The area of modern Mongolia has been inhabited by groups of nomads since ancient times. The ancient population had a nomadic and hunter lifestyle and lived a fairly closed life. While most of Central Asia had a fairly similar nomadic lifestyle where moving in and around national boundaries and mixing with different settlements was common, the situation in the Mongolian steppes was unique because migration was limited by natural barriers such as the Altai Mountains in the west, the Gobi Desert in the south and the freezing wastelands of Siberia in the north, all unsuitable for nomadic-based living. These greatly limited migration, although they also kept out invaders. The clans in Mongolia only allied with other Mongolian clans, with which they shared the same language, religion and way of life. This would later be a huge advantage in uniting the people in Mongolia against the threat of the expanding Chinese empires.
There were repeated conflicts with the Chinese dynasties of Shang and especially Zhou, which had begun conquering and enslaving the Mongolic people in an expansive drift. By the time of the Warring States Period in China, the northern Dynasties of Zhao, Yan, and Qin had begun to encroach and conquer into Southern Mongolia. By the time the Qin dynasty had united all of China's kingdoms into one empire, the Sahun Kingdom (Xiongnu) had been formed in the Mongolian plains, transforming all of the independent clans into one single state and reassured the safety and independence from an expanding Qin.
Xiongnu state (209 BC–93 AD)
The establishment of the Xiongnu empire in Mongolia in the 3rd century BC marks the beginning of statehood on the territory of Mongolia.
The identity of the ethnic core of Xiongnu has been a subject of varied hypotheses and some scholars, including Paul Pelliot and Byambyn Rinchen, insisted on a Mongolic origin.
The first significant appearance of nomads came late in the 3rd century BC, when the Chinese repelled an invasion of the Xiongnu (Hsiung-nu in Wade–Giles romanisation) across the Yellow River from the Gobi. A Chinese army, which had adopted Xiongnu military technology—wearing trousers and using mounted archers with stirrups—pursued the Xiongnu across the Gobi in a ruthless punitive expedition. Fortification walls built by various Chinese warring states were connected to make a 2,300-kilometre Great Wall along the northern border, as a barrier to further nomadic inroads.
The founder of the Xiongnu empire was Toumen. He was succeeded violently by his son Modu Shanyu. Then he conquered and unified various tribes. At the peak of its power, the Xiongnu confederacy stretched from Lake Baikal in the north to the Great Wall in the south and from the Tian Shan mountains in the west to the Greater Khingan ranges in the east. In the 2nd century BC the Xiongnu turned their attention westward to the region of the Altai Mountains and Lake Balkash, inhabited by Indo-European-speaking nomadic peoples, including Yuezhi (Yьeh-chih in Wade–Giles), who had relocated from China's present-day Gansu Province as a result of their earlier defeat by the Xiongnu. Endemic warfare between these two nomadic peoples reached a climax in the latter part of the 3rd century and the early decades of the 2nd century BC; the Xiongnu were triumphant. The Yuezhi then migrated to the southwest where, early in the 2nd century, they began to appear in the Oxus (the modern Amu Darya) Valley, to change the course of history in Bactria, Iran, and eventually India.
In 200 BC, the Han dynasty of China launched a military campaign into the territory, attempting to subjugate the Xiongnu. However the Xiongnu forces ambushed and encircled the Han Emperor Gao at Baideng for seven days. Emperor Gao was forced to submit to the Xiongnu, and a treaty was signed in 198 BC recognising all the territories to the north from the Great Wall should belong to the Xiongnu, while the territory to the south of the Great Wall should belong to the Han. In addition, China was obliged to marry princesses and pay annual tribute to the Xiongnu. This "marriage alliance" was far from peaceful, as Xiongnu raids into the fertile southern land never ceased. During the period of Emperor Wen, Xiongnu raids advanced into China Proper, ravaged and even besieged near its capital Chang'an. This continued for 70 years until the reign of Emperor Wu, whose massive counteroffensives devastated the Xiongnu and sent them towards the road of decline.
The Xiongnu again raided northern China about 200 BC, finding that the inadequately defended Great Wall was not a serious obstacle. By the middle of the 2nd century BC, they controlled all of northern and western China north of the Yellow River. This renewed threat led the Chinese to improve their defences in the north, while building up and improving the army, particularly the cavalry, and while preparing long-range plans for an invasion of Mongolia.
