Mongols and the World of Islam
With one stroke a world which billowed with fertility was laid desolate, and the regions thereof became a desert, and the greater part of the living dead, and their skin and bones crumbling dust; and the mighty were humbled and immersed in the calamities of Perdition.
Ala al-Din Juwanyi cited by Timothy May, The Mongol Empire, p. 63.
O People, know that you have committed great sins, and that the great ones among you have committed those sins. If you ask me what proof I have for these words, I say it is because I am the punishment of God. If you had not committed great sins, God would not have sent a punishment like me upon you.
Ala al-Din Juwanyi cited by Timothy May, The Mongol Empire, p. 315.
Ala al-Din Juwanyi (1226-1283), a Persian historian, was probably right about the destructive effects of the Mongol invasions, but there is no corroboration of his account of Chinggis Khan (1162-1227) speaking at a Friday congregation from the minber (pulpit) of a mosque in Bukhara. This is perhaps a penitential explanation: God’s punishment for the sins and misrule of Khwarazm shah, Muhammad II (1169-1220)—he persecuted Sufis and non-Muslims. Another explanation, according to Ibn al-Athir (1160-1233), was that the Mongols were the apocalyptic sign of the ‘End of Time’. Still another explanation was that the Mongols were simply heartless barbarians, an image that has lasted. The consensus of historians is that the contemporary accounts, recorded mostly by Muslims, of the destructive effects of Mongol invasions on Muslim societies were quite exaggerated and the transformative impact of the Mongol rule on the world of Islam has been underreported.
In this essay, I will focus on the rise of Mongolia and the impact of Mongol rule on the world of Islam. Mongolia in the mid-twelfth century was a small territory between the Onon and Kerulen rivers in the north-east of the Gobi Desert and south of the Siberian forests. Its population consisted of several tribes of nomadic pastoralists. They moved around on the steppe pastures to feed their livestock—cattle, yaks, sheep, goats, camels, and horses. There was not much else to live on. Life was simple but harsh. Mongols (aka Tatars) emerged as a national identity only after Temujin was recognised as their leader (Khagan)in 1206 with the title of Chinggis Khan. They were surrounded by numerous other tribes interacting in war and peace: Tatar, Onggirad, Onggud, Khitan, Merkit, Oiret, Naiman, Kereit, and Teyichi’ud. There was also the big Jin empire of Jurchens in China south of the Khingan mountains, the Xi Xia kingdom of Tanguts south of the Gobi Desert, and further in the west of the Altai mountains the Qara Khitai empire of the Khitans.
Mongols were Shamanists but no strangers to Buddhism, Nestorian Christianity, and Islam. Shamanism was unlike these religions: it was polytheistic and complex. It had two basic tenets: the ultimate power rested with the Blue Eternal Sky (Tenggeri) and there was a world of spirits. There was no afterlife, or Hell or Heaven. Shamans were not priests but healers. They also acted as intermediaries between the dead and the living and transmitted Tenggeri’s intentions, designs, and plans. Mongol men liked drinking and women, but women enjoyed more freedom than their counterparts in many other societies. Some Mongol khatuns (ladies) were powerful. Chinggis Khan’s mother and his first wife are good examples. Even after conversion to Islam, the Mongol women enjoyed far more freedom than their Muslim peers in the Mongol empire.
The rise of Chinggis Khan—his name was Temujin—to power was nothing less than spectacular. His father Yesugei was leader of the Borjigid tribe, who had abducted the bride of a Merkit chief and made her (Ho’elun) his first wife. He had violated a social convention and was apparently poisoned by Tatars. There was also an ongoing feud between the Borjigid and Tayichi’ud tribes. Temujin was captured by the Tayichi’ud but managed to escape. One of his father’s blood friends, Toghril Khan of the Kereits, gave him support in his fight against the Merkits who had abducted his wife Borte. Temujin retrieved his wife but then he had a feud with Jamuqa, one of his blood friends. So, he fled to the Jin empire where he spent about a decade. Not much is known about his life there. He returned to Mongolia in 1195 and started a campaign with his old and new supporters against Tatars, Merkits, Kereits and Naimans. His defeat of the Naimans confirmed him to be the ruler of greater Mongolia. Consequently, in 1206 he was given the title of Chinggis Khan (fearless leader) in a general assembly (quriltai).
