History: The Mongols were nomadic peoples



    The Mongols were nomadic peoples, comprising Turkic peoples in tribes which battled with each other and neighboring cultures in the region of modern Mongolia. Over the next few hundred years, the Chinese subtly encouraged warfare among the Mongol tribes, as a way of keeping them distracted from invading China. In the 12th century, the Mongol Genghis Khan was able to unite or conquer the warring tribes, melting them into a fighting force which went on to create the largest contiguous empire in world history.

    Genghis Khan (1162 – 1227) born Temujin, he was the son of a tribe leader; his father was murdered by a rival and was obligated to seek refuge with his family in another tribe.

    From his late teens to age thirty-eight, Temujin rose as leader over various families. He was a good manager, collecting people of talent. He conducted successful military campaigns against the Mongols tribes to unite them under his rules. And in 1206, at the age of 42, Temujin took the title Universal Ruler, which translates to Genghis Khan.

    Mongol warriors believed they were the foremost warriors in the world, no more than 700,000 in number. Their mastery of military tactics set the ma part from their rivals. Mongol horses were small, but their riders were lightly clad and they moved with greater speed. These were hardy men who grew up on horses and hunting, making them better warriors than those who grew up in agricultural societies and cities. Their main weapon was the bow and arrow. And the Mongols of the early 1200s were highly disciplined, superbly coordinated and brilliant in tactics. The Mongols used divide and conquer tactics, using benevolence toward those who sided with them and terror and bloodshed against those who did not .They did collect heads or scalps as trophies and did notch wood to record their kills.

    Genghis Khan's saw himself at the center of the universe, favored by the gods. He justified his success in warfare by claiming that he was the rightful master not only over the "peoples of the felt tent" but the entire world.

    Genghis Khan moved to secure his borders and to control the Silk Road. To his south he started the Conquest in Northern China. In warriors the Mongols were outnumbered two to one, and they had to learn a new kind of warfare against fortified cities, including cutting supply lines and diverting rivers. Genghis Khan and his army were victorious.

    Genghis Khan wanted trade and goods, including new weapons, for his nation. A Mongol caravan of several hundred merchants was send to Persia. The sultan received them by having the chief of the envoys killed and the beards of the others burned, and he sent the other envoys back to Genghis Khan. Genghis Khan retaliated, sending his army and pushed more deeply into what had been the sultan's empire -- into Afghanistan and then into Persia. While Genghis Khan was consolidating his conquests in Persia and Afghanistan, a force of 40,000 Mongol horsemen pushed through Azerbaijan and Armenia. In 1225, Genghis Khan returned to Mongolia. He now ruled everything between the Caspian Sea and Beijing. In 1227, around the age of sixty-five while leading the fighting against the Tangut, Genghis Khan, it is said, fell off his horse and died.

    In terms of square miles conquered, Genghis Khan had been the greatest conqueror of all time -- his empire four times larger than the empire of Alexander the Great. The first defeat of a Mongol army in 1260.  Ironically, an army of Egyptians the Mamluks, Muslim slave soldiers who had taken power in Egypt ended the expansion of the world’s largest contiguous empire.

    There were a number of reasons for the relatively rapid decline of the Mongols as an influential power. One important factor was their failure to acculturate their subjects to Mongol social traditions. Another was the fundamental contradiction of a feudal, essentially nomadic, society's attempting to perpetuate a stable, centrally administered empire. The sheer size of the empire was reason enough for the Mongol collapse. It was too large for one person to administer, as Chinggis had realized, yet adequate coordination was impossible among the ruling elements after the split into khanates. Possibly the most important single reason was the disproportionately small number of Mongol conquerors compared with the masses of subject peoples.

    The change in Mongol cultural patterns that did occur inevitably exacerbated natural divisions in the empire. As different areas adopted different foreign religions, Mongol cohesiveness dissolved. The nomadic Mongols had been able to conquer the Eurasian land mass through a combination of organizational ability, military skill, and fierce warlike prowess, but they fell prey to alien cultures, to the disparity between their way of life and the needs of empire, and to the size of their domain, which proved too large to hold together. The Mongols declined when their sheer momentum could no longer sustain them.