To understand the Mongols you first need to understand steppe nomadism. Steppe nomads were, essentially, munchkins in a very poorly designed campaign. Most societies of the time had a lot of options and thus spread their proverbial character points around. Metallurgy, agriculture, architecture, and philosophy were all valuable links in a massive skill tree that allowed great classical civilizations like China and the Roman Empire to thrive. Steppe nomads on the other hand, living in an environment that resembled the moon as much as anything, had a access to a slightly more restricted skill tree. And by restricted we mean it basically consisted of "making sheep", "riding horses", "shooting things with bows". It's no accident that every society along the steppe belt from East Asia to Central Europe had the same basic patterns of life, adapted the same tactics, and made their neighbors lives the same living hell with a cyclical "trade and raid" policy for thousands of years. Essentially they were all one trick ponies, but that pony had a man on it, and the trick was putting an arrow with sixty pounds of draw tension behind it through your eye at a hundred paces.
The Mongols took this incredibly successful monobuild, threw on a couple character flaws like chronic alcoholism for extra points, funneled those points back into horses and archery, and proceeded to set the world on fire. The lynch pin failure of the steppe nomadic model was it's inability to scale up. The northern grasslands they inhabited couldn't sustain sedentary populations and the few tribes that did bump into one another were constantly fighting over what few shiny bits they had. Occasionally they would make organized raids into their settled neighbors' territory, but these just resulted in them looting everything that wasn't nailed down and going home, or settling in and very quickly developing a bad case of MAD like everybody else. Cue Genghis motherfucking Khan. We won't go into great detail about him here because he has his own page (which he deserves and which you will read, sheep) but the short version was that he decided he was going to take everything.
Under the Khan's leadership the Mongols unified and began raiding south. The Chinese, who were already divided and had been licking the boots of successive horse nomad mini-dynasties for years already, put up little concerted resistance. A few decades and tens of millions of lives later all of northern China was under Mongol rule. While the Chinese would eventually play their own trump card strategy of just assimilating all the Mongols who came to China the first khans managed to keep their edge. Mongol units were routinely rotated back to the steppe to keep them hungry (both figuratively and literally) and distinct cultural and legal institutions were promoted to make sure they didn't get too friendly with the sheeple they were being sent to butcher. The result was a Mongol army that maintained the terrifyingly effective point and click murder of horse archery tactics backed up by the resources, technology, and endless auxilia reserves of China.
And then they fucking rolled out. The horde shifted west and began eating every tribe and buffer state they came in contact with. This continued until the Mongols hit the powerful Khwarezmian empire in modern day Iran. The Khwarezmian shah, having just finished declaring exterminatus on his own local steppe nomads, wasn't in the mood for diplomacy and sent the Mongol emissaries back in boxes. Unfortunately for the shah and his people this just gave the Mongols a massive erection, and made Genghis Motherfucking Khan RAGE(hurting emissaries being a big no-no in nomad culture). The ruling khans immediately stopped bickering and exploded west in an Angron-worthy campaign of pillage and depopulation that culminated in the seizure of most of the middle east. The Muslims, who were by this point fairly certain they were living through the apocalypse, were told to act right and pay their taxes but otherwise to do whatever they wanted. The horde left a few guys to stare portentously at their new Persian/Uzbek subjects and rolled west. A few buffer states later they reached Kievan Rus.
After the powerful and united Khwarezmian empire, crushing Rus, which by the time was split into dozen of feudal states waging petty wars on each other with little to no central government (much like the rest of the Europe of that times) posed about as much challenge as a nurgling would to Marneus Calgar. After a few curb stomp battles the Russian princes attempted to play their own ethnic special ability of running away and letting winter conditions kill everybody. The Mongols, having come from one of the few earthly places shittier than Russia, were quite pleased that they could now march over frozen rivers and promptly sped up. The usual results ensued (several Russian nobles were lashed together and used as a picnic table) and the states of Rus were united for the first time in centuries under Mongol rule (except for Novgorod and Galich who bribed their way out of serious fighting). From here the horde grew increasingly fractious and fell deeper and deeper into infighting. Temujin's offspring had always been a bunch of clusterfucking alcoholic maniacs but their egos and power had finally grown so large that even the laws and systems he had devised could no longer contain them. The final years of the empire weren't without merits. The war machine kept grinding on even in the absence of competent leadership. The horde penetrated central Europe and began fucking up places like Poland and Hungary. Several battles ensued between Europe's chivalric armies and the Mongols, and usually played out like a match between the New York Yankees and your local tee-ball team (if Derek Jeter killed and mutilated the entire group of children after the game). Nobody is quite sure how far the Mongol forces might have swept it their leadership hadn't imploded, but take a moment to be happy you aren't speaking Mongolian.
