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Mongolian culture in most respects reflected the influence of China. For instance, there are Mongolian terms for the Chinese 60 year calendar cycle. On the other hand, significant other influences came into play. The writing system eventually adopted for Mongolian was the alphabet brought by Nestorian Christian missionaries into Central Asia, which was used to write other Altaic languages related to Mongolian, like Uighur and Manchu. This script is deficient in letters for vowels, which always made it an ambiguous way to write these languages. Under Soviet influence, Mongolian now is mostly written in the Cyrillic alphabet. In religion, Mongolia also went its own way, adopting the Vajrayana Buddhism, or Lamaism, of Tibet. This may have contributed to the military decline of Mongolia, since a large part of the population committed to monasticism does not make for anything like the nation of fierce warriors that stormed across Asia in the 13th century. Thus, Manchu China conquered Mongolia for the first time in its history in 1696. It remained part of China until 1911, when the fall of the Manchus enabled the Mongols, like the Tibetans, to assert their independence. The Chinese, however, enforced their claim to Mongolia by an invasion in 1919. This was successful, but with Soviet help the Chinese were driven out in 1921. Mongolian independence, at least from China, was henceforth under the protection of the Soviet Union. But this also, naturally, made Mongolia subject to Russian experiments in Communism. Stalin’s collectivization of agriculture was extended to Mongolia, with the forced settlement of nomads. Many of them, consequently, moved to Chinese Inner Mongolia to escape. Since 1990, Mongolia, like other post-Soviet states, has been struggling to develop a normal life and government free of police state measures and Russian domination.
Philosophy of History
Philosophy of History
Map shows the conquests of Chingiz Khân as divided at his death among his four sons. Jochi, the eldest son had, however, already died; so his sector was actually divided between his own sons, Batu (the Blue Horde), Orda (the White Horde), and Shiban, later united into the Golden Horde, the most durable of the Mongol regimes. Tuli (Tolui), the youngest son, was given the homeland of Mongolia. And it was the sons of Tuli, after the conquest of Russia, who carried out the greatest subsequent conquests, of the Middle East and China.
Genghis Khan (Chingiz or Chinngis, Khân or Khagan) believed that he had been given the dominion of the whole world. Although the Mongols, as far as we know, didn’t have a tradition of believing such a thing, Genghis launched a campaign that came closer than any other such effort in history to realizing its goal. What Genghis accomplished himself was mostly to absorb kingdoms in Central Asia that most people would not have heard of anyway, but his sons and grandsons accomplished the conquests of China, Russia, Korea, Iran, and Iraq — just to mention the most famous places. The abolition of the Islâmic Caliphate in Baghdad affected the whole subsequent history of Islâm. Devastating defeats were also inflicted on Poland, Hungary, and Turkey, but growing feuds between increasingly more estranged cousins began to divert energies from more distant permanent conquests. Sometimes, as in the invasions of Japan, extraordinary circumstances, in that case the “Divine Wind” (kami kaze) typhoons, foiled Mongol conquest. But the ultimate enemy of the Mongols was themselves. Whereas the average length of a generation of European royalty from Charlemagne to Queen Elizabeth (about 40 generations) was nearly 30 years, the Mongol generations turned over in only about 20 years. The Chingizids tended to drink themselves to death; and once no longer centered on the steppe, they lost their military edge. Only the Golden Horde (“horde” from ordu, “army”) retained a steppe base and steppe culture, consequently lasting more than three centuries, rather than less than 90 years like both the Ilkhânsin the Middle East or the Yüan Dynasty in China.
