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Battle of Mohi

Battle of Mohi

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The Battle of Mohi or Battle of the Sajó River, (on April 11, 1241) was the main battle
Battle
Generally, a battle is a conceptual component in the hierarchy of combat in warfare between two or more armed forces, or combatants. In a battle, each combatant will seek to defeat the others, with defeat determined by the conditions of a military campaign...

 between the Mongol Empire
Mongol Empire
The Mongol Empire , initially named as Greater Mongol State was a great empire during the 13th and 14th centuries...

 and the Kingdom of Hungary
Kingdom of Hungary
The Kingdom of Hungary comprised present-day Hungary, Slovakia and Croatia , Transylvania , Carpatho Ruthenia , Vojvodina , Burgenland , and other smaller territories surrounding present-day Hungary's borders...

 during the Mongol invasion of Europe
Mongol invasion of Europe
The resumption of the Mongol invasion of Europe, during which the Mongols attacked medieval Rus' principalities and the powers of Poland and Hungary, was marked by the Mongol invasion of Rus starting in 21 December 1237...

. It took place at Muhi
Muhi
Muhi is a village in Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén county, Hungary.- External links :*...

, Southwest of the Sajó River
Sajó
The Sajó is a river in Slovakia and Hungary.Its length is 229 km, of which 110 km is in Slovakia. Its source is in the Stolica Mountains range of the Slovak Ore Mountains. It flows through the Slovak town Rožňava and the Hungarian city Miskolc. In Hungary it flows through the county of...

. After the invasion, Hungary lay in ruins. Nearly half of the inhabited places had been destroyed by the invading armies. Around a quarter of the population was lost, mostly in lowland areas, especially in the Great Hungarian Plain
Great Hungarian Plain
The Great Hungarian Plain is a plain occupying the southern and eastern part of Hungary, some parts of the Eastern Slovak Lowland, southwestern Ukraine, the Transcarpathian Lowland , western Romania , northern Serbia , and eastern Croatia...

, the southern reaches of the Hungarian plain in the area now called the Banat
Banat
The Banat is a geographical and historical region in Central Europe currently divided between three countries: the eastern part lies in western Romania , the western part in northeastern Serbia , and a small...

, and in southern Transylvania
Transylvania
Transylvania is a historical region in the central part of Romania. Bounded on the east and south by the Carpathian mountain range, historical Transylvania extended in the west to the Apuseni Mountains; however, the term sometimes encompasses not only Transylvania proper, but also the historical...

.

The Mongol invasion of Europe


The Mongols attacked Hungary with three armies. One of them attacked through Poland in order to withhold possible Polish
Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

 auxiliaries and defeated the army of Duke Henry II the Pious
Henry II the Pious
Henry II the Pious , of the Silesian line of the Piast dynasty was Duke of Silesia at Wrocław and Duke of Kraków and thus High Duke of all Poland as well as Duke of Southern Greater Poland from 1238 until his death. During 1238–1239 he also served as a regent of two other Piast duchies: Sandomierz...

 of Silesia
Silesia
Silesia is a historical region of Central Europe located mostly in Poland, with smaller parts also in the Czech Republic, and Germany.Silesia is rich in mineral and natural resources, and includes several important industrial areas. Silesia's largest city and historical capital is Wrocław...

 at the Legnica
Battle of Legnica
The Battle of Legnica , also known as the Battle of Liegnitz or Battle of Wahlstatt , was a battle between the Mongol Empire and the combined defending forces of European fighters that took place at Legnickie Pole near the city of Legnica in Silesia on 9 April 1241.A combined force of Poles,...

. A southern army attacked Transylvania
Transylvania
Transylvania is a historical region in the central part of Romania. Bounded on the east and south by the Carpathian mountain range, historical Transylvania extended in the west to the Apuseni Mountains; however, the term sometimes encompasses not only Transylvania proper, but also the historical...

