View Full Version : Does anyone know the details for the Mongols invasion plan of Europe?


BOTP
Jan 18, 2005, 05:53 PM
After Ogodai Khan had taken over after Genghis’ death, Subedei and Ogodai’s son Batu, was given the task of reconnoitering into the West in order to prepare for the great Western campaign, which in all probability was planned by Genghis khan together with his faithful shamans and generals after Chepe's and Subedei's reconnoitering of the Western lands for the first time in 1222-23. The political and economic structures of the West were investigated in great detail. Even the family connections of the rulers of Russian and Europe were investigated in great detail. According to some, Subedei's plan was to conquer all of Christian Europe, and he estimated that it would take the Mongols eighteen years to do so. Some historians believe that Genghis Khan planned the conquest of Europe already in the 1220's, and that it was an old scheme that was now played out by his greatest general. Can anyone provide detail about this plan.

jonatas
Jan 18, 2005, 07:23 PM
i don't, but i would love to find out... the mongol invasion of Europe has always been one of my favourite what if scenarios...

Vrylakas
Jan 19, 2005, 08:35 PM
My two cents (http://forums.civfanatics.com/showthread.php?t=58648) on this subject here...

Steve Thompson
Jan 21, 2005, 08:08 PM
Awww, the above-posted article has too much of what I was going to say! Forget it!

I've heard the rumors that Genghis planned it years before and that Subotai thought it would take 18 years, but I've never read it in any historical text.

If they had taken over most of Europe, the implications would have been incredibly negative for Western civilization! I've tried to picture what the world might be like today in that scenario but I can't! Too scary... I don't think Westerners realize just how much they owe to the Mongols' turning their attention to the Middle East and Far East rather than overruning Europe.

BOTP
Jan 28, 2005, 07:14 PM
I've read many books on the Mongols and never seen anything in much detail about a plan to conquer all of Europe. The most I've ever seen was that they were planning on exploiting (I don't know how) the feud between the Holy Roman Empire and the Pope. They were also planning on exploiting divisions within Italy and the H.R.E. and possibly coordinating offensives with Muslims (depending on the state of the Holy Land at the time of invasion). I'd love to hear if anyone has a source with more detail.

Steve Thompson
Jan 28, 2005, 08:23 PM
...coordinating offensives with Muslims (depending on the state of the Holy Land at the time of invasion)...

Which reminds me, they were most certainly trying to get an alliance with the Crusaders in the Near East against the Mamelukes, especially the French. Obviously, nothing came of it...

Xen
Jan 28, 2005, 09:21 PM
while I dont put it past the mongols to plan it, even if they had, I seriouslly doubt they coudl have either hekd, or had a serious impact on european culture

BOTP
Jan 29, 2005, 08:28 AM
while I dont put it past the mongols to plan it, even if they had, I seriouslly doubt they coudl have either hekd, or had a serious impact on european culture

Agreed.....If we rethink this carefully it becomes evident that Batu's campaign in Europe can't have been a success, on logistical grounds more than anything else. The terrain was unsuitable for their kind of warfare. There was also a great concentration of well-defended castles and fortified towns, a serious obstacle for a cavalry army that needed to rely on foreign siege engineers to subdue fortifications. And not to mention the growing resistance the Mongols encountered on their raids. Superior mobility on part of the Mongols might not have been of particular value in an all-out invasion of Europe. Given the limited amount of grazing, the Mongols would have needed to seek a decisive battle. And even in case of victory, there would still have been hundreds if not thousands of heavily defended strongholds to take. The Golden Horde may have taken the Europeans by surprise in 1241, but as soon as the Europeans began to mobilize their resources, any further Mongol advance was made impossible.

bombshoo
Jan 29, 2005, 10:50 AM
What I have always wondered, as if they did manage to take the mainland, how would they have faired against England? First crossing the channel, and then how would the Mongol horse archers do against English longbow? If the English had a good position, I think they could inflict some pretty heavy damage on them...

Uiler
Jan 30, 2005, 12:17 AM
Yet somehow they managed to defeat the well-defended and heavily fortified Chinese towns which also required heavy seiges to defeat (ever seen pictures of old Chinese cities? Since they were constantly under threat from barbarian incursions many important cities were heavily fortified). Not to mention defeating the Song navy on the Yangtze despite having no experience with water battles (they press-ganged Northern Chinese into their navies). Strange that...

Agreed.....If we rethink this carefully it becomes evident that Batu's campaign in Europe can't have been a success, on logistical grounds more than anything else. The terrain was unsuitable for their kind of warfare. There was also a great concentration of well-defended castles and fortified towns, a serious obstacle for a cavalry army that needed to rely on foreign siege engineers to subdue fortifications. And not to mention the growing resistance the Mongols encountered on their raids. Superior mobility on part of the Mongols might not have been of particular value in an all-out invasion of Europe. Given the limited amount of grazing, the Mongols would have needed to seek a decisive battle. And even in case of victory, there would still have been hundreds if not thousands of heavily defended strongholds to take. The Golden Horde may have taken the Europeans by surprise in 1241, but as soon as the Europeans began to mobilize their resources, any further Mongol advance was made impossible.

Uiler
Jan 30, 2005, 12:22 AM
What I have always wondered, as if they did manage to take the mainland, how would they have faired against England? First crossing the channel, and then how would the Mongol horse archers do against English longbow? If the English had a good position, I think they could inflict some pretty heavy damage on them...

They'll do the same thing they did to defeat the Song navy while crossing the Yangtze. Press-gang the people they defeated into their navy who do have good experience with fighting battles on the ocean. I mean the Mongolians crushed the heavily militarised Jin empire and the sophisticated Chinese army and navy and defeated heavily fortified Chinese cities. I don't understand why people have this misconception that the Mongolians can't do anything but fight on horseback. If that was the case they would never have gotten past the Yangtze which stimied many northern invaders in the past. If they come across something which they can't win on horseback they just press-gang the people they defeated into fighting for them.

BOTP
Jan 30, 2005, 07:56 AM
Yet somehow they managed to defeat the well-defended and heavily fortified Chinese towns which also required heavy seiges to defeat (ever seen pictures of old Chinese cities? Since they were constantly under threat from barbarian incursions many important cities were heavily fortified). Not to mention defeating the Song navy on the Yangtze despite having no experience with water battles (they press-ganged Northern Chinese into their navies). Strange that...

I can't see this working. Would the reduction of Chinese walled cities, filled with large numbers of cvilians and probably not provisioned for long sieges, really have been anywhere near as difficult as taking a country side containing not only its own walled cities but thickly sprinkled with purely military redoubts manned by soldiery? Again, I must confine myself to wading in the shallows of this discussion, but I seem to recall that the Mongols took many cities without a blow being struck, by the simple if frightful expedient of making an "example" of the few which resisted. I cannot think that this tactic would have worked as well on a castle filled with professional warriors as on one controlled by merchants and craftsmen and their families. Furthermore, Medieval Europe was also more commonly furnished with castles and walled cities than were the other areas the Mongols roamed. The European fortifications were also far different than those of other places the Mongols razed, and could withstand long protracted sieges, with enough food and fresh water to stay bottled up for months even with almost the entire local population inside. Fortifications often utilized well-thought-out traps and murder holes, several gates and escape routes, a vast array of secret underground tunnels, and not to mention the high, strategic placement of such castles which would make them virtually immune to conventional siege. Let's hear what Andrew Ayton has to say about this: "Towns, castles, and river crossings could be taken by surprise by a mounted force, just as besieged garrisons could be more rapidly relieved. Yet armies so dependent on the horse tended to be less adept at siege warfare. Indeed, chevauchee-style warfare encouraged fortification. The flame of Hungarian resistance to the Mongols was maintained in a handful of stone fortresses, while the energy of many an English expedition in France was sapped by the frustrations of siege warfare." Now if that "handful of stone fortresses" was enough to seriously hamper the Mongol advance, this casts considerable doubt on the Mongol abilities in siege warfare. If the Mongols were unable to subdue that small number of relatively inferior fortifications in Hungary how would they fare in Western Europe where there were more numerous strongholds?

Uiler
Jan 30, 2005, 08:47 AM
You must be joking. Chinese cities were heavily fortified esp. in the border regions (and note most of the Jin cities were actually Chinese cities). These cities were constantly attacked by barbarian raiders. As such they were heavily fortified. Read Chinese history. Song was militarily weak but often many of these border cities were nothing more than big military colonies almost totally populated by soldiers and their families. You often hear about seiges that lasted for years and years and years. Seige warfare is part of standard Chinese military tactics. Before the Mongolian invasion, Chinese had practised sophisticated seige warfare for 1000s of years (mainly due to constantly breaking up into smaller states that would then wage constant war on each other's cities). I would say that they had a lot more experience with it than the Westerners. In fact, by the time of the Mongolian invasion the Chinese were using gunpowder to make bombs (which make a regular appearance in description of battles in Chinese fiction after the Song period even if said battle were 1000 years in the past)! In fact I think they even had a rudimentary cannon. I'd like to see how European walled cities of the time would stand up to dozens of bombs being ignited at their base and a few (admittedly crude) cannons. Somehow I doubt that they'd last. In fact the Mongolians took cities by press-ganging Chinese who were experts at seige warfare into their army. This is also how they managed to cross the Yangtze defeating the Song navy.

From this PBS article here, gunpowder actually moved from East to West because the Mongolians used it in their conquests after forcing the Chinese to tell them its secrets:

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/lostempires/china/age.html

Although scholars often consider the Song Dynasty to have been very weak, its use of gunpowder was the reason it was able to hold off the Mongols for many decades. Eventually, the Mongols were able to capture Chinese artisans and use the latest gunpowder technology against the Chinese. The Mongols used those people who had a special knowledge of technology and employed them in their own armies as engineers. They carried that technology to the West very rapidly because it was very helpful in their conquests.

What was interesting with this transfer of technology is that it goes both ways. After the introduction of the cannon and gunpowder to the West, Westerners very quickly became expert with cannons. They cast bronze cannons that were eventually much better than those the Chinese could produce. The Western bronze cannon was then brought back to China by the Jesuits in the 16th and 17th centuries. The Ming Dynasty, which fought the Manchus, employed Jesuit priests to cast cannons that were more advanced than the Chinese had at that time.

Basically the Mongolians would have simply got the Chinese engineers they press-ganged into their service to blow up any walls in the European cities. Europe at the time had absolutely nothing to defefnd against bombs, gunpowder and cannons. The Mongolians not only had the warrior ethic, the great cavalry, they also appropriated extremely sophisticated Chinese military technology.

Merchants controlled nothing. Merchants were the lowest classes in Confucian China.

And besides the Chinese, the Mongolians crushed the Jin empire. Not only did they have the benefit of heavily fortified Chinese cities. They were a heavily militaristic northern race. They were a "warrior" people so to speak who Genghis Khan used to be subservient to.

I can't see this working. Would the reduction of Chinese walled cities, filled with large numbers of cvilians and probably not provisioned for long sieges, really have been anywhere near as difficult as taking a country side containing not only its own walled cities but thickly sprinkled with purely military redoubts manned by soldiery? Again, I must confine myself to wading in the shallows of this discussion, but I seem to recall that the Mongols took many cities without a blow being struck, by the simple if frightful expedient of making an "example" of the few which resisted. I cannot think that this tactic would have worked as well on a castle filled with professional warriors as on one controlled by merchants and craftsmen and their families. Furthermore, Medieval Europe was also more commonly furnished with castles and walled cities than were the other areas the Mongols roamed. The European fortifications were also far different than those of other places the Mongols razed, and could withstand long protracted sieges, with enough food and fresh water to stay bottled up for months even with almost the entire local population inside. Fortifications often utilized well-thought-out traps and murder holes, several gates and escape routes, a vast array of secret underground tunnels, and not to mention the high, strategic placement of such castles which would make them virtually immune to conventional siege. Let's hear what Andrew Ayton has to say about this: "Towns, castles, and river crossings could be taken by surprise by a mounted force, just as besieged garrisons could be more rapidly relieved. Yet armies so dependent on the horse tended to be less adept at siege warfare. Indeed, chevauchee-style warfare encouraged fortification. The flame of Hungarian resistance to the Mongols was maintained in a handful of stone fortresses, while the energy of many an English expedition in France was sapped by the frustrations of siege warfare." Now if that "handful of stone fortresses" was enough to seriously hamper the Mongol advance, this casts considerable doubt on the Mongol abilities in siege warfare. If the Mongols were unable to subdue that small number of relatively inferior fortifications in Hungary how would they fare in Western Europe where there were more numerous strongholds?

Uiler
Jan 30, 2005, 08:56 AM
To add - here are some examples of Song dynasty military technology that the Mongolians appropriated:

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/lostempires/china/age.html

Gunpowder completely transformed the way wars were waged and contributed to the eventual establishment of might over right. In my own research, I have been able to refute the common notion that the Chinese invented gunpowder but only used it for fireworks. I'm sure that they discovered military uses for it. I have found the earliest illustration of a cannon in the world, which dates from the change-over from the Northern Song to the Southern Song around 1127, which was 150 years before the development of the cannon in the West. The Song also used gunpowder to make fire lances - actually flame throwers - and many other gunpowder weapons, such as anti-personnel mines, which are thankfully now being taken out of general use.

Needless to say, the cannon was used by the kings of Europe to fundamentally alter the social structure of the European world. It enabled kings to destroy the castles of the feudal lords. And it enabled, therefore, the centralized nation-state to develop.

By the end of the Song Dynasty, the Chinese invented multiple-stage rockets. If we hadn't had that, maybe we would not have been able to put a man on the moon. It was that fundamental an idea. Joseph Needham, an historian of Chinese science and technology, also argues that the notion of an explosion in a self-contained cylinder also permitted the development of the internal combustion engine and the steam engine. Our basic modes of transportation would not have been possible without this Chinese invention.

http://www.china.org.cn/e-gudai/8.htm

By the Song Dynasty (960-1126), gunpowder was in extensive use. Weapons made with it included rifles and rockets. The Song army also used a kind of flame thrower which involved packing gunpowder into bamboo tubes. The earliest picture of a European cannon shows that it bears a striking similarity to Chinese cannon of 1128.

About 1230, the Song army had cannon powerful enough to breach city walls.

A bronze Chinese cannon cast in 1332 is the oldest one in the world extant today. Many bronze and iron cannons have been unearthed in China, most of them bearing inscriptions dating them to between 1280 and 1380.

And the Song navy technology:

http://www.vancouvermaritimemuseum.com/watery/naval_might.htm

The Song also relied on the introduction of new weapons such as gunpowder, catapults and incendiary devices to naval combat. In 1129, trebuchets throwing gunpowder bombs were adopted, between 1132 and 1189 the Song Navy introduced paddle wheeled warships, and by 1203, the navy introduced iron armour for warships. The Song were particularly adept in the use of Greek Fire, imported from the west. As early as the 10th century, Song ships used piston-engine flamethrowers to set enemy ships ablaze.

And remember the Mongolians appropriated this technology and used it against the Song and Jin which is what eventually defeated them. They had Chinese engineers in their armies that could easily create these things. The Song lost because of their innate weakness but it was their technology that held off the Mongolians for a long time. The Mongolians had none of the Song's military weaknesses and all of their sophisticated technology.

I seriously doubt that European cities (or navies) of the time could have defended themselves against this combination. What use are walled cities when the invaders have cannons which can simply punch holes through them? What use are wooden sailing ships when Mongolian Chinese-built ships were lined with iron and could throw gunpowder bombs and Greek Fire at them? What use are arrows when they had primitive guns, rocket arrows (which were used in the defense of Kaifeng) , landmines and multi-staged rockets. The British line up with their archers. The Mongolians get their press-ganged Chinese troops to send a few rockets or cannons at them and blow up the entire formation. With the combination of Mongolian military strength and Chinese technology the Europeans would have had no chance.

Xen
Jan 30, 2005, 09:03 AM
@Uiler- appernetlly, many of your points are rendered useless by the fact that, even with chinese secrets and thier masterful technicians, Hungarian fortifacations, that were few and far between, and comparedt to France, Germany, Spain or italy, were barelly any sort of a bastion of power, were able to but a pretty big damper in Mongolian ambitionts- evne if the mongols one, consider what was actually resisting the mongol in the first place- a handful of fortres keeps, that, if we were ot belive you, shodul have fallen right from the start, yet obviouslly, didnt.

that said, the best navies in europe were in souther europe, pareticuler in venice- considering the venice itself is on an island, th emongols donthave a real chance agiast european navies, that even the vast ottoman empire could not defeat

thiers also the fact that chinese cities are different then fortresses

Cities are rarelly places that offer natural protection from seiges- which is why they fall so relitivlly easilly, if determined, an dlasting effort is applied- fortresses are places that made becaus eof thier difficulty to reach, and to seige, and thus capture

BOTP
Jan 30, 2005, 09:14 AM
I lack the time to address all your points, but here are some thoughts related most of your comments.

You must be joking. Chinese cities were heavily fortified esp. in the border regions (and note most of the Jin cities were actually Chinese cities). These cities were constantly attacked by barbarian raiders. As such they were heavily fortified. Read Chinese history. Song was militarily weak but often many of these border cities were nothing more than big military colonies almost totally populated by soldiers and their families. You often hear about seiges that lasted for years and years and years. Seige warfare is part of standard Chinese military tactics. Before the Mongolian invasion, Chinese had practised sophisticated seige warfare for 1000s of years (mainly due to constantly breaking up into smaller states that would then wage constant war on each other's cities). I would say that they had a lot more experience with it than the Westerners. In fact, by the time of the Mongolian invasion the Chinese were using gunpowder to make bombs (which make a regular appearance in description of battles in Chinese fiction after the Song period even if said battle were 1000 years in the past)! In fact I think they even had a rudimentary cannon. I'd like to see how European walled cities of the time would stand up to dozens of bombs being ignited at their base and a few (admittedly crude) cannons. Somehow I doubt that they'd last. In fact the Mongolians took cities by press-ganging Chinese who were experts at seige warfare into their army. This is also how they managed to cross the Yangtze defeating the Song navy. Basically the Mongolians would have simply got the Chinese engineers they press-ganged into their service to blow up any walls in the European cities. Europe at the time had absolutely nothing to defefnd against bombs, gunpowder and cannons. The Mongolians not only had the warrior ethic, the great cavalry, they also appropriated extremely sophisticated Chinese military technology.

I believe most larger fortifications in Europe could withstand any siege, be it Mongol or European. By the mid-13th c. the art of masonry reached great perfection in Europe. European siege engineers were basically using the same machinery as their Saracen and even Mongol counterparts - mangonels, trebuchets, mining and so forth. Similarly, European fortifications were designed with all these threats in mind. The only exception may have been gunpowder which the Mongols seem to have used to a very limited extent. But it was primarily a psychological weapon at that time and the Mongols made no use of gunpowder artillery whatsoever. Not to mention, The concentration of fortifications was much higher in Europe than in the Middle East, even if most European fortifications were smaller. To subdue Europe, the Mongols would need to destroy castle after castle, town after town, all that probably against fierce resistance. The number of such fortifications in Europe was enormous, not to mention that they were often built in extremely difficult terrain where the Mongols would have been at a distinct disadvantage, being forced to fight on foot. So Even if the Mongols succeeded in defeating opposing armies in the field, they would still have to take the strongholds one by one. Worse yet, the defenders could choose to avoid battle for some time, waiting for a more opportune moment. More importantly, even the best fortification is worthless without determined troops to defend it. Baghdad may have been a huge city with an excellent system of walls. But the Abbasid caliphate had been in decline since the 9th c. And the Seljuks who took Baghdad in 1055 and effectively ruled it since then had lost much of their power during the 12th c. (particularly with the Crusades). They were in no position to resist the Mongol invasion. So while Baghdad may have been very heavily fortified indeed, it was poorly defended and its capture was no great feat. And China was a huge country at the time, technologically advanced and with a prospering economy, but it was not particularly strong militarily. This seems particularly true in case of the Song dynasty.

Almost all warfare in medieval Europe revolved around the siege and a more static style of warfare that the Mongols had with in their experience to deal with. And yes, they of course ensured that all metalworkers, carpenters and gunpowder makers in northern China were registered as catapult operators. They had previous and subsequent success in sieges elsewhere; and clearly knew of siege equipment and engineering. There were obviously skilled siege engineers in Batu's army who were capable of constructing catapults. In fact, we know that Batu had brought a train of minghan engineers, since he was able to field seven ho catapults to hurl firebombs against the unfortunate Hungarians at the Sajo bridge, teaching them a deadly lesson in the tactical use of artillery. But events showed that these weren’t heavy enough to breach the high stonewalls of the Hungarian castles, which Batu had to bypass. Gunpowder wasn’t used during the Mongol campaigns in Russia and Europe, and the primitive projectile technology then in use wouldn’t have made much of an impression. And unlike other Mongol dynasties, Batu couldn’t draw on the quantity of artillery necessary for the reduction of the great towers and cities of Christendom. Weapons of sufficient quantity and quality could only have been manufactured and maintained by a sedentary population with the kind of advanced engineering skills available to China or Persia. On a later campaign it would take Hülegü three years to transport a thousand crews of Chinese artillerymen and their siege equipment two and a half thousand miles from the steppes of western Mongolia in 1253 to Khurasan in 1256, and another two years before they could topple the walls of Baghdad a thousand miles farther west. The lands of Western Europe were even more remote, over four thousand miles from Mongolia, and boasted an array of fortifications even more formidable than those of Persia or Mesopotamia. The Mongols could never draw on the quantity of artillery necessary for the reduction of the great towers and cities of Europe. Even had the Batu had access to Chinese and Persian artillery, the logistical problems of transporting and supplying a sufficient train would have been still more immense, and bringing such a siege train would have inevitably slowed the Mongols down to the extent of negating the surprise effect and superior mobility. And since no such attempt was ever made, even in the face of hostilities, such a stupendous leaguer would appear to have been quite beyond the Mongols' strategic capabilities.

So, could the Mongols have penetrated into the heart of Europe and wreaked havoc? Yes, they could have. Would this have been a mortal blow to Europe, or ended in conquest? No, given Europe's political character and general characteristics of European military development, I don't think the Mongols ever stood a realistic chance of conquering and holding territories in the West. For instance, whenever steppe horsemen came from the east they took Europe by surprise. There were several such waves; Huns, Avars, Magyars and finally Mongols. These were instances when large bands of nomadic horsemen successfully operated in Western Europe; most notably the Avars and Magyars who reached as far west as France. However, most of these attacks, even when made in strong force, were nonetheless only mere raids: advance, destroy, retreat to base. The lack of skill in siege warfare meant their “invasions” tended to consist of large-scale raids and thus made no real strategic impression. Take for example, the Second Punic War. How many battles and armies did Rome lose to Hannibal? Yet somehow, despite his genius and his superlative army, Hannibal could not win? Because he could not take all of the fortified cities with the forces at his disposal; nor could he be reinforced or resupplied sufficiently from the great distance to Carthage. Consequently, his offensives soon ran out of steam due to logistical problems and low morale. Over time, Hannibal realized the key to defeating Rome was not annihilating its armies in the field, but by laying siege to its strongholds and cities, something that was far beyond their capabilities to do so. Arguably for this same reason, neither the Avars nor the Magyars ever managed to gain a firm foothold in Western Europe. The only time when a body of steppe horsemen of any real size attempted to operate in Western Europe was the Hunnish campaigns, which ended catastrophically. These events demonstrate that while small, dispersed groups of steppe raiders could pester Western Europe, no large army of steppe horsemen which lacked siege equipment, stood the chance of operating there on a prolonged campaign.

Whew! These are getting long. If we keep up this debate, I'm going to have to publish a book.

Uiler
Jan 30, 2005, 09:24 AM
Well, I'll bow to your superior knowledge on this subject. If the Mongolians had the technology and couldn't use it that's another matter. And I'll accept the differences between fortresses and cities.

Though here is a question. Let's assume that the Song were not weak. Let's assume the Song Empire was strong as say I don't know the Tang in its golden age. Let's say they wanted to invade Europe and took their cannons, gunpowder, rockets etc. with them on a march to conquer Europe. Would the European cities have stood any chance against a strong Song army with the level of technology that existed in China and Europe at the time? That is, if the technology disparity between China and Europe at the time of the Song coincided with an age of military strength, would Europe had been "colonised" by the Chinese? Remember also at this time China had paper and had invented moveable type printing as well. They also had sophisticated agricultural technology such as the iron plow and had started making iron bridges and other structures.


I lack the time to address all your points, but here are some thoughts related most of your comments.

BOTP
Jan 30, 2005, 09:43 AM
Though here is a question. Let's assume that the Song were not weak. Let's assume the Song Empire was strong as say I don't know the Tang in its golden age. Let's say they wanted to invade Europe and took their cannons, gunpowder, rockets etc. with them on a march to conquer Europe. Would the European cities have stood any chance against a strong Song army with the level of technology that existed in China and Europe at the time? That is, if the technology disparity between China and Europe at the time of the Song coincided with an age of military strength, would Europe had been "colonised" by the Chinese? Remember also at this time China had paper and had invented moveable type printing as well. They also had sophisticated agricultural technology such as the iron plow and had started making iron bridges and other structures.

I believe that the Song wouldn't have completely overrun Europe, on logistical grounds more than anything else. However, I cannot completley answer the question of whether the Europeans, aside from geographical advantages (and sheer distance from the Chinese heartland) could have defeated a Chinese invasion, as opposed to outlasting it. Who knows? It depends on the numbers and forces in the field, and a variety of other reasons.

Xen
Jan 30, 2005, 09:53 AM
I doubt it- the same forces tha conspired agiast the ottoman empire, and the Islamic forces in spain woudl conspire against them- sheer racism, and a hatred for all things non-christian that was dominant at the time; as pagans, the europeans of the day woudfl have considered them worse then the "demon worshipping" muslims

Chieftess
Jan 31, 2005, 08:25 PM
I'm not sure what their plans would've been, but here's my take --

After a few set backs in Eastern Europe, they would have attempted to use some gunpowder weaponry (perhaps primative muskets) as soft of an early cavalry (in civ terms. ;)). Although, they might've used it for the initial charge, then switched back to arrows, which could fire at a much faster and more accurate rate.

Advantage of gunpowder weapons - They could penitrate armor.
Disadvantage - Slow.

Advantage of arrow weapons - Quick and accurate.
Disadvantage - Can't penitrate armor as well.

There might've been a stalemate for awhile, until the Mongols started getting the upper hand as gunpowder technology progressed over 50-100 years. Meanwhile, they would've conquered the rest of Asia, and probably would've been expanding into northern Africa.

Had they gone for Europe, it probably would've been done in the 1400s. I wonder what history would've been like had Columbus been delayed in finding the new world (and other explorers too), since Spain, Portugal would've been too busy with the Mongols. If the Mongols didn't stop, trade of gunpowder might not have reached Spain, making it easier for the Mongolians. It might've been slow going, but they probably would've been able to conquer all of Asia, Europe, and Africa, and probably just start to island hop to Japan, and down towards Australia.

Going to the Americas probably would've been a challenge, unless they assimilated some better shipping technology. Not sure if they would've even tried though.

Xen
Jan 31, 2005, 08:39 PM
@CT- you really ought to read the rest of the thread- perhaps your opinion woudl be changed by soem of BOTPs brilliant discussions

North King
Jan 31, 2005, 09:02 PM
I seriuosly doubt ANY western fortification would withstand a concentrated mongol siege. Just read the accounts of, say, the siege of Kaifeng...

Could any fortress withstand TEN YEARS of near constant trebuchet bombarment, Thunder Crash Bombs, sapping techniques, and starvation? I doubt it.

While I am not an expert on European siege fortifications, that medieval castles (that apparently fell quite easily to much less sophisticated European armies in far less time) could withstand the same siege techniques that managed to topple cities with refined fortifications that were essentially the pinnacle of defensive technology, honed by thousands of years of conflict, is quite unlikely at best.

Besides which, I doubt any European army could defeat the Mongols in the field, so they could just starve them out if need be.

Oh, and the terror advantage would defiantely play out after the Mongols sacked a few cities in, say, Belgium, and killed a few million.

Xen
Jan 31, 2005, 09:19 PM
I seriuosly doubt ANY western fortification would withstand a concentrated mongol siege. Just read the accounts of, say, the siege of Kaifeng...

Could any fortress withstand TEN YEARS of near constant trebuchet bombarment, Thunder Crash Bombs, sapping techniques, and starvation? I doubt it.

While I am not an expert on European siege fortifications, that medieval castles (that apparently fell quite easily to much less sophisticated European armies in far less time) could withstand the same siege techniques that managed to topple cities with refined fortifications that were essentially the pinnacle of defensive technology, honed by thousands of years of conflict, is quite unlikely at best.

Besides which, I doubt any European army could defeat the Mongols in the field, so they could just starve them out if need be.

Oh, and the terror advantage would defiantely play out after the Mongols sacked a few cities in, say, Belgium, and killed a few million.

read BOTPs arguments.

and for note, european castes in westenr europe were INSANELLY hard to breach- 12 men won a battle agiast several thousand- 12. 12 god damn men northking, against thousands- the event itself happend during the war of the Roses,in england, IIRC.

point is, dont dare discount european foritifacations- a well stocked, well built westenr european citadel coudl withstand almost anything, which is why they were used up to WWII as command centers, aside formt hie rompnipotence as command sites

North King
Jan 31, 2005, 09:25 PM
read BOTPs arguments.

and for note, european castes in westenr europe were INSANELLY hard to breach- 12 men won a battle agiast several thousand- 12. 12 god damn men northking, against thousands- the event itself happend during the war of the Roses,in england, IIRC.

point is, dont dare discount european foritifacations- a well stocked, well built westenr european citadel coudl withstand almost anything, which is why they were used up to WWII as command centers, aside formt hie rompnipotence as command sites

So were Chinese fortresses... You underestimate the Mongols.


As for a siege train, pfft. The only thing they would need to bring was the men and the thunder crash bombs. Trebuchets were easily enough constructed, the stones were easily gathered in massive amounts as was shown at Kaifeng.

Chieftess
Jan 31, 2005, 09:58 PM
Xen - Of course I read BOTP's post, and I read the one about the Mongols over-coming the Chinese fortresses. You'll also notice that I said it would've been a stalemate for quite awhile. Hit and run tactics would have slowly won as supply routes and reinforcements were attacked, and the fortresses slowly depleting in population. A fortress does no good without people to defend it. I never said it would've been swift, rather, I gave it 50-100 years at the least. Gunpowder would have helped definately (cannons, etc.), and they could have gotten some of that from Arabia.

Then there's the intimidation factor the Europeans would have been facing -- an enemy that has conquered an entire continent a good 5 times their size!

12 men won a battle agiast several thousand
What battle was that?

Oda Nobunaga
Jan 31, 2005, 09:59 PM
Questions for the European history buffs :

1)Professional soldiery defending the castles? I was under the impression MOST armed forces in Europe were levies, at that time, not professionals. Can anyone clarify this?

2)If masonry reached its summit around the time of the mongol attacks, wouldn't that mean most of the castles the mongols would have had to face would be somewhat off from these standards? Not to mean they'd have been poor castle, but combining factor 1 and 2, wouldn't that reduce dramatically the number of reliably defended, modern castles?

3)While the mountain argument is fair enough for southern Europe (Balkans, Alps, Carpathians, Pyreneans, etc), isn't northern Europe relatively flat?

All in all, I'm not saying the mongols would have necessarily suceeded. Just wondering about some of the pro-Europe arguments, when what evidence there is doesn't show the Europeans managing to put together much resistance against the mongols.

BOTP
Feb 01, 2005, 04:42 AM
So were Chinese fortresses... You underestimate the Mongols.

While you certainly undersestimate the Europeans. Unlike China or Persia or Arabia, Europe was a highly militarized entity, whose defense relied on a huge number of comparatively small fortifications scattered throughout the land. With the big wave during the 12th century fortifications were springing up at an astonishing pace. The Europeans had learned much during the Crusades, in regards to both siege warfare and fortification. The Crusades added further stimulus, not just because the Europeans learned more about the advanced Byzantine and Arab military architecture but also thanks to the thriving economy. Medieval Europe was also more commonly furnished with castles and walled cities than were the other areas the Mongols roamed. The European fortifications were also far different than those of other places the Mongols razed, and could withstand long protracted sieges, with enough food and fresh water to stay bottled up for months even with almost the entire local population inside. Fortifications often utilized well-thought-out traps and murder holes, several gates and escape routes, a vast array of secret underground tunnels, and not to mention the high, strategic placement of such castles which would make them virtually immune to conventional siege. The number of such fortifications in Europe was enormous. In the early 13th century the Count of Provence controlled 40 castles, and the King of France had over 100, including 45 in Normandy. The Duke of Burgundy owned 70. In 1216 King Henry III had inherited from his father 93 royal castles in England, and had secured 10 more in Guyenne by 1220, while for their part the English barons held 179. Within several generations, castles and fortified towns dominated much of the countryside.

BOTP
Feb 01, 2005, 04:52 AM
1)Professional soldiery defending the castles? I was under the impression MOST armed forces in Europe were levies, at that time, not professionals. Can anyone clarify this?

It is true. Yet at the same time this period witnessed the rise of missile weapons, the introduction of the pike, advances in weapons and armor, the revival of the foot soldier, and the change of feudal conscripts to professional standing armies, all indicating the decline of the Feudal-based society. Armies were undergoing rapid transformation, and were combining infantry, archers, cavalry, and by that time England, France, and Germany were all strong and centralized, which meant less ritualization of warfare.

2)If masonry reached its summit around the time of the mongol attacks, wouldn't that mean most of the castles the mongols would have had to face would be somewhat off from these standards? Not to mean they'd have been poor castle, but combining factor 1 and 2, wouldn't that reduce dramatically the number of reliably defended, modern castles?

I'll talk about that later, since I'm running out of time to go into detail about how castles operated.

3)While the mountain argument is fair enough for southern Europe (Balkans, Alps, Carpathians, Pyreneans, etc), isn't northern Europe relatively flat?

Only after the massive de-forrestation effort, but that took quite some time. And, history shows that the Mongols were never to good on unfovorable terrain, the sole exception being China. However, China was neither heavily militarized nor covered with a concentration of fortifications anywhere near comparable to medieval Europe. Still, its conquest was a feat which took decades and many campaigns on a huge scale. It was far from anything like a quick victory. To dwell some more on your comments, I believe the key to the ultimate fall of China was its geographical position. China may not have been ideal for horses, but the relative proximity to the steppe made it possible for the Mongols to easily retire back to safety at the end of the campaign. Reinforcements could also arrive much faster. In any case, it was the eastern orientation which seems to have suited the Mongols best. On the other hand, the distance between Mongolia and Western Europe is much longer. The real steppe ends on the Dnester in Western Ukraine. The Hungarian plain, without doubt the best springboard for an invasion of Europe for nomadic horsemen, is not a direct continuation of the steppe. It's separated from it by the Carpathian mountain chain. Russia was newly conquered territory by 1241 it was far from safe. The already inadequate number of Mongol warriors was scattered over a wide area. Any full-scale invasion of Europe must have been risky business from Batu's perspective. Even once Hungary had fallen the situation did not improve in any way. The Mongols found themselves on the Hungarian plain, which in itself could almost certainly not provide sufficient grazing for an extended period. They had suffered heavy losses and were unable to subdue the remaining strongholds. In addition, the Germans began mustering troops in close proximity. To make things worse, there was no easy route to the safety of the steppe, either a tiresome climb over the heavily wooded Carpathian mountains or a long detour through the equally difficult, but at least weakly defended Balkans. Geography dictated that there were only a few routes the Mongols could take into the West, and geography also made a rapid advance impossible. The Balkans are not easily passable - far from that. The combination of hills, mountains, woods and the hot, dry climate near the Adriatic and Mediterranean coast are a serious obstacle to any army, particularly if as reliant on horses as the Mongols.

All in all, I'm not saying the mongols would have necessarily suceeded. Just wondering about some of the pro-Europe arguments, when what evidence there is doesn't show the Europeans managing to put together much resistance against the mongols.

BOTP
Feb 01, 2005, 04:59 AM
Besides which, I doubt any European army could defeat the Mongols in the field, so they could just starve them out if need be.

This statement shows considerable ignorance. No large Western European army had ever faced the Mongols in battle. Liegnitz was a mess (in all respects much like Nicopolis in 1396; thanks to the immense ignorance, confusion and extremely poor coordination among the Europeans) destined to be a failure because the mixed Christian force (largely Polish light cavalry, some infantry and a small contingent of heavy cavalry) knew nothing about their enemy and fought without a clear chain of command. Surely, you can’t possibly judge the European system on a few isolated mishaps. Granted, there were cases of hysteria and poor judgment, but I don't think there were all that many engagements where the European military system as such failed against an eastern army of comparable size and strength. It would be false to automatically attribute the failures of these battles to any inherent flaw in the European way of waging war. But Mohi and the accompanying skirmishes in Hungary really present an entirely different picture. The Hungarian army, while still relatively poorly equipped by Western standards and commited to battle under unfavorable conditions, inflicted very heavy casualties on the Mongols before collapsing. The Mongols seem to have won only because of their extreme determination and only at a very high cost. To stress this again: it was probably the losses suffered at Mohi that effectively hindered the Mongol expansion and reduced the power of the Golden Horde.

And given the amount of experience with steppe warfare, and it is fair to say the Europeans knew what to expect from the Mongols. They had scored great victories over similar nomadic opponents (i.e. Saracens, Parthians, Huns, Avars, Moors, ect.). For all practical purposes, the Mongols were not so different than these other steppe dwelling peoples. All of them practiced the same type of pastoral transhumance lifestyles, had the same clan-tribal system of government, very similar religious belief system and fought from horseback in the same manner using composite-compound recurved bows as did their predecessors. Even their tactics: encirclement, sweeps, feigned retreat and ambush, were previously used by earlier kindred steppe peoples. The persistent idea of superiority of horse archers to European armies is merely a myth. There already were ideal counter-measures - the tactics developed to deal with Eastern horse archers over centuries. The Carolingians learned about them when fighting the Avars, Lombards and Byzantines. The Germans picked up some experience the Magyars. A fair number of European mercenaries served in the Byzantine and Muslim armies (in Spain or the Middle East). Even if we leave the Avars and Magyars aside, Western Europeans had been fighting horse archers in the Crusades for nearly 150 years - and that was before Batu's raid. Pope Innocent IV had a fair number of people at his court well versed in Eastern warfare, especially Friar John of Plano Carpini, who had plenty of opportunities to observe Mongol military practices, since he was part of the first Papal mission to Karakorum, in 1245-1247. Louis IX of France had ample opportunity to experience the effects of a military system inherently similar to that of the Mongols during his active stay in Egypt. He apparently had parituclar extensive knowledge of Saracen warfare. Preparations for the Louis' two crusades were very serious and display an in-depth familiarity with the Eastern military system. Added to this one can look at the pattern of Mongol raids into central Europe during the rest of the high Middle Ages and late middle ages; hardly a string of successes. The Lithuanians especially made good use of their terrain to neutralize the raids, and launched an impressive numbers of raids into Russian Mongol dependencies that were met with little response. Since the Europeans had some experience fighting predominately nomadic armies, it's fair to expect that they could develop effective countermeasures against a hypothetical Mongol invasion relatively quickly.

