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comparison of Genghis khan to other steppe rulers.

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    Posted: 15-Dec-2004 at 14:26

I would like to show whyChingis is in my opinion the greatest of the steppe rulers. It goes without saying that Chingis eclipsed his nomad predecessors and successors. Neither the Xiongnu Mao-Tun, who in 201 b.c. surrounded the Han emperor Kao Ti at Pai teng in north Shensi, nor the Turk Mo Ch'o(Khapaghan) who defeated Tang armies and ravaged Hopei and Shansi, performed feats of arms like those of the Mongols. After him came two outstanding figures, Yisun Taiji whi captured the Ming emperor Ying Tsung at Tumu in 1449, and the Tumed Altan Anda Khan, who became the first Mongol protector of Dalai Lama. But afte rthe death of the former in a civil war, the Oirads lost hegemony of the steppes. Western Mongolia continued in their hands, but the east once more fell under the Borjigin. Dayan was the last really poewrful figure to rise in Mongolia proper, but not only did he recognize the suzerainty to the Dalai Lama and the Ming, but his authority in Outer Mongolia was limited to that of a commander in chief in time of war. Consequently his power was in no way comparable to that of Chingis after the latter's election on the Onon in 1206, or that of such men as Mao-Tun and Mo Ch'o.

Also I have not included the Khitan A Pao Chi(907-26) nor the Jurchid Akuda (1113-25) in this comparison, but like Nurhachi, the founder of Manchu power, they rose in border regions to the east of Gobi so belong to a different category of nomad builders. They were however, as soldiers and statemen, the equal of any leaders to appear north of the desert before or after Chinngis. Then there is Shaybanid Abu'l Khair (1428-68) who had his capital at Sighnak on the lower Syr. But both he and Altan took advantage of very marked decline in the Ming and Timurid empire respectively to transfer their headquarters south. The only Asiatic figure to challenge comparison with the great Mongol as a conqueror is Timur and it is worth mentioning that he consistently tried to pattern himself after Chinngis. A close rival as soldier, he was far less successful as a constructive statesman. This is attribute partly to his attempt to combine in one state the sedentary world of Iranian Islam and that of pastoral and semi pastoral Central Asia. Although both empire fell in short time, the mongol power of Chinnigis proved far more stable and took much longer to collapse than the empire of Timur.

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  Quote mongke Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15-Dec-2004 at 21:32
I'm not quite sure if it is that clear cut as Genghis Khan being the greatest. There were better leaders in the area of adminitering the territories(Manchu rule comes to mind). HIs military feats are impressive but I think it can be argued that setting up his war machine coincided with the decline of some sedentary states and/or succession of inept rulers in some.
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  Quote ihsan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17-Dec-2004 at 01:17
It's true that Chinggis Khaan was definitially greater than Qapghan Qaghan. QQ was too harch and his harch rule caused all subject peoples to rebel, almost causing the fall of the empire. He was himself killed by a Bayrqu warrior.
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  Quote warhead Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17-Dec-2004 at 12:56
I would like to show why Chingis is in my opinion the greatest of the steppe rulers. It goes without saying that Chingis eclipsed his nomad predecessors and successors. Neither the Xiongnu Mao-Tun, who in 201 b.c. surrounded the Han emperor Kao Ti at Pai teng in north Shensi, nor the Turk Mo Ch'o(Khapaghan) who defeated Tang armies and ravaged Hopei and Shansi, performed feats of arms like those of the Mongols. After him came two outstanding figures, Yisun Taiji whi captured the Ming emperor Ying Tsung at Tumu in 1449, and the Tumed Altan Anda Khan, who became the first Mongol protector of Dalai Lama. But afte rthe death of the former in a civil war, the Oirads lost hegemony of the steppes. Western Mongolia continued in their hands, but the east once more fell under the Borjigin. Dayan was the last really poewrful figure to rise in Mongolia proper, but not only did he recognize the suzerainty to the Dalai Lama and the Ming, but his authority in Outer Mongolia was limited to that of a commander in chief in time of war. Consequently his power was in no way comparable to that of Chingis after the latter's election on the Onon in 1206, or that of such men as Mao-Tun and Mo Ch'o."

 

 

I'm going to post it here too.

