empire of the mongols
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G R E A T E M P I R E S O F T H E PA S T
EMPIRE OF THE MONGOLSRevised Edition
G R E A T E M P I R E S O F T H E PA S TEmpire of Alexander the Great Empire of Ancient Egypt Empire of Ancient Greece Empire of Ancient Rome Empire of the Aztecs Empire of the Incas Empire of the Islamic World Empire of the Mongols Empires of Ancient Mesopotamia Empires of Ancient Persia Empires of Medieval West Africa Empires of the Maya
G R E A T E M P I R E S O F T H E PA S T
EMPIRE OF THE MONGOLSRevised Edition
MICHAEL BURGANCHRISTOPHER P. ATWOOD, HISTORICAL CONSULTANT
Great Empires of the Past: Empire of the Mongols Copyright 2009, 2004 Michael Burgan All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or used in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage or retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the publisher. For information, contact: Chelsea House An imprint of Infobase Publishing 132 West 31st Street New York NY 10001 Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Burgan, Michael. Empire of the Mongols / Michael Burgan. Rev. ed. p. cm. (Great empires of the past) Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 978-1-60413-163-5 (hardcover) ISBN 978-1-4381-2573-2 (e-book) 1. MongolsHistoryJuvenile literature. I. Title. II. Series. DS19.B87 2008 950.02dc22
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CONTENTSIntroduction PA RT ICH A P T ER 1 CH A P T ER 2 CH A P T ER 3
7 H I STORY 19 39 57
The Rise of the Mongol Empire Completing the Mongol Empire Final Years of the Khanates PA RT I I SOC I E T Y AN D C U LT U R E
CH A P T ER 4 CH A P T ER 5 CH A P T ER 6
Mongol Government and Society Daily Life in the Mongol Empire Art, Science, and Culture in Mongol Lands Epilogue Time Line Glossary Bibliography Further Resources Picture Credits Index About the Author
77 97 115 135 145 147 149 151 153 154 160
INTRODUCTIONFOR SEVERAL THOUSAND YEARS, WARRIORS ON HORSEBACK rode across central Asia, conquering nearby towns and cities. These horsemen lived on the steppes, which is a flat, grassy region that extends from Asia into central Europe. The riders were nomadspeople with no permanent home. They moved from one grazing spot to another with their herds of horses, sheep, camels, goats, and cattle. Over the centuries, these nomads battled such people as the ancient Greeks, the Romans, the Persians, the Chinese, and the Arabs. Of all the nomadic warriors of central Asia, the fiercest were the Mongols. In the 13th century, starting in their homeland of Mongolia, just north of China, the Mongols spread out to the south and west. Under the leadership of Chinggis Khan (ca. 11621227) and his descendants, the Mongols quickly built an empire that stretched from Korea to eastern Europethe largest continuous area of land ever controlled by one ruling family. This empire soon split into four mini-empires. The last major rulers who had ties to the old Mongol empire were the Mughals of northern India. They first governed in the 16th century. They traced family ties to Chinggis Khan and the later Turkic-Mongol ruler Timur (1336 1405), who was more commonly known in English as Tamerlane. By the time of the Mughals, the old Mongol culture had just about disappeared in most of the lands that once formed their empire. The Mongols had adopted the ways of the people they conquered and blended into their societies. Only in their homeland of Mongolia and a few other pockets of the eastern steppes did the traditional ways endure. OPPOSITEChinggis Khan was the first great leader of the Mongols. Under him and his descendants, the Mongols created the largest empire ever controlled by one family. This 16th-century Persian miniature, painted 300 years after his death, shows his lasting influence.
