The Mongol Empire was one of the largest state formations in the history of mankind. The creation of such a state would have been impossible without a large and advanced army, with a well-thought-out strategy for capturing territories and tactics of warfare. Of course, the Mongols should have had advanced weapons for their time. Let's talk about him now.
Recently, more and more “opinions” have been appearing “on your Internet” that Mongolia has never created one of the greatest empires in the history of mankind, there was no yoke in Russia, and if it did, it looked like a symbiosis of two peoples. Archaeological and chronicle sources, of course, say something completely different. However, today we are not talking about any disgusting "Fomenkoism", but about things of substance - what made the Mongolian army an invincible force, capable of building a power from sea to sea according to the precepts of Genghis Khan.
However, first I would like to say just a few words about the Mongolian strategy. Hordes of nomads did not move "somewhere" there at all. The Tatar-Mongols paid great attention to intelligence, both global - strategic and tactical. Information for the army was collected primarily by numerous ambassadors. In addition, the Mongols actively collected information that various merchants were ready to sell.
The second stage of reconnaissance was the dispatch of a military expedition, which was to go through reconnaissance in force. Very often such raids in Russia and Europe were mistaken for a full-fledged invasion. But the most important thing is that the Mongolian army used the strategy of a monolithic strike, attacking the enemy with the whole horde from several directions, using the tactics of terror: burning settlements, killing local residents (some of them were driven into full) and looting. All this was done in order to prevent the conquered peoples from having a desire to oppose such a force for a long time.
At the same time, there has never been a single expeditionary force. The Mongols advanced, breaking up into several large detachments. This was done primarily so that the horses had something to eat. By the way, one of the most important tasks of reconnaissance was precisely the search for routes with a sufficient number of pastures.
"Kalashnikov assault rifle" of its time
The fact that the Mongols were excellent archers is not said today only by the lazy. In reality, everything was much simpler and faster. The armies of Genghis Khan (and his descendants) have never been "exceptional" and "special" archers relative to other steppe nomads of the war. If only because the army was recruited from all the same peoples of the steppe. However, relative to other peoples, nomads who held a bow since childhood shot really well. The domination of the archers was achieved primarily not by some incredible skill, but by a large number of shooters, as well as by the intensity of the shelling.
Another thing is the compound bow, which appeared in the steppe long before the Mongols, but was once again improved by them. The weapon consisted of a wooden base (shoulders) as well as a horn and an insert and vein on the back. The tendon and horn allowed for the best arrow throwing efficiency relative to bows made from a solid piece of wood.
Each rider had a bow with him (and a good and correct rider had to have two bows - a Chinese model and a Middle Eastern one). With a warrior, there were at least two quivers of 30 arrows, as well as a set of spare bowstrings, which were also made from the sinews of old animals (archers of all nations had spare bowstrings, as they wore out and burst over time). At the same time, the most important element was an oiled leather case, in which the bow was stored outside of battle. This weapon was very whimsical and needed careful care. In addition, in the stowed state, the bow was kept weakened - with the bowstring removed.
Interesting fact: The Mongols called the entire archery kit a sideak. Very often, a knife was worn under it, which was called a side knife.
From the main weapon of the Mongol horde, the main battle tactics directly originated. The armies of the Genghisites did not like equestrian close combat. They entered it only as a last resort or when the enemy was already sufficiently weak. There was no large number of heavy shock cavalry in the Mongol army, so the troops most often acted according to the "fight and flight" principle: they started a firefight and ran back, forcing the opponents to chase them. Under the guise of retreat, the light Mongol cavalry exhausted the enemy, and then shot them almost with impunity from all sides.
Cut, chop, if - do not spare the round-eyed
The Mongols had very different edged weapons. All wars carried knives and small hatchets, which, despite the modest size of the blade, were extremely effective, including against armor. Wealthy heavily armed warriors were armed with bladed weapons - sabers. Less often they carried swords, including broadswords. Modest-looking, but very effective clubs were also popular. Spears with hooks were also widespread. The latter could be used, among other things, to pull off enemy riders from horses when it came to hand-to-hand combat. The victorious wars most often, in addition to the bow, had small spears, less often javelins.
However, as already noted, the main stake has always been on light cavalry and archery. Burying the enemy with arrows from all directions was not only wildly effective, but also had a terrible demoralizing effect. It is curious that the Mongols used the same tactics when storming cities. A large concentration of archers simply bombarded the defenders on the walls with arrows. Where 3 people could be placed on the wall, all 30 could be kept under the wall.
Armor Mongolian warriors called the word huyag. Most often, it meant the entire complex of armor, which in general did not differ much from what was used at that time in the rest of the world. Lightly armed horsemen most often did not wear any armor at all, less often they had chain mail, and very rarely wore lamellar or laminar armor. The first was an armor made of interwoven plates. The second (more rare) armor was almost always metal and consisted of several large movable plates.
Wealthy warriors could also afford helmets of varying degrees of wealth from the most basic to the very luxurious with masks instead of trivial nasal pads. Almost all of them belonged to the shishak type, had a hemispherical shape and pointed at the top of the head. In winter, the Mongols wore fur hats, and also dressed in warm sheepskin sheepskin coats. Finally, many horsemen carried very small round shields.
The conquest of China greatly helped the Mongol army in the future. It was there that the Mongols perfected their already effective compound bow. There, they got access to Chinese engineering. Siege masters from the Celestial Empire were actively involved in the assault on the most reliable fortresses inaccessible to the ordinary army. At the peak of its power, the Mongolian army actively used ancient throwing artillery. Later, engineers were hired capable of creating more modern machines, namely trebuchets.
In addition, the Mongolian troops periodically came across such Chinese exotic as crossbows, multiply charged crossbows and even powder throwing bombs. The presence of the latter is evidenced by one of the Japanese prints. However, such weapons did not have mass distribution.
Want to know even more interesting things? How about reading about how knights went to the toilet in armor and 8 more interesting facts that will help you look at them from a different angle and understand how everything really was.