Leaving aside the toll in human lives, the Mongols did have some lasting impacts in the areas they conquered. In truth the Mongols did not contribute much new to science, technology or artwork directly, but they were good at spreading things around. When the Mongols went to Iran, they brought with them rice from China. They also sent cobalt east to Chinese potters for use in their ceramics industry as blue paint. Mongolians built roads and established trade posts on the conquered territories (well, not by themselves - they ordered locals to do it), and were responsible for creating one of the first reliable mail networks, that spanned from Kiev to Peking (several ancient civilisations beat them to it, not least the ancient Achaemenids, who were first, and the Romans). Additionally, they credited with the first cannons - combining European bell-casting techniques with Chinese gunpowder.
Mongols also liked to swear a lot, and to this day roughly 10 to 50% of swear words in the places they had conquered have Mongolian roots.
It should be noted that it was under the Mongol Empire that Europe started having more regular contact with the Far East; while this was partly due to them being right on Eastern Europe's doorstep, the Europeans had also sent many emissaries, including famed explorer Marco Polo, who spent years in Kublai Khan's court and introduced Europe to a world that they knew little of before; this culminated in a fascination with the far East, leading to repeated attempts by Europeans to find efficient trade routes during Age of Exploration.
Reasons You're Completely Fucked
- The Mongols invented blitzkrieg warfare. In an era where most armies had to give up and go home every time farming needed to happen, the Mongols had only one reason to ever stop, namely that since Mongols used composite bows, wet weather could break the glue of their bows apart which may have been why they did not take much of wetter Europe, but other than that problem of their bows breaking apart, they would not stop. Every Mongol trooper carried everything he needed to survive and fight including extra bow strings (the penalty for losing one was death) and herded sheep along as a mobile food source. In the unlikely event that they ran out of sheep, they would simply steal from the locals; and in the unlikelier scenario that they were in a place with nothing to loot, they would drink their horses' blood. Historians credit this fact for the wildly exaggerated numbers most opposing armies credited the Mongols with having. Nobody could believe that the same people who had fucked their shit up last Tuesday at the border were now camped outside their capital.
- Fortunately for their enemies, the Mongols refused to shed Noble blood. Unfortunately for enemies, the Mongols were incredibly creative people. Countless Nobles were executed by via trampling, drowning, being fed molten silver, being converted into a table and used for a mongol picnic, or just plain choked the fuck out.
- The Mongols were incredibly progressive. They respected local customs and allowed open worship, meaning successful rebellions almost never took in their territories. All they asked was that you kept telling your god what a cool guy the khan is, and that you definitely think he deserves to get into heaven/nirvana/be reincarnated as a Mongol.
- In the event that a rebellion was gaining traction, the Mongols had an incredibly sophisticated and advanced intelligence network ready to sabotage it. Anybody plotting against the horde would be bribed, blackmailed, or assassinated before they got anywhere near carrying out a plot. Far from being a group of rock banging barbarians, the Mongols knew that not every problem could be solved by Khorne scale ultra-violence. Just most problems.
- Remember all that religious pluralism? It didn't stop them from taking their own beliefs pretty seriously. Said beliefs included the idea that the Mongols were destined to take over the world, and that even token resistance to Mongol conquest was heresy. Heretics were dealt with accordingly.
- The mongols may have invented biological warfare by taking the bodies of people who died of the black plague, loading them into catapults and flinging them over the walls of enemy strongholds to let the plague do their work for them. On the subject of the black plague, even when the Mongols were not spreading it on purpose, they carried it with them everywhere they went and with their rapid, fast moving forces acting as carriers, allowing the Plague to spread from China (where it killed 25 million) to Europe (where it killed roughly a third of the total population) before it burned out.
Since this article had been spent mostly aggrandizing the Mongols as warriors and conquerors one might be left asking the question of what happened to them. Why are not steppe horsemen ruling over us now? There are three main reasons for this...
- Fragmentation: As previously mentioned, the Mongol Empire began breaking up into smaller domains, usually due to succession conflicts. These would continue to break down into yet smaller bits and because there were fighting Mongols with Mongols as a rule neither side had a decisive advantage to just roll over the opposition and so forth until non-mongols could take em on. The first major division split the empire into four parts...