By 176 BC, domain of the Xiongnu was 4,030,000 km2 (1,560,000 sq mi) in size. Xiongnu capital (Luut; Dragon) located on the beach Orkhon River, Central Mongolia.
Between 130 and 121 BC, Chinese armies drove the Xiongnu back across the Great Wall, weakened their hold on Gansu Province as well as on what is now Inner Mongolia, and finally pushed them north of the Gobi into central Mongolia. Following these victories, the Chinese expanded into the areas later known as Manchuria, Mongolia, the Korean Peninsula, and Inner Asia. The Xiongnu, once more turning their attention to the west and the southwest, raided deep into the Oxus Valley between 73 and 44 BC. The descendants of the Yuezhi and their Chinese rulers, however, formed a common front against the Xiongnu and repelled them.
During the next century, as Chinese strength waned, border warfare between the Chinese and the Xiongnu was almost incessant. Gradually the nomads forced their way back into Gansu and the northern part of what is now China's Xinjiang. In about the middle of the 1st century AD, a revitalized Eastern Han dynasty (AD 25-220) slowly recovered these territories, driving the Xiongnu back into the Altai Mountains and the steppes north of the Gobi. During the late 1st century AD, having reestablished the administrative control over southern China and northern Vietnam that had been lost briefly at beginning of this same century, the Eastern Han made a concerted effort to reassert dominance over Inner Asia. The concept of Mongolia as an independent power north of China is seen in the letter sent by Emperor Wen of Han to Laoshang Chanyu in 162 BC (recorded in the Hanshu):
The Emperor of China respectfully salutes the great Shan Yu (Chanyu) of the Hsiung-nu (Xiongnu)...When my imperial predecessor erected the Great Wall, all the bowmen nations on the north were subject to the Shan Yu; while the residents inside the wall, who wore the cap and sash, were all under our government: and the myriads of the people, by following their occupations, ploughing and weaving, shooting and hunting, were able to provide themselves with food and clothing...Your letter says:--"The two nations being now at peace, and the two princes living in harmony, military operations may cease, the troops may send their horses to graze, and prosperity and happiness prevail from age to age, commencing, a new era of contentment and peace." That is extremely gratifying to me...Should I, in concert with the Shan Yu, follow this course, complying with the will of heaven, then compassion for the people will be transmitted from age to age, and extended to unending generations, while the universe will be moved with admiration, and the influence will be felt by neighbouring kingdoms inimical to the Chinese or the Hsiung-nu...As the Hsiung-nu live in the northern regions, where the cold piercing atmosphere comes at an early period, I have ordered the proper authorities to transmit yearly to the Shan Yu, a certain amount of grain, gold, silks of the finer and coarser kinds, and other objects. Now peace prevails all over the world; the myriads of the population are living in harmony, and I and the Shan Yu alone are the parents of the people...After the conclusion of the treaty of peace throughout the world, take notice, the Han will not be the first to transgress.
The identity of the ethnic core of Xiongnu has been a subject of varied hypotheses and some scholars, including A.Luvsandendev, Bernбt Munkбcsy, Henry Howorth, Rashpuntsag, Alexey Okladnikov, Peter Pallas, Isaak Schmidt, Nikita Bichurin and Byambyn Rinchen, insisted on a Mongolic origin.
There are many cultural similarities between the Xiongnu and Mongols such as yurt on cart, composite bow, board game, horn bow and long song. Mongolian long song is believed to date back at least 2,000 years. Mythical origin of the long song mentioned in "Book of Wei (Volume 113).
In 48 AD, the Xiongnu empire was weakened as it was divided into the southern and northern Xiongnu. The northern Xiongnu migrated to the west. They established Ьeban state (160–490) in modern Kazakhstan and Hunnic Empire (370s–469) in Europe. The Xianbei that were under the Xiongnu rebelled in 93 AD, ending the Xiongnu domination in Mongolia.
Recent excavations of Xiongnu graves at the site Gol Mod in the Khairkhan of Arkhangai province, discovered bronze decorations with images of a creature resembling the unicorn and images of deities resembling the Greco-Roman deities. These discoveries lead to a hypothesis that the Xiongnu had relations with the Greco-Roman world 2000 years ago.
