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Mongol Invasions: Battle of Liegnitz

6/12/2006 • Military History

On April 9, 1241, Duke Henry II of Silesia, also known as Henry the Pious, marched out of his city of Liegnitz (now the Polish city of Legnica) to meet the dreaded Mongols, or Tartars, as they were then called by the Europeans. The invaders from the east had already attacked Lublin and sacked Sandomir. Henry’s army was the last left to oppose the Tartars in Poland. As he rode through the city, a stone fell from the roof of St. Mary’s Church and narrowly missed killing the duke. The people rightly took it for an omen of misfortune.

Henry knew that, only weeks earlier, a Tartar army had routed a combined force of Poles and Slavs under his cousin Boleslav V and burned Kraków on Palm Sunday. He now waited anxiously for the assistance of his brother-in-law, King Wenceslas I of Bohemia, who was marching to join him with 50,000 men. But Henry did not know when they would come, and he wondered if he should have waited behind the walls of Liegnitz for his Bohemian allies. Henry feared that the Tartars who ravaged his country might be reinforced if he waited too long for Wenceslas’ arrival, so he and his army left the protection of Liegnitz on that April day and advanced toward the town of Jawor, where he reckoned he was most likely to meet up with the Bohemian king. His army of about 30,000 consisted of Polish knights, Teutonic Knights, French Knights Templar and a levy of foot soldiers, including German gold miners from the town of Goldberg. Opposing him was a host of about 20,000 Mongols, fresh from victories over the other Polish armies and commanded by Kaidu, a great-grandson of Genghis Khan.

Terrible as the Mongol incursion into Poland was, it was merely a diversion to keep the Europeans from uniting to resist the conquest of the Mongols’ primary objective–Hungary. Since 1236, a Mongol army of 150,000 had been consolidating the rule of Ogadei, Genghis Khan’s son and chosen successor as khakan (‘great khan), over the principalities of western Russia. In overall command of the horde was Batu, a grandson of Genghis Khan. The real mastermind of the expedition, however, was Subotai, longtime lieutenant of Genghis Khan. Subotai had commanded divisions of the great khan’s army in the campaigns against the Northern Sung of China and had helped in the destruction of the Khwarazmian empire of Persia.

During the Russian campaign, the Mongols drove some 200,000 Cumans, a nomadic steppe people who had opposed them, west of the Carpathian Mountains. There, the Cumans appealed to King Béla IV of Hungary for protection, in return for which they offered to convert to Western Christianity. A mass conversion would enhance Hungary’s prestige with the pope. Moreover, the Cumans pledged 40,000 warriors, experienced in the Mongols’ mobile steppe warfare, to Hungary’s defense. Béla gladly accepted the offer, but many of his nobles distrusted the Cumans. His decision gave the Mongols an official excuse to make Hungary their next object for conquest.

After holding a council of war in Przemysl in December 1240, Batu sent an ultimatum to King Béla IV. Word has come to me, he wrote, that you have taken the Cumans, our servants, under your protection. Cease harboring them, or you will make of me an enemy because of them. They, who have no houses and dwell in tents, will find it easy to escape. But you who dwell in houses within towns–how can you escape me? Rejecting the ultimatum, Béla sent heralds throughout Hungary carrying a bloody sword, the traditional symbol for a national emergency, to rally the nobles and vassals to the kingdom’s defense.

Nobles from Hungary and adjacent kingdoms responded to the call. One of the latter, Archduke Frederick of Austria, had long had chilly relations with Béla over control of territories along their borders. Once in Hungary, he noticed that the kingdom’s settled subjects were not getting along well with the nomadic Cumans. Frederick stayed in the capital, Buda, but he had been ferried across the Danube River to the small merchant town of Pest when a riot broke out–some say at his instigation–in which the Cumans’ khan, Khotyan, was killed and his head thrown into the street. The enraged Cumans left the country for Bulgaria, pillaging as they went, while Archduke Frederick returned to Austria to observe the coming war from the sidelines.

In February 1241, the Mongol army left its base in southern Russia and crossed the frozen rivers into central Europe. The force consisted of about 70,000 men, two-thirds of whom were light cavalry and the rest heavy cavalry, though all were equipped with bows. They were nominally commanded by Batu, but once again he was guided by Subotai. Even while campaigning in Russia, Subotai had been sending spies westward into central Europe to determine the political, economic and social conditions, as well as the military capabilities, of the kingdoms and duchies in that adjacent region. The results rewarded his efforts.

Prior to embarking on the Hungarian campaign, the Mongols had defeated every major Russian principality that threatened their presence in that region, then spent a year resting and regrouping in what is now the Ukraine before crossing into central Europe. Although Batu and Subotai were aware of the divisive rivalries between the European kings and nobles, they also understood that the European rulers were closely related by blood and marriage, and would likely support each other if they thought an outside threat was serious enough. Therefore, the Mongol army was divided into two unequal forces. The smaller force, 20,000 men jointly commanded by Baidar and Kaidu, the grandson of Ogadei, started off first at the beginning of March 1241 and went north into Poland to draw off any support for Hungary that might be found there. The principal invasion force of about 50,000 men, commanded by Batu and Subotai, advanced a few days later and was itself broken into two contingents–the main body passed through the Carpathians into Hungary on March 12, while a small force to screen its southern flank, commanded by Kadan, son of Ogadei, passed through the Carpathians about 150 miles to the southeast and entered Transylvania.

In 1241, Poland had been divided into four states, each ruled by a different branch of the Piastow family. While King Boleslav V of Kraków was legally the pre-eminent ruler, it was in fact his cousin, Duke Henry II of Silesia, who was the most powerful of the four lords. Whatever the niceties of the Piastows’ arrangement, they proved incapable of offering a unified response to an incursion.

Sweeping in a northward arc past the edge of the Carpathians and into Poland, Kaidu and Baidar sacked Sandomir, defeated an army of Poles and other Slavic forces under Boleslav at Kraków on March 3, and defeated another Polish army at Chmielnik on March 18. Turning their attention back to Kraków, the Mongols seized and burned the city on March 24, then assaulted the Silesian capital of Breslau a few days later. Breslau held out, and the Mongol commanders, knowing better than to embroil their small army in a long siege so deep in hostile territory, passed the city by and resumed their search for Duke Henry and his army.

Unlike Henry, Kaidu and Baidar knew where Wenceslas was–only two days’ march away. The Mongols were already somewhat outnumbered and could not risk allowing Henry and Wenceslas to join forces. Therefore, when Henry reached a plain surrounded by low hills not far from Liegnitz, called the Wahlstadt, or chosen place, he found the Tartars already there, waiting for him.

Upon seeing the Tartars, Henry drew up his forces in four squadrons and placed one after the other on the Wahlstadt. The first group was made up of knights from various nations, supplemented by the miners from Goldberg under the command of Boleslav, son of the margrave of Moravia. Sulislav, the brother of the late palatine of Kraków, led the second group–Krakovians and knights from Welkopole. The third group consisted of knights from Opole, led by the Opolian Duke Meshko, and Teutonic Knights from Prussia under the Heermeister Poppo von Ostern. Duke Henry led the fourth group, which was made up of men at arms from Silesia and Breslau, knights from Welkopole and Silesia, and French Knights Templar.

