Nomadic Empires: NBSE Class 11 History (Arts) answers, notes

Genghis Khan Nomadic Empires
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Get summary, textual answers, solutions, notes, extras, PDF to NBSE Class 11 (Arts) History (Themes in World History) Chapter 7: Nomadic Empires (Focus: The Mongols 13th-14th Century). However, the educational materials should only be used for reference and students are encouraged to make necessary changes.

Introduction

The concept of “nomadic empires” may initially seem paradoxical, as nomads are traditionally seen as wandering family groups with unsystematic economic systems and primitive political organizations. In contrast, empires are often thought of as stable entities with fixed territorial boundaries, complex social and economic structures, and elaborate administrative systems. However, these definitions are too narrow when considering the historical reality of some imperial formations created by nomadic groups, such as the Mongol Empire. Spanning from the 13th to 14th century, the Mongol Empire emerged from the vast region inhabited by numerous cattle-breeder tribes, stretching from Central Asia to the Korean Peninsula, and from Siberian forests to the Yellow River valleys. The evolution of the Mongolian nomadic culture can be traced through three distinct developmental stages: the early period of nomadism, marked by the struggle for dominance among Turks and Mongol tribes; the period of a unified Mongolian state; and the adoption of Buddhism. This unique blend of cultural, social, and historical elements illustrates that the notion of “nomadic empires” is not a contradiction but rather a complex and fascinating historical phenomenon.

Exercise/textual questions and answers

I. Very short answer type questions

1. What were the three steps in the formation of the Mongol nomadic culture?

Answer: The formation of Mongolian nomadic culture can be divided into three different steps of development:

  • Early period of nomadism (struggle for dominance in the region by the Turks and Mongol tribes).
  • The period of unified Mongolian State.
  • Adoption of Buddhism.

2. To which territory, the original Mongols belonged?

Answer: The original Mongols were a confederation of tribes in combination with the Tatar, Kerait, Merkit and Naiman confederations. They were composed of diverse body of people linked by similarities of language to the Tartars, Khitan and Manchus to the East and the Turks to the West. They nomadised in the steppes of central Asia (tracts of land in the modern state of Mongolia).

3. Which Mongol tribe defeated the Hunas in the AD first century?

Answer: The Xianbis, a tribe of Mongol origin, defeated the Hunas in the AD first century.

4. Why was trade so significant to the Mongols?

Answer: Trade was significant to the Mongols because they belonged to steppe lands with limited resources, which drove them to trade and barter with their neighbors in China. This was beneficial to both parties as agricultural produce and iron utensils from China were exchanged for horses, furs and game trapped in the steppes with the Mongols.

5. Which Mongolian tribe established its rule in the Greater Steppe and later retreated to the Chinese territory?

Answer: The Kidans, which was of Mongol origin, established its rule in the Greater Steppe and later retreated to Chinese territory.

6. Which great Mongolian statesman unified the Mongols?

Answer: The great Mongolian statesman who unified the Mongols was Genghis Khan.

7. What was the extent of the Mongol Empire at its height?

Answer: The Mongol Empire at its height extended from Korea to Hungary, and included most of the lands between Afghanistan, Georgia, Armenia, Russia, Persia, China, and much of the Middle East.

8. When did Genghis Khan come to the Mongol throne?

Answer: Genghis Khan came to the Mongol throne in an assembly of Mongol chieftains in 1206, where he was proclaimed the supreme head of his people with the title Genghis Khan “Supreme Ruler”.

9. What was the basic weapon of the Mongols?

Answer: The basic weapon of the Mongols was the compound large bow.

10. What is the meaning of Psychological Warfare?

Answer: Psychological Warfare consists of attempts to make your enemy lose confidence, give up hope, or feel afraid, so that you can win.

11. In which year, did Kuhlai Khan finally gain control over China? 

Answer: Kublai Khan gained control over China in AD 1259.

12. What do you know about the circumstances in which Genghis Khan died?

Answer: The circumstances of Genghis Khan’s death are unknown. Most versions of the story hold that Khan fell from his horse and was killed. According to some legends, the fall took place during a hunt, others say it happened in the heat of a battle.

13. Who was Mongke Khan?

Answer: Mongke Khan was a grandson of Genghis Khan and a nephew of Ogodei who ascended the throne with the assistance of his mother Sorghaghani Beki. He became the leader of the Mongol empire after the sudden death of Ogodei Khan. During his reign, the Mongol court followed the suggestion from Crusader kingdoms in Syria to attack the Muslim capital of Baghdad and Cairo. However, Mongke Khan died while on the road to Cairo in AD 1259.

