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Causes and Consequences of Japan's conflict with the Mongol

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Hayley Sherrington

on 23 May 2014

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Transcript of Causes and Consequences of Japan's conflict with the Mongol

For a medieval society Japan had a well structured and efficient governing system. Whilst the emperor was the righteous leader of the country, in practice it was the shoguns with the real power.
This power filtered down through the social structure which fostered a strong sense of patriotism and passion for their land. If the defense against the Mongol attack failed Japan may be part of China today. The victories were a great source of pride and also helped legitimize the shogunate system of government.

Mongol horde attack
Samurai Brave and fierce
Divine winds saved them

In the early 13th century Genghis Khan united the Mongols into a fearsome army. His grandson Kubilai Khan had grand visions of conquering China and wanted Japan as an ally.
Kubilai's proposal of an alliance was rejected which led to the first Mongol invasion of Japan. This invasion was nearly successful if not for a typhoon wrecking the Mongol fleet.
A second invasion was launched and defeated again as the Japanese were more prepared and a typhoon or what the Japanese called divine winds savaged the Mongols and their ships.
The Japanese were being easily defeated in the first invasion. A huge typoon destroyed the Mongols at the last minute allowing the Japanese to live another day. From this the Japanese learnt new military tactics. The Samurai had always fought individually but would now fight as the Mongols did in large groups. The Japanese built a 20 kilometer stone wall all the way along Hakata Bay where the first invasion took place.
The second invasion of the Mongols was also defeated as the Japanese were more prepared this time and a massive typhoon (kamikaze winds) again wrecked the invading fleet. The Japanese believed they had been protected by the Gods and were a higher race. If Japan hadn't defeated the Mongols they could well be a part of China today!
Painting by Yado Issho- Secondary source
The Mongol Invasion of Japan- secondary source
Letter from Kublai Khan- primary source
Illustrated Scroll by Takezaki Suenaga- Primary source
Causes and Consequences of Japan's Conflict with the Mongols
Kubilai Khan had heard rumors that Japan held vast quantities of gold and treasure. He knew the Japanese traded with the Chinese and wanted to cut off trade to China.
Over time he sent many letters to the Japanese Bakufu (warrior government) proposing they become allies or suffer invasion.
These letters were rejected and some of the messengers were executed. Kubilai was then determined to make Japan submit to his authority and so began the first invasion of Japan.

This primary source tells us that life in shogunate Japan was very honourable and there was a structured system of government and hierachy. It shows that they were not prepared and didn't have suitable knowledge to defend against the Mongols during the first invasion.
This painting is a primary source because it was produced at the time of the invasions by a man named Takezaki Suenaga who fought against the Mongols in 1274 and 1281. This part of the Scroll shows the samurai on his bleeding horse, firing arrows from his long-bow. He has armor on and a helmet, in proper samurai fashion. There is a shell exploding in the air which is one of the first known examples of shelling in warfare. The Japanese had no such weapons. The Chinese and Mongol soldiers used reflex bows which are much more powerful than regular bows the Samurai would have been using when firing. The perspective of this picture is from the Japanese side showing the elegant and strong samurai taking on many Mongols at once. This source is reliable because it was painted during the time, it is a well know artefact and Takezaki Suenaga took part in both invasions.
This primary source shows that for a period of time shogunate Japan had not sent an envoy to the Mongol kingdom and were building their own country into a strong and structured state. They were building their own sense of self and operated independently. It also shows that Kubilai Khan and the Mongols thought they were the greatest people on earth and held themselves in such high esteem.
This video tells us how the Japanese were fiercly protective of their home land and they had strong religious beliefs and were protected by their Gods.
This secondary source tells us that the Samurai were revered warriors and worshiped by the people. The Japanese were able to learn and apply new knowledge in battle. The picture suggests that typhoons were a regular occurrence and the Japanese were accustomed to this.
This painting is a secondary source because it was painted after the time of the event in the 19th century by Yado Issho. It is a painting of the second invasion of the Mongols and Japanese fighting in the same place as the first invasion at Hakata Bay. The picture also shows the Samurai were a lot more prepared and stronger in their fighting skills. I believe it is painted from a Japanese perspective as the main figure is a Samurai warrior winning the battle and killing many Mongols. It may not be completely reliable due to this bias.

This letter is a primary source that was written by Kubilai Khan. There were many such letters written and were written on beautiful decorated scrolls. The letter is trying to be polite yet establish the authors dominance and superiority over the Japanese recipients. This letter is obviously written from a Mongol view point and is strongly bias as they themselves believe they are the masters of the universe. This is a reliable source as it comes directly from a major party involved in this historical event.

This video is a secondary source because it was created after the time of the event. This source is a neat summary of the Mongol invasions of Japan. It describes a timeline of events and presents a fairly impartial view point. This source is reliable because it was made in 2008 for educational purposes and presented in a documentary format.
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