I had some problems with reconciling the Mongolian dates and names [The Mongols, David Morgan, Basil Blackwell, 1986, and The New Islamic Dynasties, Clifford Edmund Bosworth, Edinburgh University Press, 1996, which do not give Chinese names] with the Chinese list of Yüan emperors [Mathews’ Chinese-English Dictionary, Harvard University Press, 1972, p. 1175, which does not give the Mongolian names]. This is now cleared up by Ann Paludan’s Chronicle of the Chinese Emperors [Thames & Hudson, London, 1998, pp. 148-157]. Two Emperors did not reign long enough to be acknowledged by Chinese historians. Also, Chinese sources list Ming Tsung before Wen Tsung (or Wen Ti, in Mathews’) because the second reign of the latter is counted. After Togus-Temür, I have only found a list of rulers for Mongolia in Bruce R. Gordon’s Regnal Chronologies — though Gordon actually doesn’t list Togus-Temür, but only “Biliktu,” with slightly different dates. Gordon cautions that after about 1400, the country is not politically unified and the rulers often only have local authority. Since Mongol authority was asserted over Tibet in 1642, Gordon’s information, which doesn’t even extend that far, gives no hint whence this vigor derived.
The situation in Mughulistân (Turkistan and Sinkiang, including the Tarim Basin, in Central Asia) seems confused. Other sources ascribe a reign to Qaidu, son of the Great Khân Güyük; and grandson of the Great Khân Ögedey, but he is not listed by Bosworth’s New Islamic Dynasties. At the same time, Bosworth lists Qara Hülegü as the son of Mö’eüken, who is listed as an otherwise unknown, to me, son of Chingiz [p.248]. Similarly, other sources affirm that Jagatai-ids return to power by 1309, but Bosworth’s list takes no note of this and simply continues with descendants of Chaghatay and Mö’eüken. This is perplexing. The answer appears to be that Qaidu detached his own domain, to contest the Great Khânate, in the Dzungaria (Junggar) Basin and through part of Mongolia to the north-east, ruling from 1260/64-1301/03. He was succeeded by his son, Chapar, who briefly ruled 1301/03-1306. Chapar was defeated by the proper Chaghatayid Khân, Du’a, eliminating the division within Mughulistân.
This event is of independent interest, since Du’a’s name also appears as Tuva, a name that apparently stuck in a small mountainous area north-east of the Altai Mountains. The Republic of Tuva (capital Kyzyl) was independent for a short period after the fall of the Russian Empire, before being conquered by the Bolsheviks. The Republic even issued stamps that came to the attention of the great physicist, and youthful stamp collector, Richard Feynman. The Tuva Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic, part of the the Russian Republic in the Soviet Union, claimed to contain the geographical center of the Continent of Asia, with a monument to mark the spot. It was also closed to foreigners. Nevertheless, Feynman spent the last few years of his life trying to arrange a trip there. Unfortunately, he died very shortly before permission for his visit arrived (1988).
The end of the Chaghatayids is as obscure as these other issues. Mughulistân is displaced from Transoxania by the Timurids, Uzbeks, and Kazakhs. In Sinkiang (Xinjiang), domains of the Turkic Uighurs took over until Manchu conquest in 1754-59.
Josef Stalin said that his best generals were “January and February.” Indeed, the great invasions of Russia by Napoleon and Hitlercame to grief in great measure because of the harsh Russian winter. Napoleon lost much of his Grand Army in 1812 in a retreat from Moscow in the cold and the snow. Hitler was aware of Napoleon’s failure, but he expected to conquer Russia before winter set in. However, Hitler got delayed by a campaign against Yugoslavia and then launched forces, not only towards Moscow, but against Leningrad and the Ukraine also. Thus, as the snow began to fall in 1941, the Germans had barely come within sight of Moscow. They weren’t even prepared for winter. The men did not have winter clothing and the summer oil in the tanks actually froze.
