Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World
Three River Press / Crown, 2004, 312 pages
ISBN 0609610627, 9780609610626
topics: | mongols | biography | history | medieval | genghis
This compellingly written book is not just a history, it's a re-invention of our world. The Mongol empire was practically as large as the British Empire, and lasted nearly as long. Spanning Eurasia from the Pacific to the Mediterranean, it catalyzed the exchange of ideas across vast differences of history and culture, and the thesis of this book is that some of these ideas (like religious freedom) and technologies (like printing, or gunpowder) were imported into Europe and formed the basis for the Renaissance. In terms of sheer delight in the narrative, no one has told Genghis Khan 's story as effectively. Texts by other historians like Paul Ratchnevsky's (Genghis Khan: His Life and Legacy) may consult more primary sources [Weatherford bases his work on the Mongol text "Secret History of the Mongols", and the Persians Juvayni, and Rashid-ad-Din, Ratchnevsky consults some additional Chinese sources like the Shenwu qinzheng lu], or texts such as Saunders may be more conventional in their conclusions, but this book carries the day, in my view, in terms of its lyrical prose and breathless narrative. The footnote-free structure (notes are indexed to sentences only at the end) also enhances readability; one reviewer observes that it's the kind of writing that, unlike "dusty monographs", can fire ones "love for history". Writing with rare lyrical sensitivity, Weatherford brings across a dramatic narrative of the military conquests. The first part deals with Genghis Khan consolidating the tribes of Mongolia (Chapters 2-3). Most of the book (Chapters 4-8), deals with world conquest. Genghis Khan launched his series of conquests when in his late 40s, and within fifteen years (1212 to his death in 1227), he had conquered four times the territory of the Roman or Macedonian empires at their peak; after his death, it would be grow half as much larger. However, the most interesting aspect of the book is its discussion of the impact of this large trade-friendly empire, lasting over 200 years, may have had (Chapter 9). Printing, firearms, the use of the compass in navigation, bowed instruments such as the violin, all came to Europe after Mongol catalysis. In the realm of ideas, the notion of religious freedom, codification of laws, lightning mobility in war (the inspiration for Nazi "blitzkrieg"), and participative government, all taken for granted today, were practiced in the Mongol Empire and may have influenced European thinking during the Renaissance that immediately followed the breakup of the empire. Maybe he over-dramatizes things when saying: Under the widespread influences from the paper and printing, gunpowder and firearms, and the spread of the navigational compass and other maritime equipment, Europeans experienced a Renaissance, literally a rebirth, but it was not the ancient world of Greece or Rome being reborn. It was the Mongol Empire, picked up, transferred, and adapted by the Europeans to their own needs and culture. But on the whole he presents overwhelming evidence of our debt to the Mongols, and presents historiographic data on why this may be less known than it deserves to be (Eurocentric bias during the Age of Enlightenment, dealt with in Chapter 10). I found the book extremely thought-provoking; it led me to read several other books on Genghis. Ratchnevsky is a scholarly work, considering different descriptions of the same event in various sources and coming to a nuanced conclusion, but the narrative gets broken up too much by the analysis and possible interpretations. In contrasts, Saunders' History of Mongol Conquests (1972), is a lively and accurate narrative, but does not analyze the impact of the empire as incisively. Among online sources, I would simply to verify the claims he makes; I found most of them well-corroborated. Reading this book was absolutely eye-opening. It has completely changed my world view. - Amit Mukerjee (based on an Aug 2007 Amazon review.)
I notice that Weatherford has been influential. Don Nardo's 2010 young-adults text Genghis Khan and the Mongol Empire depends heavily on the weatherford narrative, and quotes him to establish Genghis Khans relevance: In American terms, the accomplishment of Genghis Khan might be understood if the United States, instead of being created by a group of educated merchants or wealthy planters, had been founded by one of its illiterate slaves, who, by the sheer force of personality, charisma, and determination, liberated America from foreign rule, united the people, created an alphabet, wrote the constitution, established universal religious freedom, invented a new system of warfare, marched an army from Canada to Brazil, and opened roads of commerce in a free-trade zone that stretched across the continents. On every level ... the scope of Genghis Khan's accomplishments challenges the limits of imagination and taxes the resources of scholarly explanation.
IN 1937, THE SOUL of Genghis Khan disappeared from the Buddhist monastery in central Mongolia along the River of the Moon below the black Shankh Mountains where the faithful lamas had protected and venerated it for centuries. Through the centuries on the rolling, grassy steppes of inner Asia, a warrior-herder carried a Spirit Banner, called a sulde, constructed by tying strands of hair from his best stallions to the shaft of a spear, just below its blade. Whenever he erected his camp, the warrior planted the Spirit Banner outside the entrance to proclaim his identity and to stand as his perpetual guardian. The Spirit Banner always remained in the open air beneath the Eternal Blue Sky that the Mongols worshiped. p.xv In the sixteenth century, one of his descendants, the lama Zanabazar, built the monastery with a special mission to fly and protect his banner. Through storms and blizzards, invasions and civil wars, more than a thousand monks of the Yellow Hat sect of Tibetan Buddhism guarded the great banner, but [the banner disappeared after the soviet occupation of Mongolia.] - p.xvi As the son in an outcast family left to die on the steppes, he probably encountered no more than a few hundred people in his entire childhood, and he received no formal education. From this harsh setting, he learned, in dreadful detail, the full range of human emotion: desire, ambition, and cruelty. While still a child he killed his older half brother, was captured and enslaved by a rival clan, and managed to escape from his captors. p.xvi At the age of fifty, when most great conquerors had already put their ppfighting days behind them, Genghis Khan's Spirit Banner beckoned him out of his remote homeland to confront the armies of the civilized people who had harassed and enslaved the nomadic tribes for centuries. In the remaining years of life, he followed that Spirit Banner to repeated victory across the Gobi and the Yellow River into the kingdoms of China, through the central Asian lands of the Turks and the Persians, and across the mountains of Afghanistan to the Indus River. p. xvii
In conquest after conquest, the Mongol army transformed warfare into an intercontinental affair fought on multiple fronts stretching across thousands of miles. Genghis Khan's innovative fighting techniques made the heavily armored knights of medieval Europe obsolete, replacing them with disciplined cavalry moving in coordinated units. Rather than relying on defensive fortifications, he made brilliant use of speed and surprise on the battlefield, as well as perfecting siege warfare to such a degree that he ended the era of walled cities. p.xvii In twenty-five years, the Mongol army subjugated more lands and people than the Romans had conquered in four hundred years. Genghis Khan, together with his sons and grandsons, conquered the most densely populated civilizations of the thirteenth century. Whether measured by the total number of people defeated, the sum of the countries annexed, or by the total area occupied, Genghis Khan conquered more than twice as much as any other man in history. - p.xviii At its zenith, the empire covered between 11 and 12 million contiguous square miles, an area about the size of the African continent and considerably larger than North America, including the United States, Canada, Mexico, Central America, and the islands of the Caribbean combined. It stretched from the snowy tundra of Siberia to the hot plains of India, from the rice paddies of Vietnam to the wheat fields of Hungary, and from Korea to the Balkans. The majority of people today live in countries conquered by the Mongols; on the modern map, Genghis Kahn's conquests include thirty countries with well over 3 billion people. The most astonishing aspect of this achievement is that the entire Mongol tribe under him numbered around a million, smaller than the workforce of some modern corporations. From this million, he recruited his army, which was comprised of no more than one hundred thousand warriors - a group that could comfortably fit into the larger sports stadiums of the modern era. In American terms, the accomplishment of Genghis Khan might be understood if the United States, instead of being created by a group of educated merchants or wealthy planters, had been founded by one of its illiterate slaves, who, by the sheer force of personality, charisma, and determination, liberated America from foreign rule, united the people, created an alphabet, wrote the constitution, established universal religious freedom, invented a new system of warfare, marched an army from Canada to Brazil, and opened roads of commerce in a free-trade zone that stretched across the continents. On every level and from any perspective, the scale and scope of Genghis Khan's accomplishments challenge the limits of imagination and tax the resources of scholarly explanation. p.xviii [In the historian Timothy May's otherwise negative review, he summarizes these achievements: The Mongols conquered an empire that stretched from the Pacific to the Mediterranean, an area roughly the size of Africa. Furthermore he notes that the Mongols accomplished this feat when their population was perhaps a million people, of which only around 100,000 comprised the military. Weatherford does well to illustrate the magnitude of this deed by pointing out that many modern corporations have more employees than the Mongol army had soldiers.]
