October 12, 2023

Ghengis Khan (Endnotes)


Genghis Khan Endnotes


  • Okay let’s start off with a table of contents. We are going to cover:
  • Genghis Khan’s red hair
  • The greatest religious competition of all time
  • The Mongols in Europe
  • The Mongols other conquests
  • The Soviets and their destruction of GK’s spirit banner
  • Was the Mongol conquest destined to stall out?
  • Carving a path through the forest in Siberia
  • The next truly great ruler of Mongolia was Mongke Khan
  • Btw I have wondered if this has any relationship to Donkey Kong
  • Only thing I could find is that Mario goes back in time in a game called Mario’s Time Machine and visits Kublai Khan and when he calls him Kubalai Khan, he says, Khan is just a title, you can call me Kublai.
  • So no, I don’t think Mongke Khan has any connection but Donkey Kong.
  • They sang their orders. They had set songs and melodies and rhythms that they could just alter the words since all the Mongols (basically) were illiterate. This was a pneumonic device to help them remember orders. I think that is pretty cool.
  • Crow swarm or falling stars attack. Ride up shoot, ride away. Encouraged this feeling of inevitability.
  • Good leaders think about strategy and tactics. Great leaders think about psychology. Relate it to the MrBeast episode.
  • Quote: He is afraid of dogs
  • Chroniclers of the era attribute to Genghis Khan the highly unlikely statement that, quote, the greatest joy a man can know is to conquer his enemies and drive them before him, to ride their horses and take away their possessions, to see the faces of those who were dear to them bedewed with tears, and to clasp their wives and daughters in his arms.
  • There's stories that, um, the Mongols are so fearsome that in Mosul, one Muslim writer, Ibn al Athir, recounts that he hears, uh, quote, one of them took a man captive. but had not with him any weapon wherewith to kill him. And he said to his prisoner, Lay your head on the ground and do not move. And he did so, and the Tatar went and fetched his sword and slew him therewith.
  • The Mongol empire represents pan-Asianism in the same way that Rome represents pan-Europeanism. And you see the same stuff. Just like Holy Roman Empire is basically germanic and the third reich is even more narrowly German, they still claim descent from Rome. It’s very tenuous but they claim it. In the same way, the Japanese when they are building out their Asian empire make up this story that Genghis Khan was actually an adventuring samurai. And Timur also known as Tamerlane who was a great conqueror felt the need to take a Mongol princess, a GK descendant, as wife so that his children would have the blood of the Golden Family.
  • he claimed, quote, I have not myself distinguished qualities. He said that the eternal blue sky had condemned the civilizations around him because of their, quote, haughtiness and their extravagant luxury. Look at you. Are you going back out there?
  • I wear the same clothing and eat the same food as the cow herds and the horse herders. We make the same sacrifices. We share the riches. Quote, I hate luxury. Quote, I exercise moderation.
  • Karakorum becomes this fabulous but ultimately is unsustainable. Giant silver tree that pours out four different kinds of alcohol: Fermented milk, wine, mead, and rice wine.
  • Four golden serpents around the tree which 
  • Mongols loved competitions of all sort. They were like the Greeks in that way. And so at some point, I think it was under Mongke Kong, they organize a religious competition.
  • They had a panel of judges and they bring in some top scholars from Islam, Christianity, and Buddhism.
  • And it’s a very organized debate. They give them a topic, each group is given a set amount of time to offer their thoughts. Their are rebuttals.
  • But then of course they have to add a Mongol twist to it which is that between each topic, between each round, everyone has to take a drink.
  • So it starts off organized enough, though completely unfruitful, no one is convincing anyone. But at least coherent arguments are being made. But then over time the drinks start to take a toll and its getting rowdier and rowdier and finally it ends up with the Christians singing hymns, the Muslims who don’ sing chanting and reading aloud from the quran, and the Buddhists detaching themselves from it all by silently meditating.
  • One thing that the Mongols really understood was monetary policy and they made extraordinary efforts to issue a stable currency without too much inflation.
  • But this stable, standardized currency is one of the things that really stimulated trade and created this temporary connection between Europe and Asia.
  • Kubalai controls China more through diplomacy and public relations. By being the most Chinese emperor he can be. But then there is a problem, how do you retain the virtue that got you to where you are.
  • He establishes Beijing, and has his court where the Forbidden Palace is today. But in the interior, he creates a steppe in miniature. Really really giant courtyard, where the golden family lives in tents, on grasslands, with horses and other livestock, complete with a manmade lake and everything.
  • Pax Mongolica or Pax Tatarica
  • Kublai Khan sets up an office of agriculture to increase farm productivity
  • Encourage Europeans to set up trading posts on the edge of the black sea
  • Standardizes weights and measurements
  • Standardizes the calendar
  • Europe in particular benefits from the trade, the new technologies, and the new crops, which included carrots, turnips, watercress, buckwheat, and parsnips.
  • Technology included gunpowder and standardized printing processes that would culminate in the European invention of the printing press a little more than a hundred years later
  • In 1288, King Edward I of England received an envoy from kublai Khan.
  • He had traveled more than 7k miles
  • Edward accepted communion from the Mongol envoy, named Rabban Bar Sawma
