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What the Mongols did for us The Golden Horde wasn't barbarous, it created the modern world

Galloping Mongols. (Photo by In Pictures Ltd./Corbis via Getty Images)

Galloping Mongols. (Photo by In Pictures Ltd./Corbis via Getty Images)


May 10, 2021   9 mins

Our age of nation-states and economic globalisation cannot be understood without considering the impact of the Golden Horde of the Mongol Empire. Named for the colour of their tents, the Golden Horde dominated Eurasia for 150 years, and the period was a critical one. As the greatest actors within it, the Mongols established the international system of diplomacy, fostered intercontinental trade on an enormous scale, played a role in the genesis of the Russian Empire, and set a salutary example of wise imperial statecraft.

This is the nearly 400-page case Marie Favereau lays out in The Horde: How the Mongols Changed the World — and it’s a convincing one. A professor of history at Paris Nanterre University, Favereau’s previous published work focused on the wide-ranging geopolitical connections the Mongols made, and subtle cultural revolution that transformed them from an alien, conquering elite to deeply-rooted imperial administrators who shaped the societies they ruled. Though Favereau occasionally fixates excessively on the internecine dramas of Genghis Khan’s family, on the whole The Horde is both brisk and dense with facts and analysis about a period and people that remain unknown to most Westerners.

The Golden Horde emerged during the Pax Mongolica, when the various divisions of the Mongol Empire — Khanates —were ruled separately by the descendants of Genghis Khan, but united by treaties based on Mongol tradition. Marco Polo traversed the length of Eurasia, from Europe to China, and back, when the Mongol Empire was at its peak in the late 13th century. But the Golden Horde was the most geographically expansive of the Khanates. It stretched from modern Bulgaria and Romania in the west, to the vast Eurasian steppe north of the Black Sea, and yet further eastward still to the western edge of Mongolia. Beyond it lay the Great Yuan, who ruled most of the landmass of China and Mongolia, while the modern Middle East and southern Central Asia were under the two smaller Khanates.

The high noon of the Golden Horde’s power came between 1250 and 1400 AD, when it had unquestioned hegemony over all of the Russian principalities, northern Central Asia, Siberia and the Caucasus (Moscow remained a nominal vassal of the Horde until 1480 AD). This was an empire at enormous scale, with a vast reach — like Augustan Rome, or Spain during el Siglo de Oro, or Victorian Britain. For centuries, the Golden Horde stood athwart the trade routes of Eurasia. It was colossal.

But before there was the Horde, there were the four sons of Genghis Khan: Jochi, Chagatai, Ogedei and Tolui. It was from Jochi that the Horde would come. The eldest, he had a checkered relationship with his father, and with good reason. His mother, Börte, had been kidnapped by an enemy of Genghis Khan eight months before his birth. Although a shadow was cast over Jochi’s paternity, Genghis claimed him anyway. (Favereau straightforwardly accepts that Jochi was likely not Genghis Khan’s biological son.) After a great conference of Mongol leaders in Central Asia was held to determine the succession, and passed over Jochi, he marched his forces west, pitching his tents on the far fringe of the Mongol Empire north of the Caspian Sea.

Jochi’s self-exile set in motion a long train of consequences, and the real narrative of The Horde begins with Jochi’s sons, Orda, Batu, and Berke. Their lives illustrate three principles that reoccur again and again in The Horde. First, there is the principle of consensus and coexistence. Batu ruled the western half of the Golden Horde, while Orda ruled the east. These were the Blue and White Hordes, due to the association of these colours with the west and the east, and for over a century they respected each other’s territory. Second, the ascension of the younger Batu over Orda as Khan reversed expectation and reflected pragmatism.

Rather than slavishly following rules and customs, the Golden Horde embraced flexibility in its culture and political organisation. Finally, after the death of Batu, the youngest brother, Berke, became the Khan. Berke was the son of a Muslim woman, and he eventually converted to Islam, anticipating the later wholesale conversion of the Horde’s Mongol elite. Berke’s religious choice was also reflected in his geopolitical decision-making: he had no compunction about aligning with fellow Muslims against other Mongols. But Berke was also a pragmatist, not a fanatic, and he valued Mongol legal precedent and accepted the importance of religious toleration within his empire. The Golden Horde eventually became Muslim, but the empire it dominated was never Islamic.

