Between 1206 and 1368, an obscure group of Central Asian nomads exploded across the steppes and established the world’s largest contiguous empire in history – the Mongol Empire. Led by their “oceanic leader,” Genghis Khan (Chinggus Khan), the Mongols took control of approximately 24,000,000 square kilometers (9,300,000 square miles) of Eurasia from the backs of their sturdy little horses.
The Mongol Empire was rife with domestic unrest and civil war, despite rulership remaining closely linked to the original Khan’s bloodline. Still, the Empire managed to continue expanding for nearly 160 years before its decline, maintaining rulership in Mongolia until the late 1600s.
Early Mongol Empire
Before a 1206 kurultai (“tribal council”) in what is now called Mongolia appointed him as their universal leader, the local ruler Temujin — later known as Genghis Khan — simply wanted to ensure the survival of his own little clan in the dangerous internecine fighting that characterized the Mongolian plains in this period.
However, his charisma and innovations in law and organization gave Genghis Khan the tools to expand his empire exponentially. He soon moved against the neighboring Jurchen and Tangut peoples of northern China but seemed not to have had any intention of conquering the world until 1218, when the Shah of Khwarezm confiscated a Mongol delegation’s trade goods and executed the Mongol ambassadors.
Furious at this insult from the ruler of what is now Iran, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan, the Mongol hordes sped westward, sweeping aside all opposition. The Mongols traditionally fought running battles from horseback, but they had learned techniques for besieging walled cities during their raids of northern China. Those skills stood them in good stead across Central Asia and into the Middle East; cities that threw open their gates were spared, but the Mongols would kill the majority of citizens in any city that refused to yield.
Under Genghis Khan, the Mongol Empire grew to encompass Central Asia, parts of the Middle East, and east to the borders of the Korean Peninsula. The heartlands of India and China, along with Korea’s Goryeo Kingdom, held off the Mongols for the time.
In 1227, Genghis Khan died, leaving his empire divided into four khanates that would be ruled by his sons and grandsons. These were the Khanate of the Golden Horde, in Russia and Eastern Europe; the Ilkhanate in the Middle East; the Chagatai Khanate in Central Asia; and the Khanate of the Great Khan in Mongolia, China, and East Asia.
After Genghis Khan
In 1229, the Kuriltai elected Genghis Khan’s third son Ogedei as his successor. The new great khan continued to expand the Mongol empire in every direction, and also established a new capital city at Karakorum, Mongolia.
In East Asia, the northern Chinese Jin Dynasty, which was ethnically Jurchen, fell in 1234; the southern Song Dynasty survived, however. Ogedei’s hordes moved into Eastern Europe, conquering the city-states and principalities of Rus (now in Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus), including the major city of Kiev. Further south, the Mongols took Persia, Georgia, and Armenia by 1240 as well.
In 1241, Ogedei Khan died, bringing to a temporary halt the Mongols’ momentum in their conquests of Europe and the Middle East. Batu Khan’s order was preparing to attack Vienna when news of Ogedei’s death distracted the leader. Most of the Mongol nobility lined up behind Guyuk Khan, the son of Ogedei, but his uncle refused the summons to the kurultai. For more than four years, the great Mongol Empire was without a great khan.
Curbing Civil War
Finally, in 1246 Batu Khan agreed to the election of Guyuk Khan in an effort to hold off an impending civil war. Guyuk Khan’s official selection meant that the Mongol war machine could once more grind into operation. Some previously-conquered peoples took the opportunity to break free from Mongol control, however, while the empire was rudderless. The Assassins or Hashshashin of Persia, for example, refused to recognize Guyuk Khan as the ruler of their lands.
Just two years later, in 1248, Guyuk Khan died either of alcoholism or poisoning, depending upon which source one believes. Once again, the imperial family had to choose a successor from amongst all the sons and grandsons of Genghis Khan, and make a consensus across their sprawling empire. It took time, but a 1251 kurultai officially elected Mongke Khan, grandson of Genghis and son of Tolui, as the new great khan.
More of a bureaucrat than some of his predecessors, Mongke Khan purged many of his cousins and their supporters from the government in order to consolidate his own power and reformed the tax system. He also carried out an empire-wide census between 1252 and 1258. Under Mongke, however, the Mongols continued their expansion in the Middle East, as well as attempting to conquer the Song Chinese.
Mongke Khan died in 1259 while campaigning against the Song, and once more the Mongol Empire needed a new head. While the imperial family debated the succession, Hulagu Khan’s troops, which had crushed the Assassins and sacked the Muslim Caliph’s capital at Baghdad, met with defeat at the hands of the Egyptian Mamluks in the Battle of Ayn Jalut. The Mongols would never restart their expansionary drive in the west, though East Asia was a different matter.
Civil War and the Rise of Kublai Khan
This time, the Mongol Empire descended into a civil war before another of Genghis Khan’s grandsons, Kublai Khan, managed to take power. He defeated his cousin Ariqboqe in 1264 after a hard-fought war and took the reins of the empire.
In 1271, the great khan named himself the founder of the Yuan Dynasty in China and moved in earnest to finally conquer the Song Dynasty. The last Song emperor surrendered in 1276, marking the Mongol victory over all of China. Korea also was forced to pay tribute to the Yuan, after further battles and diplomatic strong-arming.
Kublai Khan left the western portion of his realm to the rule of his relatives, concentrating on expansion in East Asia. He forced Burma, Annam (northern Vietnam), Champa (southern Vietnam) and the Sakhalin Peninsula into tributary relationships with Yuan China. However, his expensive invasions of Japan in both 1274 and 1281 and of Java (now part of Indonesia) in 1293 were complete fiascos.
Kublai Khan died in 1294, and the Yuan Empire passed without a kurultai to Temur Khan, Kublai’s grandson. This was a sure sign that the Mongols were becoming more Sinofied. In the Ilkhanate, the new Mongol leader Ghazan converted to Islam. A war broke out between the Chagatai Khanate of Central Asia and the Ilkhanate, which was supported by the Yuan. The ruler of the Golden Horde, Ozbeg, also a Muslim, restarted the Mongol civil wars in 1312; by the 1330s, the Mongol Empire was coming apart at the seams.
The Fall of an Empire
In 1335, the Mongols lost control of Persia. The Black Death swept across Central Asia along Mongol trade routes, wiping out entire cities. Goryeo Korea threw off the Mongols in the 1350s. By 1369, the Golden Horde had lost Belarus and Ukraine to the west; meanwhile, the Chagatai Khanate disintegrated and local warlords stepped in to fill the void. Most significant of all, in 1368, the Yuan Dynasty lost power in China, overthrown by the ethnic Han Chinese Ming Dynasty.
Genghis Khan’s descendants continued to rule in Mongolia itself until 1635 when they were defeated by the Manchus. However, their great realm, the world’s largest contiguous land empire, fell apart in the fourteenth century after less than 150 years in existence.
By Kallie Szczepanski
Ph.D., History, Boston University
J.D., University of Washington School of Law
B.A., History, Western Washington University
History teacher specializing in Asian history and culture
20+ years of teaching experience at the high school and university level
Former Peace Corps volunteer and editor for the Pacific Rim Law and Policy Journal
Kallie Szczepanski first visited Asia as a Peace Corps volunteer in Turkmenistan in 1997. During her service, she visited nearby countries, including Azerbaijan, Turkey, India, and Nepal. On her return to the United States, Dr. Szczepanski served as an editor for the Pacific Rim Law and Policy Journal, a professional legal quarterly. She also worked on land reform issues in Asia as an intern at the Rural Development Institute in Seattle, Washington.
Dr. Szczepanski lived in South Korea from 2003 to 2007, teaching English as a Foreign Language at private academies and at Hallym University. At Boston University, while she was earning her Ph.D., she taught college-level history courses. She currently teaches history at the high school level in Washington state.
Dr. Szczepanski holds a bachelor’s degree in history from Western Washington University, a Ph.D. degree in history from Boston University, and a J.D. from the University of Washington School of Law. She also has a teaching certification from Western Governors University.
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Mongke Khan. AH 649-658 / AD 1251-1260. AR Dirham.
Things to Know About Genghis Khan
Genghis Khan was the world’s greatest conqueror, civilizer and innovator, but how much do you really know about him? Here are five fast facts to know before you visit Genghis Khan at Discovery Place Science:
1. No one actually knows what he looked like.
During his lifetime, Genghis Khan forbade anyone to paint his portrait or sculpt his image. After his death, his devoted followers captured his likeness in many ways and forms, preserving his image for future generations, though to this day, no one knows for sure what Genghis Khan actually looked like. One writer from the 14th century claimed that Khan had green eyes and red hair.
2. He came from humble beginnings.
“Genghis Khan” loosely translates to “oceanic ruler.” Before Genghis Khan became a great ruler, he was known as Temujin. Legend holds that he came into the world clutching a blood clot in his right hand.
3. He might be your distant relative.
Genghis Khan had six Mongolian wives and over 500 concubines. Geneticists estimate that 16 million men alive today are genetic descendants of Genghis Khan, making him one of the most prolific patriarchs in history.
4. He was not just a ruthless conqueror.
While Genghis Khan was a merciless warrior, he was also a savvy statesman who developed written language and a sophisticated society with fair taxation, stable government, appreciation of the arts, religious freedom and open trade along the Silk Road.
5. He established the concept of passports.
Genghis Khan established passports to protect diplomats, merchants and messengers. Metal tablets forged from gold, silver or iron were often printed in multiple languages so they could be understood across the different cultures and languages spoken in the great empire. Unlike the passports of today, these plaques demanded the safe passage of the traveler. Anyone who declined or disobeyed the order was killed.
Visit Genghis Khan at Discovery Place Science and experience life in 13th-century Mongolia, entering the tents, battlegrounds and marketplaces of a vanished world. Explore modern Mongolian life and see how the distinctive horse-based culture of Genghis Khan’s time persists today, eight centuries after his rule.
