History of Mongol Empire
biggest land empire in history
1279 - 1368
Mongol Empire was the biggest land empire in history. Its territory extended from the Yellow Sea in eastern Asia to the borders of eastern Europe. At various times it included China, Korea, Mongolia, Persia (now Iran), Turkestan, and Armenia. It also included parts of Burma, Vietnam, Thailand, and Russia.
The Mongols, who eventually became known as the Tatars, were the most savage conquerors of history. But this vast empire helped increase contacts between peoples of different cultures. Migrations fostered these contacts and promoted trade. Roads were built to connect Russia and Persia with eastern Asia. Many Europeans came to China, and Chinese went to Russia and other parts of Europe. Printing and other Chinese inventions such as paper, gunpowder, and the compass may have been introduced to the West during Mongol times.......
The Mongols originally consisted of loosely organized nomadic tribes in Mongolia, Manchuria, and Siberia. They lived in felt tents called yurts, and raised ponies, sheep, camels, oxen, and goats. They ate mainly meat and milk. Every Mongol man was a soldier and learned to ride and use a bow and arrow skillfully.
Genghis Khan. In the late 1100's, Temujin, a Mongol chieftain who later became known as Genghis Khan, rose to power as khan. He began to unify and organize the scattered Mongol and other nomadic tribes into a superior fighting force. Genghis Khan was shrewd, ruthless, ambitious, and a strict disciplinarian. After he became the undisputed master of Mongolia, and "lord of all the peoples dwelling in felt tents," he set out on a spectacular career of conquest.
Genghis Khan aimed to train the best-disciplined and most effective army of his time. As part of his military strategy, he formed an officer corps from Mongols who were trained in military tactics. These men were then stationed with various tribes as a training force. The Mongol tribes specialized in the art of siege. They used storming ladders and sandbags to fill in moats. Besiegers approached fortress walls under the protection of gigantic shields. Each tribe prepared a siege train, which consisted of special arms and equipment.
Invasions. Genghis Khan wanted to conquer China. He attacked first Xi Xia, a state along the northwestern border of China. Xi Xia represented the Chinese military pattern, with Chinese-trained armies and Chinese-built fortresses. In this campaign, Genghis Khan could evaluate his armies and train them for war against China.
The Mongols subdued Xi Xia, and then turned to North China. There the Ruzhen tribe of the Manchu people had established the Jin dynasty. Genghis Khan chose spring for his assault on China, so that his horses would have food when crossing the Gobi Desert. Warriors carried everything they needed on the march, and each rider had a spare horse. The hordes drove herds of cattle for food in the desert. The Mongol conquest of North China took several decades. It was not completed until 1234, after Genghis Khan's death.
In 1218, Genghis Khan broke off his attack on China and turned west toward central Asia and eastern Europe. His armies charged into the steppes of Russia and the Muslim lands, including Persia. They came within reach of Constantinople (now Istanbul) and destroyed much of Islamic-Arabic civilization.
All along their routes, the Mongol armies ruthlessly eliminated any resistance. They spread terror and destruction everywhere. When conquered territories resisted, the Mongols slaughtered the population of entire cities.
Genghis Khan died in 1227. The Mongols pushed into Europe under Ogotai, a son of Genghis Khan. In 1241, about 150,000 Mongol riders laid waste a large part of Hungary and Poland, threatening the civilization of western Europe. Ogotai died in the midst of this campaign. His death forced the Mongol generals to break off the campaign and return to Mongolia to elect a new khan.
Kublai Khan, a grandson of Genghis Khan, completed the conquest of China in 1279, after attacking the Song dynasty in South China. Kublai Khan's Yuan dynasty lasted until 1368. He established the Mongol winter capital at Cambaluc (also spelled Khanbalikh), the site of present-day Beijing. Further attempts to extend the Mongol Empire to Japan were unsuccessful. Mongol warriors fought unsuccessfully at sea and in the tropical climate of Southeast Asia.
The Mongols under Kublai Khan had a reputation for greater tolerance than that shown under earlier Mongol rulers. Kublai permitted the existence of various religions. He enlisted the services of Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, and Taoists. He supported Confucianism and Chinese political ideas, though he avoided having too many Chinese in high offices. In Persia and other Islamic lands, many Mongols adopted Muslim customs and the Muslim faith.
European contacts. Marco Polo was one of the most famous Europeans to travel to the Orient at this time. His travel records contain much interesting information about the Mongols. His reports of beautiful Chinese cities and the riches of the country he called Cathay did much to arouse the interest of Europeans in exploring the possibilities of trade with the Orient. Many Europeans, including Christopher Columbus, then sought to go to the Orient by the sea route.
The Khan expressed a desire to have more missionaries sent to China. Dominican and Franciscan missionaries were welcomed by the Khan in Cambaluc. A Franciscan, John of Montecorvino, built a church in the capital and converted many people to Christianity.
Decline. The Mongol Empire did not last long, because it was too big and had no unity of culture. Actually, it began to disintegrate shortly after it reached its peak of expansion in the late 1200's. The Mongols were dauntless fighters, but had little experience in administration. They relied upon other peoples to look after their affairs. They brought foreigners into China to avoid total reliance on the Chinese. The Mongols temporarily suspended the Chinese civil service system to allow these other peoples to assume positions.
Corrupt government and incompetent administration resulted in revolts in different parts of the empire. Even before the fall of the Yuan dynasty in China, the Mongols had lost control of many of their conquered lands. In some areas, they had never succeeded in firmly establishing their rule after their military conquests. Even at the peak of his power, Kublai Khan's authority did not extend to such distant places as Persia and Russia. The Mongols also lacked a firm hold in Southeast Asia.
Breakup. When Kublai Khan died, his empire broke up into several parts. These smaller empires were the Golden Horde on the steppes of southern Russia and the Balkans, the Mongolian-Chinese Yuan Empire, and the realm of the Ilkhans in western Asia. A revolution in China in the 1300's ended the Yuan dynasty and restored Chinese rule in the form of the Ming dynasty.
The great Timur, or Tamerlane, a descendant of Genghis Khan, joined some of the Mongol empires together again and extended his rule over much of Asia in the late 1300's. A descendant of Tamerlane named Babar established a powerful Mongol state in India in 1526. Babar's realm was called the Kingdom of the Great Moguls. The term Mogul comes from the Persian word mughul, meaning a Mongol. A Mogul emperor, Shah Jahan, built the beautiful Taj Mahal in the early 1600's. The British destroyed the Mogul kingdom after it had begun to break up in the 1700's.
Contributor: Richard L. Davis, Ph.D., Prof. of History, Brown Univ.
The Mongol Conquests: Time Frame AD 1200-1300. Time-Life Bks., 1989.
Morgan, David. The Mongols. Basil Blackwell, 1986.
Nicolle, David. The Mongol Warlords. Firebird Bks., 1990.
SOURCE: IBM 1999 WORLD BOOK
In 1237, Batu, a grandson of the conqueror Genghis Khan, led between 150,000 and 200,000 Mongol troops into Russia. The Mongols destroyed one Russian town after another. In 1240, they destroyed Kiev, and Russia became part of the Mongol Empire. It was included in a section called the Golden Horde. The capital of the Golden Horde was at Sarai, near what is now Volgograd.
Batu forced the surviving Russian princes to pledge allegiance to the Golden Horde and to pay heavy taxes. From time to time, the Mongols left their capital and wiped out the people of various areas because of their disloyalty. The Mongols also appointed the Russian grand prince and forced many Russians to serve in their armies. But they interfered little with Russian life in general. The Mongols were chiefly interested in maintaining their power and collecting taxes.
During the period of Mongol rule, which ended in the late 1400's, the new ideas and reforming spirit of the Renaissance were dramatically changing many aspects of life in Western Europe. But under Mongol control, Russia was to a great extent cut off from these important Western in
The Mongol Empire, also known as the Mongolian Empirewas the largest contiguous empire in world history and for some time was the most feared in Eurasia. It was the product of Mongol and Turkic unification and invasions, which began with Genghis Khan being proclaimed ruler in 1206, eventually sparking the conquests. By 1279, the Mongol Empire covered over 33,000,000 kmÂ² (12,741,000 sq mi), up to 22% of Earth's total land area. It held sway over a population of over 100 million people. However, by that time the empire had already fragmented, with the Golden Horde and the Chagatai Khanate being de facto independent and refusing to accept Kublai Khan as Khagan. By the time of Kublai Khan's death, with no accepted Khagan in existence, the Mongol Empire had already split up into four se
parate khanates. During the beginning of the 14th century, most of the khanates of the Empire gradually broke off. They went on to be absorbed and defeated.
Introduction of Mongolian history with Chinggis Khan
The history of Mongolia is dominated by the mythical stature of Genghis Khan (Chinggis Khan for the mongols) who has the head of these hordes of wandering tribes reunified under its banner, conquered At the 13th century the vastest empire which the ground ever knew, cutting through has path of blood and fury of the Pacific Ocean to the heart of Europe.
Temudjin, its true name before being proclaimed Chinggis Khan, is quasi has divinity for Mongolian: it brought to them glory, the conquests and has code of conduct and organization. Its image is more than ever present in Mongolia of today although it was presented like has sanguinary barbarian by the official history during Communism. The savage wandering warriors of the steppes durably and painfully marked all the people which knew them closely gold by far, and to to to to their conquering forwardings are reported since the 5th century before JC in the first Chinese writings.
This vast crucible hardware ground of high plateaus was the many tribes and civilizations, whose majority are little known. The last genetic studies thus confirmed that the amÃ©rindiens and the tribes of Siberia and the North of Mongolia cuts common origins.
The Mongolian steppes are also the cradle of terrible Huns and to their head Attila the plague of God who sowed panic grass in Christendom, to the fall of the Romain Worsens.
The Mongolian Worsens invincible ace for him will last only two centuries time that the warriors are not assimilated by conquered civilizations. The last three centuries history, less known is that of has Chinese supervision until the independence of 1920, then of has Russian supervision, before the democratization and the opening of the country in 1990.
Mongolian history chronology : Prehistory, Hunnu, Apogee & Fall of Mongolian Empire, Independence...
500 000 BC Human presence in Mongolia
4000 BC to 2000 BC Bronze age
2000 av. JC Developpement of herding in Mongolia
700 Ã 500 av. JC Transition to the beginning of the iron age
400 av. JC Construction of the Great Wall of China, who was used as a frontier between China and Hunnu
Hunnu and next states
209 BC Modun Shanyui built first state, which named Hunnu
200 BC Xionghu (Hunnu) Mongolian Empire reaches the Yellow river
AD 1-100 Xionghu expelled from China
156 AD Xianbei (Sumbe) defeat Hunnu state and became most powerful in Central Asia
300 AD Toba
317 Xianbei conquer northern China
386 to 533 Period of Northern Wei Dynasty, established by the Toba in northern China mid-8th century
Possible early Mongol links with Tibetan Buddhism
840 Kyrghiz defeat ruling Uighurs
916 to 1125 Beginning of Kitan period , established over eastern Mongolia, Manchuria, and northern China
1122 The ruling Kitan defeated by Chineese
Great Mongolian Empire
1162 The child Temujin, later to become Chinggis Khan, is born
1189 Temujin takes the title of Chinggis Khan(Universal King)
1189 to 1205 Chinggis Khan unites Mongols
1206 Chinggis Khan proclaims himself ruler Of the Mongol Empire
1211 Chinggis Khan launches attacks to China
1215 Khanbalik (Beijing) falls to the Mongols
1227 Chinggis Khan dies
1129 Ogedei Khan, Chinggisâ€™s third and favourite son, proclaimed the second khan
1231 Korea invaded
1235 Karakorum built by Ogedei Khan
Marco Polo arrives in Karakorum
1236 to 1240 Campaigns against Russia by Bat Khan, little son of Chinggis Khan, with his Golden Horde
1237 Start of campaigns to Russia and Europe (battke of the river Kalka) that was halted at Vienna with death of Ogedei
1240 to 1480 Suzerainty over Russia established by Golden Horde
Conquest of Song China
1241 Dead of Ogedei
1241 to 1242 Poland and Hungarn invaded
1246 Guyuk, son of Ogedei, becomes Khan, he dies that year
1251 Mongke (Monkh) from another wing of the family becomes Khan
1251 Iran invaded
1259 Dead of Mongke, his brother Kublai becomes Khan
1260 Mongols defeated by Egyptian Mamluks
1261 Khubilai becomes great khan
1264 Capital moved from Karakorum to Khanbalik (Beijing)
1274 and 1281 Unsuccessful attempts at invasion of Japan
1275 Marco Polo arrives in China
1276 Hangzhou, capital of Song China falls to the Mongols
1279 Kublai Khan, Chinggis Khanâ€™s grandson, completes the conquest of China
1294 Kublai Khan dies
1299 Mongol invasion of Syria
1368 Mongols driven out of China ,Yuan Dynasty destroyed
Fall Mongolian Empire and subjugation by Manchu
1400-1454 Civil war in Mongolia
1578 Altan Khan converts to Buddhism and gives the title Dalai Lama to Sonam Gyatso
1586 Erdene Zuu, Mongoliaâ€™s first monastry, is started
1641 Zanabazar proclaimed leader of Buddhists in Mongolia
1911 Independence from China
1915 Russia, China and Mongolia sign agreement to grant independence to Mongolia
1919 Chineese invade Mongolia again
Independence, socialism years and democracy
1921 Chineese defeated, Mongoliaâ€™s independence proclaimed by Sukhbaatar
1924 Bogd Khan (Holy King) dies, the Mongolian Peopleâ€™s Republic declared by the communists
1939 Russian and Mongolian troops fight Japan in eastern Mongolia
1990 Pro-democracy protests held, communists win multi-party election
1992 New constitution announced, communists win another election
1996 Democratic Coalition unexpevtedly thrashes communists in an election
2000 Communists unexpectedly thrash the Democrats in the election
History of Mongolia : The Huns, Xianbi, Turkic Empire, Kidans and the Mongolian Empire..
Mongolia before Mongolians proper was inhabited by various nations since the ancient times. The earliest known governmental entity in what is nowadays Mongolia is the Xiongnu, or Hun state. Historians still argue whether the Huns were a proto-Mongolian tribe, or a proto-Turkic ethnic group. Nevertheless, the Huns formed a highly elaborate state in Central Asia led by a monarch called â€œshanyuâ€.
In 209 B. C. new shanyu Modun started to subjugate neighbouring nations and created a vast kingdom covering most of Mongolia and some Central Asia. The Hun state rivaled with Chinese Han dynasty that resulted in a major conflict for the supremacy in the region. Although shanyu Modunâ€™s army was largely outnumbered by the Chinese, he managed to defeat the latter and make a peace treaty. The Chinese emperor recognized Modun and the Hun state. The Hun leader also successfully engaged in the westerly battles against the Sogdians an Iranian-speaking people.
At the time of Modunâ€™s death in 174 B. C., the Huns had an efficient administrative system and a superb military. Huns practiced shamanism and worshipped variuos spirits and demons. The only challenger of the Huns was China. Eventually, the ruling house of Modun began to stagnate and princes plunged into intrigues that weakened the state affairs. In 90 B. C. Chinese emperor U-di launched a massive onslaught on Huns. Shanyu moved Huns and other subjects of the kingdom to meet them. The battle of Yangjan marked the last great victory of the Hun state.
After that battle, Hun princes renewed conspiracies and fights over power in the ever weakening kingdom. Triggered by Chinese emissaries, the non-Hun subjugates began to secede and the centralizing will of the shanyu waned day after day. The relations with the Han dynasty combined wars and peace treaties alike.
In 48 A. D., the Hun state broke into northern and southern parts. The southern Huns recognized the suzerainty of the Chinese emperor. The northerners faced a great many problems. First of all, the neighbouring Xianbi (Syanbi) made a military offensive against the Northern Huns. Crippled by Chinese enmity and Xianbi aggression, the Northern Huns migrated westwards in circa 150 A. D. Thus, the northern branch of Huns tore into four groups. Xianbis absorbed some Huns. Others moved to China and Central Asia. The very last remnants of Huns went far west and became known to Europeans. Their infamous leader Attila initiated the turmoil of European nations and created an ephemeral state in Central Europe, which collapsed after his death.