Chinggis Khan brought about a social revolution by reorganising the Mongol society in a military system based on a unit of one thousand (minqan): ten units of 100 (1000) and ten units of 10 (100). Households were organised and taxed on this basis as well. In the minqan system, tribes and clans were mixed to create a new identity, the Great Mongol State (Yeke Mongol Ulus). They were no longer Merkit, Kereit, or Tatar: they were Mongol. Chinggis Khan also established a bodyguard (keshik) of ten thousand sons of military leaders. He assigned minqans to his brothers and sons with military advisors and supporters but kept checks and balances to protect his power. His family (altan urugh) was on top in the hierarchy followed by the Mongol aristocracy (qarachu). It is fair to say that the Yeke Mongol Ulus was a military state with a wide and efficient network of intelligence. Chinggis Khan adopted the Uyghur script and favoured trade.
On surface there was peace in the new Mongolia, but there were tensions because some tribes were former enemies. A major way to ensure stability in Mongolia was to go outside of it. Besides, Senggum (son of Tughril Khan), leader of the Kereit, had fled to the Xi Xia kingdom and Guchulug, leader of the Naiman, had fled to Qara Khitai. They posed a serious threat to Chinggis Khan. And there were the Siberian Forest people in the north, Hoi-yin Irgen, who had a history of making raids in the south. Finally, while the Jin empire had helped Chinggis Khan’s rise to power, it had a long history of meddling in the affairs of the steppe nomads. Chinggis Khan launched campaigns against the forest people first, followed by a successful war against the Merkits and Naimans—Guchulug took refuge with the Gur-Khan of Qara Khitai. In 1210, the Xi Xia kingdom became a client state of Mongols: it agreed to pay tribute and provide troops when needed. Chinggis Khan with one of his great generals, Muqali (d. 12q23), then invaded the Jin empire. After a three-year campaign they brought it under the control of Mongols. By the year 1216, Mongols had the Xi Xia kingdom and the Jin empire.
In the same year, the forest people rebelled, but their rebellion was crushed. In the meantime, some Merkit refugees had run to the west and were taken by Qanglis, the eastern branch of the Kip Chak confederacy. The armies of Jochi, the eldest son of Chinggis Khan, and Subedei, an outstanding Mongol general, destroyed the Qangli and Merkit. Finally, in 1218 the Mongol army led by Jebe, another great Mongol general, defeated the Qara Khitai forces and took over the empire. Mongols were now at the frontier of the Muslim Khwarazm empire on Syr Darya. Muslims in Qara Khitai saw Mongols as liberators because they had suffered tyranny and persecution at the hands of Guchulug. Jebe, the Mongol general, was neutral in matters of religion, following the policy of Chinggis Khan. Mongols were not unfamiliar with Muslims because of the long-standing trade between the Middle East and China on the various Silk Roads. There were some merchants living in Mongolia. In fact, Chinggis Khan had taken two Muslims into his service: Hasan the trader and Sayed Jaffar (or Jabbar) who claimed to be a descendant of the Prophet.
The Mongols, however, knew little about the ruler (Sultan) of the Khwarazm empire, Ala al-Din Muhammad II (1169-1220), a ruthless tyrant with great ambitions. The Khwarazm empire—on which the Sultan’s hold was at best tenuous—included the modern states of Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, almost all of Iran, and the area west of the Indus in Pakistan. Sultan Muhammad had tried his hands against the Qara Khitai and the Qanglis. He had even waged war against the Muslim rulers of Iraq and Syria without success. He sent a goodwill mission, led by Baha al-Din Razi, to the Mongol court where it was well received. Given his interest in trade and as a gesture of friendship, Chinggis Khan sent a trade caravan to Khwarazm in early 1218. There were 450 Muslim merchants, 100 cavalrymen, and a personal envoy. Mongols wanted the trade embargo lifted. When the caravan arrived at the town of Otrar on the Syr Darya, its governor, Inalchuq (Qayir Khan) confiscated the goods and massacred all but one members of the caravan. The excuse for this atrocity was that they were spies. The governor shared the confiscated goods with the Sultan. Chinggis Khan showed great restraint—he was busy in the war with the Jin empire—and opted for diplomacy. He sent Ibn Kifraj Bughra, a Muslim Turk, as his envoy with some Mongol grandees with two demands: handover the governor and return the confiscated goods. The Sultan found these demands insulting. So, he executed the envoy and sent the grandees back with their heads shaved and beards burnt.