The Mongol Khâns
Mongolian culture in most respects reflected the influence of China. For instance, there are Mongolian terms for the Chinese 60 year calendar cycle. On the other hand, significant other influences came into play. The writing system eventually adopted for Mongolian was the alphabet brought by Nestorian Christian missionaries into Central Asia, which was used to write other Altaic languages related to Mongolian, like Uighur and Manchu. This script is deficient in letters for vowels, which always made it an ambiguous way to write these languages. Under Soviet influence, Mongolian now is mostly written in the Cyrillic alphabet. In religion, Mongolia also went its own way, adopting the Vajrayana Buddhism, or Lamaism, of Tibet. This may have contributed to the military decline of Mongolia, since a large part of the population committed to monasticism does not make for anything like the nation of fierce warriors that stormed across Asia in the 13th century. Thus, Manchu China conquered Mongolia for the first time in its history in 1696. It remained part of China until 1911, when the fall of the Manchus enabled the Mongols, like the Tibetans, to assert their independence. The Chinese, however, enforced their claim to Mongolia by an invasion in 1919. This was successful, but with Soviet help the Chinese were driven out in 1921. Mongolian independence, at least from China, was henceforth under the protection of the Soviet Union. But this also, naturally, made Mongolia subject to Russian experiments in Communism. Stalin’s collectivization of agriculture was extended to Mongolia, with the forced settlement of nomads. Many of them, consequently, moved to Chinese Inner Mongolia to escape. Since 1990, Mongolia, like other post-Soviet states, has been struggling to develop a normal life and government free of police state measures and Russian domination.
Map shows the conquests of Chingiz Khân as divided at his death among his four sons. Jochi, the eldest son had, however, already died; so his sector was actually divided between his own sons, Batu (the Blue Horde), Orda (the White Horde), and Shiban, later united into the Golden Horde, the most durable of the Mongol regimes. Tuli (Tolui), the youngest son, was given the homeland of Mongolia. And it was the sons of Tuli, after the conquest of Russia, who carried out the greatest subsequent conquests, of the Middle East and China.
The Great Khâns, the Yüan Dynasty, of China, 1206-1368
T’ai Tsu 1182-
Chin Empire attacked,
Khawarizm Shâh thrown out
of Transoxania, 1219-1222;
Hsi-Hsia overthrown, 1226-1227
T’ai Tsung 1229-1241
Khawarizm Shâh overthrown, 1231
Chin overthrown, 1230-1234
Töregene Khâtûn regent,
Ting Tsung 1246-1248
Oghul Ghaymish regent,
Hsien Tsung 1251-1259
Southern Sung invaded,
Shih Tsu 1260-1294
Southern Sung conquered,
Temür Öljeytü Khân
Ch’eng Tsung 1294-1307
Wu Tsung 1307-1311
Jên Tsung 1311-1320
Ying Tsung 1320-1323
Tai-ting Ti 1323-1328
T’ien-shun Ti 1328
Wen Tsung 1328-1329
Ming Tsung 1329
Ning Tsung 1332-1333
Shun Ti 1333-1370
Mongols expelled from
Northern Yüan, , Dynasty, Mongolia
after the Yüan, 1368-1628
Chao Tsung 1370-1379
Usaqal Qaghan 1379-1389
Engke Soriktu 1389-1393
Gun Timur 1400-1403
Oljei Timur 1403-1411
Adai Qa’an 1425-1438
Esen Toghan Tayisi 1438-1440
Tayisung Qa’an 1440-1452
Chinese Emperor captured at T’u-mu, 1449
Esen Tayisi 1452-1455
Molon Khan Togus 1452-1454
Maqa Kurkis 1454-1463?
Bayan Mongke 1467-1470
civil war, 1470-c.1485
Dayan Khan 1479-1543
Altan Khan 1543-1583
Devastating raids into China, 1550; converted to Buddhism by the Dalai Lama, 1578
rebellion, Mongolia breaks up
Kudeng Darayisun 1547-1557
Tumen Jasaghtu 1557-1592
Sechen Khan 1592-1604
Ligdan Khan 1604-1634
Senge Dugureng 1583-1587
Ombo Khan ?-1628
Manchurian conquest, 1628
Subadi Jasaghtu Khan 1637-1650
conquest of Tibet, 1642
Norbu Bishireltu Khan 1650-1657
Manchurian occupation, 1688-1691
Manchurian conquest, 1732
Complete Manchurian Conquest,
Genghis Khan (Chingiz or Chinngis, Khân or Khagan) believed that he had been given the dominion of the whole world. Although the Mongols, as far as we know, didn’t have a tradition of believing such a thing, Genghis launched a campaign that came closer than any other such effort in history to realizing its goal. What Genghis accomplished himself was mostly to absorb kingdoms in Central Asia that most people would not have heard of anyway, but his sons and grandsons accomplished the conquests of China, Russia, Korea, Iran, and Iraq — just to mention the most famous places. The abolition of the Islâmic Caliphate in Baghdad affected the whole subsequent history of Islâm. Devastating defeats were also inflicted on Poland, Hungary, and Turkey, but growing feuds between increasingly more estranged cousins began to divert energies from more distant permanent conquests. Sometimes, as in the invasions of Japan, extraordinary circumstances, in that case the “Divine Wind” (kami kaze) typhoons, foiled Mongol conquest. But the ultimate enemy of the Mongols was the Mongols themselves. Whereas the average length of a generation of European royalty from Charlemagne to Queen Elizabeth (about 40 generations) was nearly 30 years, the Mongol generations turned over in only about 20 years. The Chingizids tended to drink themselves to death; and once no longer centered on the steppe, they lost their military edge. Only the Golden Horde (“horde” from orda, “army”) retained a steppe base and steppe culture, consequently lasting more than three centuries, rather than less than 90 years as with both the Ilkhâns in the Middle East or the Yüan Dynasty in China.
I had some problems with reconciling the Mongolian dates and names [The Mongols, David Morgan, Basil Blackwell, 1986, and The New Islamic Dynasties, Clifford Edmund Bosworth, Edinburgh University Press, 1996, which do not give Chinese names] with the Chinese list of Yüan emperors [Mathews’ Chinese-English Dictionary, Harvard University Press, 1972, p. 1175, which does not give the Mongolian names]. This is now cleared up by Ann Paludan’s Chronicle of the Chinese Emperors [Thames & Hudson, London, 1998, pp. 148-157]. Two Emperors did not reign long enough to be acknowledged by Chinese historians. Also, Chinese sources list Ming Tsung before Wen Tsung (or Wen Ti, in Mathews’) because the second reign of the latter is counted. After Togus-Temür, I have only found a list of rulers for Mongolia in Bruce R. Gordon’s Regnal Chronologies — though Gordon actually doesn’t list Togus-Temür, but only “Biliktu,” with slightly different dates. Now I discover that “Biliktu” refers to the brother and predecessor of Togus-Temür, Ayushiridara, whose name I had not seen at all peviously but I now see attested in the Nihon Kodaishi Daijiten, or Dictionary of Ancient Japanese History, on CD-ROM , which provides the genealogy, and at the Chinaknowledge website of Ulrich Theobald — the word “Qaghan,” proper Mongolian for “Khân,” is used in titles given by Theobald. Gordon’s “Usaqal” then turns out to be Togus-Temür himself.
Altan Khan looks like the last vigorous and effective Mongolian ruler, striking blows against China that deeply discomfited the Ming government. Yet rebellions began early in Altan Khan’s reign that he was never able to put down; and his direct successors rulled a state (Tumed) that simply shared in the breakup of the country. Mongolia would no longer be a threat to China, but Manchuria would soon conquer China (1644-1683) and Mongolia (1628-1732) as well. The most effective of the fragmented kingdoms seems to be that of Khalka. Since Mongol authority was asserted over Tibet in 1642, I assume that the Khans of Khalka were responsible. This gave the Manchus a pretext for claiming authority over Tibet after their conquest of Mongolia.
As noted above, classical Mongolian was written in an alphabet ultimately derived from the Syriac alphabet brought by Nestorian missionaries, as transmitted by way of Uighur and adopted under Genghis Khân. This was actually a poor way to write Mongolian, since such alphabets do not represent vowels. As it happens, Qubilai Khân requested that the Tibetan ‘Phags-pa, a nephew of the Mongol Regent of Tibet, develop an alphabetic writing system for Mongolian. The system he developed was made official and compulsory in 1269. Despite the inadequacies of the Uighur alphabet, the system of ‘Phags-pa did not catch on. Official documents using it survive, but the older script survived and returned to dominance until the Cyrillic alphabet was adopted in Communist Mongolia. With other post-Soviet states turning to traditional alphabets or the Latin alphabet, it would be a nice touch for Mongolia to revive the ‘Phags-pa system.
The Chaghatayid or Jagataiïd
Khâns of Mughulistân
Qara Hülegü 1244-1246
Yesü Möngke 1246-1251
Orqina Khâtûn 1252-1260
Mubârak Shâh 1266
Ghiyâth adDîn c.1266-1271
Buqa/Toqa Temür 1272-1282
Du’a, Duwa, Tuva c.1282-1306
conquers domain of Qaidu, 1306
Esen Buqa 1309-1320
Du’a Temür 1326
‘Alâ’ adDîn 1326-1334
Yesün Temür c.1338-1342
Buyan Quli 1358
Shâh Temür 1359
Tughluq Temür 1359-1363
The situation in Mughulistân (Turkistan and Sinkiang, including the Tarim Basin, in Central Asia) seems confused. Other sources ascribe a reign to Qaidu, son of the Great Khân Güyük; and grandson of the Great Khân Ögedey, but he is not listed by Bosworth’s New Islamic Dynasties. At the same time, Bosworth lists Qara Hülegü as the son of Mö’eüken, who is listed as an otherwise unknown, to me, son of Chingiz [p.248]. Similarly, other sources affirm that Jagatai-ids return to power by 1309, but Bosworth’s list takes no note of this and simply continues with descendants of Chaghatay and Mö’eüken. This is perplexing. The answer appears to be that Qaidu detached his own domain, to contest the Great Khânate, in the Dzungaria (Junggar) Basin and through part of Mongolia to the north-east, ruling from 1260/64-1301/03. He was succeeded by his son, Chapar, who briefly ruled 1301/03-1306. Chapar was defeated by the proper Chaghatayid Khân, Du’a, eliminating the division within Mughulistân.
This event is of independent interest, since Du’a’s name also appears as Tuva, a name that apparently stuck in a small mountainous area north-east of the Altai Mountains. The Republic of Tuva (capital Kyzyl) was independent for a short period after the fall of the Russian Empire, before being conquered by the Bolsheviks. The Republic even issued stamps that came to the attention of the great physicist, and youthful stamp collector, Richard Feynman. The Tuva Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic, part of the Russian Republic in the Soviet Union, claimed to contain the geographical center of the Continent of Asia, with a monument to mark the spot. It was also closed to foreigners. Nevertheless, Feynman spent the last few years of his life trying to arrange a trip there. Unfortunately, he died very shortly before permission for his visit arrived (1988). As with some other derivatives of Mongol states, we discover that the modern Tuvan language (Tuvinian) is actually more closely related to Turkish than to Mongolian.
