Tuesday, 29 December 2009
The meteoric rise of the Mongol Empire is covered by many websites. Their own account can be read in the Secret History. In short, a combination of absorption through alliance and conquest created a force which was strong enough to take on a succession of settled empires. The Xi Xia, of what is now Western China, were one of the first to feel the strength of Ghengis's force. They fought a series of wars against the Mongols. They eventually submitted but did not send forces to aid the Mongols when called upon. Further war resulted - Ghengis died during the final war of conquest. The Jin dynasty of northern China was also under attack during this early period and although losses in territory and life were huge, the resistance was sufficient for the Jin to retain some of their lands until after the death of the Khan.
Ogedei, Ghengis's successor, continued the process of conquest. There was something of a pattern - Mongol emissaries or traders in various places seem to have got themselves killed by the local authorities and an army was sent to wreak terrible vengeance. The Song dynasty, rulers of Southern China, managed to incur the wrath of Ogedei while allied with the Mongols against the Jin. The Song forces tried to retake land which had been lost a century or so earlier and killed a Mongol emissary who presumably voiced the Khan's displeasure.
These forces left Europe on hearing of the death of Ogedei. Tradition meant that the new khan should be chosen by the whole army. Further attacks on Hungary occurred but, importantly, they tended to lack the same ability to conquer cities.
I used Old Glory figures for my Mongols.