14. When did Kublai Khan come to the throne of the Mongol Empire?

Answer: Kublai Khan came to the throne of the Mongol Empire in AD 1260.

15. Name the Italian adventurer who stayed at the Court of Kublai Khan.

Answer: The Italian adventurer who stayed at the Court of Kublai Khan was Marco Polo.

16. To which city did Kublai Khan transfer his court?

Answer: Kublai Khan transferred his court to Beijing.

17. What was the opinion of Kublai Khan about the Chinese culture?

Answer: Kublai Khan had a strong admiration for the Chinese culture of his conquered subjects. He recognized the value of the civilization which he subjugated and during Mongol rule, Chinese drama and fiction were firmly established. In a very short time, the Mongol conquerors were absorbed into Chinese way of life.

18. What was the impact of Buddhism on the Mongol tribes?

Answer: Buddhism had a significant impact on the Mongol tribes. The Khans chose Buddhism as the state religion, which helped to unify the Mongol tribes spiritually and counter the threat to their security posed by Christians, Russia, and China. The introduction of Buddhism had a positive impact on Mongolian society, becoming one of the most important criteria of Mongolian nomadic identity. Buddhist monasteries turned into unique cultural centers of society, keeping quite big libraries containing not only Buddhist texts but also many books related to traditional science and history. Many traditions and customs of the Mongols were enriched by Buddhist meanings. By the 17th century, the Mongol-speaking Buddhist nomads were quite different from the Muslim nomads both by religion and language. Buddhism gave the final touch in the formation of the nomadic Mongol society, and a society with distinct characteristics of nomadism appeared in the country.

19. Give any one important cause of decline of the Mongol Empire.

Answer: One important cause of the decline of the Mongol Empire was the cultural assimilation of the Mongols with their more advanced subjects. When the Mongols settled down to enjoy their conquests, they were not assimilated with their subjects, unlike the Arabs who had both a language and a religion that their subjects were willing to adopt and that served as strong bonds for imperial unity. The Mongols, being less advanced than the Arabs, enjoyed no such advantage. They adopted the languages, religions, and cultures of their more advanced subjects and thereby lost their identity. This was the root cause of the dissolution of their empire soon after its creation.

20. What was Yasa?

Answer: Yasa was the code of law promulgated by Genghis Khan. It concerned administrative regulations, the organization of the hunt, and the Postal System.

II. Short answer type questions

1. Describe the features of early period of Mongol nomadism.

Answer: During the early period of Mongol nomadism, which lasted from the third millennium BC to the 12th century AD, the Great Steppes were inhabited by tribes of Mongol and Turk origin. These tribes co-existed and struggled for dominance over the region. The Hunas established their hegemony over the region in the 3rd century BC, laying the foundation of Mongolian nomadic culture. The Mongols were composed of a diverse body of people, linked by similarities of language to the Tartars, Khitan, and Manchus to the East and the Turks to the West. Some Mongols reared cattle while others were food gatherers and hunters. They nomadized in the steppes of central Asia, an area ringed by the snow-capped Altai mountains to the west, the arid Gobi Desert in the south, and had myriad springs from melting snows of the hills in the north and the west. They had lush green pastures and considerable small game in a good season. The hunter-gatherers wandered in the northern region and made a living from trade in furs of animals. Agriculture was possible in the pastoral region during a short period of time in the year. The Mongols were united by the ties of language, but due to the scarcity of sources, their society was divided into patrilineal lineages. The rich families were larger, possessed more animals and pasture lands, and were very influential in local politics. The periodic natural calamities like harsh cold winters and droughts led to conflicts among the families over pasture lands and predatory raids in search of livestock. The Mongols had enough achievement in the field of technology, including cattle fences and preparation of fodder. They were successful in creating a unique culture.

2. Describe the progress of Mongolian culture in the early period of nomadism.

Answer: During the early period of nomadism, Mongolian culture progressed in several ways:

Cattle breeding: Mongols had a unique knowledge of nomadic cattle breeding, which they developed over time. However, with the introduction of European science of cattle breeding, the original Mongolian type of cattle breeding started losing its characteristics.

Social customs: Mongols developed social customs connected with the nomadic way of life. They gathered things in connection with felt making, hair cutting of a baby, songs to make cattle accept the rejected baby, etc. With the introduction of European science of cattle breeding, these customs began to fade away.

Dwelling: Mongol nomads developed a special type of dwelling called “Ger”. These wooden structures could be dismantled in an hour and taken to another place and fitted again in a few hours.

Calendar: Mongol nomads designed a calendar to suit the nomadic way. It was designed with a number of holidays, fully suited to the need of their way of life. The main events of this calendar were Tsagaansar, or the Mongolian new year (usually after the new year the cold of the winter comes down), Hansh Day (the day, on which all animals start waking up after winter sleep and all plants begin to blossom).

