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Why did the Mongols decided to Expand?

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  Quote mfjk Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Why did the Mongols decided to Expand?
    Posted: 17-May-2005 at 07:04
Why did the Mongols decided to Expand its influences and controls over other people? What was their motivations, methods and success of their conquest. Also, does anyone have any good links about the Mongol's conquest?
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  Quote Herodotus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17-May-2005 at 18:50

If you mean the original Mongols, who were just another minor steppe tribe, then the answer is rather complicated. In brief, Temujin needed to secure himself and his family against further raids by the Murkid, a rival tribe. He became a vassal of the Keryeid (that is not the proper spelling) leader, whose name escapes me right now. After years of strife with another vassal of the Khan, Temujin gains signifigant power, having lead a succesful allied conquest of the tatars, and declares a Mongol nation. His former overlord treacherously, but unsuccessfully, attempts to have him killed to forstall a potential rival. In retaliation the Mongols defeat the Keryeid and the Naiman, to whom the former went for help, establishing dominion over the greater part of thr steppe.

The young Mongol nation was succesful because of several factors. Genghis Khan abolished aristocratic privilage, reorganized society based on non-family ties, and created a total meritocracy. He demanded that the primary task in battle be the destruction of the enemy, only after the completion of which could looting begin. After the conquest of his neighbors, Genghis instituted the great law, which was designed to keep peace on the steppe, forbiding many of the activities, such as wife stealing, that often caused friction. In a farsighted policy, even the Great Khan was subject to the law, which was supposed to reign supreme over all men.

Some time shortly after Temujin received the title of Khan, the Jurched, other nomads from northern china, demanded a recognifition of their soveriegnity over all of the steppe. When they refused to accept the new postition of the Mongols, Genghis lead a brilliant campaign in which he all but annihilated the Jurched, returing with masisve loot to mongolia. This last facotr was perhpas the mot important in mongol history. Once the Mongols first tasted the benefits of civilization, there appetitie only increased. Though other reasons certainly existed, the Mongol conquests of the following centuries were primarily rooted in the neccessity for more loot, or craftsmen who could produce the goods required.

On the death of Mongke Khan, the empire was divided, and the Mongols integrated more with the people they conquered, who were allways far more numerous. However, they maintained vast networks of trade and communication, spreading Chinese technologies and products to the west, and visa versa, greatly increasing the biological, industrial and intellectual diversity of Eurasia. My point is that the Mongol empire was not one soley of plunder but, as the flow of products into mongolia (and later the capitals of each mongol state,) was all important, the Mongols bent their energies toward the development of trade and finances, which kept their people loyal and wealthy. Eventually the bubonic plague destroyed the interconnnection of the empire, stopping the vital flow of trade. As a result, the mongol rulers lost the voluntary loyalty of their populations, and turned to more and more despotic methods of governance. This transformation, (really a destruction of the Mongol system) and the unfortunate reign of Tamerlane, have unfairly blackened the repuation of the Mongols, whom are often viewed as nothing more than bloodthirsty barbarians.

(If you want to see a good example of that kind of ignorance, read this post... http://www.worldsarmedforces.com/viewtopic.php?t=1488)  

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  Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17-Jun-2005 at 12:31

One can objectively regard the Mongols as brutal, ruthless and barbaric without resorting to "bloodthirsty."  It seems natural for anyone who does a lot of research on a people to feel they are (or were) "good."  Are you really objective about all this?  You are taught to be "understanding" of other people, so the natural impulse is to try to focus on their "good"  attributes in order to make the whole task easier.   

I've delved considerably into the issue of barbarism and believe it is a culling mechanism which has, on balance, served our social evolution and the continued accumulation of our cultural heritage as a species. 

But I am careful not to confuse barbarism and civilization.  What I concluded, i.e., my theory, is that much of the barbarism has been characterized by a male-exaggerated social or religious system which is racial in nature, has no real moral code, and has a primitive cosmology.  Some people would be surprised to learn that it has nothing to do with men on horseback carrying spears, and it does fit well Imperial State Shinto Japan and Nazi Germany in the 1940s.  A different type of barbarism is fascism and examples of it survive today in verious places.

