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Subject: Supposing Genghis Khan didn't die when he did
stratego    9/11/2004 11:01:37 PM
His greatest general, Subadai, had a 20 year plan to conquer Europe (this in the 1300s, a couple centuries or so before European greatness bloomed.) I believe he would have succeeded. Part of the answer hinges on whether Europe could haev united. The Mongols did defeat the Polish knights, one of Europe's best. Genghis also lost one time---in the Middle East. Anyone have any opinion?
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z0b    RE:Supposing Genghis Khan didn't die when he did   10/5/2004 4:14:22 AM
This is one of the great "what if's?" of history. He would have almost undoubtedly conquered eatern europe if not all of it in time. His decendants conquered China and the Middle East which were much more powerful and prepared empires. This is the real question - if he hadn't died he would have kept the Mongol empire together under a much stronger leadership. If this was the case he could have created a much more stable Empire which may have stayed cohesive for longer.
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warishumannature    Genghiz Khan himself never lost, actually   10/17/2004 1:34:24 PM
He was both damn good and perhaps a little lucky, too. He had his minor setbacks. For example, in trying to employ the traditional Chinese tactic (recommended by Sun Tzu) of flooding the enemy camp, he instead managed to flood his own! Embarassing. In the Middle East, the Mongols lost at Ayn Jalut because a rash Mongol commander (not Genghiz Khan, he was dead) decided to fight a frontal battle with 2 understrength toumans (less than 20,000 men) composed of mostly light horse against a Mamluk Egyptian force anywhere from 50,000 (minimum) up to 100,000 strong, composed of both light and more importantly heavy cavalry. Most historians actually believe the higher figure of ~100,000 is more accurate. In fairness to the Mamluks, their force was a high quality one too. Aside from some 40,000 actual Egyptian cavalry, their force consisted of almost 60,000 Mamluks – heavy cavalry who were tough Turk warriors originally from Asia (not modern Turkey, but places like Xinjiang, Kazakhstan etc). like the Mongols themselves. Mamluks might best be described as “Middle Eastern samurai”, with similar training and fighting morale. Recall that the European crusaders were ultimately defeated by Mamluks under Saladin. Mamluks weren’t better than Mongols, but in this instance, they were more heavily armed and armored, plus there were very many of them. In any case, the Mongol commander rashly attacked frontally and almost broke the Mamluk force at the outset of the battle. The Mongols pursued, again overconfidenly, but then fell into a trap, as they ran head-on into the heavy horsemen waiting in reserve and in the flanks. It was a victory for the Mamluks, but one bought at some cost, and against a much smaller Mongol army. 4 factors explain the Mongol defeat: 1. They underestimated the Mamluks, who were some of the best warriors in the Middle East (and who were originally from Asia too, though converted to Islam). 2. The Mongol force was uncharacteristically almost all light cavalry. Normally, they had balanced forces of both light cav and very heavy-armored shock cavalry – think Chinese-type armored cavalry and you would be close. Such cavalry was second in striking power only to the plate-armored European Knights of the late Middle Ages, which is saying something. 3. The Mongols were outnumbered very badly. 4. Most importantly, the Mongols fought very dumb, relying on their sheer ferocity and fighting skill to win a head-on battle against a larger, heavier foe – if they had tried the same tactics against a similarly larger force of European Knights, they could hardly have done worse!.
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Heorot    RE:Genghiz Khan himself never lost, actually   11/5/2004 3:00:52 PM
An excellent novel on the Mongol invasion of Europe is "Until the Sun Falls" by Cecilia Holland. I highly recommend it as it shows the war from the viewpoint of a senior Mongol commander. There are good descriptions of Mongol strategy and tactics.