One of the major themes of The Horde is that the wealth of the ruling class of the Golden Horde was uniquely fuelled by trade, and this drove much of its diplomacy and war-making. Unlike China, Europe or the Near East, the territories of the Horde were sparsely populated. The Khans of the Golden Horde could not tax vast numbers of peasants to sustain their wealth. Rather, their economic activity was geared toward exploiting natural resources, as with furs shipped to Europe via the Hanseatic League, and customs collected on overland trade passing between Europe and China, as well as exports of slaves south to Egypt via Constantinople.

Some actions of the Khans that seem ideological on their surface turn out to have straightforward material explanations. Berke’s conversion to Islam cemented an alliance with the Mamluk regime in Egypt against the Mongol Il-Khanate. The Golden Horde supplied the Egyptians with slave soldiers to battle their Il-Khanate cousins, resulting in the first major defeat of the Mongols, which stopped their military advance. But those slave soldiers were also a major economic commodity that powered the financial health of the Golden Horde. The conflict with the Il-Khanate was not just ideological or geopolitical, but driven by the reality that the Golden Horde’s trade routes were constantly threatened by enemies — in this case, other Khanates. Berke and the Khans who succeeded him were engaging in literal trade wars.

Similarly, the amity between the two major divisions with the Horde, the Blue and the White, was not just a matter of sentimental familial bonds between the descendents of the brothers Batu and Orda. It reflected business savvy. The Golden Horde invested heavily in a Silk Road route that began at ports on the Black Sea, like the Genoese colony of Kaffa. The route continued eastward, grazing the southern fringe of Siberia, and moving onward all the way to the rich lands of the Great Yuan (Mongol-ruled China).

Cooperation between the Blue and White Hordes was necessary, not simply preferred, for this Silk Road to function. Additionally, propagandists in the service of the Horde whispered in the ears of merchant houses in Europe that the southern route that snaked through the rugged lands of the Il-Khanate was more dangerous and expensive. The ruling class of the Golden Horde wanted the world to know they were “open for business,” and offered a favourable tax regime for merchants willing to traverse their peaceful and well-ordered territories.

But trade-fuelled prosperity is subject to the vicissitudes of globalisation. The collapse of the Il-Khanate in the 1330s resulted in the northern route achieving even greater prominence, as the southern Silk Road fractured between numerous hostile states. This monopoly was short-lived. In 1368, the great engine of west-east trade was turned off; the Mongols were expelled from China, and the ascendent Ming Dynasty shut the door to the rest of the world. If agriculturally-based empires were vulnerable to weakening in times of famine, merchant prince fortunes soared at the pleasure and caprice of foreign potentates.

Additionally, the 14th century saw the lucrative global trade in furs across the lands of the Horde facilitate the spread of the Black Death to Europe and the Near East from the eastern steppe. As we keenly feel today, one downside of globalisation is that a much larger human population can be a potential host for a pandemic. More than 30% of Europe and the Near East died from the bubonic plague, and the impact was significant on the Horde itself, as some of its leaders succumbed to the disease. The paradoxes and discontents that emerge from globalisation are long-standing.

Favereau’s narrative makes much of the reality that the Golden Horde was religiously pluralistic, a phenomenon immediately intelligible to contemporary readers. This was a legacy of Genghis Khan himself, who exempted clerics from taxation and left all houses of worship intact. He believed that the sky god, Tengri, had given him the world. Genghis and his descendants looked favourably upon all religions as the expression of the same divine principle.  Most earlier Khans were not Muslim, but devotees of Tengri. Nevertheless, they patronised Islam, Buddhism, and Christianity to cultivate relationships with subject people, most of whom were Christian or Muslim, and encourage the migration of other Mongols, many of whom were Buddhist. However, 1313, the Khan of the Golden Horde declared Islam the religion of the Mongols in the Blue and White Hordes.