The Teutonic Knights and Knights Templar were religious military orders with origins in the Crusades. As a result of both their religious and military training, the knights submitted readily to discipline and were normally the best of the forces available to Duke Henry. Nonetheless, Baidar and Kadan expected to add another victory to their already considerable tally. The Mongols’ confidence was not without foundation.

Henry’s army was typical of European armies of the period–it had only the most rudimentary organization. Knights formed irregular battles of different sizes, composition, and national or local origin. A group of those battles formed the line. Command was assigned on the basis of birth, not–as in the Mongol armies–on the basis of proven competence. The Mongol army was organized into squads of 10 men, troops of 100, companies of 1,000 and divisions, or toumans, of 10,000. Each unit was highly disciplined and obeyed commands signaled by flags during battle.

A Mongol commander might be anywhere in his formation, directing his troops as he saw fit. In contrast, the leader of a European army often fought alongside his men in the thick of battle where he was easily identified, in danger and unable to respond to developments in the fight. Such leadership by example made a certain amount of sense where battles were seen as opportunities for the display of personal bravery, where the object of the contest was honor as well as victory. But to the Mongols, victory was all that mattered. Consequently, their approach was to kill or defeat the enemy as efficiently as possible–that is, with the least cost to themselves. That was a logical approach for the Mongols, who campaigned thousands of miles from home against opponents who outnumbered them; they could not afford to lose either men or battles. Mongol tactics resembled those of the hunter, who uses speed, finesse and deception to herd his prey where he will, then kill it with as little risk to himself as possible. In the case of their confrontation with Duke Henry’s army, Baidar and Kaidu decided to try a common steppe tactic–attack, false flight and ambush.

Both the European and Mongol armies depended upon the horse, but there the similarity ended. The knight was supported by a feudal lord, or by the king, for the purpose of fighting. He was trained for close contact with his enemy, and his chief weapons were the heavy lance and the broadsword. The lance was held with the hand and couched under the arm in order to transmit the weight and force of both horse and rider as they charged the enemy. Likewise, the heavy broadsword swung from the saddle could inflict awful cuts. To protect himself in hand-to-hand combat of this sort, the knight wore elaborate, heavy armor. A long-sleeved chain-mail coat, or hauberk, protected his body. The knight might also wear a mail coif or hood over his head, and he would certainly wear an iron helmet as well. He wore mail gloves and leggings and carried a shield on his left arm. The entire panoply might weigh 70 or more pounds, and the knight rode a horse specially bred to be strong enough to bear him and his armor. His weight was a weapon in itself–he hurtled through an enemy formation, then the foot soldiers ran up and dispatched those whom the knights had unhorsed, struck down, ridden over or brushed aside.

Mongol armies were made up entirely of cavalry, but the Mongol, in contrast to the European knight, depended primarily on his bow, and usually did not favor close-quarters combat on horseback. His protection lay in speed and maneuverability, not in armor, and he often wore no armor aside from an open metal helmet with a leather drop behind the neck and a silk shirt under his coat that followed an arrowhead into a wound and allowed it to be withdrawn without tearing the flesh. There were more heavily armored Mongols, but even those heavy cavalrymen generally wore relatively light and flexible lamellar armor, consisting of a multitude of overlapping leather or iron plates. The Mongol bow was a recurved composite bow, a lamination of wood, horn and sinew that could cast an arrow more than 300 yards. The Mongols shot their arrows with great accuracy while riding at a fast pace and could even shoot accurately backward at a pursuer. Each warrior carried 60 arrows of different weights for shooting different distances and often carried more than one bow.

The Mongol rode a pony that was considerably smaller than the war charger of the Western armies. The Asiatic animal, however, had superb endurance and survived by grazing in the wild. Each Mongol soldier had two, three or even four ponies so that he could spell them on a march and save them from exhaustion. That practice allowed Mongol armies to travel 50 or even 60 miles in a day, several times the distance that a Western army of the period could travel. It also gave the Mongol the edge in speed on the battlefield. They were, then, two utterly different armies that faced each other at the Wahlstadt.

When the engagement at Wahlstadt began, the Europeans were disconcerted because the enemy moved without battle cries or trumpets; all signals were transmitted visually, by pennant and standard. Curiously, even though the Mongols’ overall discipline was greater than that of the knights, their formations were looser in appearance, making it difficult for the Europeans to accurately gauge their numbers.

The first of Duke Henry’s divisions, that under Boleslav, charged into the Tartar ranks to begin the usual hand-to-hand combat, but the more lightly armed Mongols on their agile ponies easily surrounded them and showered them with arrows. Finding that they could not get any support from the other formations, Boleslav’s men broke off their attack and fled back to the Polish line.

A second charge by the second and third divisions was mounted under Sulislav and Meshko of Opole. Unlike the first, this assault seemed successful–the Mongols broke into what appeared to be a disorderly retreat. Encouraged, the knights pressed on their attack, eager to meet the Tartars with lance and broadsword. Their Asiatic adversaries continued to flee before them, evidently unable to face the charge of the heavy horsemen.

Then, an odd thing happened. A single rider from the Tartar lines rushed about the Polish lines shouting Byegaycze! Byegaycze! or Run! Run! in Polish. The Polish chronicle is uncertain whether the man was a Tartar or one of the conquered Russians pressed into their service. Meshko did not take the outburst for a trick and began to retire from the battlefield with his knights. Seeing Meshko’s retreat, Henry led his fourth battle group into the Mongol lines and once again engaged in close combat. After a fierce fight, the Mongols again began to flee. Their yak-tailed standard with the crossed shoulder blades of a sheep fixed to it was seen to pull back–its bearer had joined the retreat, and the Polish knights pressed ahead.

Things were not as they seemed to the European knights, however; they had fallen victim to one of the oldest tricks in the Mongols’ book–the feigned retreat. The riders of the steppes, unlike the knights, had been taught to retreat as a tactical move, and in so doing, they drew the knights away from their infantry. Once that was accomplished, the Mongols swept to either side of the knights, who had strung out and lost their own measure of order, and showered them with arrows. Other Mongols had lain in ambush, prepared to meet the knights as they fell into the trap. Whenever the Mongols found that the knights’ armor afforded effective protection against their arrows, they simply shot their horses. The dismounted knights were then easy prey for the Mongol heavy cavalrymen, who ran them down with lance or saber with little danger to themselves. The Knights Templar made a determined stand, only to be killed to a man.

The Mongols employed one further trick–smoke drifted across the battlefield between the infantry and the knights who had charged ahead, so the foot soldiers and horsemen could not see each other as the Mongols fell upon the knights and virtually annihilated them. Duke Henry tried to gallop off the field, but he was run down by Mongols who killed him, cut off his head and paraded about Liegnitz with it on top of a spear as a trophy.

