What are the achievements of the Mongols

The Mongols under Genghis Khan

6. Results and conclusion

The portrayal of Genghis Khan and the Mongols brought about massacres on the one hand and achievements on the other. On the one hand there was talk of Mongolian honor, tradition and freedom of belief, on the other hand there was a gang of assassins and imperialists.

We want to consciously leave the connection of the results in a moral judgment to the reader. At most we wanted to show the ups and downs of the Mongolian valuation from the Middle Ages to the modern age. So was Genghis Khan a brutal world conqueror with civilizing abilities? Or should he be called a man of genius who managed to unite the uncivilized, marauding peoples of Mongolia, who created a state out of nothing and (inevitably) went overboard?

Depending on the current situation, these evaluations will be different. In the historical sources examined here, the view of the Mongols has always remained one-sided. Its own secret history transfigured the Mongols as masters of the world in a founding myth and then omitted any kind of defeat and atrocity in the historical representation. The occidental view runs in waves, between the extremes as hell peoples or Christian allies there is no balance. The edited Chinese source appears as an attempt at an objective representation. But only because they were written by the Sung Chinese, who cleverly hide their joy at the defeats of the arch enemies of the Chin.

To this day, stereotypical representations of the Mongols predominate, in popular scientific debates there are no others. The name of Genghis Khan and the Mongols is equated with tyranny, the elements of civilization are overlooked.

After the difficulties in interpreting words and ways of life, which already led to many misunderstandings among interpreters of the Middle Ages due to the different cultures and languages, the temporal distance and the lack of understanding for what was self-evident in the Middle Ages make access more difficult when classifying the sources further into the modern era.

The question of whether civilizational or reprehensible elements predominate in Dschinghis Khan will be answered very differently depending on the time, questioner and exact question. The description of these two elements in the Middle Ages and the present remains more interesting. The self-portrayal of the Mongols on the basis of the Secret History is a hagiography, even if not comparable to the European ones of that time. Here a half-orphan has to walk a rocky road before everyone recognizes his destiny as ruler of the world. As the Son of God, he has to fight and kill on the way to the goal, which would disqualify a saint in European hagiographies. In Mongolian hagiography, the standards of value are shifted, here, for example, promises not kept would lead to the disqualification of the saint.

The myths and legends of the European Middle Ages are more diverse. Some texts about Genghis Khan are malographies, they place a lot of value on the bad birth (from hell), inhumanly cruel deeds and the misfortune that he brings to everyone who has to do with him. The Mongolian mixture of peoples is also attached to the devilish attributes in terms of appearance and smell.

We are of the opinion that the normative level should not be historians' first approach to their subject matter. Normative history as a first encounter only increases the lack of understanding and thus the difficulties of interpreting strange times and cultures.

The result of the reign of terror as a deterrent system and the slaughter of seemingly superfluous people was world domination. The saying that there are no just wars is only brought to an end here in its negation. The aforementioned massacres are by no means justified on the normative level; purely descriptively, they brought the Mongols the desired result.

From a moral point of view, the allegations against Genghis Khan remain unchanged even after abstraction of the cruelty of his time and the alleged inability to deal with fortified cities. But they are not allowed to fill the scales alone with which Genghis Khan and the Mongols are to be measured. On the other side of the scale are thoughts of tolerance, especially in religious questions, which were completely alien to Europe at that time. Furthermore, a code of law and honor, also in the behavior towards the vanquished and surrender, which would have served many Christian armies and societies well, and finally a level of civilization that appropriated the best of all cultures. Even if the atrocities weigh much more heavily for the viewer, they must never be mentioned alone.

The historical significance of Genghis Khan and the Mongols is revealed in the juxtaposition of terror and tolerance, precisely because these extremes apparently had an everyday equality for them.