I am forced to say otherwise, examining the Mongol battles and tactic deployment and Genghis campaigns, he have not shown to be all superb compared to the other conquest armies such as Mo Cho and Bumin Khaghan of Turuk, Mao Dun and Hu Du Er Shi Chang Yu of Xiongnu, Tang Shi Huai of Xianbei, A Bao Chi of Khitan, Aguda of Jurchens, Nurhachi and Huangtaiji of the Manchus. For example Genghiss approach to the Jin was a lot slower in process than the Jurchen Bliztkrieg under Aguda a century ago that took Song and Liao. Their number gap with enemies isn't all that great compared to the Jurchens, which annililated Liao and Northern Song with merely initially 20,000 in just a decade. Nor to Duo Er Guen's Manchu troops which swept through the central plain with only 100,000 in only a few years whereupon it took the Genghis and his successor some 40 years to subjugate the north. And thats not taking account the situation Jin was at prior to Genghis invasion compared to the situation of Liao prior to Agudas invasion. In 1194, the yellow river burst its dikes and flooded Shang Dong and changed its course of its lower reaches from the north to the south of the province. Then come the widespread monetary disorders through failure of the government to redeem the bills which it had issued and circulated as equivalent of cash. The chaos caused by this was such that Ye Lu Chu Sai himself said The peoples strength was worn out and the resources of the state exhausted. Then there was a war with the Song right on the eve of Mongol invasion in 1206 and lasted till 1208 which again exhausted the military power of Jin. Further in 1210 on, a series of famine further aggravated the situation. The Jin on the eve of Mongol invasion had a deteriorated economy and declining military experience. It was ripe for mutiny, which happened when the invasion began, in 1215, the Red coat rebellion broke out in Shang Dong in great numbers. Add to this is the idiocy of Xuan Zong who refused to support the Xi Xia when it was attacked and declared war on Song during the middle of the war with Temujin to expand further lands in reparation for those lost in the North. Yet this was a complete failure with the Song taking Shang Dong and Hobei, the Tanguts attacking Jin for not supporting them, while the Jin, been over suspicious of the conquered Khitan put restrictions on them which led to rebellion in southern Manchuria and greatly aided the Mongol campaign. Thus the Jin had 5 enemies to fight, with the Mongols in the North, Song in the South, Xia in the West, Khitan in the East, and the Red Coats from within. On the contrast when Aguda invaded Liao, only the Song sided with it which they only suffered defeats at the hands of the Liao army. The Western Xia unlike 100 year later, which supported the Mongol, campaign against Jin, sented 30,000 troops to aid the Liao but was utterly defeated by the Jin. While its true that Liao and Northern Song were also declining, no large scale of famine, rebellion and exhaustion has appeared in them as it did during Jins last days, and the Liao army was far from as deteriorated as the Jin a century later which only had a small portion of their army as their cavalry (which is also no where near the level of the Guaizima of JinWuShu).


Perhaps only details can enlighten the situation. Observing the field battles between the Mongols and the Jin, its purely the incompetence and inexperience of the Jin commander that let to their defeat. In the decisive battles of Hu Er Sui, Wu Sha Bao, and Hui He Bao, the Jin did not utilize the mobility of their cavalry as they had in their early conquests and used a Sui style square formation with the infantry placed close to the cavalry letting little room for maneuvre. And when the decisive charge came, the cavalry was forced back to the infantry causing chaos. Although Yuan Shi and Men Wu Er Shi claim the number at 300,000. It probably contained transports and the actual number was more around 150,000-200,000, while Genghis had around 100,000. On the other hand Agudas army was 20,000 against a recorded Liao army of 700,000 which in reality is around 100,000.
Despite all this the Mongols suffered some humiliating defeats of gross proportion. In the siege of Chung du, 5,000 Jin Imperial guardsmen repulse Mongol invaders, Taking the Mongol over 2 years of siege and still to no result, it was only taken after Xuan Zong moved his capital to the South. While at Da-Chang-yuan in 1228, 400 Jin Cavalry lead by Wan-yen (with an unknown number of Han infantry) defeat 8,000 Mongols. At Gui De 450 Jin elite troops defeated a Mongol army more than 10 times its size drowning more than 3,500 Mongols and killing general Sajisibuhua. The Jurchens have never suffered such defeats and delays in their conquest of Liao and Northern Song, it swept through them with relative ease and great speed.


""The only Asiatic figure to challenge comparison with the great Mongol as a conqueror is Timur and it is worth mentioning that he consistently tried to pattern himself after Chingis. A close rival as soldier, he was far less successful as a constructive statesman. This is attribute partly to his attempt to combine in one state the sedentary world of Iranian Islam and that of pastoral and semi pastoral Central Asia. Although both empire fell in short time, the mongol power of Chingis proved far more stable and took much longer to collapse than the empire of Timur.""