Killing Mongol envoys was an unforgivable sin. Chinggis Khan couldn’t bear this outrage. In the fall of 1218, he marched with a small army 2,000 miles from northern China to Khwarazm. In Otrar he killed the governor and massacred others in large number. Muhammad II mobilised his armies and fortified cities. In the meantime, Chinggis Khan was joined by four or five armies and managed to sack Bukhara. Then he took Samarqand. Sultan Muhammad crossed Amu Darya and retreated to Khwarazm. Two of Chinggis Khan’s generals chased him, but he escaped to an island in the Caspian Sea where he died of some ailment. Chinggis Khan entered Afghanistan in pursuit of Jalal al-Din, Sultan Muhammad’s son, who managed to cross the Indus in 1221. In the meantime, Tolui, the youngest son of Chinggis Khan, had gone into Khurasan where he destroyed every place that resisted. The Mongol army in northern India retreated through Afghanistan, regrouped, and returned to Mongolia abruptly. A force remained in Khwarazm and the Mawarannahr to deprive Jalal al-Din of the core of his father’s empire. Chinggis Khan returned to Mongolia in 1223 and declared war on Xi Xia because the Tangut had refused to give more troops that the Mongol ruler needed in the war against Khwarazm. The Mongol armies destroyed the Xi Xia capital and finished the Tangut kingdom. It became part of the Mongol empire. Chinggis Khan died in 1227 after a fall from horseback.
What made Mongols, a small population of nomadic pastoralists, a great power? The charisma, genius, and valour of Chinggis Khan had united them. The inter-tribal feuds in the neighbourhood and the meddling of the Jin empire in the affairs of these tribes had triggered the initial Mongol raids and invasions. A major reason for war was vengeance though there was also ideology at play: Chinggis Khan and his dynasty has obtained Tenggeri’s mandate to rule the world. Expansion through wars was a way to maintain peace and stability inside Mongolia. The success of Mongols in wars lay in the organisation and mobilisation of their armies. They were determined, disciplined, well trained, compactly formed, masters of archery, speedy horsemen, and users of powerful and ingenious weapons of siege. Speed, surprise, and ruse were a central part of the military strategy. And they had some great military leaders; Muqali, Subedei and Jebe. Generally, Mongols followed a rule: if the enemy surrendered without resistance, they did not inflict much pain or damage, but if there was resistance the punishment was harsh and cruel, including pillage, massacre, rape, and bondage. On occasions, Mongols gravely exceeded the limits. Normally, they took artisans, craftsmen, and men of letters to their homeland. These men became a great asset in transforming the empire and its rulers.
At the time of Chinggis Khan’s death the Mongol empire stretched from the Sea of Japan in the north-east to the Caspian Sea in the west and from the Siberian forests to the frontier of Tibet. The Mongol armies were on the march through the steppe of the Kip Chak to the Black Sea and from the south through the remnants of the Khwarazm empire, Azerbaijan, and Armenia. Chinggis Khan had four sons, of which the eldest Jochi (1182-1227) died, perhaps poisoned, before his father. The three other sons were Ogodei (1186-1241), Chaghatayi (1184-1242), and Tolui (1192-1230). Ogodei was designated by Chinggis Khan to be the next Khagan. He was confirmed in a general assembly in 1229. During his rule the Mongol armies had destroyed the Jin empire and became its rulers. Since there was no set rule for succession in the family of Chinggis Khan, there were disputes after the death of Ogodei in 1241. There were two regencies by the widows of Ogodei and Guyuk and two more Khagans, Guyuk (1246-1248) son of Ogodei and Mongke (1251-1259) son of Tolui. The Mongol empire in the times of Mongke was larger in area than the United States of America: it covered the area from the Korean peninsula south to northern China and Tibet, Central Asia, Russia up to the border of Poland and Hungary, Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Iran, Iraq, Azerbaijan., Armenia, and Georgia. Once Mongke, the fourth Khagan, died in 1259, the great Mongol empire split into four Ulus.
