The Mongol Empire

Becky and Maddie

The Mongols

The Mongols were a nomadic people from Central Asia. The Mongols came from vast grasslands called steppes. Mongols relied on herds of domesticated animals for their needs. These nomads would sweep down upon villages and take anything that they wanted. The Mongols herded sheep and goats. This provided milk and meat for food and wool for clothing and shelter. The Mongols were very skilled with horses, learned to ride at an early age, and became fierce warriors.


The Mongols were divided into separate clans for a long time. These clans were led by a khan, or chief. A khan rose to power through his ability to lead and his military skills. In 1100 a man named Temujin rose to power as a khan and started to conquer lands in order to unite the Mongol clans. In 1206 Temujin succeeded and took the title Genghis Khan, meaning Universal Ruler.


Genghis Khan set out to build an empire. He organized the Mongol military into powerful machine. The military was disciplined very well and were loyal to Genghis Khan. The khan would reward those who pleased him. Genghis Khan's Mongol armies were very mobile and could strike quickly and easily. He taught his armies how to attack by stalking and trapping their enemies just like prey. Genghis Khan reportedly told his men "In daylight, watch with vigilance of an old wolf, at night with the eyes of the raven. In battle fall upon the enemy like a falcon." The Mongols used brutality as one of their many battle tactics.


Within the next 20 years Genghis Khan led the Mongols to conquer much of Asia. Genghis Khan died in 1227. On his deathbed, Genghis Khan told his sons "With heavens aid I have conquered for you a huge empire. But my life was too short to achieve the conquest of the world. That task is left for you."


After the death of Genghis Khan the Mongol empire was divided into four khanates, or regions. An heir to Genghis Khan ruled each khanate. The whole empire was ruled by one person, the Great Khan. During this time the Mongols stormed through Persia, Russia, Poland, and Hungary. When they were getting ready to attack Western Europe, the Mongols went home on hearing of the Great Khan's death.


The Mongols tolerated local beliefs and ways of life. They often allowed the local leaders to keep their position as long as they paid tribute to the Mongols. The Mongols also adopted some aspects of cultures they had conquered. The Pax Mongolia was a time of peace and stability across Asia. This meant Mongol Peace. The Mongols used the Silk Roads as their trade routes and guarded them very heavily.

The Yuan Dynasty

In 1260 Kublai Khan became the Great Khan of the Mongol Empire. Kublai Khan wanted to conquer the Song dynasty of China. In 1279 the last Song ruler was defeated and Kublai Khan created the Yuan Dynasty, declaring himself emperor. The Chinese resented the Mongols as rulers. In order to gain the Chinese peoples loyalty Kublai Khan decided to adopt some Chinese practices, and gave the empire a Chinese name. Kublai Khan then moved the capital to a new city near present day Beijing. The Mongols lived apart from the Chinese. They were forbidden to marry each other, and friendships were highly discouraged. As for the Chinese, they were not allowed to own weapons or serve in the military. Chinese couldn't hold government office, but could still hold office at the local level. The Mongols burdened the Chinese with heavy taxes, made Chinese laborers build new roads, and the Mongols also posted soldiers throughout China to keep the peace.


Foreign trade increased under the rule of Kublai Khan. The Pax Mongolia had made travel much easier. Visitors mainly came only from Southwest Asia and India; but often some even came from Europe. One such visitor was Marco Polo.


Marco Polo was an Italian trader from Venice. Kublai Khan took a liking to this young explorer and sent him on several missions for 17 years. In 1295 Marco Polo and his father returned to Venice. Polo was soon captured during a battle and imprisoned. While in prison Marco Polo told his adventures to a cell mate. The cell mate wrote them down and published them as a book called Descriptions of World.

End of the Yuan Dynasty

The Yuan Dynasty started to fall towards the end of Kublai Khan's reign. The Mongols attempted to invade Southeast Asia many times, only to fail. They also tried to invade Japan twice, both times the Mongols were wiped out by a storm. These military losses along with a weakened economy left the empire in the perfect state for rebellion.


After the death of Kublai Khan in 1294, many struggles for power erupted, followed by a series of floods and rising taxes. The successors to Kublai Khan lacked his talent of leadership and in 1368 the Mongols were defeated. This forever ended the reign of the Mongols in China.

The Rise and Fall of the Mongol Empire

Glossary

khan

a Mongol chief or ruler

Genghis Khan

Mongol warrior and ruler; he forged the Mongol tribes into a fighting force that conquered much of Asia, including parts of China.

Pax Mongolia

a period of peace in Roman Empire lasting from the beginning of Augustus's reign until the death of Marcus Aurelius

Kublai Khan

Mongol emperor and founder of the Yuan Dynasty, grandson of Genghis Khan; he continued his grandfather's wars of conquest in China. He moved the Mongol capital to China and expanded his empire beyond China.

Marco Polo

was a Venetian traveler in China; he worked for Kublai Khan and was sent on missions throughout the Mongol empire and in India.

Bibliography

Primary

  • "The Mongol Empire." The World Book Encyclopedia. Chicago: World Book, 2006. N. pag. Print.

  • Ramírez, Susan E., Peter N. Stearns, and Samuel S. Wineburg. World History: Human Legacy. Orlando: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 2008. Print.

Secondary

  • "Epic World History." : Genghis Khan. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Nov. 2014.

  • "Genghis Khan." Bio.com. A&E Networks Television, n.d. Web. 11 Nov. 2014.

  • "Marco Polo." Bio.com. A&E Networks Television, n.d. Web. 11 Nov. 2014.

  • "The Rise and Fall of the Mongol Empire." YouTube. YouTube, n.d. Web. 11 Nov. 2014.