Ghost of Tsushima, discovering the Mongols
Let’s find out the story of the enemies present in Ghost of Tsushima, or the Mongols led by Khubilai Khan
The announcement of the release date of Ghost of Tsushima surprised everyone a bit; June 26 is just around the corner and the statement that emerges from Sony’s choices made with The Last of Us part II and just Ghost of Tsushima it seems obvious: closing the PlayStation 4 generation in a bombastic way. Beyond the reflections on the release date, however, the trailer for the Sucker Punch title also showed several interesting elements from the point of view of the plot, making us more consistently steal the nuances of a narrative background that is nothing short of fascinating. The peculiarity of the transposition of feudal Japan chosen by SP lies entirely in the historical period selected, that is, that of the two Mongol invasions of Khubilai Khan. Although the title points to a temporal level to represent the first of the two invasions, namely that of 1274, you can already glimpse from the trailer some scenes that would be a strong reference also to subsequent events. Poetic licenses, in the event that they were moved a few years earlier, which would not affect the historical elements present, given that beyond everything there is still talk of fictional videogame works. However, given the strong historical contamination, why not offer you a series of hints related to those who in Ghost of Tsushima will be your most bitter enemies, that is the Mongols of Khubilai Khan.
Before the great empire of Genghis Khan, the Mongols were one of the nomadic populations of Asia, more precisely the one located in the southwestern area of Manchuria. What was once a great empire in history was therefore originally a large group of tribes, united for the first time only in the first half of 1100 from Kabul Khan. Unfortunately, however, the duration of this first empire was decidedly short due above all to internal disputes between the tribes who did not recognize either in Kabul, or in his successor Kutula, a great and charismatic figure capable of leading them. It is therefore only with Genghis Khan that the Mongols had a true form of Empire.
Born to a chieftain of the Onon area, he began his rise to power under the Khan of the Keraites. His rule over his tribes came across the battlefield to demonstrate not only his military superiority, but his strategic acumen as well. In 1206 he could count the assimilation under his dominion of most of the Mongolian tribes and in those years he received the appointment of Great Khan during the Kurultajor the military council of the Mongol aristocracy which saw the presence of all the Khans of the tribes.
Elected universal ruler of the Mongolian tribes, Genghis became Genghiz to demonstrate his supremacy from the very name. Genghiz Khan administered the kingdom flawlessly, leaving independence to the Khans in their territories but requiring them to follow any kind of order they received from the imperial family. The power of Genghiz Khan derived directly from Tengri, or the God of Mongolian culture, therefore the royal family or “House of the Golden Bloodline” commanded all tribes by divine will, reporting the will of Tengri.
If, therefore, from a political point of view, Genghiz Khan kept the pulse of the situation also thanks to a system of informants, on the battlefield, on the other hand, decisions were taken only and only by him. His strategic acumen was unmatched, the troops on horseback they were trained to act in total silence, above all guided by a system of movements and maneuvers that today we would dare to define almost geometric. All the rest was made by his brutality towards i enemieswhich aroused fear even to the toughest opponents of the Great Khan.
With the death of Genghiz Khan, there was a period (1229-1241) in which his son reigned Ogodei who continued the plan to conquer China set by his father but without having the same effectiveness. In fact, in that period his attention was placed on Batu, the grandson of Genghiz, who with his campaign of Europe dominated the military scene of the time undisputed. In 1241, however, Ogodei died, leaving the highest place in the hierarchical pyramid of the Mongolian people empty. Guyuk was therefore elected, a figure who decided to stop the European conquest to pursue the aims of Genghiz Khan towards China. Guyuk was successful, overthrowing the Sung dynasty and imposing the first non-Chinese dynasty of the Empire, thus effectively becoming the first Mongol-Chinese emperor, i.e. Khubilai Khan.
