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Pax Mongolica

Pax Mongolica

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Encyclopedia
The Pax Mongolica is a Latin phrase meaning "Mongol
Mongols
Mongols ) are a Central-East Asian ethnic group that lives mainly in the countries of Mongolia, China, and Russia. In China, ethnic Mongols can be found mainly in the central north region of China such as Inner Mongolia...

 Peace
Peace
Peace is a state of harmony characterized by the lack of violent conflict. Commonly understood as the absence of hostility, peace also suggests the existence of healthy or newly healed interpersonal or international relationships, prosperity in matters of social or economic welfare, the...

" coined by Western scholars to describe the stabilizing effects of the conquests of the Mongol Empire
Mongol Empire
The Mongol Empire , initially named as Greater Mongol State was a great empire during the 13th and 14th centuries...

 on the social, cultural, and economic life of the inhabitants of the vast Eurasia
Eurasia
Eurasia is a continent or supercontinent comprising the traditional continents of Europe and Asia ; covering about 52,990,000 km2 or about 10.6% of the Earth's surface located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres...

n territory that the Mongols conquered in the 13th and 14th centuries. The term is used to describe the eased communication and commerce the unified administration helped to create, and the period of relative peace that followed the Mongols' vast conquests. The term was coined in parallel to Pax Romana
Pax Romana
Pax Romana was the long period of relative peace and minimal expansion by military force experienced by the Roman Empire in the 1st and 2nd centuries AD. Since it was established by Caesar Augustus it is sometimes called Pax Augusta...

.

The conquests of Genghis Khan
Genghis Khan
Genghis Khan , born Temujin and occasionally known by his temple name Taizu , was the founder and Great Khan of the Mongol Empire, which became the largest contiguous empire in history after his death....

 and his successors effectively connected the Eastern world
Eastern world
__FORCETOC__The term Eastern world refers very broadly to the various cultures or social structures and philosophical systems of Eastern Asia or geographically the Eastern Culture...

 with the Western world
Western world
The Western world, also known as the West and the Occident , is a term referring to the countries of Western Europe , the countries of the Americas, as well all countries of Northern and Central Europe, Australia and New Zealand...

, ruling a territory from Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia, South-East Asia, South East Asia or Southeastern Asia is a subregion of Asia, consisting of the countries that are geographically south of China, east of India, west of New Guinea and north of Australia. The region lies on the intersection of geological plates, with heavy seismic...

 to Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe is the eastern part of Europe. The term has widely disparate geopolitical, geographical, cultural and socioeconomic readings, which makes it highly context-dependent and even volatile, and there are "almost as many definitions of Eastern Europe as there are scholars of the region"...

. The Silk Road
Silk Road
The Silk Road or Silk Route refers to a historical network of interlinking trade routes across the Afro-Eurasian landmass that connected East, South, and Western Asia with the Mediterranean and European world, as well as parts of North and East Africa...

, connecting trade centers across Asia
Asia
Asia is the world's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres. It covers 8.7% of the Earth's total surface area and with approximately 3.879 billion people, it hosts 60% of the world's current human population...

 and Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

, came under the sole rule of the Mongol Empire. It was commonly said that "a maiden bearing a nugget of gold on her head could wander safely throughout the realm." The end of the Pax Mongolica was marked by political fragmentation of the Mongol Empire and the outbreak of the Black Death
Black Death
The Black Death was one of the most devastating pandemics in human history, peaking in Europe between 1348 and 1350. Of several competing theories, the dominant explanation for the Black Death is the plague theory, which attributes the outbreak to the bacterium Yersinia pestis. Thought to have...

 in Asia which spread along trade routes to much of the world.

Foundations




The foundations of the Pax Mongolica lie in the germinal Mongol Empire
Mongol Empire
The Mongol Empire , initially named as Greater Mongol State was a great empire during the 13th and 14th centuries...

 beginning with Genghis Khan
Genghis Khan
Genghis Khan , born Temujin and occasionally known by his temple name Taizu , was the founder and Great Khan of the Mongol Empire, which became the largest contiguous empire in history after his death....

 in the early 13th century. In the process of conquering the various tribes in the region, Genghis Khan revolutionized the way Mongolian tribal society was structured. After each new victory, more and more people were incorporated under Genghis Khan's rule, thus diversifying the societal balance of the tribe. In 1203, Genghis Khan, in an effort to strengthen his army, ordered a reform that reorganized his army's structure while breaking down the traditional clan- and kindred-based divisions that had previously fragmented the society and military. He arranged his army into arbans (inter-ethnic groups of ten), and the members of an arban were commanded to be loyal to one-another regardless of ethnic origin. Ten arbans made a zuun, or a company; ten zuuns made a myangan, or a battalion; and ten myangans formed a tumen
Tumen
Tumen or Tümen was a part of the decimal system used by Turkic and Mongol peoples to organize their armies. Tumen is an army unit of 10,000 soldiers...

