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Mongol Aftermath

by Friar Thomas Bacon (David Moreno)
Orignally published in the March 1997, A.S. XXXI issue of the Dragonflyre, a publication of the Barony of Vatavia.

When the Mongols exploded upon the world they created an empire that stretched from Eastern Europe to the Pacific and virtually everything in-between except Southern India. But like virtually every empire built by conquest under a single leader, it soon fell apart after the death of that leader. The following is a brief description of what happened to the various lands that were conquered as the empire fell apart.

The first cracks in the empire arose from the typical barbarian custom of dividing the family patrimony among the surviving sons. While the authority of the great khan would still be recognized for some thirty years after Genghis's death, this partition created subcenters of power around which the empire would breakup. The partitions were roughly European Russia, Persia, China, and central homeland. Within a century only the last would remain under Mongol control.

The Khanates in Persia and China suffered similar fates. In both cases the Mongol leadership was seduced by the native cultures. This led to an intermingling with the natives and the submergence of the Mongol identity. In China, the Mongol dynasty was overthrown by the Ming dynasty in 1360. In Persia, the Mongol leadership just gradually degenerated till the last khan died in 1349 to be succeeded by a number of local chieftains.

The khanate in European Russia, better known as the Golden Horde, suffered a slightly different fate. While they did absorb a certain amount of local culture, they did not get absorbed by it. But neither were they interested actively ruling it. Instead, they allowed various local entities an amount of autonomy in exchange for tribute. They would occasionally stage a raid when they felt they weren’t getting their due, but otherwise left them alone. In 1316 the prince of Moscow married one of the daughters of the khan, thereby elevating this minor city-state to being the first among equals. This was the start of the modern Russian state. This laissez-faire method of governing gradually weakened the Mongol hold. When outside forces hammered the Mongols, particularly Timurlane around 1400, this allowed the Russians to break free.

The saddest fate was reserved for the central homeland. With few resources of its own, as the peripheral lands spun off, prosperity disappeared. Without a central idea or leader to rally around, they began to fight among themselves. A century and a half after Genghis’s death, there were no remnant of his accomplishments in Mongolia.

The Mongols did have some lasting affects on the greater world. The Mongol Empire led to the reopening of the transcontinental trade route known as the Silk Road. This route would remain open till the fall of Constantinople in 1452. The closing was the impetus of the European Age of Exploration. The second effect the Mongols left was the propagation of skills and ideas as the Mongols shifted craftsman and bureaucrats around to strengthen their empire.

An interesting might of been, would have been the joining of the Mongols and the Crusaders against the Arabs. At this point the Crusaders had all but pushed out of the Holy Land. The Mongols were interested, but their insistence of being in charge doomed the would be alliance.

The effects of the Mongols are still with us today. The insistence of the Russians of their right to control the lands around their borders, the “near abroad”, their paranoia of outsiders, can be traced to their experiences with the Mongols.


Copyright © 1997 - present His Lordship Friar Thomas Bacon (David Moreno). All rights reserved.


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