Oh, and the terror advantage would defiantely play out after the Mongols sacked a few cities in, say, Belgium, and killed a few million.

A lot of problem with this. Firstly, IF and it's a big IF the Mongols decided that the way to go in Europe was widespread genocide, AND get away with it, then what would be the point? Ruling over a desert isn't really any fun. Secondly, how would they get away with it? There were castles EVERYWHERE in Europe. EVERYWHERE. And they were all filled with armed men. You can't just go rampaging everywhere and avoid all of them no matter if your army is all mounted or not. You have to eat, you get ambushed, you have to rest, you have to plunder. Third, there are only a few thousand Mongols doing all this. It's not like there is a Mongol for every european. And if they use auxiliaries, they lose their mobile advantage--which means that they can no longer outrun the European armies. How do they kill all the peasants anyhow? The way they depopulated Iraq was not by slaughtering everyone but by destroying the irrigation system. Europe relies on rainfall agriculture meaning that the Mongols have to win the hard way--knocking down castles. If they take over a region and start depopulating it, then not only will EVERY LORD AND KNIGHT IN EUROPE rush to the scene, but the peasants will just go into the forests where the Mongols can't chase them.

BOTP
Feb 01, 2005, 05:04 AM
One thing Mongol History bluffs have completely ignored is possibly the most important aspect to consider......LOGISTICS!!!! The weakness of huge cavalry armies was always forage — operating with large mounted forces in one area of operations soon depleted the natural sources of provender, requiring the Mongols to be constantly on the move as a matter of horse-logistics, driving strategy into sometimes unproductive channels. Once the Mongols left the central European plain and entered the more forested Western Europe they were going to be faced with a logistical nightmare. Horsepower required pasture, superabundant in the great pastoral belts of Mongolia, China, Russia and the Middle East, but almost non-existent in the dark forests and arable lands of Europe. Look at the numbers: about 70,000 Mongols in Hungary and Poland, each with 5 horses at least gives 350,000 horses. That means that each horse needs maybe 15 lbs of hay a day (that's allowing for small steppe ponies), gives 5,200,000 lbs of food a day. If grazing on grass alone, say 40 lbs/day = 14 million pounds of grass per day. Look at it the other way: 10,000 horses/sq. mile, with 350,000 horses, = 35 sq. miles of grazing a day. Well, that amount of pasture was simply not available in Central and Western Europe in those days, so feeding that number of horses would be a logistical nightmare. The shortage of European pasture was such that any steppe-nomadic army was always going to be too small to sustain a war of conquest, and the Mongols would’ve starved, as its Hunnic, Avar and Magyar predecessors had been, by the absence of any viable logistical base. If a Mongol army of any size wanted to actually make room for all the mounts, there would have called for a very thorough cleaning of the local livestock. But culling the livestock indiscriminately would have meant a demise of the local population as well, and also deprive them of a valuable source of food. Certainly a horde could feed its animals from granaries instead, but after conquest it would be difficult to maintain the number of horses to which they were accustomed. In either case, it would have been a battle for survival. Simply to keep their mounts alive the Mongols would have been forced to scatter through the endless woodlands as they searched for the few patches of meadowland to devour. Any attempt at concentration (i.e. a major siege or battle) would inevitably bring a multitude of dangers with it. Within a year of the invasion Mongol horse numbers would have crashed simply from starvation. With no significant grazing the nomads would have been quite unable to reassemble in one place and in the kind of force necessary to sustain the military effort.This had compelled the Huns, Avars and Magyars to settle down and make the transition to a much more complex social organisation based on mixed farming on the open field system with three-year crop rotations on the wooded plains and valleys. Reducing the numbers of mounts to boost total troop strength in agricultural conditions would have meant Europeanising, diluting and assimilating the Mongols, robbing them of their mobility in terrain where military manoeuvres were already heavily restricted by the rivers, mountain valleys and the vert, and decisively limiting their destructive potential. To fight in European conditions the Mongols would have to leave their unique advantages behind them when they quit the steppes, bring an end to their nomadic existence, and reinvent themselves as a small conventional force on European lines. And even if the Mongols had somehow miraculously managed to overcome the logistical difficulties I don't think they would have triumphed on European battlefields.

Jeff Yu
Feb 01, 2005, 05:06 AM
Time to post some actual pictures for comparison:

The walls of Constantinpole:

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v245/yuje/40d7daef.jpg
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v245/yuje/cdfa187d.jpg

The walls of Xi'an

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v245/yuje/b421d46a.jpg
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v245/yuje/70abc1ae.jpg

Chinese archery tower in Beijing (original walls have been torn down)
http://www.web.virginia.edu/asianarc/public/beijing/qianmen01.jpg

The walls of Jerusalem, built by the Ottoman Empire
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/6/6a/Jwalls.jpg

Walls of Dubrovnik, Croatia
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/a/a5/Dubrovnik-L04-1.jpg

City wall and tower in Germany
http://www.goshen.edu/sst/de00/snapshots/zcitwall.jpg

Xen
Feb 01, 2005, 05:25 AM
@Jeff Yu- okay dandy, Xi'an are big- great- but how about its strategic position in the country side

Constantinople had pretty big walls- but you shoudl alos remember it had a fortifacation FAR superior to that of Xi'an, and that weas being surrounded on three sides by natual relitivlly deep water areas, that, unlike moats, coul dnot be crossed, because these walls went directlyl intot he water, and the Byzantien navy was no little force ot be trifeld with.

similerlly, you have to remember, the europeans, whiel they did fortify thier cities- used CASTLES as thier primary deposits of military resources, and troops- and these castles were in areas best suited for a pruelly military, and strtegic role= the were not forified cities, because cities are rarelly in a strategic strong point.

Xen
Feb 01, 2005, 05:26 AM
that said, upon closer inspection, the presenc eof a small comapct car in p[ictcutes of both walls points to them beign about the same god-damn size.

Xen
Feb 01, 2005, 05:44 AM
@jeff- okay, cool new pics you added- bu twhy dont you go get, oh, lets say Edinburgh castle, and try out not its walls, but its strategic position on for size.

Jeff Yu
Feb 01, 2005, 05:49 AM
You're the one who pointed out that cities aren't fortress. I'm posting examples of comparative city fortifications, not dedicated fortresses.

Xen
Feb 01, 2005, 05:53 AM
pokay- but without a counter point to judge them by (dedicated fortresses) thiers no use in posting thier pictures (city fortifacations) in the first place.

Jeff Yu
Feb 01, 2005, 06:06 AM
I'm heading for bed, but I'll try to post more pictures tommorow. Trying to look for pictures of Xiangyang, the strategic fortress-city situated on the Yangtze river than the Mongols held in siege for 5 years. The Mongols blockaded with both a land army and a river navy of thousands of boats, holding off attempts to keep the city supplied. The Mongols ended up using Chinese, Korean, Jurchen, Korean, Uighur, and Persian siege and naval experts. The Muslims had to specially design artillery capable of launching rocks weighing over at a hundred pounds.

For now, here's a picture of the city's moat, one of the largest in China.
http://www.hj.cn/en/img/big/history_huchenghe.jpg

North King
Feb 02, 2005, 06:19 PM
@BOTP:

China wasn't militarized? What the frick? It was divided, one half of it was a highly militarized nation that had conquered its way to dominance, the other so defensively minded that towns took YEARS to reduce.

Oh, and about this "Euro fortresses were designed to hold out well for long periods of time", well point me to ONE siege in Euro history that lasted ten years. THEN we can talk about holding out a long time.


About Leignitz being a mess, that was obvious, most battles against the Mongols were a mess. Regardless, the Euros were sending the elite core of the Teutonic knights, the Polish cavalry, some of the best in Europe, and in Hungary they faced other massive armies. ALL OF THEM WERE DEFEATED. It was barely even a contest, the Mongols simply outinvented, outflanked, and outfought the Euros at every opportune.

To say that a contemperary European army raised up to fight the Mongols (which, BTW, would probably be composed of several nationalities, even if from only one nation, and thus would be fractured and disorganized) would be able to beat them in a stand up fight is ludicrous at best.


As for logistics, the Mongols were quite aware of these, they didn't just figure they could keep on fighting forever. They certainly planned in all other instances for the logistical aspect, and they would surely here too as well.

Oda Nobunaga
Feb 02, 2005, 09:54 PM
Indeed. "Europe would have beaten the mongols" is an unsupported claim, given that we only have two engagements to look at, and both involved europeans being very soundly beaten by numerically inferior mongol forces.

Uiler
Feb 03, 2005, 12:36 AM
According to this site here:

http://www.rsoperations.com/History/Warfare/Exploration_and_Warfare.htm

Although the Japanese were prepared to take Western innovations and adapt them to local conditions, early modern China did not need to study and adapt Western technology in order to survive. China had invented gunpowder as early as the ninth century (whereas gunpowder was first produced in Europe in 1267) and had improved it over the course of centuries. During the later years of the thirteenth century, the Chinese invented cannons, using gunpowder to fire projectiles from metal barrels. As a result of this knowledge, their massive fortifications were designed to resist both artillery bombardment and mining. The Chinese did not build castles or fortifications. Instead they chose to fortify entire towns by surrounding them with massive stone walls that were fifteen meters thick in places. Not only did theses walls withstand bombardment in the sixteenth century, they did so until the nineteenth century. The ultimate result of fortifications in East Asia meant that siege guns were all but useless.

http://college.hmco.com/history/readerscomp/mil/html/mh_028100_kublaikhan.htm

The Mongols' greatest strength, their cavalry, was not suited to South China's forested and agricultural lands. Horses could uncover little forage, could not traverse the dense underbrush, and found the heat oppressive. Moreover, crossing the Yangtze River to the south and attacking China's southeast coast required either the development or enlistment of a navy, and the huge and highly populated Chinese cities necessitated advances in siege warfare. Kublai's forces gradually built ships, recruited Chinese sailors, and lured Chinese naval defectors; they finally laid siege to the important crossroads at Hsiang-yang from 1268 to 1273. The Mongol troops eventually needed to import two Muslim engineers to build mangonels and catapults, which hurled huge boulders on the inhabitants, to overcome resistance. The fall of Hsiang-yang enabled the Mongols to move inexorably toward the Sung capital of Lin-an, which they occupied in 1276. Significantly, the final battle occurred at sea, off the island of Yai-chou, where the last Sung emperor drowned during the engagement (1279).

This shows several things. One Mongolians do have the patience to lay seige to cities for 5 years and probably longer. Secondly Chinese cities despite not being fortresses could actually hold out in seiges for 5 years despite the weakened state of the Song military.

I think the question is, if the Mongolians laid siege to European fortresses for 5-10 years using Muslim and Chinese siege technology, could those fortresses actually hold out. The main question at this point is logistics.


@BOTP:

China wasn't militarized? What the frick? It was divided, one half of it was a highly militarized nation that had conquered its way to dominance, the other so defensively minded that towns took YEARS to reduce.

Oh, and about this "Euro fortresses were designed to hold out well for long periods of time", well point me to ONE siege in Euro history that lasted ten years. THEN we can talk about holding out a long time.


About Leignitz being a mess, that was obvious, most battles against the Mongols were a mess. Regardless, the Euros were sending the elite core of the Teutonic knights, the Polish cavalry, some of the best in Europe, and in Hungary they faced other massive armies. ALL OF THEM WERE DEFEATED. It was barely even a contest, the Mongols simply outinvented, outflanked, and outfought the Euros at every opportune.

To say that a contemperary European army raised up to fight the Mongols (which, BTW, would probably be composed of several nationalities, even if from only one nation, and thus would be fractured and disorganized) would be able to beat them in a stand up fight is ludicrous at best.


As for logistics, the Mongols were quite aware of these, they didn't just figure they could keep on fighting forever. They certainly planned in all other instances for the logistical aspect, and they would surely here too as well.

North King
Feb 03, 2005, 04:13 PM
I think the main problem the mongols would have was grazing land, and that shouldn't be TOO hard, after all, the Euros themselves supported larger numbers of horses in armies.

Xen
Feb 03, 2005, 04:58 PM
I think the main problem the mongols would have was grazing land, and that shouldn't be TOO hard, after all, the Euros themselves supported larger numbers of horses in armies.

Not really- the had compartivlly large cavry forces when comapring to other, non major horse users (*funny, considering how important mounted comabt was- btu then it was predominat more because of what being mounted symbolized, rather then tactical intitiatives) but when comparing to the armies of east? the europeans were primarilly foot, at least for the vast majority of kingdoms

Xen
Feb 03, 2005, 05:00 PM
Indeed. "Europe would have beaten the mongols" is an unsupported claim, given that we only have two engagements to look at, and both involved europeans being very soundly beaten by numerically inferior mongol forces.

but look at what trouble the europeans DID cause from what few foritfacatiosn they did it from in eastern europe- now, apply that to western europe, and you begin to see th emongols having real problems due to all thos eunrulelly fortifacations hard to access places; hard to access because the europeans deisigned thier fortifacations wwith most of the seige weapons th emongols had, liek the oh so feared trebuchet, in mind- mind you, cannonry did not work better then the regule rphysics at that point.

Xen
Feb 03, 2005, 05:06 PM
@BOTP:

China wasn't militarized? What the frick? It was divided, one half of it was a highly militarized nation that had conquered its way to dominance, the other so defensively minded that towns took YEARS to reduce.

Oh, and about this "Euro fortresses were designed to hold out well for long periods of time", well point me to ONE siege in Euro history that lasted ten years. THEN we can talk about holding out a long time. well, Veii did, but thats in a period long before th emiddle ages; constantinople had some mighty multi-year seiges though


About Leignitz being a mess, that was obvious, most battles against the Mongols were a mess. Regardless, the Euros were sending the elite core of the Teutonic knights, the Polish cavalry, some of the best in Europe, and in Hungary they faced other massive armies. ALL OF THEM WERE DEFEATED. It was barely even a contest, the Mongols simply outinvented, outflanked, and outfought the Euros at every opportune.
ahem, the tuetonic knights wer ehardley the best europe had to offer- they couldnt even beat disorginzed Finnish tribes very well, let alone a real army liek the mongols


To say that a contemperary European army raised up to fight the Mongols (which, BTW, would probably be composed of several nationalities, even if from only one nation, and thus would be fractured and disorganized) would be able to beat them in a stand up fight is ludicrous at best.
not always; richard proved askilel dmarshal coudl knok out those international tensions, and lead a european force to be VERY effective, and bloody the nose of even saladin; given such a huge prempt of self defence, i thinks its likellt that western europe woudl conceed martial ability to eh most able master- a tleast if the pope commanded it, which woudl be likelly in that case


As for logistics, the Mongols were quite aware of these, they didn't just figure they could keep on fighting forever. They certainly planned in all other instances for the logistical aspect, and they would surely here too as well.
of course, but the question is if thier plans could themselves be supported

North King
Feb 03, 2005, 10:00 PM
Not really- the had compartivlly large cavry forces when comapring to other, non major horse users (*funny, considering how important mounted comabt was- btu then it was predominat more because of what being mounted symbolized, rather then tactical intitiatives) but when comparing to the armies of east? the europeans were primarilly foot, at least for the vast majority of kingdoms

No, really? What I'm saying is that the huge supply trains of the Western Euro armies managed to survive there as well, though there was difficulty in procuring fodder, it was not impossible.


but look at what trouble the europeans DID cause from what few foritfacatiosn they did it from in eastern europe- now, apply that to western europe, and you begin to see th emongols having real problems due to all thos eunrulelly fortifacations hard to access places; hard to access because the europeans deisigned thier fortifacations wwith most of the seige weapons th emongols had, liek the oh so feared trebuchet, in mind- mind you, cannonry did not work better then the regule rphysics at that point.

What's this continual stuff about how much trouble those fortifications caused? It was mentioned once and now everyone is pouncing on it. The only reason they are even noticable as a blip on your Anti-Mongol radar is that the field armies of Hungary were defeated so fast as to make them the only possible points of resistance. :lol: And King Bela put so much faith into them, apparently, that he ran away. :lol:

well, Veii did, but thats in a period long before th emiddle ages; constantinople had some mighty multi-year seiges though

Yes, Constantinople, gem of the East, only THE most famous fortifications in Europe, comparable to the ones of the major Chinese cities of the time, yes, they did managed to have several year sieges. So obviously all of Western Europe would be able to replicate this over ant over?


ahem, the tuetonic knights wer ehardley the best europe had to offer- they couldnt even beat disorginzed Finnish tribes very well, let alone a real army liek the mongols

They weren't the best, yes, but they were far from the worst. And Poland and Lithuania weren't the shabbiest armies in Europe either. Certainly not the worst, I think.


not always; richard proved askilel dmarshal coudl knok out those international tensions, and lead a european force to be VERY effective, and bloody the nose of even saladin; given such a huge prempt of self defence, i thinks its likellt that western europe woudl conceed martial ability to eh most able master- a tleast if the pope commanded it, which woudl be likelly in that case

Yes, Richard, who was only one of the best generals in Medieval Europe and probably a French speaker as was many of his English subjects, did manage to lead a force of French and British against a much smaller army (whos main attention was devoted to the Mongols).


of course, but the question is if thier plans could themselves be supported

Given past Mongol experiences, likely they would have.

Uiler
Feb 04, 2005, 12:28 AM
One comment about supply trains. I don't know if the Mongolians did this but a common Chinese tactic since antiquity was for long-term military expeditions to be self-supporting. These military colonies were not like the retirement colonies of Rome but rather military camps of active duty soldiers who spend half their time growing crops. Sometimes these places became permanent settlements though they still retained a somewhat military character esp. in the north. Some even ended up becoming large cities such as Guangzhou which was founded by the First Emperor as a military colony to keep order amongst the non-Chinese majority in the deep south. Cao Cao made the most famous use of these military colonies.

A famous example of this philosophy was in one of the seiges of Chang'an by the famous strategist Zhuge Liang. Having worked out that there was no way he was going to be able to knock down the super-duper walls (which were extra fortified because of the Qiang) he decided to just outlast the people in the city. Also he had to cart supplies through a large mountain range which made things difficult. So he decided to get his soldiers besieging the city to start growing crops to feed themselves. Hey, if they're going to be there for a few years, might as well do something while waiting for the people inside to starve. Also this would reduce the morale of the people inside the city. People think he might have actually succeeded if internal politics hadn't forced him to be recalled to Shu to face charges of treason.

Self-supporting troops who grew their own food was a common Chinese tactic in long-term military expeditions esp. in hostile territory. Chinese were very good at mixing agriculture and military aggression.

Another thing is while there are not Chinese fortresses per se, Chinese cities were essentially fortresses. They were surrounded by massive walls. Also the location of many important cities were decided in periods of warring states where easily defensive positions were important. We shouldn't forget that for large periods of Chinese history various parts were constantly engaged in civil war. And Chinese tend to be more autocratic about building cities rather than just letting them spring up. There was a lot more central planning involved. For example Nanjing came about because Sun Quan wanted a capital. They scouted around, found a good defensive position and decided to built a capital city there from scratch. Also some cities like Guangzhou originated from military colonies.

Another thing is, I'm not sure the Mongolians were all that serious about invading Europe. Remember in China they used to engage the Chinese in seiges that would last 5 years. In Europe they didn't even bother. They come across a fortification, shrug their shoulders and go "Why bother?" It seemed more like a raid rather than an entirely serious invasion attempt. It seemed more like a "Let's do it because we can" thing. In China after the death of Genghis Khan derailed the first attempt they came back later and defeated China over a gruelling 40 years. In Europe the death of a great Khan derailed the first attempt and then they didn't even bother to come back. It didn't seem as if there was a lot of seriousness involved. China seemed to be the main focus of their attention and Europe was just a sideline they engaged in their spare time.

Jeff Yu
Feb 04, 2005, 12:58 AM
By the way, Xen, how's it coming on those names? What are the names and places of the battles outside of east Asia (ie China and Japan) where the Mongols used mass infantry armies? Since according to you the Mongols used massed infantry tactics everywhere except during their initial rise I'm sure you would have no problem providing countless examples.

Jeff Yu
Feb 04, 2005, 01:29 AM
Another thing is while there are not Chinese fortresses per se, Chinese cities were essentially fortresses. They were surrounded by massive walls. Also the location of many important cities were decided in periods of warring states where easily defensive positions were important. We shouldn't forget that for large periods of Chinese history various parts were constantly engaged in civil war. And Chinese tend to be more autocratic about building cities rather than just letting them spring up. There was a lot more central planning involved. For example Nanjing came about because Sun Quan wanted a capital. They scouted around, found a good defensive position and decided to built a capital city there from scratch. Also some cities like Guangzhou originated from military colonies.

Yeah, if you notice the pictures I posted, those are two different sets of walls. The one with the moat is an outer defensive wall, while the first picture shows another set of walls.

Xi'an (or Chang'an as it was called then), was built in a very specific way. It was built with the palace at the north, and broad boulevard running North-South, and the city was divided up into countless wards, each of which was walled off.


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Each of the little squares is a ward, which is further subdivided into smaller neighborhoods. Each ward was walled off by secondary walls, while each neighborhood was further walled off with smaller subwalls. The gates to each ward were to be closed each evening to ensure peace and safety during the capital at nighttime. There are about 108 wards total.

At the time of the Tang Dynasty, (500-800 AD), Chang'an was the largest city in the world (30 square miles, 2 million people), having a size and population greater than that of Rome, Constantinople (300-500 thousand), and Baghdad (half a million). Later though, the population of other cities surpassed it. Can you imagine what kind of hell it must be, having to storm off countless walled-off wards in a city of 2 million?

Edit: If only I found this picture sooner I wouldn't have had to waste time typing it by hand.

http://www.hyperhistory.com/online_n2/images_n2/islam.gif

BOTP
Feb 04, 2005, 04:06 AM
I think the question is, if the Mongolians laid siege to European fortresses for 5-10 years using Muslim and Chinese siege technology, could those fortresses actually hold out

First of all, how do you expect the Mongols to transport their seige trains to Europe? And Why would the Mongols want to stay besieging a fortress for 10 years :lol: That would negate their mobility (the one thing that makes them famous) and just make them a sitting duck for larger relief armies.

What's this continual stuff about how much trouble those fortifications caused? It was mentioned once and now everyone is pouncing on it. The only reason they are even noticable as a blip on your Anti-Mongol radar is that the field armies of Hungary were defeated so fast as to make them the only possible points of resistance. And King Bela put so much faith into them, apparently, that he ran away.

A lot of ignorance here. In 1285 the Kipchak Tatars returned to Europe and occupied Transylvania. As before they were unsupported by Chinese or Persian artillery. In 1286 the Mongol Prince Nogai advanced against Cracow and Tole-Buka attacked Sandomir. But the Poles showed they had learnt by their sobering experience at Liegnitz half a century earlier. This time the garrisons weren’t tempted to engage the horse archers in the field. They clung to their walls and both cities held out against the Tatar assaults. So the Poles faced the same evil and they defeated it, and the defences of civilisation failed to crumble. The Mongols once again withdrew, first to Volynia, and then to the longitudinal belt of steppes north of the Black Sea: the empty expanses of European Scythia. And they never came back.

BOTP
Feb 04, 2005, 04:08 AM
I think the main problem the mongols would have was grazing land, and that shouldn't be TOO hard, after all, the Euros themselves supported larger numbers of horses in armies.

Well, I thought that was quite obvious. Granted, both the mounted knight and the Mongol horseman fought from horseback. But this is also where all resemblance ends. The two military systems had extremely little to do with each other. The mounted knight, having only two or three mounts, formed a fraction of a typical medieval army. On the other hand, essentially all Mongol warriors were horsemen, routinely bringing a dozen remounts or more along. This alone points out a key difference. A 13th c. European army 30.000 men strong would have had perhaps 5 to 8.000 knights with 15 to 24.000 horses. A Mongol army of the same size would have numbered 30.000 horsemen and several hundred thousand mounts. In regard to logistics, the difference is very clear. On a related note, it needs to be said that a typical European army as a mixed force was, in addition to requiring far less ghrazing, much more versatile. In horse-unfriendly terrain the infantry could provide effective cover for the knights. But where the ground was suitable for the deployment of cavalry, the mounted knights could act as the striking fist. No army made up solely of horsemen could possibly match that, superior mobility being negated by difficult terrain.

BOTP
Feb 04, 2005, 04:14 AM
@ North King

I don't understand why you think the Mongols could have supported themsleves logistically. When Batu Khan invaded Russia he would have brought with him well over a million horses. There’s no way such a vast herd could have been introduced into Europe: even if all other livestock were somehow exterminated overnight by marauders (and the owners would just turn it loose instead), and every blade of grass miraculously spared, there would still be no physical way for the Mongols to concentrate for a campaign (which in Europe usually meant protracted siege over a period of many months), but such a concentration would be necessary for the Mongols own defence, given that rapid movement would be impeded by the terrain and vegetation. Even today 47 percent of Austria is still woodland, of which 69 percent is mountain forest. Only 23 percent of the country is permanent pasture and 6 percent is winter pasture. The rest of the soil is under the plough, and horses live on grass, not wheat grain. Furthermore, while the clearing of the Austrian wilderness for cattle-breeding had begun by the tenth century, much of the alpine cover was reserved for hunting and only fell to the axe in the nineteenth century, so the thirteenth-century grazing area would have been even smaller than it is today. The annualised estimate for the modern pasturage is still only 7,933 square miles, giving Austria a realistic carrying capacity of about 72,706 steppe horses, enough to sustain 5 remounts for a military force of only 14,541 riders. So in a sustained Austrian campaign a handful of nomads would have found themselves outnumbered two-to-one by the locally-entrenched defenders, their numerical strength held at bay by a crippling lack of paddock, their speed and mobility neutralised by the terrain and the staticity of siege warfare (whose conventions normally demanded a fourfold superiority of the leaguer), and with the imminent prospect of their retreat being cut off by crusading hosts of German and Italian infantry numbering in the hundreds of thousands, with no comparable supply problems on their side, a secure rear, better equipment, and practically infinite reserves of manpower to draw on. Invasion of Middle Europe was a non-starter, which partly explains why, in the century that followed, despite repeated Christian provocations, the Golden Horde got no further west than Beuthen in Oppeln, on the Oder.

BOTP
Feb 04, 2005, 04:18 AM
Indeed. "Europe would have beaten the mongols" is an unsupported claim, given that we only have two engagements to look at, and both involved europeans being very soundly beaten by numerically inferior mongol forces.

You can't possibly judge the European Military on just two battles. And do you know how the Mongols won and why the Hungarians didn't? The best way we can even hope to even compare the two in battle, is creating simulations for the armies you can use a baseline of gauging their respective effectiveness against similar enemies (like the Scythians and Huns, Chinese, Turks, Sracens, etc.)

BOTP
Feb 04, 2005, 04:32 AM
No, really? What I'm saying is that the huge supply trains of the Western Euro armies managed to survive there as well, though there was difficulty in procuring fodder, it was not impossible.

:eek: Really its not impossible? Perhaps the matter would be better approached from a different angle. To take 13th century France as an example, the French king could probably call on as much as half a million fighting men, depending on the seriousness of the situation and the thoroughness of the levy. Yet at no time did he ever assemble even 10% of that number for a single campaign. Why? I believe the real reason lies in logistics. Medieval Europe had considerable reserves of manpower, but the limitations of terrain, communications and agriculture meant that no really large army could operate in Europe for any extended period. Of course, that would also have held true for the Mongols. If the Europeans themselves, being familiar with the terrain, enjoying support of the local population and relying heavily on infantry could not sustain armies of 65,000 men I am certainly sure that the Mongols, lacking the advantages of the defenders and using such a large, inefficient pool of remounts would not have been able survive on a prolonged campaign in Europe in such numbers (oh yeah, let's not forget the lack of fodder ;) )

BOTP
Feb 04, 2005, 04:39 AM
Another thing is, I'm not sure the Mongolians were all that serious about invading Europe. Remember in China they used to engage the Chinese in seiges that would last 5 years. In Europe they didn't even bother. They come across a fortification, shrug their shoulders and go "Why bother?" It seemed more like a raid rather than an entirely serious invasion attempt. It seemed more like a "Let's do it because we can" thing. In China after the death of Genghis Khan derailed the first attempt they came back later and defeated China over a gruelling 40 years. In Europe the death of a great Khan derailed the first attempt and then they didn't even bother to come back. It didn't seem as if there was a lot of seriousness involved. China seemed to be the main focus of their attention and Europe was just a sideline they engaged in their spare time.

To this I answer you question the Mongol leadership may very well have underestimated the strength of Hungarian fortifications. There were obviously skilled siege engineers in Batu's army who were capable of constructing catapults on the spot. But bringing a siege train would have inevitably slowed the Mongols down to the extent of negating the surprise effect and superior mobility. And to claim the Mongols were disinterested in Europe entirely would be grossly incorrect. First of all, their desire for world domination is clear. This meant that all unconquered nations were treated as targets. The bravado expressed in the Mongol answers to the Pope indicates that Western Europe was consiered a major target. Secondly, the Mongols invaded a number of regions which were poor by any standards. Compare the commitment of the Golden Horde in Eastern Europe and even in the Balkans. The Mongols were for some reason very active in the Russian and Balkan Realpolitik, which was a really petty affair. Yet at the same time you are arguing that these same Mongols considered Western Europe unworthy even of a raid. The very same Mongols by the way who returned from the second invasion of Poland and Hungary with a bloody nose. Therefore, I would like to suggest that from the perspective of the Golden Horde Western Europe was the No. 1 target, by all means preferable to the Russian steppe. It is evident that considerable efforts were invested in a further Mongol expansion to the west, proving that Europe was considered a worthy target.

Xen
Feb 04, 2005, 04:53 AM
By the way, Xen, how's it coming on those names? What are the names and places of the battles outside of east Asia (ie China and Japan) where the Mongols used mass infantry armies? Since according to you the Mongols used massed infantry tactics everywhere except during their initial rise I'm sure you would have no problem providing countless examples.

:rolleyes: :rolleyes: :rolleyes:

you "misunderstand" only to try to slur my point- I specificilly said that th emongols didnt give a hell about thie rinfantry- and didnt make great tacticle concessiosn for it; but that dosent stop the end result from beign what it was- the infantry taking up an incresinglly important role, until, with steppe natiosn that did fulyl settle, it eclpised the cavalry entirelly- that didnt happen witht he moongols, the ecplise of the cavalry, but the tacticle important of the massed infantry is not to be denyied either.

Jeff Yu
Feb 04, 2005, 06:51 AM
First of all, how do you expect the Mongols to transport their seige trains to Europe? And Why would the Mongols want to stay besieging a fortress for 10 years :lol: That would negate their mobility (the one thing that makes them famous) and just make them a sitting duck for larger relief armies.

Well, the Mongols tended to avoid sieges and bypass fortifications UNTIL they had destroyed the armies out in the open field. As with elsewhere in the world, it's highly unlikely they would have had to siege and storm every last European fortress and stronghold. The Mongols made the promise to slaughter, sack, and annihilate the inhabitants of anything they sieged unless they surrendered. They only need demonstrate a few times.

Remember that during this age in Europe, castels and fortresses were taken and retaken dozens of times without actually storming the castle. As this point in time, campaigning seasons rarely lasted more than a few seasons before retainers and peasants had to return to their fields. Typical sieges during this time started with negotiations where if relief armies didn't arrive in the specified amount of time, the castle would surrender, with the implicit understanding that all inhabitants would be slaughtered mercilessly otherwise. And there were never a lack of traitors who would open the gates, nor minor lords or nobles willing to surrender for suitable compensation, titles, or estates. No siege in Europe lasted for 10 years. Even hundreds of years laters, with considerable advances in logistics, warefare, and siege technology, the sieges of Constantinople didn't last more than a year.


A lot of ignorance here. In 1285 the Kipchak Tatars returned to Europe and occupied Transylvania. As before they were unsupported by Chinese or Persian artillery. In 1286 the Mongol Prince Nogai advanced against Cracow and Tole-Buka attacked Sandomir. But the Poles showed they had learnt by their sobering experience at Liegnitz half a century earlier. This time the garrisons weren’t tempted to engage the horse archers in the field. They clung to their walls and both cities held out against the Tatar assaults. So the Poles faced the same evil and they defeated it, and the defences of civilisation failed to crumble. The Mongols once again withdrew, first to Volynia, and then to the longitudinal belt of steppes north of the Black Sea: the empty expanses of European Scythia. And they never came back.

The Kypchak Tartars were hardly the same armies as those of Genghis and Subutai. The key of Mongol success lay not in their technology or quality of their troops: they basically had the same as the Huns, the Avars, Turks, Jurchens, Scythians, Cumans, Bulgars, and so on before them. What allowed them to succeed were their strategic, tactical, organizational, and logistical innovations, which sadly didn't outlast Genghis's sons'.

That the Mongols took too many casualties to sustain their European campaign is largely a Polish fiction. After the occupation of Hungary, they continued right on to invading Austria and Bohemia. They were within sights of the city of Vienna before they withdrew to Mongolia upon the death of Ogedai. You'll also have to remember that did this all with no more than 40,000 or so men. Polish accounts of 100,000 or more were almost certainly exaggerated. Europe was a minor border region to the Mongols. In contrast, Genghis set about invading northern China with over 200,000 horsemen. Even had the entire European invasion force been slaughtered, it would only have been a fraction of the total force available to the Mongols. As for the Mongols considering western Europe to be a worthy target that they withdrew from only after heavy losses, I'd like to point out that the Mongols dedicated more men to sieging individual Chinese cities than they did upon the entire European campaign. China and Persia were considered far more worthy targets of conquest than Western Europe.

Your logistics argument doesn't really hold. The Russian and Ukrainian steppes are far closer to western Europe than the Mongolian grasslands are to southern China. This distance from Karakorum to Beijing is farther than the distance from Moscow to Warsaw. Unlike in Europe, There was a huge Gobi desert lying between northern China and the Mongolian grasslands, while much of southern Poland and parts of Hungary are trasitional plains that allow armies to winter their horses in temporarily. The Mongols were able to launched an extended 30 year campaign into Song China, and as far south as Burma and Vietnam, thousands and thousands of miles away from the steppes. China itself is the about the size of western and eastern Europe combined, minus Scandinavia, yet the Mongols were able to efficiently handle their logistical needs through decades of extended warfare. The distance between Beijing and Guangzhou, for example, is roughly the same as that between Moscow and Paris.

The political disintegration of the Mongol Empire plays a large part in the reason why the Mongols never returned to Europe. The Il-Khans, having razed, sacked, and slaughtered Baghdad drew the ire of the newly converted Muslim Golden Horde, which led to a costly and extended civil war between the two Mongol domains. Furthermore, the rise of Timurlane came largely at the expense of former Mongol dominions and his attacks upon the Golden Horde contributed greatly to its decline and eventual disintegration.

Jeff Yu
Feb 04, 2005, 06:56 AM
:rolleyes: :rolleyes: :rolleyes:

you "misunderstand" only to try to slur my point- I specificilly said that th emongols didnt give a hell about thie rinfantry- and didnt make great tacticle concessiosn for it; but that dosent stop the end result from beign what it was- the infantry taking up an incresinglly important role, until, with steppe natiosn that did fulyl settle, it eclpised the cavalry entirelly- that didnt happen witht he moongols, the ecplise of the cavalry, but the tacticle important of the massed infantry is not to be denyied either.

Then name some Mongol battles outside of East Asia where they used massed infantry tactics then. I didn't even ask for ones where they played a key role. Name some Mongol battles where they used massed infantry at all, period.

This is starting to smell suspciously like BS, just like when you spuriously claimed that Atilla's Huns were a massive horse-mounted steppe army, when in fact they were a settled people settled into Hungary for generations and in fact leading a confederation of Eastern European barbarian peoples.

Xen
Feb 04, 2005, 09:25 AM
Then name some Mongol battles outside of East Asia where they used massed infantry tactics then. I didn't even ask for ones where they played a key role. Name some Mongol battles where they used massed infantry at all, period.

all right. gimme some time then


This is starting to smell suspciously like BS, just like when you spuriously claimed that Atilla's Huns were a massive horse-mounted steppe army, when in fact they were a settled people settled into Hungary for generations and in fact leading a confederation of Eastern European barbarian peoples.

in the beginnign they WERE a nomadic horse mounted army- I woudl never argue that they stayed one, as the lynch of why they lost to Roman armies was the fact that had becoem semi-settled in the ukrain and the area there abouts

Oda Nobunaga
Feb 04, 2005, 11:35 AM
You can't possibly judge the European Military on just two battles. And do you know how the Mongols won and why the Hungarians didn't? The best way we can even hope to even compare the two in battle, is creating simulations for the armies you can use a baseline of gauging their respective effectiveness against similar enemies (like the Scythians and Huns, Chinese, Turks, Sracens, etc.)

Didn't you try judging how effective the mongols would have been against the European on a SINGLE battle fought by one of the most brilliant commander of medieval Europe (Lionheart) against an enemy that was not even the mongols?

The bottom line is this : the mongol and European armies met twice on the battlefield. Both time the Europeans were routed with heavy losses despite significant number advantages.

Does that mean the Europeans would necessarily have been routed in any other confrontation with the mongols? Hardly. Had they gotten out a man with the tactical brilliance of a Lionheart (or Subotai :-D) to lead the army, you'd have gotten a much more even playing ground, and the mongolians would most likely have had to commit a much larger force to keep their chances.

Did Europe have such a commander at this point, one born in a position of power sufficient to take command? I don't know. Lionheart was in his grave by then, after all.

storealex
Feb 04, 2005, 01:23 PM
Oh, and about this "Euro fortresses were designed to hold out well for long periods of time", well point me to ONE siege in Euro history that lasted ten years. THEN we can talk about holding out a long time.
Will only answer to this due to lack of time.

NK, you can't say "European fortifications sucked" or whatever your saying, just because only a few sieges lasted more than 10 years. In fact, it's very wrong to do so. Instead, you should have asked "How many sieges proved unsuccesful"
You see, to siege a Castle for 10 years, you'll have to have:
- A large army
- Very good supply lines and forraging units
- And most important of all, a secure rear.

Many siege operations were abbandonned due to lack of one or several of the above. Could the Mongols provide a huge army, yes. Could the Mongols feed it, yes. Could the Mongols providea secure rear, in the middle of Europe, fighting all of Europe? No.
So they would have to either take it by Storm, which is costly, or they would be faced with the constant threat of armies coming to the besieged Castles' rescue. And even if they would constantly beat these armies, the siege it self would take years, and they would be going no where.

Finally, I don't like your arrogant use of smilies and your patronising tone. It's not proper for a serious dicussion. Especially not when you're wrong


Xen, even when I disagree with you, I find your posts interesting. However, sometimes I just stop reading them because of the trillion typing errors. Please read your posts through before you posts them, since it would help us readers a lot.

MCdread
Feb 04, 2005, 01:44 PM
Remember that during this age in Europe, castels and fortresses were taken and retaken dozens of times without actually storming the castle. As this point in time, campaigning seasons rarely lasted more than a few seasons before retainers and peasants had to return to their fields. Typical sieges during this time started with negotiations where if relief armies didn't arrive in the specified amount of time, the castle would surrender, with the implicit understanding that all inhabitants would be slaughtered mercilessly otherwise. And there were never a lack of traitors who would open the gates, nor minor lords or nobles willing to surrender for suitable compensation, titles, or estates. No siege in Europe lasted for 10 years. Even hundreds of years laters, with considerable advances in logistics, warefare, and siege technology, the sieges of Constantinople didn't last more than a year.