, defeated the voivod and crushed the Transylvanian Hungarian army. The main army led by Khan Batu
Batu Khan
Batu Khan was a Mongol ruler and founder of the Ulus of Jochi , the sub-khanate of the Mongol Empire. Batu was a son of Jochi and grandson of Genghis Khan. His ulus was the chief state of the Golden Horde , which ruled Rus and the Caucasus for around 250 years, after also destroying the armies...

 and Subutai
Subutai
Subutai was the primary military strategist and general of Genghis Khan and Ögedei Khan...

 attacked Hungary through the fortified Verecke Pass
Verecke Pass
Verecke Pass or Veretsky Pass is a mountain pass in Ukraine, one of the most important passes of the Inner Eastern Carpathian Mountains....

 and annihilated the army led by the count Palatine on March 12, 1241.

Warnings and Hungarian preparation



In 1223 the expanding Mongol Empire
Mongol Empire
The Mongol Empire , initially named as Greater Mongol State was a great empire during the 13th and 14th centuries...

 defeated an allied Cuman
Cumans
The Cumans were Turkic nomadic people comprising the western branch of the Cuman-Kipchak confederation. After Mongol invasion , they decided to seek asylum in Hungary, and subsequently to Bulgaria...

 army at the Kalka River
Battle of the Kalka River
The Battle of the Kalka River took place on May 31, 1223, between the Mongol Empire and Kiev, Galich, and several other Rus' principalities and the Cumans, under the command of Mstislav the Bold and Mstislav III of Kiev...

. The defeated Cumans retreated towards Hungary. Hungary had continuously tried to convert the Cumans
Cumans
The Cumans were Turkic nomadic people comprising the western branch of the Cuman-Kipchak confederation. After Mongol invasion , they decided to seek asylum in Hungary, and subsequently to Bulgaria...

 to Christianity and expand its influence over the Cuman tribes for the past few decades. The Hungarian King Béla IV
Béla IV of Hungary
Béla IV , King of Hungary and of Croatia , duke of Styria 1254–58. One of the most famous kings of Hungary, he distinguished himself through his policy of strengthening of the royal power following the example of his grandfather Bela III, and by the rebuilding Hungary after the catastrophe of the...

 even began to use the title "King of Cumania". When the Cuman refugees (ca. 40,000 people) sought asylum in his kingdom, it seemed that at least a portion of the Cumans had accepted Hungarian rule. The Mongols saw Hungary as a rival, and the Cuman migration to Hungary as a casus belli
Casus belli
is a Latin expression meaning the justification for acts of war. means "incident", "rupture" or indeed "case", while means bellic...

. In their ultimatum they also blamed Hungary for "missing envoys."

The Mongolian threat approached Hungary during a time of political turmoil. Traditionally, the base of royal power consisted of the vast estates owned as royal property. Under Andrew II
Andrew II of Hungary
Andrew II the Jerosolimitan was King of Hungary and Croatia . He was the younger son of King Béla III of Hungary, who invested him with the government of the Principality of Halych...

, the donations of land to nobles by the crown reached a new peak. Whole counties were donated. As Andrew II said, "The best measure of royal generosity is measureless." After Béla IV
Béla IV of Hungary
Béla IV , King of Hungary and of Croatia , duke of Styria 1254–58. One of the most famous kings of Hungary, he distinguished himself through his policy of strengthening of the royal power following the example of his grandfather Bela III, and by the rebuilding Hungary after the catastrophe of the...

 inherited his father's throne he began to re-confiscate Andrew’s donations and to execute or expel his advisors. He also denied the lord's right of personal hearings and accepted only written petitions to his chancellery. He even had the chairs of the council chamber taken away in order to force everybody to stand in his presence. His actions caused great disaffection among the lords. The newly arrived and grateful Cumans gave the king more power (and increased prestige with the Church for converting them) but also caused more friction. The nomad
Nomad
Nomadic people , commonly known as itinerants in modern-day contexts, are communities of people who move from one place to another, rather than settling permanently in one location. There are an estimated 30-40 million nomads in the world. Many cultures have traditionally been nomadic, but...

ic Cumans did not easily integrate with the settled Hungarians and the lords were shocked that the king supported the Cumans in quarrels between the two.

