Genghis Khan was a religiously tolerant leader who built a breathtakingly huge empire from nothing, brought writing and formalized law to his people, transformed siege warfare, and built one of the biggest libraries in history.
Everything Pop Culture Taught You About Genghis Khan Is Wrong | ThinkProgress
Before Temujin, there was no Mongolian nation. Julius Caesar seized control of a four-hundred-year-old state. Alexander inherited his Macedonian war machine. Temujin came from basically nothing and forged steppe tribes into the largest land empire the world has ever seen — and a nation that has endured for almost a thousand years. In the process, he introduced writing and a legal code to his people.
Even as he built his country, Temujin transformed the way it made war. Since time immemorial, settled peoples’ solution to Mongol raids had been “hide behind our city wall.” While the amazing Mongolian bow-cavalry could transform an opposing force to pincushions, they weren’t set up for a siege.
So Genghis Khan’s army, when they conquered a city, drafted its artisans, craftsmen, engineers, and everyone who could read or write. These recruits were ordered to solve siege warfare. Faced with a wall, Temujin’s engineers might build a taller wall around and outside it, using the high ground to rain arrows on the target’s defenders. Or they might catapult iron balls filled with gunpowder over the wall. Or simply pull the wall down with grappling hooks. Or divert a river to flood the walled city.
The weapons engineers of the Khan’s horde brought expertise from every conquered nation between Korea and the Middle East. For the first time, Chinese metallurgy and materials science connected with Arabian mathematics, and the results were, um, explosive. Fighting the Mongolian army felt less like defending Helm’s Deep, and more like fighting the aliens in Independence Day.
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