The benefits of the Mongols and their empire outweighs the harms.
The Mongols were tolerant of religion.
The Mongols' religion was tied to the land from which they came so they did not ask other people to convert to their religion. Therefore, during the Mongol Empire, religious tension decreased allowing religions to spread further and more cross pollination of cultures.
Increase of trade.
The Mongols valued trade because they could tax it. So they kept the trade routes, such as the Silk Road, safe from thieves, raiders, etc. This reinvigorated cross Eurasian trade and ideas and products, moved throughout the world. It was said a man could walk from one end of the Mongol Empire to the other without fear of being robbed. This trade created a cross pollination of cultures, for example, rice became a staple product of the Persian diet because of the Mongols. Also, because of the Mongols, gunpowder was introduced to Europe along with many other products and ideas that lead to European Renaissance.
Mongol culture when pertaining to their women protected women's rights.
Because the Mongols were herders, their culture were less patriotic and more egalitarian than other religions and cultures during that time. For example, women were allowed to serve in the army, even though few actually did.
Therefore, because of the three main reasons the benefits of the Mongols in history outweighs the harms.
I look forward to an exciting debate!
Religious Tolerance & Feminism
I have lumped these together because they warrant much the same response; that is, neither concept was novel to the Mongolian 'Empire'. One of the biggest problems Westerners have when looking at Eastern history is the tendancy to superimpose our own values and social mechanisms (and those of our European ancestors) on the East. This is a dangerous practice because it creates something of an artificial history that can then be difficult to separate from the origins of an actual history; namely one where the Easterners were already much more spiritually enlightened and progressive than we give them credit for.
Religious Tolerance Rebuttal: The Mongols were tolerant of many religions, of this there is no doubt. But this can not be attributed as a benefit to their leadership because this type of view had been in place for centuries (and even millienia, depending on how far back you wish to go) before the Mongols were ever conceived of.
The reason for this, is that unlike most Western religions which, were monotheistic in nature (after paganism began to fall apart in the Roman empire), the predominant Eastern religions since the beginnings were always polytheistic, pantheistic or agnostic. Taoism, Buddhism, Shamanism, Zoroastronism, Hinduism and many others thrived in the East, all living peacefully together. Monotheistic religions maintained the status of minorities even after they travelled to the East, and so because no religions explicitly contradicted eachother, but rather complimented eachother, they lived fairly peacefully (with but a few exceptions) together.
This was the culture of tolerance the Mongols, and Genghis Khan grew up in, and so it should be no surprise that he simply carried on the tradition. This was in no way a 'benefit' of his power.
Feminism Rebuttal: This too is a common misconception among people (especially because many Asian and Middle Eastern countries are viewed as being oppressive towards women in the modern eras) that Eastern women were devalued. It is actually, quite the opposite. Since the beginning, when the Persians conquered most of the land in the East and Asia Minor (now considered the Middle-East) and created the first uniform empire, women begin anjoying greater rights than our European counterparts. There were famous women generals that fought in Eastern armies such as Artemesia, Zhao Pingyang, Empress Wu and Liang Hongyu just to name a few.
Egypt in fact, saw the greatest boom in women's rights (some might say, even more progressive than today's Egyptian women) as soon as it was taken over by the East. Women shortly thereafter got the right to participate in politics, to initiate divorce, to own property, and even to become heads of state.
Further, we as Westerners have a very biased view against 'prostitution'; geishas, concubines and courtesans. Actually, in the East, these were women of great power. They were extremely well-respected, well-educated and as such had considerable influence over th over the men in their company.
So, again, the only things the Mongol's offered women was violent and brutal rape by the millions (0.05 of the world's population is said to be descended from Genghis Khan alone!).
The Silk Road Rebuttal: Mongols valued trade, but so do most other civilizations throughout the entire span of history. The Silk Road was created roughly 1500 years before Ghengis Khan existed, and has been policed by different nations ever since it's origins as the 'Royal Road' of the Perisan Empire. The Mongols were in no way unique by doing this, they simply took over the surrounding area through what even their own historians have deemed as 'unusually barbaric practices'.
The time of Ghengis Khan was one of the few times throughout the entire course of its history when the surrounding area was in a constant state of war and thus, the Silk Road was unusable. By conquering its parameter, and reopening the trade routes to Europe in this era, the Bubonic Plague was carried with it, which subsequently decimated populations throughout Europe, and across Central and Eastern Asia.
The Renaissance Rebuttal: Your argument about assiting the Renaissance in Europe is extremely flawed. There is the obvious chronological problem with this (the Renaissance happened almost 3 centuries after the Mongols). Further however, the Renaissance was not a result of gunpowder at all, nor any other Eastern products for that matter. The Renaissance was directly correlated with the sack of the Byzantine capitol, which circulated thousands of ancient philisophical works from ancient Roman and Greek authors.
