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The Seljuks: Nomads Who Built an Empire and Took On Byzantine Power

The Seljuks: Nomads Who Built an Empire and Took On Byzantine Power

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The Seljuk Empire was a medieval empire that existed between the 11th and 12th centuries. They are most famous for their invasions and battles against the Byzantine Empire and later their role in the First Crusade. Although the Seljuks were originally a Turkic people, they intermarried with the Persians and adopted much of their culture and language.

At its most extent, the Seljuk (Seljuq) Empire stretched from Central Asia in the east all the way to Anatolia in the west. By the end of the 12th century, however, the Seljuk Empire had fragmented into a number of smaller states which were ruled by other dynasties. Nevertheless, the Seljuks continued to rule over Anatolia as the Sultanate of Rum.

Who Were the Seljuks?

The Seljuks were originally Turkic nomads who inhabited the steppes of Central Asia and Southeast Russia. The name of this people is taken from their traditional ancestor, Seljuk, who was a chief of the Qinik, a branch of the Oghuz Turks . Around 950 AD, Seljuk migrated to Khwarezm while serving in the Khazar army. Later on, around 985, Seljuk led a confederation of nine Turkic tribes to Persia, where they settled down and converted to Sunni Islam .

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The Seljuks allied themselves with the Persian Samanid Empire and intermarried with the local Persian population. As a result, many aspects of Persian culture and language were adopted by the newcomers. The alliance with the Samanids did not last for long, however, as they were destroyed by the Qarakhanids in 999. The Samanids were replaced by the Ghaznavids and the Seljuks were at war with them.

The Seljuks allied themselves with the Persian Samanid Empire and intermarried with the local Persian population. (Arie m den toom / CC BY-SA 3.0 )

The Beginning of the Seljuk Empire

It was two of Seljuk’s grandsons, Tughril Beg and Chaghri Beg, who fought against the Ghaznavids. Although the Ghaznavids had the upper hand initially, they were decisively defeated by the Seljuks in 1039 at the Battle of Dandanaqan. As a consequence, most of the western territories of the Ghaznavids were handed over to the Seljuks. This marked the establishment of the Seljuk Empire, and the two grandsons of Seljuk are credited with its foundation.

The Seljuks defeated the Ghaznavids at the Battle of Dandanaqan.

Tughril died in 1063 and was succeeded by his nephew, Alp Arslan, who continued the expansion of the empire. It was during the reign of Alp Arslan and his successor, Malik Shah I, that the Seljuk Empire reached its height of power. Alp Arslan expanded into Armenia and Georgia and fought against the Byzantine Empire .

In 1071, Alp Arslan won a decisive victory over the Byzantines at the Battle of Manzikert . The Byzantine emperor, Romanos IV, was taken prisoner by the Seljuks and Byzantine control over Anatolia weakened considerably. Nevertheless, Alp Arslan did not live long enough to conquer Anatolia, as he died in the following year.

Alp Arslan was succeeded by his son, Malik Shah I, who continued his father’s military campaigns. It was during his reign that Anatolia was conquered by the Seljuks. In the east, the Seljuks fought against the Qarakhanids and were able to expand into Central Asia all the way to the western borders of China.

Malik-Shah I, ruler of the Seljuks, seated on his throne.

Trouble Between the Seljuks and the Demise of the Seljuk Empire

When Malik Shah died in 1092, the Seljuk Empire lost its unity, as his brother and four sons fought for power. Although Malik Shah’s son, Mahmud I became the new ruler of the Seljuk Empire, he was not able to hold the empire together.

His claim to the throne was contested by his three brothers, Barkiyaruq, Muhammad I, and Ahmad Sanjar, who had established themselves in Iraq, Baghdad, and Khorasan respectively. Additionally, a distant relative, Kilij Arslan I, had founded the Sultanate of Rum in Anatolia, while Syria came under the rule of Tutush I, one of Kilij Arslan’s brothers.

While this fragmentation was going on, the Seljuks faced a new enemy from the west in the form of the First Crusade . The Seljuks were unable to unite against the Crusaders and the various Seljuk rulers allied themselves with or fought against the invaders as they saw fit. Although the Seljuk rulers dreamt of reunifying their empire, this was never achieved.

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The Seljuks faced a new enemy from the west in the form of the First Crusade. (warhead300 / YouTube Screenshot )

The Seljuk Empire continued its existence in the century that followed, though it no longer wielded the power it once enjoyed under Alp Arslan and Malik Shah I. In 1194, the Seljuk Empire lost much of its eastern territories to the Khwarazmians and the last Seljuk ruler of Iran, Tughril III, was killed in a battle against them. Seljuk power survived in Anatolia as the Sultanate of Rum , until it was vassalized by the Mongols following the Battle of Kose Dag in 1243.

Seljuk architecture

Seljuk architecture comprises the building traditions used by the Seljuk dynasty, when it ruled most of the Middle East and Anatolia during the 11th to 13th centuries. After the 11th century, the Seljuks of Rum emerged from the Great Seljuk Empire developing their own architecture, though they were influenced and inspired by the Armenian, Byzantine and Persian architectural traditions.


The Roman amphitheatre consists of three main parts: the cavea, the arena, and the vomitorium. The seating area is called the cavea (Latin for "enclosure"). The cavea is formed of concentric rows of stands which are either supported by arches built into the framework of the building, or simply dug out of the hillside or built up using excavated material extracted during the excavation of the fighting area (the arena).

The cavea is traditionally organised in three horizontal sections, corresponding to the social class of the spectators: [4]

  • The ima cavea is the lowest part of the cavea and the one directly surrounding the arena. It was usually reserved for the upper echelons of society.
  • The media cavea directly follows the ima cavea and was open to the general public, though mostly reserved for men.
  • The summa cavea is the highest section and was usually open to women and children.

Similarly, the front row was called the prima cavea and the last row was called the cavea ultima. The cavea was further divided vertically into cunei. A cuneus (Latin for "wedge" plural, cunei) was a wedge-shaped division separated by the scalae or stairways.

The arched entrances both at the arena level and within the cavea are called the vomitoria (Latin "to spew forth" singular, vomitorium) and were designed to allow rapid dispersal of large crowds.

Early amphitheatres Edit

It is uncertain when and where the first amphitheatres were built. There are records attesting to temporary wooden amphitheatres built in the Forum Romanum for gladiatorial games from the second century BC onwards, and these may be the origin of the architectural form later expressed in stone. [5] In his Historia Naturalis, Pliny the Elder claims that the amphitheatre was invented during the spectacles of Gaius Scribonius Curio in 53 BC, where two wooden semicircular theatres were rotated towards each other to form one circular amphitheatre, while spectators were still seated in the two halves. [3] But while this may be the origin of the architectural term amphitheatrum, it cannot be the origin of the architectural concept, since earlier stone amphitheatres, known as spectacula or amphitheatera, have been found. [3]

According to Jean-Claude Golvin, the earliest known stone amphitheatres are found in Campania, at Capua, Cumae and Liternum, where such venues were built towards the end of the second century BC. [5] The next-oldest amphitheatre known, as well as one of the best-researched, is the amphitheatre of Pompeii, securely dated to be built shortly after 70 BC. [6] There are relatively few other known early amphitheatres: those at Abella, Teanum and Cales date to the Sullan era (until 78 BC), those at Puteoli and Telesia from the Augustan (27 BC–14 AD). The amphitheatres at Sutrium, Carmo and Ucubi were built around 40–30 BC, those at Antioch and Phaestum (Phase I) in the mid-first century BC. [5]

Imperial era Edit

In the Imperial era, amphitheatres became an integral part of the Roman urban landscape. As cities vied with each other for preeminence in civic buildings, amphitheatres became ever more monumental in scale and ornamentation. [2] Imperial amphitheatres comfortably accommodated 40,000–60,000 spectators, or up to 100,000 in the largest venues, and were only outdone by the hippodromes in seating capacity. They featured multi-storeyed, arcaded façades and were elaborately decorated with marble and stucco cladding, statues and reliefs, or even partially made of marble. [7]

As the Empire grew, most of its amphitheatres remained concentrated in the Latin-speaking Western half, while in the East spectacles were mostly staged in other venues such as theatres or stadia. [8] In the West, amphitheatres were built as part of Romanization efforts by providing a focus for the Imperial cult, by private benefactors, or by the local government of colonies or provincial capitals as an attribute of Roman municipal status. A large number of modest arenas were built in Roman North Africa, [8] where most of the architectural expertise was provided by the Roman military. [9]

The late Empire and the decline of the amphitheatre tradition Edit

Several factors caused the eventual extinction of the tradition of amphitheatre construction. Gladiatorial munera began to disappear from public life during the 3rd century, due to economic pressure, philosophical disapproval and opposition by the increasingly predominant new religion of Christianity, whose adherents considered such games an abomination and a waste of money. [10] Spectacles involving animals, venationes, survived until the sixth century, but became costlier and rarer. The spread of Christianity also changed the patterns of public beneficence: where a pagan Roman would often have seen himself as a homo civicus, who gave benefits to the public in exchange for status and honor, a Christian would more often be a new type of citizen, a homo interior, who sought to attain a divine reward in heaven and directed his beneficence to alms and charity rather than public works and games. [11]

These changes meant that there were ever fewer uses for amphitheatres, and ever fewer funds to build and maintain them. The last construction of an amphitheatre is recorded in 523 in Pavia under Theoderic. [12] After the end of venationes, the only remaining purpose of amphitheatres was to be the place of public executions and punishments. After even this purpose dwindled away, many amphitheatres fell into disrepair and were gradually dismantled for building material, razed to make way for newer buildings, or vandalized. [13] Others were transformed into fortifications or fortified settlements, such as at Leptis Magna, Sabratha, Arles and Pola, and in the 12th century the Frangipani fortified even the Colosseum to help them in Roman power struggles. [14] Yet others were repurposed as Christian churches, including the arenas at Arles, Nîmes, Tarragona and Salona the Colosseum became a Christian shrine in the 18th century. [14]

Of the surviving amphitheatres, many are now protected as historic monuments several are tourist attractions.

The Colosseum Edit

The Flavian Amphitheatre in Rome, more generally known as the Colosseum, is the archetypal and the largest amphitheatre. Built from 72 to 80 AD, it remains as an icon of ancient Rome. Its building and arena dimensions are 188 × 156 and 86 × 54 meters respectively. It was commissioned by the Emperor Vespasian for the capital city of the ancient Roman Empire from 70–80 AD but was not completed and opened until 80 AD by his son Titus, as a gift for the people of Rome. [15]

Amphitheatre of Pompeii Edit

The Amphitheatre of Pompeii is the oldest surviving Roman amphitheatre. It is located in the Roman city of Pompeii, and was buried by the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD, that also buried Pompeii itself and the neighboring town of Herculaneum. It is also the oldest surviving Roman amphitheatre built with stone.

Faleria Edit

The second-largest Roman amphitheatre was the Faleria, built 43 A.D. [16] It was located in Picenum (now Falerone), Italy. Its building dimensions were 178.8 × 106.2 meters, and it had an arena shaped like an ellipse. [17] It had twelve entrances, four of which led to the arena and had eight rows of seats divided into three sections. [18] Only the outside wall of the amphitheatre remains and the arena is covered in grass all the way to the podium. [18]

Capua Edit

The third-largest Roman amphitheatre was the Amphitheatre of Capua, with building dimensions of 169.9 × 139.6 meters. It was located in the city of Capua (modern Santa Maria Capua Vetere), Italy. It was erected by Augustus in the first century B.C. and could hold up to 60,000 spectators. [19] It is known as the arena that Spartacus fought in in 73 B.C. [19] The theatre was eventually destroyed by the Vandals in their invasion of Rome in 456 AD. [19]

Julia Caesarea Edit

The fourth-largest Roman amphitheatre, the Julia Caesarea, was erected after the time of Julius Caesar. It was built in Mauretania between the times of 25 BC and 23 AD by the Roman-appointed ruler Juba II and his son Ptolemy, [20] which is now considered to be modern day Cherchell, Algeria. Although it has not endured, its building dimensions are known to have been 168 × 88 meters with an arena dimension of 72.1 × 45.8 meters. [17]

Italica Edit

The fifth-largest Roman amphitheatre is found in the province of Sevilla, Spain. Its building dimensions are 156.5 × 134 meters and its arena dimensions are 71. 2 × 46.2 meters. [17] Built in the reign of emperor Hadrian, 117–138 AD, the Italica amphitheatre could hold up to 25,000 people and still stands today. [21]

On hearing of the approach of a large Byzantine army, the Tukish ruler raised his siege of Aleppo and marched into Anatolia to fight the advancing forces. by Niki Gamm ISTANBUL from Hürriyet Daily News The Seljuk Turks first entered &hellip Continue reading &rarr

Byzantium produced some well known women Empresses such as Theodora and Zoe. Perhaps the best Augusta they did not have was Anna Comnena, the Daughter of The Emperor Alexius I Comnenus who reigned from 1081 until 1118. Well, in her opinion she is the best Augusta they never had according to her excellent biography of her father known as The Alexiad. Continue reading &rarr


The prolonged and escalating Byzantine–Sasanian wars of the 6th and 7th centuries and the recurring outbreaks of bubonic plague (Plague of Justinian) left both empires exhausted and vulnerable in the face of the sudden emergence and expansion of the Arabs. The last of the wars between the Roman and Persian empires ended with victory for the Byzantines: Emperor Heraclius regained all lost territories, and restored the True Cross to Jerusalem in 629. [10]

Nevertheless, neither empire was given any chance to recover, as within a few years they found themselves in conflict with the Arabs (newly united by Islam), which, according to Howard-Johnston, "can only be likened to a human tsunami". [11] According to George Liska, the "unnecessarily prolonged Byzantine–Persian conflict opened the way for Islam". [12]

In the late 620s, the Islamic Prophet Muhammad had already managed to unify much of Arabia under Muslim rule via conquest as well as making alliances with neighboring tribes, and it was under his leadership that the first Muslim–Byzantine skirmishes took place. Just a few months after Emperor Heraclius and the Persian general Shahrbaraz agreed on terms for the withdrawal of Persian troops from occupied Byzantine eastern provinces in 629, Arab and Byzantine troops confronted each other at the Mu'tah in response to the murder of Muhammad's ambassador at the hands of the Ghassanids, a Byzantine vassal kingdom. [13] Muhammad died in 632 and was succeeded by Abu Bakr, the first Caliph with undisputed control of the entire Arabian Peninsula after the successful Ridda wars, which resulted in the consolidation of a powerful Muslim state throughout the peninsula. [14]

According to Muslim biographies, Muhammed, having received intelligence that Byzantine forces were concentrating in northern Arabia with intentions of invading Arabia, led a Muslim army north to Tabuk in present-day northwestern Saudi Arabia, with the intention of pre-emptively engaging the Byzantine army, however, the Byzantine army had retreated beforehand. Though it was not a battle in the typical sense, nevertheless the event represented the first Arab encounter against the Byzantines. It did not, however, lead immediately to a military confrontation. [15]

There is no contemporary Byzantine account of the Tabuk expedition, and many of the details come from much later Muslim sources. It has been argued that there is in one Byzantine source possibly referencing the Battle of Mu´tah traditionally dated 629, but this is not certain. [16] The first engagements may have started as conflicts with the Arab client states of the Byzantine and Sassanid empires: the Ghassanids and the Lakhmids of Al-Hirah. In any case, Muslim Arabs after 634 certainly pursued a full-blown offensive against both empires, resulting in the conquest of the Levant, Egypt and Persia for Islam. The most successful Arab generals were Khalid ibn al-Walid and 'Amr ibn al-'As.