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Caesar Maximus    RE:Genghiz Khan himself never lost, actually   12/19/2004 10:24:22 PM
I think Genghis would most likely have succeeded; the Europeans lacked the unity that Rome and once provided, and the Byzantine east was no longer a power to be reckoned with. Only the Byzantines (pre-4th Crusade) would have had the capacity to field an army of sufficient size and quality. And they were very experienced at fighting cavalry armies. The Wetsrn kingomds had proved many times in Crusades that they were generally unable to form a unified strategy, which would've bee nfatal against a master like Genghis.
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fnord    RE:Genghiz Khan himself never lost, actually   1/4/2005 2:08:18 PM
Conquering Europe, might have had a similar effect to Alexander the Great's conquest. His empire disintegrated as soon as he died, but had a profound effect on the course of history. The Mongols could have swept through Europe. There was no one to stop them.
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jkmrepeat    Genghis Khan did get repulsed and Subotai would not have succeeded   1/10/2005 3:07:59 PM
Genghis Khan was actually defeated (more a repulsion) at the battle of Parwan in 1221 by Jalal al-Din, the Muslim ruler. Genghis regrouped and utterly destroyed the Khwarezm empire. There is adramatic theory that had the great khan Ogedei not died in 1241, which recalled all the armies etc., the Mongols would have conquered Europe. Well, it is arguable, but I say no. here's why - the Mongols were outstanding recoinnoiters, and Subotai, after smashing the knights in Hungary and Poland, realized Europe was too hilly and uneven to win against a united confederation of European knights. The Pope would have definitely called for a 'Home Crusade' against this Asiatic threat, and it is very unlikely it would not have engendered. The Celts would have defeated the Mongols on their own turf. remenmber, as great as they were, the Mongols' success depended on cavalry deployments in the open steppes. Tey could certainly exploit terrain, but to win on another's home turf when that home turf is not conducive to your style of fighting, well..... I think it is a no-brainer. I think Subotai, a brilliant grand stategist, knew this all too well. That is why they never returned. The Mongols were soundly defeated when they faced the Egyptian Mamelukes at Ain-jalut in 1260. The Mameluke commander, Babyrs, was superior to Kit-Boga and they outnumbered the Mongols, but, finally, the Mongols faced an adept horse-army and were routed. Both the Christian and Muslim worlds were elated. This is just my view and food for thought.
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maskirovka    RE:Genghis Khan would have turn south to north Africa and Egypt   2/25/2005 4:54:45 AM
jkmrepeat it´s right the geography of central Europe made very difficult the use of cavalry tactics like the mongols used. Also the same differences of peoples and cultures in Europe would have make a nightmare for the mongols to rule. The peolpe that joined the mongols were nomads, and the people they conquered were very homogeneous, will the europeans of that age were neither of both, so rule them will have been not very worth the effort of conquering. Genghis would have attacked the Holy land and North Africa terrain that was more favorable to his army. Although the mongols were defeated at Ain-jalut that was a small mongol force with an underrated commander. The whole mongol army would have overrun Egypt like they did in the rest of the middle east.
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Commander    RE:The Mongols could have swept through Europe   3/24/2005 6:56:04 PM
The Eurpoeans was heavily armored making them slow and unable to attack with the Mongol cavalry archers who could fire in accurately in a speed of not more than an estimated 5km per hour. This has been proven many times through the defeat of the Romans when fighting the Parthians.
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CJH    RE:The Mongols could have swept through Europe   3/25/2005 10:17:56 PM
First a question. How would the Mongols have fared against English bowmen? One of the really unique results of the crusades was how they wound up uniting Europe. In the Middle Ages, the Roman Church connected European principalities into one identity and the Latin language was spoken and written by the educated of all lands. A Mongol invasion would have given the church a good reason to call on the princes of Christendom to stop their blickering and warring and defend the faith against the infidel. An invasion would have been welcomed by the church as an opportunity to flex its moral muscle. An invasion would have united Europe even more than recovering the Holy Sepulchre for Christendom. Given this as well as the demographics and terrain of Europe, a Mongol invasion would have foundered just as the Hunnish invasion of Western Europe did.
