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The Mongol Empire After Genghis Khan’s Death

In Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World, Jack Weatherford narrated in vivid detail how the descendants of Genghis Khan, the great ruler of Mongolia expanded the Mongol Empire to create a distinct civilization marked by thriving commerce and culture. Genghis Khan bequeathed a vast kingdom built on his achievements, and this is what his descendants capitalized on. The legendary military strategist also laid the groundwork for cultural innovation, which his successors continued. Trade and commerce flourished in the years following Genghis Khan’s death.

Although Genghis Khan’s sons and grandsons conquered many lands that expanded the Mongol Empire, the book highlighted in greater detail the socio-economic achievements of the great Khan’s successors. In the years that followed Genghis Khan’s death and with the splitting of his huge empire into pieces of territory under the jurisdiction of his sons and grandsons, what became noteworthy was how some of these successors efficiently managed their portions of the Mongol Empire to allow them to expand and soar to new heights.

In retrospect, the death of Genghis Khan in 1229 led to the subsequent subdivision of his Mongol kingdom into four distinct quadrants — the Golden Horde in Russia established by Genghis Khan’s grandson Batu, who set out to invade Europe and Russia; the Moghul Empire in India under second son Chaghatai; the Ilkhanate in Persia and Iraq governed by Tolui’s son Hulegu Khan; and the Yuan Dynasty in China.

It can be noted that Genghis Khan’s heirs, whom he was not able to train to develop the brilliant tactics and the most effective and disciplined armies he employed, prolonged the existence of the Mongol empire more by applying the sheer force of conquest rather than innate leadership skills. To keep the empire strong, Genghis Khan’s successors vanquished and plundered nations but there were occasions when some of them did not reap successful results. The Mongol Empire reached its zenith under the able descendants of Genghis Khan.

While it was under Genghis Khan’s third son, Ogedei, that rapid expansion of the Mongol empire reached its zenith as far as establishing imperialist control over lands was concerned, it was the descendants of Tolui who left a vast imprint in commerce, culture and the arts. What some of Genghis Khan’s descendants lacked in terms of skillful adaptations for battle they made up for in cultural innovation. Genghis Khan’s grandson Khubilai Khan, in particular, was instrumental in letting the Mongol empire flourish in trade and culture.

“The commercial influence of the Mongols spread much farther than their army, and the transition from the Mongol Empire to the Mongol Corporation occurred during the reign of Khubilai Khan” (Weatherford 2004, 220). Amidst the Mongol incursions in foreign lands, Genghis Khan’s successors paved the way for the cultural flowering as well as unification of the eastern and western fronts of Asia. Because of this, succeeding generations have come to regard Genghis Khan not only as a great conqueror but also the precursor of a bustling commerce, culture and the arts.

Genghis Khan’s heirs were able to do this by immersing themselves in the culture of the countries where they set up trade and commerce and adopting an enterprising mindset. They responded to “the needs of a universal market” and before long, were “adding entirely new items for specialized markets” (Weatherford 2004, 226). Moreover, Mongol rulers who were “skilled at moving large numbers of people and utilizing new technology for purposes of war” (Weatherford 2004, 227) aligned themselves well with their subject populations.

Notwithstanding the feats of Genghis Khan’s descendants in the fields of commerce and culture, the Mongol Empire faced eventual collapse. It must be noted, though, that even if Genghis Khan’s successors were easily lured to engage in acts of profligacy, they did not really deliberately let the Mongol Empire go to ruin. If the last vestiges of Genghis Khan’s vast empire many years later faded into oblivion, it was more because of historical circumstances that were beyond their control.

The Mongol Empire simply reached a natural decline with the passage of time, with some geographical areas facing collapse more quickly than others (Weatherford 2004, 250). The book Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World llustrated how the last known descendants of Mongol ruler Genghis Khan were purged, notably by the British and Soviets (Weatherford 2004, 264). Bibliography Weatherford, Jack. Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World. New York: Random House, Inc. , 2004.

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