Subotai the Valiant: Genghis Khan's Greatest General

Subotai the Valiant: Genghis Khan's Greatest General

Subotai the Valiant: Genghis Khan's Greatest General

Subotai the Valiant: Genghis Khan's Greatest General

Excerpt

Subotai bagatur, that is to say, Subotai the Valiant, was one of the greatest generals in ancient military history. He was surely the equal of Hannibal and Scipio in tactical brilliance, and stands with Alexander and Caesar as a strategist. He commanded armies whose size, scale, and scope of operations surpassed most of those of the ancient world. Under his leadership and direction, Mongol armies moved faster and over longer distances with a greater scope of maneuver than any armies had done before. The Muslim chroniclers tell us that when he died at age seventy-three, Subotai [had conquered thirty-two nations and won sixty-five pitched battles.] His fame was such that after his death both his Chinese and Muslim enemies erected monuments to him. Indeed, had there been no Subotai the Valiant, there would have been no Mongol conquest of Korea, China, Persia, and Russia—nor of Hungary, the conquest of which by Subotai's armies destroyed every remaining military force standing between the Mongol advance and Europe. Had not the Great Khan died (an event that required the Mongol armies and their princes to return to Mongolia to elect a successor), there is every likelihood that Subotai would have destroyed Europe itself!

It is surprising, therefore, that Subotai remains almost unknown in the West for the great strategist and tactical genius that he was. Although Giovanni di Piano Carpini wrote an account of the Mongol army, its equipment, and its tactics in 1248 as a result of his visit to the Mongol court, this work appears to have had no influence whatsoever on European military thought or practice. Nor did the writings of Marco Polo. Jean Pierre Abel Remusat, writing in 1829, offered a nine-page [biography] of Subotai in the form of a . . .

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