Genghis Khan and the Mongol Conquests 1190-1400 (Essential Histories 57)
By Stephen Turnbull
Publisher: Osprey 2003 96 Pages
PDF 5 MB
During the 13th century a military phenomenon arose in central Asia and provided the first instance in history of what was virtually a world war. From one side of the Euro/Asiatic land mass to the other, the fury of the Mongols exploded on to unsuspecting societies, most of which had previously been totally ignorant of the very existence of their new tormentors.
Among the few contemporary works of art that have survived to convey an impression of the appearance of these strange invaders are two objects that proclaim through very different cultural norms very similar images of the Mongol conquerors. At almost the furthest point west reached by the Mongols lies Breslau (now Wroclaw in Poland) where lies buried Henry the Pious, Duke of Silesia, killed in battle with the Mongols at nearby Leignitz (Legnica) in 1241. Henry's tomb is now in the National Museum in Wroclaw, and beneath his feet lies a small carving of a Mongol warrior wearing the characteristic headgear.
Thirty years later and half a world away at the most easterly point of the Mongol conquests, an almost identical representation of Mongol warriors was being created. This time the image was not carved in stone but instead appeared on paper in a Japanese emakimono (horizontal picture scroll painting). The Moko Shurai Ekotoba (Mongol Invasion Scroll) was created not to remember a defeat, but to celebrate a victory, and in particular to press the claims for reward of the hero depicted therein: a leader of samurai called Takezaki Suenaga.
Neither Henry the Pious nor Takezaki Suenaga had the slightest idea that the other even existed, let alone that the two of them had fought a common enemy, but that was the nature of the Mongol Empire. Within the interval of time and space that lay between Leignitz and Hakata, the Mongols had fought battles in the deserts of Syria, skirmishes in the mountain passes of Afghanistan, sieges on the snowy plains of Russia and sea fights off the coast of Vietnam. Like a monstrous spider's web, the Mongol conquests affected the lives and livelihoods of countless peasants and kings.