I. Questions of periodization A. Nature and causes of changes in the world history framework leading up to 600 C. E. – 1450 as a period



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Impact of the Mongol empires

  1. Rise

    1. Mongols – epitome of nomadic culture

    2. Superb horsemen and archers

    3. Could have been a world power earlier

i. Rivalries between tribes/clans prevent unification

ii. Remained isolated



    1. Genghis Khan – Chingiss Khan – “Limitless strength” + “ruler”

i. military/organizational skills

ii. largest empire ever

iii. Mongol invasion 1234

iv. Spanned Pacific Ocean to eastern Europe



    1. Military Ogranization

      1. Organization based on decimal system

1. Tjumen (Division) – 10,000, Mingghan (Regiment) – 1,000

a. Leaders appointed by khan

2. Jaghun (Company) – 100 men, Arben (Squad) – 10 men

a. elected by men



      1. Efficient/meritocratic approach

1. Leaders chosen for ability/not family relations

    1. Why successful?

i. Choices – die in fight, house burned down, burn religious buildings – or give in

ii. Ruthless warriors, highly organized, highly mobile

iii. 90 miles a day vs. Roman 25 miles a day

iv. Bows range of 300 yards

v. Armies divided into organized units – light, heavy cavalry + scouts

vi. Motivated

a. Genghis punished traitors

b. Rewarded courage generously

vii. Stealthy – network of spies

viii. Goals clear – surrender or entire village destroyed

ix. Adept at cultural borrowing


    1. Military innovations

      1. armor made of lacquered wood and silk

      2. use of feints and flanking maneuvers

      3. concentrated light rations for troops on horseback

    2. Strategy

i. When coming up to city, promised to spare inhabitants

ii. If they disagreed, they’d slaughter every human and animal – destruction total

iii. Rapid success and brutality spread quickly

iv. Unparalleled military achievements and ruthlessness



    1. Split into hordes – independent empires

i. Golden Horde – conquered Russia

ii. Kublai Khan ruled China

iii. Destroyed cities, ruthless warriors


  1. Largest single empire in human history

a. Period of peace – Pax Mongolia

  1. Conquered Areas

    1. Once settled developed

      1. Law code

        1. Yasa – borrowed from several cultures

      2. Written language

        1. Turkik language of Uighur

      3. New religious practices

        1. Sometimes adopted religions of those they conquered

          1. Buddhism and Islam

      4. Better technology – social and cultural advancements

        1. Used paper currency taken from China

        2. Postal system – message carried on horseback – yam – Pony Express

b. After death of Genghis Khan – brief period of calm while sons organized holdings

c. Under Ogodei – son – extended into China/Korea and then to Eastern Europe

d. Failure in Eastern Europe – Ogodei’s nephew Batu led

i. overextended – too far from home

ii. unfamiliar terrain – forests, mountains

iii. fortresses/castles slowed advance

iv. Batu forced to return after Ogodei’s death

v. Did conquer Russia and parts of Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania

a. Called Golden Horde – “orda” = “camp”

e. Failure in Japan – 1274/1281

i. Violent storms

f. Khubilai Khan – shifted power from Domain of the Great Khan to Yuan Empire – China

i. New Dynasty called Yuan – 1278-1369

a. Policy of segregation between Mongols and Chinese

1. Marriage forbidden

b. Abolishing examination system for choosing government officials

1. Often appointed non-Chinese for posts

c. Extended the Grand Canal linking cities




  1. Fall

    1. Hardly lasted 3 to 4 generations

    2. Not able administrators

    3. Overspending led to inflation

    4. “One can conquer an empire on horseback, but one cannot govern that empire from horseback.”

    5. After Kublai Khan died, leadership weak/ineffective

i. Rivalry among successors destabilized – who would be successor?

ii. empire divided among generals

f. Russia overthrown by rise of Russia

g. Ottoman Turks replaced them in Asia

4. Impact

a. Once domain established – relative peace – Pax Mongolica

i. notion of peacefulness an exaggeration

b. Allowed for exchange of goods, ideas, culture from different regions

i. Biggest impact – conduit for cultural exchange

c. Civilization based on territory and conquest, not culture

i. culture of killing, maiming, destroying

ii. Mongol Empire, not Mongol Civilization

iii. In many cases, stifled growth

iv. Illiterate – no need for arts/sciences

v. Mongol religion – no place among great faiths

d. Silk Road flourished

i. Cities like Samarkand, with oases, bazaars, markets became commercial centers

a. Merchants, travelers, pilgrims, missionaries all passed through

d. Some assimilated

i. Persia became Muslim

e. China – Kublia Khan

i. dismissed Confucian scholars

ii. forbade marriage between Mongols and Chinese

iii. Wouldn’t allow Chinese to learn Mongol language

iv. Key…not allowed to Mongolize – kept own culture

1. 1368 – kicked out – Ming Dynasty under traditional Chinese practices

f. Major consequences

1. Russia – conquered by illiterate Mongols – didn’t unify, develop like European neighbors

2. World trade, cultural diffusion, awareness

a. Touched nearly all major civilizations

b. World would never again be disconnected

g. Summary effects

1. nations formed and destroyed

2. nations had social, cultural and political characteristics shaped by decades of rule

3. much of Eurasian landmass united/connected by political, economic, cultural links

4. Contrasted with other civilizations

a. No Golden Age, but larger

b. Usually slowed cultural developments

c. Culture shared…but it wasn’t their culture





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