, or an army of 10,000. This decimal system organization of Genghis Khan's strong military would prove very effective in conquering, by persuasion or force, the many tribes of the central Asian steppe, but it would also strengthen Mongol society as a whole. By 1206 Genghis Khan's military expansion had unified the tribes of Mongolia, and in the same year he was elected and acclaimed as the leader of Mongolia
Mongol Empire
The Mongol Empire , initially named as Greater Mongol State was a great empire during the 13th and 14th centuries...

.

The new Mongol Nation quickly moved to annex more territory. The first Mongol conquests were campaigns against the Xi Xia Empire
Western Xia
The Western Xia Dynasty or the Tangut Empire, was known to the Tanguts and the Tibetans as Minyak.The state existed from 1038 to 1227 AD in what are now the northwestern Chinese provinces of Ningxia, Gansu, eastern Qinghai, northern Shaanxi, northeastern Xinjiang, southwest Inner Mongolia, and...

 in western China. In 1209 the Mongols conquered the Xi Xia. Between 1213 and 1214 the Mongols conquered the Jin Empire, and by 1214 the Mongols had captured most of the land north of the Yellow River
Yellow River
The Yellow River or Huang He, formerly known as the Hwang Ho, is the second-longest river in China and the sixth-longest in the world at the estimated length of . Originating in the Bayan Har Mountains in Qinghai Province in western China, it flows through nine provinces of China and empties into...

. In 1221 Mongol generals Jebe
Jebe
Chepe Noyan was one of the prominent Noyans of Genghis Khan. His clan was Besud, which belonged to the Taichud tribe, which was at the time of Genghis Khan under Targudai Khiriltug's leadership....

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

 began their expedition around the Caspian Sea
Caspian Sea
The Caspian Sea is the largest enclosed body of water on Earth by area, variously classed as the world's largest lake or a full-fledged sea. The sea has a surface area of and a volume of...

 and into Rus'; Genghis Khan defeated Persian Jalal ad-Din Mingburnu
Jalal ad-Din Mingburnu
Jalal ad-Din Mingburnu, also known as Mengübirti or Manguberdi or Minkburny in the east was the last ruler of the Khwarezmid Empire...

 at the Battle of Indus
Battle of Indus
The Battle of Indus was fought at the river Indus in today's Pakistan in the year 1221 between Jalal ad-Din Mingburnu, the sultan of the Khwarezmid Empire and his only remaining forces of five thousand, and the Mongolian horde of Genghis Khan....

 and the war with the Khwarezmian Empire concluded the same year. In 1235 the Mongols invaded Korea
Mongol invasions of Korea
The Mongol invasions of Korea consisted of a series of campaigns by the Mongol Empire against Korea, then known as Goryeo, from 1231 to 1270...

. Two years later in 1237 Batu Khan
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 Subodei began their conquest of Rus', they conquered Poland
Mongol invasion of Poland
The Mongol Invasion of Poland from late 1240 to 1241 culminated in the battle of Legnica, where the Mongols defeated an alliance which included forces from fragmented Poland and members of various Christian military orders, led by Henry II the Pious, the Duke of Silesia. The first invasion's...

 and Hungary in 1241. In 1252 the Mongols began their invasion of Southern China
Mongol conquest of the Song Dynasty
The conquest of South China's Song Dynasty under Kublai Khan was the final step for the Mongols to rule the whole of China. It is also considered the Mongol Empire's last great military achievement.- Background :...