The expansion campaigns of the Empire continued, especially with the success of the conquest of Baghdad in 1258 which decreed the formation of the fourth state of the Empire, or the Kahanate of Persia which was added to the Kahanate Chagatai, the Kahanate of the Golden Horde. and the Chinese Kahanate. In this period, however, there was also an opening towards trade with Europe, also thanks to the increasing interest in the Eastern world of states such as France or the Maritime Republic of Venice (Marco Polo tells you anything ?!). From 1330 until the end of the fourteenth century there was then the constant and increasing decline of the empire with the consequent fragmentation into small Kahanates that ended up disappearing gradually. The only exclamation point in this period were the exploits against the Ottomans at the hands of Tamerlanewho chose Samarkand as the capital of his domain.
But what is interesting for the purposes of Ghost of Tsushima is the period between 1268 and 1282, or the period in which the invasions of the Mongol Empire led by the Khubilai Khan towards Japan. We are in 1274, Khubilai Khan has just absorbed China giving life to the Yuan dynasty, but the internal feuds between the tribes have not subsided and this leads the Khubilai Khan to want to propose a further show of strength to demonstrate his grandeur. The chosen target is therefore the Japanese territory, in the middle of the Kamakura period and controlled by the Shogun Koreyasu. The Khubilai Khan’s strategy is different, before any conflict he wants to prove to be a strong diplomat for which emissaries were sent carrying the proposal to surrender Japan to the Mongol empire without any bloodshed. The answer was not long in coming and was obviously negative. Once the latter was established, the Khubilai Khan’s strategy was clear: to approach the coasts of Japan from the Korean peninsula, send a first handful of troops to exhaust the Japanese army and then subsequently send the remaining of the 30,000 soldiers employed with the fleet.
And so in 1274 the invasion began, with the Mongol troops demonstrating their superiority not only militarily but also strategically. During battles of Akasaka and Torikai-Gata however, the Japanese samurai offer a historical defense by sacrificing themselves for their country and managing to stop the handful of Mongolian soldiers now at the end of their strength. The Mongol retreat on his fleet is only a time-consuming waiting for reinforcements to arrive with the second wave. While everything seems to turn towards the Mongols, a typhoon sweeps away all the ships, making it impossible for the war to continue and forcing the Khubilai Khan to retreat.
The danger of a second invasion was anything but utopia for this reason the samurai of the Rising Sun decided not to remain unprepared for the Mongol offensive, erecting a wall on the coast of the Bay of Hakata to prevent docking of the fleet. Once again, on the strength of the excessive power shown above, the Khubilai Khan decided to send five emissaries to Japan to negotiate the surrender. Upon the arrival of the emissaries to welcome them there was the regent of the Shogun Koreyasu, Hojo Tokimune, who opted for an effective response, having the five emissaries beheaded in Kamakura (just a scene from the trailer reminded us of this event). The Khubilai furious for the refusal towards his magnanimity, therefore decided to carry out the second invasion with 140,000 soldiers.
The spring of 1281 was therefore the scene of numerous battles and despite the wall, the Mongol army managed to land and propose an offensive to Fukuoka that the Japanese struggled to stem. The difference in level of soldiers in the field, 140,000 against 40,000 was merciless and yet the samurai continued to resist for months. Finally, in August, another typhoon larger than that of previous years, once again thwarted the reinforcements expected by the Mongols from southern China, wiping out the fleet on the Japanese coasts and forcing the Khubilai Khan into a second resounding retreat. The Japanese creed wants the land of the Rising Sun to be the homeland of the gods, a sacred territory protected by divine will. For this reason the term was coined on that occasion kamikaze which means “divine wind” and which was later applied to the Japanese pilots who attacked Pearl Harbor in World War II.
Briefly retracing the history of the Mongol empire allows us to understand the fascination of the narrative background chosen by Sucker Punch for his Ghost of Tsushima: a detailed and characteristic choice that tries to clear the fumes of the cliché from the use of feudal Japan. as a narrative backdrop. Furthermore, being able to take advantage of possible poetic licenses and variations on the theme, regarding the Mongol invasions of Japan, could allow us to experience the reincarnation of that “divine wind”, which twice put a spanner in the works of what is was the second most important Mongolian emperor in history.