EMpiRE of ThE Mongols This willingness to learn from conquered people and take on their culture was one of the Mongols greatThroughout this book, and all the books in the great est strengths. They borrowed Empires of the past series, there are Connections boxes. the best of what their former They point out ideas, inventions, art, food, customs, and enemies had to offer in polimore from this empire that are still part of the world today. tics, art, and social structure. nations and cultures in remote history can seem far away The Mongols other major from the present day, but these connections demonstrate strength was their military how our everyday lives have been shaped by the peoples might. They had great skills of the past. on horseback and showed tremendous discipline on the battlefield. As they conquered each land, they recruited new soldiers, then moved their ever-increasing army to new territories.
What Are Connections?
The World of The 12Th CenTuryFor several centuries before the rise of Chinggis Khan, the Mongols were just one of many nomadic tribes that lived on the Central Asian steppes. Different Turkic peoples ruled the steppes for a time, and the Chinese also influenced the region. The tribes of Mongolia blended with the Turks, creating what is sometimes called a TurkoMongol culture. By the 12th century, the tribes of Mongolia included the Tatars, the Mongols, the Kereyids, the Naimans, and the Merkits. These Mongolian tribal peoples lived on the land mass called Eurasia. This continuous stretch of land includes most of Europe and Asia. At its height in the second century, the Roman Empire dominated the western half of Eurasia. At about the same time, the Han dynasty of China was the major power in the east. By the 12th century, both these empires were long gone, and a number of smaller empires and kingdoms competed for influence in the region. The Roman Empire had split in two even before its fall in the fifth century. Western Europe then broke into many different kingdoms and principalities (small states ruled by princes). The Byzantine Empire, which traced its political roots to the Romans, ruled parts of Eastern Europe.
Introduction In the Middle East, a single great Islamic Empire had arisen in the seventh century. It then broke up into smaller empires. In South Asia, India had developed a great culture that was more than 3,000 years old. But by the 12th century, native Indian rulers were losing power to outsiders. The northern part of the country eventually came under the control of Turks, who had become Muslims. Farther east in Eurasia, the powerful Han dynasty ruled China. When it fell, the Song and Jin dynasties competed for power. (A dynasty is a family that keeps control of a government over many generations, with rule often passed from a parent to a child.) A number of smaller empires, some Turkic, also competed for influence on the edges of China. Throughout the world at this time, religion played a greater role in politics and daily life than it usually does today. Religion inspired great art. It could also be the cause of bloody wars. Eastern and Western Europe were divided by their religion, as each claimed that its type of Christianity was the true faith. Islam was dominant in the Arab world and in Persia. The Islamic influence spread into Central Asia, where Turkic tribes lived. In India, Hinduism and Buddhism (both native to India) were the main religions until the Muslim conquests began. In China, Buddhism competed with Daoism (a native Chinese religion) as the main faith. The Mongols had their own religion, but they often accepted the beliefs of the people they conquered. The empires that dominated Eurasia in the 12th century were mostly sedentarythey were built around permanent towns and cities that focused on farming and trade. They had great wealth compared to the Mongols. But in most cases they could not match the military skill of the nomadic warriors. They also had political and religious differences that kept them from working together to fight the Mongols. Those differences made it easier for the Mongols to expand their empire.
Turks and MongolsThroughout this book, Mongol is used to describe the people of Mongolia during the time of the Mongol Empire. Mongolian, when it is used, refers to the modern-day people of Mongolia. In a similar way, Turkic or Turk or Turko refers to past peoples, not the current inhabitants of modern Turkey.
The ConquesTs BeginThe first Mongol khan (supreme ruler) emerged toward the end of the 11th century. A little later, the Mongols battled the Tatars. The Mongol chieftain Yesugei (d. ca. 1175), a relative of the first khan, killed a Tatar leader named Temjin (d. ca. 1167). Yesugei then named his newborn son after the fallen Tatar, which was a common practice of the day.
EMpiRE of ThE Mongols Temjin became one of the greatest generals and leaders the world has ever known Chinggis Khan. As nomads, the Mongols and their neighbors often The historians of the Mongols day wrote in a variety of raided sedentary communilanguages, including persian, Chinese, Arabic, and Turkic. ties. The tribes of Mongo