Learn more about Mongols
| Image:Genghis Khan.jpgImage:Sorghaghtani Beki.jpgImage:Kublai Khan.jpgImage:Emperor Chengzong of Yuan China.png|
|Total population||10 million|
|Regions with significant populations||Mongolia, China, Russia|
|Religion|| Tibetan Buddhism,Shamanism, Christianity, Islam, None <tr>
<th style="background-color:#fee8ab;">Related ethnic groups</th> <td style="background-color:#fff6d9;">Khalkha, Daurs, Buryats, Evenks, Dorbots, Kalmyks, Oirats, Chakhars, Tumeds, Ordoses, Bayad, Dariganga, Urianhai, Uzemchin and Zakhchin.</td>
Mongols (Mongolian: Монгол Mongol) are an ethnic group that originated in what is now Mongolia, Russia, and China or more specifically on the Central Asian plateau north of the Gobi desert and south of Siberia.
They currently number about 10 million and speak the Mongol language. There are approximately 2.7 million Mongols in Mongolia, five million Mongols living in Inner Mongolia, China and one million Mongols live in Russia. The major body of the Mongols are the Khalkas. Major ethnic subgroups of Mongolic peoples are: the Khalkhas; the Buryats and the Dorbots of Siberia; the Kalmyks (Oirats) of the Caucasus; and the Mongours (Tu), the Daurs, and the various other Mongolic peoples of Inner Mongolia in China.
 Earlier history
 Genghis Khan
Genghis Khan (c. 1160–1227) was originally called Temujin. He united his own clan with others, forming a military juggernaut which swept across the Asian continent to the fringes of Europe and the Holy Roman Empire.
The Mongols were originally a confederation of tribes in competition with the Tatar Turks, Kerait, Merkit and Naiman confederations and therefore only one division of what is known today as the Mongol nation. Genghis Khan unified the Mongol people by absorbing the other confederations into his own, and the word "Mongol" came to mean the entire people.
Though few in number (approximately two million people at the height of their empire), Mongols were important in Eurasian history. Under the leadership of Genghis Khan, the Mongols created the second largest empire in world history, ruling thirty-five million square kilometres (13.8 million square miles) and more than 100 million people, nearly equal to the British Empire in land area. At its height, the Mongol Empire extended from Manchuria in the east to Hungary in the west, and from Russia in the north to Java island in Indonesia in the south, and it included most of the lands in between, such as Afghanistan, Turkey, Uzbekistan, Georgia, Armenia, Russia, Persia, Pakistan, China, and much of the Middle East.
The Mongols were a group of nomadic people who in the 13th century found themselves encompassed by large, city-dwelling agrarian civilizations. However, none of these civilizations, with the possible exception of the Islamic Caliphate located in Baghdad, were part of a strong central state. Asia, Russia, and the Middle East were controlled by either declining kingdoms or divided city states. Taking the strategic initiative, the Mongols exploited this power vacuum and linked all of these areas into a mutually supportive trade network.
 Mongol Empire
The Mongols were nomadic people who raised livestock by pasturing and produced everything they needed from the herds. The unification of the Mongol tribes by Genghis Khan strengthened the country in the 13th century.
Genghis Khan found himself being chased by his father's enemies since he was 9 years old when his father Yesugei, a chief of a tribe, died of poison served by his enemy the Merkit clan at a wedding. At that time, Mongolia was divided into many small tribes and most of the tribal chiefs wanted more power over others. For this reason, small-scale conflicts were frequent.
Mongol tribes frequently raided each other. The spoils of these raids were then distributed by the leaders to their soldiers and allies in order to consolidate their political position. This is clearly attested to by Genghis Khan's own personal history: Before he became the Great Khan (khaghan), his own wife was kidnapped in a raid by the Merkits - his father's enemies - and he had to organize a counterattack to rescue her. This was revenge for a previous generations' acts - specifically, how Genghis Khan's father Yesugei married his mother. Yesugei saw Oulen on the road as a bride for an arranged wedding with a Merkit and Yesugei fought and chased away the Merkit groom and his people who were protecting Oulen on the road. After that Yesugei married Oulen. Therefore, the Merkits became an enemy of Yesugei's clan Khyad and the feud crossed to the next generation.
