Sunday, 20 May 2012


The dark-grey area)

At the beginning of the 13th century the Mongols nomads swept out of Asia. Their leader was Genghis Khan. It was a fierce tribe. They possessed stocky and short legged ponies which were hardy and very mobile. This was part of their huge success.
The Mongols swept across China, the Middle East and Europe in a very short time and thus created the largest contiguous empire in history.
They achieved this because they had a complete different way of life. The earliest settlers tended to their fields. homes and herds of animals. Nomads moving with their herds from places to places where the gracing was good. They relied on their camels in Africa and horses in Europe. In Eurasian, they moved across grasslands (steppes) which stretch from eastern Russia to the plains of Hungary. This way of life made them great enemies to the settled civilization. It also gave the nomads an easy victory.
                                                          MONGOLS' TENT = YURT

There were also periods of peace where trade flourished. However, this prosperity also provokes the nomads to ride in to conquer and destroy. It must have occurred to them that this is a more profitable way of life and they slowly turned into warriors. The wealthy cities of Asia were a great target. The Parthians, who harassed the Roman legions. The camel riding Arabs who appeared out of the desert and declared war in the name of Islam. These nomads made their name in history and also changed, no doubt, history.
Amongst all these various nomads the Mongols were the fiercest and mightiest of all of them. Their homeland was in the north of today's Mongolia. They were purely pastoralists. Their sheep, goats and horses gave them everything they needed. Meat, cheese and curds for their food. wool and hides for their clothing and the fermented mare's milk called kumiss. Felt which is made out of wool to cover their framework of the portable Mongol tent called yurt.
In spite of moving constantly and ferocious in their attack; they were organized into clans and tribes. Their nobles elected a khan or ruler.
This organisation was stopped rapidly by Temujin, the son of a Mongol chief. Temujin's father was killed when he was still a boy. It is assumed that this incident turned him into the ruthless and determined person. He started to eliminate his rivals and united the various Mongol tribes. Thereby establishing his unchallenged leadership. He turned the Mongol society into a fanatically loyal but highly disciplined army. They proclaimed him in 1206 as Genghis Khan which means the Ruler of the World.

No sooner declared he made sure his name is justified. They invaded Northern China and the Capital Beijing was conquered and plundered. They defeated the steppe kingdoms to the west. Slowly but surely he expanded his empire. They rode across the Caucasus Mountains and defeated the Russian and other armies who tried to stop them.
Soon Genghis Khan rode into the famous cities of Bokhara and Samarkand successfully destroyed and ransacked them. In further campaigns the Mongols completely destroyed the sultanate and killed all the inhabitants of major cities Merv. They rode as far as the River Indus.
The destruction caused by the Mongols was appalling and some areas took forever to recover.
In 1224 Genghis Khan had to return to Mongolia because there was a revolt. He died in 1227. He was not only a great warrior, in being complete ruthless, he also left behind a great organized empire. He established an administration and staffed it with able officials. They employed any race and religion. This method enables the Mongol rule for centuries. He also invented, so to speak, a communication system. He established a post-horse station at regular intervals.

Genghis Khan's son and successor Ogadai expanded still further the empire. He also built a capital in Mongolia called Karakorum. Conquered Northern China. He overruns the principalities of Russia, Poland, Germany and Hungary. Western Europe was saved from being conquered by Ogdai sudden death.
Ogadai's death followed a period with no Great Khan. His successor Mangu looked for more profitable conquest. In 1258 Mangu's brother, Hulagu, defeated the enfeebled Abbasid caliphate and ransacked Baghdad. Any further conquests in the Middle East were stopped by the Egyptian Mamluks who drove any attacks on Syria back.
Mangu invaded southern China. Mangu died in 1259. However, his brother and successor Kublai Khan finalized the Mongol conquest.
At this time the Mongol empire was so huge it started to be organized into huge independent khanates to keep control. The Great Khan, Kublai, retained some authority over it all. However, Kublai's main power was in China and there he started the imperial dynasty, the Yuan. This dynasty lasted till 1368.
Hulagu established the powerful Il-Khan dynasty in Persia. During this period the Persian culture flourished.
From other Mongol states, including Great Horde of Russia (horde meant encampment) and the Central Asian khanate came another Mongol conqueror. It was Timur or Tamburlaine who caused nothing but a trail of destruction.
Of all the great khatanates only the Golden Horde survived till the 15th century. The descendant of Timur, Babur, established the Moghul dynasty in India which survived till the 20th century.
Although the Mongols caused great devastation but they also established safe travel. Their Eurasian empire was well organised which improved communication between East and West. Marco Polo, the most famous traveller during the Middle Ages was able to travel freely through the Mongol empire. He gathered goods and ideas which benefited the European civilization.
When the Mongol empire, and with it the order, crumpled, the East-West contact suffered greatly. It was only revived in the 15th century when voyages discovered a new routes.

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