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Circumnavigating the World 1200 C.E. to 1550 C.E. Essay

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Updated: Oct 21st, 2019

Introduction

Circumnavigation can be construed as the exercise of going around the globe, especially covering a great circle or one which covers or passes at least one pair of points that are opposite to each other. Whereas there exists as many expeditions and conquests as there are travelogues, this study seeks to only explore the Mongolian adventure and the Mali Empire.

The 13th Century marked important changes in the lives of the Mongols and human society world over. It was the moment when the Mongols were first ready to step outside the steppe. The intertribal raids became irrelevant and were discarded in favor of extra- territorial conquests.

Reasons for moving out

Environment/ ecology – Mongolians were pastoral nomads who relied on animals for survival and therefore practiced non-sedentary lifestyle constantly shifting their habitat in search of water and grass for their animals. Any spread of livestock disease certainly spelt catastrophe to them (Ogot, 2002).

The period between 1180 and 1220 CE saw a drop in the mean annual temperature, grass was cut short and that Mongols’ and animals were in danger of perishing. This environmental threat may have prompted them to move out to new lands. Factors such desertification was prominent during the time and people had to move to productive and life supporting grounds.

Disturbance/Interruption of trade – Mongolia’s neighbors in the North (by the Jin Dynasty) and Northwest China (by the Xia Dynasty), at about the same period when grass problems occurred, reduced trade with the Mongols with the attendant consequence of forcing the Mongols out as they sought for goods that they so desperately needed, forcing the Mongols to raid and finally invade these dynasties.

This is a proof that two communities can not co-exist peacefully if there is insufficiency of food and other basic needs. Conquest was, thus, apparently justified for a tribe to survive another day.

Leader’s personal mission – Chinggis Khan’s own motive and in particular the shamanic beliefs (the mission of uniting the world under the shamanic umbrella) also pushed the Mongols out. Therefore, the need to perpetuate their religious beliefs necessitated conquering other lands.

The Mali Empire – It expanded as a result of constant and systematic conquests and curving-in of neighboring lands and at its height, traversed West Africa to the Atlantic Ocean incorporating a population of approximately 50 million people.

Reasons for Conquests

Trade – the lucrative gold trade saw emperor Ouali I conquer Gambian provinces and the gold producing Bambuk and Bondou provinces. Trade in salt also saw many people traverse the north and Sub Saharan Africa.

The introduction and acceptance of Islam by the rulers of Ghana, Mali and Songhay encouraged trade between the empires and instituted more cosmopolitan social structures e.g. universities, which further sharpened the need to forge new frontiers. There was also the need to further the newly introduced Islam religion.

Pastoral-nomads- The Fula people of Mali are semi nomadic. During periods of strained water and grass availability, they are known to seek better pastures and water elsewhere. In so doing, they came across even better lands hence expanding their territory for purposes of securing good and enough pasture land.

Conclusion

This essay offered a brief discussion of circumnavigation between the periods 1200 C.E. to 1550 C.E. Whereas most Westerners accept the stereotypic view of Mongols and Mandingos as primitive plunderers preoccupied with destruction, considerable positivity does exist about their conquests. The reasons for such conquests appear common to both the Mongols and the Mandingos.

Reference

Ogot, B. (2002). General history of Africa V: Africa from the Sixteenth to eighteenth century: Berkeley: University of California Press.

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IvyPanda. "Circumnavigating the World 1200 C.E. to 1550 C.E." October 21, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/circumnavigating-the-world-1200-c-e-to-1550-c-e/.

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IvyPanda. 2019. "Circumnavigating the World 1200 C.E. to 1550 C.E." October 21, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/circumnavigating-the-world-1200-c-e-to-1550-c-e/.

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IvyPanda. (2019) 'Circumnavigating the World 1200 C.E. to 1550 C.E'. 21 October.

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