The end of the Chaghatayids is as obscure as these other issues. Mughulistân is displaced from Transoxania by the Timurids, Uzbeks, and Kazakhs. In Sinkiang (Xinjiang), domains of the Turkic Uighurs took over until Manchu conquest in 1754-59.
The Khâns of the Golden Horde
Russia conquered, 1236-1239; Europe invaded, 1239-1242; Poles & Teutonic Knights defeated at Liegnitz, Hungarians crushed at the River Sajó, April 1241; Hungary occupied, 1241-1242
Möngke Temür 1267-1280
Töde Möngke 1280-1287
Töle Buqa 1287-1291
Muḥammad Özbeg 1313-1341
Tînî Beg 1341-1342
Jânî Beg 1342-1357
Berdi Beg 1357-1359
Period of anarchy, 1357-1380; union with White Horde, 1378
The Khâns of the Golden Horde
1378/1380, union of White Horde & Blue Horde into the Golden Horde; sacks Novgorod & Moscow, 1382; expelled from Saray by Tamerlane, 1395
Temür Qutlugh 1395-1401
Shâdî Beg 1401-1407
Pûlâd Khân 1407-1410
Jalâl adDîn 1412
Karîm Berdi 1412-1414
Yeremferden ? 1417-1419
Ulugh Muḥammad 1419-1420,
Dawlat Berdi 1420-1422
Sayyid Aḥmad I c.1433-1435
Küchük Muḥammad c.1435-1465
1480, Ivan III refuses tribute;
independence of Russia
Shaykh Aḥmad 1481-1498,
Defeated and annexed by
the Khâns of the Crimea, 1502
The Khâns of the White Horde
Sâsibuqa ? 1309-1315
Mubârak Khwâja 1320-1344
Temür Malik 1377
1378, union of White Horde & Blue Horde into the Golden Horde
Josef Stalin said that his best generals were “January and February.” Indeed, the great invasions of Russia by Napoleon and Hitler came to grief in great measure because of the harsh Russian winter. Napoleon lost much of his Grand Army in 1812 in a retreat from Moscow in the cold and the snow. Hitler was aware of Napoleon’s failure, but he expected to conquer Russia before winter set in. However, Hitler got delayed by a campaign against Yugoslavia and then launched forces, not only towards Moscow, but against Leningrad and the Ukraine also. Thus, as the snow began to fall in 1941, the Germans had barely come within sight of Moscow. They weren’t even prepared for winter. The men did not have winter clothing and the summer oil in the tanks actually froze.
In light of these events, it is chilling (as it were) to remember that the Mongols conquered Russia during the winter. The Mongols liked winter. Frozen rivers and marshes meant that they could ride right over barriers that in the spring or summer would have slowed them down. Their tough Central Asian ponies knew how to dig down through the snow to eat the frozen grass beneath. This all made for a terror unknown to the Russians before or since. What the Russians then called their Mongol conquers was the “Tartars” — invaders come from Tartarus, the deepest part of Hell. However, this was a deliberate modification of the Persian word tâtâr, which just meant a kind of Turk, though the Mongols, of course, were not Turks. But then, as the Mongols appeared out of nowhere from the Steppe, arriving from origins far beyond the knowledge of Russians or Persians, no one really knew who they were or where they were from. To Europeans, they seemed like the Scourge of God.
Eventually, the Golden Horde weakened and broke up into the Khânates of Astrakhan, Kazan, and Crimea. Remnants of the Golden Horde passed in 1502 to the Crimea, which, as a vassal of the Ottoman Empire (as of 1475), held out the longest against Russian power. Thus, independent Hordes survived in Russia for three centuries, and the Crimea for more than two more. This original durability, far beyond the other Mongol Khânates, may be due to the fact that only the Golden Horde remained centered on the steppe. For so long as nomadic military tactics held an advantage, the Golden Horde benefited from it. The day of the nomad had to pass before the Russians gained the upper hand. Crimea survived thanks to the very non-nomadic power of the Ottomans. Russian expansion east would then not be through the steppe but in the Taiga, the dense forestland.
The map at right shows the situation in 1483. Moscow has just ceased paying tribute to the Golden Horde (1480). The successor Khanates to the Horde are already in place. As noted, the Crimea is already a vassal of the Ottomans. Although it would be the Crimean Khâns who finally overthrew the Horde, Astrakhan would acquire the lion’s share of the remaining lands of the Horde. Timurids and the White Sheep (Aq Qoyunlu) Turks dominate the Middle East and Central Asia.
Note that Shiban, as a son of Jochi, originally had his own division of the Horde (an ulus, “patrimony”), as seen in the map above. When Toqtamısh moved west to unify the Golden Horde, the Shibanids expanded south and grew into the Khânate of the Özbegs or Uzbeks, perhaps named after the Khân of the Blue Horde, Muḥammad Özbeg (1313-1341). Thus, on the map of 1483, the Uzbeks have become conspicuous. Their line is given below, as their realm (and the Kazakhs) succeeded to most of Central Asia until the coming of the Russians. There was also another son of Jochi, Toqa Temür, who had descendants from who some later Khâns may have descended. This may have included the founder of the Golden Horde proper, Toqtamısh, whose parentage is uncertain.
For a long time I displayed nothing here on the descent of the White Horde or the Golden Horde. Now, however, this has been provided by a correspondent in the Netherlands, who organized information from a French genealogy site, with some reference to RootsWeb, where there is a discussion of the descent of Toqtamısh. I have revised some of this information, especially for the Golden Horde proper, on the basis of The New Islamic Dynasties, by Clifford Edmund Bosworth [Edinburgh University Press, 1996, p.252-254]. The Blue Horde and White Horde are shown together above at right, ending with Toqtamısh who unites them. Below are the Khâns of the Golden Horde. Some small differences of dates and names remain between the the genealogical diagrams and the tables of rulers above. I allow these to remain to indicate the certainties with the history — one uncertainty is exactly when the Blue Horde was absorbed by Toqtamısh, variously given as 1378 and 1380. It is noteworthy that, according to Bosworth, the founders of the Khânates of Kazan and Astrakhan were rival cousins in the two Golden Horde lines descended from the Khâns of the White Horde. The Golden Horde itself, however, was ended by the unrelated Giray Khâns of the Crimea.
The Khâns of the Crimea
Ḥâjjî Giray I 1449-1456
Ḥaydar Giray 1456
Nûr Dawlat Giray 1466-1467,
Mengli Giray 1467-1474,
Vassals of the
Ottoman Empire, 1475;
conquest of Golden
Muḥammad Giray I 1514-1523
Ghâzî Giray I 1523-1524
Sa’âdat Giray I 1524-1532
Islâm Giray I 1532
Ṣâḥîb Giray I 1532-1551
Dawlat Giray I 1551-1577
Muḥammad Giray II 1577-1584
Islâm Giray II 1584-1588
Ghâzî Giray II 1588-1596,
Fatḥ Giray I 1596
Toqtamısh Giray 1608
Salâmat Giray I 1608-1610
Muḥammad Giray III 1610,
Jânî Beg Giray 1610-1623,
‘Inâyat Giray 1635-1637
Bahâdur Giray I 1637-1641
Muḥammad Giray IV 1641-1644,
Islâm Giray III 1644-1654
‘Âdil Giray 1666-1671
Salîm Giray I 1671-1678,
Murâd Giray 1678-1683
Ḥâjjî Giray II 1683-1684
Sa’âdat Giray II 1691
Ṣafâ’ Giray 1691-1692
Dawlat Giray II 1699-1702,
Ghâzî Giray III 1704-1707
Qaplan Giray I 1707-1708,
Dawlat Giray III 1716-1717
Sa’âdat Giray III 1717-1724
Mengli Giray II 1724-1730,
Fatḥ Giray II 1736-1737
Salâmat Giray II 1740-1743
Salîm Giray II 1743-1748
Arslan Giray 1748-1756,
Ḥalîm Giray 1756-1758
Qırım Giray 1758-1764,
Salîm Giray III 1764-1767,
Maqṣûd Giray 1767-1768,
Dawlat Giray IV 1769,
Qaplan Giray II 1769-1770
Ṣâḥîb Giray II 1772-1775
Shâhîn Giray 1777-1782,
Bahâdur II Giray 1782-1783
1783, Russian annexation
by Catharine II the Great
The Khâns of Kazan
Ulugh Muḥammad 1437-1445
Muḥammad Amîn 1484-1485
Siberian Khân 1495-1496
‘Abd alLaṭîf 1496-1502
Khân of Qâsimov 1519-1521,
Ṣâḥîb Giray 1521-1524
Ṣafâ’ Giray 1524-1531,
Jân ‘Alî 1531-1533
Yâdigâr Muḥammad 1552
1552, Russian conquest
– by Ivan IV
The breakup of the Golden Horde resulted in a number of successor states, most importantly the Khânates of Kazan, the Crimea, and Astrakhan. The remnant domain of the Golden Horde was itself annexed by the Crimea in 1502. Otherwise, all would be faced with, and ultimately fall to, the growing power of Russia. The fall of Kazan and Astrakhan motivated Ivan IV to proclaim himself “Tsar of all the Russias.” The Crimea would endure longer, becoming indeed the last of any of the Mongol Khânates. Its durability, however, was only due to the protection of the Ottomans. Before Russia could take the Crimea, it would have to defeat the Turks. That would not come until the 18th Century. Catherine the Great, not Ivan the Terrible, would finish off the last of the Mongols.
These lists are derived entirely from The New Islamic Dynasties, by Clifford Edmund Bosworth [Edinburgh University Press, 1996, pp.252-260].
The Khâns of Astrakhan
‘Abd alKarîm 1490-1504
Aq Köbek 1532-1534
‘Abd alRaḥmân 1534-1538
Shaykh Ḥaydar 1538-1541
1554, Russian conquest
by Ivan IV
Darwîsh ‘Alî Russian vassal,
The connection of the Crimea to Turkey led to a significant moment in linguistic history. The Imperial Ambassador to Constantinople, Bubecq (1560-1562), took down sixty words in an unusual language spoken by informants from the Crimea. The language turned out to be Gothic. Goths had been in the Crimea since the 3rd Century AD. It is fortunate that Bubecq was curious about the language, because there is otherwise no surviving evidence of it, and there are no Crimean Goths left now.
