The Nerge: Hunting in the Mongol Empire

The Nerge: Hunting in the Mongol Empire


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The peoples of the Mongol Empire (1206-1368 CE) were nomadic, and they relied on hunting wild game as a valuable source of protein. The Asian steppe is a desolate, windy, and often bitterly cold environment, but for those Mongols with sufficient skills at riding and simultaneously using a bow, there were wild animals to be caught to supplement their largely dairy-based diet. Over time, hunting and falconry became important cultural activities and great hunts were organised whenever there were major clan gatherings and important celebrations. These hunts involved all of the tribe mobilising across vast areas of steppe to corner game into a specific area, a technique known as the nerge. The skills and strategies used during the nerge were often repeated with great success by Mongol cavalry on the battlefield across Asia and in Eastern Europe.

Hunted Animals

The Mongols, like other nomadic peoples of the Asian steppe, relied on milk from their livestock for food and drink, making cheese, yoghurt, dried curds and fermented drinks. The animals they herded - sheep, goats, oxen, camels and yaks - were generally too precious as a regular source of wool and milk to kill for meat and so protein was acquired through hunting, essentially any wild animal that moved. Animals hunted in the medieval period included hares, deer, antelopes, wild boars, wild oxen, marmots, wolves, foxes, rabbits, wild asses, Siberian tigers, lions, and many wild birds, including swans and cranes (using snares and falconry). Meat was especially in demand when great feasts were held to celebrate tribal occasions and political events such as the election of a new khan or Mongol ruler.

Mongols were proficient hunters because they had trained from a very young age to ride & fire a bow.

A basic division of labour was that women did the cooking and men did the hunting. Meat was typically boiled and more rarely roasted and then added to soups and stews. Dried meat (si'usun) was an especially useful staple for travellers and roaming Mongol warriors. In the harsh steppe environment, nothing was wasted and even the marrow of animal bones was eaten with the leftovers then boiled in a broth to which curd or millet was added. Animal sinews were used in tools and fat was used to waterproof items like tents and saddles.

The Mongols considered eating certain parts of those wild animals which were thought to have potent spirits such as wolves and even marmots a help with certain ailments. Bear paws, for example, were thought to help increase one's resistance to cold temperatures. Such concoctions as powdered tiger bone dissolved in liquor, which is attributed all sorts of benefits for the body, is still a popular medicinal drink today in parts of East Asia.

Besides food and medicine, game animals were also a source of material for clothing. A bit of wolf or snow leopard fur trim to an ordinary robe indicated the wearer was a member of the tribal elite. Fur-lined jackets, trousers, and boots were a welcome insulator against the bitter steppe winters, too.

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Horses & Bows

Mongols were proficient hunters not only because they had to be in order to eat but because they trained from a very young age to ride and fire a bow. A second aid was the Mongol horse, a small but sturdy beast with excellent stamina. Thirdly, hunters had a great weapon, the Mongol composite bow. Made of multiple layers of wood, bamboo or horn, the bow was strong, flexible and, because it was strung against its natural curve, it could shoot arrows with a high degree of accuracy and penetration. Arrowheads tended to be made from bone and, much more rarely, metal while shafts were made from wood, reed, or a combination of both, and fletchings from bird feathers. Hunters could shoot with accuracy while riding their horses at speed thanks to stirrups and wooden saddles with a high back and front which gave better stability.

Once the animals were penned in, only the khan could open the hunting with the first shot.

The Nerge

To make a hunt a success, the Mongols participated in great numbers in a coordinated annual attack on a designated area of steppe. This strategy was called the nerge (aka jerge or jarga) and was traditionally held early each winter over at least a month-long period, principally in order to fill up the larder to last through the leanest time of the year. During the empire, organised hunts around the capital were expected to deliver game for consumption at the imperial court.

During the nerge a long line of riders covering a line up to 130 kilometres (80 miles) and marked out by flags moved from the outer end inwards to eventually enclose a large pre-selected geographical area. The riders, accompanied by hunting dogs, then gradually moved, over a period of several weeks, in towards a smaller pre-designated circular zone, also marked out with flags beforehand, so that the animals driven there could more easily be killed. The riders worked in shifts to ensure no animals escaped the cordon, and anyone who did let an animal through the line was severely punished. Once the animals were penned in, only the khan could open the hunting with the first shot and anyone starting off before him was executed. After the hunt, some animals were deliberately allowed to escape the entrapment in order to ensure the conservation of the game for future hunts. A nine-day feast traditionally marked the climax and close of the nerge.

The Venetian explorer Marco Polo (1254-1324 CE) travelled to Xanadu during the reign of Kublai Khan (1260-1294 CE) and he gives more details of a nerge in his book The Travels, first circulated c. 1298 CE. When the khan goes on the annual hunt, Polo tells us, the whole operation is supervised by two officials, the 'masters of the chase', called chivichi who are brothers and who control the hounds and mastiffs. Each official has 10,000 men under his command, and these wear either a blue or red uniform depending on which chivichi they must obey. Polo goes on to say,

The dogs of different descriptions which accompany them to the field are not fewer than five thousand. The one brother, with his division, takes the ground to the right hand of the emperor, and the other to the left, with his division, and each advances in regular order, until they have enclosed a tract of country to the extent of a day's march. By this means no beast can escape them. It is a beautiful sight to watch the exertions of the huntsmen and the sagacity of the dogs, when the emperor is within the circle, engaged in the sport, and they are seen pursuing the stags, bears, and other animals, in every direction.

(Bk. 2, Ch. 15)

The exact same strategy of the nerge was used by fast-moving light cavalry in Mongol warfare. Sometimes the wings of cavalry were so extended that an opposing army was eventually entirely surrounded. A reserve of heavy cavalry then moved in for the kill and, as with the animal hunts, some of the enemy were allowed to escape, but this time only to ensure the Mongols were not themselves numerically overwhelmed. Any escapees, unlike with the game, were then ruthlessly pursued, often for days after a battle.