Actually, in medieval Europe, the majority of sieges were a failure. Statisticaly, the probability of the attacker conquering a fortified town was quite low.

As for the discussion currently going on, I think that the Mongols could have never conquered western Europe and hold it for reasons that have been hinted already, and also because the economy and political map of Europe was significantly different than that of other more vast and richer empires. In Europe there was nothing close to political unity, therefor someone aiming at destroying the status quo completely would have to deal with the opponents one by one, because there is no high authority after whose surrendering the empire falls.
Another point related to this has to do with the economy. Medieval Europe isn't a super state with a centralised economy, and the agricultural system is dependent on raining for irrigation, not centralised irrigation systems like other big empires in history. This means that agriculture can't be controlled by holding any particular key site.
Whatever is happening in, say, Germany has no influence at all in the immediate survival of the people in England or Italy.
About the terrain: it can be said that Iran is also a mountain country and yet the Mongols managed to overrun it, but the key thing is exactly the political status in my mind. Persia has always been a centralised and bureaucratic empire and the mongols weren't exactly the first to take advantadge of that situation. Look at Alexander for example: as soon as he crushed the rival emperor in battle, the whole country feel to him. Wester Europe is very much the opposite.
Just my 2 cents.

Chieftess
Feb 04, 2005, 01:46 PM
But, like many other nations at the time, they had never seen the Mongolian war tactics, nor knew how to combat it. Europe was used to the "bunker down and meet the enemy head on" tactic. The Mongolians would attack them with a small force head on, run away, and have their main force attack from the rear, and run away.

You can't chase horses very well when you're in a lot of armor.

Uiler
Feb 04, 2005, 01:59 PM
Neither was there in China. At the time China was divided into the Liao empire, the Southern Song, the Jin Empire and well the Mongolians. And I'm sure I'm missing one in the west. The Mongolians took them out one by one. First the Liao, then the Jin and then the Song. The Song took the longest. They kept on fighting and fighting even after the capital fell. Despite the centralised nature of China, it rarely falls apart after the centre is gone. The Song already showed this before when the Jin captured the capital Kaifeng and two emperors. They just moved the capital south and appointed a new emperor. Chinese history is typically one of staged retreats (usually southwards) and it typically takes decades for a foreign presence to conquer the country. As long as some of the bureaucracy can survive that's all that's needed. The Mongolians eventually had to drive the last Song emperor to Guangzhou and finally to an island off the coast of modern Guangdong where the last Song Chancellor committed suicide with the last Song emperor (I think they jumped off a cliff). A similar story happened with the fall of the Ming as well. There is a reason why it took decades to conquer all of China.

Actually, in medieval Europe, the majority of sieges were a failure. Statisticaly, the probability of the attacker conquering a fortified town was quite low.

As for the discussion currently going on, I think that the Mongols could have never conquered western Europe and hold it for reasons that have been hinted already, and also because the economy and political map of Europe was significantly different than that of other more vast and richer empires. In Europe there was nothing close to political unity, therefor someone aiming at destroying the status quo completely would have to deal with the opponents one by one, because there is no high authority after whose surrendering the empire falls.
Another point related to this has to do with the economy. Medieval Europe isn't a super state with a centralised economy, and the agricultural system is dependent on raining for irrigation, not centralised irrigation systems like other big empires in history. This means that agriculture can't be controlled by holding any particular key site.
Whatever is happening in, say, Germany has no influence at all in the immediate survival of the people in England or Italy.
About the terrain: it can be said that Iran is also a mountain country and yet the Mongols managed to overrun it, but the key thing is exactly the political status in my mind. Persia has always been a centralised and bureaucratic empire and the mongols weren't exactly the first to take advantadge of that situation. Look at Alexander for example: as soon as he crushed the rival emperor in battle, the whole country feel to him. Wester Europe is very much the opposite.
Just my 2 cents.

storealex
Feb 04, 2005, 02:34 PM
Chieftess, you can counter horse by archer/pikemen combinations. Footarchers can usually outshoot mounted ones, plus they can use pavises, and easily hide behind a forest of pikes.

I think the main strenght the Mongols could use, once the Europeans learned to adapt to their fighting style, which would eventually happen, is to deny the Europeans the ability to forage.

Oda Nobunaga
Feb 04, 2005, 04:13 PM
Would the mongols not then adapt to the counter-tactics developed by the Europeans?

It wouldn't have been an easy conquest, for sure. But to dismiss it as very hard or impossible is, I think, a very narrow-sighted view.

I think what it would most likely have boiled down to is a long, slow series of campaigns, each advancing the border a bit, then slouching down to a halt, but it would seem to me that Mongolia was likely in a better position to wage a war of attrition.

That is assuming all of Europe would have stuck together in front of this. Which is not a given : inter-European conflicts circa the late 12th and 13th century were not uncommon : CF Philippe Auguste coming home from Crusade only to sneak-attack Richard's french holdings while Richard was still off in Palestine, CF the Venetians diverting the fourth Crusade to attack Venice, etc.

That said, Europe at the time probably wasn't worth the cost.

BOTP
Feb 04, 2005, 04:14 PM
Well, the Mongols tended to avoid sieges and bypass fortifications UNTIL they had destroyed the armies out in the open field. As with elsewhere in the world, it's highly unlikely they would have had to siege and storm every last European fortress and stronghold. The Mongols made the promise to slaughter, sack, and annihilate the inhabitants of anything they sieged unless they surrendered. They only need demonstrate a few times.

I don't think you are following the basic idea behind castles. Siege was the centrepiece of sedentary warfare, and the reduction of castles and cities took months and sometimes years of strategic attrition. High walls, safety, lots of food. You have your people in there, with protection and stores and you can last a long time. Most castles were routinely prepared for sieges to last awhile--meaning that the local lord and his men and some of the populace can wait there for a long time. They'd gather all the food from the region beforehand and lock themselves in. Meanwhile, the Mongols outside are the ones whose horses are dying from lack of fodder. And I seriously doubt the Europeans would captulate after a few mere demonstrations. Europeans showed that they were willing to sit outside/inside tiny castles in the rained and mud for months. As for the Mongols, small forts that didn't fall immediately were bypassed and major cities taken, which always meant the risks of exposing your rear if you relied on a supply train, and severing your communications. When the city fell in the Orient, the forts--manned by men loyal only to the potentate--surrendered. In Europe, the men in the little forts were loyal to the man in the fort. What happens to the city is of secondary importance--because the aim is to defend the lord--who just so happens to be sitting within the walls just like the men-at-arms.

As this point in time, campaigning seasons rarely lasted more than a few seasons before retainers and peasants had to return to their fields. Typical sieges during this time started with negotiations where if relief armies didn't arrive in the specified amount of time, the castle would surrender, with the implicit understanding that all inhabitants would be slaughtered mercilessly otherwise.

Beseiging a castles could last months, not a few mere seasons. Sudden assualts, helped by surprise, overwhelming humbers, and treachery sometimes suceeded, but beseigin a castle was usually a matter of starving out the defender into surrender. But why would a castle, with considerable amount of stores and heavily fortified and well-defended need to negociate a surrender? If this was the case, then the defender can choose to hold out until his supplies were exhausted. So it all comes down to a matter of attrition, and which side starved first. And you must remember the Mongols brought their own food with them -- large herds of meat-on-the-hoof, that were driven together with their armies (which is why they moved so fast). But that also only added to the forage problem & added to the water problem. Mongol armies were built to move, not sit around sieges. That they would learn to take fortified castles on campaign is rather speculative, to put it mildly; Batu certainly didn't bring a siege train with him into Hungary, and the mongol sieges in the east, the best examples becuase they were contested, as opposed to, for example, Baghdad, were long, drawn-out affairs. Plus, the main population would not hole up in the castles (there are plenty of woods and high mountains west and north of the Hungarian plain to hide in), castles are military strongpoints. And besides, most European fortresses beseiged didn't rely on relief armies. Once established, these castles could hold out indefinately without the need of long costly relief expeditions.

And there were never a lack of traitors who would open the gates, nor minor lords or nobles willing to surrender for suitable compensation, titles, or estates.

Collaborating with the enemy, especially a foreign one, was extremely rare in feudal Europe. And when lords did collaborate with the enemy, it was usually for personal ambition, nothing of a serious military matter. ake for instance the Crusades; allying oneself with a local Saracen ruler was never a particulary popular move with Europeans because it was invariably seen as a shameful act. There were noblemen who broke that rule for personal gain, but never for a cause that could openly threaten the existence of the Kingdom of Jerusalem.France surely wouldn't have wanted to replace one great opponent - the German empire - with an even more dangerous one - a Mongol empire stretching from southern Russia to the Rhine. It is in strategic interests of any nation to choose the lesser evil. Only a few states ever broke that rule and those that did usually soon regretted their decision. The Lombards for instance, who initially signed a treaty with the Avars, were in for a nasty surprise when the Avars, after having defeated their common enemies, turned against the former allies. Besides, how would you expect Christians to collabortate with Mongols. There was much hatred in Europe back then against infidels, particularly the aggressive ones. The Mongols had quickly acquired a terrible reputation even in Western Europe, which never experienced the effects of their raid. So I see any chance of open collaboration extremely unlikely.

No siege in Europe lasted for 10 years. Even hundreds of years laters, with considerable advances in logistics, warefare, and siege technology, the sieges of Constantinople didn't last more than a year.

Okay, how do you expect a armies to subsist in constant besiegement for 10 years. Although beseiging a catsle was a long affair, it would be logistically impossible at that periods to do such a thing, unless you have the advantage of friendly territory and a unlimited amount of provisions to keep your army in the field, which would have been impossible for the Mongols to do. And Constantinople isn't a good example to choose, since the Ottomans had artillery (something the Mongols could not have aqquired in Europe).

The Kypchak Tartars were hardly the same armies as those of Genghis and Subutai. The key of Mongol success lay not in their technology or quality of their troops: they basically had the same as the Huns, the Avars, Turks, Jurchens, Scythians, Cumans, Bulgars, and so on before them. What allowed them to succeed were their strategic, tactical, organizational, and logistical innovations, which sadly didn't outlast Genghis's sons'.

No one is saying the Mongols were exactly the same, but they do share several similiarities, and basic tactics (feignts, ect.). And despite what others may have you believe, the decimal organization of the Mongols was in fact the traditonal organization for pratically all nomad armies of the time. The only true differences was the Monogls superior discipline, and as you mentioned, leaders; other than that, their tactics, methods, customs, ect. were the same as other nomadic armies.

That the Mongols took too many casualties to sustain their European campaign is largely a Polish fiction. After the occupation of Hungary, they continued right on to invading Austria and Bohemia. They were within sights of the city of Vienna before they withdrew to Mongolia upon the death of Ogedai. You'll also have to remember that did this all with no more than 40,000 or so men. Polish accounts of 100,000 or more were almost certainly exaggerated.

What invasion, the Mongols that penetrated into Austria were scouting columns, that were eventually repulsed. Considering that no sources indicate anything other than minor foraging parties and a bit larger scouting force that withdrawn upon making contact with Duke Frederick of Austrias outriders (one of the reasons he disbanded his army, seemingly in the face of an invasion - perhaps it was for a reason?), claiming that they came to the gates of Vienna is rather contrafactual. As for the regarding casualites; it doesn't take any stretching of the facts to establish that this engagement was a definite Hungarian victory and that the Mongol contigent involved in the operation suffered heavy losses. Take for example, The battle of Mohi. While attempting to launch a preemptive night attack the Mongols were themselves outsmarted. The slaughter must have been great, so great in fact that the Hungarians were assured of victory. Had the battle on the bridge seemed less decisive the Hungarians would surely have left a far more substantial guard and there wouldn't have been much cause for celebration either. Since the sizeable Mongol detachment sent over the bridge was effectively wiped out, it can be extrapolated that the Mongol casualties were high. And this does not take into account the last phase of the fighting, which must have been brutal as well. Even if the Hungarians were ultimately defeated I'm sure many of them did not perish without a good fight. These facts considered, it's quite evident that the Mongol victory at Mohi was bought at a heavy price. This helps to explain the huge steppe cemetery which Carpini is talking about. The Hungarian army, while still relatively poorly equipped by Western standards and commited to battle under unfavorable conditions, inflicted very heavy casualties on the Mongols before collapsing. The Mongols seem to have won only because of their extreme determination and only at a very high cost. To stress this again: it was probably the losses suffered at Mohi that effectively hindered the Mongol expansion and reduced the power of the Golden Horde.

As for the Mongols considering western Europe to be a worthy target that they withdrew from only after heavy losses, I'd like to point out that the Mongols dedicated more men to sieging individual Chinese cities than they did upon the entire European campaign. China and Persia were considered far more worthy targets of conquest than Western Europe.

Then the notion that medieval Europe was so poor and backwaters that it wasn't worth seizing. This is an idea which I'm not buying. Medieval Europe may not have been as rich as some parts of China and Persia. It was still much richer than many regions which steppe nomads conquered or sought to conquer, though. Moreover, the relative richness of a certain region is not the only reason for conquest. What about the natural resources and communications? Europe was by all means a desirable target. It was economically reasonably well off, it had rich ore deposits, advanced metalworking technologies (vital for arms production, possibly a major reason for the Mongol invasion of Persia!) and contained a reservoir of manpower that simply couldn't be ignored. There is obviously something badly wrong with the theory of "unworthy" Europe as presented by some forumites on this thread. Calmly considering all the facts I can only conclude that the actual military potential of the Mongols available for an invasion of Europe was grossly inadequate for any permanent conquest. Logistical considerations must also be taken into account. In a way, I agree that Europe was not worth the trouble from the Mongol point of view. Not because of any shortage of plunder but simply because it was militarily much too strong and unsuitable for steppe warfare.

Your logistics argument doesn't really hold. The Russian and Ukrainian steppes are far closer to western Europe than the Mongolian grasslands are to southern China. This distance from Karakorum to Beijing is farther than the distance from Moscow to Warsaw. Unlike in Europe, There was a huge Gobi desert lying between northern China and the Mongolian grasslands, while much of southern Poland and parts of Hungary are trasitional plains that allow armies to winter their horses in temporarily.

Russia is far. Like I said before, if they had any hope of conquering all of europe, they would pretty much have to do it all at once - meaning over the span of several weeks, or maximum 3 or 4 months. But more likely even faster than that because most if not all pasture lands in west europe would have been overgrazed very soon. They would then have to return their horses to the feeding grounds of central and eastern Europe and Russia right after, if the horses would indeed survive the long trip. And how many horses can the Mongols afford to lose to starvation? Yes that is an assumption, but it's a carefully thought out extrapolation based on the available facts. Then they would immediately have to assume administrative and leadership roles in European governments to make sure they maintain control, much like they did in China and Persia. Now I doubt they could do all that in the span of several weeks/few months. If anything, they would have accomplished partial conquerment and then leave to feed their horses and return next year. In the meantime the Europeans would have had time to regroup and offer better resistance. At best it would have been a stalemate. See, it is my belief that the Mongols foresaw this predicament and chose to avoid it.

The Mongols were able to launched an extended 30 year campaign into Song China, and as far south as Burma and Vietnam, thousands and thousands of miles away from the steppes. China itself is the about the size of western and eastern Europe combined, minus Scandinavia, yet the Mongols were able to efficiently handle their logistical needs through decades of extended warfare. The distance between Beijing and Guangzhou, for example, is roughly the same as that between Moscow and Paris.

Your only confirming my argument. If it took the Mongols more than 50 years to conquer China, how do you think they would fare in Europe. Do you think that the Mongols could have taken Europe in one sweeping offensive, which is what they needed to do in order to avoid having to refeed their animals? It seems highly unlikely. And running back to the steppes to resupply or refeed their animals would not be very time efficient. It would only give the Europeans the time they need to build up their defenses. If anything, after each campaign the Mongol offensive would become weaker and the European defense would strengthen. At least with China and Persia, the Mongols were surrounded by ideal grazing lands so they never had to go far to refeed their animals.

BOTP
Feb 04, 2005, 04:24 PM
Didn't you try judging how effective the mongols would have been against the European on a SINGLE battle fought by one of the most brilliant commander of medieval Europe (Lionheart) against an enemy that was not even the mongols?

You mean an enemy who fought with similiar tactics? Yes I did. But Arsuf is not the only example where a European forced defeated a steppe-nomadic opponent. Atilla was beaten at the Catalaunian Fields. Karl Martell beat the saracen raiders at Tours. The Seljuk Turks actually LOST the first part of the Battle of Manzikert before Romanus foolishly pursued them. Saladin was beaten by Richard I at Arsuf. The Mongols lost at Ayn Jalut. They were too bloodied in Poland and Hungary to resume offensives there. Heavy cavalry, crossbowmen, and heavy infantry can [and did] beat mounted horsemen. My point is, no determined, or well-led Western European army had ever faced the Mongols in battle. Liegnitz was a mess (in all respects much like Nicopolis in 1396) destined to be a failure because the mixed Christian force knew nothing about their enemy and fought without a clear chain of command. I was a case of massive hysteria and poor judgment, but I don't think there were all that many engagements where the European military system as such failed against an eastern army of comparable size and strength. It would be false to automatically attribute the failures of these battles to any inherent flaw in the European way of waging war.

The bottom line is this : the mongol and European armies met twice on the battlefield. Both time the Europeans were routed with heavy losses despite significant number advantages.

Yes, this is true. To deny this would be foolish of me. But you have to consider the circumstances, on why they were defeated, not only just the effectiveness of the Mongols.

BOTP
Feb 04, 2005, 04:51 PM
Would the mongols not then adapt to the counter-tactics developed by the Europeans?

Yes they could. But in order to adapt to the European tactics and conditions, the Mongols would have to leave their unique advantages behind them, bring an end to their nomadic existence, and reinvent themselves as a small conventional force on European lines by fighting on foot. However, from Mongols' point of view, climbing out of the saddle and adapting to European conditions would mean surrendering the fighting qualities, which had made them successful in the first place.

It wouldn't have been an easy conquest, for sure. But to dismiss it as very hard or impossible is, I think, a very narrow-sighted view.

And to say it would have been a walk in the park is just as narrow-sighted. But when you provides substancial evidence and facts to back up your opinion, then its far from narrow-minded. To blindly dismiss such a scnenerio completly is narrow-sighted, but to accept it and ignore the facts is just as narrow-sighted. Unlike others, I've tried to present my views in the clearest way I could, supporting them with real evidence instead of gross generalizations. Sorry if I sound narrow-sighted, but I get annoyed when I see ignorance combined with a refusal to look at the evidence put forth by others who seem, from reading the previous posts, to be a lot more familiar with the issues at hand than others.

I think what it would most likely have boiled down to is a long, slow series of campaigns, each advancing the border a bit, then slouching down to a halt, but it would seem to me that Mongolia was likely in a better position to wage a war of attrition.

:cry: Please don't make me have to repeat what I've already said; I've done enough typing as it is already, and any more than I'm just going to have to publish a book. I’ve repeatedly provided you with logistical statistics which is better than others who provide us only with baseless arguments not backed up by any evidence. And the numbers are based on actual measurements of total land areas which are pasturable. Let's look at it from a logical point of view. If horse can only eat grass and said horse eats x amount of grass per year and y is total pasture areas in Europe and z is the total amount of horses brought by the Mongols (all based on factual and reliable information), one only needs some simple calculations to come to the conclusion that there isn't enough grass in Europe for Mongolian horses. Not I admit, statistics alone obviously cannot be trusted beyond a certain point. However, I still think the basic point stands - Hungary just couldn't compare to the vastness of the steppe in respect to grazing. Any grand invasion of Western Europe would have demanded perhaps as much as several hundred thousand warriors and millions of horses. I greatly doubt a force of such proportions could operate from Hungary, and to do it from Russia would be just as logistically difficult.

That is assuming all of Europe would have stuck together in front of this. Which is not a given : inter-European conflicts circa the late 12th and 13th century were not uncommon : CF Philippe Auguste coming home from Crusade only to sneak-attack Richard's french holdings while Richard was still off in Palestine, CF the Venetians diverting the fourth Crusade to attack Venice, etc.

The notion that Europe was too divided to bring together a united front against Mongols is also false. It must be noted that although Feudal Europe was notorious for its constant animosities and divided loyalties, it was essentially limited to the most powerful noble families. The vast majority of the population and even the subordinate knights, played no independent role in these internal rivalries, and sometimes downright resented these squabbles. This is what happened came close to repeating once again in 1241, when disturbing reports of Mongol atrocities incited religious fervor among the general population. Christian propaganda was great at spreading myths about “riders from hell”, so much that Europeans were eager to resist if the invaders if they were seen as enemies of the Christian world, or infidels; potentially a huge boost for a united Western Europe. In addition, Frederick II and his subordinates in the Holy Roman Empire were also trying to settle the disputes with the Pope (even if at least temporarily), and even the most prominent noblemen signed mutual pacts and alliances to tackle common problems together. In addition, the Pope went as far to attempt to create a wide anti-Mongol coalition, an attempt that seemed certainly quite promising at the time. Based on the facts we do have at hand, it's fair to say that the chances of Holy Roman Empire or perhaps even a coalition of France and Italy successfully fighting against the Mongols would've been fairly high. For their part we all know that the Papacy and the Holy Roman Empire could allow the Mongols to intrude on their own struggles for power. And even if we disregard the possibility of a large outside threat uniting the former rivals (which wouldn't have been unrealistic), would it have to take a united Europe to ward off the Mongol threat? I most certainly don't think so. The military potential of France and the German empire alone - was far greater and even more importantly, it was much more easily available. Reinforcements could arrive quickly, communication lines were far shorter. France was already a well-run centralized state by the mid-13th century. and very strong militarily as well as economically. The German empire was territorially huge and the emperor's authority was beginning to weaken its grip. However, the German empire was still a mighty power by the time of the Mongol raid and had great resources at hand, both in manpower and material. The resources and military potential available to Frederick II were great and when employed correctly, they should've sufficed to stop a steppe army the size of the Golden Horde. Hungary seems to have almost achieved that very same goal with much more limited resources.

North King
Feb 04, 2005, 05:11 PM
First of all, how do you expect the Mongols to transport their seige trains to Europe? And Why would the Mongols want to stay besieging a fortress for 10 years :lol: That would negate their mobility (the one thing that makes them famous) and just make them a sitting duck for larger relief armies.

Who said they would have to transport all of it? Only you guys, it seems. It's odd, then, isn't it, that the Mongols managed to siege and take several hundred fortresses in the Middle East, approximately the same distance away, with much of their siege artillery intact.

A lot of ignorance here. In 1285 the Kipchak Tatars returned to Europe and occupied Transylvania. As before they were unsupported by Chinese or Persian artillery. In 1286 the Mongol Prince Nogai advanced against Cracow and Tole-Buka attacked Sandomir. But the Poles showed they had learnt by their sobering experience at Liegnitz half a century earlier. This time the garrisons weren’t tempted to engage the horse archers in the field. They clung to their walls and both cities held out against the Tatar assaults. So the Poles faced the same evil and they defeated it, and the defences of civilisation failed to crumble. The Mongols once again withdrew, first to Volynia, and then to the longitudinal belt of steppes north of the Black Sea: the empty expanses of European Scythia. And they never came back.

So you're going to go claiming the Golden Horde is the same as the Mongols? :lol:



Well, I thought that was quite obvious. Granted, both the mounted knight and the Mongol horseman fought from horseback. But this is also where all resemblance ends. The two military systems had extremely little to do with each other. The mounted knight, having only two or three mounts, formed a fraction of a typical medieval army. On the other hand, essentially all Mongol warriors were horsemen, routinely bringing a dozen remounts or more along. This alone points out a key difference. A 13th c. European army 30.000 men strong would have had perhaps 5 to 8.000 knights with 15 to 24.000 horses. A Mongol army of the same size would have numbered 30.000 horsemen and several hundred thousand mounts. In regard to logistics, the difference is very clear. On a related note, it needs to be said that a typical European army as a mixed force was, in addition to requiring far less ghrazing, much more versatile. In horse-unfriendly terrain the infantry could provide effective cover for the knights. But where the ground was suitable for the deployment of cavalry, the mounted knights could act as the striking fist. No army made up solely of horsemen could possibly match that, superior mobility being negated by difficult terrain.

The simple fact is that the Euros could obviously support long supply trains, and in fact, so could most of the nomads that were invading Europe beforehand. Like the Magyars. Not that they were really comparable to the Mongols in terms of effectiveness, but claiming that they couldn't supply themselves in Europe is ludicrous at best.

I don't understand why you think the Mongols could have supported themsleves logistically. When Batu Khan invaded Russia he would have brought with him well over a million horses. There’s no way such a vast herd could have been introduced into Europe: even if all other livestock were somehow exterminated overnight by marauders (and the owners would just turn it loose instead), and every blade of grass miraculously spared, there would still be no physical way for the Mongols to concentrate for a campaign (which in Europe usually meant protracted siege over a period of many months), but such a concentration would be necessary for the Mongols own defence, given that rapid movement would be impeded by the terrain and vegetation. Even today 47 percent of Austria is still woodland, of which 69 percent is mountain forest. Only 23 percent of the country is permanent pasture and 6 percent is winter pasture. The rest of the soil is under the plough, and horses live on grass, not wheat grain. Furthermore, while the clearing of the Austrian wilderness for cattle-breeding had begun by the tenth century, much of the alpine cover was reserved for hunting and only fell to the axe in the nineteenth century, so the thirteenth-century grazing area would have been even smaller than it is today. The annualised estimate for the modern pasturage is still only 7,933 square miles, giving Austria a realistic carrying capacity of about 72,706 steppe horses, enough to sustain 5 remounts for a military force of only 14,541 riders. So in a sustained Austrian campaign a handful of nomads would have found themselves outnumbered two-to-one by the locally-entrenched defenders, their numerical strength held at bay by a crippling lack of paddock, their speed and mobility neutralised by the terrain and the staticity of siege warfare (whose conventions normally demanded a fourfold superiority of the leaguer), and with the imminent prospect of their retreat being cut off by crusading hosts of German and Italian infantry numbering in the hundreds of thousands, with no comparable supply problems on their side, a secure rear, better equipment, and practically infinite reserves of manpower to draw on. Invasion of Middle Europe was a non-starter, which partly explains why, in the century that followed, despite repeated Christian provocations, the Golden Horde got no further west than Beuthen in Oppeln, on the Oder.

You're just writing the same arguements over and over. So what if the Mongols would have lacked immediately availible fodder? You keep speaking as if they are limited to what they thought up on the steppes. They always adapted to local circumstances. And so suddenly they are going to revert to their old ways of the steppe? Gimme a break. :rolleyes:



Really its not impossible? Perhaps the matter would be better approached from a different angle. To take 13th century France as an example, the French king could probably call on as much as half a million fighting men, depending on the seriousness of the situation and the thoroughness of the levy. Yet at no time did he ever assemble even 10% of that number for a single campaign. Why? I believe the real reason lies in logistics. Medieval Europe had considerable reserves of manpower, but the limitations of terrain, communications and agriculture meant that no really large army could operate in Europe for any extended period. Of course, that would also have held true for the Mongols. If the Europeans themselves, being familiar with the terrain, enjoying support of the local population and relying heavily on infantry could not sustain armies of 65,000 men I am certainly sure that the Mongols, lacking the advantages of the defenders and using such a large, inefficient pool of remounts would not have been able survive on a prolonged campaign in Europe in such numbers (oh yeah, let's not forget the lack of fodder )

Ditto. :rolleyes:




Will only answer to this due to lack of time.

NK, you can't say "European fortifications sucked" or whatever your saying, just because only a few sieges lasted more than 10 years. In fact, it's very wrong to do so. Instead, you should have asked "How many sieges proved unsuccesful"
You see, to siege a Castle for 10 years, you'll have to have:
- A large army
- Very good supply lines and forraging units
- And most important of all, a secure rear.

Not necessarily to the first, yes to the second two.

Many siege operations were abbandonned due to lack of one or several of the above. Could the Mongols provide a huge army, yes. Could the Mongols feed it, yes. Could the Mongols providea secure rear, in the middle of Europe, fighting all of Europe? No.

I think their army could fend off that. :lol:

So they would have to either take it by Storm, which is costly, or they would be faced with the constant threat of armies coming to the besieged Castles' rescue. And even if they would constantly beat these armies, the siege it self would take years, and they would be going no where.

Bull.

Finally, I don't like your arrogant use of smilies and your patronising tone. It's not proper for a serious dicussion. Especially not when you're wrong

Oh yeah, because no one else here is arrogant...

Especially not when you're wrong

Chieftess, you can counter horse by archer/pikemen combinations. Footarchers can usually outshoot mounted ones, plus they can use pavises, and easily hide behind a forest of pikes.

I think the main strenght the Mongols could use, once the Europeans learned to adapt to their fighting style, which would eventually happen, is to deny the Europeans the ability to forage.

How can you keep a steady formation when the man next to you is falling, pierced through by an arrow? How can you get a good aim on a galloping nomad using superior weapons technology to you?




Oh, and everyone here, you're assuming that the Mongols apparently have to siege every single little fortress there is.

What's up with that?

Seems you ought to be looking at how those precious European nations themselves handled artillery fortresses.

It's called covering a fortress. Works quite well and neutralizes most of the threat. See Napoleon's campaigns.

BOTP
Feb 04, 2005, 06:32 PM
Who said they would have to transport all of it? Only you guys, it seems. It's odd, then, isn't it, that the Mongols managed to siege and take several hundred fortresses in the Middle East, approximately the same distance away, with much of their siege artillery intact.

and its odd, that it took three years to transport it :rolleyes:

I won't bother responding to the rest of your post, since I'm afraid you aren't particularly fond of intelligently discussing matters. I'm sorry if I may sound rude, but developing a siege mentality and dismissing every new argument that runs contrary to your belief with vague statements and silly overgeneralizations isn't a very effective way of presenting your opinion. The moment I got involved in this debate I knew my hypothesis would attract a lot of opposition because it contradicts the common views on the matter. However, I also expected some more intelligent, better informed opposition. With the notable exception of our friend Oda Nobunaga and a few others, I've encountered none so far. Instead of resorting to demagogism and dilettantism, let's operate with facts, please.

North King
Feb 04, 2005, 06:34 PM
and its odd, that it took three years to transport it :rolleyes:

I won't bother responding to the rest of your post, since I'm afraid you aren't particularly fond of intelligently discussing matters. I'm sorry if I may sound rude, but developing a siege mentality and dismissing every new argument that runs contrary to your belief with vague statements and silly overgeneralizations isn't a very effective way of presenting your opinion. The moment I got involved in this debate I knew my hypothesis would attract a lot of opposition because it contradicts the common views on the matter. However, I also expected some more intelligent, better informed opposition. With the notable exception of our friend Oda Nobunaga and a few others, I've encountered none so far. Instead of resorting to demagogism and dilettantism, let's operate with facts, please.

Nevermind then, I'm sorry you see it that way.

Uiler
Feb 04, 2005, 09:53 PM
I think people keep on forgetting. The Mongolians laid seige to heavily fortified Chinese cities for 5 years, you know the same Chinese cities with 14m thick double-layer walls, moats and where each section of the city can be sealed off from the other. They are in fact capable of having a seige mentality. And also they managed to maintain logistics in South China, driving the Song back to an island off the coast of Guangdong over the course of a few decades. You know there is a saying "North Chinese are horsemen. South Chinese are sailors". South China has very little pasture and the fact the land was horribly unsuited to horses was one of the major factors that has stimied most Northern invasions (which is why S. China was rarely wrecked as badly as the north). If the Mongolians applied the same effort to Europe as they did China, Europe would have likely fallen. They didn't really put much effort into Europe. They only sent a small % of their men to fight. As others said, they used more men to besiege one Chinese city than in their entire European force.

storealex
Feb 05, 2005, 08:22 AM
I think their army could fend off that. :lol:
It would really help your case if you used arguments... Still, the Mongols might fare the same way as Hannibal, able to defeat all Roman armies in the field, but slowly taking casualties themselves, not being able to take the enemy cities fast enough, while the enemy rebuilds and learns.


Bull.
Against such strong arguments and logics, who am I to even considder the possiblity that Im right and you're wrong? Oh wait...
Dude, even if you think that what I write is BS, just saying it, without any arguments to back up your claim, just make you look like a fool. For your own sake, do better than that.


Oh yeah, because no one else here is arrogant...
You earned my little comment a long time ago.


How can you keep a steady formation when the man next to you is falling, pierced through by an arrow? How can you get a good aim on a galloping nomad using superior weapons technology to you?
Horsearchers are usually outshot by footarchers. The superior Mongol bow can easily be countered by a pavise.

Xen
Feb 05, 2005, 09:43 AM
@Jeff Yu- this argument is heating up beyond my current prefernce for it, but I will still answer your little call out; I have not yet searched for anythign on Mongolian battles, but I did do a little search on thie rinfantry tactics; the results were, needless to say, not surprising, and were exactley as I had suspected. Not only did the Mongols have a well needed place for Infantry after chingis, but it formed a major part of any Mongolian army (the resemblence to the Roman military in these matters, for th eorginization, was not surprising either)

The organization of the army was based on the decimal system. The largest unit was the tjumen, which was made up of 10.000 troops. A large army used to consist of three tjumens (Plural form t'ma in Mongolian), one consisting of infantry troops who were to perform close combat, the two others were meant to encircle the opponent from both sides. Each tjumen consisted of ten regiments, each of 1.000 troops. The 1.000 strong unit was called a mingghan. Each of these regiments consisted of ten squadrons of 100 troops, called jaghun, each of which was divided into ten units of ten, called arban. There was also an elite tjumen, an imperial guard which was composed of specially trained and selected troops. As for the command structure, the ten soldiers of each arban elected their commander by majority vote, and all of the ten commanders of the ten arbans of a tjumen elected the commander of a jaghunby the same procedure. Above that level, the khan personally appointed the commanders of each tjumen and mingghan. This appointment was made on criteria of ability, not age or social origin.

as you can see- the Infantry formed a third of relitivlly major offensive movments (major because at its ehights, th eMongol populatiosn was only about 200,000, and sending out 20,000 of such a limited population, only around a third of which will qualify to be you primary weapon- th elight horsemen, is no light undertaking)

North King
Feb 06, 2005, 09:25 AM
Despite hating this thread, I have been irresistably drawn in by the arguments posited here.

It would really help your case if you used arguments... Still, the Mongols might fare the same way as Hannibal, able to defeat all Roman armies in the field, but slowly taking casualties themselves, not being able to take the enemy cities fast enough, while the enemy rebuilds and learns.

Well, I did provide arguments. But apparently defeat after defeat of European, Chinese, and Muslim armies isn't enough to convince you they could fight off a few relieving forces?

Against such strong arguments and logics, who am I to even considder the possiblity that Im right and you're wrong? Oh wait...
Dude, even if you think that what I write is BS, just saying it, without any arguments to back up your claim, just make you look like a fool. For your own sake, do better than that.

The point was, good sir, that that very argument of "they'd" have to take it by strom" was refuted in the previous page, and indeed the previous paragraph. The Mongols would not lack the time to besiege a few cities, and there is no reason to suspect every stronghold would resist to it's fullest, especially after the first few cities were razed and the people roasted over slow fires to reveal where they kept their valuables.

Horsearchers are usually outshot by footarchers. The superior Mongol bow can easily be countered by a pavise.

Evidence? A pavaise might protect them, yes. But for how long, from showers of arrows from all sides?

But anyway, it is likely as hard to shoot a moving target as it is to shoot from a moving platform (if some archery experts could offer their opinion here, it would be nice), and these mongols had years of experience (from childhood, in fact, learning to shoot from horseback). Many European crossbowmen had years, too, but the bows weren't the most accurate in the world, and they had a slow rate of fire.

Remember also that the Mongols had a low mortality rate to arrows due to their unique armor which was designed to the fullest to protect them from this (it was very effective).

Jeff Yu
Feb 08, 2005, 03:26 AM
I don't think you are following the basic idea behind castles. Siege was the centrepiece of sedentary warfare, and the reduction of castles and cities took months and sometimes years of strategic attrition. High walls, safety, lots of food. You have your people in there, with protection and stores and you can last a long time. Most castles were routinely prepared for sieges to last awhile--meaning that the local lord and his men and some of the populace can wait there for a long time. They'd gather all the food from the region beforehand and lock themselves in. Meanwhile, the Mongols outside are the ones whose horses are dying from lack of fodder. And I seriously doubt the Europeans would captulate after a few mere demonstrations. Europeans showed that they were willing to sit outside/inside tiny castles in the rained and mud for months. As for the Mongols, small forts that didn't fall immediately were bypassed and major cities taken, which always meant the risks of exposing your rear if you relied on a supply train, and severing your communications. When the city fell in the Orient, the forts--manned by men loyal only to the potentate--surrendered. In Europe, the men in the little forts were loyal to the man in the fort. What happens to the city is of secondary importance--because the aim is to defend the lord--who just so happens to be sitting within the walls just like the men-at-arms.

Collaborating with the enemy, especially a foreign one, was extremely rare in feudal Europe. And when lords did collaborate with the enemy, it was usually for personal ambition, nothing of a serious military matter. ake for instance the Crusades; allying oneself with a local Saracen ruler was never a particulary popular move with Europeans because it was invariably seen as a shameful act. There were noblemen who broke that rule for personal gain, but never for a cause that could openly threaten the existence of the Kingdom of Jerusalem.France surely wouldn't have wanted to replace one great opponent - the German empire - with an even more dangerous one - a Mongol empire stretching from southern Russia to the Rhine. It is in strategic interests of any nation to choose the lesser evil. Only a few states ever broke that rule and those that did usually soon regretted their decision. The Lombards for instance, who initially signed a treaty with the Avars, were in for a nasty surprise when the Avars, after having defeated their common enemies, turned against the former allies. Besides, how would you expect Christians to collabortate with Mongols. There was much hatred in Europe back then against infidels, particularly the aggressive ones. The Mongols had quickly acquired a terrible reputation even in Western Europe, which never experienced the effects of their raid. So I see any chance of open collaboration extremely unlikely.



The castle offers only protection for a troops, and they can't exactly harry supply lines since the Mongols didn't have any. Castles only work if the enemy chooses to engage in the same type of warefare as you. The Mongols didn't; they simply bypassed fortifications as necessary, and destroyed the cities and countryside instead. In the end, the lords and his knights might still be alive, but no one else will be and they'll have no economic base for building and supplying an army. Remember, the Mongol campaigns in Hungary, the most powerful European country in Eastern and Central Europe at the time, wiped out from one-thirds to one-half of the population of the entire kingdom.

As for fighting to the death, that only very rarely happened in Medieval sieges. Most of the time, a fortress would be put under siege, under which negotiations would be made, under which if no aid arrived within a certain time (say a season), they would surrender. I'm speaking of Europe, not Asia, btw. Cities in the Orient didn't surrender because of lack of loyalty, they surrendered because they faced massacre otherwise. The Mongols certainly weren't shy about allowing news of their massacres to spread. Many European cities were put to the sword by them, among them Kaffa, Kiev, and most of Eastern Hungary.


