Mongol Mania!!!!!!
1200-1500 C.E.
Love/Hate Relationship
• Virtually all written accounts by those who
were vanquished by the Mongols stressed
their brutality, and barbarian contempt for
civilized societies.
• But the century and a half of Mongol
dominance ushered in a revival of
commerce and urban life, and
manufacturing and commerce thrived.
• The Mongols (also known as
Tatars, or Tartars) were a
group of nomadic tribes from
the steppes, or open plains, of
East Asia.
– They Herded Livestock and
were excellent horsemen
and archers.
– They could ride for days,
sleeping and eating in the
• Mongols proved to be adept at “cultural
– Mongols adopted a law code, a written script,
new religious practices, and better technology
through borrowing from other cultures.
• Before 1200 CE, the Mongols numbered
between 1.5 and 3 million
– Divided into thirty warring tribes.
The Khan (or khagan
• In 1206, Temujin,
better known as
Genghis Khan (or
Chingiz, Jenghiz, or
Chinggis) which
means “ruler of
limitless strength” was
declared Khan
(khagan) and unified
the warring Mongol
Mongol Conquests
• 1206 - 1234
– Genghis Khan and his successors
conquered all of North China.
– Mongols were threatening Southern Song.
• 1234-1265
– Mongol realms united as the khans of the
Golden Horde, the Jagadai domains of
Central Asia, and the Il-khans all
recognized the authority of the Great Khan
of Mongolia.
The First Wave
• Mongol conquest begins in 1211
– Targeted Northern China at first
• Breached the Great Wall by 1215
– Targeted the Silk Road trading city of
• Upon Genghis Khan’s death in 1227, the
Mongols controlled a huge state
encompassing Mongolia, Central Asia,
Northern, and Western China.
Why were the Mongols so
• Numbers?
– Not really…80,000 – 100,000 troops wouldn’t
be enough to automatically overwhelm such a
large territory.
• Talented Cavalrymen and archers who could fire
from horseback, galloping at full speed, firing
forward or backward.
• Used lancets, hatchets, and short bows.
• Could hit a moving target up to 350 yards.
• Mongol values were predicated on courage in
battle. Deserters were executed.
• Also, skilled warriors like Chinggis Khan formed
alliances, strengthening their power base. GK
appointed brave foes to high posts in Mongol
G.K., a.k.a. the O.G.
• Ghenghis Khan often spared the lives of famous
scholars and artisans. Employed them as advisors and
valued them for their skills.
• Towns that resisted GK were sacked, and their people
slaughtered. However, those who surrendered without a
fight were spared this fate- only required to pay tribute.
• Despite his aggressiveness as a conqueror, GK was a
tolerant ruler. Open to new ideas and committed to
building a world where the diverse people he conquered
could coexist peacefully.
Wave #2
• Genghis Khan’s heirs continued the wars
of conquest
– Third son, Ogodei, ruled the Mongols as the
Great Khan until 1241.
• Greatly expanded the empire and built new capital
at Karakorum.
• Ogodei’s armies moved farther into China
threatening the Song Empire (which the Mongols
defeated in the 1260s)
• Conquered Kor3a
Ogodei and the West…
• 1236: He sent a large invasion force to conquer
as much of the west as possible.
• 1237-1240: Conquer most of Russia and
• 1240-1242: Took over parts of Bulgaria,
Romania, and Hungary
• 1241: Death of Ogodei
– They were stretched too thin as evidenced by their
failure in Poland and the Germanic lands.
– Russia and Ukraine remain under Mongol rule for
over 2 centuries.
Mongols in the Middle East
• Commanded by
Hulegu, the
Mongols advanced
on the Middle East
in the 1250s
• Toppled the
Abbasid Caliphate
in 1258 by taking
– Continued their
advance until 1260
– Stopped by a
Mamluk army
How Big was the Mongolian
• Ruled an empire from:
– Poland in the West to Korea in the East.
– Siberia in the North to Vietnam in the South.
• Single political authority
• Economic exchange
– Silk Road flourished, especially trading cities like
– Merchants, Missionaries, and travelers of all sorts
passed through…including the Venetian merchant,
Marco Polo
• Made travel safer
• Imposed legal order
The Silk Road
Pax Mongolica
• Pax Mongolica, or Mongol Peace is used to
describe the late 13th Century (1200’s CE) as the
brief semi-unification of Eurasia was realized.
– The Mongols engaged in high level administration by
borrowing and engaging in cultural adaptation.
Turkish written dialect
Chinese law code
Paper currency from China
Religious beliefs like Buddhism and Islam.