King Béla IV
Béla IV of Hungary
Béla IV , King of Hungary and of Croatia , duke of Styria 1254–58. One of the most famous kings of Hungary, he distinguished himself through his policy of strengthening of the royal power following the example of his grandfather Bela III, and by the rebuilding Hungary after the catastrophe of the...

 began to mobilise his army and ordered all of his troops, including the Cumans, to the city of Pest
Pest (city)
Pest is the eastern, mostly flat part of Budapest, Hungary, comprising about two thirds of the city's territory. It is divided from Buda, the other part of Budapest, by the Danube River. Among its most notable parts are the Inner City, including the Hungarian Parliament, Heroes' Square and...

. Frederick II Babenberg, Duke of Austria
Austria
Austria , officially the Republic of Austria , is a landlocked country of roughly 8.4 million people in Central Europe. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Slovakia and Hungary to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the...

 and Styria, also arrived there to help him. In this moment, the conflict between Cumans and Hungarians caused riots and the Cuman Khan — who had been under the personal protection of the king — was murdered. Some sources mention the role of Duke Frederick in inciting this riot, but his true role is unknown. The Cumans believed that they had been betrayed, and left the country to the South, pillaging all the way. The full mobilisation was unsuccessful. Many contingents were unable to reach Pest; some were destroyed by Mongols before they arrived, some by renegade Cumans. Many nobles refused to take part in the campaign because they hated the king and desired his downfall. Hardly anybody believed that the Mongol attack was a serious threat to the kingdom's security, and the Cuman defection was considered minor and usual. This attitude may have contributed to the death of the Cuman Khan Kuthen.

The Mongol vanguard reached Pest on March 15 and began to pillage the neighbouring area. King Béla
Béla IV of Hungary
Béla IV , King of Hungary and of Croatia , duke of Styria 1254–58. One of the most famous kings of Hungary, he distinguished himself through his policy of strengthening of the royal power following the example of his grandfather Bela III, and by the rebuilding Hungary after the catastrophe of the...

 forbade his men to attack them, as the Hungarian army was still unprepared. Even so, Duke Frederick attacked and defeated a minor raiding party, so Béla came to be seen as a coward. After this "heroic" act, Duke Frederick returned home. Ugrin Csák
Ugrin Csák
Ugrin Csák was a prominent Hungarian nobleman and oligarch in the early 14th century.-Ugrin Csák as an oligarch:...

, the archbishop
Archbishop
An archbishop is a bishop of higher rank, but not of higher sacramental order above that of the three orders of deacon, priest , and bishop...

 of Kalocsa
Kalocsa
Kalocsa is a town in Bács-Kiskun county, Hungary. It lies 88 miles south of Budapest. It is situated in a marshy but highly productive district, near the left bank of the Danube River. Historically it had greater political and economic importance than at present.Kalocsa is the Episcopal see...

, also tried to attack a Mongol contingent, but he was lured to a swamp and his armoured cavalry became irretrievably stuck in it. He barely escaped with his own life.

The Mongol plan


Finally, the king decided to offer battle with the Mongols, but they began to retreat. This affirmed the opinion of the lords that the Mongols were not a threat and the king’s behaviour was not caution, but cowardice. After a week of forced marches and frequent Mongol attacks, the Hungarian army reached the flooded river Sajó
Sajó
The Sajó is a river in Slovakia and Hungary.Its length is 229 km, of which 110 km is in Slovakia. Its source is in the Stolica Mountains range of the Slovak Ore Mountains. It flows through the Slovak town Rožňava and the Hungarian city Miskolc. In Hungary it flows through the county of...

. Here the army stopped to rest and to wait for additional supplies. The king and the Hungarians still did not know that the main Mongol army, which numbered between 20,000 and 30,000, in contrast to the approximately 15,000-strong collection of varied Hungarian forces, was present, because of the wooded terrain on the far bank of the Sajó. The cautious king ordered the building of a heavily fortified camp of wagon trains
Wagon fort
A Laager, also known as a wagon fort, is a mobile fortification made of wagons arranged into a rectangle, a circle or other shape and possibly joined with each other, an improvised military camp....