In light of these events, it is chilling (as it were) to remember that the Mongols conquered Russia during the winter. The Mongols liked winter. Frozen rivers and marshes meant that they could ride right over barriers that in the spring or summer would have slowed them down. Their tough Central Asian ponies knew how to dig down through the snow to eat the frozen grass beneath. This all made for a terror unknown to the Russians before or since. What the Russians then called their Mongol conquers was the “Tartars” — invaders come from Tartarus, the deepest part of Hell. However, this was a deliberate modification of the Persian word tâtâr, which just meant a kind of Turk, though the Mongols, of course, were not Turks. But then, as the Mongols appeared out of nowhere from the Steppe, arriving from origins far beyond the knowledge of Russians or Persians, no one really knew who they were or where they were from. To Europeans, they seemed like the Scourge of God.
Eventually, the Golden Horde weakened and broke up into the Khânates of Astrakhan, Kazan, and Crimea. Remnants of the Golden Horde passed in 1502 to the Crimea, which, as a vassal of the Ottoman Empire (as of 1475), held out the longest against Russian power. Thus, independent Hordes survived in Russia for three centuries, and the Crimea for more than two more. This original durability, far beyond the other Mongol Khânates, may be due to the fact that only the Golden Horde remained centered on the steppe. For so long as nomadic military tactics held an advantage, the Golden Horde benefited from it. The day of the nomad had to pass before the Russians gained the upper hand. Crimea survived thanks to the very non-nomadic power of the Ottomans. Russian expasion east would then not be through the steppe but in the Taiga, the dense forestland.
The map at right shows the situation in 1483. Moscow has just ceased paying tribute to the Golden Horde (1480). The successor Khanates to the Horde are already in place. As noted, the Crimea is already a vassal of the Ottomans. Although it would be the Crimean Khâns who finally overthrew the Horde, Astrakhan would acquire the lion’s share of the remaining lands of the Horde. Timurids and the White Sheep (Aq Qoyunlu) Turks dominate the Middle East and Central Asia.
Note that Shiban, as a son of Jochi, originally had his own division of the Horde (an ulus, “patrimony”), as seen in the map above. When Toqtamïsh moved west to unify the Golden Horde, the Shibanids expanded south and grew into the Khânate of the Özbegs or Uzbeks, perhaps named after the Khân of the Blue Horde, Muh.ammad Özbeg (1313-1341). Thus, on the map of 1483, the Uzbeks have become conspicuous. Their line is given below, as their realm (and the Kazakhs) succeeded to most of Central Asia until the coming of the Russians. There was also another son of Jochi, Toqa Temür, who had descendants from who some later Khâns may have descended. This may have included the founder of the Golden Horde proper, Toqtamïsh, whose parentage is uncertain.
For a long time I displayed nothing here on the descent of the White Horde or the Golden Horde. Now, however, this has been provided by a correspondent in the Netherlands, who organized information from a French genealogy site, with some reference to RootsWeb, where there is a discussion of the descent of Toqtamïsh. I have revised some of this information, especially for the Golden Horde proper, on the basis of The New Islamic Dynasties, by Clifford Edmund Bosworth [Edinburgh University Press, 1996, p.252-254]. The Blue Horde and White Horde are shown together above at right, ending with Toqtamïsh who unites them. Below are the Khâns of the Golden Horde. Some small differences of dates and names remain between the the genealogical diagrams and the tables of rulers above. I allow these to remain to indicate the certainties with the history — one uncertainty is exactly when the Blue Horde was absorbed by Toqtamïsh, variously given as 1378 and 1380. It is noteworthy that, according to Bosworth, the founders of the Khânates of Kazan and Astrakhan were rival cousins in the two Golden Horde lines descended from the Khâns of the White Horde. The Golden Horde itself, however, was ended by the unrelated Giray Khâns of the Crimea.
The breakup of the Golden Horde resulted in a number of successor states, most importantly the Khânates of Kazan, the Crimea, and Astrakhan. The remnant domain of the Golden Horde was itself annexed by the Crimea in 1502. Otherwise, all would be faced with, and ultimately fall to, the growing power of Russia. The fall of Kazan and Astrakhan motivated Ivan IV to proclaim himself “Tsar of all the Russias.” The Crimea would endure longer, becoming indeed the last of any of the Mongol Khânates. Its durability, however, was only due to the protection of the Ottomans. Before Russia could take the Crimea, it would have to defeat the Turks. That would not come until the 18th Century. Catherine the Great, not Ivan the Terrible, would finish off the last of the Mongols.