As the noted historian E. Gibbon summarised in his seminal work The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, the nerge and warfare became, or indeed, always were, one and the same thing:

The leaders study, in this practical school, the most important lesson of the military art: the prompt and accurate judgement of ground, of distance, and of time. To employ against a human enemy the same patience and valour, the same skill and discipline, is the only alteration which is required in real war; and the amusements of the chase serve as a prelude to the conquest of an empire. (quoted in Morgan, 75)

The technique of the nerge was used to great effect to cut off armies of the Rus princes from fortified cities when the Mongols invaded that area in 1237-8 CE. The nerge was even successfully used with a naval element against a combined land army and naval force of China's Song Dynasty at the battle of Yaishan in 1279 CE.

The Hunting Park of Xanadu

Hunting was such a part of Mongol culture that even when they established their empire and began to settle down to a more sedentary existence, the old traditions were not forgotten. Rulers even ensured they had their own private hunting parks when they swapped their traditional yurt tents for ornate palaces. To the immediate northwest of the Mongol capital Xanadu there was a hunting preserve which consisted of meadows, woods, and lakes, and which was populated by semi-tamed animals such as deer. The hunting preserve was also used for falconry and keeping herds of white mares and special cows whose milk was reserved for the khans and those given that privilege. To keep the animals in and the uninvited out, the whole preserve was enclosed in an earth wall and moat.

Marco Polo describes the hunting preserve, thus:

Within the bounds of the royal park there are rich and beautiful meadows, watered by many rivulets, where a variety of animals of the deer and goat kind are pastured, to serve as food for the hawks, and other birds employed in the chase…

(Bk. 1, Ch. 57)

The khan's hunting birds are also described, "His majesty has eagles also, which are trained to stoop at wolves, and such is their size and strength that none, however large, can escape from their talons" (Bk. 14). Other birds of prey used include gerfalcons, peregrine falcons, sakers, and vultures. The khan and other nobles ensured none of their precious birds was lost by attaching silver tags to their legs with the name of the owner and keeper. If the finder of a lost bird did not recognise the names on the tag then he had to take it to a special 'lost property' officer, the bulangazi, who kept it and awaited the rightful owner in his tent in a prominent part of the camp, which was indicated as the lost property office by a special flag. Falconry and the use of eagles to hunt game is still very much a part of life on the Asian steppe today.


The Nerge: Hunting in the Mongol Empire - History

"In daylight, watch with the vigilance of an old wolf, at night with the eyes of a raven, and in battle fall upon the enemy like a falcon." -- Gengis Khan

The Mongols had a very interesting approach to warriors. Every Mongol, whether man or woman, child or adult, was expected to know how to ride. Knowledge of a bow, spear, or sword was also considered necessary for all. In this way, in times of great distress, every person could be called on by the chief of tribes to form a citizen army.

Generally, however, fit adult men were the only warriors. Once they reached adulthood, all men were warriors, and they remained warriors until the age of approximately sixty. They recieved no pay except for spoils of war. Instead, they paid an annual fee to their commander to aid poverty-stricken or disabled soldiers

Traditional battle practice almost always took place at the nerge, which was an annual, massive hunt for food to store over the Mongolian winters. In the nerge, a large ring of horsemen surrounded the prey, slowly closing in until the animals were trapped in a small area. The killing commenced after the leader of the hunt had shot the first arrow. These tactics were nearly always used in Mongol warfare.

Mongol warriors were also noted for their brutal tactics - if a city rebelled, they were known to raze it. The Shah of Persia, upon hearing of what Mongol warriors had done to several of his cities, decided to flee them and ended up in exile on an island in the Caspian Sea.

A Mongol warrior on horseback, wielding a bow and a leather helmet. In typical Mongol fashion, he fights without armor.

1. Armor & Equipment

Mongol warriors traditionally rode lightly armoured, or often without any armor at all. Occasionally, a hardened leather sleeve was worn on the right arm for protection, but this was often sacrificed as it encumbered the warrior when he drew the bowstring back. Instead of traditional armor, Mongols often wore a furred cap with ear flaps, stockings, and soft leather riding boots. The most common type of armor may have been a hardened leather version of a helmet.

Most warriors rode with a bow. This bow was not as large as the traditional longbow of the English, however it was well equipped for soldiers moving on horseback. The composite bow had the same draw as the longbow, and could consequently send arrows on a trajectory twice as distant as any longbow.

2. The Most Important - Mongol Horses

Mongolian horses, or rather ponies, were the key to Mongol successes. Hardy, surefooted, swift and agile, they were the perfect companions for fast moving armies. The ponies generally subsisted on pasture and forage wherever it could be found.

Every Mongol was expected to know how to ride. Armies and individual riders were reported to have been able to cover one hundred miles a day, riding twenty-four hours at a full gallop. Similarly to the later-coming Pony Express, checkpoint stables were located throughout Mongol territories. Mongol riders rode with bells on, and attendants at check points knew that when they heard the bells, it was time to have a fresh horse ready. Riders would not pause to switch horses, but would run them side by side and jump to the other horse while at a full gallop. This incredible horsemanship was they key to Mongolian success and attested to the level of expertise the military demanded of its soldiers.


Nomads of the Steppe

The Mongols were pastoral nomads of the Asian steppe who herded sheep, goats, horses, camels, and yaks. These tribes moved according to the seasons and lived in temporary camps of circular felt tents or yurts (gers). The climate of Mongolia is often harsh and, reflecting this, clothing was warm, durable, and practical. Felt from sheep’s wool and animal furs were the most common material to make clothing which was remarkably similar for both men and women: heelless boots, baggy trousers, a long jacket-robe (deel) worn with a leather belt, and a conical hat with earflaps, while underclothes were made from cotton or silk.