; they would seize the capital of Hangzhou
Hangzhou
Hangzhou , formerly transliterated as Hangchow, is the capital and largest city of Zhejiang Province in Eastern China. Governed as a sub-provincial city, and as of 2010, its entire administrative division or prefecture had a registered population of 8.7 million people...

 in 1276. In 1258 Hulagu Khan
Hulagu Khan
Hulagu Khan, also known as Hülegü, Hulegu , was a Mongol ruler who conquered much of Southwest Asia...

 captured Baghdad
Battle of Baghdad (1258)
The Siege of Baghdad, which occurred in 1258, was an invasion, siege and sacking of the city of Baghdad, the capital of the Abbasid Caliphate at the time and the modern-day capital of Iraq, by the Ilkhanate Mongol forces along with other allied troops under Hulagu Khan.The invasion left Baghdad in...

.

Each new victory gave the Mongols the chance to incorporate new peoples, especially foreign engineers and laborers, into their society. Each new conquest also acquired new trade routes and the opportunity to control taxation and tribute. Thus, through territorial expansion, the Mongol Nation not only became an empire, but it also became more technologically and economically advanced.

Trade network


At its height, the Mongolian empire stretched from Shanhaiguan
Shanhaiguan District
Shanhaiguan District is a district of the city of Qinhuangdao, Hebei province, People's Republic of China, named after the pass of the Great Wall within the district, Shanhai Pass...

 in the east to Budapest
Budapest
Budapest is the capital of Hungary. As the largest city of Hungary, it is the country's principal political, cultural, commercial, industrial, and transportation centre. In 2011, Budapest had 1,733,685 inhabitants, down from its 1989 peak of 2,113,645 due to suburbanization. The Budapest Commuter...

 in the west, from Rus' in the north to Tibet in the south. This meant that an extremely large part of the continent was united under one political authority. As a result, the trade routes used by merchants became safe for travel, resulting in an overall growth and expansion of trade from China in the east to Britain in the west. Thus, the Pax Mongolica greatly influenced many civilizations in Eurasia during the 13th and 14th centuries.

World trade system


Before the Mongols' rise, the Old World
Old World
The Old World consists of those parts of the world known to classical antiquity and the European Middle Ages. It is used in the context of, and contrast with, the "New World" ....

 system consisted of isolated imperial systems. The new Mongol empire amalgamated the once isolated civilizations into a new continental system, and re-established the Silk Road
Silk Road
The Silk Road or Silk Route refers to a historical network of interlinking trade routes across the Afro-Eurasian landmass that connected East, South, and Western Asia with the Mediterranean and European world, as well as parts of North and East Africa...

 as a dominant method of transportation. The unification of Eurasia under the Mongols greatly diminished the amount of competing tribute gatherers throughout the trade network and assured greater safety and security in travel. During the Pax Mongolica, European merchants like Marco Polo
Marco Polo
Marco Polo was a Venetian merchant traveler from the Venetian Republic whose travels are recorded in Il Milione, a book which did much to introduce Europeans to Central Asia and China. He learned about trading whilst his father and uncle, Niccolò and Maffeo, travelled through Asia and apparently...

 made their way from Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

 to China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

 on the well-maintained and well-traveled roads that linked Anatolia
Anatolia
Anatolia is a geographic and historical term denoting the westernmost protrusion of Asia, comprising the majority of the Republic of Turkey...

 to China.

On the Silk Road traveled caravans
Caravan (travellers)
A caravan is a group of people traveling together, often on a trade expedition. Caravans were used mainly in desert areas and throughout the Silk Road, where traveling in groups aided in defence against bandits as well as helped to improve economies of scale in trade.In historical times, caravans...

 with Chinese silk; pepper, ginger
Ginger
Ginger is the rhizome of the plant Zingiber officinale, consumed as a delicacy, medicine, or spice. It lends its name to its genus and family . Other notable members of this plant family are turmeric, cardamom, and galangal....

, cinnamon
Cinnamon
Cinnamon is a spice obtained from the inner bark of several trees from the genus Cinnamomum that is used in both sweet and savoury foods...

