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Does anyone know the details for the Mongols invasion plan of Europe?

Discussion in 'World History' started by BOTP, Jan 18, 2005.

  1. BOTP

    BOTP Chieftain

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    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.
     
  2. jonatas

    jonatas tropicalista

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    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...
     
  3. Vrylakas

    Vrylakas The Verbose Lord

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  4. Steve Thompson

    Steve Thompson haughty & over-confident

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    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.
     
  5. BOTP

    BOTP Chieftain

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    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.
     
  6. Steve Thompson

    Steve Thompson haughty & over-confident

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    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...
     
  7. Xen

    Xen Magister

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    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
     
  8. BOTP

    BOTP Chieftain

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    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.
     
  9. bombshoo

    bombshoo Never mind...

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    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...
     
  10. Uiler

    Uiler Chieftain

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    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...

     
  11. Uiler

    Uiler Chieftain

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    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.
     
  12. BOTP

    BOTP Chieftain

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    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?
     
  13. Uiler

    Uiler Chieftain

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    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

    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.

     
  14. Uiler

    Uiler Chieftain

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    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

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

    And the Song navy technology:

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

    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.
     
  15. Xen

    Xen Magister

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    @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
     
  16. BOTP

    BOTP Chieftain

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

    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.
     
  17. Uiler

    Uiler Chieftain

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    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.


     
  18. BOTP

    BOTP Chieftain

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    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.
     
  19. Xen

    Xen Magister

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    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
     
  20. Chieftess

    Chieftess Moderator Retired Moderator

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    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.
     

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