Category Archives: Mongols

Ibn Battuta Sees the World and Meets Hermits, 1325-55

The Muslim world had grown so large that it was very hard for them to know all parts of their own lands, let alone the rest of the world. Around 1355, a Moroccan named Ibn Battuta dictated and published his … Continue reading

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Game of Mamluk Thrones, 1290-1330

The Mamluks governed based on competence, in a time when governance was always based on inheritance. They didn’t come up with a framework for peaceful transfers of power or group selection of the leader. Instead, they functioned like a monarchy … Continue reading

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The First Ottomans and the Last Ilkhan, 1302-1337

In 1280, a Turk named Osman became the Bey of Söğüt, Turkey, and over the next 20 years, he took control of neighboring tribes and towns. His son Orhan named the new group the “Osmanlı,” or as we would say … Continue reading

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Mamluks vs. Mongols, 1299

I have it marked down as an important battle: the Third Battle of Homs in 1299, when the Mongols defeated the Mamluks after two previous losses at the same place. But when I look at it more closely, I’m not … Continue reading

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Marco Polo and the Golden Ticket, 1299

We owe the first descriptions of Xanadu and Khanbalik (Beijing) to Marco Polo of Venice, whose book was published in 1299, co-written by Rusticello of Pisa. The book was quickly translated into many languages; the oldest manuscript we have is … Continue reading

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The Ilkhan Turns Muslim, 1291-95

In 1291, the Mamluks finally captured Acre, the last outpost of the Crusader states. The Christian world didn’t know that they’d never take back any of that land, but in fact, they never would, until after World War I. At the … Continue reading

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In Xanadu did Kublai Khan: the Yuans, 1271

“In Xandu did Cublai Can build a stately Pallace, encompassing sixteen miles of plaine ground with a wall, wherein are fertile Meddowes, pleasant Springs, delightfull streames, and all sorts of beasts of chase and game, and in the middest thereof … Continue reading

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The Eighth and Ninth Crusades, 1270-2

The Mamluk Sultan Baybars had a field day in the Holy Land during the 1260s. War between Venice and Genoa had drawn the remaining Crusader towns into war with each other, exhausting the region one more time. Mamluk forces, which … Continue reading

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Hulegu Khan and Goliath’s Well, 1260

Möngke Khan died in 1259. The Mongolian procedure for selecting a new Great Khan was not an automatic succession by Möngke’s son, but a massive family gathering called a kurultai. The kurultai was usually organized with an obvious purpose by one … Continue reading

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The Fall of Baghdad, 1258

The last Caliph of Baghdad ascended to his throne in 1242. The position had been powerless for a long time during the Turkish migrations, ruling in name while the cities were virtually independent, but then a series of energetic Caliphs … Continue reading

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