Today in European history: the Battle of the Kalka River (1223)

The 1240 siege of Kiev occurred on the Mongols’ second incursion into the eastern European steppe and the first that was intended to conquer territory. The Mongols’ first European invasion amounted to a raid, but holy mackerel, what a raid. By 1221 the Mongols’ war against the Khwarazmian Empire in Central Asia/eastern Iran was over, although that empire’s straggling remnants would survive for another decade. Instead of turning around and heading home, however, as most of the Mongol army was doing, two generals—Jebe and Subutai—asked Genghis Khan for permission to take 20,000 men on an extended (1-2 year) expedition further west. Their intent was not conquest but simply to scout out these western lands, assess the kingdoms controlling them, take whatever booty they could scrape up, and then return home a little richer and a lot better informed.

Read the rest at my new home, Foreign Exchanges!

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