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Constantine XI    RE:The Mongols could have swept through Europe   4/29/2005 12:06:07 AM
This topic is one of the greatest "what-ifs" of scholarly speculation on the Middle Ages. It isn't one which has a definite answer and the circumstances at the time meant the outcome would not have been a foregone conclusion. First to the question of English bowmen, the do seem to have perhaps been a very useful force in countering the Mongols in the terrain of Western and Central Europe. However, we need to ask at what time the English would have been sending forces to fight the Mongols. If we assume that Subotai returned at the head of the army he lead previously into central Europe after the stabalisation of political forces in the Mongol realms further East we would probably see him returning to Europe in about 1246-8 at the very latest, he may have been able to return as early as the opening months of 1244. Noting the speed at which the Mongols typically conducted their conquests and taking into consideration the difficult terrain of Europe and the lack of a European resistance with proper stopping power then the latest it would take the Mongols to have smashed their way into France would be roughly 1253-55. Only with their entry into France, unless the English participated in a Crusade, would the English have engaged the Mongols. Of course at this time England had not yet conquered Wales under Edward I and longbowmen were neither extensively employed, nor trained continuously as they did in the fourteenth century. The English at that point still relied heavily on their heavy cavalry, the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314 was the decisive defeat which led to the English employing armies based much more heavily on infantry armed with billhooks and longbows. In the terrain of Central and Western Europe longbowmen may have had a chance, but in the relevant period they simply had not evolved into the decisive force they would be one hundred years later. Watching the Mongol cavalry slug it out with English longbowmen would definitely have been a fascinating contest. I agree that the Papacy definitely would have taken the opportunity to call a Crusade, but Popes before had called Crusades to which the response was so lacklustre that the idea was meekly abandoned. So often when a Crusade was called because of the political infighting in Europe the military expedition that was launched was undermaned and badly supported. Also of all the Crusades to the Holy Land only the First succeeded in reasonably achieving its objectives (unless you include the rather less glory clad Crusade of Frederick II). Interestingly German Emperor Frederick II who was ruling with the 1241-42 Mongol invasion of Central Europe did call on the rest of Christendom to come to his aid, yet no one sent any support in the face of the looming danger which was averted only through pure luck. Louis IX was near to going on Crusade and it seems likely that had the Mongols invaded again he would have been diverted to fight them instead of the Egyptians. The English were busy waging war in the British Isles against their Celtic neighbours, while the Scandinavian peoples had never made critical contributions to the Crusades or indeed shown themselves to be militarily powerful for centuries. Spain was fully occupied with the Moors in their own homeland. Italy was extremely divided between various city states and would remain so for many centuries. Given the political infighting, poor record of Crusade success and the Latin Christian response to the Mongols so far it seems unlikely a united effort would have been made to rush to central Europe to beat them off. Perhaps after the destruction of Germany the surviving Europeans would have been stung into action though. The demographics may make things difficult for the Mongols, but let us not forget if they couldn't successfully rule and administer a populace they always had a sickeningly effective solution: to annihilate them as they had done to tens of millions of Chinese and central Asian peoples. The terrain does offer a serious problem to Mongol advances though. From Northern China to the Hungarian plain the terrain is almost entirely flat and perfect for cavalry. The hilly and wooded terrain of the parts of Europe the Mongols had not taken were a serious obsticle. Yet we see similar terrain in Korea which gave the Mongols much trouble, but after many years of persistance they still conquered it. In the mountains of parts of the Middle East and caucasus they also proved themselves capable of adapting their style of warfare and conquering these regions. It would of depended on whether the Mongols had a commander adaptable enough to master the terrain in an age where those lands were in any case dominated by a different type of cavalryman in most instances. It's possible, but not certain. The other main problem they would have faced was logisitics. The Mongols relied on huge herds of livestock for everything they needed on campaign. This naturally meant staying on the move as staying long in any on
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