Mongol siege warfare

In the Middle Ages, the Mongol Empire's campaign against China by Genghis Khan and his army was extremely effective, allowing the Mongol hordes to sweep through large areas. Even if they could not enter some of the more well-fortified cities, they used innovative battle tactics to grab hold of the land and the people:

"By concentrating on the field armies, the strongholds had to wait. Of course, smaller fortresses, or ones easily surprised, were taken as they came along. This had two effects. First, it cut off the principal city from communicating with other cities where they might expect aid. Secondly, refugees from these smaller cities would flee to the last stronghold. The reports from these cities and the streaming hordes of refugees not only reduced the morale of the inhabitants and garrison of the principle city, it also strained their resources. Food and water reserves were taxed by the sudden influx of refugees. Soon, what was once a formidable undertaking became easy. The Mongols were then free to lay siege without interference of the field army as it had been destroyed... At the siege of Aleppo, Hulegu used twenty catapults against the Bab al-Iraq (Gate of Iraq) alone. In Jûzjânî, there are several episodes in which the Mongols constructed hundreds of siege machines in order to surpass the number which the defending city possessed. While Jûzjânî surely exaggerated, the improbably high numbers which he used for both the Mongols and the defenders do give one a sense of the large numbers of machines used at a single siege."

Another Mongol tactic was to use catapults to launch corpses of plague victims into besieged cities. The disease-carrying fleas from the person's body would then infest the city, and the plague would spread allowing the city to be easily captured, although this transmission mechanism was not known at the time.

On the first night while sieging a city, the leader of the Mongol forces would lead from a white tent: if the city surrendered, all would be spared. On the second day, he would use a red tent: if the city surrendered, the men would all be killed, but the rest would be spared. On the third day, he would use a black tent: no quarter would be given.

This attitude was common to most armies. A city that surrendered could expect to negotiate terms to avoid a sack. A city broken by siege or assault could suffer extreme retribution, even in the 19th century.


Beseiging a castles could last months, not a few mere seasons. Sudden assualts, helped by surprise, overwhelming humbers, and treachery sometimes suceeded, but beseigin a castle was usually a matter of starving out the defender into surrender. But why would a castle, with considerable amount of stores and heavily fortified and well-defended need to negociate a surrender? If this was the case, then the defender can choose to hold out until his supplies were exhausted. So it all comes down to a matter of attrition, and which side starved first. And you must remember the Mongols brought their own food with them -- large herds of meat-on-the-hoof, that were driven together with their armies (which is why they moved so fast). But that also only added to the forage problem & added to the water problem. Mongol armies were built to move, not sit around sieges. That they would learn to take fortified castles on campaign is rather speculative, to put it mildly; Batu certainly didn't bring a siege train with him into Hungary, and the mongol sieges in the east, the best examples becuase they were contested, as opposed to, for example, Baghdad, were long, drawn-out affairs. Plus, the main population would not hole up in the castles (there are plenty of woods and high mountains west and north of the Hungarian plain to hide in), castles are military strongpoints. And besides, most European fortresses beseiged didn't rely on relief armies. Once established, these castles could hold out indefinately without the need of long costly relief expeditions.

The Mongols would simply go about slaughtering the undefended cities and the countryside. Disunity is a key point in the Mongol's favor. The "Holy Roman Empire" was composed piecemeal of a hundred different duchies, electorates, palantinates, free cities, bishopries, and so on, many without armies other than ceremonial guards.

The lack of a strong, centralized rule is what will make it possible for defectors to join the Mongols. Once various cities started being slaughtered en-masse, and the field armies have been defeated, do you really think the cities would fight to the death instead of staying loyal to the nobles holed up in the castles? Especially when some of the cities had very limited powers and were by law prevented from having more than ceremonial guards for the nobles. The HRE wasn't a united entity, nor was it fortified across the entire land, as you seem to be getting at. It had a population of maybe 20 million at the time. How many can you fit into the fortresses? If they all go into walled cities, how long will the food and provisions hold out? When numberous major cities that DO get sacked all get slaughtered, and the countryside turns bare as happened in Hungary, people WILL choose to ally with the victors instead of face annihilation.

European alliances? Ha. The Pope called for Christians ally with the Mongols against the Muslims; the Holy Roman Emperor invaded Italy instead. France will soon be engaged in the Hundred Years War, and in any case was far from a nation, but a scattered mess of Duchies like Burgundy, Aquitaine, Brittany, Bourbonais, and so on, some of which the King of France had limited control over at best. And they were certainly of doubtful loyalty. Look at how faithful the Normans and Burgundians end up being. Hell, even in Hungary, the Hungarian nobles bickered over what priviledges and rights they would recieve in return for fighitng against the Mongols.


Okay, how do you expect a armies to subsist in constant besiegement for 10 years. Although beseiging a catsle was a long affair, it would be logistically impossible at that periods to do such a thing, unless you have the advantage of friendly territory and a unlimited amount of provisions to keep your army in the field, which would have been impossible for the Mongols to do. And Constantinople isn't a good example to choose, since the Ottomans had artillery (something the Mongols could not have aqquired in Europe).


The Mongols did have artillery in Europe. They utilized artillery against the Hungarians across the river at Mohi, and used gunpowder bombs upon the army as well. The Black Plague was spread in Europe because the Mongols used siege engines to launch plague victims into Crimean peninsula cities. Further, no siege in Europe lasted 10 years, excluding perhaps some very exceptional examples. Mongol armies are not obliged to play fair by sitting down and sieging, and they rarely did. The only time they did so was after annihilating any field armies, massacring the population, destroying the countryside, and so on, then turning to the fortresses. When the country has no population, and no army, they have no influence other than their ability to wait and slowly starve to death.


No one is saying the Mongols were exactly the same, but they do share several similiarities, and basic tactics (feignts, ect.). And despite what others may have you believe, the decimal organization of the Mongols was in fact the traditonal organization for pratically all nomad armies of the time. The only true differences was the Monogls superior discipline, and as you mentioned, leaders; other than that, their tactics, methods, customs, ect. were the same as other nomadic armies.


No, there were plenty of other steppe peoples at the time. If they were simply all the same except that the Mongols fought harder, they wouldn't be getting anywhere. Mongols were steppe peoples and employed steppe tactics yes, but also innovated in their tactics, strategic movements, logistics, and organization. To say the Mongol armies were basically the same with superior discipline is like saying the German Wehrmacht won all of its battles in WW2 with the same tactics, methods, custosm, equipment, except with superior discipline. After all, Germany had Lieutnenants and Generals, and companies, brigades, and divions, and Poland also had Lietenants and Generals and companaies and brigades and divisions. Obviously anyone able to defeat Poland can defeat Nazi Germany too! Note sarcasm.


What invasion, the Mongols that penetrated into Austria were scouting columns, that were eventually repulsed. Considering that no sources indicate anything other than minor foraging parties and a bit larger scouting force that withdrawn upon making contact with Duke Frederick of Austrias outriders (one of the reasons he disbanded his army, seemingly in the face of an invasion - perhaps it was for a reason?), claiming that they came to the gates of Vienna is rather contrafactual. As for the regarding casualites; it doesn't take any stretching of the facts to establish that this engagement was a definite Hungarian victory and that the Mongol contigent involved in the operation suffered heavy losses. Take for example, The battle of Mohi. While attempting to launch a preemptive night attack the Mongols were themselves outsmarted. The slaughter must have been great, so great in fact that the Hungarians were assured of victory. Had the battle on the bridge seemed less decisive the Hungarians would surely have left a far more substantial guard and there wouldn't have been much cause for celebration either. Since the sizeable Mongol detachment sent over the bridge was effectively wiped out, it can be extrapolated that the Mongol casualties were high. And this does not take into account the last phase of the fighting, which must have been brutal as well. Even if the Hungarians were ultimately defeated I'm sure many of them did not perish without a good fight. These facts considered, it's quite evident that the Mongol victory at Mohi was bought at a heavy price. This helps to explain the huge steppe cemetery which Carpini is talking about. The Hungarian army, while still relatively poorly equipped by Western standards and commited to battle under unfavorable conditions, inflicted very heavy casualties on the Mongols before collapsing. The Mongols seem to have won only because of their extreme determination and only at a very high cost. To stress this again: it was probably the losses suffered at Mohi that effectively hindered the Mongol expansion and reduced the power of the Golden Horde.


http://home-4.worldonline.nl/~t543201/web-mongol/mongol-images/mongol-mohi-phase2.gif
Uhmmm, no. The Mongols faced some difficulties crossing the bridge, but they withdrew, and then they completed a double envelopment, the wet dream of generals throughout history. The Hungarians certainly didn't even try to fight to the death; they all ran for it and got slaughtered while fleeing. King Bela didn't stop running till he reached an island :P 70,000 dead Hungarians, double the size of the Mongol force, says that Mohi was most certainly not a Hungarian victory. The Mongols withdrew and retreated not for logistical or strategic reasons, but as anyone who learned history knows: Ogedai died, and Batu was rushing back to Mongolia to secure his place in the succession.

Jeff Yu
Feb 08, 2005, 03:26 AM
Then the notion that medieval Europe was so poor and backwaters that it wasn't worth seizing. This is an idea which I'm not buying. Medieval Europe may not have been as rich as some parts of China and Persia. It was still much richer than many regions which steppe nomads conquered or sought to conquer, though. Moreover, the relative richness of a certain region is not the only reason for conquest. What about the natural resources and communications? Europe was by all means a desirable target. It was economically reasonably well off, it had rich ore deposits, advanced metalworking technologies (vital for arms production, possibly a major reason for the Mongol invasion of Persia!) and contained a reservoir of manpower that simply couldn't be ignored. There is obviously something badly wrong with the theory of "unworthy" Europe as presented by some forumites on this thread. Calmly considering all the facts I can only conclude that the actual military potential of the Mongols available for an invasion of Europe was grossly inadequate for any permanent conquest. Logistical considerations must also be taken into account. In a way, I agree that Europe was not worth the trouble from the Mongol point of view. Not because of any shortage of plunder but simply because it was militarily much too strong and unsuitable for steppe warfare.


Again, I'll simply supply the simple numbers that more people were devoted to sieging individual Chinese cities than they bothered to send into Europe. The reasons for their withdrawal were well-documented while the reasons you bring up constitute mere speculation. China at the time had the most advanced metal-making technology in teh world. They had developed cast-iron technology 2000 years before the Europeans did, skipping the wrought-iron technique entirely. In China, 1078, iron production was 125,000 tons a year. (souce: Cambridge Illustrated History: China, Patricia Buckley Ebrey, before you accuse me of being biased). Can you cite similar figures for Europe? I dougbt it. All the richest cities in Europe, like Constantinople, Venice, and Genoa, got that way through trade with the east. Europe as a reserve a manpower compared to China? LOL! What was the largest European army ever fielded at that period of time? The Crusades? Song China had a 2 million man standing army. The biggest cities in the world at the time were: Muslim Cordoba, Constantinople, Baghdad, Samarkand, and the rest were all in China.



Russia is far. Like I said before, if they had any hope of conquering all of europe, they would pretty much have to do it all at once - meaning over the span of several weeks, or maximum 3 or 4 months. But more likely even faster than that because most if not all pasture lands in west europe would have been overgrazed very soon. They would then have to return their horses to the feeding grounds of central and eastern Europe and Russia right after, if the horses would indeed survive the long trip. And how many horses can the Mongols afford to lose to starvation? Yes that is an assumption, but it's a carefully thought out extrapolation based on the available facts. Then they would immediately have to assume administrative and leadership roles in European governments to make sure they maintain control, much like they did in China and Persia. Now I doubt they could do all that in the span of several weeks/few months. If anything, they would have accomplished partial conquerment and then leave to feed their horses and return next year. In the meantime the Europeans would have had time to regroup and offer better resistance. At best it would have been a stalemate. See, it is my belief that the Mongols foresaw this predicament and chose to avoid it.


Do you even realize where the Mongols come from? Remember that the Mongol steppes aren't the lush grassland you seem to think they are. They're part of the Gobi desert. The Polish and Hungarian plains would have seemed like a pasturing paradise in comparison. The steppes extend well into Ukraine and Poland, while must of the newly depopulated, formerly human populated areas will be turned into fresh pasture for the Mongol horses. The Mongols don't have mighty warhorses, they have Siberian ponies that forage for food, and have a smaller mass and eat less. And even more likely, families would settle further into the steppes, and not follow the armies on field in extended campaigning. You constantly exaggerate the distance between western Europe and the grasslands. I've already mentioned the sustain ability of the Mongols to maintain armies of hundreds of thouands in southern China, sthousands of miles away from the steppes. Remember that in their campaigns in northern China, they were seperated from the steppes by: The Gobi deset in teh norther, Takalmakim desert in the north-west, Tibetan highlands in the west.

I've said it before, and you've conveniently ignored it. Southern China is farther from the steppes than Moscow is from Paris, and Moscow is in the middle of fricking Russia, nowhere even close to their limits.



Your only confirming my argument. If it took the Mongols more than 50 years to conquer China, how do you think they would fare in Europe. Do you think that the Mongols could have taken Europe in one sweeping offensive, which is what they needed to do in order to avoid having to refeed their animals? It seems highly unlikely. And running back to the steppes to resupply or refeed their animals would not be very time efficient. It would only give the Europeans the time they need to build up their defenses. If anything, after each campaign the Mongol offensive would become weaker and the European defense would strengthen. At least with China and Persia, the Mongols were surrounded by ideal grazing lands so they never had to go far to refeed their animals.

Europe =/= China. How many standing armies of 2 million men was Europe capable of fielding? China was the most technologically advanced and economically powerful country in the world at the time, even divided as it was. It had the largest navy in the world guarding the Yangtze, and certainly the largest armies in the world. The Mongols took that long because the Chinese fought that long, and had the ability to raise immense armies out of nowhere. When the city of Xianyang fell after a five-year siege, the Empress Dowager appealed appealed to the people and raised for herself an army of 200,000. How many individual states in Europe could match that? And as for Europe somehow rebuilding and gathering enough strength, I've already pointed out the unlikelyhood of their unity, and the difficulties of fielding troops when significant fractions of the national population are already dead.

Jeff Yu
Feb 08, 2005, 03:30 AM
@Jeff Yu- this argument is heating up beyond my current prefernce for it, but I will still answer your little call out; I have not yet searched for anythign on Mongolian battles, but I did do a little search on thie rinfantry tactics; the results were, needless to say, not surprising, and were exactley as I had suspected. Not only did the Mongols have a well needed place for Infantry after chingis, but it formed a major part of any Mongolian army (the resemblence to the Roman military in these matters, for th eorginization, was not surprising either


as you can see- the Infantry formed a third of relitivlly major offensive movments (major because at its ehights, th eMongol populatiosn was only about 200,000, and sending out 20,000 of such a limited population, only around a third of which will qualify to be you primary weapon- th elight horsemen, is no light undertaking)

I don't dispute that the Mongols did field some quite impressive infantry armies, IN CHINA. However, it seems that no one can find a single example of mass infantry tactics being used by the Mongols anywhere outside of East Asia, which is exactly why I pressed my point: it simply didn't happen. I'd love to be proven wrong, however, so if you name any actual battles outside of East Asia where it happened, please share.

storealex
Feb 08, 2005, 04:48 AM
Well, I did provide arguments. But apparently defeat after defeat of European, Chinese, and Muslim armies isn't enough to convince you they could fight off a few relieving forces?
As already said, being in enemy territory with a smaller army, even if highly mobile, even if always successful on the battlefield, might get you nowhere.
You will take casualties, and where will you get new troops from? You'll be forced to recruit lesser quality from where you are, thus slowly diminishing your initial advantage in troop quality. Meanwhile, your enemies will have almost unlimited manpower, and will inevitably learn from their mistakes.
Your only chance is to strike them hard before this happens, and take advantage of your victory. But that will be difficult due to the crazy patchwork that is Medieval Europe, and the thousands of fortresses there in.

I never said that the Mongols would have to take every single fortress. I compared their situation to Hannibals'. Several cities surrendered to him without a fight, many even joined him as allies, still it wasn't enough.


especially after the first few cities were razed and the people roasted over slow fires to reveal where they kept their valuables.
That might not work forever. Indeed, when Caesar took Gaul, it was his harsh treatment of the subdued which made all of Gaul rebel against him. He after wards began to treat the vanquished with leniency, which made whole armies defect to him.
Or the allied bombing of German cities, which most historians say only stiffened the German defense.
As you can see, the "surrender without a fight or die" might not be successful, and often only make it harder to obtain victory.

To the whole archery issue, well Im not an expert, but I remember General Fuller writing: "Horse archers will always be out shot by foot archers", because it is indeed harder to shoot from a moving platform. Remember, the foot archer didn't have to aim at a specific enemy, but simply at the entire swarm of enemies. So it's swarm shooting at formation, rather than individual at individual. At least as long as the Mongols kept their distance. If not, well then it dosn't matter, since even a peasant with a crossbow can hit a horse, if right in front of him.
Also, a man on a horse present a larger target than a just a man.

Alexander the Great used to negate enemy horse archers with foot missile troops too. Knowing that they would perform better in archery duels, and knowing that the cost of an archer was less than the cost of a mounted one.

Xen
Feb 08, 2005, 04:53 AM
I don't dispute that the Mongols did field some quite impressive infantry armies, IN CHINA. However, it seems that no one can find a single example of mass infantry tactics being used by the Mongols anywhere outside of East Asia, which is exactly why I pressed my point: it simply didn't happen. I'd love to be proven wrong, however, so if you name any actual battles outside of East Asia where it happened, please share.

the terms of our little agereement where to find evidence of mass infantry period; dont go changing the rules now. All I meant to shopw was that it was possible -and it is-

Jeff Yu
Feb 08, 2005, 06:35 AM
Xen, at this point I'll have to ask you to put up some evidence. Name some actual Mongol battles outside of Japan and China where infantry played a major role, please. The Mongols certainly never used any mass infantry armies during their invasion of Europe. (see below)


By the way, Xen, how's it coming on those names? What are the names and places of the battles outside of east Asia (ie China and Japan) where the Mongols used mass infantry armies? Since according to you the Mongols used massed infantry tactics everywhere except during their initial rise I'm sure you would have no problem providing countless examples.

I've consistantly asked for examples outside of East Asia. I haven't changed anything.

Xen
Feb 08, 2005, 06:57 AM
alrighty; I'll give another look- but to thos ekeepign track of this particuler argument, outside juff Yu and myself, they shoudl note that I have found a very interesting source on the importance of infantry to mongol tactics

@jeff uu- can you point out where I said the mongols relied on infantry tactics? I said they formed an imporantant part of the strategy- and that relaince was placed on them, but not th epoint where you can say I called them a "massed infantry army"

I'll still look for you rprecious battles, however, I have a full plate at the moment, so I hope you wont mind a wait

Uiler
Feb 08, 2005, 08:10 AM
My opinion is if they can fight and win in South China, they can fight anywhere. South Chinese geography is such that the mobility of their cavalry would have been severely curtailed. If you were to describe South Chinese geography it would be very hilly, very mountainous, lots of rivers and swamps and wet. Cavalry is not much use in this sort of terrain, nor is there much pasture for horses. If you read details about how the Han Chinese fought with the "southern barbarians" in earlier times you will see that large numbers held out on top of hills and mountains and the Chinese spent decades sending groups of men to literally storm each hill/mountain and drag them kicking and screaming down to the river valleys where they could be more easily controlled. There are still some isolated groups on hills in South China today. Having great cavalry is not much use in storming hills and mountains or fighting in marshes.

I don't know if it was possible in the time of the Mongolians, but it was definitely true in much earlier times it was possible by taking a few key passes to literally cut off the far south from the rest of China. This is because of the hilly and mountainous terrain. Shu or today's Sichuan could be cut off from the rest of China by controlling several key mountain passes because it was separated from the rest of China by a large mountain range. This is why Liu Bei chose it as his base.

Another factor of South China that generally kept it safe from northern invaders was disease. Even along the Yangtze, disease plagued most major encounters. Northern troops used to call some areas in the far south "poison air".

On the other hand, because of these characteristics, South China was also known for its beautiful environs. This and its warm climate and great exotic food meant there were famous holiday locations in South China during ancient times such as the West Lake.

BOTP
Feb 08, 2005, 03:18 PM
The castle offers only protection for a troops, and they can't exactly harry supply lines since the Mongols didn't have any.

The Mongols did have a supply line and a rather vulnerable one at that, just different from that of the settled peoples. Waggons. Big ones. That's what their children, elderly, sick, wounded, families, craftsmen, stores etc. etc. traveled in. As you can imagine methods of defending these moving towns from other, hostile nomads had been honed to near perfection on the steppes long ago, but how well those techniques would have worked in completely different terrain is a whole another thing. The warriors could and certainly did range far and wide from these mobile bases, but substantial numbers were at all times left behind to guard them.

The Mongols didn't; they simply bypassed fortifications as necessary, and destroyed the cities and countryside instead.

What is exactly what Hannibal had done. Bypass fortified areas and destroy the countryside, in hopes that your opponent will be shamed into coming out and facing you in the field. However, things were quite different in Medieval Europe. The thing is that when confronted with an army in the area and without having an army to oppose it, the people usually went into the castles and fortified towns. Of course that would leave the countryside for looting and the likes, but would keep any invading army from gaining a real foothold if they didn’t invest the time to siege. But if the Mongols want to go into the countryside and butcher the peasantry and undefended villages an towns (which they'd have to do by hand because there aren't any irrigation canals) then they'd have to split up into small bands... which would then be vulnerable to local bands of defenders and incapable of taking castles, no matter how small. A single great horde cannot do this for supply reasons and reasons of expedience and practicality. It would be a futile extermination campaign. Besides, the main population would not hole up in the castles (there are plenty of woods and high mountains west and north of the Hungarian plain to hide in), castles are military strongpoints. One way or another, it comes back to siege warfare. You simply can't ignore castles. Why do you think European lords built them to begin with?

In the end, the lords and his knights might still be alive, but no one else will be and they'll have no economic base for building and supplying an army.

If they all go into walled cities, how long will the food and provisions hold out?

Doesn't make a diff. Peasants aren't continuously making food. You harvest only once a year. If the Mongols come after the harvest, you've got enough stores for at least a year, usually much longer. If they come before the harvest, doesn't matter whether those serfs live or die -- you won't be able to collect it anyways (indeed, that is when you scorch the fields). Usually defenders know when a large attacker is coming well ahead of time. Most castles were routinely prepared for sieges to last awhile--meaning that the local lord and his men and some of the populace can wait there for a long time. They'd gather all the food from the region beforehand and lock themselves in. Meanwhile, the Mongols outside are the ones whose horses are dying from lack of fodder. By the time the Mongols arrive, all the stocks in the surrounding countryside (and indeed, from farther afield) have already been taken into the castle. Stores only run out during sieges if your country's been having some rather poor harvests lately and so does not have much stores to begin with. And if your castle adjoins a river or a coast, it can be endlessly resupplied. Mongols were hopeless at blocking waterways.

As for fighting to the death, that only very rarely happened in Medieval sieges.

What Christian would not give their life, to oppose the hosts of hell? If he wins, he will drive the infidel back from whence he cames. if he loses, he shall go to heaven.

The Mongols would simply go about slaughtering the undefended cities and the countryside.

If the Mongols decided that the way to go in Europe was widespread genocide, AND get away with it, then what would be the point? Ruling over a desert isn't really any fun. And how would they get away with it? There were several fortified castles in Europe. And they were filled with either part-time or full-time soldiers. You can't just go rampaging everywhere and avoid all of them no matter if your army is all mounted or not. You have to eat, you get ambushed, you have to rest, you have to plunder. Third, there are only a few thousand Mongols doing all this. It's not like there is a Mongol for every European. How do they kill all the peasants anyhow? The way they depopulated Iraq was not by slaughtering everyone but by destroying the irrigation system. Europe relies on rainfall agriculture meaning that the Mongols have to win the hard way--seizing castles.

Disunity is a key point in the Mongol's favor. The "Holy Roman Empire" was composed piecemeal of a hundred different duchies, electorates, palantinates, free cities, bishopries, and so on, many without armies other than ceremonial guards.

I'm aware of the inner conflicts in the German empire. But it would be incorrect to overemphasize their importance. Some parts of the huge German empire were only formally under the emperor's control. However, this does not change the fact that Frederick was an extremely capable ruler with a powerful army at his disposal. France and the German empire were often involved in conflicts, but there were times when they could cooperate if necessary. The papal authority couldn't have ignored a serious threat of an all-out Mongol invasion, either. The conflict between the popes and emperors had a long history but in Frederick II's time, most of Germany was still under the emperor's control. Even during the interregnum after 1250 some of Germany's most prominent noblemen signed mutual pacts and alliances to tackle common problems together. I don't see any reason why similar actions couldn't have taken place against a serious Mongol threat if it ever materialized.

The HRE wasn't a united entity, nor was it fortified across the entire land, as you seem to be getting at. It had a population of maybe 20 million at the time. How many can you fit into the fortresses?

Do you know how many castles are in Europe??? In the early 13th century the Count of Provence controlled 40 castles, and the King of France had over 100, including 45 in Normandy. The Duke of Burgundy owned 70. In 1216 King Henry III had inherited from his father 93 royal castles in England, and had secured 10 more in Guyenne by 1220, while for their part the English barons held 179. So even assuming Batu had crushed the leagued Italian, German and French armies on the plains of Italy, and struck off the heads of Gregory IX, Frederick II, Louis IX, and Conrad the Crusader, and then proceeded to rape and pillage the city of Rome, everybody else would have retreated to safety behind these unassailable walls of their castles and cities. And those who do not can seek refuge in forests and mountain areas.

Ha. The Pope called for Christians ally with the Mongols against the Muslims

Can you provide a link to this comment. I seriously doubt the pope said such a thing. Such a alliance signed between Italy and the Mongols would've been an extremely unlikely move. The prospects of one Christian state signing an alliance with infidel invaders would've been extremely slim and would surely have provoked nation-wide outrage. This alliance would also have contradicted common sense. The Pope surely wouldn't have wanted to replace one great opponent -- with an even more dangerous one - a Mongol empire stretching from southern Russia to the Rhine. It is in strategic interests of any nation to choose the lesser evil.


France will soon be engaged in the Hundred Years War, and in any case was far from a nation, but a scattered mess of Duchies like Burgundy, Aquitaine, Brittany, Bourbonais, and so on, some of which the King of France had limited control over at best. And they were certainly of doubtful loyalty. Look at how faithful the Normans and Burgundians end up being. Hell, even in Hungary, the Hungarian nobles bickered over what priviledges and rights they would recieve in return for fighitng against the Mongols.

I'm not saying I know what would have happened in case of a Mongol invasion of Western Europe. Take for instance, the Crusades. When you have French, German and English armies all marching together over the great distances necessary for a Crusade, even if the national forces kept to themselves and their leaders were often at odds, this is still a remarkable thing. When they then live together in a far foreign land that they have conquered, even though separated into the feudal states they were accustomed to in Europe, and still come together in self-defense when necessary, this is even more remarkable...and shows I think that self-preservation is a powerful incentive to "hanging together to avoid hanging separately". Could they have repeated this feat in the face of the Mongol threat? Perhaps, perhaps not---but I do not think we can dismiss the idea as an impossibility. Consequently, I can't tell whether France, Italy, and the German empire would've united their strength. However, I don't think any such coalition would've been necessary to halt the Mongols. The resources and military potential available to Frederick II were great and when employed correctly, they should've sufficed to stop a steppe army the size of the Golden Horde. We'll never know, of course, but there's nothing to make squabbling rivals unite like a common outside threat. The Greeks were notorious for their constant internecine bickering, but just let the Persians dare to invade the homeland...and there were precedents for the medieval period as well, viz. the Crusades, in which multiethnic armies joined together. And throughout the MA there were always alliances; who can say that an incursion by "godless" Mongols would not have pulled Christendom together, at least temporarily? And yes, there was a lot of squabbling on the Crusades---there's a lot of squabbling among supposed "allies" even today---but what you did not get was any contingent of the Frankish armies siding with the Saracens against fellow Christians. ( There were a few isolated instances of minor barons engaging in this practice occasionally for political advantage, but never to the extent of threatening the Kingdom or the Frankish tenure as a whole. ) Btw, you don't seem to be aware of is that Europe strenghtened its defense on the eastern border considerably as a result of the Mongol raid. It triggered a massive building program of fortifications, particularly in Central Europe and the Balkans. Even the backward Balkan states like Bosnia that suffered during Batu's raid began fortifying their borders and reforming their military. This indicates that Europe was aware of the Mongol threat and rallied quickly to respond to it. Europeans historically have always been willing to band together against a mutual threat especially if it is seen as distinctly non-European.

The Mongols did have artillery in Europe. They utilized artillery against the Hungarians across the river at Mohi, and used gunpowder bombs upon the army as well.

We know that Batu had brought a train of minghan engineers, since he was able to field seven ho p’ao catapults to hurl firebombs against the unfortunate Hungarians at the Sajo bridge, teaching them a deadly lesson in the tactical use of artillery. But events showed that these weren’t heavy enough to breach the high stone walls of the Hungarian castles, which Batu had to skirt.

The lack of a strong, centralized rule is what will make it possible for defectors to join the Mongols.

This is extremely doubtful. Down on the lowest level, some forms of cooperation between petty Christian nobles and their Muslim neighbors did take place in Outremer for instance. But there was no instance of one crusader state allying with Muslims against another crusader state. Cooperation between Christians and Muslims could be tolerated only to a certain extent. But on the whole, Christians and Muslims considered themselves common enemies. While the Mongols of the Golden Horde were not Muslims but pagans, they were infidels from the European perspective nevertheless.

Uhmmm, no. The Mongols faced some difficulties crossing the bridge, but they withdrew, and then they completed a double envelopment, the wet dream of generals throughout history. The Hungarians certainly didn't even try to fight to the death; they all ran for it and got slaughtered while fleeing. King Bela didn't stop running till he reached an island :P 70,000 dead Hungarians, double the size of the Mongol force, says that Mohi was most certainly not a Hungarian victory. The Mongols withdrew and retreated not for logistical or strategic reasons, but as anyone who learned history knows: Ogedai died, and Batu was rushing back to Mongolia to secure his place in the succession.

I'll try to address this issue once again. What we're told is that the Mongols split their force in two parts. One part (probably the larger one, albeit this is by no means sure; my sources implies it comprised two thirds of the entire force) was sent to cross the river some distance to the north. For one reason or another, the Mongols decided to build an improvised bridge there (maybe the river didn't permit safe fording?), which may have slowed down their advance considerably. The second part (probably the smaller one - one third?) remained near the bridge on the east bank. At this point, the Hungarians were encamped on the west bank but appear to have taken control of the bridge and a small bridgehead on the east bank. On the next morning, the remainder of the Mongol force overran the Hungarian bridgehead on the east bank, crossed the bridge and attacked the Hungarian camp on the west bank. In the battle the Hungarians were initially victorious until the second part of the Mongol force arrived with some 2-hour delay. I'm not at all implying that the Mongol force was "totally destroyed". It's clear the Mongols won the battle tactically. They inflicted very heavy casualties on the Hungarian army and eventually routed it. However, it's also apparent that the Mongol plan wasn't executed properly. The timing was incorrect. The smaller part of the Mongol force was committed to battle too quickly and was very hard-pressed by the Hungarians. It must've taken heavy casualties as it was caught between the river and the Hungarian army (perhaps the least desirable situation a medieval commander could think of). The only route of escape was the bridge - but it's very difficult for a large army, even if just light cavalry, to escape through such a narrow corridor in time. The arrival of the second part of the Mongol army was of course decisive. However, I believe the evidence at hand makes it quite clear that the victory was hard-won. We don't have the exact bodycount and any attempts to estimate the number of losses on the Mongol side are inevitably speculative. It was the smaller Mongol contingent that took most casualties - it seems it was almost destroyed in the fighting. If we accept that this contingent formed about one third of the entire force, the overall Mongol losses may have approached one third of the army. This is a very substantial figure for an army so far from home, with little chance to receive reinforcements quickly. But if you allow me, let's just analyze the several key facts that seem to be universally accepted:

- the Mongols arrive to Central Europe in February 1241; several skirmishes
- March 1, Mongol army group under Baidar and Kaidu travels north to Poland, sack Sandomir on the following day and win the battle of Krakow on March 3
- March 12, the main force under Batu enters Hungary while a smaller contingent is sent to Transylvania
- March 18, the Mongols win the battle of Chmielnik
- March 24, Krakow is taken
- March 27, the Mongols attack Wroclaw but their assault fails; the Mongols retreat
- April 9, Liegnitz; the largest Mongol victory in Europe
- April 11, Batu's force engages the Hungarians at Mohi; Mongol victory, Bela flees
- December 11, Ogadai's death

Now, let's take a deep breath and think about all this. No need to go into the details, just consider the immense Mongol activity within March 1 and April 11 – which is barely 40 days or less than a month and a half. Within this short period of time, the Mongols took much of Eastern Europe and fought a number of battles. But in sharp contrast to that period of activity are the eight months spent uselessly in Hungary and the poor regions of the Balkans - and that's 8 months before Ogadai's death! Not to mention that Batu didn't learn about it right away. It must've taken several weeks at least for the news to arrive to the Balkans. How can you or any other proponents of the commonly accepted hypothesis sensibly explain that? Eight months of pointless waiting with the riches of Italy just a two days' ride away? Ogadai's death was obviously not the issue because the old khan was still alive at that time. I'm afraid this changes the whole scope of things quite drastically. Clearly the string of Mongol successes wasn't rapidly broken by the death of Ogadai as the prevalent hypothesis would have us believe. So if you're not willing to concede that the losses suffered at Mohi and elsewhere were the deciding factor - just what happened in mid-April 1241 that the Mongols got stuck in Hungary? If reconaissance was the main goal (which it probably was), there was plenty of ground left to explore. In fact, the key routes to Western Europe lay within easy reach of the Mongol force stationed in Hungary. If conquest of Europe was the ultimate goal, the Mongols would've needed to at least locate those routes in order to make a full-scale invasion of Western Europe possible. But they didn't. In fact, they were stuck in Hungary for 8 months, made a quick tour through the Balkans and retreated in early 1242. These are facts. And in my humble opinion, the commonly accepted interpretation to which you're sticking fails to explain them in a believable and satisfactory manner. So we're back to the argument. The only reasonable explanation that I can think of - and also the one that seems in accordance with a careful analysis of the evidence at hand - is that the fighting in Hungary had put too much strain on the Mongol force to continue the conquest. Also not to be dismissed was the role of fortifications. And they never even tried to oppose Friedrich nor raid Italy, which is extremely difficult to explain unless we accept that the battle of Mohi and the failed sieges of Hungarian fortresses indeed bleeded the Mongol force.

Xen
Feb 08, 2005, 03:29 PM
Now, let's take a deep breath and think about all this. No need to go into the details, just consider the immense Mongol activity within March 1 and April 11 – which is barely 40 days or less than a month and a half. Within this short period of time, the Mongols took much of Eastern Europe and fought a number of battles. But in sharp contrast to that period of activity are the eight months spent uselessly in Hungary and the poor regions of the Balkans - and that's 8 months before Ogadai's death! Not to mention that Batu didn't learn about it right away. It must've taken several weeks at least for the news to arrive to the Balkans. How can you or any other proponents of the commonly accepted hypothesis sensibly explain that? Eight months of pointless waiting with the riches of Italy just a two days' ride away? Ogadai's death was obviously not the issue because the old khan was still alive at that time. I'm afraid this changes the whole scope of things quite drastically. Clearly the string of Mongol successes wasn't rapidly broken by the death of Ogadai as the prevalent hypothesis would have us believe. So if you're not willing to concede that the losses suffered at Mohi and elsewhere were the deciding factor - just what happened in mid-April 1241 that the Mongols got stuck in Hungary? If reconaissance was the main goal (which it probably was), there was plenty of ground left to explore. In fact, the key routes to Western Europe lay within easy reach of the Mongol force stationed in Hungary. If conquest of Europe was the ultimate goal, the Mongols would've needed to at least locate those routes in order to make a full-scale invasion of Western Europe possible. But they didn't. In fact, they were stuck in Hungary for 8 months, made a quick tour through the Balkans and retreated in early 1242. These are facts. And in my humble opinion, the commonly accepted interpretation to which you're sticking fails to explain them in a believable and satisfactory manner. So we're back to the argument. The only reasonable explanation that I can think of - and also the one that seems in accordance with a careful analysis of the evidence at hand - is that the fighting in Hungary had put too much strain on the Mongol force to continue the conquest. Also not to be dismissed was the role of fortifications. And they never even tried to oppose Friedrich nor raid Italy, which is extremely difficult to explain unless we accept that the battle of Mohi and the failed sieges of Hungarian fortresses indeed bleeded the Mongol force.

this is perhaps the most brilliant line reasoning I have ever seen.

North King
Feb 08, 2005, 04:02 PM
As already said, being in enemy territory with a smaller army, even if highly mobile, even if always successful on the battlefield, might get you nowhere.
You will take casualties, and where will you get new troops from? You'll be forced to recruit lesser quality from where you are, thus slowly diminishing your initial advantage in troop quality. Meanwhile, your enemies will have almost unlimited manpower, and will inevitably learn from their mistakes.
Your only chance is to strike them hard before this happens, and take advantage of your victory. But that will be difficult due to the crazy patchwork that is Medieval Europe, and the thousands of fortresses there in.

It's not like there are fortresses on every corner street. There's room to maneuver, and I would have full faith in the Mongols to minimize casualities of their own.

I never said that the Mongols would have to take every single fortress. I compared their situation to Hannibals'. Several cities surrendered to him without a fight, many even joined him as allies, still it wasn't enough.

Hannibal was fighting with an ineffective army.

That might not work forever. Indeed, when Caesar took Gaul, it was his harsh treatment of the subdued which made all of Gaul rebel against him. He after wards began to treat the vanquished with leniency, which made whole armies defect to him.
Or the allied bombing of German cities, which most historians say only stiffened the German defense.
As you can see, the "surrender without a fight or die" might not be successful, and often only make it harder to obtain victory.

I know this very well, yes. The thing is the Mongols were masters at psychological warfare as well, and generally if someone is faced with an option other than painful, slow death, they will take the other option. Generally.

To the whole archery issue, well Im not an expert, but I remember General Fuller writing: "Horse archers will always be out shot by foot archers", because it is indeed harder to shoot from a moving platform. Remember, the foot archer didn't have to aim at a specific enemy, but simply at the entire swarm of enemies. So it's swarm shooting at formation, rather than individual at individual. At least as long as the Mongols kept their distance. If not, well then it dosn't matter, since even a peasant with a crossbow can hit a horse, if right in front of him.
Also, a man on a horse present a larger target than a just a man.

The Mongols generally used the clouds of arrows approach, though, so it works both ways. :)

Alexander the Great used to negate enemy horse archers with foot missile troops too. Knowing that they would perform better in archery duels, and knowing that the cost of an archer was less than the cost of a mounted one.

I do not hold Alexander in high regard, just so you know.

BOTP
Feb 08, 2005, 04:10 PM
Again, I'll simply supply the simple numbers that more people were devoted to sieging individual Chinese cities than they bothered to send into Europe.

