Saturday 23 December 2017

Mongol Empire under Ögedei 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. Genghis Khan died in August 1227, during the fall of Yinchuan, which is the capital of Western Xia. The empire began to split due to wars over succession, as the grandchildren of Genghis Khan disputed whether the royal line should follow which of his sons.

Mongolian Grasslands

Genghis Khan left behind an army of more than 129,000 men; 28,000 were given to his various brothers and his sons. Tolui, his youngest son, inherited more than 100,000 men. This force contained the bulk of the elite Mongolian cavalry.

Statue of Genghis Khan at his mausoleum, China

Ögedei Khan, was the third son of Genghis Khan and second Great Khan of the Mongol Empire, succeeding his father. He continued the expansion of the empire that his father had begun, and was a world figure when the Mongol Empire reached its farthest extent west and south during the Mongol invasions of Europe and East Asia. Like all of Genghis' primary sons, he participated extensively in conquests in China, Iran, and Central Asia.

Coronation of Ögedei in 1229. Rashid al-Din, early 14th century

Among his first actions, Ögedei sent troops to subjugate the Bashkirs, Bulgars, and other nations in the Kipchak-controlled steppes. In the east, Ögedei's armies re-established Mongol authority in Manchuria, crushing the Eastern Xia regime. In 1230, the great khan personally led his army in the campaign against the Jin dynasty (China). Ögedei's general Subutai captured the capital of Emperor Wanyan Shouxu in the siege of Kaifeng in 1232.

General Subutai - Medieval Chinese Drawing

The Jin dynasty collapsed in 1234 when the Mongols captured Caizhou, the town where Emperor Wanyan Shouxu had fled. In 1234, three armies commanded by Ögedei's sons Kochu and Koten, as well as the Tangut general Chagan, invaded southern China. With the assistance of the Song dynasty, the Mongols finished off the Jin in 1234.

From 1235–38 Ögedei constructed a series of palaces and pavilions at stopping places in his annual nomadic route through central Mongolia. The first palace Wanangong was constructed by North Chinese artisans. The Emperor urged his relatives build residences nearby and settled the deported craftsmen from China near the site. The construction of the city, Karakorum (Хархорум), was finished in 1235, assigning different quarters to Islamic and North Chinese craftsmen, who competed to win Ögedei's favor.

Stone tortoise of Karakorum

In an offensive action against the Song dynasty, Mongol armies captured Siyang-yang, the Yangtze and Sichuan, but did not secure their control over the conquered sites. The Song generals were able to recapture Siyang-yang from the Mongols in 1239. After the sudden death of Ögedei's son Kochu in Chinese territory, the Mongols withdrew from southern China, although Kochu's brother Prince Koten invaded Tibet right after their withdrawal. Batu Khan, another grandson of Genghis Khan, overran the countries of the southern Russian steppe.

Batu Khan, another grandson of Genghis Khan, overran the countries of the southern Russian steppe.

Ögedei appointed Dayir commander of Ghazni and Menggetu commander in Qonduz. In winter 1241 the Mongol force invaded the Indus valley and besieged Lahore, Pakistan. However, Dayir died storming the town, on 30 December 1241, and the Mongols butchered the town before withdrawing from the Delhi Sultanate.

Lahore, Pakistan

Ögedei was considered to be his father Genghis Khan's favorite son, ever since his childhood. As an adult, he was known for his ability to sway doubters in any debate in which he was involved, simply by the force of his personality. He was a physically big, jovial, and very charismatic man, who seemed mostly to be interested in enjoying good times. He was intelligent and steady in character. His charisma was partially credited for his success in keeping the Mongol Empire on the path that his father had set.

Portrait of Ögedei Khan (the 14th century)

Ögedei Khan fell victim to alcoholism. Chagatai entrusted an official to watch his habit, but Ögedei managed to drink anyway. When he died at dawn on 11 December 1241, after a late-night drinking bout with Abd-ur-Rahman, the people blamed the sister of Tolui's widow and Abd-ur-Rahman. The Mongol aristocrats recognized, however, that the Khagan's own lack of self-control had killed him.