... connected and amalgamated the many civilizations around him into a new world order. At the time of his birth in 1162, the Old World consisted of a series of regional civilizations each of which could claim virtually no knowledge of any civilization beyond its closest neighbor. Genghis Khan built a new and unique system based on merit, loyalty, and achievement. He took the disjointed and languorous trading towns along the Silk route and organized them into history's largest free-trade zone. He lowered taxes for everyone. He created a regular census and created the first international postal system. His was not an empire that hoarded wealth and treasure; instead, he widely distributed the goods acquired in combat so that they could make their way back to commercial circulation. He created an international law and recognized the ultimate supreme law of the Eternal Blue Sky over all people. He granted religious freedom within his realms, though he demanded total loyalty from conquered subjects of all religions. - p.xix Genghis Khan left his empire with such a firm foundation that it continued growing for another 150 years. Then, in the centuries following its collapse, his descendants continued to rule a variety of smaller empires and large countries, from Russia, Turkey, and India to China and Persia. They held an eclectic assortment of titles, including khan, emperor, sultan, king, shah, emir, and the Dalai Lama. ... p.xx Moghuls: 1857 - British drove out Emperor Bahadur Shah II and chopped off the heads of two of his sons and his grandson. Emir of Bukhara, Alim Khan, 1920: last ruling descendant of GK, was in nominal power in Uzbekistan (real power with Russia) until deposed in 1920 after Soviet revolution. p.xx
History has condemned most conquerors to miserable, untimely deaths. At age thirty-three, Alexander the Great died under mysterious circumstances in Babylon, while his followers killed off his family and carved up his lands. Julius Caesar's fellow aristocrats and former allies stabbed him to death in the chamber of the Roman Senate. After enduring the destruction and reversal of all his conquests, an embittered Napoleon faced death as a solitary prisoner on one of the most remote and inaccessible islands on the planet. p. xx The nearly seventy-year old GK, however, passed away in his camp bed, surrounded by a loving family, faithful friends, and loyal soldiers ready to risk their life at his command. Cause of death: various hypotheses: - Plano di Carpini: struck by lightning - Marco Polo: arrow wound to the knee - others: enemies had poisoned him - detractors: Tangut queen had inserted a contraption into her vagina so that when GK had sex with her, it tore off his sex organ and he died in hideous pain. p.xx-xxi
In nearly every country touched by the Mongols, the initial destruction and shock of conquest by an unknown tribe yielded quickly to an unprecedented rise in cultural communication, expanded trade, and improved civilization. In Europe, the Mongols slaughtered the aristocratic knighthood of the continent, but, disappointed with the general poverty of the area compared with the Chinese and Muslim countries, turned away and did not bother to conquer the cities, loot the countries, or incorporate them into the expanding empire. In the end, Europe suffered the least yet acquired all the advantages of contact through merchants such as the Polo family of Venice and envoys exchanged between the Mongol khans and the popes and kings of Europe. The new technology, knowledge, and commercial wealth created the Renaissance in which Europe rediscovered some of its prior culture, but more importantly, absorbed the technology for printing, firearms, the compass, and the abacus from the East. [p.xxiii-iv] T. May: This passage is, without question, controversial. Many would scoff at the notion that a horde of illiterate nomads from Mongolia created the Renaissance. There is something to be said about Weatherford's view; As English scientist Roger Bacon observed in the thirteenth century, the Mongols succeeded not merely from martial superiority; rather, "they have succeeded by means of science." Although the Mongols "are eager for war," they have advanced so far because they "devote their leisure to the principles of philosophy." xxiv
Seemingly every aspect of European life technology, warfare, clothing, commerce, food, art, literature, and music changed during the Renaissance as a result of the Mongol influence. In addition to new forms of fighting, new machines, and new foods, even the most mudane aspects of daily life changed as the Europeans switched to Mongol fabrics, wearing pants and jackets instead of tunics and robes, played their musical instruments with the bow rather than plucking them with the fingers, and painted their pictures in a new style. The Europeans even picked up the Mongol exclamation hurray as an enthusiastic cry of bravado and mutual encouragement. xxiv With so many accomplishments by the Mongols, it hardly seems surprising that Geoffrey Chaucer, the first author in the English language, devoted the longest story in The Canterbury Tales to the Asian conqueror Genghis Khan of the Mongols. He wrote in undisguised awe of him and his accomplishments. Yet, in fact, we are surprised that the learned men of the Renaissance could make such comments about the Mongols, whom the rest of the world now view as the quintessential, bloodthirsty barbarians. The portrait of the Mongols left by Chaucer or Bacon bears little resemblance to the images we know from later books or films that portray Genghis Khan and his army as savage hordes lusting after gold, women, and blood. p. xxiv Without portraits of GK, the world was left to imagine him as it wished. The Chinese portrayed him as an avuncular elderly man with a wispy beard and empty eyes who looked more like a distracted Chinese sage than a Mongol warrior. A Persian miniaturist portrayed him as a Turkish sultan sitting on a throne. The Europeans pictured him as the quintessential barbarian with a fierce visage and fixed cruel eyes, ugly in every detail. xxv how the Mongols viewed warfare: honor was not in the methods of war, but rather in gaining victory. [Weatherford also attempts to put the massacres and destruction conducted by the Mongols into perspective and makes a good contrast between the Mongols and their "civilized" opponents who were often much more prone to torturing prisoners, often for entertainment purposes.]
In the spring of 1162, Year of the Horse: On an isolated and bald hillock overlooking the remote Onon River, Hoelun, a young, kidnapped girl, struggled to give birth to her first child [who would become Genghis Khan]. 11 Hoelun [of the Olkhunuud tribe, noted for the beauty of its women,11] was being brought home by her new husband Chiledu when she was kidnapped. As she urges him to flee and save his life, she thrust her blouse into his face as a parting gesture and said, "Take this with you so that you may have the smell of me with you as you go." 12 [To obtain a wife, the man had to work for several years in her family, perhaps this is why women had value - the Chinese astonished at the freedom the Mongol women enjoyed.] Smell holds a deep, important place within steppe culture. Where people in other cultures might hug or kiss at meeting or departing, the steppe nomads sniff one another in a gesture much like a kiss on the cheek. Each person's body aroma is thought to constitute a part of that person's soul. 12 [Is this like Eskimos rub noses?] Legend: When Genghis is born, he is clutching in his right fist a black blood clot, the size of a knucklebone. Strange sign: did it represent a prophecy or a curse? 13 [Contrast with Alain de Botton's cracked mirror - Occam's razor - mother's blood - leaked ? clotted? where? in tube maybe] Temujin: brother Temuge, sister Temulun: Mongol root "temul" means to rush headlong, to be inspired, to have a creative thought, to take a flight of fancy. As one Mongolian student explained to me, the word was best exemplified by "the look in the eye of a horse that is racing where it wants to go, no matter what the rider wants." 15 Mongol children, by age four, usually mastered riding horseback, and eventually how to stand on a horse's back. While standing on the horse, they often jousted with one another to see who could knock the other off. When their legs grew long enough to reach the stirrups, they were also taught to shoot arrows and to lasso on horseback, shooting from various distances and speeds at targets dangling from poles and swaying in the wind. 21 [Many scholars have concluded that killing Begter was partially based off of a rivalry for power, even at a young age between the two branches of the family (Yesugei, Temujin's father, had two wives). Weatherford raises the intriguing possibility that the half brother was murdered because of the possibility that Temujin's mother would become the half-brother's wife due to Levirate law (p. 23-24).
Under the kinship hierarchy, each lineage was known as a bone. The closest lineages, those with whom no intermarriage was allowed, were the white bones. More distant kin with whom intermarriage was allowed, were the black bones (kara = black; karakorum = black stones or black walls). Since they were all inter-related, each lineage claimed descent from someone important, [white bone were more aristocratic]... 37-8 [Kara Khitan, "black" Khitan, more distant than the Khitan who remained in the west: tribal rulers around Kashgar in Xinjiang, 103] Although Guchlug [son of Tayang Khan of the Naiman, married the dtr of the Black Khitan leader and later usurped his power] was originally a Christian and the Black Khitan were Buddhists, they shared a common mistrust of the Uighur subjects, who were Muslims. In his newly acquired position as ruler of the kingdom, Guchlug began to persecute his Muslim subjects by limiting the practice of their religion. He forbade the call to prayer and prohibited public worship or religious study. When Guchlug left the capital of Balasagun on a campaign, his subjects closed the city gates behind him and tried to prevent his return. In retaliation, he besieged the capital, conquered it, and then razed it.
