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“Not a Heartbeat Stilled”: Jochi, eldest son of Genghis Khan, lives past 1227

Gary Oswald

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#2
Possibly this is just ignorance on my part but it does feel like most Mongol Empire AHs are 'what if the Mongols conquered more' and you rarely get 'what if the Mongols conquered less' which is why this is so interesting.

Of course Genghis dying and then the empire immediately splintering into civil war is going to make comparisons between him and Alexander even more common. Though he'd probably be a lot less famous in this world if the conquest of China, Korea, Russia and the middle east doesn't happen. More Timur the Lame level, maybe.

But because of how famous the first Khan was you forget just how many of the most memorable moments of the mongol invasions happened under his descendants not him. If you stop the empire at his death there, you get no sack of Baghdad, no destruction of the southern song and their movement towards proto industrialisation, no battle with the mamluks, no push into hungary and poland, no kamakazi, no javan victory over the mongols etc, etc.
 

Geordie

We're going to privatise swans
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#5
Huge number of changes unleashed, there.

Never mind butterflies, the direct consequences of the Mongol Empire turning inwards in the aftermath of Genghis' death are enormous. It affects the Baltic to the Bosphorus, across to the Far East and everything in between.
 
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Alex Richards

She needs an artificial Mountain, not AV
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#6
But because of how famous the first Khan was you forget just how many of the most memorable moments of the mongol invasions happened under his descendants not him. If you stop the empire at his death there, you get no sack of Baghdad, no destruction of the southern song and their movement towards proto industrialisation, no battle with the mamluks, no push into hungary and poland, no kamakazi, no javan victory over the mongols etc, etc.
It's a really interesting set of possibilities certainly- there's questions over whether you even get the Italian Renaissance without Byzantine scholars fleeing west, but I suspect that once you've got a certain level of wealth and connections through trade there's going to be something, though it may well look more like the Kingdom of Sicily in terms of trade.

And if this is a world where Constantinople is still a major centre of Eastern Orthodox culture, where Kyiv is the capital of a large and powerful state stretching north and with trade and marriage links with the Byzantines, where the House of Wisdom still stands and then you get the Italians starting to pull together those influences with their own direct study of Rome and what was available in the west...

And of course Mesopotamia is still so much more populous given the canals are still in place. I really don't think it's inevitable anyone would come along and smash them like they were.
 
#7
Very interesting and I think unprecedented, nobody ever seems to examine the critical failure points of the Mongols.
There are a few critical studies of the Mongol military (and when you're an empire, unless a mistake unmakes your empire, people tend only to remember the hits). In general, when they weren't on the steppes, they tended to do badly, but a GIANT caveat to that is the Yuan dynasty (using defecting Song infantry and boats along with the resources of the conquered Northern Jin) depended less on Mongol horse archers and more on infantry and sieges.
Another factor in their weaknesses as an empire/military force was that the Mongols were a RECENT conglomeration of tribes consolidated into one force by a charismatic leader. When that leader dies--generally--everyone remembers just how much they hate their rival tribe and tension escalate--the difference here being that the Mongols managed to put that off for a good 30ish years till the outbreak of the Toluid civil war (1260-1264).
There is a fairly good paper on the subject of Mongol weaknesses here if you want to dig a little deeper into the Mongol's less successful campaigns.
 
#8
Did Jochi's alleged illegitimacy have any effect on the careers of his sons IOTL? And can you draw any insights from that into how he's likely to go here?
As to Jochi's legitimacy, well, we're FAIRLY sure he wasn't the khan's kid (if you'll pardon the alliteration). You've seized on an interesting bit of history though--the Jochids of the Kipchak Khanate (also called the Golden Horde). They were not, in fact, persecuted (save by the usual sporadic fighting) in any systemic way. This may be in part a reflection of Genghis's more tolerant (for the time) attitude towards his not-son--enemies of the Mongols, in general were eradicated root and stem where possible. This suggests that if Genghis did have Jochi poisoned, it was not an objection to him personally, but as an obstacle to the profit and safety of the empire (a cold comfort, doubtless).
After Jochi's death, his son Batu effectively ruled and consolidated his father's gains and formed the Golden Horde.
 

