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Question 1:

Why was trade so significant to the Mongols?

Answer:

The Mongols were an ethno-linguistic group of Northern and Central Asia.  This region of the world experiences very harsh climate, with long winters and very short dry summers. Such a climatic condition did not favour agriculture. Thus, the Mongols resorted to pastoralism and hunting for their living.

The Mongols recognised that the shortage of agricultural products could only be replenished by trading. Thus, trading links were established with the sedentary farming people for procuring vegetables and cereals in exchange of animal products.

Thus, it can be said that trade was very significant to the Mongols, as it helped them to procure all essential agricultural yields, the production of which was impossible in the extreme climatic conditions of Central Asia.

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Question 2:

Why did Genghis Khan feel the need to fragment the Mongol tribes into new social and military groupings?

Answer:

Genghis Khan, the great ruler of believed in the expansion and consolidation of the Mongols. His motives led to several conquests between 1203 AD and 1227 AD. As a result, many annexed and defeated tribes got incorporated into the Mongolian society. The tribes ranged from willingly submitted Turkic Uighurs to defeated hostile Kereyits. This assimilation affected the existing homogeneous composition of Genghis Khan’s army.  The Mongol army was no longer a simple body that could be maintained along the old decimal system division principles. To manage this large heterogeneous body, Genghis Khan created a new division system that revoked all rights of the old ones and divided the army into groups consisting of people from different tribes. Migration from one group to another was restricted. Thus, it can be said that the main reason to fragment the Mongol tribes into new social and military groups was to maintain the huge heterogeneous army and prevent internal conflicts within the groups.

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Question 3:

How do later Mongol reflections on the yasa bring out the uneasy relationship they had with the memory of Genghis Khan?

Answer:

During the quriltai or assembly of Mongol chieftains in 1206, Genghis Khan came up with the law of yasaq, which aimed at three things: obedience to Genghis Khan, binding together of different nomad clans and the merciless punishment for wrongdoing. However, after the death of Genghis Khan, his descendants gave a new meaning to this law. They started using a new term ‘yasa’, which meant the ‘legal code of Genghis Khan’.  Its main aim was to impose Mongolian customs on all the annexed tribes and their population. The Mongols projected yasa as a sacred law that could not be undone. The respect that the later Mongols had for Genghis Khan was moulded to establish Mongolian supremacy.  Using the name of the great ruler and re-constructing his idea to control their empire surely reflect the uneasy relationship the later Mongols had with the memory of Genghis Khan.

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Question 4:

'If history relies upon written records produced by city-based literati, nomadic societies will always receive a hostile representation.' Would you agree with this statement? Does it explain the reason why Persian chronicles produced such inflated figures of casualties resulting from Mongol campaigns?

Answer:

Yes, I agree with this statement. To understand how I reached this conclusion, let’s reflect on the representation of the Mongols in a Persian chronicle.

Juwaini writes that 13,00,000 people were killed in Merv by Genghis Khan. According to him, it took 13 days to count the dead. Almost 1,00,000 corpses were counted each day.

Several historians believe that such impossible numbers are nothing more than exaggerated accounts of Persian chroniclers. The main reason for such an expression could be the terror created by Genghis Khan during his ruthless campaigns. Genghis Khan annihilated and massacred without mercy. The Persian terrified and filled with anger for Genghis Khan portrayed him as a ruthless conqueror and stated exaggerated accounts of his killings.

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Question 5:

Keeping the nomadic element of the Mongol and Bedouin societies in mind, how, in your opinion, did their respective historical experiences differ? What explanations would you suggest account for these difference?

Answer:

The Mongols and the Bedouins were nomadic, but the historical experiences of their societies were different. These differences are enlisted below.

1) The Mongols were the barbaric nomads who waged ruthless wars to expand their settlements, while the Bedouins were non-barbaric.

2) The Bedouins did not adhere to any law or authority and did not believe in settling down; . On the other hand, the Mongols expanded their territories and created an empire; they laid down laws and ran societies.

3) Both the tribes traded with cities, but while the Bedouins traded without much conflict, the Mongols waged wars with the trading cities to turn the scales in their favour. The barbaric Mongols massacred people in villages and destroyed their agricultural lands, while the Bedouins settled in tillable lands and lived rather peacefully.

The Bedouins were interested in culture; they composed songs, music and stories. This literary aspect was missing in the Mongols.
According to me, the reason for the difference in their experiences is the difference in the landscape and climate in which the two tribes survived. The harsh climate and difficulty in cultivation drove the Mongols to abandon all forms of agriculture and resort to hunting and livestock rearing. The hostilities faced by them made them hardened marauders.

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Question 6:

How does the following account enlarge upon the character of the Pax Mongolica created by the Mongols by the middle of the thirteenth century'?

The Franciscan monk, William of Rubruck, was sent by Louis IX of France on an embassy to the great Khan Mongke's court. He reached Karakorum, the capital of Mongke. in 1254 and come upon a woman from Lorraine (in France) called Paquette, who had been brought from Hungary and was in the service of one of the prince's wives who was a Nestorian Christian. At the court he came across a Parisian goldsmith named Guillaume Boucher, 'whose brother dwelt on the Grand Pont in Paris'. This man was first employed by the Queen Sorghaqtani and than by Mongke's younger brother. Rubruck found that at the great court festivals the Nestorian priests were admitted first, with their regalia, to bless the Grand Khan's cup, and were followed by the Muslim clergy and Buddhist arid Taoist monks.

Answer:

Before we start inferring the characteristics of the Pax Mongolica from the given excerpt, it is essential to understand the concept first.  The term ‘Pax Mongolica’ is used to describe the era of peace, social stability and economic prosperity brought forth by the Mongol conquests of the 13th and 14th centuries.

By the middle of the 13th century, the Mongols had established a large empire that included a heterogeneous population. Genghis Khan adopted every possible means to maintain peace and create an environment where diverse groups could co-exist harmoniously. His efforts created a phase of amity and concord or the period of Pax Mongolica. Let’s now see how the  text given above highlights the features of the Pax Mongolica as those existed under Genghis Khan.

In the given passage, a French woman was in service of the Great Khan’s Nestorian Christian wife. The statement proves that people of all religions were treated equally in the Mongolian society. The Great Khan had a Christian wife, which proves that inter-religious marriages were accepted during those times. The Mongolian society accepted people from different regions of the world with open arms. The same is highlighted in the later part of the text where Nestorian Christian, Muslim, Buddhist and Taoist priests attend the court to bless the Khan’s cup.

The text also mentions a goldsmith from Paris who was in service of a queen and later the Khan’s brother. This portrays the image of a society where skill and workmanship were respected. This indeed emphasises on the diversification of the economy where activities other than farming were also in demand.

The mention to the people from different countries also proves that travellers during the period of Pax Mongolica could safely move from one place to another. This helped the Franciscan monk William of Rubruck and women from Lorraine to reach the land of the Mongols.

Thus, it will not be wrong to say that the Pax Mongolica laid the path towards progress for the Mongol Empire.



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