  • He was a Nestorian Christian
  • He also celebrated mass with the pope on the way back
  • In fact, Christianity had a huge fumble.
  • Eventually most of the Mongol kingdoms ended up Muslim or Buddhist. But if you were a betting man, Christianity actually had probably the most momentum.
  • In fact, Guyuk, who was a grandson of GK, was probably a Christian, his mother certainly was
  • But the pope communicates with him, at this point the Mongols have invaded some Christian lands, and so the pope takes on this very haughty tone, lectures them.
  • And the love affair between the Mongols and Christianity fizzles.
  • There are still many strong Christian communities.
  • But then the black death hits. Jews and Christians blamed.
  • So during the age of exploration Christianity essentially has to be reestablished in Asia.
  • The black death was truly horrible
  • Kills between one half and one third of those in China, does something similar in Europe.
  • Without trade to rely on, the Khans go local. Become Muslim and Buddhist, cut out their universalism.
  • Nestorian
  • Also speaking of Christianity, let’s talk about the Mongolian invasion of Europe
  • So it starts as a sideshow under Genghis Khan. During the Khwarizm invasion, one of his generals is like, hey I hear some cool things about Europe, can I go check it out?
  • GK says yes. They go, they absolutely demolish the Russians who don’t have as much treasure as they were hoping, and then they leave.
  • Then Ogedei squanders a bunch of money and needs to invade somewhere to get more money, so he invades Europe and China simultaneously.
  • Basically everything goes perfectly in Europe, they never suffer a loss, and they slaughter everyone they face.
  • Reading accounts of it reads like a horror movie.
  • Two very capable commanders, Mongke, who would go on to become arguably the second greatest khan after Genghis, maybe third after Kublai, and Batu.
  • Invade the Bulgars, divide and conquer
  • Go into Russia and Ukraine
  • Scourge the countryside
  • In Riazan they use the collected slaves to build a wall around the walled city.
  • Then they use incindiaries to light the city on fire.
  • Round up the knights and aristocrats and execute them all
  • Then they empty the city to go overcrowd other cities
  • “There remained no eye open to cry for the dead.”
  • They are like the terminator:
  • The men are inhuman and of the nature of beasts rather to be called monsters than men, thirsting after and drinking blood and tearing and devouring the flesh of dogs and human beings. 
  • They are short in stature and thick set, compact in their bodies and of great strength, invincible in battle, indefatigable in labor. They wear no armor on the back parts of their bodies. but are protected by it in front. They drink the blood which flows from their flocks, and consider it a delicacy. They have large, powerful horses.
  • They have no human laws, know no mercy, and are more cruel than lions or bears. And when they have no blood, they greedily drink disturbed or even muddy water.
  • After Riazan, they do basically the same thing to Kiev
  • The city’s commander, Dmitry, is a soldier and not an aristocrat (aristocrats fled), and he defends the city so bravely that he is spared.
  • Next they go to Hungary and Poland
  • The cities start toppling in Poland until Duke Henry II of Silesia assembles an army of 30k elite troops including knights from all over Germany, France, and Poland.
  • They met at Lignitz
  • They charge once and are repulsed
  • They charge again and the Mongols go running away
  • As they chase them, soon they are engulfed in smoke
  • The Mongols had laid a trap, burning wood and gunpowder to create disorienting smoke
  • Arrows are flying through it, and the occasional Mongol warrior screaming through to kill the choked and confused knights
  • 25k of Duke Henry’s 30k men are slaughtered
  • Almost the same things happens in Hungary
  • Except the Hungarians manage to form a camp to defend themselves, and once again the Mongols smoke them out
  • So the men start trying to flee, but they find Mongols in every direction
  • Every direction except for one, conveniently, it was in the direction of Budapest, only three days away
  • Well the Mongols were hunting them. Classic Genghis Khan stuff. They were driving them to an easy killing point.
  • In a panic, they drop their armor, their equipment, and their arms to make a run for Budapest
  • “The dead fell to the right and to the left like leaves in winter. The slain bodies of these miserable men were strewn along the whole route. Blood flowed like torrents of rain.”
  • According to Roger of Torre Maggiore, European knighthood never recovered. Nearly 100k soldiers were killed between Hungary and Poland, many of them the best and brightest of European knights.
  • They start coming toward Vienna.
  • And then they vanish.
  • Ogedei had died, and they come back for a Kureltai.
  • The pastures were ending. Their marked advantages of speed, mobility, and surprise were all lost when they had to pick their way through forests, rivers, and plowed fields.
  • with crops and ditches, hedges and wooden fences. It also marked the change from the dry steppe to the humid climates of the coastal zones where dampness caused the Mongol bows to lose strength and accuracy.
  • Christian lands are mostly abandoned, except for some area in Russia and Ukraine surrounding the Black Sea.
  • Eastern Europe was not that wealthy, the one thing they did have was people, good tall strong intelligent people, and so the Mongols conduct an enormous slave trade after this invasion.
  • In fact, that is where they get the word. Where are they getting all of these captives? From the Slavic lands of eastern europe. And they sell so many of these people that their ethnonym, Slav, becomes the word slave. That is where we get the word, from all of these Slavs that Mongols sold.

