The Mongols – mass murder & social revolution. A few degrees is all it takes to change the course of human history.

What stopped the Mongols from conquering Europe and why they were able to build in a few dozen years the biggest empire the world have ever seen?

scientists-finally-know-what-stopped-mongol-hordes-from-conquering-europe By 1240, Kiev had been sacked and the horde was rapidly advancing west. Their cavalry and siege tactics were laying waste to the cities of Europe, and, perhaps more importantly, they brought along Chinese gunpowder. This series of unqualified successes brought the vast Mongol army to Hungary in March 1241. King Bela IV fled his palace in Pest (now Screenshot 2016-05-29 13.02.29Budapest), and Ogodei’s armies slaughtered an estimated 1 million Hungarians: Troops, clerics, nobles, knights, and peasants. It was one of the bloodiest defeats of the medieval period. The following year, everything changed. The horde suddenly turned south, moving through modern-day Serbia, and then headed back through Russia. Though subsequent khans staged occasional raids on European cities, the major war campaign was over.
Destruction under the Mongol Empire: The total population of Persia may have dropped from 2,500,000 to 250,000 as a result of mass extermination and famine. Before the Mongol invasion, Chinese dynasties reportedly had approximately 120 million inhabitants; after the conquest was completed in 1279, the 1300 census reported roughly 60 million people. About half the population of Kievan Rus’ may have died during the Mongol invasion of Rus. This figure refers to the area roughly corresponding to the modern Ukraine. Historians estimate that up to half of Hungary‘s population of two million were victims of the Mongol invasion of Europe. The 1241 Mongol invasion first affected Moldavia and Wallachia (situated east of the Carpathians). The invaders killed up to half of the population and burned down most of their settlements, thus destroying much of the cultural and economic records from that period. The swiftness of the invasion took many by surprise and forced them to retreat and hide in forests and the enclosed valleys of the Carpathians. In the end, however, the main target of the invasion was the Kingdom of Hungary.

The authors sampled wood from five regions of Eurasia to track what the weather was like during the period of the Mongols’ most extensive reach. Trees are especially sensitive to small changes in climactic conditions: In wet years, they add thick layers of bark to their trunks. In dry years, the rings are thinner, reflecting the lack of water to a tree. They found the climate in Hungary and its surroundings were unusually cold and wet for about three years, from 1238 to 1241. The extra moisture and early spring thaw turned the Hungarian plains into marshes and swampland — unsuitable terrain for moving the thousands of horses the Mongol armies relied on for transportation and warfare.
As scientists gain the ability to examine the climate record in greater detail, we’re discovering more about how climate shaped history. Unusual climates probably allowed
Polynesians to spread out across the South Pacific, led to the fall of an ancient metropolis in pre-colonial Mexico, and encouraged Attila the Hun’s campaign of terror against the Roman Empire 800 years before Genghis Khan. The authors conclude that their study of the Mongolian withdrawal from Hungary “illustrates the incidence of even small climate fluctuations upon a historical event.”

mongol invasionț

According to (7) “when they reached the city of Székesfevehérvár that is surrounded by marshes they could not take it because the snow and ice was about to melt”. In Croatia, Qadan could not attack the city of Trogir because the flooded area separating its walls from the land was impassable on account of the depth of the mud. The army was therefore forced to withdraw. The former shows that the thaw of the snow and ice may have caused large areas to become flooded and marshy, thus impeding or restricting the movement of the Mongols. The latter example suggests that the Mongols could not easily cope with flooded and muddy terrain. The captives of the Mongols were no longer given food, and failed harvest caused general starvation. Both the decimation and dispersal of the population caused by the Mongols20 and adverse climate conditions (cold and wet) may have been concurrent triggers for harvest failure, which reduced not only the survival rate of the local population, but also the sources of provisions for the Mongol army.
The combined effects of the war and a less favorable climate may have also caused the failure of the harvest of 1242 and the ensuing ‘great famine’ in Hungary. It should be further noted that military operations of inner Asian nomads, to which the Mongols were no exception, were normally executed in autumn and continued through the winter, while the spring and summer were seasons in which they were at their weakest and most vulnerable. Military seasonality is part and parcel with the pastoral economy upon which the Mongols depended, and with the management of its resources, primarily horses. According to contemporary sources, the Mongols did not provide forage for the horses but allowed them to graze freely in the grassland. This indicates an obvious vulnerability in case no sufficient grass was available or in easy reach.
It is therefore under conditions of (i) reduced mobility and military effectiveness; (ii) reduced fodder for the horses; and (iii) reduced victuals for the army, which in the late spring of 1242 the Mongols left Hungary. The main Mongol army withdrew towards east following the southern course of the Danube (Fig. 1), thus crossing Serbia into Bulgaria, where they obtained the submission of the king Kaliman I at Tarnovo, before crossing Wallachia and Moldavia and returning to the steppes in the lower Volga region. A secondary army under Qadan that had travelled to Dalmatia in pursuit of King Béla followed the same route, joining the main army. Some minor contingent, such as the troops that had captured Roger may have proceeded to return through Transylvania. It is difficult to say why Batu chose to return by a southern route, but it is possible that the army moved to overall dryer and higher ground along the Carpathian foothills to avoid marshy conditions. –