Without a Muslim ruler willing to protect them, the Muslims of Balasagun turned to Genghis Khan to overthrow their oppressive king. Though the Mongol army was stationed twenty-five hundred miles away, Genghis Khan ordered Jebe to lead twenty thousand Mongol soldiers across the length of Asia and defend the Muslims. Because the Mongols conducted the campaign at the request of the Uighur Muslims, they did not allow plunder, destroy property, or endanger the lives of civilians. Instead, Jebe's army defeated the army of Guchlug and had him beheaded. Following the execution, the Mongols sent a herald to Kashgar to proclaim the end of religious persecution and the restoration of religious freedom in each community. According to the Persian historian Juvaini, the people of Kashgar proclaimed the Mongols "to be one of the mercies of the Lord and one of the bounties of divine grace." Although Persian and other Muslim chroniclers recorded the episode in tremendous detail, the Secret History of the Mongols summed up the entire campaign in one simple sentence. "Jebe pursued Guchlug Khan of the Naiman, overtook him at the Yellow Cliff, destroyed him, and came home." From the Mongol perspective, that is probably all that mattered. Jebe had killed the enemy and returned home safely. 103-104 May 1181: Temujin separates from Jamuka's group summer 1189 : khuriltai to proclaim Temujin as Khan, sparse attendance. With (Kereyid leader) Ong Khan's blessings. 1190: battle with Jamuka: killed 70 young males by boiling alive in cauldron, destroying their souls. Also decapitated a leader and tied his head (seat of his soul) on a horses tail (the most obscene part). Spilling of blood and such dishonour brought Jamuka a lot of disrepute. 1201: Jamuka khuriltai: Gur-ka or Gur-khan - chief of all Khans. Ong Khan and Temujin team up to fight Jamuka and Tayichud (aristocrats) 46. In battle against Tayichud, GK is badly injured in the neck. Jelme sucked off blood until he was full. GK recovered next morning, but Tayichud deserted and fled. 48
Temujin's changes: * Temujin: after khuriltai to proclaim Khan, appointed tribe members to senior posts - not only kin. Based on loyalty and talent - Borchu / Jelme 40 * After victory over Jurkin, incorporated survivors into the tribe as full members, sharing in future spoils. 44 * before campaign against Tatars: loot to be centralized afterwards and distributed equitably by him; dead soldiers' share to be distrib to family and orphans. Common, poorer people liked it - also made looting less important than victory, and soldiers confident that families left behind wd be cared for. 50 1202, year of dog: Ong Khan sends Temujin against the Tatars; he himself attacks the Merkid. Tatars are routed, and huge booty and captives. But some soldiers loot themselves. GK strips them of all loot, and all other possessions. Aristocratic lineages normally controlled their distribn of loot, and some of them left to join Jamuka. 51 khuriltai (congress) of warriors to decide fate of Tatar captives: agrees to kill all Tatar males taller than the linchpin holding the wheels on a cart, and integrate all others into the clan (not as slaves). [Measuring a living person's height is difficult; the height of axles vary - yet there is some justification to this rule... ] GK took Tatar aristocrats Yesugen and Yesui as wives. (also in Blue Wolf, the fictionalized biography by Frederic Dion). 52
1203: organized army into decimal system. Historical speculation - some earlier Turkic tribes used a similar military organization based on units of ten.. but Temujin used it not only for the army, but for the whole society. arban (squad) of ten soldiers - shared responsibility - either senior-most soldier, or someone chosen by men would be leader of group. zagun (company): hundred - one of them they would they selected as leader mingan (battalion): one thousand tumen (army): 10K - leaders chosen by Temujin. [This decimal system, possibly pre-dating Genghis, was also the standard of Mughal organization in India. Sultan Nasiruddin Mahmud bughra khan advising his son Muizuddin Kaiqobad (sultan of Delhi, 1287-1290). Bughra Khan describes the army organisation to his son in the following manner: a sar-i-khail has ten horsemen under him, a Sipah Salar directs ten Sar-i-Khails, an amir has authority over ten Sipah Salars, a Malik has authority over ten Amirs and a Khan's forces contains at least those of ten Maliks. - Banglapedia Khan / Khaqan] Had the effect of breaking up tribal loyalties and relationships and creating new structures focused on the army. Also made a certain amount of army service compulsory. Since groups survival depended on competence, Self-election of leaders meant competent people went up. Abolished leadership by aristocracy. 52 Similar to lawgiver Cleisthenes' system in Athens: abolished tribes and reassigned everyone to units of ten, breaking up tribal patterns into strong miliary, commercial, artistic, and intellectual power. 53
Propaganda before the war against the Naimans: Tayang Khan's son called him "Old woman Tayang" p.60-61. morin huur [w]: string instrument - 1204: war againt the Naimans. First, "Moving Bush" or "Tumbleweed" formation: dispersed squads of ten advanced severally and silently from different directions, keeping low profiles, and after attacking, fleeing back, leaving enemy wounded but unable to retaliate. Followed by the "Lake formation": long lines of troops advanced, fired arrows, and then were replaced by the net line, returning to the rear to re-string, like waves. Caused the Naiman to spread out. "Chisel formation": One squad behind the other, narrow across the front, but very deep, and pierce through the thinned Naiman lines. 61-62
1206, the year of the tiger, khuriltai for the great Khan. ... Temujin controlled a territory roughly the size of modern western Europe, with a population of about a million people of different nomadic tribes, and probably some 15 to 20 million animals. ... for his People of the Felt Walls, he adopted the name Yeke Mongol Ulus, Great Mongol Nation. Abolished all inherited titles in their lineages, clans, and tribes. For himself... Temujin adopted the name Chinggis Khan, which became known in the West through the Persian spelling of Genghis Khan. Mongolian: chin = strong, firm, unshakeable, and fearless, and it is close to the Mongolian word for wolf, chino, the ancestor from whom they claimed descent. 65 Most leaders, whether kings or presidents, grew up inside the institutions of some type of state. Their accomplishments usually involved the reorganization or revitalization of those institutions and the state that housed them. Genghis Khan, however, consciously set out to create a state and to establish all the institutions necessary for it on a new basis. ... Under him, cowherds, shepherds, and camel boys advanced to become generals and rode at the front of armies of a thousand or ten thousand. 67
Great Law: continued to develop over the remaining two decades of his life. First new law reportedly forbade the kidnapping of women, almost certainly a reaction to the kidnapping of his wife Borte. (and Jochi) 68 Made theft of animals a capital offense. Anyone finding an animal was required to return it to the rightful owner - a massive lost-and-found system was instituted. Any person who found such goods, money, or animals and did not turn them in would be treated as a thief, and the penalty was execution. 69 Hunting forbidden between March and October during the breeding season. (codified existing norms) 69 Freedom of religions, all religious leaders exempted from taxes and from public service. Later extended to undertakers, doctors, teachers, and scholars. 69 Genghis Khan discovered that Tayang Khan kept a scribe who wrote down his pronouncements and then embossed them with an official state seal. The scribe came from the Uighur people, who had originated on the Mongol steppe, but in the 9th c. had migrated to the oases of what is now the Xinjiang region of western China. The Uighur language was closely related and proved relatively easy to adapt for writing in the Mongolian language. Derived from the Syriac alphabet used by the missionary monks who brought Christianity to the steppe tribes, the writing was made from letters rather than characters, but it flowed vertically down the page in columns, like Chinese. 71 Judgements recorded in white paper bound in blue books... Mongolian word for book, nom, derived from Greek nomos, meaning "law". 71
1210: Jurched [Jin dynasty] send envoy seeking Mongol submission ; new Golden Khan on their throne at Zhongdu (Beijing), earlier Ong Khan was their vassal. Jurched, themselves a tribal people from the forests of Manchuria, empire founded 1125, now ruled Manchuria, much of modern-day Inner Mongolia, and Northern China. 81 With Genghis Khan's decision to cross the Gobi and invade the Jurched in 1211, he had begun not just another Chinese border war: He had lit a conflagration that would eventually consume the world. No one, not even Genghis Khan, could have seen what was coming. He showed no sign of any global ambitions inasmuch as he fought only one war at a time, and for him the time had come to fight the Jurched. But starting from the Jurched campaign, the well-trained and tightly organized Mongol army would charge out of its highland home and overrun everything from the Indus River to the Danube, from the Pacific Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea. In a flash, only thirty years, the Mongol warriors would defeat every army, capture every fort, and bring down the walls of every city they encountered. Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, and Hindus would soon kneel before the dusty boots of illiterate young Mongol horsemen. Jurched mocked his advance: "Our empire is like the sea; yours is but a handful of sand." a Chinsese scholar recorded the Jurched Khan as saying. 84 Jurched: 50 mn people, second largest kindom in China (second to the Sung) In the 13th c. perhaps 1/3d of world popln lived in China. 84
