Mongols Essay

This essay has a total of 1308 words and 6 pages.


Twlfth-century Mongolia is as far back as a search for their origins need go. A group of
peopls speaking the languages of the family called Mongol who had long demanded the
attention of Chinese governments then lived there. Generally, China played off one of
them against another in the interests of its own security. They were barbarians, not much
different in their cultural level from others who have already crossed these pages. Two
tribes among them, the Tatars and that which became known as the Mongols, competed and on
the whole the Tatars had the best of it. They drove one young Mongol to extremes of
bitterness and self-assertion. The date of his birth is uncertain, but in the 1190s he
became khan to his people. A few years later he was supreme among the Mongol tribes and
was acknoledged as such by being bgiven the title of Chinghis Khan. By an Arabis
corruption of this name he was to become known in Europe as Genghis Khan. He extended his
power over other peoples in central Asia and in 1215 defeated (thought he did not
overthrow) the CHin state in northern CHina and Manchuria. This was only the beginning.
By the time of his dead, in 1227, he had become the greatest conquerer the world has ever

He seem unlike all earlier nomad warlords. Chinghis genuinely believed he had a mission
to conquer the world. Conquest, not booty or settlement, was his aim and what he
conquered he often set about organizing in a systematic way. This lead to a structure
which deserves the name 'empire' more than do most of the nomadic polities. He was
superstitious, tolerant of religions other than his own paganism, and, said a Persian
historian, 'used to hold in esteem beloved and respected sages and hermits of every tribe,
considering this a procedure to please God'. Indead, he seems to have held that he was
himself the recipient of a divine mission. This religious electicism was of the first
importantce, as was the fact that he and his followers (except for some Turks who joined
them) were not Moslem, as the Seljuks had been when they arrived in the Near East. Not
only was this a matter of moment to Christians and Buddhists - there were both Nestorians
and Buddhists among the Mongols - but it meant that the Mongols were not identified with
the religion of the majority in the Near East.

In 1218 Chinghis Khan turned to the west and the era of Mongol invasions opened in
Transoxiana and northern Iran. He never acted carelessly, capriciously, or without
premedition, but it may well be that the attack was provoked by the folloy of a Moslem
prince who killed his envoys. From there Chinghis went on to a devastating raid into
Persia followed by a swing northward through the Caucasus into south Russia, and returned,
having made a complete circuit of the Caspian.

All this was accomplisehd by 1223. Bokhara and Samarkand were scaked with massacres of
the townspeople which were meant to terify others who contemplated resistance. (Surrender
was always the safest course with the Mongols and several minor peopls were to survive
with nothing worse than the payment of tribute and arrival of a Mongol governor.)
Transoxiana never recovered its place in the life of Islamic Iran after this. Christian
civilization was given a taste of Mongol prowess by the defeat of the Georgians in 1221
and of the southern Russian princes two years later. Even these alarming events were only
the overture to what was to follow.

Chinghis died in the East in 1227, but his son and successor returned to the West after
completing the conquest of northern China. In 1236 his armies poured into Russia. They
took Kiev and settled on the lower Volga, from which they organized a tributary system for
the Russian principalities they had not occupied. Meanwhile they raided Catholic Eurpoe.
The Teutonic knights, the Poles and the Hungarians all went down before them. Cracow was
burnt and Moravia devastated. A Mongol patrol crossed into Austria, while the pursuers of
the king of Hungary chased him through Croatia and finally reached Albania before they
were recalled.

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