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The Mamluks and Mongols History Research Paper

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Updated: May 27th, 2020

Without the Mamluks and Mongols, the history of ancient empires stands to lose its meaning and impact in the Muslim and Arabian societies. At the onset of 19th Century, the Mongols were considered the most powerful group of people ruled by Genghis Khan. The Mongols were mainly nomadic pastoralists that had great control over Islamic and Arab empires. They moved from one region to another conquering several empires (Zhao 45). The Mongols were well organized in their conquest that made them instill fear and threat in most empires of the ancient period. For instance, the tribe conquered China and attacked the Muslims who were living in Bukhara and Samarkand region (Morgan 124). This study looks at the history of the Mamluks and the Mongols. The paper brings into perspective issues that are related to the groups such as the rise of their empires, their impacts, and contributions to civilization, and how they could have managed their empires.

The Rise and Fall

The Mongolian Empire was established through the consolidation of Turkic and Mongol tribes. The unity of the two tribes was the major factor that led to the rise of the empire. Members of the two tribes interacted freely and participated in trade and cultural activities. However, between the two tribes, the tribe of Mongol was very strong due to its populations and superior war skills. The empire was led by Genghis Khan, who was a born Mongolian. Genghis was one of the strongest leaders who led the empire during war conquests and counter tribal invasions (Bregel 358).

The empire mainly relied on farming, pastoral activities and trade as the major economic activities. The people of the empire engaged in trade activities with their neighbors. They exchanged different goods that included food products, minerals, shells, and animal products (Morgan 129).

However, despite its success and strengths, the fall of the Mongolian Empire came after the death of Genghis Khan. The sons and descendants of the leader did not emulate his leadership style. The empire began to split over issues such as succession and scramble for resources. The sons of the leader could go to the extent of fighting each other immediately after the death of their father. For example, the eldest son Ogedei organized a military attack against his own brother, Chagatai. Due to the conflicts among the sons, the empire became weak and could not withstand external aggression. In the year 1260, the Mongolians were humiliated in a war by the Jalut community (McGregor 620).

After the defeat, the Mongols adopted elective a democratic system of governance. The tribe managed to elect a new leader known as Kublai in the year 1299. Kublai tried to restore the lost glory of the empire by emulating the leadership styles of Genghis Khan. The leader was successful and managed to lead the tribe against many invasions. However, after his death the empire fractured into more than three empires (De Hartog 476).

Unlike the Mongolian, the rise of Mamluks can be traced back to the beginning of the military slavery in ancient Egypt. The Mamluks were slave soldiers from the tribes of Balkan, Circassian, and Kipchak. The Mamluks never controlled empires like the Mongolians but were a special class of warriors in various Islamic empires. They were used as the defense system of the Islamic territories. The Mamluks particularly dominated the Ancient Egypt Empire (Zhao 44).

The organization of Mamluks was more of a slave movement where slave soldiers were encouraged to fight and win wars in order to recapture their freedom. In such areas as the ones belonging to the Ayyubid dynasty, Mamluks were treated like superior soldiers who were supposed to get special treatments. In Egypt, long serving Mamluks had special status above other Muslims (Bregel 357).

The interaction between the Mamluks and the Mongolian Empire could mainly be traced in war activities. For example, after the death of the great Mongolian leader, Genghis Khan, the Mamluks from Egypt defeated the Mongolians at the battle known as Ain Jalut. The Mongolians lost a part of their empire to the Muslim leaders who led the Ottoman Empire (Morgan 127).

Analysis of Their Fall

The fall of the Mongolian Empire can mainly be attributed to the death of the Genghis Khan. After the death of the leader, his sons were unable to organize and lead the Empire like their father did. The sons were divided due to issues of succession and equal distribution of resources. The succession system of governance failed immediately after the death of the ruler. The Genghis Khan’s sons were also unable to organize and control the army. The Mongolian Empire also collapsed due to frequent invasions mainly from the Mamluks of the Ottoman Empire and other areas of Egypt (Fischel 341).

The change of the political system in the Empire from hereditary system to elective method also weakened the Empire. For instance, after Kublai’s death, the empire was subdivided into four separate empires with different leadership styles. Each empire had to pursue its own interests. Consequently, the division led to infighting among different dynasties of the Mongolian Empire. Each dynasty had different objectives and, therefore, achieving unity was a difficult task. The situation finally led to the dissolution of the Mongolian Empire (McGregor 620).

The fall of Mamluks was first witnessed in Egypt. Different leaders in the empire became worried about their sons. There was an increasing trend in Egypt where every young man wanted to join the Mamluks. Some could go to the extent of offering themselves as slave soldiers. In Egypt, Muhammad Ali was worried about the increasing number of Mamluks and, therefore, decided to trick them into a war. In the subsequent years, Egyptians killed their own Mamluks since they had become so strong and were capable of destroying the empire (Bregel 357).

