A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels — Volume 01 eBook

Robert Kerr (writer)
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 647 pages of information about A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels Volume 01.

Duke Cyrpodan and his army still propose to invade more distant countries, and have not yet returned into Tartary.

[1] This is probably a manufacture of Bagdat or Baldach, from whence its
    name; and may have been flowered silk or cloth of gold.—­E.

SECTION XVII.

Of the Military conduct of the Tartars.

Zingis-khan divided the Tartars into companies or divisions of ten, of, an hundred, and of a thousand each, every one of which had its appropriate officer.  Over every ten millenaries he placed one general; and over an army of several bodies of ten thousand men, two or three dukes, one of whom had the superior command.  When they join battle against their enemies, unless the whole army retreat by common consent, all who fly are put to death.  If one, two, or more of a decury proceed bravely to battle, and the rest do not follow, the cowards are slain.  If one, two, or more of the decury are made prisoners and the rest do not rescue them, they are put to death.  Every man must have two bows, or at least one good bow, three quivers full of arrows, an axe, and certain ropes to draw the military machines.  The rich or officers have sharp-pointed swords, somewhat curved and sharp on one edge.  They wear helmets, coats of mail, and cuisses, and their horses even are armed.  Some have their own armour and that of their horses made of leather, ingeniously doubled and even tripled.  The upper parts of their helmets are of iron or steel, but the hood which protects their neck and throat is of leather.  Some have all their defensive armour composed of many small plates of iron, a hand-breadth long and an inch broad, perforated with eight small holes, by which they are tied with small leather thongs to strong thongs of leather underneath, so that the plates overlap each other in regular series, and are firmly knit together.  The armour both of men and horses is often made in this fashion, and is kept finely burnished.  Some carry lances having hooks, to pull their enemies from horseback.  Their arrow-heads are exceedingly sharp on both edges, and every man carries a file to sharpen them.  Their targets are made of wicker, but they are hardly ever carried, except by the night guards, especially those in attendance upon the emperor and the princes.

The Tartars are exceedingly crafty in war, in which they have been continually engaged for the last forty-two years against all the surrounding nations.  When they have to pass rivers, the principal people secure their garments in bags of thin leather, drawn together like purses, and closely tied.  They fix these to their saddles, along with their other baggage, and tie the whole to their horse’s tail, sitting upon the whole bundle as a kind of boat or float; and the man who guides the horse is made to swim in a similar manner, sometimes having two oars to assist in rowing, as it were, across the river.  The horse is then forced into the river, and all the other horses follow, and in this manner they pass across deep and rapid rivers[1].  The poorer people have each a purse or bag of leather well sewed, into which they pack up all their things, well tied up at the mouth, which they hang to the tails of their horses, and thus swim across.

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A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels — Volume 01 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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