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In the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries Chinggis Khan and his progeny ruled over two-thirds of Eurasia. Connecting East, West, North and South, the Mongols integrated most of the Old World, promoting unprecedented cross-cultural contacts and triggering the reshuffle of religious, ethnic, and geopolitical identities. The Cambridge History of the Mongol Empire studies the Empire holistically in its full Eurasian context, putting the Mongols and their nomadic culture at the center. Written by an international team of more than forty leading scholars, this two-volume set provides an authoritative and multifaceted history of 'the Mongol Moment' (1206–1368) in world history and includes an unprecedented survey of the various sources for its study, textual (written in sisteen languages), archaeological, and visual. This groundbreaking Cambridge History sets a new standard for future study of the Empire. It will serve as the fundamental reference work for those interested in Mongol, Eurasian, and world history.
The Mongol Empire (1206-1368) had a tremendous impact on slavery across Eurasia. While slaves played a minor role in pre-Imperial Mongolia, the Mongols saw people as a resource, to be distributed among the imperial family and used for imperial needs, like material goods. This view created a whole spectrum of dependency running from free men to full slaves. More specifically, the huge conquests of the United Empire (1206-60) resulted in huge supply of war captives, many of whom eventually sold in the Eurasian slave markets. With the dissolution of the Empire and the halt of its expansion, the demand for slaves remained high, and other means were sought for supplying it. The chapter discusses slavery among the pre-imperial Mongols; the general context of slavery caused by Mongol mobilization and redistribution policies; the various ways of becoming a slave in the Mongol Empire; and the slaves’ dispersion, uses, conditions as well as manumission mechanisms and opportunities for social mobility. It highlights the different types of slavery (extrusive versus intrusive) in China and the Muslim and Christian worlds and argues that in Mongol Eurasia slavery was not always a social death.
The Introduction to our volume starts by delineating changing attitudes towards the word “empire” in Western scholarship from the 20th to the 21st century. It then explains our concept of an empire as an entity with strongly pronounced aspirations to attain universal rule and with clear hegemonic position in its macro-region. We continue with a brief outline of the three waves of the empires’ formation in five Eurasian macro-regions (Near East, South Asia, Europe, East Asia, and the Inner Asian steppe belt). The second half of the Introduction deals with the factors that influenced spatial dimensions of Eurasian empires — from ideological and religious commitment to attaining universal rule to a variety of ecological, military, economic, and administrative considerations that prevented the empires’ leaders from realizing this goal. The multiplicity of these factors suffices to caution against any attempt to create a neat uniform scheme that would explain the empires’ expansion and contraction.
This study seeks to explain how the Mongol imperial space was created and administrated by the Mongols and conceived by the Mongols and their subjects mainly in Yuan China and Ilkhanid Iran. It stresses the interplay between the Mongols’ universal vision, their construction of a “Chinggisid space,” and the revival of “glocal” (i.e., local with global characteristic) spatial concepts in Mongol-ruled China and Iran. It starts by reviewing Mongol expansion, analyzing the reasons for its unprecedented success and the impact of its halt, and concludes in assessing the impact of the Mongol Empire on the shaping of the post-Mongol imperial space across Eurasia.
All major continental empires proclaimed their desire to rule 'the entire world', investing considerable human and material resources in expanding their territory. Each, however, eventually had to stop expansion and come to terms with a shift to defensive strategy. This volume explores the factors that facilitated Eurasian empires' expansion and contraction: from ideology to ecology, economic and military considerations to changing composition of the imperial elites. Built around a common set of questions, a team of leading specialists systematically compare a broad set of Eurasian empires - from Achaemenid Iran, the Romans, Qin and Han China, via the Caliphate, the Byzantines and the Mongols to the Ottomans, Safavids, Mughals, Russians, and Ming and Qing China. The result is a state-of-the art analysis of the major imperial enterprises in Eurasian history from antiquity to the early modern that discerns both commonalities and differences in the empires' spatial trajectories.
The Mongol conquest of Baghdad in 656/1258 has often been described as a medieval holocaust, an extremely violent act, which led not only to the collapse of the ‘Abbāsid caliphate (750–1258) and the city of Baghdad, but to the decline of Islamic civilisation as a whole. Clichés such as: ‘If the Mongols had not burnt the libraries of Baghdad in the 13th century, we Arabs would have had so much science, that we would long since have invented the atomic bomb’ can still be heard in the Arab world. Moreover, this anachronistic view has been revived in the last decade when the Mongol conquest of Baghdad became a favourable metaphor for the American occupation of 2003. Descriptions of the fall of Baghdad as an act of infidels’ vandalism directed against Islamic or Iraqi civilisation or as a burst of violence that took centuries to overcome prevail in contemporary Arabic literature and in Muslim Internet sites, as well as in some of the Western general surveys that seek to explain Iraq from Chinggis Khan to Saddam Hussein and after.
This chapter aims to look afresh at the question of violence in the conquest of Baghdad. While not denying that the conquest was a violent occupation, it highlights the non-violent means that were involved in it, and the ways in which such violence was understood and legitimised by the contemporaneous Muslim writers. On the basis of biographical literature from both the Īl-Khānate and the Mamlūk sultanate, it argues that the violence was not addressed towards the Islamic civilisation as a whole, and that the non-violent means and Baghdad's swift and overall successful restoration contributed significantly to the legitimation and marginalisation of the violence involved in the conquest in the collective memory of the Eastern Islamic world until the rise of nationalism. As a starting point I would like to refer to a unique and highly personal eye-witness account of the conquest, which is quite different from its conventional descriptions.
The evidence in question is that of ‘Abd al-Mu’min b. Yūsuf b. Fākhir Ṣafī al-Dīn Urmawī, one of the more illustrious musical artists and theoreticians in the Muslim world.
As is well known, Hülegü, Chinggis Khan's grandson and the founder of the
Ilkhanate (r. 658–664/1260-65), never converted to Islam. Moreover, as the
man who annihilated the Abbasid Caliphate (750-1258), that had led the
Islamic umma for more than half a millennium, Hülegü was
often portrayed—albeit mainly outside his realm—as one of the great
destroyers of Islam. Yet around the mid-seventh/fourteenth century we find
at least two different conversion stories relating to Hülegü in both
Ilkhanid and Mamluk sources, both allegedly originating in Baghdad. This
paper aims to present these narratives and analyse their origin and use in
the context of the later or post-Ilkhanate period. I may say already at this
stage that I have more questions than answers, and that my explanations as
to why such stories were invented are rather speculative.