- Yuan Dynasy: Kublai Khan managed to finish off China by knocking off the Song dynasty. But then he tried to invade Japan and that went really badly (their invasion fleet got hit by a typhoon). Then he died and less than a century later the Ming dynasty took power although the remnants of Yuan would remain a thorn in their side until both sides fell to the Jin dynasty.
- The Golden Horde: Batu son of Jochi took control of the steppe lands, encompassing much of the territory of modern Russia. The nomadic tribes of the steppe reverted to old habit, fighting among themselves for several centuries until falling to the Russian empire.
- Ilkhanate: first ruled by Tolui, the Ilkhanate stretched from Asia Minor (Turkey) to the Persian Gulf. While most of the mongol khanates were buddist, the Ilkhanate were exposed to Islam, thought it was great and converted, then the whole khanate fell apart until it was absorbed into the Ottoman empire.
- Changtai: Initially spanning Afghanistan and surrounding areas, the Changtai khanate invaded India, becoming the Mughal empire (mongol in hindi). However, the Mughals ran into the problem EVERY empire runs into with India: that they've got a bajillion people with a pluralistic culture and every attempt to get them to abandon the Brahminist castes is doomed to fail. Nevertheless of all the khanates the Mugals held on the longest, and were still ostensibly in control of a few parts of India when the British Empire showed up.
- Administration: The Mongols were great warriors and were often led by great generals, but long story short a bunch of nomadic horse peoples off the steppes did not understand the fine details of managing complex agricultural and urban societies, especially when they often kept themselves said societies at arms length. Improper administration inevitably led to economic downturns, resentment and eventually rebellions. The biggest example would be in the death of the Mongol Yuan Dynasty, in which their bad policies led to them getting kicked out from power after less than a century of ruling china, proving that outsourcing bureaucracy to other civil servants who were themselves from another land (Arabia) was not sustainable.
- Gunpowder: If there was a good hard counter to Mongol horse archers it would be firearms, sort of. It took the Mongols some seventy years to conquer China and they only succeeded in doing so when it was divided, after overrunning the northern Jin Dynasty and adopting gunpower weapons of their own. At the battle of Ain Jalut in 1260, an army of the Mamluk Sultanate defeated a Mongol army partially by using gunpowder weapons. The Red Turban rebellion which toppled the Yuan Dynasty managed to drive them out in part through being good with black powder weapons. In both cases, these were very primitive firearms they went up against and firearms technology continued to advance. The mongol's goose was cooked when the age of the Arquebus came around. The issue of course is not that Arquebuses are better then a Mongol horsemen, but that it takes a Mongol a life time to be trained how to shoot accurately from horseback, while at a full gallop, where as you can train almost anybody to use a Arquebus in a matter of mere weeks, which the vastly more populated city cultures could use to create army's much larger and faster then the Nomadic Mongols.
Mongols In /tg/
- The White Scars chapter of space marines in 40K are space Mongols, going so far as to name their leaders Khans.
- The Dothraki in A Song of Ice and Fire. They share many of the same customs, including "refusing" to shed the blood of nobles.
- Tarkir is based on the Mongolian empire.
- The Mongols map directly to the Kurgan of Warhammer Fantasy Battle, only Grimdarked into brutal Chaos-worshipping savages. They're steppe nomads with the darker skin and slanted eyes, strong emphasis on horse archers, military genius stymied by poor administration, and even a "Great Kurgan".
- Doombreed, the first and greatest of Khorne's Daemon Princes is theorised to be Genghis Khan himself.
- An Ork WAAAGH can also end up becoming Space Galactic Mongols if it grows far too big and led by a Warboss of exceptional might and cunning, like in The War of The Beast.
- Ogre Kingdoms in Warhammer Fantasy
/tg/ in Mongols
- The Mongols are clearly Chaos Worshipers, in spirit if not in intentional prayer.
- They pay homage to the angriest Chaos god, Khorne, with their multicontinent rampage. He seemed to be their primary patron Chaos god. They spilled the blood of their horses if there were no enemies nearby, and they even build pyramids of skulls for him so that they may be added to the Skull Throne.
- Their extensive intelligence network and crafty planning prove that they were servants of Tzeentch, god of... crafty planning.
- By conducting biological warfare using corpses, they tick both the "disease" and "death" boxes which make Papa Nurgle so happy.
- Genetic testing shows that the Great Kahn was a favorite boytoy of Slaanesh, as he sexed the world's population so hard that
mbillions of people alive are descendants.