These lists are derived entirely from The New Islamic Dynasties, by Clifford Edmund Bosworth [Edinburgh University Press, 1996, pp.252-260].
The connection of the Crimea to Turkey led to a significant moment in linguistic history. The Imperial Ambassador to Constantinople, Bubecq (1560-1562), took down sixty words in an unusual language spoken by informants from the Crimea. The language turned out to be Gothic. Goths had been in the Crimea since the 3rd Century AD. It is fortunate that Bubecq was curious about the language, because there is otherwise no surviving evidence of it, and there are no Crimean Goths left now.
There are surviving Crimean Tartars. Stalin became suspicious that they had collaborated with the Germans in World War II, so he deported all of them to Siberia. They are back now, but still rather out of place in the area. They are thus as much living fossils of history as the 16th century Gothic speakers.
The amount of harm that the Mongol conquest did to the Middle East cannot be calculated. It was bad enough for Islâm that the Caliphate in Baghdad was destroyed, but at least a form of the Caliphate was soon continued in Cairo. The physical damage and neglect to Iraq, however, may have ruined foundations of civilization and prosperity that went back to the Sumerians. The capital of the Îlkhâns became Tabrîz. Iraq would never again be a center of great power, influence, or culture. Until the Fall of Constantinople, Cairo became the center of Islâm. It may be that a serious effort to conquer Egypt was never launched by the Îlkhâns because the military resources of Mongolia, which had in part been directed at Europe under the Great Khân Ögedei and at the Middle East under Möngke (Hülegü’s brother), were entirely drawn off by Qubilai (Hülegü’s other brother) for the conquest of China. Certainly, the kind of sustained and punishing campaign that the Song had to face in China was never directed against the Mamlûks.
When the great traveller Ibn Battuta (d.1368/69) visited the Ilkhânate in 1326-1327, its power seemed well founded and unassailable. When he returned from China, between 1346 and 1349, the Khânate had already collapsed! This abrupt and astonishing revolution left a number of successor states. The Jalâyirid Sult.âns held Tabrîz, western Irân and lower Mesopotamia. The Black Sheep (Qara Qoyunlu) Turks lay just to the west, in Armenia and upper Mesopotamia. In between their domain and Trebizond were the White Sheep (Aq Qoyunlu) Turks. All were swept over, but not eliminated, by Tamerlane. As the Timurid hegemony receded, the Black Sheep Turks overthrew the Jalâyirids. It wasn’t much longer, however, before the White Sheep Turks became the ultimate winner, assembling a state that stretched even into eastern Irân, the most successful of the Ilkhân successors. When they fell, it would be to an altogether new force, the Safavids, who, although Turks themselves, ushered in an Irânian, and a Shi’ite, revival.
Tamerlane was only partly Mongol and never claimed to be one. But he tended to use Mongol puppet figureheads and did create the last serious nomadic empire. A devoted Moslem, his conquests and massacres were nevertheless almost entirely directed against fellow Moslems. Poor little Georgia had to bear most of his wrath against Christians.
Despite what must seem the superfluous slaughter and pointless terror of Tamerlane’s campaigns, his was the only historic empire actually founded on the region of Transoxania and cities like Samarkand and Bukhara. This brought a period of higher culture and architecture to the area. The style of architecture, indeed, passed to the Moghuls. The splendor of the Taj Mahâl thus owes more than a little to the ferocious Tamerlane.
The region of Farghâna included a small Timurid principality. The Özbeg conquest of the region (1501) sent the heir, Bâbur, heading for Kabul (1514) and India (1526), where he founded the Moghul Empire.
