The History of Medieval Europe

By Lynn Thorndike; James T. Shotwell | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXIX
EASTERN EUROPE IN THE LATER MIDDLE AGES

AGAIN we must turn back to the thirteenth century, this time to trace the history of eastern Europe from the Mongol invasions of 1241 to the capture of Constantinople by the Turks in 1453 -- the same date that marked the close of the Hundred Years War. In the preceding year, 1452, had occurred the last coronation of a Holy Roman emperor at Rome -- that of Frederick III.

The chief event in the history of Asia and of eastern Europe in the thirteenth century was the rise of the vast empire of the Tartars or Mongols and their invasions as far west as central Europe and the Balkans. The Tartars were of a kindred race to the Huns and other Asiatic mounted nomads whose incursions westward we have already noted, and whom they closely resembled in life and customs. But their home was farther east, and they were of Mongolian rather than Ural-Altaian stock. They soon, however, included the Altaian nomads in their empire. The founder of this Mongol Empire was Jenghiz Khan, under whom the Tartars united in a vast conquering horde which swept over Asia in a career of victory after victory. Early in the thirteenth century they broke through the Great Wall of China and took Peking; they rapidly subdued central Asia; and about 1222 they reached Europe and defeated the Russian princes and the Kumanians who lived between the Don and the Danube. The Kumanians and the Russians continued their resistance, nevertheless, and received aid from the Bulgars and the Magyars, who were respectively located south of the Danube and east of the Carpathian and the Transylvanian Mountains. Then the ruler of the western dominions of the Mongols, Batu by name, a grandson of Jenghiz Khan, sent east for reinforcements. In 1237 this new wave of nomads

The Mongol invasions

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