1. Yuan Empire ruled by Khublai Khan
2. Chaghatayid Khanate
3. Jochid Ulus (Golden Horde) of Batu and Berke
4. Ilkhanate of Hulegu
Of the four Ulus, Muslims formed a dominant community in the Ilkhanate (Khurasan, Afghanistan, parts of Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, Azerbaijan, Armenia, and the eastern part of Turkey) and to a lesser extent in the Chaghatayid Khanate (Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kirghizstan, and Xin Jiang).There were some Muslim populations (Bulgars on the Volga River) north of the Caspian Sea in the Golden Horde and fewer still in China. There were two policies of the Mongol rulers that directly affected Muslim communities. First, they were usually neutral in matters of religion. This meant that non-Muslims could now enjoy a better life in the Muslim-dominated societies. Second, the Mongol rulers followed, at least initially, the Mongol customs and traditions (Yosun) and the law code (edicts) of Chinggis Khan (Yasa) quite strictly. Some of these customs and edicts were quite repugnant to Muslims: marriages of Muslim princesses with the infidel Mongols; levirate marriages among Mongols (e.g., marrying the stepmother); prohibition of washing in running water (in spring and summer); and killing animals for meat by slitting their throat. There is no credible evidence that any of the sons of Chinggis Khan was anti-Islam or persecuted Muslims, except for Chaghatayi. Ogodei tended to be pro-Muslim. Among the grandsons of Chinggis Khan, Guyuk and Mongke were indifferent; Batu and Beke (Golden Horde) were pro-Muslim—Berke was Muslim; Hulegu in the Ilkhanate was pro-Christian but not anti-Muslim; Khublai Khan was pro-Buddhist but not anti-Muslim. The sons and grandsons of Chaghatayi had turned away from his anti-Muslim policies.
After the departure of Chinggis Khan from Afghanistan, Jala al-Din, son of Muhammad II came back from India to Iran in 1225 and was active raiding and fighting until he was killed by the Mongol armies in 1230. Mongols had armies south of Khurasan in Iran under three successive generals who supervised the empire in Iran, Azerbaijan, Armenia, and part of Turkey (Anatolia). They had a hard time crushing the Nizari Ismailis (aka Assassins) in their strong fortresses. Mongke sent his brother Hulegu with the mission to destroy the Ismailis and deal with the intransigent Caliph in Baghdad. Hulegu moved slowly. His armies comprised Mongols, Khitans, Uyghurs, Tanguts, and Chinese—almost all of them were non-Muslims. Hulegu and his generals did not punish communities harshly if they surrendered without resistance. But they were awfully harsh with those who resisted. They allowed the rulers of principalities to stay if they agreed to continue as vassals of Ilkhanate.
Besides much destruction, Muslims lost their superior status where they were in majority. They were now at par with non-Muslims. The new rulers removed previous restrictions on non-Muslims. For example, jizya was abolished; Christians could build new churches; and they could ring the church bells. To be fair, Mongols showed respect to the Muslim shrines and did not interfere in the affairs of the Muslim religious properties (awqaf). Some of them donated money to repair or build new mosques and shrines. While (Sunni) Muslims were relieved that the Mongols had destroyed the fortresses of the heterodox Ismailis, they had a profound sense of insecurity and had to find ways to come to terms with the rule by infidels in the house of Islam. The Muslim response was not uniform. The Shia communities surrendered to the Mongols more readily since they did not acknowledge the Sunni rulers as legitimate. For Sunni Muslims, the destruction of the Caliphate in 1258—brought about by the inglorious behaviour of the Caliph al-Musta’sim—was a heavy blow. But the fact is that Sultans had become Caliphs—for instance in Mamluk Egypt. Some of the Sunni populations fled to Egypt and Syria. Others turned inward and followed the route of Sufis and Shaikhs. In fact, some Sufis and Shaikhs became intermediaries between Muslims and the Mongol rulers. The new rulers wanted to be accepted—they were pragmatists. Hulegu asked some Ulama in Aleppo whether a just infidel ruler was preferable to an unjust Muslim ruler. He had Quranic verses and the shahada embossed on his coinage.
Once the Mongols settled down in the Ilkhanate, they did not persecute Muslims. They showed respect for talents and employed talented people irrespective of their religion or ethnicity. The new rulers were particularly interested in medicine, alchemy, divination, astronomy, architecture, finance, agriculture, trade, and the arts and crafts. They took several Muslims in their service in high positions—this was also true of Chinggis Khan and his grandsons in China and the Golden Horde. In the Ilkhanate, the examples include Nasir al Din Tusi, a polymath astronomer, as adviser to Hulegu and builder of observatories; two brothers, Shams al-Din Juwayni and Ala al-Din Juwayni, as wazirs; Sa’ad al-Daulah as physician; Jalal al- Din Simnani as law adviser and wazir of Arghun; and Kamal al-Din Abd al Rahman as wazir of Tegudar (Ahmed), son of Hulegu. Once the rulers converted to Islam their dependence on Muslims increased. Rashid al-Din Hamadani, a convert from Judaism and a historian, was one of the most prominent and influential wazirs of the Ilkhanate in the reign of Ghazan.