Attachments

Death's Companion

General Ugg Apologist.
#9
There are a few critical studies of the Mongol military (and when you're an empire, unless a mistake unmakes your empire, people tend only to remember the hits). In general, when they weren't on the steppes, they tended to do badly, but a GIANT caveat to that is the Yuan dynasty (using defecting Song infantry and boats along with the resources of the conquered Northern Jin) depended less on Mongol horse archers and more on infantry and sieges.
Another factor in their weaknesses as an empire/military force was that the Mongols were a RECENT conglomeration of tribes consolidated into one force by a charismatic leader. When that leader dies--generally--everyone remembers just how much they hate their rival tribe and tension escalate--the difference here being that the Mongols managed to put that off for a good 30ish years till the outbreak of the Toluid civil war (1260-1264).
There is a fairly good paper on the subject of Mongol weaknesses here if you want to dig a little deeper into the Mongol's less successful campaigns.
Oh I'm well aware of the multiple times they fell flat on their face outside their comfort zone. Sometimes it seems that's limited to a handful of people on the internet.

Heck I believe there has been some recent scholarship that the Mongol withdrawal from Europe began *before* they learned of the Khan's death and they used it as a post facto justification because increasingly formidable fortifications and an endless spam of armies that on the right ground could fight them toe to toe was not what they signed up for.

Ditto the Middle East where even if they had not suffered set backs in Egypt were finding the terrain less than ideal for their herds.

Japan is pretty well known as well and some of their forays into South East Asia were painful enough.


Its not to diminish their accomplishments, they did basically take multiple continents but OTL seems a question of them hitting their natural limits later than can be reasonably expected. Several points leap out as where the wheels could have come off internally or against enemies who were less geographically exposed to steppe warfare or armies better suited to meeting the Mongols head to head.
 

Gary Oswald

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#11
Heck I believe there has been some recent scholarship that the Mongol withdrawal from Europe began *before* they learned of the Khan's death and they used it as a post facto justification because increasingly formidable fortifications and an endless spam of armies that on the right ground could fight them toe to toe was not what they signed up for.
The Mongols never used it, the Franciscan scholar John Carpini used it and it's the only theory anyone alive at the time gave for the withdrawal.

Of course it makes no sense as a theory because the withdrawal almost certainly happened before messengers arrived bringing new of the Khan's death and more importantly batu never actually took his army to Mongolia. He withdrew to Ukraine and stayed there, refusing to head back to the east. So Carpini was wrong when he said the withdrawal happened because batu headed back to Mongolia, he didn't. Moreover the Mongols didn't stop campaigns elsewhere, they kept fighting vs the Song during this time for instance.

It's not Carpini's fault that he didn't have all the information and made a reasonable guess but that theory is mostly dismissed now.

So then you're on to whether Batu didn't think he could win a further fight in Europe, he didn't think it was worth it to fight further when he'd already secured his borders or whether the weather/terrain made supplying his army impossible.
 

Death's Companion

General Ugg Apologist.
#12
The Mongols never used it, the Franciscan scholar John Carpini used it and it's the only theory anyone alive at the time gave for the withdrawal.

Of course it makes no sense as a theory because the withdrawal almost certainly happened before messengers arrived bringing new of the Khan's death and more importantly batu never actually took his army to Mongolia. He withdrew to Ukraine and stayed there, refusing to head back to the east. So Carpini was wrong when he said the withdrawal happened because batu headed back to Mongolia, he didn't. Moreover the Mongols didn't stop campaigns elsewhere, they kept fighting vs the Song during this time for instance.

It's not Carpini's fault that he didn't have all the information and made a reasonable guess but that theory is mostly dismissed now.

So then you're on to whether Batu didn't think he could win a further fight in Europe, he didn't think it was worth it to fight further when he'd already secured his borders or whether the weather/terrain made supplying his army impossible.
Or all three.
 