Traditional yurts (gers) in the Gobi desert. These tents, used by nomadic tribes of the Asian steppe, were traditionally made from felt and had wooden doors. / Photo by Michael Chu, Flickr, Creative Commons

The Mongol diet was mostly dairy-based with cheese, yoghurt, butter, and dried milk curds (kurut) being staples. A mildly alcoholic drink, kumis, was made from mare’s milk which was often drunk to excess. The herds being too valuable as a sustainable source of milk, wool, and even dung for fuel, meat was typically acquired through hunting and wild fruits and vegetables were gathered through foraging. To stock up for winter and provide meat for special feasts such as at the irregular tribal gatherings, special hunts were organised. At these events a strategy known as the nerge was employed where riders encompassed a huge area of steppe and slowly drove the game – anything from marmots to wolves – into an ever-smaller area where they could be more easily killed by mounted archers. The techniques, organisation and discipline of the nerge would serve the Mongols well when they went to war. Most of these features of medieval daily life in the Mongol world are still continued today by steppe nomads across Asia.

Although nomadic life generally saw men do the hunting and women do the cooking, the division of labour was not always so clear, and often both sexes could perform the tasks of the other, including using a bow and riding. Women tended animals, set up and packed away camps, drove the tribe’s wagons, looked after the children, prepared foodstuffs, and entertained guests. Women had rather more rights than in most other contemporary Asian cultures and could both own and inherit property. Several women even ruled as regents in the spells between the reigns of the Great Khans. Another area of Mongol life where women were actively involved was religion.


A Different Approach

Beautiful Mongolia

With this installment we’re going to do things a little different. We’re going to look at not only how skills were transferred from running a tribe to building and sustaining an empire, but more importantly, we’re going to look at how establishing foundations of team-building enabled Genghis Khan’s mongol’s to become something more than just a group of warring tribes.

Going back to some core concepts of cultural anthropology from my college days, I remember a lecture by my professor, Rose Denunzio, about societal structures. The most basic forms of human organization were bands, then you had tribes, chiefdoms, and then states.

The main issues with the more basic forms of organization were the constant fighting between tribes and chiefdoms over women and food. Wars would be fought and unrest would be created.

Often times, more complex and developed forms of organization, like nation states would be able to capitalize on smaller organizations by preying on these weaknesses for their own suits. You could say these conflicts were like proxy wars, leaving the real perpetrators in the distance while the actual fighting was done by tribesmen.

To take back the steppe from the control of these national states, Genghis Khan had to overcome the dysfunctions of the tribal world.

Interestingly, many of these strategies reminded me of a book on establishing better team chemistry, by Patrick Lencioni called, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team . Now, Genghis Khan isn’t mentioned in the book but there are similarities from general dysfunction in human organisation, that people in a team (regardless of context) can take benefit from.


Women and the Making of the Mongol Empire

Anyone who looks into the history of the Mongol World Empire soon encounters three extraordinarily powerful and influential women who figured prominently in its rise—Hö’elün (Chinggis Khan’s mother), Börte (his principal wife), and Sorqoqtani (the mother of Khubilai Khan, grandson of Chinggis Khan). More advanced reading soon encounters two more powerful, if somewhat less widely known, women—Töregene (wife and later widow of Ögedei Khan, son of Chinggis Khan) and Oghul-Qaimish (wife and later widow of Güyük Khan, son of Ögedei and grandson of Chinggis). This reviewer found this line of powerful women striking in graduate school, hoping that someday someone would write a full-length monograph about elite and non-elite women as the sine qua non of the empire.

At long last, three such books have arrived the other two are Jack Weatherford’s The Secret History of the Mongol Queens: How the Daughters of Genghis Khan Rescued His Empire (New York, 2010) and Bruno de Nicola’s Women in Mongol Iran: The Khatuns, 1206–1335 (Edinburgh, 2018). Broadbridge’s is the best of the lot.

Chapter 1, “Women in Steppe Society,” which is about women in Mongolian society in general, pieces together an informative and circumstantial account of the lives of elite and non-elite women alike in the thirteenth century. Broadbridge’s conclusion is that “without their logistical, managerial, and economic contributions, to say nothing of their daily labor, steppe life could not have functioned: men would not have been free to raid, or to fight, or even to hunt, and the histories of the great steppe empires would be very, very short” (42–43). Elsewhere she points to a key advantage and force multiplier of the Mongol war machine: “[W]omen’s dominance on the ‘home front’ is what enabled Mongol men to specialize in war, and to muster a larger percentage of men as warriors than any other contemporary society” (2).

Broadbridge’s coverage of prominent and elite women begins in Chapter 2, “Hö’elün and Börte.” Her contention that “the stories of the two most important women in his [Chinggis Khan’s] life, his mother and his wife, deserve investigation on their own merits” is certainly on the mark, and she hits it squarely (71). Her innovative and insightful third chapter, “Conquered Women,” narrates how Chinggis Khan’s many secondary wives were from polities that the Mongols crushed. Their lives remind us that “the reverse of Temüjin’s [Chinggis Khan’s] triumphal narrative was the ugly fate of the defeated (73). But a few of these conquered women managed to make major contributions to Chinggisid conquests and institutions, including the imperial guard, the Mongol armies, and imperial succession after Chinggis death in 1227, topics that Broadbridge covers in Chapter 4. In subsequent chapters she covers Töregene, Sorqoqtani, Oghul-Aimish, and consort houses in the khanates. She ends the chapter about Sorqoqtani on a melancholy note: “Like Hö’elün and Töregene before her, Sorqoqtani did not live long past her own son’s enthronement and perished of a wasting illness” (223–223).

Broadbridge does not concentrate on constructing or critically evaluating a general theory of women wielding political power in thirteenth-century Mongolian society. Instead, she extracts what can be known about women within the Mongol World Empire by meticulously interrogating Mongolian, Persian, Arabic, and Chinese primary historical sources and challenging the prejudicial conclusions and preconceived notions contained in some of them and sometimes perpetuated in secondary scholarship in English, German, and French. She obviously knows Persian and Arabic well but consults mostly English translations of Mongolian and Chinese historical sources.

