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What do you think made the Mongols under Genghis Kahn so successful? Keep in mind they are the only people to have ever conquered the Russians and were on the verge of invading Europe when Genghis Kahn died and the Army was called back.
It was Ghengis Khan, he was a great leader, you see the Mongols were like fire they were fierce and powerful but they were hard to control, it took a great leader to control them that is why after Ghengis Khan passed Ogatai didn't have what it took to keep them united so they went their separate ways, the Mongols were pretty neat.
Damien435 said:
What do you think made the Mongols under Genghis Kahn so successful? Keep in mind they are the only people to have ever conquered the Russians and were on the verge of invading Europe when Genghis Kahn died and the Army was called back.
Lemme give you a copy of what really happened when they were invading Europe (from my post in another topic).
The fact of the matter is that there WAS NO TRADITION compelling the Mongols to head back, it was something MUCH BIGGER. The fact of the matter was this: The current Great Khan, Ogedai, was chosen by Ghengis Khan to be his successor. Nobody even tried to debate Ogedai's position because of the tremendous respect the Mongols had for Ghengis Khan. At the death of Ogedai Khan, no certain tradition existed for succession, so much was made up as they went.

The leader of the Mongol armies attacking Europe was Batu, with Subedai (the most brilliant general the Mongols ever had) accompanying and Gayuk along as "co-commander". Batu and Gayuk were cousins and both grandsons of Ghengis Khan. Gayuk was the son of Ogedai Khan as well. They also didn't much care for each other. Gayuk and Batu clashed on several occasions and ultimately, Batu sent a very pissed off Gayuk packing back to Mongolia.

In Europe, Batu's forces annihilate the best that Europe can muster at the Battle of Liegnitz. True, they lost a couple battles, but consider the fact that very shortly following Grobnok, the cities of Lahore and Pest were razed by Batu's forces. One of the big things that drew the Mongols into Eastern Europe was the Cumens. The Cumens had appeal to King Bela of Hungary for protection, pledging to convert to Christianity in return. The Cumens were from the same region as the Mongols and there was some significant bad blood between the two groups. Batu warns King Bela to cease his protection of the Cumens or suffer the wrath of the Mongol armies. King Bela refuses and Batu attacks. He relentlessly pursues the Hungarian monarch until he is dead, tearing further into Eastern Europe in the process. Having punished Bela, and having already achieved what the Mongol armies set out to do (the conquest of Russia), Batu elects to continue with his invasion of Europe.

That pursuit continues until he receives word that Ogedai Khan had died. At the moment of Ogedai's death, Batu was the most respected of Ghengis Khan's grandsons, and the most likely to succeed Ogedai as Great Khan. So, naturally he head home post haste. He backs his armies up to Russia and has them setup rulership there, and takes a portion of his army with him back to Mongolia.

What happened while Batu was hurrying back home was Töregene. She was one of the wives of Ogedai and mother of Guyak. She was also a master saboteur at court. Guyak was not a strong candidate for succession initially, but Töregene managed to make it happen anyway. So by the time Batu arrives back in Mongolia, his greatest worry had come true. Guyak was all but guaranteed to succeed is father as Great Khan. The council of the grandsons of Ghengis Khan was only a formality at that point, and Guyak is made Great Khan of the Mongol Empire.

What followed was an escalating feud between Batu and Guyak that very nearly resulted in a very messy civil war, but the tragedy was avoided by the unexpected death of Guyak from some illness or another. Then you have a relatively long period of ironing out that mess, and naturally Batu is central to that process. By the time Batu returns to Russia, many years have passed (and Subedai is dead of course). Rather than resuming the conquest of Europe, he sets up his own rulership what became Khanate of the Golden Hoarde. The steppes of Russia were a lot like home and the Mongols were quite happy there.

Note that it was not Gengis Khan that died that stopped the invasion of Europe. It was ALSO not Ghengis Khan that was leading those forces. It was Batu, acting under the direction of Ogedai Khan. The expedition to conquer Russia was sent after the death of Ghengis Khan.