The Morality Argument
Genghis Khan's Massacres: Besides bringing no new innovation to the people under his reign, there is one large factor we should consider: the moral one. Certainly, it is easy to speak of all Hitler's good luck, achievements and benefits brought to the Germans under the Third Reich, it would be extremely irresponsible to completely ignore the mass extermination that occured under his command. The same holds true of Genghis Khan and his horde of ravenous Mongolian barbarians. He and his men alone were responsible for the top three massacres in human history with the death tolls rising to over a whopping 40 million slaughtered (this doesn't even include the rapes, forced slavery or plague deaths brought) under his rule alone. Not only did he slaughter the people, but is was often his custom to raze entire cities to the ground. Baghdad, in particular, replaced Athens and Alexandria as the cultural hub of the world where scientists, philosphers and scholars would come together to form ideas. Who knows what geat works were lost in his cruel and brutal rampage of the city?
The Khan's Influence on Mao Zedong: As if his death toll weren't high enough. When he conquered Asia, he left it devoid of the rise of what had become of the 'wholesome' and 'life-valuing' Muslims. In it's place he left the legacy of extermination and violence. Though Genghis Khan may have considered himself enlightened, this was by no means a hand by which he ruled. His bloodthirsty attitude carried on for centuries and paved the way for tyrant after tyrant; China was not to see another peaceful ruler after his influence had set in. Finally, in walks Mao Zedong, the path paved with the blood of civilians. He was influenced by Genghis Khan, stating "The great man, Genghis Khan, only knew how to shoot eagles with an arrow..." believing that his acheivments were easily surpassable by Mao's own. So began the massacre of another 40 million people in true Mongolian style.
The Khan's Influence on The Holocaust: We finally come to the largest mass extermination in all of history: the Holocaust. We know for a fact that Genghis Khan and his style of conquest directly influenced Hitler's execution of affairs in the Third Reich, but it was probably also a contributing factor in the Holocaust as can be gathered by the evidence. Upon raiding Hitler's book stash, several books about Genghis Khan and his philosophies, military style, etc. turned up and Hitler mentioned him as a role model in several of his most famous speeches. It's well understood that Hitler read many works on this subject, and assuredly got ideas on military conduct and conquest from them.
What is also interesting, is that one of his closest members of staff, Heinrich Himmler, who was also payed a large role in overseeing concentration camps and designing 'The Final Solution' gave very intimate details upon his capture. One of these details was his favorite book that influenced him greatly, one about Genghis Khan. A book he personally reconmmended and gave a copy of to Hitler. Genghis Khan's philosphy of 'life being of very little value when taking action as a leader' was particularly intriguing to the execution of the Third Reich's initiatives. And so followed the massacre of 66 million people.
Genghis Khan's death toll, as we can see, is well over 140 MILLION people, especially if we could how many died from the Black Death he was responsible for spreading. He was directly responsible and heavily influential in the top 3 mass exterminations throughout all of human history, as well as the senseless destruction of one of the intellectual capitols of the world. Was all this really worth maintaining the status quo in the East? I'd say not.
TheHighwayman forfeited this round.
Well shoot, I was looking forward to a good historical debate.
I do not forfeit debates so here are my arguments:
Before the Mongols, there was little to no cross pollination of religion. There was Islam in the Middle East, Hinduism in India, Confucianism in China, and Christianity in Europe. Once the Mongols gained power, however, they were not so good at administration, and therefore moved people who were useful to them around their empire, creating a cross pollination of these religions. This lowered religious tensions and allow religions to spread across Eurasia like never before. So for the first time in history, Christians, Muslims, and Confucian scholars were all working together in the same city. Best example of the is capital city Karakorum.
The Mongol empire conquered two great empires: the Abbasid Empire and the Song Dynasty. Under both, women rights were the terrible. The Song's Neo-confucianism placed so many restrictions on women and, even though Islam began as a more egalitarian religion, the Abbasids skewed it so that women had no to little rights. When the Mongols conquered these empires, women's rights increased dramatically because the Mongol nomadic life style created a more egalitarian culture. Best examples of this is Genghis Khan's wife and the fact that Mongol women fought and were promoted in the Mongol army. All my opponent's examples of famous women lived a hundreds of years before the Mongol Empire existed.
Silk Road Trade:
Yes, the Silk Road existed for centuries before the Mongols, but the Silk Road fell into disused because of the high risked involved with it. Furthermore, the Song Dynasty did not value trade whatsoever, under Neo-confucianism, the merchants was at the bottom of the male social ladder. Little contact happened between the Song and Abbasids. The Mongols reinvigorated this trade, and ideas, products, people, and religions traveled along the Silk Road. One of the best examples of this is Marco Polo who traveled throughout the Empire using the trade routes that the Mongols established and reinvigorated. This newfound trade created a cross pollination of culture and lives improved dramatically due to this trade. Basically Mongols created a crazy Eurasian NAFTA.