Even after the Khan of the Golden Horde demanded that Mongols in his domain convert to Islam, he continued to encourage Christians to practise their religion (in contrast, Buddhist Mongols were expelled and their temples torn down). The Golden Horde exempted Russian Orthodox Church lands from taxation and encouraged European Roman Catholics in the trading cities to build their own houses of worship. Even when the Mongol ruling class became thoroughly Islamicised, they accepted religious diversity for both principle and profit.

Though the global commercial orientation and religious tolerance of the Mongols are nothing to sneeze at, perhaps the biggest direct impact of the Golden Horde was upon the nascent identities of their subjects. Almost as an aside, Favereau notes that the Mongols liberated Wallachia from its nomadic overlords, laying down the foundation for modern Romania in the 13th century. But this is nothing, compared to how the Golden Horde played inadvertent midwife to the rise of the modern Russian state. Traditional accounts date the origin of Russia to the Christianisation of Kievan Rus’ under Vladimir the Great at the end of the 10th century. Though 1,000 years later this culture and society may seem exotic to us, Kievan Rus’ was oriented to the west and Europe, which explains how Anne of Kiev became queen of France in 1051. The deep separation between Russian culture and that of Western Europe only emerged during the period under the Golden Horde, as the ruling elite shifted its focus from Kiev in the west to Moscow in the east.

By the time the Mongols arrived, the Rus were ruled by a patchwork of more than a dozen principalities. Their main southern trading partner, the Byzantine Empire, was in sharp decline, and the Northern Crusades by German knights were impinging upon the prosperity of the Baltic-facing trading cities. The Mongol invasion was even more traumatic. In 1246, an envoy of the Pope traveled through Kiev and observed that “it has been reduced almost to nothing, for there are at the present time scarce two hundred houses.” The only major city to avoid being sacked by the Horde was Novgorod in the far north, which survived through preemptive surrender.

Modern Russia was built upon the ashes of cities the Mongols burned. The imperial Russian state of Ivan of the Terrible that rose to unprecedented power in the 16th century was not shaped by Kievan Rus. It did not face the European kingdoms to the west, but the Golden Horde to the east. Instead the rulers of Moscow were positioned between the core territories of the Rus to the west and the lands of their steppe rulers to the southeast. A perfect location to be cultural and geopolitical go-betweens.

Just as Batu had been promoted over Orda, so the Khans of the Golden Horde strategically promoted Moscow’s junior princely lineage, the Danilovich, above the others. The House of Moscow did not have the pedigree, but they got the job done, collecting revenue and suppressing revolts. In the process, Moscow accrued enormous power and influence, eventually overthrowing the “Tatar Yoke” to impose its own domination on what became imperial Russia. While 11th-century France obtained a queen from Kiev, 18th-century French asserted that if you “scratch a Russian… you find a Tartar.”

Favereau’s contention that you cannot understand the Russian imperial order without considering the formative impact of the Golden Horde is just one aspect of her argument. A broader thesis explicit in The Horde is that the empires that arose in the last 500 years mimicked and adapted many of the features of the steppe polities they dismembered. Russian historiography speaks of the period of subordination to the Golden Horde, but the centuries of disgrace were erased only with the conquest of the lands of their erstwhile oppressors: Siberia and Central Asia.

The Russian Empire also assimilated the Horde’s ruling class. Much of the Mongol military elite became Christian and part of the Russian nobility, while Jochid princesses married into the Russian ruling houses. A tradition of autocratic rule arose that was different from the more decentralised model that had characterised Kievan Rus. Ivan the Terrible took the title Tsar only in 1547. Before that he had simply been a prince, a reflection of the Kievan legacy. His assertion that he was a Tsar reflected an imperial ambition more in keeping with the traditions of the steppe than the nation-states emerging in Western Europe.