In accordance with a Mongol custom used to count the dead, an ear was cut from each dead European. The Tartars filled nine sacks with ears. Contemporary records show that 25,000 of Henry’s men were killed. The Grand Master of the Templars wrote to King Louis IX of France, saying of the battle, The Tartars have destroyed and taken the land of Henry Duke of Poland, …with many barons, six of our brothers, three knights, two sergeants and five hundred of our men dead. King Louis, preparing to go to central Europe to fight the Mongols, told his mother, Queen Blanche, that either they would send the Tartars back to hell, or the Tartars would send them to Paradise. His statement was a play on the Latin term for hell, Tartarus, and helped fix the Mongols’ nickname among the Europeans.

The Grand Master’s missive to Louis also stated that no army of any significance stood between the invaders and France. That was no exaggeration. Upon learning of what had transpired at Liegnitz, Wenceslas and the Bohemians halted their approach and retreated to a defensive position. Meanwhile, to the south, Batu and Subotai had forced the passes into Hungary and come down the mountains, covering 40 miles a day in the snow.

On the very day that Henry and so many of his men had fallen, King Béla IV left Pest with an army of some 60,000­70,000 fighting men to confront the larger Mongol force. The Hungarians advanced on the Mongols, who retreated slowly until they reached the plain of Mohi, near the Sajó River. The Mongols then pulled back, past woods beyond the opposite bank, and disappeared. Béla camped on the plain of Mohi and drew his wagons around into a laager for protection.

With the aid of catapults, the Mongols occupied the only bridge over the Sajó. On April 10, however, the Hungarians charged the bridge, and the lightly armored Mongols, having little room to maneuver, took a beating. Again improvising a fortified camp on the west side of the river by lashing wagons together, Béla pushed on and established a strong bridgehead on the east side as well.

Even while the Mongols were being driven from the bridge, however, Subotai had found a fording point to the south. Just before dawn on April 11, he led 30,000 of his horsemen across. Batu then swept to the Hungarians’ left flank, causing them to turn, while Subotai’s men hurried northward to strike at the Hungarian rear. By 7 a.m., the Europeans, completely outmaneuvered, were falling back and took refuge in their camp. For the next several hours, the Mongols assailed Béla’s camp once more with catapults, throwing stones, burning tar, naphtha and even Chinese firecrackers, whose noise and fiery flashes, hitherto unknown to the Europeans, took their toll on morale. Then another strange thing occurred. The Hungarians discovered that the Mongol army that now surrounded the camp had left a conspicuous gap to the west. Cautiously, a few of the Hungarians tried to escape through the gap and passed through without difficulty. Others followed and soon the flight became uncontrollable. As the Hungarians retreated, however, they became strung out–at which point the Mongols reappeared in force, riding along their flanks and showering them with arrows. The Hungarian retreat degenerated into a panicky, disorderly rout–just as Subotai had calculated it would when he deliberately left them that tantalizing but deceptive escape route. Now, moving in for the kill, the Mongols rode the Hungarians down and killed them with lance and saber. Depending on the source, anywhere from 40,000 to 65,000 Hungarians and other European men-at-arms were killed.

Shortly after smashing the Hungarian army, Batu and Subotai were joined by Kadan, who also had not been idle. In the past few weeks, Kadan’s little flanking force had burned and pillaged its way through Moldavia, Bukovina and Transylvania, winning three pitched battles in the process. On the very same day that Subotai annihilated King Béla’s army at Mohi, Kadan had taken the heavily fortified town of Hermannstadt, in spite of the desperate courage of its defenders.

Unlike Duke Henry, King Béla managed to escape unrecognized and fled to Austria–where he was promptly imprisoned by Duke Frederick. After buying his freedom with both a monetary ransom and the cession of three western counties to Frederick, Béla continued his flight into Dalmatia, with Kadan’s Mongols hard on his heels, until he finally found refuge on an island in the Adriatic Sea near Trau (now Trogier), in Croatia.

Europe was shocked at the news of two thorough defeats mere days apart. The Poles and others attributed the Mongols’ success to supernatural agencies or suggested that the Mongols were not entirely human. In fact, there was nothing magical about them; the Mongols had simply exercised discipline, efficiency and order, three qualities generally lacking in European armies of the period.

Almost as astonishing as the Mongols’ invasion of Europe was their sudden disappearance. After its victory at Liegnitz, the northern army left Poland and never returned. Believing that they had inflicted such extensive casualties on the Mongols that they were unable to pursue their invasion, Poles still celebrate April 9 as a day on which they saved their country, and quite possibly Germany and Western Europe as well, from the ravages of the barbarian hordes from the East.

The truth was that Kaidu and Baidar had no intention of venturing deeper into Europe–that had never been their objective. They had, in fact, carried out their assigned task brilliantly. With just two toumans totaling 20,000 horsemen, they had destroyed Boleslav’s and Henry’s armies and forced Wenceslas to withdraw his Bohemian host, thereby completely eliminating the northern threat to Batu and Subotai’s army. Mission accomplished, they turned south to join the main force in Hungary, laying the Moravian countryside to waste in the process.

As it developed, the Mongols did not remain long in Hungary, either. On December 11, 1241, Ogadei died in Asia. Upon learning of the great khan’s death, Subotai reminded the three princes in his army of the law of succession as laid down by Genghis Khan: After the death of the ruler all offspring of the house of Genghis Khan, wherever they might be, must return to Mongolia to take part in the election of the new khakan. Recalling all their forces, the Mongols started back to their Mongolian capital of Karakorum, postponing their invasion of central Europe for another time–a time that would never come.

Terrible as the debacle at Liegnitz was, it had ultimately been pointless–a Mongol effort to support a conquest that was suddenly abandoned, leaving nothing but a wide swath of destruction and death as the Mongol legacy in eastern and central Europe.

This article was written by Erik Hildinger and originally published in the June 1997 issue of Military History magazine.

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72 Responses to Mongol Invasions: Battle of Liegnitz

  1. Phil says:

    “On the very day that Henry and so many of his men had fallen, King Béla IV left Pest with an army of some 60,000­70,000 fighting men to confront the larger Mongol force.”

    I believe your number is off here.

  2. John says:

    There are a lot of mistakes in the text. The true is: king Henry hte Pious lost the battle and Mongolians moved towards the Czech kingdom. King Wenceslau stopped them with his big army near Olomouc so that they didn`t go on to the central Europe and to the western Europe. They ran away to Hungaria.

    • Motorcycleboy says:

      This is a mysterious episode in the invasion of Europe of 1241 that deserves to be more fully researched and the the results published by Erik Hildinger. It seems that the Mongol force that invaded Poland were repelled in their first encounter with the Holy Roman Empire. Here is a quotation from this source:

      “………had their progress a long while arrested by the courageous defense of Olmütz in Moravia, by the Tcheque voïevode Iaroslaf and stopped finally, learning that a large army, commanded by the King of Bohemia and the dukes of Austria and Carinthia, was approaching”.

      As far as I can make out an advance guard of Mongols were defeated in an encounter with the calvary accompanying Wenceslaus 1 as he was traveling to Austria to gather an army to oppose the Mongols. These incidents may throw some light on speculation about what might have happened had the Mongols permanently occupied Hungary and continued their plans to invade Austria. Would they have swept all before them, or would they have found themselves in a deadlock just as the Ottomans had been later?