Reading this book can sometimes be a tough slog many readers will struggle to keep up with, and avoid being overwhelmed by, all the fine detail. Nonetheless, the tedium of detailed description is necessary groundwork for more adventurous interpretive enterprises. Broadbridge’s book will be a bonanza of information for future anthropologists, women’s studies scholars, and sociologists. Scholars in Mongolia, China, the Middle East, and Russia will find her work engaging and invaluable. Hers is and will remain the best pioneering work on the subject. Broadbridge, more than any other scholar, has laid the groundwork for what will follow.


Tarikh-i Jahangushay-i Juvaini

Tarikh-i Jahangushay-i Juvaini (Persian: تاریخ جهانگشای جوینی ‎ "The History of The World Conqueror") is a detailed historical account written by the Persian Ata-Malik Juvayni describing the Mongol, Hulegu Khan, and Ilkhanid conquest of Persia as well as the history of Isma'ilis. It is also considered an invaluable work of Persian literature. Ώ]

This account of the Mongol invasions of his homeland Iran, written based on survivor accounts, is one of the main sources on the rapid sweep of Genghis Khan's armies through the nomadic tribes of Tajikstan and the established cities of the Silk Road including Otrar, Bukhara, and Samarkand in 1219, and successive campaigns until Genghis Khan's death in 1227 and beyond.

His writing is sometimes inflated, as when he estimates the strength of the Mongol army at 700,000, against other accounts that put the number between 105,000 and 130,000. His descriptions are often written from a sense of drama: of the fall of Assassin castle Maymun-Diz in November 1256, where he was present at the siege, he describes the effect of trebuchet (catapult) bombardment on the battlements:

The first stones which were discharged from them broke the defenders' trebuchet and many were crushed under it. Fear of the quarrels from the crossbows overcame them so that they were in a complete panic and tried to make shields out of veils [i.e. they did best to defend with very indadequate equipment.] Some who were standing on towers crept in their terror like mice into holes or fled like lizards into the crannies of the rocks.

Juvayni's descriptions are, however, a very valuable resource for contemporary Mongol history, along with the work of Rashid al-Din, and the Secret History of the Mongols.

One of his convincing descriptions is that of the Mongol hunt or nerge as an army training exercise for the nomadic Mongols. In a nerge the whole army rounded up all the animals over a large region, in order to obtain dried meat before the onset of winter. In the time of Genghis Khan, the nerge was converted into an exercise in discipline with severe punishments (the Yasa/Jasa/Zasagh is withoout respect of persons and according to the author Mirhond enjoins corporal punishment without respect of persons for those who allow animals to escape) for commanders of tens, hundreds, or thousands, who let animals escape. Once rounded up, the animals were ruthlessly massacred, first by the Khan, then by princes, and finally, only after so commanded, by all the army. This was to form a model for the ruthlessness of Mongol attacks on well-established human settlements. The painting of Khubilai Khan and his Khatun Chabi who was childless however would show an average hunt with slow-moving horses and watching for quarry. The sadistical scene envisioned by Juvaini wherein crowded animals of all types seek to flee, seems too close to the promised biblical Day of Judgement, since lions would have attacked oxen. Nonetheless it is likely that Hulagu Khan and his Christian Khatun Doqez increased hunting due to their Latin allies, who also may have impeded Mongol victory at Ain Jalut. However a limited symbolic release of animals and capture of animals allegedly for breeding has been recorded, on http://mongolconquest.devhub.com/blog/645606-the-mongols-of-genghis-khan/, but the Jasa/Yasagh/Zasagh forbids hunting during the breeding season. A poignant account of the tragic failure of a Chinese student - (Jiang Rong: "The Wolf") - to save a wild wolf of a type formerly hunted by the historical Mongol people and their descendants still today, would indicate wolves were targeted by such hunts as traditional methods of the ravaging wolves in imminent danger of extinction were described. Snow leopards and others were also likely to have been hunted. It is reported in "Mongol Warrior 1200-1350" by Stephen Turnbull and Wayne Reynolds available on Google Books that the Mongols ate horse milk powder with water, around 250 grammes a day although an account they quote mentions they took 4.5 kg along for an expedition, and claims they hunted on campaign, such as digging around for marmots, it also said they ate horse meat (it is known that the wild Przewalski horses were eaten which contributed to their extinction, but that may have been due to food shortage and was later than the period of the historical Mongols when possibly even these horses were some of them still domestic), on the other hand they also drank blood from their horses by temporarily opening a vein when in shortage. However it is also stated that they failed at times to prevent their horses from dying of hunger. However, William of Rubruck, reports a more moderate but identical style of hunting specifically of the Tatars, so Juvaini could still be exaggerating.

After the fall of Merv in Turkmenistan, the people were rounded up and distributed among the soldiers in tens, hundreds and thousands, and each man in the remaining Mongol army was assigned the execution of "three to four hundred people." However, there is no doubt that this type of savagery was part of the terror spread by the Mongol army.


On how many fronts were Mongols fighting and winning at their peak? Brilliant strategy? Or superior rank and file?

Its not like they were there before all the time. It was an union of all smaller tribes under Genghis Khan. Before that Mongols were just merely one of those tribes and only under Genghis would they have been united. So hard to say the neighbours had become weaker, thats why, if there was no such attempt like this before.

But usually if they were united, they were always fairly successful. So it was mostly an unification thing, not about the sedentary neighbours since they were always weaker than the steppe horsemen most of the rime. The greatest feat of the Mongols and Genghis Khan was not defeating some sedentaries, but uniting and defeating other steppe nomads.

Mangekyou

It'a not only my opinion, it's the opinion of most academics on Mongol warfare. They had to use effective communications at times, given the distance their forces covered and how complex and far their tactics and forces ranged. It wasn't by chance that the pre dissolution period Mongols were able to converge their forces at exactly the right points of a battle or campaign. The war against the Khwarezm empire is a good sample of this.

