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Total War: Shogun 2 Heaven » Forums » Total War History » Could the Mongols have conquered all?
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Topic Subject:Could the Mongols have conquered all?
Kilos of Thermon
Ashigaru
posted 01-04-12 04:20 AM EDT (US)         
We all probably know the what if scenario: what if the great Khan Ogedei had lived and continued on his conquest of Europe. He would have probably have conquered the entire continent, right?

Well, almost, I guess. At least the mainland. However, the problem the Mongols would have faced would be Britain. First off I'll state that the Mongols never really learned the art of navigation, but with the technology of Europe at their disposal, that probably wouldn't have been a long hindrance. However, the English had a weapon that could have in all likeliness defeated the Mongol horse archers. I'm not quite sure if the longbow was a main part of the English army at this time, but if it was, it would have been the perfect counter to the horse archers. The longbow outranged anything that the Mongols could shoot, which would about take away the Mongol hit and run advantage. Therefore, the Mongols could be easily mowed down anywhere on the island.

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Terikel Grayhair
Imperator
(id: Terikel706)
posted 01-04-12 04:45 AM EDT (US)     1 / 19       
Mongolian bows were laminated horn and wood glued together.

The weather of Western Europe was mostly humid, moist, and or rain, and large tracts of Europe were forested.

The bows would rot or the glue would go bad, and forests allowed for ambushes which the open steppes negated. Plus trees tend to block arrows.

Hit and run on horseback do not work so well in forests, nor do laminated bows. Tactically, the Mongols were good, but in this case, I'd give the edge to those nations that can fight close-in in forested areas.

The Huns did well for a time against the late Romans, but in the end, they too suffered a defeat or two. Supply lines were vulnerable, even for a steppe horde, and the few sieges they tried did not turn out so well. I see the MOngols doing better, but the end result being the same.

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ShieldWall
Ashigaru
posted 01-04-12 05:23 AM EDT (US)     2 / 19       
Very interesting point about the bows coming unstuck in western Europe. Also I think the Mongols needed wide open spaces to manoeuvre, and there's not so many places you can do that the further west you go. I dare say they could have blitzed part of it through sheer numbers and aggression, but holding it would have been nigh on impossible over time. The steppes are great for the Mongols to operate on, but forests and mountains are great for guerilla campaigns and would make the Mongol method of war extremely vulnerable.

Longbows (or warbows as they were known as the time, longbow being a much later term) were adopted by the English in the last decades of the 13th Century. I'm an archer myself and know a bit about the history of longbows, and I happen to shoot both a longbow (backed with bamboo - not a traditional material) and a mongol bow (made with fibreglass, definitely not a traditional material). Longbows weren't as powerful as the Mongol bow because of the Mongol contribution to bow technology - the siyah. Essentially this is a block attached to the bow limb over which the string sits (see the point of the bend in the string at (http://www.traditional-archery.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/mongolian-manchu-siyah-and-bridge.jpg). The problem with any bow apart from a modern compound bow is that when you draw the string it naturally starts quite easy and gets progressively harder the further you draw it back, consequently as you release the arrow the power transferred into it by the bow is reducing so the arrow is effectively decelerating before it leaves the string. The mongols got around this problem because when the string hits the siyah, it artificially shortens the length of the string and so suddenly puts a huge amount of acceleration into the arrow, making it much more powerful.

Mongol bows were effective up to 400 yards if I remember right and could shoot as far as 600. Longbows, with heavy bodkin points on, could go to about 2-300, and with a much lighter arrow point, largely used for annoying an enemy at very long range, could reach about 400.

Longbows were great, but not as great as the Mongol bow. Whether it would triumph when shot from horseback against thousands of archers shooting an utterly murderous rate of fire, something like 12 arrows per minute, I have not the slightest idea.

[This message has been edited by ShieldWall (edited 01-04-2012 @ 05:25 AM).]

Cancer of the Head
Ashigaru
(id: say1988)
posted 01-04-12 11:29 AM EDT (US)     3 / 19       
Two things:

1) The Mongols showed a great deal of adaptability. The conquest of China sounds ludicrous with such a light cavalry based army, but they adopted weapons, tactics, and strategies in order to succeed. So the idea that they just wouldn't do so in Europe is ludicrous. Now, they might not succeed, but if they found their standard tactics were inappropriate, they would develop new ones.

2) It is unlikely they would face a united Europe. There would be some alliances, but not all countries would join and a few would be strongly tempted to ally with the Mongols (and the Mongols took up plenty of temporary allies).