Xianbei state (147–234)
Although the Xiongnu finally had been split into two parts in AD 48, the Xianbei (or Hsien-pei in Wade–Giles) had moved (apparently from the east) into the region vacated by the Xiongnu. The Xianbei were the northern branch of the Donghu (or Tung Hu, the Eastern Hu), a proto-Mongol group mentioned in Chinese histories as existing as early as the 4th century BC. The language of the Donghu is believed to be proto-Mongolic to modern scholars. The Donghu were among the first peoples conquered by the Xiongnu. Once the Xiongnu state weakened, however, the Donghu rebelled. By the 1st century AD, two major subdivisions of the Donghu had developed: the proto-Mongolic Xianbei in the north and the Wuhuan in the south.
The Xianbei gained strength beginning from the 1st century AD and were consolidated into a state under Tanshihuai in 147. He expelled the Xiongnu from Jungaria, and pushed the Dingling to the north of the Sayans, thus securing domination of the Mongolic elements in what is now Khalkha and Chaharia. The Xianbei successfully repelled an invasion of the Han dynasty in 167 and conquered areas of northern China in 180.
There are various hypotheses about the language and ethnic links of the Xianbei and most widely accepted version suggests that the Xianbei were a Mongolic ethnic group and their branches are the ancestors of many Mongolic peoples such as the Rouran, Khitan and Menggu Xibei, who are suggested to be the proto-Mongols. The ruler of the Xianbei state was elected by a congress of the nobility. The Xianbei used woodcut tallies called Kemu as a form of non-verbal communication. Besides extensive livestock husbandry, the Xianbei were also engaged on a limited scale in farming and handicraft. The Xianbei fractured in the 3rd century.
The Xianbei established an empire, which, although short-lived, gave rise to numerous tribal states along the Chinese frontier. Among these states was that of the Toba (T'o-pa in Wade–Giles), a subgroup of the Xianbei, in modern China's Shanxi Province.
The Wuhuan also were prominent in the 2nd century, but they disappeared thereafter; possibly they were absorbed in the Xianbei western expansion. The Xianbei and the Wuhuan used mounted archers in warfare, and they had only temporary war leaders instead of hereditary chiefs. Agriculture, rather than full-scale nomadism, was the basis of their economy. In the 6th century, the Wuhuan were driven out of Inner Asia into the Russian steppe.
Chinese control of parts of Inner Asia did not last beyond the opening years of the 2nd century AD, and, as the Eastern Han dynasty ended early in the 3rd century AD, suzerainty was limited primarily to the Gansu corridor. The Xianbei were able to make forays into a China beset with internal unrest and political disintegration. By 317 all of China north of the Yangtze River (Chang Jiang) had been overrun by nomadic peoples: the Xianbei from the north; some remnants of the Xiongnu from the northwest; and the Chiang people of Gansu and Tibet (present-day China's Xizang Autonomous Region) from the west and the southwest. Chaos prevailed as these groups warred with each other and repulsed the vain efforts of the fragmented Chinese kingdoms south of the Yangtze River to reconquer the region.
Tuoba, a faction of the Xianbei, established the Tuoba Wei empire beyond Mongolia proper in northern China in 386. By the end of the 4th century, the region between the Yangtze and the Gobi, including much of modern Xinjiang, was dominated by the Tuoba. Emerging as the partially sinicized state of Dai between AD 338 and 376 in the Shanxi area, the Tuoba established control over the region as the Northern Wei (AD 386-533). Northern Wei armies drove back the Rouran (also referred to as Ruru or Juan-Juan by Chinese chroniclers), a newly arising nomadic Mongol people in the steppes north of the Altai Mountains, and reconstructed the Great Wall. During the 4th century also, the Huns left the steppes north of the Aral Sea to invade Europe.[dubious – discuss] By the middle of the 5th century, Northern Wei had penetrated into the Tarim Basin in Inner Asia, as had the Chinese in the 2nd century. As the empire grew, however, Tuoba tribal customs were supplanted by those of the Chinese, an evolution not accepted by all Tuoba. Tuoba Wei existed until 581.
Rouran state (330–555)
A branch of the Xianbei, the Rouran (also known as Nirun) were consolidated under Mugulyu. In the late 5th century, the Rouran established a powerful nomadic empire spreading generally farther north of Northern Wei. It was probably the Rouran who first used the title khan. The Rouran ruled Mongolia, eastern Kazakhstan, part of Gansu, northern Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia, parts of Northeastern China and southern Siberia. The Hephthalite Empire was a vassal state to the Rouran for 100 years.