After forming a union of tribes, Genghis Khan forbade the inter-tribal raids that contributed to poverty and instability. These tribes started to adopt the name of the never defeated tribe of the Mongols. Officially the nation of Great Mongolia was established in 1206. Trade played a very important role for the Mongols. However incidents of humilitation of their traders are reported. This gave a diplomatic reason to declare war. On the other hand, Mongols relied upon good intelligence for raids and warfare. Intelligence was usually provided by traders. Besides lifestock, raids and war provided the items to trade for goods to improve the people's harsh living conditions in the steppes. With the establishment of their empire trade was secured and boomed throughout Eurasia and a messenger system, urtuu, was installed. The trader Marco Polo delivered knowledge about China and Mongolia to Europe.
According to the Secret History of the Mongols, Genghis Khan never initiated war or attacked any country; his expeditions were mostly revenge for either killed messengers or traders. Before the wars, he always sent words to the countries' kings asking for their surrender without human loss or war would take place.
Conquest, in the Khan's initial viewpoint, was economical. The Mongols accessed items to improve their harsh living conditions. These could be provided by raid or trade. After forbidding inter-tribal raids, his union of tribes needed a new target. When raiding other nomadic tribes, the aim was to gain strength. Troops and tribute had to be supplied for the Mongols welfare or the fate would be extinction. With thorough organization they were able to sack all valuable from the city dwellers. Psychological warfare was employed if using force. The city was razed, the resisters were killed, especially the upper class. Only useful people, such as craftsmen, artists, defectors and messengers to spread the news of their terror were spared. After establishing a threatening theatre, bloodshed was not always necessary. If there was no resistance, Mongols usually left the town unharmed and demanded that the townspeople pay them tribute.
Different theories exist as to why the Mongols initially behaved in such an extreme manner. From a military perspective, the Mongols were often far from home territory and greatly out-numbered, and therefore it was unwise to leave enemies at their rear. Terror also served as a useful weapon in reducing an opponent's ability to rally support against Mongol invasion. Theories on the economic relationships between nomads and towns, that was essential for the Mongols, are debated to this day.
As the Mongols grew more powerful, the initial strategy altered. They started to build a vassal empire. If the city-dwelling peoples were allowed to continue their way of life, they could produce a surplus of food and goods, a portion of which could be paid to the Khan as taxes. Given the Khan's extraordinary success in his aggressive foreign policy, this wealth could be equally extraordinary. Until 1225 they continued their invasions through Western Asia towards Europe, into Persia and Kievan Rus'.
In 1227, Genghis Khan died; he had advised that his third son Ogedei should follow him, avoiding a civil war between the siblings. This advice was often interpretated, that Ogedei and his descendants should inherit the rulership of the Mongols. The tribes elected Ogedei Khan to succeed. Ogedei Khan continued the expansion into North-Eastern Asia, conquering Northern China and vassalizing Korea in the process. The armies of the Mongols had reached Poland, Hungary, and Egypt by 1241, and were poised to continue. Scouts of Ogedei even reached France.<ref>What If?: The World's Foremost Military Historians Imagine What Might Have Been., Cecelia Holland The Death That Saved Europe, The Mongols Turn Back 1242, Pages 93-106, September 1, 2000, Publisher Berkley Trade, ISBN 0-425-17642-8</ref>. When Ogedei Khan suddenly died, a messenger came to Subutai-the chief leader of Mongol troops conquering Europe asking him to return to Mongolia for two month mourning. Subutai never returned to Europe for another conquest. Nearly a decade later, Mongka Khan, grandson of Genghis and nephew of Ogedei, took the throne, through the assistance of his mother Sorghaghtani Beki. By this time, the Western expansion had lost its momentum.
These events are credited in several counterfactual historical scenarios with saving European civilization from a second "Dark Age" precipitated by Mongol conquest. Evidence given in support of such theories usually include the swift and crushing early victories of the Mongol campaign in Poland and Hungary, and the disunified state of the other European powers. Such scenarios, however carefully constructed, must always be viewed keeping in mind their nature as mere speculation. Besides this point of view often neglects the reported achievements under Mongol's rule.