Xianbi and Joujan
History generally considers Xianbis to be of Mongolian origin. Their first leader Tanshihuai gathered loose clans and invaded Huns and the Chinese. He rose to power at a very young age and accomplished important political objectives for the Xianbi nation. He got rid of Huns and in 158 A. D. secured the southern borders by attacking China. The latter answered with a 30-thousand army and was utterly defeated. Tanshihuai became an acknowledged leader in Central Asia, but died early. The single Xianbi state fell into feuds and never again unified.
The years 250-550 A. D. were quite tumultuous in both Central Asia and China. Xianbis and Huns assailed China and produced many short-living governments. Every one waged wars with each other. Jiao state of Huns and Muyun and Toba states of Xianbis were the most prominent of that timeâ€™s chaos of wars and revolts. Xianbi leaders called themselves â€œkhansâ€. This term applied later to all steppe governments.
In the steppes of Mongolia, some Xianbis brought into being the Joujan kingdom. A huge domain covered entire Mongolia and balanced the power with Toba empire and Tibetans. With a complex governmental system, Joujan effectively brought under its control western tribes of Tele. Joujan introduced a military subordination. Like Huns, Joujan people believed in natural spirits and exercised divination and sorcery. Nevertheless, historical documents suggest that Buddhist missionaries were present in Joujan and had many converts. Especially, monk Dharmapriya converted over 300 Joujan families.
In the 6th century A. D. Joujans ended a mutually exhausting war with Toba. Toba, a Xianbi kingdom in China, soon fell to the natives, who regained control of their land. Joujan suffered mutiny in subjugated tribes, especially Turkics. In 545, Turkic leader Bumin rejected Joujan dominance and drove them to China where they either perished, or assimilated.
The Turkic empire
The name â€œTurkicâ€ is intentional here to avoid confusion with modern Turks. Although modern Turks share a common root with Turkics, they both are separate nations chronologically and geographically.
Bumin and his partner Istemi created a truly Eurasian empire from the Yellow Sea to the Urals. In a short period of 555-590 A. D., Turkic army reached the Caspian Sea and made a contact with Byzantine and Iran. The Turkic empire had the Silk Road winding through its land which was an important geopolitical benefit. The Turkics managed to win over China and demand silk as reparations. Also, Turkics successfully conducted diplomatic relations with the Byzantine empire and received ambassadors from Constantinople.
Such a vast monarchy gradually slided into feuds and separated into Eastern and Western kingdoms. The cause of division was strife among princes and insurrection of conquered nations. In the early 7th century, Eastern Turkic khan Kat-Il khan surrendered to the Chinese Tang dynasty. Western Turkics formed a confederation to appease local tribes, but eventually disintegrated. The Tang dynasty established its hegemony of Central Asia by the year 630 A. D.
The Turkic empire is marked by an upsurge of written documents preserved mainly in stone monuments. These stone inscriptions written by an ancient Turkic alphabet tell much of their lifestyle and religion. Turkics were heathens and practiced shamanism.
Turkic people under the Tang dynasty fought in Chinese armies against Koreans, Tibetans etc. But in 689 A. D., as the Turkic stone says, they revolted and established the Second Turkic empire. Turkic people of the Second kingdom are called â€œBlue Turksâ€, for they revered sky.
Blue Turks returned to the steppes and found themselves surrounded by enemies. The Chinese were in the south. Karluks and Kyrgyz nation were to the west. Blue Turks led by a brilliant general Kul-tegin crushed each of them and became a challenging force in the Central Asia. Under khan Bilge, general Kul-tegin and councellor Tonyukuk, Blue Turks revived the olden traditions. The following generations enjoyed a relative peace. Next khan Yollig-tegin was the author of several stone writings.
In 745 A. D., the Second Turkic empire suffered a civil war with Uighurs, a Turkic-speaking, yet separate nation. Uighurs won this conflict and on the ruins of Blue Turks set up their own kingdom.
Uighurs and Kidans
Uighurs were a Turkic-speaking nomadic nation that lived in Central Asia. They are not to be confused with modern Uighurs who are primarily settled people. The Second Kingdom of Blue Turks fell victim to bloody court intrigues. The subjects began to rebel. Uighurs were successful in the mutiny and managed to overthrow the Turkic rule. Uighur khan Peilo asserted his independence and initiated diplomatic relations with Tang China. His heir Moyanchur sat on the throne in 747 A. D., when he suddenly faced riots of Uighur nobility. This event shows the falsehood of the European myth about the absolute authority of Oriental rulers. On the contrary, Central Asian monarchs had a limited set of political powers. Aristocrats had such freedom, which allowed them to have a sort of â€œchecks and balancesâ€ system. This political structure was highly efficient in the various steppe monarchies.
Having defeated the rebels, Moyanchur khan led Uighurs to wars that secured the state. In the west, he utterly crushed Turgesh and Kyrgyz nations. Later, the Uighur kingdom waged brilliant campaigns to fend off external enemies and became a Central Asian hegemon. Uighurs were involved in several Chinese rebellions and internal feuds. For example, Uighurs interfered in Chinese war against An Lushan warlord. Moreover, they had relationships with Tibet and these three kingdoms, namely Uighur, China and Tibet, battled with each other, forming alliances and coalitions.
Continuous wars enfeebled the Uighur kingdom. In the 9th century, Uighurs faced separatist tendencies among the conquered peoples. Most notably, Kyrgyz lord Ajo declared his independence in 818 A. D. and threatened Uighurs to overrun them. Thus it happened in 840. The Kyrgyz army took the Uighur capital and treasury and ousted all natives. The Uighur remnants led by Pan Tore fled to Zungaria. Some of them escaped to the Far East in Manchuria.
Uighurs at first worshipped natural spirits and demons. Then in the second half of the 8th century, Uighurs had converted into Manichaean faith, introduced to them from Iran. That was a mystic blend of Christian and Gnostic beliefs. The new religion brought a new alphabet derived from the Sogdian writing form.
The Kidans were of Mongolian stock. That was proven by prominent scholars of later period. Although they are not direct ancestors of modern Mongolians, Kidans spoke a language akin to the latter and inhabited Western Manchuria. Kidans had an elective monarchy. Representatives of eight Kidan clans elected a single ruler for three years. In such a way, Kidans lived for most of the 9th century, heeding not the wars of neighbours.
But in 907, a triumphant ruler Elui Ambagan refused to give up the position after three years and announced his claim on the title of emperor. During the next years, Elui Ambagan conquered neighbouring nations, thus strengthening his place in Central Asia. When he died in 927 A. D., his son Deguan received a stable kingdom that would challenge the previous empires. In 936 A. D., Deguan annexed 16 Chinese districts including Beijing. That prompted the Chinese to acknowledge the emperorâ€™s title of Deguan.
In 946 A. D., Deguan launched his army to into China and captured the capital city. According to the ceremonial tradition of that time, he proclaimed the establishment of the Liao dynasty. The new empire had to achieve several tasks, such as dealing with Southern China and pacifying North-Eastern indigenous nations. From 966 to 973 A. D., there was a major war between Liao and Tatars, a nomadic tribe. Then Kidans of Liao turned south and averted the Southern Chinese army. Kidans spent the next twenty years keeping these Tatars, Tszubu peoples in their control. The war with Korea was unproductive.
Jurchens were a Manchu-speaking nation that paid tribute to the Liao dynasty. Seeing that the latter crumbles under the enormous weight of war expenditures and royal feuds, Jurchens rebelled and attacked Kidans. The Liao Empire fell in 1125 A. D.
Brave Kidan prince Elui Dashi conducted a series of counter-attacks on Jurchens, but failed to save the kingdom. He gathered what little was left of his people and escaped westwards. There he met Seljuks. In 1141, Seljuk sultan Sanjar moved his army against Kidans fleeing from China. Elui Dashi courageously battled with the sultan and defeated him. Then Elui Dashi settled in Central Asian and formed a small state. Later, these Kidans were known as Kara-kidans, or Black Kidans.
It is interesting that Kidans assumed Chinese hieroglyphics for their language, whilst previous nomadic lords had syllabic Iranian, or runic alphabets. The Liao Empire was governed by the Chinese administrative model. The culture of Kidans was very high. The Han-Lin Academy provided courses of Chinese and Kidan philology for princes.
Mongolians are an ancient nation. Chinese historians confirm the existence of Mongolian tribes even in the 10th century. At that time, Mongolians inhabited eastern Central Asia and most parts of northern Manchuria. Legends said that Grey Wolf and Beautiful Deer were the progenitors of the Mongolian folk, but the first real known Mongolian is Bodonchar, who led his people out of oblivion. The approximate year of this event is 970 A. D.
His descendants became rulers of Mongolians, but the title was rather nominal. Various clans and tribes had their own lords. Emerging as a separate national entity, Mongolians plunged into the politics of the region. The major power in Central Asia was the Jurchen dynasty of Tszing. Jurchens handled the nomadic nations off their borders, attacking them from time to time.
Mongolian rulers fruitlessly defended their land, due to the large disintegration of the many clans. In 1162 A. D., TemÃ¼jin, future Chinghis, was born to Yesugey, a kinsman of the Mongolian khan. When he was about 10 years, the enemy tribe of Tatars poisoned his father. The family of TemÃ¼jin was later abandoned by the relatives. Thus, Yesugeyâ€™s two widows dwelt all alone with six small children. The eldest child TemÃ¼jin rose to prominence pretty fast. When he turned 20, he successfully gathered a band of followers, who eagerly joined him.
In 1185 A. D., the grand assembly of Mongolian noblemen proclaimed TemÃ¼jin as the khan of Mongolia and entitled him with the name Chingis. Although influential lords recognized Chingis, there was a considerable opposition to him that began military operations. Chingis suffered initial defeats and a presumed exile, after which he had only a handful of supporters. In circa 1193 A. D., Chingis regained the leading role in the Central Asia. He routed his foes and rivals. Chingis began to unite the numerous tribes into a single Mongolian nation.
Therefore, in 1206 A. D., the grand assembly of all Mongolian leaders unanimously elected Chingis as the khan of All Mongolia. This time, there wasnâ€™t anybody opposing. The year 1206 is marked as the establishment of Mongolian statehood.
Chingis instituted a codified law instead of nomadic habits and reorganized the army, taxes and administration of the state. He also introduced the Mongolian alphabet derived from the Uighur writing.
The Mongolian Empire: 1206-1368
Chingis waged a decisive war with the Jurchen dynasty in Northern China. His son Juchi conquered nearby nations of Siberia thus securing northern borders. In 1215 A. D., the war success shifted to Mongolians. Apart from that, Chingis launched a massive military campaign on the western flank. Defeating the Kara-Kidans, the Mongolian ruler approached Khwarezm in what is now modern Uzbekistan and Afghanistan. The war with Khwarezm began in 1218 A. D. The Mongolian army sweeped across Transoxania, taking over major Khwarezmian cities. Urgench, Samarkand, Gherat, Merv, Bukhara and many other towns fell under Chingis.
In 1221 A. D., the talented Mongolian generals Jebe and Subedey moved further west, passing around the Caspian Sea. As they marched, Jebe and Subedey approached Georgia and Armenia. These two Caucasian kingdoms were also conquered by Mongolians, who later crossed the Caucasus Mountains and entered the lands of Russian princes. In 1223 A. D., Jebe and Subedey met with Russians on the river Kalka and overwhelmed them. Then the two generals turned back and went home going through Volga Bulgaria and Urals.
Chingis died in 1227 A. D. He left a large empire stretching from Caucasus to the Korean peninsula, from China to Siberia. His son Ã–gedey sat on the throne in 1229 A. D. He continued the war with Jurchens who castle after castle suffered losses. In 1235 A. D. Mongolia took the last Jurchen forts.
The Mongolian empire had a strict hierarchical structure. The main power was in the hands of the great khan. The consultative organ was the grand assembly, Huralday, of generals and aristocracy. Chingisâ€™ stepbrother Shihihutug was responsible for the judiciary duties. Tsagaaday, second son of Chingis, ensured the effectiveness of the great law, the Yasa.
In 1235 A. D., the Huralday approved the western campaign to be led by Batu, the grandson of Chingis assisted by general Subedey. That army marched dashed thousands of kilometers and took Russia. In a short period of 1237-1240, the Mongolian military captured important Russian cities, including Kiev, Vladimir, and Ryazan etc.
Then Batu entered Europe attacking Hungarians and Poles. In 1241, the Mongolians defeated Europeans at Liegnitz. In 1242 A. D., when Batu stood upon the shores of the Adriatic leaving Hungary, Moravia and Bohemia in ruins, a messenger came with the news that Ã–gedey khan died and that princes of the Chingis dynasty should turn back to Mongolia. Batu departed from Europe and settled in the Volga region, establishing the Golden Horde.
The results of the western operation brought the Mongolian empire onto the international arena. European emissaries went to the Mongolian capital Karakorum to develop diplomatic relations with the khan.
The next Mongolian khan Guyeg reigned only two years. The throne was given to MÃ¶nh, a shrewd politician who kept liaisons with the Roman Catholic pope and European kings. MÃ¶nh started the Middle Eastern campaign. The army moved from Mongolia to Iran and Syria. In 1258 A. D., Mongolians captured Baghdad and set up another dominion.
The next khan Hubilay who inherited the empire in 1260 conquered Southern China and annexed Korea. His reign was the longest. Vietnam and Burma recognized the lordship of Mongolia. Nevertheless, Hubilayâ€™s intention to conquer Japan was unsuccessful. Two fleets ended with a complete loss. In 1279 A. D., Hubilay moved the capital from Karakorum to Beijing and formed the Yuan dynasty.
In circa 1298 A. D., the Mongolian Empire covered most of the Eurasian continent. The empire was a union of four dominions: the great khanâ€™s realm (Mongolia, China), the Golden Horde (Russia and Urals), the Chagatay realm (Central Asia) and the Ilkhan kingdom (Iran and Middle East).
The khans after Hubilay werenâ€™t good rulers incapable to administer such a vast state. The ruling Mongolians were largely outnumbered in the conquered areas. One after another revolts broke off and provinces began to secede. In 1312 A. D., the Golden Horde severed ties with the metropoly. The natives of the Chagatay state took control in 1340â€™s. Mongolians in Iran gradually vanished in the native population.
The central imperial government also showed signs of decay. Thus, khan Togoon-TÃ¶mÃ¶r and other Mongolians fled from China in 1368 A. D., when Chinese mutiny began to expand. This was the end of the Mongolian empire.
The downfall of the Mongolian empire led to a serious crisis in the Mongolian society. This epoch is called â€œThe Age of Lesser Monarchsâ€ in the historiography. Indeed, rulers of Mongolia after 1368 reigned short time and constantly struggled with the nobility. The khan lost a great amount of his political power. Local lords began to show significant autonomy of their affairs. The once single Mongolian nation started to disintegrate. Oirads seceded and formed their own monarchical line. Then Mongolia broke into western and eastern parts. The eastern part itself fractured into Outer and Inner lands. The Oirads were quite active and occasionally raided into Central Asia.
The single Mongolian language separated into distinct dialects, which later evolved into languages. However, the 15-17th centuries were marked by outstanding scholars and poets. For example, prince Tsogt was not only a warrior, but also a poet and philosopher. Buddhism came into Mongolia in the 16th century. In 1572 A. D., khan Altan officially embraced the Buddhist teaching rejecting the old shamanic beliefs. Buddhism presented Mongolians the vast literature on philosophy, theology and natural sciences.
