by Jack Weatherford
The Mongol Invasion was a mere apostrophe of history during my schooling and I dimly recall mention of a particularly savage slew of terrifying tribesmen from the esoteric east who touched a handful of easternmost European cities over a relatively short period before disappearing back into the vague lands that spawned them. Jack Weatherford’s book was recently recommended to me and immediately dispelled that notion. It exposed the panic propagated throughout Europe by ignorant, superstitious and hysterical Kings or (drama-) Queens.
Weatherford is an American anthropologist and ethnographer who got side-tracked into a fascination with Mongol affairs while on a research expedition studying the role of tribal people in the development of trade along the Silk Road between China and Europe. He diverted his attention to compiling a history of a Mongol boy named Temujin, born in 1162, who grew to annex the diverse central Asian tribes into one Mongol nation. As Genghis Khan, Temujin went on to conquer the land from China to Hungary via the Middle East and Russia. As Weatherford points out, this is a greater land mass than any other conqueror in history – including Alexander the Great. Continue reading