The things that made the Mongols successful:
1.) Their tactics were brilliant. The were masters of maneuvering their enemy into traps. In the open field, they always made sure that they fought the battle in exactly the way they wanted to. Subedai was the best of the best at these things.
Contrary to "codes of chivary and honor", the Mongols saw retreat as an excellent battlefield tactic. More than once, they would lauch a tiny contingent force directly into the center of the enemy force. For an example, lets say we have a Russian force of 80,000 and an overall Mongol force of 20,000. The Mongols would be likely launch a group 3,000 straight at the enemy force. They then turn and run, feinting defeat. To the Russians view, there is a tiny force that they can easily handle and its getting away. So the chase is on. The contingent of 3,000 leads them directly into the middle of a trap, and the Mongols will pounce on the Russian forces from 8 sides at once. Caught by surprise, completely surrounded and in complete disarray, the Russian force is defeated very quickly. Now to a Russian soldier's mind, there were at least 200,000 Mongol warriors and he believes they were overwhelmed by superior numbers. This sort of thing lead to the myth that the Mongols were some limitless hoarde, and naturally the Mongols weren't going to discourage such rumors. Those rumors have even lasted to this very day and age.

2.) Ruthlessness: As they were rampaging through modern day Pakistan and Iran, we see the best example of them following this pattern. The arrive at a city and demand their surrender. The city refuses. They lay siege and eventually take it. They then kill every man, woman, child and animal in the city; then level it to the ground and even destroy the foundations of the buildings. They leave and come back a day or two later to wipe out anyone who escaped or managed to hide and has returned.
They get to the next city, and the next city immediately surrenders. The next few will just give up till they reach yet another city that is determined to stand and fight. Then we start the whole cycle again.

3.) Mobility: Every other army in the middle ages was composed of a mixed bag of cavalry, infantry and supply wagons. The Mongols had no infantry and no wagons, and just happened to have one very badass breed of horse. The average contemporary army was able to move 10 miles per day average. The Mongols averaged 80 miles a day. No other army was capable of that kind of movement until modern times. Each Mongol had 3 to 4 horses at his disposal, and he was required to carry all his own supplies. On top of that, they were frontiersmen so to speak; they could make, hunt or gather what they need as they went.

4.) Their bows: Some have debated whether their bow was better or worse than certain other bows. All arguments lead to the same conclusion: theirs were far superior to virtually ever contemporary bow. You're looking at a bow that has a greater average draw than anything other in history, and on top of that, the Mongols were pretty damned accurate at firing it from the back of a galloping horse. (Try doing that with an English Longbow.)

5.) Other Weapons: So much press is spent on their bow, that its often missed that they were amazing with ever other weapon of war. Lances, swords, spears, axes, you name it. They also adapted enemy invention for their own use. Firelances and siege engines (from China) are a good examples.

6.) They Were Tough: There aren't many places on this earth that are more difficult to survive than the broad region of Siberia and Mongolia. Throw on top of that the fact that (prior to Ghengis Khan) there was constant, very brutal intertribal warfare.

Well, that's a start anyways ... :firedevi:

EDIT: Lemme add, during the ENTIRE reign of Ogedai Khan, the Mongols remained completely united under him. It was the fiasco with Guyak becoming Great Khan that really screwed everything up. Even after that fiasco, it would be more than a century before Mongol would fight Mongol, and a sense of unity still existed between the fragements of the giant empire.

Chinggis Qahan's Sixteen Military Tactics

1) Crow Soldiers and Scattered Stars Tactics (also known as Ocean Waves Tactics)

When facing the enemy, the army would split into small groups consisting of three to five soldiers to avoid being surrounded. When the enemy regrouped, the Mongols too regrouped. They were to appear suddenly, like something dropping from the sky, and disappear like lightning. The attack would be signalled by a shout or the crack of a whip. One hundred cavalrymen could surround one thousand enemy soldiers and one thousand cavalrymen could control a front thirty-three miles long in order to attack the enemy at the right place and the right moment.

2) The Cavalrymen Charge Tactics (also known as Chisel Attack Tactics)

A group of cavalrymen would make a direct charge into the enemy line. If the first charge failed, a second and even third group would attack. No matter how great the opposition, even if they numbered a hundred thousand, they were unable to withstand the charges. Finally, in response to a signal, the Mongol cavalrymen would charge from all directions into the enemy lines in order to destroy their formation.