The khanâ€™s supremacy was limited in the post-imperial Mongolia. 22 khans ruled Mongolia in 1370-1634. Oirad prince usurped the throne in 1450 A. D. breaking the tradition of Chingis descendants. Five years later, the dynasty was restored. In 1470 A. D., khan BatmÃ¶nh united all Mongolia for 40 years. But his death resumed further partition of Mongolia.
The 15-17th centuries were prominent for many legal documents created by Mongolian lords. During the empire, the great law Yasa single-handedly governed the Mongolian society. So when each prince got fairly independent, they released various laws and other legally binding documents. For example, the legal code of khan Altan was effective in the Tumed region. â€œThe Mongol-Oirad Lawâ€ and â€œThe Religious Codeâ€ are among the most important.
In 1575 A. D., Manchu people came forward and assailed the Chinese Ming dynasty. Furthermore, Manchus advanced into China and their leader Nurhach declared his Ching kingdom in 1616 A. D. The Manchu army invaded Mongolia and pressed on deep into realms of Mongolian lords.
In 1636 A. D. the council of Inner Mongolian princes admitted their defeat and recognized the authority of the Manchu emperor. The last of the Chingis line, khan Ligden resisted Manchus till his death 1634 A. D. Thus ended the great dynasty. The situation worsened because some Mongolian sided with the Manchu military to settle scores with their rivals. In 1691 A. D., the princes of Outer Mongolia decided to accept the lordship of the Manchu empire, leaving Zungaria the only independent Mongolian state.
The Manchus conquered Inner and Outer Mongolia incorporating them in their empire. The Manchu emperor became the sovereign of Mongolia. However, most Mongolian nobles retained their titles. The Ching government reorganized the Inner Mongolian administration to its own accord.
The 24 provinces of Inner Mongolia were divided into 6 regions. The Ching Empire appointed a governor to be in charge of Outer Mongolia. He resided in the city of Uliastai. Another governor presided in the city of Ih Huree and managed affairs in Central Mongolia. When Western Mongolia finally succumbed to the Manchus, the latter established the Howd governorship in 1762 A. D. administratively; Outer Mongolia included three provinces in 1691 A. D. These are Tusheet khan province, Zasagt khan province and Setsen khan province. Later in 1725 A. D., the Manchu government formed the fourth province, the Sain khan province, as a reward to lord Sain for his part in the war against the Oirads.
When Mongolians embraced Buddhism, they elected in 1639 A. D. the head of the Buddhist church. His title was Bogd. Bogd was responsible for religious affairs and when Manchus arrived, they kept him as the formal Buddhist leader. A special ministry controlled the doings of Bogd and looked after Buddhist activities. All in all, the Ching Empire created a highly elaborate administrative, tax and political arrangement for Inner and Outer Mongolia.
Mongolians resisted the Manchu rule with the means of rebellions and mutinies. In 1755 A. D., several Mongolian counts led an uprising that engulfed Western Mongolia. Among the rebels were Galdan boshigt, Amarsanaa and Chingunjav. The uprising was at first quite successful, but later Manchus crushed it and severely punished the mutineers. Amarsanaa fled Mongolia and found refuge in Russia where he died. Others were executed.
The laws in Mongolia of the Manchu period encompassed every aspect the Mongolian society. â€œHalh Juramâ€ which was passed in 1709-1795 A. D., was the most advanced legal document of that time. There were also â€œLegal Writings of Outer Mongoliaâ€ passed in 1817 A. D. It consisted of 63 volumes of various legal clauses.
In the time of the Manchu rule, Mongolian literature experienced its revival. Poets and writers produced brilliant religious and secular works. Famous monk Danzanrawjaa lived in the 19th century and was a crafty playwright. Among his works is â€œSaran hÃ¶hÃ¶Ã¶â€.
The Manchu government oppressed any thoughts of autonomy in Mongolia. As a result, Mongolia spent the 19th century as a backward region of the Ching Empire.
In the beginning of the 20th century, the Manchu state rapidly declined and the revolutionary thought of that time penetrated into Mongolia as well. In 1911 A. D., the Republic of China replaced the Manchurian state.
Leading intellectuals and statesmen of Outer Mongolia also brought changes and proclaimed the independence of the country. The newly found state of Outer Mongolia was a theocracy. It meant that the Bogd who was the religious leader embraced the secular political power, too. In 1913 A. D., the delegation of Outer Mongolian officials led by T. NamnansÃ¼ren visited the Russian empire and seeked help in securing the independence. They failed to gain international recognition for Outer Mongolia.
In 1915 A. D., the talks of Outer Mongolia, the Russian empire and the Republic of China began in the city of Kyakhta. Official Moscow and Beijing refused to recognize the Outer Mongolian independence and forcefully granted Mongolia only an autonomous status.
In 1919 A. D., the Chinese republican government abolished the autonomy and dispatched troops to Outer Mongolia. The purpose of this venture was to secure Chinese interests in Mongolia in case if Russian turmoil of 1917 would spread there. Mongolian pro-independence leaders organized resistance in various parts of the country.
In 1921 A. D., as a result of revolutionary changes, Mongolia restored its independence and formed a theocratic state. This time, the powers of the Bogd the 8th were largely limited by the government. Then in 1924, when the Bogd died, leaders of the revolution turned Mongolia into a republic and adopted the first Constitution. The heads of the state aided by Soviet counselors chose the Communist direction for Mongolia.
The republican form in Mongolia brought reforms to the society. First, the society was to be classless, so the nobility gave up all the privileges and titles. Western medicine, technologies and education entered Mongolia and mostly eliminated old feudal customs.
The 1930â€™s were cruel years in the Mongolian history. Like in all Communist states of that time, political purges severely injured the society. The regime was responsible for deaths of thousands of innocent people accused by false charges.
In 1939 A. D., Mongolia engaged in a major conflict with Japan along the Mongolian borders in the East. It is known as the Khakhingol incident. The small skirmishes between Japanese and Mongolians patrols since 1936 developed into a massive border confrontation. Soviet military came to Mongolia for aid. Soviet-Mongolian joint army defeated the Japanese forces and made safe Mongoliaâ€™s eastern borders.
In 1945 A. D., the Chinese government recognized the independence of Mongolia. Mongolia became a rightful member of the international community and was admitted to the United Nations in 1961 A. D.
Mongolia was a primarily Communist country closely aligned with the Soviet Union until the late 1980â€™s. The world was changing and so was Mongolia. In December 1989 A. D., the democratic opposition demanded political reforms and staged crowdy demonstrations. As a result, Mongolia in 1992 A. D. adopted a new Constitution which granted open democracy and economic changes.
Origins of the Mongols
Archaeological evidence places early Stone Age human habitation in the southern Gobi between 100,000 and 200,000 years ago. By the first millennium B.C., bronze-working peoples lived in Mongolia. With the appearance of iron weapons by the third century B.C., the inhabitants of Mongolia had begun to form tribal alliances and to threaten China. The origins of more modern inhabitants are found among the forest hunters and nomadic tribes of Inner Asia. They inhabited a great arc of land extending generally from the Korean Peninsula in the east, across the northern tier of China to the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic and to the Pamir Mountains and Lake Balkash in the west. During most of recorded history, this has been an area of constant ferment from which emerged numerous migrations and invasions to the southeast (into China), to the southwest (into Transoxiana--modern Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic, Iran, and India), and to the west (across Scythia toward Europe). By the eighth century B.C., the inhabitants of much of this region evidently were nomadic Indo-European speakers, either Scythians or their kin. Also scattered throughout the area were many other tribes that were primarily Mongol in their ethnologic characteristics.
Legendary Ancestors: The two Siberian animals, the blue-gray Wolf and the reddish-brown Deer:
Borte Cinoa/Quua Maral
Batachikan, first son of The Wolf and the Deer, wife unrecorded
Kharchu, seventh generation after Batachikan, wife unrecorded
Kharchu's son, Borjigidai the Wise/Mongoljin the Fair
Chingis Khan's carnal parents:
Yesugei the Brave of the Borjigin/Hoelun of the Olkunud
Beginning of the Chingisids:
Temuchin of the Borjigin (=Chingis Khan)/Boerte of the Onggirat
Secret History of the Mongols
Anonymous, Yuan Dynasty (1260-1368)
Partial imprint of 1368-1398 (Ming Dynasty)
18.2 x 24.5 cm
The original title of this Mongolian text translates as "Classified Record of the Mongols". An historical text documenting the reigns of Chinggis Khan and his son and successor Ogotai before the establishment of the Yuan dynasty, it is unofficial (and hence "secret", as commonly referred to in English). The earliest surviving edition is a Chinese translation of the Mongol phonetic text from the period of 1368 to 1398 (representing the first reign of the following native Ming dynasty).
The text was completed in 1240 and translated into Chinese in 1369, upon which it was reprinted and circulated. This is a partial imprint from that period. This text relating the conquests of Chinggis Khan and Ogotai is important on three accounts. First, it provides first-hand information about these two early Mongol rulers. Second, it provides important information written by a ruling ethnic group itself (rather than by Chinese historians), making it a more reliable source of information about them. Finally, its simple and unadorned manner of writing makes it an important literary work of the period. The section shown here describes the founding of the Mongolian Homeland state and the establishment of Chinggis as the leading Mongol khan.
Mythical Elements in "The Secret History of the Mongols"
Dr. Roger Finch
Once again Mr. Aaron Cohen deputized for our President, whose return was delayed while he recovered from a minor operation performed while he was in England. With his usual style, Mr. Cohen had found in one of his books a reference to the Mongols with which to introduce our speaker.
The "Secret History", said Dr. Finch, might be better called "The Life of Chinggis Khan". Dating from 1240, it begins by tracing his genealogy back to his mythical ancestors Borte Cino (Gray Wolf) and Qo'ai Maral (Fallow Doe; "q" is an alternative graphy for "kh"), who are said to have crossed the sea and settled by the Onan River, establishing the Borjigin clan, to which Chinggis Khan belonged. A later chronicle, the "Altan Tobci", dated between 1621 and 1628, takes the genealogy eight generations further back to an Indian prince who manifested signs of divine origin, having turquoise blue hair, flat palms and soles, and eyelids that closed from the bottom upward. As a boy he had been set adrift in a copper box, was then found and finally became the first king of Tibet, Kujugun Sandali-tu Qagan. Borte Cino was one of three sons of the seventh of these kings, and, as a result of quarrelling with his elder brothers, crossed a lake and came to the land of the Mongols and married a girl called Qoua Maral.
The "Altan Tobci" takes Gray Wolf and Fallow Doe to be human rather than animals. The "Secret History" does not make it clear which they are, but a comparison with the chronicles of other Altaic peoples and other peoples in the same area shows non-human beings playing a leading part. The Tibetans, for example, trace their descent from a monkey and an ogress, while the imperial line of the Mongols is likewise traced back to quasi-historical personages, and another source calls Borte Cino the "Son of Heaven". In Chinese accounts of the origin of the Turkut a wolf figures prominently. The whole tribe was massacred by a neighbouring tribe except for a ten-year-old boy who was left for dead, with his hands and feet cut off. He was nurtured by a wolf, and then the two of them were transported by a "good genius" to the present-day Qara-xojo near Turfan. There the she-wolf gave birth to ten male young, who captured wives and gave their names to their families, and the resulting people adopted a wolf's head as their insignia. On the basis of all this evidence, we may conclude that the very brief reference to Gray Wolf and Fallow Doe in the Secret History represents the same tradition of incorporating what may be termed the "animal ancestor" motif.
The "Secret History" then continues through nine generations, and comes to a brief account of Dobun Mergen (Dobun the Sharpshooter or Dobun the Wise) and his brother Duwa Soqor (Duwa the One-Eyed). These names seem to be made up of a personal name and an epithetical surname, without any reference to animals, so these brothers must be at least quasi-historical persons. Duwa the One-Eyed immediately suggests that he was a Polyphemus figure, perhaps partly mythical, and this second mythical reference may be termed the "giant motif".
Duwa's part in the story is mainly to find a wife, Alan Go'a, for his brother Dobun, and she bore two sons, Bugunutei and Belgunutei (who may have been twins). Dobun had once taken home with him as a slave a poor boy he had found when hunting, and after Dobun's death, this man continued to live with Alan Go'a, and might have been the father of three more sons to whom she gave birth, Bugu Qatagi, Bugutu Salji, and Bodoncar Mungqag (Bodoncar the Fool). Alan Go'a decided to allay all her sons' suspicions about this by telling them that every night a pale yellow man would enter the yurt by way of the smoke hole and stroke her belly, and his light would penetrate it; then he would leave in the form of a yellow dog. This mythical story seems merely to have been an invention of Alan Go'a or one of the sons, and the "pale yellow man" suggests that at least one of the three boys had a lighter complexion; another account suggests that the Borjigin clan (Chinggis Khan's) shared this characteristic, and, as it is descended from Bodoncar, it seems as if he was the one who differed physically from the others, as well as in some other way that earned him the epithet "the Fool". This story, which may be called the "miraculous birth" motif, was evidently put together from elements surviving from an earlier tradition, or taken from an outside source, and was included in the "Secret History" to support the claim of Chinggis Khan to rule by divine right.
Among the chronicles of other Altaic peoples, one of the most developed accounts containing the same mythical themes is the history of Dung Ming, the founder of the Korean race. According to Chinese sources, there was a kingdom in the north called Fu-yu, and further north, across the Sungari River (a tributary of the Amur), lay the kingdom of Korai. The first king of Korai had a harem, and one day a slave girl in the harem saw a cloud or ray of light enter her bosom, and under its influence she conceived. The king wanted to put her to death, but hearing her story he let her give birth to the child, Dung Ming.Fearing the miraculous child might one day usurp his throne, he cast it first into a pig sty and then into a stable, but each time the animals kept it alive. The child grew up and became an expert archer, which made the king even more afraid of him. Dung Ming was forced to flee south, but found his way barred by the Sungari River. He shot arrows into the river, so many that the fish crowded together to avoid them and formed a bridge over which he crossed; the fish then dispersed so that his pursuers could not follow him. He then became king of Fu-yu.
The most obvious parallel between the history of Dung Ming and the Mongolian chronicles is the "miraculous birth" motif. But other motifs common to myths from various parts of the world are the "exposure of the baby" and the "wild child" motifs. The former is not found in the "Secret History", but occurs in the story of Kujugun Sandali-tu Qagan in the later "Altan Tobci" and in that of the ancestor of the Turkut in the Chinese Annals. Both these boys may be recognized as future hero kings by being specially marked, the one by his turquoise hair and reversed eyelids, the other by his amputated hands and feet. Bodoncar too, as we have inferred, may have been marked by having a light complexion. A variant of the "exposure of the baby" motif may be the "exile" motif. The two are combined in the Dung Ming story, and in the "Altan Tobci" Borte Cino has to flee after quarrelling with his two brothers. Also in both stories the hero has to cross over a body of water and then becomes king of a new people. Bodoncar, too, had a quarrel with his elder brothers, who drove him away from home; he crossed the Onan River to an island, and became king of a new people.
In the same way, the "wild child" motif may be an extension of the "animal ancestor" motif. Thus in the story of the origin of the Turkut the orphan boy suckled by the she-wolf may later have mated with her and begotten a new tribe. In most of the myths the one motif excludes the other, and there are few examples of the "wild child" mating with his nurse. There are, however, two folk tales current among the Buryat Mongols in which the "animal ancestor" motif is linked with the "exposure of the baby" one. In both, the mother has given birth to a half-animal baby and then sealed it in a cradle and thrown it into a lake. The close resemblance to the story of the boy with the turquoise hair who was shut up in a copper box and cast into the river may justify us in putting the various mythical fragments together and arriving at a story in which it is Borte Cino who is set adrift in a cradle and found and suckled by a wolf (or, for instance, a shamaness with a wolf as "helper").
