Mongol Essay

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When you first hear the word Mongol, the immediate image that comes to mind is that of a fearsome and ruthless warrior. This reputation helped the Mongols conquer and rule the largest empire in history which spanned from China to Europe. While the rise of the Mongols is largely attributed to the emergence of their famed leader, Genghis Khan, the Mongol Empire itself would have lasting effects on China, Korea, and Japan even after his death. The Mongols would occupy Koryo Korea, defeat the Southern Song Dynasty to occupy China, and attempt to invade and conquer Japan on two occasions under the guidance of Kublai Khan. These aggressive maneuvers by the Mongol Empire would have significant ramifications on the development of China, Korea, and Japan.

The Mongols were one of many nomadic tribes located on the Asian Steppes. However, before their historic rise under the leadership of Genghis Khan they were divided, quarrelsome, and weak. Genghis Khan was initially known as Temujin before he became leader of the Mongol Empire. Temujin rose to power after the death of his father, who shared a blood bond with the Khan of the Kereyits. The Kereyits were another group of nomads located on the Asian Steppes. Temujin killed Begter, his half-brother, and gained control of his father’s tribe. Temujin would go on to marry Borte of the Ongirat tribe, but shortly after his marriage Borte would be kidnapped by the Merkits. As Temujin’s tribe was a vassal state of the Kereyits he approached the Khan of the Kereyits to aid in the rescue of his wife and for the Kereyits to avenge the insult on their vassal state. With the help of the Kereyits and Jamukha, his childhood friend, Temujin was able to defeat the Merkits and rescue his wife. This military victory was enough to have Temujin declared Khan of the Mongols, thus he became Genghis Khan. It is important to note that at this stage the Mongols were extremely weak and had few numbers. Thus the Mongols took little part in the fighting. After becoming the ruler of the Mongols, Genghis Khan would continue to show his military prowess and would start to amass a large force and territory due to his fantastic leadership abilities. Once the balance of power between the Mongols and Kereyits had shifted Genghis Khan reproached the Kereyits and suggested that they become a vassal state to the Mongols. The Kereyits refused and Genghis Khan eventually defeated his former allies. Under Genghis Khan’s leadership the Mongols were able to create the second largest empire in existence and after his death Genghis Khan’s family would create the largest empire in existence under the leadership of Ogodei Khan, and Kublai Khan. The Mongol invasion into Koryo Korea was extremely important because through Koryo Korea is how the Mongols first discovered the existence of Japan. After the death of Genghis Khan in 1227 a leadership struggle ensued. Ogodei, Genghis Khan’s third son would become the next leader of the Mongol Empire. Initially Koryo Korea was an ally of the Mongols because they aided in defeating the Jurchen Jin Dynasty. However, an incident occurred in 1225 where an envoy of Ogodei was killed after a visit to Koryo. The slaying of Ogodei’s envoy sparked the invasion of Koryo Korea by the Mongols. Ogodei appointed General Sartai to conquer Koryo and to avenge the dead envoy in 1231. The Mongol invasion into Korea was not quick and easy, it took nearly thirty years for the Mongols to gain control over Korea. However in 1260 King Wonjong surrendered and in 1265 Koryo Korea became a vassal state of the Mongol Empire. An important thing to note is that Ogodei died in 1241 and there again there was a power struggle to determine the next khan of the Mongol Empire. Kublai Khan would come out the victor after acquiring the aid of Koryo. After gaining power over the Mongol Empire, Kublai Khan would use Koryo Korea as a channel to communicate with Japan. Kublai Khan would attempt to target the Southern Song...
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