How Barbaric were the Mongols?

The Mongols were nomads who conquered from Central Asia to China, Persia, the Middle East, and Russia. They wanted to built an empire. Their power, or control over the empire, lasted about a century, from circa 1200 to 1300. During Genghis Khan’s ruling of the Mongol Empire from 1162-1227, 4,860,00 square miles were conquered, compared to Hitler’s 1,370,000 square miles conquered (Juvaini, Doc E). The meaning of barbarism is the absence of culture and civilization and extreme cruelty and brutality. The Mongols should be seen as a barbaric society due to their practice of execution, use of skilled men and slaves to improve their missions on conquering cities, and their cruel laws. They had an extensive and extreme desire to conquer as much as land as they could.

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Mongols had a cruel way of killing people when they conquered cities to expand their empire. Their tactics were inhuman, “often deploying utter disregard for their captives’ lives, the Mongols also used them as human shields. When these human shields died, the Mongols would use their corpses as moat fill” (Chua 99). This shows they have no remorse, they treat prisoners as a thing, a human shield. Another example of this is when they conquered Raizan in Russian in 1237, there were no survivors left according to Russian chroniclers. This shows signs of mass slaughter. When Mongols couldn’t capture any people they threw napalm and sometimes melted human fat onto houses to lure the people out. This is another gruesome way they tried to kill or capture people. They show signs of mass slaughter, many Chinese cities fell. they killed so many people that the streets of China’s capital was covered in human fat and flesh (Brady 2005). They were very aggressive that Chinese maidens even committed suicide when the Mongols were conquering northern China, or the Jurchen Empire (Chua 100). The Chinese maidens didn’t want to get abused by Mongol soldiers. A Persian manuscript in circa 1300 shows the execution of a Persian prisoner with other prisoners buried alive upside-down (Doc F). They commited mass destruction to expand their empire.

Mongols also used skilled and experienced men and slaves when they fought. They used people of other countries against them and showed no remorse. When the people surrendered, by their gruesome tactics, they ordered them to state who they are, and when they did, “they seek out the artificers (artisans) among them and keep these, but the others, with the exception of those they wish wish to have slaves, they kill with the axe.” (John of Carpini, Doc D). They only used slaves and people with talent such as artisans and engineers, to help them with future expansion of their empire. They made these skilled men make weapons such as “giant crossbows mounted on wheels, rope-pulled mangonels (single-armed torsion catapults) that hurled stones and flaming liquids”. These weapons were so dangerous that even the army of Samarkand surrendered when they found out about them. Slaves were used to help fight in conquering other cities (Chua 103).

Mongols had such a great want in improving their empire and maintaining their power that they even had harsh laws on their own people to have a stable empire. These laws or rules even had consequences of execution. Mongols had groups of ten people in a battle, ten of these groups were a group of 100. If even one person runs away from a group of ten during a battle, then the whole group of ten get executed, if a whole group often run away, the group of 100 Mongols get executed. This is a cruel punishment since the remaining Mongols did not contribute make other soldiers run away, they were responsible of other soldiers lives while trying to save their lives. Mongols were also responsible for their performance as well, if “one or two or more go forward boldly to the fight then the rest of the ten are put to death if they do not follow”(John of Carpini, Doc C) . Men were required to fight if they were over 14 years old, which is a young age to be on military duty. There is also a brutal law on adultery, if they did commit adultery then they would be executed, no matter if they were convicted before or not.(Ratchnevsky, Doc N). Women were also mistreated, men could have as many wives has they wanted and if a Mongol wanted to marry a married woman he could kill her husband and marry her(Juviani, Doc N) This shows that women don’t have a say in who they want to marry because the man is seen as superior.

One might say that Mongols did not have a lack of culture and civilization which does not make them barbaric. They might say they had “large temples of the court scribes. There are twelve pagan (Buddhist) temples belonging to the different nations, two mosques…and one church for the Christians” (Rubruck, Doc G). This would show the culture that Mongols had and that they aren’t really cruel since they welcome many cultures. They would also say that Mongols made peace by contributing to economic development, political institutions, and cultural diversity of a lot of lands from Pax Mongolica. The affirmative might also say that the (Mongol) Yuan emperors improved transportation and communication by building canals and China’s agriculture and production continued intensely as a result (Halperin, Doc J). Mongols also had a fair rules on hospitality, the husband and wife should show respect for each other and share food, even if there is only a little (John of Plano Carpini, Doc N). But this only happened because of the extensive amount of destruction and people Mongols killed to grow their empire and contribute to this.

In conclusion, the Mongols were barbaric. They had egregious ways of gaining more and more land to stretch their empire. They killed numerous amount of people and used skilled men and slaves to cause even more damage to lands. They even had laws against their own people, breaking some laws would result in execution. They had strict rules and brutal ways of organizing their armies. Their acts of barbarism outweigh the amount of culture and civilization that they had. They took great brutal heights to achieve the successful empire that they had. These are the extreme paths that Mongols took to extend their power.     

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How Barbaric Were The Mongols?. (2021, Jul 01). Retrieved December 4, 2022 , from
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