The Travels of Marco Polo/Book 4/Chapter 1

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Concerning Great Turkey[edit]

In GREAT TURKEY there is a king called CAIDU, who is the Great Kaan's nephew, for he was the grandson of CHAGATAI, the Great Kaan's own brother. He hath many cities and castles, and is a great Prince. He and his people are Tartars alike; and they are good soldiers, for they are constantly engaged in war.[1]

Now this King Caidu is never at peace with his uncle the Great Kaan, but ever at deadly war with him, and he hath fought great battles with the Kaan's armies. The quarrel between them arose out of this, that Caidu demanded from the Great Kaan the share of his father's conquests that of right belonged to him; and in particular he demanded a share of the Provinces of Cathay and Manzi. The Great Kaan replied that he was willing enough to give him a share such as he gave to his own sons, but that he must first come on summons to the Council at the Kaan's Court, and present himself as one of the Kaan's liegemen. Caidu, who did not trust his uncle very far, declined to come, but said that where he was he would hold himself ready to obey all the Kaan's commands.

In truth, as he had several times been in revolt, he dreaded that the Kaan might take the opportunity to destroy him. So, out of this quarrel between them, there arose a great war, and several great battles were fought by the host of Caidu against the host of the Great Kaan, his uncle. And the Great Kaan from year's end to year's end keeps an army watching all Caidu's frontier, lest he should make forays on his dominions. He, natheless, will never cease his aggressions on the Great Kaan's territory, and maintains a bold face to his enemies.[2]

Indeed, he is so potent that he can well do so; for he can take the field with 100,000 horse, all stout soldiers and inured to war. He has also with him several Barons of the imperial lineage; i.e., of the family of Chinghis Kaan, who was the first of their lords, and conquered a great part of the world, as I have told you more particularly in a former part of this Book.

Now you must know that Great Turkey lies towards the north-west when you travel from Hormos by that road I described. It begins on the further bank of the River JON, and extends northward to the territory of the Great Kaan.

Now I shall tell you of sundry battles that the troops of Caidu fought with the armies of the Great Kaan.





  1. 1.0 1.1 We see that Polo's error as to the relationship between Kublai and Kaidu, and as to the descent of the latter (see Vol I. p. 186) was not a slip, but persistent. The name of Kaidu's grandfather is here in the G. T. written precisely Chagatai (Ciagatai).

    Kaidu was the son of Kashin, son of Okkodai, who was the third son of Chinghiz and his successor in the Kaanate. Kaidu never would acknowledge the supremacy of Kublai, alleging his own superior claim to the Kaanate, which Chinghiz was said to have restricted to the house of Okkodai as long as it should have a representative. From the vicinity of Kaidu's position to the territories occupied by the branch of Chaghatai he exercised great influence over its princes, and these were often his allies in the constant hostilities that he maintained against the Kaan. Such circumstances may have led Polo to confound Kaidu with the house of Chaghatai. Indeed, it is not easy to point out the mutual limits of their territories, and these must have been somewhat complex, for we find Kaidu and Borrak Khan of Chaghatai at one time exercising a kind of joint sovereignty in the cities of Bokhara and Samarkand. Probably, indeed, the limits were in a great measure tribal rather than territorial. But it may be gathered that Kaidu's authority extended over Kashgar and the cities bordering the south slopes of the Thian Shan as far east as Kara Khoja, also the valley of the Talas River, and the country north of the Thian Shan from Lake Balkhash eastward to the vicinity of Barkul, and in the further north the country between the Upper Yenisei and the Irtish.

    Kaidu died in 1301 at a very great age. He had taken part, it was said, in 41 pitched battles. He left 14 sons (some accounts say 40), of whom the eldest, called Shabar, succeeded him. He joined Dua Khan of Chaghatai in making submission to Teimur Kaan, the successor of Kublai; but before long, on a quarrel occurring between the two former, Dua seized the territory of Shabar, and as far as I can learn no more is heard of the house of Kaidu. Vambery seems to make the Khans of Khokand to be of the stock of Kaida; but whether they claim descent from Yunus Khan, as he says, or from a son of Baber left behind in his flight from Ferghana, as Pandit Manphul states, the genealogy would be from Chaghatai, not from Kaidu.

  2. 2.0 2.1 "To the N.N.W. a desert of 40 days' extent divides the states of Kublai from those of Kaidu and Dua. This frontier extends for 30 days' journey from east to west. From point to point," etc.; see continuation of this quotation from Rashiduddin, in Vol. I. p. 214.