Medieval Arab History

Who Are The Mongols? Are They Ruthless Warriors?

The Mongols were a destructive force that exterminated civilizations. As Curtin describes, “The Mongols destroyed every living thing; even the cats and dogs in the city were killed by them.”

The National Interest has classified the Mongol empire as one of the most powerful empires of the history, the Mongols did not merely invade and conquer the land wherever they attack; they exterminated civilizations instead, the Mongols are said to have killed 1.5% of the world population in a single campaign.

Who Are The Mongols?

The Mongols were a tribe of nomads from Central/North Asia. They lived on the steppe of that region, relying on a nomadic lifestyle of constant movement as a way of life. They were forever dependent on and attached to their horses, which was their main mode of transportation. Religiously, they were polytheistic animists. They never established a large, organized empire, and instead stayed as a loose coalition of tribes north of China. Throughout history, they were usually at war with their neighbors. China to the south, in fact, built the Great Wall of China during the reign of Emperor Shi Huang (247-221 BC) as a means to keep the Mongols and others away from their villages. The Mongols also feuded with other tribal groups in Central Asia such as Turkic tribes and the Tatars.

The Mongol Empire

The Mongol Empire was an empire that originated on the periphery, and against all odds, defeated enemies much more powerful and populous than it. It was the world’s largest contiguous land empire, one that struck terror into all its enemies (as they exterminated civilizations). The empire is founded by the Mongol warlord Temujin, who assumed the title of Genghis Khan in 1206 C.E., the Mongol Empire first grew by picking off parts of China, as many previous steppe tribes had done.

But the defining moment of the Mongol Empire was when its ambassadors were killed by leaders of the neighboring Khwarazmian Empire, which included Iran, Afghanistan, and Central Asia. This was perceived as a grievous affront to the Great Khan and the subsequent Mongol revenge completely wrecked Central Asia and ended its Golden Age. Combined with the subsequent establishment of European sea routes that bypassed the Silk Road, the Mongol Invasions spelled the doom of Central Asia as an important region.

Although there were only about two million Mongols in the whole world, they subsequently conquered most of the Middle East, Russia, and China under Genghis Khan’s descendants. During their heyday, they suffered few setbacks except for their failed invasion of Japan and the 1260 C.E. Battle of Ain Jalut against the Egyptian Mamluks. How were the Mongols able to accomplish these feats? Despite their small population, the Mongols were able to field large and mobile armies against their enemies because they carried their herds with them and could sustain themselves off of horse blood. In an era before refrigeration, it was logistically difficult for a Chinese rule to field a comparable army.

The Mongol conquests killed millions of people but afterward established a brief era of peace and prosperity as trade spread across their large expanse. In the long run, however, the Mongols proved inefficient at administering their empire, which eventually split into four khanates before each one eventually fell apart or further split.

The Mongol, a brutal, force

The Mongols were a destructive force that exterminated civilizations. As Curtin describes, “The Mongols destroyed every living thing; even the cats and dogs in the city were killed by them.” Ibn Iftikhar, quoting Islamic scholars, writes, “the Mongols stormed the country and killed everyone they were able to find, including men, women, children, old, young, sick, and healthy. People would try to hide inside wells, gardens, and they even fled towards the hills and mountains. However, the Mongols would continue on, finding even people on the rooftops of their homes and inside the mosques. The streets ran blood ‘like rainwater in a valley.’”

The Golden Horde under Batu Khan invaded Russia in 1238-1240 CE with the same brutality as in the other cases described above. Entire populations of towns like Ryazan and Kiev were massacred. But what is even more interesting about the Russian invasion is the effect of Mongol rule on a country in which they actually settled and ruled for 250 years.  As Cicek explains, “Soviet historians argued that the Mongol invasion greatly delayed Russia’s economic development. Tribute payments and the destruction of commercial centers delayed the growth of a money economy. The town economies based on handicrafts were completely destroyed, throwing Russia back by several centuries. The economy of Europe, however, flourished in this period, preparing the necessary ground for the industrial revolution. The Mongols also prevented the agricultural development of Russia, which further worsened the commercial position of Russia, especially in comparison to the West. Russia not only lost the vital trade route of the Dvina River but also lost some of its territories in the west to Lithuania, Sweden, and the Teutonic Knights. To summarize, the net effect of the Tatar yoke on the Russian economy, according to Soviet historians, was overwhelmingly negative. The Mongols gave nothing but destruction and looting to the Russian people.” What they did was plunge Russia into its ‘Dark Age.’ Another destructive legacy of the Mongols in their 250-year rule of Russia was the institution of serfdom. (Dr. Sheshadri Kumar, TheWire.in)

In the same way, they plunged Arab civilization into the ‘Dark Age’ that yet haven’t revived the Islam’s golden age. The Islamic civilization had its golden age prior to the Mongol invasion of the Baghdad which has been destroyed by the Mongol invaders. According to the Lost Islamic History, “A full week of pillage and destruction commenced. The Mongols showed no discretion, destroying mosques, hospitals, libraries, and palaces. The books from Baghdad’s libraries were thrown into the Tigris River in such quantities that the river ran black with the ink from the books. The world will never truly know the extent of what knowledge was lost forever when those books were thrown into the river or burned.” Ibn Kathir, a 14th-century religious scholar, describe that so many were killed that the gutters and eaves gushed out blood to the streets. By the end of the 13th century, local Mongols had embraced Islam, therefore, it didn’t take long.

READ ALSO: The Mongols Destroyed the Abbasid Islamic Empire
ALSO: India owes a great debt to Sultan Alauddin Khilji

REFERENCES
The National Interest
TheWire.in
Dr. Seshadri Kumar’s Blog
The Lost Islamic History
International Journal of Russian Studies
University Syllabus on Medieval Arab-Islamic History

*Backlinks of the original source of the quotation are within the content.

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Arif Mohammad

I'm a blogger and a content writer at Mudawwana.com, Higher Diploma in Human Nutrition (Credit-rated in EQF Level 5), Professional Education Program in Nutrition (Wageningen University, the Netherlands). Studied Medieval Arab-Islamic History, Constitutional & Legal Studies of the Muslim World, Islamophobia studies & Islamic Law.

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