3) Archers' Tactics

The archers, armed with shields, dismounted from their geldings and shot at the enemy, sometimes using the geldings as shelter. Other archers shot from horseback. (The horses were trained to stop dead in mid-gallop to allow the archer to take aim.) Once the enemy came under fire, their lines would be broken and they would scatter in disorder. At that point, the cavalrymen would attack.

4) Throw-Into-Disorder Tactics

If the enemy was strong on the battlefield or sheltering in a fort, the Mongols would herd oxen and wild horses into the enemy lines to cause confusion.

5) Wearing-Down Tactics

When the enemy stood in a defensive position with spears planted in a row, thus preventing a cavalry charge into the line, the Mongols would withdraw their main forces, leaving only a few small detachments to harass the enemy by shooting arrows into the spear-held line. Due to lack of food, water, and rest, the enemy would eventually have to move. Once the weary forces were on the march, the Mongol army would launch a surprise attack.

6) Confusing and Intimidating

In 1204, Chinggis Qahan ordered his soldiers to set up camp on the Sa'ari Steppe in western Mongolia. Every able‑bodied man lit five fires some distance apart, thus scaring the Naimans and enabling Chinggis to defeat them.

When the Mongols encountered numerically superior forces, they often sent troops to stir up dust behind their own lines by means of branches tied to the tails of their horses. On seeing the dust, the enemy often believed that large reinforcements were at hand and fled.

The Mongols also mounted stuffed dummies, small Mongol children, and females on the spare horses to suggest that the army was much bigger than it actually was. This trick was used by the Mongol general Shigi-qutuqu in 1221, when he engaged Jaldin at Biruan between Kabul and Ghazna.

7) Luring into Ambushes

As soon as battle started, the Mongol soldiers would feign retreat, deliberately throwing away gold and silver and other impedimenta. Such tactics were used sparingly - for example, if they could not break into heavily fortified cities or through a strong pass. In 1211, when the Mongols first attacked the Jin territory in northern China, Chinggis Qahan sent Jebe and Guyigu Nek ahead to attack the famous Chabchiyal Pass. The Mongols could not break through this pass because it backed onto mountain cliffs and was strongly fortified. Instead they decided to lure the enemy out by slowly retreating. The Jin army thought that the Mongols had given up, so they chased after them and were surprised, after a certain distance, to see the retreating soldiers suddenly turn to counter-attack. At that moment, the main Mongol army appeared from all sides in a pre-arranged ambush and slaughtered the enemy until their bodies piled up as far as Chibchayal, `like rotten logs'. Jebe stormed the gate of Chibchayal and took the pass.

In May 1222, the Mongol generals Jebe and Sube'etei and 20,000 Mongol cavalrymen pursued the fleeing Kypchaks (or Cumans) from the western side of the Caspian Sea towards the northwest, to Kiev. The Mongols met the joint forces of the Russians and the Cumans, 30,000 men, on the eastern bank of the Dnieper River. Some say that Sube'etei, with only 2,000 Mongol cavalry, lured the Russians and Cumans for nine days towards the small Kalka River that flows into the Sea of Azov, where the main Mongol cavalrymen (numbering 20,000) were waiting. Under the direction of Jebe and Sube'etei, the Mongols attacked the enemy at the end of May and destroyed most of their forces.

8) Arc Formation Tactics

The Mongols would send out two detachments in a wide curve, like the tips of a bow, but with the main forces staying at the centre of the arc, hiding in shady places to await the enemy. These two detachments went ahead to engage the enemy, shooting to infuriate them and lure them to where the main forces were waiting. These two detachments also closed in from the flanks or from behind the enemy. The Mongols called these tactics `bow tactics'. The Cossacks also used these tactics to defeat their enemies.

9) Lightning Attack And Surprise Attack

These two tactics were perhaps the most important of all: lightning attack meant speed, and surprise attack meant suddenness. In 1203, the Mongols attacked Ong Qan, who had erected a golden yurt and was feasting. For three nights and three days, under Chinggis' command, they fought, and in the end Ong Qan and his son fled, though his entire army surrendered. This was an example of Chinggis `surprise attack' tactics.

In 1213, the Mongol army, commanded by Jebe, failed to take the city of Dongchang (Mukden), so they retreated for six days over a distance of some 170 miles. The enemy defending the city thought that the Mongols had given up, but Jebe returned, covering the distance in one night and launching a surprise attack.