.

It is highly unlikely that the Mongols originally wanted to cross a wide and dangerous river to attack a fortified camp. It is more likely that their original plan was to attack the Hungarians while crossing the river just as in the case of the Battle of the Kalka River
Battle of the Kalka River
The Battle of the Kalka River took place on May 31, 1223, between the Mongol Empire and Kiev, Galich, and several other Rus' principalities and the Cumans, under the command of Mstislav the Bold and Mstislav III of Kiev...

. The original Mongol attack plan is still unclear. A Ruthenia
Ruthenia
Ruthenia is the Latin word used onwards from the 13th century, describing lands of the Ancient Rus in European manuscripts. Its geographic and culturo-ethnic name at that time was applied to the parts of Eastern Europe. Essentially, the word is a false Latin rendering of the ancient place name Rus...

n slave of the Mongols escaped to the Hungarians and warned them of the Mongol night attack over the bridge of Sajó
Sajó
The Sajó is a river in Slovakia and Hungary.Its length is 229 km, of which 110 km is in Slovakia. Its source is in the Stolica Mountains range of the Slovak Ore Mountains. It flows through the Slovak town Rožňava and the Hungarian city Miskolc. In Hungary it flows through the county of...

.

The Mongols planned to bring their three contingents together if possible before engaging in battle and watched for signs that the Hungarians planned to attack. In fact the way the camp was fortified was a tactical error since this would impede moves to escape in the event of an attack.

King Bela's encampment


The Hungarians still did not believe that this would be a full scale attack, but the troops of Prince Kálmán, Duke of Slavonia
Slavonia
Slavonia is a geographical and historical region in eastern Croatia...

 and the younger brother of King Béla, and the archbishop Ugrin Csák
Ugrin Csák (archbishop)
Ugrin Csák was archbishop of Kalocsa , Hungary from 1219 until his death at the Battle of Mohi on April 11, 1241....

 with Rembald de Voczon, the Templar
Knights Templar
The Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon , commonly known as the Knights Templar, the Order of the Temple or simply as Templars, were among the most famous of the Western Christian military orders...

 master left the camp to surprise the Mongols and defend the unguarded bridge. They reached the bridge at midnight. The sun set at 18:29, so they had to march 7 kilometres in darkness. It is very unlikely that the Mongols wanted to attack at night (horse archers avoid night battles), but they wanted to cross the river to be able to attack the Hungarian camp at dawn. When Kálmán and Ugrin arrived they found the Mongols unprepared and in the middle of crossing the river. They successfully forced them into pitched battle and achieved a great victory at the bridge. The Mongols were totally unprepared for the crossbowmen who inflicted considerable losses on the Mongol forces, especially due to the size of the bridge, which was a minimum of 200 meters long. The Hungarians left some soldiers to guard the bridge and returned to the camp, unaware that the main Mongol army was still there. When they arrived at the camp around 02:00, they celebrated their victory.

Morning


The unexpected Hungarian victory forced the Mongol generals to modify their plans. Sejban was sent north to a ford with a smaller force to cross the river and attack the rear of the bridge-guard. At about 04:00, as the daylight they required started to break, they began the crossing. Meanwhile, Subutai
Subutai
Subutai was the primary military strategist and general of Genghis Khan and Ögedei Khan...

 went south to build a makeshift emergency bridge while the Hungarians were engaged at the main bridge, but left Batu a plan to use giant stone throwers to clear the crossbowmen opposing them. At dawn, Batu
Batu Khan
Batu Khan was a Mongol ruler and founder of the Ulus of Jochi , the sub-khanate of the Mongol Empire. Batu was a son of Jochi and grandson of Genghis Khan. His ulus was the chief state of the Golden Horde , which ruled Rus and the Caucasus for around 250 years, after also destroying the armies...