There are surviving Crimean Tartars. Stalin became suspicious that they had collaborated with the Germans in World War II, so he deported all of them to Siberia. They are back now, but still rather out of place in the area. They are thus as much living fossils of history as the 16th century Gothic speakers, and not at all comfortable with the annexation of the Crimea by Vladimir Putin. The Russians are back.
The Il Khâns
Middle East invaded,
Abbasid Caliph killed, 1258;
defeat by Mamlûks,
‘Ain Jalut, 1260
Aḥmad Tegüder 1282-1284
Maḥmûd Ghâzân 1295-1304
Khudâbanda Öljeytü 1304-1316
‘Alâ’ adDunyâ wa dDîn 1316-1335
Arpa Ke’ün 1335-1336
1338-1353, period of
several rival successor states,
like the Jalâyirids,
followed by the Timurids
The amount of harm that the Mongol conquest did to the Middle East cannot be calculated. It was bad enough for Islâm that the Caliphate in Baghdad was destroyed, but at least a form of the Caliphate was soon continued in Cairo. The physical damage and neglect to Iraq, however, may have ruined foundations of civilization and prosperity that went back to the Sumerians. The capital of the Îlkhâns became Tabrîz. Iraq would never again be a center of great power, influence, or culture. Until the Fall of Constantinople, Cairo became the center of Islâm.
It may be that a serious effort to conquer Egypt was never launched by the Îlkhâns because the military resources of Mongolia, which had in part been directed at Europe under the Great Khân Ögedei and at the Middle East under Möngke (Hülegü’s brother), were entirely drawn off by Qubilai (Hülegü’s other brother) for the conquest of China. Certainly, the kind of sustained and punishing campaign that the Song had to face in China was never directed against the Mamlûks.
Shaykh Ḥasan-i Buzurg Tâj ad-Dîn 1340-1356
Shaykh Uways 1356-1374
Ḥusayn I Jalâl ad-Dîn 1374-1382
Sulṭân Aḥmad Ghiyâth ad-Dîn 1382-1410
Shâh Walad 1410-1411
Uways II 1411-1421
Ḥusayn II 1425-1532
Conquest by Qara Qoyunlu, 1432
The Qara Qoyunlu, or Black Sheep Turks
Bayram Khôja Vassal of Jalayirids,
Qara Muḥammad 1380-1389
Qara Yûsuf c.1390-1400,
Occupation by Tîmûr, 1400-1406
Jahân Shâh 1439-1467
Timurid Vassal until 1449
Ḥasan ‘Alî 1467-1469
Abû Yûsuf 1469
Conquest by Aq Qoyunlu, 1469
When the great traveller Ibn Battuta (d.1368/69) visited the Ilkhânate in 1326-1327, its power seemed well founded and unassailable. When he returned from China, between 1346 and 1349, the Khânate had already collapsed! This abrupt and astonishing revolution left a number of successor states. The Jalâyirid Sulṭâns held Tabrîz, western Irân and lower Mesopotamia. The Black Sheep (Qara Qoyunlu) Turks lay just to the west, in Armenia and upper Mesopotamia. In between their domain and Trebizond were the White Sheep (Aq Qoyunlu) Turks. All were swept over, but not eliminated, by Tamerlane. As the Timurid hegemony receded, the Black Sheep Turks overthrew the Jalâyirids. It wasn’t much longer, however, before the White Sheep Turks became the ultimate winner, assembling a state that stretched even into eastern Irân, the most successful of the Ilkhân successors. When they fell, it would be to an altogether new force, the Safavids, who, although Turks themselves, ushered in an Irânian, and a Shi’ite, revival.
The Aq Qoyunlu, or White Sheep Turks
Qutlugh Fakhr ad-Dîn c.1360-1389
Qara Yoluq ‘Uthmân Fakhr ad-Dîn 1403-1435
‘Alî Jalâl ad-Dîn 1435-1438
Ḥamza Nûr ad-Dîn 1438-1444
Jahângîr Mu’izz ad-Dîn 1444-1457
Uzun Ḥasan 1457-1478
Sulṭân Khalîl 1478
Aḥmad Gövde 1497
Alwand Diyâr Bakr
Muḥammad Iraq & Persia,
Sulṭân Murâd Persia,
Zayn al-‘Âbidîn Diyâr Bakr,
Ṣafawid conquest, 1508
Defeats, captures & imprisons
Bâyezîd, battle of Ankara, 1402
Pîr Muḥammad 1405-1407
Khalîl Sulṭân 1405-1409
Shâh Rukh 1505-1409
East & West Iran
Ulugh Beg 1447-1449
Bâbur I 1449-1457
‘Abd alLaṭîf 1449-1450
Abû Sa’îd 1451-1469
Abû Sa’îd 1459-1469
Ḥusayn Bâyqarâ 1469-1506
Sulṭân Aḥmad 1469-1494
Bâbur II, the Great Moghul 1498-1500,
Özbeg conquest of Transoxania
& Farghâna, 1501
Badî’ al-Zamân 1506-1507
of Khorasân, 1507
Tamerlane was only partly Mongol and never claimed to be one. But he tended to use Mongol puppet figureheads and did create the last serious nomadic empire. A devoted Moslem, his conquests and massacres were nevertheless almost entirely directed against fellow Moslems. Poor little Georgia had to bear most of his wrath against Christians.
Despite what must seem the superfluous slaughter and pointless terror of Tamerlane’s campaigns, his was the only historic empire actually founded on the region of Transoxania and cities like Samarkand and Bukhara. This brought a period of higher culture and architecture to the area. The style of architecture, indeed, passed to the Moghuls. The splendor of the Taj Mahâl thus owes more than a little to the ferocious Tamerlane.
The region of Farghâna included a small Timurid principality. The Özbeg conquest of the region (1501) sent the heir, Bâbur, heading for Kabul (1514) and India (1526), where he founded the Moghul Empire.
killed by Kazakhs,
Muḥammad Shıbâni Shah Beg Özbeg 1500-1512
Köchkunju Muḥammad 1512-1531
Abû Sa’îd Muz.affar ad-Dîn 1531-1534
‘Ubaydallâh Abû’l-Ghâzî 1534-1539
‘Abdallâh I 1539-1540
‘Abd al-Laṭîf 1540-1552
Nawrûz Aḥmad, Baraq 1552-1556
Pîr Muḥammad I 1556-1561
‘Abdallâh II 1583-1598
‘Abd al-Mu’min 1598
Pîr Muḥammad II 1598-1599
succession of Toqay Temürids
If the Timurids had been more Turkish than Mongol, they were succeeded by rulers who were at least of Mongol patrimony, the Shibânid Khâns of the Özbegs or Uzbeks — Turkish tribes, but perhaps named after the Khân of the Blue Horde, Muḥammad Özbeg (1313-1341). Moving first south into the lands of the old White Horde, they then displaced the Timurids in Transoxania and northern Afghanistan, in part under the pressure of the Kazakhs. Although often fragemented, the Khânate and its successors, with the Kazakhs, dominate Central Asia until the arrival of the Russian Empire. Uzbekistan, of course, is one of the successor Republics to the Soviet Union.
Koirijaq Oglun c.1394-1422
killed by Abu’l-Khayr of the Uzbeks
Jani Beg 1440-1480
independent of Uzbeks, 1456
Boydas East, 1526/38
Togim South, 1526/38
Uziaq Ahmad North, 1526/35
Haqq Nazar/Aq Nazak unites horde, 1538-1575/80
1586, all Kazakhs
Jahangir Khan 1628-1652
Ablaigirim 1628-36; d.c.1650
The Khâns of the Kazakhs are curiously missing from Bosworth’s The New Islamic Dynasties. There seems to be much obscurity in their history, and the details here are from the German Wikipedia website. While the Kazakhs seem to originate as vassals of the Özbegs, their Khâns are initially derived from the Golden Horde. When the Özbeg Abu’l-Khayr kills the Golden Khân Boraq, his sons, after an exile in Mughulistân (Sinkiang), return to avenge themselves. This shatters the Özbegs (1468), from which the Kazakhs emerge as an independent Khânate. The dating is unclear, but the Özbegs are pushed south to the Oxus (Amu Dar’ya) valley and the mountains to the south-east, and the Kazakhs come to dominate the steppe, the valley of the Jaxartes (Syr Dar’ya), and the mountains to the south-east of there. This is reflected in the modern map of the region, with an independent Kazakhstan north of Uzbekistan. The modern caital, Alma Ata, is far to the south-east, near the border of Kirghizia. One complication of Kazakh history seems to be that the Horde periodically, and then permanently, splits into Lesser (west), Middle (north, east), and Elder (south) Hordes — and evidently the Kirgiz also. These were all, of course, Turkish peoples, with initially the Mongol derived rulers. Today the Turks of the region are distinguished, with the modern states, into Kazakhs, Uzbeks, Kirgiz (in Kirghizia), and Turkmen (in Turkmenistan, south of the Oxus, an area that is mostly desert, though with the historic city of Merv, now Mary). The whole area, of course, has been characterized with the geographical expression Turkistan. In the 18th century, the Lesser and Middle Horde came under Russian influence. They were conquered by 1824. The Elder Horde and Kirgiz were conquered in 1854.
Toqay Temürids, Jânids
Jânî Muḥammad 1599-1603
Bâqî Muḥammad 1603-1605
Walî Muḥammad 1605-1611
Imâm Qulî 1611-1641
Nadhr Muḥammad 1641-1645
‘Abd al-‘Azîz 1645-1681
Ṣubḥân Qulî 1681-1702
figureheads of Mangıts, 1747
‘Abd al-Mu’min 1747-c.1750
The Toqay Temürids or Jânids (from Jânî Muḥammad) were actually from the house of Astrakhan and so, again, were more Mongol than Turkish. They simply displace the Uzbek Shibânids. The domain, again, is sometimes fragmented, especially with a “lesser” Khân in Balkh (in Afghanistan). In the end, Jânids were figureheads for the Mangıts.