Arab conquest of Roman Syria: 634–638 Edit

In the Levant, the invading Rashidun army were engaged by a Byzantine army composed of imperial troops as well as local levies. [note 1] According to Islamic historians, Monophysites and Jews throughout Syria welcomed the Arabs as liberators, as they were discontented with the rule of the Byzantines. [note 2]

The Roman Emperor Heraclius had fallen ill and was unable to personally lead his armies to resist the Arab conquests of Syria and Roman Paelestina in 634. In a battle fought near Ajnadayn in the summer of 634, the Rashidun Caliphate army achieved a decisive victory. [18] After their victory at the Fahl, Muslim forces conquered Damascus in 634 under the command of Khalid ibn al-Walid. [19] The Byzantine response involved the collection and dispatch of the maximum number of available troops under major commanders, including Theodore Trithyrius and the Armenian general Vahan, to eject the Muslims from their newly won territories. [19]

At the Battle of Yarmouk in 636, however, the Muslims, having studied the ground in detail, lured the Byzantines into pitched battle, which the Byzantines usually avoided, and into a series of costly assaults, before turning the deep valleys and cliffs into a catastrophic death-trap. [20] Heraclius' farewell exclamation (according to the 9th-century historian Al-Baladhuri) [21] while departing Antioch for Constantinople, is expressive of his disappointment: "Peace unto thee, O Syria, and what an excellent country this is for the enemy!" [note 3] The impact of Syria's loss on the Byzantines is illustrated by Joannes Zonaras' words: "[. ] since then [after the fall of Syria] the race of the Ishmaelites did not cease from invading and plundering the entire territory of the Romans". [24]

In April 637 the Arabs, after a long siege, captured Jerusalem, which was surrendered by Patriarch Sophronius. [note 4] In the summer of 637, the Muslims conquered Gaza, and, during the same period, the Byzantine authorities in Egypt and Mesopotamia purchased an expensive truce, which lasted three years for Egypt and one year for Mesopotamia. Antioch fell to the Muslim armies in late 637, and by then the Muslims occupied the whole of northern Syria, except for upper Mesopotamia, which they granted a one-year truce. [16]

At the expiration of this truce in 638–639, the Arabs overran Byzantine Mesopotamia and Byzantine Armenia, and terminated the conquest of Palestine by storming Caesarea Maritima and effecting their final capture of Ascalon. In December 639, the Muslims departed from Palestine to invade Egypt in early 640. [16]

Arab conquests of North Africa: 639–698 Edit

Conquest of Egypt and Cyrenaica Edit

By the time Heraclius died, much of Egypt had been lost, and by 637–638 the whole of Syria was in the hands of the armies of Islam. [note 5] With 3,500–4,000 troops under his command, 'Amr ibn al-A'as first crossed into Egypt from Palestine at the end of 639 or the beginning of 640. He was progressively joined by further reinforcements, notably 12,000 soldiers by Al-Zubayr. 'Amr first besieged and conquered Babylon, and then attacked Alexandria. The Byzantines, divided and shocked by the sudden loss of so much territory, agreed to give up the city by September 642. [27] The fall of Alexandria extinguished Byzantine rule in Egypt, and allowed the Muslims to continue their military expansion into North Africa between 643–644 'Amr completed the conquest of Cyrenaica. [28] Uthman succeeded Caliph Umar after his death. [29]

According to Arab historians, the local Christian Copts welcomed the Arabs just as the Monophysites did in Jerusalem. [30] The loss of this lucrative province deprived the Byzantines of their valuable wheat supply, thereby causing food shortages throughout the Byzantine Empire and weakening its armies in the following decades. [31]

The Byzantine navy briefly won back Alexandria in 645, but lost it again in 646 shortly after the Battle of Nikiou. [32] The Islamic forces raided Sicily in 652, while Cyprus and Crete were captured in 653.

Conquest of the Exarchate of Africa Edit

"The people of Homs replied [to the Muslims], "We like your rule and justice far better than the state of oppression and tyranny in which we were. The army of Heraclius we shall indeed, with your 'amil's' help, repulse from the city." The Jews rose and said, "We swear by the Torah, no governor of Heraclius shall enter the city of Homs unless we are first vanquished and exhausted!" [. ] The inhabitants of the other cities—Christian and Jews—that had capitulated to the Muslims, did the same [. ] When by Allah's help the "unbelievers" were defeated and the Muslims won, they opened the gates of their cities, went out with the singers and music players who began to play, and paid the kharaj."
Al-Baladhuri [33] – According to the Muslim historians of the 9th century, local populations regarded Byzantine rule as oppressive, and preferred Muslim conquest instead. [a]

In 647, a Rashidun-Arab army led by Abdallah ibn al-Sa’ad invaded the Byzantine Exarchate of Africa. Tripolitania was conquered, followed by Sufetula, 150 miles (240 km) south of Carthage, and the governor and self-proclaimed Emperor of Africa Gregory was killed. Abdallah's booty-laden force returned to Egypt in 648 after Gregory's successor, Gennadius, promised them an annual tribute of some 300,000 nomismata. [34]

Following a civil war in the Arab Empire the Umayyads came to power under Muawiyah I. Under the Umayyads the conquest of the remaining Byzantine and northern Berber territories in North Africa was completed and the Arabs were able to move across large parts of the Berber world, invading Visigothic Spain through the Strait of Gibraltar, [30] under the command of the allegedly Berber general Tariq ibn-Ziyad. But this happened only after they developed a naval power of their own, [note 6] and they conquered and destroyed the Byzantine stronghold of Carthage between 695–698. [36] The loss of Africa meant that soon, Byzantine control of the Western Mediterranean was challenged by a new and expanding Arab fleet, operating from Tunisia. [37]

Muawiyah began consolidating the Arab territory from the Aral Sea to the western border of Egypt. He put a governor in place in Egypt at al-Fustat, and launched raids into Anatolia in 663. Then from 665 to 689 a new North African campaign was launched to protect Egypt "from flank attack by Byzantine Cyrene". An Arab army of 40,000 took Barca, defeating 30,000 Byzantines. [38]

A vanguard of 10,000 Arabs under Uqba ibn Nafi followed from Damascus. In 670, Kairouan in modern Tunisia was established as a base for further invasions Kairouan would become the capital of the Islamic province of Ifriqiya, and one of the main Arabo-Islamic religious centers in the Middle Ages. [39] Then ibn Nafi "plunged into the heart of the country, traversed the wilderness in which his successors erected the splendid capitals of Fes and Morocco, and at length penetrated to the verge of the Atlantic and the great desert". [40]

In his conquest of the Maghreb, Uqba Ibn Nafi took the coastal cities of Bejaia and Tangier, overwhelming what had once been the Roman province of Mauretania where he was finally halted. [41] As the historian Luis Garcia de Valdeavellano explains: [42]

In their struggle against the Byzantines and the Berbers, the Arab chieftains had greatly extended their African dominions, and as early as the year 682 Uqba had reached the shores of the Atlantic, but he was unable to occupy Tangier, for he was forced to turn back toward the Atlas Mountains by a man who became known to history and legend as Count Julian.

Arab attacks on Anatolia and sieges of Constantinople Edit

As the first tide of the Muslim conquests in the Near East ebbed off, and a semi-permanent border between the two powers was established, a wide zone, unclaimed by either Byzantines or Arabs and virtually deserted (known in Arabic as al-Ḍawāḥī, "the outer lands" and in Greek as τὰ ἄκρα , ta akra, "the extremities") emerged in Cilicia, along the southern approaches of the Taurus and Anti-Taurus mountain ranges, leaving Syria in Muslim and the Anatolian plateau in Byzantine hands. Both Emperor Heraclius and the Caliph 'Umar (r. 634–644) pursued a strategy of destruction within this zone, trying to transform it into an effective barrier between the two realms. [43]

Nevertheless, the Umayyads still considered the complete subjugation of Byzantium as their ultimate objective. Their thinking was dominated by Islamic teaching, which placed the infidel Byzantines in the Dār al-Ḥarb, the "House of War", which, in the words of Islamic scholar Hugh N. Kennedy, "the Muslims should attack whenever possible rather than peace interrupted by occasional conflict, the normal pattern was seen to be conflict interrupted by occasional, temporary truce (hudna). True peace (ṣulḥ) could only come when the enemy accepted Islam or tributary status." [44]

Both as governor of Syria and later as caliph, Muawiyah I (r. 661–680) was the driving force of the Muslim effort against Byzantium, especially by his creation of a fleet, which challenged the Byzantine navy and raided the Byzantine islands and coasts. To stop the Byzantine harassment from the sea during the Arab-Byzantine Wars, in 649 Muawiyah set up a navy, manned by Monophysitise Christian, Copt and Jacobite Syrian Christian sailors and Muslim troops. This resulted in the defeat of the Byzantine navy at the Battle of the Masts in 655, opening up the Mediterranean. [45] [46] [47] [48] [49] The shocking defeat of the imperial fleet by the young Muslim navy at the Battle of the Masts in 655 was of critical importance: it opened up the Mediterranean, hitherto a "Roman lake", to Arab expansion, and began a centuries-long series of naval conflicts over the control of the Mediterranean waterways. [50] [51] 500 Byzantine ships were destroyed in the battle, and Emperor Constans II was almost killed. Under the instructions of the caliph Uthman ibn Affan, Muawiyah then prepared for the siege of Constantinople.

Trade between the Muslim eastern and southern shores and the Christian northern shores almost ceased during this period, isolating Western Europe from developments in the Muslim world: "In antiquity, and again in the high Middle Ages, the voyage from Italy to Alexandria was commonplace in early Islamic times the two countries were so remote that even the most basic information was unknown" (Kennedy). [52] Muawiyah also initiated the first large-scale raids into Anatolia from 641 on. These expeditions, aiming both at plunder and at weakening and keeping the Byzantines at bay, as well as the corresponding retaliatory Byzantine raids, eventually became established as a fixture of Byzantine–Arab warfare for the next three centuries. [53] [54]

The outbreak of the Muslim Civil War in 656 bought a precious breathing pause for Byzantium, which Emperor Constans II (r. 641–668) used to shore up his defences, extend and consolidate his control over Armenia and most importantly, initiate a major army reform with lasting effect: the establishment of the themata, the large territorial commands into which Anatolia, the major contiguous territory remaining to the Empire, was divided. The remains of the old field armies were settled in each of them, and soldiers were allocated land there in payment of their service. The themata would form the backbone of the Byzantine defensive system for centuries to come. [55]

Attacks against Byzantine holdings in Africa, Sicily and the East Edit

After his victory in the civil war, Muawiyah launched a series of attacks against Byzantine holdings in Africa, Sicily and the East. [56] By 670, the Muslim fleet had penetrated into the Sea of Marmara and stayed at Cyzicus during the winter. Four years later, a massive Muslim fleet reappeared in the Marmara and re-established a base at Cyzicus, from there they raided the Byzantine coasts almost at will. Finally in 676, Muawiyah sent an army to invest Constantinople from land as well, beginning the First Arab Siege of the city. Constantine IV (r. 661–685) however used a devastating new weapon that came to be known as "Greek fire", invented by a Christian refugee from Syria named Kallinikos of Heliopolis, to decisively defeat the attacking Umayyad navy in the Sea of Marmara, resulting in the lifting of the siege in 678. The returning Muslim fleet suffered further losses due to storms, while the army lost many men to the thematic armies who attacked them on their route back. [57]

Among those killed in the siege was Eyup, the standard bearer of Muhammed and the last of his companions to Muslims today, his tomb is considered one of the holiest sites in Istanbul. [58] The Byzantine victory over the invading Umayyads halted the Islamic expansion into Europe for almost thirty years. [ citation needed ]

The setback at Constantinople was followed by further reverses across the vast Muslim empire. As Gibbon writes, "this Mahometan Alexander, who sighed for new worlds, was unable to preserve his recent conquests. By the universal defection of the Greeks and Africans he was recalled from the shores of the Atlantic." His forces were directed at putting down rebellions, and in one such battle he was surrounded by insurgents and killed. Then, the third governor of Africa, Zuheir, was overthrown by a powerful army, sent from Constantinople by Constantine IV for the relief of Carthage. [41] Meanwhile, a second Arab civil war was raging in Arabia and Syria resulting in a series of four caliphs between the death of Muawiyah in 680 and the ascension of Abd al-Malik in 685, and was ongoing until 692 with the death of the rebel leader. [59]

The Saracen Wars of Justinian II (r. 685–695 and 705–711), last emperor of the Heraclian Dynasty, "reflected the general chaos of the age". [60] After a successful campaign he made a truce with the Arabs, agreeing on joint possession of Armenia, Iberia and Cyprus however, by removing 12,000 Christian Mardaites from their native Lebanon, he removed a major obstacle for the Arabs in Syria, and in 692, after the disastrous Battle of Sebastopolis, the Muslims invaded and conquered all of Armenia. [61] Deposed in 695, with Carthage lost in 698, Justinian returned to power from 705–711. [60] His second reign was marked by Arab victories in Asia Minor and civil unrest. [61] Reportedly, he ordered his guards to execute the only unit that had not deserted him after one battle, to prevent their desertion in the next. [60]

Justinian's first and second depositions were followed by internal disorder, with successive revolts and emperors lacking legitimacy or support. In this climate, the Umayyads consolidated their control of Armenia and Cilicia, and began preparing a renewed offensive against Constantinople. In Byzantium, the general Leo the Isaurian (r. 717–741) had just seized the throne in March 717, when the massive Muslim army under the famed Umayyad prince and general Maslama ibn Abd al-Malik began moving towards the imperial capital. [62] The Caliphate's army and navy, led by Maslama, numbered some 120,000 men and 1,800 ships according to the sources. Whatever the real number, it was a huge force, far larger than the imperial army. Thankfully for Leo and the Empire, the capital's sea walls had recently been repaired and strengthened. In addition, the emperor concluded an alliance with the Bulgar khan Tervel, who agreed to harass the invaders' rear. [8]

From July 717 to August 718, the city was besieged by land and sea by the Muslims, who built an extensive double line of circumvallation and contravallation on the landward side, isolating the capital. Their attempt to complete the blockade by sea however failed when the Byzantine navy employed Greek fire against them the Arab fleet kept well off the city walls, leaving Constantinople's supply routes open. Forced to extend the siege into winter, the besieging army suffered horrendous casualties from the cold and the lack of provisions. [63]

In spring, new reinforcements were sent by the new caliph, Umar ibn Abd al-Aziz (r. 717–720), by sea from Africa and Egypt and over land through Asia Minor. The crews of the new fleets were composed mostly of Christians, who began defecting in large numbers, while the land forces were ambushed and defeated in Bithynia. As famine and an epidemic continued to plague the Arab camp, the siege was abandoned on 15 August 718. On its return, the Arab fleet suffered further casualties to storms and an eruption of the volcano of Thera. [64]

The first wave of the Muslim conquests ended with the siege of Constantinople in 718, and the border between the two empires became stabilized along the mountains of eastern Anatolia. Raids and counter-raids continued on both sides and became almost ritualized, but the prospect of outright conquest of Byzantium by the Caliphate receded. This led to far more regular, and often friendly, diplomatic contacts, as well as a reciprocal recognition of the two empires.

In response to the Muslim threat, which reached its peak in the first half of the 8th century, the Isaurian emperors adopted the policy of Iconoclasm, which was abandoned in 786 only to be readopted in the 820s and finally abandoned in 843. Under the Macedonian dynasty, exploiting the decline and fragmentation of the Abbasid Caliphate, the Byzantines gradually went on the offensive, and recovered much territory in the 10th century, which was lost however after 1071 to the Seljuk Turks.