In a long standing tradition, a nomadic army swept down from the steppes to displace the older tribe that had grown weak and dissipated from several generations of soft city life. [Same as the Vikings, Huns, Goths, etc.] 84 The conquest of the Tangut took place through a series of raids between 1207 and 1209. The campaign was like a thorough dress rehearsal of the coming battle against the much stronger Jurched, complete with a crossing of the Gobi (desert). 85 The Tangut [Western Xia], a Tibetan people who ruled an empire in the upper reaches of the Yellow river (modern Gansu province), controlled the oases of the silk route. The Tangut raids had spurred GK to learn a new type of warfare against walled cities, moats, and fortresses. Not only were the Tangut fortified, they had some 150K soldiers, nearly twice the size of the army GK had brought with him. Attempted to flood the Tangut capital by diverting the yellow river, but wiped out their own camp instead. Would later become more adept at this. 85 Jurched campaign, Reconnaissance: A Chinese observer remarked how the advance group scouted out every hill and every spot before the main army arrived. They wanted to know everyone in the area, every resource, and they always sought to have a ready path of retreat should it be needed. 86 The Chinese noted with surprise and disgust the ability of the Mongol warriors to survive on little food and water for long periods; according to one, the entire army could camp without a single puff of smoke since they needed no fires to cook [actually used small fires around dusk]. Compared to the Jurched soldiers, the Mongols were much healthier and stronger. The Mongols consumed a steady diet of meat, milk, yogurt, and other dairy products, and they fought men who lived on gruel made from various grains. The grain diet of the peasant warriors stinted their bones, rotted their teeth, and left them weak and prone to disease. In contrast, the poorest Mongol soldier ate mostly protein, thereby giving him strong teeth and bones. Unlike the Jurched soldiers, who were dependent on a heavy carb diet, the Mongols could more easily go a day or two without food. [Strongly Non Veg stance... but the low carb may give more long term no-food sustenance]. 87 For the Mongols, the lifestyle of the peasant seemed incomprehensible. The Jurched territory was filled with so many people and yet so few animals; this was a stark contrast to Mongolia, where there were normally 5 to 10 animals for each human. To the Mongols, the farmer's fields were just grasslands, as were the gard3ens, and the peasants were like grazing animals rather than real humans who ate meat. ... and they herded up peasants using the same animal-herding techniques. 92 Driving the peasants into the cities, where discontent grew. In the worst such rebellion, the Jurched army ended up killing some 30K of their own peasants. 93
Beginning with the Tangut campaigns, Genghis Khan had discovered that Chinese engineers knew how to build siege machines that could batter city walls with massive stones from far away: - catapult hurled stones, flaming liquids, and other harmful substances at or across city walls; the - trebuchet, powered by the drop of a heavy counterweight, threw objects even faster than the torsion catapult; - ballista: a mechanical device that shot large arrows that could damage buildings and structures and kill any person or animal in its path. The Mongols eagerly rewarded engineers who defected to them and, after each battle, carefully selected engineers from the captives and impressed them into Mongol service. Genghis Khan made engineering units a permanent part of the Mongol army, and with each battle and each conquest, his war machinery grew in complexity and efficiency. 94 Jebe's siege of Liaoyang: * Dog fight tactic: feign a withdrawal, ordering troops to leave a lot of equipment and stores behind as though they left in great haste. When soldiers out to gather the booty clogged up the city gates, re-attack and capture the city. 95 Zhongdu: The Golden Khan fled to Kaifeng. Though a contingent of soldiers were left in Zhongdu, both they and the people knew that they had been deserted. 97 Throught the first half of 1215, the Year of the Pig, the Mongols slowly set out with caravans of people, animals, and goods from the smoldering ruins of Zhongdu to the high, arid plateau of Mongolia. A river of bright silk flowed out of China. 99
[In 1217, nearing sixty years of age, having brought about complete peace in his dominions (Juvaini), Genghis negotiated a trade treaty with the sultan of Khwarizm.] Since the Mongols themselves were not merchants, Genghis turned to the Muslim and Hindu merchants already operating in his newly acquired territories of the Uighur; from among them, he assembled 450 merchants and retainers whome he sent from Mongolia to Khwarizm with a caravan loaded with luxury commodities of white camel cloth, Chinese silk, silver bars, and raw jade. He senta an Indian at the head of the delegation with another message for the Sultan. When the caravan entered the NW Khwarizm province of Otrar (now in S Kazakhstan), the greedy and arrogant governor seized the goods and killed the merchants and their drivers. 106 Hearing of this, GK sent envoys to the Sultan asking that the local official be punished, instead the Sultan killed some of the envoys and mutiliated the others, whom he sent back to GK. It took only a few weeks for word of the rebuke to fly across the steppes and reach the Mongol court, where, in the words of Juvaini, "the whirlwind of anger cast dust into the eyes of patience and clemency while the fire or wrath flared up with such a flame that it drove the water from his eyes and could be quenched only by the shedding of blood." 106 War for a nomadic people was a sort of production. For the warriors it meant success and riches. - Sechen Jagchid, Essays in Mongolian Studies GK set out in 1219, arriving the following spring, when he crossed the desert to appear suddenly deep behind the enemy lines at Bukhara. Before the year ended, the Mongols had taken every major city in the Khwarezm empire, and its sultan lay abandoned and dying on a small island out in the Caspian sea where he had sought refuge from the relentless hounding by GK's warriors. 108 Just as in N China, the formerly nomadic Khitan, Jurched, and Tangut tribes ruled over peasant populations, across the middle east the formerly nomadic Turkic tribes such as the Seljuks and the Torukoman had conquered and ruled various kingdoms populated mostly by farmers. 109 When GK dropped down on the cities of the Khwarizm, he commanded an army of about 100K to 125K horsemen, supplemented by Uighur and other Turkic allies, a corps of Chinese doctors, and engineers for a total of 150K to 200K men. By comparison, the Khwarizm ruler had some 400K men under arms across his empire, and they were fighting with the home advantage. 111 GK to citizens of Nishapur: Commanders, elders, and commonality: know that God has given me the empires of the earth from the east to the west, whoever submits shall be spared, but those who resist, they shall be destroyed with their wives, children, and dependents. 111 Armenian chronicle quotes GK: it is the wil of God that we take the earth and maintain order... [to those who refuse the Mongols were obligated to "slay them and destroy their place, so that the others who hear and see should fear and not act the same." 111
First, kill the soldiers (did not want any later resistance, anyone blocking their retreat). Then send clerks to divide up the civilian population by profession. Professional included anyone who could read or write in any language - clerks, doctors, astronomers, judges, soothsayers, engineers, teachers, imams, rabbis, or priests. The Mongols particularly needed merchants, cameleers, and people who spoke multiple lgs, as well as craftsmen. These workers would be put to use... People without occupations were collected to help in the attack on the next city, carrying loads, digging fortifications, acting as human shields, often giving their lives in the Mongol war effort. Those who did not qualify even for these tasks, the Mongols slaughtered. 112 In central Asia, one group suffered the worst fate of those captured: the rich and powerful, who were slaughtered by their Mongol captors (earlier invasions of the Jurched, the Tangut, and the Black Khitan showed these groups were most likely to rebel later). Never accepted enemy aristocrats into his army and rarely into his service in any capacity. 112
When Mongols passed through a city, they left little of value behind them. In a letter written just after the invasion, the geographer Yaqut al-Hamawi, who barely escaped the Mongols, wrote glowingly of the beautiful and luxurious palaces that the Mongols had "effaced from off the earth as lines of wirting are effaced from paper, and those abodes became a dwelling for the owl and the raven, in those places the screech owls answer each other's cries, and in those halls the winds moan." 113 Chroniclers of the era attribute to GK the highly unlikely statement that "The greatest joy a man can know is to conquer his enemies and drive them before him. To ride their horses and take away their possessions. To see the faces of those who were dear to them bedewed with tears, and to clasp their wives and daughters in his arms." Rather than finding such apocalyptic descriptions derogatory, GK seemed to have encouraged them. 113 One of the worst slaughters was unleashed on the citizen's of Omar Khayyam's home city of Nishapur. The residents revolted against the Mongols, and in the ensuing battle an arrow killed GK's son-in-law Tokuchar. In revenge, GK allowed his widowed daughter Tokuchar, then pregnant, to administer whatever revenge she wished. She reportedly decided on death for all, and in April 1221, the soldiers carried it out... According to widely circulated but unverified stories, the soldiers piled the heads of dead citizens in three separate pyramids - one each for the men, the women, and the children. Then she supposedly ordered that the dogs, the cats, and all other living animals in the city be put to death. 117 The Persian chronicles reported that at Nishapur, the Mongols slaughtered the staggeringly precise number of 1,747,000. This surpassed the 1,600,000 listed as killed in the city of Herat. In more outrageous claimos, Juzjani, a respectable but vehemently anti-Mongol historian, put the total for Herat at 2,4 mn. Later, more conservative scholars place the number of dead from GK's invasion of Central Asia at 15 mn within 5 years. ... the inflated tallies for the cities would require a slaughter of 350 people by every Mongol soldier... they could simply have run away... 118
Although accepted as fact and repeated through the generations, the numbers have no basis in reality. It would be physically diff to slaughter that many cows or pigs, which wait passively for their turn. ... Inspection of the ruins of the cities show that rarely did they surpass a tenth of the population enumerated as casualties. The dry desert soils of these areas preserve bones for hundreds and sometimes thousand of years, yet none of them has yileded any trace of the millions said to have been slaughtered by the Mongols. 118 GK could be more accurately described as a destroyer of cities rather than a slayer of people. In addition to the organized destruction of some cities, he depopulated expansive areas of land by the laborious destruction of the irrigation system, [so that the fields would revert to] grazing land, kept as reserve pastures for future campaigns. 118