The Mongol rule had profound effects on the world of Islam, but not in every respect for the worse. For one thing, they became Muslims in less than fifty years after the death of Chinggis Khan. Also, they removed competing predators and brought stability after disorder and destruction. Let us look at some of the effects of the Mongol rule on Muslim societies.
First, soon after the conquest a process of transformation started among the nomadic people towards sedentary life and conversion from Shamanism and Buddhism to Islam. The Ilkhans gradually Persianised themselves. Since most of the subject population was of Muslims, and Islam looked to be easier than alternatives, the process of conversion was not entirely from the top. Perhaps the rank and file began to change earlier and more quickly than the Mongol elite (qarachu). In fact, some of them were resistant to change, but because of their loyalty to the Chinggisid princes they followed the convert ruler. There were several sources of the spread of Islam among Mongols and their non-Muslim armies. Sufis and Shaikhs, Muslim merchants, Muslim troops and refugees were the catalysts. In less than fifty years after the death of Chinggis Khan, most of the former Shamanists and Buddhists in Central Asia, outside Mongolia and Tibet had become Muslims. The same was true in the Ilkhanate and the Golden Horde. They had become part of the world of Islam. Paradoxically the conquerors adopted the way of life of the conquered people in almost every part of the great Mongol empire—Khublai Khan certainly set an example.
Second, the Mongol invasion and conquest forced massive movement of people. As refugees they went from Iraq and Syria moved to Egypt of Mamluks and from Khurasan, Transoxiana and Afghanistan to India (Sultanate of Delhi). They became bulwarks of the two kingdoms. The movement of artisans, craftsmen, and men of letters to the far east (Mongolia) not only benefited the Mongols and their economy but also helped the spread of Islam. The massive movement of people between places enriched cultures through the exchange of languages and ideas, the art of writing and printing, diets and culinary taste, intermarriages between different ethnicities, and transfer of technologies. The times of Mongol domination stimulated cultural and intellectual activity in the Muslim world through exchange of men and their ideas and technologies in astronomy, medicine, literature (translations, calendars).
Third, the Mongol rulers realised soon after their conquest the need to repair and rebuild towns and cities to achieve peace and stability. There were economic benefits to them and their subjects. They used forced labour to do build the infrastructure. They reorganised the tax system on land, industry, and trade. The experimented with tax farming, found it harmful to the rural economy, and abandoned it. Similarly, they mobilised labour, some of it was forced, to repair the irrigation systems and build roads. Their need for pastureland gradually went down as they settled so more land was given to farming. Mongols were promoters of arts and crafts for which there was rising demand among their own population. More importantly, they encouraged trade realising its importance to their own well-being and that of their subject populations.
Fourth, the Mongol hegemony allowed a large part of Eurasia become interconnected. There was growth in trade between the Muslim world with China and the far east not only by road but also by sea. Merchants, Muslim and Christian, could travel long distances safely not only on the Silk Roads between China, Middle East, and Europe but also on new routes and to new markets.. Mongols made the routes safe to travel and reduced and simplified taxes and tolls. Their elite lent capital to merchants for trade and demanded luxury goods, furs, gold, and slaves. In a way, Mongols opened the gates for globalisation.
Finally, Mongols united China after conquering the Jin and Song empires. In Central Asia, they helped create a Turkic ethnicity and language. In Iran, they Persianised themselves and encouraged the return of the pre-Islamic style, language, and culture. They may have created what is called Modern Iran. The Ottoman dynasty in Turkey in the early fourteenth century and the Safavid dynasty in Iran in the early sixteenth century were the offshoots of the Ilkhanate. The former became the seat of the Sunni Caliph—Sultans had become Caliphs from the times of Mamluks—until 1923 when it became a secular republic, and the latter was a Shia monarchy until 1979 when it became an Islamic republic.
