The Mongol Empire and Its Legacy

The Mongol Empire and Its Legacy

The Mongol Empire and Its Legacy

The Mongol Empire and Its Legacy

Synopsis

The Mongol empire was founded early in the 13th century by Chinggis Khan and within the span of two generations embraced most of Asia, becoming the largest land-based state in history. The united empire lasted only until around 1260, but the major successor states continued on in the Middle East, present day Russia, Central Asia and China for generations, leaving a lasting impact - much of which was far from negative - on these areas and their peoples. The papers in this volume present new perspectives on the establishment of the Mongol empire, Mongol rule in the eastern Islamic world, Central Asia and China, and the legacy of this rule. The various authors approach these subjects from the view of political, military, social, cultural and intellectual history. This publication has also been published in paperback, please click here for details."

Excerpt

The story of Chinggis Khan and the Mongols continues to generate interest among both scholars and larger circles in the general population. Books on the Mongols, academic and otherwise, sell well, and both documentaries and feature films on a Mongol theme are well received. From the popularity of the works of John of Piano Carpini and Marco Polo in the late middle ages down to the highly imaginative films of this century (starring John Wayne and Omar Sharif) purporting to relate the biography of Chinggis—or rather Genghis in this context—Khan, we have ample evidence of the important place in Western consciousness held by the Mongols. To a certain degree, at least, similar sentiments can be discerned in the different regions which the Mongols controlled, by those who experienced their rule and their descendants.

A partial explanation for this centuries-long fascination may be offered. The Mongols represent the culmination of a millennia long preoccupation of the sedentary world with the barbarians of the Eurasian Steppe, an early expression of which is the story of Gog and Magog in the Old Testament. But it is not only that the Mongols were more successful than any of their Inner Asian predecessors in erecting a tribally-based state and thereupon siphoning off the surplus of the surrounding sedentary states. They had set about conquering the then known word, creating the largest land empire in history, which lasted, albeit in attenuated form, for some 150 years (and in certain areas even longer). The conquest itself was effected with great fanfare, although contemporaries were horrified—justly so—by the extent of the destruction and killing. The result, not always appreciated by the majority of those who became their subjects, was the opening up of Asia from East to West and back again, creating great opportunities for cultural exchanges and interaction. Rulers such as Chinggis Khan, Qubilai, Hülegü, Ghazan and Özbeg, as well as epigones such as Tamerlane and Babur, are the stuff of which legend and literature are made. Ably assisted by the medieval equivalent of public relations consultants such as Marco Polo and Rashīd al-Dīn, the Mongols have remained on center-stage in the human imagination for hundreds of years.

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