3) Even if the Welsh longbow is superior to the Mongol bow, they are used in completely different ways. The Mongol army is still far superior in terms of mobility and lack the discipline issues of the French knights.
ShieldWall
Ashigaru
posted 01-04-12 11:53 AM EDT (US)     4 / 19       
That's three things....

I wouldn't say it's ludicrous to suggest that the Mongols couldn't have taken over the world. Unity on the part of the Mongols and disunity on the part of medieval Europe are certainly very big points, but an army of thousands upon thousands of horsemen needs space to manoeuvre. They had it in Russia and Eastern Europe, but for western Europe you'd have to be on foot or relying on smaller cavalry armies. Become penned in a mountain pass or trapped between forests and I could imagine a line of mounted men at arms licking their lips. The mongols could certainly adapt and maybe they could have done it, again the political unity is important because they would be as relentless and nigh unstoppable because of it as were the Romans against the disunited Celtic tribes. But I think it's very unlikely that they could have held on to it, simply because of the terrain. Unless of course they chose to fight politically and acquired a western European empire through diplomacy, vassel kings and wars by proxy. Now you're talking!
Cancer of the Head
Ashigaru
(id: say1988)
posted 01-04-12 12:05 PM EDT (US)     5 / 19       
I wouldn't say it's ludicrous to suggest that the Mongols couldn't have taken over the world.
My point wasn't that they would succeed, but that if they entered a place where their standard weapons, tactics, and strategy were not viable they would certainly adopt new weapons, tactics, and/or strategies as they have done in the past.
Whether these would have been successful or not, I can't say.
Thompsoncs
Ashigaru
posted 01-04-12 02:23 PM EDT (US)     6 / 19       
Just as Rome and every empire before it, it wouldn't last. The bigger such empires become, the larger the internal problems and corruption. The locals wouldn;t bear much love for their conquerors from the steppes, and likely many mongol warriors would die in mountain passes, forests, hills and even streets at the hand of local rebels. On another point, the western countries like england, france and spain were far more united and powerful than for example the Polish, Germans and other enemies they faced before.

In the end their leader would die at some point and it's likely that in an empire so vast, there would be a succesion problem. In my opinion civil wars were the end of nearly every great power that history has ever seen.
Punic Hebil
Centurion
(id: Punic Hoplite)
posted 01-04-12 03:52 PM EDT (US)     7 / 19       
Plus, they couldn't conquer jungles for the very reasons Terikel stated, but the effects would be magnified because, well, jungles are very enclosed and moist

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Agrippa 271
Ashigaru
posted 01-04-12 10:30 PM EDT (US)     8 / 19       
I think that the Mongol Empire was too large even without western Europe. Too big, too spread out. They wouldn't have been able to keep it up. Supply problems, the fact that whenever they lose an army they would have to wait nearly a year to replace it, etc.

Death is a (vastly) preferable alternative to communism.
"Idiocy knows no national or cultural borders. Stupidity can strike anyone, anywhere." -- Terikel
Rinster
Ashigaru
posted 01-05-12 08:36 AM EDT (US)     9 / 19       
As Thompsoncs already said, the empire was already huge, and at some point there would be an event that would precipitate its collapse, not to mention the huge area that the Mongols had to keep under control. The farther out their armies were spread, the more of a chance there would be of any small defeat causing a major collapse, because of the frailty of their supply lines and such.

Ultimately, some factor or another would have prevented their conquest of Europe.

I really have nothing to say at this point.
Other than this.
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Terikel Grayhair
Imperator
(id: Terikel706)
posted 01-06-12 01:32 AM EDT (US)     10 / 19       
Ultimately, some factor or another would have prevented their conquest of Europe.
Like what really did happen?

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Zardozhotep
Ashigaru
(id: Kahotep)
posted 01-06-12 04:07 PM EDT (US)     11 / 19       
Does anyone know what kind of terrain Western Europe had during the Mongol invasion? I've always pictured it as being heavily forested in pre-industrial times, which would not be helpful to invading horsemen used to open plains. If you look at the regions of Eurasia that the Mongols successfully conquered, they're mostly grasslands and desert.

And yeah, the Mongol Empire probably wouldn't have been able to hold itself together, Europe or no Europe. The Roman Empire was nowhere near as vast as the Mongols' and yet it passed the point where it had to divide into two.

Even if the logistics of maintaining a large empire weren't an issue, the Mongols would've reached the maximum extent of their empire after conquering Southwest Asia. Other than Europe, the only westerly region in the Old World the Mongols could have expanded into is Africa, and even then they would run into the humid marshlands of South Sudan (assuming they took the Nile Valley route through the Sahara).