Raids under the last Umayyads and the rise of Iconoclasm Edit

Following the failure to capture Constantinople in 717–718, the Umayyads for a time diverted their attention elsewhere, allowing the Byzantines to take to the offensive, making some gains in Armenia. From 720/721 however the Arab armies resumed their expeditions against Byzantine Anatolia, although now they were no longer aimed at conquest, but rather large-scale raids, plundering and devastating the countryside and only occasionally attacking forts or major settlements. [65] [66]

Under the late Umayyad and early Abbasid caliphs, the frontier between Byzantium and the Caliphate became stabilized along the line of the Taurus-Antitaurus mountain ranges. On the Arab side, Cilicia was permanently occupied and its deserted cities, such as Adana, Mopsuestia (al-Massisa) and, most importantly, Tarsus, were refortified and resettled under the early Abbasids. Likewise, in Upper Mesopotamia, places like Germanikeia (Mar'ash), Hadath and Melitene (Malatya) became major military centers. These two regions came to form the two-halves of a new fortified frontier zone, the thughur. [54] [67]

Both the Umayyads and later the Abbasids continued to regard the annual expeditions against the Caliphate's "traditional enemy" as an integral part of the continuing jihad, and they quickly became organized in a regular fashion: one to two summer expeditions (pl. ṣawā'if, sing. ṣā'ifa) sometimes accompanied by a naval attack and/or followed by winter expeditions (shawātī). The summer expeditions were usually two separate attacks, the "expedition of the left" (al-ṣā'ifa al-yusrā/al-ṣughrā) launched from the Cilician thughur and consisting mostly of Syrian troops, and the usually larger "expedition of the right" (al-ṣā'ifa al-yumnā/al-kubrā) launched from Malatya and composed of Mesopotamian troops. The raids were also largely confined to the borderlands and the central Anatolian plateau, and only rarely reached the peripheral coastlands, which the Byzantines fortified heavily. [65] [68]

Under the more aggressive Caliph Hisham ibn Abd al-Malik (r. 723–743), the Arab expeditions intensified for a time, and were led by some of the Caliphate's most capable generals, including princes of the Umayyad dynasty like Maslama ibn Abd al-Malik and al-Abbas ibn al-Walid or Hisham's own sons Mu'awiyah, Maslama and Sulayman. [69] This was still a time when Byzantium was fighting for survival, and "the frontier provinces, devastated by war, were a land of ruined cities and deserted villages where a scattered population looked to rocky castles or impenetrable mountains rather than the armies of the empire to provide a minimum of security" (Kennedy). [44]

In response to the renewal of Arab invasions, and to a sequence of natural disasters such as the eruptions of the volcanic island of Thera, [70] the Emperor Leo III the Isaurian concluded that the Empire had lost divine favour. Already in 722 he had tried to force the conversion of the Empire's Jews, but soon he began to turn his attention to the veneration of icons, which some bishops had come to regard as idolatrous. In 726, Leo published an edict condemning their use and showed himself increasingly critical of the iconophiles. He formally banned depictions of religious figures in a court council in 730. [71] [72]

This decision provoked major opposition both from the people and the church, especially the Bishop of Rome, which Leo did not take into account. In the words of Warren Treadgold: "He saw no need to consult the church, and he appears to have been surprised by the depth of the popular opposition he encountered". [71] [72] The controversy weakened the Byzantine Empire, and was a key factor in the schism between the Patriarch of Constantinople and the Bishop of Rome. [73] [74]

The Umayyad Caliphate however was increasingly distracted by conflicts elsewhere, especially its confrontation with the Khazars, with whom Leo III had concluded an alliance, marrying his son and heir, Constantine V (r. 741–775) to the Khazar princess Tzitzak. Only in the late 730s did the Muslim raids again become a threat, but the great Byzantine victory at Akroinon and the turmoil of the Abbasid Revolution led to a pause in Arab attacks against the Empire. It also opened up the way for a more aggressive stance by Constantine V (r. 741–775), who in 741 attacked the major Arab base of Melitene, and continued scoring further victories. These successes were also interpreted by Leo III and his son Constantine as evidence of God's renewed favour, and strengthened the position of Iconoclasm within the Empire. [75] [76]

Early Abbasids Edit

Unlike their Umayyad predecessors, the Abbasid caliphs did not pursue active expansion: in general terms, they were content with the territorial limits achieved, and whatever external campaigns they waged were retaliatory or preemptive, meant to preserve their frontier and impress Abbasid might upon their neighbours. [77] At the same time, the campaigns against Byzantium in particular remained important for domestic consumption. The annual raids, which had almost lapsed in the turmoil following the Abbasid Revolution, were undertaken with renewed vigour from ca. 780 on, and were the only expeditions where the Caliph or his sons participated in person. [78] [79]

As a symbol of the Caliph's ritual role as the leader of the Muslim community, they were closely paralleled in official propaganda by the leadership by Abbasid family members of the annual pilgrimage (hajj) to Mecca. [78] [79] In addition, the constant warfare on the Syrian marches was useful to the Abbasids as it provided employment for the Syrian and Iraqi military elites and the various volunteers (muṭṭawi‘a) who flocked to participate in the jihad. [80] [81]

Poem in praise of Harun al-Rashid's 806 campaign against Byzantium [82]

Wishing to emphasize his piety and role as the leader of the Muslim community, Caliph Harun al-Rashid (r. 786–809) in particular was the most energetic of the early Abbasid rulers in his pursuit of warfare against Byzantium: he established his seat at Raqqa close to the frontier, he complemented the thughur in 786 by forming a second defensive line along northern Syria, the al-'Awasim, and was reputed to be spending alternating years leading the Hajj and leading a campaign into Anatolia, including the largest expedition assembled under the Abbasids, in 806. [83] [84]

Continuing a trend started by his immediate predecessors, his reign also saw the development of far more regular contacts between the Abbasid court and Byzantium, with the exchange of embassies and letters being far more common than under the Umayyad rulers. Despite Harun's hostility, "the existence of embassies is a sign that the Abbasids accepted that the Byzantine empire was a power with which they had to deal on equal terms" (Kennedy). [85] [86]

Civil war occurred in the Byzantine Empire, often with Arab support. With the support of Caliph Al-Ma'mun, Arabs under the leadership of Thomas the Slav invaded, so that within a matter of months, only two themata in Asia Minor remained loyal to Emperor Michael II. [87] When the Arabs captured Thessalonica, the Empire's second largest city, it was quickly re-captured by the Byzantines. [87] Thomas's 821 siege of Constantinople did not get past the city walls, and he was forced to retreat. [87]

The Arabs did not relinquish their designs on Asia Minor and in 838 began another invasion, sacking the city of Amorion.

Sicily, Italy and Crete Edit

While a relative equilibrium reigned in the East, the situation in the western Mediterranean was irretrievably altered when the Aghlabids began their slow conquest of Sicily in the 820s. Using Tunisia as their launching pad, the Arabs started by conquering Palermo in 831, Messina in 842, Enna in 859, culminating in the capture of Syracuse in 878. [88]

This in turn opened up southern Italy and the Adriatic Sea for raids and settlement. Byzantium further suffered an important setback with the loss of Crete to a band of Andalusian exiles, who established a piratical emirate on the island and for more than a century ravaged the coasts of the hitherto secure Aegean Sea. [ citation needed ]

In 863 during the reign of Michael III, the Byzantine general Petronas defeated and routed an Arab invasion force under the command of Umar al-Aqta at the Battle of Lalakaon inflicting heavy casualties and removing the Emirate of Melitene as a serious military threat. [89] [90] Umar died in battle and the remnants of his army was annihilated in subsequent clashes, allowing the Byzantines to celebrate the victory as revenge for the earlier Arab sacking of Amorion, while news of the defeats sparked riots in Baghdad and Samarra. [91] [90] In the following months the Byzantines successfully invaded Armenia killing the Muslim governor in Armenia Emir Ali ibn Yahya as well as the Paulician leader Karbeas. [92] These Byzantines victories marked a turning point which ushered in a century long Byzantine offensive eastward into Muslim territory. [91]

Religious peace came with the emergence of the Macedonian dynasty in 867, as well as a strong and unified Byzantine leadership [93] while the Abassid empire had splintered into many factions after 861. Basil I revived the Byzantine Empire into a regional power, during a period of territorial expansion, making the Empire the strongest power in Europe, with an ecclesiastical policy marked by good relations with Rome. Basil allied with the Holy Roman Emperor Louis II against the Arabs, and his fleet cleared the Adriatic Sea of their raids. [94]

With Byzantine help, Louis II captured Bari from the Arabs in 871. The city became Byzantine territory in 876. The Byzantine position on Sicily deteriorated, and Syracuse fell to the Emirate of Sicily in 878. Catania was lost in 900, and finally the fortress of Taormina in 902. Michael of Zahumlje apparently on 10 July 926 sacked Siponto (Latin: Sipontum), which was a Byzantine town in Apulia. [94] Sicily would remain under Arab control until the Norman invasion in 1071.

Although Sicily was lost, the general Nikephoros Phokas the Elder succeeded in taking Taranto and much of Calabria in 880, forming the nucleus for the later Catepanate of Italy. The successes in the Italian Peninsula opened a new period of Byzantine domination there. Above all, the Byzantines were beginning to establish a strong presence in the Mediterranean Sea, and especially the Adriatic.

Under John Kourkouas, the Byzantines conquered the emirate of Melitene, along with Theodosiopolis the strongest of the Muslim border emirates, and advanced into Armenia in the 930s the next three decades were dominated by the struggle of the Phokas clan and their dependants against the Hamdanid emir of Aleppo, Sayf al-Dawla. Al-Dawla was finally defeated by Nikephoros II Phokas, who conquered Cilicia and northern Syria, including the sack of Aleppo, and recovered Crete. His nephew and successor, John I Tzimiskes, pushed even further south, almost reaching Jerusalem, but his death in 976 ended Byzantine expansion towards Palestine.

After putting an end to the internal strife, Basil II launched a counter-campaign against the Arabs in 995. The Byzantine civil wars had weakened the Empire's position in the east, and the gains of Nikephoros II Phokas and John I Tzimiskes came close to being lost, with Aleppo besieged and Antioch under threat. Basil won several battles in Syria, relieving Aleppo, taking over the Orontes valley, and raiding further south. Although he did not have the force to drive into Palestine and reclaim Jerusalem, his victories did restore much of Syria to the empire – including the larger city of Antioch which was the seat of its eponymous Patriarch. [95]

No Byzantine emperor since Heraclius had been able to hold these lands for any length of time, and the Empire would retain them for the next 110 years until 1078. Piers Paul Read writes that by 1025, Byzantine land "stretched from the Straits of Messina and the northern Adriatic in the west to the River Danube and Crimea in the north, and to the cities of Melitene and Edessa beyond the Euphrates in the east." [95]

Under Basil II, the Byzantines established a swath of new themata, stretching northeast from Aleppo (a Byzantine protectorate) to Manzikert. Under the Theme system of military and administrative government, the Byzantines could raise a force at least 200,000 strong, though in practice these were strategically placed throughout the Empire. With Basil's rule, the Byzantine Empire reached its greatest height in nearly five centuries, and indeed for the next four centuries. [96]

The wars drew near to a closure when the Turks and various Mongol invaders replaced the threat of either power. From the 11th and 12th centuries onwards, the Byzantine conflicts shifted into the Byzantine-Seljuk wars with the continuing Islamic invasion of Anatolia being taken over by the Seljuk Turks.

After the defeat at the Battle of Manzikert by the Turks in 1071, the Byzantine Empire, with the help of Western Crusaders, re-established its position in the Middle East as a major power. Meanwhile, the major Arab conflicts were in the Crusades, and later against Mongolian invasions, especially that of the Ilkhanate and Timur.

As with any war of such length, the drawn-out Byzantine–Arab Wars had long-lasting effects for both the Byzantine Empire and the Arab world. The Byzantines experienced extensive territorial loss. However, while the invading Arabs gained strong control in the Middle East and Africa, further conquests in Western Asia were halted. The focus of the Byzantine Empire shifted from the western reconquests of Justinian to a primarily defensive position, against the Islamic armies on its eastern borders. Without Byzantine interference in the emerging Christian states of western Europe, the situation gave a huge stimulus to feudalism and economic self-sufficiency. [97]

The view of modern historians is that one of the most important effects was the strain it put on the relationship between Rome and Byzantium. While fighting for survival against the Islamic armies, the Empire was no longer able to provide the protection it had once offered to the Papacy worse still, according to Thomas Woods, the Emperors "routinely intervened in the life of the Church in areas lying clearly beyond the state's competence". [98] The Iconoclast controversy of the 8th and 9th centuries can be taken as a key factor "which drove the Latin Church into the arms of the Franks." [74] Thus it has been argued that Charlemagne was an indirect product of Muhammad:

"The Frankish Empire would probably never have existed without Islam, and Charlemagne without Mahomet would be inconceivable." [99]

The Holy Roman Empire of Charlemagne's successors would later come to the aid of the Byzantines under Louis II and during the Crusades, but relations between the two empires would be strained based on the Salerno Chronicle, we know the Emperor Basil had sent an angry letter to his western counterpart, reprimanding him for usurping the title of emperor. [100] He argued that the Frankish rulers were simple reges, and that each nation has its own title for the ruler, whereas the imperial title suited only the ruler of the Eastern Romans, Basil himself. [ citation needed ]

Walter Emil Kaegi states that extant Arabic sources have been given much scholarly attention for issues of obscurities and contradictions. However, he points out that Byzantine sources are also problematic, such as the chronicles of Theophanes and Nicephorus and those written in Syriac, which are short and terse while the important question of their sources and their use of sources remains unresolved. Kaegi concludes that scholars must also subject the Byzantine tradition to critical scrutiny, as it "contains bias and cannot serve as an objective standard against which all Muslim sources may be confidently checked". [101]

Among the few Latin sources of interest are the 7th-century history of Fredegarius, and two 8th-century Spanish chronicles, all of which draw on some Byzantine and oriental historical traditions. [102] As far as Byzantine military action against the initial Muslim invasions, Kaegi asserts that "Byzantine traditions . attempt to deflect criticism of the Byzantine debacle from Heraclius to other persons, groups, and things". [103]

The range of non-historical Byzantine sources is vast: they range from papyri to sermons (most notable those of Sophronius and Anastasius Sinaita), poetry (especially that of Sophronius and George of Pisidia) including the Acritic songs, correspondence often of a patristic provenance, apologetical treatises, apocalypses, hagiography, military manuals (in particular the Strategikon of Maurice from the beginning of the 7th century), and other non-literary sources, such as epigraphy, archeology, and numismatics. None of these sources contains a coherent account of any of the campaigns and conquests of the Muslim armies, but some do contain invaluable details that survive nowhere else. [104]

  1. ^ ab The Empire's levies included ChristianArmenians, Arab Ghassanids, Mardaites, Slavs, and Rus'.
  2. ^ Politico-religious events (such as the outbreak of Monothelitism, which disappointed both the Monophysites and the Chalcedonians) had sharpened the differences between the Byzantines and the Syrians. Also the high taxes, the power of the landowners over the peasants and the participation in the long and exhaustive wars with the Persians were some of the reasons why the Syrians welcomed the change. [17]
  3. ^ As recorded by Al-Baladhuri. Michael the Syrian records only the phrase "Peace unto thee, O Syria". [22]George Ostrogorsky describes the impact that the loss of Syria had on Heraclius with the following words: "His life's work collapsed before his eyes. The heroic struggle against Persia seemed to be utterly wasted, for his victories here had only prepared the way for the Arab conquest [. ] This cruel turn of fortune broke the aged Emperor both in spirit and in body. [23]
  4. ^ As Steven Runciman describes the event: "On a February day in the year AD 638, the Caliph Omar [Umar] entered Jerusalem along with a white camel which was ride by his slave. He was dressed in worn, filthy robes, and the army that followed him was rough and unkempt but its discipline was perfect. At his side rode the Patriarch Sophronius as chief magistrate of the surrendered city. Omar rode straight to the site of the Temple of Solomon, whence his friend Mahomet [Muhammed] had ascended into Heaven. Watching him stand there, the Patriarch remembered the words of Christ and murmured through his tears: 'Behold the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet.'" [25]
  5. ^Hugh N. Kennedy notes that "the Muslim conquest of Syria does not seem to have been actively opposed by the towns, but it is striking that Antioch put up so little resistance. [26]
  6. ^ The Arab leadership realized early that to extend their conquests they would need a fleet. The Byzantine navy was first decisively defeated by the Arabs at a battle in 655 off the Lycian coast, when it was still the most powerful in the Mediterranean. Theophanes the Confessor reported the loss of Rhodes while recounting the sale of the centuries-old remains of the Colossus for scrap in 655. [35]

Citations Edit

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  109. ^Pirenne, Henri
    • Mediaeval Cities: Their Origins and the Rivival of Trade (Princeton, NJ, 1925). 0-691-00760-8
    • See also Mohammed and Charlemagne (London 1939) Dover Publications (2001). 0-486-42011-6.
  110. ^Dolger F., Regesten der Kaiserurkunden des ostromischen Reiches. I, p 59, №487. Berlin, 1924.
  111. ^ Kaegi (1995), 2–3
  112. ^ Kaegi (1995), 2
  113. ^ Kaegi (1995), 4–5
  114. ^ Kaegi (1995), 5–6

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Venetian Forts

The Venetians ruled Cyprus from AD 1489 to 1571. Their control was characterised by indifference to the Greek population, who fared no better under their new overlords than they had under the Genoese.

As excellent traders, the Venetians’ chief concern was the expansion of their maritime empire. They used the island for its position along the vital Silk Route to China and as a defence against the growing Ottoman threat. They built heavy fortifications around the cities of Nicosia and Famagusta, believing the Ottomans would attempt to strike there.

The Ottomans first attacked Nicosia, defeating it swiftly and slaughtering the garrison. They then turned their attentions to Famagusta. The severed head of Nicosia’s governor was sent as a grim message to Famagusta’s Venetian captain-general Marcantonio Bragadino. He quickly prepared for the assault, with some 8000 men at the ready.

The Ottomans laid siege to the city with over 200,000 men and 2000 cannon. Bragadino held out for nearly a year, completely surrounded, with Famagusta Bay filled with Ottoman ships.

Upon his capture, Bragadino was tortured horrifically for his defiance. His ears and nose were cut off before he was skinned alive.

The fall of Famagusta signalled the end of a Western presence and Christian outpost in the Levant for the next 300 years.