 Ethnic, cultural and religious diversity
The term Mongol, referring to the 12th and 13th century Mongol reign, included soldiers and generals in the Middle East, China, Eastern and central Europe who all fought under the identity of Mongols although not exclusively having a heritage in modern Mongolia. This is because the army generals were chosen for their proven abilities in the Mongol army and the country extended over Eurasia at that time.
In addition to his own blood brothers, Genghis Khan had at least three adopted brothers from different nationalities and ethnic groups among his enemies. Those adopted brothers were found by Genghis Khan's soldiers in savaged lands when they were young children and given to Genghis Khan's mother Oulen. These adopted brothers of Genghis Khan rose to high positions in Genghis Khan's armies and court because of their abilities and the skills taught them by Oulen. One of them is Shihikhutug, who became the author of Yasa -- the major written law dictated by Gengkhis Khan.
Various members of the Mongol Court, including Sorghaghtani Beki, were Nestorian Christians. Mongols were originally shamans who pray to the supernatural God they believed existed beyond the sky and look down from the heavens. The Mongols and Genghis Khan maintained a policy of being open to all religions, it was known as particularly sympathetic to Christians (which may have helped contribute to the legend of Prester John). In 1253 the court followed the suggestion of Crusader Kingdoms in Syria and attacked the Muslim capitals of Baghdad and Cairo, dispatching an enormous army commanded by Hulagu Khan. Baghdad was conquered and sacked in 1258, with the city's Christians being spared and the Abbasid caliph killed. However, while the troops were on the road to Cairo, Mongka Khan died in 1259, and much of the force returned home for the selection of a new leader. Mamluk troops finally repelled the attack in 1260, in the celebrated Battle of Ain Jalut. This, and ultimately the "Gates of Vienna," marked the farthest West the Mongol Empire would progress.
Kublai Khan quickly succeeded Mongka Khan, moved the court to Beijing favoring warmer weather, formed the Yuan dynasty, and re-started the invasion of China, in the first war fought with guns on both sides. After eighteen years, Kublai Khan conquered both Northern and Southern China, forming the largest (land) empire in history (famously described by Marco Polo).
However, by the early 14th century, the prominence of trade and a possible cooling of the world's climates led to worldwide outbreaks of plague, which encouraged revolt and invasion. Early Ming Emperors led campaigns into Mongolia and destroyed Harhorin and Khar Khot, but later Ming Emperors resorted to more defensive policies. Meanwhile, various Mongolian tribes fought against each other, usually Western Mongols (Oirats) against Eastern Mongols (Chakhars, Tumeds, Ordoses, or Khalkhas), and continued to threaten China's borders.
The internal struggle gave the emerging Manchus the opportunity to assimilate the Mongol tribes bit by bit. In 1636, the Chakhars of Inner Mongolia asked for military help from Manchu for a war against its brother Khalkhas, and the Manchu Emperor agreed. However, instead of helping Inner Mongols, Manchuria attacked Inner Mongols during a lull in action and conquered them before the war. In 1691, the Khalkhas of Outer Mongolia were converted into Tibetan Buddhism by their leader Zanabazar - great grandson of Genghis Khan. Zanabazar became Mongolia's first Buddhist monk. Some historians believe he was tricked by Manchu into becoming a monk for the political purpose of changing an aggressive warrior nation into a more tolerant people. Zanabazar asked for the help of the Manchurian Emperor in order to defeat Khalkhas' Mongol brother the Oirat in war. Manchuria agreed, but Manchuria attacked Mongolia during the night prior to the war and colonized Mongolia.
Ogedei Khan first introduced the post system to the world. His established system was to set up post people every ten miles with two to three horses in each direction from the capital city of Mongolia. When Khan issued a decree, the post people delivered it to the next post person, and the next post person to another, and thus the decree would be delivered to any location needed within a relatively short period of time. The system was named urtuu and worked until after 1921 in Mongolia. The post people received a salary, and they had a special badge that is the equivalent of today's police badge. The post people could use anyone's horse if necessary or in an emergency - and families and people had to give the post people food and water if the post people asked for it.
Scope of Mongol operations
The Mongols were one of the most feared forces ever to take the field of battle. Operating in massive sweeps, extending over dozens of miles, the fierce horsemen combined a shock, mobility and firepower unmatched in land warfare until the gunpowder age. Other peoples such as the Romans had stronger infantry, and others like the Byzantines deployed more heavily armored cavalry. Still others were experts in fortification, but none combined combat power on land with such devastating range, speed, scope and effectiveness as the Mongols.
