In 1260, the Mongols were near the height of their power and reach, particularly in the Middle East. In less than 10 years, Mongol armies had stormed through Iran and Iraq, crushing the notorious “Assassins” sect and ending Abbasid Caliphate in the process. They’d even invaded northern India several times but for multiple reasons, including that the Mongols found the Indian climate completely disagreeable, they never made much headway there. With the empire simultaneously expanding into eastern Europe and southern China, it must have seemed like the Mongols would go on expanding until they ruled the entire world. The architect of this latest round of expansion was the Great Khan Möngke, who had come to power in 1251, after something of an internal coup d’etat forced the descendants of Genghis Khan’s third-eldest son, Ögedei, out of the Great Khanate and installed the descendants of Genghis’s youngest son, Tolui, in their place.
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