Some people have a grudging admiration for barbarians, Indians and the Mafia which they do not, generally, tell other people about!  What makes barbarians useful to social evolution is their openness and willingness and ability to learn.---also, their ingenuity and inventiveness when staid and dying civilizations refused to innovate.   Still, one must not praise their propensity to gamble, fight, kill, even collect human heads, rape, curse, steal and their crudity.  We talk angrily now about brutal dictators around the world, but imagine the Mongol society where the upper-crust rulers had hoards of women to themselves and the cannot fodder men were indoctrinated so effectively that they were satisfied to be led to battle in order to get a chance to rape and pillage.

Most of barbarians in world history settled in and ruled long dynasties which rejuvenated the civilization itself.  Not so the Mongols.  Few civilizations suffered under such brutal rule as China and the northern half of Islam. 

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  Quote Imperator Invictus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17-Jun-2005 at 20:52
I agree with Herodotus that the Mongol Empires brought the level of economic interaction to a new height.

The alleged Brutality of their conquest is exaggerated because of their extent. I see no real difference in the cruelty of the Mongols compared to other barbarian conqueres or even civilized conquerors like the Macedonians and the Romans. Same thing with the so-called population extermination. In fact, the number of deaths with the Mongol conquests was not unusually large when normalized to the extent of their conquests. Caesar killed and enslaved 2/3 of the population in Gaul, which is much higher than the percentage of deaths in the Mongol campaigns in China.
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  Quote Belisarius Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18-Jun-2005 at 23:05
Alleged brutality? Hmmm. Let's look at the numbers! 

Not unusually large? Let's take a look at this!
During the early 13th century, the Jin recorded 7.6 million households in their territory. The first Mongol census in 1234 counted only 1.7 household. Scholar John Man suggests that this was a population decline from 60 million to 10 million. That is more than 80% of the population.
The number of people reached by the census in Persia numbered 5 million, though some scholars argue that the actual population was around 6 or 7 million. The first census after the Mongol conquest counted only about 3.5 million.

Let's get specific!
When Baghdad was taken, the Mongols erected a pyramid made from the skulls of 90,000 people.
In taking the city of Herat, the Mongols killed some 1.5 million in the city and the immediate area.

Something to think about!
Unless Ghengis was quite POed, as was the case when he invaded the Khwarezmian Empire with 200,000 soldiers, his invasion armies never numbered more than 20 - 30,000. That means that this small number would have been doing the slaying of millions. Imagine how many people an individual Mongol  killed.

Sorry if I sound obnoxious. I am just in a very good mood.


Edited by Belisarius
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  Quote Drunt Ba'adur Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19-Jun-2005 at 09:41
Well, the problem of calculating the number of deaths is that the sources are sometimes a bit... false. For example, persian historian wrote:
"In the muslim countries devastated by Genghis khan not one in a thousand of the inhabitants survived... If from now unitl the day of resurrection nothing hindered the natural increase of the population it could never reach one-tenth of its density before the mongol conquest"

I agree that mongols caused the death of a lot of people, but we would never know how many people were killed, how many lived before mongols arrived, but it's obvius that the historians sometimes lie. So saying, for example, that in 1200s there were living 60 million people in north of China is one of the biggest lies I've ever read.  In 1900 there weren't living more than 300 million in China. As saying that there were living 1.5 million people in Herat. It's just speculation.

And i've liked the answers to the main question of this post. Great explanations
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  Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19-Jun-2005 at 10:14
[QUOTE=Imperator Invictus]I agree with Herodotus that the Mongol Empires brought the level of economic interaction to a new height.

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  Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19-Jun-2005 at 10:17
I am puzzled by the statement that Herodotus praised the Mongol Invasions!  Herodotus was a 5th century Greek historian.  What could he have known about the 12th century Mongol invasions?
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  Quote Drunt Ba'adur Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19-Jun-2005 at 10:20
Originally posted by charles darso

I am puzzled by the statement that Herodotus praised the Mongol Invasions!  Herodotus was a 5th century Greek historian.  What could he have known about the 12th century Mongol invasions?

he was talking about the user of this forum called 'Herodotus'
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  Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19-Jun-2005 at 10:26

Caesar may have conquered 2/3 of Gaul and surely did slaugter masses of them in battle because they were disorganized and poorly armed fighters.  To say the people then became "slaves" is not objective history but an emotional, revisionist  propaganda missile aimed at Greek-Roman civilization.  If was because the Goths were brought into the Empire that they eventually became Christianized and thus a part, actually, eventually the best part, of Christiandom and hence Western society and civilization.