The Mongols also deployed technical expertise, using siege experts, sappers and mass labor to help destroy fortified strongpoints. From their small niche on the Mongolian steppe, the Mongol warriors defeated some of the world's most powerful, well established and sophisticated empires, claiming over one-twelfth of the world's land surface at their height, seen by some as the largest contiguous empire in human history -- stretching from Asia, to Europe to the Middle East.
Weapons and equipment of the Mongols: the Mongols deployed three general weapons; bows, scimitars and lances. Of these the most important was the dreaded Mongol Bow. Some scholars (See Encyc Britannica -- Warfare, Conduct of) show two types of bows, one for long range markmanship and the other for shorter range work. Arrows were of different "calibers" for tactical purposes, ranging from warheads capable of penetrating heavy armor, to an assortment of longer range, more specialized heads like "fire" arrows. Like many Asiatic bows, the Mongol bow was composite, made from glue, horn, sinew, wood and bamboo. Lances and scimitars were used for close range encounters within cities or against dispersed enemies in the field. The central weapon however was the bow, with a range of over two-hundred yards.
Morale and makeup of the Mongol warrior and their mounts: The Mongol was an exceedingly tough warrior. Reared on the harsh steppes of their native land, they were generally a short people, spending hours on horseback from childhood. They were used to privation and hardship, and were extremely dedicated. The Mongol was always seemed to identify with his horse -- the equally tough, hardy steppe pony. They were inseparable, the horse not only providing the means of transport into battle, but being very important to the Mongol steppe economy, providing milk, blood, and meat for food, hair and skin for clothing and tents, and glue and sinews for bow and arrow making. On the march, the Mongol warrior carried a string of ponies, rotating them as remounts to keep up the momentum of the advance. In a tight spot the Mongol would bleed selected ponies, using their blood to assuage his hunger. This extremely lean style of operation contributed to the rapidity of Mongol maneuvers. Typically, the Mongol was practical about his mounts and would discard or slaughter them as demanded by the situation without sentiment.
Organization and tactics of the Mongols:
Numerous accounts of the Mongols typically call them a "horde" as if they were merely a mob of savage, milling horsemen. Nothing could be further from the truth: the term "horde", in fact, derives from the Mongol "ordu", simply meaning camp.
The tumen (meaning ten thousand) decimal system and leadership The armies of Genghis Khan were organized by tens, hundreds, thousands, and tens of thousands, and each segment had commanders, who were chosen by proven ability, not because of their relations to the Khan. - In reality they were tightly organized troops, parceled into units of ten, and from that basic building block, grouped into larger formations roughly corresponding to regiments and other units, finally culminating in the distinct field force of 10,000 horsemen, the famous Mongol tumen. Several of these divisional equivalents were grouped or subdivided as the situation demanded. Coordination was provided by designated unit leaders, with signalling done via horns, smokes, flags etc. Whatever the exact mix or sub-division deployed, it usually spelled bad news for their opponents.
Swarm/encirclement tactics and massed firepower in the field - Mongol tactics were marked by speed, surprise and massive mobility. They approached in widely separated columns, both to ease logistics as well as to gain maneuvering room. Once they had isolated their target, the tumans deployed in wide sweeps, converging on the enemy from several directions. Upon contact the Mongols played cat and mouse, standing-off while devastating opponents with massed arrow fire, or charging in close only to veer off while discharging yet another vicious rain of shafts. Opponents who took the bait and gave pursuit were quickly cut off and liquidated. The constant rain of arrows, the converging swarms of charges and probes, all carried out by the encircling Mongols, were usually enough to "soften up" an enemy. Typically the opposing force broke and then the deadliest butchery began. As is well known, a force is most vulnerable in retreat, and the Mongols were ruthless.
Flexible tactics -- ruses and ambushes- The Mongols were not rigid in their thinking, nor did they adhere to European notions of "chivalry". They deployed a wide variety of large or small tactical subdivisions as the action demanded, and feigned retreat to set traps for pursuers, conducted ambushes, and constantly probed and raided their enemies. Unsentimental in their approach to warfare, they did whatever it took to win.
