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10 Fun Facts About The Mongols

The Mongols gained a reputation as brutal warriors with a penchant for bloodlust. It is true that the Mongol army waged a path of destruction from Vietnam to Poland. However, the Mongols and their empire were truly unique. The Mongols were a nomadic people who facilitated prosperity and peace throughout their empire. Here are 10 Fun Facts About the Mongols and their Empire



  1. The Mongol Empire Covered 24 million km making it the 2nd largest empire in history.

The Mongol Empire consisted of China, the Middle East parts of Eastern Europe as well as Southern Asia. The Mongols quickly spread out from their home on the Asian Steppes in 1206 and by 1279 conquered much of the known world. The only Empire larger than the Mongol Empire was the British Colonial Empire

The Mongol Empire at its largest extent in 1279


2. The Mongols often fought using feigned retreats

One of the reasons why the Mongols conquered so much territory in such a quick amount of time was their use of feigned retreats. A feigned retreat occurs when an army suddenly retreats and seems to disappear. The other army would often pursue the fleeing army. Instead of fleeing, the army that performed a feigned retreat would fall back and wait for the enemy to pursue them. When the army saw their pursuers approach, they would charge their opponents. The army that pursued would be caught by surprise and their forces would become disorganized. In this chaos, the Mongols on their swift horses would mow down the opposing army in a storm of arrows.

At the Battle of Kalka River, the Mongol Army performed a feigned retreat and crushed the unsuspecting Russian Army



3. The Mongols could have conquered all of Europe

Ogedie Khan, son of Genghis Khan, personally gave Batu, the leader of the Mongol Army in Europe, permission to conquer Europe until he reached the Great Sea or the Atlantic Ocean. Batu and the Mongols did well in Europe and even reached as far as Austria. However, Ogedie's death prompted Batu and his army to make the long trip back to Monglia in order to elect a new Khan.

Batu Khan Leader of Mongol Armies in Europe



4. Voting for a Khan

The Mongols elected their Khans and Chiefsthrough a unique process. Each prospective candidate would meet in a central location. People would vote for their Khan by showing up to support them. The Mongols would literally vote with their feet and the person who had the most people show up would be elected.


5. The Mongols were extremely tolerant of different religions

The Mongols practiced an animistic religion that was tied to landmarks in Mongolia. As a result, the Mongols did attempt to spread their own religion or outlaw other religions. Throughout the Mongol Empire, Buddhists, Muslims, and Christians could all practice their faith without fear of persecution or prejudice


6. Postal System

The Mongol Postal system was truly extraordinary. A precursor to the Pony Express in the American West, the postal system effectively facilitated communication across the vast Mongol Empire. The postal system consisted of stations with horses for riders to use. When a rider reached a station they would swap their tired horse with a fresh horse. The stations could also provide lodgings for riders to stay safe from potential robbers and bandits.

The Mongol Yam or Postal Service.

7. Silk Road Revival

The Silk Road Flourished in the mid 1st Millenium when the Relative Stability of the Roman Empire and the Han Empire allowed for a trade of goods, ideas, and beliefs. It would eventually fade. However, the Mongol Empire spanned the territory that the Silk Road once consisted of. The Mongol Empire made sure that the route was safe and the Mongols did not put up economic barriers. This allowed the Silk Road to revive itself and commerce flourished under the Mongol Empire

The Silk Road flourished under the Mongol Empire

8- Adaptability

Another reason for the Mongols success was their ability to adapt and learn new tactics. When invading the Song Empire, the Mongols encountered walled cities. The Mongols then learned the art of Seige Warfare. When Kublai Khan sought to invade Japan, the Mongols took to the seas and built a massive naval fleet. The Mongols always adapted to their enemy and where they were fighting

The Mongol Naval Fleet that attempted to invade Japan


9. Lifestyle

The Mongols lived a nomadic lifestyle, never settling in one place. The Mongols raised livestock to feed themselves and to make a living. They always looked for pastures to graze their livestock and when their animals exhausted the grass in an area, the Mongols would move elsewhere. Young Mongols learned to ride horseback and other skills necessary for living life on the Harsh Asian Steppes. The Mongols hunted as well. The same tactic the Mongols used for hunting, they applied to warfare as well



A traditional Mongolian Yurt


10. Khanates

The Mongol Empire reached its zenith in 1279 under Kublai Khan. Following his rule, the Mongol Empire began to decline. Infighting between family members battling for the position of Khan and the sheer difficulty of managing a massive empire caused this decline. In the end, the Mongol Empire split into four different Khanates or sections of the empire. Each Khanate would be led by a Khan and the goal was to preserve the Mongol Empire. The Golden Horde made up the Russian/European part of the Empire. The Ilkhanate made up the Middle East. The Chagatai Khanate made up Central Asia. The Yuan Dynasty made up the Chinese portion of the Mongol Empire The Khanate system marked the beginning of the end of the Mongol Empire. Each Khanate saw their territory shrink and the Mongols soon assimilated into the local ways


The Four Khanates

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