– They used their skill with horses to create one of the
world’s fastest and most efficient postal systems (the
Breakup of the Mongolian Empire
As the empire grew, it became spread too thin,
and broke apart.
• 1260: The last Khan of a united Mongolian
Empire (Mongke) died.
– The four largest units became independent
states, or Khanates.
Chinese Yuan Dynasty
• The Chinese Khanate
fell to Kublai Khan
– Moved the capital from
Mongolia to Beijing
– Declared the Yuan
Dynasty (1271-1368)
– Conquered the rest of
China including the
Southern Song
Dynasty in 1279.
– Foreign rule in China
Chinese Yuan Dynasty
• Mongols adopted Buddhism
• Adopted Mandarin Chinese as the official
• Kublai Khan unified China as a single state.
– Ruled until 1294
– Made China rich and powerful
– Unable to conquer Japan (tried in 1274 and 1281) or
Java (tried in 1293)
Chinese Yuan Dynasty
• Kublai Khan rebuilt China’s bureaucracy
and economy.
– Repaired roads and canals
– Built new cities
– Restored trade with the west
– Venetian Merchant Marco Polo visited Kublai
Khan’s court in the 1270s.
• After Khan’s death, China did not enjoy
such prosperity.
Mongol Women
• Mongol women refused to adopt
footbinding, and they retained their rights
to property and freedom of movement.
• Mongol women rode horses and hunted.
• The daughter of on of Kubilai Khan’s
cousins went to war and refused to marry
until one of her suitors was able to throw
her in a wrestling match.
Girl Power!!!
Charming Chabi
• Kubilai Khan’s wife Chabi
was one of Kubilai’s most
important confidants on
political and diplomatic
• She convinced him that
the harsh treatment of the
defeated Song imperial
family would only anger
enemies in north China
and make them more
difficult to rule.
China after the Death of Kublai
• Tremendous population loss (30-40%) as
a result of the bubonic plague
• Economic decline
• Civil wars throughout the 1340s and
finally, the dynasty was overthrown by Zhu
Yuanzhang in 1368.
– Took the name Hongwu and established the
Ming Dynasty (1368-1644)
• Longest lasting and of the most famous dynasty in
Chinese history
Overland Trade
• Mongol conquests opened overland trade
• Brought about an unprecedented
commercial integration of Eurasia.
• The growth of long-distance trade under
the Mongols led to significant transfer of
military and scientific knowledge between
Europe, the Middle East, China, Iran, and
Bubonic Plague
• Plague and other diseases spread over
the trade routes of the Mongol Empire.
• Plague that had lingered in Yunnan was
transferred to:
– Central and north China. Then…
– Central Asia. Then…
– Kaffa. Then…
– The rest of the Mediterranean world.
The Other Khanates
• The Golden Horde ruled over Russia and
parts of Eastern Europe until the mid1400s.
• Il-Khan Mongols converted to Islam and
ruled much of the Middle East until the rise
of the Ottoman Turks in the late 1300s.
• The Jagadai Khanate ruled Central Asia
well into the 1400s.
– Also converted to Islam
Russia and Rule from Afar
• After defeating the Kievan Rus, the
Mongols of the Golden Horde made a
capital at the mouth of the Volga.
– Volga was also the end of the overland
caravan route from Central Asia.
• Mongols ruled Russia “from afar.”
– Orthodox church left in place
– Russian princes were agents
• Main goal = get as much tax revenue
as possible from the Russians
Prince Alexander of Novgorod
• Assisted Mongols in conquest of Russia.
– Mongols favored Novgorod and Moscow as a
• After Mongols destroyed Ukrainian
countryside, Russian population shifted
from Kiev to Novgorod and Russia.
– Moscow became new center of Russian
Mongol Rule – Good or Bad?
• Some historians say the negative effects
are because of economic depression and
cultural isolation.
• Others say Russian princes were
responsible for over-taxation, they were
isolated by the church, and that
government did not change under Mongol
Ivan III
• Prince of Moscow
• Ended Mongol rule in
• Adopted the title of
• Later, from 1370 – 1405 the Jagadai Khan,
“Timur,” also known as Tamerlane, rose up and
attempted to repeat the military triumph of his
ancestor Genghis Khan.
• Quickly conquered Central Asia, Persia,
Northern India (including Delhi), southern
Russia, and parts of the Middle East.
– Expansion ended with his death, but relatives ruled
over the vast Timurid Empire, including Silk Road
cities like Samarkand and Bukhara into the 1500s.

Chapter 14: The Mongol Advance