Mongol siege warfare and Logistics - The Mongol logistical system was distinguished by its mobility and practicality. Most columns or tumen were self-sufficient in the short run. The Mongol armies lived off the land extensively -- bad news indeed for hapless civilians in their path. Heavier equipment was brought up by well-organized supply trains. Local lumber, labor, and other resources were pressed into service to feed the needs of the advancing tumen.
Primarily a cavalry force, the Mongols made wide use of captured or hired siege engineers to overcome fortifications. A supply train hauled a variety of siege engines in the wake of the touman sweep, and these were deployed against cities. The Mongols were unsentimental and used every trick in the book, from sapper tunnels to treachery. Once a city had fallen it was subjected to wholesale massacre and pillaging. Cities that surrendered had an easier time, but regardless of how the city or area submitted, certain outcomes were still the same. The Mongol era was characterized by supply trains hauling booty to their core homeland in the steppes.
Mongol terror - Mongol terror and atrocity was notable even for the 13th century. They employed a deliberate policy of terror. It was not unusual for them to round up the civilian population of a city or area and drive the hapless victims forward against an opponent as a human herd, forcing the opponent to make the anguished choice of firing upon or killing its own people, Contemporary accounts speak of mass mountains of human bones, or of vast areas burned to rubble, devoid of all life. Long before Imperial Japan used the phrase, Mongol operations in many areas could indeed be classified as a "Three All" policy- "burn all, kill all, destroy all." And yet such terror at times also had a rational end in sight -- to intimidate opponents further down the line into surrendering or making concessions. In a cruel age, where few nations or tribes won prizes for humane behavior, the Mongols added their own distinct stamp.
Defeat of the Mongols Undefeated in most encounters, Mongols operations under Genghis Khan and his later successors stretched from Asia, to Central Europe, to Russia, to India, and to the Middle East. What then stopped the Asiatic horsemen from conquering the whole land surface of the earth?
The tribal structure, for one, was a relatively fragile one, held together initially by Genghis Khan's ruthless will. On his death, the empire became divided. Such division arguably saved the people of Europe, for Mongol victories penetrated as far as Poland and Hungary and could have gone much further. Succession disputes and deliberations, however, caused the fierce horsemen to withdraw from Central Europe. Russia received no such reprieve, nor did China, nor parts of the Middle East, but they met their fates separately under varying circumstances.
Over time, some conquered peoples were able to dilute, absorb, or blunt Mongol advances. China is the most famous example, with the strong Chinese culture eventually absorbing and "converting" the rough horsemen. Another factor was that success bred division, so that in time, like the Vikings, Mongol came to fight Mongol over the spoils of victory!
Some Mongolian historians believe that Tibetan Buddhism, introduced to Mongolia in the 17th century, played some role in blunting the power of the Mongols.
The Mongols also were never really tested for an extended time on terrain unsuitable to mass cavalry sweeps, nor were they noted for exploits in the naval arena. These twin factors would have been hindrances in further expansion, although, as noted above, they were supremely adaptable. They conquered Afghanistan's main routes and cities with ease, but the bulk of the country, with its forbidding terrain, bane of invaders everywhere, was not pacified. The Mongols also met defeat in Japan, failing to project their power over a large body of water and maintain a foothold on a hostile shore. Whether they would have had the same world-conquering success had they pushed into the forests and swamps beyond Poland or Hungary is open to question.
Mongol manpower also was not unlimited. The steppe economy was supremely proficient in producing tough archers and their ponies. But the farther away they moved from that area, the greater the drain on their manpower. Although shrewd and adaptable, such manpower problems would loom large in any putative program of world conquest. Finally, the shrinkage of the steppes because of the encroachment of agricultural peoples helped reduce the economic base that had produced so many ponies and fighting men. The final straw was the gunpowder age, which put paid to the run of success enjoyed by the mounted warrior, not only in Asia but elsewhere as well.
 Timeline of conquest
The Mongols attempted two unsuccessful invasions of Japan (see Mongol invasions of Japan). The first attempt ended in a retreat after the Battle of Bun'ei in 1274. The second attempt was cancelled after many ships had been destroyed by a famous typhoon, called kamikaze (divine wind) in 1281.