    • Harry McNicholas says:

      Where did you get that information? The Mongolians were never defeated by any European army. I suspect you got it from some silly Czech propaganda source. The Mongols had calculated by their defeat of all the European armies a total of 2 years to take all of Europe. The best source for the history of the Mongols is the book. Secret History of the Mongols. This is the only surviving source written by Mongols on their history.

  3. Ken says:

    The Mongols ultimately withdrew from Eastern Europe not because they loss any battle or because they were fearful, but because the great Khan Ogotai had died and a new Khan had to be elected

    • Maurice says:

      This is the conventional wisdom on the subject, yet no one can explain why they did not evacuate conquered territory elsewhere because of the death of the Great Khan Ogedai. Read the MA thesis of Lindsey Stephen Pow titled Deep Ditches and Well-built Walls: A Reappraisal of the Mongol Withdrawal from Europe in 1242, available online for a more in depth analysis of the possible reasons for the Mongol withdrawal from central Europe.

      • Harry McNicholas says:

        Sorry they did not stay in Hungary so your comment is not valid.






    • Gingis Khan says:

      It has to be a “Spanish ” guy saying these enormities ,himself a result of European spaniards conquering the Americas.Mr Guillermo you should thank Europe for your past and you full name.

    • Guillermo Horruitiner says:

      When i started to read history, every text was european, with the european point of wiew, so by sone time i realized only in european history. But i discovered new horizons, other realities, and texts, and started to study more, so my point of view is now wide open to more information.
      The world is so big, and we need to study as a whole.

    • yimiii says:

      WELL SAID. AND WELL WORTH THINKING ABOUT. LOOK AT ASIA IN THE PAST 60 YEARS. 4.1 I am sure that the mayans, incas,and Aztecs would just love to do that with many head smashing bows

  5. Rune Voldsbekk says:

    As one of the ‘Westeners’ of European descent and present alliance of superiority:

    I am fundamentally changed by reading this history. I used to base my grasp of the world on the history of the development of technology and democracy via the states formed since 1500 DC leading to trade, science and money as we know it. I believed in the continuous development story since year zero with Jesus and all that even though I am not religious.

    After evaluating the Mongol conquest, this is changed forever as I think it ought to do for us all. By 1210, the world had in my mind, two superpowers; the Muslim and the Chinese. Both of them were incredibly conquered by the Mongols and one man.

    I think they would have had no problem with overtaking Europe as well. England was invaded with 10000 soldiers 150 years before and the Spanish armada 250 years later, was not more than a few times bigger. The Mongols had already taken on armies of up to 400 000 several times and killed all without significant losses to themselves. They brought down almost ~80000 Russians and ~80000 Poles/Hungarians outnumbered one to 4 and with losses perhaps less than one to 40. A few years later, they had 150 000 soldiers in the area.

    Western Europe had no idea what was going on and no relevant ability to stand up to it. The Catholic Church had over 1000 year of rule not only made Western Europe a ridicule of moral and wrongdoing wrt. investments and bad medicine. Its military capability was a joke compared to what was almost next door.

    The western worlds conquest following this (after 1500 AC and until today) is not a result of its own ability, but a result of the power vacuum following Mongol conquest and decline (which the Mongols caused themselves). We have to view our self more as the mammal in the shape of a sort of rat, that crept out from hiding when the comet had killed all the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.

    Just as the present world power, USA, has its power mainly as a result of not being seriously hit by WW2 and WW1, a large portion of the world powers of the last 500 years are the ones on the outside borders of Mongol conquest. (Turkey/Ottoman, Egypt, Russia, Western Europe, India, Japan, Siam, Vietnam).
    A number of states more powerful than these, ‘went out’ of the history books forever.

    I wish this history would be taken much more seriously. If we do not, we are just adding more lies regarding the basis of our power as the winner of the war can do. In this case, Western Europe is actually not even the winner, but the small, corner of little interest that was not overtaken due to other circumstances.

    • Motorcycleboy says:

      Rune Voldsbekk wrote:

      “Just as the present world power, USA, has its power mainly as a result of not being seriously hit by WW2 and WW1, a large portion of the world powers of the last 500 years are the ones on the outside borders of Mongol conquest. (Turkey/Ottoman, Egypt, Russia, Western Europe, India, Japan, Siam, Vietnam).”

      A very perceptive comment. It is possible that one reason why Western Europe and it’s colonies dominated the world is because they had never fallen prey to nomadic horsemen since prehistoric times. Most of the great civilizations of Eurasia had been ruled at some time by a military elite of Arab, Turkic or Mongol origins who owed their military preeminence to the fact that they originated from societies with a large proportion of the population engaged in nomadic herding. This means that advanced civilizations like Persia and China were dominated by people at a lower cultural level. Not so advanced nations like the Rus Principalities may have been retarded in their development by their subjection to nomad warriors.

    • Steven Scott says:

      “We have to view our self more as the mammal in the shape of a sort of rat, that crept out from hiding when the comet had killed all the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.”

      Europe was also powerful because it had the industrial revolution in the late 18th century before anyone else. It is no coincidence that the UK, the first country to have the industrial revolution, was the superpower of the 19th century. It is also no co-incidence that London was the largest city in the world in 1900. Europe simply had a population explosion before everyone else.

      Europe’s proportion of the world’s population was

      1850 – 23.4%
      1900 – 26.3%
      1950 – 24.7%
      2010 – 11.3%.

      Including the North American population, Western populations (excluding Australia and NZ) were

      1850 – 23.9%
      1900 – 29.7%
      1950 – 28.5%
      2010 – 15.7%

      Which is projected to be

      2050 – 12.1%
      2100 – 10.6%

      Much of the rest of the world is experiencing rapid industrialization and a population explosion.

      The West’s population advantage has gone and its industrial advantage is quickly going the same way.

    • Guillermo Horruitiner says:

      Totally agree with you Rune Voldsbekk, but i allways try to put myself in the realitie. Talking of armies of 70,000 – 80,000 men in arms, in central europe in the 1200´s is awfully heavy numbers. Even today.
      We need to look for different information and try to disclosure the history to end the speculation and understand what happens there.

    • Maurice says:

      Since studying the MA thesis of Lindsey Stephen Pow titled Deep Ditches and Well-built Walls: A Reappraisal of the Mongol Withdrawal from Europe in 1242, I have to disagree with Rune Voldsbekk’s perception of Europe as a militarily weak backwater in the middle ages. According to Lindsey Pow Europe of the middle ages was the most heavily fortified region in the world thanks to it’s political fragmentation, and Frankish castles built by the Crusaders, like Acre and Krak de Chevaliers were state of the art in the 13th century. Lindsey describes in detail how a mere ten new style stone castles in Hungary caused the Mongols tremendous problems since their Mangonels were only effective against the wooden stockades of the Russians. Between the Mongol invasions of 1242 and 1259 forty stone castles would be built in Hungary, which combined with fortified cities and monasteries could house the entire population in the event of another Mongol invasion. By the end of his reign Bela IV had built sixty six stone castles. If you take into account the fact that the Byzantines had invented the counter weight trebuchet in the 11th century and these castles were equipped with torsion catapults and cross bows, then it is clear that Europeans excelled at siege craft. Fortress Europe also benefited from defense in depth thanks to a buffer zone of weak East European states that would absorb attacks from Asiatic hordes for centuries.