Do you think we should return to the Indians the land we took from them?

 

 

 

 

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  Quote Imperator Invictus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19-Jun-2005 at 16:37
I was saying 2/3 as the percentage of Gauls Caesar killed or enslaved. So out of 3 million people in Gaul, Caesar exterminated 1 million and enslaved another million.

But of course, most of the population estimations of war casulaties are probably skewed and there are no accurate estimations. For the case with China, the Mongol invasions were hardly the only time of population decrease. For example, the population decline at the decline and fall of the Han dynasty was proabably greater than the Mongol conquests. The important thing is that Mongols don't cause population extermination, conquest  does.
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  Quote Temujin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19-Jun-2005 at 17:34

the numbers given by Belisarius are hardly real, especially the following statement:

Originally posted by Belisarius

When Baghdad was taken, the Mongols erected a pyramid made from the skulls of 90,000 people.

is wrong because Mongols did not errect skull-towers, Timur did.

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  Quote Belisarius Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20-Jun-2005 at 01:29
As I am not a scholar, I do not have the credibility to argue how real my numbers are so... what can I do but concede that they might be inaccurate? However, to say that they are "hardly real" would constitute an argument against a primary source which was the Mongol census.

When I mentioned the destruction of Herat, I said 1.5 million people were killed in the city and the immediate area, not that 1.5 million people were killed in the city itself.

As for the pyramid of skulls, I assure you it was the Mongols under Hulagu that sacked the city in 1258 and made the pyramid from the skulls of 90,000 people.  If you remember, some time ago Osama bin Laden complained that the United States had destroyed Baghdad worse than Hulagu did. After leveling the city, Hulagu ordered 90,000 of his soldiers to bring him a skull to make the pyramid.

*sigh* But I lament that I am no professional scholar and I can do naught but assure you.
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  Quote Decebal Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20-Jun-2005 at 11:32

Belisarius is correct: the sack of Baghdad is described in detail in many sources. The Mongols did build pyramids of human skulls, just like Timur was to do, a century and a half later. In fact, the fall of Baghdad is arguably one of the most important events in human history, comparable in some ways to the fall of Rome. The brutality of the Mongols in this city which was the cultural and scientific centre of Islam was to have long-lasting consequences. It marked the end of the golden age of Islam and indirectly paved the way for the European domination of the world.

As for China, Drunt Ba'adur is probably exagerrating quite a bit when he's saying that northern China having a population of 60 million is "one of the biggest lies he's ever heard". Population censuses taken during the T'ang dynasty, 500 years before, showed the Chinese empire to have a population of about 60 million. China's population had a tendency to fluctuate quite dramatically before 1900, hovering around 50-100 million during good times, and decreasing to 20 million in times of war or famine. This explains why its population was only 300 million in 1900, but probably close to 100 milllion during the Mongol invasion. Exact figures are somewhat disputed, but I wouldn't say that a pop. of 60 million for Northern China at the time is entirely out of the realm of possibility.

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  Quote yan. Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21-Jun-2005 at 13:13

Originally posted by Belisarius


During the early 13th century, the Jin recorded 7.6 million households in their territory. The first Mongol census in 1234 counted only 1.7 household. Scholar John Man suggests that this was a population decline from 60 million to 10 million. That is more than 80% of the population.
That probably should be 7.6 million taxpaying households before the Mongol conquest vs. vs. 1.7 million taxpaying households afterwards. I think a lot of scholars have argued that the Yuan administration was rather inefficient compared to that of other dynasties, though some have expressed their respect that the chinese bureaucracy was still able to muddle on despite Yuan's negligence.

Anyway, I don't think the decrease in taxpayers can be translated 1:1 into population decrease.