Why dont you elaborate a bit more about why conquerors such as Mao Dun and Tang Shi Huai who conquered empires on a par with Timur lenk, in the case of Mao Dun even larger, to be inferior soldiers to Genghis and Timur? Since there is no detailed record of Mao Duns campaign, you cant just assume he is worse than Genghis or Timur. With his feats, he is easily just as great of a soldier. As for him not taking China, it has more to do with opportunity and incentive than his generalship and military inventiveness

Genghis khan invented nothing to the tactics of the steppes. There are two (in reality quite a few if its not limited to the steppe) great innovators which is what the Mongols copied, the first is Mao Dun although sources are lacking about his contribution, the fact that no mentioning of the decimal cavalry system prior to him suggest he is the innovator of this system, Chinese records show that from the rise of Xiongnu in the 3rd century b.c. to the fall of Sungaria in the 18th, the armies of upper Asia tended to resemble each other in organization, strategy, and tactics, this was all the inheritance of the Xiongnu leader Mao Dun who also seem to apply strict discipline on the nomads of Mongolia for the first time through target practice mentioned in Shi Ji, since prior to him the armies of steppe are described to be poorly disciplined and organized by the Chinese states. Just about all the major steppe armies before Genghis such as Xiongnu and Tujue had units made up of ten, hundred, thousand and ten thousand men; unit names were Onluq (10 men), Yzlk (100 men), Bilik (1000 men) and Tmen (10000 men). Second, which is a very important factor and thats the Mongols at the time of war with China were better equipped than any previous invaders. Contemporary accounts by Meng Hung attributed this to their supplies of iron, since before the days of Jin, there was an embargo on the scale of iron and weapon to the north, but subsequently both were exported in considerable quantities. The level of metallurgy cannot be underestimated. According to Han Shus record, the general Cheng Tang declared that 1 Han soldier = 5 nomadic men in quality in the past, because the Han soldier is better equipped with their weapons, and then he said now, the Hu have adopted much of Han peoples iron technique, yet their technology is still inferior to the extent that 1 Han soldier still equal 3 Hu soldier. When the Xianbei manage to loot some of the high quality steels, the Han annals describe the Xianbei weapons as sharper and stronger than the Xiongnu and was a more formidable foe. Yet even the Xianbei had limited excess to the iron technology, the Tujue manage to built certain military camp in getting these high quality steel, but large scale weapon export only began during the Jin which allowed the Mongols to acquire weapons of virtual equal quality with the armies of the central plains.

The second innovator is not from Mongolia, but never the less important, and he is the Liao founder A-Pao-Chi, he managed to combine the steppe tactics with the rigid discipline, order, espionage, strategic, and the use of military signals of Chinese armies to create what Wittfogel and Feng Jia Cheng in the History of Chinese Society section 15 described as the Eastern School of cavalry warfare opposed to the Western school used in west Asia by the Seljuks at the same time. This Eastern School of course already reached an apogee during the Tang dynasty under Li Shi Min who combined the nomadic mobility to the well equippted Han troops and their heavy cavalry and discipline. This eastern school established by the Khitans was applied again by Aguda of the Jurchens, who manage to sweep through China with only 20,000 troops. A speed far greater than what Genghis achieved in decades(and still not complete). This Eastern school was first introduced to west Asia by the fleeing khitans, who met the most powerful proponents of the western school led by Seljuks of Persia who under Sultan Sinjar suffered a Crushing defeat at the hands of the Liao emperor Ye Lu Da Shi north of Samarkand. According to Martin and Pulleyblanks, the organization and dicipline of this Eastern School is well ahead of those of the Western school in the Islamic territories. The Mongol army was virtually identical to those of the early Khitan and Jin armies. All of which had soldiers keep ready 4 bows and 400 arrows. (Parkers, A thousand year of the tartars, p.258), the source of mongol army is mainly drawn from the accounts of the Han general Meng Hung. Reports of Mongol battle formation are mperfect but highly resemble that of the early Jurchen cavalry. In the early days of Jin as was in the Mongol army, the army consist of 5 ranks, 2 clad in iron armour and 3 in acquered hide. The army of Aguda was drawn up for battle in squadrons of 50 horsemen, 20 with heavy cuirasses and bows behind. A Mongol squadron number 100 men and from Plano Carpinis accounts, it describe them arranged at intervals with the heavily armoured troops of each stationed at the front. The troops in the two front ranks wore complete armour, with swords and lance, and their horse also armoured. The rear 3 ranks wore no armour and their weapons were the bow and javelin. While a complete identical organization in the Jin is as follows, with the punian (the basic unit made up of 50 men) 20 men were supposed to be armoured and equipped with lances or halberds, and formed the front two ranks of the standard five-deep formation - known as the guaizima 拐子马, or 'horse team'. The other three ranks consisted of lightly equipped archers. It has been suggested that this formation was designed to protect the archers from missiles while they softened up the enemy in preparation for a charge.
Both the Jin and Mongol troops begin the battle with the light troops, one body in support of another, advanced through the squadron intervals in the 2 front ranks and poured volleys of arrows into the opposing lines. Simultaneously one or both the wings began an eveloping movement to take the enemy flanks and rear. If the first storm of arrows succeeded in disordering his array, the shock troops received the command of charge. Should the light troops be repulsed by a charge, they retired shooting backward from the saddle, and other detachments took their place and repeated the arrow storm. If these were unsuccessful, the remaining light troops took up the assault.
Similar methods was deployed by the Khitans, In Meng Da Bei Lu, the Liao army was organised into a decimal system with regiments of 500 or 700 men, ten of which formed a division, with ten division making up an army. Attacks were carried out through a succession of controlled charges, each regiment advancing in turn before being replaced and withdrawn to rest. The attack is made by the 1st of the 10 squadrons, if it was successful then the other 9 would charge forward, but if it fail it was called to the back of the line to rest while the next squadron take its place. If necessary, it would be repeated for days until the enemy is exhausted. Then all 10 squadrons would charge and rout.
This tactic was used by the Liao in their victory over the emperor Song Tai Zong at Gao liang river, and 100 years later by the Jurchens 20,000 against the Khitans themselves whose army numbered 100,000 and again 100 years later, the same combination of fire and shock by Mongols against the declining Jin at Hu Pu Da Gang. The battle procedure favored by the Mongols was therefore long tried and proven. It was Genghis that adopted their tactics, not his invention in anyway.