When Batu and his 150,000 horsemen set off on their great ride into the West in 1235, they clearly had annexation in their mind. I know that the Mongols were resolved to conquer the Christian West because in his account of the quriltai which decided on the invasion, Juwayni says that the khans `deliberated together concerning the extirpation and subjugation of all the remaining rebels (tughat).” M. M. Qazwini (ed.) Ata Malik Juwayni, Ta’rikh-i Jahan Gusha, vol. 1, pp. 268-9. The khans considered any nation outside their rule to be a rebel state. While the Mongol motivations regarding the West can be debated, it matters not whether or not the Mongols aimed for the total conquest of Europe in the end. Because it's clear the Western theater was always secondary to the Eastern theater, so its obvious why they would commit more of their men and resources there. But this does not dismiss the possibility they were looking to annex Europe.

Do you even realize where the Mongols come from? Remember that the Mongol steppes aren't the lush grassland you seem to think they are. They're part of the Gobi desert.

You should also know that only the south-east of the Gobi desert is waterless, and three-quarters is covered with grass, and that this grass has supported nomadic herders and their livestock for thousands of years. More than 1,100 herding households and over 200,000 head of livestock can be found living inside the Gurvansaikhan National Park. The three-quarters of the area, has a thin growth of grass, scrub, and thorn sufficient to feed the flocks of the nomadic herders who live there. Since the Gobi Desert covers about 500,000 square miles, that implies 375,000 square miles of pasture, more than twice the total for Western Europe, and while thin it’s not broken up into little village lots between great expanses of woodland, so yes, it would be far easier to feed a vast horse herd in the Gobi than in Western Europe.

I've already mentioned the sustain ability of the Mongols to maintain armies of hundreds of thouands in southern China, sthousands of miles away from the steppes. Remember that in their campaigns in northern China, they were seperated from the steppes by: The Gobi deset in teh norther, Takalmakim desert in the north-west, Tibetan highlands in the west.

LMAO. China is not the same as Europe. Compare these statistics to the Plains of Europe and the Plains of China, and ask yourself, would the Mongols be able to find an even remotely close chance of operating under such areas, which have miniscule amounts of pasture compared to their homeland? Even today Western Europe contains just 159,771 square miles of permanent pasture. That’s a little over a third of the total for Mongolia (454,622 square miles), and a tenth of the total for China (1,587,130 square miles). Even if you add more remote regions like Scandinavia and Finland (4,202 square miles) and the British Isles (55,635 square miles) you still only get 219,608 square miles of pasture. In the thirteenth century that area would be far smaller, since most of Europe was still forest and extensive conversion of open-field arable to pasture didn’t really get underway until the agricultural revolution in the nineteenth century. And what little grass did grow in the thirteenth century was scattered in small pockets, in village meadows and common pastures, which were already crammed to their absolute capacity with livestock. Hay was always in short supply on European manors lacking artificial meadow for want of suitable irrigation, and was precious winter feed, which is why grazing was strictly regulated through village bylaws. A hundred thousand Mongols invading Western Europe on a million remounts would need to be supplied by something on the order of 6,892 long tons of feed, in a baggage train comprising not less than 34,044 hay-carts (including 2,048 just to fodder the carthorses), transported thousands of miles over poor roads and through rough country, PER DAY. Never in the annals of military logistics has anyone ever done anything so stupid. The point here is that Western Europe specialized in agriculture to feed millions of people, while the steppe nomads specialized in pastoralism to feed millions of horses, while China did both, and got hammered. (Middle of the road, gets run over.)

BOTP
Feb 08, 2005, 04:32 PM
My opinion is if they can fight and win in South China, they can fight anywhere. South Chinese geography is such that the mobility of their cavalry would have been severely curtailed. If you were to describe South Chinese geography it would be very hilly, very mountainous, lots of rivers and swamps and wet. Cavalry is not much use in this sort of terrain, nor is there much pasture for horses. If you read details about how the Han Chinese fought with the "southern barbarians" in earlier times you will see that large numbers held out on top of hills and mountains and the Chinese spent decades sending groups of men to literally storm each hill/mountain and drag them kicking and screaming down to the river valleys where they could be more easily controlled. There are still some isolated groups on hills in South China today. Having great cavalry is not much use in storming hills and mountains or fighting in marshes.

I don't know if it was possible in the time of the Mongolians, but it was definitely true in much earlier times it was possible by taking a few key passes to literally cut off the far south from the rest of China. This is because of the hilly and mountainous terrain. Shu or today's Sichuan could be cut off from the rest of China by controlling several key mountain passes because it was separated from the rest of China by a large mountain range. This is why Liu Bei chose it as his base.

Another factor of South China that generally kept it safe from northern invaders was disease. Even along the Yangtze, disease plagued most major encounters. Northern troops used to call some areas in the far south "poison air".

On the other hand, because of these characteristics, South China was also known for its beautiful environs. This and its warm climate and great exotic food meant there were famous holiday locations in South China during ancient times such as the West Lake.

You're ignoring the fact that Europe at the time was much less agriculturally advanced than the Chinese. The Mongols would not only have had trouble feeding their vast horse herds, but also their men. Their two campaigns into Europe were essentially huge raids, very much different from campaigns of conquest. Raiders hit and move on and can find fresh sources of supply. Conquerors must stay put, sometimes for long periods. At any rate, from what little I know of Chinese history, southern Song was both smaller and less geographically diverse than was Europe and its fortresses were in the main confined to mountaintops and city walls. Is this not the case? If so I am unsure it would constitute a close analogy to Europe. And something to keep in mind - China was actually about the only place outside the great steppes where the Mongols could install themselves. Everywhere else they either didn't even try to push further (such as in the vast forest belt of northern Eurasia and Hungary) or, as in Vietnam, South India, and Korea, were bluntly shown the door often with heavy casualties.

Xen
Feb 08, 2005, 06:12 PM
It's not like there are fortresses on every corner street.
:lol: :lol: :lol: you havent been to europe!

North King
Feb 08, 2005, 08:43 PM
:lol: :lol: :lol: you havent been to europe!

I assume there's a fair bit of distance between castles, but I could be wrong, after all, I've only looked at pictures of individual castles...

storealex
Feb 09, 2005, 06:04 AM
It's not like there are fortresses on every corner street. There's room to maneuver, and I would have full faith in the Mongols to minimize casualities of their own.

There was lot's and lot's of fortifications. Some larger and more powerful than others. I don't doubt the Mongol's would have room for maneuver, initally at least, things will change if the enemy use scorched earth, but all this wasn't a part of my point anyway.


Hannibal was fighting with an ineffective army.
Yes he was. In the end of course no, after 16 years of warfare or something, but in the beginning it was very good. His cavalry was superior to anything the Romans could muster, his African infantry decent. Only his allied contingents were inferior to the Romans, but this seemed often to play into Hannibals hands. At Cannae for an example.
He knew how to use his forces so even the Gauls would become effective soldiers.


I do not hold Alexander in high regard, just so you know.
I strongly disagree with you, but this deserves a topic on it's own, and Im going to Ireland to morrow.

Oda Nobunaga
Feb 09, 2005, 02:23 PM
I think the critical difference between Hannibal and the Mongols would lie in the fact that Rome could easily sneak back being hannibal and menace Carthage proper, forcing him to take the defensive.

It seems to me the Europeans would have been hard pressed to even hit the mongol holdings in Russia hard, let alone Mongolia proper. Moreover, the mongols would most likely have wanted nothing *more* than to see the Europeans come out and play in the open.

So, due to the following factors :

1)Comparative size. Mongolia simply had more cannon fodders to draw on if it bogged down into a war of attrition ; Zhen has pointed out that they did levy troops.

2)Respective ability to harm each others. The mongols, due to a combination of reason (developed communication network, mobility of their supply bases, to name but two) had more power to harm key european targets than the europeans had to harm key mongol targets (let's face it, an european invasion of mongolia proper was "somewhat" unlikely).

3)Ability of mongol to adapt to varied terrains (Southern China as a case in point.

4)Ability to handle city fortifications, at least to a satisfactory degree (not castles, fortified cities).

5)Extreme ability to resist a siege of the European Castles.

6)Strong Christian faith of the Europeans.

7)Lengthy pause observed by the mongol forces after the battle of Mohi.

I am going to venture that

1)The mongols could, in fact, have overtaken much of Europe, leaving isolated pockets of resistance centered around some castles and particularly rough areas.

2)However, the effort, sacrifices and so forth required to do so would have been prohibitive : I'd envision a conquest lasting a few generations, due among other things to the mongolians being unable to maintain military action (not presence, action) in an area too long (fodder), as well as the European's ability to withdraw to castles if too hard pressed.

3)In addition, due to these same castles providing extremely solid pivotal points to resistance movement, and due to the strength of Christianty in Europe, any attempts at holding Europe in the long term would almost certainly have proven prohibitively expensive, and most likely outright impossible.

4)Which essentialy lead me to believe that while the Mongols could quite possibly have overtaken Europe, Europe was quite able to make sure such an overtaking wasn't worth the price in the first place.

Xen
Feb 09, 2005, 03:27 PM
I assume there's a fair bit of distance between castles, but I could be wrong, after all, I've only looked at pictures of individual castles...

well, simply put, no, thier isnt. now, I've only been to Britian,, Wales and Scot land (and visited castles- by Ireland I was sick of the goddamned things)
but, using its as a guide- as oen fo the area sof western europe that didnt have to constantlly worry abot invasion, its almost as if every other town has a goddamed castle in it- and the ones that dopnt have a castle all look liek they are castles anyway (like Chester for example)

Xen
Feb 09, 2005, 03:33 PM
1)Comparative size. Mongolia simply had more cannon fodders to draw on if it bogged down into a war of attrition ; Zhen has pointed out that they did levy troops.


Please oda, I respect you,a nd what you have to say; I request that you at least refer to my forum name by its proper spelling, and in doing so, not only give some mutual respect for me, but also the man upon which my name is based upon.

that said, dotn forget- the biggest part of mongol battle tactics WAs thier native cavalry- a native number in which thier WAS some serious limitations on; only 200,000-250,000 mongols total lived durign this period; consider, to sustain a population, half of them have to women- so we now have a workign number fo 125,000 mongols- except you also have to factor in children- I cant say for sure how many children woudl be needed to continue to support such a population, but its unlikelly that at any point, th emongols had over 90,000 availbile warriors of the skill needed to put such tacticle reliance upon; and history shows that indeed, the Mongols werent able to keep it up; soon after thier conquests, thier empire broke up; in no small part sue tot hat fact of the low population of mongols, meanign that they coudl never be every where at once- and even in an army of 90,000, every life lost is going to hurt.

yes they hast vast hordes of infantry at thier disposal- but they didnt have the cavalry needed to hinge thier tactical doctrine in full upon.

Oda Nobunaga
Feb 09, 2005, 07:49 PM
Two things Xen.

1)I specifically said "cannon fodder". Yes, the mongols had a limited supply of their best troops, as did the Europeans. It's in term of expendable, cheap forces that the mongol's empire size advantage would have (unless I'm misinformed about European pop at this time) served as an edge.

2)90 000 seems a REALLY low end estimate to me ; little to no reports ever *mention* non-cavalry forces being involved in the attack on Europe, and reports points to 70 000 men thrown there. Perhaps not all mongols, but certainly all capable horsemen. It seems to me HIGHLY doubtful that the mongols would throw almost the entirety of their skilled cavalry forces at Europe all at once, retaining barely 20 000 horsemen to control their empire.

Xen
Feb 10, 2005, 04:37 AM
Two things Xen.

1)I specifically said "cannon fodder". Yes, the mongols had a limited supply of their best troops, as did the Europeans. It's in term of expendable, cheap forces that the mongol's empire size advantage would have (unless I'm misinformed about European pop at this time) served as an edge.

2)90 000 seems a REALLY low end estimate to me ; little to no reports ever *mention* non-cavalry forces being involved in the attack on Europe, and reports points to 70 000 men thrown there. Perhaps not all mongols, but certainly all capable horsemen. It seems to me HIGHLY doubtful that the mongols would throw almost the entirety of their skilled cavalry forces at Europe all at once, retaining barely 20 000 horsemen to control their empire.

I'd imagine that the majority where not mongols at all, but rather turkish, and other assorted lesser skilled nomadic cavlary (they did lose to the mongols in the firs tplace to put them int hat position, so they are, rathe robviousdlly, not as- perhaps now where near asd, skilled as the mongols proper- but thats hard to say) subject cavalry, commanded by an elite retinue of around 10-20,000 mongols- I've pulled that number out of my ass mind you, but its what I woudl suspect to be a logical estimate, given the low population of Mongolia proper, them lookign at a map, and cosidering "times four" to be an acceptable, and reasonable guess at how much more land woudl support nomadic populatiosn akin to the mongols and what not.

seems to me, that, all together, the Mongols nomadica cavalry forces numbered, at thie rpeek, at about 500,000-650,000 troops; gives some leeway to launch 70,000 troop cavalkry expeditions, but not enough to warrant an attempted conquest of europe- as, even fi the mongols were able to conqoure it, it woudl take huge amount sof both time, and effort; niether of which a half million sized total popualtion could reasonable achieve, and still look to keep thier empire abroad.

Oda Nobunaga
Feb 10, 2005, 10:08 AM
I don't disagree with you - look at my final call about. They could probably have done it, but the europeans were in a position to easily make the costs/benefits final tally completely unacceptable.

BOTP
Feb 10, 2005, 03:38 PM
I don't disagree with you - look at my final call about. They could probably have done it, but the europeans were in a position to easily make the costs/benefits final tally completely unacceptable.

So the crux of our difference is whether Europe was so defensively strong it could weather any Mongol assault (which seems to be the direction you are leaning) or whether it simply wasn't worth the trouble for the Mongols. Any invasion (or defence against invasion) depends on a risk/benefit analysis. When the benefits are very great, enormous effort can be made, at very high risk.

Oda Nobunaga
Feb 10, 2005, 09:04 PM
I think a combination of both, actually. Take the European ability to make an invasion very bloody and costly (even if ultimately succesful), spice it up with their ability to make holding the place just as bad, and then use that on a place that just wouldn't have seemed all that interesting) and you have the perfect recipe to convince anyone to leave Europe alone.

Jeff Yu
Feb 11, 2005, 04:30 PM
Studying for engineering exams has been killing me this past week, so I'll only have time to address your major points:


- the Mongols arrive to Central Europe in February 1241; several skirmishes
- March 1, Mongol army group under Baidar and Kaidu travels north to Poland, sack Sandomir on the following day and win the battle of Krakow on March 3
- March 12, the main force under Batu enters Hungary while a smaller contingent is sent to Transylvania
- March 18, the Mongols win the battle of Chmielnik
- March 24, Krakow is taken
- March 27, the Mongols attack Wroclaw but their assault fails; the Mongols retreat
- April 9, Liegnitz; the largest Mongol victory in Europe
- April 11, Batu's force engages the Hungarians at Mohi; Mongol victory, Bela flees
- December 11, Ogadai's death


You're skipping quite a bit of timeline here. Did you really think that as soon as Mohi was over, the Mongols just sat down for several months while doing nothing? :rolleyes:

They were busy consolidating their holdings and sieging the fortresses that they earlier bypassed. They certainly weren't doing nothing during that period of time, they captured the fortified cities of Pest and Gran, for example, and consolidated their holdings east of the Danube. 100,000 Hungarians died defending at Pest, and Kaidan won no less than three decisive engagements against Hungarian forces during this time period as well.

Remember that 1/3 to 1/2 the population of Hungary was wiped out during this period of time. That certainly wouldn't happen if the campaign was a mere raid that won a battle and then just left. You'll also note that unlike the European style of warfare, the Mongols prepared during the summer and falls to launch winter campaigns. They fattened their horses during the summer and launched their invasions winter. The first invasion of Hungary, for example, was launched during a February. Consolidating their position and then preparing for a winter campaign fits exactly what you describe.

Had they took too many casualties and required a withdrawal, they would have returned to their Ukrainian holdings instead of staying in the country for so long. But instead, they prepared for another winter invasion, and crossed the Danube river that winter, at the start of a new campaign the scouting parties reaching as far as Venice, at the beginning of a new campaign, when news of Ogedai's death came.

This also puts doubt to another of your claims. During this extended period of time, no one else in Europe came to Hungary's aid. Where were the armies of all the other countries who you claim would suddenly set aside their animosities and miraculously unite against the Mongols? The population of Hungary was busy being liquidated, and for months, what did the rest of Europe do? Nothing. Hell, Who came to Hungary and Poland's aid? No one. Hell, the Dukes of Pomerania and Bohemia were ASKED to come to Poland's aid, and they retreated instead and hid in their castle, even as the Mongols were putting parts of Moravia to the torch.

LMAO. China is not the same as Europe. Compare these statistics to the Plains of Europe and the Plains of China, and ask yourself, would the Mongols be able to find an even remotely close chance of operating under such areas, which have miniscule amounts of pasture compared to their homeland? Even today Western Europe contains just 159,771 square miles of permanent pasture. That’s a little over a third of the total for Mongolia (454,622 square miles), and a tenth of the total for China (1,587,130 square miles). Even if you add more remote regions like Scandinavia and Finland (4,202 square miles) and the British Isles (55,635 square miles) you still only get 219,608 square miles of pasture. In the thirteenth century that area would be far smaller, since most of Europe was still forest and extensive conversion of open-field arable to pasture didn’t really get underway until the agricultural revolution in the nineteenth century. And what little grass did grow in the thirteenth century was scattered in small pockets, in village meadows and common pastures, which were already crammed to their absolute capacity with livestock. Hay was always in short supply on European manors lacking artificial meadow for want of suitable irrigation, and was precious winter feed, which is why grazing was strictly regulated through village bylaws. A hundred thousand Mongols invading Western Europe on a million remounts would need to be supplied by something on the order of 6,892 long tons of feed, in a baggage train comprising not less than 34,044 hay-carts (including 2,048 just to fodder the carthorses), transported thousands of miles over poor roads and through rough country, PER DAY. Never in the annals of military logistics has anyone ever done anything so stupid. The point here is that Western Europe specialized in agriculture to feed millions of people, while the steppe nomads specialized in pastoralism to feed millions of horses, while China did both, and got hammered. (Middle of the road, gets run over.)


What in the world makes you think that the Mongols ever carted in fodder for their horses? You're thinking of warfare in sedentary terms. The Mongols didn't resupply food for the horses, they simply resupplied horses themselves. They brought in a fresh herd of horses and led the old ones back to the steppe. And again, you seem to think that Mongolia is a lush green grassland when it could be farther from the truth. Mongolia is predominated by the Gobi desert, and during the winter, the place turns into a complete wasteland. And, aas I've already pointed out, the Mongols have no shortage of grassland in their supply base. Most of Poland is a flat plain, and half of the country is covered with steppe. Hungary also has a fairly large plain that will allow the Mongols to support themselves over a campaign before the herd needs to be resupplied. The Mongolian horses, native to Siberia, are well-adapted to being able to eat pretty much anything to survive during those winter months. This includes digging through ice to eat scraps of lichen, and foraging when they have to. Mongolian horses are able to eat tree leaves if they have to, in order to survive. Guess what most of Europe is? Forest, with plenty of pasture and river valleys in between.

Now obviously they're not going to gain any weight doing it, but remember, the Mongols fattened up their horses all summer long by grazing, and typically launched their campaign season during winter. Their horses certainly aren't going to eat the land bare or starve to death.


When Batu and his 150,000 horsemen set off on their great ride into the West in 1235, they clearly had annexation in their mind. I know that the Mongols were resolved to conquer the Christian West because in his account of the quriltai which decided on the invasion, Juwayni says that the khans `deliberated together concerning the extirpation and subjugation of all the remaining rebels (tughat).” M. M. Qazwini (ed.) Ata Malik Juwayni, Ta’rikh-i Jahan Gusha, vol. 1, pp. 268-9. The khans considered any nation outside their rule to be a rebel state. While the Mongol motivations regarding the West can be debated, it matters not whether or not the Mongols aimed for the total conquest of Europe in the end. Because it's clear the Western theater was always secondary to the Eastern theater, so its obvious why they would commit more of their men and resources there. But this does not dismiss the possibility they were looking to annex Europe.

Nice use of selective quoting there. The rebels are very obviously not the Europeans. They're the Cumans, who first allied with the Mongols, and then betrayed them, thus earning the Mongols' wrath. Ogedai didn't invade Hungary UNTIL King Bela offered sanctuary to the Cumans and refused to hand them over to the Mongols. By the time he killed the Cumans himself after they left his favor, it was too late.

More factual inaccuracies of yours.

How do they kill all the peasants anyhow? The way they depopulated Iraq was not by slaughtering everyone but by destroying the irrigation system. Europe relies on rainfall agriculture meaning that the Mongols have to win the hard way--seizing castles.

* 1200, Northern China - 30,000,000 killed
* 1215, Yanjing China (today Beijing) - 25,000,000 killed
* 1221, Nishapur, Persia - ~1.7 million killed in assault
* 1221, Merv, Persia - ~1.3 million killed in assault
* 1221, Meru Chahjan, Persia - ~1.3 million killed in assault
* 1221, Rayy, Persia - ~1.6 million killed in assault
* 1226, Tangut Campaign - Gengis Khan launches war against the northern China people of Tangut.
* 1236, Bilär,Bulgar cities, Volga Bulgaria - 150,000 or more and more (nearly half of population)
* 1237-1240, Kievan Rus' - half of population
* 1258, Baghdad - ~800,000 people. Results in destruction of Abbasid dynasty
* 1226-1266, ~18 million reported killed in conquest of northern Chinese territory. This number estimated by Kublai Khan himself.

The Mongols actually DID slaughter everyone. If all your lords and nobles simply sit in their castles, there's not going to be much of a country leff when they come back out. Because simply put, yes, the Mongols DID want to rule over a depopulated area, and they DID kill everyone. Their notion of wealth wasn't land, people, or cities. They just looted whatever they wanted from the cities, and then killed everyone, and turned former farms and cities into grassland, because to them, wealth was herds of horses and animals, and pretty trinkets you loot from people. The Mongols are famous for leaving huge pyramids of skulls outside of cities, and they usually left behind small forces in cities just to make sure no surivivors hid among the dead.


Vietnam, South India, and Korea, were bluntly shown the door often with heavy casualties.

Do you even know what you're talking about? The Mongols lost a NAVAL battle in Vietnam, never entired South India (or even North India) and conquered Korea. :rolleyes:

Jeff Yu
Feb 11, 2005, 04:47 PM
seems to me, that, all together, the Mongols nomadica cavalry forces numbered, at thie rpeek, at about 500,000-650,000 troops; gives some leeway to launch 70,000 troop cavalkry expeditions, but not enough to warrant an attempted conquest of europe- as, even fi the mongols were able to conqoure it, it woudl take huge amount sof both time, and effort; niether of which a half million sized total popualtion could reasonable achieve, and still look to keep thier empire abroad.

Your estimates for Mongol population are WAAAAY off. The number of Mongols (actual, native Mongols) number around 1.5 million (again, from the Cambridge book), and they supplemented their numbers by absorbing large numbers of other steppe peoples, like Turks, Tartars, Uyghurs, Jurchens, Persians and Khitans. They were able to raise HUGE armies. Back in Ghengis Khan's day, before the majority of his conquests, he led 200,000 troops into Central asia in 1219. Ogedai's invasion of Russia, for example, numbered 150,000. Halegu's invasion of Persia had 130,000. The invasion of China numbered 200,000 horsemen alone.

BOTP
Feb 11, 2005, 07:04 PM
Oh boy... So we're still where we started?

You're skipping quite a bit of timeline here. Did you really think that as soon as Mohi was over, the Mongols just sat down for several months while doing nothing? They were busy consolidating their holdings and sieging the fortresses that they earlier bypassed. They certainly weren't doing nothing during that period of time, they captured the fortified cities of Pest and Gran, for example, and consolidated their holdings east of the Danube. 100,000 Hungarians died defending at Pest, and Kaidan won no less than three decisive engagements against Hungarian forces during this time period as well. Remember that 1/3 to 1/2 the population of Hungary was wiped out during this period of time. That certainly wouldn't happen if the campaign was a mere raid that won a battle and then just left. You'll also note that unlike the European style of warfare, the Mongols prepared during the summer and falls to launch winter campaigns. They fattened their horses during the summer and launched their invasions winter. The first invasion of Hungary, for example, was launched during a February. Consolidating their position and then preparing for a winter campaign fits exactly what you describe. Had they took too many casualties and required a withdrawal, they would have returned to their Ukrainian holdings instead of staying in the country for so long. But instead, they prepared for another winter invasion, and crossed the Danube river that winter, at the start of a new campaign the scouting parties reaching as far as Venice, at the beginning of a new campaign, when news of Ogedai's death came.

No, I haven't overlooked that at all - what bothers me is that the conclusions which you've drawn from that statement are highly self-contradictory. On the one hand, you're trying to convince me that Batu's raid was a consolidation effort trying to secure a base of operations for further expeditions; yet on the other hand you state that the Mongols were not intrested at all in conquering Europe. Either way, you've failed to present a single believable explanation for that 8-month delay in Hungary. Now, you may disagree with me on all points, but I think you'll concur that such missions on such a scale are best done quickly. The Mongols certainly kept to that strategy for the first 40 days. They covered a lot of ground in Eastern Europe, fought several important battles and sacked a few cities. However, I don't think anyone could negate that the Mongol advance ground to a halt after Liegnitz and Mohi - and very abrupty, actually. This is not in accordance with any reasonable strategy. You're apparently of opinion that the resistance encountered by the Mongols did not hinder them to any significant extent. Now I'd be ready to accept any other sensible argument - perhaps a sudden spread of religious pacifism from the Buddhist areas or maybe mass abuse of cannabis and opium imported from Indochina and the Middle East. :lol: But seriously, that the death of a khan who ruled eastern Asia stopped the advance of the Golden Horde (which was, for the umpteenth time, an independent military entity) without having the slightest effect on the other Mongol groups (which were at the time happily thrashing their enemies in China and the Middle East) is just a little too much to swallow. In any case, Batu did not sink in permanent inactivity after Ogadai's death. He returned to Volga after his failed raid and established his seat there, subduing the local Russian rulers and occasionally leading military expeditions against the disobedient. This doesn't sound like an urgent return to Mongolia to me. To further prove my argument, let me quote Denis Sinor: "According to John of Plano Carpini the death of Ogedei prompted the Mongols' withdrawal from Hungary. Valuable though the Friar's account may be, it does contain many mistakes, of which this explanation is a prime example. Unfortunately, the mistake has been perpetuated by generations of historians (including the present writer), who, for a long time, never pondered on the inherent weakness of this theory. Ogedei died on December 11, 1241, and it had been argued that when the news reached him, Batu, who might have had personal, imperial ambitions, decided either to return to Mongolia or, at least, to move closer to it. The fact is that Batu showed no signs of any desire to travel to Mongolia, but after the evacuation of Hungary remained on the South Russian steppe, still very far from the center of power. Whether Batu ever harbored ambitions to become the Great Khan is a moot question, but his behavior certainly did not reveal anything of the sort. Available evidence suggests that he was content to be the de facto ruler of the western part of the Mongol empire, and that he showed great loyalty to Ogedey's successor, Guyuk. The reason for the Mongol withdrawal from Hungary must be sought elsewhere; it was caused by logistical imperatives" So what we have here tells us the Mongols were still conquering neigbouring territories throughout the 13th c. wherever opportunity persisted. Only the Golden Horde was stuck in southern Russia after the raid of 1240/1. Why on Earth would they have satisfied themselves with the comparatively poor regions of Eastern Europe when much wealthier areas of Western Europe were within their range? If Europe was indeed so weak and militarily inferior, why didn't Batu - or any other Mongol leader, there were many - resume the offensive? Whenever the Mongols encountered weak opposition on their raids, they made their best to exploit the enemy's weaknesses. Why didn't they do the same with the feeble Europeans? The Golden Horde ruled southern Russia well into the 15th century, yet it never dared invade Europe again. Given that the rich regions of Western, Central and South Europe were virtually at their doorstep, the temptation must have been hard for the Mongols to raid there. But they didn't. The only reasonable explanation I can think of is that Western Europe was too well defended to permit any further easy victories, and that the casualties they faced at Mohi and Leingnitz (as well as their logistical limitations) must have played a key factor in dissuading them.

This also puts doubt to another of your claims. During this extended period of time, no one else in Europe came to Hungary's aid. Where were the armies of all the other countries who you claim would suddenly set aside their animosities and miraculously unite against the Mongols? The population of Hungary was busy being liquidated, and for months, what did the rest of Europe do? Nothing. Hell, Who came to Hungary and Poland's aid? No one. Hell, the Dukes of Pomerania and Bohemia were ASKED to come to Poland's aid, and they retreated instead and hid in their castle, even as the Mongols were putting parts of Moravia to the torch.

Most certainly, but how does that prove your argument? During the middle ages, Eastern Europe was a specific entity that differed in numerous respects from Western Europe. It's no surprise that Western Europe didn't feel obliged to assist the Poles and Hungarians. After all, Germany and Poland have never gone well together and Hungary was something of an oddity as well (memories of the Magyars can't have been too good for establishing particularly close relations). It was in nobody's interest to come to assistance. As long as the Mongols limited themselves to thrashing the Poles and Hungarians, their incursion had no ill effects on the German empire, even less Western Europe in general. For Austria, it was even a welcome coincidence. While the West was not particularly interested in tackling the Mongol raiders happily pillaging foreign territories, they made preparations to ensure any incursion on their soil could be met with force. Friedrich of Austria definitely had substantial forces ready at his disposal and was able to intervene if necessary. Batu's force was not particularly large at the start of the campaign and its number had definitely dwindled with the fighting (all fuss and disagreement aside, it cannot be disputed that the Mongols did take some losses during the campaign and those suffered at Mohi were substantial). As long as Friedrich had a strong army in the field and plenty of fortifications manned (most of them in terrain much more difficult than the Hungarian plain) he had nothing to worry about. So from the Western European perspective, the trouble in Eastern Europe was probably seen as a temporary setback and an internal affair. Besides, the Europe could do little to provide real military assistance to Hungary, which meant that only a few would respond to a call to crusade unless it directly threatened Europe. But as long as the Mongols didn't threaten him directly, there was no point in sending assistance.

What in the world makes you think that the Mongols ever carted in fodder for their horses? You're thinking of warfare in sedentary terms. The Mongols didn't resupply food for the horses, they simply resupplied horses themselves. They brought in a fresh herd of horses and led the old ones back to the steppe.

No; this is incorrect. Marco Polo observed strings of horses containing as many as eighteen remounts per man. We also need to take more than the pasture for the giant horse herds into account. Rotational grazing was the basis for nomadism and standard practice on the steppes, because there was much greater freedom of movement there than in the densely wooded and mountainous terrain of Middle Europe. And in case you haven't yet noticed, there was a lot more grass in Russia, and as we’ve seen, the Mongols dragged along their own sheep to eat as well. The Mongol troops were fed by great flocks of sheep which accompanied their armies. D. O. Morgan, for example, in ‘The Mongol Armies in Persia’, Der Islam , cites a text from Iran assigning each campaigning Mongol 5 horses and 30 sheep, i.e. an ecological weight of 55 sheep equivalents (s.e.) per man.

And again, you seem to think that Mongolia is a lush green grassland when it could be farther from the truth. Mongolia is predominated by the Gobi desert, and during the winter, the place turns into a complete wasteland.

Do you never read what’s been posted? Yes, a part of the Gobi desert is waterless and resembles a barren wasteland, but it is only a small part of the gobi desert, while the rest of the gobi desert provides three times more pasture lands than anything in Europe (excluding Hungary). Ttaken as a whole the Gobi Desert affords excellent pasture, the annual rainfall in the north-west averaging 10 to 20 inches. While far short of the 40 to 50 inches in Austria, when it comes to pasture quality, moisture often comes at the expense of nutritional content. To quote R. L. Dalrymple and C. A. Griffith: ‘Horses can be malnourished in deep, green forage. Extremely lush pastures containing over 85 percent water can be too wet and too low in fibre for good nutritional intake ... The horse simply has to intake too much water to get needed nutrition.’ Inane blather about a European buffet only shows the most appalling ignorance of logistics and basic horse needs, since the key issue wasn’t the quality of grass, but quantity, and horses don’t live by licking tree-bark.

And, as I've already pointed out, the Mongols have no shortage of grassland in their supply base. Most of Poland is a flat plain, and half of the country is covered with steppe. Hungary also has a fairly large plain that will allow the Mongols to support themselves over a campaign before the herd needs to be resupplied.

Okay, let's look at the statistics AGAIN!!. For the 1241 campaign into Hungary and Poland, Batu ordu of probably six tümens (of the original twelve minimum with which he had invaded Russia) implies a nominal raiding force of 60,000 mounted troops and at least 300,000 horses. Grazing such an army herd would have required a pasturage of some 32,732 square miles. The Alföld in Hungary, which was the largest unbroken pasture on the continent of Europe, in fact the only one of any extent, currently has an area of 16,366 square miles. Poland is slightly harder to estimate since the deforestation rate is unclear, but its modern territory includes 15,695 square miles of permanent pasture. To these expanses might be added the Moravian plains, the better part of the Czechian pasture resources of 3,568 square miles, and to their east, the pastures of the Little Afold, the eastern Slovakian lowland and the Zahorska plain, covering 3,151 square miles. Altogether these come to 38,780 square miles of grassland (which, by Asiatic standards, is a postage stamp; just 4 percent of the pasture available in Mongolia) barely enough to temporarily graze 355,430 horses; a good match for Batu’s probable numbers. So the fact that sufficient forage was available for Batu to sustain his campaign in Eastern Europe is statistically demonstrable, whereas we can only reach the opposite conclusion for the West. Just think about it, we’ve already established that there’s ten times as much pasture in China than Western Europe, and that the pasture of the Alföld, though as vast as it was, was just barely large enough in itself to sustain a herd of 150,000 horses. So in theory, by accepting that five-horse limit, which still enabled 65,000 Mongols to spread their terror through the deserts of the Middle East, the Mongols could only have maintined three tüman or 30,000 troops, (half the number that he had brought with him on his initial foray into Poland and Hungary, and only a fifth of the number with which he had crossed the Volga) — against an active Western military reservoir of millions. Since there wasn’t much available in the first place, and what little was there was inaccessible to a vast cavalry army trying to fodder up to a million horses (probably more than doubling the entire horse population of Europe overnight, and in a single localised concentration!) and still hoping to keep itself together. It would either have to retreat or break up and be destroyed in detail. To make matters worse, any foragers would have to disperse to such an extent that they would be easily overpowered by the tens of millions already using them to graze their own livestock, since grasslands in Western Europe are few, small and widely scattered. So the suggestion that Europe (especially Western Europe) was a pastorial buffet is ridiculous. Just think about this. The Mongols evacuated Hungary the next year after thoroughly overgrazing the available pastures in Hungary and left for the steppes of West Asia. Why did they leave? Because they couldn't sustain their horses on Magyar soil anymore, nor could they sustain anymore casualties, which is why the Mongolist John Masson Smith considers Hungary ‘probably indefensible by a nomad-based garrison’.

The Mongolian horses, native to Siberia, are well-adapted to being able to eat pretty much anything to survive during those winter months. This includes digging through ice to eat scraps of lichen, and foraging when they have to. Mongolian horses are able to eat tree leaves if they have to, in order to survive. Guess what most of Europe is? Forest, with plenty of pasture and river valleys in between. Now obviously they're not going to gain any weight doing it, but remember, the Mongols fattened up their horses all summer long by grazing, and typically launched their campaign season during winter. Their horses certainly aren't going to eat the land bare or starve to death.

Yes they were smaller and to some degree more durible, but also more specifically predisposed to eating only grass. Today's modern breeds (non-Mongolian horses) often eat hay and other specialized feed, but the Mongolians rode a very specialized type of horse that only feeds on grass. And like any small horse or pony, it still would have cropped grass more closely and exhausted the habitat at a faster rate than its heavier European counterpart. The Mongol horse of the thirteenth century was between 13 and 14 hands high, rather larger than the 12 hands of the wild Przhevalsky, and therefore also requiring a heavier dietary intake than the Przhevalsky. A typical Przewalski’s horse averages 12 hands, weighs 772 lb, and has to consume over 15 lb of forage or feed per day on a dry-weight basis, which adds up to almost 3 short tons of dry matter per year, which is still three-quarters of the intake of the larger and more powerful European horse, so even had the calculation been based on European forage management the implication would be the same, and the objection is moot.

If all your lords and nobles simply sit in their castles, there's not going to be much of a country leff when they come back out. Because simply put, yes, the Mongols DID want to rule over a depopulated area, and they DID kill everyone. Their notion of wealth wasn't land, people, or cities. They just looted whatever they wanted from the cities, and then killed everyone, and turned former farms and cities into grassland, because to them, wealth was herds of horses and animals, and pretty trinkets you loot from people.

Let me quote Baldwin of Hainault, in 1184, holed up in his castle and seeing his fields burned and his subjects massacred by invaders: "They can' take the land with them" No-one left him at that time. A later example of this exact behavior is when Edward III invaded France with his goal the capture of Reims (for a coronation). He expected to be able to loot his way there. The French in a rare display of common sense (until then they would have mustered an army to meet the enemy and get crushed by their lousy commanders) emptied the countryside and focused on defending the walled cities and castles. By evading pitched battles and constantly staying near the English army, the French were able to defeat the chevauchee strategy (a large-scale raid, which you imply what the Mongols would do) in a very economical manner. Consequently, the English offensives soon ran out of steam due to logistical problems and low morale. Sure, Edward still possessed an army in the field, but the French kept him from gaining a real foothold as long as he didn’t invest the time to siege. Thus, Edward got nowhere and had to return. So the fact is, small-raiding parties simply cannot hold territory without taking castles! Also, the Mongols, despite their cruelty, weren't some sort of all-consuming zombie horde; even in the most devastated territories most of the population survived; the plans for depopulating northern china (which might have been a later Chinese invention intended to demonstrate the guile of Genghis’s Chinese advisors against their barbaric overlord) involved forcing the peasants to move southwards (similar to Shaka Zulu’s Mfecane), not a complete massacre of all Chinese civilians, which would have been practically impossible.

Xen
Feb 11, 2005, 10:58 PM
Your estimates for Mongol population are WAAAAY off. The number of Mongols (actual, native Mongols) number around 1.5 million (again, from the Cambridge book), and they supplemented their numbers by absorbing large numbers of other steppe peoples, like Turks, Tartars, Uyghurs, Jurchens, Persians and Khitans. They were able to raise HUGE armies. Back in Ghengis Khan's day, before the majority of his conquests, he led 200,000 troops into Central asia in 1219. Ogedai's invasion of Russia, for example, numbered 150,000. Halegu's invasion of Persia had 130,000. The invasion of China numbered 200,000 horsemen alone.

but when is your book getting its information from (eg; what date?)

blackheart
Feb 12, 2005, 01:02 PM
www.wikipedia.org - enough said

Ok all the pro-Europe people here seem to forget that these are the Mongols you're talking about. Not European, Muslim, or Chinese armies. Mongols. They are a vastly different people with vastly different goals.

First off, Mongols had no supply lines. That's right. They're a nomadic people. Nomads don't resupply from cities, they take what they have with them. And they sure as hell weren't slow. Let's say a European army finds and slaughters the young and old behind the Mongol lines. What happens when the Mongols find out? Pissed Mongols = bad. Mongols had no need for cities either, so slaughter away.

