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12: The Mongol Empire- The Legacy

Timeline: 14
- 16
FQ: Where did all the Mongol Conquerors Go?

Main Idea: The unique circumstances of the birth and growth of the Mongol Empire did not preclude it
from suffering age-old afictions. Local Mongol leaders increasingly reected the culture and values of the
peoples they ruled. Therefore, distinctions between Mongol controlled regions contributed to divisions
within the empire. Like the Greco-Macedonian and Roman Empires, the Mongol Empire suffered from
political intrigue, corruption and challenges to its central authority. Like its predecessors, the Mongol
Empire shattered into smaller, independent Khanates.


I. Why didn't the EmpireLast Long?
A. Political bonds were personal and not legalistic/ bureaucratic. Loyalty was aimed at one
charismatic leader. Where ever that leader went or whatever that leader did, he was followed by
soldiers who swore loyalty to him [refer to document 'Temujin becomes Ghengis Khan'].
B. No orderly transition of power. There were conicting traditions of inheritance. At various times
and under certain conditions- Youngest son, brother, or ttest may inherit. In any case, there was
always a division of property among inheritors [Case Study: 10th C. Western Europe-
Charlemagne's grandchildren]. In addition, the traditional Khuriltai (grand council) that selected
the next Grand Khan created a chaotic condition especially upon the death of the Grand Khan.
Field commanders would return with the bulk of their forces to the Khuriltai leaving behind a small
force that may embolden the conquered to rebel.
C. Khanates
1. Local Mongol leaders were given the title as Khan, but were subject to the overall
authority of the Grand (Supreme) Khan. By the Mid to late 13th C., the mantle of Grand
Khan fell upon the shoulders of Chinggis Khan's grandson- Kubilai. He becomes the 5th
Grand Khan (1260-1294), but ruled from the Mongol capital founded on the site of current
day Beijing, China. He epitomized the Mongol transformation from a nomadic to a
sedentary lifestyle. Culturally, politically and socially he and his subordinate khans were
reecting the values of the local population.

2. Kubilai's failure to conquer Japan on two occasions weakened him militarily and
tarnished his reputation in the eyes of his subordinates. Traditionally, leaders who lose
many men in combat are disgraced. Remember, there were never many Mongol soldiers
to begin with. It became increasingly difcult to keep the Khans in the farthest reaches of
the empire from acting independently. Often, these independent-minded Khans (all
relatives of Kubilai and descended from Chinggis) would embroil themselves in conicting
alliances with Europeans. Crusading Europeans become the 'pawns' in the Mongol
power struggle.

3. Several Khanates became economicallyand politically powerful enough to exert their
independence. Two of these were the Golden Horde Khanate ofCentral Asia (Russia)
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and the Persian Khanate.
Later (14th -16th C.),Timur the Lame expands the area formerly known as the
Persian Khanate into Saudi Arabia and the Indian subcontinent. The capital city of his
growing empire becomes Samarkand. Later still, and after the collapse of Timur's Central
Asian empire, Babur reintroduces Mongol rule to the Indian subcontinent- this time his
descendent's will become the Mughals of India.

II. Mongol Impact
A. Global in breadth; 'Ushered in global history'.
B. East met West with a lasting impact socially, economically, politically on both sides. Knowledge
spanning the sciences, philosophy, and technology traversed the empire.

III. Summary: Why it matters today.
From the violence of the invasions to the stability of the Pax Mongolica, the Mongols contribute mightily to
a new era of achievement in Asia and Europe.

Materials/Sources:Refer to the course calendar for additional materials, assignments and pertinent due dates.

Map of Eurasia

World History: Patterns of Interaction

Film: CNN's Millennium Series- The 13th C.: Century of the Stirrup

Lecture by Prof. Morris Rossabi, Columbia Univ. 28 Sept. '00 (Stuyvesant H.S.), Author of Khubilai Khan: His Life and
Trade route activity, plunder, and political alliances contributed to this.
Largely what is now Russia. Note that Mongol assimilation on a biological level paralleled the cultural. There may have been a
genetic legacy left by the Mongols in the populations of Russia and Eastern Europe=> the Absence of an alcohol metabolizing gene.
Europeans corrupt this to Tamerlane
Another Mongol descendant.
Corruption of the name
The impact stretches into the eld of biology. Genetic impact=Absence of alcohol metabolizing gene in Mongols and their offspring
in conquered areas (Ex. Portions of Russian and Eastern European populations carry this genetic mark).