Mangıts of Bukhara
Muḥammad Raḥîm Atalıq 1747-1758
Dâniyâl Biy Atalıq 1758-1785
Shâh Murâd Amîr-i-Ma’ṣûm 1785-1800
Sayyid Ḥaydar Tora 1800-1826
Sayyid Ḥusayn 1826-1827
Naṣr Allâh 1827-1860
Muz.affar ad-Dîn 1860-1886
Russian conquest, 1868
‘Abd al-Aḥad 1886-1910
Sayyid ‘Âlim Khân 1910-1920
overthown by Bosheviks, 1920
The Mangıts were from an Uzbek tribe who became chief ministers, Atalıqs, to the Jânids. Like many other such arrangements, the power of the ministers overwhelmed and then overthrew that of their masters. The domain became the Khânate of Bukhara (Bokhara). The arrival of the Russians reduced the power and the domain of the Khâns, but their rule, or misrule, actually continued. Nothing fundamentally changed until the Russian Revolution. A “People’s Republic of Bukhara” overthrew the Khân, who went into exile in Afghanistan. Rather than tolerating local self-determination, of course, the Bolsheviks forcibly reconstituted as much of the Russian Empire as possible. Today, however, Bukhara finds itself in an independent Uzbekistan (whose capital is Tashkent). Two other Uzbek Khântes, Khiva and Khoqand (around Tashkent), shared space with Bokhara, until similarly attached to Russia. Khoqand was abolished in 1876, while Khiva survived, like Bukhara, until 1920.
These lists (except for the Kazakh Khâns) are derived from The New Islamic Dynasties, by Clifford Edmund Bosworth [Edinburgh University Press, 1996] and the Oxford Dynasties of the World, by John E. Morby [Oxford University Press, 1898, 2002, pp.270-276 & pp.288-292].
the Oghullar of Rûm
The many successors of the Seljuks in Anatolia are
– Aydın Oghulları
– Sarukhân Oghulları
– Menteshe Oghulları
– Germiyân Oghulları
– Ḥamîd Oghulları
– Tekke Oghulları
– Jândâr Oghulları
– Qaramân Oghulları
– Eretna Oghulları
– Dulghadır Oghulları
– Osmanli Oghulları
often called the , oghullar, or “sons.” In modern Turkish, “son” is oğul, with a breve on the g, which means that the o is lengthened and the gu lost. Lar is the regular plural suffix. In the Turkish grammatical construction, we get the name of the domain or dynasty and then , Oghulları, “its sons.” In the map above, for the year 1361, based on The New Penguin Atlas of Medieval History [Colin McEvedy, 1992, p.93], we have a unique political fragmentation of both the Balkans and Anatolia. This is about the only time since the Hellenistic Age, and the last time thereafter, that Anatolia has consisted of such a small number of states, mostly Turkish but with Greeks, Armenians, and Crusaders holding on in a few places. Every single realm on the map, except for Epirus, is covered by a separate treatment here. Thus we have Romania under the Palaeologi, Bulgaria under the Terters, Serbia, Wallachia & Moldavia, Trebizond, Hungary, the Golden Horde, Georgia, the Jalayirids, the White Sheep Turks, the Black Sheep Turks, the Mamlûks, Lesser Armenia, Cyprus, Rhodes under the Hospitallers, Achaea & the Cyclades and Naples under the Anjevians, Athens under Sicily, Crete and other places under Venice, and Chios and other places under Genoa. Epirus had recently existed under its own Despots, been attached to Romania, and then drifted out of control under local Albanian princes. It would not be strongly unified until George Castriota, or Skanderbeg, temporarily drove the Turks out between 1443 and 1463. Note that the city of Philadelphia (modern Alashehir) is an isolated possession of Romania within the Beylik of Germiyân. It held out until falling to the Ottomans in 1390.
These lists are all from Clifford Edmund Bosworth’s The New Islamic Dynasties [Edinburgh University Press, 1996, pp.220-238]. McEvedy may have overlooked one small state of oghullar, and when I figure out how the map would need to be modifed, it may be added.
BEGS (BEYS) OF I.ZMI.R/SMYRNA
Family of Aydın Oghlu Muḥammad Beg
Captures Ephesus, 1304
Mubâriz ad-Dîn Ghâzî 1308-1334
Umur I Beg,
Bahâ’ ad-Dîn Ghâzî 1334-1348
Captures Smyrna (I.zmir); naval defeat at Adramyttion, 1334; naval defeat by Venice & Romania, loss of harbor of Smyrna, 1344
Annexation by Bâyezîd I, 1390
Restoration by Tîmûr, 1402
Umur II 1402-1405
Annexation by Murâd II, 1426
The Aydın Oghulları (“Sons of Aydin”) are noteworthy because their seizure of Ephesus and Smyrna allowed for the development of a very troublesome degree of sea power, provoking two leagues of western powers to help Romania suppress it. The second league succeeded in recapturing the harbor and part of the city of Smyrna, though this only temporarily hampered the Begs. A noteworthy complication at the time was the civil war in Romania between John V Palaeologus and John VI Cantacuzenus. Cantacuzenus cultivated Turkish allies, including the Ottoman Amîr Orkhân and Umur I of Aydın.
BEGS (BEYS) OF MANISA/MAGNESIA
Ṣarukhân Beg c.1313-c.1348
Ilyâs Fakhr ad-Dîn c.1348-1357
Isḥâq Chelebi Muz.affar ad-Dîn 1357-c.1388
Khiḍr Shâh 1388-1390, 1404-1410
Conquest by Bâyezîd I, 1390
restoration by Tamerlane, 1402; annexation by Meḥmed I, 1410
This was a disastrous error, since Ottoman troops were thus introduced into Europe. They stayed. The Beys of Aydın also illustrate the temporary setback suffered by the Ottomans. The defeat of Bâyezîd I by Tamerlane led to the brief reëtablishment (1402-1426) of the Aydın Oghulları.
The Ṣarukhân Oghulları ruled immediately north of Aydın, in what had been Greek Magnesia. They shared the fate of Aydın in Ottoman conquest, restoration, and conquest again. This pattern continues with most of the Oghullar below.
BEGS (BEYS) OF MILAS/MILETUS
Menteshe Beg c.1280-c.1296
Orkhan Shujâ’ud-Dîn c.1319-c.1344
Muhammad, & Tâj ud-Dîn Aḥmad c.1360-1391
Conquest by Bâyezîd I, 1391
Ilyâs Muz.affar ad-Dîn or Shujâ’ud-Dîn 1402-1421
restoration by Tamerlane, 1402
Layth and Aḥmad 1421-1424
annexation by Murâd II, 1424
BEGS (BEYS) OF PHRYGIA
Ya’qûb ‘Alî Shîr c.1299-c.1327
Muḥammad Chakhshadân c.1327-c.1363
Sulaymân Shâh c.1363-1387
Ya’qûb II Chelebi 1387-1390, 1402-1411, 1413-1428
Conquest by Bâyezîd I, 1390; restoration by Tamerlane, 1402; occupation by Qaramânids, 1411-1413; annexation by Murâd II, 1428
The Menteshe Oghulları, in Classical Caria and around Miletus, were immediately to the south of Aydın. Up behind all the coastal states were the Germiyân Oghulları, in the Classical Lydia and Phrygia. As with many of the Ohgullar, the Germinyân were originally a Turkish or Turkomen tribe in service to the Seljuks. Settled in the west as vassals of the Seljuks, the independent Beylik and first controlled the coast, but then was pushed back as separate states developed there.
BEGS (BEYS) OF PISIDIA
Dündâr Beg Falak ad-Dîn c.1301-1324
Occupation by Il Khâns, 1324-1327
Khiḍr Beg 1327-1328
Isḥâq Najm ad-Dîn 1328-1344
Muṣṭafâ Muaz.affar ad-Dîn c.1344-?
Ilyâs Ḥusâm ad-Dîn ?-c.1374
Ḥusayn Kamâl ad-Dîn c.1374-1391
Conquest by Bâyezîd I, 1391
The Ḥamîd Oghulları began with a Seljuk vassal, Ilyâs ibn Ḥamîd. With the Seljuk collapse his two sons established adjacent Beyliks, inland in Classical
BEGS (BEYS) OF PAMPHYLIA
Khiḍr sinan ad-Dîn 1327-c.1372
Muḥammad Mubâriz ad-Dîn c.1372-c.1378
‘Uthmân Chelebi ?-1391, 1402-1423
Conquest by Bâyezîd I, 1391; restoration by Tamerlane, 1402; annexation by Murâd II, 1423
Pisidia, and allong the coast in Classical Pamphylia and Lycia — starting the Tekke Oghulları. Both states were taken by Bâyezîd, and only one was temporarily restored by Tamerlane.
BEGS (BEYS) OF SINOPE & PAPHLAGONIA
Yaman Jâdâr Shams ad-Dîn 1292-c.1308
Sulaymân I Shujâ’ud-Dîn c.1308-c.1340
Ibrâhîm Ghiyâth ad-Dîn c.1340-1345
Bâyazîd Kötörüm Jalâl ad-Dîn c.1361-1384
Sulaymân II Shâh 1384-1385
Isfandiyâr Mubâriz ad-Dîn 1385-1393, 1402-1440
Conquest by Bâyezîd I, 1393; restoration by Tamerlane, 1402
Ibrâhîm Tâj ad-Dîn 1440-1443
Ismâ’îl Kamâl ad-Dîn 1443-1461
Qızıl Aḥmad 1461-1462
annexation by Meḥmed II, 1462
The domain of the Jândâr Oghulları was along the Black Sea coast, Classical Paphlagonia. They were at first vassals of the Il Khâns but became independent with their collapse.
BEGS (BEYS) OF GALATIA
Qaramân Nûr ad-Dîn or Nûra Ṣûfî c.1256-1261
Muḥammad I Shams ad-Dîn 1261-1278
Güneri Beg 1278-1300
Maḥmud Badr ad-Dîn 1300-1307
Ibrâhim I Badr ad-Dîn c.1317-1344/49
Aḥmad Kakhr ad-Dîn 1344/49-1349
Shams ad-Dîn 1349-1352
Conquest by Bâyezîd I, 1398
Muḥammad II 1402-1419, 1441-1423
Restoration by Tamerlane, 1402
‘Alî 1419-1421, 1423-1424
Ibrâhîm II Tâj ad-Dîn 1424-1464
Pîr Aḥmad 1464-1475
annexation by Meḥmed II, 1475
Although falling to the Ottomans, the Jândâr family nevertheless became successful serving them.
The Qaramân Oghulları were a vigorous state and stood a good chance of becoming the dominant successors of the Seljuks. They even became the heirs of the Seljuk capital of Konya (Iconium). However, they were still no match for the the Ottomans. They lost Ankara (Angora), the ancient capital of Galatia, in 1354, and fell altogether to Bâyezîd in 1398. Restored by Tamerlane, they had to go through the experience all over again.
