Thursday, 21 February 2013

Genghis Khan's Push West

Wikipedia Map of countries prior to Genghis Khan

After ten years of fighting in China against Western Xia and the Jin Dynasty the Mongol army was tired. But in the earlier defeat of the Naimans in Genghis Khan’s consolidation of the tribes into the Mongol Empire the Naiman leader Kuchlug had fled to Western Liao. There he proclaimed himself Khanate of the Kara-Khitan taking over a sizable area (965,255 square miles). This did not sit well with the Mongol ruler.

Genghis Khan believed in the principle of promotion by merit departing from the Mongol custom of rank by inheritance. Men earned their way up the ladder by proving themselves in battle demonstrating their intelligence, courage and skill. One young man Jebe, nicknamed “Arrow”, had done just that.

So Genghis Khan dispatched his General “Arrow” with just 20,000 men to invade the land and conquer the Khanate of the Kara-Khitan . Being outnumbered “Arrow” decided not to attack directly, but rather create internal unrest thus fomenting a rebellion against Kuchlug. This proved to be a successful strategy weakening Kuchlug’s hold on power. Soon Kuchlug’s army was defeated and once again he ran away. This time the Mongols pursued and killed him.

Part of this newly conquered territory was good for agriculture and raising livestock thus becoming another source of the food necessary to feed Genghis Khan’s growing army and people. Chinese coins were the currency and gold mines there provided him more of the precious metal. Foodstuffs were plentiful and trade gave the economy a boost. But it was taxation than gave Genghis Khan a major ongoing income stream. 

Culturally there were Mongol, Turkish, Persian and other Islamic elements to the population. 

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