One of the communication networks they used was the use of Yams, which were supply points and postal points, again, this is something I have quoted on before. They also had a system of flags in place (Semaphor like) too.

They had to have these systems in place as the y liked to attack enemies on broad fronts, in different columns, and then converge on a main focal point. You can't do this without good and effective communication and scout networks.

Yuyue

Circumstances. They found their neighbours dvivided and weak and willing to ally with factions that were willing to ally with the mongols.


The Mongols were well dicplined and organised for Horse Nomands, But most of the rest merit, intelligence etc is just bunkum.

Pugsville

It'a not only my opinion, it's the opinion of most academics on Mongol warfare. They had to use effective communications at times, given the distance their forces covered and how complex and far their tactics and forces ranged. It wasn't by chance that the pre dissolution period Mongols were able to converge their forces at exactly the right points of a battle or campaign. The war against the Khwarezm empire is a good sample of this.

One of the communication networks they used was the use of Yams, which were supply points and postal points, again, this is something I have quoted on before. They also had a system of flags in place (Semaphor like) too.

They had to have these systems in place as the y liked to attack enemies on broad fronts, in different columns, and then converge on a main focal point. You can't do this without good and effective communication and scout networks.

Really you read ALL the acdemics experts and drawn a statiscilly analaysis that justifies that statetment "Most academics:" rather than being an appela authority,

You want to make claims produce evidence. Where miliatry sucess was due to communications

And I never mentioned commnicatons. This is shifted the argument AND Appeal to aurthioeirty

Mangekyou

Really you read ALL the acdemics experts and drawn a statiscilly analaysis that justifies that statetment "Most academics:" rather than being an appela authority,

You want to make claims produce evidence. Where miliatry sucess was due to communications

And I never mentioned commnicatons. This is shifted the argument AND Appeal to aurthioeirty

I said MOST, and yes I would only quote that if it was from sources I had read.

The Nerge, the hunt the Mongolians took part in and its tactical deployment they later used in larger scale on the battlefield, required vast amounts of patience, discipline, trust organisation and communication, as this action could take place on a wide scale, scouts relayed intelligence to the Mongol commanders, updating them on skirmishes and points of resistance (Timothy May, 2015)


It's not shifting nor appeal to authority. YOU called it all "bunkem" including their use of communication and scouting. You also called all of the territories they conquered or campaigned in divided, yet didn't touch upon divide and conquer being not only a viable tactic in war, but one the Mongolians actively used. It was even used against them when they dissolved into factional Khanates, which yes, did weaken their ability.

“Again, when the extent of their territories became broad and vast and important events fell out, it became essential to ascertain the activities of their enemies, and it was also necessary to transport goods from West to the East and from the Far East to the West. Therefore throughout the length and breadth of the land the established yams, and made arrangements for the upkeep and expenses of each yam, assigning thereto a fixed number of men and beast as well as food, drink, and other necessities. All this they shared out amongst the tümen, each two tümen having to supply one yam.” (Boyle 1997)

Often dismissed even by modern military students as achieving success due to vast numerical superiority due to the fact that accounts from their bewildered opponents often inaccurately attributed Mongol success to numerical superiority instead of technical and tactical skill, the Mongol “hordes” often fought outnumbered and made up for their numbers through highly advanced tactics and operational concepts that would be instantly recognizable to the modern military professional. (Benfield 2012)

"Much of Genghis’ information was elicited from merchants. They were deployed to rival lands as merchants, ambassadors, representatives, etc. But, ultimately, their goal was to extract information. As stated earlier, none of these practices were unique. What enabled Genghis’ informant network to flourish was the Mongol Yam system. This was a communication network that allowed information to travel from 200-300 miles per day. Way stations were created so that caravans could relay their cargo. It is likely this system was the offspring of the Abassid’s barid system. The Mongols, however, took the concept to a different level. By clearing valleys and straightening roads, the overall efficiency of the empire improved greatly and merchants from all over sought to gain access to the Yam. This system proved fruitful for Genghis’ army, his merchants and those pretending to be merchants." (Iafie 2010)

"There were many benefits to using the Yam system, but its main purpose was to improve the Mongol’s intelligence gathering capabilities. Recently discovered evidence gives credence to this claim. Messengers emanating from military posts were given preferential treatment at way stations. Historian Thomas T. Allsen uncovered an imperial decree from 1233 that stated, "If messengers coming from military headquarters meet any trading Muslims, [the messengers], no matter what [the merchant's] business, shall confiscate their horses to ride between stations. "Considerable profit was made by merchants who had access the Yam system.Profit, however, was an ancillary benefit. The primary function of the Yam was to expedite the transfer of intelligence "
(Ibid)

"Political intelligence was especially important for Genghis’ spies in Khwarezm. The Mongol agents learned of widespread disunity among the Khwarezm army (much of which was composed of mercenaries), a quasi-shadow government set up by Turkhan Khatun (Sultan Mohammed’s mother), and a heated debate over Sultan Mohammed’s successor. Sultan Mohammed received intelligence indicating that the Mongol Army had difficulty with siege warfare during their invasion of the Chin Empire. Therefore, the Khwarezm capital of Smarkand was duly fortified. This intelligence was accurate. The Mongols had difficulty with siege warfare. But Genghis had learned of Sultan Mohammed’s strategy and acquired an untold number of Chinese siege engineers. " (Ibid)