Shelun assumed the title of Khagan in 402 landmarking the establishment of the state of the Rouran Khaganate. The Tuoba waged long wars against the Rouran Khaganate. The Altai Turkics that were subjects of the Rouran revolted in 552 establishing the Turkic Khaganate. The Rouran Khaganate was finally defeated by the Turkics in 555. Part of the Rouran left the present territory of Mongolia. A number of historians maintain that they established the Avarian Kaganate between the river Danube and the Carpathian Mountains. The Rourans that stayed in Mongolia became the ancestors of the Tatar tribes. The Tatars and other Mongol tribes lived in the eastern part Mongolia during the Turkic period. Other Mongols that migrated east returned in the 8th century.
Turkic Period (555–840)
Northern Wei was disintegrating rapidly because of revolts of semi-tribal Tuoba military forces that were opposed to being sinicized, when disaster struck the flourishing Rouran Khaganate. The Altai Turkics (Orkhon Turkics, Gцktьrks), known as Tujue to Chinese chroniclers, were subjects to the Rouran and served as blacksmiths for them. In 552 AD the Gцktьrks revolted against their Rouran rulers. The uprising began in the Altai Mountains, where many of the Tьrk were serfs working the iron mines. Therefore, the revolt of the Turkics of 552 is often called the "Blacksmiths' rebellion". The uprising was headed by Buman, who became the founder of the Gцktьrk Khaganate. Thus, from the outset of their revolt, they had the advantage of controlling what had been one of the major bases of Rouran power. Between 546 and 553, the Tьrks overthrew the Rouran and established themselves as the most powerful force in Central Asia.
The Chinese dynasties Qi and Zhou surrendered in 570 and began paying tribute to the Gцktьrks. However, the newly established Sui dynasty in China (581) stop and so constant war between Sui and the Turkic Khaganate began. Turk was partitioned in 583 into an Eastern and Western Turkic Khaganates by the plot made by Sui dynasty of China . Finally in 584 Eastern Turk recognised Sui Suzerainty. Turkic Khaganate began to revolt and hasten the border in 615 after Emperor of Sui's failure expedition in Koguryo. The internal struggle between the Turkic nobles lead to their defeat by the Tang dynasty of China in 630. From 629 to 648, a reunited China—under the Tang dynasty (618-906) --destroyed the power of the Eastern Tьrk north of the Gobi; established suzerainty over the Khitan, a semi-nomadic Para-Mongolic people who lived in areas that became the modern Chinese provinces of Heilongjiang and Jilin; and established the Anbei Protectorate in the Mongolian Steppes. Uyghurs khagan was installed as Anbei protector, who inhabited the region between the Altai Mountains and Khitan's land. Between 641 and 648, the Tang conquered the Western Tьrk, reestablishing Chinese sovereignty over Xinjiang and exacting tribute from west of the Pamir Mountains. The Gцktьrks continuously struggled against the subjugation by the Tang dynasty started in 679. An uprising of 682 under the leadership of Kutuluk and Tonyukuk led to restoration of the Turkic Khaganate.
For a brief period at the beginning of the 7th century, a new consolidation of the Tьrk, under the Western Tьrk ruler Tardu, again threatened China. In 601 Tardu's army besieged Chang'an (modern Xi'an), then the capital of China. Tardu was turned back, however, and, upon his death two years later, the Tьrk state again fragmented. The Eastern Tьrk nonetheless continued their depredations, occasionally threatening Chang'an. In the early 8th century, an invading army of 450,000 soldiers headed by Tang dynasty's Empress Wu Zetian was defeated and chased back by Mojo khagan. The Tьrk empire finally ended in 744 by the joint Chinese, Uighur and other nomadic forces.
Uyghur state (744–840)
The Uyghurs, who were subjects to the Gцktьrks, revolted in 745 and founded the Uyghur Khaganate which replaced the Eastern Turkic Khaganate. The Uyghur kagan Bayanchur established Ordu-Baliq City on the Orkhon river in 751. The Tang Empire invited the Uyghurs to subdue the An Lushan rebellion in 755. Successful campaigns of the Uyghur Khaganate led to a peace with the Tang dynasty of China which paid compensation for the suppression of An in silk and grain for 12 years after 766. Though a faction of the Uyghurs were Buddhists, the Manichaeism became the official religion of the Khaganate in the 8th century. Nevertheless, the majority of the Uyghurs remained shamanists. The culture and economy of the Uyghur Kaganate were more advanced than those of its predecessors. The Uyghurs used a 12-month calendar and calculated the dates of solar and lunar eclipses. The Uyghurs developed their own writing system based on the Sogdian script. The Tang dynasty surreptitiously encouraged the Yenisei Kirghiz and the Karluks to attack the Uyghurs and the Uyghur Khaganate fell under an invasion of the Yenisei Kirghiz in 840.
