The Mongols

The Mongols
Carmen Sandiego in The Gobi Desert, Mongolia
That’s One Mighty Big Empire
Largest empire created by one single person
"The greatest happiness is to vanquish your enemies, to chase them before you,
to rob them of their wealth, to see those dear to them bathed in tears, to clasp to
your bosom their wives and daughters"
Pre-Empire Characteristics
• Nomadic (pastoralism)
• Tribal (therefore lots of war)
• Largely illiterate (because nomads don’t do
job specialization!)
• Economic system = herding flocks, raiding
booty along the edges of powerful
civilizations like China
• Social System = clan & family importance;
constant low-level fighting over pasture,
water, slaves, resources, etc.
Holy Empire, Batman!
• 1206-1227 – Genghis Khan conquers a huge
• Unifies the Mongols themselves by breaking down
kinship ties (comparable to Muhammad’s use of
Islam to unify all Arabs). Like the Arabs, he then
distracts Mongols from in-fighting by conquering
• Empire = China to Syria and Russia to Korea
• capital at Karakorum
• Began a period of stability known as the “Pax
• The original empire broke up in 1260 but didn’t
completely dissolve…
The Breakup
After Genghis Khan’s Death
• Divided into 4 main segments ruled by
parts of the Khan’s family and lasting into
the 1400s:
– Great Khan (Yuan Dynasty of China)
– Khanate of Chaghadai (Central Asia & trade
– Golden Horde (Russia, Northern Eurasia)
– Khanate of Persia (eastern portions of the
former Abbasid Caliphate)
Results of the Pax Mongolica
• Pax Mongolica = The Mongol Peace; time of stability
and peace caused by all of Eurasia basically being
under the rule of a single entity
• Facilitated contact between various parts of enormous
land area from Mediterranean to Pacific.
• Promoted interaction between peoples of many
different ethnicities, religions, & cultures.
• Enabled exchange & spread of ideas, goods,
technologies, & disease.
• The Bad: The Mongols caused destruction &
• Dislike of the Mongols made the people under their
rule feel more unified