Script: Mongols developed their script, originally borrowed from the Uyghurs. They, however, developed it to the extent that suited all the dialects of the Mongolian language. The Mongolians, in fact, used a dozen scripts out of which only the Uyghurs script has survived due to its highly developed structure.

Writing history: Mongolians had a tradition of writing history and respecting books. They used the best type of silk to wrap their books. No Mongol would allow himself to sit or step on a book. The Mongols wrote the world-famous books like Secret History of Mongols, Golden History, and Crystal Mirror.

Buddhism: Buddhism gave the Mongols a clear distinction from the neighboring nations like Christian Russia, Confucian China, and Muslim Central Asia by preserving their culture. Buddhism turned to the Mongolian as a cultural center. Most of the educated people lived in the monasteries, creating cultural valuables. A special type of symbiosis developed between the nomadic herdsmen and the settled monasteries.

3. Describe the early career of Genghis Khan.

Answer: Genghis Khan, originally named Temujin, was born in 1162 to a minor clan leader. When he was twelve years old, his father was poisoned, and he spent his childhood in misery. However, he overcame his humble beginnings by mastering the art of tribal politics, which required a mixture of loyalty, cunning, and ruthless treachery, as well as physical strength. After successfully crushing his various rivals, Genghis Khan was finally able to combine the various Mongol-speaking tribes into a single unit. In 1206, an assembly of Mongol chieftains proclaimed him the supreme head of his people with the title Genghis Khan “Supreme Ruler”.

4. What was the political condition of Europe and Central Asia at the time of Genghis Khan’s accession to the throne?

Answer: The political condition of Asia was also favourable for Genghis Khan to start campaign of conquests. China was divided into three fragments, with the Chin dynasty ruling the north, the south by the Sung and the Tibetan-Tanguts controlling the north-west with their kingdom of Hsi-Hsia. Thus there was no strong and unified China. In the Eurasia, the balance of power was quite disturbed. To the west of China was the state of Kara Khital based on oasis cities such as Bokhara and Samarkand. Beyond that, on the Oxus river, was the Muslim kingdom of Khorezm and still further west the Abbasid caliphate of Baghdad, both had lost their glory.

5. Describe briefly the exploits of Genghis Khan in the Middle East.

Answer: Genghis Khan’s conquests in the Middle East were brutal and devastating. He first subjugated the Hsi-Hsia state between AD 1205 and 1209 and forced it to be a tributary state. In AD 1211, Genghis Khan attacked north China, first overrunning the region north of the Great Wall and penetrated to the Yellow River plain. By AD 1215, Genghis Khan had occupied and plundered Peking. He had also gained the services of the Chinese who knew how to besiege cities and others who knew how to administer and establish agricultural societies.

Afterwards, Genghis Khan turned to the surrounding nomadic territories. He occupied Manchuria in AD 1216, Korea in AD 1218 and Kara Khital in the following year. By the conquests, he had reached the frontiers of Khovasan which he overran in AD 1219-1221. He looted and plundered rich and prosperous cities such as Bokhara, Samarkand and Balakh and ruthlessly killed their inhabitants. The only exceptions were the skilled artisans whom he sent to Mongolia.

6. What reforms were brought about by Genghis Khan in the Mongol Empire?

Answer: Genghis Khan implemented several reforms in the Mongol Empire, including:

  • Employing cooperative local officials from the previous regime and keeping local infrastructure largely intact.
  • Enforcing a legal code that was surprisingly liberal, which included abolishing taxes on the priests of all religions, declaring all children legitimate, and allowing women to be educated.
  • Offering a “New Deal” that took care of the poor.
  • According to some historians, Genghis Khan also warned his family members and other generals to avoid exploitation of the peasantry.
  • Genghis Khan’s army was organized according to decimal units in divisions of 10s, 100s, 1,000s, and 10,000 soldiers, and he organized a rapid courier system that connected the distant areas of his dominion.

7. Write a note on the successors of Genghis Khan.

Answer: After the death of Genghis Khan, his son Ogodei Khan was selected as his successor. He continued the expansion of the Mongol empire into northeastern Asia, conquering Korea and northern China in the process. The armies of the Mongols had reached Poland, Hungary, and Egypt by AD 1241 and were determined to advance further. But at that time, Ogodei Khan died suddenly. The Mongol law required all the descendants of Genghis to return and elect a new Khan. The leader of Mongol expedition of Europe rushed back to Mongolia to press his claim. About a decade later, Mongke Khan, a grandson of Genghis Khan and a nephew of Ogodei ascended the throne with the assistance of his mother Sorghaghani Beki. By this time, the Western expansion had lost its momentum.

