Summer 1216. Genghis Khan returns to the Horde, at that moment located on the Onon River. With him he brought untold riches plundered in China. The great conqueror was pleased - he won again. Now only south China still remained independent of the Mongols. Any other steppe ruler would be pleased with this major victory, enjoying the treasures that would be enough for him until the end of his life. Anyone - yes, but not Genghis Khan.
The "Chinese campaign" became a kind of reconnaissance battle for the Mongols, now their eyes were turned to the West - to those lands where predominantly Muslim people lived. The first "stop" of the Mongol army was the Kara-Khitay Khanate (the empire stretched from the Amu Darya and Balkhash to Kunlun and the Beishan highlands), a large and densely populated state that Genghis Khan planned to conquer. He intended to do this quickly, fully relying on his army, superbly prepared for military campaigns. He also counted on the support of the local population, which, as he was informed, showed dissatisfaction with their emperor. He came to power as a result of a coup, was distinguished by an intolerant attitude towards Islam - therefore, among the people, who mainly professed this particular religion, he was not loved. At the disposal of Genghis Khan then was not a very large army - about 20 thousand people.
The rapid fall of the Kara-Khitay Khanate made the whole of Asia Minor tremble. Photo: gamedesire.com
The Mongolian commander Jebe then made a rather wise decision: he sent messengers in all directions to spread the news that the Mongols - not conquerors, but only want to overthrow the khan hated by people and enable local residents to freely pray in mosques. As Mikhail Pravdin, author of Genghis Khan and his successors: the apogee and collapse of the Mongol Empire, notes, the Mongol invasion of these territories provoked a revolution and the overthrow of the local ruler, who, in the end, was not even able to raise an army to put up serious resistance to the Mongols. . As expected, no one resisted the Mongol army - the inhabitants of many cities themselves opened the city gates in front of him. Soon the head of the ruler of the Kara Khitai Khanate rolled at Jebe's feet.
Meeting of East and West
The rapid fall of the Kara Khitai Khanate made the whole of Western Asia tremble, where before the Mongols were known only by hearsay, mainly from Muslim merchants, who traveled all over the world and almost always brought the latest news first. Now, when the Mongols have expanded the boundaries of their possessions to the states of the Middle East, where Islam has long been practiced, the war has become a matter of time - and not very distant. It seemed simply inevitable, and it was precisely the Mohammedan empires that turned out to be in the sight of Mongol interests. The most powerful person in the Islamic world at that time, Khorezmshah Al ad-Din Mohammed II expanded his power from the Caspian Sea to Bukhara, from the Ural River to the Iranian Highlands. He was even called Alexander II, and also - the Shadow of Allah. And he hatched plans on how to destroy the Mongol army. In addition, the courtiers sweetened the Shah's ears with speeches that Genghis Khan's army did not pose a real threat.
"Genghis Khan's army, compared to the greatness of the Sultan, is like the light of a lamp compared to the sun, which illuminates the earth, and your warriors outnumber it."
Genghis Khan created his invincible army a very long time. Photo: eskipaper.com
Muhammad II nevertheless decided to conduct reconnaissance in force and even went on a campaign with an army, but, having learned that the head of the Kara-Kitai ruler flew away , and the Mongols actually turned out to be his neighbors, returned to his possessions, without giving a rebuff to the nomads. He arrived in Samarkand, where he was informed that Mongol spies had been caught in one of the fortresses, whom the Khorezmshah had ordered to be executed. Genghis Khan was enraged by such audacity and demanded an explanation through the ambassadors. Translated from the diplomatic language, this was actually tantamount to declaring war on the state led by Muhammad II. Having executed the Mongol envoy and burned the beards of the rest of the delegation, this king made his final choice: immediately all the Mongols aged 17 to 70 took up arms, outraged by such a violation of the integrity of the herald.
By that time, Genghis Khan managed to overcome the civil strife among the Mongolian elite - one of his enemies was destroyed, someone unconditionally accepted the new khan. But it was the war that became the unifying beginning for the Mongols. The fall of Khorezm following the Kara-Kai Khanate is just a trial nail that Genghis Khan tried to drive into the coffin of the entire Muslim world. There is no doubt that he dreamed of owning it unlimitedly. That is why the great Mongol warrior went to Khorezm, having no doubt that he would win the battle.
