Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Mid-week mediocrity and Mongol invasions

It's Wednesday evening and I'm half-way through the week. During my lunchbreak (does that last word need to be hyphenated or can it stand as a compound noun?) I managed to watch a documentary about the mysterious disappearance of Kublai Khan's fleet off the Japanese coast during the attempted Mongol invasion of Japan. I had heard of this historical episode before and remembered something about a divine wind "Kami-kaze" destroying the Mongol fleet or blowing it away and out to sea. A quick precis of the explanation provided by the documentary Kublai Khan's Lost Fleet: The Mongol's did attempt to land on the coast of the Japanese island of Takeshima but were repelled by Samurai. The general in charge of the invasion was caught between a rock and a hard place, being unable to return to Japan in defeat but fearful of being slaughtered by the Japanese samurai, and so vacillated off shore somewhere until a couple of weeks later a typhoon came along and smashed most of the fleet. The Mongols/Chinese were the master ship-builders of the age and properly built ocean-going Chinese vessels would have withstood the typhoon. However, Kublai Khan had been hasty in his move to invasion and used many river-boats to build his invasion fleet. These river boats would have capsized in the rough seas. Also, the invasion armada was constructed in large part by conscripted (slave) labourers whose country had recently been hijacked by the Mongol invaders and so were none too keen to perform at their best by constructing good, solid warships with which the khan could further his ambitions of world conquest. They built shoddy ships of which many perished in the typhoon. The documentary followed the trail of evidence recruited by the principal investigator in support of the explanation for the fleet's disappearance. The explanation evolved over many, many years of research and marine archaeology.

Back in the real world, I am getting my class into shape for the graduation show on Sunday morning. Ho hum.

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