 I have consulted these books. Devin De Weese, Islamization and Native Religion in the Golden Horde, 1994; Marie Favereau, The Horde: How Mongols Changed the World, 2021;William W. Fitzhugh, Morris Rossabi and William Honeychurch (Editors), Genghis Khan and the Mongol Empire, 2009; Peter Jackson, The Mongols and the Islamic World: From Conquest to Conversion, 2017; Linda Komaroff and Stefano Carboni (Editors), The Legacy of Genghis Khan, 2003; John Man, The Mongol Empire, 2014; Timothy May, The Mongol Empire, 2018; David Morgan, The Mongols. Second Edition, 2007; Frank McLyn, Genghis Khan: His Conquests, His Empire, His Legacy, 2015; Michael Prawdin, The Mongol Empire, 1967; Jack Weatherford, Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World, 2004.
 According to al-Athir, cited by Timothy May (p. 74), “As for the Anti-Christ [al- Dajjal], he will spare those who follow him and destroy those who oppose him, but those [Mongols] did not spare anyone. On the contrary, they slew women, men and children. They split open the bellies of pregnant women and killed the fetuses.”
 See Frank McLyn, Genghis Khan: His Conquests, His Empire, His Legacy, pp.509-519.
 The empire was founded by Muhammad’s father, Ala al-Din Tekish, who was once governor in the service of the Seljuk rulers of Khwarazm. Tekish died in 1200 after which Muhammad expanded the empire beyond Khwarazm by conquest.
 In these raids he had a brief encounter with the Mongol army led by Jebe and Subedei, two outstanding Mongol generals. Chinggis Khan did not want any arm engagement with the Sultan at that time.
 See, for example, a letter Hulegu sent to King Louis IX in 1262 about the prophecy of Teb Tenggeri in this regard. Cited by Timothy May, The Mongol Empire, p.329.
 See Timothy May, “The Mongols at War,” in William W. Fitzhugh, Morris Rossabi and William Honeychurch (Editors), Genghis Khan and the Mongol Empire, pp.191-199.
 We should not ignore the fact that most of the territories or states that Mongols invaded and conquered were internally fractious and weak. In addition, Mongol armies included many non-Mongols, including Muslims, and were supported by some Muslim and non-Muslim rulers of principalities.
 Khublai Khan became the fifth Khagan in 1264 after a disputed succession with his brother Arigh Boke. But he had little influence on the rulers outside his own Ulus. The inter-Ulus conflict between the Ilkhanate and the Golden Horde in the Caucuses diverted their attention from conquest. They were therefore unable to expand their territories. The Ilkhanate disintegrated in the 1330s; the Chaghatayi Ulus was divided into two parts in the 1340s; the Yuan empire of Khublai Khan was taken over by the Ming dynasty in the 1360s; the Golden Horde was the last to go in the early sixteenth century.
 The process of Islamisation in China was slower than in other places, but it did become significant in the north-western parts and in Xin Jiang.
 Mongke’s mother, a Nestorian Christian, gave alms and helped build a madrassah in Bukhara. Orqina, a regent of the Chaghatayi Ulus (1252-1260) and a Buddhist, was favourable to Muslims. Hulegu’s son Abagha and grandson Arghun, reportedly anti-Muslim, participated actively in Muslim festivals and visited Muslim shrines to invoke their help. Ghazan, before he became a Muslim, frequently visited Muslim shrines in Khurasan.
 The Nizari Ismailis were a branch of the Fatimid rulers of Egypt. They claimed that they followed the rightful Imam in the family of Fatima and Ali, daughter and son-in-law of the Prophet. The title of Assassins, given by Crusaders, had little or nothing to do with hashish but with the group’s fatal attacks on prominent individuals or leaders of the Sunni, Shia, and Crusader (Christian) communities.
 We should not ignore the fact that after 1260 there was a period of disorder in some parts of the Mongol empire, e.g., in the Caucuses and Transoxiana, because of the warfare between members of Chinggis Khan’s family.
 The Mongol rulers in the Golden Horde from the time of Batu encouraged the Venetian and Genoese merchants to settle in Crimea and do business from there.
 It has been argued by some that the spread of the bubonic plague (Black Death) in the 1340s was due to the open trade routes between the East and West. But can we blame the Mongol rulers for it?
 We should not forget that during the dissolution of the Mongol Khanates in Central Asia, the Middle East and the Golden Horde, Amir Temur (1336-1405), aka Tamerlane, rose to power from Transoxiana, claiming his descent from the Mongol rulers. Apparently, he wanted to revive the age of Chinggis Khan. And to a large extent he did! Temur is remembered for barbarity in his conquests from India to Russia to the Mediterranean and for his dynasty’s cultural achievements.