If the Timurids had been more Turkish than Mongol, they were succeeded by rulers who were at least of Mongol patrimony, the Shibânid Khâns of the Özbegs or Uzbeks — Turkish tribes, but perhaps named after the Khân of the Blue Horde, Muh.ammad Özbeg (1313-1341). Moving first south into the lands of the old White Horde, they then displaced the Timurids in Transoxania and northern Afghanistan, in part under the pressure of the Kazakhs. Although often fragemented, the Khânate and its successors, with the Kazakhs, dominate Central Asia until the arrival of the Russian Empire. Uzbekistan, of course, is one of the successor Republics to the Soviet Union.
The Khâns of the Kazakhs are curiously missing from Bosworth’s The New Islamic Dynasties. There seems to be much obscurity in their history, and the details here are from the German Wikipedia website. While the Kazakhs seem to originate as vassals of the Özbegs, their Khâns are initially derived from the Golden Horde. When the Özbeg Abu’l-Khayr kills the Golden Khân Boraq, his sons, after an exile in Mughulistân (Sinkiang), return to avenge themselves. This shatters the Özbegs (1468), from which the Kazakhs emerge as an independent Khânate. The dating is unclear, but the Özbegs are pushed south to the Oxus (Amu Dar’ya) valley and the mountains to the south-east, and the Kazakhs come to dominate the steppe, the valley of the Jaxartes (Syr Dar’ya), and the mountains to the south-east of there. This is reflected in the modern map of the region, with an independent Kazakhstan north of Uzbekistan. The modern caital, Alma Ata, is far to the south-east, near the border of Kirghizia. One complication of Kazakh history seems to be that the Horde periodically, and then permanently, splits into Lesser (west), Middle (north, east), and Elder (south) Hordes — and evidently the Kirgiz also. These were all, of course, Turkish peoples, with initially the Mongol derived rulers. Today the Turks of the region are distinguished, with the modern states, into Kazakhs, Uzbeks, Kirgiz (in Kirghizia), and Turkmen (in Turkmenistan, south of the Oxus, an area that is mostly desert, though with the historic city of Merv, now Mary). The whole area, of course, has been characterized with the geographical expression Turkistan. In the 18th century, the Lesser and Middle Horde came under Russian influence. They were conquered by 1824. The Elder Horde and Kirgiz were conquered in 1854.
The Toqay Temürids or Jânids (from Jânî Muh.ammad) were actually from the house of Astrakhan and so, again, were more Mongol than Turkish. They simply displace the Uzbek Shibânids. The domain, again, is sometimes fragmented, especially with a “lesser” Khân in Balkh (in Afghanistan). In the end, Jânids were figureheads for the Mangïts.
The Mangïts were from an Uzbek tribe who became chief ministers, Atalïqs, to the Jânids. Like many other such arrangements, the power of the ministers overwhelmed and then overthrew that of their masters. The domain became the Khânate of Bukhara (Bokhara). The arrival of the Russians reduced the power and the domain of the Khâns, but their rule, or misrule, actually continued. Nothing fundamentally changed until the Russian Revolution. A “People’s Republic of Bukhara” overthrew the Khân, who went into exile in Afghanistan. Rather than tolerating local self-determination, of course, the Bolsheviks forcibly reconstituted as much of the Russian Empire as possible. Today, however, Bukhara finds itself in an independent Uzbekistan (whose capital is Tashkent). Two other Uzbek Khântes, Khiva and Khoqand (around Tashkent), shared space with Bokhara, until similarly attached to Russia. Khoqand was abolished in 1876, while Khiva survived, like Bukhara, until 1920.
These lists (except for the Kazakh Khâns) are derived from The New Islamic Dynasties, by Clifford Edmund Bosworth [Edinburgh University Press, 1996] and the Oxford Dynasties of the World, by John E. Morby [Oxford University Press, 1898, 2002, pp.270-276 & pp.288-292].
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