Today in Middle Eastern history: the Battle of Köse Dağ (1243)

When the Mongols expanded west in the 13th century, they were certainly not the first steppe people to make that journey. In fact, it was a group of ex-slaves who’d already come from the Eurasian steppe (albeit involuntarily), the Mamluks, who eventually ended the Mongols’ westward expansion at the Battle of Ayn Jalut in 1260. And … Continue reading Today in Middle Eastern history: the Battle of Köse Dağ (1243)

Today in Middle Eastern history: the Assassin imam surrenders to the Mongols (1256)

If we're going to talk about the end of the Assassin order, we should probably talk about who they were first. You may already know something about them--of all the topics one can cover in Islamic history, they're one of the most provocative and interesting to Western audiences. There's even a whole video game series … Continue reading Today in Middle Eastern history: the Assassin imam surrenders to the Mongols (1256)

Today in European history: the Battle of Mohi (1241)

Having already talked about the Battle of Legnica a couple of days ago, we now turn to the Mongols’ other major April 1241 fight, the Battle of Mohi (also referred to as the Battle of the Sajó River) on April 11 (it technically may have begun on April 10, but close enough). If you’ve already read the story of Legnica … Continue reading Today in European history: the Battle of Mohi (1241)

Today in European history: the Battle of Legnica (1241)

The double-envelopment, or pincer movement, is such a tried and true military tactic that the guy who literally wrote the book on war, Sun Tzu, discussed it in his book. It involves, as the name suggests, outflanking an enemy on both sides in order to encircle it completely. Sun Tzu actually argued against employing this tactic, because … Continue reading Today in European history: the Battle of Legnica (1241)

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

The Mongols’ 1240 siege of Kyiv, an event we’ve also discussed here, occurred on their second incursion into the eastern European steppe. The Mongols’ first European invasion, which gives us today’s anniversary, was more a raid than an invasion, since there was no consideration given to actually conquering territory. But it stands as perhaps the most … Continue reading Today in European history: the Battle of the Kalka River (1223)

Today in Middle Eastern history: the Mongols sack Baghdad (1258)

The Mongol sack of Baghdad in 1258 brought an end the Abbasid caliphate in most practical senses. It was, obviously, a pivotal moment in world history, and is among the handful of events about which you can genuinely say that the world was one way before it happened and another way after it happened. At … Continue reading Today in Middle Eastern history: the Mongols sack Baghdad (1258)

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

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