, and nutmeg
Nutmeg
The nutmeg tree is any of several species of trees in genus Myristica. The most important commercial species is Myristica fragrans, an evergreen tree indigenous to the Banda Islands in the Moluccas of Indonesia...

 came to the West
Western world
The Western world, also known as the West and the Occident , is a term referring to the countries of Western Europe , the countries of the Americas, as well all countries of Northern and Central Europe, Australia and New Zealand...

 from the Spice Islands
Maluku Islands
The Maluku Islands are an archipelago that is part of Indonesia, and part of the larger Maritime Southeast Asia region. Tectonically they are located on the Halmahera Plate within the Molucca Sea Collision Zone...

 via the transcontinental trade routes. Eastern diets were introduced to Europeans as well. Indian muslins, cottons, pearls, and precious stones were sold in Europe, as well as weapons, carpets, and leather goods from Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

. Gunpowder was also introduced to Europe from China. In the opposite direction, Europeans sent silver, fine cloth, horses, linen, and other goods to the near and far East. Increasing trade and commerce meant that the respective nations and societies increased their exposure to new goods and markets, thus increasing the GDP of each nation or society that was involved in the trade system. Sociologist Janet Abu-Lughod
Janet Abu-Lughod
Janet L. Abu-Lughod, née Lippman is an American sociologist with major contributions to World-systems theory and Urban sociology.-Family:She was married in 1951–1991 to Ibrahim Abu-Lughod...

 has noted that many of the cities participating in the 13th century world trade system grew rapidly in size.

Along with land trade routes, a Maritime Silk Road contributed to the flow of goods and establishment of a Pax Mongolica. This Maritime Silk Road started with short coastal routes in Southern China. As technology and navigation progressed these routes developed into a high-seas route into the Indian Ocean. Eventually these routes further developed encompassing the Arabian Sea
Arabian Sea
The Arabian Sea is a region of the Indian Ocean bounded on the east by India, on the north by Pakistan and Iran, on the west by the Arabian Peninsula, on the south, approximately, by a line between Cape Guardafui in northeastern Somalia and Kanyakumari in India...

, Persian Gulf
Persian Gulf
The Persian Gulf, in Southwest Asia, is an extension of the Indian Ocean located between Iran and the Arabian Peninsula.The Persian Gulf was the focus of the 1980–1988 Iran-Iraq War, in which each side attacked the other's oil tankers...

, Red Sea
Red Sea
The Red Sea is a seawater inlet of the Indian Ocean, lying between Africa and Asia. The connection to the ocean is in the south through the Bab el Mandeb strait and the Gulf of Aden. In the north, there is the Sinai Peninsula, the Gulf of Aqaba, and the Gulf of Suez...

, and the sea off East Africa.

Along with tangible goods, people, techniques, information, and ideas moved lucidly across the Eurasian landmass for the first time. For example, John of Montecorvino
John of Montecorvino
John of Montecorvino or Giovanni da Montecorvino in Italian was an Italian Franciscan missionary, traveler and statesman, founder of the earliest Roman Catholic missions in India and China, and archbishop of Peking, and Latin Patriarch of the Orient.-Biography:John was born at Montecorvino...

, archbishop of Peking
Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Beijing
The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Beijing is an archdiocese located in the city of Beijing in China.-History:* 1307: Established as Archdiocese of Khanbalik* 1375: Suppressed...

 founded Roman Catholic missions
Mission (Christian)
Christian missionary activities often involve sending individuals and groups , to foreign countries and to places in their own homeland. This has frequently involved not only evangelization , but also humanitarian work, especially among the poor and disadvantaged...

 in India and China and also translated the New Testament into the Mongolian language. Long-distance trade brought new methods of doing business from the far East to Europe; bills of exchange
Banknote
A banknote is a kind of negotiable instrument, a promissory note made by a bank payable to the bearer on demand, used as money, and in many jurisdictions is legal tender. In addition to coins, banknotes make up the cash or bearer forms of all modern fiat money...

, deposit banking, and insurance were introduced to Europe during the Pax Mongolica. Bills of exchange made it significantly easier to travel long distances because a traveler would not be burdened by the weight of metal coins.

Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

ic methods of mathematics, astronomy, and science made their way to Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

, East Asia
East Asia
East Asia or Eastern Asia is a subregion of Asia that can be defined in either geographical or cultural terms...

 and Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

 during the Pax Mongolica. Methods of paper-making and printing made their way from China to Europe. During the Pax Mongolica rudimentary banking systems were established, and money changing and credit extension were common, resulting in large amount of merchant wealth.