In AD 1260, Kublai Khan came to the throne. The Mongols, under their new leader, made wider conquests. Kublai Khan conquered the Sung Empire in China and thus brought both the south and north China together under his rule. Kublai Khan moved the court to Beijing and formed the Yuan dynasty. At their greatest extent, the Mongols ruled over Russia, China, Central Asia, and Persia. In theory, Kublai Khan was the ruler of all these regions but, in effect, the Mongol territory was divided into four separate kingdoms by this time. Kublai Khan was a capable and well-meaning ruler. He ruled in a disciplined manner and enforced a legal code that was surprisingly liberal.

8. Describe briefly the conquests of Kublai Khan.

Answer: Kublai Khan was a Mongol ruler who conquered the Sung Empire in China, bringing both the north and south under his rule. He moved the court to Beijing and formed the Yuan dynasty. At their greatest extent, the Mongols ruled over Russia, China, Central Asia, and Persia. In theory, Kublai Khan was the ruler of all these regions, but in effect, the Mongol territory was divided into four separate kingdoms by this time. Kublai Khan was a capable and well-meaning ruler who built roads, established granaries of wheat for days of famines, and gave state assistance to orphans and the sick. He also built a splendid capital at Peking and completed the last section of the Grand Canal, which connected Peking with the Yangtze.

9. Give the views of Marco Polo about the reign of Kublai Khan.

Answer: According to the account of Marco Polo in his book “Travels of Marco Polo”, Kublai Khan was a capable and well-meaning ruler who renewed contacts of China with other cultures. Marco Polo remained a trusted official in the Government of the Mongol Emperor for seventeen years and returned to his home in Venice in AD 1295. His book was widely read and had a tremendous influence upon traders, missionary leaders, geographers, and later explorers. Marco Polo regarded Kublai Khan as a great ruler who built a splendid capital at Peking, completed the last section of the Grand Canal, and gave state assistance to orphans and the sick. He also recognized the value of Chinese culture and was an admirer of his conquered subjects.

10. How Buddhism spread among the Mongol nomads?

Answer: Buddhism was chosen as the state religion by the Khans and the Indo-Tibetan version was preferred due to its success in unifying the Mongol tribes spiritually and countering the threat posed by Christians, Russia, and China. The introduction of Buddhism had a positive impact on Mongolian society and became an important criterion of Mongolian nomadic identity. Buddhist monasteries turned into unique cultural centers of society and kept large libraries containing not only Buddhist texts but also books related to traditional science and history. Many traditions and customs of the Mongols were enriched by Buddhist meanings. By the 17th century, the Mongol-speaking Buddhist nomads were quite different from the Muslim nomads both by religion and language. Buddhism gave the final touch in the formation of the nomadic Mongol society and a society with distinct characteristics of nomadism appeared in the country. The monasteries acted as preservators of tradition and keepers of the intellectual well-being of the nomads, while the nomads supplied food, money, and other things and supported the monasteries financially.

11. Why did Genghis Khan fragment the Mongol tribes into new social and military groupings?

Answer: Genghis Khan fragmented the Mongol tribes into new social and military groupings to create a more organized and efficient army. He organized his army according to decimal units in divisions of 10s, 100s, 1,000s, and 10,000 soldiers. He divided the old tribal groupings and distributed their members into new military units. The new military contingents were required to serve under Genghis Khan’s four sons and especially chosen captains of his army called Noyan. This allowed for better control and coordination of the army, which was necessary for the success of his conquests.

III. Essay type questions

1. Explain how the Mongol Empire was created.

Answer: The Mongol Empire was created under the leadership of Genghis Khan, who unified the Mongol people by absorbing other confederations into his one unit. The Mongols were originally a confederation of tribes in combination with the Tatar, Kerait, Merkit, and Naiman confederations. With Genghis coming to power, there began a period of unified Mongol state. Under his leadership, the Mongols created the second largest empire in world history. At its height, the Mongol Empire extended from Korea to Hungary, and included most of the lands between Afghanistan, Georgia, Armenia, Russia, Persia, China, and much of the Middle East.

The Mongols were able to achieve such remarkable achievements in a pre-industrial age of poor means of communication by using their skills to administer and control such a vast empire. They recruited civil administrators from the conquered societies who helped in integrating the distant dominions. Their backgrounds and training were always useful in checking the nomadic predations. The Mongol Khans trusted them as long as they continued to raise revenue for their masters, and these administrators commanded considerable influence.