Shortage of time forced Dr. Finch to cut out illustrations of parallel themes in Greek and Roman mythology, such as the "miraculous births" fathered by Zeus, the "exposure of the baby" as in the Oedipus story, or the "wild child" motif found in the story of Romulus and Remus. But he turned his attention to another "Polyphemus" myth which parallels the reference to Duwa the One-Eyed in the "Secret History". This is found in a collection of tales of the Oguz Turks, in which the Polyphemus figure is Depegoz (Top-Eye), who is the result of a union between a shepherd and a fairy. He lives in the mountains and raids the countryside, feasting on people. Then a tribal warrior, who had been brought up as a wild boy, gets into the ogre's cave and puts out his one eye with a heated spit. Then, as in the story of Polyphemus, he tries to get out of the cave together with the ogre's sheep, which the ogre is feeling as they go out to the pasture; in this he is not successful, but he succeeds in getting the ogre's magic sword and cutting his head off with it.
At this point Dr. Finch had again to excise a considerable portion of his prepared text, in which he had traced parallels in Buddhist, Christian and Zoroastrian sources, and proceeded to his conclusion. The parallels with Greek and Roman mythology, he said, might be due not so much to Hellenistic influence as to contact with more immediately neighbouring Indo-Europeans who had preserved much of the same original mythology. Of all the Indo-European myths with a "miraculous birth" motif, the closest one to the story of Alan Go'a turns up in the westernmost part of the area, in Ireland. In it a girl shut up in a house made of wickerwork is visited by a denizen of the Land of Youth who comes down through the opening in the roof in the form of a great bird and is then transformed into a glorious young man. Later she gives birth to a baby. Another Irish myth has a Polyphemus element. A race of demons or titans who terrorized the local population had a king with one eye, who could slay anyone with a baleful glance. Being told in a prophecy that he would be killed by his grandson he shuts his daughter up in a tower, but one man enters and she subsequently gives birth to three sons. When the king hears of it he orders the babies to be thrown into a whirlpool. But one survives and is found by a druidess, who gives him to a smith to bring up, and he eventually grows up and kills the king in battle, putting out his eye.
This last myth has all the elements needed to incorporate the Polyphemus figure into a myth containing the "miraculous birth" (though, in Irish fashion, a god is turned into a human father), "exposure of the baby" and "wild boy" motifs. But how are we to connect Irish myths with Mongol ones, when the two areas are so far apart geographically? The missing link here may have been the Tocharians. These were a fair-haired people speaking an Indo-European language (recorded in the 7th and 8th centuries) who lived on the northeast rim of the Tarim Basin. Their language is closer to the Italic and Celtic languages than to those of the Indo-Iranian or Slavonic groups, suggesting that they migrated east, presumably bringing with them the myths common to the west European area. Unfortunately we have no record of their ancestral beliefs or myths, as they have only left behind Buddhist texts, but it is interesting to speculate on the extent to which their stories might have been incorporated into the literature of their neighbours.
Vote of Thanks and Questions
Questions were not invited, so as to leave more time for the consumption of wine (remaining over from previous receptions) and light snacks, which were served after the meeting. Also, the expected proposer of the vote of thanks only arrived a few moments after he was needed, so Mr. Cohen, on the spur of the moment, singled out Mr. Oliver Statler, who was in Japan on a short visit from Hawaii for further work on a book about Fukuoka, to come forward and make his presence known and also express the Society's thanks to the speaker.
Chinggis Khan and his descendants could not have conquered, and ruled the largest land empire in world history without their diminutive but extremely hardy steeds. Mongols held these horses in highest regard and accorded them great spiritual significance. Before setting forth on military expeditions, for example, commanders would scatter mare's milk on the earth to insure victory. In rituals, horses were sacrificed to provide "transport" to heaven.
The Mongols prized their horses primarily for combat because the horses were fast and flexible, and Chinggis Khan was the first leader to capitalize fully on these strengths. After hit-and-run raids, for example, his horsemen could race back and quickly disappear into their native steppes.
Enemy armies from the sedentary agricultural societies to the south frequently had to abandon their pursuit because they were not accustomed to long rides on horseback and thus could not move as quickly. Nor could these farmer-soldiers leave their fields for extended periods to chase after the Mongols.
The Mongols had developed a composite bow made out of sinew and horn and were skilled at shooting it while riding, which gave them the upper hand against ordinary foot soldiers. With a range of more than 350 yards. The bow was superior to the contemporaneous English longbow, whose range was only 250 yards. A wood-and-leather saddle, which was rubbed with sheep's fat to prevent cracking and shrinkage, allowed the horses to bear the weight of their riders for long periods and also permitted the riders to retain a firm seat. Their saddlebags contained cooking pots, dried meat, yogurt, water bottles, and others essentials for lengthy expeditions. Finally, a sturdy stirrup enabled horsemen to be steadier and thus more accurate in shooting when mounted. A Chinese chronicler recognized the horse's value to the Mongols, observing that "by nature they (the Mongols) are good at riding and shooting. Therefore they took possession of the world through this advantage of bow and horse."
Chinggis Khan understood the importance of horses and insisted that his troops be solicitous of their steeds. A cavalryman normally had three or four, so that each was, at one time or another, given a respite from bearing the weight of the rider during a lengthy journey. Before combat, leather coverings were placed on the head of each horse and its body was covered with armor. After combat, Mongol horses could traverse the most rugged terrain and survive on little fodder.
According to Marco Polo, the horse also provided sustenance to its rider on long strips during which all the food had been consumed. On such occasions, the rider would cut the horse's veins and drink the blood that spurted forth. Marco Polo reported, perhaps with some exaggeration, that a horseman could, by nourishing himself on his horse's blood, " ride quite ten days marches without eating any cooked food and without lighting a fire." And because its milk offered additional sustenance during extended military campaigns, a cavalryman usually preferred a mare as mount. The milk was often fermented to produce kumiss, or araq, a potent alcoholic drink liberally consumed by the Mongols. In short, as one commander stated. "If the horse dies, I die; if it lives, I survive."
The battle of the Kalka River
Mobility and surprise characterized the military expeditions led by Chinggis Khan and his commanders, and the horse was crucial for such tactics and strategy. Horses could, without exaggeration, be referred to as the intercontinental ballistic missiles of the thirteenth century. The battle of the Kalka River (now renamed the Kalmyus River) in southern Russia is a good example of the kind of campaign Chinggis Khan waged to gain territory and of the key role of the horse. After his relatively easy conquest of Central Asia from 1219 to 1220, Chinggis Khan had dispatched about 30,000 troops led by Jebe and Subedei, two of his ablest commanders, to conduct an exploratory foray to the west. In an initial engagement, the Mongols, appearing to retreat, lured a much larger detachment of Georgian cavalry on a chase. When the Mongols sensed that the Georgian horses were exhausted, they headed to where they kept reserve horses, quickly switched to them, and charged at the bedraggled, spread-out Georgians. Archers, who had been hiding with the reserve horses, backed up the cavalry-with a barrage of arrows as they routed the Georgians.
Continuing their exploration, the Mongol detachment crossed the Caucasus Mountains. They wound up just north of the Black Sea on rich pastureland for their horses. After a brief respite, they attacked several sites inciting Russian retaliation in 1223 under Matislav the Daring, who had a force of 80,000 men. Jebe and Subedei commanded no more than 20,000 troops and were outnumbered by a ratio of four to one.
Knowing that an immediate, direct clash could be disastrous, the Mongols again used their tactic of feigned withdrawal. They retreated for more than a week, because they wanted to be certain that the opposing army continued to pursue them but was spaced out over a considerable distance. At the Kaka River, the Mongols finally took a stand, swerving around and positioning themselves in battle formation, with archers mounted on horses in the front.
Mongol archers and heavy cavalry
The Mongols' retreat seems to have lulled the Russians into believing that the invaders from the East were in disarray. Matislav the Daring ordered the advance troops to charge immediately. This decision proved to be calamitous. Mongol archers on their well-trained steeds crisscrossed the Russian route of attack, shooting their arrows with great precision. The Russian line of troops was disrupted, and the soldiers scattered.
After their attack, the archers turned the battlefield over to the Mongol heavy cavalry, which pummeled the already battered, disunited, and scattered Russians. Wearing an iron helmet, a shirt of raw silk, a coat of mail, and a cuirass, each Mongol in the heavy cavalry carried with him two bows, a dagger, a battle-ax, a twelve-foot lance, and a lasso as his principal weapons. Using lances, the detachment of heavy cavalry rapidly attacked and overwhelmed the Russian vanguard, which had been cut off from the rest of their forces in the very beginning of the battle.
Rejoined by the mounted archers, the combined Mongol force mowed down the straggling remnants of the Russian forces. Without an escape route, most were killed, and the rest were captured. Rather than shed the blood of rival princesâ one of Chinggis Khan's commandsâJebe and Subedei ordered the unfortunate commander and two other princes stretched out under boards and slowly suffocated as Mongols stood or sat upon the boards during the victory banquet.
The death of Chinggis Khan
The battle at the Kalka River resembled, with some slight deviations, the general plan of most of Chinggis Khan's campaigns. In less than two decades, Chinggis Khan had, with the support of powerful cavalry, laid the foundations for an empire that was to control and govern much of Asia in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. He died on a campaign in Central Asia, and his underlings decided to return his corpse to his native land. Any unfortunate individual who happened to encounter the funeral cortege was immediately killed because the Mongols wished to conceal the precise location of the burial site. At least forty horses were reputedly sacrificed at Chinggis Khan's tomb; his trusted steeds would be as important to him in the afterlife as in his lifetime.
Great Khans of the Mongol Empire (1206-1294)
1206-1227 Chingis / Genghis Khan
1229-1241 Ogedei Khan (Khakhan) - Son of Chingis
1246-1248 Guyuk Khan (Khakhan) - Son of Ogedei
1251-1259 Mongke / Mengku Khan (Khakhan) - Cousin of Ogedei
After the death of Mongke, in 1260, two Khakhans were elected by rivaling Khuriltais (assemblies): Ariq-Boke (brother of Kubiliai), who ruled from Karakorum, and Kubilai, who ruled from China. Kubilai defeated Ariq-Boke in 1264 to secure sole leadership.
1264-1294 Kubilai Khan (Khakhan) - Brother of Kubilai
No ruler was elected after Kubilai
Khakhan ("Khan of Khans"): Title used by Khans of the greatest steppe Empires, including the Mongol Empire. This title was officially used by all Khans of the Mongol Empire except for Chingis Khan.
Regents (Temporary rulers) during the election interludes
1227-1229 Tolui - Son of Chingis, Father of Kubilai and Mongke
1241-1246 Toregene Khatun - Wife of Ogedei, mother of Guyuk
1248-1251 Oghul Ghaymish
Emperors of the Yuan Dynasty (1272-1368)
1260-1294 Kublai Khan (Shizu)
1272-Kubilai adopts the dynastic title of Yuan
1294-1307 Temur Oljeytu Khan (Chengzong)
1307-1311 Qayshan Guluk / Hai-Shan (Wuzong
1311-1320 Ayurparibhadra / Ayurbarwada (Renzong)
1320-1323 Suddhipala Gege'en / Shidebala (Yingzong)
1323-1328 Yesun Temur (Taidingdi)
1328 Arigaba / Aragibag (Tianshundi)
1328-1329 Jijaghatu Toq-TemÃ¼r (Wenzong)
1329 Qoshila / Qutuqtu (Mingzong)
1329-1332 Jijaghatu Toq-TemÃ¼r (Wenzong)
1332-1333 Rinchenpal Irinchibal (Ningzong)
1333-1368 Toghan-TemÃ¼r (Shundi )
Mongol Rule in China ends in 1368. Toghan-Temur dies in 1370 at Karakorum. His descendents hold power in Mongolia until the death of Titulair Khan (Khakhan) in 1634
Il-Khans of the Il-Khanate of Persia (1260-1335)
1256-1265 HÃ¼legÃ¼ (Grandson of Chingis, brother of Kubilai)
1260-Political establishment of the Il-Khanate
1282-1284 Ahmad TegÃ¼der
1295-1304 MahmÃ»d GhÃ¢zÃ¢n
1304-1316 Muhammad KhudÃ¢banda ÃljeytÃ¼
1316-1335 AbÃ» Sa'Ã®d
There were no successor after the death of Abu Said. The Il-Khan suddenly collapsed and became various independent states. The Ilkhanate shares the same irony with the original Mongol Empire: Collapsing immediately after its Golden Age. Persia was later reunited by Timer Lenk
Khans of the Chagadai Khanate
1227-1244 Chagadai (son of Chingis)
1272-Kubilai adopts the dynastic title of Yuan
1244-1246 Qara HÃ¼legÃ¼
1246-1251 YesÃ¼ MÃ¶ngke
1251-1252 Qara HÃ¼legÃ¼ (Second Rule)
1260-1266 Orqina KhÃ¢tÃ»n
1266-1271 MubÃ¢rak ShÃ¢h
1271-1272 Baraq GhiyÃ¢th ad-DÃ®n
1282-1306 Toqa TemÃ¼r
1309-1320 Esen Buqa
1326 Du'a TemÃ¼r
1326-1334 TarmashÃ®rÃ®n 'AlÃ¢' adDÃ®n
1338-1342 YesÃ¼n TemÃ¼r
1358 Buyan Quli
1359 ShÃ¢h TemÃ¼r
1359-1363 Tughluq TemÃ¼r
1363-1405 Tamerlane takes control of the Chagadai Khanate.His death allows the Chagadai rulers to retake control. The Chagadai Khanate remains as a minor state until the eighteenth century, when it was conquered by the Qing Empire.
Khans of the Golden Horde (Kipchak Khanate) (1242-1359)
Jochi (Son of Chingis Khan), The "Golden Clan" is adopted
1242 - 1255 Batu Khan (Son of Jochi)
1242-Golden Horde is politically established
1256 - 1257 Sartak
1257 - 1267 Berke (brother of Batu)
1267 - 1280 Mongke Temur
1280 - 1287 Tode Mongke
1287 - 1291 Tole Buqa
1291 - 1313 Toqta
1313 - 1341 Muhammad Ãzbeg
1341 - 1342 Tonibek
1342 - 1357 Janibek
1357 - 1359 Berdibek
Died without a successor. The Golden Horde dissolves into various factions.
1378 - 1395 Tokhtamish (of the Blue Horde faction)
Unites the factions and the White Horde in 1378 to revive the Golden Horde. Defeated by Timur Lenk (Tamerlane) but was never officially annexed into the Timurid Empire. The death of Tamerlane in 1405 creates great political instabilities.
1395-1430s (15 Rulers)
In 1438, the Khanate of Kazan suceedes from the Golden Horde. The Remaining Golden horde becomes known as the Great Horde
Khans of the Whiet Horde (?-1377)
1226 - 1280 Orda
Very little is Known about the White Horde, although we do know that it existed between the Golden Horde and the Yuan Empire,
1280 - 1302 Kochu
1302 - 1309 Buyan
1309 - 1315 Sasibuqa
1315 - 1320 Ilbasan
1320 - 1344 Mubarak Khwaja
1344 - 1374 Chimtay
1374 - 1376 Urus
1376 - 1377 Toqtaqiya
1377 Temur Malik
White Hordes united with Tokhtamish's Golden horde in 1378 by Tokhtamish
Khans of the The Great Horde (1206-1294)
1435 - 1465 Kuchuk Muhammad
-The "Golden Horde" is the name used by the Golden Horde after the Khanate of Kazan split away from it in 1438.
-The Khanate of Astrakhan and the Khanate of Crimea splits from the Golden Horde (Great Horde)
1465 - 1481 Kochu
Ivan III expells Mongols rule from Russia in 1480.
