sexta-feira, 26 de fevereiro de 2010

Genghis Khan - The Scourge of God!

(Part II)

The overwhelming amount (one...) of commentaries to my previous post compelled me to continue this scholarly dissertation about good old Genghis.

Good for me that I'm not too touchy about these things...

Regarding the first criteria mentioned in my previous post, I will start by analysing the political entities that surrounded Mongolia in the middle/late 12th century.

CHINA: It was located to the south on the mongolian steppes and was the richest as most powerful of it's neighbours. By the time of Genghis rise to power, China was divided in two empires: the Chin (or Jin), in the north, whose capital was located in Yenking, and the Sung (or Song), in the south, whose capital was located in Hang Chau, also called Hang Chow. Besides ruling over northern China, the Chin emperors also ruled over the steppes and the deserts beyond it, namely in Mongolia. Many a mongolian tribe was in chinese (Chin) dependence, although by the late 12th century this was largely nominal. However, it was chinese policy to "use barbarians to control barbarians", that can be roughly translated as the use of diplomacy, bribes or whatever means necessary to play tribes and coalitions of tribes one against the other, in order to prevent them from uniting under one banner and looking towards China for fun and games.

Genghis, and his father (Yessugei) before him, served as a Chin ally against the Tartars and other tribes, on several occasions. Both chinese empires counted armys several hundreds of thousands strong, and were highly organized and wealthy societies. For example, the Chin had an estimated population of about 50 million souls - the Mongols had an estimated population of about 3 million - without a soul amongst them, at least in their enemies perspective...

HSI HSIA or XIXIA: This empire became a desolated desert after Genghis was finished with it, and "the groans and shrieks of the spirits of those whom he ruthlessly slaughtered still haunt the place", as someone puts it. It was located in north-west China (south-west Mongolia) and was organized in chinese lines, originally founded by Tangut princes that once served as Sung viceroys for the territories bordering on Tibet and the Gobi desert. It's capital was called Hing Chau or Ninghia and was located at a small distance from the left bank of the yellow river, where it leaves the province of Kansuh and enters Mongolia. There were about 30 large towns is this empire.

KARA-KHITAI: Located to the west of Mongolia, this empire was founded by a member of the Liau or Kitan dinasty, who escaped westwards with about 2.000 followers, when his dinasty was overturned by the Chin. It's capital was Balasaghun, near the river Chu and there were several Turkish tribes dependant on it's ruler, the Gur Khan (meaning The Great Khan). It was a regulated and tolerably ordered empire and had a majority of muslim population.

KHWAREZM or KHWARIZM: This empire was located south-west of Kara-Khitai and bordered it. It was founded by a Turk who had originally been a slave. It's capital was Samarkand - one of the great metropolis of Asia in the 12th century. This was a powerfull and wealthy empire. However, it's ruling class (of Turkic origin) was hated by the Persian subject population, that was heavily taxed (taxes, taxes, always the taxes...).

There were other major nations and empires, both near or far from Mongolia, such as Azerbeijan, Fars, Luristan, India, Baghdad, Mosul, Egipt, Syria, The Cruzaders, Rum, Little Armenia, Trezibond, Georgia, The Ismailites, The Kipchaks, The Kankalis, The Karluks, Almaligh, The Naimans, The Uighurs, and many others that one way or the other, sooner or later, felt the weight of Genghis hand (or of his followers) and didn't like it.

My hand is also heavy by now and too lazy to write about all of them.

But I think you get my point: Mongolia was sorrounded by a lot of populous, powerful and wealthy nations and empires. However, before Genghis there had never been a political union between the great majority of the mongolian tribes; they did not have roads or a transportation sistem; they did not have a centralized tax collection system (I like this. This was a good thing); they did not have what we now call a war industry, for the purpose of fabrication and distribution of weapons, ammunitions or supplies.

But, most important of all, Genghis, by comparison, was poor.
He didn't like that and decided to do something about it.

I'll tell your more about it in my next post.