W E have already spoken, in Chapter V , of the rising power of the Khwirazmshdhs, or Kings of Khiva, who were descended from Anushtigi'n, the cup-bearer of Malikshah. A t the period which we have now reached, viz., the beginning of the thirteenth century of the Christian Era, ' A l a V d - D i n Muhammad, the great-grandson of the stiff-necked Atsiz, sat on the throne of KhwArazm, whence he ruled over an empire which, for a few years, rivalled in extent that of the Seljuqs in their most prosperous days. A t the time of which we are now speaking, it extended from the Ural Mountains to the Persian Gulf, and from the Indus almost to the Euphrates, and included nearly the whole of Persia except the provinces of Fars and Khuzistan. That this empire of Khwarazm contained in itself the elements of a stability greater than that of its predecessors and victims, the empires built up by the houses of Ghazna, Seljiiq or Ghiir, is in the highest degree improbable ; but, in the normal course of events, it might easily have endured for a century or more. T h e event which annihilated it, amongst many things of far greater value, was a catastrophe which, though probably quite unforeseen, even on the very eve of its incidence, changed the face of the world, set in motion forces which are still effective, and inflicted more suffering on


the human race than any other event in the world's history of

which records are preserved to us ; I mean the Mongol