First French colonial empire Edit

The Americas Edit

During the 16th century, the French colonization of the Americas began. Excursions of Giovanni da Verrazzano and Jacques Cartier in the early 16th century, as well as the frequent voyages of French boats and fishermen to the Grand Banks off Newfoundland throughout that century, were the precursors to the story of France's colonial expansion. [18] But Spain's defense of its American monopoly, and the further distractions caused in France itself in the later 16th century by the French Wars of Religion, prevented any constant efforts by France to settle colonies. Early French attempts to found colonies in Brazil, in 1555 at Rio de Janeiro ("France Antarctique") and in Florida (including Fort Caroline in 1562), and in 1612 at São Luís ("France Équinoxiale"), were not successful, due to a lack of official interest and to Portuguese and Spanish vigilance. [19]

The story of France's colonial empire truly began on 27 July 1605, with the foundation of Port Royal in the colony of Acadia in North America, in what is now Nova Scotia, Canada. A few years later, in 1608, Samuel De Champlain founded Quebec, which was to become the capital of the enormous, but sparsely settled, fur-trading colony of New France (also called Canada). [20]

New France had a rather small population, which resulted from more emphasis being placed on the fur trade rather than agricultural settlements. Due to this emphasis, the French relied heavily on creating friendly contacts with the local First Nations community. Without the appetite of New England for land, and by relying solely on Aboriginals to supply them with fur at the trading posts, the French composed a complex series of military, commercial, and diplomatic connections. These became the most enduring alliances between the French and the First Nation community. The French were, however, under pressure from religious orders to convert them to Catholicism. [21]

Through alliances with various Native American tribes, the French were able to exert a loose control over much of the North American continent. Areas of French settlement were generally limited to the St. Lawrence River Valley. Prior to the establishment of the 1663 Sovereign Council, the territories of New France were developed as mercantile colonies. It is only after the arrival of intendant Jean Talon in 1665 that France gave its American colonies the proper means to develop population colonies comparable to that of the British. Acadia itself was lost to the British in the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713. Back in France there was relatively little interest in colonialism, which concentrated rather on dominance within Europe, and for most of its history, New France was far behind the British North American colonies in both population and economic development. [22] [23]

In 1699, French territorial claims in North America expanded still further, with the foundation of Louisiana in the basin of the Mississippi River. The extensive trading network throughout the region connected to Canada through the Great Lakes, was maintained through a vast system of fortifications, many of them centred in the Illinois Country and in present-day Arkansas. [24]

As the French empire in North America grew, the French also began to build a smaller but more profitable empire in the West Indies. Settlement along the South American coast in what is today French Guiana began in 1624, and a colony was founded on Saint Kitts in 1625 (the island had to be shared with the English until the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713, when it was ceded outright). The Compagnie des Îles de l'Amérique founded colonies in Guadeloupe and Martinique in 1635, and a colony was later founded on Saint Lucia by (1650). The food-producing plantations of these colonies were built and sustained through slavery, with the supply of slaves dependent on the African slave trade. Local resistance by the indigenous peoples resulted in the Carib Expulsion of 1660. [25] France's most important Caribbean colonial possession was established in 1664, when the colony of Saint-Domingue (today's Haiti) was founded on the western half of the Spanish island of Hispaniola. In the 18th century, Saint-Domingue grew to be the richest sugar colony in the Caribbean. The eastern half of Hispaniola (today's Dominican Republic) also came under French rule for a short period, after being given to France by Spain in 1795. [26]

Africa and Asia Edit

French colonial expansion was not limited to the New World.

With the end of the French Wars of Religion, King Henry IV encouraged various enterprises, set up to develop trade with faraway lands. In December 1600, a company was formed through the association of Saint-Malo, Laval, and Vitré to trade with the Moluccas and Japan. [27] Two ships, the Croissant and the Corbin, were sent around the Cape of Good Hope in May 1601. One was wrecked in the Maldives, leading to the adventure of François Pyrard de Laval, who managed to return to France in 1611. [27] [28] The second ship, carrying François Martin de Vitré, reached Ceylon and traded with Aceh in Sumatra, but was captured by the Dutch on the return leg at Cape Finisterre. [27] [28] François Martin de Vitré was the first Frenchman to write an account of travels to the Far East in 1604, at the request of Henry IV, and from that time numerous accounts on Asia would be published. [29]

From 1604 to 1609, following the return of François Martin de Vitré, Henry developed a strong enthusiasm for travel to Asia and attempted to set up a French East India Company on the model of England and the Netherlands. [28] [29] [30] On 1 June 1604, he issued letters patent to Dieppe merchants to form the Dieppe Company, giving them exclusive rights to Asian trade for 15 years. No ships were sent, however, until 1616. [27] In 1609, another adventurer, Pierre-Olivier Malherbe, returned from a circumnavigation of the globe and informed Henry of his adventures. [29] He had visited China and India and had an encounter with Akbar. [29]

In Senegal in West Africa, the French began to establish trading posts along the coast in 1624.

In 1664, the French East India Company was established to compete for trade in the east.

Colonies were established in India's Chandernagore (1673) and Pondichéry in the south east (1674), and later at Yanam (1723), Mahe (1725), and Karikal (1739) (see French India). Colonies were also founded in the Indian Ocean, on the Île de Bourbon (Réunion, 1664), Isle de France (Mauritius, 1718), and the Seychelles (1756).

Colonial conflict with Britain Edit

In the middle of the 18th century, a series of colonial conflicts began between France and Britain, which ultimately resulted in the destruction of most of the first French colonial empire and the near-complete expulsion of France from the Americas. These wars were the War of the Austrian Succession (1740–1748), the Seven Years' War (1756–1763), the American Revolution (1775–1783), the French Revolutionary Wars (1793–1802) and the Napoleonic Wars (1803–1815). It may even be seen further back in time to the first of the French and Indian Wars. This cyclic conflict is sometimes known as the Second Hundred Years' War.

Although the War of the Austrian Succession was indecisive – despite French successes in India under the French Governor-General Joseph François Dupleix and Europe under Marshal Saxe – the Seven Years' War, after early French successes in Menorca and North America, saw a French defeat, with the numerically superior British (over one million to about 50 thousand French settlers) conquering not only New France (excluding the small islands of Saint Pierre and Miquelon), but also most of France's West Indian (Caribbean) colonies, and all of the French Indian outposts.

While the peace treaty saw France's Indian outposts, and the Caribbean islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe restored to France, the competition for influence in India had been won by the British, and North America was entirely lost – most of New France was taken by Britain (also referred to as British North America), except Louisiana, which France ceded to Spain as payment for Spain's late entrance into the war (and as compensation for Britain's annexation of Spanish Florida). Also ceded to the British were Grenada and Saint Lucia in the West Indies. Although the loss of Canada would cause much regret in future generations, it excited little unhappiness at the time colonialism was widely regarded as both unimportant to France, and immoral. [31]

Some recovery of the French colonial empire was made during the French intervention in the American Revolution, with Saint Lucia being returned to France by the Treaty of Paris in 1783, but not nearly as much as had been hoped for at the time of French intervention. True disaster came to what remained of France's colonial empire in 1791 when Saint Domingue (the Western third of the Caribbean island of Hispaniola), France's richest and most important colony, was riven by a massive slave revolt, caused partly by the divisions among the island's elite, which had resulted from the French Revolution of 1789.

The slaves, led eventually by Toussaint L'Ouverture and then, following his capture by the French in 1801, by Jean-Jacques Dessalines, held their own against French and British opponents, and ultimately achieved independence as Empire of Haiti in 1804 (Haiti became the first black republic in the world, followed by Liberia in 1847). [32] The black and mulatto population of the island (including the Spanish east) had declined from 700,000 in 1789 to 351,819 in 1804. About 80,000 Haitians died in the 1802–03 campaign alone. Of the 55,131 French soldiers dispatched to Haiti in 1802–03, 45,000, including 18 generals, had died, along with 10,000 sailors, the great majority from disease. [33] Captain [first name unknown] Sorrell of the British navy observed, "France lost there one of the finest armies she ever sent forth, composed of picked veterans, the conquerors of Italy and of German legions. She is now entirely deprived of her influence and her power in the West Indies." [34]

In the meanwhile, the newly resumed war with Britain by the French, resulted in the British capture of practically all remaining French colonies. These were restored at the Treaty of Amiens in 1802, but when war resumed in 1803, the British soon recaptured them. France's repurchase of Louisiana in 1800 came to nothing, as the success of the Haitian Revolution convinced Napoleon that holding Louisiana would not be worth the cost, leading to its sale to the United States in 1803. The French attempt to establish a colony in Egypt in 1798–1801 was not successful. Battle casualties for the campaign were at least 15,000 killed or wounded and 8,500 prisoners for France 50,000 killed or wounded and 15,000 prisoners for Turkey, Egypt, other Ottoman lands, and Britain. [35]

Second French colonial empire (after 1830) Edit

At the close of the Napoleonic Wars, most of France's colonies were restored to it by Britain, notably Guadeloupe and Martinique in the West Indies, French Guiana on the coast of South America, various trading posts in Senegal, the Île Bourbon (Réunion) in the Indian Ocean, and France's tiny Indian possessions however, Britain finally annexed Saint Lucia, Tobago, the Seychelles, and the Isle de France (now Mauritius).

In 1825 Charles X sent an expedition to Haïti, resulting in the Haiti indemnity controversy. [36]

The beginnings of the second French colonial empire were laid in 1830 with the French invasion of Algeria, which was conquered over the next 17 years. One authority counts 825,000 Algerian victims of the French conquest. [37]

Franco-Tahitian War (1842–1847) Edit

In 1838, the French naval commander Abel Aubert du Petit-Thouars responded to complaints of the mistreatment of French Catholic missionary in the Kingdom of Tahiti ruled by Queen Pōmare IV. Dupetit Thouars forced the native government to pay an indemnity and sign a treaty of friendship with France respecting the rights of French subjects in the islands including any future Catholic missionaries. Four years later, claiming the Tahitians had violated the treaty, a French protectorate was forcibly installed and the queen made to sign a request for French protection. [38] [39]

Queen Pōmare left her kingdom and exiled herself to Raiatea in protest against the French and tried to enlist the help of Queen Victoria. The Franco-Tahitian War broke out between the Tahitian people and the French from 1844 to 1847 as France attempted to consolidate their rule and extend their rule into the Leeward Islands where Queen Pōmare sought refuge with her relatives. The British remained officially neutral during the war but diplomatic tensions existed between the French and British. The French succeeded in subduing the guerilla forces on Tahiti but failed to hold the other islands. In February 1847, Queen Pōmare IV returned from her self-imposed exile and acquiesced to rule under the protectorate. Although victorious, the French were not able to annex the islands due to diplomatic pressure from Great Britain, so Tahiti and its dependency Moorea continued to be ruled under the protectorate. A clause to the war settlement, known as the Jarnac Convention or the Anglo-French Convention of 1847, was signed by France and Great Britain, in which the two powers agreed to respect the independence of Queen Pōmare's allies in Leeward Islands. The French continued the guise of protection until the 1880s when they formally annexed Tahiti with the abdication of King Pōmare V on 29 June 1880. The Leeward Islands were annexed through the Leewards War which ended in 1897. These conflicts and the annexation of other Pacific islands formed French Oceania. [39] [40]

Napoleon III: 1852–1870 Edit

Napoleon III doubled the area of the French overseas Empire he established French rule in New Caledonia, and Cochinchina, established a protectorate in Cambodia (1863) and colonized parts of Africa.

To carry out his new overseas projects, Napoleon III created a new Ministry of the Navy and the Colonies and appointed an energetic minister, Prosper, Marquis of Chasseloup-Laubat, to head it. A key part of the enterprise was the modernization of the French Navy he began the construction of 15 powerful new battle cruisers powered by steam and driven by propellers and a fleet of steam-powered troop transports. The French Navy became the second most powerful in the world, after Britain's. He also created a new force of colonial troops, including elite units of naval infantry, Zouaves, the Chasseurs d'Afrique, and Algerian sharpshooters, and he expanded the Foreign Legion, which had been founded in 1831 and won fame in the Crimea, Italy and Mexico. By the end of Napoleon III's reign, the French overseas territories had tripled in the area in 1870 they covered a 1,000,000 km 2 (390,000 sq mi), with more than 5 million inhabitants. [41]

New Caledonia becomes a French possession (1853–54) Edit

On 24 September 1853, Admiral Febvrier Despointes took formal possession of New Caledonia and Port-de-France (Nouméa) was founded 25 June 1854. A few dozen free settlers settled on the west coast in the following years, but New Caledonia became a penal colony and, from the 1860s until the end of the transportations in 1897, about 22,000 criminals and political prisoners were sent to New Caledonia. [42]

Colonization of Senegal (1854–1865) Edit

At the beginning of Napoleon III's reign, the presence of France in Senegal was limited to a trading post on the island of Gorée, a narrow strip on the coast, the town of Saint-Louis, and a handful of trading posts in the interior. The economy had largely been based on the slave trade, carried out by the rulers of the small kingdoms of the interior, until France abolished slavery in its colonies in 1848. In 1854, Napoleon III named an enterprising French officer, Louis Faidherbe, to govern and expand the colony, and to give it the beginning of a modern economy. Faidherbe built a series of forts along the Senegal River, formed alliances with leaders in the interior, and sent expeditions against those who resisted French rule. He built a new port at Dakar, established and protected telegraph lines and roads, followed these with a rail line between Dakar and Saint-Louis and another into the interior. He built schools, bridges, and systems to supply fresh water to the towns. He also introduced the large-scale cultivation of Bambara groundnuts and peanuts as a commercial crop. Reaching into the Niger valley, Senegal became the primary French base in West Africa and a model colony. Dakar became one of the most important cities of the French Empire and of Africa. [43]

France in Indochina and the Pacific (1858–1870) Edit

Napoleon III also acted to increase the French presence in Indochina. An important factor in his decision was the belief that France risked becoming a second-rate power by not expanding its influence in East Asia. Deeper down was the sense that France owed the world a civilizing mission. [44]

French missionaries had been active in Vietnam since the 17th century, when the Jesuit priest Alexandre de Rhodes opened a mission there. In 1858 the Vietnamese emperor of the Nguyen Dynasty felt threatened by the French influence and tried to expel the missionaries. Napoleon III sent a naval force of fourteen gunships, carrying three thousand French and three thousand Filipino troops provided by Spain, under Charles Rigault de Genouilly, to compel the government to accept the missionaries and to stop the persecution of Catholics. In September 1858 the expeditionary force captured and occupied the port of Da Nang, and then in February 1859 moved south and captured Saigon. The Vietnamese ruler was compelled to cede three provinces to France, and to offer protection to the Catholics. The French troops departed for a time to take part in the expedition to China, but in 1862, when the agreements were not fully followed by the Vietnamese emperor, they returned. The Emperor was forced to open treaty ports in Annam and Tonkin, and all of Cochinchina became a French territory in 1864.

In 1863, the ruler of Cambodia, King Norodom, who had been placed in power by the government of Thailand, rebelled against his sponsors and sought the protection of France. The Thai king granted authority over Cambodia to France, in exchange for two provinces of Laos, which were ceded by Cambodia to Thailand. In 1867, Cambodia formally became a protectorate of France.

Napoleon III receiving the Siamese embassy at the palace of Fontainebleau in 1864

Intervention in Syria and Lebanon (1860–1861) Edit

In the spring of 1860, a war broke out in Lebanon, then part of the Ottoman Empire, between the quasi-Muslim Druze population and the Maronite Christians. The Ottoman authorities in Lebanon could not stop the violence, and it spread into neighboring Syria, with the massacre of many Christians. In Damascus, the Emir Abd-el-Kadr protected the Christians there against the Muslim rioters. Napoleon III felt obliged to intervene on behalf of the Christians, despite the opposition of London, which feared it would lead to a wider French presence in the Middle East. After long and difficult negotiations to obtain the approval of the British government, Napoleon III sent a French contingent of seven thousand men for a period of six months. The troops arrived in Beirut in August 1860, and took positions in the mountains between the Christian and Muslim communities. Napoleon III organized an international conference in Paris, where the country was placed under the rule of a Christian governor named by the Ottoman Sultan, which restored a fragile peace. The French troops departed in June 1861, after just under one year. The French intervention alarmed the British, but was highly popular with the powerful Catholic political faction in France, which had been alarmed by Napoleon's dispute with the Pope over his territories in Italy. [45]

Algeria Edit

Algeria had been formally under French rule since 1830, but only in 1852 was the country entirely conquered. There were about 100,000 European settlers in the country, at that time, about half of them French. Under the Second Republic the country was ruled by a civilian government, but Louis Napoleon re-established a military government, much to the annoyance of the colonists. By 1857 the army had conquered Kabyle Province, and pacified the country. By 1860 the European population had grown to 200,000, and lands of native Algerians were being rapidly bought and farmed by the new arrivals. [46]

Between 500,000 and 1,000,000 Algerians, out of a total of 3 million, were killed within the first three decades of the conquest as a result of war, massacres, disease and famine. [47] [48] French losses from 1830 to 1851 were 3,336 killed in action and 92,329 dead in the hospital. [49] [50]

In the first eight years of his rule Napoleon III paid little attention to Algeria. In September 1860, however, he and the Empress Eugénie visited Algeria, and the trip made a deep impression upon them. Eugénie was invited to attend a traditional Arab wedding, and the Emperor met many of the local leaders. The Emperor gradually conceived the idea that Algeria should be governed differently from other colonies. In February 1863, he wrote a public letter to Pelissier, the Military Governor, saying: "Algeria is not a colony in the traditional sense, but an Arab kingdom the local people have, like the colonists, a legal right to my protection. I am just as much the Emperor of the Arabs of Algeria as I am of the French." He intended to rule Algeria through a government of Arab aristocrats. Toward this end he invited the chiefs of main Algerian tribal groups to his chateau at Compiegne for hunting and festivities. [51]

Compared to previous administrations, Napoleon III was far more sympathetic to the native Algerians. [52] He halted European migration inland, restricting them to the coastal zone. He also freed the Algerian rebel leader Abd al Qadir (who had been promised freedom on surrender but was imprisoned by the previous administration) and gave him a stipend of 150,000 francs. He allowed Muslims to serve in the military and civil service on theoretically equal terms and allowed them to migrate to France. In addition, he gave the option of citizenship however, for Muslims to take this option they had to accept all of the French civil code, including parts governing inheritance and marriage which conflicted with Muslim laws, and they had to reject the competence of religious Sharia courts. This was interpreted by some Muslims as requiring them to give up parts of their religion to obtain citizenship and was resented.