Mongol administration



Mongolia's central geographical position on the Asian continent was an important reason why it was able to play such a large role in the trade system. The Mongol army
Mongol military tactics and organization
The Mongol military tactics and organization helped the Mongol Empire to conquer nearly all of continental Asia, the Middle East and parts of eastern Europe. In many ways, it can be regarded as the first "modern" military system....

 was easily able to assert strong rule throughout most of the empire. The military ensured that supply lines and trade routes flowed smoothly; permanent garrisons were established along trade routes to protect the travelers on these routes. Complex local systems of taxation and extortion that were prevalent before Mongol rule were abolished to ensure the smooth flow of merchants and trade through the empire. A system of weights-and-measures was also standardized. To make the voyage on the trade routes less harrowing, the Mongols went as far as to plant trees along the roads to shade the merchants and travelers in the summer months; stone pillars were used to mark the roads where trees could not grow.

The Mongols sought alliances with other nations and societies to ensure the flow of trade through the empire. The Mongol army was also used to reshape and streamline the flow of trade through the continent by destroying cities on the less-important or more inaccessible routes. The Mongol military was mostly made up of cavalrymen. This allowed the military to move swiftly and easily over large distances.

The secular code of Mongol law, known as the Yassa
Yassa
Yassa was a secret written code of law created by Genghis Khan. It was the principal law under the Mongol Empire even though no copies were made available...

(Great Law), decreed strict rules and punishments in many areas of the Mongolian Empire's society, especially those areas concerning trade and commerce. The Yassa helped suppress the traditional causes of tribal feuding and war, thus helping to ensure a peaceful trading and traveling environment; theft and animal rustling were outlawed, and the Mongol Empire under Genghis Khan
Genghis Khan
Genghis Khan , born Temujin and occasionally known by his temple name Taizu , was the founder and Great Khan of the Mongol Empire, which became the largest contiguous empire in history after his death....

 even established a massive lost-and-found system. Harsh penalties including a retribution of nine times the original value of stolen goods helped deter theft on Mongol roads. The Yassa also decreed complete religious freedom, ensuring that Buddhists, Muslims, Christians, etc., were all allowed to travel freely throughout the empire; religious leaders were also exempted from taxation, as were doctors, lawyers, undertakers, teachers, and scholars. The Yassa did allow for flexibility and it usually adapted, absorbed, or built upon legal systems in remote parts of the empire, thus maintaining a level of openness to various societies and ensuring peace and stability.

In order to ensure Mongol law was enforced a hierarchy of legal administration was developed. This was headed by the Secretarial Council "chug-shu-sheng" of the central government which oversaw 10 provincial governments known as "Hsing-sheng." The Hsinsing-sheng was further split into smaller districts which handled legal cases. A police commissioner known as "hsien wei" was entrusted with law enforcement and had the authority to arrest suspects. This method of federalizing the empire made it easier and more efficient for laws to be administered throughout the continent.

Postal system


The Mongols established the Yam
Yam (route)
Yam is a supply point route messenger system employed and extensively used and expanded by Genghis Khan and used by subsequent Great Khans and Khans.Relay stations were used to give food, shelter and spare horses for Mongol armies messengers...

 , the first system of communication that connected the Far East and the West. Relay stations were set up every 25 miles–230 miles or an average day’s journey on horse. These stations were introduced by Ögedei Khan
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...

 in 1234 and supplied fresh horses and fodder. His brothers Chagatai Khan
Chagatai Khan
Chagatai Khan was the second son of Genghis Khan and first khan and origin of the names of the Chagatai Khanate, Chagatai language and Chagatai Turks....

 and Tolui
Tolui
Tolui, was the youngest son of Genghis Khan by his chief khatun Börte...

 and his nephew Batu Khan
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...

 further extended this network.

The Mongol army administered the Yam
Yam (route)
Yam is a supply point route messenger system employed and extensively used and expanded by Genghis Khan and used by subsequent Great Khans and Khans.Relay stations were used to give food, shelter and spare horses for Mongol armies messengers...

. The Yam stretched across Mongol territory from Eastern Europe to the Pacific Ocean. The routes were well organized, funded, maintained, and administrated by the Mongols. This highly sophisticated system of communication and travel made it relatively easy to send important messages and travel long distances in relatively short amounts of time. As a result of the relatively lucid communication and ease of movement, the Mongols were able to govern their vast empire effectively, thus ensuring political and economic stability.