The end of Mamluks in Egypt can also be attributed to the invasion of the Empire by the Ottoman regime. During the conquest, many Mamluks who were used to defend the Empire were killed and some assimilated into the Ottoman Army. Some Mamluks also tried to establish their own empire in Upper Egypt. However, their efforts were not successful and they were defeated by the soldiers of Ottoman Empire (Fletcher 50).

Society and Population

The population of Mongolian Empire comprised of two tribes that included the Mongols and the Turkic. The two tribes had similar cultural practices and shared common economic resources. They intermarried and practiced the same religion. The two tribes worshipped and believed in similar gods. For example, Mongols believed in the god of rain, the sun, and the wind as supernatural beings that controlled their spiritual lives. The organization of the empire was based on a hereditary political system where the sons of the leader had the legitimate obligation to rule after the death of the father (Fischel 342).

In addition to political organization, the society had good economic trade structures where activities such as farming, rearing of livestock, trade, and hunting were considered the major activities in the empire. The Mongols also invaded other empires in search of livestock and valuable minerals such as iron and gold. The Mongols could invade any region that was believed to be rich in agriculture and mineral supply. They also invaded other regions in order to get enough slaves for their workforce. For example the Mongolian Invasion in Baghdad was meant to capture Arab slaves in the region (Morgan 128).

The other intent of the Mongolian invasion was to spread their culture and religion. The Mongols destroyed all elements of culture and religion during their conquest. For example, the tribe destroyed ancient libraries and worship centers of most of the Islamic empires. In their conquest they also targeted Muslim scholars and religious leaders in order to stop the spread of Islamic culture and religion (McGregor 620).

The societal organization of the Mongols was more advanced as compared to the Mamluks who lived as slaves in various Islamic empires. The status of the Mamluks was given to loyal and hardworking slave soldiers. Mamluks in various Islamic empires were respected for their role in protecting the empires against external invasion. They were used as the tools of war in the empires to conquer and defeat foreign armies. The Mamluks in Egypt and Ottoman Empire were used to fight the Mongols and other invaders and intruders (Bregel 357).

Hard working slave soldiers who were loyal to the emperors had the privilege of being promoted to the status. After attaining the status, the soldiers had the opportunity to defend the empire and participate in external invasions. The main aim of Mamluks was to participate in wars and win (Fischel 340). Participation in wars enabled the Mamluks to earn respect from the leaders and members of the community. However, others participated in wars mainly to recapture their freedom.

The Mamluks who were very close to the leaders were also given titles of recognition. Others were allowed to marry into the leader’s family or relatives. Moreover, in other cases, Mamluks could be appointed as the personal assistants or advisers to the leaders on issues of war and external affairs. Such treatment made some Muslims join the military slave movement with the goal of attaining the status (De Hartog 478).

However, in other regions such as Eastern Europe Mamluks were not given special treatments like in Islamic empires. The slave soldiers in Eastern Europe were either sold after the war or murdered by the soldiers. In some cases, the soldiers were granted freedom and allowed to go back to their homes. The fate of the Mamluks became worse when Egypt turned against its own slave soldiers. The emperor leader in Egypt believed that the Mamluks had become so strong to the extent that they could easily overturn the government. Egyptian Mamluks had also established strong external networks that were capable of overthrowing the leadership of the emperor. Another factor that interfered with the societal organization of the Mamluks was the invasion of Egypt by the Ottoman Empire. Slave trade activities also interfered with the societal organization of the Mamluks. For instance, in some regions, the slave soldiers were sold in exchange of minerals and other commodities (Zhao 44).

Contributions to Civilization

The contributions of the Mongols towards civilization are manifested in their system of political organization. The hereditary system of governance in the Empire became a leadership structure that was later adopted in other regions; for instance, regions such as Britain adopted the hereditary structure from the Mongolian Empire. In hereditary leadership structure, the king or the leader is succeeded by his son or daughter after his death. The Mongolians also contributed to the civilization of trade in most regions. However, their initiative to kill Islamic scholars and destroy Islamic libraries slowed down the cultural development of the Islamic regions (Fletcher 52).

The contributions of the Mamluks towards civilization are mainly based on their lifestyle. They were organized into small households that were led by different leaders where loyalty to the leaders was the key element of association. However, this organization was later adopted by gangs and criminals to perform illegal activities. The criminal organization of most gangs in the contemporary society was borrowed from the group. On the other hand, the contributions of the Mongols towards the innovation were based on their activities in military operations. For instance, apart from proper organization of the military, the Mongols were very creative people who made superior weapons from simple materials such as stones, iron, and wood (Morgan 136).

With regards to art and architecture, Mamluks greatly contributed to the civilization of art and design. For instance, in Islamic regions, Mamluks were used to construct buildings such as mosques, khanqahs and madrasas. The Mamluks in Egypt constructed most of the ancient buildings that exist to date. The Islamic region also used the Mamluks to spread the teachings of the Koran and promote the Islamic culture. To this end, the Mamluks had the privilege of drafting the pages of Koran and shared them with other people in the society. The Mamluk sultanates in Egypt had the sole responsibility of writing the notes used in madrasas lessons and teach other students. They taught the students using drawings and other forms of artistic impressions (Bregel 357).

