A barbarian decribes a crude person in a primitive state or someone who lacks education or refinement. During the 13th Century a small Asian tribe known as the Mongols conquered much of the known world linking Western and Easter Eurasia. The Mongols were a nomadic people until they acknowledged the supreme leader Genghis Khan in 1206. Most historians formulate an arguement based on the question “The Mongols: How Barbaric Were the “Barbarians”? The Mongols were not very barbaric because they had a highly sophisticated military, lived by a code of conduct, and helped improve the lives of those they conquered.
The Mongols had a very structured military which grouped their warriors into armies of 10,000 commanded by two or three chiefs. Under this unit of 10,000 warriors were 1,000-man brigades, 100-man companies, and 10-man squads. (Doc C) They were expected to carry clothing, cooking pots, dried meat, a water bottle, files for sharpening arrows, a needle and thread and other useful items.
The Mongols wore silk which made it easier for the soldier or physician to remove it without ripping further flesh. (Doc B) This clearly shows that the Mongols were well prepared for war and had distinct knowledge of it. Their strategy was to attack their enemies head-on and far right and left creating a barrier leaving them with no where to escape. Although the Mongols were outnumbered, they placed women, children, horses and dummy figures to make it seem as though they had a huge army. (Doc D) Their tactics were very skillful and well thought out.
John of Plano Carpini could have left out a valuable note to winnings of the entire Mongol’s battle because he most likely did not see all of the war strategies and might not have described it in the exact way. Ata-Malik Juvaini stated that the Mongols severed the heads of the slain from their bodies and heaped them up in piles during the conquering of Nishapur, (Doc E) this document might portray potential bias because Juvaini was a Persian chronicler and could have made the Mongols look ruthless and uncivilized.
Not only was he Persian but he wrote this account about forty years after the destruction of Nishapur. Why did he wait until 40 years after? Was he hiding something? The Mongols conquered 4,860,000 miles of land which is more than the United States. (Doc A) In order for them to achieve such feats they had to be educated to gain and control an empire larger than the United States. Barbarians have no laws or rules in which they abide by but however, the Mongols lived by a code of conduct.
In 1271, Kublai Khan enforced a new legal system which reduced capital crimes by half. Doc H). There had to have been some kind of strict society in order to have a drastic crime reduction. In the eyes of a Mongol, if someone committed adultery then they would be executed whether or not they have previous convictions. (Doc N) In today’s society, we use the same concept on a less harsh scale, if someone commits an unlawful act, then they shall face the consequences. We might think of that as barbaric today due to penalty of the crime but that would be biased because we do not share the same value system as they did.
Plano Carpini stated “War, strife, bodily harm or murder do not exist, robbers and thieves on a grand scale are not to be found among them. ”(Doc K) The severity of Mongol laws against theft made it possible for those to respect others’ belongings. A scene from a Persian manuscript c. 1300 shows the execution of a prisoner by a Mongol soldier and others being buried alive. (Doc F) This document shows potential bias because it was taken from a Persian manuscript and does not give enough information on why the prisoners are being executed.
Here is where I would need an additional document or source to explain the upside-down burial of living prisoners and why they faced such consequences. The Mongols were not barbaric because they had a code of conduct which maintained order in their society. Although the Mongols conquered most of the known world, they also helped to improve the lives of those they conquered making significant contributions to the political institutions, economic development, and cultural diversity of many lands. In China the (Mongol) Yuan emperors built canals to improve transportation and communication. Doc J) Barbarians are frowned upon as uneducated people. It is unjust to describe the Mongols as barbaric because they made Asia more civilized and advanced . The Great Khan also developed the system of relay stations which aquired 200,000 horses stabled at posts for the special use of the messangers.
(Doc L) This stupendous organization made is easier for the Great Khan to receive immediate news. Over the course, Mongol leaders often converted to the region’s dominant religions- Christianity, Islam, or Buddhism. Doc M) This clearly shows that the Mongols accepted all religions. The city of Karacorum had two districts: the Moslem’s quarter where the markets are and the other district of the Chinese who were all craftsmen. (Doc G) The Mongol cities were highly organized into districts and had some kind of social hierarchy. They also traded for centuries with border posts and had received gifts and money from the Chinese courts. (Doc I) The Mongols should not be considered barbaric because they united most of Asia throught their advancements.
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