"Before an invasion, the Mongols made extensive preparations in a quriltai or meeting where they planned the upcoming war as well as appointed generals to lead the invasion. Prior to the decision, the
Mongols accumulated intelligence by using merchants who benefited from the Mongols' protection of the trade routes in addition to other spies. During the quriltai, mobilization of the army began and they established rendezvous points along with a time schedule.
The invasion began by attacking in several columns. A screen of scouts covered the invading forces and constantly relayed information back to the columns. Through the adherence to their pre-planned
schedule and use of scouts, the Mongols marched divided but could quickly aid another and unite their forces. Furthermore, because their forces marched in smaller concentrations, columns stretching for miles did not impede the Mongols. They used their mobility to spread terror. With several columns attacking, their opponents could rarely deal with all of them. This permitted the Mongols to then form a nerge. The use of a multi-pronged invasion also fit into their favored method of engaging the enemy. The Mongols preferred to deal with all field armies before moving deep into enemy territory. Reaching this goal was rarely difficult, as the enemy usually sought to meet the Mongols before they destroyed an entire province. Furthermore, the use of columns screened by scouts enabled the gathering of intelligence allowing the Mongols to locate enemy armies more rapidly than a single army could."
(Timothy May, 2015)


"The ability to mass and concentrate forces in the right place and at the right time necessitated the development of a communication network capable of moving messages across vast spaces in a quick and efficient manner. The yam system, identified by Marco Polo as the “greatest resource ever enjoyed by any man on earth, king, or emperor,” gave the Mongols the ability to exert centralized control during the execution of decentralized operations. This relay system, developed by Ogedei Khan, Chinggis’ son and successor, utilized distributed post-stations, known as ulus, that housed fresh horses for messengers as they rode “in haste through the post stations.” The yam allowed correspondence to circulate through the empire’s communication channels at a speed of up to 120 miles per day, allowing messengers to exchange horses and riders as needed. When necessary, khans employed numerous messengers to provide redundancy and ensure the delivery of sensitive correspondence. The yam provided the Mongols with a unique and revolutionary means by which to communicate on the strategic and operational levels of warfare, facilitating unity of effort across the world’s largest contiguous empire. The Mongols also made extensive use of tactical communications to synchronize units and facilitate battlefield success. The Mongols used flags and messengers on the tactical level to choreograph maneuvers in battle. They also employed arrows with specialized tips, horns, and drums as a means of audible communication on the battlefield. These capabilities allowed commanders to achieve rapid dissemination of the commands required to synchronize the employment of cavalry and supporting arms against enemy forces. The Invasion Scrolls provide evidence of their reliance on tactical communication systems, depicting the use of drums and banners to exert command and control in battle." (Schultz, 2016)

Sephiroth

Mangekyou

Pugsville

I said MOST, and yes I would only quote that if it was from sources I had read.

The Nerge, the hunt the Mongolians took part in and its tactical deployment they later used in larger scale on the battlefield, required vast amounts of patience, discipline, trust organisation and communication, as this action could take place on a wide scale, scouts relayed intelligence to the Mongol commanders, updating them on skirmishes and points of resistance (Timothy May, 2015)


It's not shifting nor appeal to authority. YOU called it all "bunkem" including their use of communication and scouting. You also called all of the territories they conquered or campaigned in divided, yet didn't touch upon divide and conquer being not only a viable tactic in war, but one the Mongolians actively used. It was even used against them when they dissolved into factional Khanates, which yes, did weaken their ability.

“Again, when the extent of their territories became broad and vast and important events fell out, it became essential to ascertain the activities of their enemies, and it was also necessary to transport goods from West to the East and from the Far East to the West. Therefore throughout the length and breadth of the land the established yams, and made arrangements for the upkeep and expenses of each yam, assigning thereto a fixed number of men and beast as well as food, drink, and other necessities. All this they shared out amongst the tümen, each two tümen having to supply one yam.” (Boyle 1997)

Often dismissed even by modern military students as achieving success due to vast numerical superiority due to the fact that accounts from their bewildered opponents often inaccurately attributed Mongol success to numerical superiority instead of technical and tactical skill, the Mongol “hordes” often fought outnumbered and made up for their numbers through highly advanced tactics and operational concepts that would be instantly recognizable to the modern military professional. (Benfield 2012)

"Much of Genghis’ information was elicited from merchants. They were deployed to rival lands as merchants, ambassadors, representatives, etc. But, ultimately, their goal was to extract information. As stated earlier, none of these practices were unique. What enabled Genghis’ informant network to flourish was the Mongol Yam system. This was a communication network that allowed information to travel from 200-300 miles per day. Way stations were created so that caravans could relay their cargo. It is likely this system was the offspring of the Abassid’s barid system. The Mongols, however, took the concept to a different level. By clearing valleys and straightening roads, the overall efficiency of the empire improved greatly and merchants from all over sought to gain access to the Yam. This system proved fruitful for Genghis’ army, his merchants and those pretending to be merchants." (Iafie 2010)

"There were many benefits to using the Yam system, but its main purpose was to improve the Mongol’s intelligence gathering capabilities. Recently discovered evidence gives credence to this claim. Messengers emanating from military posts were given preferential treatment at way stations. Historian Thomas T. Allsen uncovered an imperial decree from 1233 that stated, "If messengers coming from military headquarters meet any trading Muslims, [the messengers], no matter what [the merchant's] business, shall confiscate their horses to ride between stations. "Considerable profit was made by merchants who had access the Yam system.Profit, however, was an ancillary benefit. The primary function of the Yam was to expedite the transfer of intelligence "
(Ibid)

"Political intelligence was especially important for Genghis’ spies in Khwarezm. The Mongol agents learned of widespread disunity among the Khwarezm army (much of which was composed of mercenaries), a quasi-shadow government set up by Turkhan Khatun (Sultan Mohammed’s mother), and a heated debate over Sultan Mohammed’s successor. Sultan Mohammed received intelligence indicating that the Mongol Army had difficulty with siege warfare during their invasion of the Chin Empire. Therefore, the Khwarezm capital of Smarkand was duly fortified. This intelligence was accurate. The Mongols had difficulty with siege warfare. But Genghis had learned of Sultan Mohammed’s strategy and acquired an untold number of Chinese siege engineers. " (Ibid)


