Saylor.org's Early Globalizations: East Meets West (1200s-1600s)/The Mongol Empire

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The Mongols—nomads of central Asia—dominated world history during the thirteenth century. The Mongols invaded many postclassical empires and built an extensive cultural and commercial network. Led by Chinggis Khan and his successors, the Mongols brought China, Persia, Tibet, Asia Minor, and southern Russia under their control. Often portrayed as barbarians and destructive warriors, most of the peoples conquered by the Mongols lived in relative peace, enjoyed religious tolerance, and had a unified law code. The Mongol empire also opened trade routes and communication between different regions in Asia. As will see in this unit, the Mongols presented a formidable nomadic challenge to sedentary, civilized societies throughout Asia.

In this unit, we will begin by examining who the nomadic Mongols were and what motivated their ambitious expansion. We will then turn our attention to specific Mongol rulers, the Mongol military machine, and the nature of the Mongol imperial system. We will also examine Mongol rule in China, called the Yuan Dynasty, and its impact on Chinese culture. Finally, we will study outsiders’ perceptions of Mongol rule and conquest.

Mongol soldiers by Rashid al-Din 1305.JPG