Mongols. “The Mongols made no technological breakthroughs, founded no new religions, wrote few books or dramas” Why historically significant? a conduit [not a creator] of civilization. To compare….
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“The Mongols made no technological breakthroughs, founded no new religions, wrote few books or dramas”
Why historically significant?
a conduit [not a creator] of civilization
Imagine if… “the U.S., instead of being created by a group of educated merchants & wealthy planters, had been founded by one of its illiterate slaves, who, by the sheer force of personality, charisma, & determination, liberated America from foreign rule, united the people,… invented a new system of warfare, marched an army from Canada to Brazil, and opened roads of commerce in a free-trade zone that stretched across the continents.” – Jack Weatherford in Genghis Khan
The warrior carried a protective shield made of light leather armor
which was impregnated with a lacquer-like substance in order to make it more impervious to penetration by arrows, swords and knives, and also to protect it against humid weather
The Mongol warrior used to wear Chinese silk underwear, if it could be obtained, because it was a very tough substance
If arrows are shot from a long distance, it would not penetrate the silk
It would also prevent poison from entering the bloodstream
During winter they wore several layers of wool as well as heavy leather boots with felt socks on their feet.
The legs were often protected by overlapping iron plates resembling fish scales, which were sewn into the boots.
Each warrior carried a battle axe, a curved sword known as scimitar; a lance, and two versions of their most famous weapon: the Mongol re-curved bow.
One of the bows was light and could be fired rapidly from horseback, the other one was heavier and designed for long-range use from a ground positionMongol War Equipment
Overland Trade and Plague leather armor
Under the Mongols, there was unprecedented long-distance trade
Mongols encouraged the exchange of people, technology, and information across their empire
Weatherford: the Mongols were “civilization’s unrivaled cultural carriers…”
Marco Polo en route to China
Mongol Passport leather armorPax Mongolica
“The Mongols made culture portable: it was not enough to merely exchange goods, because whole systems of knowledge had to also be transported in order to use many of the new products” (e.g. drugs weren’t profitable trade items unless one possessed medical knowledge for their use, so moved Arab doctors to China & vice versa)
Marco Polo traveling the Silk Roads
Mongols vs. Islam = leather armor
End of Abbasid control and world dominance.
Opened path for political division within Islam between the Ottomans and the Mamluks.
A. Mongol Rivalry
The Mongols were “terrible to look at and indescribable, with large heads like buffaloes’, narrow eyes like a fledgling’s, a snub nose like a cat’s, projecting snouts like a dog’s, narrow loins like an ant’s, short legs like a hog’s, and by nature with no beards at all…” An Armenian observer
Protected Russia from attacks (Teutonic Knights)
Russia cut off from political, economic, and intellectual development
New States in Eastern Europe and Anatolia leather armor
“They smell so heavily that one cannot approach them. They wash themselves in urine…”
One series of events that severely weakened the Mongols in China were the expeditions to Japan
The Mongols attempted to invade Japan twice [1274 and 1281]
Twice they were repelled by typhoons
“Kamikaze” or “divine wind”
The Good, the Bad & the Ugly
The Mongol Empire at its height Culture
into four Khanates
How did the Mongol conquests bring an end to the post-classical civilizations in Eastern Europe, Western Europe, and Islam?
Russia – end of Kievan dominance power shifts to Moscow
Byzantium – Ottoman dominance and fall of Constantinople (1453).
Western Europe – limited direct impact but Black Death has later effect. Trade increases with East.