Nomadic Empires Class 11 Notes History Chapter 3 - CBSE
Chapter : 3
What Are Nomadic Empires ?
- A nomadic empire can be defined as an empire structure established by a nomadic group. During the 13th and 14th centuries, the Mongols, led by Genghis Khan, formed a transcontinental empire spanning Europe and Asia.
- Steppe nomads rarely wrote literature, so we learnt about nomadic societies mainly from chronicles, travelogues, and articles by urban writers. These authors often provided inaccurate and distorted accounts of nomadic life.
- The success of the Mongol Empire attracted many tourists. These people came from different religious
backgrounds such as Buddhism, Confucianism, Christianity, Turkism, and Islam. Many of them wrote compassionate stories, while others wrote poignant stories.
- Igor de Rachewiltz's "The Secret History of the Mongols" and Marco Polo's "Travelogues" are two of their most
important sources of information on Mongolia.
- The Mongols were a mixed group of tribes who spoke similar languages. The Mongols were divided into two groups, pastoralists and hunter-gatherers. Horses, sheeps, cows, goats and camels were all tended by shepherds.
- They lived as nomads in the steppes of Central Asia, now the nation of Mongolia. Vast landscapes, rolling plains, snow-capped mountains, the Gobi desert, rivers and streams flowed through this glorious region.
- There was agriculture in pastoral areas, but the Mongols were not interested in it. The Mongols lived in tents and moved herds from winter pastures to summer pastures. These factions have always been at odds with each other. In Mongolian civilisation, patriarchy was supreme.
- Genghis Khan was born around 1162 AD near the Onon river in what is now northwestern Mongolia. Temujin
was his original name and he was the son of Yesugei, the chieftain of the Kiyat tribe. Temujin's father was slaughtered by the tribe when he was young, and his mother, Oelun-eke struggled to raise Temujin and his brothers, step-brothers.
- Genghis Khan had many problems when he was a child. He was kidnapped and enslaved for a long time. His wife, Borte, was kidnapped shortly after their marriage and he had to fight to get her back.
- During this difficult time, he was able to make some important acquaintances. There were two others, Boghurchu, a teenage ally who remained his best friend, and Jamuqa, his blood-brother. Temujin rose to prominence in the politics of the steppe nations and was recognised in his position by the Mongol chieftains, who called him "the Great Khan of the Mongols", with the title Genghis Khan, the "Oceanic Khan", or "Universal Ruler".
- His first priority was to conquer China, which was then divided into three kingdoms: the Hsi Hsia dynasty in the
northwest, the Chin Dynasty in northern China, and the Sung dynasty in southern China. The Hsi Hsia had been defeated by 1209, the 'Great Wall of China' had been breached in 1213, and Peking had been devastated in 1215. Long-drawn-out warfare against the Chin had persisted until 1234, but Genghis Khan was satisfied enough with the progress of his conquests to return to Mongolia.
- Sultan Muhammad, the ruler of Khwarazm, beheaded the Mongol envoys and he was worried about the
Mongol attack. From 1219 to 1221, the Mongol army captured the important cities of Otrar, Bukhara, Samarqand, Balkh, Gurganj, Merv, Nishapur and Herat.
- The Mongols destroyed immovable cities. During the siege of Nishapur, a Mongol prince was killed. The
Mongolian army pursuing Sultan Muhammad, advanced into Azerbaijan, defeated the Russian army at the
Crimea and encircled the Caspian sea. The Sultan's son, Jalaluddin, was followed by another wing into
Afghanistan and the Sindh province.
- A major reason for his remarkable success was his ability to invent the various components of steppe warfare
and turn them into incredibly successful military strategies.
- Genghis Khan had made great efforts to organise the military. Discipline was strict in the army. He improved
and reorganised the army to incorporate the tribe's traditional skills into it. The speed and maneuverability of the army was supported by the horsemanship skills of the Mongols and Turks.
- Intensive training and preparation: The Steppe cavalry had always been light and fast, but now it brought all its knowledge of the terrain and the weather to do the unthinkable. In the depths of winter, they
campaigned using frozen rivers as highways to enemy cities and camps.
- Genghis Khan's posthumous Mongol expansion can be divided into his two phases. The first stage lasted from
1236 to 1242 and brought great benefits to the Russian steppes, Bulgaria, Poland and Hungary.
- All conquests of China, Iran, Iraq and Syria took place in a second phase that lasted from 1255 to 1300. In the decades after 1260, the Mongol army suffered few setbacks, but the initial impetus of the campaign failed to continue in the west.
- All of the strong adult males of the tribe carried weapons and constituted the armed forces as needed and this way Genghis Khan's army gained new soldiers through the unification of many of the Mongol tribes and subsequent campaigns against various ethnic groups. Among them were Turks, Chinese, Arabs and others who
willingly accepted his leadership.
- The Turkic Uighurs defeated people, like the Kereyit who were hostile earlier, became a part of the community.
- Genghis Khan worked hard to erase the old tribal identities of many groups that joined his coalition. His army was organised according to the old steppe system of decimal units. Those who tried to leave the assigned group without prior permission they were severely punished. The army was divided into four units and forced them to serve under his four sons and specifically chosen captains of his army units.
- Soldiers who had faithfully served Genghis Khan for many years were publicly praised, with some being referred to as his 'blood-brothers' and others being referred to as his bondsmen, a title that indicated their close relationship with their ruler.
- Ulus was the basis for the civil system. Genghis Khan entrusted his four sons with the task of ruling the newly
conquered people. The four ulus were made up of them. Jochi, the eldest son, was given the Russian steppes, which stretched as far west as his horses could travel.
- The second son, Chaghatai, was given the Transoxianlan grassland and territory in the northern Pamir
mountains, which bordered to those of his brother. His third son, Ogodei, was to succeed him as the Great Khan, and upon his accession, the prince placed his capital at Karakorum. His youngest son, Tolui, inherited the
Mongol ancestral lands. Genghis Khan intended his sons to jointly rule the empire, and to emphasise this point,
armed units from each prince were stationed at each Ulus.
- A common sense of rule was emphasised at meetings of chiefs, quriltais, where all family or nation-related decisions about the next campaign, booty distribution, pastures, and succession were made together.
- Several developments in the empire took place under the administration of Genghis Khan. Yam: Genghis Khan
had already developed a rapid delivery system called Yam, connecting the far-flung regions of his empire.
- Qubcur Tax: A Mongolian nomad donated one-tenth of his horse or cattle herd as provisions to maintain this
means of communication. This was known as the Qubcur tax, which the nomads were willing to pay in exchange for the many benefits it would bring. Trade and travel along the Silk Route peaked under the Mongols, and now the trade routes extended to Mongolia and Karakorum.
- By the 1270s, however, Genghis Khan's grandson, Qubilai Khan, emerged as the protector of the farmers and the cities.
- In 1206, at the Council of Mongol Chiefs (Quriltai), Genghis Khan promulgated the Yasa (The code of law). It details the complex ways in which the Great Khan's memory was shaped by his successors. -The original name was written as Yasaq, which meant ‘law’, ‘decree’ or ‘order’. Yasa dealt with administrative restrictions such as the organisation of the hunt, the army and the postal services.