For most of history the nomadic Mongols lived on the high steppe lands of eastern central Asia. Like other nomadic peoples, they displayed deep loyalt y to kin groups organized into families, clans, and tribes.
They frequently allied with Turkish peoples
During the early thirteenth century Chinggis (Genghis) Khan forged the various Mongol tribes into a powerful alliance that built the largest empire the world has ever seen.
The Mongols’ imperial venture brought the societies of Eurasia into closer contact than ever before.
They followed a native shaman cult as a religious form.
Their empire brought destruction along with vast interaction amongst peoples throughout Eurasia.
Chinggis Khan had a courier network that relayed news, information, and government orders. The network included relay stations and government orders.
The Mongols’ encouragement of travel and communication facilitated trade, diplomatic travel, missionary efforts, and movements of peoples to new lands.
He brought all the Mongol tribes into a single confederation and in 1206 an assembly of Mongol leaders recognized him by giving him the title of Chinggis Khan or universal ruler.
Earlier nomadic state builders had ruled largely through the leaders of allied tribes.
Because of his personal experiences, however, Chinggis Khan mistrusted the Mongols’ tribal organization
He broke up the tribes and forced men of fighting age to join new military units with no tribal affiliations.
He chose high military and political officials not on the basis of kinship or tribal status but, rather, because of their talents or loyalty to him.
The most important instituti on of the Mongol state was the army, which magnified the power of the small population.
I the thirteenth century the Mongol population stood at not even one million people—less than 1 percent of China’s numbers.
During Khan’s life, his army numbered only 100,000 to 125,000 Mongols, although allied peoples also contributed forces.
Yet they still conquered all of Eurasia.
Mongol forces relied on equestrian skills
Mongols grew up riding horses, and they honed their skills by hunting and playing competitive games on horseback. Their bows, short enough for archers to use while riding, were also stiff, firing arrows that could fell enemies at 700 feet.
Mongol horsemen were among the most mobile forces of the pre-modern world, sometimes traveling more than 162 miles per day to surprise an enemy.
Once he unified the Mongols, Khan set out to conquer the agricultural sedentary societies that surrounded him.
Khubilai Khan extended Mongol rule to all of China. He relentlessly attacked the Song dynasty in Southern China.
He proclaimed himself emperor and established the Yuan dynasty
From Strayer textbook:
The Mongols unified a divided China (Northern and the Southern Song Dynasty)
One ideas was to exterminate everyone in northern China and turn the country into pastureland for Mongol herds
This idea was rejected
Accommodated Chinese culture in ways of governing
Used Chinese administrative system
Gave a Chinese dynastic title—the Yuan meaning “great beginnings”
Built canals, lowered taxes patronized scholars and artists, limited the death penalty and torture supported peasant agriculture and prohibited Mongols from grazing their animals on peasants’ farms
The Mongols resisted assimilation to Chinese cultural traditions. They ended the privileges enjoyed by the Confucian scholars, and they dismantled the Confucian educational and exam system, which they had produced united generations of civil servants of the Chinese bureaucracy. They did not persecute Confucians, but they allowed the Confucian tradition to wither in the absence of official support. Meanwhile, to remain in good terms with subjects of different faiths, the Mongols allowed the construction of churches, temples, and shrines, and the even subsidized some religious establishments. They tolerated all cultural and religious traditions.
Hostility between the Mongols and their Chinese subjects
Mongols didn’t become Chinese or accommodate every aspect of Chinese culture
Forbidden City—royal family and court could continue to experience something of steppe life
Still lived a traditional life—preferred to live, eat, sleep and give birth in the traditional tents that sprouted everywhere.
By 1368, rebellions had forced the Mongols out of China
Mongols in Persia:
Conquest of Persia: first invasion led by Chinggis Khan 1219–1221; second assault under his grandson Hulegu 1251–1258
Mongols were transformed far more in Persia than in China
Extensive use of Persian bureaucracy
Mongols in Persia converted to Islam on a large scale
Mongol elites learned some Persian
Some Mongols took up agriculture
Mongol dynasty collapsed in 1330s—ASSIMILATED, NOT DRIVENOUT
Russia and the Mongols:
Mongol devastation of Russia 1237–1240
They did not occupy Russia, which the regarded as an unattractive land of forests, but they extracted tribute from the Russian cities and agricultural provinces. The Golden Horde maintained its hegemon in Russia until the mid 15th century when the princes of Moscow rejected its authority while building a powerful Russian state.
By the mid 16th century Russian conquerors had extended their control to the steppes
Russia was a number of independent principalities
The could not unite against Mongol threat
destruction of cities, widespread slaughter, and deportation of skilled workers
Russia was integrated into Mongol Empire as the Kipchak Khanate (Russians called it the “Khanate of the Golden Horde”)
but Mongols did not occupy Russia
remained on steppes north of Black and Caspian seas
Eurasian trade routes served as highways for missionaries as well as merchants and diplomats. Sufi missionaries helped popularize Islam among Turkish people in central Asia.
Factions and infighting led to the demise of the Mongols.
Power struggles, imperial assassinations, and civil war convulsed the Mongol regime in China.
Epidemic disease hurt he Mongols. They unwittingly expedited the spread of bubonic plague. During the 1330s plague erupted in southern China. From there it spread throughout China and central Asia. In China depopulation and labor shortages that followed on the heels of epidemic plague weakened the Mongol regime.
In what ways did the Mongol Empire resemble other empires, and in what ways did it differ from them?
What are the main similarities and differences between Mongol conquest of Persia, Russia, and China?