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An Empires
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Mongol Khanate

Starting Resource: 15
-- From Land: 10
-- From Trade: 5

Capital Territory: Omsk
Nation Class: Small

Total Starting Military
Infantry: 5
Cavalry: 8
Knights: 0
Artillery: 0
Generals: 0
Merchantmen: 0
Frigates: 0
Ships of the Line: 0

Click on the map to view your nation's position and starting troops

Genghis Khan was originally called Temujin. He led his clan to unify the others into a literal military juggernaut that swept across the Asian continent and reached the fringes of Europe and the Holy Roman Empire. The Mongols were originally a confederation of tribes in competition with the Tatar Turks, Kerait, Merkit and Naiman confederations and therefore only one division of what is known today as the Mongol nation. Genghis Khan unified the Mongol people by absorbing the other confederations into his own and the word Mongol came to mean the entire people.

Though few in number (approximately 200,000 people at the height of their empire), Mongols were important in Eurasian history. Under the leadership of Genghis Khan, the Mongols created the second largest empire in world history ruling more than 100 million people and nearly equal to the British Empire in land area. At its height, the Mongol Empire spanned from Manchuria to Hungary, and included most of the lands in between, such as Afghanistan, Turkey, Uzbekistan, Georgia, Armenia, Russia, Persia, Northern India, China, and much of the Middle East.

The Mongols were a group of nomadic people who in the 13th century found themselves encompassed by large, city-dwelling agrarian civilizations. However, none of these civilizations, with the possible exception of the Islamic Caliphate located in Baghdad, were part of a strong central state. Asia, Russia, and the Middle East were either declining kingdoms, or divided city states. Taking the strategic initiative, the Mongols exploited this power vacuum and linked all of these areas into a mutually supportive trade network.

The Mongols were largely dependent on trade with the city-dwelling peoples, but resorted to raiding villages when times were particularly hard. As nomads, they could not accumulate a surplus against bad times, or support artisans. When trade was reduced by the northern Chinese kingdoms in the 1200s, shortly after Genghis Khan became Khan of the Mongol tribes, the Mongols repeated their tradition of getting their goods by looting Northern China.

But the military expansion of the Mongols was not merely part of their long-held tradition of raiding. Rather, the unification of the Mongol tribes by Genghis Khan made this both a possibility and a necessity. In the Mongol culture of the time people became respected political leaders by, among other things, demonstrating their martial virtues in combat. This was more often than not done by raiding and fighting other Mongol tribes. The booty of such raids was then distributed by the leaders in order to consolidate their political position. This is clearly attested by Genghis Khan's own personal history: Before he became the Great Khan, his own wife was kidnapped in a raid by another tribe, and he had to organize a counter-attack to rescue her. Once he had unified the Mongols, however, he naturally had to forbid (or at least drastically curb) these raids that contributed to the poverty and instability of the Mongol people. But no more raids meant no more prizes to distribute. Consequently Genghis Khan had to turn outward for military targets in order to consolidate and maintain his own political position.

Conquest, in the Khan's initial viewpoint, did not consist of subordination of competing cultures to the nomadic way of life. Rather, if there was resistance, it took the form of looting and destruction. If there was no resistance, Mongols usually left the town unharmed and demanded that the townspeople pay them tribute. As a nomad, Genghis Khan is supposed to not have understood or cared about the supposed benefits of the city dwellers' way of life. This contrasts with their dependence on trade with the cities. However, theories on the economics of these relationships still lay seven centuries in the future.

The Khan's initial plan of conquest if there was resistance was to sack all that was valuable, and then raze the city killing the resisters and leaving only artists and human shields (for future campaigns) to survive. Genghis Khan himself was extremely supportive to people that were loyal to him, even his former enemies. Different theories exist as to why the Mongols initially behaved in such an extreme manner. From a military perspective, the Mongols were often far from home territory and greatly out-numbered, and therefore it was unwise to leave enemies at their rear. Terror also served as a useful weapon in reducing an opponent's ability to rally support against Mongol invasion. Economically, destroying population centers gave the Mongols more room to graze their herds.

As the Mongols grew more powerful, advisers convinced Genghis Khan to start building a vassal empire. If the city-dwelling peoples were allowed to continue their way of life, they could produce a surplus of food and goods, a portion of which could be paid to the Khan as taxes. Given the Khan's extraordinary success in his aggressive foreign policy, this wealth could be equally extraordinary. The Khan agreed, taking his tribute in tax of 10%, and saving countless lives and cultures in the process. Until 1225 they continued their invasions through Western Asia, into Persia and Russia. In 1227, Genghis Khan died; his third son Ogedei Khan was elected by the tribes to succeed him. Ogedei Khan continued the expansion into North-Eastern Asia, conquering Northern China and vassalizing Korea in the process. The armies of the Mongols had reached Poland, Hungary, and Egypt by 1241, and were poised to continue. When Ogedei Khan suddenly died, Mongol law required all descendants of Genghis to return to elect a new Khan. The leader of the European expedition rushed back to press his claim. Nearly a decade later, Mongka Khan, grandson of Genghis and nephew of Ogedei, took the throne, through the assistance of his mother Sorghaghtani Beki. By this time, the Western expansion had lost its momentum.

The Great Mongol Empire by 1483 had long since splintered into four different regions. The rise of Tamerlane set three of the four great Khanate to warring with each other and should Tamerlane have lived, he would have fought the last of the Mongol Khanates. For more than a century the core of the Mongol Empire, even after the fractioning into its four parts, resided over both the core Mongol lands and over all of China. But by the time of 1483 the Mongol Khanate no longer rules China, but it remains a very potent force. In Europe 1483, however, only the western most territories of the Mongol Khanate are present on the map and the Mongol player must operate with only a fraction of the total might of the Khanate. He starts with a fair army, but with little resources to play with, it will be diplomacy, not the mongol 'hordes" that lets him grow this distant part of the Khanate.

Visit the 1483 Discussion Forums to chat about the Mongol Khanate.

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