Genghis Khan dealt with the diverse social religious groups that inhabited his vast dominion by not thrusting his personal beliefs on public policy. The Mongols recruited administrators and armed forces from people of all racial groups and religions. The Mongols provided ideological models for later regimes (like the Mughal regime in India) to follow.

2. Describe the circumstances favourable to Genghis Khan to establish a unified Mongol Empire.

Answer: Genghis Khan was able to establish a unified Mongol Empire due to several favourable circumstances. Firstly, he was able to unify the Mongol people by absorbing other confederations into his one unit, which allowed for a more cohesive and powerful force. Additionally, the Mongols were a nomadic society with a strong military tradition, which gave them an advantage in warfare.

Genghis Khan also introduced diverse people into his army, which complicated the composition of the army but ultimately allowed for a more diverse and skilled force. He organized his army according to decimal units in divisions of 10s, 100s, 1,000s, and 10,000 soldiers, and distributed members of old tribal groupings into new military units. He also had especially chosen captains of his army called Noyan, who were responsible for leading the new military contingents.

Furthermore, Genghis Khan was able to establish a rapid courier system that connected the distant areas of his dominion, which allowed for efficient communication and control over his vast empire. He also enforced a legal code that was surprisingly liberal, which helped to consolidate his rule. He abolished taxes on the priests of all religions, declared all children legitimate, and allowed women to be educated.

3. Make a character estimate of Genghis Khan.

Answer: Genghis Khan was a complex character who was both a ruthless conqueror and a wise leader. He was able to unite the Mongol-speaking tribes into a single unit and consolidate his rule by employing cooperative local officials from the previous regime. He enforced a legal code that was surprisingly liberal and offered a “New Deal” that took care of the poor. However, his conquests cost the lives of millions of people, and his reputation was further sullied by association with the atrocities committed by his successors.

Genghis Khan, originally named Temujin, was born in 1162 and was the son of a minor clan leader. He spent his childhood in misery after his father was poisoned when he was twelve years old. However, he overcame his humble beginnings by mastering the complicated art of tribal politics, which required a mixture of loyalty, cunning, and ruthless treachery, as well as physical strength.

Genghis Khan was able to combine the various Mongol-speaking tribes into a single unit and was proclaimed the supreme head of his people with the title Genghis Khan “Supreme Ruler” in 1206. He had a built-in advantage enjoyed by all nomad warriors, which was the daily life of the nomad warriors that was a continued rehearsal of campaign operations. These tribesmen were capable of riding several days and nights in succession with a minimum of rest and food.

Genghis Khan was in a position to satisfy his nomadic lust for conquest and booty. He looted and plundered rich and prosperous cities such as Bokhara, Samarkand, and Balakh and ruthlessly killed their inhabitants. It is estimated that his conquests cost the lives of five million people. However, historians now try to depict Genghis Khan as a wise leader and a philosopher.

He consolidated his rule by employing cooperative local officials from the previous regime and kept local infrastructure largely intact. He enforced a legal code that was surprisingly liberal and offered a “New Deal” that took care of the poor. He abolished taxes on the priests of all the religions and declared that all children were legitimate. He entitled the children of the prostitutes and concubines to inheritance. He also allowed women to be educated and banned efforts to make women cover their heads.

The circumstances of Genghis Khan’s death are unknown. Most versions of the story hold that Khan fell from his horse and was killed. According to some legends, the fall took place during a hunt, others say it happened in the heat of a battle.

4. Describe the achievements of Genghis Khan.

Answer: Genghis Khan, originally named Temujin, was born in 1162 and was the son of a minor clan leader. After his father was poisoned when he was twelve years old, he spent his childhood in misery. However, he was able to overcome these humble beginnings by mastering the complicated art of tribal politics, which required a mixture of loyalty, cunning, and ruthless treachery, as well as physical strength. After successfully crushing his various rivals, Genghis Khan was finally able to combine the various Mongol-speaking tribes into a single unit. In 1206, an assembly of Mongol chieftains proclaimed him the supreme head of his people with the title Genghis Khan “Supreme Ruler”.

Genghis Khan was in a position to satisfy his nomadic lust for conquest and booty. He had a maximum of 1,25,000 tribesmen warriors, which was a limited resource compared to other nomad conquerors, who were almost invariably the Turks. However, Genghis Khan had a built-in advantage enjoyed by all nomad warriors. The daily life of the nomad warriors was a continued rehearsal of campaign operations. These tribesmen were capable of riding several days and nights in succession with a minimum of rest and food. They carried with them leather bags for water which when empty could be inflated for use in swimming across rivers. Normally, they lived off the countryside but if necessary, they drank the blood of their horses and the milk of their mares. From boyhood, they were skilled hunters. Their favourite tactic was feigned fight.

