Mongols (1206-1368)

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Coronation of Ögedei Khan
Sack of Suzdal by Batu Khan
Mongols pursuing King Béla IV
Güyük Khan letter to Pope Innocent IV
Külüg Khan
Jami al-tawarikh (Compendium of Chronicles)

Mongol with Horse and Camel
Mounted warriors
Portrait of Genghis Khan
Wife of Emperor Yingzong
Hulagu, Genghis Khan’s grandson
Mongol invasion of Baghdad
Battle of Blue Waters

The Mongol Empire was the largest contiguous land empire in history, it was founded in 1206 by Genghis Khan and spanned from SE Asia to Eastern Europe. The Mongol religion was Shamanism but they did nothing to spread it to their subjects.

ReignMongol Emperor
1206–1227Genghis Khan
1229–1241Ögedei Khan
1246–1248Güyük Khan
1251–1259Möngke Khan
1260–1294Kublai Khan
1333–1368Toghon Temür

The Mongols were ferocious warriors and it was they that introduced gunpowder, cannon, rockets, and grenades to the battlefield. They also improved the technology of making paper.

From 1237-1242 CE the Mongols launched a five-pronged attack into Europe using their cavalry, incendiary-firing catapults and terror tactics. Cities like Tbilisi, Kiev and Vladimir fell and they sacked the Hungarian cities of Buda, Pest, and Gran, They had reached as far west as the city of Wroclaw in Poland. The major European powers failed to organise themselves to meet the threat. It was the death of Ogedei Khan that halted their advance, and the Mongols retreated.

Kublai Khan reigned from 1260-1294 ad in 1271 declared himself Emperor of China and founded the Yuan Dynasty. It was ruled by his Mongol Borjigin clan until they were overthrown by the Ming Dynasty in 1368.


Coronation of Ögedei Khan 窩闊台 in 1229, created in the 14th c.

Ögedei was the third son of Genghis Khan and second khagan-emperor of the Mongol Empire, succeeding his father. Like all of Genghis’ primary sons, he participated extensively in conquests in China, Iran, and Central Asia.

He continued the expansion of the empire that his father had begun, and was a world figure when the Mongol Empire reached its farthest extent west and south during the Mongol invasions of Europe and East Asia.

This work is attributed to Rashid al-Din Hamadani. He was born in 1247 into a Persian Jewish family from Hamadana and rose to become a vizier, historian and physician in Ilkhanate-ruled Iran.

He was he was commissioned by Ghazan to write the Jāmiʿ al-Tawārīkh, now considered the most important single source for the history of the Ilkhanate period and the Mongol Empire.
[Source: Wikimedia commons]

Image source: Wikimedia commons

Image source: Wikimedia commons

The sack of Suzdal by Batu Khan in February 1238 during the Mongol invasion of Russia.

The image is a miniature from a 16th-century chronicle
Mongols pursuing King Béla IV of Hungary and Croatia after his catastrophic defeat in the Battle of Mohi on 11 April 1241.
Image source: Wikimedia commons

Image source: Wikimedia commons

The Great Khan Güyük Khan’s letter demanding Pope Innocent IV should submit.

It was in response to the Pope’s 13 March 1245 letter cum non solum, in which the Pope appeals to the Mongols to stop attacking Christians and asks about their future intentions. In it he asked for peace, but the Pope was unaware that in the Mongol vocabulary ‘peace’ meant ‘subjugation’. It was hand-carried by a Franciscan monk to the Mongol capital of Karakorum, where he attended the election of the new Khan Güyük on August 24, 1246.

The letter, dated 11 November 1246, was written in Persian, with a Middle Turkic preamble. In response the new Khan replied to the Pope:
‘You must say with a sincere heart: “We will be your subjects; we will give you our strength”. You must in person come with your kings, all together, without exception, to render us service and pay us homage. Only then will we acknowledge your submission. And if you do not follow the order of God, and go against our orders, we will know you as our enemy.’

Note his usage of submission.

It is ink on paper, 97 x 16.5 cms and is in the Vatican Secret Archives.
Külüg Khan (1281–1311), was an emperor of the Yuan dynasty 1304-7, he is also regarded as the seventh Great Khan of the Mongol Empire. His name means ‘warrior Khan or fine horse Khan’ in the Mongolian language.
Image source: Wikimedia commons

Image source: Wikimedia commons

The Jāmiʿ al-tawārīkh, (Compendium of Chronicles) is a work of literature and history, produced in the Mongol Ilkhanate by Rashid-al-Din Hamadani at the start of the 14th century.

The selected images show: top – Mongol archers; bottom – The conversion of Ghazan Khan to Islam.

As stated above, Rashid-al-Din Hamadani (1247–1318) was born into a Jewish family in Iran. He studied medicine and joined the court of the Ilkhan emperor, Abaqa Khan. He converted to Islam around the age of thirty.

He rapidly gained political status becoming, the vizier of emperor and Muslim convert Ghazan in 1304. He retained his position until 1316 for three Khans. He was convicted of having poisoned the second of ‘his’ Khans, Öljaitü, and was executed in 1318.

The breadth of coverage of the work has caused it to be called ‘the first world history’.
Mongol with Horse and Camel, by an unidentified artist, is dated to 1271-1368 (Yuan). It is ink and colour on silk, 31 x 31 cms, and is on show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY USA.
Image source: metmuseum.org

Image source: Wikimedia commons

A 14th c painting of mounted warriors pursue enemies. It is an illustration of Rashid-ad-Din’s Gami’ at-tawarih, 1st quarter of 14th century. It is water colour on paper 26 x 18 cms and is on show at Staatsbibliothek Berlin.
This 14th c portrait is of Taizu, better known as Genghis Khan. This is from the Yuandjai di banshenxiang album depicting several Yuan emperors. It is now located in the National Palace Museum in Taipei Taiwan. It is 59 x 47 cms, paint and ink on silk.
Image source: Wikimedia commons

Image source: Wikimedia commons

A portrait of an unnamed wife of the Chinese emperor Yingzong of the Mongol Yuan Dynasty, he reigned from 1320-1323 CE. It is on show at the National Palace Museum, Taipei.
Hulagu Khan was Genghis Khan’s grandson and brother to Ariq Böke, Möngke Khan, and Kublai Khan.

Hulagu founded the Il-Khanate of Persia, a precursor to the Safavid dynasty. During his reign he conquered much of Western Asia. Under Hulagu’s leadership, the siege of Baghdad (below) destroyed Baghdad’s standing in the Islamic Golden Age and weakened Damascus, causing a shift of Islamic influence to the Mamluk Sultanate in Cairo, ending the Abbasid Dynasty.

The 14th c painting is by Rashid-ad-Din Hamadani. The image is taken from a medieval Persian manuscript.

Image source: Wikimedia commons

Image source: Wikimedia commons

Mongol invasion of Baghdad, a double-page-spres from Rashid-ad-Din Hamadani’s Gami’ at-tawarih. Each image is 37 x 29 cms, in watercolours and gold on paper. It is on show at the Staatsbibliothek Berlin.
The Battle of Blue Waters was fought at some time in autumn 1362 or 1363 on the banks of the Synyukha River, the left tributary of the Southern Bug in the Ukraine. It was between the armies of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the Mongol Golden Horde. The Lithuanians won a decisive victory and this finalised their conquest of the Principality of Kiev.

This is a modern painting by Ukranian Artur Orlonov in 2012.

Image source: Wikimedia commons

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