1481 - 1498 Buyan
1481 - 1499 Sasibuqa
1499 - 1502 Ilbasan
The Great Horde is conquered by the Khanate of Crimea in 1502, genearlly considered to mark the end of the so called "Golden Horde."The Khanate of Crimea survives as the last Remnant of the Mongol Empire until 1783, when it was annexed by the Russians under Catherine the Great
The Russian empire's eventual displacement of the thirteenth-century Mongol ulus in Eurasia seems self-evident. The overthrow of the foreign yoke, defeat of various khanates, and conquest of Siberia constitute core aspects of the narratives on the formation of Russia's identity and political institutions. To those who disavow the Mongol influence, the Byzantine tradition serves as a counterweight. But the geopolitical turnabout is not a matter of dispute. Where Chingis Khan and his many descendants once held sway, the Riurikids (succeeded by the Romanovs) moved in. *1
Rather than the shortlived but ramified Mongol hegemony, which was mostly limited to the middle and southern parts of Eurasia, longterm overviews of the lands that became known as Siberia, or of its various subregions, typically begin with a chapter on "pre-history," which extends from the paleolithic to the moment of Russian arrival in the late sixteenth, early seventeenth centuries. *2 The goal is usually to enable the reader to understand what "human material" the Russians found and what "progress" was then achieved. Inherent in the narratives -- however sympathetic they may or may not be to the native peoples -- are assumptions about the historical advance deriving from the Russian arrival and socio-economic transformation. In short, the narratives are involved in legitimating Russia's conquest without any notion of alternatives.
Of course, history can also be used to show that what seems natural did not exist forever but came into being; to reveal that there were other modes of existence, which were either pushed aside or folded into what then came to seem irreversible. Suppose, in that light, one tried to understand Eurasia during, say, the period 1200-1800, without knowing that in the nineteenth century a railroad would be built and millions of Slavic settlers would be moving in. Rather than projecting nineteenth- and twentieth-century ideas and outcomes backward, suppose one sought instead to conceptualize types of political power as they existed over a long time, albeit within a deliberately chosen limited area. One could begin such an inquiry by questioning commonly used conceptual categories, and by making horizontal comparisons as well as long duree juxtapositions. Such is the goal of this tentative essay. *3
Many previous commentators, taking off from suggestions in the "source materials" generated over the centuries, have compared Siberia's part in Russia's imperial rise to the European discovery and conquest of the New World in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, *4 and to the nineteenth-century westward spread of the United States across North America. *5 In other words, Siberia, or north Asia, has been viewed as combining the experience of external colonial conquest with that of a (moving) internal frontier. Siberia was thus a "colony" in the dual sense of the term: someone else's territory to be exploited and a (new) place to be settled. Since the breakup of the Soviet Union, Siberia remains an integral part of Russia, but also a place apart, with its own distinct, if vague, identity. *6 Traces of the former Mongol ulus and its offshoot khanates also animate the land. What precisely is involved in imagining that the Mongol ulus across Eurasia came to be supplanted by the Russian entity known as Siberia?
Mongol Ulus 1200-1400
In the early thirteenth century, in the forests around Lake Baikal and the steppe of the northern Mongolia, various tribes that had been warring among themselves were molded into a fighting force that went on to conquer the rest of the Mongolian plateau, the oases of Central Asia, Afghanistan, Persia, the Caucasus, the various principalities of Rus', and China -- all within the span of a single lifetime. Unlike previous nomadic incursions into settled areas, the rise of the Mongols was sudden and spectacular, and covered a vast area, from the Pacific to the Adriatic. *7
During the reign of their celebrated "unifier," Chingis Khan (c.1155-1227), the Mongols acquired a writing system by adopting the Uighur script, but they left behind a modest primary record. From the thirteenth century only the texts that comprise the so-called "Secret History" survive (preserved in a Chinese transcription). *8 Most of what we know about the Mongols comes from Chinese, European, Armenian, Syrian, Persian, and Arabic secondary accounts, which contain first-hand observations as well as passages from Mongol writings that have been lost. *9 There are also a few examples of Mongol diplomatic correspondence with Pope Innocent IV and King Louis IX, *10 and some archaeological evidence associated with burial sites and towns, though on the whole nomads build few monuments to posterity. Accordingly, interpretations of the yeke Mongghol ulus (great Mongol ulus) have been inordinately dependent on what non-Mongols of the time chose to record. Representatives of the Medieval Arab and Persian civilizations, for example, emphasized the unprecedented destruction that the Mongol "barbarians" wrought, and for the longest time the prevailing image of the Mongols was narrowly martial and negative. Not until Henry Howorth's great-game inspired multivolume study in the nineteenth century did a more balanced view emerge of the Mongols as also facilitators of cross-cultural contacts and trade. *11 And not until the Soviet Oreintalist Boris Vladimirtsov's analysis of social organization did it become possible to understand what internal circumstances permitted the Mongol rise. *12 With regard to Mongol political organization and its evolution, however, to this day there are many problems of interpretation.
Beyond dispute is the fact that the greater ulus formed by Chingis, and bequeathed to his sons, was founded on kinship. The great khan or chief of the amalgamated ulus, as well as the heads of major ulus within the whole, was by law a direct descendant of Chingis (the wives were often Turkic speakers). The Chingisid principle, or "golden" lineage, was laid down in the great khan's laws (iasa), the fictive legal code created after Chingis's death and attributed to him. *13 The texts of the "Secret History" were written and compiled to justify Chingisid rule. *14 Even the fourteenth-century upstart Tamerlane did not try to violate this rule by having himself named Great Khan. *15 Kinship allowed Mongol conquest to be converted into political relationships, though it could also be manipulated by ooutsiders. A second unassailable point is that the Mongol modus operandi was to demand complete submission by anyone they encountered in their roaming, wherever that took them. They tolerated no other sovereigns (though they sometimes failed in an attempt at conquest). Those who offered resistance were usually annihilated, while those who submitted willingly were incorporated into the expanding ulus (and ranked according to the sequence of their submission, with the Uighurs the first and highest). *16 All subjects were made to contribute to Mongol prosperity, usually by performing labor and/or paying tribute. Resist and be crushed, submit and serve, or try to flee -- these were the options for all who found themselves in the Mongols' path.
Inquiring into the motivations behind the Mongol conquests, however, presents certain difficulties. Examining the papal correspondence, Eric Voegelin has argued that the Great Khan's rule was said to be derived from "God," and as such afforded theoretical dominion over the entire "world." Thus, word of the existence of hitherto unknown peoples would elicit a Mongol demand for submission and instructions on how to do so. If the newly discovered people obeyed, they would join the empire, usually retaining their internal organization. If they disobeyed, the Mongols sent a punitive expedition, an act not of God, as it were, to enforce divinely ordained rule. Since ever more peoples were being "discovered," the Mongol realm was an Empire-in-the-Making (imperium mundi in statu nascendi). *17 Felicitous as it is, Voegelin's formulation begs the questions of what the Mongol's understood by the notions of "God" and "world." Igor de Rachewiltz, noting that in the Secret History Chingis Khan is said to be descended from "heaven" (as well as from a bluish wolf), glosses the references as signifying both the supreme sky-god of the shamanistic Turco-Mongol peoples of Inner Asia and the Chinese Son of Heaven, a notion absorbed indirectly from Sinicized Turks (Orkhons) and directly from Chinese advisors. Invocation of heaven-sanctioned rule, Rachewiltz concludes (echoing Voegelin), implies an idea of universal rule and a "mandate," indeed a duty, to conquer the earth. In ostensible support of this view, foreign visitors to the Mongols came away convinced that they held notions of universal empire. *18
That representatives of Islam and Christendom, both aspirants to universality, should have looked on the Mongols' successful expansion as driven by a desire for universal rule could be misleading. At least initially, the Mongol "conquests" may have arisen out of the nomads' need for extensive and protected grazing lands, followed by a grasping for Chinese and Muslim wealth. *19 The Mongols' expansion along the great caravan routes underscores their opportunism. But besides the logic of steppe existence and the temptations of sedentary wealth, there does appear to have been a sense of mission in the Mongols' expansion, which was cast as a Mandate of Heaven. The idea that Chingis Khan and his descendants had a coherent cosmology and welcomed the efforts of Turkish and Chinese advisors at court to legitimate Chingisid rule through Chinese ideas of universalism seems credible. What the Mongols understood to be "the world," however, remains problematic. Despite a certain evolution, Mongol leaders may not have come to think in terms of an empire or state with a territory, but continued to think in terms of winter and summer quarters, military recruitment, tribute, plunder, and control over trade routes. In the Mongol language an ulus was the term for a variety of kin groups united by allegiance to a chief; Chingis Khan was proclaimed lord "of all the peoples dwelling in felt tents." The territory used by an ulus was known as nutug (yurt). An ulus referred to people. *20 The Mongols' "world" may have been unbounded, stretching as far as their armies could reach, but it does not appear to have included the concept of demarcated territory.
None of the above is intended to underestimate Mongol administrative abilities. They were able to conduct a census of their subjects from China to Central Asia, Persia, and Rus, an enumeration, instituted by Ogedei (Chingis Khan's successor) that served as the key to facilitating the mobilization of the human (and financial) resources of their subjects. Numerous taxes were collected. *21 Mongol postal stations were established over astonishing distances, forewarning the khans of attacks and providing other intelligence. *22 The military aspect was prom
Mongolian culture in most respects reflected the influence of China. For instance, there are Mongolian terms for the Chinese 60 year calendar cycle. On the other hand, significant other influences came into play. The writing system eventually adopted for Mongolian was the alphabet brought by Nestorian Christian missionaries into Central Asia, which was used to write other Altaic languages related to Mongolian, like Uighur and Manchu. This script is deficient in letters for vowels, which always made it an ambiguous way to write these languages. Under Soviet influence, Mongolian now is mostly written in the Cyrillic alphabet. In religion, Mongolia also went its own way, adopting the Vajrayana Buddhism, or Lamaism, of Tibet. This may have contributed to the military decline of Mongolia, since a large part of the population committed to monasticism does not make for anything like the nation of fierce warriors that stormed across Asia in the 13th century. Thus, Manchu China conquered Mongolia for the first time in its history in 1696. It remained part of China until 1911, when the fall of the Manchus enabled the Mongols, like the Tibetans, to assert their independence. The Chinese, however, enforced their claim to Mongolia by an invasion in 1919. This was successful, but with Soviet help the Chinese were driven out in 1921. Mongolian independence, at least from China, was henceforth under the protection of the Soviet Union. But this also, naturally, made Mongolia subject to Russian experiments in Communism. Stalin's collectivization of agriculture was extended to Mongolia, with the forced settlement of nomads. Many of them, consequently, moved to Chinese Inner Mongolia to escape. Since 1990, Mongolia, like other post-Soviet states, has been struggling to develop a normal life and government free of police state measures and Russian domination.
Map shows the conquests of Chingiz KhÃ¢n as divided at his death among his four sons. Jochi, the eldest son had, however, already died; so his sector was actually divided between his own sons, Batu (the Blue Horde), Orda (the White Horde), and Shiban, later united into the Golden Horde, the most durable of the Mongol regimes. Tuli (Tolui), the youngest son, was given the homeland of Mongolia. And it was the sons of Tuli, after the conquest of Russia, who carried out the greatest subsequent conquests, of the Middle East and China.
Genghis Khan (Chingiz or Chinngis, KhÃ¢n or Khagan) believed that he had been given the dominion of the whole world. Although the Mongols, as far as we know, didn't have a tradition of believing such a thing, Genghis launched a campaign that came closer than any other such effort in history to realizing its goal. What Genghis accomplished himself was mostly to absorb kingdoms in Central Asia that most people would not have heard of anyway, but his sons and grandsons accomplished the conquests of China, Russia, Korea, Iran, and Iraq -- just to mention the most famous places. The abolition of the IslÃ¢mic Caliphate in Baghdad affected the whole subsequent history of IslÃ¢m. Devastating defeats were also inflicted on Poland, Hungary, and Turkey, but growing feuds between increasingly more estranged cousins began to divert energies from more distant permanent conquests. Sometimes, as in the invasions of Japan, extraordinary circumstances, in that case the "Divine Wind" (kami kaze) typhoons, foiled Mongol conquest. But the ultimate enemy of the Mongols was the Mongols themselves. Whereas the average length of a generation of European royalty from Charlemagne to Queen Elizabeth (about 40 generations) was nearly 30 years, the Mongol generations turned over in only about 20 years. The Chingizids tended to drink themselves to death; and once no longer centered on the steppe, they lost their military edge. Only the Golden Horde ("horde" from orda, "army") retained a steppe base and steppe culture, consequently lasting more than three centuries, rather than less than 90 years as with both the IlkhÃ¢ns in the Middle East or the YÃ¼an Dynasty in China.
I had some problems with reconciling the Mongolian dates and names [The Mongols, David Morgan, Basil Blackwell, 1986, and The New Islamic Dynasties, Clifford Edmund Bosworth, Edinburgh University Press, 1996, which do not give Chinese names] with the Chinese list of YÃ¼an emperors [Mathews' Chinese-English Dictionary, Harvard University Press, 1972, p. 1175, which does not give the Mongolian names]. This is now cleared up by Ann Paludan's Chronicle of the Chinese Emperors [Thames & Hudson, London, 1998, pp. 148-157]. Two Emperors did not reign long enough to be acknowledged by Chinese historians. Also, Chinese sources list Ming Tsung before Wen Tsung (or Wen Ti, in Mathews') because the second reign of the latter is counted. After Togus-TemÃ¼r, I have only found a list of rulers for Mongolia in Bruce R. Gordon's Regnal Chronologies -- though Gordon actually doesn't list Togus-TemÃ¼r, but only "Biliktu," with slightly different dates. Now I discover that "Biliktu" refers to the brother and predecessor of Togus-TemÃ¼r, Ayushiridara, whose name I had not seen at all peviously but I now see attested in the Nihon Kodaishi Daijiten, or Dictionary of Ancient Japanese History, on CD-ROM , which provides the genealogy, and at the Chinaknowledge website of Ulrich Theobald -- the word "Qaghan," proper Mongolian for "KhÃ¢n," is used in titles given by Theobald. Gordon's "Usaqal" then turns out to be Togus-TemÃ¼r himself.
Altan Khan looks like the last vigorous and effective Mongolian ruler, striking blows against China that deeply discomfited the Ming government. Yet rebellions began early in Altan Khan's reign that he was never able to put down; and his direct successors rulled a state (Tumed) that simply shared in the breakup of the country. Mongolia would no longer be a threat to China, but Manchuria would soon conquer China (1644-1683) and Mongolia (1628-1732) as well. The most effective of the fragmented kingdoms seems to be that of Khalka. Since Mongol authority was asserted over Tibet in 1642, I assume that the Khans of Khalka were responsible. This gave the Manchus a pretext for claiming authority over Tibet after their conquest of Mongolia.
As noted above, classical Mongolian was written in an alphabet ultimately derived from the Syriac alphabet brought by Nestorian missionaries, as transmitted by way of Uighur and adopted under Genghis KhÃ¢n. This was actually a poor way to write Mongolian, since such alphabets do not represent vowels. As it happens, Qubilai KhÃ¢n requested that the Tibetan 'Phags-pa, a nephew of the Mongol Regent of Tibet, develop an alphabetic writing system for Mongolian. The system he developed was made official and compulsory in 1269. Despite the inadequacies of the Uighur alphabet, the system of 'Phags-pa did not catch on. Official documents using it survive, but the older script survived and returned to dominance until the Cyrillic alphabet was adopted in Communist Mongolia. With other post-Soviet states turning to traditional alphabets or the Latin alphabet, it would be a nice touch for Mongolia to revive the 'Phags-pa system.
The situation in MughulistÃ¢n (Turkistan and Sinkiang, including the Tarim Basin, in Central Asia) seems confused. Other sources ascribe a reign to Qaidu, son of the Great KhÃ¢n GÃ¼yÃ¼k; and grandson of the Great KhÃ¢n Ãgedey, but he is not listed by Bosworth's New Islamic Dynasties. At the same time, Bosworth lists Qara HÃ¼legÃ¼ as the son of MÃ¶'eÃ¼ken, who is listed as an otherwise unknown, to me, son of Chingiz [p.248]. Similarly, other sources affirm that Jagatai-ids return to power by 1309, but Bosworth's list takes no note of this and simply continues with descendants of Chaghatay and MÃ¶'eÃ¼ken. This is perplexing. The answer appears to be that Qaidu detached his own domain, to contest the Great KhÃ¢nate, in the Dzungaria (Junggar) Basin and through part of Mongolia to the north-east, ruling from 1260/64-1301/03. He was succeeded by his son, Chapar, who briefly ruled 1301/03-1306. Chapar was defeated by the proper Chaghatayid KhÃ¢n, Du'a, eliminating the division within MughulistÃ¢n.