Genghis Khan is often depicted as a wise leader and a philosopher. Though the process of cruelties committed by the Mongols was not pleasant, yet the regime was not bad once it was in place. Khan consolidated his rule by employing cooperative local officials from the previous regime and kept local infrastructure largely intact. Khan also enforced a legal code that was surprisingly liberal. Khan offered a “New Deal” that took care of the poor. Khan abolished taxes on the priests of all the religions. More controversial and progressive for the day, Khan declared that all children were legitimate. He entitled the children of the prostitutes and concubines to inheritance. Khan also allowed women to be educated. He banned efforts to make women cover their heads.

Genghis Khan’s conquests cost the lives of an estimated five million people. At the capture of Nishapur in 1220, Genghis Khan had massacred 1,747,000 people. The toll of life at Herat in AD 1222 was 1,600,000 people, and at Baghdad, 800,000. At Tun in the Kuhistan province, 12,000 individuals were executed. His reputation was further sullied by association with the atrocities committed by his successors. His grandson built a pyramid out of the skulls of thousands of Baghdad’s greatest scholars.

5. Describe the career and achievements of Kublai Khan.

Answer: Kublai Khan was a capable and well-meaning ruler who ruled in the tradition of the old Chinese emperors. He built roads, established granaries of wheat for days of famines, and gave state assistance to orphans and the sick. He also built a splendid capital at Peking and completed the last section of the Grand Canal, which connected Peking with the Yangtze. Kublai Khan’s rule renewed the contacts of China with other cultures. He conquered the Sung Empire in China and thus brought both the south and north China together under his rule. Kublai Khan moved the court to Beijing and formed the Yuan dynasty. At their greatest extent, the Mongols ruled over Russia, China, Central Asia, and Persia. In theory, Kublai Khan was the ruler of all these regions but, in effect, the Mongol territory was divided into four separate kingdoms by this time.

Kublai Khan was an admirer of Chinese culture and his conquered subjects. He proved to be an especially strong admirer of Chinese culture of his conquered subjects. It was during Mongol rule that Chinese drama and fiction were firmly established. Kublai Khan welcomed Marco Polo in AD 1275, and Marco Polo remained a trusted official in the Government of the Mongol Emperor for seventeen years. Marco Polo returned to his home, Venice (Italy) in AD 1295. He wrote the story of his wanderings, “The Travels of Marco Polo”. This book was read widely and had tremendous influence upon traders, missionary leaders, geographers, and later explorers.

Kublai Khan’s reign was marked by his efforts to expand the Mongol Empire. He conquered Korea and northern China in the process. The armies of the Mongols had reached Poland, Hungary, and Egypt by AD 1241 and were determined to advance further. But at that time, Ogodei Khan died suddenly. The Mongol law required all the descendants of Genghis to return and elect a new Khan. The leader of the Mongol expedition of Europe rushed back to Mongolia to press his claim. About a decade later, Mongke Khan, a grandson of Genghis Khan and a nephew of Ogodei ascended the throne with the assistance of his mother Sorghaghani Beki. By this time, the Western expansion had lost its momentum.

Thus, Kublai Khan was a capable and well-meaning ruler who expanded the Mongol Empire and renewed the contacts of China with other cultures. He was an admirer of Chinese culture and welcomed Marco Polo, who remained a trusted official in the Government of the Mongol Emperor for seventeen years. Kublai Khan’s reign was marked by his efforts to expand the Mongol Empire, and he conquered Korea and northern China in the process.

6. Describe the distinct characteristics of the Nomadic Mongolian Society.

Answer: The Nomadic Mongolian Society had distinct characteristics and a unique way of life. Some of these characteristics are:

  • The Mongols developed agricultural science which fitted the nomadic civilization. They also bred a special type of cattle suited to the nomadic way of life. The Mongolian livestock does not give plenty of milk or meat as is available in the settled civilizations. But all milk, meat and other outcomings were available to the Mongolian nomads in equal proportions. The livestock was fully prepared to live in the extreme hot or cold climates of the country.
  • The Mongolian nomads developed social customs connected with the nomadic way of life. They gather things in connection with felt making, hair cutting of a baby, songs to make cattle accept the rejected baby, etc.
  • The Mongol nomads developed a special type of dwelling called “Ger”. These wooden structures could be dismantled in an hour and taken to another place and fitted again in a few hours.
  • The Mongol nomads designed a calendar to suit the nomadic way. It was designed with a number of holidays, fully suited to the need of their way of life. The main events of this calendar were Tsagaansar, or the Mongolian new year (usually after the new year the cold of the winter comes down), Hansh Day (the day, on which all animals start waking up after winter sleep and all plants begin to blossom).
  • The Mongols developed their script, originally borrowed from the Uyghurs. They, however, developed it to the extent that suited all the dialects of the Mongolian language.
  • The Mongolians had a tradition of writing history and respecting books. They used the best type of silk to wrap their books. No Mongol would allow himself to sit or step on a book. The Mongols wrote the world-famous books like Secret History of Mongols, Golden History, and Crystal Mirror.
  • Buddhism gave the final touch in the formation of the nomadic Mongol society and a society with distinct characteristics of nomadism appeared in the country. Buddhism had become one of the most important criteria of Mongolian nomadic identity. The Buddhist monasteries turned into unique cultural centers of society. Monasteries kept quite big libraries. These libraries contained not only the Buddhist texts but also many books related to the traditional science and history. A lot of traditions and customs of the Mongols were enriched by Buddhist meanings. By the 17th century, the Mongol speaking Buddhist nomads were quite different from the Muslim nomads both by religion and language.

