MMW 13 Lecture 2: The Mongol Conquests

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University of California - San Diego
Making of the Modern World
MMW 13
Edmond Yi- Teh Chang

MMW 13 – Lecture 2 – The Mongol Conquests Age of the Nomad  Extent of Mongol Empire: Caspian Sea to the west, Pacific to the east, Siberia and Korea to the north, Persia and Burma to the south o Largest land empire o Accomplished in just three generations  Military advantages: warrior-based society, fighting skills and strategies o Skilled riders o Short compromise bow  Shot arrows while riding o Hunting tactics like the nerge to encircle enemy  Applied hunting strategies to battle  Nerge: encircle the prey, forming a circle around the prey and killing whatever is trapped in the middle o Siege-craft  Careful about who to spare  Those with particular skills were required, especially those with engineering  Used to subdue cities o Terror  Using banners and drums were able to simulate greater numbers than they actually had  Aware of numerical disadvantage o Only about 1 million of them  Use of genocide to create fear  Slaughter cities  Sent messengers to other cities that they were on the path of conquest to o When people heard the stories, it often convinced them to surrender instead of fighting o Feigning retreat in order to lead the enemy into a trap o Later on, able to create large naval expeditions  Conquest of Japan o All healthy males under the age of 60 expected to fight o Soldiers were not paid, but shared in the spoils of war  Incentive to fight  Fund set up for veterans and those who were injured by the war o Coordination and communication in battle  Waving different types of banners and sounding different drums o Other nomads were using a lot of these strategies, so why were the Mongols far more successful than the others?  What were the contingent factors that contributed to this phenomenon?  Climate change and battery's of nomadic behavior prior to 1200 o David Ringrose’s article  Warming trend from 800-1200  Greater amounts of rainfall, especially in Eurasia o Allowed for agriculture at higher altitudes and in more northern locations  Demographic effects on global scale  Northward expansion of agriculture to areas that were previously unfit for farming  Increased carrying capacity (how many organisms a particular territory can sustain) of the steppes o Population of the nomads themselves started to increase  Minor population explosion  Started to move further south  Frontier between nomads and farmers sensitive to climate change  Traditional buffer zone that separated nomads and farmers shrank during this time period o In much greater proximity to each other than ever before  A lot more tension between these groups globally  Nomad incursions into previously sedentary/agricultural societies from 11-12 century o Western Asia, Seljuk Turks into Iranian heartland  Turks moved south  Set up sultanate o Northeast Asia, Khitans and then Jurchens conquered northern China  Khitans began to move south toward the Yellow River  Jurchens also pushed south to the Yellow River Valley o Turkic nomadic slave-soldiers (Mamluks)  Put a hauls to Mongol expansion when they reached the Abbasid Empire o Mongols integrated areas that were already ruled/conquered by other nomads The Accidental Empire  Conquerors by default o Following traditional outer frontier strategy  Attack, threaten, intimidate sedentary soc
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