This event is of independent interest, since Du'a's name also appears as Tuva, a name that apparently stuck in a small mountainous area north-east of the Altai Mountains. The Republic of Tuva (capital Kyzyl) was independent for a short period after the fall of the Russian Empire, before being conquered by the Bolsheviks. The Republic even issued stamps that came to the attention of the great physicist, and youthful stamp collector, Richard Feynman. The Tuva Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic, part of the Russian Republic in the Soviet Union, claimed to contain the geographical center of the Continent of Asia, with a monument to mark the spot. It was also closed to foreigners. Nevertheless, Feynman spent the last few years of his life trying to arrange a trip there. Unfortunately, he died very shortly before permission for his visit arrived (1988). As with some other derivatives of Mongol states, we discover that the modern Tuvan language (Tuvinian) is actually more closely related to Turkish than to Mongolian.
The end of the Chaghatayids is as obscure as these other issues. MughulistÃ¢n is displaced from Transoxania by the Timurids, Uzbeks, and Kazakhs. In Sinkiang (Xinjiang), domains of the Turkic Uighurs took over until Manchu conquest in 1754-59.
Josef Stalin said that his best generals were "January and February." Indeed, the great invasions of Russia by Napoleon and Hitler came to grief in great measure because of the harsh Russian winter. Napoleon lost much of his Grand Army in 1812 in a retreat from Moscow in the cold and the snow. Hitler was aware of Napoleon's failure, but he expected to conquer Russia before winter set in. However, Hitler got delayed by a campaign against Yugoslavia and then launched forces, not only towards Moscow, but against Leningrad and the Ukraine also. Thus, as the snow began to fall in 1941, the Germans had barely come within sight of Moscow. They weren't even prepared for winter. The men did not have winter clothing and the summer oil in the tanks actually froze.
In light of these events, it is chilling (as it were) to remember that the Mongols conquered Russia during the winter. The Mongols liked winter. Frozen rivers and marshes meant that they could ride right over barriers that in the spring or summer would have slowed them down. Their tough Central Asian ponies knew how to dig down through the snow to eat the frozen grass beneath. This all made for a terror unknown to the Russians before or since. What the Russians then called their Mongol conquers was the "Tartars" -- invaders come from Tartarus, the deepest part of Hell. However, this was a deliberate modification of the Persian word tÃ¢tÃ¢r, which just meant a kind of Turk, though the Mongols, of course, were not Turks. But then, as the Mongols appeared out of nowhere from the Steppe, arriving from origins far beyond the knowledge of Russians or Persians, no one really knew who they were or where they were from. To Europeans, they seemed like the Scourge of God.
Eventually, the Golden Horde weakened and broke up into the KhÃ¢nates of Astrakhan, Kazan, and Crimea. Remnants of the Golden Horde passed in 1502 to the Crimea, which, as a vassal of the Ottoman Empire (as of 1475), held out the longest against Russian power. Thus, independent Hordes survived in Russia for three centuries, and the Crimea for more than two more. This original durability, far beyond the other Mongol KhÃ¢nates, may be due to the fact that only the Golden Horde remained centered on the steppe. For so long as nomadic military tactics held an advantage, the Golden Horde benefited from it. The day of the nomad had to pass before the Russians gained the upper hand. Crimea survived thanks to the very non-nomadic power of the Ottomans. Russian expansion east would then not be through the steppe but in the Taiga, the dense forestland.
The map at right shows the situation in 1483. Moscow has just ceased paying tribute to the Golden Horde (1480). The successor Khanates to the Horde are already in place. As noted, the Crimea is already a vassal of the Ottomans. Although it would be the Crimean KhÃ¢ns who finally overthrew the Horde, Astrakhan would acquire the lion's share of the remaining lands of the Horde. Timurids and the White Sheep (Aq Qoyunlu) Turks dominate the Middle East and Central Asia.
Note that Shiban, as a son of Jochi, originally had his own division of the Horde (an ulus, "patrimony"), as seen in the map above. When ToqtamÃ¯sh moved west to unify the Golden Horde, the Shibanids expanded south and grew into the KhÃ¢nate of the Ãzbegs or Uzbeks, perhaps named after the KhÃ¢n of the Blue Horde, Muh.ammad Ãzbeg (1313-1341). Thus, on the map of 1483, the Uzbeks have become conspicuous. Their line is given below, as their realm (and the Kazakhs) succeeded to most of Central Asia until the coming of the Russians. There was also another son of Jochi, Toqa TemÃ¼r, who had descendants from who some later KhÃ¢ns may have descended. This may have included the founder of the Golden Horde proper, ToqtamÃ¯sh, whose parentage is uncertain.
The breakup of the Golden Horde resulted in a number of successor states, most importantly the KhÃ¢nates of Kazan, the Crimea, and Astrakhan. The remnant domain of the Golden Horde was itself annexed by the Crimea in 1502. Otherwise, all would be faced with, and ultimately fall to, the growing power of Russia. The fall of Kazan and Astrakhan motivated Ivan IV to proclaim himself "Tsar of all the Russias." The Crimea would endure longer, becoming indeed the last of any of the Mongol KhÃ¢nates. Its durability, however, was only due to the protection of the Ottomans. Before Russia could take the Crimea, it would have to defeat the Turks. That would not come until the 18th Century. Catherine the Great, not Ivan the Terrible, would finish off the last of the Mongols.
These lists are derived entirely from The New Islamic Dynasties, by Clifford Edmund Bosworth [Edinburgh University Press, 1996, pp.252-260].
The rise of the Mongol Empire is possibly the most extraordinary feats of history. However it may not be all that surprising, since so-called barbarian hordes have been the bane of the "civilized" world for much of history. Especially by those who sprung from the bleak but awe-inspiring landscapes of the Central Asian steppes, examples abound from the Huns to the Mongols themselves. In a world when the fastest mode of transportation was on horseback, these nomadic tribes who were practically born and bred on horses could indeed conceivably rule the world. The greatest of them all was Temujin, for he came from humble beginnings to become "Genghis Khan", or chief of all who dwell in tents. Solely raised by his mother when his father died while he was at a young age, he not only survived the harsh surrounding, but also grew up to united all of the nomadic tribes, setting the stage for world conquest. He and his descendents would continue his conquests, and within a space of 80 years carve out the largest continuous land Empire that the world would know to this day. They developed a reputation for ruthlessness and brutality. Indeed whenever their enemies did not capitulate to them, they did not hesitate to conduct wholesale massacres upon the population. To the Europeans, the stereotype of them being barbaric plunderers intent merely to maim, slaughter, and destroy, earned them the moniker "The Devil's Horsemen". However, this ignores the fact that in the lands that they conquered, they instituted many reforms to facilitate mercantile trade and established a vast postal network that stretched throughout their Empire. Creating the first direct link between Europe and the Far East, inspiring not only a trade in goods, but peoples and ideas. Indeed this contact would lead to the Age of Exploration in Europe, as people sought faster and safer routes to China, as the Mongol Empire began to decline. Vestiges of Mongol authority would continue for several hundred years, but indeed their Empire disintegrated almost as quickly as it had started. With those who kept to their nomadic ways returning or being driven back to the steppe lands from where they came, or being absorbed by the native population that they had once ruled. As the Chinese explained it to Ghengis Khan, what you conquer by horseback you can not govern by horseback. In essence it is what happened to the Mongols.
Central Asia had long been the home of various nomadic tribes based on the practice of animal herding and horses. Humans had inhabited the region ever since the prehistoric period. The centuries before the Genghis Khan's conquests, various Turkic and Mongol-Tungusic tribes inhabited the steppes of Mongolia. These various ethnic groups alternatively ruled each other during this time, one group would gain power and subdue the others until another group formed to topple the previously superior power. One of the first politically organized groups were the Hsiung-nu (the Chinese name for a tribe called the Hunnu) had for a time been dominant in the region. They throughout this time, posed a constant threat to ancient China, and were the cause for China to build the Great Wall. In fact, one of the splinter groups from this nation that had moved north and westward would eventually arrive at the gates of Roman Empire in the 4th century A.D. to be known to the western world as the Huns. So it is no coincidence that some of the most successful conquerors and invaders came from this region of the world. The land lends itself to breed a people who were used to harsh living conditions, mobility and war. Elements that makes for an ideal military force.
It should be noted that before the 13th century, the term Mongol is merely a name for one of the many tribes that would form what would be called the "Mongol" nation. The other major tribes that inhabited Mongolia at the time were the Merkits, the Kereyids, the Naimans, and the Tatars. Around 1130 A.D. the Mongols came to fore. They would go on to defeat their neighboring tribesmen and even forced the Jin Empire (in Northern China) to pay them tribute. However, the first Mongol Kingdom was a short-lived one, lasting a mere 30 years before being defeated by the Tartars. Infighting prevented any reconsolidation of the tribes. One of the descendents of the khans (clan chiefs) of the former Kingdom was Yesugei. In 1167 A.D. he had a son named Temujin. When Temujin was a child, his father was poisoned by Tartar chiefs and died. Being so young, he was not old enough to take on the leadership of the clan and his clansmen abandoned the family. The young Temujin was left to be raised alone by his mother, and his immediate family. He had a harsh life growing up trying to eke out a living in the harsh Mongolian steppes, but he also had many harrowing adventures. When he was 16, his family was attacked by the Merkits (his mother was incidentally a Merkit) who kidnaps Temujin's wife. In order to get his wife back, he asked for the help of one of his father's old friend Toghrul of the Kereyid Tribe, who in turn recruited Jamugha, a leader of a Mongol tribe. Together they defeated the Merkits and recovered Temujin's wife. Jamugha also happened to be a childhood friend of Temujin, and also an "anda" or blood brother (the oath of anda is a spiritual brotherhood that according to Mongolian tradition is more binding than biological kinship). Together they continued their victory over the Merkits as impetus to take control all of the other Mongol clans. But this was not enough for the driven and ambitious Temujin. He had a bigger plan in mind. This lead to armed conflict between the two men and a split between the Mongol Nation. Temujin was defeated and forced into exile. Ten years would pass, but he returned in force and not only retook control of the Mongol tribe, but went on to defeat all the other steppe tribes. He began his return to power first with the defeat of the Tartars in 1196 A.D., then turning on to the Kereyids, his former ally in 1203 A.D., the rest of the steppe tribes the following year. When he had to face Jamugha, his former friend. Temujin managed to get Jamugha's followers to betray their chief and deliver him to Temujin. Temujin offered to renew their brotherhood, but Jamugha could not bear the humiliation of defeat and asked to be executed. Temujin obliged him, but also executed those men who betrayed him. It was Temujin's principle that anyone who would betray their masters could never be trusted and deserved the harshest punishment. So with all the steppe tribes now under his control, Temujin held a great assembly on the banks of the Onon river in 1206 A.D., where he took the title Genghis Khan.
Genghis Khan possessed not only a keen sense of his own destiny, but had many qualities to back up his ambitions. He possessed strategic and tactical brilliance in warfare, political attuteness and super organizational abilities. He also had a keen sense of the importance of trade, as it was often the only way to survive in the bleak steppe lands, especially being raised as he was when his family was abandoned by their clansmen. When he was declared Genghis Khan, he instituted wide spread reforms upon the united Mongol Nation. The fact that he deliberately united the tribes was a well thought out plan. In the past, previous steppe tribes who had gained ascendancy would quickly turn its attention to the rich civilized empires to the south in China to gain tribute and plunder. Leaving room for the Chinese Kingdoms to form alliances with rival steppe tribes to play one against the other. He also imposed a military super structure over the Mongol Nation. He organized his army into easily managed units, each lead by a commander elected by the men. Promotion was based on merit and not by birthright as was the custom in many cultures in the world at the time. He also deliberately distributed his men into non-tribal groups to break up former loyalties, and made alliances by establishing many blood brother relationships, so that the focus of loyalty would be towards him personally. The Mongol army was also comprised entirely of cavalry at this time, and thus was capable of sweeping maneuvers. Most notable was the feigned retreat that would lure an opposing force into pursuit. The Mongol army would encircle the strung out army and pepper them with arrows, shot from composite bows that had a range of 350 yards, until the former pursuers were destroyed.
The year after his ascension to the Mongol leadership, he turned his attention on the riches of the "civilized" Kingdoms to the South. First he led his men against the Xi-Xia Kingdom (also known as Tanguts) in North Western China. His main goal was to gain favorable trade terms with the Xi-Xia, which had dominated trade along their section of the Silk Road. He quickly overwhelmed the Xi-Xia who had no choice but to submit to his authority, so he offered them a tributary state relationship to the Mongols. He also adopted the Uighur language used by the Xi-Xia as a written language for the Mongol nation, which had no written language before this time. Next, he turned his attention on the Jin Kingdom, also known as Chin, in 1211 A.D. Their capitol was Chungdu in present-day Beijing, and controlled Northern China up to the Yangtze River. After 4 years, in 1215 A.D. they finally captured the Jin capitol of Chungdu, however by then they had moved their political center south to Kai-feng. Nevertheless the Mongols now controlled Northern China up to the Yellow River. In the long war, Genghis Khan realized the shortcomings of the Mongol army, and that was the lack of siege craft. So it was during this time, that he incorporated siege warfare into the Mongol arsenal, by capturing Chinese siege engineers during his war with the Jin. Genghis Khan was wounded during the war, and withdrew to his homeland to recover. He also acquired the service of Yeh-lu Chu'tsai, a Chinese of Mongol extraction, as his shaman and closest adviser. He would serve Genghis Khan and his son for the rest of his life, providing for the Mongol leader a link to spirituality, as well as, the advanced sciences, culture and education of the Chinese world.
Manuscript of Rashid ad-Din
In 1218 A.D. he was ready to resume his conquests, but by then he had lost interest in China and instead turned his attention towards the west. He sent a general named Chepe to conquer the Kara Khitai Empire, as a stepping stone toward the Kwarazm Empire in Persia. The previous year, a band of Mongol merchants were murdered in a Kwarasm city. Genghis sent an envoy to the Shah of Kwarazm to clear up the matter. Instead the envoy was put to death, which to the Mongols was an unforgivable act. With the Kara Khitai Empire under Mongol control, Genghis mounted what would be his largest military operation in 1219 A.D. He and a general Subedei would command a body of 90,000 men, attacking from the North, and a force of 30,000 under the command of general Chepe to attack from the east, passing over extremely difficult mountainous terrain in the Himalayas. Facing the Mongols were 400,000 men assembled by Shah Mohammed of the Kwarazm Empire. 180,000 of the Shah's troops were killed in the main battle, with the Shah narrowly escaping the scene. Further engagements ended with similarly devastating results for the Shah's army, but with the Shah escaping each time. To put and end to this, Genghis Khan assigned his general Subedei and Chepe with a force of 20,000 men to find and kill the Shah. In 1220 A.D. Genghis Khan in turn attacked the city of Bohkara and then the Kwarazm capitol of Samarkand. Taking both within two weeks. The devastation and suffering inflicted upon the capitol and its inhabitant, in fact the entire Empire was enormous. The marauding Mongol troops would level any cities they came across and massacred the population. Many were also sold into slavery. It was said that the Mongols executed 700,000 at the city of Merv. The Kwarasm Empire was literally wiped from existence. The only Kwarasm force to offer any real resistance was lead by Jalal al-Din in the area of modern day Afghanistan. Actually defeating the initial attack by the Mongols lead by one of Genghis Khan's adopted sons at Parwan. However his army would later be destroyed by Genghis Khan himself at the Indus River. The Shah has fled west with the two Mongol Generals in pursuit. The Shah's regime was not a popular one so within half a year of his escape he died of leprosy, exhausted and in rags. However, Subedei and Chepe would go further then pursuing the Shah. The Mongol detachment would turn North making raids around the Caspian Sea and into Russia, facing off and beating overwhelming numbers of Russians and Cumans along the way, before returning to join the main army body. Chepe however did not survive the campaign. But even on his way back, Subedei and his 20,000 men would destroy a force of 80,000 Georgians in the Battle of Khalka. The exploits would prompt Edward Gibbon, a famous historian to admiringly state that "Such a ride has never before been attempted, and has never since been repeated."
