03b_Ch.12: The Mongol Empire
- The Legacy
Where did all the Mongol Conquerors Go?
The unique circumstances of the birth and growth of the Mongol Empire did not preclude it from suffering age-old afﬂictions. Local Mongol leaders increasingly reﬂected 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 Empire
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'].
No orderly transition of power. There were conﬂicting traditions of inheritance. At various times and under certain conditions- Youngest son, brother, or ﬁttest 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.
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 reﬂecting 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 difﬁcult 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 conﬂicting alliances with Europeans. Crusading Europeans become the 'pawns' in the Mongol power struggle. 3. Several Khanates became economically
and politically powerful enough to exert their independence. Two of these were the Golden Horde Khanate of
Central Asia (Russia)
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
Global in breadth; 'Ushered in global history'.