Though there are occasions in Favereau’s narrative where fixation on the political and social intrigues of the Jochid lineage overshadow the broader lessons, The Horde is most deeply understood as a cultural and social history. Like many histories which centre the steppe, it attempts to roll back the erasure of nomadic empires from the genealogy of modern states and societies. This process is clearest in the case of Russia, but applies pervasively across Eurasian history.

Historians of the steppe observe that the kingdoms of Europe and the emirates of the Near East may have built vast stone cities which withstand the test of time, but the religious tolerance and the global mercantile orientation of the Mongols are much more in keeping with the values of modern cultures. Like the Horde, modern developed societies are not fundamentally agricultural.

Also like the Horde, modern developed societies tolerate a wide variety of religions, often with the unspoken understanding that this will be socially useful. And, like the Horde, modern nation-states tend to exhibit a centralising and expansive tendency, with an explicit hierarchy of administrators and decision-makers. The Horde argues that multicultural global empires have much more relevant lessons for modern nation-states than the agrarian societies which the Mongols ruled. Without recognising it, we all still travel on a path the Mongols carved out for us centuries ago.


Razib Khan is a geneticist. He has written for The New York Times, India Today and Quillette, and runs two weblogs, Gene Expression and Brown Pundits. His newsletter is Razib Khan’s Unsupervised Learning


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Harry Potter
Harry Potter
3 years ago

The unavoidable collapse of the nomad empire proved a multi-national country won’t survive long.
The success of survival story of Chinese civilization (The Chinese took advantage of their large monocultural population to reversely devoured the Mongols and Manchurians who had once conquered them militarily) proved the opposite is true.
The Mongolian Empire, or the British Empire, may have once looked big on map, but lacking a subject nation they were just pavilions in the air. Eventually they would be disintegrated easily.
To maintain a nation, you need at least one strong thing to bind people together, such as a common language, religion, or a shared history and enemies, whether they are real or not.

Last edited 3 years ago by Harry Potter
CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
3 years ago
Reply to  Harry Potter

With the notable exception of Rome, most Empires are comparatively short lived, two to three centuries being the norm.
Multiculturalism (what a dreadful word) is only one factor in the contest of “survival of the fittest”.

To take China as an example, and in chronological order:

Han: Four centuries.

Tang: Three centuries.

Song :Three centuries (just).

Mongols: One century.

Ming: Three centuries.

Manchu : Two and a half centuries.

Last edited 3 years ago by CHARLES STANHOPE
Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
3 years ago

Ibn khaldun puts a dynasty at 120 years, 3 generations of 40 years. Maj Gen Sir John Glubb places an empire duration at about 250 years( Assyrian onwards ). The exception is Egypt which is renewed post 1200 BC.
Genghis Khan killed about 40M. In one city 1.2M were murdered. Some citiesin Central Asia never recovered.
The attitude of Russians today are still shaped by Mongol Rule.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
3 years ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

Ah, Glubb Pasha, that’s a great name from the past.
I’m glad ‘we’ are in close agreement.

I beg to disagree over Egypt. Although it dominated the Lower Nile for centuries, it was very much an homogeneous mono-culture, that only sporadic raided into the neighbouring Levant, and thus ruled nobody for very long but themselves.

The definition of Empire is normally traced back to ‘Imperium’, the idea ruling over ‘others’, as most Empires have done.
China is the exception in a way, as it conquered relatively few non Han Chinese. However I suppose due to its sheer size ‘we’ have dignified it with the title of Empire. By the same logic was Japan really ever an Empire, except for a nanosecond in history?

One Empire we have omitted was the comparatively long lived Ottoman Empire, although by 1820 if not before it was fading fast.

Harry Potter
Harry Potter
3 years ago

“China is the exception in a way, as it conquered relatively few non Han Chinese.”
That’s just a illusion. Most of the “barbarians” in its colonies were completely sinicized into Han Chinese, so the assimilated peoples would not have left much of their own ethnic history, plus there was no other major power in the region, so the Chinese empire was always able to recover the territory of the previous generation. Only Tibet and Xinjiang were too remote to maintain close control, reaching the limits of imperial control in the pre-industrial era. So Beijing adopted some policy of limited ethnic autonomy. It wasn’t until recently has China begun the process of assimilation in these remote areas.