BEGS (BEYS) OF TAURUS
Qaraja ibn Dulghadır al-Malik az-Z.âhir Zayn ad-Dîn 1337-1353
Khalîl Ghars ad-Dîn 1353-1386
Sha’bân Sûlî 1386-1398
Muḥammad Nâṣir ad-Dîn 1398-1442
Malid Arslan 1454-1465
Shâh Budaq 1465-1466, 1472-1479
Shâh Suwâr 1466-1472
Bozqurd ‘Alâ’ud-Dawla 1479-1515
annexation by Süleymân I, 1521
Of all the Oghullar, the Dulghadır Oghulları, sharing the Taurus with Lesser Armenia, held out the longest against the Ottomans, with help as vassals of the White Sheep Turks and the Mamlüks. Even after conquering the Mamlûks and pushing into Mesopotamia, Selim the Grim seems to have tolerated them, though they didn’t last long into the reign of Süleymân the Magnicient.
BEGS (BEYS) OF SIVAS/CAPPADOCIA
Eretna ‘Alâ’ud-Dîn 1336-1352
Muḥammad I Ghiyâth ad-Dîn 1352-1366
‘Alî ‘Alâ’ud-Dîn 1366-1380
Muḥammad II Chelebi 1380
Succession of Qâḍî Burhân ad-Dîn Oghulları, 1380
Aḥmad Qâḍî Burhân ad-Dîn 1380-1398
killed by White Sheep Turks, 1398
‘Alî Zayn ad-‘Âbidîn ‘Alâ’ ad-Dîn 1398
annexation by Bâyezîd I, 1398
Finally, we come to the Eretna Oghulları, who in 1361 controlled a large area in the north-east of the old domain of Rüm. This actually overlapped Classical Galatia, Cappadocia, Paphlagonia, and Helenopontus and put them adjacent to the Il Khân heirs, the white Sheep Turks. Their local capital was Sivas (Sebastea) and then Kayseri (Caesarea, in Cappadocia).
The Eretna Begs were succeeded by their own Vizir, Qâḍî Burhân ad-Dîn, who founds his own, short-lived Oghullar. Killed fighting the White Sheep Turks, he was briefly followed by his son before his commanders surrendered the domain the Ottomans.
There were other Oghullar states that briefly followed the ones given here, and some earlier Seljuk domains that were for a time rivals of Rûm, but the representatives of the year 1361 certainly convey the idea of the complexity of the period, before a uniformity of Ottoman government was imposed that continues, in effect, down to the present day. The fragmentation of the Oghullar is reminiscent of the period of the Reyes de Taifas (mulûk aṭ-Ṭawâ’if) in Spain. However, none of the Spanish states was ever able to predominate, and Islamic Spain only survived against the Reconquista as long as outside power, the Almoravids and Almohads, contributed their strength. Without them, Islamic Spain collapsed. With the Oghullar, however, not only did one of them, the Ottomans, predominate, but they grew into one of the great empires of history, surviving into the 20th century.
The Period Of Relative Unity (1227–60)
After the death of Genghis Khan, a kuriltai (“general assembly”) of Mongol nobles was convoked in order to elect the new great khan according to traditional custom. Jöchi, the eldest of Genghis’s heirs, had predeceased his father by six months, and the law of primogeniture was usually observed by the Mongols. Chagatai, the oldest surviving son, was passed over, however, and Ögödei was eventually appointed great khan (1229–41). His residence was Karakorum, on the Orhon River in central Mongolia, whence he directed his campaigns. Yelü Chucai continued to act as his chief adviser, and Chinkai, a Kereit Nestorian Christian, served as head of chancery. Ögödei himself is described in contemporary sources as a man of stern temper, energetic but given to pleasure, and a heavy drinker. His campaigns, like those of his father, were carried out simultaneously under generals acting independently in the field but always directed by orders emanating from the khan himself and transmitted by a messenger system covering practically the whole of Asia.
Mongolia: ancient stone tortoise
Ancient stone tortoise (foreground) and in the distance the monastery of Erdenezuu (Erdene Zuu), Karakorum, north-central Mongolia.
An emirate is ruled by a baron.
In east Asia a war was launched against the remnant of the Juchen Jin state in north China. The Jin emperor found himself in a hopeless position because he was attacked from both sides. During the preceding century, the Jin had taken north China from the Song, but the Song subsequently allied themselves with the Mongols. In 1234 the Jin capital of Kaifeng fell through a combined attack by Mongols and Chinese; Aizong, the last Jin emperor, committed suicide.
Campaigns in the west
In 1236 new campaigns were launched against the west, apparently with the intention of subjugating Russia and even eastern Europe and adding them to the ulus allotted to Batu Khan. The empire of the Volga Bulgars was annihilated in 1237/38, a victory which opened the way to Russia proper. Central and northern Russia at this time consisted of city-states and independent princedoms which fell one by one to the fierce attacks of the Mongol armies. The Mongol advance toward the Baltic Sea was brought to a standstill only by the Russian winter; the rich trading centre of Novgorod was thus one of the few Russian towns not to be sacked. Resistance in Russia ceased after the fall of Kiev (December 1240). Further raids hit Poland, Galicia, and Volhynia; advance parties even reached Breslaù (Wrocław) in Silesia. A joint force of German and Polish knights under Duke Henry II of Silesia suffered a crushing defeat near Legnica (April 9, 1241), but the Mongols preferred not to penetrate farther into central Germany. Instead, they turned south in order to join forces with their armies operating in Hungary.
The attack on Hungary did not come as a surprise to King Béla IV. The Kipchaks, a Turkish nomad people in southern Russia, had been subject to Mongol rule, but under their chieftain Kuten a great part of them had fled from the Don and Dnieper steppes into Hungary and placed themselves under the protection of the Hungarians. Batu claimed that the Kipchaks were his vassals and asked the king of Hungary to send them back to Russia, announcing his intention to fight Hungary if his request was not granted. When he received no reply, he sent his southern army against Hungary.
This army, led by Subutai, an able general, succeeded in defeating the Hungarians at Mohi in April 1241. King Béla IV was forced to flee into Croatia. It does not seem that the Mongols ever intended to establish themselves permanently in Silesia and Moravia. In Hungary, however, they began to create a nucleus of Mongol administration and even struck coins, some of which have survived. The Hungarian plains may have appealed to them as possible pasturelands because of their similarity to the grasslands of southern Russia where the Mongols installed themselves permanently (as the later Golden Horde).
During the preceding years Mongol armies had also been operating in Iran, Georgia, and Greater Armenia. The Khwārezm sultan, who had fled before Genghis Khan’s attacks, became ruler of a kingdom in northwestern Iran and tried in vain to defend himself against the Mongols. He was murdered in 1231. Georgia had to recognize Mongol sovereignty in 1236. The advance of the Mongols in Europe and the Near East was, however, stopped by the death of the great khan Ögödei (December 11, 1241). The necessity to be present at the kuriltai, which had to elect a successor, and the necessity to assert their claims made some of the descendants of Genghis change their plans. Batu and his generals gave up whatever territory they had held in eastern Europe. The year 1241 therefore marks a turning point of the greatest importance in European history because in all probability Hungary at least would have become a Mongol dominion but for the sudden death of Ögödei.
Electing a new khan
The election of a new great khan proved difficult because no agreement could be reached. In the meantime Töregene, Ögödei’s widow, ruled by common consent of the Mongol nobles (1242–46). She wished the appointment of her son Güyük but met with bitter opposition from Batu, who believed he had a better claim, as a descendant of Genghis’s eldest son. She succeeded in securing Güyük’s election in 1246. There is an eyewitness account of this election by Giovanni da Pian del Carpini, who happened to be in Karakorum at that time as papal envoy. Güyük himself was, as a person, very different from his rival Batu. He was strongly influenced by Nestorianism and favoured Christian advisers, whereas Batu still adhered to traditional Mongol shamanism and was entirely indifferent to any outside religion. The two rivals began to prepare for war against each other, but Güyük’s premature death (1248) ended both the family feud with Batu and the chance of a Mongol court dominated by Christian influence.
The empire was entrusted to Güyük’s widow Ogul-Gaimish, who ruled as regent for three years before the nobles could reach agreement. Batu himself still showed some eagerness to assume the supreme power of great khan but gave up in the end because of old age and persuaded the Mongol nobles to give their votes to Möngke Khan, son of Tolui. This meant that the overlordship of the empire passed away from the house of Ögödei and went to the descendants of Genghis’s youngest son. The Chagatai branch of the family felt slighted after Möngke’s election (1251), and bitter hostility soon developed between the two families.
The reign of Möngke
Möngke himself had won fame during Batu’s western campaigns and distinguished himself in the field. He was a benevolent monarch and continued Güyük’s policy of universal tolerance toward all religions. In his reign the capital Karakorum reached a splendour which reflected the vastness of the empire. A European guest at the court in January 1254, the French friar Willem van Ruysbroeck left an interesting account of the Mongol capital, where Christian churches, Muslim mosques, and Buddhist temples flourished and envoys from the whole known world met. At the same time, Möngke continued to expand the empire and prepared for the conquest of hitherto unsubdued neighbouring countries. In this he was assisted by his two brothers Hülegü and Kublai. To Hülegü he entrusted the campaign against Iran, of which only a northern province had come firmly under Mongol control.
In 1255 Hülegü started his offensive. He wiped out the resistance of the powerful Assassin sect in 1256 and advanced toward Iraq. Baghdad, the capital of the caliphate, fell to the Mongols in 1258, and the last ʿAbbāsid caliph was put to death. These events had a far-reaching influence on the religious situation in the Near East. Christians and Shīʿites welcomed the Mongols because they had been antagonized by the Sunni orthodoxy of the caliphate. In Syria, Palestine, and Asia Minor the Christians hoped for a further advance by Hülegü, who was regarded as a protector against their Islamic rulers and whose wife was a Nestorian Christian. In 1259 Hülegü’s armies moved into Syria, took Damascus and Aleppo, and reached the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. The road to Egypt seemed open, but in 1260 the Mamlūk army inflicted a crushing defeat on the Mongols at the Battle of ʿAyn Jālūt. Egypt was saved and the further expansion of the Mongol empire was blocked.