The Mamluks also contributed to the civilization of the military organization. For instance, Mamluks of Napoleon’s army were properly organized and were an example of a good leadership style. The army had uniforms and their weapons were marked according to their ranks within the army. The Egyptians were also properly organized with uniforms that were used to differentiate according to their ranks and roles (Bregel 357).

With regards to innovation, the Mamluks were the most innovative military group in history. The Armenian Mamluks pursued innovative activities that were manifested in their weapons. The group made superior war materials such as swords and shields from particular types of materials such as bronze. The Mamluks were among the first individuals that discovered the use of bronze in making weapons (Zhao 47).

Challenges

The two groups faced similar challenges that stemmed from poor leadership. The Mongols were strong under the leadership of Genghis Khan. After the death of the leader the Mongols became divided. The division between the different dynasties in the Mongolian Empire led to its collapse. The other challenge that affected the Mongols was the lack of access to superior weapons (Morgan 129).

The Mongolians could overcome the above mentioned challenges by embracing unity between the different dynasties. They could also emulate the leadership styles that were used by Genghis Khan. The Empire could have also improved their weapons to defeat the enemies (McGregor 628).

The challenges facing the Mamluks also emanated from leadership issues. The groups were betrayed by the leaders who turned against them. Some of the Mamluks were also sold as slaves by the leaders. Having overcome the problems, the Mamluks could have organized themselves to establish their own empires (Fischel 344).

Expansions and Conquests

The Mongolian Empire was also one of the biggest Eastern regions. The Empire stretched from Central Asia, covering some parts of Eastern Europe and bordered Japan along the sea. The rapid growth of the empire was due to regular invasion of neighboring empires. For instance, the defeat of the ancient Siberian Empire, gave Genghis Khan the legitimate authority to control most of the resources in Siberia. Genghis Khan was also one of the leaders in the tribe who had good political organization and control. He was a very innovative military leader who organized his army for success.

The leader divided the army into several subsections with different roles to play in defending the Empire. The leader rewarded hardworking and loyal soldiers by giving promoting to higher positions (De Hartog 476). The Mamluks were also used to expand different empires. For instance the Ottoman Empire used Mamluks to capture certain parts of Northern Egypt. Another ancient Islamic empire that was famous for the use of Mamluks during wars was the Abbasid Empire. The Mamluks were to remain loyal to the emperors while other soldiers were loyal to the sheikhs or clan leaders. The rise of most of the Islamic empires such as Ghilman and Armenia can be attributed to the activities of the Mamluks who were used to capture different empires (Fischel 343)

The Impacts

The rise of the Mamluks and Mongols led to the development of the ancient Islamic empires. It also contributed to the development and spread of the Islamic culture and religion. The Mamluks in Egypt were used to spread the teaching of Koran and convert other people to Islamic religion. On the other hand, the rise of the Mongols also led to the development spread of Arabian culture in the Eastern region (Morgan 127).

This aspect of Islamic history has an impact on current Muslims and Arabs since it reveals how the Islamic religion and Arab culture spread to different regions of the world.

Impacts in the Current Arab Muslim Society and the World

The history tends to highlight the origin of Islamic civilization and development. For example, the elements of Islamic religions such as madrasas and Korans spread very fast in Islamic countries due to the activities of the Mamluks who were given the responsibility of drafting particular pages of the Koran (Fletcher 50). The story of the Mongols and the Mamluks also reveals to the world how strong political organizations can easily collapse due to wars and disorganization. Moreover, the story also presents to the world the importance of good leadership and well organized military operations

Lessons Learned and Conclusions

From the story of the Mongols and the Mamluks I have learned the two groups of people played an important role in the development of Islamic regions. The Mamluks played an important role towards the development of the Islamic religion, culture, art and architecture. However, the two groups could have worked together to promote the growth of the culture. They could also have avoided wars to ensure proper organization and strength of their empires. For instance, before the Mongolian Empire had been invaded by the Mamluks, the region was properly organized and had strong political, economic and social structures that are important for the development (Fischel 340).

Works Cited

Bregel, Yuri. “Tribal Tradition and Dynastic History: The Early Rulers of the Qongrats According to Munis.” Asian and African Studies 16.1 (1982): 357-98.

De Hartog, Leo. “The Army of Genghis Khan.” Army Quarterly and Defense Journal 109.5 (1979): 476-85. Print.

Fischel, Walter. Ibn Khaldun in Egypt: His Public Functions and His Historical Research, California: University of California Press, 2010. Print.

Fletcher, Joseph. “The Mongols: Ecological and Social Perspectives.” Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 46.1 (1986):11-50.

McGregor, Andrew J. A military history of modern Egypt: from the Ottoman Conquest to the Ramadan War, Westport: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2006. Print.

Morgan, David. “Who Ran the Mongol Empire?” Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society 114.2 (1982):124-136.

Zhao, Zhan. “On the Origins of the Mongols.” Journal of the Anglo-Mongolian 33.2 (1984): 43-47.

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