Imperial Japan’s assimilation process in Taiwan and Korea would almost have succeeded if it had not foolishly expanded the war.

Last edited 3 years ago by Harry Potter
CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
3 years ago
Reply to  Harry Potter

Well if that is the case who were the original Han & how did they dominate the rest?
.Today there seem to be 17 sub species of Han, making up 92% of the population of China.

It is rather like the Franks, Lombards, Alemani,Visigoths,Saxons, Vandals and Suevi, who we now call Germans. Or on a smaller scale Angles, Saxons and Jutes are now English (but still really German) is it not?

Last edited 3 years ago by CHARLES STANHOPE
Harry Potter
Harry Potter
3 years ago

The formation of the sense of Han (literally means man) originated from the contact between the Chinese agrarian peoples and the nomadic foreigners in the north.
According to China’s own history, Chinese civilisation originated in the Yellow River basin. So the North China Plain (today’s area around Henan, Hebei and Shandong) was the original Han Chinese, basically the location of the states of the “Zhou Dynasty” and the Warring States period.
Through military conquest, its overwhelming demographic advantage, and its cultural advantage over the mountain aborigines of the south and southwest. It was basically a snowballing process.
In addition, Chinese used ideograms/ pictograms as scripts. Unlike the Latin alphabet, it can hardly be used to spell other language.

Last edited 3 years ago by Harry Potter
CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
3 years ago
Reply to  Harry Potter

Thank you.

daniel Earley
daniel Earley
3 years ago

It also ignores the Persian Empire, Greeks and Roman empire who did pretty well on the multi-cultural front.

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
3 years ago

“The principle of consensus and coexistence”, and there’s me thinking that the Mongols invaded vast areas and killed people.

Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
3 years ago
Reply to  Colin Elliott

Oh they did. Like that Led Zep line about the Vikings: “…So now you’d better stop, and rebuild all your ruins, For peace and trust can win the day, despite of all your losing…”

Sidney Falco
Sidney Falco
3 years ago

Another essay about how we all used to black, or how wonderful Islam was/is from someone with the irrelevant veneer of “genetics” expertise.
Would be better suited to the Guardian or the BBC.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
3 years ago
Reply to  Sidney Falco

‘History, It’s what you make of it.’

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
3 years ago
Reply to  Sidney Falco

Just returned to this ridiculous article out of boredom….yawn…
But I much agree with the lines on a Middle Eastern antique dealer catalogue,

But, Why Would Such a Large Empire Leave so Few Artifacts?
Despite Genghis Kahn’s greatness at conquering others, he was not a creator; he had no desire to create. Conversely, the greatest conqueror of all time was a skilled destroyer. This means that although he did indeed build a grand empire, he did not build the things that we usually assume make up an empire, such as libraries, roads, and governmental buildings. After all, he came from a nomadic culture and remained a nomad all his years. He rode from town to town and city to city conquering them and in many cases destroying them without building anything to take their places.
And that is why there are so few Genghis Kahn artifacts for us to collect.”
This guy needs to get in the ‘Decolonizing of history’ industry which has taken over our entire education system in the West, to help make sure no real history remains. I assume there is good money in the ‘Correcting’ of history if you get in with the right sort, with the right sort of political connections.

mike otter
mike otter
3 years ago

Not sure that’s the point of the piece and it certainly isn’t the point of the book. The flexible and organic nature of Ghengis Khan era Mongol society, their legal, economic and military systems, allowed them to prosper amongst different peoples in a way the Saracen and Christian could not. However the “different” people were the Mongols’ vassals who may be enslaved, expelled or killed at the whim of a Khan or his officers. Once the Mongols dropped the compromise based kuriltai decisions of Ghengis’ era for old fashioned autocracy the wheels fell off and Russia, China, Persia, Poland etc took the spoils.

