Mongol Mania

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Mongol Mania Introduction :

Mongol Mania Introduction The Mongols are historically depicted as savages and destroyers of civilization. This tutorial will broaden your understanding, as it explores the Mongols’ society, empire, and influence.  As you read this tutorial and experience the photos of traditional Mongolians, consider how these slides contradicts the historical depiction of the Mongols. Get ready! You’re about to enter the world of the Mongols. 1

Mongolian Environment:

Mongolian Environment Most of Mongolia is a harsh environment.  The land varies with mountain ranges, severe deserts, thick forests, and vast areas of grassy plains. The grassy plains are called steppes . The Asian Steppes supported the nomadic lifestyle of the Mongolians. 2


Herdsmen The Mongol tribes were herdsmen who relied on horses, goats, camels, yak, sheep, and cattle for supplies.  Wealth was measured in the number of animals owned. 3


Horses Horses provided food and transportation. Mongolia was populated with wild horses that roamed in herds of 10,000 or more. The people adapted to life on horseback.  The Mongols were a short people with an average height of 5’6” and were also bow-legged from life on horseback.  From an early age, children were taught to ride.  Some parents even tied toddlers to the backs of horses before the children could even walk. 4

Horses Provide Food:

Horses Provide Food If food was scarce, a rider would slit a vein to drink the blood of a horse.  Each soldier traveled with at least 3 and would change horses as they tired.  Mongol soldiers could stay two days and nights or more on horseback without dismounting.  Soldiers would hunt, eat, and cook all while riding; they would also carry and drink mare’s milk.  Mongols sometimes would kill and eat a weak horse when food was needed, yet a horse that had been used in battle could never be eaten. 5

Horseback Warriors:

Horseback Warriors Mongol soldiers were trained to fight and travel on horseback. A soldier could be any adult male from 17 to 70.  They were renown for their ability to shoot on horseback at a full gallop, while standing in the stirrups.  They wore leather armor and tunics and carried leather shields, bow and arrows, lassos, swords, and sometimes spears. 6

Mongolian Women:

Mongolian Women Women played an essential role in Mongol society. As all adult males could be called upon to be a part of the army, women had to manage the family’s flocks and herds.  In Mongol society, women were not allowed to marry within their own clan.  This meant that finding wives was difficult and raiding and kidnappings were common. 7

Women’s Rights:

Women’s Rights Because women were essential partners within the families, they had many rights that their European and Asian counterparts did not.  Mongol women could buy, sell, or trade their husband’s possessions, because they were trusted and obedient to the family. 8

Women’s Duties:

Women’s Duties Women raised the children.  They also were in charge of milking the herd, as milk was the staple of the Mongol diet.  Men were responsible for maintaining their weapons.  Women made sure their husbands’ sheepskin cloaks, felt socks, and leather boots were always clean and ready.  Wives also kept saddlebags filled with dried meat and milk curds.  Women also churned butter, made cheese and yogurt, and sewed the clothes. 9

Tent Homes:

Tent Homes Mongols lived in patriarchal (male centered) clans.  When a young man acquired land, animals, and servants, he would break from a clan to form his own as its lord.  Within the clans, the people lived in felt tents, called gers (or yurts, the Westernized pronunciation). They Mongols were called the Golden Horde due to the golden color of the tents. 10

Genghis Khan:

Genghis Khan Genghis Khan was the first to ever unite the Mongol tribes and clans into one empire.  As he rose to power among the Mongol people, those who resisted were killed, and the women and children were captured and brought into his own tribe. He named himself the khakan, king of all khans in 1206 and later commanded an empire with over two million people. Genghis Khan enslaved tribes when they were defeated.  Those who offered the most resistance were slaughtered.  Later, he would not be as merciful to non-Mongol people.  For non-Mongols, all were slaughtered when there was resistance. 11

Genghis Khan’s Army:

Genghis Khan’s Army The army of Genghis Khan was unique for its organization.  The cavalry platoons were in groups of 10 men.  10 squads made a company.  10 companies made up a quran, (brigade), and 10 qurans made up a tuman, (army), of 10,000 riders.  With large numbers and organization, the Mongol army could easily charge and overcome an enemy. 12


Loyalty Mongol soldiers had a high degree of loyalty to their khan and to each other. A wounded soldier was never abandoned and others would quickly move to assist him. A Mongol soldier even paid a portion of his plunder in a contribution, called qubchur , to pay for disabled or poor soldiers. 13


Strategy The Mongol army seldom used the same patterns of movement in the same campaign; they would use dual frontal attacks, rear attacks, and even fake retreats to overcome an enemy.  Horsemen would fire arrows and move to the rear to reload while fresh archers would move to the front lines.  Other tactics were encirclement, use of surprise, appearing by an unexpected route, and synchronizing distant forces.  They would also use dummies on the spare horses to make their armies appear larger. 14

Psychological Warfare:

Psychological Warfare Genghis Khan used spies to spread rumors of slaughter and to make it known that the army was lenient to those who surrendered.  Genghis Khan’s army slaughtered those who resisted, even women and children, but it is not well-known that those who offered no resistance, were very rarely treated in a harsh manner.  The Mongol army was well-prepared at attacking cities, and even drilled in scaling walls and using oversized shields. 15

Genghis Khan’s Cunning:

Genghis Khan’s Cunning In an attempted siege of Volohai, Genghis was afraid his men would desert if he lost.  He made a deal with the city leaders to call off the attack if they gave him 1,000 cats and 1,000 swallows.  The city complied.  Genghis ordered his men to tie pieces of cloth to the animals and to set them afire.  The scared and hurting animals returned to their old homes in the city, setting it on fire.  It allowed Genghis to keep the morale among his men and to get revenge on the city for resisting. 16

Writing and Literacy:

Writing and Literacy Before Genghis Khan united them, the Mongols were largely illiterate.  When Genghis Khan was introduced to writing after the capture of a literate tribe, he recognized its value.  Genghis made the chieftains of the literate tribe his scribes.    One of these men was Tatatungo, who’s job became the recording of all of Genghis Khan’s words and actions.  Tatatungo was the official scribe and was ordered to teach all of the Khan’s children and the children of the nobles how to read and write. 17

The Law Code:

The Law Code Genghis Khan’s law code incorporated what was learned from the people who had been conquered and also provided one standard for all of the Mongol tribes.  This law code stressed high moral standards and respect for resources and each other.  Honor was stressed. 18

A Lack of Crime:

A Lack of Crime Theft, murder, violent robbery, adultery almost disappeared throughout the empire, and those who committed crimes frequently turned themselves in.  Some prohibitions were crimes such as: spying, lying, adultery, theft, bearing false witness, disobedience of royal command, fouling running water, and using magic.  There were also codes established for the army, prisoners, women, inter-tribal relations, and inheritance. 19

Religion and Tolerance:

Religion and Tolerance The Mongol’s religious beliefs were animistic. The people believed there were powerful spirits that lived in fire, running water, wind, and animals; they also worshipped ancestors and gods.  In their empire, the Mongols allowed conquered people to keep their native beliefs, and religious toleration was the norm of the Mongol empire.   For people in Russia, India, China, and portions of the Middle East, local religion, art, education, and government were relatively unchanged by Mongol rule. 20

Interaction with Other Cultures:

Interaction with Other Cultures In capturing Russia, portions of the Middle East, India and China the khans used taxation as a sign of loyalty, contradicting their destructive reputation.  Sometimes Mongols would settle with the conquered people and become a part of their culture, especially after Genghis Khan’s death. 21

Importance of the Mongols:

Importance of the Mongols While Mongols destroyed a great deal during their conquests, they opened trade routes that had been closed since the fall of the Roman Empire.  Free trade was encouraged and land routes were well-maintained and safe day or night.  This expansion of trade allowed technology to flow into Europe from the more advanced civilizations in Asia, such as the technique of printing, the compass, and firearms. 22

The Opening of Trade:

The Opening of Trade The Mongol Empire was the largest continuous land empire in history, allowing diverse people to have contact, despite different cultures, religions, and developments. Furs came from Siberia, silk; porcelain, herbs, and mirrors were traded from China; Muslim and Chinese civilizations exchanged physicians and astronomers; Persians translated great Chinese works; Mongols identified and encouraged craftsmen and artists; and seeds from India and China were tested. 23

Mongol Legacy:

Mongol Legacy The Mongols were the most savage conquerors in history. But this vast empire helped increase contacts between peoples of different cultures. Migrations fostered these contacts and promoted trade. Roads were built to connect Russia and Persia with eastern Asia. Many Europeans came to China, and Chinese went to Russia and other parts of Europe. Knowledge of the world increased and their impact was felt in regionally far and wide. 24

Mongol Legacy:

Mongol Legacy Regional Impacts of the Mongols Russia Moscow gained importance replacing Kiev as the center of Russian government. Russian czars, such as Ivan the Terrible, modeled their absolute governmental authority after the Mongol Khans. 240 years of Mongolian rule isolated Russia from Western Europe depriving them from the cultural achievements made during the late Middle Ages and early Renaissance. The Middle East In 1255 the Mongol rulers conquered Persia and invaded Syria and Palestine. In 1258 they captured Baghdad, destroyed the city and killed the Caliph ( leader of the Islamic state). The Mongol destruction of Baghdad was a psychological blow from which Islam never recovered. Historians attribute the origins of the Ottoman Empire to the Mongols. The “world of Islam” was already becoming regionalized experiencing conflicts within the various Islamic territories. With the sack of Baghdad, the concept of Islam as a unified faith was snuffed out. 25

Mongol Legacy :

Mongol Legacy Regional Impacts of the Mongols India The descendants of the Mongol khans established the Mughal Dynasty in India uniting the sub continent through tolerance of Hindu beliefs , an organized government and a fair system of taxation. The Mughal shahs supported a strong economy a system of government based on local leadership and cultural achievements in the arts . China Kublai Khan a grandson of Genghis Khan, conquered China in 1279. Kublai Khan permitted the existence of many religions in China He enlisted the services of Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, and Taoists in government. He did not support the Confucian Civil Service system and did not allow Chinese to serve in high government positions. Trade was opened with the west allowing for an exchange of ideas and many merchants and Christian missionaries entered China for the first time in history 26

Mongol Legacy:

Mongol Legacy The spread of ideas, laws, and goods helped to open the world and set the stage for a new age of trade and later global exploration.  All thanks to a culture that is still believed to be “barbaric.” 27

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