Most Westerners accept the stereotype of the 13th-century Mongols as barbaric plunderers intent merely to maim, slaughter, and destroy. This perception, based on Persian, Chinese, Russian, and other accounts of the speed and ruthlessness with which the Mongols carved out the largest contiguous land empire in world history, has shaped both Asian and Western images of the Mongols and of their earliest leader, Chinggis Khan.

Such a view has diverted attention from the considerable contributions the Mongols made to 13th- and 14th-century civilization. Though the brutality of the Mongols' military campaigns ought not to be downplayed or ignored, neither should their influence on Eurasian culture be overlooked.

 


 
 
© 2004 Asia for Educators, Columbia University
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