Before he left for the Khwarizm campaign, he summoned a family khuriltai to discuss his succession (though death was a taboo topic). GK opened by explaining the business of selecting a successor. "if all my sons should wish to be Khan and ruler, refusing to serve each other, will it not be as in the fable of the single-headed and many-headed snake." In this traditional fable, when winter came, the snakes competing heads quarreled among themselves about which hole was better for them for refuge. One head preferred one hole and pulled in that direction, and the other heads pulled in other directions. The other snake, with many tails but one head, went immediately into one hole and stayed warm through the winter, while the many-headed snake froze to death. 120 GK asks Jochi to speak first [protocol emphasizing his rank]. Chaghatai protests: "When you tell Jochi to speak, do you offer him the succession? How can we be ruled by this bastard son of a Merkid?" 121 The Secret History then attributes these painfully emotional words to an adivser in order to preserve the dignity of the Khan, but these were probably spoken by GK himself: She didn't run away from home... "She wasn't in love with another man. She was stolen by men who came to kill.... they all sprung from a single hot womb" 121 While pursuing thius great quest and "conquer every threat around him" 123 [POV: Puts a defensive posture on his campaigns. This is true also of the presentation regarding the Jurched invasion - why not ignore the envoy - and also of the Khwarizm - why send an envoy seeking special rights?] Jochi and Chaghatai were sent on a joint campaign against the city of Urgench... Jochi suspected that because Ugrench would belong to him, his brother was truying to destroy it utterly. Chaghatai, in turn, suspected that J's greed made him want to protect the buildings even at the risk of killing more Mongol soldiers. ... Whereas most cities had fallen in a matter of days or weeks, Urgench required an unprecedented six months. 124
Plans for IndiaAfter descending from the mountains of Afghanistan onto the plains of the Indus river earlier that year, Genghis Khan had considered conquering all of northern India, circling around south of the Himalayas, and heading north across the Sung territory of China. [But facing the heat], GK headed back into the mountains in Feb, and despite the tremendous loss of lives among the prisoners who cleared the snow-filled passes, he took his army to more comfortable and colder terrain. He left behind two tumen, some 20K men, to continue the India campaign, but by summer illness and heat had so depleted their ranks that the survivors withdrew and limped back to the benign and healthful environment of Afghanistan. 126 celebratory hunt 1223: Jochi, the most beloved of sons, claimed to be ill and refused to come even when summoned by direct order of GK. Relations between father and son nearly erupted into an armed conflict when GK heard that the supposedly ill J had organized rival hunts in a celebration for his men. 127 For nearly five years, a steady flow of camel caravans lumbered out of the muslim lands carrying packs of looted goods to Mongolia, where the population eagerly awaited each load of exotic luxuries. 127
Genghis Khan's Death1226-27: GK fell from a horse while on hunting wild horses en route across Gobi on a campaign against the Tangut. Despite internal injuries, a raging fever, and the concerned advice of his wife Yesui, GK refused to return home and pressed on with the Tangut campaign. Six months later and only a few days before the final victory over the Tangut, GK died. 128 [The body was wrapped] in a white felt blanket filled with sandalwood, the valuable aromatic wood that repelled insects and infused the body with a pleasant perfume. They bound the felt coffin with three golden straps. 128 GK supposedly said: "A mighty name will remain behind me in the world". 129
Letter to Taoist monkWe find an unusual and more informative glimpse into the mind of GK and into his image of himself towards the end of his life, which survives in a Letter to a Taoist monk in China... avlbl to us only in the form written in classical Chinese by a scribe, almost certainly one of the Khitan travelling with the Mongol court, [but] the sentiments and perceptions of GK come out quite clearly in the document. 129 "I have not myself distinguished qualities." He said that the Eternal Blue Sky had condemned the civilizations around him because of their "haughtiness and their extravagant luxury." Despite the tremendous wealth and power he had accumulated, he continued to lead a simple life: "I wear the same clothing and eat the same food as the cowherds and horseherders. We make the same sacrifices, and we share the riches." He offered a simple assessment of his ideals: "I hate luxury," and "I exercise moderation." He strove to teach his subjects like his children, and he treated talented men like his brothers, no matter what their origin was. He described his relations with his officials as being close and based on respect: "We always agree in our principles and we are always united in mutual affection." He claimed that his victories had been possible only through the assistance of teh Eternal Blue Skym "but as my calling is high, the obligations incumbet on me are also heavy." He did not, however, feel that he had been as successful in peace as he had been in war: "I fear that in my ruling there may be something wanting." Good officials over the state are as important as a good rudder to a boat. While he managed to find men of talent to serve as his generals, he admitted he had unfortunately not been able to find men as good in administration. 130
Chapter 6: The discovery and conquest of Europethe Mongol method of measuring space: the length of a standard bowshot. 134 Karakorum: 1/3d of the city was reserved to house the newly recruited clerks needed to run the empire. These included scribes and translators from every nation in the empire so that they could manage the correspondence. 135 visitor's account: Juvaini: Throne having three steps: one for Ogodei alone, another for his ladies, and a third for the cup-bearers and table-deckers. 135 In an effort to improve trade, Ogodei introduced a standardized system of weights and measures to replace the various types used in different countries and cities. Because bullion and coins proved so bulky to transport, the Mongols created a system of paper money exchanges that made trade much easier and safer. 136
Promoting trade, investing in conquered landsOgodei: His father had lived in the field at war and shipped home the loot; Ogodei however, increasingly used the might of his army to make the routes safe for merchants... permanent garrisons to protect the roads; abolished the complex system of local taxes and extortion, planted trees along the sides of roads to provide shade in the summer and mark the road in the winters. Where trees would not grow ==> stone pillars. 136 1235: Ogodei summoned a khuriltai to determine targets of future conquest [treasury had run out]. 137 Kalka River: Mongol arrows could not be notched into the Russian bows. 141 [Challenged in review by T. May. ] Their catapults rained down rocks, chunks of wood, flaming pots of naphtha, gunpowder, and other unknown substances. The Mongols used these incendiaries to spread fires, but also as smoke bombs to create terrible smells, which, at that time in Europe, were thought to be both acts of evil magic and the source of disease. In addition to shooting fire, the firelances could launch a small incendiary rocket or hurl exploding grenades over enemy walls. The mysterious devices provoked such terror that the victims later reported that the Mongols travelled not only with horses but with trained attack dragons as well. 147 sell young people as slaves from Crimea: eventually sold to the Sultan of Egypt, who used them in his slave army - eventually defeated the Mongols at Ain Jalut. 159 [challenged by T. May]
Chapter 7: Warring QueensAmong the herding tribes, women traditionally managed the affairs at home while men went off to herd, hunt, or fight... though "home" was a vast empire, women continued to rule. Despite the rivalry with Ogodei Khan, Sorkhokhtani, the widow of GK's youngest son Tolui, ruled N China and E Mongolia, including the family homeland where GK grew up. Ebuskun, wife of Chaghatai, ruled Central Asia or Turkestan. 161 [Sorkhokhtani, niece of Kereyid Ong Khan, had refused marriage to Guyuk, Ogodei's older son, after Tolui died after a drunken binge at age 40. She claimed she needed to look after her four sons: Mongke, Hulegu, Khublai, Arik Boke, p.143] To celebrate the occasion of his election, Mongke ... [had] a week of feasting ... two thousand wagons filled with airak, the beloved alcoholic drink made from fermented mare's milk. 167 The celebration marked the culmination of Sorkhokhtani's lifework, and in one sense, the celebration was more of an honour for her than any one else. Whereas GK himself had produced sons who were relatively weak, she had produced and trained four sons each of whom would be a Great Khan for different lengths of time. 167 Power had clearly passed into the lineage of Tolui. Sorkhokhani had smashed the last obstacles to power for her sons, and she died knowing that her four sons faced no further threat from any branch of the Golden family. The writer Bar Hebraeus: "if I were to see among the race of women another woman like this, I should say that the race of woman was far superior to men." 168 [Mongke conducted a purge of the Ogodei and Chaghatai lines]
Mongol Attitudes towards ReligionNear the end of 1253, the Year of the Ox, William of Rubruck, a Franciscan monk, came to the Mongol court as an envoy from the French king. ... Despite the common religion, Rubruck greatly resented the Assyrian, Armenian, and Orthodox Christians at the Mongol court. Since he considered all non-Catholics to be heretics, he contemptuously designated the Mongol congregants of the Assyrian Church as Nestorians in reference to Nestorius, the fifth-century Patriarch of Constantinople who was condemned as a heretic by the Council of Ephesus in 431. Among the Assyrian beliefs that Rubruck held to be heretical was that the Virgin Mary was the mother of Christ, but not the mother of God. They also differed from the Catholics in their steadfast refusal to portray Christ on the cross as a violation of the Mongol taboos on depicting death or blood. Even when they admitted to being Christians, Mongols did not consider their religion as their primary identification. As one of the Mongol generals who was a follower of Christianity explained, he was no Christian - he was a Mongol. 171-2 After making the French envoy wait for many months, Mongke finally received him officially in court on May 24, 1254. Rubruck informed the officials that he knew the word of God and had come to spread it. In front of the assembled representatives of the various religions, the khan asked Rubruck to explain to them the word of God. Rubruck stumbled over a few phrases and stressed the importance to Christians of the commandment to love God, whereupon one of the Muslim clerics asked him incredulously, "Is there any man who does not love God?" The discussion continued for some time, and according to Rubruck's own account, it was obvious that he did not fare well in the sometimes acrimonious arguments. He was unaccustomed to debating with people who did not share his basic assumptions of Catholic Christianity. Evidently, Mongke Khan recognized the problems he was having and suggested that all the scholars present take time to write out their thoughts more clearly and then return for a fuller discussion and debate of the issues. The Mongols loved competitions of all sorts, and they organized debates among rival religions the same way they organized wrestling matches. It began on a specific date with a panel of judges to oversee it. In this case Mongke Khan ordered them to debate before three judges: a Christian, a Muslim, and a Buddhist. A large audience assembled to watch the affair, which began with great seriousness and formality.