The destruction of Uyghur Khaganate by Yenisei Kirghizes resulted in the end of Turkic dominance in Mongolia. According to historians, Kirghiz were not interested in assimilating newly acquired lands. The Kirghiz state was centered on Khakassia.
Khitan state (906–1125)
The Khitans were an ethnic group whose language was related to the Mongolic languages. Its ruler Ambagyan founded the Khitan Liao dynasty in 907. The Liao dynasty covered a significant portion of what is now Mongolia including the basins of the three rivers Kherlen, Tuul and Orkhon. The Khitans occupied the areas vacated by the Turkic Uyghurs bringing them under their control.
The Liao dynasty soon grew strong and occupied parts of Northern China, including the modern-day Beijing. By 925 the Khitan ruled eastern Mongolia, most of Manchuria, and much of China north of the Yellow River. By the middle of the 10th century, Khitan chieftains had established themselves as emperors of northern China; their rule was known as the Liao dynasty. The Khitan built cities and exerted dominion over their agricultural subjects as a means of consolidating their empire.
The territory of the empire consisted of two parts: one populated by pastoral herders in the north and the other populated by croppers in the south. The two parts of the empire actively traded with each other. Lubugu, a grandson of Ambagyan, and a scholar named Tulyubu developed a Grand Alphabet based on the Chinese hieroglyphics in 920. Later, Tela, a son of Ambagyan, developed a Minor Alphabet based on the Uyghur script. A printing technology developed in the Liao territory. The Khitan language was widely studied abroad.
A Tungusic people, the Jurchen, ancestors of the Manchu, formed an alliance with the Song dynasty and reduced the Liao dynasty to vassal status in a seven-year war (1115–1122). The Jurchen leader proclaimed himself the founder of a new era, the Jin dynasty (1115–1234). Scarcely pausing in their conquests, the Jurchen subdued neighboring Goryeo (Korea) in 1226 and invaded the territory of their former allies, the Song, to precipitate a series of wars with China that continued through the remainder of the century. The Liao dynasty fell in 1125 and some Khitans fled west after their defeat by the Jurchens and founded the Qara Khitai (1125–1218) in present-day Xinjiang and eastern Kazakhstan with capital in Balasagun, near modern Tokmok, Kyrgyzstan. In addition, the Western Liao also controlled some highly autonomous vassalized states, such as Khwarezm, the Eastern and the Western Kara-Khanids, etc. In 1218, Genghis Khan destroyed the Qara Khitai, after which the Khitan passed into obscurity. The modern-day minority of Mongolic-speaking Daurs in China are their direct descendants based on DNA evidence and other Khitans assimilated into the Mongols (Southern Mongols), Turkic peoples and Han Chinese.
Confederations and khanates in the 12th century
12th century Mongolia was characterized by rivalry between many tribes and confederations (khanligs or khanate). A confederation of tribes under the name Mongol was known from the 8th century. Some Shiwei tribes, though little is known, have been considered the ancestors of the Mongols according to ancient Chinese records. Term "Shiwei" was an umbrella term of the Mongolic and Tungusic peoples in the 6th to 12th centuries. During the 5th century, they occupied the area east of the Greater Khingan Range, what is the Hulunbuir, Argun (Ergune), Nen (Noon), Middle Amur, and the Zeya Watersheds. They may have been divided into five to twenty tribes. They were said to be dressed in fish skins. They may have been nomadic, staying in the marshy lowlands in the winter and the mountains during the summer. The burial was by exposure in trees. Their language is described as being similar to Manchu-Tungusic languages and Khitan. The Turkic Khaganate installed tuduns, or governors over the Shiwei and collected tribute. Other Shiwei may have stayed and become the Evenks. The Kitans conquered the Shiwei during the late 9th century. One Shiwei tribe, living near the Amur and Ergune rivers, was called the "Menggu" (Mongol).
The confederations of core Mongol tribes were transforming into a statehood in the early 12th century and came to be known as the Khamag Mongol confederacy. The people of Mongolia at this time were predominantly spirit worshipers, with shamans providing spiritual and religious guidance to the people and tribal leaders.
