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Old Feb 04, 2005, 12:44 PM   #61
MCdread
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff Yu
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.
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Old Feb 04, 2005, 12:46 PM   #62
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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.
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Old Feb 04, 2005, 12:59 PM   #63
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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.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MCdread
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.
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Old Feb 04, 2005, 01:34 PM   #64
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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.
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Old Feb 04, 2005, 03:13 PM   #65
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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.
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Old Feb 04, 2005, 03:14 PM   #66
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff Yu
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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.
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Old Feb 04, 2005, 03:24 PM   #67
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Originally Posted by Oda Nobunaga
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.

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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.
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Old Feb 04, 2005, 03:51 PM   #68
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Originally Posted by Oda Nobunaga
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.

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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.

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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.
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. Ive 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.

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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.
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Old Feb 04, 2005, 04:11 PM   #69
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Originally Posted by BOTP
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 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.

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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 werent 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?

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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.

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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. Theres 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.

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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.




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Originally Posted by storealex
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.

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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.

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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.

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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...

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Especially not when you're wrong
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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.
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Old Feb 04, 2005, 05:32 PM   #70
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Originally Posted by North King
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

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.
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Old Feb 04, 2005, 05:34 PM   #71
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Originally Posted by BOTP
and its odd, that it took three years to transport it

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.
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Old Feb 04, 2005, 08:53 PM   #72
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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.
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Old Feb 05, 2005, 07:22 AM   #73
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Originally Posted by North King
I think their army could fend off that.
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.

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Originally Posted by North King
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.

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

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Originally Posted by North King
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.
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Old Feb 05, 2005, 08:43 AM   #74
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@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)

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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)
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Old Feb 06, 2005, 08:25 AM   #75
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Despite hating this thread, I have been irresistably drawn in by the arguments posited here.

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Originally Posted by storealex
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?

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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.

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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).
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Old Feb 08, 2005, 02:26 AM   #76
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Originally Posted by BOTP
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.


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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 Jzjn, 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 Jzjn 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.
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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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.
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Old Feb 08, 2005, 02:26 AM   #77
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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.


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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.


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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.

Last edited by Jeff Yu; Feb 08, 2005 at 02:32 AM.
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Old Feb 08, 2005, 02:30 AM   #78
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Originally Posted by Xen
@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.
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Old Feb 08, 2005, 03:48 AM   #79
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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.

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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.
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Last edited by storealex; Feb 08, 2005 at 04:43 AM.
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Old Feb 08, 2005, 03:53 AM   #80
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Originally Posted by Jeff Yu
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-
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