7. Describe the causes of downfall of the Mongol Empire.

Answer: The decline of the Mongol Empire can be attributed to several factors. Firstly, the Mongols were few in numbers and less advanced than their subjects, which made it difficult for them to assimilate with their subjects. Unlike the Arabs who had a language and religion that their subjects were willing to adopt, the Mongols adopted the languages, religions, and cultures of their more advanced subjects, which led to the loss of their identity and the dissolution of their empire soon after its creation.

Secondly, the Mongol Empire was shattered by internal dynastic rivalries as well as by cultural assimilation. Kublai Khan, who moved the Mongol capital from Karakorum to Peking, adopted the Chinese manner of emperorship, ruling from a palace of Chinese design, conducting elaborate Confucian ceremonies, and building new Confucian temples. His authority did not extend beyond China, and his brother Arigh Boke had contested election as Grand Khan. Kublai Khan had succeeded only after a four-year struggle. Then it was challenged by his cousin, Kaidu, who controlled Turkistan, and the ensuing forty-year civil war ended in stalemate. These factors also shattered the Mongol Empire.

Thirdly, the adoption of other religions by the Mongols also led to the decline of the Mongols. The successors of Hulagu, the Persian ruler, adopted Islam in 1295 as the official religion, which reflected in the assimilation of the Mongols into their Iranian-Islamic culture. Likewise, the Golden Horde across the Caucasus mountains went its own way. It was influenced by the native Christian Orthodox culture and by the official Islamic creed. Before long, the only remaining pure Mongols were those in ancestral Mongolia where they came under the influence of Buddhism and sank into obscurity.

In addition to these factors, the Mongol Empire was also affected by frontier wars with China, which were destructive and dislocated agriculture and ruined the cities. The different regimes in China built fortifications to protect their country, which started to be integrated into a common defensive outwork known as the “Great Wall of China” from the 3rd century BC. These wars were particularly damaging to China, which suffered much due to nomadic attacks.

IV. Passage based questions

Read the following passage and answer the questions.

Juwaini, a late-thirteenth-century Persian chronicler of the Mongol rulers of Iran, carried an account of the capture of Bukhara in 1220. After the conquest of the city, Juwaini reported that Genghis Khan went to the festival ground where the rich residents of the city were addressed by him: ‘O’ people know that you have committed great sins, and that the great ones among you have committed these sins. If you ask me what proof I have for these words, I say it is because I am the punishment of God. If you had not committed great sins, God would not have sent a punishment like me upon you’. Now one man had escaped from Bukhara after its capture and had come to Khurasan. He was questioned about the fate of the city and replied: “They came, they [mined the walls], they burnt, they slew, they plundered and they departed’.

1. Who was Juwaini?

Answer: Juwaini was a late-thirteenth-century Persian chronicler of the Mongol rulers of Iran who provided an account of the capture of Bukhara.

2. When did Genghis Khan capture Bukhara?

Answer: Genghis Khan captured Bukhara in 1220.

3. At what place Genghis Khan addressed the rich residents of Bokhara?

Answer: Genghis Khan addressed the rich residents of Bukhara at the festival ground.

4. What arguments did Genghis Khan give to justify the atrocities committed by him on the people of Bokhara?

Answer: Genghis Khan justified the atrocities committed by him on the people of Bukhara by arguing that he was the punishment of God. He claimed that if the people had not committed great sins, God would not have sent a punishment like him upon them.

V. Objective type questions

1. Who was the founder of the Mongol dynasty?

Answer: (a) Genghis Khan

2. Which religion was adopted by the Mongols?

Answer: (d) Buddhism

3. Which emperor adopted the Chinese manner of ruling?

Answer: (b) Kublai Khan

Activities

1. Give the account of the capture of Bokhara by Genghis Khan and the speeches delivered by him after that has made what impact on you. Discuss. 