10) Outflanking Tactics (a)

When the Mongol cavalrymen could not attack the enemy from the front, they would leave a small detachment to draw the attention of the enemy. Meanwhile the main force went round the back, by way of difficult paths, to attack the enemy from the rear. There are two examples in the History to illustrate these tactics. In 1207, Chinggis Qahan ordered Dorbei-doqshin to attack the Tumet people in the northern part of Mongolia. He left a small detachment on the main road, and ordered his best soldiers to travel along paths made by wild animals. They climbed the highest mountain and then suddenly descended as if from heaven, finishing the enemy while they were feasting.

In 1213, when the Mongol cavalrymen under Chinggis Qahan wanted to take the Chabchiyal Pass, the Jin army fortified the pass and spread iron spikes along the road to the north to prevent the advance of the geldings. The entrance to the pass was also reinforced by an iron gate. Chinggis left a small detachment to shoot at the Jin army, and then took his main army west and back to the southern end of the pass. He captured a place called Nankou, and went on to take the pass.

11) Encircling Tactics

Chinggis used these tactics many times in order to destroy his enemies. The tactics were based on the enemy's strengths and formations. If the enemy openly exposed his flank and rear, and the city defenders were weak, the Mongols would encircle them from all sides. If the enemy deployed their forces by the rivers, exposing two or three flanks, then the Mongols would encircle them from all sides of the riverbank.

In 1221, Chinggis destroyed Jalaldin Mangubirdi, who had deployed his soldiers on the west bank of the Indus, by attacking on two or three sides. Plano Carpini (who was in Mongolia in 1246) records that the Mongols always sent the captured personnel and non-Mongol soldiers in first, led by a few Mongols, to fight the encircled enemy. Only then would the strong regular army appear, as if from nowhere, to reinforce the stronghold, outflank the enemy on both wings, and destroy him.

12) Open-the-End Tactics

If the enemy was very strong and ready to fight to the death, the Mongols would leave a gap in their ranks. In this way, the enemy might think they could see an escape route, scatter, and start to run. At that precise moment, the Mongols would fix upon a suitable place to kill the fleeing enemy.

13) Combining Swords and Arrows

The Mongols avoided hand-to-hand fighting if at all possible, preferring to use bows and arrows, with a range of 200 to 300 yards, to kill the enemy. Plano Carpini records: 'If at all possible, the Mongols never engage in hand-to-hand fighting. They always first use arrows to kill the enemy and their horses. After killing or wounding the enemy and their horses, making them too weak to fight, the Mongols move in to finish them off.'

14) Hot Pursuit Tactics and Dispersing Tactics

If winning, the Mongols would pursue the enemy so that no one escaped alive. If losing, they would disperse in all directions, so that the enemy was unable to catch them.

15) Bush Clump Tactics

These tactics involved dividing the soldiers into many small groups which, although keeping in contact with each other, maintained a low profile as they advanced. Such tactics were also used at night-time, and on dark or cloudy days.

16) Outflanking Tactics (b)
The Mongols faced a march of more than 1,500 miles to their goal in Bukhara and Samarkand. The Khwarazem Shah had deployed his forces along the Syr Darya River. The Mongols divided their forces into four contingents, three of which moved to face the Shah across the Syr Darya. The fourth and largest contingent, commanded by Chinggis himself, turned north and then due west into the Kizil Kum Desert, instead of turning south. There were neither roads nor water in this region. For several months, Chinggis made his way secretly across the desert, while the Shah's forces were being worn out on the battlefront. In March 1218, Chinggis approached Bukhara from more than 400 miles behind enemy lines. This campaign is regarded by military historians as one of the most dramatic outflanking manoeuvres of all times.
Well, have you ever read the History of the Mongols? It's an ancient textbook , you can buy relatively cheap copies of it, but I want this really good one that costs about $100 American and talks about 12 months to be delivered, so say's; but despite not having read that one, I can still telL you a thing or two about the virtues of old Prester John.
True, until Batu showed up in Eastern Europe, they thought that it was mighty Prestor John avenging Christendom against the "evil" Muslim world. Haven't read that particular book. Earthshakers was a good read. Got a good bio on Ghengis Khan (I stick to the "wrong" spelling you'll notice - less confusing that way).
I do too, I pulled that off of Deremilitari's mongol section, as I listed at the start of it. To lazy and set in my way's to learn a new way to spell, like Neanderthal is how I still spell it, not Neandertal.
If the mongols had stayed on campaign its very likely they could have got to England, the world would be very different. Theres one thing you must not forget though, the Mongols didnt conquer as such they just absorbed, and kept the religeons of that country and the people, the countries would of most likely have become independant again but under different rule and in a different way.
Despite some minor setbacks and losses, the best army that Europe could muster was almost completely slaughtered at Liegnitz. Europe was wide open and had virtually no chance of stopping Batu's armies. They were far too clever and Europeans were far too predictable. Had they continued, it is true, they would have left religion intact. Numerous Mongols had been Nestorian Christian all their life and the Mongols were not about to change Christendom's beliefs.

