During the early decades of the 13th century the Mongol military launched an expansion campaign that had a significant impact on many of the great empires of world. Under Genghis Khan and his predecessors much of Tibet, China, Persia, Iraq, Asia minor, and southern Russia came under Mongol rule. The empire was divided among his four sons upon his death (Giusepi). These four khanates entered into violent struggles for succession, but they dominated most of Asia for approximately 150 years (Giusepi). The effects of the conquests had a significant impact throughout much of the world.
The Mongol hordes were ferocious and known for the death and destruction that they brought to the cities that they conquered. However, they brought more than destruction to the cities that they conquered. The Mongols were a tolerant people in terms of religion. They were not concerned about what religion people adopted, only that they followed the civil code of the Khanate. This led to a period of considerable peace in many once-hostile areas of the world (Guisepi). Their squabbles over religion ended the day the Mongols rode up on their ponies.
The Mongol territory stretched over a vast amount of land that included much of Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. The territory served as a neutral ground and bridge between territories. Many peoples once separated by differences could engage in trade on the neutral ground created by the Khanates.
The arrival of the Mongols had a general stabilizing effect on many territories, depending on their position before the conquest. The Mongol decimation of the population resulted in a significant decrease in productivity of the area. For instance, in 12th century China the population was cut in half (Edwards). One study even found that the Mongol invasions had an impact on Carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. Prior to the Mongol invasion carbon dioxide levels were on the rise due to industrialization and deforestation. The population reduction also cut down on human activity, which caused carbon dioxide levels to recover as the number forests recovered (Pappas).
Yet, out of the destruction rose many inventions and innovations, particularly in the area of military technology. For instance, the Mongols gave the Chinese the cannon, fire bombs and gunpowder based weapons (Edwards). There was an explosion of the exchange of ideas and technology across the globe. The Mongol invasions brought the spread of the trebuchet and the concept of printing (Dutch). Under the rule of the Mongols many from Europe had the ability to travel to China, an area of the world that inaccessible in the past.
The Mongol invasions had a significant impact on the world. They brought great destruction and population decimation, but in their aftermath, they represented a world of relative peace. People were free to worship as they pleased, as long as they obeyed the Yassa, or Mongol civil code. The code forbid thing such as stealing from another tribe member, adultery, telling lies, sorcery, and other laws designed to create an orderly society. Certain codes only applied to the Mongol tribes and soldiers, but others applied to everyone under the Khanate (Dutch). Punishments were severe and death by beheading was a common punishment for what would seem to be even minor offenses. The result of this brutal law of the land was a significant reduction in crime in the lands that they ruled.
The death and destruction under the rule of the Mongols is the most prominent feature of the invasion. However, they established order and a society of relative peace underneath the harsh rule. Trade flourished and the world even experienced a period of ecological recovery. The Mongols were responsible for the interweaving of Asian, European, Middle Eastern, and African societies in a way never before experienced.
- Dutch, Steven. The Mongols. University of Green Bay. 1998 August 27. Web. 17 December 2014.
- Edwards, George. “A Brief Guide to Early Chinese History: The Mongol Conquest of China and Its Consequences”. London Progressive Journal. 2013 Web. 17 December 2014.
- Guisepi, Robert. The Mongols. Web. 17 December 2014
- Pappas, S. Mongol Invasion in 1200 Altered Carbon Dioxide Levels. Livescience. 2011 February 8. Web. 17 December 2014.