  6. froto says:

    this is such a kewl site!!!!!!!!!!

  7. jam says:

    One thing Mongol history has demonstrated is that the more astute general will take the victory. Weapons mean little if your generals don’t know how to use them effectively. The Mongols have only lost a couple times in history, and never has it been because of technological advancement over their own, because they were smart enough to overcome most of that. The only reason why they lost were because: (1) the enemy was smarter than them (such as Vietnam, who were themselves actually outnumbered by the Mongols, so despite an advantage the Mongols lost 3 times to the Vietnamese back then), and (2) the enemy was damn lucky (Japan, the Mongols actually landed on Japan and were giving Japan a hard time, and so the Mongols, based on the assessment, decided to take it seriously and send a real force to take over Japan; however, a storm destroyed the boat the Mongols were sent in, and the Mongols simply had to withdraw).

    • Cheeks says:

      So why was Europe not conquered then, if it was defeated? If the Khan died, but the war had gone well, why didn’t the Mongols come back and finish the job of conquering Europe?

  8. KooL3857 says:

    I am so proud of genghis Khan that i commit myself to create a modern Golden Horde!

    thier army were superior to three great civilations at that time-chritians,muslims,and chinese.

    if temujin lasts five years more, they would have conquered whole of europe,including england!

    • Guillermo Horruitiner says:

      The people of europe always thinks of themselves as the center of the world, the main part of the world, and their history the principal history of all mankind. But i have read some boks of history for sometime, and i realice that europe were not important for the mongol point of view. Nothing usable for their ambitions. Just a faraway province in a land tip, without enough grass for their horses.

      • Motorcycleboy says:

        The Mongols did not need a reason to conquer a region such as it being useful to them. They conquered because they thought they had a divinely inspired mission to create a one world government, and, paradoxically, create everlasting peace.

      • Tim Robinson says:

        The point really is that now that we are the center of the world, we are the big assholes now, right? When we were fighting Islam, it was defenses. We were never trying to conquer Baghdad to rule over them, we wanted them to keep Islam out of Europe. When we we were fighting Mongols, we were fighting defenses. We were never trying to conquer Mongolia to rule over them. At the same time we were also allying up with certain Mongols to fight against Islam. Just because you dont like the way history happens dont blame todays people for what people did in the past. – See more at:

      • NYOD says:

        The reality is that the Mongols, like Europeans and most of the world were, despite their broad exposures before their conquests, ignorant and illiterate. The Mongols raided for loot. Acquisition was an economic necessity to hold together the empire. Conquering for the sake of conquering wasn’t a prime motivation.

        The key to Mongol success was terrain. They weren’t successful outside plains, and they knew that was their limitation.

        As for “Kool’s” predictions above, unless you’re predicting the downfall of England based on your sacrificing live chickens or Ouija Boards, there’s no basis to conclude that the Mongol hordes would have been successful at anything off the backs of their steeds. They were highly efficient at their own form of warfare, but it had geographical and environmental limitations.

    • Motorcycleboy says:

      Proud of smelly barbarians engaged in looting, burning, raping and atrocities?

      • Tall Mohammad, the Lipka Tatar says:

        Being Smelly was not a monopoly of any one group in those times. It was also a very common feature of many or most Europeans in the 13th C who were not in the habit of bathing frequently, as it was feared to cause disease. Imagine waking down an alley or street in London in the morning, trying to dodge the contents of filthy bed pans as the were thrown or poured in the street every day (this imagery was courtesy of my visit to the museum of the city of London a number of years ago)
        Looting was practiced at this time by every conquering force or Army.
        The atrocities committed by the Tatars were actually far less than what the Teutonic knights committed against the Native Prussians during this same time period. I would posit the idea that the invasion of Europe by the Tatars was divine retribution for the inhumane atrocities committed in and during the Northern, Prussian and Baltic crusades by the Teutonic knights (among others)

      • Guillermo Horruitiner says:

        Motorcycleboy and Tall Mohammad a Lipka Tatar are opening somethig that i never have read in any history book – A divinely inspired mission, or a divine retribution.
        Under that statement the history is molded by the divine will, and not by the human decisións, passions, apettites, hates, and fears. I prefer to study history without that point of view.

    • Motorcycleboy says:

      According to my understanding of Western Europe in the middle ages there was the beginning of a concern for ethics in warfare at that time. For instance when 53 Teutonic Knights were tortured and killed by the Prussians after being promised safe passage when they surrendered their castle this caused outrage among the Teutonic Knights because this behavior was contrary to their code of honor. Having decided that the Prussians were ‘savage and barbarous’ as a consequence of this incident the Teutonic Knights may have resorted to shock tactics in the countryside. However, after much Googling I have not been able to find references to incidents in which the Teutonic Knights committed atrocities against civilians and prisoners. People tend to assume that when indigenous peoples disappear they must have been exterminated, but in the case of Prussia what happened is that when Prussian armies surrendered they and their families were resettled and their land taken by German immigrants.

      Yes, all armies kill prisoners and civilians and loot to some extent, but in this respect the Mongols were in a league of their own.

      Here is a quote from the Wikipedia article on Russia that may throw new light on personal hygiene in the middle ages.

      “because of the lower population density and better hygiene (widespread practicing of banya, the wet steam bath), the population loss caused by plagues was not so severe as in the Western Europe”

  9. WJM says:

    Temujin/Genghis was already long dead at the time of the East-European victories (1227, born 1162, miraculously old for that era btw (65 years)).

    And just as the Mongols never succeeded south of the Himalaya, and initially retreatet from central/southern China in summer, they neither wanted nor could venture deeper into Europe….too hot, too humid for their arrows, not the right type of food for man or horse, too constrained/dense the forests & agricultural area’s….Mongols never went beyond the steppe, which is why only Hungary was a target, nothing beyond.
    Pusta yes, low-lands, swamps & forests no.

    Btw, that naval disaster towards Japan, the largest naval disaster ever, was not so much due to the hurricane, but to the Chinese shipbuilders, experts in fluvial ships, but not in marine ships, and also sabotaging wherever they could….:))
    (perhaps I have this mixed up with some later Chinese dynasty, but at least one such dynasty forbade any further foreign travelling, including eradicating any marine expertise at that time (so the marine shipbuilders were simply long gone))
    (wasn’t admiral Zeng He exploring the African coast in 1144 or so?)
    (hence long before the Mongols?)

    • Cheeks says:

      Hungary is steppe and the Mongols failed to conquer it. The king survived, Hungary never paid tribute, and the Mongols retreated. So how is this a great victory for the Mongols? Wouldn’t this mean that the Mongols failed in their objectives in Europe, even if, as you say, the objective was only Hungary.

      • HH says:

        WJM i dissagree with what you are saying about that Hungary was only the target. Subotai had a dream to go all the way West until he met water. He would deffenetly succeed if it had not been for the death of Ogedai. the reason why he never came back to finish what he wanted, was because 1. he was getting fairly old, and 2. after ogedai died and the new khan took over, subotai got new orders, there where “fighting” between the mongols about who was actually the new Khan. When he got back to Karakorum he was 66 years old, and retired 4 years later. He did want to come back to europe, and it is also said that he had made plans for it, but i guess there was just not enough time.