Statue of Ögedei Khan in Mongolia

The advance into Europe continued with Mongol invasions of Poland and Hungary. Before Batu Khan's forces could continue into Vienna and northern Albania, news of Ögedei's death in December 1241 brought a halt to the invasion. As was customary in Mongol military tradition, all princes of Genghis's line had to attend the kurultai to elect a successor. Batu and his western Mongol army withdrew from Central Europe the next year.

Modern Day Vienna

Sunday 10 December 2017

Spanish rule in Nicaragua

Spanish launched a campaign against the natives of the territory now incorporated into the modern Central American republic of Nicaragua during the colonisation of the Americas. Before European contact in the early 16th century, Nicargua was inhabited by a number of indigenous peoples. In the west, these included Mesoamerican groups such as the Chorotega, the Nicarao, and the Subtiaba. Other groups included the Matagalpa and the Tacacho. 


Christopher Columbus discovered the New World for the Kingdom of Castile and Leon in 1492. Private adventurers thereafter entered into contracts with the Spanish Crown to conquer the newly discovered lands in return for tax revenues and the power to rule. The Spanish founded Santo Domingo on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola in the 1490s. In the first decades after the discovery of the new lands, the Spanish colonised the Caribbean and established a centre of operations on the island of Cuba.

Portrait of a man said to be Christopher Columbus

In the first two decades of the 16th century, the Spanish established their domination over the islands of the Caribbean Sea, and used these as a staging point to launch their campaigns of conquest on the continental mainland of the Americas. From Hispaniola, the Spanish launched expeditions and campaigns of conquest, reaching Puerto Rico in 1508, Jamaica in 1509, Cuba in 1511, and Florida in 1513.

Coast of Puerto Rico

In 1513, while exploring westwards, Balboa discovered the Pacific Ocean, and in 1519 Pedrarias Dávila founded Panama City on the Pacific coast. Various expeditions were then launched northwards involving notable conquistadors such as Pedrarias Dávila, Gil González Dávila, and Francisco Hernández de Córdoba.

A church in Panama City

Gil González Dávila first entered what is now Nicaragua in 1522, with the permission of Pedrarias Dávila, governor of Castilla de Oro (modern Panama) but was driven back to his ships by the Chorotega. In 1524, a new expedition led by Francisco Hernández de Córdoba founded the Spanish towns of León and Granada. Within a century of the conquest, the native inhabitants had been all but eliminated due to war, disease, and exportation as slaves.

Granada, Nicaragua

Hernández was able to collect a substantial amount of gold in Nicaragua, collecting more than 100,000 pesos of gold in a single expedition. In May 1524, Hernández sent a brigantine back to Panama with the Royal fifth, which amounted to 185,000 gold pesos. By 1525, Spanish power had been consolidated in western Panama, and reinforcements had arrived from Natá, in Panama, which had become a key port of call for shipping between Nicaragua and Panama.

San Juan, Nicargua

In 1526, Pedrarias was replaced as governor of Castilla del Oro; Diego López de Salcedo, governor of Honduras, took advantage of the change in leadership to extend his jurisdiction to include Nicaragua. He marched to Nicaragua with 150 men to impose his authority. He arrived in León in spring of 1527. León became the capital of the Nicaraguan colony, and Pedrarias transferred there as governor of the province in 1527.

Leon, Nicargua

In 1530, an alliance of Matagalpa tribes launched a concerted attack against the Spanish, with the intention of burning the colonial settlements. In 1533, Pedrarias Dávila requested reinforcements to pursue the Matagalpa and punish their revolt, in order to discourage neighbouring peoples from allying with them against the Spanish.

Pedrarias Dávila

By 1543, Francisco de Castañeda founded Nueva Segovia in north-central Nicaragua, some 30 leagues from León. By 1603, the Spanish had established their dominion over seventeen indigenous settlements in the north-central region that the Spanish named Segovia. The Spanish drafted warriors from these settlements to assist in putting down ongoing indigenous resistance in Olancho, in Honduras.

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