"Before an invasion, the Mongols made extensive preparations in a quriltai or meeting where they planned the upcoming war as well as appointed generals to lead the invasion. Prior to the decision, the
Mongols accumulated intelligence by using merchants who benefited from the Mongols' protection of the trade routes in addition to other spies. During the quriltai, mobilization of the army began and they established rendezvous points along with a time schedule.
The invasion began by attacking in several columns. A screen of scouts covered the invading forces and constantly relayed information back to the columns. Through the adherence to their pre-planned
schedule and use of scouts, the Mongols marched divided but could quickly aid another and unite their forces. Furthermore, because their forces marched in smaller concentrations, columns stretching for miles did not impede the Mongols. They used their mobility to spread terror. With several columns attacking, their opponents could rarely deal with all of them. This permitted the Mongols to then form a nerge. The use of a multi-pronged invasion also fit into their favored method of engaging the enemy. The Mongols preferred to deal with all field armies before moving deep into enemy territory. Reaching this goal was rarely difficult, as the enemy usually sought to meet the Mongols before they destroyed an entire province. Furthermore, the use of columns screened by scouts enabled the gathering of intelligence allowing the Mongols to locate enemy armies more rapidly than a single army could."
(Timothy May, 2015)


"The ability to mass and concentrate forces in the right place and at the right time necessitated the development of a communication network capable of moving messages across vast spaces in a quick and efficient manner. The yam system, identified by Marco Polo as the “greatest resource ever enjoyed by any man on earth, king, or emperor,” gave the Mongols the ability to exert centralized control during the execution of decentralized operations. This relay system, developed by Ogedei Khan, Chinggis’ son and successor, utilized distributed post-stations, known as ulus, that housed fresh horses for messengers as they rode “in haste through the post stations.” The yam allowed correspondence to circulate through the empire’s communication channels at a speed of up to 120 miles per day, allowing messengers to exchange horses and riders as needed. When necessary, khans employed numerous messengers to provide redundancy and ensure the delivery of sensitive correspondence. The yam provided the Mongols with a unique and revolutionary means by which to communicate on the strategic and operational levels of warfare, facilitating unity of effort across the world’s largest contiguous empire. The Mongols also made extensive use of tactical communications to synchronize units and facilitate battlefield success. The Mongols used flags and messengers on the tactical level to choreograph maneuvers in battle. They also employed arrows with specialized tips, horns, and drums as a means of audible communication on the battlefield. These capabilities allowed commanders to achieve rapid dissemination of the commands required to synchronize the employment of cavalry and supporting arms against enemy forces. The Invasion Scrolls provide evidence of their reliance on tactical communication systems, depicting the use of drums and banners to exert command and control in battle." (Schultz, 2016)


Contents

  • Name 1
  • History 2
    • Pre-empire context 2.1
    • Rise of Genghis Khan 2.2
    • Early organization 2.3
      • Push into Central Asia 2.3.1
      • Invasions of Kievan Rus' and central China 2.4.1
      • Push into central Europe 2.4.2
      • Death of Güyük (1248) 2.5.1
      • Administrative reforms 2.6.1
      • New invasions of the Middle East and Southern China 2.6.2
      • Death of Möngke Khan (1259) 2.6.3
      • Dispute over succession 2.7.1
      • Civil war 2.7.2
      • Campaigns of Kublai Khan (1264–1294) 2.7.3
      • Developments of the khanates 2.8.1
      • Law and governance 4.1
      • Religions 4.2
      • Arts and literature 4.3
      • Mail system 4.4
      • Citations 9.1
      • Sources 9.2

      What is referred to in English as the Mongol Empire was so called the Ikh Mongol Uls (ikh: great, uls: state Great Mongolian State). [17] In the 1240s, Genghis's descendant Güyük Khan wrote a letter to Pope Innocent IV which used the preamble, "Dalai (great/oceanic) Khagan of the great Mongolian state (ulus)". [18]

      After the succession war between Kublai Khan and his brother Ariq Böke, Ariq limited Kublai's real power to the eastern part of the empire. Kublai officially issued an imperial edict on December 18, 1271 to name the country "Great Yuan" (Dai Yuan, or Dai Ön Ulus) to establish the Yuan dynasty. Some sources state that the full Mongolian name was Dai Ön Yehe Monggul Ulus. [19]


      Mongol Empire

      Then a man named Genghis Khan was born in a Mongol clan. It is strange, but this region of steppe, mountains and deserts in Asia was the area of origination of wave after wave of Asian conquerors. The area doesn’t support agriculture well, but the nomadic tribes in the area including the Yuezhi, the Xiongnu, the Uighurs, the Turkic tribes, the Mongols and perhaps the Scythians who may have originated there conquered territory far to the south and west. The Mongols were the most successful. Genghis Khan and his grandson Kublai Khan are among the most interesting Asian rulers to most Westerners. This is partly because Westerners don’t know much about the Mongols. It also seems very odd that grassland nomads could rapidly overrun large civilizations that were much more advanced and had hundreds of times their population. Genghis Khan, the early Mongol conquests, and the history of the Mongol empire are interesting topics.

      Genghis Khan was successful in establishing a very large empire during his lifetime. During his lifetime, his armies conquered more land and killed or captured more people than did the armies of perhaps any other emperor in world history during their lifetimes. He can be compared with Alexander the Great in some ways, but the Mongol Empire was bigger, and it was perhaps more successful than the Greek Empire because his children and grandchildren went on to conquer much more of the earth. Like the Greek Empire, the Mongol Empire changed the cultures and societies of the subjugated regions.

      Genghis Khan was born in 1162. He had a hard youth. There were continuous raids and battles between tribes and clans. Boys had to learn early how to fight and kill to survive, and they were taught how to hunt when they were children. While he was still a boy, he killed his half brother. His father who was a tribal leader was killed. Genghis wanted to unify the tribes. Since his father was a tribe leader, he had a claim to leadership. His method of unifying the tribes under his leadership was by repaying loyalty with gifts, delegating authority based on merit rather than family ties, and encouraging an enemy’s tribesmen to follow him by being lenient to them and not killing them. In this way, he unified the people under his rule. More and more clans and tribal groups sided with him.