Edited by yan.
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  Quote Belisarius Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21-Jun-2005 at 14:21
Hmmm... I had not even considered that. However, I doubt that any empire would be so inefficient that less than a quarter of their subjects in a single region would not have paid taxes, but that's just my opinion. If you're right, on the other hand, that is some serious loss of respect points I had for the Mongols.
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  Quote Drunt Ba'adur Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21-Jun-2005 at 14:28
Originally posted by Belisarius

As I am not a scholar, I do not have the credibility to argue how real my numbers are so... what can I do but concede that they might be inaccurate? However, to say that they are "hardly real" would constitute an argument against a primary source which was the Mongol census.

When I mentioned the destruction of Herat, I said 1.5 million people were killed in the city and the immediate area, not that 1.5 million people were killed in the city itself.

As for the pyramid of skulls, I assure you it was the Mongols under Hulagu that sacked the city in 1258 and made the pyramid from the skulls of 90,000 people.  If you remember, some time ago Osama bin Laden complained that the United States had destroyed Baghdad worse than Hulagu did. After leveling the city, Hulagu ordered 90,000 of his soldiers to bring him a skull to make the pyramid.

*sigh* But I lament that I am no professional scholar and I can do naught but assure you.


Sorry, i didn't want to offend you but i've always 'dubious' about those numbers. It's difficult to belive in those numbers that have always been told to us and I'm doubtful about numbers given by historians.

It's true what you've told about Bagdad(destroyed as Kiev, Bukhara, Samarkand...) but I can't really realise how 1.5 million people could have been killed near(immediately area around) Herat. The destruction was amazing and out of standing, almost all the people were killed, but i doubt about the population before mongol hordes arrived. In any case I would like to read more about that period of history in Transaxonia.


Edited by Drunt Ba'adur
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  Quote Drunt Ba'adur Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21-Jun-2005 at 14:48
Originally posted by Decebal

As for China, Drunt Ba'adur is probably exagerrating quite a bit when he's saying that northern China having a population of 60 million is "one of the biggest lies he's ever heard". Population censuses taken during the T'ang dynasty, 500 years before, showed the Chinese empire to have a population of about 60 million. China's population had a tendency to fluctuate quite dramatically before 1900, hovering around 50-100 million during good times, and decreasing to 20 million in times of war or famine. This explains why its population was only 300 million in 1900, but probably close to 100 milllion during the Mongol invasion. Exact figures are somewhat disputed, but I wouldn't say that a pop. of 60 million for Northern China at the time is entirely out of the realm of possibility.


yes, it wasn't my best day, sorry
The numbers given about China are a bit amasing but are possible. I haven't thought about this increasing and decreasing of population of China along its history. I just was trying to show that mongols weren't as bad as europeans and chinese historians have told us (they were as bad as any other conqueror in Asia)

*sorry for my english but I'm trying to explain myself and my english is really poor

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  Quote Hushyar Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25-Jun-2005 at 08:32