Election of Kublai
At the other end of Asia a campaign with similar success took place against China. The leader was Kublai, whose generals outflanked the Chinese defenses by moving toward Annam via the southwest of China which was occupied by the independent Tai kingdom of Nan-chao. Later on Möngke himself took command of the China campaign (1257). Again, as in 1241, fate intervened and brought Mongol operations to a temporary standstill. Möngke died in August 1259 in the field during the siege of a provincial town in Sichuan. There followed, as usual, an internal feud between various claimants to the title of great khan. Kublai secured his own election while still in the field (1260), but his younger brother Arigböge proclaimed himself khan in Karakorum. Hülegü was too far away and moreover too immersed in his Syrian campaign to exert any influence over the election. He seems, however, to have favoured Kublai, and these two brothers at least remained friendly, although (or because) Kublai’s dominion was so distant and his overlordship therefore more or less nominal.
Courtesy of the National Palace Museum, Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China
The year of Kublai’s accession to the throne marks, in any case, a turning point in the history of the Mongol empires. In theory Kublai was, as grand khan, the ruler of an empire stretching from China and Korea to Iran and southern Russia, but the diversity of the subjugated countries made itself more and more felt. Kublai came to regard himself as a Chinese emperor more than anything else, and similarly the other dominions developed on lines which were less and less Mongol. This tendency may be regarded as concomitant with the conversion of the various khans to other religions, chiefly Islam and Buddhism. In Kublai’s case this conversion from Mongol to Chinese civilization was accentuated by the transfer of his capital to Beijing (1260), which he began to rebuild in 1267. Mongolia was no longer the real centre of the empire, not even of Kublai’s dominions.
The Yuan Dynasty In China (1279–1368)
Kublai Khan was one of China’s greatest emperors. He achieved the unification of that country by annihilating the national Song empire (1279). Contrary to former custom, he treated the deposed imperial family well and forbade his generals from resorting to indiscriminate slaughter. After 1279 no new territories were added to the Mongol-Chinese empire, and a pair of attempts to expand Mongol rule to Japan were thwarted by the Kamikaze of 1274 and 1281. None of the later Yuan emperors reached the stature of Kublai. His immediate successor was his grandson, Temür (1295–1307), who was able to keep Mongol rule intact and maintain his position against repeated attacks from the Ögödei branch of Genghis Khan’s family. The rival khan Kaidu was defeated in 1301 and peace was restored in the northwestern parts of the empire.
Rise of the Mongol empire
Among the tribes that held power in Mongolia were the Xiongnu, a confederated empire that warred with the young Chinese state for centuries…
Although minor rebellions against the government could be still quelled by Mongol troops, the power of the court gradually began to decline. Family feuds and court intrigues weakened the power of later emperors. In several cases boys were enthroned who were nothing but puppets in the hands of ambitious ministers. The decline of the emperors is reflected in their surviving portraits. The influence of Chinese culture made itself more and more felt at court and among some of the Mongol nobility, although other Mongols remained hostile to everything Chinese. The last Mongol emperor, Togon-temür (reigned 1333–68), had become emperor at the age of 13. He had received the rudiments of a Chinese education and was, like some of his predecessors, a pious Buddhist and a benevolent though weak ruler. During the first years of his reign, however, power was in the hands of Bayan, a minister who belonged to the anti-Chinese faction and whose measures deepened the resentment of the educated Chinese against Mongol rule.
Decline of Mongol power in China
The final decline of Mongol power in China and the chaotic conditions during Togon-temür’s reign were but one of the many “times of trouble ” in Chinese history. There was widespread unrest which often took the form of local rebellions against the Mongol authorities. The reasons for this development were chiefly economic, and it was, as usual in China, in the countryside that insurgents first ventured their attacks on the local administration. The situation of the peasantry was in many areas desperate; small farmers and tenants had to shoulder the burden of excessive taxation and corvée duties. The arbitrariness of Mongol nobles and officials caused general resentment among all Chinese.
The Mongol Dynasty
Genghis Khan moved his troops into the quasi-Chinese Chin-ruled north China in 1211, and in 1215 they destroyed the capital city. Hisson Ogodei conquered all of North China by 1234 and ruled it from 1229 to 1241. Genghis Khan’s grandson, Kublai Khan, defeated the Chinese Southern Song in 1279, and for the first time all of China was under foreign rule.
In 1271 Kublai Khan named his dynasty Yuan which means “origin of the universe.” The Yuan dynasty in China lasted from 1279 to 1368. Kublai Khan followed a tentative policy of Sinicization, that is, he adapted to the Chinese way of governing and when you look at his portrait, he looks very much like other Chinese rulers. On the other hand, although he used some Chinese in low positions in the government, he abolished the civil service exams, preferred to use Chinese in his bureaucracy and established separate rules for the Mongols and for the Chinese. His capital, present-day Beijing, became a cosmopolitan and wealthy city.
Kublai Khan made a census of the population, dividing the people intofour categories: Mongols; Miscellaneous aliens (which included West Asian Muslims who performed important services for the Mongols); North Chinese called Han people, those who had been under the Chin state and their descendants, including Chinese, Jurchen, Khitans and Loreans; and finally Southern Chinese, subjects of the Southern Sung, whom the Mongols considered the least trustworthy. The Mongols could not have ruled China without the help of some of the Chinese elite and yet they were reluctant to use the Chinese, particular the Southern Song, in their government. Although Genghis Khan used some Chinese in lower positions in his government, he abolished the civil service exams, kept separate laws for Mongols and for the Chinese, and preferred to employ foreigners rather than Chinese in his bureaucracy as he thought they would be more trustworthy than the Chinese.
Kublai Khan wanted to support agriculture and he created an Office for Stimulation of Agriculture. Although many of his people wanted to establish the herding way of life inside the wall, in 1262 he passed an edict prohibiting the nomads’ animals from roaming on farm land. He filled grain storage areas in case of future famines, especially in the north where lands had been damaged by constant fighting. The capital had 58 granaries which stored 145,000 shih (one shih = 133 lbs). Marco Polo said he fed 30,000 poor people every day in the capital. He organized the farmers into groups called she. Each she was composed of 50 families. They were encourage to do self-help projects like planting trees, working on irrigation and flood control, stocking rivers andlakes with fish, and promoting silk production. They were to monitortheir own members and reward those who worked well and punish those whowere lazy. The she also helped the censor watch over the people. It promoted education in better agricultural techniques and basicliteracy.
Kublai Khan organized a fixed, regular tax system. The people did no tpay their taxes to the local collectors but made just one payment to the central government. The government then paid the nobles. He demanded a great deal of corvee, especially to work on the extensions of the Grand Canal, to link the Yangtze River with his capital in order to get enough grain to the capital, on the postal system, and on construction of palaces and temples. He not only demanded people provide labor but also horses and supplies. At the same time he issued edicts demanding overseers not to be oppressive. He did not use corvee to get farmers off their land so it could become grazing land.
Both overland and maritime trade flourished. The Mongols welcomed foreigners who included Russians, Arabs, Jews, Genoese and Venetians. Marco Polo was only one of many traders to receive a warm welcome and to work for the Khan. Mongols themselves were not involved in the caravan trade; they encouraged others. Kublai Khan used caravan merchants to gather intelligence, and he protected and encouraged them. Merchants felt secure and they had relatively high status in Yuan China. Kublai Khan was the first to put in country-wide use of paper currency. Merchants had to convert foreign metals into paper money when they crossed into China. Artisans got grants of food and did not have to do corvee. Marco Polo was very impressed with trade on the Yangtze. The Mongols used the Grand Canal to transport grain to the capital.
Kublai Khan improved the communication system within his empire. At first its main use was for official news, but merchants used the system as well. By the end of Kublai Khan’s reign, there were 1,400 postal stations, which used 50,000 horses, 8,400 oxen, 6,700 mules, 4,000 carts, 6,000 boats, 200 dogs and 1,150 sheep. Rest stops had hostels with kitchens, main halls, area for animals and to store grain. Rider-messengers could cover 250 miles a day.
In spite of his policies of toleration and his use of Chinese in the government, Kublai Khan and the Mongols did not want to become Chinese. As much as possible, they kept separate from the Chinese they ruled. They clung to their own values an way of life, celebrating their traditional festivals and enjoying their feasts. The women did not adapt the Chinese custom of foot binding which was just becoming a sign of high status among upper class Chinese. They continued to dress in their own clothing.
Where to put the capital was a major decision for Kublai Khan. Genghis Khan had not been interested in the sedentary way of life. For him, the empire was the saddle of his horse so he avoided what was left of the Chin capital city Chengdu (Beijing). Kublai Khan ended up building two capitals: “Upper Capital”, 125 miles from Beijing, called Shangdu, and the “Great Capital”, Dadu, slightly northeast of the Chin capital. (This was Coleridge’s Xanadu). So as not to lose their nomadic ways, the Mongols kept a large are of steppe grass at the summer palace near the Central Capital. Shangdu, the Upper Capital, with a population was between 100,000 and 200,000, looked like a Chinese capital except for the large hunting preserve and garden it had. As time passed, Shangdu became the retreat where, because of its large hunting area, the Mongols felt closer to their nomadic values. It was a welcomed relief for Kublai Khan who never lost his fascination with the hunt.
By 1279, the high Point of Kublai Khan’s rule, he had established himself as an intellectual as well as a warrior. He enjoyed the company of scholars and intellectuals, men of wit. With them he worked out a new script. In his court there was much drama, and Buddhism and Taoism (less anti-foreign than Confucianism) thrived. He saw wisdom in taxing people rather then killing them. He knew the importance of fair laws rather than trying to bribe people, because he realized that there is only enough money to satisfy a few, even with the few, there is no end to their greed, so it is better to have justice. He was tolerant of various religious groups. In order to impress on his fellow Mongols that he was indeed ruler of the world, he encouraged diplomats and traders like Marco Polo from the Far West to kowtow in his presence!
But after 1279, Kublai Khan’s rule began to weaken, and his loss of power fits the familiar pattern of the disintegration of an empire. For one thing, in part to demonstrate that he really did rule the world, he launched two very costly and unsuccessful attacks on Japan. He had hoped a victory against Japan would bolster his image as a successful world conqueror, not a Chinese bureaucrat, and give him legitimacy as the Great Khan. The 25,000 men he sent against Japan in 1274 were defeated, in large part, by a typhoon. He tried again in 1281, this time sending 140,000 men, supported by additional Korean troops. As far as the Japanese were concerned, their gods protected them again by sending another divine wind, Kami kazi, which again destroyed the Mongol fleet. The l281 defeat broke his image of invincibility, andwhen he tried to re-establish it by campaigns into Southeast Asia, he failed there as well.
