Reader’s will know I have a strong attachment to Mongolia so look for opportunities to promote the country and to dispel some of the false impressions we may have of Mongolia and the Mongols from our upbringing and reading such historical source material as W.E. Johns’ Biggles books. I do from time to time come across a gem and one of my contacts put me in touch with the following book:
A Tour in Mongolia
(Mrs. Edward Manico Gull)
with an introduction bearing on the political aspect of that country by
(“Times” Correspondent in Peking)
Illustrated by the Author’s Photographs and a Map
Methuen & Co. Ltd.
36 Essex Street W.C.
This book was first published in 1920. It was written at the time the Republic of China had invaded Mongolia to quash Mongolian independence, or at least, Mongolia’s autonomous position in the Qing Empire. In December 1911, Outer Mongolia took advantage of the Xinhai Revolution to declare independence from the Qing Dynasty. The Mongolians set up an absolute theocratic monarchy led by Bogd Khan. However, the newly-founded Republic of China considered Mongolia as part of its territory. In the 1915 tripartite Kyakhta agreement, Russia, which had strategic interests in Mongolian independence, but did not want to completely alienate China; the Republic of China and Mongolia agreed that Mongolia was to be autonomous under Chinese suzerainty.
However, Russia was focussed on the First World War and then the October Revolution. Mongolia was threatened by The Russian Civil War as it was drawn in by White and Red Russian forces in the area. In the summer of 1918 one of the factions in Mongolia asked for Chinese military assistance. The Chinese deployed a small force to Urga. Meanwhile, the Mongolian nobility had become more and more dissatisfied with their marginalization on the hands of the theocratic government, and, also provoked by the threat of the Outer Mongolia’s independence from the pan-Mongolist movement in Siberia, by 1919, were ready to accept a return to the old Qing system, i.e. to be governed by Beijing, if that meant the restoration of their old privileges.
The Occupation of Mongolia by the Beiyang Government of the Republic of China began in October 1919 and lasted until early 1921, when Chinese troops in Urga were routed by Baron Ungern‘s ((I first came across the good Baron in 2007 when looking for something else – naturally – see Imperial Council of Princes and Counts of Germany and Europe )) White Russian ((from a wargamers point of view, the good Baron is a most interesting character and one that would be perfect in a wargame set in Mongolia in the 1920s – perhaps using Pulp Figures for another Rough Adventure )) and Mongolian forces, who, in turn, were defeated by the Red Army and its Mongolian allies led by Sukhbaatar by June 1921. This bought an end to the Bogd Khanate government of Mongolia and led to the formation of the Mongolian Communist Government.
This then was the environment that Beatrix rode into on her camel and reflects the country she wrote about in her book.
A Tour of Mongolia is available online as a digital print, and the original illustrations from the book are included in the digital edition – a very worthy read.
As a taster, I have included the first chapter below: