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How the Mongol Successor States Adapted to Ruling Their Empire? Essay

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Updated: Jun 15th, 2020

Considered one of the oldest empires in the world, the Mongol empire existed between the 13th and 14th centuries after originating from steppes in Central Asia. The existence of the empire was due to the efforts of Taizu, Borjigin Temujin, also identified as Genghis Khan, who the empire considers the greatest military leader. With the rising population over the years, the empire grew drastically stretching to the Sea of Japan from central Europe.

With Genghis Khan at the helm of management, the Mongolia Empire was able to unify its nomadic tribes in 1206. In addition, the continuous population growth of the empire posed major threats to the surrounding communities as the empire leaders invaded the neighboring communities from all directions. These attacks constitute the major reasons for the growth of the empire over time. The empire was insensitive to the cultural values of the neighboring communities like Chinese and went ahead to distrust the influence of the neighbors.

With these factors, most of the local communities considered the Mongol empire as the barbarians whose interests were mainly maiming, destroying, and killing (Ibn et al. 101). Considering the quest of the empire to retain the northern and southern China, it damaged these two territories considerably leading to loss of lives. China’s population declined due to these attacks.

Besides the killing of the Chinese, the Mongols abolished the civil service tests, which the Chinese considered one of their elementary institutes. The institution remained closed until 1315 when the Mongols reopened it. However, the Chinese were no longer officialdom of the institution. In 1271, the Mongolian empire founded the Yuan Dynasty of the Great Yuan Great Mongol State under the leadership of Kublai Khan from the clan of Mongolia Borjigin (Polo, Marsden, and Corbino 230). The major change brought by the dynasty was the proclamation of the traditional Chinese style, which had a great impact on the culture of the Mongolians.

The dynasty significantly contributed to the culture of the Mongolians and the perceptions they had about the Chinese people. Even though the dynasty contributed to the integration of the two cultures, Chinese and Mongolian, some clans like khanates isolated themselves to control some parts of modern China and Mongolia. In a bid to prevent the erosion of their culture and language, the Mongolians emperors, especially from the Yuan, did not master the Chinese dialectal but rather resorted to their local dialectal and Phag-pa scripts. In the history of the Chinese, the Yuan Dynasty was the first foreign dynasty to exercise authority in their land (Polo, Marsden, and Corbino 234).

When the Mongolian potentates adopted and coined the name ‘dynasty,’ it validated the Mongolian rule in China through the integration of the government and political replacement of the Chinese, which was more old-fashioned compared to that of the Mongolians. The reign continued up to 1368 when the Genghisid leaders decided to go back to their native home in Mongolia to exercise a new ruling method identified to be the Post-Imperial Mongolia after Ming Dynasty overthrew them. The name khanates signify the Mongolian clans within Kublai Khan’s territories. At the time of his demise in 1294, the Mongolian kingdom already had four distinct khanate empires, which had different intentions and goals.

Chagatai khanate was initially part of the Mongolian empire before the split that led to the emergence of the Moghulistan and Chagatai Khanate of the western empire. Even though Chagatai’s ambition of conquering the whole of China did not materialize due to his death, family quarrels marred his leadership, as evidenced by the unsettled transition of the authority to Guyuk. Chagatai’s wife championed the transition and preparations prepared without the presence of Batu, who was the leader of the independent-minded Golden Horde. Besides the problems originating from linages and inheritance, Chagatai’s empire experienced threats from cultural diversity and ethnic divide between the locals and Islamic Iranic (Polo, Marsden, and Corbino 235).

On the other hand, Golden Horde flourished from the mid of the 13th century due to available resources within the area. It covered the western part of the empire and endowed with the diversified culture of the Turks, Mongolians, and aristocracies. The western territory belonged to the eldest son Juchi who predeceased Genghis Khan in 1227. However, through his brilliant son Batu, the territory was able to expand its domain, including capturing the Iranian territories belonging to the Mongol dynasty referred to as Il-khans. Batu created an atmosphere favoring the Turkish and Islamic. Through the years, Horde continues to grow extensively while engaging in trade with people from the Mediterranean.

Although the Mongolians were able to capture china as their territories, their leadership did not continue well, considering the fact that the leaders like Kublai Khan opted to offer the foreigners jobs that the locals should handle. Some of the foreigners include Marco Polo, who was a Venetian merchant traveler. Instead of appointing the local Chinese leaders, Khan created a culture of mistrust among the Chinese and the Mongolians through appointing foreigners to be governors and judges.

Moreover, the fact that the Mongols retained their language and culture without considering acting like the Chinese contributed in creating a rift between the two communities. The Yuan dynasty enjoyed benefits relating to economic development through agriculture. Since it became a might state, the dynasty heavily contributed to the growth in the fields of science, thus leading to investments in proper agricultural techniques. These factors heavily contributed to the sustainability of the growing population through ensuring there is a continuous supply of food. The demise of Khan subjected the entire empire to the ‘Black Death,’ a plague that contributed to the deaths of millions of people, making it difficult to keep the empire together (Ibn et al. 125).

This bubonic plague is one of the most feared diseases in the ancient and medieval domains. It is still not clear on the major cause of this disease highly contagious disease evidenced by the fever and black spots all over the body. The disease was one of the major factors that contributed to the failure of the Mongolian empire. The Mongolian empire rooted its strong foundation by focusing on diplomatic activities. It offered a safe and well-established business environment for the foreign envoys, merchants, and those travelers with intentions of traversing the bordering seas and Mongolian culture. Among the most prosperous travelers of the empire was the Italian mercantile, Marco Polo, who played a crucial role in transmitting and integrating Chinese cultures into the West.

