The Mongols were an obscure people who lived in the outer reaches of the Gobi Desert in what is now Outer Mongolia. They were a pastoral and tribal people that did not really seem to be of any consequence to neighboring peoples. I am led to believe that the Mongols were in fact a group of disunified tribes that would gather regularly during annual migrations; although they elected chiefs over the tribes at these meetings, I'm not sure they never unified into a single people prior to reign of Genghis Khan.
Genghis Khan, whose original name Temujin, was born around 1167. Temujin succeeded his father as the Chief of his tribe and went on to become the creator of one of the largest empires to ever exist. He began to vigorously organize the Mongols into a military force through conscription and taxes on the tribes. I think that Genghis Khan could literally move troops around in the heat of battle as easily as he would move chess pieces. Their armor was light so they had a wider range of motion. The cavalry could shoot as many as six arrows per minute. On horseback, the cavalry was unstoppable. With this army he was able to unite all of Mongolia under his rule. Moreover, his armies were incredibly mobile and could cover immense distances with numbing speed. Finally, Genghis Khan was ruthless towards people who resisted the advances of his army. If a town or city fought back, he laid siege to the town and, at its conclusion, would exterminate its inhabitants. When news of these tactics spread, Mongol armies easily and successfully took over towns that would surrender as soon as the Mongols showed their faces. The Mongols literally decimated populations in Western Asia and China as they advanced. As a result of all these tactics, the Mongol armies spread across the landscape like wildfire. They marched relentlessly south into Chin territory and west into Asia.
For all that, Genghis Khan was primarily interested in conquering China because of its great...
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