      • Guillermo Horruitiner says:

        I would like to say that the concept of military conquer with an army ocupiying the whole country and another army of administrators, and people living in that country in stable houses, was not the mongol way. We have to study how the mongols lived in Russia per example, in Sarai Batu or Sarai Berke and only wanted anual tribute from the russians. They dont live together in the same town, they don´t ocuppy the coutry. That is another concept.´
        And from my point of view europe countries were so underdeloped, poor and without military importance compared to chinese or persian empires. I presumme that europe was not necesary for the mongols, so they never returned in masse.

  10. WJM says:

    Oh, most of that from ‘Genghis Khan – or the making of the modern world’, by Jack Weatherford.

  11. richard says:

    By the way, in reply to comment number 9, Cheng Ho or Zeng He commanded the Chinese fleet during the Ming Empire from the 1400s to 1435 or so. The Mongol invasion of Japan failed not because the Chinese could only build fluvial ships and not marine ships, but due to the Kamikaze or Divine wind…Typhoon and also due to according to latest research, Chinese sabotage in building poor quality ships, hopefully causing the invasion to fail. The poor quality ships broke apart easily.

    The Chinese were capable of building marine ships of huge size, up to 500 ft in the time of the Ming. These ships actually sailed around the world according to Gavin Menzies in his two books: 1421 and 1434 based upon years of very meticulous research.

    So, why did they not conquer the world instead of the Europeans? The Chinese were interested in Trade and not Colonizing other cultures. Chinese contact with the nations of S.E Asia were based upon Trade relations and not warfare and conquest, unlike the Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese, English who loved to take over other peoples property and land and steal their resources and also convert them to Christianity. And another reason why is that the Mongols were still powerful and causing endless trouble along the northern borders of China and this required huge armies to hold them back.

    This helped to bankrupt the Ming, and the Ming Emperor’s successor; his son, decided to scrap the overseas voyages and let the navy decline. Besides, at this time, China was perhaps the richest and most advanced culture and saw no great trade benefits coming from so-called “inferior” places. They became arrogant and thought that they didn’t need to learn anything from the rest of the “undeveloped” world, so they downgraded their trading voyages.

    Finally, in 1644, The Manchu, another confederation of northern nomads including Mongols, conquered China. They had little interest in the navy and by this time the once glorious Ming fleet became but a shadow of its former glory. By this time, European powers were flexing their muscles and it is from this time that we thought that China never had any substantial ocean going vessels and only small Junks for rivers and coastal voyages. Even the Chinese gradually forgot their own history. However, buried among piles of documents, Gavin Menzies and others have eventually found written evidence of the past.

  12. Krass says:

    I believe it takes much away from the Samurai when people attribute the loss to the typhoons when the Samurai actually managed to get on board the Mongol ships and decimated them in close-quarter combat basically proving that Mongols were not that great in hand-to-hand fighting. The Samurai essentially owned them right then and there therefore making Samurai the better warriors. Also, the Mongols fleeing back because the death of Ogodei is a lame excuse. They knew they couldn’t take on Western Europe given the heavier forested areas. There were no steppes in most of central and western Europe. The Mongols as invincible warriors is an over exaggeration. Terrain plays just as much of a role in war and strategy so I don’t see how most people refuse to acknowledge success to Vietnam and Java when they managed to repel the Mongols given the climate those two countries were in and hand the Mongols all sorts of accolades because they were good at steppe warfare.

    • Guillermo Horruitiner says:

      Hello Krass
      Very interesting coment. You have showed how the stepe warrior, with his kind of war, was unable to fight in a very different scenario. Once the surrounding theatre is completely different the mongol armies cannot make the same astonishing results they were accostumed.
      Of course the mongols dont use the hand to hand war, they use another kind of war, using their bow, their primary weapon. But the extensión of their conquest reveals that they were the biggest empire on earth.

    • sergelen says:

      Battle of Tsushima Island – Mongolian victory

      On October 5, About 1,000 soldiers of Mongolian Army landed at Komoda Beach.[7] Sukekuni So(宗助国), Shugodai of Tsushima Island was killed in action. The Mongolians slaughtered many dwellers of Tsushima island.[8]
      Battle of Iki Island – Mongolian victory

      On October 14, Taira no Kagetaka(平景隆), Shugodai of Iki led about 100 soldiers. They were defeated by the Mongolian army and he committed suicide in Hidzume Castle(樋詰城).[9] About 1,000 Japanese soldiers were killed there.
      Battle of Hirato Island , Taka Island and Nokono Island – Mongolian victory

      On October 16 to 17, the Mongolian army attacked the base of the Sashi Clan. Hundreds of Japanese soldiers and Husashi Sashi(佐志房), Tomaru Sashi(佐志留) and Isamu Sashi(佐志勇) were killed.[10]

  13. Alexander says:

    est’ dostatochno krepkaja teorija, chto mongolami po oshibke nazvali nashih burjatov… da i voobwe, dlja vsej Evropy Rossija byla Bol’shoj Tatariej (tartar), t.e. neponjatnogovorjawej stranoj… a kochevye voennye – jeto byla mobil’naja armija Rusi, sostojawaja ne tol’ko iz burjatov, no iz vseh nacij gosudarstva… rassmotrite tot fakt, chto na znameni t.n. mongol’skogo vojska rozha lica kakogo-to carja, a takzhe net harakternyh chert lica voina-mongola (nesmotrja na to, chto lica prorisovany dostatochno horosho)….
    a dokazatel’stv suwestvovanija iga, naskol’ko ja znaju, net. krome trudov i pisaniny…. antidokazatel’stvo – jeto to, chto v period suwestvovanija “iga” postroeno ochen’ bol’shoe kolichestvo cerkvej (kakoj zavoevatel’ pozvolit ne prosto razvivat’ chuzhuju emu religiju, no i tratit’ stol’ko zolota na kupola?)
    gde zhili mongoly 2 veka?, pochemu ne ostalos’ nikakih vewdokov s mest ih stojanok? pochemu bumagi t.n. “dani”oni pisali na jazyke “zavojovannogo” naroda? otkuda prishli jeti “mongoly” i pochemu sovremennye mongoly tol’ko nedavno uznali o tom, chto oni derzhali vsju Evropu v strahe, a Rus’ v gnjote? dokazano, chto mongoly osvoili metally pozzhe suwestvovanija iga. otkuda u nih bylo stol’ko narodu i loshadej dlja togo, chtoby ne tol’ko dopolzti do Rusi (na podkovannyh metallom loshadjah), no i prygat’ potom po Evrope? etc…

    “Sotni umnyh,special’no obuchennyh ljudej,istorikov iskali i nahodili informaciju.” (s)
    a mozhet, oni ne iskali, no pytalis’ podognat’ v ramki neobhodimoj istorii to, chto nashli, a nepodhodjawie fakty otmetali?

  14. khaaaan says:

    During invasions in Vietnam, Java and even Japan, Mongols mostly use Chinese troops… quality of those armies can’t be compared to earlier mongol armies.