Last edited 3 years ago by mike otter
ralph bell
ralph bell
3 years ago

Fascinating historical piece, but it makes you think that over such vast geographical territory and a very long period, so many massive events must be missing. Just think about the past 100 years: flight, genocides, medicine and technology including manned missions to the moon.

Waldo Warbler
Waldo Warbler
3 years ago
Reply to  ralph bell

Just think about the past 100 years: flight, genocides, medicine and technology including manned missions to the moon.”
That’s all just white saviour stuff. The really important development has been intersectionality.

Margaret F
Margaret F
3 years ago

It might be a good idea to remember that the “Golden Horde” had nothing we consider to be culture or civilization. No art, no philosophy, no literature, no science, no music, no mathematics, no religion, etc. Why wouldn’t they be tolerant of other cultures when they had no culture of their own? Really all they had was violence and speed. Why are we discussing them?

Jim Jones
Jim Jones
3 years ago
Reply to  Margaret F

The Mongols were tolerant of certain things, they were certainly far more tolerant of different religions than anybody in Europe was at the same time

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
3 years ago
Reply to  Jim Jones

Because they didn’t have one, and were enthralled by others. Idiots.

Last edited 3 years ago by CHARLES STANHOPE
Jim Jones
Jim Jones
3 years ago

There’s only one idiot here

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
3 years ago
Reply to  Jim Jones

Self praise is no recommendation Mr Jones. Surely you know that?

Zach Thornton
Zach Thornton
3 years ago
Reply to  Margaret F

This is like saying the British Empire had no culture but only boats and cannons. The Mongols were incredibly successful and ruthless on the battlefield. They wrought so much damage because their excellent generals and khans won battle after battle. The Chinese, Muslim and Europeans they invaded were just as violent when on the winning side of a siege. The Mongols were happy to cherry pick from other cultures and religions, if it served their purpose. It seems an eminently sensible way to run a medieval empire spanning Eurasia. I suppose the question is why you think we shouldn’t be discussing the Mongol Empire while doing just that yourself?

Margaret F
Margaret F
3 years ago
Reply to  Zach Thornton

You lost me there… I think everyone agrees (whether they like the British Empire or not) that the British certainly have/had a culture. All that stuff I mentioned… science, literature, philosophy, etc. Do you understand that the point is that the Mongols had NONE of it? And that’s the point. They had no culture. Which (to me at least) makes them pretty boring. The opposite of the British Empire in every way that matters. Also, do you understand the difference between discussing something and discussing why there is a discussion of that thing? hmmm…I thought not.

Dan Gleeballs
Dan Gleeballs
3 years ago
Reply to  Margaret F

Deleted

Last edited 3 years ago by Dan Gleeballs
CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
3 years ago
Reply to  Margaret F

Precisely, well said. Off to the dustbin of history with ‘em!

Richard Lyon
Richard Lyon
2 years ago
Reply to  Margaret F

Of course they had a culture. Just not one with elements that you value. They could not have organised themselves or sustained themselves over such large spaces and for so long without ideas, customs, and social behaviour (a.k.a. “culture”) that were effective and durable.

William MacDougall
William MacDougall
3 years ago

The title “Tsar” from the Mongols??? It means Caesar, and clearly came from Byzantium, and Rome before that. The Mongols ended Chinese technical advances, and massacred and destroyed many and much. Raises questions about the whole essay…

Waldo Warbler
Waldo Warbler
3 years ago

Surely the fundamental point is that a strict position of “empire is unredeemably evil” is always wrong, and that all regimes can have good and bad consequences.

Last edited 3 years ago by Waldo Warbler
Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
3 years ago
Reply to  Waldo Warbler

That is hardly his point. First who says ‘Empire is irredeemably evil’? Because that would be crazy. But that the Mongol empire was about as evil as any would be is what I would say, and this guy refutes it, and says the Mongols civilized the West – in a remarkably Bizarre claim.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
3 years ago

Next, “How the Aztecs were the most enlightened civilization in the world, till destroyed by Spain”.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
3 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Really? What about all that flaying alive and then wearing the greasy skin like a wet suit?