The Khamag Mongols occupied one of the most fertile areas of the country—the basins of the rivers Onon, Kherlen and Tuul in the Khentii mountains. The first known khan of Khamag Mongol is Khabul Khan from Khiyad tribe. Khabul Khan successfully repelled the invasions of Jin dynasty. He was succeeded by Ambaghai Khan from Taichuud tribe. Ambagai was captured by the Tatars while he came to deliver his daughter as a bride to the Tatar confederacy and was given to the Jurchens of Jin dynasty who cruelly executed him, nailing to a "wooden donkey". Ambagai was succeeded by Hotula Khan, son of Khabul Khan. Hotula Khan engaged in 13 battles with the Tatars endeavouring to avenge Ambagai Khan. Khamag Mongol was unable to elect a khan after Hotula died. However, Khabul's grandson Yesukhei baghatur was a major chief of Khamag Mongol.
Yesukhei was poisoned by the Tatars in 1171 when his eldest son Temujin was 9 years old. Shortly after Yesukhei died, Targudai of Taichuud moved away with the subjects of Yesukhei, leaving young Temujin, his mother and his younger siblings without support. Hence, Khamag Mongol remained in political crisis until 1189.
In the 12th century the Khamag Mongol Khanate, Tatar confederation, Keraite Khanate, Merkit confederation, Naiman Khanate were five major Mongolic tribal confederations and khanates in the Mongolian plateau.
The Tatar confederacy first appeared in recorded history in 732. The Tatars became subjects of the Khitan in the 10th century. After the fall of the Khitan empire, the Tatars experienced pressure from the Jin dynasty and were urged to fight against the other Mongol tribes. The Tatars lived on the fertile pastures around the lakes Hulun and Buir and occupied a trade route to China.
The Keraites between the mountain ranges of Khangai and Khentii were centered on the site of today's city Ulaanbaatar in the willow groves of the Tuul river. Markus was khan of the Keraites in the 12th century. Markus was succeeded by Tooril khan. In his feud with his brothers for the throne of the Keraites, he was repeatedly aided by Yesukhei Bagatur of Khamag Mongol.
The Mergid confederacy was located in the basin of the river Selenge. The Hori Tьmeds and Buryats lived around the lake Baikal.
The Naiman confederacy was situated between the mountain ranges of Altai and Khangai. The Ongut tribes lived at the north of Gobi. Other tribes were Olkhunut, Bayud, Khongirad, Oirats and so forth. While most of the Mongolian tribes were Shamanists, Nestorian Christianity was practiced in a number of confederations such as Keraites and Ongut.
Consolidation of the Mongol state
Temujin (1162–1227) defeated and subjugated the "Three Mergids" in 1189 with the support of Tooril Khan of Kereit, the blood brother of his father. Another ally who helped Temujin in this venture was his own blood brother Jamukha of Jadaran clan. The Mergids had attacked the home of Temujin and captured his wife Bцrte of Hongirad tribe revenging for a much earlier event in which Temujin's father Yesukhei deprived a Mergid chief Chiledu his bride Hoelun of Olkhunut tribe, who became the mother of Temujin. The striving of Temujin to free his wife became a reason for the campaign against the Mergids. After the defeat of the Mergid, the reputation of Temujin rose rapidly and the leading members of the Khamag Mongol aristocracy enthroned him with title Chinggis Khan (Genghis Khan), as the ruler of Khamag Mongol. It is speculated to be an ancient form of the word "Tenggis"—ocean, sea.
A conflict of the Tatars with the Jin dynasty became a favorable opportunity for Temujin and Tooril Khan to defeat them in alliance with the Jurchens. At this point, Tooril Khan was granted the title Wang (王, Chinese for "king") by the Jin court and since then became known as Wang Khan. By the year 1201, the Taichuud and Jurkhin tribes were defeated and subjugated. Influential aristocrats of many other tribes and confederations were joining Temujin.
In 1201, a crisis ignited in the Keraite khanlig, in which the siblings of Tooril Wang Khan allied with Inancha Khan of Naiman and defeated Tooril. Wang Khan regained power in his kingdom with the support of Temujin. Temujin finally defeated and subjugated the Tatars in 1202. Nilha (childish) Sengum, son of Wang Khan, envied Temujin as his power was growing and persuaded his father to battle against Temujin. This venture led to a victory of Temujin and conquest of the Kereit Khanlyk. Wang Khan escaped alone into the southern deserts of the Naiman khanlig, where he was caught by the Naiman patrols, who killed him irritated as he claimed himself as Wang Khan.