Decline


The decline of the period of the Pax Mongolica was a result of a number of factors. Incompetent and rivaling leaders, corruption, revolts, decadence, factional struggles, assassinations, external attacks, and disease all led to the fall of the Pax Mongolica. The decline of the Pax Mongolica resulted in a decline of eased trade between East and West.

Decline of Mongol rule



The Mongol Empire, near the time of its decline, consisted of many different territories that varied from one to another. Each territory was defined as a "khanate". Due to the isolation of the Mongolian world, many rulers in the 14th century started to focus on their own khanates.

Religious intolerance was one particular factor in the decline of the Pax Mongolica. In Rus', the Mongols (known as the Golden Horde
Golden Horde
The Golden Horde was a Mongol and later Turkicized khanate that formed the north-western sector of the Mongol Empire...

), gradually lost power and territory due to intolerance specifically geared towards different religions. The Rus' Mongols converted to Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

 and joined the Egyptian Mamluks
Mamluk Sultanate (Cairo)
The Mamluk Sultanate of Egypt was the final independent Egyptian state prior to the establishment of the Muhammad Ali Dynasty in 1805. It lasted from the overthrow of the Ayyubid Dynasty until the Ottoman conquest of Egypt in 1517. The sultanate's ruling caste was composed of Mamluks, Arabised...

 for political reasons. At one point in the war the Golden Horde even fought the Persian Mongols
Ilkhanate
The Ilkhanate, also spelled Il-khanate , was a Mongol khanate established in Azerbaijan and Persia in the 13th century, considered a part of the Mongol Empire...

. However, the eastern part of the Golden Horde, White Horde, had friendly relations with the Ilkhanate and the Great Khan. The decentralization occurred because communication was so difficult due to the collapsing trade system and the rivalry between Mongol princes. Eventually, the Persian Mongol leader Ghazan converted to Islam in 1295. This contributed to the growing power of Nawruz; a Muslim Oirat general. Together, under the force of Nawruz, Buddhist temples and statues were destroyed and the Mongol minority was forced to convert to Islam. Within this intolerance Jews and Christians were harassed and forced to wear special clothing so that the Mongol Muslim mobs could assault them more easily. Religious riots broke out due to the demands of the Mongols, and anyone who was not a Muslim was tortured and suppressed. Religious strife continued in Persia until its ultimate collapse in 1335.

In China, descendants of Kublai Khan
Kublai Khan
Kublai Khan , born Kublai and also known by the temple name Shizu , was the fifth Great Khan of the Mongol Empire from 1260 to 1294 and the founder of the Yuan Dynasty in China...

 claimed the Mongols weakened their power by becoming "too Chinese". This led to Yuan
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...

 emperors separating themselves from their subjects in order to stress their Mongol identity and to reject their Chinese culture. Kublai Khan once promoted Chinese culture and the importance of its practice but under the Yuan emperors this was now prohibited. As the Chinese culture was changing, intolerance became more common. Some Chinese thought that they were planning to kill Chinese children and perform sexual rituals on them. This led many Chinese to become xenophobic
Xenophobia
Xenophobia is defined as "an unreasonable fear of foreigners or strangers or of that which is foreign or strange". It comes from the Greek words ξένος , meaning "stranger," "foreigner" and φόβος , meaning "fear."...

 towards the Mongols. This xenophobia led Chinese rulers to expel the Mongols from China and to isolate China from the rest of the world trade system.

The Black Death


The segregation and fragmentation of the respective khanates in the Mongol Empire were not the only factors in contributing to the decline of the Pax Mongolica. The outbreak of bubonic plague
Bubonic plague
Plague is a deadly infectious disease that is caused by the enterobacteria Yersinia pestis, named after the French-Swiss bacteriologist Alexandre Yersin. Primarily carried by rodents and spread to humans via fleas, the disease is notorious throughout history, due to the unrivaled scale of death...

, or Black Death
Black Death
The Black Death was one of the most devastating pandemics in human history, peaking in Europe between 1348 and 1350. Of several competing theories, the dominant explanation for the Black Death is the plague theory, which attributes the outbreak to the bacterium Yersinia pestis. Thought to have...

