moment of truth
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Hey,

How important was the Mongol empire to History? Is it still fairly important in today's world? What were the Mongols known for best?

After watching Marco Polo which is a series based around the Mongol empire when Kublai Khan was the emperor I have a sudden interest in this area but don't know an awful lot about them.

Thank you
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Synapsida
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The Mongol empire helped spread trade and inventions from the East like Gunpowder across Eurasia into Europe. Also, the Illkahantes became the dominate powers in the Middle East resulting in the upset of powers in Anatolia. The Oguz Turkic Tribes were fragmented by the Mongol Conquest and this resulted in the Rise of one the most empire in history- The Ottoman Empire. The Chinese were close to having an Industrial Revolution during the song Dynasty, they produced 100,000 tons of cast iron, had completed the grand canal linking south and northern China and had an manufacturing base in the southern provinces after the Jin, Lao and Jurchens captures Kiefang during the end of the Northern Song. Some say that if China never succumbed to the Mongols then China would probably be in an much stronger Position during the 19th century (when suffered humiliation under British). The Arab would probably not lost so many scientist and philosophers in Mesopotamia (Iraq) and the middle east could experience an Enlightenment like movement that Europe experience, but that is only speculation. Iran would probably be more populated (like N.India is today), as it lost around 10 million during the 38 year rule of the first Mongol empire. Iran lost an further 5 million under Timur Lane (an descendant of Genghis Khan).
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Tufto
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On the flip-side, the Mongols did have something of a positive legacy too. They gave long-lost unity to Iran, Russia and China, which would never be lost again. They caused something of an artistic and cultural revolution in Iran through the contacts they opened up to the far east. The unity they afforded on the Eurasian continent led to a huge interchange of cultural, religious, scientific and literary traditions, in addition to interchange in cuisine, agriculture, medicine and other such things. The Mongols and their genius administrative techniques actively encouraged such movements: although, as with everything in the management of their empire, only because it would benefit them.

The effects of this (and especially the trading patronage) reached Europe, and it has been argued (perhaps not very convincingly) that the loss of the so-called Pax Mongolica on the also-so-called Silk Road led to the Portuguese trying to open new routes to the Indian Ocean- and we all know what that eventually led to.

Furthermore, on a political level, the Mongols effectively blitzed apart the old order in both of the major civilisations they controlled (China and Iran). In addition to the aforementioned unity, China saw the beginning of its modern province system, the absorption of the Yunnan into its realm, and probably some other stuff (I'm more interested in the Middle Eastern side ).

In Iran and the Middle East, the destruction of the Assassins and crucially the Caliphate, as well as a political tradition of their yasa laws which lay concurrent or opposed to sharia led to new types of Imperial authority in the Early Modern period. This, alongside tribal movements, political unity and greater power to nomadic clans led to the three "Gunpowder Empires" of the Ottomans, Mughals and Safavids, which along with the Uzbeks (ruled by Genghis Khan's dynasty and formed of a fracture of one of the many Mongol successor states) ruled the vast, vast majority of the Islamic world from the 16th to the 18th centuries.

TLDR: They recreated the power-structures and political systems of an enormous amount of world, as well as hugely changing the genearl makeup of Asia through creating a huge East-West empire which actively patronised merchants and other figures of value.

The Mongols were basically a giant whirlwind of a catalyst, ending the Middle Ages in the Islamic world, unifying China permanently, creating the Russian state and blurring and changing the cultural and intellectual boundaries of Asia. This and the other awesome things they did (genius admin, tolerance, meritocracy, legal codes in Inner Asia) tends to be overshadowed by how awfully, awfully evil they kinda were to anyone who did not immediately submit.
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