    • Guillermo Horruitiner says:

      You are right!. We need to understand that a mongol soldier with their pony horses, is unable to fight their kind of war, in the jungles of viet nam or in Java. So they used natives to help them. When they go to japan, they need the chinese sailors, because there were no mongol sailmen.
      I have read that the mongols were a minority, so they always used other peoples to reinforce their armies. A very good custom.

  15. Joe says:

    IDK about this but history is important. every battle that was lost and won led to our world today. if what they say about history is true, then we need to be careful.

  16. Joeisaac says:

    After reading books on the Mongol victories over the Muslims and Russians cities I keep having these dreams that I’m a Mongol soldier on the march during winter with the Mongol banners fluttering in the wind and Mongol Calvarymen as far as the eye can see.

  17. M1978 says:

    The reason for the withdrawal of the Mongols is quite simple. Once they were lucky with the trick to lure heavy cavalary in to a trap, but that worked only a short time and on special terrain conditions.
    In case of the Battle of Muhi, the article says: “With the aid of catapults, the Mongols occupied the only bridge over the Sajó. On April 10, however, the Hungarians charged the bridge, and the lightly armored Mongols, having little room to maneuver, took a beating.”

    That was quite the key. The mongol warfare tactics were quite effective when employed on wast flat or relatively flat areas, but failed when it was necessary to take a real fortress or a narrow point. The mongols failed to take 80 (!) settlements: forts and cities in Hungary in 1241. Béla IV. has fled to Dalmatia, but came back afterwards and ordered to build lots of stone castles. The Hungarians didn’t take the Mongolian bait anymore, altough the Mongols tried in the 1280-s too, all of their armys were destroyed.

    I think, the Mongols only had one chance to concquer Europe, in the 1240-s. Back then, the European powers were scattered and undisciplined, not knowing or forgetting anything about nomadian warfare and how to fight it.

    • Guillermo Horruitiner says:

      In 1410 in the battle of Grunwald, mongol troops, with poles and lituanians, has done the same to another european army, the teutonic order. Using the same methot. So the history reveals that the europeans never learn how to fight with the mongols.
      200 years after legnica battle and the result was similar.

    • Motorcycleboy says:

      It was not just luck that saved Europe from conquest by the Mongols, but also superior military technology. The same technological superiority that enabled Europeans to turn the tide against the steppe nomads and other backwards peoples as they colonized the world.

      As WJM pointed out the Mongols were only interested in occupying Hungary because they required territory consisting of grasslands for grazing their flocks. Once established in Hungary they would have used it as a base for raids throughout the rest of Western Europe, just as the Huns and Magyars had done before them. Although the battle of Mohi had been a disaster, Béla IV must have been impressed enough with the performance of his heavily armoured cavalry that he expanded their numbers during the military reforms that followed the Mongol invasion. I imagine that Mongol arrows could not penetrate the best European armour. Also, the Mongols got their first taste of the long bow at Mohi. With a draw weight up to three times that of the Mongol bows, the long bow was capable of penetrating any armour that the Mongols might have had. Even f the Mongols had been equipped with catapults capable of throwing 300 lb rocks, they would have found stone castles on hills more challenging than the brick and rubble garrisons and city walls they had breached in central Asia and the near east. Dozens of such castles were built in Hungary between the first and second Mongol invasions.

      When Nogai and Talabuga led a second invasion of Hungary in 1285 these superior technologies and improved organization of the royal army enabled the Hungarians to easily defeat the Mongol invaders.

  18. […] Battle of Liegnitz, Silesia. Duke Henry II of Silesia and his army are massacred by Mongols- Mongol Invasions: Battle of Liegnitz Regards, Gordon Reply With […]

  19. angel says:

    No army match mongols and the only reason we are not speaking mongolian is that after the division of the empire in khanates(inherited by genghis khan sons) they started fighting each oder.The golden horde was more interested in fighting the il khanate in the south than to conquest europe.Also after genghis khan only two next khan where accepted as leader of the empire. Do not take me wrong I became an expert in mongol history becouse I hate this part of world history.Killing and conquest in history is associated religion,revenge,economic advantage,land for people,etc. But in word of ghengis khan- the major satisfaction of man is to rape wife and daughters in front of the enemy and then kill all the males.Only in south china the census decrease from 120 million to 60 and following above story it was necessary for king Bela to bring the cumans again in bulgary to repoblate hungary. As you inspect history for mongol defeats you only found it in the mamelukes of egypt vs small mongol army and japanese with the aid major storm defeating them in two occasions (the major losses). Otherwise only minor victories noted in vietnam, 30 yrs resistance by korea and some resistance by fortify towns in hungary.All ocurring due poor amphibian strategy(japan vietnam korea in the later government moved to island),inadecuacy to feed horses in desert or maniobrate in mountains. It was neccesary to wait for firepower for Russia to get liberated,for mongol complacensy for China to get liberated and for in-fighting to free the rest. Even many years later of mongol era descendant Tamerlane(mongol but not real descendant of genghis khan) defeated the Ottomans in their peak, every major kingdom around and died of old age marching to conquer china.His technics of pillage, killing every body and return to his kingdom not incorporating his conquest luckily prevent another mongol era after his death.

  20. Guillermo Horruitiner says:

    A very interesting article, well done, But i found that it make to grow the feelings of so many people. The history is alive in the feelings of people who think are related to it. The article makes its goal, meke us understand, think, ando perhaps feel something.
    A very good article.

  21. joe and vernadene says:

    Poles eventually became as victors,
    history is written by the victors.

  22. Prof.Yoshio.N says:

    As one would understand, The samurai faced with a large organized enemy would have tremendous difficulty joining former enemy clans and combining strategy and tactics to defeat them without any prior training. The Mongols fought together lived together whereas the Samurai were constantly at war with each other to ask them in the face of a large Mongol army on land in Japan to join together in a very precise formation of a army to defeat the experienced mongols is almost impossible to believe. questions such as who’s tactics shall we use.. battlefield communications and chain of command decisions to be made with former warlords is just a small part of this impossible problem..surely the Mongols would have eventual success.

  23. Peter says:

    Map of Poland in 1241 before the battle of Legnica:

  24. Nick says:

    There were no Teutonic Knights or mentionable German forces at the battle of Liegnitz. The Mongolians came in with massive armies from Asia and they took massive losses. How history is being re-written all the time.

  25. […] 2,000-40,000 killed if you scroll below so its not a good source. Here is an accurate source: Mongol Invasions: Battle of Liegnitz Henry's army of 30,000 consisted of Polish knights, Teutonic Knights, French Knights Templar and a […]

  26. AJ says:

    This is a terribly inaccurate article! Yikes. I am not sure where to begin!

    The writer seems to have a very strong bias in favor of the Mongolians.

    The truth is that the Polish *did* beat back the Mongols and that is why the Mongols eventually retreated. Your assertion that the Mongols didn’t have any intention on going deeper into Europe is false and not supported by any objective facts.

  27. Maurice says:

    One thing about this episode in history that has always intrigued me is the reason’s for the Mongols withdrawal from Hungary in 1242. This would make a good subject for another article by Erik Hildinger. Anyone interested in the subject should consult the paper ‘An Examination of Historians Explanations for the Mongol Withdrawal from East Central Europe’ by Greg S Rogers. Also there is the MA thesis of Lindsey Stephen Pow called ‘Deep Ditches and Well-built Walls: A Reappraisal of the Mongol Withdrawal from Europe in 1242’ available online.