Mongolians were also superior in tactic and weaponry. First off, they used the recursive bow (much like the longbow). Combined with the fact that they're all trained from a young age to shoot and that they ride horsies, that means they're very good horse archers. Mobile horse archers will win against foot archers. Do you know why? Horse archers are constantly moving, while the foot archers aren't (they may be moving, but you can't run on foot and shoot at the same time). Secondly, Mongols used silk armor. Arrows and such would still pierce their flesh, but the silk remained intact so physicians could pull out the arrow with less risk of infection. Thus, Mongols retained more veteran soldiers, while everyone else lost theirs. And while eventually Europeans would adopt to Mongolian tactics, what makes people think that Mongols wouldn't come up with new tactics?

Ok next up, Mongolian strategy. This is very effective, they would offer a city surrender or total annihilation. If the city surrendered, they were left alone and forced to pay tribute, but that's the better alternative to the Mongolians sacking your city and killing everyone in it. It took a few sackings, but people finally got the idea. Mongols would let a few survivors escape to spread the news. Terror tactics worked well for the Mongols, and it would especially well in Europe, especially with feudalism. I highly doubt the patriotic peasants would rise up against the Mongols while their lieges sat in castles. Even if the pesants were to all go to castles, there wouldn't be enough room, they'd starve sooner, and disease would set in. I'd also like to point out that perhaps another reason the Mongols slaughtered people was that they knew they'd be deep in enemy territory and didn't want to leave anyone to attack their flank.

And to my next point, castles. Did anyone even bother to look at the castle pics provided (I forget who, but thanks whoever did). Notice Chinese castles compared to European ones. The Chinese at this period in time are in a civil war, and have been fighting barbarins for thousands of years. They know their stuff. And as stated previously, Chinese cities ARE fortresses. European castles are not cities. The Chinese group crops in their fortresses, Europeans did not. You can have a mile of stone wall, but you're not going to last if you're starving, or if the Mongols decide to fling dead animals into your castle. There is also the notion that the Chinese were idiots and built their castles in idiotic places. Misconception! The Chinese aren't stupid, they know where the defensible positions are. You can have 234520375 castles in Europe, but does it matter? The Mongols didn't need to conquer all the castles to conquer the countryside. It's like island-hopping in WW2. Take only the important ones, leave the rest. Mongols were NOT hopeless at blocking waterways. Look at Chinese castles. A lot of them are on the water. And it's been stated that a blitz would be required to take Europe. I'm sorry, but how did this even come up?

Also about grazing. The Mongolians live in the steppes. It's a harsh and inhospitable place. Not to mention its semi-desert. They obviously know how to survive and live off the land. Previously mentioned was the landscape of Southern China, with the hills and swamps and everything. People seem to think hills in China are vastly different than hills in Europe. The Mongols have already proven that they can fight and win in terrain unsuitable for cavalry. Also previously mentioned that the territory the Mongols conquered in China is more vast than Europe. I don't know how about horses, but wouldn't the Mongols wait and force their newly conquered to grow feed?

Now for my next point, European alliances. Europeans would unite? HA :lol: . That's a laughable notion. Well they would, if the Pope called for a Crusade. How long do you think the unity would last, and how long do you think the Muslims would wait before the Europeans are off on their crusade with the Mongols before striking?

That's all I can remember right now. To sum it up: Mongols would have probably carved up Europe. Holding on to it is another thing, but remember, they did manage to hold onto the Middle East and Russia (China is another matter). They didn't use conventional warfare, nor were they conventional people, this is where the pro-European side seems to be lost at. They DID have the time and ability to do long sieges. They DID have the capability to fight and live in terrain unsuitable for cavalry/grazing. Most importantly of all, they DID conquer the most advanced civilizations of the world (Chinese and Muslims). If you think the Mongols would have been soundly defeated by the mighty feudal armies of Europe, you're sadly mistaken.

BOTP
Feb 12, 2005, 03:45 PM
Sometimes this thread seems as endless as the steppe itself…

First off, Mongols had no supply lines. That's right. They're a nomadic people. Nomads don't resupply from cities, they take what they have with them. And they sure as hell weren't slow. Let's say a European army finds and slaughters the young and old behind the Mongol lines. What happens when the Mongols find out? Pissed Mongols = bad. Mongols had no need for cities either, so slaughter away.

The Mongols did have a supply-line, and I rather slow one. As I’ve explained already, they carried herds of sheeps as well as camp-followers. And as I’ve already explained, the army herd was too vast to ever rely on carted dry feed, and on campaign it also had to keep moving so the cartage wouldn’t have kept up. Instead the herd had to live off the land, as you’ve said. However, you failed to recognize that the logistical base for nomadic warfare was the pastoral resources of the steppe, and these were what gave the Mongols their effortless mobility, their ability to effect sudden and devastating concentrations, and their decisive economy of force, none of which they could have counted on in the alien and static environment of Western Europe. It’s called the food chain. Mongols ate sheep and rode horses. Sheep and horses ate grass. So no grass. No sheep or horses. No Mongols!

Mongolians were also superior in tactic and weaponry. First off, they used the recursive bow (much like the longbow). Combined with the fact that they're all trained from a young age to shoot and that they ride horsies, that means they're very good horse archers. Mobile horse archers will win against foot archers. Do you know why? Horse archers are constantly moving, while the foot archers aren't (they may be moving, but you can't run on foot and shoot at the same time). Secondly, Mongols used silk armor. Arrows and such would still pierce their flesh, but the silk remained intact so physicians could pull out the arrow with less risk of infection. Thus, Mongols retained more veteran soldiers, while everyone else lost theirs. And while eventually Europeans would adopt to Mongolian tactics, what makes people think that Mongols wouldn't come up with new tactics?

Not this again, just what superior weaponry and superior organization did the Mongols posses over the other horse based steppe armies? The Mongol army's formation and Organization is little different from the Huns, Partinians, Magyars, Turks, ect, in fact almost identical. This is from account of Meng Hong which is the most detailed primary document on the Mongol army, while the Liao and Jin armies are well documented. In the early days of Jin as was in the Mongol army, the army consist of 5 ranks, 2 clad in iron armour and 3 in acquered hide. The army of Aguda was drawn up for battle in squadrons of 50 horsemen, 20 with heavy cuirasses and bows behind. A Mongol squadron number 100 men and from Plano Carpini’s accounts, it describe them arranged at intervals with the heavily armoured troops of each stationed at the front. The troops in the two front ranks wore complete armour, with swords and lance, and their horse also armoured. The rear 3 ranks wore no armour and their weapons were the bow and javelin. While a complete identical organization in the Jin is as follows, with the punian (the basic unit made up of 50 men) 20 men were supposed to be armoured and equipped with lances or halberds, and formed the front two ranks of the standard five-deep formation - known as the guaizima. The other three ranks consisted of lightly equipped archers. It has been suggested that this formation was designed to protect the archers from missiles while they softened up the enemy in preparation for a charge. Both the Jin and Mongol troops begin the battle with the light troops, one body in support of another, advanced through the squadron intervals in the 2 front ranks and poured volleys of arrows into the opposing lines. Simultaneously one or both the wings began an eveloping movement to take the enemy flanks and rear. If the first storm of arrows succeeded in disordering his array, the shock troops received the command of charge. Should the light troops be repulsed by a charge, they retired shooting backward from the saddle, and other detachments took their place and repeated the arrow storm. If these were unsuccessful, the remaining light troops took up the assault. Similar methods was deployed by the Khitans, In Meng Da Bei Lu, the Liao army was organised into a decimal system with regiments of 500 or 700 men, ten of which formed a division, with ten division making up an army. Attacks were carried out through a succession of controlled charges, each regiment advancing in turn before being replaced and withdrawn to rest. The attack is made by the 1st of the 10 squadrons, if it was successful then the other 9 would charge forward, but if it fail it was called to the back of the line to rest while the next squadron take its place. If necessary, it would be repeated for days until the enemy is exhausted. Then all 10 squadrons would charge and rout.The Mongol army was virtually identical to those of the early Khitan and Jin armies. All of which had soldiers keep ready 4 bows and 400 arrows. (Parkers, A thousand year of the tartars, p.258), the source of mongol army is mainly drawn from the accounts of the Han general Meng Hung.

These same tactics was used by the Liao in their victory over the emperor Song Tai Zong at Gao liang river, and 100 years later by the Jurchen’s 20,000 against the Khitans themselves whose army numbered 100,000 and again 100 years later, the same combination of fire and shock by Mongols against the declining Jin at Hu Pu Da Gang. The battle procedure favored by the Mongols was therefore long tried and proven. It was Genghis that adopted their tactics, not his invention in anyway. Saying that the Mongols revolutionized tactic is ridiculous, the only difference between the Mongol and Jurchen seems to be that the Mongols relied some more on light cavalry while the Jurchen had a more emphasize on the heavy cavalry in which they developed the Tie Fuo Tuo: A heavy cavalry that has two layer of armour and is virtually invulnerable to any missile. The Jin army that fought the Mongol was a completely different army that has more infantry than cavalry and years of peace has already depleted their efficiency. The mongols in their later days were the same and thats why they were easily defeated in battle by Ming losing over 80,000 troops. The reason that mongols conquered further other than geographical factors was because of their vast supply of horses which neither the Jurchens nor the Qitans have, so eventually the Jin and Liao had to incorporate large infantry into their army for numbers. And since both the Jin and Liao are not purelly nomadic and they had already had long experience of Chinese influence, their conquest was directly followed by consolidation and administration, and the long years of peace eventually depleted their army efficiency. The same thing happened to the Yuan so their is nothing special about the Mongols in this respect.

To quote Smith: ‘Most of the methods employed by the Mongols in war were not new … Mongol warfare was distinguished not so much by its skill and aptitudes as by its scale and persistence. The size of Mongol armies has not been appreciated … The Mongol conquests were the product of the irresistible combination of skill and numbers.’ Numbers that would not have been available for a sustained campaign in Western Europe for want of suitable grazing land, unless they forsook the mobility that was the real secret of their success, and became a plodding infantry force with an agrarian logistical base, much like any other. What I’m presenting is factual evidence on their methods, planning, logistics and tactics in times of conquest and then projecting those onto the European landscape, as I'm sure the Mongols did too. The inevitable conclusions that we must draw is that the style the Mongols chose to employ simply was unsuitable to the European theatre. The problem is that the Western military system of successive sieges and close-quarter skirmishing with heavy arms that the Mongols or Tatars would need to have adapted themselves to was itself ill-suited to a large-scale campaign of conquest, unless they became infantry and changed drastically. And by so doing they would give up their single greatest advantage, their mobility, and become just another sedentary army on the fringe of Eastern Europe, like other domesticated nomads before them, forced to fight (indifferently) on foot west of the Carpathians. Also It must also be said that the European military castes devoted their entire lives to training and accummulating all the necessary accoutrements for war, which in this period was becoming increasingly professionalized, more so, in fact, than among the nomads. And one could easily argue, as does the Flemish historian Jan Frans Verbruggen, that it was not the nomads but the sedentary peoples who had demonstrated the greater capacity for tactical innovation: The Frankish warriors fighting as heavy cavalry were at first vassals, then knights, and finally nobles. They used original tactics, hoping that a single powerful assault would achieve a breakthrough of the enemy lines. This differed completely from the age-old method of Oriental and African light cavalry. Up to the end of the Middle Ages there was a constant process of evolution in the West, in which armour, weapons and equipment became increasingly heavy, requiring tall, heavy and powerful horses. This was a function of the perpetual competition between offensive weapons and defensive equipment, in which the knights showed that they were able to adapt their tactics to their opponents, in the Holy Land against the Moslems, and in the West against foot-soldiers

Ok next up, Mongolian strategy. This is very effective, they would offer a city surrender or total annihilation. If the city surrendered, they were left alone and forced to pay tribute, but that's the better alternative to the Mongolians sacking your city and killing everyone in it. It took a few sackings, but people finally got the idea. Mongols would let a few survivors escape to spread the news. Terror tactics worked well for the Mongols, and it would especially well in Europe, especially with feudalism.

I'm sorry, I cannot think that this tactic would have worked as well on a castle filled with professional warriors as on one controlled by merchants and craftsmen and their families

I highly doubt the patriotic peasants would rise up against the Mongols while their lieges sat in castles.

Why? Do you think the peasants would want to trade one master over another one (especially a foreign one that is claim to be and agent of the devil, hence the name Tatar) So what makes you think the Europeans would ally with the Aliens they considered as being inferior and barbaric?

Even if the pesants were to all go to castles, there wouldn't be enough room, they'd starve sooner, and disease would set in. I'd also like to point out that perhaps another reason the Mongols slaughtered people was that they knew they'd be deep in enemy territory and didn't want to leave anyone to attack their flank.

Again, the main population would not hole up in the castles (there are plenty of woods and high mountains west and north of the Hungarian plain to hide in), castles are military strongpoints. And if I’m not mistaken, King Bela collected something like sixty-five thousand men out of a total population of scarcely a million, and manage to placed them in castles for until the Mongols abandoned their expedition.

Now for my next point, European alliances. Europeans would unite? HA. That's a laughable notion. Well they would, if the Pope called for a Crusade. How long do you think the unity would last, and how long do you think the Muslims would wait before the Europeans are off on their crusade with the Mongols before striking?

Don’t be an idiot. Atleast provide some facts than just coming up with some wild assumptions.

Also about grazing. The Mongolians live in the steppes. It's a harsh and inhospitable place. Not to mention its semi-desert. Also about grazing. The Mongolians live in the steppes. It's a harsh and inhospitable place. Not to mention its semi-desert. Previously mentioned was the landscape of Southern China, with the hills and swamps and everything. People seem to think hills in China are vastly different than hills in Europe. The Mongols have already proven that they can fight and win in terrain unsuitable for cavalry.

Desert is only a relative term; the region as a whole was relatively fertile, marginal grassland, and even the arid waste region of the Gobi Desert isn’t so much desert proper as poor steppeland. And since the Gobi Desert covers 375,000 square miles of pasture, it is more than twice the total for Western Europe (and its not it’s not broken up into little village lots between great expanses of woodland). So it would be far easier to feed a vast horse herd in the Steppes than in Western Europe. No sensible military comparison can be drawn between a steppe empire in Inner Asia and Europe. At least with China and Persia, the Mongols were surrounded by ideal grazing lands. Yet despite have repeated this several times, and provided you with numbers; you and other pro-Mongol advocates provide us only with baseless arguments. And the numbers are based on actual measurements of total land areas which are pasturable. What is wrong with that? And since you refuse to look at my statistics then I suggest you take a look at Sinor’s: Bela's army is estimated to have been 65,000 strong, and it is reasonable to reckon that the Mongol center, opposing and defeating it, numbered at least as many. At a very conservative estimate one can set the strength of the Mongol invading forces between 105,000 and 150,000 men, a figure much lower than any of those appearing in our sources. The military strength of the great nomad empires, and that of the Mongols in particular, rested on their cavalry and on a virtually inexhaustible supply of horses. According to Plano Carpini, the Mongols "have so many horses and mares that I do not believe there are so many in all the rest of the world."36 There is evidence that each warrior had at least three or four horses, but Marco Polo spoke of about eighteen mounts for each man! Taking into consideration the losses suffered by the Mongols we may count with, say 100,000 men occupying Hungary who would then need, on a conservative estimate at least some 400,000 horses. It has been suggested that about 42,000 sq. kilometers (10,378,425 acres) can or could be used as grazing land. Estimates of grazing or carrying capacity of ranges vary widely but on the assumption that at that time about 25 acres were needed to support one horse for one year, the carrying capacity of the Hungarian range must be set at 415,136 animal units. On the completely unrealistic condition that no other animals were using these pastures, and counting five horses per Mongol horseman, the Hungarian range could provide for the mounts of 83,027 warriors, clearly far below the strength of the Mongol army. The Mongol high command found itself in a position similar to that of a commander of a modern armored division running short of fuel. Further advance to the west, into Transdanubia, would have made matters worse. It was the habit of the Mongols to stop fighting in the spring and let their horses go free to water and graze, and to multiply, so that they would be ready for war in the autumn. This is the reason why in the spring of 1242 the Mongols withdrew from devastated, overgrazed Hungary to the abundant pastures of the steppe, where they could replenish and strengthen their herds, on which their military power rested.37 What he’ saying is that the the amount of horses they brought with them were unsustainable in western Europe. Even in Hungary, were pasturage was abundand compared to west Europe, grazing lands were ill-equipped to handle 0.5 to 1 million Mongolian horses (at least) in addition to its own grazing animals. And to quote Smith again: ‘The Mongols in Syria carefully took into account both the resources of the country and, after their initial miscalculation in 1260, the military capabilities of their enemies. But despite their care, the Mongols could not — as long as they relied on the horses and methods of nomadism — reconcile the conflicting demands of logistic dispersal and movement with strategic concentration and tactical positioning. Any forces that were small enough to be concentrated amid adequate pasture and water were not large enough to take on the Mamluks.’

BOTP
Feb 12, 2005, 03:51 PM
Also previously mentioned that the territory the Mongols conquered in China is more vast than Europe

The difference with China is that a Mongol presence just couldn’t be sustained on the pastoral resources of the West. The ability to mobilize vast numbers was a key Mongol asset. Contrary to popular myth, their military manpower — once their nomad and non-nomad allies are included in a proper assessment of their strength — usually approximated or exceeded their adversaries, so their dreadful conquests were a triumph of quantity as well as quality. Even the Eastern European pasturage represents only a small fraction of that available in China, where it was actually contained within or contiguous with the strategic theater, and given the size of the army herd the conversion of forage resources to dry feed for cartage to the West was a logistical impossibility. Furthermore, compared with Northern China, the sedentary societies of Eastern Europe were too small and underdeveloped for the recruitment of sufficient auxiliaries to support the invasion of the West. For the Mongols these two deficiencies would have been crippling and indicate why Europe was beyond their grasp.

Chinese cities ARE fortresses. European castles are not cities.

Have you’ve been to Europe? A fifth of the population on the North Italian Plain lived in walled cities defended by communal armies, totaling at least sixty thousand infantry and armored cavalry, troops whose discipline was famous. Not every city was walled of course, cause they didn’t need to be; because the invaders had to deal with countryside and rural regions (where the miles of stone castles were).

There is also the notion that the Chinese were idiots and built their castles in idiotic places. Misconception! The Chinese aren't stupid, they know where the defensible positions are. You can have 234520375 castles in Europe, but does it matter? The Mongols didn't need to conquer all the castles to conquer the countryside. It's like island-hopping in WW2. Take only the important ones, leave the rest. Mongols were NOT hopeless at blocking waterways. Look at Chinese castles. A lot of them are on the water.

Why compare an open sea where there is unlimited space to manuever, to a place full of forests and rivers where there is far less space to manuever (atleat by Mongol standards. And you seem to forget that the fortresses in China were far less centralized than say in Europe. That meant the Mongols only needed to take one fortress to seize an entire region, which is why they bypassed several minor strongholds. Europe on the other hand, would have required many medium incursions against countless fortifications, while the threat of insurgence and reinforcements always seemed to loom from every direction. The point is that the Europeans had far too many fortresses to bypass and not enough large central targets that would deal them a decisive blow if conquered.

Most importantly of all, they DID conquer the most advanced civilizations of the world (Chinese and Muslims).

None of the nations subdued by the Mongols was particularly strong at the time. All were involved in bitter rivalries, some were severely fragmented. Moreover, none was strong enough either economically or militarily to defend itself against a foreign invasion. The Mongols, while not a particularly powerful force, conquered these frail states by carefully projecting their relatively limited power against the weakest spots in the enemy's line of defense. It was an excellent strategy by all means, entirely comparable to Napoleon or the German blitzkrieg. But just like these two more modern examples, it could not make up entirely for the fundamental weakness of the Mongols themselves. Against strong enemies it just couldn't work.

If you think the Mongols would have been soundly defeated by the mighty feudal armies of Europe, you're sadly mistaken.

No one is saying that Europeans would’ve defeated the Mongols with ease, we’re just saying their invasion plans, no matter how ambitious or carefully planned, could not succeed. Given the fundamental logistical inaptness between the two diverse opponents and their respective systems of warfare, nomadic and sedentary, the only reasonable conclusion is that Europe could never have been infiltrated by the Mongols, much less overrun. No large army of steppe horsemen which lacked siege equipment and the logistical ability, stood any chance of operating there on a prolonged campaign.

blackheart
Feb 12, 2005, 04:34 PM
First off, thanks for calling me an idiot BOTP.

You say that Europe can't be defeated by horsemen, weren't the Romans defeated by the Huns?

As for the terror tactics, you're forgetting that the Chinese and Muslims had professional soldiers. Tons of them, and they were scared enough to have fecal matter spill all over too. As for the name, I think it was some guy from Poland or something that said mistook them and called them Tartars, instead of Mongols. Mongols were religiously tolerant, and it is believed that they were leaning towards an easter version of Christianity.

And you can't just dismiss their invasion as impossible, mainly because it didn't happen and history is full of twists and turns.

BOTP
Feb 12, 2005, 05:23 PM
First off, thanks for calling me an idiot BOTP.

Your welcome. After reading your comments, you certainly deserved tp be called one. :p

You say that Europe can't be defeated by horsemen, weren't the Romans defeated by the Huns?

What on earth are you talking about? The Huns were actually defeated by the alliance of Romans, Gauls, and Goths at Chalons! Intrestingly enough, the Huns (a largely Nomadic Steppe-like) encountered the same problems in France as the Mongols would have likely encountered in Europe. There has been some indication that the Huns were seriously hampered by the lack of grazing, which may well have undermined their mobility. This was even more apparent on the subsequent push towards Rome. The Hunnish army got bogged down in the swamps on the Po plain, decimated by disease and forced to return without accomplishing the goal, ending their campaign catastrophically.

As for the terror tactics, you're forgetting that the Chinese and Muslims had professional soldiers. Tons of them, and they were scared enough to have fecal matter spill all over too.

If I’m not mistaken; the majority of Chinese armies defening fortresses, while certainly containing a number of proffesional/elite soldiers (far from a ton) were armed merchantmen and levies, who also kept family members with them as well. And I seriously doubt the Europeans would be as intimidated into surrender so easily. Take for instance, the castle at Legnica. "Then, impaling Prince Henry's head on a long lance, they [the Mongols] approach the castle at Legnica ... and display it for those inside to see, calling upon them ... to open the gates. The defenders refuse, telling them that they have several other dukes, sons of good duke Henry, besides Henry." This demonstrates that the Mongol strategy of intimidation didn't work particularly well in Europe.

Mongols were religiously tolerant

To some extent yes, but I don’t think that would make much a difference to the Europeans. Afterall, the contemporary Europeans generally viewed themselves as free men and were very proud about it. Serfdom does not necessarily equal slavery, and it was gradually decreasing practice (though it was still prevalent in Easter Europe). In fact, many European observers were appalled at the lack of personal freedom under the Mongol rule, stressing their own independence.

you can't just dismiss their invasion as impossible

If there is a substantial amount of evidence to support my claims, than yes, I can reasonable call it impossible. Given Western Europe’s difficult geography, its political decentralization, its agriculture-based logistics favoring infantry, and the overwhelming medieval concentration on technologies of fortification, the defender had every advantage, to the extent that the Europe was probably unconquerable, even by Western methods.

blackheart
Feb 12, 2005, 06:39 PM
If there is a substantial amount of evidence to support my claims, than yes, I can reasonable call it impossible. Given Western Europe’s difficult geography, its political decentralization, its agriculture-based logistics favoring infantry, and the overwhelming medieval concentration on technologies of fortification, the defender had every advantage, to the extent that the Europe was probably unconquerable, even by Western methods.

Exactly, western methods. Europeans, at this time, had never faced Mongolians, nor have they faced Chinese rocketry and gunpowder. The defenders have the advantage of castles, which are confined and closed spaces, so they also have the disadvantage of disease. Warfare in this era take less tolls than the diseases that resulted from war.

You make it as if the Europeans were light years ahead of the Muslims and Chinese in war and fortification technology. Given that Mongols used soldiers from those who they conquered, I think there's always the possibility they would have brought in Chinese or Arabic troops to do some of the fighting for them. They might have also used conquered Europeans as cannon fodder.

Your welcome. After reading your comments, you certainly deserved tp be called one.

Good job on typoing and calling someone else dumb :lol: :p

BOTP
Feb 12, 2005, 07:17 PM
Exactly, western methods. Europeans, at this time, had never faced Mongolians

Incorrect, the Europeans have had a fair amount of experience with similar nomadic opponents (i.e. Saracens, Parthians, Huns, Avars, Moors, ect.). Like I mentioned before, they already were ideal counter-measures - the tactics developed to deal with Eastern horse archers over centuries. The Carolingians and Eastern Europeans learned about them when fighting the Avars, Lombards and Byzantines. The Germans also picked up some experience the Magyars. A fair number of European mercenaries served in the Byzantine and Muslim armies (in Spain or the Middle East). Even if we leave the Avars and Magyars aside, Western Europeans had been fighting horse archers in the Crusades for nearly 150 years - and that was before Batu's raid. Even the Pope had a fair number of people at his court well versed in Eastern warfare, especially Friar John of Plano Carpini, who had plenty of opportunities to observe Mongol military practices, since he was part of the first Papal mission to Karakorum, in 1245-1247. Louis IX of France had ample opportunity to experience the effects of a military system inherently similar to that of the Mongols during his active stay in Egypt. He apparently had particular extensive knowledge of Saracen warfare. Preparations for the Louis' two crusades were very serious and display an in-depth familiarity with the Eastern military system. Added to this one can look at the pattern of Mongol raids into central Europe during the rest of the high Middle Ages and late middle ages; hardly a string of successes. The Lithuanians especially made good use of their terrain to neutralize the raids, and launched an impressive numbers of raids into Russian Mongol dependencies that were met with little response. So since the Europeans had some experience fighting predominately nomadic armies, it's fair to expect that they could develop effective countermeasures against a hypothetical Mongol invasion relatively quickly. But the latter on the other hand had no previous experience with anything resembling the European feudalism.

nor have they faced Chinese rocketry and gunpowder.

Having gunpowder doesn't mean that they've invented cannons or guns just yet. And as I've mentioned before (it appears that you have not looked at the prevoious pages, or you refuse to acknowlege them), they couldn't have transported any such specialized weapons, and any use of primitive cannons was used primarily of psychological weapon.

The defenders have the advantage of castles, which are confined and closed spaces, so they also have the disadvantage of disease. Warfare in this era take less tolls than the diseases that resulted from war.

The Mongols were just as vurnerable to disease as were the defenders. Even if they risk exposure to disease, they are still in a far better position than the besieger. Divided, in hostile terrain, without adequate fodder for their horses, and stuck between a castle wall and an fresh host, they would be much, much, weaker.

You make it as if the Europeans were light years ahead of the Muslims and Chinese in war and fortification technology.

The Europeans had learned much during the Crusades, in regards to both siege warfare and fortification. The Crusades added further stimulus, not just because the Europeans learned more about the advanced Byzantine and Arab military architecture but also thanks to the thriving economy. It is simple; European castles sport the kind of technical and engineering ingenuity that cannot be underestimated. The terrain and the presence of plethora of fortified points in Europe would've meant that battles would be meaningless as whole, much as most medieval to 18th century battles were in Europe.

Good job on typoing and calling someone else dumb :lol: :p

Just like other blind Mongol-Advocates, you’ve been clutching at straws, and now the horses have eaten the last of them, turned tail and ridden home. You would do well to take that hint — from the horse’s mouth, no less!

Jeff Yu
Feb 13, 2005, 11:46 PM
No, I haven't overlooked that at all - what bothers me is that the conclusions which you've drawn from that statement are highly self-contradictory. On the one hand, you're trying to convince me that Batu's raid was a consolidation effort trying to secure a base of operations for further expeditions; yet on the other hand you state that the Mongols were not intrested at all in conquering Europe.

How hard is it to understand a relatively simple idea? The Mongols invaded Europe, didn't devote a lot of men to it, and then they had to go back not because of losses but to elect a new Khan, they didn't bother trying again because they didn't think it was worth it, instead devoting the bulk of their forces to the Persian and Chinese campaigns because those lands were more valuable. :wallbash:


Either way, you've failed to present a single believable explanation for that 8-month delay in Hungary. :wallbash: Yes I did. You're deliberately feigning ignorance here. There WASNT a 8-month delay in Hungary. They KEPT GOING, and they took more cities after that, and fortified ones as well. The captured the capital at Pest, and went on to defeat more armies, and take more cities. And then, following typical Mongol pattern, they fed their horses during the summer, and then prepared for a winter invasion, waiting for the Danube to freeze over so they could cross. And they DID CROSS the Danube.



Most certainly, but how does that prove your argument? During the middle ages, Eastern Europe was a specific entity that differed in numerous respects from Western Europe. It's no surprise that Western Europe didn't feel obliged to assist the Poles and Hungarians.


That's exactly my point. The main division in Europe was between Eastern/Western Europe, but between Catholic/Orthodox Christianity. Yet even within the Catholics, the countries hated each other. The French hated the Germans and the English. The Italian city states hated each other and certainly didn't unite, and certainly not with the HRE, which was busy invading them. No one in Europe would feel obliged to help the HRE, and then no one would help France.




No; this is incorrect. Marco Polo observed strings of horses containing as many as eighteen remounts per man. We also need to take more than the pasture for the giant horse herds into account. Rotational grazing was the basis for nomadism and standard practice on the steppes, because there was much greater freedom of movement there than in the densely wooded and mountainous terrain of Middle Europe. And in case you haven't yet noticed, there was a lot more grass in Russia, and as we’ve seen, the Mongols dragged along their own sheep to eat as well. The Mongol troops were fed by great flocks of sheep which accompanied their armies. D. O. Morgan, for example, in ‘The Mongol Armies in Persia’, Der Islam , cites a text from Iran assigning each campaigning Mongol 5 horses and 30 sheep, i.e. an ecological weight of 55 sheep equivalents (s.e.) per man.


Where does this show that the Mongols have huge supply lines of wagons bringing in grain? That didn't happen. The Mongols simply brought in new and fattened horses to serve as new remounts.



Do you never read what’s been posted? Yes, a part of the Gobi desert is waterless and resembles a barren wasteland, but it is only a small part of the gobi desert, while the rest of the gobi desert provides three times more pasture lands than anything in Europe (excluding Hungary). Ttaken as a whole the Gobi Desert affords excellent pasture, the annual rainfall in the north-west averaging 10 to 20 inches. While far short of the 40 to 50 inches in Austria, when it comes to pasture quality, moisture often comes at the expense of nutritional content. To quote R. L. Dalrymple and C. A. Griffith: ‘Horses can be malnourished in deep, green forage. Extremely lush pastures containing over 85 percent water can be too wet and too low in fibre for good nutritional intake ... The horse simply has to intake too much water to get needed nutrition.’ Inane blather about a European buffet only shows the most appalling ignorance of logistics and basic horse needs, since the key issue wasn’t the quality of grass, but quantity, and horses don’t live by licking tree-bark.


Geography lesson here:

The land area of Poland + Lithuania is over a million square kilometers, all of which the Mongols controlled. That's a million square kilometers of grassland, while the entire North China Plain is about 300,000 square kilometers. Paris is a mere week's days ride away from Poland, while Southern China was over a months ride away from the steppes, and the Mongols campaigned in areas well over 20 days ride from the North China plain, which itself was smaller than the Polish plain, without even offering consideration of the the great Hungarian, Moravian, or North German plains. I've pointed out repeatedly that the entirety of Poland is grassland, which you've conveniently ignored. It takes the Mongols only a WEEK to get a horde of freshly fattened horses from the steppes. Northern Germany certainly isn't a wasteland by any means, and most of France is rolling grassland as well.

In the areas of Europe grass is far more plentiful, and grows in far better soil than the barren Mongolian soil. The Mongolian horses themselves, native to Siberia, can surivive winters on lichen! They eat tree leaves and shrubs when needed, and can certainly survive on forage after being fattened over a summer by the Mongols, especially in the grasslands and forests of Europe, which provide far better pasture than Persia and the Middle East. Not to mention that during their Burman and Southern Chinese campaigns, they solved FAR greater logistical challenges supplying their hundred-thousand-man armies with food, fodder, and horses thousands of miles away from the nearest grassland.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v245/yuje/Mongolia.jpg
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v245/yuje/France.jpg
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v245/yuje/Germany.jpg
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v245/yuje/central.jpg


Yes they were smaller and to some degree more durible, but also more specifically predisposed to eating only grass. Today's modern breeds (non-Mongolian horses) often eat hay and other specialized feed, but the Mongolians rode a very specialized type of horse that only feeds on grass.

Yet more factual inaccuracies of yours. Mongolian horses can survive winters eating lichen, and subsist on pretty much anything remotely green in order to weather through the harsh Siberian winters.

Your record so far on facts has been atrocious:
-China not militarily strong: What other country in the world fielded two-million man armies?
-Chinese proximity to the steppe: China is farther from the steppe than western Europe!
-Hungarians unable to subdue major strongholds after Mohi: Yes they did! Pest and Gran were both heavily fortified cities
-Mongolians not being able to cross the Carpathian mountains: That was their MAIN invasion route into Hungary!
-Balkans impassable to Mongols: Kadan's forces rode wild through the Balkans and devastated the countryside
-Mongol tactics being same as earlier steppe peoples: The stupidity of this statement speaks for itself
-Europe being more advanced in metal-working: Numbers prove you wrong again here
-Europe being an important manpower resevoir conquer-LOL!!!
-France being able to field million-man armies and having the best military in Europe: LOL!! Louis IX had at best a few thousand knights. (Cecilia Holland, The Death That Saved Europe)
-Eight months of Mongol inactivity after Mohi: This "inactivity" was non-existent, the Mongols were busy consolidating teh countryside, taking castles, and capturing major cities
-Mongol defeats in Korea, South India, and Vietnam: Where were the Mongols actually in South India? How does a naval defeat in Vietnam have any bearing on land battles? The Mongols conquered Korea. Such ignorance..........



Also, the Mongols, despite their cruelty, weren't some sort of all-consuming zombie horde; even in the most devastated territories most of the population survived; the plans for depopulating northern china (which might have been a later Chinese invention intended to demonstrate the guile of Genghis’s Chinese advisors against their barbaric overlord) involved forcing the peasants to move southwards (similar to Shaka Zulu’s Mfecane), not a complete massacre of all Chinese civilians, which would have been practically impossible.

No, they actually did systematically massacre the Chinese civilians. The estimate of 40 million Chinese killed was Kublai's own numbers, not the Chinese. 40% of the population of China was killed, and perhaps 50% the population of Hungary, so technically you're right in that "most" population wasn't killed, but they certainly did kill everyone, as part of their strategy. As an outnumbered steppe people, killing everyone ensured they wouldn't rebuild to rise up again. But the evidence of the massacres are solidly there, from the Muslim, Chinese, Persian, Turkish, Christian, and Mongol records themselves. When the prince Tuli heard rumors that some survived by hiding among piled corpses, he ordered every body in the city of Nishapur to have their heads cut off, and estimates put the number of dead at Nishapur to 1.75 million.



The Mongols were just as vurnerable to disease as were the defenders. Even if they risk exposure to disease, they are still in a far better position than the besieger. Divided, in hostile terrain, without adequate fodder for their horses, and stuck between a castle wall and an fresh host, they would be much, much, weaker.


:lol: The Mongols were the ones who spread the Black Death to Europe, wiping out a third of their population. The defenders would be packed in a crowded city flooded with refugees, and bombarded with plague victims. The Mongols already had a degree of resistance to plague, plus their nomadic lifestyle made them less vulnerable to it. Cities would be festering deathtraps.

Jeff Yu
Feb 14, 2005, 12:00 AM
but when is your book getting its information from (eg; what date?)

The book describes the period of Ghengis Khan. before his conquests of the Jurchens.

Xen
Feb 14, 2005, 02:42 PM
That's exactly my point. The main division in Europe was between Eastern/Western Europe, but between Catholic/Orthodox Christianity. Yet even within the Catholics, the countries hated each other. The French hated the Germans and the English. The Italian city states hated each other and certainly didn't unite, and certainly not with the HRE, which was busy invading them. No one in Europe would feel obliged to help the HRE, and then no one would help France.


this particule rpoint I do know a great deal about, and can say with certianinty, you have no argument; you want co-operation of the region of europe that most distruted itself; look, as you said, to italy, when Barbarossa- much touted as th egreatest marchal of german medieval history attempted to Ivande, the league of lomabrdy- filled with cities that woudl otherwise be at eachother throatsm competing for land, trade routes, and influence, banded together, and sent him packing.

when faced with soem one as "distasteful" as the mongols woudl have been, and as large a threat, the precedent is certianlly thier to speculate on inter-kingdom co-operation, and suppoirt for thier mutual defence, in an effecitve, co-ordininated manner

Xen
Feb 14, 2005, 02:49 PM
that said, I think you underestimate the the amount of fortifacations in europe DRASTICALLY

In Tuscany alone, a nice sized region in italy, but on the whole, miniscule; comparable with somthign on part with the size of counties in the states, thier are 173 castles

this link is my varifcation; http://www.castellitoscani.com/

this map is to show you how small an area that is-

http://www.welcometuscany.it/images/immagini/italia.jpg

http://www.hotpeachpages.net/images/Europe.gif

blackheart
Feb 14, 2005, 03:12 PM
Ditto to Jeff Yu :). I tire of repeating the same facts that others have already repeated.

Xen, you realize those castles mean nothing when they can just be sieged and be ridden with disease?

Xen
Feb 14, 2005, 03:29 PM
Ditto to Jeff Yu :). I tire of repeating the same facts that others have already repeated.
regardless, BOTP has soem major points which no one had dismissed


Xen, you realize those castles mean nothing when they can just be sieged and be ridden with disease?

the sheer quantity of them always counts for somthing- areas of Italy, such as for example, Milan, perhaps you need to be remined, didnt suffer as most other areas during the plagues, (unlike the english, and soem french communties, Italians knew how to keep clean, and other area sof souther europe- take spain- were for the most part "sparred" if such a word can be used- in fact, two of the greatest centers of medieval europe- Milan, and Nuremberg diidnt suffer much at all

blackheart
Feb 14, 2005, 06:58 PM
regardless, BOTP has soem major points which no one had dismissed

the sheer quantity of them always counts for somthing- areas of Italy, such as for example, Milan, perhaps you need to be remined, didnt suffer as most other areas during the plagues, (unlike the english, and soem french communties, Italians knew how to keep clean, and other area sof souther europe- take spain- were for the most part "sparred" if such a word can be used- in fact, two of the greatest centers of medieval europe- Milan, and Nuremberg diidnt suffer much at all

I saw pictures of those castles. They weren't very big (compared to Chinese fortresses) and the Mongolians already had the technology and capabilities to bring them down. So I doubt they would have posed much resistance, except for slowing down the Mongolians.

As for the disease, doesn't matter if the Italians knew how to keep clean. Being cooped up in a dirty stone castle with a few hundred other people and no running water is going to cause disease.

Xen
Feb 14, 2005, 08:46 PM
I saw pictures of those castles. They weren't very big (compared to Chinese fortresses) and the Mongolians already had the technology and capabilities to bring them down. So I doubt they would have posed much resistance, except for slowing down the Mongolians.