The myth of Mongol innovation and uniqueness is nothing new if one studied medieval East Asian warfare. Nor were such tactics invincible, as proven by counter tactics against them. For example, these tactics would have depended on the enemy remaining passive and waiting to be attacked; it must have been very difficult to apply in practice. Certainly there were cases where Chinese opponents successfully took the initiative against them, one of which is at Dingxian in 945, a Khitan invasion was opposed by the Later Jin army under Fu Yanqing, who pinned the enemy by advancing in the centre with his main body of infantry, while concentrating 10,000 Shatuo [Turk] cavalry against one flank. The Khitan army was routed, and their emperor escaped in a cart pulled by camels. This proved not to be fast enough, and he transferred ignominiously to a riding camel. Many horses and weapons were captured by the Jin. Another example was Tang general Su Ding Fangs campaign in Altai against the Tujue, The Turkut chieftain Landulu led more than 10,000 men to surrender to the Tang army, and Dingfang treated them humanely. Shaboluo Kaghan, however, led more than 100,000 men of the Huluwu, Wunushibi and other tribes to resist the Tang. Dingfang attacked with more than 10,000 Uyghur and Han troops. Shaboluo Kaghan saw that the Tang forces were outnumbered 10 to 1, and eagerly surrounded them on all sides. Dingfang ordered his infantry to hold a gentle slope to the south of his position, formed up in a circle formation with long spears to defend against cavalry. He himself led the Han cavalry to form up on a slope to the north of the position. The Turkut first attacked the infantry, but could not break the formation after three charges, with both sides suffering quite a number of casualties. At this point Dingfang launched a sudden attack with his cavalry, while his infantry counterattacked in support. The Turkut army broke and fled, and was pursued for more than 30 li, with several tens of thousands killed.
More examples include The Tang general Li Si Qis deployment which numbered 60,000 plus 5,000 tujue auxiliars against the Xue Yang Tuo which numbered some 200,000. These tribes used the same tactic of arrow assault, while the Tang army suffered heavy casualty, they dismounted and charged at the center while the cavalry concentrated at the flanks with Tujue auxiliars returning the fire and crushed the Xue Yang Tuo. In the Tang, crossbowmen also carried the modao (a version of the zhanmadao) as a close-quarters weapon against cavalry, while in the Song dynasty large crossbows and pole-axes proved effective against heavy cavalry charges.
The more famous battle are those done by Song general Yue Fei. In his battle against Jin Wu Shu, he used the Zhangmadao to cut down the Jin Guaizima, and also the powerful Shenbi Crossbow against the heavy cavalries to deadly affects.

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