More importantly, Napoleon III changed the system of land tenure. While ostensibly well-intentioned, in effect this move destroyed the traditional system of land management and deprived many Algerians of land. While Napoleon did renounce state claims to tribal lands, he also began a process of dismantling tribal land ownership in favour of individual land ownership. This process was corrupted by French officials sympathetic to the French in Algeria who took much of the land they surveyed into public domain. In addition, many tribal leaders, chosen for loyalty to the French rather than influence in their tribe, immediately sold communal land for cash. [53]

His attempted reforms were interrupted in 1864 by an Arab insurrection, which required more than a year and an army of 85,000 soldiers to suppress. Nonetheless, he did not give up his idea of making Algeria a model where French colonists and Arabs could live and work together as equals. He traveled to Algiers for a second time on 3 May 1865, and this time he remained for a month, meeting with tribal leaders and local officials. He offered a wide amnesty to participants of the insurrection, and promised to name Arabs to high positions in his government. He also promised a large public works program of new ports, railroads, and roads. However, once again his plans met a major natural obstacle' in 1866 and 1867, Algeria was struck by an epidemic of cholera, clouds of locusts, drought and famine, and his reforms were hindered by the French colonists, who voted massively against him in the plebiscites of his late reign. [54]

French–British relations Edit

Despite the signing of the 1860 Cobden–Chevalier Treaty, a historic free trade agreement between Britain and France, and the joint operations conducted by France and Britain in the Crimea, China and Mexico, diplomatic relations between Britain and France never became close during the colonial era. Lord Palmerston, the British foreign minister from 1846 to 1851 and prime minister from 1855 to 1865, sought to maintain the balance of power in Europe this rarely involved an alignment with France. In 1859 there were even briefly fears that France might try to invade Britain. [55] Palmerston was suspicious of France's interventions in Lebanon, Southeast Asia and Mexico. Palmerston was also concerned that France might intervene in the American Civil War (1861–65) on the side of the South. [56] The British also felt threatened by the construction of the Suez Canal (1859–1869) by Ferdinand de Lesseps in Egypt. They tried to oppose its completion by diplomatic pressures and by promoting revolts among workers. [57]

The Suez Canal was successfully built by the French, but became a joint British-French project in 1875. Both nations saw it as vital to maintaining their influence and empires in Asia. In 1882, ongoing civil disturbances in Egypt prompted Britain to intervene, extending a hand to France. France's leading expansionist Jules Ferry was out of office, and Paris allowed London to take effective control of Egypt. [58]

1870–1939 Edit

Most Frenchmen ignored foreign affairs and colonial issues. In 1914 the chief pressure group was the Parti colonial, a coalition of 50 organizations with a combined total of only 5,000 members. [59] [60]

Asia Edit

It was only after its defeat in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870–1871 and the founding of the Third Republic (1871–1940) that most of France's later colonial possessions were acquired. From their base in Cochinchina, the French took over Tonkin (in modern northern Vietnam) and Annam (in modern central Vietnam) in 1884–1885. These, together with Cambodia and Cochinchina, formed French Indochina in 1887 (to which Laos was added in 1893 and Guangzhouwanin 1900). [61]

In 1849, the French Concession in Shanghai was established, and in 1860, the French Concession in Tientsin (now called Tianjin) was set up. Both concessions lasted until 1946. [62] The French also had smaller concessions in Guangzhou and Hankou (now part of Wuhan). [63]

The Third Anglo-Burmese War, in which Britain conquered and annexed the hitherto independent Upper Burma, was in part motivated by British apprehension at France advancing and gaining possession of territories near to Burma.

Africa Edit

France also extended its influence in North Africa after 1870, establishing a protectorate in Tunisia in 1881 with the Bardo Treaty. Gradually, French control crystallised over much of North, West, and Central Africa by around the start of the 20th century (including the modern states of Mauritania, Senegal, Guinea, Mali, Ivory Coast, Benin, Niger, Chad, Central African Republic, Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Cameroon, the east African coastal enclave of Djibouti (French Somaliland), and the island of Madagascar).

Pierre Savorgnan de Brazza helped to formalise French control in Gabon and on the northern banks of the Congo River from the early 1880s. The explorer Colonel Parfait-Louis Monteil traveled from Senegal to Lake Chad in 1890–1892, signing treaties of friendship and protection with the rulers of several of the countries he passed through, and gaining much knowledge of the geography and politics of the region. [64]

The Voulet–Chanoine Mission, a military expedition, set out from Senegal in 1898 to conquer the Chad Basin and to unify all French territories in West Africa. This expedition operated jointly with two other expeditions, the Foureau-Lamy and Gentil Missions, which advanced from Algeria and Middle Congo respectively. With the death (April 1900) of the Muslim warlord Rabih az-Zubayr, the greatest ruler in the region, and the creation of the Military Territory of Chad (September 1900), the Voulet-Chanoine Mission had accomplished all its goals. The ruthlessness of the mission provoked a scandal in Paris. [65]

As a part of the Scramble for Africa, France aimed to establish a continuous west–east axis across the continent, in contrast with the proposed British north–south axis. Tensions between Britain and France heightened in Africa. At several points war seemed possible, but no outbreak occurred. [66] The most serious episode was the Fashoda Incident of 1898. French troops tried to claim an area in the Southern Sudan, and a British force purporting to act in the interests of the Khedive of Egypt arrived to confront them. Under heavy pressure the French withdrew, implicitly acknowledging Anglo-Egyptian control over the area. An agreement between the two states recognised the status quo: acknowledging British control over Egypt while France became the dominant power in Morocco, but France suffered a humiliating defeat overall. [67] [68]

During the Agadir Crisis in 1911 Britain supported France against Germany, and Morocco became a French protectorate.

Pacific islands Edit

At this time, the French also established colonies in the South Pacific, including New Caledonia, the various island groups which make up French Polynesia (including the Society Islands, the Marquesas, the Gambier Islands, the Austral Islands and the Tuamotus), and established joint control of the New Hebrides with Britain. [69]

Leeward Islands (1880–1897) Edit

In contravention of the Jarnac Convention of 1847, the French placed the Leeward Islands under a provisional protectorate by falsely convincing the ruling chiefs that the German Empire planned to take over their island kingdoms. After years of diplomatic negotiation, Britain and France agreed to abrogate the convention in 1887 and the French formally annexed all the Leeward Islands without official treaties of cession from the islands' sovereign governments. From 1888 to 1897, the natives of the kingdom of Raiatea and Tahaa led by a minor chief, Teraupo'o, fought off French rule and the annexation of the Leeward Islands. Anti-French factions in the kingdom of Huahine also attempted to fight off the French under Queen Teuhe while the kingdom of Bora Bora remained neutral but hostile to the French. The conflict ended in 1897 with the capture and exile of rebel leaders to New Caledonia and more than one hundred rebels to the Marquesas. These conflicts and the annexation of other Pacific islands formed French Polynesia. [39] [40]

Final gains Edit

The French made their last major colonial gains after World War I, when they gained mandates over the former territories of the Ottoman Empire that make up what is now Syria and Lebanon, as well as most of the former German colonies of Togo and Cameroon.

Civilising mission Edit

A hallmark of the French colonial project in the late 19th century and early 20th century was the civilising mission (mission civilisatrice), the principle that it was Europe's duty to bring civilisation to benighted peoples. [70] As such, colonial officials undertook a policy of Franco-Europeanisation in French colonies, most notably French West Africa and Madagascar. During the 19th century, French citizenship along with the right to elect a deputy to the French Chamber of Deputies was granted to the four old colonies of Guadeloupe, Martinique, Guyanne and Réunion as well as to the residents of the "Four Communes" in Senegal. In most cases, the elected deputies were white Frenchmen, although there were some blacks, such as the Senegalese Blaise Diagne, who was elected in 1914. [71]

Elsewhere, in the largest and most populous colonies, a strict separation between "sujets français" (all the natives) and "citoyens français" (all males of European extraction) with different rights and duties was maintained until 1946. As was pointed out in a 1927 treatise on French colonial law, the granting of French citizenship to natives "was not a right, but rather a privilege". [72] Two 1912 decrees dealing with French West Africa and French Equatorial Africa enumerated the conditions that a native had to meet in order to be granted French citizenship (they included speaking and writing French, earning a decent living and displaying good moral standards). From 1830 to 1946, only between 3,000 and 6,000 native Algerians were granted French citizenship. In French West Africa, outside of the Four Communes, there were 2,500 "citoyens indigènes" out of a total population of 15 million. [73]

French conservatives had been denouncing the assimilationist policies as products of a dangerous liberal fantasy. In the Protectorate of Morocco, the French administration attempted to use urban planning and colonial education to prevent cultural mixing and to uphold the traditional society upon which the French depended for collaboration, with mixed results. After World War II, the segregationist approach modeled in Morocco had been discredited by its connections to Vichyism, and assimilationism enjoyed a brief renaissance. [71]

In 1905, the French abolished slavery in most of French West Africa. [74] David P. Forsythe wrote: "From Senegal and Mauritania in the west to Niger in the east (what became French Africa), there was a parallel series of ruinous wars, resulting in tremendous numbers of people being violently enslaved. At the beginning of the twentieth century there may have been between 3 and 3.5 million slaves, representing over 30 percent of the total population, within this sparsely populated region." [75]

Education Edit

French colonial officials, influenced by the revolutionary ideal of equality, standardized schools, curricula, and teaching methods as much as possible. They did not establish colonial school systems with the idea of furthering the ambitions of the local people, but rather simply exported the systems and methods in vogue in the mother nation. [76] Having a moderately trained lower bureaucracy was of great use to colonial officials. [77] The emerging French-educated indigenous elite saw little value in educating rural peoples. [78] After 1946 the policy was to bring the best students to Paris for advanced training. The result was to immerse the next generation of leaders in the growing anti-colonial diaspora centered in Paris. Impressionistic colonials could mingle with studious scholars or radical revolutionaries or so everything in between. Ho Chi Minh and other young radicals in Paris formed the French Communist party in 1920. [79]

Tunisia was exceptional. The colony was administered by Paul Cambon, who built an educational system for colonists and indigenous people alike that was closely modeled on mainland France. He emphasized female and vocational education. By independence, the quality of Tunisian education nearly equalled that in France. [80]

African nationalists rejected such a public education system, which they perceived as an attempt to retard African development and maintain colonial superiority. One of the first demands of the emerging nationalist movement after World War II was the introduction of full metropolitan-style education in French West Africa with its promise of equality with Europeans. [81] [82]

In Algeria, the debate was polarized. The French set up schools based on the scientific method and French culture. The Pied-Noir (Catholic migrants from Europe) welcomed this. Those goals were rejected by the Moslem Arabs, who prized mental agility and their distinctive religious tradition. The Arabs refused to become patriotic and cultured Frenchmen and a unified educational system was impossible until the Pied-Noir and their Arab allies went into exile after 1962. [83]

In South Vietnam from 1955 to 1975 there were two competing colonial powers in education, as the French continued their work and the Americans moved in. They sharply disagreed on goals. The French educators sought to preserving French culture among the Vietnamese elites and relied on the Mission Culturelle – the heir of the colonial Direction of Education – and its prestigious high schools. The Americans looked at the great mass of people and sought to make South Vietnam a nation strong enough to stop communism. The Americans had far more money, as USAID coordinated and funded the activities of expert teams, and particularly of academic missions. The French deeply resented the American invasion of their historical zone of cultural imperialism. [84]

Critics of French colonialism Edit

Critics of French colonialism gained an international audience in the 1920s, and often used documentary reportage and access to agencies such as the League of Nations and the International Labour Organization to make their protests heard. The main criticism was the high level of violence and suffering among the natives. Major critics included Albert Londres, Félicien Challaye, and Paul Monet, whose books and articles were widely read. [85]

While the first stages of a takeover often involved the destruction of historic buildings in order to use the site for French headquarters, archaeologists and art historians soon engaged in systematic effort to identify, map and preserve historic sites, especially temples such as Angkor Wat, Champa ruins and the temples of Luang Prabang. [86] Many French museums have collections of colonial materials. Since the 1980s the French government has opened new museums of colonial artifacts including the Musée du Quai Branly and the Cité Nationale de l’Histoire de l’Immigration, in Paris and the Maison des Civilisations et de l’Unité Réunionnaise in Réunion. [87]

Revolt in North Africa Against Spain and France Edit

The Berber independence leader Abd el-Krim (1882–1963) organized armed resistance against the Spanish and French for control of Morocco. The Spanish had faced unrest off and on from the 1890s, but in 1921 Spanish forces were massacred at the Battle of Annual. El-Krim founded an independent Rif Republic that operated until 1926 but had no international recognition. Paris and Madrid agreed to collaborate to destroy it. They sent in 200,000 soldiers, forcing el-Krim to surrender in 1926 he was exiled in the Pacific until 1947. Morocco became quiet, and in 1936 became the base from which Francisco Franco launched his revolt against Madrid. [88]

World War II Edit

During World War II, allied Free France, often with British support, and Axis-aligned Vichy France struggled for control of the colonies, sometimes with outright military combat. By 1943, all of the colonies, except for Indochina under Japanese control, had joined the Free French cause. [89]

The overseas empire helped liberate France as 300,000 North African Arabs fought in the ranks of the Free French. [90] However Charles de Gaulle had no intention of liberating the colonies. He assembled the conference of colonial governors (excluding the nationalist leaders) in Brazzaville in January 1944 to announce plans for postwar Union that would replace the Empire. [91] The Brazzaville manifesto proclaimed:

the goals of the work of civilization undertaken by France in the colonies exclude all idea of autonomy, all possibility of development outside the French block of the Empire the possible constitutional self-government in the colonies is to be dismissed. [92]

The manifesto angered nationalists across the Empire, and set the stage for long-term wars in Indochina and Algeria that France would lose in humiliating fashion.

Decolonization Edit

The French colonial empire began to fall during the Second World War, when various parts were occupied by foreign powers (Japan in Indochina, Britain in Syria, Lebanon, and Madagascar, the United States and Britain in Morocco and Algeria, and Germany and Italy in Tunisia). However, control was gradually reestablished by Charles de Gaulle. The French Union, included in the Constitution of 1946, nominally replaced the former colonial empire, but officials in Paris remained in full control. The colonies were given local assemblies with only limited local power and budgets. There emerged a group of elites, known as evolués, who were natives of the overseas territories but lived in metropolitan France. [93]

Conflict Edit

France was immediately confronted with the beginnings of the decolonisation movement. In Algeria demonstrations in May 1945 were repressed with an estimated 6,000 to 45,000 Algerians killed. [94] [95] Unrest in Haiphong, Indochina, in November 1945 was met by a warship bombarding the city. [96] Paul Ramadier's (SFIO) cabinet repressed the Malagasy Uprising in Madagascar in 1947. The French blamed education. French officials estimated the number of Malagasy killed from a low of 11,000 to a French Army estimate of 89,000. [97]

Also in Indochina, Ho Chi Minh's Viet Minh, which was backed by the Soviet Union and China, declared Vietnam's independence, which started the First Indochina War. The war dragged on until 1954, when the Viet Minh decisively defeated the French at the Battle of Điện Biên Phủ in northern Vietnam, which was the last major battle between the French and the Vietnamese in the First Indochina War.

