ABSTRACT

The collection of edicts dealing with the Yuan horse policy, studied by Jagchid and Bawden, together with the information from the Yuan shi, make it clear that in addition to a regular collection of horses as part of taxation, and to special areas allocated for horse breeding in Qubilai's time, emergency collections of additional horses were sometimes necessary. Under Qubilai at least five such special collections were made - in 1260, 1275, 1287, 1289 and 1293. The edict of 1293 cites the "activity of the rebel princes" as the explicit reason for this collection. Evidence of a serious increase in the prices of horses between 1260 and 1289, collection of horses also from members of the priesthood, attempts to mobilize horses even from southern China which was poor in horses, acceptance of defective horses for use; and the fact that the collection of 70,000 horses fell 30,000 short of its goal - all these facts attest to the gravity of the horse shortage in Qubilai's time. 145

Qaidu thus had a distinct advantage over the Yuan in obtaining horses, since he ruled in the steppes, but the large quantities of animals collected by Qaidu's and Du'a's forces in their incursions in the west, 146 as well as the testimony of Het'um and of the Yuan shi on the shortage of horses in Chapar's troops, prove that in Central Asia too it was not easy to obtain the large number of horses the Mongol army required. 147

As in many battles between the Central Asian tribes and China throughout history, Qaidu was able to exploit an advantage in the supply of horses and the mobility that these allowed in order to vanquish the Yuan forces in most of his confrontations with them, despite his numerical and technological inferiority. The quality of Qaidu's soldiers and his leadership led to his victory in his final battle against the Yuan, the only frontal clash between the two armies. However, the high price paid in this battle in men and horses, and the difficulty with which the victory was achieved, explain why Qaidu preferred to adopt a policy of raids as the style of warfare best suited for his conflict with the Yuan and with the other Mongol forces.