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The Mongol Empire in World History

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Although students have heard of Genghis Khan and his empire, most have only a vague knowledge about it and its founder. In order to introduce students to the Mongol Empire’s impact on World History, this volume seeks not only to present a basic outline of the expansive empire and its divisions, but also to expose students to the complex impacts of this historically pivotal empire. Genghis Khan’s empire deeply influenced the history of the Eurasian continent, including China, Iran, the Middle East, Russia, and Central Europe. Exposure to the Mongol Empire of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries will expand and enrich student understanding of the twenty-first century.

While student fascination with the Mongol Empire often originates in history changing battles, this volume avoids a battle-after-battle approach. Following an introductory chapter on Genghis Khan’s rise to power, the founding of the empire, and the context of Mongol culture, the core of the book addresses each geographical and political segment of the Mongol Empire. These chapters encompass the chronology for the Chagatai Khanate, the Ilkhanate, the Mongols in Europe, and the Mongols in Northeast and South Asia. Discussion of the religious, ecological, and even technological and scientific developments arising from Mongol actions and policies is designed to provide readers with a sophisticated view of the empire. The concluding chapter allows students to discover the overarching impact of the empire from the Silk Roads to the Bubonic plague.

The book’s objective is to facilitate a more nuanced student understanding of this great empire. This volume addresses expected elements in empire-building while including information on the complexities of these elements. For example, as expected, the role of political intrigue and competition for the title of Great Khan and Khans of segments of the empire appears throughout the volume. The role of men in this empire, which often finds itself at war, is enhanced by the inclusion of the roles of several significant women. A thread of unexpected consequences appears throughout each chapter. The impact of Mongol actions, such as the creation of large numbers of slaves as a result of wars, illuminates the issue of the long-term impact of the empire. Discussion of the Mongol Empire’s impact on and contact with Buddhism, Islam, and Christianity will interest a wide variety of students.

The Mongol Empire in World History provides both the expected outline of the empire and insight into the complexities resulting from its creation. This book is intended for four different audiences: undergraduates in World and Western history courses, AP and Honors World History students, Introduction to Asia survey students, and K–12 teachers in Asia professional development courses. The maps and bibliography have been chosen especially for those students who may wish to further expand their knowledge of the Mongol Empire. Teachers and professors will find this volume useful as they prepare for classes and help their students choose paper topics.

 

HELEN HUNDLEY is Assistant Professor of Russian History and co-coordinator of the Asian Studies Certificate at Wichita State University. Her research interests include the northern Mongols in the eighteenth and nineteenth-century Russian Empire.