The Mongols succeeded very briefly in their invasion of Dai Viet in the northern part of contemporary Vietnam, but were soon defeated by the Vietnamese general Tran Hung Dao after almost three decades. The attack on the Javanese kingdom of Sinhasari in 1293 caused the collapse of that state, but the new empire of Majapahit remained independent.
Estimated fatalities from the Mongol campaigns (note they are not undisputed):
- 1200-1215, Northern China — thirty million (including Yanjing number).
- 1216-1278, Southern China — fifteen million (including Chengdu number).
- 1215, Yanjing China (present-day Beijing) — nearly one million killed in assault.
- 1278, Chengdu, South China, — nearly 1.5 million killed in assault.
- 1221, Nishapur, Persia — nearly 1.7 million killed in assault.
- 1221, Merv, Persia — nearly 1.4 million killed in assault.
- 1221, Meru Chahjan, Persia — nearly 1.3 million killed in assault.
- 1221, Rayy, Persia — nearly 1.6 million killed in assault.
- 1236, Bilär, Bulgar cities, Volga Bulgaria — 150,000 or more, nearly half of population.
- 1237-1240, Kievan Rus' — half of population killed in assault
- 1241, Battle of Legnica — defeat of a combined Polish-Teutonic Order force in Lower Silesia (Poland).
- 1241, Batu Khan defeats Bela IV of Hungary at the Battle of Muhi, nearly 500,000 people killed in assault.
- 1242 the Mongols turn back to attend to the election of a new Grand Khan.
- 1258, Baghdad — nearly 800,000 people killed in assault. Results in destruction of Abbasid dynasty.
- 1398, India, then known as Hindustan — more than 100,000 people killed in Delhi. Paves the way for the establishment of the Mughal dynasty.
 Modern history
In 1911, Mongolia revolted against Manchu rule with Russian support, forming modern Mongolia. A Communist government was formed in 1921 (see People's Republic of Mongolia). During World War II, the USSR defended Mongolia from Japanese invasion. However, the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party, for reasons both practical and philosophical, enacted an often brutal if not entirely effective sweeping aside of Mongolian tradition, working against the Buddhist religions, clan-ism, and script, and for collectivism (as opposed to the traditional nomadic lifestyle). Mongolia aligned itself with Russia after the Sino-Soviet split of 1958. In 1990 the Communist government was overthrown, and by 1992 Mongolia established a parliamentary government.
Inner Mongolia is an autonomous region within China. Han Chinese have been massively re-settled there and are the dominant ethnic group. China places many of the same cultural restrictions on Inner Mongolians. However, Inner Mongolians are exempt from the government's one-child policy, and the PRC officially promotes the Mongol language.
- Republic of Kalmykia (Western Mongolians - Oirats)
- Ust-Orda Buryat Autonomous Okrug
- Agin-Buryat Autonomous Okrug
- Buryat Republic
Some major and many minor Mongol ethnic groups also live in Central Asia, Transoxania, China and more. These include:
- Hazara's living mainly in Afghanistan & Pakistan
- Bayin'gholin Mongol Autonomous Prefecture(Autonomous Prefecture of Xianjiang)
- Börtala Mongol Autonomous Prefecture(Autonomous Prefecture of Xianjiang)
- Other autonomous areas of Xianjiang also include Mongolian minority groups ranging from 4% to up.
Many ethnic groups which had historical chain with the steppe warriors have some mixture with them. These include Tadjiks, Kazaks, Uzbeks, Tatars, Kyrgyzs, Persians, and many more.
Contrary to the popular bias based on history, the Mongols of Mongolia, especially those the nomads, are regarded by most Westerners with first-hand knowledge as some of the kindest and warmest people in the world.
- Brent, Peter. The Mongol Empire: Genghis Khan: His Triumph and his Legacy. Book Club Associates, London. 1976.
- Encyclopædia Britannica Almanac 2006, pg. 505
- Introduction to the History of Mongolia, Indiana University - 
- Genghis Khan and the Great Mongolian Empire, University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology - 
- Boyle, John Andrew. The Successors of Genghis Khan. (translated from the Persian of Rashid al-Din). Columbia University Press, 1971.
- The Secret History of Mongols, Rashid al-Din," http://www.idiocentrism.com/turan.who.htm "
 See also
 External links
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