The Japanese offensive proved very costly financially and to pay for it, he over-taxed the people, one of the most critical reasons for a government’s demise. The peasants suffered under the burden of increased taxes. There was widespread inflation because the government also printed a great deal of paper money. To offset the inflation, Kublai Khan ordered the currency devaluated 5 to 1. Supporting his northern capital required extending the Grand Canal, and the people resented the corvee demanded of them to build the 135 mile extension, completed in 1289.
Economic problems made Kublai Khan less tolerant. He became increasingly distrustful of the merchants, many of whom were Muslim, and in the late 1270’s he began to issue anti-Muslim legislation such as forbidding circumcision or slaughtering animals in the Muslimfashion. This persecution continued until l287. At the same time, he was increasingly supportive of Buddhists which led some of the Buddhist priests to take advantage of their positions.
Although Kublai Khan tried to rule as a sage emperor, the Mongols did not adjust to Chinese ways. Ideologically and culturally the Mongols resisted assimilation and legally tried to stay isolated from the Chinese. They thought Confucianism was anti-foreign, too dense had too many social restrictions. The Chinese intellectuals turned away from Buddhism although many Mongols liked it, so Buddhism did not bring them closer to the Chinese, either. Towards the end, Kublai Klan reinstituted the exam and let Chinese serve in lower level government position, perhaps to try and make the people happier, but the Mongols were always foreigners in Chinese eyes.
The Mongol rule became increasingly less stable after 1294 when Kublai Khan died and succession became a problem. In the period between 1308-1333 there were eight emperors; two were assassinated and all died young. Without an accepted rule of succession, the death of an emperor caused violent conflict among the different would-be rulers. At the very time when the empire needed strong central control to stay in power, the Mongols wasted their efforts battling over succession. Another familiar reason for the demise of an empire was the rise of local landlords. When the military leaders no longer had a central figure to whom to give their loyalty, they used the troops to farm their land, not to fight, increasing their own power and reducing the morale of the troops. The end of the Yuan rule in China came “by expulsion and not by absorption.” For the Chinese, the most important factor was peasant unrest caused by the over-taxation, corvee, unsuccessful military campaigns and insecurity. The Chinese always resented the foreigners and in the end revolted and drove them out. A Chinese orphan Hongwu, a peasant soldier who gave up banditry to become a Buddhist monk, led the revolt and founded the Ming dynasty in 1368.
Author: Jean Johnson.
Archeological evidence suggest that human ancestors lived in the area that is now Mongolia 700,000 years ago. Experts believe that these ancient tribes began to migrate to different parts of the region around 20-30,000 years ago. The first state, Hunnu, was officially established in 209 bc, and after this several other states existed for short periods of time. By 1206, Genghis Khan had united the clans and was recognized as the ruler of all the Mongols. At this time, the Mongol Empire included parts of China and Eurasia. After Genghis Khan’s death his successors condinued the expansion of the empire. Genghis’s grandson, Kublai Khan, established the capital to Dadu (now Beijing in China). The Yuan Empire was overthrown by the Chinese Ming dynasty in 1368. After this, the last khan of the Yuan dynasty, Togoontumur, fled back to Mongolia.
In the fifteenth century, the Mongolian Empire began to disintegrate and its states became independent. The weakening of a once – powerful confederation provided an opportunity for other states to establish rule in the region. The Chinese Manchu Qin dynasty rose to prominence in the seventeenth century and over the following centuries – between 1691 and 1911- brought Mongolia under its control.
Although Qin rule over Mongolia ended in 1911, the interests of neighbouring powers would not be served by allowing Mongolia to become a sovereign state. Despite this, in 1921, Mongolia proclaimed itself a republic under the control of the Soviets. In 1924 the Mongolian People’s Republic was officially established, and China was forced to recognize Mongolia’s de facto status. The influence of the Soviets on Mongolia grew rapidly and the leaders of Mongolia became little more than puppets, forced to conform to Soviet policy. Steered by edicts from the Russian government, Mongolia set out on a path to socialist modernisation. There were nationwide campaigns to make every individual literate and to educate young people in Marxist – Leninist (communist) doctrine. Programmes were also introduced to improve infrastructures such as healthcare and sanitation. Building programmes were launched and apartment blocks, school, universities and factories were constructed. Increasing numbers of students attended universities and technical and vocational colleges. All citizens were guaranteed the right to employment. The Erdenet Minig Plant was opened, tapping one of the largest deposits of copper in the world. From this grew the third – largest city in the country. In 1920, around 20 per cent of the population lived in urban areas, while the rest continued the traditional nomadic lifestyle. The socialist era in Mongolia saw a dramatic rise in city- dwellers and today the balance has shifted so that 72 per cent of total population lives in urban areas. In march 1990 the socialist government was overthrown and multi – party elections were held. By 1992 a new constitution had set Mongolia on the path to democracy.
LANDSCAPE AND CLIMATE
Mongolia is located in the northern part of the continent of Asia. It has a total land area of 1,564,160 sq km, making it the nineteenth – largest country in the world. It is divided into areas of forest, mountains, steppe and desert.
THE GOBI DESERT
Approximately 20 per cent of Mongolia is covered by the Gobi Desert, in the southern part of the country. Five aimags lie in this region: Umnugobi (South Gobi), Dornogobi (East Gobi), Dundgobi (Central Gobi), Gobi Sumber and Gobi-Altai. Traces of dinosaur habitation in the desert millions of years ago are still being discovered, and the area is rich in rare and precious stones. Animals such as lizards, mazalai and khavtgai (a wild bactrain camel that is only found in Mongolia) also make their homes here. They have adapted to the Gobi’s hot, dry climate and can go long periods without water. Other regions of the Gobi have flat steppe as well as desert. Small wooded areas with water and prairie land from oases in the Gobi. In 1975 the Gobi region was declared a national park, which has offered greater protection for its rare flora and fauna. It is now the fourth-largest national park in the world.
Plains and steppe – semi-arid areas of grassy plains – cover the whole eastern part of Mongolia. The landscape here is more typical of the Asian continent than other parts of Mongolia. The steppe provides a habitat for many rare species, including marmots, wolves, gazelles and antelopes. (More than 70 per cent of the white-tailed gazelles in the country are found here.) There are also several unusual natural formations, including clusters of huge basalt columns found in the eastern and central parts of the country.
Mountains, forests, rivers and creeks cover central, northern and western Mongolia. Compared to the Gobi region, these parts are much cooler. Almost all the northern aimags are included in this region. The mountains are divided into three main ranges: the Altai (both the longest and the highest), the Hangayn and the Hentiyn. The region is rich with resources such as gold, lead, iron ore, precious stones and other raw materials. The mountains and rivers support fauna such as wild mountain sheep, ibex, boars, deer, brown antelopes, snow leopards, lynx, wolves, foxes, marmots and rabbits.
Lake Huvsgul is located in Huvsgul aimag between the two ports of Hatgal (in the south) and Khankh (in the north). It is the second – largest lake in Mongolia and the deepest freshwater lake not only in Mongolia but also in Central Asia. It contains 0.4 per cent of the world’s freshwater. Lake Huvsgul is 136km long, 36km wide and 262m deep. It lies 1,645m above sea level. The lake is completely frozen between January until around April or the middle of May. Within the lake are several islands, including Dalain Khuis (‘Oceanic Navel’) and Khadan Khuis (‘Rocky Navel’). Around the lake lie forests, but in recent years large parts of these have fallen victim to deforestation. Ninety-six rivers flow into the lake but only one – the River Eg – flows out of it. This joins with the River Selenge, which flows into Lake Baikal. Lake Huvsgul is home to many varieties of fish, including white fish, lenok and sturgeon. In 1992 the lake became part of the Huvsgul Lake National Park. Five years later the area covering the Khoridol Saridag ridge was added to the national park, extending it by 838,000 hectares. The special protected area around 200 species of birds and animals such as wild mountain sheep, brown bears, moose and forest sable. Three ethnic groups – Buriats, Tsaatan (Reindeer People) and Darkhads – also live in this area.
Mongolia has plenty of underground freshwater reserves – estimated at six billion cubic metres. These large freshwater reserves create great export potential for Mongolia, as amounts of freshwater are declining in many parts of the world. Mongolian rivers flow into Arctic, Pacific and Central Asian river basins. There are more than 3,800 rivers in Mongolia, totaling 6,500km. The Orkhon is the longest river; other major rivers include the Selenge, Kerulen, Hovd and Dzavhan. The fast flow of these rivers means that there is potential for hydroelectricity.
Mongolia has an extreme climate, with four distinct seasons. The sun shines for around 300 days of the year, although it is not always hot. Winter is long but dry, and temperatures range from -40oC in winter to 40oC in summer. Ulaanbaatar is the coldest capital city on Earth.
In Mongolia the cooler seasons last longer than the warner ones. The cold weather usually begins in autumn and lasts until the end of spring. Summers are extremely hot and have become hotter over the past decade as the influence of global warming is felt. Spring begins in February and continues to around the middle of May. During this period, days become longer, night grow shorter and average temperatures increase. Most animals wake up from their winter long hibernation, and snow and frozen rivers melt. Spring in Mongolia is characterized by strong winds. Summer lasts between 90 and 100 days from late May until September. It can rain heavily in the summer, but more often lack of rainfall causes droughts and poor harvests. Autumn begins in mid-September and lasts until early November. This is followed by a severe winter season. Average low temperatures in Mongolia have been steadily increasing. Where once the winter average was -30C, this was significantly higher by 2015. Since ancient times, the Mongolians have divided the cold season into nine periods of nine days each, beginning on 22 December. This is known as the ‘Coldness of Young Nine’. The middle three sets of nine days (27 days) are the coldest period. The end of this usually coincides with the New Year according to the lunar calendar.
Temperatures in Mongolia drop to their lowest in January. In the Khangai region, temperatures can be low as -35oC or -40oC. In June the temperature can rise to 35oC or 40oC in some places. In 1966 Mongolia suffered an extremely severe winter – the coldest in recorded history – with temperatures as low -60oC. in general the river-basin regions are the coldest places in winter (in the Lake Uvs area in the west, the temperature can drop to -58oC). The hottest region is Khanbogd soum (district), in Umnugobi aimag in southern Mongolia. Here, temperatures can reach 50oC. In the Gobi Desert temperatures of 40oC are common in summer. The weather in Ulaanbaatar is extremely hot, especially during the national festival held there in July. Many Mongolians live temporary shelters called ghers, which can be very cold. Wood is thus an important fuel in winter. Within the last 70 years, the mean air temperature increased three times faster than the global average in Mongolia. Mongolia’s unique geographic location and its socioeconomic conditions make the country vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.