Following the Vietnamese victory at Điện Biên Phủ and the signing of the 1954 Geneva Accords, France agreed to withdraw its forces from all its colonies in French Indochina, while stipulating that Vietnam would be temporarily divided at the 17th parallel, with control of the north given to the Soviet-backed Viet Minh as the Democratic Republic of Vietnam under Ho Chi Minh, and the south becoming the State of Vietnam under former Nguyen-dynasty Emperor Bảo Đại, who abdicated following the 1945 August Revolution under pressure from Ho. [98] [99] However, in 1955, the State of Vietnam's Prime Minister, Ngô Đình Diệm, toppled Bảo Đại in a fraud-ridden referendum and proclaimed himself president of the new Republic of Vietnam. The refusal of Ngô Đình Diệm, the US-supported president of the first Republic of Vietnam [RVN], to allow elections in 1956 – as had been stipulated by the Geneva Conference – in fear of Ho Chi Minh's victory and subsequently a total communist takeover, [100] eventually led to the Vietnam War. [101]

In France's African colonies, the Union of the Peoples of Cameroon's insurrection, which started in 1955 and headed by Ruben Um Nyobé, was violently repressed over a two-year period, with perhaps as many as 100 people killed. However, France formally relinquished its protectorate over Morocco and granted it independence in 1956.

French involvement in Algeria stretched back a century. The movements of Ferhat Abbas and Messali Hadj had marked the period between the two world wars, but both sides radicalised after the Second World War. In 1945, the Sétif massacre was carried out by the French army. The Algerian War started in 1954. Atrocities characterized both sides, and the number killed became highly controversial estimates that were made for propaganda purposes. [102] Algeria was a three-way conflict due to the large number of "pieds-noirs" (Europeans who had settled there in the 125 years of French rule). The political crisis in France caused the collapse of the Fourth Republic, as Charles de Gaulle returned to power in 1958 and finally pulled the French soldiers and settlers out of Algeria by 1962. [103] [104]

The French Union was replaced in the Constitution of 1958 by the French Community. Only Guinea refused by referendum to take part in the new organisation. However, the French Community ceased to operate before the end of the Algerian War. Almost all of the other former African colonies achieved independence in 1960. The French government refused to allow the populations of the former colonies the right they had in the new French Constitution of 1958, as French citizens with equal rights, to choose for their territories to become full départements of France. The French government had ensured that a constitutional law (60-525) was passed which removed the need for a referendum in a territory to confirm a change in status towards independence or départementalisation, so the voters who had rejected independence in 1958 were not consulted about it in 1960. [105] Very few former colonies chose to remain part of France, under the status of overseas départements or territories.

Critics of neocolonialism claimed that the Françafrique had replaced formal direct rule. They argued that while de Gaulle was granting independence on one hand, he was maintaining French dominance through the operations of Jacques Foccart, his counsellor for African matters. Foccart supported in particular Biafra in the Nigerian Civil War during the late 1960s. [106]

Robert Aldrich argues that with Algerian independence in 1962, it appeared that the Empire practically had come to an end, as the remaining colonies were quite small and lacked active nationalist movements. However, there was trouble in French Somaliland (Djibouti), which became independent in 1977. There also were complications and delays in the New Hebrides Vanuatu, which was the last to gain independence in 1980. New Caledonia remains a special case under French suzerainty. [107] The Indian Ocean island of Mayotte voted in referendum in 1974 to retain its link with France and not become independent like the other three islands of the Comoro archipelago. [108]

French census statistics from 1931 show an imperial population, outside of France itself, of 64.3 million people living on 11.9 million square kilometers. Of the total population, 39.1 million lived in Africa and 24.5 million lived in Asia 700,000 lived in the Caribbean area or islands in the South Pacific. The largest colonies were Indochina with 21.5 million (in five separate colonies), Algeria with 6.6 million, Morocco, with 5.4 million, and West Africa with 14.6 million in nine colonies. The total includes 1.9 million Europeans, and 350,000 "assimilated" natives. [109]

Population of the French Empire between 1919 and 1939
1921 1926 1931 1936
Metropolitan France 39,140,000 40,710,000 41,550,000 41,500,000
Colonies, protectorates, and mandates 55,556,000 59,474,000 64,293,000 69,131,000
Total 94,696,000 100,184,000 105,843,000 110,631,000
Percentage of the world population 5.02% 5.01% 5.11% 5.15%
Sources: INSEE, [110] SGF [111]

French settlers Edit

Unlike elsewhere in Europe, France experienced relatively low levels of emigration to the Americas, with the exception of the Huguenots in British or Dutch colonies. France generally had close to the slowest natural population growth in Europe, and emigration pressures were therefore quite small. A small but significant emigration, numbering only in the tens of thousands, of mainly Roman Catholic French populations led to the settlement of the provinces of Acadia, Canada and Louisiana, both (at the time) French possessions, as well as colonies in the West Indies, Mascarene islands and Africa. In New France, Huguenots were banned from settling in the territory, and Quebec was one of the most staunchly Catholic areas in the world until the Quiet Revolution. The current French Canadian population, which numbers in the millions, is descended almost entirely from New France's small settler population.

On 31 December 1687 a community of French Huguenots settled in South Africa. Most of these originally settled in the Cape Colony, but have since been quickly absorbed into the Afrikaner population. After Champlain's founding of Quebec City in 1608, it became the capital of New France. Encouraging settlement was difficult, and while some immigration did occur, by 1763 New France only had a population of some 65,000. [112]

In 1787, there were 30,000 white colonists on France's colony of Saint-Domingue. In 1804 Dessalines, the first ruler of an independent Haiti (St. Domingue), ordered the massacre of whites remaining on the island. [113] Out of the 40,000 inhabitants on Guadeloupe, at the end of the 17th century, there were more than 26,000 blacks and 9,000 whites. [114] Bill Marshall wrote, "The first French effort to colonize Guiana, in 1763, failed utterly when tropical diseases and climate killed all but 2,000 of the initial 12,000 settlers." [115]

French law made it easy for thousands of colons, ethnic or national French from former colonies of North and West Africa, India and Indochina to live in mainland France. It is estimated that 20,000 colons were living in Saigon in 1945. 1.6 million European pieds noirs migrated from Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco. [116] In just a few months in 1962, 900,000 French Algerians left Algeria in the largest relocation of population in Europe since World War II. [ citation needed ] In the 1970s, over 30,000 French colons left Cambodia during the Khmer Rouge regime as the Pol Pot government confiscated their farms and land properties. In November 2004, several thousand of the estimated 14,000 French nationals in Ivory Coast left the country after days of anti-white violence. [117]

Apart from French-Canadians (Québécois and Acadians), Cajuns, and Métis other populations of French ancestry outside metropolitan France include the Caldoches of New Caledonia, the so-called Zoreilles, Petits-blancs with the Franco-Mauritian of various Indian Ocean islands and the Beke people of the French West Indies.


Uzbekistan has the fourth largest gold reserves in the world. It mines 80 tons of gold a year, the seventh largest in the world.

Uzbekistan has the 10th largest copper reserves in the world and the 12th largest uranium reserves. It is the seventh-largest producer of uranium in the world.

Uzbekistan Gas Company, the national gas company of Uzbekistan, is the 11th largest natural gas producer in the world with an annual production of 60 to 70 billion cubic meters (2.1-2.5 billion cubic feet).

The country has significant untapped oil and gas reserves: there are 194 hydrocarbon reserves, including 98 natural gas and gas condensate reserves in Uzbekistan.

The Seljuks: Nomads Who Built an Empire and Took On Byzantine Power - History

Eagle hunting in Mongolia

Eagle hunting became very famous festival in western Mongolia. Researchers believe that the tradition of eagle hunting originated among Central Asian nomads about 7,000 years ago. Mongolia is the best country to preserve this .

Shiyijian (320-376)

Shiyijian was the last prince of the Tuoba Dai state and ruled from 338 to 376 when Dai was conquered by the Former Qin. He was the son of Tuoba Yulu and the younger .

Shelun (402-410 CE)

Rouran Emperor or Khan, also known as Jarun. When his father Wengedi (in some records, it says he was the son of Hedohan) died, he got support from his uncle Pihuoba, but broke his .

Wu Di (156-87 BCE)

Chinese Emperor of the Han Dynasty. The original name is Liu Che. Was born in 156 BCE and passed away on March 29, 87 BCE. During his reign, the influence of Daoism and authority .

Battle of Talas River

Fighting between Xiongnu and Han army near the Talas River in autumn and winter of 36 BCE, present Taraz city of Kazakhstan. Zhizhi Chany headed by Gang Yanshou and Cheng Tang. Xiongnu army consisted .

Battle of Baideng

Military conflict between Xiongnu and Hun dynasty. Held in the territory of today’s Shanxi province, in 200 BCE. The main combat was held in the Baideng Mountain, near Datong. In this combat, the Xiongnu .

Baruun Duruu (Bars Khot-II)

A walled settlement of the Xiongnu period, located in a place named Baruun Duruu, in distances of 7 km in the east of the Bars Khot-I and of 5 km from the Kherulen River, .

Balamir (in 360-378)

A well-known ruler of Western Xiongnu who is recorded in history. His name is noted like Valamir or Balamber. In 370, the western Xiongnu crossed the Volga River, broke up the Alans in the .

White Xiongnu (420-552)

In Greek Hephthalite, in Indian Huna, There are always discussions on their origin, but some scholars believe they are related to Xiongnu. The core group of White Xiongnu was warrior nomads, but most White .

Wei Qing (?-106 BCE)

A military commander of Western Han. Since his sister became a concubine of Han Wudi Emperor, he had a chance to enter the Palace. Moreover, he was paid the attention of Wu Di Emperor .

Laoshang Chanyu (174-161 BCE)

Xiongnu second Great Chanyu. This is the title granted to Xiongnu Chanyu whose real name was Jizhu. His official title was “Xiongnu Chanyu, the supreme leader, blessed by the Sun and Moon, and conferred .

Hunanye Chanyu (58-31 BCE)

Xiongnu Chanyu. After the death of Wuyanjiudi Chanyu in 60 BCE, an internal disorder rose up in Xiongnu, and five Chanyus reigned at the same time. In history, this period was named as “The .

Jew’s Harp

The Xiongnu rich musical culture consisted of different musical instruments and types of singing and dancing. According to historical records, Xiongnu was being played an instrument, throat singing, musical and dancing. Some Chinese source .

Chedihou Chanyu (101-97 BCE)

Great Chanyu of Xiongnu. Grandgrandson of Maodun Chanyu. Son of Ichise Chanyu. the 8th great Chanyu after Modun Chanyu. His brother, Guilihu, the 7th Chanyu during his only one year reign, killed in a .

Attila’s Hunnic Empire

Hunnic Empire consisted of Xiongnu people who came from Central Asia, and the local peoples of Ugr and Sarmatian origins between the 2nd and 4th century CE. In the 70s of the 4th century .


Afujilo (492-496). one of the rulers of Tele. A subject of the Rouran Empire initially. Even though he frequently asked Deulun, an emperor of Rouran, not to make a fight against tabgach Wei dynasty, .

Border Exchanged with Homeland

Since Tuva’s separation from Mongolia, border disputes between Mongolia and Tuva had arisen. When Molotov arrived in Ulaanbaatar as an Ambassador in July 1957, he re-opened the border problem issue between Tuva and Mongolia. .

Choibalsan’s Dream

Choibalsan had been thinking a lot about Great Mongolia. He seems to have been deeply imbued with the idea of uniting it while was in close relationship with Rinchino. However, he saw with his .

De Jure Independence

It was very difficult for Stalin tossed either to Japan or China the lands in which he had invested so much effort, time, and money. He especially could not afford to lose Mongolia to .

Sino-Soviet Negotiations

The fate of Mongolia, which as far back as 1907 had been the subject of confrontation between Russia, China, and Japan, had to be resolved once and for all. With its defeat in the .

The Yalta Treaty

By 1944 it became clear to everyone that Nazi Germany had very little time to live, and the war would soon end in Europe. Although the future of Europe was unclear, it was evident .

Choibalsan’s New Team

Every time Choibalsan returned from Moscow, he brought with him a list of people who were to be eliminated. this time, several days after he arrived back in Ulaanbaatar, Party Chief Baasanjav and Union .

The Terror Ends

Stalin held a special grudge against the Buriads and the Kazakhs who had left the USSR for Mongolia. The Buriads who had survived the Lhumbe case were rounded up and, by 1939, in Selenge .

The Total Terror

The Great Purge became a routine. Stalin stepped back from the control of the details in Mongolia once he felt that fear was sovereign. Among those who had fallen were twenty-five persons from the .

Genden Falls into Disfavor

Genden realized that with the New Reform Policy, his country was heading in a new direction, while Stalin realized that Genden couldn’t become the “Mongol Stalin”. The two met on November 15, 1934. Genden .

The Birth of a Stateline Country

The first People’s Hural (Assembly) convened in November 1924, in Ulaanbaatar. The Hural’s main purpose was for the “people’s representatives” to ratify the new constitution and start building a state apparatus in accordance with .

The Great Game

Ever since the Soviets and Outer Mongolia had signed a bilateral treaty in Moscow on November 5, 1921, the issue of Mongolia had been a bone of contention between the young Soviet Union and .

The Nomun Khan Incident

On April 27, Japan’s Cabinet addressed the issue of China and South Asia. The Japanese Cabinet sent urgent instructions to the Kwantung Army in Japanese Manchuria. The instructions called for strengthening the Manchuguo-Soviet and .

New Assignment from Moscow

The widespread genocide had ended. In late 1939, Choibalsan left again for Moscow to report on the work he had accomplished and to seek advice on his next move. He took with him Tsedenbal, .

The Revenge Against the Buriads

Stalin had no intention, nor did he have any plans, to allow the Mongols free will. In Mongolia there were two groups whom Stalin hated: the Buriads, who had drifted away from Russia after .

The Grip Loosens

The first action of the New reform was to calm and pacify the people. Those who had participated in the counter-revolutionary uprising were released, and the cases of those accused of hiding their property .

Stalin’s “Retreat”

The issue of the armed revolt was presented to the Political Bureau of the Soviet Bolshevik Revolutionary Party (BHK) by the end of May. By that time it had already spread more or less .


The great experiment of social engineering naturally had a heavy impact on the minds of the people and the Mongolian began to express their protest. Some fled, some rebelled, and some looked for outside .

Class Struggle

The main goal of the Soviets was to launch the class struggle in Mongolia and follow Stalin’s model of the “complete elimination of the kulak class”. The Soviet planned to create a united front .

Reforms Ala Soviet

Soviet influence in Mongolia involved more than terror and class struggle, though the terror touched the lives of virtually every family in the land. But in spite of the terror, as a result of .

Coup d’Etat

Mongolians were not taking the “revolutionary work” seriously. In 1925, from the 4161 members of the Party, 384 were noblemen and 364 were lamas, while from 700 organizations only 400 were cooperating with the .

The Secret Intention of the Mongols

In the meantime, the Mongolian leaders were not as enthusiastic about the world revolution as the Soviets and the Guomindang. ever since the Kyakhta Treaty, Prime Minister Tserendorj and Foreign Minister Amar had been .

The Third Congress of the MPRP

Declaring Mongolia a republic was a single matter. Two days after Soviet representative Alexei Vasiliev said that the “Comintern would salute the proclamation of Mongolia as a republic”, the Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party’s Central .

Constitutional Monarchy

Under the Bogd Khan and autonomous governments, the Mongols, on their own initiative, attempted many reform policies, notwithstanding that they lacked organization and commitment. The Mongols had learned from the experiences of the past .

Soviet-Mongolian Friendship Talks

In mid-September 1921, a meeting of the People’s Goverm]nemnt of Mongolia considered the issues of establishing friendly relations with the Soviet Union and substituting it through legal treaties and documents. It also decided to .

The People’s and the National Government

After Xu Shuzeng and Urgern were driven out, the number of Chinese peasants in the north of Mongolia dwindled drastically. In 1911 they numbered almost one hundred thousand but dropped to eight numbers never .

Urgern’s Defeat

On June 16, 1921, the Political Bureau of the Bolshevik Party, without much hesitation, approved the “revolutionary onslaught” plan. On June 28, a unit of the Fifty Army, commanded by K.Neiman and G.Chereinisinov, crossed .

The People’s Party Born from a Conflict of Interest

While Urgern was in power in Huree, the delegation sent to Omsk to ask for Soviet help continued on its way. As luck would have it, the invasion of Urgern eventually caused the mission .

Asian Cavalry Division

At this time Baron Roman von Urgern-Sternberg, also known as the “Mad Baron” and the “Bloody Baron”, “began his bloodbath in Mongolia. Urgern’s invasion of Mongolia immortalized his name and altered the course of .