Alright. That’s it for end notes. Thank you for listening and THANK YOU for subscribing! I love my listeners so much. Until next time, thank you for listening to HTTOTW.

  • Why did Genghis Khan have red hair/maybe light eyes?
  • Well we don’t know for sure that he did. He is described as being ruddy and having “cat eyes” now ruddy can mean red-haired, it can also mean having a ruddy complexion.
  • And cat eyes no one knows for sure what it means, it seems like green eyes or gray eyes isn’t an unreasonable explanation.
  • Quoting now from a 2016 study: Molecular Genealogy of a Mongol Queen’s Family and Her Possible Kinship with Genghis Khan
  • Members of the Mongol imperial family (designated the Golden family) are buried in a secret necropolis; therefore, none of their burial grounds have been found. In 2004, we first discovered 5 graves belonging to the Golden family in Tavan Tolgoi, Eastern Mongolia. To define the genealogy of the 5 bodies and the kinship among them, SNP and/or STR profiles of mitochondria, autosomes, and Y chromosomes were analyzed. Four of the 5 bodies were determined to carry the mitochondrial DNA haplogroup D4, while the fifth carried haplogroup CZ, indicating that this individual had no kinship with the others. Meanwhile, Y-SNP and Y-STR profiles indicate that the males examined belonged to the R1b-M343 haplogroup. Thus, their East Asian D4 or CZ matrilineal and West Eurasian R1b-M343 patrilineal origins reveal genealogical admixture between Caucasoid and Mongoloid ethnic groups, despite a Mongoloid physical appearance.
  • So if he did indeed have lighter hair or lighter eyes than normal, that might be why. It’s also mentioned that he was taller than average and once again that’s a plausible explanation why.
  • To be clear, he was a Mongol. Probably had very little admixture. Would have been at least a couple hundred years before he was born.

About Episode

Topics Covered: - Mongol invasion of Europe - The rise and fall of Christianity in Asia - Genghis Khan's red hair - "Don't let him be frightened by dogs" - Mongols in England - + more!

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