, also played a devastating role in the decline of the Pax Mongolica. Because the Mongol Empire bridged once isolated regions, it made it easy for the Black Death to spread rapidly. Historian William H. McNeill has noted that the plague was transferred from ground rodents living in southern Chinese and Burmese Himalayan foothills to Mongol soldiers when they invaded the area in 1252. In 1331 the plague was noted in China, and from east Asia it was carried west along the trade routes by merchants and Mongol soldiers who were able to so freely and quickly travel across the continent during the Pax Mongolica. Plague-infected fleas hitched rides in the manes of horses, on the hair of camels, or on black rats that nestled in cargoes or in sattlebags. The Black Death is estimated to have killed one-third of China's population and 25 to 50 percent of Europe's population.

Demographically weakened, the Mongols were not able to exert their rule over remote domains in their empire, who began to revolt once the plague broke out. These revolts disrupted the production of goods and flow of trade, which ended the Pax Mongolica.

Effects on trade


Over the next 300 years China would become extremely isolated from foreign merchants; China prohibited foreigners or foreign trade and languages other than Chinese. Confucianism
Confucianism
Confucianism is a Chinese ethical and philosophical system developed from the teachings of the Chinese philosopher Confucius . Confucianism originated as an "ethical-sociopolitical teaching" during the Spring and Autumn Period, but later developed metaphysical and cosmological elements in the Han...

 and Taoism
Taoism
Taoism refers to a philosophical or religious tradition in which the basic concept is to establish harmony with the Tao , which is the mechanism of everything that exists...

 were reinstated as the national religion and the Chinese experienced cultural stagnation. During the early years of the Ming Dynasty
Ming Dynasty
The Ming Dynasty, also Empire of the Great Ming, was the ruling dynasty of China from 1368 to 1644, following the collapse of the Mongol-led Yuan Dynasty. The Ming, "one of the greatest eras of orderly government and social stability in human history", was the last dynasty in China ruled by ethnic...

 trade with the rest of the world declined. This is attributed to war, epidemics and widespread disruptions rather than "symbolic policy change". Economic difficulties also contributed to the decline as an important world trade player. The Black Death
Black Death
The Black Death was one of the most devastating pandemics in human history, peaking in Europe between 1348 and 1350. Of several competing theories, the dominant explanation for the Black Death is the plague theory, which attributes the outbreak to the bacterium Yersinia pestis. Thought to have...

 quickly spread to the rest of the world trade system, and the long-distance trading that was common and applauded during the Pax Mongolica almost entirely stopped. As a result, many former economic powerhouses, such as China, withdrew from the world trade system, allowing European powers such as Portugal and Spain to emerge as dominant players.

Personnel exchanges


Under the Mongols new technologies and commodities were exchanged across Old World
Old World
The Old World consists of those parts of the world known to classical antiquity and the European Middle Ages. It is used in the context of, and contrast with, the "New World" ....

, particularly Eurasia
Eurasia
Eurasia is a continent or supercontinent comprising the traditional continents of Europe and Asia ; covering about 52,990,000 km2 or about 10.6% of the Earth's surface located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres...

. Professor Thomas T.Allsen noted many personnel exchanges occurred during the Mongol period. There were many significant developments in economy (especially trade and public finance), military, medicine, agriculture, cuisine, astronomy
Astronomy
Astronomy is a natural science that deals with the study of celestial objects and phenomena that originate outside the atmosphere of Earth...

, printing, geography, and historiography, which were not limited to Eurasia but North Africa
North Africa
North Africa or Northern Africa is the northernmost region of the African continent, linked by the Sahara to Sub-Saharan Africa. Geopolitically, the United Nations definition of Northern Africa includes eight countries or territories; Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, South Sudan, Sudan, Tunisia, and...

. The Mongolian Empire functioned as the principal cultural clearing house for the Old World
Old World
The Old World consists of those parts of the world known to classical antiquity and the European Middle Ages. It is used in the context of, and contrast with, the "New World" ....

until its downturn when it was gradually replaced by maritime Europe which in time came to perform similar offices for the Old World and the New.

Further reading

  • Weatherford, Jack. Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World (New York: Crown, 2004) ISBN 0-609-61062-7.
  • Thomas T. Allsen. Culture and Conquest in Mongol Eurasia Cambridge Studies in Islamic Civilization Cambridge University Press March 25, 2004 ISBN 0-521-60270-X
  • Jackson, Peter. The Mongols and the West: 1221-1410 Longman 2005 ISBN 0-582-36896-0