Genghis Khan was now almost into his sixties. So during the Kwarazm campaign, Genghis Khan sought the legendary Taoist monk Chang-chun, on the magical elixir of Immortality. But the monk had no such potion but they discussed many philosophical matters with the two become good friends and giving the Khan some good advice. So before completing his military campaign, he wisely designates his son Ogedei to be his successor. Once the Kwarazm campaign was completed, Genghis Khan decides to return home to take care of the administrative tasks of his Mongol Empire. The Xi-Xia was again refusing to surrender tribute to the Mongols, so the Mongol army on its way back takes the Xi-Xia capitol, and incorporates the Xi-Xia kingdom into the Mongol Empire completely. However, shortly after the Xi-Xia campaign, Genghis Khan dies at the age of 60 while on a hunting expedition in 1227 A.D. He had left for his sons what was already the largest Land Empire the world would know but his descendents would extend it even further.
Mongols battle Jin warriors
Manuscript of Rashid ad-Din
After the death of Genghis Khan, his son Ogedei takes on the title of Khakhan, or "Khan of Khans". The territories conquered through Genghis Khan's leadership were divided into four regions for each of his sons. But they were politically united and under the reign of the Khakhan. Ogedei would go on to pacify the remaining resistance left over from remnants of the Kwarasm Empire. Then in 1231 A.D. turn his attention back to the Jin Empire, completing the conquest of the Jin and the capture of Kai-Feng in 1234 A.D. with his able general Subedei, and brother Tolui.
With the Jin now defeated, Ogedei sent general Subedei west to reconnoiter the Christian world in order to prepare for the great Western campaign. In most likelihood this invasion was planned when Subedei first made his raids into Russia. The Mongols were very thorough, gathering intelligence on the political, economic and even family connections of the ruling classes of Russia and Europe. Subedei further reckoned that it would take 18 years to completely conquer all of Europe, which points to the master plan the Mongols really had. In contrast, the Russians and Europeans knew nothing about the Mongols. Ogedei also establishes the Mongol Capitol of Karakhorum, in modern day Mongolia.
Battle of Sajo Bridge
(Hungarians vs Mongols)
European depiction of Events
In 1236 A.D. Subedei and Genghis Khan's grandson Batu was sent with 150,000 men on a mission to subjugate Russia and Eastern Europe. Unlike the other powers that would attempt to invade Russia, the Mongols were equally adept as the Russian in fighting in the winter. So Subedei planned his attack on Russia at the height of winter of 1237 A.D. The Mongols first defeats the Bulgars around the Volga River, then onto the Eastern Russian Principalities. The next year he attacked from the North in order to avoid being outflanked by the Russians and in quick succession eliminated the Northern Russian principalities, taking mere days to defeat each. From there they turned to Novgorod, but they abandoned the siege after the terrain proved too difficult for the Mongol horses to travel through. However, the prince of Novgorod wisely took this opportunity to make a pact with the Mongols. Offer themselves as a tributary state in order to avoid destruction. Bypassing Novgorod they would lay waste to the city of Kozelsk which stubbornly held out for 2 months. The final prize was Kiev, in 1240 A.D. the city was besieged. The city put up staunch resistance, and as was common practice for the Mongols, when they finally penetrated the city defenses, reduced the city to rubble for their insolence with the exception of St. Sophia Cathedral. With the capture of Kiev, the Russia territories were now under Mongol control. The Russians renamed their territory of the Mongol Empire, "The Golden Horde". The territory would continue to be under Mongol domination and a tribute state until 1480 A.D.
Battle of Liegnitz
Mongol Cavalry vs Teutonic Knights
After the victory over Russia, Subedei divided his army into three parts to take on Hungary and Poland. Using the excuse that the Cuman refugees, who had fled into Hungary as a result of the Russian Campaign, were Mongol subjects, they declared war on the Hungarians. Early in 1241 A.D. the Mongols defeated the Hungarians using a series of brilliant strategic army maneuvers and the usual Mongol tactics. Destroying a force of 80,000 men in one battle, and 100,000 in subsequent battles for the city of Pest. At Liegnitz a force of 20,000 Teutonic knights faced off against the Mongols but were slaughtered to the last man. Meanwhile a flanking force of 20,000 men sent North stormed into Poland and sacked Krakow. The Mongols crossed the Danube by the end of the year but stopped to consolidate their gains before setting out to attack Austria. During the whole campaign, the European countries found themselves incapable of resolving their differences completely to take on a common enemy, the Austrians even used the Mongol invasion to seize part of Hungary. However early the next year Batu receives a message of the passing of Ogedei. As it was custom to hold an assembly to elect a new Khakhan, Batu and Subedei returned to Mongol territory participate in the election. In no doubt that the likely successor Guyuk Khan was not favored by Batu, so he had no choice given the vast territories he had now gained for himself.
This decision would prove fateful for both the Mongols and Europe. The Europeans thought they had managed to inflict enough casualties upon the Mongols so that they gave up their conquest. However given the state of affairs in Europe and the past Mongol successes, it would seem likely that Batu and Subedei would have conquered all of Europe up to the Atlantic Ocean. However, the Mongols would not invade Europe again, and in 1243 A.D. Yeh-lu Chu'tsai, the chief adviser to the Khakhan dies. Later in 1246 A.D. the great Mongol general Subedei dies at the age of 70. These two men were the masterminds responsible for much of the Mongols successes and the continuation after Genghis Khan's death of his leadership principles. Their passing also saw a gradual decline in the cohesiveness of the Mongol Empire, which each Khanate territory becoming more and more independent. Although still acknowledging the superiority of the Great Khan.
Guyuk was elected Great Khan but his rule would last only two years. This actually prevented all out civil war as Batu was opposed to Guyuk. In 1251 A.D. Mongke would succeed him. He would revive the conquests that were seen as the Mongol's destiny by Genghis Khan. First, he had to deal with a group called the Ismailis (they were also known as Assassins, in fact the word comes from this group) who were causing trouble in the western territories. He sent Hulagu, (a Grandson of Genghis Khan) to deal with them. Hulagu departed in 1253 A.D. armed with the latest in siege weapons, and even attracted a number of Christian Georgian and Alan volunteers along the way. It took three years, slow by Mongol standards, to reach the Assassin's territory but he forced the surrender of the Assassins after the capture their Grandmaster at Alamut. He then turned his attention to the Caliph of Baghdad, again the Mongols easily captured the city. As with any city that resisted the Mongols, the inhabitants were massacred, however the Christian population in the city was spared. Hulagu decided to return to the Mongol capitol after this conquest but leaves only 15,000 men, in addition to 10,000 allied troops to secure the Western frontier. The Mameluke Sultans of Egypt however was expecting the whole Mongol contingent and amassed an army of 120,000 men in preparation. This time however, the Mongols were not so lucky. The forces finally met a few years later. The Mamelukes would manage to defeat the Mongol detachment at the Battle of Ayn Jalut. Preventing the spearhead from making its way into Egypt. Mongke would also die the next year, arresting Mongol ambitions in the region.
Kublai Khan would succeed him in 1259 A.D., however his ascension was contested by his brother and it would take 5 years before Kublai was able to settle the matter. Kublai's interest was in China. He would also resume the conquests begun by Mongke of the Sung (also known as Song) dynasty of southern China. Kublai, this time combined with a naval force eventually defeats the Sung in 1272 A.D. Kublai establishes the Yuan dynasty in China and moves the Mongol capitol to Beijing. However the Sung Emperor escapes and retreats further south. It would take another 7 years before they caught up with him and destroy the last of the Chinese forces. During this period, Kublai would also send an envoy to Japan to demand tribute, however he would be rebuffed. In response he sends a force of 150 ships in 1274 A.D. but was beaten back by the Japanese when a Typhoon destroys the Mongol fleet while it was docked after the initial clash. Kublai would send a much larger force in 1281 A.D. but again a Typhoon wipes out his invasion fleet, leading to another defeat. The Mongols also mounted expeditions to conquer Burma, Vietnam and Java. But none of them proved successful in the end. Despite these military defeats, the Mongol empire was at its Zenith, with an Empire that reach from the Pacific to the Danube river in Europe, and trade flourished throughout the Mongol Empire. It was during Kublai's reign that the famous merchant adventurer Marco Polo travels to China, observing and documenting the wonders of China that would enthrall Europe for centuries. Kublai's reign was concentrated with matters in China, and his attention was never concerned with the unity of the Mongol Empire. His successors did not even bother to stake claim over the Khakhan title and choose to be Chinese Emperors under the Yuan dynasty. After Kublai's death in 1294 A.D. the Mongol Empire breaks up into a number of independent Khanates. The Golden Horde in Russia, the Il-Khan in Persia, and the Chaghatayid which stretched from Afghanistan to Tibet.
The Golden Horde would continue to rule over Russia until 1480 A.D. lasting the longest of all the foreign Khanates. The Mongol regime would remaining in power in China until 1368 A.D when a peasant Monk lead a rebellion against them to establish the Ming dynasty. The Il-Khanate would see some prosperity under the reign of Abu Said. However ,immediately after his death in 1335 A.D. the Mongol Khanate collapsed until Tamerlane, who while being Moslem and only part Mongol tried to reunify the Mongol Empire. He had managed to conquered the remnants of the Il-khanate along with the Chaghatayid but he died in 1405 A.D. without fully realizing his ultimate goal of reunification. After his death, China would eventually annex the Eastern parts of the Chaghatayid as well as Mongolia under the Ching dynasty in 1696 A.D. The various Mongol Khanates would continue to fracture, being easy pickings for the native inhabitants to regain control.
The Mongols would also eventually adopt Buddhism further dulling their past warrior traditions. Mongolia remained part of China until 1911 A.D, when the collapse of dynastic rule in China allowed them to assert their independence. The Chinese, however, tried to reinforced their claim to Mongolia by an invasion in 1919 A.D. However, they were unsucessful largely due to the effort of Sukhbaatar. He stands today as a hero of the Mongolian people, when he as commander-in-chief of the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Army, defeated the Chinese with the help of the Soviet Union and declared Mongolia's independence from China.
While the Mongolians were nominally independent, the Soviets were in fact in control. The Mongolians were forced into farming collectives and a sedentary lifestyle, in a Soviet style economy. As a result, many fled to Chinese Inner Mongolia to escape this fate. Since 1990 A.D., Mongolia, like other post-Soviet states, has been struggling to develop its economy, and reassert its own cultural heritage. While no longer the fierce warriors of the past, they still possess a culture that remains as unique today as it were in the past. It derives its enduring qualities from a land where horses are still the best way to travel.
Overall Strategy for Players Using Mongols
Mongol Cavalry Charge
The Mongols advantages makes them ideally suited for the offensive minded player. By far the traditional favorite units of rushers are ranged cavalry. Indeed this is where the Mongols shine, having their sole, but highly effective unique unit in this line. They receive them at the Classical Age which is very early in the game. This means that they can take advantage of these awesome troops before many people can mount an adequate defense. These troops also suffer less from attrition which means they maybe the only civilization that is able to really make a successful rushing attack on the Russians, to counter-act their extra attrition, and keep them in check so that they don't enter the later ages unskaved. When facing a civilization besides the Russian, these more resilient troops will certainly be even more effective in a rushing attack then other troops, being able to linger much longer without suffering attrition and thus deal out much more destruction and disruption to their enemies.
The even better bonus is that they get three of these cavalry archers for free for every stable they build. This can be of great use to facilitate a rushing attack. Timber is generally not too difficult to accumulate so use that wood up and plop down as many stables as you can and take advantage of those free troops. So plop down 4 or 5 stables and get yourself 12 to 15 cavalry archers as a bonus. This should be a very adequate rushing force. You can go with less but in Rise of Nations, you generally need a bigger rushing force for them to be as effective as in other Real Time Strategy games. If the Rush fails, it's still not a big loss since those troops are free anyway. They will at least have had their production disrupted, and lost a few units. They may even over compensate and try to build too many defenses and neglect their research and economic side. That is, being knocked off their game plan, which is really what one hopes to do in these kinds of attacks. Even better of course if you manage to cripple their economy or force them to resign. But remember it is all about cost versus benefit, you get troops that cost you nothing, so use them to cause people some damage, and you can't really loose. Of course it doesn't mean you should squander that bonus either, because you need to meet a certain minimum of force in order to deal adequate damage.
You can of course try to bank the free troops till later in game, and use them as part of a combined arms force. However, one should be careful not to accumulate too many of them before the late mechanized ages when cavalry archers become obsolete, and you are forced to upgrade. The large number of troops of a type will make the upgrade cost extremely high, not to mention the impact on the population limit that you need to keep an eye on. The upgrade cost will be a concern at every age when a cavalry archer upgrade is available, but will be most felt when those horse units have to turn into mechanized units. However, if timed right possibly during the gunpowder age, the resources you have saved from not having to pay for the cavalry archers, can help you build a much bigger and formidable combined arms force where you can really deal some serious damage and bring victory home.
In multiplayer team games, the Mongol player would be instrumental in using its fast, effective and free cavalry archers to keep opponents from developing their economy as well as you and your allies. A good ally would ideally be a civilization that is strong in the late game and later ages. Since the Mongols are best in the earlier ages, and lack any special units for the later ages. While they do get the stable/factory bonus with armored cars, these units can no longer serve as the main spearhead as the early cavalry archer units did in the early ages. However they will still be great for flanking attacks and against light infantry. These units will not be as effective in dealing with the generally more resilient troops and buildings of the later ages, especially when faced with anti-tank troops.
The connection of the Crimea to Turkey led to a significant moment in linguistic history. The Imperial Ambassador to Constantinople, Bubecq (1560-1562), took down sixty words in an unusual language spoken by informants from the Crimea. The language turned out to be Gothic. Goths had been in the Crimea since the 3rd Century AD. It is fortunate that Bubecq was curious about the language, because there is otherwise no surviving evidence of it, and there are no Crimean Goths left now.
There are surviving Crimean Tartars. Stalin became suspicious that they had collaborated with the Germans in World War II, so he deported all of them to Siberia. They are back now, but still rather out of place in the area. They are thus as much living fossils of history as the 16th century Gothic speakers.
The amount of harm that the Mongol conquest did to the Middle East cannot be calculated. It was bad enough for IslÃ¢m that the Caliphate in Baghdad was destroyed, but at least a form of the Caliphate was soon continued in Cairo. The physical damage and neglect to Iraq, however, may have ruined foundations of civilization and prosperity that went back to the Sumerians. The capital of the ÃlkhÃ¢ns became TabrÃ®z. Iraq would never again be a center of great power, influence, or culture. Until the Fall of Constantinople, Cairo became the center of IslÃ¢m.
It may be that a serious effort to conquer Egypt was never launched by the ÃlkhÃ¢ns because the military resources of Mongolia, which had in part been directed at Europe under the Great KhÃ¢n Ãgedei and at the Middle East under MÃ¶ngke (HÃ¼legÃ¼'s brother), were entirely drawn off by Qubilai (HÃ¼legÃ¼'s other brother) for the conquest of China. Certainly, the kind of sustained and punishing campaign that the Song had to face in China was never directed against the MamlÃ»ks.