, with the help of seven stone throwers, attacked the Hungarian guards on the bridge and after the subsequent arrival of Sejban and his men, the Hungarians retreated to their camp. The Mongol main forces finished crossing the river around 08:00.

When the fleeing Hungarians arrived at the camp they woke up the others. Kálmán, Ugrin and the Templar master left the camp again to deal with the attackers. Others remained there, believing this was also a minor attack and that Prince Kálmán would again claim victory. But as Kálmán and Ugrin witnessed the horde of Mongols swell, they realised that this was not a minor raid, but a very dangerous attack of the main Mongol force. After some heavy fighting they returned to the camp to reinforce themselves and to return with the full army. They were badly disappointed, as the king had not even issued orders to prepare for the battle. Archbishop Ugrin reproached the king for his faults in public, and finally the Hungarian army sallied forth, but this delay gave enough time to Batu to finish the crossing. A hard struggle ensued. The Hungarians outnumbered Batu's troops and the Mongols were unable to move quickly because the Sajó was behind their backs. The "History of the Yuan Dynasty
Yuan Dynasty
The Yuan Dynasty , or Great Yuan Empire was a ruling dynasty founded by the Mongol leader Kublai Khan, who ruled most of present-day China, all of modern Mongolia and its surrounding areas, lasting officially from 1271 to 1368. It is considered both as a division of the Mongol Empire and as an...

" (Yuan shi) mentions that Batu lost 30 of his baaturs
Kheshig
Kheshig were the imperial guard for Mongol royalty in the Mongol Empire, particularly for the rulers like the Genghis Khan and his wife Borte. Their primary purpose was as a body guard for the emperors and rulers and to protect them during the day and night...

 (heavy-armoured bodyguards) and one of his lieutenants, Bakatu, when he personally assaulted a strong point with the vanguard. At this moment, Subutai
Subutai
Subutai was the primary military strategist and general of Genghis Khan and Ögedei Khan...

 who had been delayed by bridge-building, attacked the Hungarians’ rear flank, causing the panicked Hungarians to retreat to their camp.

Afternoon


It is possible that the Hungarians might have had the capability to defend the camp, but sallying was ineffective, and they were terrified by the flaming arrows, resulting in the deaths of many soldiers by the trampling crush of their comrades. Finally, the demoralised soldiers were routed and tried to escape through a gap left open on purpose by the Mongols, a plan chosen because fleeing soldiers can be killed more easily than those who, with their backs to a wall, are forced to fight until death. However, the Mongol casualties had been so great that, at this point, Batu did not want to pursue the Hungarians. However, Subutai exhorted him successfully and the Mongols attacked. Archbishop Ugrin was killed, but Kálmán and Béla managed to escape, though the wounds of Kálmán were so serious that he died soon after. The Hungarians lost nearly 10,000 men and were unable to field another army to contain the remaining enemies. After the victory, the Mongols regrouped and began a systematic assault on the rest of the nation.

Role of Gunpowder and Firearms


Several speculations of modern historians mention the Chinese firearms and gunpowder weapons being deployed by the Mongols against European forces at the Battle of Mohi. According to William H. McNeill, Chinese gunpowders may have been used in Hungary at that time. Professor Kenneth Warren Chase credits the Mongols for introducing into Europe gunpowder and its associated weaponry.

Aftermath


After the battle, there was no other major organised force capable of halting the advance of the Mongols; defeating them completely was unthinkable.

An attempt was made to hold off the main Mongol army at the Danube
Danube
The Danube is a river in the Central Europe and the Europe's second longest river after the Volga. It is classified as an international waterway....

