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The Mongols: The Greatest MILITARY Force

  1. May 18, 2009 #1
    I declare that the Mongol Empire was the most impressive military force in the history of man.

    Proof of this can first be seen in the simple expansion and breadth of their empire. Within a hundred years, they had established the largest contiguous empire in the history of man. It spanned from the Pacific Ocean to Eastern Europe, and from mid-Russia to the Middle-East.

    In doing this they subdued long-standing, technologically advanced nations (Hungary, Austria, Jurchen and Song Dynasties, the Rus), as well as a large number of other impressive nations (Khwarezmids, Cuman Khanate, Northern India, Qara Khitans).

    Tactically, they were impeccable. Before invading a foreign country, they would have spies operating (to determine the relative strengths of opponents, who got along, drawing up maps) for years. Logistically they did quite well as their horses could simply graze en route to their destinations and they were effective at extorting food from submissive nations. They could cover up to 100 miles in a day, enabling them to catch their adversaries off-guard.

    They had excellent scouts, so they were very rarely (I've never come across an example of it happening) caught off-guard. They used the land fully to their advantage, diverting rivers, using them to guard, and being willing to run for days to achieve a terrain advantage.

    As masters of (what I consider to be the most effective military maneuver pre-guns) horse archery, they were able to devastate their opponents without allowing them any form of retaliation. They also made effective use of heavy cavalry to break opponents once their archers had softened them up.

    They were always on the lookout for better methodology. They regularly incorporated superior techonolgy into their military structure (namely chinese siege weaponry and engineering capabilities). They used very effective tactics in-battle: enveloping maneuvers, false retreats, screening.

    Their communication was superb as well. In-battle, they used systems of flags and smoke to keep a general in constant communication with his subordinates (this was at a time when, at least for Europe, in-battle communication was slight, with a general mob rush beserker tactic being employed). For strategic communication they had their own version of the Pony Express (a rider who never stops because he changes horses at way-stations) to keep armies regularly in-touch.

    Finally they were never fully defeated by an opponent (yes, they lost the battle of Ain Jalut, but that was to a specially trained force that used their own tactics against them, at a time when there was in-fighting amongst Mongol generals so they were unable to retaliate). Their cultural weakeness did lead to the gradual incorporation of their commanders into the conquered peoples way of life, but again, as a MILITARY FORCE, they were unstoppable.

    Prove me wrong.
  2. jcsd
  3. May 18, 2009 #2
  4. May 18, 2009 #3
    Were they mostly kurdish people, living on the move. Did they build any major cities?
  5. May 19, 2009 #4
    They were Mongol-Turkic, they were hunter-gatherers on the Mongolian Steppe prior to their conquest of the world, and no, they aren't known as substantial builders. But that's not my point, I'm saying they were exceptionally able MILITARILY, not CULTURALLY.
  6. May 19, 2009 #5


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    Sounds like you're trolling.

    Anyways, why post here rather than in some other forum geared for this sort of discussion?
  7. May 19, 2009 #6
    OK, I'm sorry for my aggressive tone. I take it back.

    And isn't this a forum geared for a discussion on history? It's called History & Humanities...
  8. May 19, 2009 #7


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    It is difficult to separate military prowess from the civilization that supports it. To maintain an empire, one needs some of the infrastructure of civilization, especially roads, ala the Romans. The Mongols never built good ones to my knowledge, and I credit that lack, for instance, to their increasingly slow expansion as they reached into Europe, and to the their eventual collapse. Thus the Mongols might have been without peer in a given battle in the ancient world, but being far enough away one need only wait them out for a generation as their fairly quick internal collapse (compared to Romans, Greeks) was inevitable. I liken them to the Spartans, who were visited by Roman emperors as a kind of Disney Land trip, an odd curiosity.
  9. May 20, 2009 #8


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    The Mughals in India were direct descendants of Genghis Khan and built a quite impressive civilization
  10. May 21, 2009 #9
    Like every civilization with variety of victories areas, Mongols are the best warriors of their age. When it comes to culture sustainability they fail as the only expertise area is combat for them.

    However they played their role successfully in history of humanity...
  11. May 21, 2009 #10


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    The Mongols, like the Huns 800 years before them, ran what we could call a "protection racket empire":

    Neither the Mongols or the Huns cared about how "subjugated" peoples ran their own territories (or what religion they kept to), as long as they provided tribute and manpower.

    Quick, ruthless extermination campaigns were launched against those subjugated peoples who failed to comply with their payment.

    In order to keep the war machine going and growing, the spoils of war were generously distributed between the "master people" (Huns or Mongols) and the tributaries.
    But unless this flow of goods was kept on continually, the master people could not count on that the number of recalcitrant, noncontributing tributary people would remain sufficiently low (and thereby possible to crush quickly).

    Thus, these vast, multi-ethnic empires (in which the master people was only a tiny minority, numerically speaking) were driven to continuous warfare, leading to incredibly swift expansions whereby huge amounts of manpower were sucked into the warmachine, making it even more impressive.

    But equally, these empires were extremely fragile; if the money flow from warfare stopped, the majority of the master people's army (i.e, from tributary peoples) would defect, and the empire would collapse into nothingness, or at least into an anarchic mess of countless bickering small-scale warlords.
  12. May 21, 2009 #11


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    Descendant yes, some 300 years after Genghis, but I have the impression that the culture they brought to India was distinctly Persian and Turk. The language was Persian derivative. This is generally my point: after they dismounted their horses, there wasn't much of an enduring Mongol culture. At least not in comparison to, say, an Alexander the Great and the Greeks, where Greek culture and language carried forward in his conquered areas for centuries.
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