The chapter’s information that aids in analyzing the history of Sima Qian is the historical account of the development of the Mongol empire from the early life of Genghis khan to its division into the khanates of Iraq, China, Russia and central Asia. While stressing on some of the most important political facts in the history of the Mongol rule, this time is characterized by wars and conquests of different people who all wanted to establish themselves along the border of China to avoid being a subject to other people (Lane 134). According to Lane, at this time the eastern barbarians were very powerful, and the Yeuzhi people were rapidly thriving, Qin forces overthrow the leadership of the Xiongnu society. Here the leadership was hereditary as seen through Touman’s oldest son, Maodun, is entitled to take over the leadership in the community after the death of his father. Something unusual is about to happen, since Touman wants the second son in power, he decides to get rid of Maudun by sending him to the Yeuzhi nations as a hostage (134).
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Unlike the father’s intentions, Maodun returns home from a successive escape using one of the best horses from Yeuzhi and due to his bravery, his father puts him into a command of a force of ten thousands cavalry (Lane, 134). This marked the rise of power of touman’s first son, Maodun. Maodun uses his bravery and orders like “shoot whatever you see my whistling arrow strike!” to the cavalry he is in charge of and anyone who fail to honor his orders is executed of the troop (Lane 134). He does this repeatedly until he achieves the troops’ trust. Now having a fully trustworthy troop, he attacks his family members including his wife and his father and all the high officials of the nation who refused to take orders from him and set himself as the new shanyu (leader) of the community (Lane 134). The eastern barbarian gets the information about Maodum and after a while, they suppose the Maodun is afraid of them and they continuously ask for possession of things like land at their border and even his horses to empower their territories more. Maodun later attacked the barbarians and killed their ruler. He then took the remaining population as prisoners and took away their domestic animals (Tucker 14). With the leadership of Maodun, the Xiangnu were the superpowers and brought other tribes under their control. In this era, the Han forces are in a stalemate battle with the forces from Xiang Yu and China is now exhausted of warfare. A thousand years down the line after the wars that led to the splitting the tribes into various small groups, some of the indigenous groups have collapsed completely while others have flourished (Lane 136).
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Maodun strategy of leadership was to conquer the entire nation and to ensure that the people under him gave him full support. He ensured that he executed all those who did not follow his orders. He was the founder of Xiongnu Empire where once he secured the throne his successful empire united the Mongolian steppes promoted then and hence posed a threat to the Qin dynasty. He changed the military strategy from using chariots to fighting on horsebacks using bows and with this strategy. He was therefore able to conquer Ordos area to the south of the Yellow river as well as expanding his empire to the central Asia, defeating the Yuezhi and other Hu tribes (Tucker 14).
- Lane, George. Genghis khan and the Mongol rule. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Co, 2009.
- Tucker, Jackson. The Silk Road: China and Karakorum Highway: a travel companion. New York: I. B. Tauris publishers, 2014.