    The consensus is that the death of Great Khan Ogdai in 1241 required the ‘princes of the blood’ including Batu and his generals like Guyuk and Kadan to return to Karakorum to attend a kurultai to elect a new Great Khan. It does not seem obvious to me that they should have to bring all their troops back with them. A more logical thing to do would be to leave a force of 20,000 in Hungary to secure the conquest there, until the generals could return with a more troops to continue the full conquest of Europe. Otherwise a continuation of the campaign, once the generals have returned, would require a reconquest of a resurgent Hungary and Poland who would have improved fortifications in the meantime. A hypothesis I think that ought to be considered is that the withdrawal of troops and the return of Batu and certain generals to Karakorum are coincidences. This hypothesis is supported by historians who claim that Batu did not know of Ogdai’s death when he ordered the withdrawal from Hungary.

    It appears that the Mongols were having to commit more time reducing fortified positions than they had anticipated, which support’s Lindsey Pow’s theory that in the first half of the 13th century improvements in fortifications had shifted the advantage to defensive wars. They would also have to spend time recouping their losses in horses, equipment and manpower. Therefore I present a further hypothesis that a prolonged stay in Hungary would have have allowed the initiative to pass to the Holy Roman Empire who could have time to combine the various ducal armies into a force big enough to invade Hungary, just as the German’s had done in earlier centuries to expel the Huns and Avars.

    • Guillermo Horruitiner says:

      I have enjoyed your comments.
      First : You have pointed two different studies to put some light in that matter, instead of feelings.
      Second : Reading about the mongol succesion by the graet moghuls from india i understand that they fight fiercely brother against brother for the power. There is a picture of two mongol kids fighting for a toy. One of them was later a great moghul. That is a reason to return, to fight for the power.
      But your comments make me consider to look for more information, to study more in detail. This is the reason of this page !

  28. Truth says:

    Getting to this a little late judging by the last date, but I should put my 2 cents in, being that I do not agree with Motorcycleboy on his assertion that it was European tech superirity that kept nomads from conquering Europe. Why? Because the Hungarians had not forgotten nomadic warfare methods, they gave them up voluntarily when the 1st king of the modern version of Hungary, St. Stephen colluded with German forces to oust the then largely pagan leadership through war with them and their troops, a couple of hundred years before the Mongol invasions.
    Martial arts, both European and Asian were practiced in Hungary until the 1700’s when King Ferdinand made them illegal and eliminated the legal right of the Pauline monks to exist. (Disbanded them, because their beliefs predated Judeo-Christianity, was close to or a version of Manecheism) Castles were not only built for protection against nomadic warfare, but as an economic incentive (provides employment, not just for construction workers and architects, but all the suppliers as well.. huge business).
    In fact the Turks used nomadic warfare techniques as well, and were able to overcome in Europe by climbing over castle walls on ladders, something I’m sure the Mongols could do as well. Interesting that those same Pauline monks I mentioned already (Like the Shaolin in China) were able to beat the Turks in a 1:9 ratio respectively, meaning a few thousand of them overcame a hundred thousand or so Turks at one of the battles. They should have sent those guys in at the battle of Muhi, though maybe they were keeping them on the back burner for a bigger threat.
    Noone really knows what happened exactly, but one thing I am sure of, judging from the tactics and strategies utilized by the Mongols it was not any sort of technological difference that \scared\ them off.
    There is a theory by the way that the Pope colluded with them in the first place because Hungary hadn’t joined the Judeo-Christian Euroflock at the time and was considered the real archnemesis of Rome just as in the days of Attila when the Huns amply demonstrated that nomadic warfare techniques work quite well against any sort of false tech advantages Europe claimed for itself. Let’s not forget, Asia minor as well as the Levant and Southwest Asia had castle walls, catapults, etc. in B.C. times already, (Sumer, Mesopotamia, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, the Hittites, Trojans, etc. so did China and the Xiongnu, (Chinese name for Eastern Huns), and military tech did not really advance by leaps and bounds until the industrial revolution. Since gunpowder was already invented by the Chinese, and since large scale mass production hadn’t yet begun in Europe the East Asians were actually ahead of Europe in this regard.
    Also the Mongols had conquered vast forested areas in Siberia as well, so the geography of Europe probably was not the major consideration either in their not trying again. I suspect it came down to money as all wars in the end seem to, and that it simply was not worth it for them to waste any more resources on possible wins. In other words the wins were just not overwhelming enough.

  29. Harry McNicholas says:

    Sorry but the Mongol army contained Chinese engineers who had taught the Mongols the art of attacking fortified cities. Even European armies attacked cities and had little problem invading them. There is strong evidence that the Mongols used gun powder which they had gotten from the Chinese. Grenades have been found off the coast of Japan where the Chinese/Mongolian fleet sank. The only country likely that would stand would have been England since they were separated from Europe by the channel. The Mongols were also very adept at attacking in the middle of Winter which they had done in Russia. The Mongol army was the only army in history to successfully invade Russia in the Winter. Europe was saved by the death of the Khaan.

  30. Truth says:

    Harry, I do not know if your reply is to the article’s writer or me, being that my previous post here immediately precedes yours, but if it is a reply to me, what you added you shouldn excuse yourself for, being that I pretty much alluded to what you say here, in other word I agree. If your response is to the article, than this post is irrelevant.
    By the way what I wrote in my previous post was not in disagreement with most of what the author or for that matter other posters wrote, it was meant more as added information.

  31. J says:

    Krass: Some points in your statements are not correct. No one would fight hand-to-hand in medieval battles. Ancient warriors used all sorts of weapons. Samurai did not master their skills when Mongols invasions happened. The Japanese did gain the skills of sword only after the Japanese realized Mongols’ threat and had civil wars between warlords. The Japanese found their way of sword skills in late 16th century while Mongols invaded Japan in 13th century. Ogodei died and Mongols actually had a tradition of royal descents came back to Mongolia. One important point I agree is that terrain contributed to Mongol success and failure in its invasions of other lands. Mongols simply did not want to let their horses hungry.

  32. Tim Robinson says:

    The point really is that now that we are the center of the world, we are the big assholes now, right? When we were fighting Islam, it was defenses. We were never trying to conquer Baghdad to rule over them, we wanted them to keep Islam out of Europe. When we we were fighting Mongols, we were fighting defenses. We were never trying to conquer Mongolia to rule over them. At the same time we were also allying up with certain Mongols to fight against Islam. Just because you dont like the way history happens dont blame todays people for what people did in the past.

  33. […] 1241: Battle of Liegnitz. Mongols armies defeat Poles and Germans […]

  34. […] 1241: Battle of Liegnitz. Mongols armies defeat Poles and Germans […]

  35. […] 1241: Battle of Liegnitz. Mongols armies defeat Poles and Germans […]

  36. […] resistance by Polish and Hungarian armies held the Mongols off from western Europe long enough for the great Khan to die in 1241, necessitating an interruption to the Mongol invasion of Europe so that a new great Khan could be […]

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