The Party Seeks Soviet Help

The next, and perhaps much more important, items on the agenda of the Consular Hill Group and the East Huree’s Group meeting were the question of seeking assistance from Russia to achieve independence and .

The Three Pillars Concept of Mongolian Shamanism

The noblest thing, which symbolizes a stable state fire-hearth, was a “Tulga” or Trivet. Early the Mongols had used three stones to support a cooking pot and later used the three-legged trivet. In this .

The State Fire Hearth

According to Mongolian Shamanist consideration, any fire, a family-hearth (in Mongolia Gal Golomt) in particular, is sacred and revered as a symbol and source of good things. Even in the thirteenth century, .

Rituals for an Ongon to enter a Shaman

The Shamans consider that an Ongon’s entering a Shaman and the Shaman trance involves a meeting with the spirits of their Shamans who died years before. In April 1991, shamaness Tsegmid of the Red .

Location, Running, Weight, Species and Color of an Ongon

The main place where the Shaman Ongon or spirits are located and transferred is the “Darkness” or “Space of Shaman Ongons”. As mentioned above on the subject of darkness, this place is only visible .

Shaman Ongon(S)

dThe relationship between a Shaman and an Ongon An Ongon or spirit is most important to a Shaman, who communicates with it during Shamanist rituals. In this way, the shaman becomes the attendant, guide, .

The Escaping, Calling Back and Transfiguration of the Soul

As academician B.Renchin observed, sometimes, if someone was suddenly and severely frightened, their soul would leave the body. Te shamans say that this soul has escaped. In such cases, the soul flees through the .

The Black Shamanist Rejection Rebirth

The Mongolian Black Shamanist conception concerning the Sunny and Dark World was directly related to the rejection of the idea of rebirth. It is fundamental to Shamanist belief that humans and animals alike are .

The Belief in Three Souls

Mongolian shamans consider that people and animals have not one, but three kinds of souls, an idea first talked about by B.Renchin in his aforementioned conversation of 1965: Every person has three souls. Two .

The Soul

Everything has its own Soul Apart from the three main tenets of Queen Earth, King Heaven, and the Deities of the Earth and Sky, the Soul is the fourth major concept of Mongolian Shamanism. .

The Conception of “Sansara” of Cosmos Space

The invocation of Baamyn Dulam, a shamaness of Chonos origin, who was born in 1909 in Javzandamba Hutagt’s Darhad Shavi |Disciples|, said: Your Majesty, by spreading incense to the Cosmos summit, By sprinkling pure .

The Sunny and Dark Worlds of Black Shamanism

The Yellow Shaman conception of the “Intermediate realm” and “Dark World” is rather confused, both appearing to be the same place and the home of departed spirits. However, the Black Shaman view of the .

The Dark World

Yellow Shaman Conception of Dark and Intermediate world The Shaman belief in the “dark” or “Intermediate” world has been long held by the Mongols. It is their answer to the question of where the .

The Heaven’s Origin

Chinggis and his relatives of a supreme or Tenger origin, who had glorified their own Heaven as “Eternal Heaven”, were considered as sacred, or angels, with white bones and bodies. So they were protected .

The Eternal Heaven

According to the Secret History of Mongolia, many powerful enemies of Chinggis Haan were defeated by psychological pressure despite the superiority of their forces. For example, in 1201 a large army of many Mongolian .

Heaven’s Lord or Guardian Heaven

Heaven’s Lord as a Heaven Since the prehistoric period, Mongolian shaman has explained the origin of their tribes, clans, and people in relation to Upper Heaven and with the animals, such as wolf, white .

The Number and Levels of the Heavens

There are numerous references to Heaven in sources such as The Secret History and Rashid-ad-Din’s Sudaryn Chuulgan, but there is no mention of the number of Heavens or the number of its .

Celestial Body, Ovoo/Cairn, Tree and buumal

The Mongolian shamans believed that the sky neither solid nor liquid and was, therefore, untouchable. The shaman invocations related to the location of a shaman Ongon call: The ones with etherial mantle, .

The Blue Heaven

Worshipping the Heavens One of the main aspects of Mongolian Shamanist belief is the idea of “Blue Heaven”, which was just as important as beliefs about the creation of the world. After Dorje Banzarov, .

Animals and People of the Heaven

The late Mr.Seded was son of Tseveen Zayran of white Huular origin, an official of the former Western Otog of Javzandamba Hutagt’s Darhad Shavi. He explained that ancient people had an excellent remedy for .

Land and Water Spirit

Lus and Savdag This is one of the three main aspects of the Mongolian Shamanist belief. The majority of researchers are agreed that the Mongols have respected and worshipped Land and Water because their .

The Black Shamanist concept of Three Continents

Despite the powerful, positive and negative influences of Lamaism and Shamans of neighboring regions |such as the Tuvans of Tureg descent|, the Shamans of the north and northwest, including Renchinlhumbe, Ulaan-Uul, Bayanzurh and Tsagaan .

The Yellow Shamanist concept of the “Three Worlds”

The ideas of Mongolian Shamanism concerning the formation and structure of the Earth are explained in two ways. The belief in the Three Worlds has attracted the attention of most researchers. Based on the .

The Universe and Its Continents

The Origin of the World The least adequately studied aspect of Mongolian Shamanism has long been Shamanist beliefs concerning the creation and development of the earth and water, or world, as the three major .

The Yellow Shamans

The shamans who had lost the original content of Mongolian Shamanism and made its ritual in a formal manner in the name of Yellow Buddhist amulets were called Yellow Shamans. Dulamyn Gombo Zayran of .

The Decline of Shamanism

Even though Mongolian Shamanism struggled valiantly against Lamaism by diverse means, they were gradually falling under the influence of Lamaism. eventually, the Black and White Shamans became divided into the Black and Yellow Shamans. .

The Struggle Against Lamaism

the effort of Haans, kings, and priests to spread Lamaism in Outer Mongolia met fierce resistance from Shamanism. The Shamans of Outer Mongolia countered the spread of Lamaism in many ways, of which the .

The Imposition of Lamaism

As a result of the factors mentioned above, by the sixteenth-century Shamanism had declined to the point that it could no longer satisfy the demand and needs of Mongolian society. It was unable to .

Change and Collapse of Mongolian Shamanism

These spread of many religions such as Lamaism, Christianity, Nestorian Christianity, and Islam by sending their priests to Mongolia, raising awareness of their Holy Scriptures, setting up places of worship, conducting their religious activities .

The Temples and Priests of the Other Religions

The influence of other religions was more significant in Uighur and Tureg, for they had closer ties to Central Asia, India, and other nations during the sixth to ninth centuries. Since that period, the .

Lamaism and the Mongolian Great Haans

According to the results of Dr.Suhbaatar’s study, the earliest sources for Lamaism’s influence upon Mongolia were a golden idol of Buddha, which belonged to the Tuguhani aimag of the Hunnu Dynasty and was taken .

The influence of Buddhism

Since the second century B.C., Mongolia came under the influence of Buddhism from the South. As a result, the beliefs of Northern Shamanism existed side by the side with Buddhism. This was the start .

Co-Existence of Many Religions in Mongolian Territory

The Shaman Religion During the rule of the states that succeeded in the Hunnu Dynasty, Shamanism became the main religion of the Haan states. Great sacrifices, similar to those of the Hunnu period, was .

Shamanism in the Hunnu Period

The Shaman religion, in a society of Shaman adherents, played a coordinating role in the establishment of public order, protection, unification and spiritual orientation of the people. In other words, they regulated society and .

The Black and White Shamans

The Black Shamans Black invocations were, therefore, intended to overcome evil deeds and negative consequences by pitting might against might. The Spirits of Heaven and Water were divided into Quiet and Cruel the Cruel .

Direction and Color in Shamanism

Firstly, then, it is necessary to discuss our ancestors’ general conception and understanding of the universe, in particular, the matters of “direction” and “color”. Researchers of this explained their understanding by dividing .

The Foundation of the Tengrism

Researchers of Tengrism have unanimously concluded that its foundation dates back to a period many thousands of years ago, that is, to the era of primitive systems. However, there remain a variety of different .

Foundation and Development of Mongolian Shamanism

The Development of Mongolian Shamanism Several scholars have divided Shamanism into historical stages, according to Mongolian history. In 1985, H.Buyanbat analyzed the distinctions made in 1959 by Ch. Dalay between ancient and medieval phases .

Interview with Baigalijav | Craftsman of the Hu Band’s Instruments

It isn’t easy to imagine the pioneer of Hunnu rock, The Hu band, without their instruments. P.Baigalijav is the person who crafted their uniquely designed instruments, a combination of traditional and modern style, symbols .

Between Benefit and Persecution

During the 1950s and 1960s, Mongolia’s nomadic community experienced and intellectual explosion. Since almost all the intellectuals had been killed during the repression of the late 1930s, Mongolian intellectual life has been devastated, and .

Education, Literature, Art and Sport

A Blessing in disguise There is no denying that, for a backward nomadic country like Mongolia, building socialism meant the introduction of twentieth-century civilization. Human civilization as a whole has been progressively changing over .

The Healthcare for Population

Nomads, who lived remotely, were never really exposed to any infectious diseases since they lived many kilometers away from each other. Earthquake, flood, fire, and sudden natural disasters were not a threat to the .

Militarist Mongolia

In January 1966, Leonid Brezhnev visited Mongolia. The delegation included Andrei Gromyko, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Marshal Malinovsky, Minister of Defense. This was the first time a group of such high-level Soviet representatives .

Revival and Suppression of Genghis Khan

Although historians argue about the exact date of Genghis Khan’s birth, many agree on the year 1162. The 800th anniversary of the birth of Genghis Khan occurred, then, in 1962. At that time in .

US Vice President Visits Mongolia

The meeting of the three great superpowers of the time – Britain, the Soviet Union, and the USA – to discuss the future of Europe, was held in Teheran on November 28, 1943. China .

Civil War in Mongolia

The Mongols could not tolerate the suffering of the communist experiment anymore. Some of them fled the country and the ones who stayed were burning with so much rage that they were ready to .

Communist Hysteria Sweeps Mongolia

Mongolia was drawn into a number of Stalin’s campaigns such as “collectivization”, “industrialization”, “neutralize” the kulaks and class enemies,” and the “fight against right-wing deviants.” Immediately after the Seventh Congress, the newly-appointed leaders of .

Mongolia Declares War on Japan

The Soviet Union declared war on Japan on August 8, 1945, and at 12:10 midnight on August 9, the First and Second War Eastern Fleet of the Red Army, the South Baikal Front, the .

Mongols help the War Efforts

On June 22, 1941, Hitler betrayed Stalin and, in violation of the Non-attacked the Soviet Union with enormous force. Hitler’s blitzkrieg plan, Barbarossa, was into motions and within a few months, Hitler’s army reached .

Buryats Mongols

Buryats fled from the Soviets in great numbers resettling in Mongolia and Manchuria, bringing an informal and sophisticated transnational network of relations into being. Apart from the Great Purge, the NKVD managed to achieve .

The Soviet Army in Mongolia

On March 12, 1934, a Soviet-Mongol Protocol of Mutual Assistance was signed in Ulaanbaatar. The Protocol, valid for ten years, provided for various forms of assistance, including military assistance, in the event of a .

Soviet Economic Control in Mongolia

In accordance with Comintern directives, the policy of overthrowing foreign capital began. This meant establishing a complete monopoly of Soviet non-capitalist ventures and driving out other influences. At that time foreign capital constituted 67 .

Communist Seed in Mongolia

On August 25, 1921, an organization called the Union of Young Revolutionaries (Boshgyg Halah Zaluuchuudyn Evlel) was set up in Ulaanbaatar. One of its key figures was Choibalsan. The Soviets, not long before, had .

From Duguilan to Political Party

A duguilan is one of the traditional forms of protest and struggle of the Mongols and was especially widespread during the reign of the Qing Dynasty. The form of struggle was used against the .

The Abolition of Autonomy

Xu Shuzeng was not satisfied with the abolition of autonomy. In order to immortalize his feat, he planned a show to commemorate the event. The Act Which Sparked Fire of Revenge A ceremony marking .


Meanwhile, in Northeast Asia, Japan’s interest in the Mongolian issue grew significantly. the Japanese warlords had realized that the creation of one large united Mongolia would help exert pressure on China and create favorable .

The Return of the Chinese

The Beijing government-appointed High Commissioner Chen Yi arrived in Huree in October 1915, four months after the Kyakhta treaty was signed. The treaty had made an important but unwelcome concession to Chinese suzerainty over .

Life in Autonomous Mongolia

At the time of the treaty of Kyakhta, Outer Mongolia had a territory of almost one and a half million square kilometers and a population of between six and seven hundred thousand. It was .

Seeking Independence

China was alarmed at the news of the treaty between Russia and Mongolia, considering it a covert encroachment on its territory. Anti-Russian revolts took place in Beijing and Qingdao. A popular Opposition movement spread .

Sino-Russian Declaration

The Russian had never taken the 1912 agreement with the Mongols very seriously. For them, it was diplomatic fiction, a political lever with which to demonstrate to the Chinese their determination to secure their .

Russia Negotiates with Mongolia

Not only Beijing nu St.Petersburg also shamelessly told the Mongols that they were incapable of governing themselves once they were again independent. The Russian Foreign Minister Sanazov stated that historically “the Halhs had never .

The Mongols Lose the Urianhai Region

Urianhai was a strategic region, full of natural resources which Russia was determined to gain. Although Russia had taken Buriad Mongolia under the 1727 Sino-Russian Treaty of Kyakhta (Buur), Urianhai, like the other Mongol .

Russia’s Campaign

Russia’s Negotiation with Japan Russia and Japan were worried about Mongolia’s declaration of independence in the midst of the Chinese revolution. It was clear to both of them that it would be unwise to .

Liberation of Hovd

The Qing Dynasty had its envoys stationed in four places in Mongolia. The (Manchu governor) in Huree was responsible for Tsetsen Khan and Tusheet Khan aimags, while the amban in Uliastai oversaw matters in .

Declaration of Independence

The Mongols had been waiting two hundred years for the overthrow of the Manchu and his revival of the nation’s independent status. While waiting, and in their opposition to the New Administration, the pro-independence .

The Collapse of the Qing Dynasty

In 1907, Sun Yat-sen setup a revolutionary organization called Tongmenghui, or United Alliance. Two years later he issued a manifesto espousing three principles: nationalism (regaining China from the foreigners), popular democracy (establishing a republic), .

Mongols Oppose the New Administration Policy

From the beginning, Mongol feudal princess opposed Empress Zixi’s new program, the “New Administration Policy”. Although Mongolia had rid itself from more than two hundred years of subjugation and taxes levied by the Qing, .

China’s New Administration Policy

The disgraceful defeat and the enormous loss of territory suffered in the Sino-Japanese war aroused the determination of new thinkers. Underground societies sprang up everywhere, the most prominent of which was the China Self-Development .

Russia Expands Eastward

The Mongols had a new neighbor in the north. In 1558 Tsar Ivan IV [Ivan the Terrible] gave land west of the Ural region, including the Kama River basin, to a merchant by the .

The Internal Affairs of the Qing Dynasty

With the weakening and eventual disintegration of the Qing Dynasty, by 1680 the destiny of Asian countries surrounding China had begun to take a different turn. First of all, under the impact of the .

Treaties of Nerchinsk and Kyakhta

Due to its poor relations with the Mongols, Russia then began seeking direct contacts with Qing China and the Dzungar Khanate. On August 27, 1689, Romanov’s Tsarist Russia and the Qing Dynasty signed a .

Social Decline

The Mongols, this spirited people who for generations had led lives of wars, victories, and defeats, began to degenerate. Where once they had gone big game hunting to maintain their combat skills even in .

Manchu Control of Chinese-Mongol Relations

The monasteries that had sprung up in every corner of the country not only satisfied the spiritual needs of the Mongols but also served as centers of commerce and exchange of commodities. Every monastery, .

Manchu Administration of Mongolia

Now that the Manchu were in control, they began carrying out administrative, military and economic reforms in Mongolia. A Beijing based government agency called Ih Jurgan or Mongol Jurgan assumed responsibility for the newly .

Amarsanaa and Chingunjav Rebel

Amarsanaa’s plans had not included the annexation of the Dzungar Khanate by the Manchu. What he wanted, it seems, was to take revenge on his old friend and recent enemy Davaach, and to become, .

The Fall of the Dzungar Khanate

Although the Javzandamba and the Emperor claimed that Halh had become a Chinese vassal, Galdan Boshgot’s Mongolia, with its capital on the Herlen River in Halh, remained free and independent. In order to defend .

Halh Surrenders to the Qing

By this time the Halh, though not the Oirad, were effectively controlled by the Qing, as is evident from the case of a Mongol noble named Tengis Van. The Sonid, earlier the subjects of .