, which was mostly successful from April 1241 until January 1242. In an unusually cold winter, the river froze over, and after a number of close battles, the Mongols managed to cross. The royal family escaped to Austria
Austria
Austria , officially the Republic of Austria , is a landlocked country of roughly 8.4 million people in Central Europe. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Slovakia and Hungary to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the...

 to seek help from their ally Duke Frederick, but instead he arrested them and extorted an enormous ransom in gold and forced the king to cede three western counties to Austria. It was at this point that the King and some of his retinue fled south-west, through Hungarian-controlled territory, to the Adriatic
Adriatic Sea
The Adriatic Sea is a body of water separating the Italian Peninsula from the Balkan peninsula, and the system of the Apennine Mountains from that of the Dinaric Alps and adjacent ranges...

 coast and the castle of Trogir
Trogir
Trogir is a historic town and harbour on the Adriatic coast in Split-Dalmatia County, Croatia, with a population of 12,995 and a total municipality population of 13,322 . The historic city of Trogir is situated on a small island between the Croatian mainland and the island of Čiovo...

, where they stayed until the Mongols retreated. While the king kept himself apprised of the situation in the rest of the country, he made numerous attempts to contact other rulers of Europe, including the pope
Pope Innocent IV
Pope Innocent IV , born Sinibaldo Fieschi, was pope from June 25, 1243 until his death in 1254.-Early life:...

, the Holy Roman Emperor
Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor
Frederick II , was one of the most powerful Holy Roman Emperors of the Middle Ages and head of the House of Hohenstaufen. His political and cultural ambitions, based in Sicily and stretching through Italy to Germany, and even to Jerusalem, were enormous...

, and the King of France
Louis IX of France
Louis IX , commonly Saint Louis, was King of France from 1226 until his death. He was also styled Louis II, Count of Artois from 1226 to 1237. Born at Poissy, near Paris, he was an eighth-generation descendant of Hugh Capet, and thus a member of the House of Capet, and the son of Louis VIII and...

, but none seemed interested, and all seemed to have the same profound misunderstanding of the threat posed by the Mongol armies, which stood by this time within a week's ride from the borders of France. The Mongols appointed a darughachi
Darughachi
Darughachi, which originally designated officials in the Mongol Empire in charge of taxes and administration in a certain province, is the plural form of the Mongolian word darugha. They were sometimes referred to as governors...

 in Hungary and minted coins in the name of Khagan. According to Michael Prawdin
Michael Prawdin
Michael Prawdin was the pseudonym of Michael Charol , a Russian-German historical writer.Born in the Ukraine, Charol came to Germany after the Russian Revolution. He studied in Germany, and wrote in German. In 1934 he made a plea for the 'factual novel'.Prawdin made himself an international...

, the country of Bela was assigned to Orda by Batu as an appanage
Appanage
An apanage or appanage or is the grant of an estate, titles, offices, or other things of value to the younger male children of a sovereign, who would otherwise have no inheritance under the system of primogeniture...

.

Meanwhile, in the main territory of Hungary, surviving members of the royal retinue, being for the large part those that did not get to the battle of Muhi in time to participate, along with a number of unorganised irregulars consisting mostly of armed peasants, employing guerrilla tactics, continued to harass Mongol troops, even occasionally successfully engaging them in open battle. Much of the civilian population fled to areas of refuge inaccessible to the Mongol cavalry: high mountains in the north and east; swamps, especially on the puszta, around Székesfehérvár, and in the west (the Hanság); and older earthwork
Earthworks (engineering)
Earthworks are engineering works created through the moving or processing of quantities of soil or unformed rock.- Civil engineering use :Typical earthworks include roads, railway beds, causeways, dams, levees, canals, and berms...

 fortresses, most of which were in a motte-and-bailey
Motte-and-bailey
A motte-and-bailey is a form of castle, with a wooden or stone keep situated on a raised earthwork called a motte, accompanied by an enclosed courtyard, or bailey, surrounded by a protective ditch and palisade...

 form or consisted of a mud-banked enclosure on the top of a mountain, steep natural hill, or man-made hill. Rogerius
Rogerius of Apulia
Rogerius of Apulia was a medieval Roman Catholic monk and chronicler, born in Torremaggiore, Apulia...

 recounts his experience in one such refuge called Fátra
Fatra
Fatra is the old or imprecise name of two mountain ranges in Slovakia:*Greater Fatra *Lesser Fatra...

 in his Carmen Miserable. (Such places are often referred to by the German
German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

 term Fluchtburg.)