When they left suddenly, it was so unexpected that it lead Europeans to invent some very fanciful nonsense. "God saved them from the monster hoards." "The Mongol armies actually vanished by the grace of God." There is even some speculation that the Mongols lost because of a couple battles the Europeans had won. Lots of theories but nobody had any idea what REALLY happened.
godofthunder9010 said:
Despite some minor setbacks and losses, the best army that Europe could muster was almost completely slaughtered at Liegnitz. Europe was wide open and had virtually no chance of stopping Batu's armies. They were far too clever and Europeans were far too predictable. Had they continued, it is true, they would have left religion intact. Numerous Mongols had been Nestorian Christian all their life and the Mongols were not about to change Christendom's beliefs.

When they left suddenly, it was so unexpected that it lead Europeans to invent some very fanciful nonsense. "God saved them from the monster hoards." "The Mongol armies actually vanished by the grace of God." There is even some speculation that the Mongols lost because of a couple battles the Europeans had won. Lots of theories but nobody had any idea what REALLY happened.

Subotai the Valiant who was the principal architect of those battles is one of my favourite generals of all time and someone who is largely unknown to most people. We're talking about a man whose achievements in battle make him the equal of Julius Cesear, Napoelon or Alexander.

We really did get VERY lucky back in 1242. I wouldn't be here today had the great Khan not fallen off his horse and died unexpectantly.
Great info guys. Ive always found the Mongols fascinating. Nothing for me to really repeat cause you guys covered it all but what I found so fascinating was when the Mongols would attack a city. Every time they would tell the leader of that city that he could either join the Mongol army or die. And whoever didnt would be killed. I remember learning in class about him having a city of 300,000 slaughtered. Thats crazy. But they were a very powerful army and if Genghis Khan had not died, all of the eastern world may of been speaking mongolian =/
Western Europe never had large calvary forces for a reason.... forests make poor grazing grounds. Unless the mongols would want to adopt a mixed invantry/calvary force in Western Europe, they wouldn't of lasted very long pass the pillaging stage.... much less reach England. The Sinai would of stopped them in thier tracks as well; I think this would of been the maximum limits for their empire due to the technological restraints... not to say they wouldn't of adapted later on.
The Mongol homeland contained every terain except two things: Ocean and Jungle. It just so happens that thoses are the only two terrain types that every gave them any serious problems. In truth, they were quite adapted to dense forests as a very large number of them came from the Siberian forests. I don't know of a case where forests, desert, mountain or plain ever really slowed them down much. England may have found its salvation the same way Japan did: the Ocean. They were masters of all terrain types (except the two mentioned), and made better use of it than their opponent in almost all instances.
Then why were the steppe people's like the magyars mostly restricted to plain areas of Europe? Why didn't a normadic lifestyle like that of the steppe devolope in Europe? Western Europe of the time period simple could not sustain a long term mongol occupation of any notible size.
My point was that there was not much in the way of terrain that was going to stop them. They knew better how to use the terrain to their benefit in wars. Their culture thrived on plains and steppes of course.
No, not so much. Their steangth depended on from my understanding on pre-set tactics devoloped in thier homeland, their understanding of strategy proper and engeneering appears to be largely primitive; it was tiher management capability which catipulted them to the top.

Wouldn't the European side be primitive at that time as well? I guess Mongols' primitive is a bit more advance than the European primitive? :D But still Primitive, no?
no, the technology and tactics of the period were advance... despite what some historians like to tell people. Just the mongols used a better command structure reinforced bycomplimentry tactics that exposed the western weakness. You ever hear of Thracian Tactics?