Answer: Genghis Khan, the founder of the Mongol Empire, captured the city of Bokhara in AD 1220. After the conquest of the city, he went to the festival ground where the rich residents of the city had gathered and addressed them. He said, “O people, know that you have committed great sins, and that the great ones among you have committed these sins. If you ask me what proof I have for these words, I say it is because I am the punishment of God. If you had not committed great sins, God would not have sent a punishment like me upon you.”

A person who had escaped from Bokhara after its capture reached Khorasan and told about the fate of the city of Bokhara. He said, “They came, they mined the walls, they burnt, they slew, they plundered and departed.”

The speeches delivered by Genghis Khan after the capture of Bokhara have made a significant impact on me. It is shocking to hear about the atrocities committed by him and his army. The fact that he justified his actions by claiming to be the punishment of God is disturbing. It shows how power can corrupt even the most religious and spiritual individuals.

Furthermore, the account of the fate of the city of Bokhara is heartbreaking. The destruction and loss of life caused by the Mongol Empire are unimaginable. It is a reminder of the devastating consequences of war and conflict.

2. Why was there a conflict of interests between the pastoralists and peasants. What is your impression about the speech of Genghis Khan which he made to the nomadic commanders.

Answer: The conflict of interests between pastoralists and peasants often arose from their differing ways of life and resource utilization. Pastoralists were typically nomadic, relying on livestock and moving from place to place in search of grazing lands. Peasants, on the other hand, were settled agriculturalists who cultivated the land for crop production. This led to disputes over land, resources, and sometimes cultural differences.

Regarding Genghis Khan’s speech to the nomadic commanders, it demonstrates his ability to unite and motivate his forces. He likely used the belief in divine justice and the portrayal of their enemies as sinful to rally his troops and justify their actions. While this approach might have been effective in creating a strong and loyal army, it also highlights the potential dangers of wielding religious and moral authority to justify violence and conquest.

Extra/additional questions and answers

1. What is the term “nomadic empires” referring to? 

Answer: The term “nomadic empires” refers to imperial formations constructed by nomadic groups, such as the Mongols.

2. List the three different steps of development in the formation of Mongolian nomadic culture. 

Answer: Three different steps of development in the formation of Mongolian nomadic culture were:

  • Early period of nomadism (struggle for dominance in the region by the Turks and Mongol tribes).
  • The period of unified Mongolian State.
  • Adoption of Buddhism.

3. What factors contributed to the conflicts among families in Mongol society? 

Answer: Conflicts among families in Mongol society were primarily driven by periodic natural calamities such as harsh cold winters and droughts. These calamities led to competition over limited resources like pasture lands, and resulted in predatory raids in search of livestock. The society was also divided into patrilineal lineages, with rich families possessing more animals and pasture lands, making them more influential in local politics and contributing to conflicts.

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29. Discuss the influence of the Mongol Empire on later regimes, such as the Mughal regime in India. 

Answer: The Mongol Empire provided ideological models for later regimes, like the Mughal regime in India, to follow. The Mongol Khans’ tolerance for different religions, as they did not impose their personal beliefs on public policy, set a precedent for religious coexistence within an empire. This approach was later adopted by the Mughal Empire, which allowed various religious practices to flourish under their rule. Additionally, the Mongol Empire’s policy of recruiting administrators and armed forces from people of all racial groups and religions demonstrated the value of diversity and inclusivity in governing an empire. This practice also influenced later regimes, such as the Mughals, who adopted similar policies to maintain stability and promote prosperity within their domain.

Extra/additional MCQs

1. Which tribe established hegemony over the Great Steppe region in the 3rd century BC?

A. Xianbis B. Hunas C. Niruna D. Kidans

Answer: B. Hunas

2. What type of lineages was Mongol society divided into?

A. Matrilineal B. Patrilineal C. Bilateral D. Ambilineal

Answer: B. Patrilineal

3. What was the main cause of conflicts among Mongol families?

A. Religion B. Political power C. Natural calamities D. Language differences

Answer: C. Natural calamities

4. Which tribe ruled the Great Steppe from the 10th to 12th century?

A. Xianbis B. Niruna C. Uyghur D. Kidans

Answer: D. Kidans

5. What script did the Mongols and Turks use during the formation of nomadic empires?

A. Orkhon Enisil B. Runic C. Cyrillic D. Arabic

Answer: A. Orkhon Enisil

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60. Which Khan was responsible for freeing the Mongols from Chinese exploitation?

A. Ogodei Khan B. Kublai Khan C. Genghis Khan D. Tolui Khan

Answer: C. Genghis Khan

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