Mongols: The Last True Humans Part I
Historians do not know the origins of the nomadic tribes who lived in the area which is today called Mongolia in the 3rd century B.C., and the balance of the archaeological discoveries in the Gobi desert region place the earliest human inhabitants in the area there well over 10,000 years ago.
The growing power of the Chinese empire forced these nomads to the steppes towards the west and north, a harsh, unyielding land where the Mongol character was forged.
The climate in Mongolia is very dry and mostly frigid through the long winter that can last up to nine months. The summers are very short and hot, and combined with the merciless winds that constantly blow across the area only about one percent of all of Mongolia's land can be considered arable.
In order to survive in a climate such as this and in a vast sparse grass land which essentially grows nothing which is suitable for human consumption, the essence of the Mongol people had to become virtually invulnerable, perhaps more so than in any other place on earth with the possible exception of the Arctic regions. Although the Inuit never evolved a well developed warfare capability, the Mongols prided themselves on their magnificent cavalry and its strategic superiority when used in battle.
The Inner Asia origins of the Mongols are indeed obscure, but they did go on to invade and then unify their equally nomadic neighboring tribes and then went on to become the conquerors of the greater part of Eurasia, extending their rule for well over a century. Mongol rule extended from the eastern Mediterranean to the Chinese empire and surprisingly for a nomadic equine centered culture invaded the faraway islands of Japan and Java!
The European invasion was a stunning Mongol campaign, easily the equal of the Chinese subjugation. The Mongols devastated Eastern Europe in the 13th century, approaching Venice and Vienna and forever changed the course of European history. Nominal command of the European war was to belong to Batu, as this geographical area was his inheritance from Chinggis.
1226 saw the defeat of the Bulghars and 11 years later Subetei and Batu led over 600,000 across the Volga River which had frozen over. The Mongols destroyed most of northern Russia including Moscow within a year.
Just two years later the Mongols crossed the Dnieper River, invaded Kiev and then Subetei galloped on towards the west. In the north of this advance was the Kaidu Khan horde who devastated Poland and Lithuania. He detached a tumen to raid along the Baltic coast and with the remainder headed westward into Silesia.
Batu led the central force across the Carpathian Mountains and soon seized Pest. Scouting parties led raids to within attack distance of both Venice and Vienna. The only force that could stop the advance was the news that the great Ogedei had suddenly died, and that the yasaq called for all the members of the house of Chinggis Khan must return to the home camps to elect a new Khan. The Mongol advances into Italy, Austria and even India ended suddenly, and they never returned.