Interfaith Debate and InteractionAs these men gathered together in all their robes and regalia in the tents on the dusty plains of Mongolia, they were doing something that no other set of scholars or theologians had ever done in history. It is doubtful that representatives of so many types of Christianity had come to a single meeting, and certainly they had not debated, as equals, with representatives of the various Muslim and Buddhist faiths. The religious scholars had to compete on the basis of their beliefs and ideas, using no weapons or the authority of any ruler or army behind them. They could use only words and logic to test the ability of their ideas to persuade. Their debate ranged back and forth over the topics of evil versus good, God's nature, what happens to the souls of animals, the existence of reincarnation, and whether God had created evil. Between each round of wrestling, Mongol athletes would drink fermented mare's milk; in keeping with that tradition, after each round of the debate, the learned men paused to drink deeply in preparation for the next match. No side seemed to convince the other of anything. At the end of the debate, they concluded the way most Mongol celebrations concluded, with everyone simply too drunk to continue. While the clerics debated at Karakorum, their religious brethren were hacking at each other and burning one another alive in other parts of the world outside the Mongol Empire. At almost the same time of Rubruck's debate in Mongolia, his sponsor, King Louis IX, was busy rounding up all Talmudic texts and other books of the Jews. The devout king had the Hebrew manuscripts heaped into great piles and set afire. During Rubruck's absence from France, his fellow countrymen burned some twelve thousand hand-written and illuminated Jewish books. For these and other great services to the furtherance of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, his church canonized him as Saint Louis, thereby making him a figure of veneration that good Christians could emulate and to whom they could pray as an intermediary between humans and God. A few days after the debate at Karakorum, Mongke Khan summoned Rubruck to discharge him and send him back to his home country. He took this occasion to explain to the priest, and through him to the rulers of Europe, that he himself belonged to no single religion, and he lectured Rubruck on Mongol beliefs about tolerance and goodness. 172-174
Economic ConditionIn his short and disastrous reign, Guyuk had purchased vast amount of goods and paid for them with paper drafts on the promise that the paper could be converted into gold or silver by the merchant when needed. With G dead, many local officials and advisers no longer wanted to pay off these bills issued by the late Khan. Mongke, however, astutely recognized that if he did not meet the financial obligations of Guyuk, it would make merchants and other foreigners reluctant to continue business with the Mongols. Mongke Khan's decision to keep paying these debts prompted Juvaini to ask: "And from what book of history has it been read or heard... that a king paid the debt of another king?" -- WEIGHT: universal measure based on the sukhe, a silver ingot divided into 500 parts, to which each of the local currencies was tied. ... standardization of currency allowed MK to monetize taxes, rather than accepting payment in local go0ods. In turn, the monetization allowed for standardized budgeting procedures for his imperial administration. 176 [Weatherford has also written the book: History of Money] The [Nizar Ismaili, or Assassins] sect exercised tremendous political power through a sophisticated system of terror and assassination, policy: kill anyone, particularly leaders or powerful people who opposed them in any way. Recruited young men who were willing to die in their attacks with the assurance that they would achieve instant entry into paradise as martyrs of Islam. 178 The Mongol army had accomplished in a mere two years what the European Crusaders from the West and the Seljuk Turks from the East had failed to do in two centuries of sustained effort. They had conquered Baghdad, the heart of the Arab world. 184 Taoist vs Buddist : struggle for dominance - 186 Asia is devouring us. Tatar faces in every direction you look. - Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain
Chapter 8: Khubilai Khan and the New Mongol EmpireThis Great Khan is the mightiest man, whether in terms of subjects or of territory or of treasure. - Marco Polo Most disturbing to the Chinese [about Khubilai's court]: the Mongol women mingled freely among the men on even the most important occasions. 200 Criminal Law: group culpability and responsibility. Criminals often required to join a law enforcement agency. 202 Criminals, and often their entire families, had to sign documents ack-ing receipt of their sentence. To preserve the record of the event, fingerprints were taken and attached to the document. 202 Administration with the assistance of a wide variety of foreigners, particularly Muslims, and when he could get them, Europeans such as Marco Polo. Khubilai imported large numbers of such men from his brother's realm in Persia. 203 [POV: "when he could get them"] Diversity: Tibetans, Armenians, Khitan, Arabs, Tajiks, Uighurs, Tangut, Turks, Persians, and Europeans. Each office had three groups of officials: northern Chinese, southern Chinese, and foreigners. Khubilai's administration constantly promoted men from the lowest levels to the highest ranks of leadership - cooks, gatekeepers, scribes, and translators. 203 Tibetan lama Phagspa ==> modified script for writing in Arabic, Persian, Uighur, Tangut, Jurched, Tibetan, Chinese, etc. Was not mandatory and did not gain wide acceptance. 205 Mongol authorities in Persia tried to institute the system of paper money because the concept was alien to the local merchants, and their discontent bordered on revolt at a time when the Mongols could not be certain they had the forces to win... they withdrew the paper money. 204-5 Paper money ==> increased opportunities for credit and financial disaster. Mongol law provided for bankruptcy. More than twice ==> possible execution. 205
Public Educationshe: peasant groups of about 50 households. Each she also provided some form of child education. Records show: 20,166 public schools for universal education for all children. Even allowing some exaggeration by self-serving officials, the achievement is amazing considering that no other country had attempted such an effort. Instead of classical Chinese, taught them in the colloquial lg. In the West, it would be another century before writers began to write colloquial lg, and 500 years before universal public ed. 206 Thus, between 1242 and 1293, the Mongol expansion reached its maximum, and four battles marked the outer borders of the Mongol world - Poland, Egypt, Java, and Japan. The area inside those four points had suffered devastating conquests and radical adjustments to a markedly different kind of rule, but they were about to enjoy an unprecedented century of political peace with a commercial, technological, and intellectual explosion unlike any in prior history. 214 Food: the Mongol court ate such delicacies as * strips of mutton tail fat dusted with flour and baked with leeks * bull testicles fried in hot oil, basted with saffron sauce, and sprinkled with coriander. * Mutton boiled w cardamom and cinnamon and served w rice and chickpeas * Young eggplant stuffed w chopped mutton, fat, yogurt, orange peel, and basil. 216
Chapter 9: Their golden light[This chapter, claiiming a Mongol provenance for the Renaissance, is perhaps the most controversial. Yet the facts marshalled - the transmission of key technologies such as printing, gunpowder and the compass, and also the interchange of religious ideas underlying the reformation - all were certainly helped by the Mongol experience.] The Mongol elite's intimate involvement w trade represented a marked break w tradition. From China to Europe, traditional aristocrats generally disdained commercial enterprise as undignified, dirty, and often, immoral... the economic ideal in feudal Europe was that each country shd be self-sufficient, and also each manor; reliance on imported goods was viewed as a failure. ... Since the time of GK, Mongols realized that items that were commonplace and taken for granted in one place were exotic and potentially marketable in another. The late 13th c became a time of nearly frenetic search for new commodities that couold be marketed somewhere in the expanding network of Mongol commerce ... Mongol workshops in China were making not just silk or porcelain, but also statues of Madonna and the Christ child for export to Europe. 225-6 "Satin" <=- word derived from Mongol port "Zaytun" from which Marco Polo sailed on his return to Europe. Damask silk: Damascus, the city through which most of the Ilkhanate trade passed Mouslin: cloth made in Mosul Playing Cards: light and easily transported; spread more easily than chess or other board games. This new market stimulated the need to make card production faster and cheaper, and the soln for that process was found in printing them from carved blocks normally used for printing religious scripture. The market for printed cards proved much greater than that for scripture. 226 Agriculture: new varieties of rice and millet to Middle east. India, China, and Persia mixed more types, e.g. citrus trees. Near Canton, orchard of eight hundred lemon trees from mid-east. At Tabriz, groves of a diff variety of lemon and other citrus trees, from China. 228
Spreading cultureThe Mongols made culture portable. imported Persian and Arab doctors into China, and exported Chinese doctors to the Middle East. Muslim doctors had a much more sophisticated knowledge of surgery. Hospitals and training centers with doctors from India and the Middle East as well as Chinese healers. 229 The Chinese practice of pulse diagnosis proved very popular in the Middle East and India with Muslims (rather than acupuncture). [role of AYURVEDA? / Kaviraji?] 230 Academy of Calendrical studies and a printing office to mass produce a variety of calendars and almanacs. East Asians: 12 year animal cycle Muslims: lunar calendar Persians: year starting at equinox 230 The new forms of agriculture, the demands of astronomy, the system of censuses, and myriad other issues of administration taxed the numerical knowledge of the era... Always fastidious about numerical information ... The Mongols transported knowledge of [mathematical] innovations throughout their empire. They quickly discerned the advantages of utilizing columns of numbers or place numbers in the style of arabic numerals, and they introduced the use of zero, negative numbers, and algebra in China. 232 The volume of information processed in the Mongol Empire required new forms of dissemination. ... information had to be mass produced. ...
