Today in European history: the Mongols sack Kiev (1240)

The successful Mongol siege of Kiev in 1240 is generally identified as the final end of the Kievan Rus’ federation, but this is a little too convenient for historical terms. For nearly two centuries, the balance of power in the federation had been shifting gradually from the central authority to the individual principalities, who fought… Continue reading Today in European history: the Mongols sack Kiev (1240)

Today in Chinese history: the Siege of Kaifeng ends (1233)

Chinese history isn’t really what we cover around here, but I’m making an exception for the 1232-1233 Siege of Kaifeng. Why? Well, partly because the Mongols were involved, but also because, from the standpoint of military history, there were some incredible things happening in China in this period. The Jin, who were the ruling dynasty… Continue reading Today in Chinese history: the Siege of Kaifeng ends (1233)

Today in Middle Eastern History: the Battle of Ayn Jalut (1260)

But although the forces that would eventually split the empire apart were unleashed in 1251, in 1260 the whole thing still looked mostly like one big family enterprise. Upon his succession, Möngke had ordered major new military expeditions into southern China and the Middle East. He put one of his brothers, Hulagu, in charge of… Continue reading Today in Middle Eastern History: the Battle of Ayn Jalut (1260)

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

The sudden arrival of the Mongols compelled the Kievan Rus’ confederation, in an increasingly rare moment of solidarity (funny how the perception of an existential threat can bring people together), to muster a large army with contributions from each of its component principalities, including the three most important: Kiev, Galicia–Volhynia (the western part of modern… Continue reading Today in European history: the Battle of the Kalka River (1223)

Today in Middle Eastern History: the Battle of Ayn Jalut (1260)

Originally posted on and that's the way it was:
(Reminder: I’m on a break this week) In 1260, the Mongols were riding as high as they’d been at any time since Genghis Khan’s death in 1215. In less than 10 years, their armies had stormed through Iran and Iraq, crushing the notorious “Assassins” sect…

Today in European history: the Mongols sack Kiev (1240)

The successful Mongol siege of Kiev in 1240 is generally identified as the final end of the Kievan Rus’ federation (I’m going to use “Kiev” here to describe both the city and the federation, but I think you’ll be able to figure out when I mean one or the other), but this is a little… Continue reading Today in European history: the Mongols sack Kiev (1240)