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The Mongol Moment

Primary Sources

Anthony Mers

on 26 January 2016

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Transcript of The Mongol Moment

The Mongol Moment
How would you describe the anda relationship?
-form of political alliance in pastoral societies
-Symbols of personal friendship, gifts, socializing and sleeping in close proximity
What does the Secret History suggest about
the nature of political authority and political relationships among the Mongols?
-Political authority was personal rather than institutional in nature
-Political relationships also personal and drew on ritual exchanges and socializing associated with personal friendships like anda
-also involved oaths of fidelity and service in exchange for leadership and protection as highlighted in Ogodei's reasoning for why he regretted harming Dokholkhu
What did Ogodei regard as his greatest achievements and his most notable mistakes?
-Greatest achievements:
>Conquered China
>established network of post stations to speed up communications
>Wells dug in desert to create pasture/water
>placement of spies in the cities
>brought peace
>let himself be conquered by wine
>allowed himself to be convinced by a woman to break established principles in taking away uncles daughters
>secretly harmed Dokholkhu
>desired too much...as in building walls to keep wild game in his territories
What evidence do the selectons from the Secret History provide that the author was an insider?
-Author's nuanced understanding of the anda system, relationship of service for leadership and protection that defined the political authority of a khan indicates that the author was part of the culture being described
-Passage concerning Ogodei reveals in-depth knowledge
Why did Chinggis Khan seek a meeting with Changchun?
-He takes an interest in talented subjects
-He seeks worthy men to occupy high offices
-He hopes to gain wisdom from a meeting
-He hopes to learn the secret to preserving life
How does Chinggis Khan define his life's work? What is his image of himself?
Life work:
-defined by conquests
-divinely sanctioned to seize China and end its
haughtiness and extravagant luxury
-living simply
-eating/dressing as herdsman
-leads military from the front lines
-takes an interest in ruling his people and finding talented officials to administer empire
How do documents 12.1/12.2 help explain the success of the Mongols' empire-building efforts?
Document 12.1:
-Provides a sense of how political alliances were formed
-how Temujin became Chinggis Khan
-personality/leadership style of Ogodei
-provides further insight into how Ogodei understood the empire and his conquests, and court life and court intrigue
Document 12.2:
-provides insight into how Chinggis Khan presented his conquests and himself, and his motivations and character
-reveals how he viewed wisdom traditions of conquered peoples
-sought counsel and knowledge
-sought to administer his empire personally
What Mongol values do these documents suggest?
Document 12.1:
-Reveals that political alliances were personal in nature, based on trust and sealed with ritual exchanges and socializing
-other values include giving good counsel, respecting and rewarding loyalty, respecting established principles
Document 12.2:
-valued simplicity, moderation, respected talent, learning, and personal military courage
Assessing the sources:
What are the strengths and limitations of these documents for understanding the Mongols?
What exaggerations, biases, or misunderstandings can you identify in these sources? What information seems credible and what should be viewed with skepticism? 559
Mongol History from a Mongol Source
A Secret History
-the selections provide a wide variety of perspectives on the Mongols w/in and w/o
-sources address a number of features of Mongol social and political culture
-all were written by elites
-all focus largely on the elite aspect of society as opposed to systematically describing Mongol society
-author was a Mongol
-well informed about political history and court life of Ogedei's reign
-most likely will provide positive accounts of Mongol leaders of the time
-Successes/failures of Ogedei seem credible but closeness of the author leads us to be a skeptic
-the account of Chinggis Khan's rise and declaration as khan is convincing, but it was written decades after his death and should be treated with skepticism
A Letter from Chinggis Khan
-Khan himself wrote it so misunderstandings are not a serious problem
-However, descriptions of his character, motivations and accomplishments are not objective and may be viewed with skepticism
-Document could credibly represent the khan's public understanding of himself and his empire, as well as his attitude toward wisdom traditions of conquered peoples
A Russian View of the Mongols
-author is a member of the conquered, an agriculturalist, and a Christian so bias is an issue
-document most likely credible when describing Mongol military tactics and the lack of coordination among Russian princes
-Account of Mongol atrocities may be exaggerated
A Chinese View of the Mongols
-Author was a Chinese scholar commissioned by the family of Menggu, a Mongol administrator, to write a short bio of Menggu's life after death...bias?
-Most likely to be credible on basic biographical information, such as the positions Menggu held and the official actions he took.
-We could reasonably doubt those aspects of the account that cast Menggu as an ideal Confucian, such as his dying w/o accumulating wealth.
-Other accounts such as the delight expressed at his appointment by those he was assigned to administer could be looked at w/ skepticism
Big Picture Questions for Chapter 14: Empires and Encounters
1. In comparing the European Empires in the Americas with the Russian, Chinese, Mughal, and Ottoman Empires, should world historians emphasize the similarities, or the differences? What are the implications of each?

