, our Buddhist ancestors may had helped Siam to sack Angkor and collected every things from the empire to build a new nation (Siam) and preserved the Khmer culture??