The Dzungar Khanate

During the 17th century the central Asian nomads were ruled by the Dzungar Khanate of the Oirad Mongols. Baatar Huntaij (or Prince Baatar) was a leader who devoted his life to unifying the Oirad. .

Yellow Hat Takes Hold

The Sakyapa school, which had been approved by Khublai, had all but died out. Geluk, or yellow, Buddhist was looking for foreign military aid and moral support. Mongolian feudal rulers and Tibetan yellow Buddhists .

Tibetan Religion and the Mongols

Gaining control of the southern part of Mongolia had not been much trouble for the Manchu. But it would take them more than fifty years to do the same with the Halh, and more .

Inner and Outer Mongolia

In the 17th century, as the Mongol Empire disgusted, the person of the all-Mongol throne was Ligden Khan who, so far, had gained nothing except that seat. The unruly princedoms dissented as ever, with .

Qing Dynasty

In the early seventeenth century the three-hundred-year-old Ming dynasty lapsed into a deep military-political and economic crisis. Its decline became most pronounced during the time of Emperor Chongzheng whose reign was plagued by numerous .

The Halh Mongol

Dayan Khan’s youngest son Gersenzed assumed command of the central heartland of Mongolia, which to is called Halh. After his death, his widow divided Mongolia among her seven sons, which brought about the so-called .

The Oirad Mongols

It was to this time that the distinction between Halh and Oirad Mongols can be traced. Mongols were now split into two parts, the Halh, and the Oirad. Western Mongolia received the name of .


In the centuries after Genghis, Timur once again reminded the world of the terrible might of the nomads’ sabers. Just when Kublai Khan’s Yuan Dynasty collapsed and the banished Mongols were defending their native .

Western Civilization

Western civilization is the youngest of all world civilizations. Scholars suggest that it originated around 700-800 A.C. The Western civilization found its true form during the 15th century in Southern Europe and was founded .

The Islamic World

The Altaic nomadic societies of Asia played a key role in the expansion of the Islamic world. The Turkic people who originated from Central Asia favored Islam. they assimilated in three waves into the .


The descendant for Genghis Khan’s second son Tsagaadai, Babur conquered India and founded the Mogul Empire that survived till the British colonization of that country. The Great Mogul Empire When Babur became .

The Russians

The Direct descendant of the Byzantine culture, the Eastern Slavs, established the Rus’ empire in 998. In truth, they are more Ukrainians than modern Russians. Kievan Rus’ dispersed to Novgorod, and to the northwestern, .


Today there are 1.4 billion Han nationals. However, it is hard to perceive these people, who speak six completely different languages, who follow three or four different religions and vary in ways such as .

The Mongol Legacy

Free Trade In his famous work Libertarianism: A Primer, the free market economist David Boaz stated that it was the Mongols who initiated, supported and developed free trade. They brought peace, even for a .

The Yuan Dynasty – First Foreign Dynasty to rule all of China

The Chinese called the Great Mongol Empire Da Chao, a direct translation of the Great Empire. Later they called their empire, ruled by a Mongol king, Da Yuan or Great Origin. The names of .

Kublai Khan – Founder of The Yuan Dynasty

Kublai Khan, a grandson of Genghis and second only to him among the great Mongol khans for his resounding fame, was born in Mongolia on September 23, 1215, just when his grandfather was be .

Hulegu Khan – Conqueror of The Muslims

At the turn 1256, Hulagu Khan, who had been commissioned in Karakorum to bring law and order to the west, crossed the Amu Darya with his tens of thousands of soldiers and entered Iran .


During the time, Christianity was emerging as the predominant faith in the region. The Christian sect of Nestorianism had strong roots in this territory long before the birth of a unified Mongol state. It .

Bat Khan – Founder of The Golden Horde

Somewhat ignorant of European geography, the Mongols chose not to proceed westward. After the death of his eldest son Jochi, who had been in command of the western campaign, Genghis bequeathed to Jochi’s sons .

Ogedei Khan – Founder of The World’s Capital Karakorum

During Ogedei Khan rule from 1229 to 1241, the Empire continued to swell in all directions. In 1231 he sent to the south an army led by his brother Tului and Genghis best general .

Pax Mongolica

The peace enforced by the ancient Romans in the lands under their control was often called Pax Romana. Likewise, the tranquility that set in for some time in Eurasia after the bloody Mongol conquests .

Genghis’ Religious Tolerance

Although nomads historically adhered to shamanism, they had traditionally been tolerant towards other religions. while waging wars, snatching others’ lands and ruling different nations, they realized that if they would gain nothing except unceasing .

Genghis’ Wise Rule

Genghis Khan organized an admirable system of communication in his vast empire, namely the horse relay. Station located along the main roads at intervals of about thirty kilometers offered rest and fresh horses to .

Military Tactics

Genghis Khan had the best organized and best-equipped army of his time. The numerous maneuvers and stratagems described in modern military textbooks as originating with the Mongols had been in use prior to Genghis, .

Sons of the Great Khan

Genghis Khan left behind four sons to inherit his throne. All of them became renowned warlords in their own right, and also fathered many gifted gifted and khans. Jochi His eldest son, .

Conquering the Neighbors

Having built a unified state, Genghis Khan now turned his energies toward several nations which directly and indirectly bordered on Mongol lands. These were the Golden Kingdom, or the Jin Dynasty, the Xi-Xia of .

Uniting the Mongols

Becoming the Khan of the Mongolian Empire was the start of Temujin’s astounding feat of conquering half the world. His immediate objective was to unite all the nomadic nation between the Altai and Khinggan .

The Leader Emerges

The rise of Habul, the Khan of the Hamag Mongol, and the subsequent fall of his lineage could be viewed as a sort of “warm-up session” before the emergence of the leader of the .

Tribes of the Steppes

In the early thirteen century the native land of the Mongols- a vast territory stretching from Lake Baikal past the great Gobi and from the Khinggan mountains to the Altai Mountains- had no integrated .

No Time For Rest…

Perhaps no one could have imagined that one day Mongolians would drum upon the world with the beating of horses’ hooves and build one of the largest empires known to history. How the Mongols .

The Turkic Khanate

The central Asian nomads built their Turkic Khanate, a steppe empire spread over a territory stretching from the Great Wall to the Black Sea. While Tumen Khan was fighting and easily defeating the Jujuan .

Attila’s Hun Empire

Apart from the northern Hunnu, badly beaten and driven out from their lands by their southern relatives, gathered under the banner of Shanyu Jiji. They allied themselves with a tribe called Kangu and set .

The Hunnu Empire – Nation that forces Qin Dynasty to build Great Wall

The first unified Chinese state, the Qin, survived for only fifteen years, but Qin Shi powerful state of nomads appeared in central Asia under the name of Hunnu(Xiongnu). Likewise, the northern Hu was also .

Religious Faith of the Nomads

Uighurs were the first nomads to give up the shamanistic worship of Heaven and convert to Islam, perceived as the religious of the civilized world. From the time of the Huns up to the .

The Northern Nomads

The northern barbarians, who incessantly raided and looted China, depriving it to peace and forcing the building of the Great Wall, were a nomadic people. Though covered with thick taiga in the north, most .

The Altaic People – Origin of the Mongols

The Origins and relations between nations can be determined by studying linguistic families. The Altaic language family is spoken by most of the inhabitants of Siberia and Central Asia. About 150 million people speak .

Who were the Mongols? – Origin of the Tribes

The Origin of the Mongols is unclear but archeological evidence indicates that people lived in the vast territory of present-day Mongolia about 30,000 years ago, during the Upper Paleolithic Era. Important archeological evidence Pertaining .

Ritual for Summoning Prosperity

The ritual for summoning prosperity is a symbolic ritual to bring out the bounty of life and nature. During this ceremony, the peculiarly patterned cloth sack or wooden box containing grains, confections and sweets, .

Religious Mask Dancing Ceremony

The Tsam dance is an assembly of religious dancing by wrathful deities. The characters of religious dancing are the fanciful figures of Buddhist disciples in their dreamy meditations. The dancing characters seek to drive .

Festival of the Mongolian Camel Herders

The original birthplace of the Mongolian Camels(Bactrian) was the great Gobi. Mongolians domesticated wild camels and bred them. Since then many centuries have passed. The Bactrian camels of Mongolia are the best of the .

What is Naadam Festival? | Three Manly Sports of Mongolia

Naadam The most important celebration for the Mongolian people since ancient times was and is the traditional three manly sports (naadam). During this important celebration there is wrestling among men, which tests men’s strength .

Traditional Knowledge of Genealogical Inheritance

Mongolians carefully maintain knowledge of their genealogies, which can stretch back to ancient times. Accounts of the descent of their relatives and children help to define families as a unique social unit and as .

New Ger-Warming Ceremony

New Ger-Warming Feasts There is a saying: “A hearth starts from the smoke of the trivet, a ger starts from a hut.” Erecting a new ger is part of the marriage ceremony. Some families .

Naming and Giving Ablution to a Child

Mongolians consider childbirth as a good omen. We say that when a child is born, its food is predestined, that is why childbirth is an exceptional event in our life. So we perform an .

Birthday Celebration

One of the traditional ceremonies among the Mongolian customs is the birthday celebration. This celebration can be divided into two types. One is a child’s birthday celebration, another is aged people’s birthday celebration. The .

Mongolian Wedding

Wedding Ceremony The Mongolian wedding ceremony is basically a confirmation of marriage of a young couple and a chance to wish them a happy life together. This is also a chance to show the .

How to Greet in Mongolian Language

The customs Mongols have for greeting and showing respect toward others is traditionally quite rich. When guests arrive at someone’s ger they say nokhoi khori (hold the dog) before getting off the horse. Thereafter, .

Tradition of Cutting the Hair of the Child for the First Time

Although the custom of celebrating the cutting of the child’s hair for the first time is named differently among the Mongols, such as khüükhdiin üs avakh (cutting the child’s hair) or örövlög ürgeekh (clipping .

Mongolian Funeral practices

Mongolian Funeral Practices The internment of the body in Mongolia customarily belongs to kings and nobleman, saints, and shamans. The dead body of ordinary (common) people is traditionally left exposed at an open countryside .

Agricultural Farming in Mongolia

Herders have also long supplemented their foodstuffs with agriculture as well as hunting. According to archeological findings, historical documents, and notes of ancient foreign travelers, it is proven that in Mongolia farming dates back .

Custom to Castrate Young Animals

Young animals are castrated at the beginning of summer. This is a traditional method to maintain the balance of male and female domestic animals. The methods to castrate animals differ depending upon the flock .

How Mongolian People Make Felt Throughout the Centuries

1. Custom of Shearing Sheep Mongolians have a long standing tradition of manually processing the wool and hair of the five kinds of animals for use in their daily life. At the end of .

Custom of Helping Mother Animals to Accept Their Young

There is a specific ritual that is done in a tuneful utterance when a new mother rejects its newborn or when a newborn becomes orphaned. This ritual is believed to encourage the mother to .

Nomadic Life in Mongolia – Moving to a New Pasture

Mongolian livestock-breeders move from place to place throughout the four seasons in search of new pastures, which for centuries served as the source of their way of life. The pastureland is subdivided into seasonal .

How Do Mongolians Board Their Foals?

When the weather becomes colder in autumn, the horse-breeders have a custom to set the mares and foals free of their halter and hobbles and to celebrate the feast of “Foal branding”. From ancient .

Spring Endowment

With the arrival of spring and mild weather, livestock is emancipated, but pasture grass is still usually rare. Animals typically give birth in the spring, however, despite these conditions. This is the busiest and .

Milk Libation Ceremony

Mongolians undertake milk libation ceremonies to honor the heaven, earth, and mountains when spring arrives, the weather turns warm, and the snow and ice melt. This is also the period when young animals are .

How Do Mongolians Celebrate Tsagaan Sar

Mongolians celebrate the Lunar New Year (Tsagaan Sar) / Lunar Month/ as a passing of one year and a welcoming of a new one. The first day of the New Year is traditionally a .

Mongolian Shamanism – Traditions and Ceremonies

Mongolian Shamanism is one of the oldest forms of religion. It has been developed on the basis of the belief in totemism and dates back to 300 to 400 BC. The Huns, ancestors of .

Popular Mongolian Customs Related to Household

Customs related to the household and human life include social events that occur in the life of a family or community. Oral poetry and traditional customs express a family’s or community’s feelings of respect, .

Mongolian Hunting

Mongolians hunt for stronger and bigger herding animals in hunting teams, but for smaller animals such as sable, marmot and squirrel hunt alone. Mongolia is a country that consists of the wide-open steppe lands, forests, .

Airag – Mongolian Traditional Fermented Mare’s Milk

AIRAG Mongolians start tethering foals and colts on the tiger day of summer. We stop tethering foals and colts on the dog day in autumn. There is a feast for fermenting mare’s milk within .

Deer Game

As deer is one the most revered and sacred animals for Mongolians and an important source of their livelihood, Mongolians created a variety of games and toys named ‘buga’ (deer), such as, Deer Jirgens, .

Khorol(Zendmene) – Ancient Game of Mongolia

Khorol(Zendmene) is one of the ancient games played by Mongolians. It is known as ‘Khorol’ in Western Mongolia. Khorol is crafted with square wood blocks, sized and shaped similar to ancient dominos. There are .

Mongolian Chess – Shatar

Board games include shatar (Mongolian chess), draughts (checkers) and the deer game. These are very ancient games. Mongolian Chess Shatar or Mongolian chess is considered to be the king of the board games. It .

Brainstorming Games

Requiring solid thinking and problem-solving capacity, brainstorming games have a long tradition in Mongolia. These kinds of oral games are popular among people even today and contribute to developing creative thinking. Here are some .

Beaking The Chain

Breaking the chain and Dropping a handkerchief game has become known among Mongolians since around 1960s and mainly school children play them during their break time. Two groups of children stand hand-in-hand, resembling a .

Mobile Games (Mongolian Hobby-Horse Riding)

From a very young age, Mongolian children in nomadic societies grow up involved in the everyday herding activities of their families, such as stopping lambs and calves from going to pasture, keeping lambs away .

Disentangling Games

One of the Mongolian traditional games is the disentangling game. Without a doubt, this must have been originated from a nomadic livestock breeder’s livelihood as a demand to untie and disentangle difficult knots, ties, .

Shagai – Mongolian Anklebone Game

Shagai (Anklebone) games are an important part of Mongolian traditional games. There are myriad kinds of anklebone games which attract both children and adults. Researchers identified 80 variations of Mongolian ankle bone games, such .

Finger Games

Finger games hold an important position among the popular Mongolian traditional games. The diversity of finger games found include “Finding Middle Finger”, “Sümber Mountain”, creating shadow images by finger movements in front of a .

Word Games (Tongue-Twisters)

During the long winters, livestock herder’s children play word games indoors. Word games are highly important for teaching the players proper expression, rich vocabulary and understanding the deep meanings of the words and developing .

Stone Toys And Games

The most popular materials from which to make Mongolian traditional games are different types of stones varied by colour, size, and shape. Assembling a Ger Game Since ancient times, Mongolian children have played the .

Mongolian Games And Toys

Mongolians have a rich tradition of games and toys. There are many different types of Mongolian traditional games. According to historical records, the ancestors of the Mongols, the Hünnü people, played games like “Blown .

Mongolian Contortion Techniques and Its Historical Meanings

One of the precious and rare cultural heritages of the nomadic Mongolians is contortion. Apparently, contortion is a form of traditional art created to display the beauty of the human body. It is based .

Tsam (Religious Mask Dance )

Tsam dance is a part of secret tantric rituals. Although its origin is traced to Tibet, the tsam dance is enriched with various Mongol cultural elements, namely the creative imagination and aesthetics of Mongol .

The West crumbles under its own weight

Both the Western Empire at large and Rome’s unimportance to the East is highlighted by the ease with which they ceded Italy and the surrounding areas to the Germanic invaders.

The split of the Empire was due in part to the difficulty of governing an empire as large as the Roman’s with any kind of continuity. Despite their advanced network of roads and bureaucratic mechanisms, word simply could not travel fast enough for the Empire to grow and change as a whole.

When Constantine decided to move the capital to the old city of Byzantium — a strategic and lucrative position — to found Constantinople, the western parts of the Empire were the furthest from the economic stability and defensive power of the leaders of Rome easy picking for the barbarians beyond the borders.

This depicts the Empire’s territories at its height in the second century AD. Its downfall followed just a few centuries later the sheer size of it a contibuting factor to its collapse.

The splitting of the Empire and the loss of the West was the end of what many see as Ancient Rome, as the Eastern Empire developed the old traditions were left behind and a new entity emerged, the Byzantine Empire — a nation that would last another 1000 years.