The Mongols Good or Bad
Historians are attempting to revise the reputation of the Mongols. • They were seen as destroyers of culture • Now they are regarded as disseminators of positive values and ideas.
Why Did They Come? • The Mongols had existed as nomads for centuries and had periodically raided into China. But by the 13th century these attacks intensified. • EcologyIn the period from 1180-1220, Mongolia experienced a cold snap, which meant that the growing season for grass was cut short. Less grass meant less food for the Mongols' animals, and, since the animals were central to their nomadic life, this ecological threat may have pushed them southwards out of Mongolia. • Trade DisruptionsAs Nomads, the Mongols were not manufactures. They relied on trade with the Qin for any finished goods. In the early 1200s, in response to increased raids, the Qin sought to trade less with them. He response, the Mongols raided more. • Divine CallingAnother explanation is that the Mongol leader, Genghis Kahn experienced a vision from Tenggeri, the sky god, who told him it was his duty to “bring the rest of the world under one sword”.
Invasion • Around 1210 CE Genghis Kahn decided to eliminate the Qin because of trade disputes. • His forces swiftly moved down the Yangtze River Valley. • The Qin emperor tried to stop him but in every instance the Mongols defeated the armies. • By 1215 CE, he occupied the capital of Beijing leaving the Qin in control of the southern regions. • In 1219 CE the Mongols started to expand westward to Europe.
Collapse • By 1260 CE, the Mongol Empire was starting to unravel. • Just as with Rome, Its success and size led to its collapse. • Because of it nomadic origins, identity and loyalty was tied to strong local leaders. • The need for larger armies and administrators weakened these loyalties. • The Mongol culture changed as well; the Mongols ceased to be nomadic and adopted some of the local customs and ideas. • In that year, the empire was divided into 4 parts. Gradually all were defeated. • In China, the Mongols continued to try to conquer the rest of China and Japan. The Chinese began to unite under the Ming Dynasty and by 1368, they had expelled the last of the Mongols
Good or Bad • When the Mongols took over they outlawed the mandarin system. • They distrusted the Confucianism based system • They relied on fellow Mongols or at least Muslim settlers to run local affairs • Peasants were told how much tax they had to pay, but were often forced to work on government projects. • Artisans were left to flourish and because they were not confined by Confucionist ideas it was a great artistic period. • Social status for merchants improved as the Mongols opened trade routes, lowered taxes and supported trade. • While they did not ban other religions accept for Taoism, the Mongols also imposed Islam in China. To get anywhere in government, you had to be a Muslim.