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Mongol Rule, 1220-1506

For many ages the Tartar tribes in the north of Asia, occupying the wild desert and mountainous country north and north-west of the kingdom of Khwarizm, "had carried on war with each other, unknown to or unregarded by the conterminous nations, or known to their Chinese and Turki neighbors alone. One of these tribes was the Mongol, Mughiil, or Moghol. They had in them the stuff out of which were made the devastators of the earth, and they only wanted a leader. Suddenly that leader appeared in the person of Chinghiz Khan. Writing being then unknown to the Moghol race, it is impossible to fix accurately the date of the birth of this conqueror. Historical events sufficiently demonstrate, however, that it occurred about the year 1155.

In 1220, the Islamic lands of Central Asia were overrun by the armies of the Mongol invader Genghis Khan (ca. 1155-1227), who laid waste to many civilizations and created an empire that stretched from China to the Caspian Sea. In 1219 Mahammad Khan was King of Khwarizm. The dominions of this prince included the countries of Bokhara, Samarkand, Khokand, Kashgar, Persia, Afghanistan and Baluchistan, down to the Indus. Suddenly, Chinghiz Khan attacked him with three armies. The first, following to a certain point, the course of the Jaxartes, descended upon Khiva; the second, ascending that river, occupied Khojind, and conquered the country now known as Ferghana; the third, commanded by Chinghiz Khan in person, crossed the river, and penetrating into the country, took Bokhara and Samarkand. In a few days the entire territory north of the Oxus was in the hands of the conqueror. Mahammad Khan, sensible of his inability to oppose the Moghol horde, had retreated to Nishapor in Khorasan. Chinghiz Khan, occupied with Samarkand, sent a corps of twenty thousand men, under two of his generals, to pursue him. Mahammad Khan fled. The Moghol generals arriving at Nishapor, and finding their prey had escaped, then conceived and executed one of the most daring projects that ever entered into the heart even of a Moghol. They ravaged the whole of Western Persia, conquered Trans-Caucasia, crossed then the range of tho Caucasus, occupied Derbend, defeated there an army composed of the various peoples of the countries they had traversed and were traversing, and drove them beyond the Dnieper. Some of the fugitives even crossed the Danube in their terror. So great and so general was the alarm, that the inhabitants of the Russian provinces of Kief, of Smolensko, and of Tchernigov, dreading lest they too should be attacked in their turn, combined to attempt to drive the enemy from the country he had but just gained. In the battle on the banks of the Dnieper that followed, the allied patriots were defeated. The Moghols then crossed that river, and penetrated into Bulgaria. Meanwhile, Mahammad Khan, despairing of safety on the mainland, had fled for refuge to one of the small islands of the Caspian. There he died (1220). His son and successor, Jalal-u-Din, was a man of very different temper. In Khwarizm when he heard of his father's death, he at once assembled his adherents, attacked and dispersed the troops sent to oppose him, and leaving in that province a sufficient body of troops under his brothers, pushed on to Nishapor, there to endeavour to recruit a new army. Chinghiz Khan, meanwhile, on the first news of the outbreak in Khwarizm, had hastened to that province, had suppressed the rebellion, killing in battle the two brothers of Jalal-u-Din, and had then marched southward, capturing in succession Balkh, Merv, Herat, Nishapor, and Tus (near the site of the modern Meshed). An army corps of thirty thousand men which he had sent to watch Jalal-u-Din, was, however, defeated by that prince, who had succeeded in raising double that number. Chinghiz Khan, indignant at this reverse, dashed at once in pursuit of the victor, who, abandoned by some of his generals, was making the best of his way to India. Chinghiz overtook him at the Indus, totally defeated his army, Jalal-u-Din himself owing his escape solely to the daring with which he cut through his enemies and swam the river. The Moghol army then ravaged the Panjab, and returned to Tartary (1224). Subsequently Chinghiz completed the conquest of China, and there died (1227). Jalal-u-Din, meanwhile, escaped from the battlefield on the Indus, had, after many adventures, reestablished his authority in Persia. But Afghanistan remained until the year 1251 under the rule of Chinghiz Khan and successors. During that period the enslaved country had no history. In that year, Shir Khan, the governor of the Punjab for the King of Dehli, Nasir-u-Din Mahmud, invaded Afghanistan, seized upon Ghazni and Kabul, and annexed them to the Dehli monarchy. It is probable that they were speedily recovered, for not only, in subsequent years, do we find the Moghols making repeated incursions into India, but in the year 1336 traces appear of a new Afghan dynasty seated on the throne of Ghazni, owning subordination to, and acknowledging the suzerainty of, the Moghols of Central Asia. This Afghan dynasty, like that which preceded it, came from Ghor. Probably it was the chief of the Afghan tribe in the Ghor mountains to whom the Moghol suzerain delegated his authority. They ruled from 1336 to 1383. The first sovereign, Shams-u-Din Ghori, and his two immediate successors, Rukh-u-Din, and Fakhrudin Ghori, accepted the position and performed the duties assigned to them. The fourth of the line on the throne, Ghiyas-u-Din Ghori, asserted his independence, and handed it down to his successors, Shams-u-Din, Malek Hafiz, Moez-u-Din Hasen, and Ghiyas-u-Din. But in the reign of the last-named prince the dynasty and the independence came alike to an untimely end. Taimur, known also in history as Tamerlane, was born at Kdsh, near Samarkand, about the year 1336. Genghis Khan failed to destroy the strength of Islam in Central Asia. In fact, by the end of the thirteenth century, Genghis Khan's descendants had themselves become Muslims. From the death of Genghis Khan in 1227 until the rise of Timur (Tamerlane) in the 1380s, Central Asia went through a period of fragmentation.

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Page last modified: 08-10-2012 19:53:03 ZULU