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Pax Mongolica: Definition & Impact

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  • 0:05 Mongol Peace
  • 0:44 Background
  • 1:58 Influence of the Pax Mongolica
  • 3:51 End of Pax Mongolica
  • 5:10 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Christopher Muscato

Chris has a master's degree in history and teaches at the University of Northern Colorado.

The Pax Mongolica was one of the most important periods in human history. In this lesson, we'll explore how it happened and why it made such a dramatic impact.

Mongol Peace

When we think of Genghis Khan and his hordes of nomadic Mongolian warriors, the last word that generally comes to mind is 'peace'. But, believe it or not, this was one of the most enduring legacies of the Mongol Empire. Why? Well, to put it simply, the Mongols defeated so many people, there was no one left to fight.

Historians call the period from the 13th to 14th centuries, when most of Eurasia was under Mongol rule, the Pax Mongolica, which is Latin for 'the Mongol Peace.' It may not be what you'd expect from the Mongol Empire, but the impacts of this period really speak for themselves.

Background

Okay, so how did this Mongol Peace start? Well, before Genghis Khan, the conqueror and founder of the Mongol Empire, started his campaign across Asia between 1206 and 1227 CE, the continent was filled with dozens of little kingdoms. These kingdoms were often at war with each other and most were very fearful of outsiders, so they discouraged trade with people from far away. Basically, if you wanted to travel from Italy to China, you'd have to pass through a hundred different kingdoms to get there. Almost all would charge you heavy taxes for importing or exporting or even for passing through, and some would just outright kill you.

However, as Genghis Khan began conquering Asia, he started unifying all of these kingdoms under a single empire. Under his successors, the Mongol Empire stretched even further, unifying more people. At its height, the Mongol Empire reached from China's coast on the Pacific Ocean all the way to the Black Sea in Eastern Europe. It was one of the largest empires in human history, incorporating over 12 million square miles of land, and one of the simplest rules was no fighting within the empire. Thus, the Pax Mongolica was developed.

Influence of the Pax Mongolica

Under the Mongol Empire, Eurasia was unified. These cities no longer went to war against each other, and the Mongols mandated a policy of open trade. Items from China and Southeastern Asia made it into Eastern Europe and the Middle East, and vice versa.

The Mongols also maintained the roads needed to conduct this trade and used their army to protect the roads from bandits. Called the Silk Roads, these trade routes that ran across the Mongol Empire connected the world in a way that had never truly been done before.

Let's look at some of the impacts of the Silk Roads. Italian merchants like Marco Polo traveled to China and opened up trade relations that made Italian trading cities incredibly wealthy. This wealth flowing into Europe was directly responsible for the rise of the powerful, educated, and art-obsessed cities that formed the basis of the Renaissance, one of the definitive eras in European history.

Spices, gems, and of course silks were exchanged between Europe and Asia, but so were ideas. Paper and gunpowder were first introduced into Europe from China thanks to the Silk Road trade. European missionaries wound up in India and China and translated Buddhist works into Latin and the Christian Bible into Mongolian. New systems of banking were developed to protect the investments of traders across the region. Islamic systems of math, astronomy, and science spread into China and Europe.

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