Death's Companion

General Ugg Apologist.
#13
There are a few critical studies of the Mongol military (and when you're an empire, unless a mistake unmakes your empire, people tend only to remember the hits). In general, when they weren't on the steppes, they tended to do badly, but a GIANT caveat to that is the Yuan dynasty (using defecting Song infantry and boats along with the resources of the conquered Northern Jin) depended less on Mongol horse archers and more on infantry and sieges.
Another factor in their weaknesses as an empire/military force was that the Mongols were a RECENT conglomeration of tribes consolidated into one force by a charismatic leader. When that leader dies--generally--everyone remembers just how much they hate their rival tribe and tension escalate--the difference here being that the Mongols managed to put that off for a good 30ish years till the outbreak of the Toluid civil war (1260-1264).
There is a fairly good paper on the subject of Mongol weaknesses here if you want to dig a little deeper into the Mongol's less successful campaigns.
I just finished the article, it was rather impressive thank you. I knew bits and pieces of this but almost nothing about Korea or the Song campaigns.
 

Gary Oswald

Old and Foolish now
Sea Lion Press staff
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#14
My own gut instinct is as long as Batu could rely on drawing out the European armies into open combat and thrashing them, the campaign was going well enough to justify it's continuance but as soon as the Europeans started just sitting back in stone castles and daring the Mongols to break them down, the Mongols were unable to do it and unwilling to continue to try.

I get the appeal of the Mongols riding through Germany and France as a story but it's hard not to come to the conclusion that in OTL the Mongols turned up, saw how many fucking castles they were and were just like 'nah, fuck this' and retreated.
 
#16
It's a really interesting set of possibilities certainly- there's questions over whether you even get the Italian Renaissance without Byzantine scholars fleeing west, but I suspect that once you've got a certain level of wealth and connections through trade there's going to be something, though it may well look more like the Kingdom of Sicily in terms of trade.

And if this is a world where Constantinople is still a major centre of Eastern Orthodox culture, where Kyiv is the capital of a large and powerful state stretching north and with trade and marriage links with the Byzantines, where the House of Wisdom still stands and then you get the Italians starting to pull together those influences with their own direct study of Rome and what was available in the west...

And of course Mesopotamia is still so much more populous given the canals are still in place. I really don't think it's inevitable anyone would come along and smash them like they were.
Oh, absolutely, the timeline is wildly changed. With Byzantium able to hold out even another 50(!) years, never mind multiple centuries from it's OTL fall, the major powers are altered. There is some thought that this influences (see above) the spread of the Black Plague to Europe since the Venetians and Genoans would likely be less powerful or able to access the Silk Road.
But that isn't to imply stasis--it just means that the Renaissance might owe more or less to the Abassids/Byzantium/Mamluks/Greeks than it already does, or another cause of migration might cause the same population shifts, although on a different time scale.
There is a lot of debate about the damage done to the Middle Eastern infrastructure and knowledge base due to Hulegu's 1253-1260 founding of the Ilkhanate. Ilkhanate scholar Yusuf Chauhary is less convinced at the total devastation of the middle east as such, since the accounts that mention turning the Tigris and Euphrates "red with blood and black with ink" are a hundred years past the events they purport to chronicle. And while the Mongols were absolutely brutal and genocidal, Hulegu would have had a vested interest in inflicting minimal damage, relatively speaking to the areas he was trying to make in to a kingdom.
(The founding of the Ilkhanate started a permanent cold war with the Jochids of the Golden Horde, by the way, over priorities and among other things, the access to the excellent horse country in Armenia, which the Ilkhanate claimed. This caused the Golden Horde to open up diplomatic relations with the Mamluks, the Ilkhanids sworn enemies).
I love your idea, btw, I intend to revisit it when I am not a sludge-monster, mentally :)
 
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#17
If there is a Mongol civil war halting their western advances after 1227 you would probably also get:

1. An entirely different ethnic make-up in western Asia Minor, as there will be no - or a less drastic - Mongol incursion through Iran into the Levant, no defeat of the centralising Saljuk state in Konya at Kose Dagh in 1243, a continuing functioning Saljuk sultanate with reasonable control over its vassal tribes, and no wave of refugee Turkish tribes heading west to the Byzantine frontier to settle there and start attacking the Byzantines. Less pressure on the frontier in the 1260s- 1300s, and a probable continuation of the stronger Christian frontier in Asia Minor of the pre-1243 Nicaean state; that way the diversion of Byz resources to retake Thrace and Macedonia after 1242, rebuild Constantinople after 1261, and then fight off the Angevins and the papal 'crusade' plans in 1266-81 is less disastrous to the Empire. You would still get local Asia Minor resentment at the removal of the Lascarids and Michael VIII more interested in the West, but the Empire would collapse less quickly after 1282 as it was less exhausted; and Andronicus II does not have to call in the Catalan mercenaries to drive back the Turks so they do not revolt, ravage Thrace and Macedonia (making it easier for the Serbs to take over after 1341?), and take over Athens. Given the internal weakness, landed aristocratic power and lack of them paying taxes, weak army, lack of a viable navy after 1282 , and internal Paleologus civil wars, the Empire might still collapse slowly, and the decline in the quality of Saljuk sultans in the later C13th would encourage regional Turkish fragmentation and emergence of a new power there - but this might well be centred on eastern Anatolia and aimed at extending into Syria and Mesopotamia if there has been no major movement of tribes West. No Ottoman state at all - a Karamanid empire based at Konya instead?

2. No fall of Kiev in 1240 implies that the Southern group of Russian principalities remain as important as the Northern ones as they are not raided so badly and there is no or a smaller flight from the area on the lower Dnieper exposed to the steppes. Kiev has never recovered its regional prominence after the sack (by troops from Vladimir-Suzdal to the NE, the new leading Russian state) in 1169 and most princes of Kiev by the 1230s were outsiders backed by either Vladimir, Chernigov to the N, or (to the W) Galicia, and probably Galicia will continue to be the region's pre-eminent state through the C13th with Kiev as a satellite. But Kiev will still have a primacy of honour as the founding centre of Russian orthodoxy and the capital in the late C10th and C11th, and probably its church see will not move to Moscow - so Russia will have two cultural/religious centres, not one. And if Kiev does not fall and Galicia is not weakened by constant Mongol raids, logically Daniel of Galicia will be the main Russian leader of the mid-C13th and build a stronger state - and his heirs will not lose their realm to Poland and the N part will not fall to Lithuania. A lack of a Polish-Lithuanian, Catholic state ruling the WH Ukraine will have major results for the future of Russia into the C15th and C16th , even if some other steppe tribal power later emerges to hit the S Russians and they then have to call on Poland-L for help.,
And if there is no Mongol sack of Vladimir in 1238 it is the centre of N Russian power for longer, and logically Moscow stays a minor part of the state of Vladimir rather than power ebbing away to it; Moscow is no more important to the region than Tver or Nizhni Novgorod. The 'Grand Prince' continues to reside in Vladimir, unless his family breaks up in a major civil war and Moscow is lucky as the last man left standing at the end of this.

Other side-issues - no major Mongol ravaging in Syria, means probably a surviving local Moslem power and so less chance of the Mamelukes taking over or the ravaging and decline of Christian (Cilician) Armenia. The local Moslem state in Aleppo/ Damascus might even prefer to ally to the Crusader princes of Antioch , Tripoli and Acre to keep the Mamelukes out, so the Ayyubid Syrian-Egyptian state of Saladin is not recreated (or is recreated only later) by the Mamelukes ; the Crusader states last longer. No Mongol campaign of 1259-60 possibly means no coup by Baibars in Egypt and a less aggressive and more coup-prone Mameluke state there, unable to move into Syria at all; and a chance of the declining Caliphate in Baghdad being made a 'front man' for the local surviving Syrian or Iranian (the sultanate of Khwarezm under Jelal-al-Din?) state and a new Iran-based 'Fertile Crescent' sultanate succeeding to the former realm of the Iranian Saljuks.
No Mongol campaigns in the region means no sack of Tbilisi in 1227 and a continuing major Christian power based in Georgia - until a new Iranian regional power drives it back?