I don't know  what to say about such statements but I am sure that writers of upper lines were not familiar with exact consequences of Mongol invasion and how deep was their effect in the minds of conquered peoples that even Teymur invasion could not clean the brutallity of mongols from memory and mind of peoples.Actually there was a big difference between the Mongols and other invaders. While Oghuzes  in middle of 12th century came just for plundering or Teymur massacrs were some for sadistic pleasure and some for distributing of horror between other nations, Mongol's acts could be named as genocide, a compltely planned genocide.Here I won't speak about China , Russia and eastern Europe , because I don't have access to first hand resources, so I just  focus my attention over islamic countries:What is our knowledge about that period:
The historians of that period could be divided into two catagory:
1)those who were enemy of them like Ibn Asir,Nasavi, Juzjani
2)Those who were allied to them and worked for them like Joweyni, Khajeh Nasireddin Tusi, Rashidden Fazlollah , and Tarikh e Vesaf by Shahab e Shirazi.
It is interesting that both gropus of historians were unified that mongols did genocide not just massacare, let me show some example:
"If people of a city made resistance ,after city being conquered, first all the people of the city had been gathered in desert in a big circle, then city will be razed and plundered for 5 days, third they killed the people" (joweyni)
How they killed the people ? Nasavi said:
"They divisioned them into small groups,At first they killed the men, then they distributed women and girls between soldiers like slaves,children usually had been killed. craftsmen were being sent to Mongolia".
In some other cities after killling half of the peoples, Mongols used the remainders to conquer the other cities.In Samarqand and Bokhara one quarter of city population remained, in the other cities the city  was razed completely some of them were big cities, Otrar, Gorganj, Termaz, Nesa, khajand, Marv, Balkh, Neyshabur, Harat, Rey, Qazvin, Hamedan, Maragheh, Ardebil, Nakhjavan, Shaki,...some were milder like Sabzevar , Esfarayen, Damghan,Khoqand,Ganjeh,...they lost only half of their population because they did not do any resistance.Some cities have never been repopulated or if they did they became very small cities,like Otrar,Gorganj,Nesa,Marv,Tarmaz,Rey....Neyshabur that was said is bigger than baghdad, still is a small town.Usually mongols tried to kill even the last person, It was very important for them:" In Harat after that nearly all of the people have been killed, some mongols Hided themselves and made a clergy man to go in a mosque and invite people for prayer when those who have been alive came out,Mongols killed them"(Joweyni).
These are not the only story, the problem was more complicated,Iran was agricultural country,but Iran is also is a semi desert country,It means for having agriculture there must be an elaborate netwrork of irrigation,(which was one of the most important works of local goverments),By killing  majority peoples and exterminating the any instuition (befor Holagu khan) there was no repair in irigation networks and the result was famine which emptied khorasan even more.Khorasn which was the richest province in Iran before mongol invasion, never could achieve the former situation.Central Asia which was one of the most advenced places of world in 10th,11th and 12 century,became  and still is a most backward palces of world.
This policy was not just an eruption of hate or just barbarian acts.this was intentional. In History of Vesaf "When mongols invaded the Beyhaq ( a small town near Neyshabur) mongol soldiers complained to their commanders that why they must kill slaves instead of using them, their commander siad that Sobotay is comming after us and will reach here in just two days, if he will hear a dog bark, all of our families will be enslaved"For another reason we know that Juchi and Ogtay were against this policy,many believed that Juchi died because he severly criticized his father policy. many other mongol commanders also complained about such wide scale extermination.I don't think you can find any positive consequence about mongol invasion for Islamic countries ,china and Russia except it gave the western country this chance that in their race with eastern countries defeat them.This was the story of a dark age.

There is another story that mongols eased the transportation and they made security and saftened the roads so they were a catalyst for combining different civilizations.This is compleely ridiculous.It is completely based on wrong datas.Actually not only trade did not increased but also decreased very dramatically.In Times of saljuqs Tax that was paid by merchants of Khorasan was so high that Senjer many times wanted to forgive the tax of farmers(and we knew saljuqs were very harsh towards farmers)In the time Ghazan khan , Rashiddin Fazlollah complaines about shortage of revenues and Lack of a a very good Merchant population.The reason was obvious:Trade routes cauld not be stablished in the steppes between nomad peoples and cattle breeders,merchants needed big cities in their road that mongols cleaned them completely,Actually silk road died after mongols and after that time there was no major trade betwen east and west Asia ,Looking to the history of central Asia completely prove it.


Originally posted by Drunt Ba'adur


just was trying to show that mongols weren't as bad as europeans and chinese historians have told us (they were as bad as any other conqueror in Asia)

Comparing them with any conqueror in Asia is meaningless,they were much worse than any conquerer,even Teymur (which without no doubt is number two in this magnificant rank) could not be compared with mongols.
       
  

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  Quote charles brough Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04-Jul-2005 at 20:20

It is impressive to read all the detail you history buff know about China and the Mongols!  People who love to study a people tend to grow fond of them and acquire a tendency to intuitively apologize for them.  So, I guess it will do me no good to ask those of you who think the Mongols were just like everyone else why it was that they were so brutal, so cruel.  Instead, I will ask the rest of you.  Does anyone have a clue?

charles

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