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Rinster
Ashigaru
posted 01-06-12 10:20 PM EDT (US)     12 / 19       
Like what really did happen?
yeah, exactly like that!

I really have nothing to say at this point.
Other than this.
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Latinium
Ashigaru
posted 01-07-12 12:26 PM EDT (US)     13 / 19       
I think they could have taken all of Europe since im pretty sure the only army standing in their way was the French one which was just like the other Europe armys they had wiped the floor with.

Im not say they could have held it but the could easily take it and possibly exterminate 50% of the population at the same time.

"Confront them with annihilation, and they will then survive; plunge them into a deadly situation, and they will then live. When people fall into danger, they are then able to strive for victory"-Sun Tzu
"They can beacause they think they can" -Virgil
"Laws are silent in times of war"- Cicero
"Who watches the watchmen"-Juvenal
Agrippa 271
Ashigaru
posted 01-07-12 12:49 PM EDT (US)     14 / 19       
Terrain was probably more than enough to allow the French knights to kick Mongol ass. Once the supremacy that they enjoyed on horseback was broken, the Mongols would have been done for. And, not to mention, their bows would have been falling apart, so horse archers would have been severely restricted. And, not to mention the English very well could have been fielding long-bowmen would mean that the Mongols would be in deep s***.

Death is a (vastly) preferable alternative to communism.
"Idiocy knows no national or cultural borders. Stupidity can strike anyone, anywhere." -- Terikel
Latinium
Ashigaru
posted 01-07-12 05:08 PM EDT (US)     15 / 19       
Im sure that if the Mongols couldnt have found the right ground they would have made it, id say that they would have cut down the trees and made the perfect terrain.

I dont think that heavily armoured knights would be the order of the day for ambushes. Yeno with all their huge horses and heavy metal armour.

"Confront them with annihilation, and they will then survive; plunge them into a deadly situation, and they will then live. When people fall into danger, they are then able to strive for victory"-Sun Tzu
"They can beacause they think they can" -Virgil
"Laws are silent in times of war"- Cicero
"Who watches the watchmen"-Juvenal
Zardozhotep
Ashigaru
(id: Kahotep)
posted 01-07-12 05:42 PM EDT (US)     16 / 19       
id say that they would have cut down the trees and made the perfect terrain.
The problem is that forests generally have lots of trees. Plus, even if you removed the trees, you still have to ride around the stumps.

Everything is better with dinosaurs.
Thompsoncs
Ashigaru
posted 01-07-12 05:43 PM EDT (US)     17 / 19       
Common misconception is that medieval armies were made of knights and men in heavy armor.

The most common sight in medieval battles was a man with a spear or bow in leather armor, if lucky with shields and helmets. Such units would be at their very best setting ambushes. And good luck taking all the forest of europe down. Besides, relative few of the men in the mongol army would be true mongols. The mongolian people was not near large enough to fight in every corner of their realm. They needed the conquered people to join them. And let's just say that the mongols were a bit less skilled in making friends of their subjected people than the romans were.
Latinium
Ashigaru
posted 01-07-12 07:06 PM EDT (US)     18 / 19       
I know that the knight wasnt the most common unit on the medival battlefeild but seeing as they are the nobility they would want the glory of killing the foreign invaders to go to them and not to some worthless illeterate peasent.

Also I think the mongols trained thier subject people to fight as them i.e a horse archer.

"Confront them with annihilation, and they will then survive; plunge them into a deadly situation, and they will then live. When people fall into danger, they are then able to strive for victory"-Sun Tzu
"They can beacause they think they can" -Virgil
"Laws are silent in times of war"- Cicero
"Who watches the watchmen"-Juvenal
Terikel Grayhair
Imperator
(id: Terikel706)
posted 01-08-12 06:04 AM EDT (US)     19 / 19       
Gaius Marius once said he could train a legion to be competent within 100 days. That's a little over three months to take raw recruits, teach them drill and discipline, hand them a sword, and expect them to be deent enough with it.

Medieval spearmen took even less time to train- stand here, poke there. Now move. Knights took longer, but there were not many of them.

Mongolian horse-archers, from what little I have read, took years of practice to achieve any sort of proficiency.

True, the Mongols would have parts of their tribes following their armies and be able to resupply some of these warriors, but sooner rather than later the supply would run out. Europeans could afford a war of attrition- and regenerate their losses quickly. The Mongols could not. End result of a Mongolian take-over of Central and western Europe- it would not.

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|||||||||||||||| Too many Awards to list in Signature, sorry lords...|||||||||||||||||
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