Tayan khan of Naiman and his son Kuchlug initiated a campaign against Temujin in 1204. They allied with Jamukha, who competed with Temujin for the power over the Mongolic tribes. The Naiman troops outnumbered the Temujin's troops. At night at the eve of the battle, Temujin ordered each of his warrior to light ten bonfires, thus deceiving and demoralising Tayan khan, who was a weak warlord. Temujin won the battle. Tayan khan was captured but died of his wound, Kuchlug retreated to the river Irtysh where he was overtaken by Temujin and defeated. After this battle, Kuchlug escaped to Gur-Khan of Kara-Kitai.
As the Khanlyk of Naiman was conquered, Khasar, brother of Temujin, found a dignitary named Tata Tunga, who spread the Uigur alphabet among the Mongols. This alphabet became the basis of the Classical Mongol script.
By 1206, all the tribes and confederations of Mongolian steppe had come under the leadership of Temujin. The success of Temujin in consolidation of the Mongols was due to his flexibility, his cherishing of his friends and his elaborated tactics. A congress of the Mongol aristocrats on the river Onon in 1206 enthroned Temujin as Chingis Khaan (Genghis Khan) as Emperor of all Mongolia.
Formation of the Mongol Empire
The Mongol Empire and the states that emerged from it played a major role in the history of the 13th and 14th centuries. Genghis Khan and his immediate successors conquered nearly all of Asia and European Russia and sent armies as far as central Europe and Southeast Asia.
Genghis Khan abolished the organization of the former tribes and confederations and reformed the country into 95 mingats. In this system, a group of households large enough to mobilize ten warriors was organized into an arbatu, 10 arbatus were organized into a zagutu (100 warriors), 10 zagutus constituted a mingat (1,000 warriors) and 10 mingats constituted a tumetu or tumen (10,000 warriors). This decimal system was a long-tested system that had been inherited from the period of the Xiongnu. With an assumption that each household consisted of four persons and every adult male was a warrior, it can be estimated that the entire population of Mongolia was at least 750,000 people and the nation possessed 95,000 cavalrymen.
The newly unified Great Mongol State became an attractive force for many neighbouring peoples and kingdoms. Beginning from 1207, the Uighur state, Taiga people of the river Yenisey and the Karluk kingdom joined Mongolia. The urgent task of Genghis Khan was strengthening the independence of his young nation. For a century, the southeastern neighbour Jin dynasty had been provoking the Mongolic tribes against one another in order to eventually subjugate them. With a purpose of testing the military strength of his state and preparing for a struggle against the Jin dynasty, Genghis Khan conquered the Tangut empire Xi-Xia, which pledged vassalage.
In the year, Mongolia, with over 90,000 cavalrymen, started a war with the Jin dynasty which had a multi-million population. At this stage, the Mongols passed over the Great Wall, invaded Shanxi and Shandong provinces, and approached the river Yellow River. The "Altan (Golden) Khaan" (Jin Emperor) surrendered in 1214 and gave Genghis Khan his princess and tribute of gold and silver to his warlords. Genghis Khan gave out to his warriors the tribute of the Jin Emperor loaded on 3000 horses. However, the Jin dynasty continued hostility against Mongolia, hence Genghis Khan ordered his warlord Guo Wang Mukhulai of the Jalair clan to complete the conquest of the Jin dynasty and returned to Mongolia.
Later, the warlord Jebe of Besud clan defeated Kuchulug who had become the Gur-Khan of Qara Khitai. His power was weak as he, a Buddhist, persecuted the indigenous Muslim population.
Genghis Khan intended to develop friendly relations with the Khwarezm Empire, which was on a junction of the trade routes connecting the East and the West and dominated Central Asia, Iran and Afghanistan. Genghis Khan considered himself a supreme ruler of the East and Khwarezm Shah a supreme ruler of the West. Khwarezm Shah had an opposite view that there should be only one ruler on earth as there is only one sun in the sky.
The execution of 450 envoys and tradesmen of Genghis Khan by Khwarezm Shah 1218 was an announcement of war. The Mongol troops invaded Khwarezm Empire in 1219. Although Khwarezm Shah possessed an army outnumbering the Mongol troops dozen of times, he lacked the courage and initiatives to unite his forces and fight back. The Mongol troops sacked cities Otrar, Buhara, Merv and Samarkand. Shah's warlord Temur-Melik led a daring resistance when the Mongol troops besieged city of Khujand. Shah's son Jalal ad-Din Mingburnu courageously battled with the Mongol army in 1221, but was defeated and escaped to the river Ind.