When the great traveller Ibn Battuta (d.1368/69) visited the IlkhÃ¢nate in 1326-1327, its power seemed well founded and unassailable. When he returned from China, between 1346 and 1349, the KhÃ¢nate had already collapsed! This abrupt and astonishing revolution left a number of successor states. The JalÃ¢yirid Sult.Ã¢ns held TabrÃ®z, western IrÃ¢n and lower Mesopotamia. The Black Sheep (Qara Qoyunlu) Turks lay just to the west, in Armenia and upper Mesopotamia. In between their domain and Trebizond were the White Sheep (Aq Qoyunlu) Turks. All were swept over, but not eliminated, by Tamerlane. As the Timurid hegemony receded, the Black Sheep Turks overthrew the JalÃ¢yirids. It wasn't much longer, however, before the White Sheep Turks became the ultimate winner, assembling a state that stretched even into eastern IrÃ¢n, the most successful of the IlkhÃ¢n successors. When they fell, it would be to an altogether new force, the Safavids, who, although Turks themselves, ushered in an IrÃ¢nian, and a Shi'ite, revival.
Tamerlane was only partly Mongol and never claimed to be one. But he tended to use Mongol puppet figureheads and did create the last serious nomadic empire. A devoted Moslem, his conquests and massacres were nevertheless almost entirely directed against fellow Moslems. Poor little Georgia had to bear most of his wrath against Christians.
Despite what must seem the superfluous slaughter and pointless terror of Tamerlane's campaigns, his was the only historic empire actually founded on the region of Transoxania and cities like Samarkand and Bukhara. This brought a period of higher culture and architecture to the area. The style of architecture, indeed, passed to the Moghuls. The splendor of the Taj MahÃ¢l thus owes more than a little to the ferocious Tamerlane.
The region of FarghÃ¢na included a small Timurid principality. The Ãzbeg conquest of the region (1501) sent the heir, BÃ¢bur, heading for Kabul (1514) and India (1526), where he founded the Moghul Empire.
If the Timurids had been more Turkish than Mongol, they were succeeded by rulers who were at least of Mongol patrimony, the ShibÃ¢nid KhÃ¢ns of the Ãzbegs or Uzbeks -- Turkish tribes, but perhaps named after the KhÃ¢n of the Blue Horde, Muh.ammad Ãzbeg (1313-1341). Moving first south into the lands of the old White Horde, they then displaced the Timurids in Transoxania and northern Afghanistan, in part under the pressure of the Kazakhs. Although often fragemented, the KhÃ¢nate and its successors, with the Kazakhs, dominate Central Asia until the arrival of the Russian Empire. Uzbekistan, of course, is one of the successor Republics to the Soviet Union.
The KhÃ¢ns of the Kazakhs are curiously missing from Bosworth's The New Islamic Dynasties. There seems to be much obscurity in their history, and the details here are from the German Wikipedia website. While the Kazakhs seem to originate as vassals of the Ãzbegs, their KhÃ¢ns are initially derived from the Golden Horde. When the Ãzbeg Abu'l-Khayr kills the Golden KhÃ¢n Boraq, his sons, after an exile in MughulistÃ¢n (Sinkiang), return to avenge themselves. This shatters the Ãzbegs (1468), from which the Kazakhs emerge as an independent KhÃ¢nate. The dating is unclear, but the Ãzbegs are pushed south to the Oxus (Amu Dar'ya) valley and the mountains to the south-east, and the Kazakhs come to dominate the steppe, the valley of the Jaxartes (Syr Dar'ya), and the mountains to the south-east of there. This is reflected in the modern map of the region, with an independent Kazakhstan north of Uzbekistan. The modern caital, Alma Ata, is far to the south-east, near the border of Kirghizia. One complication of Kazakh history seems to be that the Horde periodically, and then permanently, splits into Lesser (west), Middle (north, east), and Elder (south) Hordes -- and evidently the Kirgiz also. These were all, of course, Turkish peoples, with initially the Mongol derived rulers. Today the Turks of the region are distinguished, with the modern states, into Kazakhs, Uzbeks, Kirgiz (in Kirghizia), and Turkmen (in Turkmenistan, south of the Oxus, an area that is mostly desert, though with the historic city of Merv, now Mary). The whole area, of course, has been characterized with the geographical expression Turkistan. In the 18th century, the Lesser and Middle Horde came under Russian influence. They were conquered by 1824. The Elder Horde and Kirgiz were conquered in 1854
Few subjects provoke more heated debate than the impact of the Mongols. Were they primarily a destructive force, leaving a swath of ashes and barren earth, or did they create conditions for the flourishing of cities, trade and cultural exchange across Eurasia? Evil or good? The answer, in fact, is not quite so simple, since it very much depends on when and where we look. Riazan's tragedy at the hands of the Mongols in 1237 is no more "typical" than is prosperity of Sarai, the capital of the Golden Horde, at the time of Ibn Battuta's visit nearly a century later. Yet both are real, and their descriptions not mere propaganda on the part of the Christian monk who wrote the "Tale" or the pious Moroccan Muslim.
We might begin with some comments on the bias of our sources. Most narratives about the Mongol invasion and rule were written by sedentary peoples whom the nomadic Mongols had conquered. The traumas of war and the burdens of occupation by a culturally alien people naturally loom large in such accounts. Even those who arguably benefitted by working for the Mongols were unable to overcome their dislike for their masters, a dislike often rooted in cultural prejudice. A good example is 'Ata-Malik Juvaini, who wrote an important chronicle of Mongol history in the 1250s. A native of Khorasan--an area of northeastern Iran that, in his words, was "the rising-place of felicities and charities, the location of desirable things and good works, the fount of learned men"--Juvaini could not let his readers forget that "today...the earth hath been divested of the adornment of the presence of those clad in the gown of science and those decked in the jewels of learning and letters." Yet even Juvaini's picture is far from one-sided or consistent. By the time he wrote, Bukhara, "the cupola of Islam," had recovered from its conquest, "and today no town in the countries of Islam will bear comparison with Bukhara in the thronging of its creatures, the multitude of movable and immovable wealth, the concourse of savants, the flourishing of science...." In other words, the Mongols' cruelty and lack of culture did not necessarily mean the end of civilization as Juvaini knew it.
"The Apotheosis of War," by V. Vereshchagin, 1871-1872.
Our perceptions of the Mongol impact may reflect as much modern concerns as they do any realities faced by the contemporaries of Chingis Khan's successors. A case in point is Russian attitudes, shaped indeed by invasion and alien rule, but inflamed by the intellectual concerns of modern times. Those who lament Russia's authoritarian political system or economic "backwardness" in modern times continue to blame the Mongols half a millenium after their empire had disintegrated. The emblematic painting, "The Apotheosis of War," by the late nineteenth-century pacifist Vereshchagin, nicely sums up for Russians the Mongol contribution to civilization. And who can forget Prokofiev's ominous music accompanying the opening frames of Sergei Eisenstein's famous propaganda film, "Alexander Nevsky"? Pages of burning manuscripts crackle, and winds scatter the ashes across a barren landscape. The heroic prince breathes defiance in the face of a menacing and cruel Mongol official--all this mere prelude to Nevsky's defeat of German knights, the other foreigners who always had it in for the Russians. [Eisenstein's message in the late 1930s was clearly, "Let the Germans beware!"] This affirmation of Russian national character conveniently forgets the reality that in the thirteenth century Nevsky undoubtedly was a faithful servant of the Khans in suppressing rebellion amongst his fellow Christians. In short, Mongol rule has been employed in curious ways in the service of nationalist myths.
Can we actually measure the negative effects of the Mongol invasions? We tend to fall back on narratives of destruction, in part because there are no reliable series of data. That the destruction was real certainly is confirmed by archaeological sources. Yet the pattern of devastation is uneven, and there is little evidence to suggest that the Mongols destroyed just for the fun of it. Those who resisted indeed were slaughtered and their cities often razed. Yet, as we shall see, the Mongols do seem early on to have appreciated the importance of sedentary centers and trade; it simply would not have been in their interest to leave behind only a wasteland. To cite the apparent sharp decline in population in China during the Mongol period as proof of the Mongols' destructive impact is a huge oversimplification. While it is tempting to blame the Mongols for the conditions which fostered the spread of the Black Death, which devastated cities as thoroughly as anything the Mongols did directly, that is a hard case to prove. And it is worth remembering that Europe was most severely hit by the dread epidemic more than a century after Chingis Khan and in a period when the Empire of his successors had already disintegrated.
One interesting attempt to measure the economic impact of the Mongols is a study by David Miller regarding the building of masonry churches in Russia. He argues that such construction may be an indicator of economic prosperity. His graphs show rather dramatically that the Mongol invasion brought such construction to a halt in the 1230s, but by the end of the thirteenth century there is a revival, and in the fourteenth century a building boom, even though at the time the Russian princes were still subject to the Mongols of the Golden Horde. To a considerable degree, Miller's statistics are skewed by the city of Novgorod, which in fact had not shared the fate of Riazan at the time of the invasion. Yet it was not just Novgorod that seems to have prospered. The fourteenth century saw the emergence of Moscow--previously a town of no consequence--as a significant political and cultural center, in the first instance precisely because of its princes' close relationship with their overlords, the Mongol khans.
The pattern that seems to emerge here is one in which areas beyond any real focus of Mongol concerns might in fact be left alone. Areas central to the Mongols (the capital of the Golden Horde, Sarai, would be a good example), might be built up by them. Regions that had been devastated might recover rapidly, if the khans so chose, but other such regions might remain wasteland. One example of the latter, emphasized by David Morgan in his largely negative assessment of the Mongol impact, was some regions in Iran which had depended on the sophisticated underground network of irrigation channels that the Mongols destroyed. We know, however, that most nomads relied on a symbiotic relationship with sedentary peoples; such dependence then required that agriculture and towns continue to flourish, at least in the regions that would directly interact with the Mongols.
Any discussion of the economic impact of the Mongols must include trade and the production of commercial goods. Juvaini makes very clear that Chingis Khan's invasion of Central Asia in 1219 was connected with trade disputes. In fact Juvaini has the Khan boast of the fact that his treasury was full of rich products of international trade; the Mongols were no rubes when it came to dealings with deceitful Muslim merchants. Archaeology confirms that even before the rise of Chingis, towns in Mongolia were actively involved in trade, in which the patterns of relations with China can be traced back to the beginnings of the "Silk Road."
The stone tortoise that was at one gate to Karakorum; Erdeni Tzu, Mongolia.
The development of the Silk Road commerce under the Mongols was a result both of its direct promotion and the creation of an infrastructure which ensured safe conditions for travel. The direct policies obviously could cut two ways. There is ample evidence that craftsmen were re-settled individually and en masse at the whim of the khans. The Franciscan monk, William of Rubruck, traveled to the Mongol capital Karakorum in 1253-55. Among those he met there was a Parisian goldsmith, Guillaume Bouchier, who had been captured at Belgrad on the Danube. Bouchier's French wife had also been carried off during the Mongol invasion of Hungary. Thomas Allsen has carefully documented how the Mongol taste for luxury Middle Eastern textiles led to the transplantation of whole colonies of weavers from the Middle East to Mongolia and north China. Marco Polo describes such settlements in the time of Qubilai Khan. Of course, what was positive for the heartland of the Empire likely had a negative impact on the areas from which the craftsmen were conscripted.
The fragmentation of the Empire, a process which began even before the last conquests had been completed, was a result both of political competition and competition for control of trade routes. An illustration of this can be seen in relations between the Golden Horde (which encompassed the northwest quadrant of the Empire), on the one hand, and the Ilkhanids (who ruled in the Middle East) and their successors the Timurids, on the other. Included in the territories of the Golden Horde were the Crimea, with its trading connections to Constantinople and further West, and the lower Don and Volga Rivers, which funneled trade from the north and controlled the routes into Central Asia. It is significant that within a generation of the conquest of this region, the khans signed a treaty giving the Genose exclusive privileges in the Black Sea ports; coins were issued with the inscription of the khan on one side and the seal of the Bank of St. George of Genoa on the other. Ibn Battuta reported that Kaffa, the major Genose port in the Crimea, was "one of the world's celebrated ports," and he found Sarai to be a truly international city, inhabited by Christians from Byzantium and Russia and by Muslims from all over the Middle East.
The routes of the silk road leading west from Central Asia (detail of map at Tashkent University).
Obviously one reason that the Golden Horde cultivated the alliance with Genoa was to ensure communication via Byzantium with the Mongols' allies, the Mamluks in Egypt. This was a typical example of a basic principle of international relations--to forge an alliance with a state on the other side of your closest enemy, the enemy in this case being the Mongol rulers of Iran and Iraq, the Ilkhanids. Surely part of the hostility revolved around the issue of whether the trade routes coming out of Central Asia would proceed north of the Caspian Sea to Sarai or instead go south through Ilkhanid territory. Ultimately such considerations were to contribute to the downfall of the Golden Horde later in the fourteenth century, when its ruler picked a fight with his former patron, the Amir Timur (Tamerlane), and the result was the devastation of the cities of the Golden Horde. For Tamerlane and the Timurids, the routes from Samarkand through northern Iran were the ones to maintain.
Competition and conflict could indeed interrupt traditional trade routes, but even in the period when the Mongol Empire was falling apart, we can document the relative safety and speed of travel all the way across Eurasia. To a considerable degree, the explanation lies in the Mongol rulers' development of the postal relay system (yam), which so favorably impressed contemporaries. In the first instance, of course, the system (rather like the pony express in the American West) was designed to speed official communication. Those on the business of the khan could show their badge of authority (paidze) and expect to receive fresh mounts at the regularly placed relay stations. Clearly the invocation of the ruler's authority could provide favored travelers with some degree of security. We cannot but be impressed by the ability of defenseless Franciscans to travel across most of Eurasia in the middle of the thirteenth century. Marco Polo was one of many Europeans who made it all the way to China on diplomatic, religious or commercial missions. In his commercial handbook compiled around 1340, the Florentine merchant Pegolotti summed up very well what to expect:
The road you travel from Tana [Azov] to Cathay is perfectly safe, whether by day or by night, according to what the merchants say who have used it. Only if the merchant...should die upon the road, everything belonging to him will become the perquisite of the lord of the country in which he dies...And there is another danger: this is when the lord of the country dies, and before the new lord who is to have the lordship is proclaimed; during such intervals there have sometimes been irregularities practised on the Franks and other foreigners...
This then was the Pax Mongolica (Mongol Peace), a situation created by the Mongols which at least for a time facilitated commerce and communication.
The Old Beijing Observatory (Gu Guanxiangtai) built under Qubilai Khan.
Not the least of the explanations was the relative openness of the Mongols to individuals of different religions. Marco Polo, for one, emphasized the apparent willingness of Qubilai Khan to entertain all the "religions of the book" at the same time that he practised the rituals of traditional Mongolian religion. Among Qubilai's astrologers/astronomers in the observatory he built were Muslims from the Middle East. Mongol rule witnessed a revival in Nestorian Christianity throughout Eurasia, the spread of Tibetan Buddhism through China to Mongolia, and the expansion of Islam in areas of Eastern Europe. Ibn Battuta could converse in Arabic with Muslims almost anywhere he traveled in the Mongol world. Yet, as the example of the Golden Horde shows, even when the khans converted firmly to a religion such as Islam they seem to have avoided a fanaticism that would have imposed conversion on their subjects. They certainly did nothing to cut their Russian subjects off from the West, a misconception that has been fostered by Russians to explain why Russia never experienced the Renaissance and all the benefits that flowed from it in the emergence of modern European culture. The cultural traditions of Russian Orthodoxy [the real barrier between Russia and the West] were left alone to flourish, just as traditional culture in China exhibited great vitality under the rule of the Mongol YÃ¼an dynasty.
Mongol rule did bring with it initial destruction, the imposition of heavy financial burdens, and the loss of political independence, at the same time that it seeded political renewal in some areas and contributed selectively to economic expansion. In short, Riazan and Sarai can coexist on the same historical canvas.