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History (Section Contents) >>
  1. Overview
  2. The steppes before Genghis Khan
  3. The rise of Genghis Khan
  4. Conquests of Genghis Khan
  5. Conquests of His Successors
  6. Kubiliai Khan and the Pax Mongolia
  7. Decline and Fall
  8. History FAQ, Misc.

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The Mongol Empire was the largest continuous land empire of all time. At its height of power it encompassed an area five times the size of Alexander's Empire, extending from the Pacific Ocean to the Danube River. Amazingly, most of the empire's success can be accredited to one man, born as Temujin who later became Chingis (Genghis) Khan. Temujin began his career with a ragtag clan that included his mother, his bothers, and a servent, living off rodents in the most desolate areas in Mongolia. Later on, he was able to form an army of five men. However, Temujin was an unusually skilled leader, and though a series of incredible feats, he rose to power to become Chingis Khan. Chingis united all the warring tribes and clans and weaved them into a grand society.

With his great power in the steppes, Chingis Khan embarked on world conquest. Under his leadership and military innovations, the Mongol Army was nearly unstoppable. In a relatively short time, he conquered northern China and the Persia, creating an Empire from the Yellow sea to the Caspian Sea. Genghis died in 1227, but the Mongol conquests did not halt. Under his successors, the Mongol hordes rode into Russia, Eastern Europe, the Sung Empire, and the Middle East, enlarging the empire to an enormous extent.

Although the Mongol Conquests brought much destruction, the great economical activities that followed should not be disregarded. Travel safety was guaranteed and thus, a great trading network was form stretching from China to Europe. For the first time in centuries, the Silk Road was reopened, allowing a great deal of cultural diffusion between the East and the West.

However, the great size of the Mongol Empire was what brought it to its downfall. After the death of Kubilai Khan, the political link between the sections of the Empire was lost. The Empire fractured into four separate units (Khanates) governed by separate Khans. Soon, the Khanates themselves became fractured and Mongol rule faded into history.

  
left: Genghis (Chingis) Khan, Founder of the Mongol Empire. Right: The Mongol Empire at its height of power (>>More maps)

Next: The Steppes Before Genghis Khan