Pursuing Khwarezm Shah in 1220, the scout groups of warlords Jebe and Subedei bagathur of Uriankhai clan conquered northern Iran. They invaded Iraq, Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia in 1221 and entered the territories of the Kipchak Khanate in Crimea and grasslands of the northern Black Sea. The Kipchaks allied with the troops of the principalities of Rus gave battle to the 30,000 cavalrymen of Jebe and Subedei on the river Kalka in May 1223, but were defeated and were chased up to the river Dnieper.
The Tangut kingdom denied its obligation as a vassal state to take part in the western campaign of Genghis Khan. Shortly after returning to Mongolia, the Mongol army invaded the Tangut state in 1226 and conquered the capital Zhongxing (中兴府), located in modern Yinchuan. The Tangut kingdom completely surrendered in March 1227.
Mongolic Khitans and Tuyuhuns or Monguor people (1227) came under rule of the Mongol Empire after conquest of the Tanghut's Western Xia and Tungusic Jin Empires. The Qara Khitai was conquered by the Mongols under Genghis Khan in 1218.
The 16-year conquests of Genghis Khan resulted in the formation of the Mongol Empire. He died on 16 August 1227 and was buried at site Ihe Цtцg on the southern slopes of the Khentii mountain range.
Mongol Empire and Pax Mongolica
The 1228 Congress of nobility known as Kurultai enthroned Ogedei, who had been nominated by Genghis Khan. Ogedei Khan made Karakorum on the river Orkhon the capital of the Mongol Empire. Karakorum had been a military garrison of Genghis Khan since 1220. The existence of 12 Buddhist temples, 2 Muslim mosques and 1 Christian church in city Karakorum indicates the tolerance of the Mongols to all religions. The construction of the city was supervised by Otchigin, the youngest brother of Genghis Khan. Ogedei Khan established an effective postal yam system with well-organized posts (‘’цrtege’’). The system connected the various regions of the whole Empire. Ogedei Khan settled down the rebellions in the countries conquered during his father and led an army himself to put down a revolt in Korea.
Ogedei Khan completed the conquest of the Jin dynasty in 1231–1234. He sent princes headed by Batu, son of Zuchi, to the west, and they conquered the Bulgar kingdom on the Volga river and 14 principalities of Rus in 1236–1240, invaded the principalities of Poland, the kingdom of Kingdom of Hungary, Moravia (then part of the Holy Roman Empire), and the area of Moldavia in 1241–1242 and approached the Adriatic sea.
After his 16-year reign, Ogedei Khan died in 1241 under suspicious circumstances. A rivalry for the throne began between the faction of the houses of Zuchi and Tului on one side and the faction of the houses of Chagatai and Ogedei on the other side. The Kuriltai of 1246 elected Guyug, son of Ogedei, as Great Khan. Guyug Khan died in 1248.
The traveller from Italy Giovanni da Pian del Carpine arrived in 1246 and later he wrote the book Historia Mongolorum quos nos Tartaros appellamus. The faction of Zuchi-Tului houses won the Kuriltai of 1251 electing Mцnghe, son of Tului, as Great Khan. Mцnghe Khan sent his cousin Hulagu to conquer Iran. Hulagu completed the conquest of Iran in 1256 and conquered Baghdad, Caucasus and Syria in 1257–1259. Willem van Ruysbroeck of Flanders arrived in 1254 and later wrote his account Itinerarium fratris Willielmi de Rubruquis de ordine fratrum Minorum, Galli, Anno gratia 1253 ad partes Orientales.
Mцnghe Khan died in 1259, without leaving behind a son. The Kuriltai of 1260 elected Ariq Bцke, a younger brother of Mцnghe Khan, as Great Khan. The same year, Ariq Bцke's elder brother Kublai, who was warring in China to conquer the Song Dynasty, elevated himself into Great Khan in city Shangdu (or known as Kaiping). The Toluid Civil War was fought between the two brothers from 1261 to 1264 until Ariq Bцke surrendered.
The Mongol Empire had an establishing effect on the social, cultural and economic life of the inhabitants of the vast Eurasian territory in the 13th and 14th centuries. It enabled exchange of knowledge, inventions and culture between the West and East. This epoch is called Pax Mongolica.