2. In what different ways was European colonial rule expressed and experienced in the Americas

3. Why did the European Empires in the Americas have such an enormously greater impact on the conquered people than did the Chinese, Mughal, and Ottoman Empires?

4. In what ways did the empires of the early modern era continue patterns of earlier empires? In what ways did they depart from those patterns?

Yes Barbaric or No Barbaric
In what ways did pastoral societies differ from their agricultural counterparts?
far smaller populations
encampments of related kinfolk
women a higher status
far more mobile
In what ways did pastoral societies interact w/ their agric. neighbors?
sought access to foodstuffs, man goods and luxury items
extracted wealth thru trade, raid and extortion
adopted religions
In what ways did Xiongnu, Arabs, and Turks make an impact on world history?
centralized system w/ hierarchy and divinely sanctioned ruler...set a standard
from here emerged the most expansive religious tradition of the post classic era
also pastoral arabs were shock troops for the spread of Islam
carried Islam to new regions (N India and Anatolia)
Seljuk Turks were de facto power behind the Abassid Caliphate
Did the history and society of the East African Masai people parallel that of Asian nomads?
No large states or chiefdoms emerged in East Africa
Bound mostly by the clans est thru the concept of "Age-set"
Did not fully abandon cultivation until 18th/19th Centuries
Regularly traded with or raided agric neighbors like the Asian nomads
Identify the major steps in the rise of the Mongol Empire
Temujin, Chinggis Khan, unified Great Mongol Nation 1206
To hold this alliance, Chinggis launched military campaigns against agric neighbors for the next half century "Mongol World War"
Empire constructed thru Mongol WW included China, Korea, Central Asia, Russia, much of Islamic Middle East, and parts of Eastern Europe
What accounts for the pol/mil success of the Mongols?
Ideology of one world empire
Army was better organized, led and disciplined than opponents
Divided members of same clan among different units
Incorporated conquered people
Quickly acquired Chinese tactics and technolgy for siege warfare
Growing reputation of ruthless brutality
Impressive ability to mobilize human/material resources
Relay system
Census taking
Centralized beauracracy in Karakorum
Fostered commerce
Drew on conquered peoples for administrative tasks
Religiously tolerant
How did Mongol rule change China? How were Mongols changed by the Chinese?
Mongols united a divided China after the fall of the Song Dynasty (Yuan Dynasty)
Took the dynastic title and moved capital to Khanbalik "city of the Khan" (present Beijing)
Mongols made use of Chinese admin. practices and techniques of taxation and their poastal system
Used traditional Confucian practices, built Daoist temples, and favored Tibetan Buddhism which aided them politically
How was Mongol rule in Persia different from that in China?
Heavy taxation pushed peasants off their land
Neglect of underground water channels damaged agric land
Mongol rulers transformed much more w/ adoption of Persian bureaucracy
Large conversion to Islam (Mughal)
Assimilation would occur even after fall due to intermarriage and adoption of agric.
What was distinctive about the Russian experience of Mongol rule?
Conquered but not occupied
Russian princes appointed
Sent massive tribute
Absence of direct rule meant Mongols far less influenced by Russian culture..little assimilation
Russians adopted Mongol weapons, court practices, taxations sys, and military draft
In what ways did the Mongol Empire contribute to the globalization of the Eurasian world?
Actively promoted int'l commerce and Mongol empire linked the Afro-Eurasian world
Promoted diplomatic relationships between W Europe and the Mongols and Persia and China
Spurred susbstantial exchange of peoples and culture thru forcible transplantation
Facilitated spread of religions w/ tolerance
Exchange of ideas/techniques: from China flowed painting, printing, gunpowder weapons, compass nav, high-temp furnaces, medical techniques. Muslim astronomers brought their skills to China.
Crops also exchanged
Disease changes societies. How might this argument apply to the plague?
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