As for the disease, doesn't matter if the Italians knew how to keep clean. Being cooped up in a dirty stone castle with a few hundred other people and no running water is going to cause disease.

1)you dont seem to understand- dosent matter if the castles are big; thier are alot of them, in high concetrations; perhaps the ramifacations shoudl be cleared up

A)obviouslly enough, the presence of so many fortresses in such a small area ensures that the area is not going to fall quicklly, no matter who you are, or what army your leading- if such territories surrenderd to neither holy papal authority, nor German pressue, its naive to think they would surrender to a bunch of, in thier veiw unknown, if dangeours barbarians, and lose any honour and prestige thier familly names carry- pride, as we all know, is a powerful motivator, particuler in middle age europe

B)Attrition rates fo rth emongols are goign to be appaling- even if soem castles do surrendu, the vast maount are going to stay with the cause, and we all know that; dosent matter if the mongols have a grand army- layign siege to every castle that dosetn surrendr is goign to take time, and is going to rack up casulties- considering most of the Italian country side alone has more castles, as Tuscany was, as far as italy went, a relitivlly peaceful area, your talkign about a lot of dead mongols

C)seiges take time; th emongol cant afford to let enemy bastions stay uncoqnoured, even if they are operating on a limited timeframe; every bastion that survies is more troops, and more chances for the enemy to cause more casulties, disrupt communication, in augment a force that even if it losses, is still goign to inflict casulties

D)the more tiem taken, the more tiem that areas not yet conqoured by the mongosl have to plan, prepare, arm, and stratigize; no matter what, the mongols have to take those castles, and they are forces to do it slowlly; if they attmepted to split up, they coudlnt exersize the advatage they had when all thier forces acted in concert; in fact, split up, they were at a distinct disadvatage, just fromt he possibility of being overwhelmed; small goups of hundred dont ifigth nearlyl as well when when being out numberd as thousands do when being out numbered

E) you seem to naivlly think that the europeans are going to cram every depraved, poor, disease ridden soul in thier primary fortreeses- the truth was not nearlly so warm; the castlkes were mor elikelly to throw any disease ridden people over the wall, and back at the enemy then keep them thier, and they certianlyl didnt accept refugees, unless they had soem sort of poltical, or military significance- this was an age when lepers were still sent to private grottos to live amougn thier own kind, thinkign that they woudl take int he sick, weary or homeless is foolish- damned crule if you ask me, but then, considerign the alterntive of the times, as well as the mind set, oen can understand why they did it. it just happens that unless th emongosl take the tiem to preapre a seige, and introduce disease, its not that likelly to get introduced into the castles; as stated before, the sheer number of castles agiast them make ssure that time is a commodity the mongol dont have in western europe, which, while no comparison to china, was still well populated; far more so then eastern europe, and far more prepared, both materially, and morael wise, to put up far lasting resistence.

if only half the regions of europe were only half as well defended as Tuscany was in those eras, the mongosl would still wear themselves out due to sheer attrition before even reachign tuscany, unless they wished to cut off thier own communication lines, and lines of re-inforcement, and get themselves stuckl int he middel of western europe, still dyeing a slow fate of attrition.

Zardnaar
Feb 16, 2005, 03:41 AM
I think western Europe could have been overun by the Mongols if they tried 100% to capture it. However the Mongols were overextended and one could argue in decline already. The Mongols could have handled the logistics IMHO but eastern Europe was at the extreme ends of their empire- 3 years travel from China? The Mongols didn't have the manpower or the will due to the sheer size of their empire. Also I think some of the gunpowder claims have been silly along with some of the numbers involved.

FriendlyFire
Feb 17, 2005, 11:59 PM
None of the nations subdued by the Mongols was particularly strong at the time. All were involved in bitter rivalries, some were severely fragmented. Moreover, none was strong enough either economically or militarily to defend itself against a foreign invasion. The Mongols, while not a particularly powerful force, conquered these frail states by carefully projecting their relatively limited power against the weakest spots in the enemy's line of defense. It was an excellent strategy by all means, entirely comparable to Napoleon or the German blitzkrieg. But just like these two more modern examples, it could not make up entirely for the fundamental weakness of the Mongols themselves. Against strong enemies it just couldn't work.

The otterman empire which was tearing into Balkans would not be considered Strong ???

Remeber the Mongolian empire was broken into four distinct parts after the death of Gengish Khan. Only two of these were directed at Europe Both these armies had different charatoristics and order of battle.

FriendlyFire
Feb 18, 2005, 12:11 AM
Exactly, western methods. Europeans, at this time, had never faced Mongolians, nor have they faced Chinese rocketry and gunpowder. The defenders have the advantage of castles, which are confined and closed spaces, so they also have the disadvantage of disease. Warfare in this era take less tolls than the diseases that resulted from war.

To my understanding Specilist Chinese engineers and pyrotechnics never made it as far as Europe. Chinese enginneers were prodominate in Russia, in breaching there castles and foftifications. It was predomominetly turkish enginneers which were drawn up for use at this time.

I'll point out once again the Mongols had by this time more or less assimilated Chinese Siege technics. Including sapping, earth works, seige towers, rams, mangadels.

Point: A simple example would be fortress capitol SAMAKAND which fell to the mongols in a 10 days.

Princeps
Feb 18, 2005, 06:48 AM
Plan?

hmm... Kill, kill, rape, kill, rape, pillage, drink, enjoy, destroy... :D

All I know is that the mongols could have easly fought their way to the cadiz, if they would have had the will to do it...

Xen
Feb 18, 2005, 08:45 AM
Plan?

hmm... Kill, kill, rape, kill, rape, pillage, drink, enjoy, destroy... :D

All I know is that the mongols could have easly fought their way to the cadiz, if they would have had the will to do it...

such an ignorant comment. you coudl at least READ the rest of the thread befor posting inanane dribble.

Princeps
Feb 18, 2005, 03:24 PM
such an ignorant comment. you coudl at least READ the rest of the thread befor posting inanane dribble.

Man, calm down it was just a joke...

And, what I meant was that the mongols could have migrated all the way to cadiz, but dissapperen probaly the same way as the huns did...

Xen
Feb 18, 2005, 05:23 PM
Man, calm down it was just a joke...

And, what I meant was that the mongols could have migrated all the way to cadiz, but dissapperen probaly the same way as the huns did...

A)well, it didnt seem liek a joke, just an ignorent commented that took a giant leek on every one; anti-mogol, and pro-mongols various arguments, and debates alike.

B)the huns did no such thing; the Romans, remakrabley, were able to pull a last great rally of an actual Roman army, and turn back the huns; after which the huins, desperate, tried to invade italy, to be stemmed by disease; after which, Attilla died, and the huns never again became a problem, as they were confined more of less, to the southern Germany and Hunagry areas, accross the Danube river- the never made it close to spain

Toteone
Oct 28, 2005, 04:04 PM
I think naziassbandit's comment while one of the less educating posts and not exquisite in history (I agree with him on Cadiz though) it was the only post that made me chuckle.

*BUMP*

I got here by a sig., a sig. that said the Mongols could never have done it.
Doesn't seem to have been a conclusive discussion though... or?

Princeps
Oct 28, 2005, 05:38 PM
I think naziassbandit's comment while one of the less educating posts and not exquisite in history (I agree with him on Cadiz though) it was the only post that made me chuckle.

After reading it myself, I was thinking... "what hell was I thinking?";)

Though, after reading what Xen commented, I knew that the Huns never went to Spain but their culture dissappeared, I thought it could have happened to teh Mongols aswell, however after studing the Mongols, I noticed that they were not really tribals but rather imperials.

Princeps
Oct 29, 2005, 12:38 PM
Anyway on the original topic. Mongols could have conquered Europe with ease. The Europeans were utterly defeated, European armies would not stand a chance. Mongol tactics, organization, intelligence operations and logisitics are incredibly effective. European medieval armies were semi-rabble warrior armies compared to the Mongols, their training was based on induvidual combat and there was little discipline and organization in European medieval armies. Also, European armies consisted of poorly trained and poorly disciplined peasantry levies and the small professional core was made of induvidal fighters not group based fighters. Knights were way too disorganized and over-eager. To defeat Knights Mongols would simply need to keep moving, the knight could not catch a light cavalry horse archer, who, while running, could simply shoot the knight down, if the knight was too heavily armoured, the horse archer could just shoot the horse. Mongol bows had longer range than any of the European bows.

The Mongol intelligence operations were so effective that the Mongols were only once ambushed, IIRC.
The Mongol armies could have blitzed through Europe unresisted, since there was no armies between the Mongols and France after the Hungarian-German-Polish defeats.

Xen
Oct 29, 2005, 12:49 PM
again, the above dosent bear fact; the Mongols hard ly "B;litzed" anywhere in europe, they were bogged down for YEARS in Korea, and the limited actions they took in what was by all means pitiful eastern europe still tooks months to acomplish; when you try to apply this to the logistical nightmare that is fully militarized society in western europe, where a region the size of many counties in the US can have 300 indipendent and fully operating castles, which unlike the great cities of the east, were chosen exculsivlly to be pains in the ass to assult, you have such a logistical nightmare thatthe reason why no one was able to conqoure huge swaths of europe after charlemagne becomes apperent; the logistics of it are just too damn hard; unless you have a clear path of allies, you can and will be outflanked, and your resources cut off. Its not a question of "If" its a question of "when" and considerign the nature of Mongol threat; a pagan society threating the Christian heartlands, its absurd to think that Mongosl woudl make any head way at all in western europe; the fact that Europe was compartivlly poor to the east is immaterial; because what wealth they did have was almost wholly devoted to combat- combat on the steppes, or in the desert is one thing, but in the Alps or Forests Germany is another thing entierlly.

Princeps
Oct 29, 2005, 02:34 PM
again, the above dosent bear fact; the Mongols hard ly "B;litzed" anywhere in europe, they were bogged down for YEARS in Korea, and the limited actions they took in what was by all means pitiful eastern europe still tooks months to acomplish; when you try to apply this to the logistical nightmare that is fully militarized society in western europe, where a region the size of many counties in the US can have 300 indipendent and fully operating castles, which unlike the great cities of the east, were chosen exculsivlly to be pains in the ass to assult, you have such a logistical nightmare thatthe reason why no one was able to conqoure huge swaths of europe after charlemagne becomes apperent; the logistics of it are just too damn hard; unless you have a clear path of allies, you can and will be outflanked, and your resources cut off. Its not a question of "If" its a question of "when" and considerign the nature of Mongol threat; a pagan society threating the Christian heartlands, its absurd to think that Mongosl woudl make any head way at all in western europe; the fact that Europe was compartivlly poor to the east is immaterial; because what wealth they did have was almost wholly devoted to combat- combat on the steppes, or in the desert is one thing, but in the Alps or Forests Germany is another thing entierlly.

You are forgetting the Mongol army didn't have supply lines in the same sense. The Mongols could initiate mobile raid with armies which were logisitically almost independant. The Mongol armies were size of 20 000 effective troops, such cavalry armies were very mobile.

Now, about castles. As I said, Mongol army had incredible intelligence operations, they knew what was in Europe. They would have known that they have these castles. Mongols could have stopped the castles from being made operational with their incredible mobility. If the Mongols would have started to invade Europe or parts of it, they would have been so mobile that none of the kingdoms from Poland to France could have raised anykind of army, before Mongols would be already sacking Paris.

They also were infamous when it came to sieges, otherwise they would have not built such empire.

Some claim that European enviroirment would have proved uh, bad for mongols. Well, no. Mongol bows did not suffer from the damb enviroirment like other composite bows. Mongols were enough organized, and capable in general to fight in mountains and forests even with horse archery.

However, they would have probably not used their own army to conquer Europe, probably first only to sack it. After all, the Mongols were pragmatic, they would bribed the European corrupted nobles to fight for the powerful, for them. The would have hired European mercenaries to keep order and so on.

EDIT: How's the weather in there?

Headline
Oct 30, 2005, 06:36 PM
Below is an exact account for the battle of Liegnitz


http://www.allempires.com/articles/liegnitz/liegnitz.htm


....On April 9, Prince Henry, in splendid armour, rides out from Legnica to do battle with the Tatars. As he rides past the Church of the Blessed Virgin, a stone falls from the roof narrowly missing his head. This is regarded as a divine warning or, at least, an ill omen. The Prince arrays his army on level ground near the River Nysa in four ranks: the first consists of crusaders and volunteers speaking several languages, and some gold miners from Zlotoryja; the second line is made up of knights from Cracow and Wielkopolska; the third of knights from Opole; the fourth of the Grand Master of the Prussian Knights with his brethren and other chivalry; while the fifth consists of Silesian and Wroclavian barons, the pick of the knights from Wielkopolska and Silesia and a small contingent of mercenaries, all under the command of Prince Henry himself. There are many Tatar units, each more numerous and more experienced in battle; indeed, each consists of more men than the combined Polish force. Battle is joined.

The Poles attack first and their initial charge breaks the first Tatar rank and moves forward, but, when the fighting becomes hand-to-hand, they are surrounded by Tatar archers, who prevent the others coming to their assistance. These then waver and finally fall beneath the hail of arrows, like delicate heads of corn broken by hail-stones, for many of them are wearing no armour, and the survivors retreat. Now two Polish ranks are fighting three Tatar units; indeed, have overcome them, for the Polish crossbowmen protect them from the Tatar archers, but then someone from the Tatar ranks starts running hither and thither between the two armies shouting "Run, run!" to the Poles and encouragement to the Tatars. The Duke of Opole, thinking the shouts come from a friend, not an enemy, withdraws his men. When Prince Henry sees what is happening, he laments aloud, but brings up his fourth rank, which contains the best of his troops and with them is on the point of overcoming the Tatars, when a fourth and even larger Tatar force under Batu comes up and fighting is resumed. The Tatars attack fiercely, but the Poles refuse to retreat, and for a while honours are even.

Among the Tatar standards is a huge one with a giant X painted on it. It is topped with an ugly black head with a chin covered with hair. As the Tatars withdraw some hundred paces, the bearer of this standard begins violently shaking the great head, from which there suddenly bursts a cloud with a foul smell that envelopes the Poles and makes them all but faint, so that they are incapable of fighting. We know that in their wars the Tatars have always used the arts of divination and witch-craft, and this is what they are doing now. Seeing that the all but victorious Poles are daunted by the cloud and its foul smell, the Tatars raise a great shout and return to the fray, scattering the Polish ranks that hitherto have held firm, and a huge slaughter ensues.

Among those who fall are Boleslav the son of the Margrave of Moravia and the Master of the Prussian Order. Prince Henry does not desert his men. Surrounded by Tatars who are attacking him from all sides, he and a handful of others try to force their way through the enemy. Then, when he has almost won through and there are only four knights left with him, the Prince's horse, already wounded, drops dead. The Tatars, recognizing the Prince by his insignia, press after him. For a while he and his companions fight on; then his fourth knight brings him a fresh horse taken from the Prince's chamberlain. The Prince remounts and the five make another attempt to break through the enemy ranks; but once again are surrounded. Nonetheless they fight on. As the Prince is raising his arm to bring his sword down on an enemy, a Tatar thrusts his lance into the Prince's armpit and the Prince slides from his horse. The Tatars pounce on the Prince and, dragging him two bowshots clear, cut off his head with a sword, tear off all his badges and leave his corpse naked. In this great battle a number of the Polish nobility and gentry find honourable martyrdom in defence of their Faith. The saintly Jadwiga, then in Krosno, is informed by the Holy Spirit of the extent of the disaster and of the death of her son in the same hour as it happens, and tells this to a nun, called Adelaide.

Jan Iwanowic, the knight who brought Henry the horse that nearly saved him, joins forces with two of the shield-bearers and another knight, called Lucman, who has two servants with him and himself has twelve wounds. When their pursuers pause for a breather in a village a mile or so from the battlefield, the six turn and attack them, killing two of their number and taking one prisoner. After this, Iwanowic enters a Dominican monastery and lives there piously, grateful that the Good Lord has saved him from so many dangers.

Having collected their booty, the Tatars, wishing to know the exact number of the dead, cut one ear off each corpse, filling nine huge sacks to the brim. Then, impaling Prince Henry's head on a long lance, they approach the castle at Legnica (for the town has already been burned for fear of the Tatars) and display it for those inside to see, calling upon them through an interpreter to open the gates.

The defenders refuse, telling them that they have several other dukes, sons of good duke Henry, besides Henry. The Tatars then move on to Olomouc, where they camp for a fortnight, burning and destroying everything round about. Moving on again, they halt for a week at Bolesisko, and, after slaughtering many of the inhabitants, continue into Moravia......

Tank_Guy#3
Oct 31, 2005, 10:59 AM
From the Lord of the Rings:

"Move into the city, kill all in your path." Gothmog.

I know Europe wasn't a city, but it accurately portrays what the Mongols would have done.

I believe they would have tried to destroy all of the castles in Eastern Europe (or else just one and pour through the gap they created) and then just ride like, well, hell all the way to Spain.

Verbose
Nov 01, 2005, 04:20 AM
From the Lord of the Rings:

"Move into the city, kill all in your path." Gothmog.

I know Europe wasn't a city, but it accurately portrays what the Mongols would have done.

I believe they would have tried to destroy all of the castles in Eastern Europe (or else just one and pour through the gap they created) and then just ride like, well, hell all the way to Spain.
Taking a risk by junping into a thread that has already run for a while.

My impression is that the Mongol perception of the conflict would have been that the princes of Europe should all submit to the authority and rule of the Great Khan or face the consequences.

I.e. if they did, they would be spared. That's what the Mongols seem to have done in places like Armenia (lots of castles there as well).
And the Mongols weren't stupid and wouldn't have seen any point in reducing every damn fortification they could find if people just submitted to their rule. Saves time an wear an tear on equipment even if it could be done.

Of course the Europeans were just as ornery and unlikely to submit to any non-Christian authority so the situation was set up for massive conflict.

Xen
Nov 01, 2005, 08:40 PM
You are forgetting the Mongol army didn't have supply lines in the same sense. The Mongols could initiate mobile raid with armies which were logisitically almost independant. The Mongol armies were size of 20 000 effective troops, such cavalry armies were very mobile.
dosent matter; EVERY army MUST have a way to supply itself; an army that divides itself into smaller compnents for raiding is already dooming itself to failerure, as this readilly invites a tactic that the europeans prooved very effective at, the skirmish.


Now, about castles. As I said, Mongol army had incredible intelligence operations, they knew what was in Europe. They would have known that they have these castles. Mongols could have stopped the castles from being made operational with their incredible mobility. If the Mongols would have started to invade Europe or parts of it, they would have been so mobile that none of the kingdoms from Poland to France could have raised anykind of army, before Mongols would be already sacking Paris.
you think of all war as a tacticle battle feild; this is very much the wrong way to view it, but a common one; manuverability can count for alot; but when you put it into a situation like western europe and you lose almost all of it; the simple fact of the matter is what little development western europe had was all poured into militarzation, and all of that into creating defensive military works; it dosent matter hopw manuverbale your army is, you still have to sleep, you still have to eat, and trying to do so in an area that views you as complete heathens, and more over is perhaps the most militarized land are on the face of the earth at the time isnt a smart move; but the next quote qill really illustrate how impossible a mongol invasion of western europe woudl have been.


They also were infamous when it came to sieges, otherwise they would have not built such empire.
again, simple math comes into play; I will use the region in Italy, Tuscany, as my example.

here is a map of tuscany, in realtion to italy:
http://www.sicilianculture.com/travel/xr-tuscany.gif

Here is a map of europe:
http://www.vitebsk.com/images/europe.gif

Here is a map of the world:
http://www.maproom.psu.edu/graphics2/dcw/world-rmap.jpg

do you knwo how many castled are contained in tuscany?

1? no... 2? nope, try again 4 mabey? nope, wrong.

the Region of Tuscany contain exactly 152 seperate and distinct foritifactions (thast is to say, castles, chosen only for thier strategic importance, and, more importantlly, for the difficulty they woudl pose to any army attempting to capture it) in it. if this well of, but tiny region of europe can feild this much power, you must ask you yourself how well defended the rest of western europe, just as militarized as Tuscany, was

the simpel fact of the matter is seiges take time, they cost your troops and supplies; the fact of the matter is, if you have to seige every castle inyour way to protect your flanks, or clear a path for you to manuver, it simpel bemcomes impossible for you to wage any effective war; the reason the other areas of the world fell was because while they were rich, whiel they had powerful armies, the logistics of thie rown lands made it possible for a few major battles and seiges to win the day; in europe, it woudl requite not three great vicotiroes, but a thosand small ones, each taking thier own individual toll on any invading army. It why europe is the way it is today, why it was only in the 18th century that region such as Germany and italy began to pull themselves otgether to form nation states, and why the hundred years war lasted over 100 years; the logistics of fighting wars of conquest in europe after AD 1000 are hell bent against any and all agressors until the unified systems of government came about that made several large victories able to win control of nation.



Some claim that European enviroirment would have proved uh, bad for mongols. Well, no. Mongol bows did not suffer from the damb enviroirment like other composite bows. Mongols were enough organized, and capable in general to fight in mountains and forests even with horse archery.
true enough, but history shows that the always faced significant difficulties and were bogged down for months in every case. a clear example is the conquest of korea.


However, they would have probably not used their own army to conquer Europe, probably first only to sack it. After all, the Mongols were pragmatic, they would bribed the European corrupted nobles to fight for the powerful, for them. The would have hired European mercenaries to keep order and so on.
if the Muslims could do as you say, then the thought that the mongols; utter heathens to the christian mind, could do so is laughable.


the simpel fact of the matter is, western europe woudl have found stregth to resist the mongols in what many consider to be its greatest weaknes sof the period; its disunifacation, and rampant militarization of even the smallest principalities; it was this dis unity and militerzation that would have ensured, particrualy in Italy, France and Germany that no matter who the mongols may have conqoured, the next door neighbor not only woudl not be conqoured, but woudl have to be the target of yet another protracted seige, taking up time and troops while the other areas were able to rally thier armies, an dprepare themselves for major battles in which even if the mongols did when, wouldnt have the effect of actually conqoring anythign for them. In this manner, conquest becomes an impossible task, even for an army like that the Mongols commanded.

Xen
Nov 01, 2005, 08:55 PM
note; Verifcation for the number of castles in Tuscany alone can be found here, where a wonderful scroll down submenue listes them all in alphabetical order. you get to hand count them like I had to if you want to re-check however ;) http://www.castellitoscani.com/

Nobody
Nov 01, 2005, 09:58 PM
I am not saying you are wrong Xen, and i dont really know much about this, but didnt the mongols do somthing where the chopped off all the head of Male female children horse and dog and make huge piles of skulls. and pour molten silver into the eyes and ears of there enemys. If they take there time to sack and massacar a castle in this sense, the next one will just pay tribute and let the mongols in. Wasnt this the case in china and persia. Alteast thats what Age of empires says.

Xen
Nov 02, 2005, 05:01 AM
I am not saying you are wrong Xen, and i dont really know much about this, but didnt the mongols do somthing where the chopped off all the head of Male female children horse and dog and make huge piles of skulls. and pour molten silver into the eyes and ears of there enemys. If they take there time to sack and massacar a castle in this sense, the next one will just pay tribute and let the mongols in. Wasnt this the case in china and persia. Alteast thats what Age of empires says.

to be honest with you, I doubt it would matter; as I said earlier, the nation in asia all fell because they large, centralized nations, europe wasnt at all centralized, meaning that just becuase two lords lived in the same kingdom meant that if you defeated one you defeat the other, not at all; and if thiere is one thing that EUrope in the middle ages bears out at every oppertunity, is that they dont surrender ot forign powers, no matter how "smart' the move might seem.

fastspawn
Nov 04, 2005, 12:52 PM
just jumping into a thread, "at a risk"

But are you saying Xen, that because Europe was disunited, that was why they won't fall?
That is extremely thin ground there.
Anyway, thanks for the information about the 152, separate and distinct fortification in Tuscany. Do they count all grand castles, or maybe thing like even the archery towers you see in China, which dot the landscape in many cities.

Maybe you could give a round figure of how many fortifications are there in Europe at the time of the Mongol Invasions. Because i mean most of the fortresses and forts could be built after the mongol invasion so it wouldn't translate well into your argument.

I guess a better figure would be amount of fortified cities that could withstand sieges though. I don't think the Mongols really needed to break a castle in order to extract tribute from a town or city.

EUrope in the middle ages...they dont surrender ot forign powers, no matter how "smart' the move might seem

That statement is rather generic isn't it? As though there is something in European genetic makeup that prevents them from doing the smart thing, or feeling fear.
Are you an Europhile? Maybe that might form an understanding of why there is this bias or reluctance to see that the Mongols actually won 2 battles in Eastern Europe, and basing on what "could" have happened in the ensuing 8 month period, declared that actually Poland/Hungary won the war with the Mongols.

*edit*
Just something interesting.Middle Europe changed hands through different lords so fast, that it is hard to see, how these "fortifications" can actually work. I mean logically if the fortifications work, the area would be so stable. I mean, why in the world did the hundred year war take place if neither france nor England could take a single castle (refer to map that is widely available of how much land changed hands between the two)? Quite clearly, either the Europeans had some sort of super siege weaponry that allowed the defenders to be expelled from the castles at will, or the castles aren't as strong as they are made out to be.

Xen
Nov 04, 2005, 01:12 PM
just jumping into a thread, "at a risk"

But are you saying Xen, that because Europe was disunited, that was why they won't fall?
That is extremely thin ground there.
Anyway, thanks for the information about the 152, separate and distinct fortification in Tuscany. Do they count all grand castles, or maybe thing like even the archery towers you see in China, which dot the landscape in many cities.
nope, every single one of them is quite more then "the archery towers you see in China" and if you dont belive me, I invite you to look at everysingle one of them, all one hundred and fifty two of them in full colour witha nice description, here- http://www.castellitoscani.com/ :smug:



Maybe you could give a round figure of how many fortifications are there in Europe at the time of the Mongol Invasions. Because i mean most of the fortresses and forts could be built after the mongol invasion so it wouldn't translate well into your argument. as it happens, I've been questing for the specific information, but its very hard to come by, but by the 13th century, not many new fortifacations were being built in europe, because the status quo had been estbalished in the west.



I guess a better figure would be amount of fortified cities that could withstand sieges though. I don't think the Mongols really needed to break a castle in order to extract tribute from a town or city.
its a great deal easier to take a city or town then it is a castle, which is why the orient states fell, because the centerpoint sof command, control and adminstration were all centered not on well guarded keeps places onyl for thier tactical dominace, but in centers and areas where it was naturally easy to traverse. that is the difference; its a great deal hard to take that fort on the mountian top then it is to take that town in the valley down below it. but to conqore europe, you have to take oput that fort; not that town.



That statement is rather generic isn't it? As though there is something in European genetic makeup that prevents them from doing the smart thing, or feeling fear. not for not feelign fear, but more along the line sof making bold, ill thought and irrational choices. seems they bred out that part by sending all of those types to America however. ;)


Are you an Europhile? Maybe that might form an understanding of why there is this bias or reluctance to see that the Mongols actually won 2 battles in Eastern Europe, and basing on what "could" have happened in the ensuing 8 month period, declared that actually Poland/Hungary won the war with the Mongols.most certinally a europhile, and damned proud of the fact; while its easy to see that the Mongols won thier fair share of battles, you, liek so many other refuse to see that the second the mongols step off the north european plain, si the second they enter a whole new ballgame, the game fo logistics somthign they didnt really have to worry about out on the steppe


*edit*
Just something interesting.Middle Europe changed hands through different lords so fast, that it is hard to see, how these "fortifications" can actually work. I mean logically if the fortifications work, the area would be so stable. I mean, why in the world did the hundred year war take place if neither france nor England could take a single castle (refer to map that is widely available of how much land changed hands between the two)? Quite clearly, either the Europeans had some sort of super siege weaponry that allowed the defenders to be expelled from the castles at will, or the castles aren't as strong as they are made out to be.
you miss the point entierlly; never did I once say that the castles of europe woudl prove to be able to stand up tot he mongol assult; not once, in all likellyness they would be smashed; but this smahing will TAKE TIME< AND RESOURCES to acomplish, and I dont care who you are a long distnace war of attrition is always unwinnable.

Verbose
Nov 04, 2005, 01:40 PM
About the European "castle saturation":

The Mongol's problem would have been to find a bit of common political ground with the Europeans.
If that could be done — say a timely conversion to western Christianity (some Mongols were christians of sorts anyway) — in which case they might get massive amounts of garrisons subjecting themselves to the Mongols in order to avoid being besieged. (But likely to betray the Mongols as soon as they were out of sight.)
This was by far the most common way large tracts of land changed hands between European kings. Castles often just surrenderd to last the guy to turn up with an army. Once he was gone, they went back to their original lord. But that only applied between Christian princes.

Now if the Mongols failed to play this game, they might have to invest every damn fortification one at a time. And they better do it properly, since it was quite common for beseiged garrisons in a hopless position to just sneak away (lots of prepared routes for such eventualities) and pop up in another of the absurd amount of castles dotting the landscape in France, Italy and Germany.
It's not just Tuscany. On damn near every spot with a crossroads and a bit of elevated ground you got a fortification

European wars were like that. During a long life a knight would likely fight one or two battles but take part in hundreds of seiges, just as an army might fight a battle in the field for 100 sieges.

fastspawn
Nov 04, 2005, 09:19 PM
Xen,

I for one do not see the logistic problems associated with the fighting past the Danube, vs fighting in the Danube.

Is there an associated reason why, despite the fact that the Mongol Invasion, up to then, had no problems with Logistics, in fact shone in that area? Is the plains really so arid, so devoid of life, so harsh to survival that only Western Europeans could live there?

Secondly, On archery towers that i am referring to, please refer to Jeff Yu's original posting on castle designs. While i agree there are some impressive castles in Europe, but I notice that most of them have just as single "thin" layer, as shown by the pictures in the Tuscany Website. How does it compare to multiple 14m layer thick walls found in many cities in China?

Anyway, i note that now you say that the castles won't be able to stand to Mongol attack.
never did I once say that the castles of europe woudl prove to be able to stand up tot he mongol assult; not once, in all likellyness they would be smashed;
I thank you for saying that, so it will take time, of course i agree with you on that, all castle sieges take time. This is now a question of patience then.
I still haven't a clue, why Mongols once carrying of Eastern Europe, let's say if Ogadai didn't pass on, couldn't have settled and made a base. This would of course mean that attrition and supply lines would be less of a worry
wouldn't it?
Do you really assume that in battles deep in interior China, the supply line extends from Samarkand and not the nearest captured city?

lordwu84
Nov 11, 2005, 11:20 PM
Very interesting thread, I enjoyed reading everyone's posts. I just want to post some of my thoughts

After reading the past posts, I think it is not a stretch to conclude that the Mongols would likely be able to defeat any European force on the field of battle. Don’t worry Europeans, this is not a hit to your pride, no country in the world at the time was able to reliably defeat the Mongols on the field. The most success anyone has gotten was the Mamelukes (great cavalry) and the Koreans (guerilla warfare that made Mongolian occupation hell).

Thus, it seems that the crux of arguments so far lie in whether or not the Mongols would be able to supply their armies and whether or not they could siege European castles. I would like to offer my thoughts on both.

Regarding logistics, one point of underestimation is the Mongolian horse. It is a remarkable creature. Born and bred in the desert, where temperatures even during the summer can drop 60 degrees below celcius, these horses have extreme stamina and endurance. The Gobi desert is an extremely harsh place. In practical terms, it is not a true desert. It gets minimal rainfall, but more than most deserts. Most of it is covered in short stony grass and small shrubs. During the winter, it is covered by heavy snow and frost. The Mongols bred their horses by letting them out during the winter to survive on their own. The ones that would survive would have even greater stamina, and thus create even better breeds in the future. Thus, Mongolian horses have the capacity to survive in any temperature in any climate on any food source (as long as it was green). Shrubs were a PRIMARY food source for these horses. Any thoughts of there being logistical problems in Europe are due to the misconception that European and even Russian horses are the same as Mongolian horses. They are not. If Europe could sustain 2 million humans, then it could easily have sustained 2 million Mongolian horses for an extended period of time. Moreover, as previous posters have pointed out, the Mongols fed their horses in the steppe during the summer, rotated them with horses currently in campaigns, and launched campaigns in the winter. They are probably the only ones to have launched a successful winter campaign against Russia. In terms of supplying men, the Mongols survived off of mobile supply centers of goats WHEN CIRCUMSTANCES PERMITTED. Other times, they lived off the land (harvests unpicked by peasants fleeing into castles) and their horses. Mongolian mares can be milked 4-5 times a day, providing 0.11 lbs each time. Yearly production is 662 lbs. Being a nomadic tribe originating in Siberia, I doubt the Mongols would have much trouble surviving in the relatively opulent forests of Europe. I hope this lays to rest any misconceptions of there being logistical problems for the Mongols.

The fact that the Mongolian horses didn’t need significant pasture land makes the point that Western Europe didn’t have much pasture land irrelevant. In addition, I would like to point out that Afghanistan and the deserts of the Middle East are both far from the Mongolian steppe and have little pasture land as well, consisting mainly of mountains and desert plains respectively, yet the Mongols were able to conquer both. Southern China as said previously, consisted mainly of hills, marshes, and lakes, forcing the Mongols to adapt to naval warfare, which they did quite well.

My second point is one about time. The early 13th century was not the height of European castles. Many of the larger, grandeur castles we see in Europe were built later. Yes, there are currently 170 castles in Tuscany now, but there were not that many back in the early 13th century. What there were plenty of were the precursors to later European castles, smaller versions, some not even made of stone. Even the later European castles pale in size to some the Mongols faced. Most were ten feet thick, very few (I don’t know any) were even ten meters thick, not to mention the fifteen that the Mongols faced. Mongolian siege abilities were such that against smaller castles a siege wasn’t needed. When sieges were needed, such as with the monstrosities of Chinese fortresses, the Mongols had the patience and stamina for multi-year sieges, of course not with their entire army. The rest of the army could go elsewhere, either to pillage or lay siege to other cities. Very few European castles at the time could withstand a siege of even one year. Considering the relative small size (the largest castle in England other than Windsor, was only 3.5 km in circumference, Xi’an in China is 13km), an invading force of 150,000 Mongolians could lay siege to a lot of castles.

The rest of my argument is pure speculation. Given that there were much more cities in China (and yes, every city had a wall thicker than most European castles) than castles in Europe at the time, and that it took 40 years to conquer China, I would assume that a full Mongolian assault on Europe would take half a century, but I have to conclude that they would succeed. No force was able to reliably defeat the Mongols on the field of battle, thus, siege was the only reliable form of defenses, and siege was something the Mongols were getting extremely adept at.

Now I want to offer my speculations on why the Mongols did not continue their attack on Europe or they did not launch a concentrated attack on Europe. I think the answer is one of time. The Mongols are a short-lived phenomenon in history. Genghis Khan and his immediate successor Ogedai (and to some effect Mongke) were able to accomplish amazing things, but success was limited to these three generations. I believe the Mongol phenomenon is one of a few great leaders more than the entire race itself, Genghis, his general Subedai, and his sucessors Ogedai and Mongke. The Mongol as a people were just the same humans as everyone else, but its leaders were spectacular generals who knew how to use what they have and learn what they did not have, unmatched by anyone else in the world at the time.

Upon the death of Genghis, Subedai was forced to return to Mongolia as per custom to approve the election of the new Khan, Ogedei. During Ogedai’s reign, he turned his attention not to Europe, but the richer lands of the middle east. The advance east would not end until 1260 when the Mongols were stopped in Egypt. Unfortunately for Ogedai, he did not live long and died in 1246, after only five years. After Ogedai, Mongolia was plagued with succession problems. Also, no more great generals emerged that had the vision and ability comparable to Genghis or Subotai. It is my opinion that neither of them would have lost to the Mamelukes. Effectively, after the direct successor to Ogedai, Mongke (who were more concerned with the Middle East and China), all Mongolian advances. Not just towards Europe, but everywhere. So I believe that the question of why the Mongols didn’t attack Europe is the same as why they didn’t attack any country after Mongke’s reign. Had Genghis lived ten more years, then the Mongols probably would have conquered much more of Europe. After the death of Genghis, his two immediate able successors turned their attentions elsewhere, thus sparing Europe. After their death, the Mongols had no more great leaders to lead them to advance ANYWHERE, much less Europe. Kublai’s entity was the only group that had any major campaigns, as he finished consolidating China. However, Kublai was under such heavy Chinese influence that personally I consider him more of a Chinese emperor than a Mongolian one. In addition, Kublai had no authority over the Golden Horde in Russia.

Regarding previous comments that the Mongols were too heavily battered in the battle at Mohi to be effective, I believe it is only partly true. On the first day of battle, the Mongols were indeed pushed back to the river, and thus they probably did sustain heavy casualties, but overall, their actions after the battle clearly indicates that they did not just sit idly. Mohi was just one battle, they still had to consolidate Hungary before crossing the Danube during winter (because they always launched assaults during winter). Thus I believe, and there is evidence to support this, that they consolidated control over Hungary and regrouped strength (allowing horses to fatten) to prepare for a winter assault across the Danube. The fact that Bela abandoned Hungary is a sign that he felt further resistance was futile. As luck would have it, Ogedai died that winter and no assault across the Danube into Austria would take place.

I want to also point out that the Mongols DID use infantry, mostly conscripted from local peoples. Mongke radically transformed Mongol society. He incorporated many of the local troops into his armies. He always an elite Mongol infantry but plentiful other infantry as well. The infantry was used to hold the middle of the line while the cavalry outflanked the enemy (pretty standard military tactics). Whether or not infantry was used in Europe, I have no clue. Regarding other issues such as European division I do not have any knowledge so I can’t offer any. But personally, considering the wide variety of enemies the Mongols faced, I believe they could have overcome the Europeans. Perhaps it would have taken 20-50 years, but they would have done it. The only thing that prevented it was the death of Genghis and the lack of able successors.

Even today, Mongolians are expert horseman that start riding at age 4 or 5. During Genghis’ time, Mongolian horse archers could hit moving targets while moving extremely accurately. They were professional soldiers that were born to fight, not unlike Spartans. This combined with great leadership was why they were so successful. In conclusions, I don’t think the Europeans would have fared any different from any foes that Genghis and his generals faced. However, past the immediate successors of Genghis, I do not believe the Mongols had the leadership or the capacity to conquer anyone, including Europe. Don’t get too riled up, these are just my thoughts.

wolfman1234
Dec 19, 2005, 12:06 PM
A damned interesting thread, and happy to see that we, europeans, have some kind of "patriotism" inside our old and decadent soul. :D

Btw, to the matter, the undeafetable and victorius mongol army stands up at the gates of europe, then they thought....hmmmm....this europeans arent a threat for us, we can easily plunder and slauther every damned square meter (or wathever they use for distances), lets move all this horses, people, siege machines and all the stuff to the other side of the world, and lets conquer china. Hmmmm..a bright idea, Genghis would be proud of it.

Seriously, there wasnt much to plunder in XIIIth century europe,they had been fighting since the fall of the Roman Empire, i think they saw China was a lot richer and more suited for their kind of fighting that all the mountains, woods, castles and poor lands that were in europe at that time and went for the easy conquest and the more plunder.

