The Mongols ruled China and Russia, yet the effect of their rule in China and Russia, while in some ways similar, was quite different, politically and economically. Genghis Khan, born in the 1770s, was elected khagan (a title of imperial rank) of all Mongol tribes in 1206. Kubilai Khan, Genghis Khan’s grandson, was the commander of the Mongol forces responsible for the conquest of China; he became khagan in 1260. Kubilai Khan founded the Yuan Dynasty. Batu, the ruler of the Golden Horde of the dynasty, another grandson of Genghis Khan, was responsible for the invasion of Russia beginning in 1236.
The Mongol rule over China was overbearing, while the Mongol rule over Russia was more disengaged. The political impact of he Mongols was under the rule of Kubilai Khan. They captured China and established the Yuan Dynasty in 1234. The Mongols controlled the Chinese area south of Mongolia. They established direct control over Mongolia, and ruled with a bureaucracy. There was no scholar gentry, no civil service exam, and Confucianism was not used. The Chinese were also not allowed in the government.
They also had their hands on the social and cultural policies of China. The Mongol conquest of Russia reduced the Russian princes to tribute-payers. Payments fell heavily on the peasants, who found themselves reduced to serfdom. Until the mid- nineteenth century, serfdom was typical of Russian agricultural labor. Some Russian cities, such as Moscow, recovered their fortunes by the increased trade the Mongol empire permitted. After 1328, Moscow also profited by serving as the tribute collector for the Mongol overlords.
The head of the Orthodox Church in Russia selected Moscow as his capital. In 1380, the princes of Moscow turned against the Mongols and led an alliance of Russian forces that defeated the Mongols at the battle of Kulikova. The victory broke the hold of the Mongols on Russia, although the nomads continued to make raids into the fifteenth century. The Mongol conquest of Russia ensured the central position of Moscow and the Orthodox Church, led to changes in Russian military organization, and revised the political concepts of Russian rulers.
The period of Mongol dominance also cut Russia off from western Europe both politically and culturally. The conquest of the Muslim heartlands of the Middle East fell to Hulegu, another grandson of Chinggis Khan. In 1258, the Mongols captured and destroyed Baghdad, killing the last of the Abbasid caliphs. The Mongol invasion and the consequent destruction of many cities destroyed the focal points of Islamic culture. Without a central administration, the regional Muslim commanders suffered repeated defeats. Only in 1260 did the Mamluk army of Egypt defeat the Mongols at Ain Jalut.
Baibars, the Mamluk general, was able to hold off further Mongol invasions. Lack of unity among the Mongol hordes also caused Hulegu to end his assault on Islamic territories. Economically, the Mongols helped China much more than they did politically. Although china paid a heavy tribute tax to Mongolia, Mongolia renewed trade for China, providing them with long distance trade routes and connections with other civilizations. Their exports included porcelain, silk, teas, textiles, medicine, and luxury items of all sorts.
The Mongols rebuilt the Silk Road, a main trade route which the Mongols partially protected. Of course though, trading brought diseases, such as the black plague, which affected population severely. The Mongols stimulated the building of Chinese infrastructure and built new cities such as Xanadu. In essence, although Mongolia had its hand deep into China, they caused China’s prosperity. Mongols did not only destroy the China, but they also helped it prosper and become united under different structure.
Tatar influence on Muscovite administrative and military affairs, ” was on the basis of the Mongol patterns that the grand ducal system of taxation and army organization was developed [in Muscovy] in the late fourteenth to the sixteenth centuries. ” For more than 50 years the khans of the Golden Horde exercised full and direct power over taxation and conscription in east Russia. When the Russia princes recovered authority over them, they continued the Mongol systems The division of the Muscovite army into five large units resembled Mongol practice.
The Russians adopted the Tatars’ tactics of envelopment and their system of universal conscription. The economic results of the Mongol conquest were mixed. Devastated major cities, especially Kiev lost their importance for centuries. Mongol conscription of craftsmen almost exhausted Russia reservoir of skilled manpower; industry was crippled. Mongol regional governors and khans, however, encouraged the development of Rus trade with both east and west.
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