At dawn on December 11. 1241, the Great Khan Ögedei
Ögedei Khan
Ögedei Khan, born Ögedei was the third son of Genghis Khan and second Great Khan of the Mongol Empire by succeeding his father...

 died and ultimately this led the Mongols to retreat so that the princes of the blood could be present for the election of a new Great Khan. Just prior to their departure, the Mongol army was having difficulty with the pacification of the country, though they made plans to attack Austria and eventually Germany and Italy. While the defeat of the Hungarian army at the Sajó River is most often described in a couple of sentences as an effortless rout by the Mongols of the Hungarian army, this is an oversimplification. The Hungarian army as well as irregulars from the countryside proved dangerous foes and Mongol losses were not insignificant. Subutai's engineers faced additional difficulties in constructing a bridge in the deeper than expected waters, and managed to attack the Hungarian rear just in time, as Batu's forces were being stretched and taxed by the numerically superior Hungarian forces.

By the mid-13th century, the Hungarian army had lost the tactics of the steppe nomads that made them such effective fighters against the German states, France, Italy, Spain, Poland, the Balkans and the present Netherlands in the ninth and tenth centuries. But there is some doubt in this regard, as some historians have stated that the Hungarian military became more westernised after the Mongol invasion and because of it; and despite its steppe tactics, early Hungary defeated the offensive Germans in many times (in the wars of 1030, 1031 1051 1053 and 1074) in the tenth century by knights in the western borders of Hungary. The light horse archers did not have such an important role in the war after the Christianization. The majority of the horse archers were conscripted from various ethnic groups, such as (Székelys, Kipchaks, Jassic people and -after Muhi- the Cumans) from the poorest backward peripheric regions of the kingdom (Southern parts and the middle of the Great Hungarian Plain
Great Hungarian Plain
The Great Hungarian Plain is a plain occupying the southern and eastern part of Hungary, some parts of the Eastern Slovak Lowland, southwestern Ukraine, the Transcarpathian Lowland , western Romania , northern Serbia , and eastern Croatia...

 and Eastern parts of Transylvania). Nonetheless, during the battle, Batu Khan's personal guards were being attacked and his own life lay in serious danger. At another point, the Mongol troops were being routed by the Hungarian archers followed up by the heavy mounted knights and only the personal rallying of Batu Khan prevented the retreat of his army.

In spite of this, by Candlemas (February) 1242, more than a year after the initial invasion and a few months before the Mongols' withdrawal, a significant number of important castles and towns had resisted the formidable and infamous Mongol siege tactics. Among the nearly eighty sites that remained unconquered, only three were of the most formidable type: the then-new stone castle on an elevation: Fülek
Filakovo
Fiľakovo is a town in the Banská Bystrica Region of south-central Slovakia. Historically it was part of the Nógrád region.-Geography:...

, Léka
Lockenhaus
Lockenhaus is a town in the district of Oberpullendorf in Burgenland in Austria.- History :The town was part of Hungary since the foundation of the kingdom in the year 1000. Since 1898 the name Léka had to be used because of the Magyarization by the government in Budapest...

, near the western border, and Németújvár
Güssing
Güssing is a town in Burgenland, Austria. It is located at , with a population of 3,811 , and is the administrative center of the Güssing district.The Güssing Castle, built in 1157, is the oldest castle in Burgenland and a regional landmark....

. The rest were either fortified towns (e.g., Székesfehérvár
Székesfehérvár
Székesfehérvár is a city in central Hungary and is the 9th largest in the country. Located around southwest of Budapest. It is inhabited by 101,973 people , with 136,995 in the Székesfehérvár Subregion. The city is the centre of Fejér county and the regional centre of Central Transdanubia...