IMHO.

yesboii
Feb 24, 2010, 02:47 PM
A damned interesting thread, and happy to see that we, europeans, have some kind of "patriotism" inside our old and decadent soul. :D

Btw, to the matter, the undeafetable and victorius mongol army stands up at the gates of europe, then they thought....hmmmm....this europeans arent a threat for us, we can easily plunder and slauther every damned square meter (or wathever they use for distances), lets move all this horses, people, siege machines and all the stuff to the other side of the world, and lets conquer china. Hmmmm..a bright idea, Genghis would be proud of it.

Seriously, there wasnt much to plunder in XIIIth century europe,they had been fighting since the fall of the Roman Empire, i think they saw China was a lot richer and more suited for their kind of fighting that all the mountains, woods, castles and poor lands that were in europe at that time and went for the easy conquest and the more plunder.

IMHO.

Bump. No, it wasn't because of that. The Mongolians returned to Eastern Asia because of Ogedei's death in 1241. Batu was already on the gates of Vienna and was advancing into northern Albania.

Yui108
Feb 24, 2010, 07:09 PM
Why would the Mongols have wanted too? Also looking at Ain Jalud, and its consequences by the 1250's/60's the Mongols were too tied down by their own internal problems and civil wars created by their massive empire to pursue too many new conquests.

taillesskangaru
Feb 25, 2010, 01:24 AM
Why would the Mongols have wanted too? Also looking at Ain Jalud, and its consequences by the 1250's/60's the Mongols were too tied down by their own internal problems and civil wars created by their massive empire to pursue too many new conquests.

Muhi was way before Ain Jalut. By 1260, of course, the Empire was already falling apart, but things were less serious in 1242.

Mathalamus
Feb 27, 2010, 07:18 AM
if the mongols had conquered Europe, the last city to fall woudl be... naturally, Constantinople. they were allied with the mongols..sort of.. and could last the longest.

Yui108
Feb 27, 2010, 09:27 AM
Muhi was way before Ain Jalut. By 1260, of course, the Empire was already falling apart, but things were less serious in 1242.

I know, I'm just showing what happens when you have these huge areas you need to move armies over.

Lord Baal
Feb 28, 2010, 01:30 AM
if the mongols had conquered Europe, the last city to fall woudl be... naturally, Constantinople. they were allied with the mongols..sort of.. and could last the longest.
Actually, I'm pretty sure Dublin would last a while longer, assuming this impossible scenario happened. What with being on an island and all. And that's assuming Reykjavic (yes, I know I have horribly mangled that name) capitulates without a fight. ;)

BananaLee
Feb 28, 2010, 04:46 AM
They had an "invasion plan"? I thought they just rocked in and burnt and pillaged.

Mathalamus
Feb 28, 2010, 05:28 AM
even they had an invasion plan. without it your just barbarians doing a human wave attack.

Masada
Feb 28, 2010, 06:04 AM
even they had an invasion plan. without it your just barbarians doing a human wave attack.

Which never happened? *shrug*

Lord Baal
Feb 28, 2010, 06:06 AM
They had an "invasion plan"? I thought they just rocked in and burnt and pillaged.
They planned to burn and pillage. ;)

Mathalamus
Feb 28, 2010, 07:05 AM
well they stayed way from Constantinople, even when the alliance was over. they know that they couldn't take the city. they certainty had the logistical ability to do so.

Lord Baal
Feb 28, 2010, 07:10 AM
well they stayed way from Constantinople, even when the alliance was over. they know that they couldn't take the city. they certainty had the logistical ability to do so.
The Mongols stayed away from Constantinople because they had easier pickings. Why execute a long campaign against Byzantium when you can take on the weaker Mamelukes - admittedly this backfired on them pretty damn badly - or fight the other Khanates to take their land?

Mathalamus
Feb 28, 2010, 07:41 AM
Constantinople was not an easy picking? at 1261 their empire was pretty much a ruin. even though they still had a lot of soldiers left, they wouldn't last long under a mongol army.

can 100,000 mongols have a chance against.. say 10,000 Defenders at Constantinople?

MrBanana
Feb 28, 2010, 01:02 PM
There's a lot of under estimation in this topic of European capabilities. Maybe a normal foot archer would lose to the mongols, but the ENglish longbow wuld not only pierce the sik armour easily, but simply kill the one using it. It's range would out shoot the Mongols, and no mattter how good a horse rider you are, you simply can't "dodge" an arrow. That being siad, the nglish were a fair bit away from the action in Hungary.

Dachs
Feb 28, 2010, 01:38 PM
Constantinople was not an easy picking? at 1261 their empire was pretty much a ruin. even though they still had a lot of soldiers left, they wouldn't last long under a mongol army.

can 100,000 mongols have a chance against.. say 10,000 Defenders at Constantinople?
You're severely underestimating the fighting capabilities of the empire of Michael VIII Palaiologos. Of course, the fact that he was engaged in a marriage alliance with Nogai made a Mongol attack less likely from the start. EDIT: Whoops, screwed that up - the alliance wasn't contracted yet in 1261. :crazyeye:
There's a lot of under estimation in this topic of European capabilities. Maybe a normal foot archer would lose to the mongols, but the ENglish longbow wuld not only pierce the sik armour easily, but simply kill the one using it. It's range would out shoot the Mongols, and no mattter how good a horse rider you are, you simply can't "dodge" an arrow. That being siad, the nglish were a fair bit away from the action in Hungary.
Quite. Hell, the Mongols were far from finishing off Hungary itself before they left.

SnowlyWhite
Feb 28, 2010, 02:43 PM
plus they were supposed to pick the worst target(W. Europe) of all that were presented to them out of some masochistic reasons or because they somehow should've known that 300 years later Europeans would start rockin'... :p

but hey, ppl. love thinkin' of mongols as mini super warriors of doom :p

Lord Baal
Feb 28, 2010, 09:01 PM
plus they were supposed to pick the worst target(W. Europe) of all that were presented to them out of some masochistic reasons or because they somehow should've known that 300 years later Europeans would start rockin'... :p

but hey, ppl. love thinkin' of mongols as mini super warriors of doom :p
Dear god, let's hope no-one reads this and decides to start a "Mongols vs Spartans" thread.

@Mathalamus: Firstly, Byzantium was not nearly as weak at the time as you claim. Secondly, it wasn't the easiest - or most valuable - picking available for the Mongols to go after. Thirdly, while the Mongols knew how to beseige a city extremely well, so did Michael VIII Palaeologus. He was surely knowledgeable enough about Mongol tricks to hold his city longer than most, on the off-chance the Mongols even went after him.

Mathalamus
Mar 01, 2010, 12:56 AM
i thought Byzantium circa 1261 was an inch from death. if it wasn't so, how come they kept losing?

taillesskangaru
Mar 01, 2010, 06:19 AM
i thought Byzantium circa 1261 was an inch from death. if it wasn't so, how come they kept losing?

In 1261 they just got Constantinople back from the Latins. They were probably at their strongest in almost a century.

Lord Baal
Mar 01, 2010, 06:39 AM
In 1261 they just got Constantinople back from the Latins. They were probably at their strongest in almost a century.
This. Also, if they were an inch from death as you say, they'd never have lasted another 200 years.

Mathalamus
Mar 01, 2010, 07:40 AM
This. Also, if they were an inch from death as you say, they'd never have lasted another 200 years.

they lasted this long because their enemies suck. including the ottomans.

SnowlyWhite
Mar 01, 2010, 07:52 AM
you should remember that when the ottomans besiged them(they defending with ~5-7k against... I don't know against what, I doubt it could've been 100k under mehmet, but anyway, serious numbers) they were "an inch" away from repulsing. And by 1453 the siegin' eq. made some pretty decent advancements from the time we're talking about.

Ok, they were doomed anyway, but the balance of forces was so disproportionate and yet the ottomans didn't have a field day.

That's the main point against the invasion of W. Europe too: I doubt they could've pulled it out, but, anyway, even if they could... the cost would've been great for so little gains(W. Europe of that time wasn't famous for "good booty", but for stone walls which aren't exactly the wet dream of a pillager... much like Constantinopole after the 4th crusade).

Mathalamus
Mar 01, 2010, 08:04 AM
you should remember that when the ottomans besiged them(they defending with ~5-7k against... I don't know against what, I doubt it could've been 100k under mehmet, but anyway, serious numbers) they were "an inch" away from repulsing. And by 1453 the siegin' eq. made some pretty decent advancements from the time we're talking about.

Ok, they were doomed anyway, but the balance of forces was so disproportionate and yet the ottomans didn't have a field day.

That's the main point against the invasion of W. Europe too: I doubt they could've pulled it out but anyway, even if they could... the cost would've been great for so little gains(W. Europe of that time wasn't famous for "good booty", but for stone walls which aren't exactly the wet dream of a pillager... much like Constantinopole after the 4th crusade).

the minimum number was 80,000, the maximum number was 200,000. i don't they they were an inch from repulsing the ottoman invasions.. do you think that if they lose.. say a third of their force they woudl retreat?

SnowlyWhite
Mar 01, 2010, 10:05 AM
I know the figures, however, that was one of the battles where everyone had interest in bolstering those figures: the turks, because, "look how many we can muster", the christians, because, "look how long we lasted against so many". That being said, as a rock concerts promoter at some time of my life, was funny to see the figures for attendance advanced by various press ppl. at different concerts and compare them with how many spectators were actually there(you knew how many tickets you sold). They were usually off and by solid %(that while everyone was sitting there in relative order and the observer wasn't on a battlefield). 80k seems a damn lot for that time. I don't know exactly how chronics from that time came with those figures, but logistics for 80k at that time are major pain.

Regardless, I think the ottomans would've withdrawn if they didn't take the city another 1-2 months due to attrition and morale, not losses. The losses per se were probably irrelevant; even if you assume a mere 50-60k on ottoman side, 1/3rd is 20k - unless the byzantines had machine guns, I don't know how they could've inflict those casualties given the scenario. Any army, even a modern one, withdraws way earlier then 1/3rd deaths anyway(there's no pursuit in this kinda scenario - usually battles were lost with way less then 1/3rd dead and that including the pursuit which normally accounted for most of the kills).

However, the point still stands; with better sieging, with a very determined leader(Mehmet II seemed poised to take that city no matter what), with no danger anywhere else in their empire, against a shadow of even what ERE was 200 years ago it took them 2 months. If I would've been a mongol, would've chewed bubble gum and kick middle east/china for better gains with less pain too and consider ERE my ally for PR purposes :p

say1988
Mar 01, 2010, 10:48 AM
- unless the byzantines had machine guns, I don't know how they could've inflict those casualties given the scenario
Most likely disease do to a huge amount of men crammed into a relatively small space with inadequate sanitation, and possibly lack of supplies do to difficult logistical position and staying in one location preventing good foraging. Along with two months of attrition. I don't know about that time to be exact, but that seems pretty common up to (and for much of the world including) modern times. 80,000 doesn't seem too unreasonable.

Dachs
Mar 01, 2010, 12:11 PM
they lasted this long because their enemies suck. including the ottomans.
I'm certain the Byzantines themselves had something to do with it, too. The Ottomans weren't the real threat until the 1350s anyway.

Mathalamus
Mar 01, 2010, 01:26 PM
I'm certain the Byzantines themselves had something to do with it, too. The Ottomans weren't the real threat until the 1350s anyway.

before or after the civil war?

Dachs
Mar 01, 2010, 07:13 PM
before or after the civil war?
The Ottomans becoming a threat caused the end of the civil wars. :p

Lord Baal
Mar 02, 2010, 04:09 AM
they lasted this long because their enemies suck. including the ottomans.
:rolleyes:

Yep, every single enemy that the Byzantines were arrayed against "sucked." If their enemies sucked so much, why didn't Byzantium conquer them, hmm? As the most powerful state in the region, if its enemies "sucked" it would have been able to pursue a stable expansionist policy at its leisure, yes?

Mathalamus
Mar 02, 2010, 05:05 AM
no it couldn't. Constantinople was trashed, they had few if any troops, and a bunch of civil wars just sapped everything.

Byzantium could have survived indefinitely as a vassal state, but no.. manual II had to retire and put a really immature leader in charge. real smart.

Lord Baal
Mar 02, 2010, 05:15 AM
no it couldn't. Constantinople was trashed, they had few if any troops, and a bunch of civil wars just sapped everything.

Byzantium could have survived indefinitely as a vassal state, but no.. manual II had to retire and put a really immature leader in charge. real smart.
Exactly, it was "trashed," yet still survived for 200 years. Therefore, it's neighbours must have been more "trashed," yes?

Seriously, if you're going to be a Byzantine fanboy, at least learn some Byzantine history. I'm not even a Byzantine guy - our most prominent one is probably Dachs - and I know considerably more about its history than you do. Byzantium was in its best shape in a century during this time period.

Also, you're aware of what happens to vassal states in precarious positions? They get outright annexed, like Crimea did when Catherine the Great decided she wanted it outright.

Mathalamus
Mar 02, 2010, 05:26 AM
Exactly, it was "trashed," yet still survived for 200 years. Therefore, it's neighbours must have been more "trashed," yes?

Seriously, if you're going to be a Byzantine fanboy, at least learn some Byzantine history. I'm not even a Byzantine guy - our most prominent one is probably Dachs - and I know considerably more about its history than you do. Byzantium was in its best shape in a century during this time period.

Also, you're aware of what happens to vassal states in precarious positions? They get outright annexed, like Crimea did when Catherine the Great decided she wanted it outright.

the enemies on the Anatolian side were definitely trashed. i don't know about those on the European side.

in all honestly a peaceful annexation woudl be better than outright conquest. Constantine XI woudl have been a governor of a Byzantine Province.

Lord Baal
Mar 02, 2010, 05:36 AM
the enemies on the Anatolian side were definitely trashed. i don't know about those on the European side.

in all honestly a peaceful annexation woudl be better than outright conquest. Constantine XI woudl have been a governor of a Byzantine Province.
They were not, I assure you.

Better by what standards? You are aware that Constantine XI very nearly pulled this one out of the bag, are you not? The Byzantines humiliated the Turks during the seige of Constantinople, and only lost the city because some idiot left a gate unlocked. Surely victory and continued existence as an independent state would be better than either conquest or peaceful annexation?

And what makes you think Constantine XI would have been left in power? Mehmet II made Constantinople his capital, with good reason I might add. It would be in his best interests to simply kill Constantine XI and forcibly take the city even if they reached a peaceful arrangement.

Mathalamus
Mar 02, 2010, 08:11 AM
They were not, I assure you.

ok.. then explain how the Seljuk aren't trashed when half their empire was destroyed by the mongols?

Better by what standards? You are aware that Constantine XI very nearly pulled this one out of the bag, are you not? The Byzantines humiliated the Turks during the seige of Constantinople, and only lost the city because some idiot left a gate unlocked. Surely victory and continued existence as an independent state would be better than either conquest or peaceful annexation?

i was aware that the Byzantines were winning the siege, but if they won that one, mehmed woudl just come back again and again until they lost.

And what makes you think Constantine XI would have been left in power? Mehmet II made Constantinople his capital, with good reason I might add. It would be in his best interests to simply kill Constantine XI and forcibly take the city even if they reached a peaceful arrangement.

yeah and destroy the culture while your at it.

SnowlyWhite
Mar 02, 2010, 09:21 AM
i was aware that the Byzantines were winning the siege, but if they won that one, mehmed woudl just come back again and again until they lost.

I'd say he'd have tops 2 more tries; that if his reign would've last as long as it did if he failed to capture the city(questionable - not everyone shared his dream of taking that place). Remember that capturing the city was a very good way of paying the troops; without pillage money, you'd have to pull out the payment out of your own purse. Or outright not pay them(which happened many times), but then usually ppl. aren't to happy if you forget to pay them.

My money is also on turks inventing a reason to pillage the city. Look at what happened to the rights granted to local greeks after the fall of the city: they kept on finding reasons for cutting those rights many times. Anyway, his army wanted booty and common sense says he should grant them that one way or another.

Mathalamus
Mar 02, 2010, 10:59 AM
there are much better targets for pillage money than Constantinople at 1453. how about Rome? ( i know the ottomans did in fact try, but they failed)

Dachs
Mar 02, 2010, 02:23 PM
The Ottoman attack on Italy, while massively overblown by Ottoman fanboys and the Italian states at the time, never threatened to be an attack on Rome. I think I talked with silver about this earlier; rest assured that Mehmed's troops' occupation of southern Apulia in 1481 was merely a show of force and a raid; anything more would have been disastrously defeated, and he probably knew it, because Fatih Sultan Mehmed was not a stupid guy.

Mathalamus
Mar 02, 2010, 02:56 PM
The Ottoman attack on Italy, while massively overblown by Ottoman fanboys and the Italian states at the time, never threatened to be an attack on Rome. I think I talked with silver about this earlier; rest assured that Mehmed's troops' occupation of southern Apulia in 1481 was merely a show of force and a raid; anything more would have been disastrously defeated, and he probably knew it, because Fatih Sultan Mehmed was not a stupid guy.

...and the ottomans never again tried to take Italy, even though it had the navy and the army to do so. why didn't they do it?

Joecoolyo
Mar 02, 2010, 04:56 PM
Probably because they had better things to do, like defend themselves from the Austrians, or attempt to conquer them.

Dachs
Mar 02, 2010, 09:02 PM
...and the ottomans never again tried to take Italy, even though it had the navy and the army to do so. why didn't they do it?
They did not have the navy to do it. Ever. Arguably they didn't even have the army to do it.

Lord Baal
Mar 03, 2010, 12:39 AM
ok.. then explain how the Seljuk aren't trashed when half their empire was destroyed by the mongols?
I was referring to the Byzantine enemies on the European front, but even a shattered Seljuk Empire is still a formidable force, at least for a short period of time. Any of its small successor states could put up a fight against either the Mongols or Byzantines, even though they'd inevitably lose such a contest.

i was aware that the Byzantines were winning the siege, but if they won that one, mehmed woudl just come back again and again until they lost.
How do you figure that? If Mehmed was defeated at Constantinople several times in succession he'd likely be overthrown. Not to mention that organising a seige of the magnitude as that of Constantinople is not the sort of thing you can do over the summer because you don't want to go to a barbecue. It requires long-term planning. Mehmed could only do this two or three times maximum, even assuming he wasn't overthrown and assassinated for such repeated, and most importantly, costly failures.

yeah and destroy the culture while your at it.
What do you mean by this?

there are much better targets for pillage money than Constantinople at 1453. how about Rome? ( i know the ottomans did in fact try, but they failed)
How about Amsterdam? Or London? Because both of those are as within the Ottoman Empire's naval capacity as an attempt to take Rome. As Dachs said, the raid on Apulia was just that, a raid, and never approached Rome. Nor could the Ottomans have done so if they wished.

...and the ottomans never again tried to take Italy, even though it had the navy and the army to do so. why didn't they do it?
You're operating under a false premise. It's not a case of "why didn't they x when they had y," but rather "they didn't do x because they didn't have y." The Ottomans never possessed the army or navy necessary to conquer Italy.

taillesskangaru
Mar 03, 2010, 02:24 AM
They did not have the navy to do it. Ever. Arguably they didn't even have the army to do it.

Granted, the Ottomans and/or their Corsair allies occasionally pillage coastal Italian towns. Full conquest is another matter altogether, however.

Dachs
Mar 03, 2010, 03:13 AM
Granted, the Ottomans and/or their Corsair allies occasionally pillage coastal Italian towns. Full conquest is another matter altogether, however.
Quite. Pillage was a two-way street. Even Karl V couldn't hold Tunis for that long.

Lord Baal
Mar 03, 2010, 04:13 AM
Granted, the Ottomans and/or their Corsair allies occasionally pillage coastal Italian towns. Full conquest is another matter altogether, however.
I can possibly see the Corsairs pulling off a surprise sack of Rome. Certainly not occupying the city though.

Masada
Mar 03, 2010, 04:20 AM
I can possibly see the Corsairs pulling off a surprise sack of Rome. Certainly not occupying the city though.

I dunno, Rome being inland with a silted up port and barely navigable river wouldn't have been conducive to it. Let alone the political considerations of doing it...

Lord Baal
Mar 03, 2010, 04:26 AM
I dunno, Rome being inland with a silted up port and barely navigable river wouldn't have been conducive to it. Let alone the political considerations of doing it...
I don't see it as being very likely myself, but it's at least a limited possibility. Unlike what Mathalamus is suggesting.

Mathalamus
Mar 03, 2010, 07:02 AM
They did not have the navy to do it. Ever. Arguably they didn't even have the army to do it.

the ottomans completely smashed the Venetian navy. if they can best a centuries old large naval power, they certainty have a naval power to occupy at least part of Italy.

Dachs
Mar 03, 2010, 07:32 PM
the ottomans completely smashed the Venetian navy. if they can best a centuries old large naval power, they certainty have a naval power to occupy at least part of Italy.
No, they did not. The Ottomans' coastal fleet operating in home waters defeated the Venetians' fleet, which was better suited to open water, and which was operating in waters a long way from home. Much of the reason that Mehmed did not mount any major operations directed towards Italy was precisely because he knew that the Venetian fleet alone would thrash that of the Turks, and that furthermore any invasion of Italy would have been the one thing absolutely certain to get the many Italian states to act in unison against his forces.

Mathalamus
Mar 03, 2010, 07:42 PM
....which could lead to Italian unification centuries earlier. gotcha.

Dachs
Mar 03, 2010, 07:50 PM
No. But it could lead to Italian actions taken in concert against any Ottoman beachhead. You know, a military alliance. Kind of like what happened against the French at the Battle of Fornovo a few decades later.

Masada
Mar 03, 2010, 08:56 PM
Besides which to maintain the kind of army required to slog through Italy you would need naval superiority the whole time. If you couldn't be reasonably certain of that then you could invade. :p

Domen
Nov 02, 2011, 08:22 AM
About Leignitz being a mess, that was obvious, most battles against the Mongols were a mess. Regardless, the Euros were sending the elite core of the Teutonic knights, the Polish cavalry, some of the best in Europe, and in Hungary they faced other massive armies. ALL OF THEM WERE DEFEATED. It was barely even a contest, the Mongols simply outinvented, outflanked, and outfought the Euros at every opportune.


Not really. All of historical accounts of the battle (those from Medieval times) which actually say something about the course of the battle (and to my knowledge there are only 3, maybe 4, such accounts - there are of course more than 3-4 which mention the battle, but they don't say anything about the details of its course) indicate that the fight was rather even for most part of the battle, and that it was not an easy victory for the Mongols.

Anyway - there are relatively few sources which say something valuable about this battle. In fact most of what is written in books about the battle of Legnica / Leignitz are just speculations of historians, since there is shortage of sources. Size of the forces of Henry, as well as - to some degree at least - its organization & composition - are mainly in the field of speculations and estimates.

The mentioned three original Medieval accounts are chronicles of Jan Dlugosz (written many years after the battle though), Historia Tartarorum and Silesian chronicle. And of these 3 existing accounts - Historia Tartarorum describes the battle in just 2 sentences, Silesian chronicle in just 1 sentence. Only the chronicle of Jan Dlugosz (which was written long time after the battle though) provides extensive description of the battle.

Historia Tartarorum says only this about the battle:


The Tartars advancing further towards Silesia clashed with Henry, at that time the most Christian duke of these lands. In the moment, when they - as they themselves told to brother Benedict - wanted to retreat from the battlefield, suddenly, completely unexpectedly, forces of the Christians turned to escape.


So it indicates that Mongols also wanted to retreat and give up the victory, but Christains managed to be faster.

And Silesian chronicle says:

An extremely heavy battle took place there, in which at the side of the Poles also crusaders fought, in the end the ducal army rushed to escape, chased by the victorious pagans.


The most extensive account is, as I wrote above, that of Jan Dlugosz:

I translated the description of the battle by Jan Dlugosz (and two more fragments from his description of the Mongol invasion of 1241 - including introduction to this chapter, in which he explains why the God sent the Mongols against the Poles):

http://www.twcenter.net/forums/attachment.php?attachmentid=188458&stc=1&d=1320235873.jpg


The most gracious and the best God, angered by ugly filths and unworthy and disgusting vices of the Poles, who had sinned, betraying his Majesty by manifold injustices, wickednesses and abuses, directed against them the savage and barbaric rage of the Tartars.

(...)

Nothing refrained him [duke Henry] from future fight - neither two defeats inflicted by Tartars on the Poles near Tursko and Chmielnik, nor the mighty forces of Tartars, which could hardly be counted, nor the thinness of his own forces. Whichever side would the tide of the future battle turn, he was invigorating with courage both himself and everyone else with rousing words, proving that one must value more and consider as more glorious and bringing more merits such a victory, which would allow him to suffer the death of the body, but to triumph with spirit. He considered and he was convincing about that his soldiers, that it would be a more true and everlasting victory, if both he and them happen to fall in battle in defence of faith and Christian religion, rather than gaining victory and saving their lifes, but staining themselves with some vices.

(...)

Henry deploys his army and divides it into four units. The first unit consisted of crusaders and volunteers speeking various languages gathered from various nationalities. To reinforce them, so the ranks were more compact, as there was not enough of them, gold diggers from the town of Zlota Gora (for the gold mines were located there) were attached to them. These were commanded by the son of the Margrave of Moravia, Boleslav. The second unit consisted of knights from Cracow and from Greater Poland, under comand of the brother of the fallen voivode of Cracow Wlodzimierz, Sulislav. The third unit consisted of knights from Opole. They were lead by the duke of Opole, Mieczyslav. The fourth of Poppo of Osterna, the grand master of Prussia, with brothers and his knights. The fifth was lead by duke Henry himself. It consisted of Silesian squires and squires from Wroclaw, better and more significant knights from Greater Poland and Silesia as well as a small number of others [other soldiers], hired for pay.

The number of Tartar units was the same [as the number of Henry's units], but they were much superior in numbers, as well as in selection and battle experience of warriors. And each of those units alone, taken separately, surpassed / exceeded all the hosts of the Poles.

The fight was started by the unit consisting of crusaders, volunteers and gold diggers (...) Both sides clashed in a ferocious attack. The crusaders and volunteers smashed with their lances the first lines of the Tartars and were advancing forward. But when the fighting with swords started, the Tartar archers encircled the unit of crusaders and volunteers in such a way, that other Polish units could not give them a hand without exposing themselves to danger. Finally the unit faltered and fell under the rain of arrows, just like delicate ears beaten by hail (because many in this unit were uncovered and unarmoured). And when the son of Dypold (...) and other knights from the first rows fell there, the others, who also had been dwindled by the Tartar arrows, retreated towards the Polish units.

Then two units of the knight Sulislav and of the duke of Opole Mieczyslav undertake the fight, which would be fought fortunately and constantly against three units of Tartars who were replacing wounded soldiers by fresh soldiers during the fight, and would inflict a severe defeat on the Tartars, because they were supported and protected from the Tartar arrows by covering fire of Polish crossbowmen. The Tartar ranks at first were forced to fall back, and soon after that, when the Poles attacked them even more strongly - to flee.

In the meantime someone from the Tartar units - it is unknown if he was of Russian or of Tartar origin - running very fast here and there between the two armies was terribly yelling, addressing to both armies contradictory words of encouragement. For he was yelling in Polish: "Run, Run!" ["Biegajcie, biegajcie!" - in original], which means: "Escape, escape!" - sawing terror among the Poles, at the same time in Tartar language he was encouraging the Tartars to fight and to endure.

On these calls the duke of Opole, Mieczyslav, convinced, that those were not shouts of the enemy but of his own countryman and friend, whose action was caused by compassion, not by deception, giving up the fight ran away from the battlefield and pulled with him a great number of soldiers, especially those, who had been under his command in the third unit.

When duke Henry noticed this, and when others told him about this, he started to sigh and mourn, saying: "Gorze happened to us" ["Gorze nam się stało!" - in original], which means: a great misfortune fell on us. However, Henry, not yet completely terrified by the escape of Mieczyslav and men from his unit, leads to a fight his fourth formation, consisting of the best and the bravest warriors. Henry attacks and strikes the three Tartar units, the same which had been defeated and forced to fall back by the two previously mentioned Polish units, as hard as he can. His unit kills many Tartars and forces them to retreat.

Then the commander of the Tartar army sent to combat his reserve unit, bigger than all the [previous] three. He resumes the fight, brings help to the endangered, and dispersed Tartars, and with tremendous attack strikes the Poles. But because the Poles, who still tried to tempt for victory, were not giving their ground, for some time ferocious fight between both armies lasted. When during that fight a significant part of the most excellent Tartars fell, it was a close call for the Poles to achieve the full victory. For the Tartars, when their ranks dwindled, already started to think about escaping.

But among many banners of the Tartars, there was one huge banner, on which such a sign X was painted. And on the top of the pole of that banner, there was a representation of an awful, black head, with chin covered by beard. When the Tartars fell back one staje behind [one staje = 134 meters], and were likely to start escaping, the standard-bearer of that banner started to, as hard as he could, shake that head, which was high on a pole.

Immediately some steam, smoke and mist belched from it and spread over the entire Polish army, its smell was so stinking that the fighting Poles, almost fainted and barely alive, weakened and became unable to fight. It is known, that Tatars since the very beginning of their existence until the present time were always using both in wars and beyond them the art and science of predicting, divination, prophecies and sorcery and that they practices it also in the fight fought at that time against Poles. And there is no any other nation among the barbarians, which would more believe in their divination, prophecies and sorcery, when some action has to be taken.

Therefore the Tartar army, realizing the fact that the already almost victorious Poles under the influence of mist, smoke and stink were seized by fear and some sort of doubt, raising terrible battle cry, turn against the Poles, and disrupting their formations, which had been compact until that time, in the midst of enormous slaughter, in which gloriously fell the son of the Margrave of Moravia Dypold, duke Boleslav called Szepiolka, with many other knights, and Teutonic master from Prussia Poppo with his units suffered a terrible defeat, forces of the remaining unit of the Poles started to retreat.

Duke Henry, fighting very bravely, was not yet abandoned by all of his forces. But when the rest of the Poles dispersed during the flight, the Tartars encircled the duke in such a way, that he was being attacked both from the front and from behind. Despite this duke Henry did not abandon his fight and did not surrender, but killing encountered on his way enemis, attempted to break through their crowd. However, the small handful easily succumbed to violence and suffered destruction by the superior enemy forces. Already there were just four knights around Henry: brother of the killed in the battle of Chmielnik voivode of Cracow Wlodzimierz - Sulislav, the voivode of Glogow - Klemens, Konrad Konradowic and Jan Iwanowic. And when other [soldiers] are busy with fighting, these four, with the greatest effort and hardship, doing what they can, bring duke Henry out of the fighting ranks, trying to save him from tha danger of death. Breaking through enemy lines, they want to keep the duke alive and prepare to escape with him, in order to make the defeat less painful and less shameful thanks to salvation of the duke.

Their plan maybe even would have succeded, but the ducal horse, wounded many times, could barely move. Therefore the Tartars recognized the duke from his badges and quickly caught him up. Henry, with three knights - because the fourth knight, Jan Iwanowic, detached from them - was hemmed by the Tartars. He fought against them for some time, supported only by his three knights. In the meantime Jan Iwanowic, breaking through the battle lines of the enemies, brought a fresh horse, received from ducal servant Roscislav, for the duke, and the duke, bestriding this new horse, following Jan Iwanowic, who was paving the way through enemy forces for the duke.

Unfortunately, when Jan Iwanowic wounded during the escape, in spite of everything managed to escape, duke Henry lost all chances to escape and was for the third time encircled by Tartars. Deprived of all hope to escape, duke Henry again with great courage fights against the Tartars, once from the right side, once from the left side. But when he raised his arm, trying to cut the Tartar who blocked his way, another Tartar pierced him with a spear below his armpit. Duke Henry, hanging down his arm, slipped from his horse, mortally wounded.

Tartars, shouting loudly, in chaotic, incredible noise, captured the duke and drawing him outside the area of combats, at a distance of two crossbow shots from the battlefield, cut his head with a sword and, tearing all badges from his body, leave the naked body.

Also a considerable number of Polish lords and nobles suffered a glorious, martyred death for their faith and in defence of Christianity in that battle. Among them more famous and greater, as was already mentioned above, were: the brother of voivode of Cracow Wlodzimierz, Sulislav; the voivode of Glogow Klemens; Konrad Konradowic; Stefan from Wierzbna and his son Andrzej; son of Andrzej from Pelcznica Klemens; Tomasz from Piotrkowice and Piotr Kusza. (...) Jan Iwanowic, chased by 9 Tatars, during his escape managed to join with two of his squires and with another knight, Lucman - who also had two squires - and despite 12 wounds, which had been inflicted to him, he [together with Lucman and their squires] attacked his oppressors, those nine Tartars, when they did a stop during the pursuit in some village one mile away from the battlefield, and killed eight of them, keeping the ninth as prisoner. After those events he joined the monastery of Dominicans, where he lived devoutly and in fear of the Lord, grateful that the Lord of Heaven saved him in such a great danger. And the duke of Opole Mieczyslav, accompanied by some knights, escaped to the castle of Legnica. He did not deserve to gain the palms of martyrdom for the faith of Christ together with so many knights.


You can find the Polish language version of Jan Dlugosz's account here:

http://bluedragon.mordy.pl/pliki/publikacje/dlugosz.pdf

And here is what king of Bohemia wrote / said about that battle shortly after the battle:


At that time when the Tartars were in Poland, we with our army were so close to duke Henry, that we could get to him with the entire our force on the next day, after he fell. But he, oh woe, did not seek to our advice and due to this fact was pitifully killed. Learning about this, we moved towards the borders of Poland, desiring to avenge them on the next day with God's help. But the Tartars, knowing our plan and intentions, escaped.

Domen
Nov 02, 2011, 08:46 AM
And Dlugosz wrote about casualties of Henry's forces at Legnica:


The Tartars, achieving eminent victory over duke Henry, his army and other dukes, who came to help him, after gathering booty, wanting to know, how great is the number of killed, cutting one ear of each corpse, fill with ears of their enemies 9 large sacks to the brim.


Now if someone is able to establish how many ears can fit in 9 "large sacks", we can establish how many people were killed by Mongols at Legnica.

Domen
Nov 02, 2011, 11:38 AM
* 1200, Northern China - 30,000,000 killed
* 1215, Yanjing China (today Beijing) - 25,000,000 killed
* 1221, Nishapur, Persia - ~1.7 million killed in assault
* 1221, Merv, Persia - ~1.3 million killed in assault
* 1221, Meru Chahjan, Persia - ~1.3 million killed in assault
* 1221, Rayy, Persia - ~1.6 million killed in assault
* 1226, Tangut Campaign - Gengis Khan launches war against the northern China people of Tangut.
* 1236, Bilär,Bulgar cities, Volga Bulgaria - 150,000 or more and more (nearly half of population)
* 1237-1240, Kievan Rus' - half of population
* 1258, Baghdad - ~800,000 people. Results in destruction of Abbasid dynasty
* 1226-1266, ~18 million reported killed in conquest of northern Chinese territory. This number estimated by Kublai Khan himself.


Wow, that's a lot - especially considering that population of entire world at that time is estimated as just 360 - 450 million... :

http://worldhistorysite.com/population.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_population_estimates

Aren't your numbers exaggerated?

General Pilates
Nov 02, 2011, 02:40 PM
I dunno, Rome being inland with a silted up port and barely navigable river wouldn't have been conducive to it. Let alone the political considerations of doing it...

If I remember correctly Rome was founded partially at that spot because it was fair enough up the Tiber to avoid Pirate raids. A surprise raid would have to disembark at the ruins of Ostia and then march 25 kilometers upriver.

Wow, that's a lot - especially considering that population of entire world at that time is estimated as just 360 - 450 million... :

Aren't your numbers exaggerated?

That's an absolutely ridiculous exaggeration. Merv never had A million, or even 300,000 people. ever. Same with Nishapur. The entire population of Persia didn't exceed 6-7 million(This is including Eastern Khorasan; Modern Persia's borders had around 5 or so). Baghdad lost around 200,000 people in the killing. Rayy too didn't exceed more than 200,000 at this time, I'm fairly sure. I can't comment on the rest.

General Pilates
Nov 02, 2011, 02:45 PM
doublepost

taillesskangaru
Nov 03, 2011, 03:02 AM
Remember though that cities like Merv and Baghdad would have been hosting a large number of refugees from the surrounding regions.

General Pilates
Nov 03, 2011, 07:18 AM
Remember though that cities like Merv and Baghdad would have been hosting a large number of refugees from the surrounding regions.

Hulagu himself advertised the 200,000 man number when he wrote a letter to the King of France(regarding Baghdad). And the problem with the refugee theory is that number is fairly ridiculous. Yes, they may have gotten refugees, but in the absence of modern transport they're more likely to disperse into the various mountains surrounding Greater Iran, especially considering that the agricultural systems could not support 12 times or so the usual population.

Domen
Apr 13, 2012, 02:58 AM
Regarding the forces of both sides at Legnica:

At Legnica Mongols most likely had considerable numerical superiority. Recently historian Jerzy Maron estimates the possible size of Henry's forces at Legnica at 3800 - 4300 men. I also think that it couldn't be more than 4600 - 5000 combatants. And quality of these forces was mixed.

So Mongols at Legnica had roughly twice as many men as Poles. Dlugosz is also right that Mongol forces were superior qualitatively, since Henry's army had very mixed quality (for example it included up to 500 or even more peasant & levy infantry - among them maybe those gold diggers, mentioned by Dlugosz).

Maybe the Mongol army was a bit less than twice bigger (but still much bigger), since they suffered heavy losses in previous battles:

Historia Tartarorum says:

Batu (...) sent with his brother Ordu ten thousand warriors against Poland, of whom very many, succumbing to confusion, fell in combat in borderland areas of this country, killed by Poles from the duchy of Cracow and of Sandomir. But because jaundice incites to very many mistakes, the Poles, in their lack of unity, neglecting the benefits which they gained, due to pride and hubris hating one another, were in a pathetic way massacred by the Tartars.


I guess the part about "succumbing to confusion" might refer also to the victorious for Poles battle of Raciborz on 20 March 1241, in which - according to Polish accounts - about 400 Mongols were killed (however, Raciborz is by no means in the borderland area - so hard to say).

And further fragment may refer to the fact that forces of Polish duchies were beaten separately, one after another, in several battles.

In each of these battles Mongol forces most likely heavily outnumbered Polish forces. Maybe except of minor battles like Raciborz.

But the Poles learned from previous defeats - in the battles of Tursko and Chmielnik they didn't have any reserves - they just put all forces into one echelon. At Legnica duke Henry detached a reserve and deployed his forces in two echelons and had reserves. This caused serious problems to the Mongols.

Thanks to reserves, Poles could continue the fight & repulse one more Mongol attack even after forces of duke of Opole were broken (as Dlugosz writes).

=======================================

BTW:

Ironically, the battle of Raciborz (a Mongol detachment was defeated there - not main forces) was fought by duke of Opole Mieczyslav.

The same who later failed so badly at Legnica - according to Dlugosz.

r16
Apr 13, 2012, 06:49 AM
ı like these long threads where one can find lots of stuff . Anyhow on the previous page , while downloading , ı noticed a discussion of Mehmet II and the 1453 siege . Ottomans are really popular these days in TV programs and a recent one was adamant that a very primary reason for the siege that Fatih needed a success , quickly and a big one , too to cement his position as the sultan . Had the siege failed he would have been ousted .