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The Earth and Its Peoples: A Global History, Second Edition
Richard W. Bulliet, Pamela Kyle Crossley, Daniel R. Headrick, Steven W. Hirsch, Lyman L. Johnson, David Northrup
History WIRED

Chapter 13: Western Eurasia, 1200-1500


Map of the Mongol Empire at the death of Genghis Khan, 1227

The Mongol Empires, 1200-1480
This map provides a global perspective.

Maps of the Mongol Empire
This site includes three maps detailing the expansion of the Mongol Empire and its various components.

The Mongol Empire in the Thirteenth Century
The best map of the Mongol Empire on the Internet.  It includes tributary states and invasion routes.

CNN: Millenium Series
Click on "Thirteenth Century" and then "Map" for this interactive map detailing Mongol Expansion.  This site requires Shockwave.

The Mongol Empires
This map includes Marco Polo's travel route.

Route of the Polos 
A large black and white map with extensive detail.

The Il-Khan Empire of Hulegu, 1294

The Timurid Empire, The Mamluk Sultanate, and the Ottoman Empire, 1405



The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Special Exhibition, Riding across Central Asia: Images of the Mongolian Horse in Islamic Art

Virtual Mongol: History
This site provides contemporary images of Mongol horsemen, soldiers, etc.

Virtual Mongol: Nature
Explore the topography of the Mongol homeland through these contemporary images.

Nadaam Festival

Mongolian Archer

Genghis Khan

The Silent City
View images of the ruins of a fortified town in Central Asia that was captured by Genghis Khan. All of its inhabitants were put to death.

Marco Polo

Islamic Art: Late Medieval Art
Observe and learn about Islamic Art during the period of Mongol intrusion into the Middle East and Central Asia.

Persian Art Through the Centuries: The Mongol Il-Khans, 1256-1394
A comprehensive site covering artistic developments during this period in Iranian history.

Persian Art Through the Centuries: The Timurids, 1387-1502
A companion to the previous site.

Miniatures:  Mongols and Painting under the Jala'ir
Observe these examples of Persian art originating during the reign of the Il-Khans and Timurids.

Timurid Architecture in Samarkand
This site provides many images of structures built in the Central Asian city of Samarkand during the reign of Timur.

The State Hermitage Museum: Oriental Art, the Golden Horde
This site contains several images of Russian artwork from the period of the Golden Horde.

CNN Millennium Series
Click "Thirteeth Century" and the "Multimedia Recap" for Quicktime video clips that explore Eurasian historical developments during this time.

Activity One:

The Mongol Empire was the largest land-based empire the world has ever known.  What began as a tribal confederacy under Genghis Khan (see Map of the Mongol Empire at the death of Genghis Khan, 1227) grew to dominate the Eurasian continent.  See The Mongol Empire in the Thirteenth Century.  This map demonstrates two things.  First, the Mongol Empire was not truly an empire like Rome or the Tang.  There was no one central government.  Instead, the Mongols divided their conquest into several smaller, and more manageable units.  Second, Mongol influence reached beyond the areas they controlled.  Note the tributary states on this map.  The map at Route of the Polos shows the trade routes that crisscrossed the Mongol demains.  Make a list of all the civilizations the Mongols influenced between 1200 and 1500.  Your list should include both large and small traditions such as the Islamic world and Persia.  Which groups were directly influenced?  Which were indirectly influenced?  The map at The Mongol Empires, 1200-1480 provides a global perspective.  This chapter explores the impact of the Mongols in Western Eurasia, or more specifically, Western Europe, Russia, and the Islamic World of the Middle East and Central Asia.

Activity Two:

The essay at The Islamic World to 1600: The Mongol Invasion explores the areas in Western and Central Asia that came under the direct rule of Mongol forces in the thirteenth century.  While reading this essay (be sure to visit all the links provided) keep the following questions in mind.  Why did all the Mongol rulers of these regions eventually convert to Islam?  In which kingdom did the Mongols remain close to their pastoralist roots and why?  Did the Mongols promote order and stability and spread their culture in this region, such as the Romans did in their empire, or did the more urban cultures they ruled absorb the Mongols into their own traditions and outlooks? Did the Mongols hinder or aid the spread of Islam?  Why does your textbook refer to this period in Western and Central Eurasia as "The Fall and Rise of Islam?"  In other words, what eventually emerged in this part of the world as Mongol power declined?

Activity Three:

Most of Europe, except for Russia, was not directly controlled by Mongol armies.  Yet the Mongols had a huge influence there as well.  Go to The Path of the Khan and read this essay up to the section "Horsemen of the Steppe."  Scroll down and read the last section "A World Transformed."  Explain how the Mongols allowed for greater European knowledge of the world to their east.  Why was it usually merchants and missionaries who ventured from Europe into the Mongol realms?  Some of these men recorded their observations of their travels for posterity.  For example, go to John of Montecorvino.  What were his goals in traveling to the east?  For his own account of his life there, see Medieval Sourcebook: Brother John of Monte Corvino: Letter to the Minister General of the Friars Minor in Rome, c. 1280.  Read the essay at Marco Polo and his Travels.  Why did he venture into Mongol territory?  For his own account of his travels, see Chinese Cultural Studies: Marco Polo [1254-1324]: Travels in China.  What do John of Montecorvino and Marco Polo's travel narratives reveal about European attitudes toward the Mongols and the civilizations they controlled in Eastern Eurasia?  How did their lives, and the lives of many other European missionaries and merchants, transform the history of Europe in the long run? 

Activity Four:

In general, the Mongol conquest brought the civilizations of the Eurasian continent closer together than ever before.  Go to Pax Mongolica.  How did the Mongols create this economic integration?  What specific policies did they adapt that allowed for commerce, travel, and the exchange of ideas?  Read the Legacy of the Mongols and list several examples of the spread of technology, ideas, and artistic styles that resulted from Pax Mongolica.  Which areas benefited the most and which benefited the least from the growth of Mongol power?  Compare and contrast the impact of the Mongols on the Latin West (western Europe) and the Islamic world.  Although each civilization was strongly affected, which area gained the most benefits from their experiences with these Central Asian nomads?