Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Administrative Iron

            The Mongol armies brought destruction wherever they went but the invasions also ushered in a new era of increased cultural and political control through reinvigorating the trade networks. In China the Mongols took over completely, but they adopted many of the Chinese ways in their administration, in Baghdad, things were a bit different; Here the Mongols preferred to rule with and iron fist.
            In China the Mongols did not destroy the urban Chinese ways entirely, instead they used what they could to their benefit. This is not to say that the Chinese took the takeover lightly. The Mongols devastated China and the Chinese ways. Nevertheless, even in their complete takeover, they followed the Chinese Dynastic ways closely. In the takeover, begun by Chinggis Khan and completed by Kubilae Khan, his grandson, the north fell quickly but the south did not fall completely until 1280. The song dynast did all it could to protect Hangshou, but it fell in 1276. The emperor and his mother were taken to Dadu and treated with honor by Kubilae Khan. This is quite different from Baghdad’s story.
            In the Mongol attack on Islamic World led by Hulagu Khan, Baghdad was a prized conquer to the Mongols even if Baghdad’s power over the Islamic world had declined by the time the Mongols captured it. The Army of 200,000 captured the city and was ruthless. The Buddhist/Shamanist Mongols killed the last Abbasid caliph. The Mongols were particularly offensive and destructive to Muslims because of this religious difference and the outsiders’ brutality; Thus tensions were high in Baghdad. The Mongols relied on brute force, intimidation and the borrowing of skills from across the empire to maintain their power.
But Muslim intellectual institutions still soared to new heights under the begrudged Mongol rule. They made mathematic and scientific discoveries and made great strides in astronomy, calendar making, and prediction of eclipses during Mongol rule. The Mongols orchestrated a thriving trade network throughout Afro-Eurasia, complete with protected trade routes and in China benefits for merchants and artisans helped them flourish. In China cities and ports prospered as trade recovered.
Only Mongols could serve in the Military and the top Government jobs were reserved for Mongols. In Baghdad other ethnic/religious groups including Christians and Jews were placed in power, but Muslims could only have low and local positions of power. In China this was much the same. The Mongols reserved the high power seats for themselves, but did let the Chinese people rule in local ways. This idea that the conquered people were not fit for high government positions created strong uprising and resentment.
The Mongols wrought destruction wherever they went, but they also provided a way for new beginnings. Their conquering techniques varied vastly depending on where they went and who they were conquering. For example, in China when the Emperor and his mother were captured they were taken to Dadu and treated with honor. On the other hand, in Baghdad, the last Abbasid ruler was killed. This show how the Mongols could adapt to their environment and continue to maintain control.