Question 1: Why was trade so significant to the Mongols?
Answer: The Mongols were pastoralists and hunter-gatherers. So, they always required supplies of certain items from the peasant communities. Hence, trade was significant for the Mongols.
Question 2: Why did Genghis Khan feel the need to fragment the Mongol tribes into new social and military groupings?
Answer: Genghis Khan wanted to erase the traditional structure among the Mongol tribes that was based on kinship and ethnicities. He wanted to create a military with diverse set of people where loyalty to the ruler would be of paramount importance. Hence, Genghis Khan felt the need to fragment the Mongol tribes into new social and military groupings.
Question 3: How do later Mongol reflections on the yasa bring out the uneasy relationship they had with the memory of Genghis Khan?
Answer: Genghis Khan was of the view that conquered cities and sedentary people needed to be wiped out to instill a sense of horror among his adversaries. The later Mongols felt that there was a need to develop a benign approach towards conquered subjects in order to rule over them peacefully. So, the later Mongols referred to the yasa to stamp their authority. In addition to that, they also referred to other lawgivers like Moses and Solomon to bring a sense of legitimacy to their rule. This shows the uneasy relationship they had with the memory of Genghis Khan.
Question 4: ‘If history relies upon written records produced by city-based literati, nomadic societies will always receive a hostile representation.’ Would you agree with this statement? Does it explain the reason why Persian chronicles produced such inflated figures of casualties resulting from Mongol campaigns?
Answer: This appears to be a true statement. The chroniclers of history have always come from settled societies. Their perspective is entirely different than that of nomadic people. There is more likelihood of such historians developing a jaundiced perspective about the nomadic people. This explains the exaggerated depiction of casualties which resulted from Mongol campaigns.
Question 5: Keeping the nomadic element of the Mongol and Bedouin societies in mind, how, in your opinion, did their respective historical experiences differ? What explanations would you suggest account for these differences?
Answer: The Bedouins indulged in peaceful coexistence and exchanges with their sedentary neighbors. Some of the Bedouins also changed to the settled life of agricultural communities. On the other hand, the Mongols seldom had peaceful coexistence with their sedentary neighbors. This can be attributed to the harsh climatic conditions in which the Mongols were living. Resources were scarce and instances of natural calamities were too frequent. This must have made the Mongols more ferocious than their Bedouin counterpart.
Question 6: How does the following account enlarge upon the character of the Pax Mongolica created by the Mongols by the middle of the thirteenth century?
The Franciscan monk, William of Rubruck, was sent by Louis IX of France on an embassy to the great Khan Mongke’s court. He reached Karakorum, the capital of Mongke, in 1254 and came upon a woman from Lorraine (in France) called Paquette, who had been brought from Hungary and was in the service of one of the prince’s wives who was a Nestorian Christian. At the court he came across a Parisian goldsmith named Guillaume Boucher, ‘whose brother dwelt on the Grand Pont in Paris’. This man was first employed by the Queen Sorghaqtani and then by Mongke’s younger brother. Rubruck found that at the great court festivals the Nestorian priests were admitted first, with their regalia, to bless the Grand Khan’s cup, and were followed by the Muslim clergy and Buddhist and Taoist monks.
Answer: This account shows the cosmopolitan character of the Pax Mongolica created by the Mongols by the middle of the thirteenth century. People from varied regions of the empire used to live in Karakorum. The rulers were secular in their outlook which is shown by priests from different religions blessing the Grand Khan’s cup. This speaks good about the overall environment in the Mongol Empire during that period.
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