), old committal centre castles (e.g., Esztergom
Esztergom
Esztergom , is a city in northern Hungary, 46 km north-west of the capital Budapest. It lies in Komárom-Esztergom county, on the right bank of the river Danube, which forms the border with Slovakia there....

 citadel), fortified monasteries (e.g. Tihany
Tihany
Tihany is a village on the northern shore of Lake Balaton on the Tihany Peninsula . The whole peninsula is a historical district....

 and Pannonhalma
Pannonhalma
Pannonhalma is a town in western Hungary, in Győr-Moson-Sopron county with approximately 4,000 inhabitants. It is about from Győr. Archduke Otto Habsburg's heart is kept at the Pannonhalma Archabbey, while his body was laid at the Capuchin Crypt in the old Imperial capital of Vienna.-History:The...

) or military fortresses (e.g. Vécs guarding a main trade route in the mountains of Transylvania. Ultimately, the country was not subdued; and though much of the population was slaughtered, the King and upper nobility avoided capture. As a tardy revenge, the Hungarians and Croats ambushed and destroyed the rearguard division of the retreating Mongol army in the Carpathians.

After the withdrawal of the Mongol troops, they were never again to return to Hungary with a force capable of laying siege to fortified cities, as the Chinese bombardiers and engineers under general Subutai
Subutai
Subutai was the primary military strategist and general of Genghis Khan and Ögedei Khan...

 were no longer deployed in the European theater of operations; Subutai was reassigned by Guyuk to engage the Southern Song, and died of old age in 1248. Hungary lay in ruins. Nearly half of the inhabited places had been destroyed by the invading armies. Around a quarter of the population was lost, mostly in lowland areas, especially in the Alföld
Alfold
Alfold is small village and civil parish on the Surrey/West Sussex border in England. The parish clerk is Mrs L.R. Enticknap.Originally sited perhaps for the glass making . Charcoal was extensively burnt in the parish for gunpowder works in Dunsfold, Cranleigh, and Sussex.Alfold is not mentioned in...

, where there were hardly any survivors; in the southern reaches of the Hungarian plain in the area now called the Banat
Banat
The Banat is a geographical and historical region in Central Europe currently divided between three countries: the eastern part lies in western Romania , the western part in northeastern Serbia , and a small...

, and in southern Transylvania.

However, the power of the kingdom was not broken. Within a year of the withdrawal of the Mongols, the three westernmost counties (Moson
Moson
Moson was a historic administrative county of the Kingdom of Hungary in present-day eastern Austria and northwestern Hungary, on the right side of the Danube river...

, Sopron
Sopron
In 1910 Sopron had 33,932 inhabitants . Religions: 64.1% Roman Catholic, 27.8% Lutheran, 6.6% Jewish, 1.2% Calvinist, 0.3% other. In 2001 the city had 56,125 inhabitants...

, and Vas
Vas
Vas is the name of an administrative county in present Hungary, and also in the former Kingdom of Hungary. The county is a part of the Centrope Project.-Geography:...

) that were extorted as ransom by Duke Frederick of Austria were recaptured, and a local uprising in Slavonia
Slavonia
Slavonia is a geographical and historical region in eastern Croatia...

 was quashed. The threat of another Mongol invasion, this time taken seriously, was the source of exceptional national unity and provided the impetus for Bela IV's extensive expansion of Hungarian defences, especially the building of new stone castles (forty-four in the first ten years) and the revitalization of the army, including expanding the number of heavily armoured cavalry in the royal army. Béla IV is seen now as a second founder of the nation, partly in recognition of all that was done during his reign to reconstruct and fortify the country against foreign invasion from the East. These improvements were to pay off, in 1284, when Nogai Khan
Nogai Khan
Nogai , also called Isa Nogai, was a general and de facto ruler of the Golden Horde and a great-great-grandson of Genghis Khan. His grandfather was Baul/Teval Khan, the 7th son of Jochi...

 attempted an invasion of the country. In that event, the invasion was defeated handily, as were a number of other minor attacks before and after.

In the coming centuries, as the power of the Mongols of the Russian steppe waned and western defences became more capable, the attention of countries of central Europe would increasingly be directed to the Southeast, and the growing power of the Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

.

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