< br> Many historians believe that the Mongol army of the time of Genghis Khan was the best army in the world at that time. Photo: simki.ru
In the autumn of 1218, Genghis Khan raised an army: 250 thousand people - Kipchak horsemen, Uighur infantrymen, artillerymen from China and militias from Kara-Khitan Khanate. This army can safely be called the best in the world at that time. True, a big problem arose: how to feed all the Mongol warriors where food cannot be found during the transition. As a result, this problem was also solved: to the west of the Kara-Khitay Khanate, the Mongols were shown a mountain pass, the passage of which solved many strategic tasks. For the army of Genghis Khan, the situation changed dramatically, it became possible to attack unexpectedly both from the north and from the east.
The advanced detachments of the Mongols collided with the army of Muhammad II, which numbered up to 400 thousand people. They took an unequal battle, fought valiantly and lost heroically. But the Mongolian suicide bombers, as they would be called today, completed the main task - they diverted the main enemy forces to themselves. Most of the Mongol army, about 50 thousand people, led by Genghis Khan himself, crossed a huge space with a swift march - & nbsp; the Kyzylkum desert. Nothing less- 600 kilometers. The Mongols reached the borders of the empire of Muhammad II. Overnight, he realized that the border that needed to be protected no longer simply existed, since the Mongols from all sides blocked all exits and entrances from Khorezm.
Still from the movie "Mongol". Photo: my-hit.org
Many historians studying that period note that Muhammad was clearly at a loss. Therefore, he did not find anything better than to "dig in" in the main fortresses of his empire - Bukhara and Samarkand. Alas, Bukhara - the city of scientists and poets, the cultural capital - was doomed. Mohammed II came too late - the city had neither food supplies nor a combat-ready garrison. Under the cover of night, the defenders of the city - the Turks and Persians - left the city. Bukhara fell without offering the slightest resistance to the Mongols. The elders of the city decided to open the gates to the Mongols voluntarily. But they nevertheless knocked out the gates without entering into negotiations, and made their trophies, chests with lists of the Koran, a horse manger.
They came, burned, killed and left
In those days, the Mongols adopted the Mohammedan faith. In the empire created by the efforts of Genghis Khan, then equally tolerant attitude towards representatives of various religions. And the khan did not try to impose his opinion on this issue on the people, although he always took into account the "religious factor" in his campaigns. But by desecrating Bukhara, he wanted to prove that he was above Allah. And it is he who is the wrath of God.
Genghis Khan destroyed the cities, as if it was a punishment from Heaven. Historical chronicles have preserved the story of a merchant from Bukhara, who told about the horrors that the Mongol warriors did: “they came, burned, killed, plundered and left.” And they went to Samarkand, where about half a million inhabitants then lived. This city was considered the residence of the Shah. He put up a hundred thousandth army against Genghis Khan. However, the Mongol commander already had experience in the siege of Beijing - and he took full advantage of this knowledge. Genghis Khan was well aware that the siege of the city could drag on for a long time. Unexpectedly, he was helped by Muhammad II himself, who at that moment was in the city. Frightened by the onslaught of the Mongols, the ruler decided to leave Samarkand, which turned out to be a very light decision that did not help him in any way, although it may have saved his life. But what!
One city gate after another was thrown open before the Mongol army. Photo: kino.ru
The Mongol Khan knew that any victory depends on the little things. By the way, he attributed the head of the ruler to them. Therefore, he sent an advance detachment of 30 thousand people for Muhammad II. Genghis Khan made the right decision, deciding to divide the people and their ruler. And he did it. While the Mongol hordes took one city after another, Muhammad's pursuers forced him to flee to one of the tiny uninhabited islands, where he eventually died in poverty and complete oblivion. And Samarkand fell after three days of siege.
When Genghis Khan conquered half of the empire of Mohammed II, he made an unexpected decision for his entourage - he called the wise men to tell him about Islam. As a result, he found that Islam can justify violence. But, as the chronicles say, then the khan was very outraged, who said: “Love as much as you like, but I forbid you to kill without my order. In my kingdom, everyone can pray to his god, but he is obliged to comply with the laws established by me. Also, the great Mongol conqueror did not like the division of animals into clean and unclean, he did not like the idea of worshiping a certain place - making a hajj to Mecca. He is said to have said then: “This is nonsense. God is everywhere, and therefore there is no point in going to some place to worship him.” At least, such words of the historical chronicles tell about those events.
For some time, resistance to the Mongols continued. In the end, a bold point was put at the Battle of the Indus in 1221, when the Mongols triumphantly defeated the Muslim world. Khorezm fell into decay for a long time, its khanates went to the Mongols. Now the eyes of the Mongols were directed to India, which sheltered the dynasty of Muhammad. And she was soon to feel the wrath of the Great Mongol. But that's another story.