A Brief History of Medieval Russia from the 9th to 15th Centuries

From Kievan Rus to the adoption of Christianity and Ivan the Great after the Mongol invasion. Introduction Background The first state-like formations, in the present-day territory of Russia, emerged around Novgorod and Kiev in the 9th century. Russia was then dominated by Vikings. After 250 years of Mongol supremacy, from the 13th century, Moscow became[…]

Women in the Mongol Empire

They had more rights than women in contemporary cultures to the east and west of Mongolia, some even reigning as regents. By Mark CartwrightHistorian Introduction Women in the Mongol Empire (1206-1368 CE) shared the daily chores and hardships of steppe life with men and were largely responsible for tending animals, setting up camps, childrearing, producing[…]

The Rise and Decline of the Medieval Mongol Empire

The descendants of Genghis each ruled a part of the empire – the four khanates. Introduction The Mongol Empire (1206-1368 CE) eventually dominated Asia from the Black Sea to the Korean peninsula following the initial conquests of its founder Genghis Khan (aka Chinggis, r. 1206-1227 CE), the first Great Khan or ‘universal ruler’ of the Mongol[…]

Religion in the Mongol Empire

Mongol religion included a strong element of shamanism mixed with ancestor worship and a belief in natural spirits. By Mark CartwrightHistorian Introduction The Mongol Empire (1206-1368 CE) covered Asia from the Black Sea to the Korean peninsula and so naturally included all manner of religions within its borders, but the Mongols themselves had their own[…]

Clothing in the Mongol Empire

Many of the Mongol clothes of the medieval period are still worn by nomadic peoples today across Eurasia. By Mark CartwrightHistorian Introduction The clothing worn by the Mongols in the 13th and 14th century CE, like most other aspects of their culture, reflected their nomadic lifestyle in the often harsh climate of the Asian steppe.[…]

The Nerge: Hunting in the Mongol Empire

These hunts involved all of the tribe mobilizing across vast areas of steppe to corner game into a specific area. By Mark CartwrightHistorian Introduction The peoples of the Mongol Empire (1206-1368 CE) were nomadic, and they relied on hunting wild game as a valuable source of protein. The Asian steppe is a desolate, windy, and[…]

The Mongolian Yurt

The yurt tent has been used by nomadic pastoralist peoples of northern East Asia since before written records began. By Mark CartwrightHistorian Introduction A yurt (ger in Mongolian) is a large circular tent made of wool felt stretched over a wooden frame used by nomadic peoples of the Asian steppe since before written records began.[…]

Golden Horde: The Mongols in Medieval Europe

The Golden Horde extended from the Caucasus to Hungary to Constantinople, inspiring fear across the known the world. Introduction The Golden Horde was the European appanage of the Mongol Empire (1206-1368 CE). Begun in earnest by Batu Khan in 1227 CE, the territory that would eventually become the Golden Horde came to encompass parts of[…]

Batu Khan: Founder of the Mongol ‘Golden Horde’

Batu would serve as the kingmaker of the Mongol Empire. Introduction Batu Khan (l. 1205-1255 CE) was a grandson of Genghis Khan and the founder of the Golden Horde. Batu was a skilled Mongol military commander and won battles from China to Persia, although his most famous exploits involve the grand Mongol campaign into Europe[…]

The ‘Secret History of the Mongols’

Written from a Mongolian perspective, the work is an invaluable record of their legends as well as oral and written histories. By Mark CartwrightHistorian Introduction The Secret History of the Mongols is a chronicle written in the 13th century CE (with some later additions) and is the most important and oldest medieval Mongolian text. The[…]

Medieval Mongol Warfare

Ultimately, the Mongols would establish the largest empire the world had ever seen. By Mark CartwrightHistorian Introduction The Mongols conquered vast swathes of Asia in the 13th and 14th century CE thanks to their fast light cavalry and excellent bowmen, but another significant contribution to their success was the adoption of their enemies’ tactics and[…]

Xanadu: Marco Polo’s Famed Nirvana

Distant and mysteriously lost Xanadu came to represent a place of mystery, splendid luxury and easy living. By Mark CartwrightHistorian Introduction Xanadu (aka Shangdu, Shang-tu, and Kaiping), located in Inner Mongolia, northern China, was made first the capital (1263-73 CE) and then the summer capital (1274-1364) of the Mongol Empire by Kublai Khan (r. 1260-1294[…]

Temujin: The Reign of Genghis Khan, 1206-1227

Genghis Khan built the foundations of an empire which would ultimately control one-fifth of the globe. By Mark CartwrightHistorian Introduction Genghis Khan (aka Chinggis Khan, c. 1162/67-1227 CE) was the founder of the Mongol Empire (1206-1368 CE) which he would rule from 1206 until his death in 1227 CE. Born Temujin, he acquired the title[…]

The Mongol Conquest and Rule of Iran, 1219-1370

The Mongol invasion of Iran began in 1219, after two diplomatic missions to Khwarezm sent by Genghis Khan had been massacred. The Mongol Invasion, 1219-1221 The Khwarazmian dynasty only lasted for a few decades, until the arrival of the Mongols. Genghis Khan had unified the Mongols, and under him the Mongol Empire quickly expanded in[…]

The Mongol Invasion of Russia in the 13th Century

Because of its geography, Russia is a relatively easy country to invade from both east and west. Introduction “Give us trade,”demanded the Vikings from the north. “Try our religion,” urged missionaries from the south. Now a new voice was heard throughout Russia. “Pay us taxes,” ordered the Mongols of the east. Because of its geography,[…]