Printing technologyThe Mongols adopted printing technology very early. In addition to the printings sponsored by Toregene during the reign of her husband, beginning in 1236 Ogodei ordered the establishement of a series of regional printing facilities across the Mongol-controlled territory of northern China. Printing with movable letters probably began in China in the middle fo the twelfth c. but it was the Mongols who employed it on a massive scale and harnessed its potential power to the needs of state administration. Instead of printing with thousands of characters, as the Chinese did, the Mongols used an alphabet in which the same letters were used repeatedly. [didn't have to carve out the whole page, but merely arrange the right sequence of already carved letters] 233 Without deep cultural preferences in these areas, the Mongols implemented pragmatic rather than ideological solutions. 233
Impact on EuropeAlthough never ruled by the Mongols, in many ways Europe gained the most from their world system... received all the benefits of trade, technology xfr, and the Golbal awakening without paying the cost of Mongol conquest. The Mongols had killed off the knights in Hungary and Germany, but they had not destroyed or occupied the cities. The Europeans, who had been cut off from the mainstream of civilization since the fall of Rome, eagerly drank in the new knowledge, put on the new clothes, listened to the new music, ate the new foods, and enjoyed a rapidly escalating standard of living in almost every regard. ... 234 The word Tatar no longer signified unbridled terror... Dante, Boccacio and Chaucer used the phrase Panni Tartarici, "Tartar cloth", or "Tartar satin" [word satin <=- Zaytun, Chinese port] 234 [Advantages of paper over vellum, 235] Johannes Gutenberg completed the adaptation with his production of two hundred Bibles in 1455, and started the printing and information revolution in the West. 236 New knowledge from the travel writings of Marco Polo to the detailed star charts of Ulugh Beg proved that much of their received classical knowledge was simply wrong... The common principles of the Mongol Empire - such as paper money, primacy of the state over the church, freedom of religion, diplomatic immunity, and international law-were ideas that gained new importance. p. 236
Printing, gunpowder, compassAs early as 1620, Francis Bacon recognized the impact that this changing technology had produced in Europe. He designated printing, gunpowder, and the compass as three technological innovations on which the modern world was built. Although they were "unknown to the acients... these three have changed the appearance and state of the world; first in literature, then in warfare, and lastly in navigation." More important than the innovations themselves, from them "innumerable changes have been thence derived... no vempire, sect, or star, appears to have exercised a greater power and influence on human affairs than these mechanical discoveries." All of them had been spread to the West during the era of the Mongol Empire. p. 236 Under the widespread influences from the paper and printing, gunpowder and firearms, and the spread of the navigational compass and other maritime equipment, Europeans experienced a Renaissance, literally a rebirth, but it was not the ancient world of Greece or Rome being reborn. It was the Mongol Empire, picked up, transferred, and adapted by the Europeans to their own needs and culture. 237 The Franciscans had the closet ties of any Europe group to the Mongol court. 237 [I wonder if they had any influence on transmission of printing technology Westwards?] ART: Franciscan monastery at Assissi ==> influenced Giotto di Bondone and his disciples - St. Francis' life was depicted in Mongol dress - "literally wrapped in silk" ... more horses ... later known as Renaissance art. 1306 illustration of the Robe of Christ in Padua, golden trim was painted in Mongol lettters from the square Phagspa script commissioned by Khublai Khan [to write all the langs of the empire] 237-8
Nicolas of Cusa on the Tatar religionNicolaus of Cusa, whose 1440 essay "On Learned Ignorance" might be considered as the opening of the European Renaissance, spent time on church business in Constantinople shortly before its fall to the Ottomans, and was well acquainted with the ideas of Persian, Arab, and Mongol civilizations. In his 1453 essay "On the Peace of Faith" - a dialogue among representatives of 17 nations, the Tatar describes his nation as "a numerous and simple people, who worship the one God above others, are astounded over the variety of rites which others have, who owrship one and the same God with them.... among these various forms of sacrifice there is the Christian sacrifice, in which they offer bread and wine, and say it is the body and blood of Christ. That they eat and drink this sacrifice after the oblations seems most abominable. They devour what they worship." 238-9
European writings on Genghis Khan: ChaucerThe imagery of Mongol greatness received its clearest statement around 1390 by Geoffrey Chaucer, who had traveled widely in France and Italy on diplomatic business and had a far more international perspective than many of the people for whom he wrote... the story of the squire in The Canterbury Tales relates a romantic and fanciful tale about the life and adventures of Genghis Khan. THE SQUIRE'S TALE Part I (in Middle English): At sarray, in the land of tartarye, Ther dwelte a kyng that werreyed russye, Thurgh which ther dyde many a doughty man. This noble kyng was cleped cambyuskan, ... (modern version): This noble king was called Genghis Khan, Who in his time was of great renown That there was nowhere in no region So excellent a lord in all things. He lacked nothing that belonged to a king. As of the sect of which he was born He kept his law, to which that he was sworn. And thereto he was hardy, wise, and rich, And piteous and just, always liked; Soothe of his word, benign, and honorable, Of his courage as any center stable; Young, fresh, and strong, in arms desirous As any bachelor of all his house. A fair person he was and fortunate, And kept always so well royal estate That there was nowhere such another man. This noble king, the Tartar Genghis Khan.
Chapter 10: The empire of illusion (Decline)PLAGUE: [probably] originated in the south of China. By 1351 China had lost between one-half to two-thirds of its population to plague. The country had had some 123m inhabitants at the beginning of the 13th c, but by the end of the 14th c it had dripped to as low as 65m. 243 reached the capital of the Golden Horde at Sarai on the lower Volga in 1345. [when] Yanibeg, the Kipchak khan, was preparing to lay siege to the Crimean port of Kaffa (today's Feodosija in Ukraine), founded by Genoa merchants for the export of russian slaves to Egypt] 243 In the 60 years from 1340 to 1400, decline is estimated: Africa: 80m to 68m Asia: 238m ==> 201 m Europe: 75m ==> 52m (Iceland: -60%; led to extinction of Viking settlement in Greenland)
Mongol collapsePersia:1335 - Mongols of the Ilkhanate disappeared, either killed or absorbed into the much larger subject populations. China: 1368 - Khan Togoon Tumur managed to escape Ming rebels, along with 60K Mongols, but left behind ~ 400K Mongols who were killed or absorbed. Those that returned to Mongolia resumed their nomadic ways Russia: Golden Horde broke into smaller and smaller hordes through 4 centuries. Mongols and their Turkic (Kipchak) allies amalgamated ... 250 Economic lessons: At the least sign of weakness in the Mongol administration, their paper currency dropped while copper and silver went up. [While the Mongol rulers concentrated on expressing their spirituality and sexuality, the society beyond the Forbidden City collapsed.] By 1356, paper currency had become practically worthless. 250 Being Mongol gave a certain legitimacy to rulers... Timur claimed to be a Mongol, and was legitimately a son-in-law to the dynasty of Genghis Khan, his deeds became inextricably intertwined with those of the original Mongols... 253 Babur was 13 generations descended from Chaghatai Khan. Moghuls, contrary to both Muslim and Hindu traditions, raised the status of women. 253
Genghis Khan perception in Europe: change between 15th - 18th c.In this dramatic section, Weatherford traces the change in the European image of Genghis Khan from a great Emperor as in Chaucer or Bacon, to that of the bloodthirsty peasant that is with us today. Whereas the Renaissance writers and explorers treated Genghis Khan and the Mongols with open adulation, the eighteenth century Enlightenment in Europe produced a growing anti-Asian spirit that often focused on the Mongols, in particular, as the symbol of everything evil or defective... 