Mongols settled in areas that were ecologically suitable to their economy, lifestyle, and military needs (the Volga basin). The Hungarian branch of the campaign was one of the western campaigns under Batu. That the Mongols stayed in southern Russia and did not seriously attempt to invade eastern Europe again (with the exception of a short-lived invasion of Poland in 1259) has not been so far an object of historical inquiry. However, this paper raises the possibility that the vulnerability of the Hungarian plains to even relatively short-term climate events made it obvious that the region was unsuitable for military occupation by a large army relaying mostly on horses. It is worth noting that the Hungarian river system was prone to flooding and to creating marshlands, and only much later it became drier, thanks to drainage work undertaken by the Hapsburgs in the 19th century27,28.
Our paper shows that a possible reason why the Mongols who occupied Russia under Batu and his successors did not make further attempts to expand westward may have depended on the realization that local conditions would not have supported a prolonged occupation. While the reasons why the conquest of the West halted in southern Russia have to remain speculative in the absence of proper documentation, we should consider environmental conditions on a par with political ones, such as the civil war that engulfed the Golden Horde and the Il-Khanate in following decades.. –


The only permanent structures Genghis Khan erected were bridges. Although he spurned the building of castles, forts, cities, or walls, as he moved across the landscape, he probably built more bridges than any ruler in history. He spanned hundreds of streams and rivers in order to make the movement of his armies and goods quicker. The Mongols deliberately opened the world to a new commerce not only in goods, but also in ideas and knowledge. The Mongols brought German miners to China and Chinese doctors to Persia. The transfers ranged from the monumental to the trivial. They spread the use of carpets everywhere they went and transplanted lemons and carrots from Persia to China, as well as noodles, playing cards, and tea from China to the West. They brought a metalworker from Paris to build a fountain on the dry steppes of Mongolia, recruited an English nobleman to serve as interpreter in their army, and took the practice of Chinese fingerprinting to Persia. They financed the building of Christian churches in China, Buddhist temples and stupas in Persia, and Muslim Koranic schools in Russia. The Mongols swept across the globe as conquerors, but also as civilization’s unrivaled cultural carriers.
The Mongols made no technological breakthroughs, founded no new religions, wrote few books or dramas, and gave the world no new crops or methods of agriculture. Their own craftsmen could not weave cloth, cast metal, make pottery, or even bake bread. They manufactured neither porcelain nor pottery, painted no pictures, and built no buildings. Yet, as their army conquered culture after culture, they collected and passed all of these skills from one civilization to the next.

Genghis Khan smashed the feudal system of aristocratic privilege and birth, he built a new and unique system based on individual merit, loyalty, and achievement. He took the disjointed and languorous trading towns along the Silk Route and organized them into history’s largest free-trade zone. He lowered taxes for everyone, and abolished them altogether for doctors, teachers, priests, and educational institutions. He established a regular census and created the first international postal system. His empire was not an empire that hoarded wealth and treasure; instead, he widely distributed the goods acquired in combat so that they could make their way back into commercial circulation. He created an international law and recognized the ultimate supreme law of the Eternal Blue Sky over all people. At a time when most rulers considered themselves to be above the law, Genghis Khan insisted on laws holding rulers as equally accountable as the lowest herder. He granted religious freedom within his realms, though he demanded total loyalty from conquered subjects of all religions. He insisted on the rule of law and abolished torture, but he mounted major campaigns to seek out and kill raiding bandits and terrorist assassins. He refused to hold hostages and, instead, instituted the novel practice of granting diplomatic immunity for all ambassadors and envoys, including those from hostile nations with whom he was at war.

As Genghis Khan’s cavalry charged across the thirteenth century, he redrew the boundaries of the world. His architecture was not in stone but in nations. Unsatisfied with the vast number of little kingdoms, Genghis Khan consolidated smaller countries into larger ones. In eastern Europe, the Mongols united a dozen Slavic principalities and cities into one large Russian state. In eastern Asia, over a span of three generations, they created the country of China by weaving together the remnants of the Sung dynasty in the south with the lands of the Jurched in Manchuria, Tibet in the west, the Tangut Kingdom adjacent to the Gobi, and the Uighur lands of eastern Turkistan. As the Mongols expanded their rule, they created countries such as Korea and India that have survived to modern times in approximately the same borders fashioned by their Mongol conquerors.
In twenty-five years, the Mongol army subjugated more lands and people than the Romans had conquered in four hundred years. Genghis Khan, together with his sons and grandsons, conquered the most densely populated civilizations of the thirteenth century. Whether measured by the total number of people defeated, the sum of the countries annexed, or by the total area occupied,Genghis Khan conquered more than twice as much as any other man in history.

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2 Responses to The Mongols – mass murder & social revolution. A few degrees is all it takes to change the course of human history.

  1. Paul Roese says:

    in terms of longevity their “empire” was a flash in the pan compared to Rome, Chinese or Egyptian dynasties. true, they conquered a lot of area but couldn’t hold China or Persia for even a century. it’s not like they left a lot of infrastructure behind or advances in medicine, math or science. They destroyed previously flourishing cities and whole regions. the main things they were successful at were murder, rape and theft. while they employed foreign administrators, engineers and techs they never were interested in learning such things for themselves. they weren’t interested in running a government so had local or imported flunkies take care of the day to day business. they were really running the worlds largest protection racket rather than a state. more a criminal gang of thugs. the mongols didn’t attack other peoples based on political or religious motivations, it was all about the loot. the mongols hated cities and wouldn’t live in them. they thought farming beneath them. they did encourage trade because they could tax it not for some “bring the world together” nonsense. any transmission of good or ideas was accidental. the mongols had no interest in running a cultural exchange program. to say that they created nations like China, Korea or Russia is an insult to those nations. other than in China they never set up a political units. Like ISIS they killed men women and children without batting an eye. they were more brutal than the Nazis. at the end of the day were the mongols better off at the end of their run as at the beginning of it?” the answer would be NO! between China, Russia and the Ottomans they were nearly exterminated. China not only crushed them but annexed the best lands leaving the mongols only mountains, steppe and the Gobi desert. more mongols live in China now as a minority than live in Mongolia. how’s that for success?

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