Through the years, the Mongolian empire experienced many challenges leading to the partitioning and scrambling for the resources among the natives. These factors contributed to the existence of the four successor states considered to have their origins from the partition of the empire. The successors were distributed only among the four sons of Genghis Khan. The eldest son Jochi acquired the vast territory stretching River Yenisey to the Aral Sea westwards. Chagatai obtained the Kashgaria region, which is presently the southern portion of Xinjiang and covers the area between the Syr Darya and the Amu Darya, while the Ogodei took control of the western Mongolia and areas stretching to Tarbagatai.

Finally, the youngest son, Tolui, received the ancient Mongolian empire. The continued campaigns in Russia and China by Ogodei contributed greatly to the fragmentation of the Junchen Dynasty that occurred in 1234, bringing the Mongolians to face to face with Nan Song Dynasty of the Yangtze Valley (Polo, Marsden, and Corbino 257). Additionally, Ogodei maintained the imperial system of representation among the Central Asians while subordinating the Golden Horde. Guyuk, his son, succeeded him after his death. Guyuk died while preparing for a battle by his cousin Batu who led the Golden Horde.

Kublai was the grandson of Chinningis Khan, who most the Mongolians remember for fighting his brother in a quest to win the Great Khan title. Moreover, Khan encouraged foreigners in his territory before meeting with Marco Polo, who impressed him with his level of intelligence and knowledge of languages. Khan decided to employ the services Marco Polo as an emissary and advisor on issues relating to politics. After gaining full control of the army belonging to Neyan, Khan decided to move to the capital, present-day Beijing, where he was able to establish the Yuan Dynasty from 1271 to 1363.

However, Khan did not build much trust on the scholar-gentry; as a result, he decided to throw them out of the empire, replacing them with the Mongols and the foreign servitors (Polo, Marsden, and Corbino 261). These activities angered the Chinese locals. In 1253, Hulegu Khan, who was working in Persia, which is another station point of the Mongol empire, succeeded in destroying the Abbasid Caliphate within Baghdad.

Consequently, the attack leads to the destruction of the group considered the cult of the Assassins forcing them to move into Palestine and Egypt. The destruction marked the Mongolian campaign against Islamic religion in Persia. These Assassins had been terrorizing the region, but Hulagu managed to take on their fortress. Hulegu managed to capture the Abbasid Dynasty that he considered the city endowed with many resources.

The Assassins, through their mentor, Altair Ibn-La’Ahad, and the Mongolian Assassins, were able to cause the death of Genghis Khan. Moreover, the Mongolians Assassins intended to control the policy-makers. The Kublai’s brother established the IL-khanate Empire in Persia, whose major challenge was to formulate strategies of curbing the rising Assassins and the kills of Abbasid Khalifa (Polo, Marsden, and Corbino 264). With the growing rate of the Mongol empire, division among the leaders was inevitable. During the period of withdrawal, the Turks outnumbered the Khanate leading to the replacement of the Mongolian language by the Turkish paving the way for Islamic religion to dominate.

Partition of the Mongolian kingdom greatly contributed to some of the attacks experienced by Mongolian clans. The rulers became ambitious in their bid to expand their territories to the extent of attacking the other neighboring Mongolian clans. Through integration with other communities, the culture of the Mongolians began to erode. Some of the factors that contributed to the erosion include shifting from local language to embracing the foreign languages (Polo, Marsden, and Corbino 301).

However, apart from Khalkha, through trade, the community was able to coin cultural practices from other clans considered minor like the Chinese, Turkish, and Hungarian. A quasi-feudal system existed before the Mongolians began practicing socialism. The system had the responsibility of administering pasturelands, settling disputes among the herding households, and collecting taxes on behalf of the empire. These roles were designated to the aristocratic families and the monasteries from the local communities. The rise of the Mongolian clans and partitions changed the institutional method addressing issues related to politics and culture.

Some of the leaders preferred collaborating with foreigners with an aim of building proper relations with the different states, while other states opted to attack others in a bid to increase their territories. In addition, contamination of the Mongolian culture resulted in shifting from organized nomadic clans to trade. The empire was unresponsive to the cultural principles of the adjacent groups like Chinese and went ahead to doubt the effect of the neighbors. With these aspects, most of the native people regarded the Mongol territory as the barbarians whose intentions were largely killing, destroying, and maiming. Peace among the Mongolians did not last due to its large size and lack of unity among the clan. Even though most of the Mongolian cultures changed, some of the clans managed to retain their cultural diversity, practices, and food. A leader like Batu managed to utilize properly the resources brought by foreigners with the aim of developing the economic condition of his clan members.

Works Cited

Ibn, Batuta, C. Defremery, B R. Sanguinetti, H A. R. Gibb, C F. Beckingham, and A D. H. Bivar. The Travels of Ibn Baṭṭūṭa, A.d. 1325-1354. London: Hakluyt Soc., 1958. Print.

Polo, Marco, William Marsden, and Jon Corbino. The Travels of Marco Polo, the Venetian. Garden City: Doubleday, 1948. Print.

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