254 Montesquieu writes disparagingly of the Mongols, as being "the most singular people on earth."; having "destroyed Asia, from India even to the Mediterranean; and all the country which forms the east of Persia they have rendered a desert." (The spirit of the Laws, 1748) 254 Voltaire of the Mongols: "wild sons of rapine, who live in tents, in chariots, and in the fields." Who "detest our arts, our customs, and our laws; and therefore mean to change them all; to make this splendid seat of empire one vast desert, like their own."255 The most pernicious rationale for Asian inferiority [however, emerged more] from the scientists, the new breed of intellectuals spawned by the Enlightenment. The mid-18th c French naturalist Compte de Buffon compiled the first encyclopedia of natural history [1749-1778, 36 volumes] in which he offered a scientific description of the main human groups, ... the Mongols were the most important in Asia. His descriptions [seem] hysterical... "The lips are large and thick, and is much roughened. The nose is small. The skin has a slight dirty-yellow tinge, and is deficient in elasticity, giving the appearance of being too large for the body." Tartar women were "as deformed as the men." Their culture seemed as ugly as their faces: "THe majority of these tribes are strangers to religion, morality and decency. They are robbers by profession." p. 256 The most pernicious rationale for Asian inferiority came not from the philosophers and artists in Europe, as much as from the scientists. French naturalist Compte de Buffon, compiled the first encyclopedia of natural history in which he offered a sci descripn of the main human groups, of which the Mongol ranked as the most important in Asia: "The lips are large and thick, with transverse fissures.... The tongue is long, thick and is much roughened. The nose is small. The skin has a slight dirty-yellow tinge, and is deficient in elasticity, giving the appearance of being too large for the body." [Tartar women] are "as deformed as the men". Their culture is ugly: "The majority of these tribes are alike strangers to religion, morality, and decency. They are robbers by profession." Translated from French into all the European Compte de Buffon's encyclopedia was an extremely influential work. Widely translated into all European lgs, his work became one of the classic sources of information during the 18th/19th c. (Buffon was also admired by Darwin for his early understanding of evolution.) Johann Friedrich Blumenbach, prof of Medicine at Goettingen Univ, 1776-1835: zoological classificns of human beings; based on compar anatomy, hair and eye colour, etc. ==> 3 races corresp to Africa, Asia, and Europe, and two less important subcategories of American and Malay. Asians = Mongols. European scientists rapidly accepted this theory. Evolutionary ranking of races, by Scottish scientist Robert Chambers in his bestselling book of 1844, "Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation.": The leading characters of the various races of mankind are simply representatives of particular stages in the development of the highest or Caucasian type. ... [in comparison, the] "Mongolian is an arrested infant newly born. 257 Soon it became clear that the the Mongoloid race exhibited a close relationship to the orangutan, not only in facial traits but also in postures. Asians, like orangutans, sat with folded legs in the "Mongolian" or "Buddha" position. Mongolian features Were linked to retarded children - 1844, Robert Chambers - associated the malady with incest: "Parents too nearly related tend to produce offspring of the Mongolian type." 257 John Langdon Haydon Down, Medical Superintendent, Earlswood Asylum for Idiots in Surrey, in his "Observations on the Ethnic Classification of Idiots" in the British Journal of Mental Science 1867: Mongoloid condition may also be the result of dietary deficiencies, maternal anxiety, excessive use of perfume, paternal alcoholism, and two-headed sperm. 258 Francis G. Crookshank, British Physician, author of popular 1924 book, The Mongol in our midst: Mongoloids as a race and a mental category that he called "Mongolian stigmata": small earlobes, protruding anuses, and small genitals both among males and females. The retarded child was only the extreme example of a wider occurring phenomenon of "Atavistic Mongolism (or Orangism)". Jews in particular sustained much of the Mongol influence because they interbred with the Khazars and other steppe tribes... 258 The supposed horrors of GK and the Mongols became part of the excuse for rule by the more civilized English, Russian, and French colonalists. 260 One of the first to re-evaluate GK was an unlikely candidate, peace advocate Jawaharlal Nehru: It would be foolish not to recognize the greatness of Europe. But it would be equally foolish to forget the greatness of Asia." 260. GK was "a cautious and careful middle-aged man, and every big thing he did was preceded by thought and preparation." The Mongols "did not know, of course, many of the city arts, but they had developed a way of life suitable for their world, and they created an intricate organization.... Chengiz is, without doubt, the greatest military genius and leader in history.... Alexander and Caesar seem petty before him. [In letter from jail to his daughter, Sept 15, 1932] 261 [ Nehru concludes his consideration of the Mongols in Letter 93, "A Great Manchu ruler in China.": The rapid weakening and decay of the Mongols in Asia is one of the strange facts of history. These people, who thundered across Asia and Europe, and conquered the greater part of the known world under Chengiz and his descendants, sink into oblivion. Under Timur they rose again for a while, but his empire died with him..... The Mongol race, right across Asia from Russia to its homeland in Mongolia, decayed and lost all importance. Why it did so, no one seems to know. Some suggest that changes in climate has something to do with it; others are of a different opinion. After the break-up of the Mongol Empire the overland routes across Asia were closed up for nearly 200 years. [page 330]  Nehru, Jawaharlal. Glimpses of World History: Being Further letters to his daughter written in prison, and containing a rambling account of history for young people. New York: John Day Company, 1942. ] In Japan, some Japnese scholars circulated the story that GK had actually been a samurai warrior who had fled his homeland after a power struggle. 262
Russian and German discovery of the Secret History20th c. military tacticians - developing mobile artillery - looked to these earlier Mongol mounted archers - Germans found the most effective application of the Mongol ideas in their strategy of Blitzkrieg, which followed the Mongol's sudden appearance with a highly mobile army that raced across the landscape and kept the enemy surprised and disoriented. In their effort to more precisely understand the Mongol tactics, they began a translation of the Secret History into German. Eric Haenisch, prof. sociology at Friedrich William U traveled to Mongolia to find an orig source but failed. From the Chinese-Mongol text, he managed to make his translation and dictionary; a small edition was printed (due to paper scarcity) in 1941, but distribution was hampered and the boxes of books remained in Leipzig where they went up in flames in a 1943 allied raid. 263 Soviets were also styding the Mongols. Stalin was obsessed to understand GK and Timur; he had the body of Timur exhumed, and sent several expeditions to the Burkhan Khaldun area to find the body of GK. Soviets followed their own version of the Mongol strategy in WW2 - lured the Germans deeper into Russia until they were hopelessly spread over a large area (as in the Battle for Kalka River in 1223). 263
The last of the MongolsVirtually unnoticed in 1944, Sayid Alim Khan, former emir of Bukhara and the last reigning descendant of GK, died in Kabul, after nearly a qtr c in exile from the city he had ruled as a young man. In 1857, the British had removed the last Moghul emperor of India, Bahadur Shah II. In 1920, 731 years after the first tribal khuriltai of 1189, a much diff group, also calling itself a khuriltai but consisting of the delegates of the Bukhara Communist Party, met to depose of GK's last descendant. 263 Alim Khan fled Bukhara in August, and sought British protection in Afgh... forces under Mikhail Vasilyevich Frunze attacked the citadel in Bukhara, the same fortress where [GK & this book began]. Frunze reported to Lenin that "tyranny and coercion have been vanquished, the red flag of revolution is floating over the Registan." 264
Epilogue: The last nomadic empireIn a section of the epilogue, Weatherford traces the Europe vs Mongol dichotomy in terms of the long conflict between nomads and settled civilizations. In the end, it is the landed, settled civilizations that develop the economic means to promote knowledge and technology - and they win. Genghis Khan's was the last great tribal empire of world history. He was the heir of ten thousand years of war between the nomadic tribes and the civilized world, the ancient struggle of the hunter and herder against the farmer. It was a history as old as the story of the Bedouin tribes that followed Muhammad to smash the pagan idolatry of the city, of the Russian campaigns against the Huns, of the Greeks against the wandering Scythians, of the city dwellers of Egypt and Persia who preyed on the wandering tribes of Hebrew herders, and ultimately, of Cain, the tiller, who slew his brother Abel, the herder. 266 [See ABEL and CAIN] Chiefs such as Sitting Bull of the Shawnee and Crazy Horse of the Lakota Sioux... and Shaka Zulu of South Africa valiantly but vainly continued the quest of Genghis Khan over the coming centuries. Without knowing anything about the Mongols or Genghis Khan, these other chiefs faced the same struggles and fought the same battles across Africa and throughout the Americas, but history had moved beyond them. In the end, sedentary civilization won the long war; the future belonged to the civilized children of Cain, who eternally encroached upon the open lands of the tribes. 266-7 Most of these comments were recorded in 2007 when I first encountered Weatherford. However, re-considering this last argument now in February 2009, I wonder if it's true. What we call terrorism today, largely stateless, nomadic, as in Al-Qaeda, may be viewed as the continuing conflict between the nomads and the settled tribes. This covers the largely nomadic cultures from Northern Baluchistan to Kandahar. Within India, if we see a map of the "Naxalite-infested" region, these map a swath from the Purulia-Jharkhand, across inland Orissa, down to northern Andhra Pradesh. These are exactly the regions marked as "Santhal" speaking in most surveys of Indian languages - i.e. they are largely dominated by tribals.
ClosureIn the last pages, the author, with his Mongolian colleagues, revisits the BK area, where they light a small fire on dung, and everyone offers a small token which they leave on the stones. After all, they are still the children of the Golden Light, the offspring of a wolf and a doe, and in the wispy clouds of the Eternal Blue Sky of Mongolia, the Spirit Banner of Genghis Khan still waves in the wind. 271