      By 1206, Genghis Khan had managed to unite or subdue several big nomadic tribes and small countries under his rule including the Merkits, Naimans, Mongols, Keraits, Tatars, and Uyghurs. At a Kurultai, a council of Mongol rulers, he was acknowledged as "Khan" of the consolidated tribes and was titled “Genghis Khan.” The people called themselves Mongols. In order to foster unity, he adopted the Uighur writing script as the official script of his empire. He also allowed people in his empire to have some freedom of religion. This encouraged people of various religions including Muslims to participate in the rule and benefit of the empire.

      He relied heavily on intelligence gathering, rapid communication through a system of horse riding messengers, and educated and wise advisers. In order to understand rival empires and to understand how to rule his own empire, he listened to teachers and advisers including religious teachers. He also encouraged the adaptation and use of technology and weapons of the enemies he encountered, and he integrated foreign technicians into his army. In this way, he was able to besiege and conquer large walled cities. His army became big and strong enough to attack the large and more civilized empires to the west, south and east.

      He said he wanted to rule the whole world. Around him were the Kara-Khitan Khanate, the Caucasus, the Khwarezmid Empire, the Western Xia Empire and the Jin Empire. He defeated the Western Xia Empire and gained control of the strategic Gansu Corridor. In 1215, Genghis besieged and captured the Jin Empire capital in the area of Beijing. He attacked the Kara-Khitan Empire that was a large empire to the west of the Tarim Basin and captured the territory with an army of only 20,000 men. This was a small force, but the Mongol generals exercised a strategy of inciting internal revolt against the imperial rulers. By 1218, the Mongol Empire absorbed the territory. In 1220, Genghis Khan sent 200,000 troops against the large and powerful Khwarezmid Empire and captured the territory. In 1220, Genghis Khan gathered most of his forces to return to Mongolia. But he sent 20,000 men into the Caucasus and Russia under two generals. The Mongols destroyed Georgia and other small kingdoms and defeated an army of Rus. It is thought that these attacks on Europe were mainly to reconnoiter the territory to prepare for later attacks.

      Though Genghis Khan had subjected the Western Xia twelve years earlier and installed a vassal king, this king refused to support Genghis Khan’s attack on the Khwarezmid Empire. While the large Mongol army and Genghis Khan were in the west, the Western Xia rebelled and allied with the remnant of the Jin Empire and the Song Empire. After fighting for several years in the southern part of Central Asia and in the northern part of India, he returned to the Far East. He then sent armies against the Western Xia and conquered the territory again in 1227. He died soon after this victory however. Historians do not know why he died, though they speculate it may have been from wounds during this war with the Western Xia or from wounds in other campaigns. He named his son Ogedei as his successor. He also divided up the large Mongol territory between his sons. At the time of his death, Genghis Khan and his children ruled an empire that stretched from the Pacific Ocean almost to the Caspian Sea. When he died, he was buried secretly in an unmarked grave in Mongolia according to his wish and according to Mongol custom. Nobody knows where his grave is.

      Genghis Khan’s son Ogedei (1189—1241) became the supreme Khan of the whole Mongol Empire in 1227, and he had special control over the eastern part. In 1232, he invaded the rest of the Jin Empire in alliance with the Song Empire. Kublai Khan (1215-1294) was the next ruler of the eastern Mongol Empire. He was a grandson of Genghis Khan. He had a comparatively long rule and made a number of reforms that stabilized the eastern part of the empire under his power and made it prosper. He conquered the Song Empire and Dali Kingdom and established the Yuan Empire (1279-1368) in Asia. But he lost control of the rest of the Mongol Empire. Kublai Khan’s empire was the largest of the dynastic empires that existed in the region. He failed in his attacks on Japan and some other countries however.

      After him, his successors became more like their subjects. They adopted Confucian ethics and lost their nomadic Mongolian customs and way of life. From the 1330s onwards, natural disasters such as droughts and floods brought suffering and death to the peasants. The Little Ice Age began. Similar famines and natural disasters caused political instability around the world at the same time. In 1351, a rebellion started called the Red Turban Rebellion. A Ming army reached Beijing in 1368. The Yuan Emperor fled to the north. The dynasty continued, but they lost control of the empire. They kept attacking the Ming Dynasty however. The Mongols reverted to being nomads.
      The amazing Yuan Dynasty led by Kublai Khan made some major changes in the region. They helped to establish Islam as a major religion in the region. They fostered trade and nurtured productive industry, and it was the first empire in history in which paper money was widely used. The Yuan rulers helped to integrate East Asia, South Asia, and the West, and the culture of the countries in Eurasia changed significantly. The area under Mongol control became more standardized in culture and technology.

      After the Yuan Empire, the Mongols tried to reconquer the lost territory. But they couldn’t. Mongol groups fought among themselves. After almost three hundred years, the Ming Empire that drove them north collapsed from within as rival groups carved up sections of the empire for themselves and fought for supremacy. North of the Great Wall, their historical enemies the Mongols and the Jurchens started to unite. The Jurchens lived east of the Mongols. Like the Mongols, the Jurchens had historically ruled in the region. The Ming Empire kept both of them out for almost three hundred years. The Jurchens were also called the Manchus. The Mongol ruling families officially intermarried with Jurchen ruling families, and the Jurchens subjugated the Mongols and absorbed their troops.


      Tactic 5: Psychological Warfare

      Before starting a battle, Genghis Kahn would send scouts to survey the enemy’s strength. He would then send an ultimatum: surrender or die. To further frighten their enemies, the Mongols would also drag large objects, which would create huge dust storms.

      This created the illusion of the Mongols having a large army and further frightened their enemies. They would also fire arrows with small holes in them — creating a terrifying whistling sound.

      After successfully waging a siege, the Mongols would destroy all the supplies and kill every single inhabitant. Word of the Mongol’s brutality would spread and frighten their future enemies into submission.


      Watch the video: How the Mongols Lived in the Steppe