- Project Runeberg -  Through Siberia - the land of the future /
354

(1914) [MARC] Author: Fridtjof Nansen Translator: Arthur G. Chater - Tema: Russia
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THROUGH SIBERIA
upon the Sea of Okhotsk and went northward along its
coast. But after a voyage of three months his frail
craft were wrecked at the mouth of the River Ulya.
After wintering there among the Gilyaks and forcing aid
from them, he penetrated overland to the River Maya,
which flows into the Aldån, and thus reached the Lena
again and came back to Yakutsk after an absence of
some years.
This remarkable journey gave the impulse to the
conquest of the Amiir country, in the first place by the
daring Cossack chief, Yeroféi Påvlovich Khabarov.
With a small band of Cossacks Khabarov reached the
upper Amiir (near Urka) in 1650 ; but here he met with
opposition from the native Daurs under their chiefs.
After many engagements, and after obtaining help from
Yakutsk, he vanquished them, and thanks to his fire
arms and artillery he advanced victoriously in the
following years and founded the Russian dominion
there. In April 1653 the little band of Cossacks en
countered for the first time an army of the masters of
the country, the Manchu Chinese, and defeated them.
But the Chinese returned with reinforcements, and the
struggle was continued for many years with varying
success by the numerically far inferior Cossacks. The
Russian fortified station of Albasin was several times
besieged by superior forces ; once, in 1686, by 5000
infantry, 3000 cavalry, and forty guns, while the town
was defended by a few hundred Cossacks.
The end was that by the treaty of Nérchinsk, Sep
tember 9, 1689, the Russians were obliged to restore all
their conquests on the Amiir to the Chinese. This
peace has been called the darkest point in the history
of the Russian Empire. According to the treaty
the frontier between Russia and China was to be the
Stanovoi "range of mountains extending to the sea";
354

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