Tuesday 15 August 2017

Mongol Empire under Genghis Khan

Mongol Empire emerged from the unification of Mongol Tribes in East Asia under leadership of Genghis Khan and was the one of the largest empire in history, spanning from Levant and Arabia till the Sea of Japan(East Sea) and from Siberia in the North till Indian Subcontinent to the South. The empire lasted from 1206 CE to its peak in 1260 CE and its disintegration in 1368 CE.

Genghis Khan Equestrian Statue, Mongolia

The area around Mongolia been controlled by the Liao dynasty since the 10th century. In 1125, the Jin dynasty founded by the Jurchens overthrew the Liao dynasty and attempted to gain control over former Liao territory in Mongolia. The Mongolian plateau was occupied mainly by five powerful tribal confederations (khanlig): Keraites, Khamag Mongol, Naiman, Mergid, and Tatar. The Jin emperors, following a policy of divide and rule, encouraged disputes among the tribes.

Mongolian Plateau

Genghis Khan,
born Temüjin, married Börte of the Onggirat tribe when he was around 16 in order to cement alliances between their two tribes. Börte would be Temüjin's only empress, though he married several times. War ensued, and Temujin and the forces loyal to him prevailed, destroying all the remaining rival tribes from 1203 to 1205 and bringing them under his sway. In 1206, Temujin was crowned as the khagan of the Yekhe Mongol Ulus (Great Mongol State) at a kurultai (general assembly/council). It was there that he assumed the title of Genghis Khan (universal leader) marking the start of the Mongol Empire.

Genghis Khan

Genghis Khan introduced many innovative ways of organizing his army, dividing it into decimal subsections of arbans (10 people), zuuns (100), Mingghans (1000), and tumens (10,000). The Kheshig, or the imperial guard, was founded and divided into day (khorchin torghuds) and night guards (khevtuul). Genghis rewarded those who had been loyal to him and placed them in high positions, placing them as heads of army units and households, even though many of his allies had been from very low-rank clans.

Mongol Warrior

Genghis quickly came into conflict with the Jin dynasty of the Jurchens and the Western Xia of the Tanguts in northern China. He also had to deal with two other powers, Tibet and Khara Khitai. In 1211, after the conquest of Western Xia, he managed to force the emperor of Xi Xia to submit to vassal status. 

Battle between Mongol warriors and the Chinese

In 1211, after the conquest of Western Xia, Genghis Khan planned to conquer the Jin dynasty. Wanyan Jiujin, the field commander of the Jin army, made a tactical mistake in not attacking the Mongols at the first opportunity. At this engagement fought at Yehuling, the Mongols massacred hundreds of thousands of Jin troops. In 1215, Genghis besieged, captured, and sacked the Jin capital of Zhongdu (modern-day Beijing). This forced the Jin ruler, Emperor Xuanzong, to move his capital south to Kaifeng, abandoning the northern half of his empire to the Mongols. Jin Empire ended the siege of Caizhou.

Genghis Khan entering Beijing.

By 1218, as a result of defeat of Qara Khitai, the Mongol Empire and its control extended as far west as Lake Balkhash, which bordered Khwarazmia, a Muslim state that reached the Caspian Sea to the west and Persian Gulf and the Arabian Sea to the south. 

Lake Balkhash

In the early 13th century, the Khwarazmian dynasty in Central Asia was governed by Shah Ala ad-Din Muhammad. Genghis Khan planned one of his largest invasion campaigns by organizing together around 100,000 soldiers (10 tumens), his most capable generals and some of his sons. He left a commander and number of troops in China, designated his successors to be his family members and likely appointed Ögedei to be his immediate successor and then went out to Khwarazmia. The empire was defeated in 1220 CE. 

Khwarazmia Empire

After the defeat of the Khwarazmian Empire in 1220, Genghis Khan gathered his forces in Persia and Armenia to return to the Mongolian steppes. Mongol army was split into two forces. Genghis Khan led the main army on a raid through Afghanistan and northern India towards Mongolia, while another 20,000 (two tumen) contingent marched through the Caucasus and into Russia under generals Jebe and Subutai. They pushed deep into Armenia and Azerbaijan. The Mongols destroyed the kingdom of Georgia. 

Mongol Horse Archers

In 1226, immediately after returning from the west, Genghis Khan began a retaliatory attack on the Tanguts(Western Xia Empire). His armies quickly took Heisui, Ganzhou, and Suzhou. One of the Tangut generals challenged the Mongols to a battle near Helan Mountains but was defeated. In November, Genghis laid siege to the Tangut city Lingzhou and crossed the Yellow River, defeating the Tangut relief army.

Mongol "Great Khans" coin

In 1227, Genghis Khan's army attacked and destroyed the Tangut(Western Xia) capital of Ning Hia and continued to advance to Deshun province in quick succession in the spring. At Deshun, the Tangut general Ma Jianlong put up a fierce resistance for several days and personally led charges against the invaders outside the city gate. Ma Jianlong later died from wounds received from arrows in battle. The new Tangut emperor quickly surrendered to the Mongols, and the rest of the Tanguts officially surrendered soon after. Khan had the imperial family executed.

Statue of Genghis Khan

Genghis Khan died in August 1227, during the fall of Yinchuan, which is the capital of Western Xia. The exact cause of his death remains a mystery, and is variously attributed to being killed in action against the Western Xia, illness, falling from his horse, or wounds sustained in hunting or battle. Genghis Khan asked to be buried without markings, according to the customs of his tribe.

Mongol Empire at time of Death of Genghis Khan

The Mausoleum of Genghis Khan is a temple devoted to the worship of Genghis Khan. It is located along a river in Kandehuo Enclosure, Xinjie Town, Inner Mongolia, People's Republic of China. The mausoleum is a cenotaph, where the coffin contains no body but only headdresses and accessories, because the actual Tomb of Genghis Khan has never been discovered.

Mausoleum of Genghis Khan

Genghis named his third son, the charismatic Ögedei, as his heir. The regency was originally held by Ögedei's younger brother Tolui until Ögedei's formal election at the kurultai in 1229.

Ögedei Khan

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