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  • The Mongols

    Why were they historically significant?

    What were the key factors that allowed fewer than

    125,000 nomadic warriors to build the largest empire in

    world history?


    What were the key factors that allowed

    fewer than 125,000 nomadic warriors to

    build the largest empire in world history?

    • Military Power

    • Adapting to conquered lands


    • Timing: conquering lands one by one

    (think of puzzle pieces being put together)

  • Impact of the Mongols

    • “The Mongols created a single economic and cultural world system”

    – Mongol Exchange (Horses)

    – New methods of warfare

    – Trade from Venice to Beijing and beyond (The Silk Road)

    – Demographic change because of the plague and major population shifts

    – Altered the political histories of Russia, China, Europe

    – Cultural Diffusion!!!

  • Strong Equestrians (Horsemen)

    and Archers • The Mongols were oriented

    around extreme mobility. They

    carried their houses with them

    (TENTS), drank their own horse's

    blood to stay alive (GROSS), and

    could travel up to 62 miles per

    day (WOAH!)

    • They had an elaborate priority-

    mail-system which allowed orders

    to be transmitted rapidly.

    • Mongol archers were very deadly

    and accurate.

    – Their arrows could kill enemy

    soldiers from 650 feet away

  • Read about this if you are

    interested…If not, skip it.

    Mongol War Equipment • The warrior carried a protective

    shield made of light leather armor

    – which was impregnated with a lacquer-like substance in order to make it more impervious to penetration by arrows, swords and knives, and also to protect it against humid weather

    • The Mongol warrior used to wear Chinese silk underwear, if it could be obtained, because it was a very tough substance

    – If arrows are shot from a long distance, it would not penetrate the silk

    – It would also prevent poison from entering the bloodstream

    • During winter they wore several layers of wool as well as heavy leather boots with felt socks on their feet.

    • The legs were often protected by overlapping iron plates resembling fish scales, which were sewn into the boots.

    • Each warrior carried a battle axe, a curved sword known as scimitar; a lance, and two versions of their most famous weapon: the Mongol re- curved bow.

    – One of the bows was light and could be fired rapidly from horseback, the other one was heavier and designed for long- range use from a ground position

  • Read about this if you are interested…If not, skip it.

    Psychological Warfare • Genghis Khan used combined fake retreats with accurate Horse

    Archers to pick off his European enemies.

    • Genghis Khan slaughtered cities in an attempt to scare all other

    cities to surrender without a fight. He, being a practical leader, also

    valued smarts more than bravery.

    • If enemies surrendered without resistance, the Mongols usually

    spared their lives, and they provided generous treatment for

    artisans, craft workers, and those with military skills

    • In the event of resistance, the Mongols ruthlessly slaughtered whole

    populations, sparing only a few, whom they sometimes drove ahead

    of their armies as human shields during future conflicts

  • “Pax Mongolica”

    • Under the Mongols, there was unprecedented long- distance trade

    • Mongols encouraged the exchange of people, technology, and information across their empire

    Marco Polo en route to China

  • Pax Mongolica: look at all these routes!

  • Exchanges During the Mongol Era From



    Southwest Asia


    South Asia


    East Asia








    Finished iron products

    Finished gold products








    Magnetic compass



    Maritime Technology

    Paper Making



    Christian missionaries

    Italian merchants

    European diplomats

    Muslim merchants

    Nestorian merchants

    Muslim diplomats

    Indian merchants

    Indian diplomats

    Buddhist religious objects

    Chinese bureaucrats

    Chinese artists, artisans

    East Asian diplomats

    Sugar cane Black Death

    Intellectual Exchanges of Ideas, Art, Architecture, Knowledge was constant

  • The Mongol Empire at its height

  • The Mongols

    The Good, the Bad & the Ugly

  • THE GOOD (accomplishments &

    contributions) • Military Strategy &

    Innovation – Cavalry, Horse Archers, surprise attacks, sieges - Genghis first needed to disband tribal loyalties

    • Religious Tolerance (allowed people to convert to all faiths in region except Hinduism)

    • Common Legal Code

    • Utilized skills of conquered peoples – artisans, soldiers

  • THE GOOD (accomplishments &


     Discipline, obedience to own laws

     Sense of honor and loyalty, respect for

    these qualities in others, even opponents

     High status of women

    • These qualities attested to even by

    European observers who generally

    detested the Mongols

  • THE BAD – (failures & struggles)

    • Constant in-fighting for power – “Khan”

    • Genghis Khan never setup centralized rule,

    • Kublai Khan failed to conquer Vietnam, Burma, Cambodia & Japan

    • Inability to control China without considerable force

    • Over-spending

  • THE BAD, cont…

    • THE PLAGUE!!!

    • Over-extension – loss of control in Persia

    • Struggle between nomadic lifestyle and need

    to settle (centralized government)

  • THE UGLY – (What!?! Those

    Mongols were CRAZY!!)

    • Surrender or Die

    • Looting & Destruction of


    • Massacres (1.6 Million in

    1 Afghan city, as many as

    18.4 Million total killed)

    • Strange diet, hairstyles and odor

    • Cannibalism

  • Fall of the Mongols

    • The large amounts of money spent on public works projects greatly weakened the economy of the Mongol Empire.

    • A failed conquest of Japan also weakened the military presence of the Mongols in China. This left the empire in a state that was ripe for rebellion.

    • Following the death of Kublai Khan, power struggles emerged throughout the Mongol Empire regarding who would rule. Because of the empire's large size, centralized leadership was hard to maintain.

  • The Impact of the Mongols


    • Mongol conquest left Russia more divided culturally & less developed than Western European nations

    • Introduced new military techniques & organization to Turks & Europeans – such as small organized units, the use of cavalry & the effective use of gunpowder

  • The Impact of the Mongols


    • Global trade expanded dramatically under Mongol control

    • Use of paper currency, control & management of Silk Road all increased trade in the Eastern Hemisphere

    • Europeans were exposed to a much greater number of Chinese goods on a large scale – gunpowder & printing being among the most influential

    • The global trade network became more intertwined

    • Mongol decline made land travel more dangerous & a shift to seafaring occurred in Europe & China after 1400 CE

    • Mongol conquest likely spread the Black Plague to the Europe which would have devastating economic effects

  • The Impact of the Mongols


    • Mongols practiced religious toleration in the Middle East & Europe and often converted to local religions – allowed Islam & Orthodox Christianity to continue to thrive

    • The Black Plague devastated Europe in the 14th Century

    • Mongol expansion & control of the Silk Road allowed for cultural diffusion & exploration on an unprecedented scale – including the journey of Marco Polo