Anyway they failed the Darwinian Test of not being
able to defend themselves from marauders who had travelled 3,000 miles to get at them.
Bravo Cortez!

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
3 years ago

I am joking, the new trend of decolonizing education means every thing a Westerner achieved, a non-Western thing which equals it must be found. I can think of no civilization less useful than the one I said above.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
3 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

My humble apologies, too much Gin!

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
3 years ago

Along with the Gothic thugs who destroyed the Western Roman Empire, the Mongols were one of the most nihilistic and destructive forces in the history of mankind.
Fortunately their pernicious influence was short lived and now they are just an obscure footnote of History.

Jim Jones
Jim Jones
3 years ago

You do realise the Mongols don’t end with Genghis Khan right. Kublai Khan was certainly a more enlightened leader than anyone in medieval Europe

kathleen carr
kathleen carr
3 years ago

From the look of the illustration they also invented the crash helmet , so its not just what did the romans do for us

Harvey Johnson
Harvey Johnson
3 years ago

The Golden Horde WAS barbarous, and helped shape the early modern world. Like every other great power of the Middle Ages.

There, fixed it.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
3 years ago
Reply to  Harvey Johnson

At least they gave Islam a ‘good kicking” and destroyed Bagdad and the Abbasid Caliphate in the process.

Kremlington Swan
Kremlington Swan
3 years ago

Such an interesting read, and without once mentioning the death toll. Wikipedia – I just checked – puts it at around 11 percent of the world’s population.
They don’t much sound like tolerant traders to me, more murderers who got sick of wading knee deep through blood and body parts and decided to try not killing people for a while to see if they liked it.
Yet there is perhaps a lesson to be drawn for all those for whom rape, torture, mutilation and murder sounds like a good day out – where are the Mongols now?

Vanished.

Last edited 3 years ago by Kremlington Swan
Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
3 years ago

It is estimated that 1 in every 200 people in the world is a direct descendant of Genghis Khan. So Mr Prosser was not the last of his line after all. And the proof is everywhere. I surely can’t be the only one to have noticed the startling resemblence of George Galloway to the Great Khan?
comment image

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
3 years ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

Or President Putin perhaps?*

(* despite industrial level Botox on his eyes).

Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
3 years ago

I can definitely see where you are coming from with Putin.

Fred Atkinstalk
Fred Atkinstalk
3 years ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

I think there is a far more striking resemblance between George Galloway and Genghis Khan’s horse’s arse.

Margaret F
Margaret F
3 years ago

Orc Studies (in all its forms) is a very hot discipline these days.

Eamonn Toland
Eamonn Toland
3 years ago

I thought the Romans were quite keen on religious tolerance within the Empire. One version of the Edict of Milan, issued in 313, reads: “no one whatsoever should be denied freedom to devote himself either to the cult of the Christians or to such religion as he deems best suited for himself, so that the highest divinity, to whose worship we pay allegiance with free minds, may grant us in all things his wonted favour and benevolence”

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
3 years ago
Reply to  Eamonn Toland

Unfortunately that all stopped from 381 onwards, thanks to Theodosius, and his punitive Edicts against so called Pagans.

Jorge Espinha
Jorge Espinha
3 years ago

Isn’t this a just so article? According to Dan Carlin, some historians estimate the Mongols killed 70 million people. Tens of millions of humans killed in an area that extended from China to Hungary would always change history. Many great cities were razed to the ground. Other historians claim the Islamic Middle east never recovered. You can say something similar about the Nazis. Once upon a time, there was a Europe with a thriving Jewish population with millions of people of different ethnicities living side by side. After WWII the European Jewish population almost disappeared and European countries became more homogenous ethnically speaking. The Nazis helped the birth of modern Europe, but are we, a better Europe?

David Brown
David Brown
3 years ago

This is the nearly 400-page case Marie Favereau lays out in The Horde: How the Mongols Changed the World — and it’s a convincing one. A professor of history at Paris Nanterre University, Favereau’s previous published work…”
So an academic could do it, too, and the article is essentially a four word critique of the argument of the 400 page book: “it’s a convincing one.”