The man, Mehmet II, responsible for the fall of Constantinople was a descendent of the Mongols. Also the Mongols established the trade routes that Venice and Florence used to gain enough money for a renaissance. The Mongols destroyed the feudal system in Europe, which was needed for trading to happen on an international trade to happen and ideas traveled using the trade routes of the Mongols that created the conditions for a renaissance. Some historians would actually argue that the Renaissance, at least in Italy, began during the Mongols reign due to this trade. And if my opponent does on buy this, the Mongols started the process that lead to the renaissance.
Genghis Khan's Massacres:
It is war, in order to create the Empire, Genghis Khan had to kill, rape, pillage etc. However, he only leveled a few cities, and if the city surrendered, he would not pillage and burn the city. Furthermore, what he did was nothing new, all the Empires before the Mongols did the same thing. The reason why his numbers are so large is because he conquered more territory than any other general did before him.
Mao Zedong and Hitler:
My opponent's argument is seriously flawed and I lumped these together because my argument for both is basically the same. The persons responsible for the massacres that my opponent brought up are Mao Zedong and Hitler, not Genghis Khan. If Hitler did not exist, but Genghis Khan existed, the Holocaust would never had happen, nor WWII for that matter. But if the Genghis Khan did not exist and Hitler did exist the Holocaust would have happened. Same argument for Mao Zedong.
The Mongol Empire created a new world where trade increased, women's rights increased, and generally livability increased throughout Eurasia. And even though this empire resulted from deaths, the benefits of the Mongolian empire far outweighs it.
I am not really sure where you are getting your information from, but most of the facts you have put forward are blatantly false. Therefore, instead of constraining my response to a rebuttal, I will first outline the facts, complete with citations for both you and the readers, and then whatever arguments remain that have not been negated by the real facts, I will then subsequently rebutt.
The first thing I would like to address is that, "The Mongol empire conquered two great empires: the Abbasid Empire and the Song Dynasty". This is true, but these were not the only great empires conquered under Genghis Khan. Unfortunately, I do not have the space to list the every culture conquered, so I will confine myself to only the two you mentioned for now. Feel free in your response to include more, but please ensure they are researched and include citations.
The Song Dynasty
Religious Tolerance: "Before the Mongols, there was little to no cross pollination of religion. There was Islam in the Middle East, Hinduism in India, Confucianism in China, and Christianity in Europe".
You have used this term 'cross-pollination' an exhorbitant amount of times in this debate thus far, but judging by the context used here, I am going to assume you don't fully understand what it means, because it doesn't make any logical sense here. Thus, I will assume you mean 'peaceful mingling of religion'.
As for the statement itself, it is horrendously false. In both the Northern and Southern regions of the Song dynasty, religious variety increased drastically. The reason for this increase, was because the Song dynasty made enormous advancedments in trade (something you claim they had no interest in--but I will address this shortly). People came from around the known world for the purposes of trading and this created a mosaic of religions; the native Eastern religions of Taoism, Buddhism, Shamanism, Hinduism and Paganism retained the majority slot, but Islam, Christianity and Judeism were all well accepted minorities (1).
Trade brought a copia of new literature from across the globe, and it is under the early years of the Song dynasty that the general populace, as well as the leadership, began to take great interest in literature on spirituality of all different kinds (2).
Feminism: "...the Abbasid Empire and the Song Dynasty. Under both, women rights were the terrible"
Again, this is terribly false. While women did not enjoy equal standing among men, they did enjoy considerably better positions than most of the Western world. They enjoyed many legal rights and priveledges that were unheard of in the West. Women were allowed to run businesses, own property, initiate divorce, and even inherit land and portions of familial estates upon the death of relatives (3).
The ideas of oppression on account of Neo-Confucianism are not unsubstantiated, however this had no impact on the law and remained a personal and spiritual choice among family groupings; much like a Muslim woman in North America today has full accessibility to all legal rights afforded to her, however because of her religious preferences and those of her family, she may choose to waive them. Furthermore, Confucianism was equally as prevolent in the Mongolian empire, so this weakens your own argument.
Trade: "...the Song Dynasty did not value trade whatsoever..."
This is probably the worst falsehood of them all, not only because of how catastrophically misguided it is, but also because the economic system of the Song Dynasty is considered to be one of the marvels of history. They revolutionized the way economies would work for the rest of eternity through innovation and invention (they invented paper money!). They possessed trading partners worldwide, and they did use the Silk Road for some occasions, but preferred the use of ships (which, if you've ever taken even a basic ancient economics course, you will know is infinitely more opportunity-cost efficient) (2).
For those neighbours that they did not engage in naval trade with (such as their Northern neighbours), they instititued marketplaces all along their borders, supervised by the military, in order to promote trade on all fronts AND cut down on much of the wasted reasources involved in regular trade (time lost, fuel for yoke animals, banditry, etc) (4).
The Abbasid 'Empire'
Historians all agree that this empire was in its golden age of enlightenment ( by which it is accepted that they were at the very forefront of advancement in just about every subject of development: astonomy, math, science, philosophy, literature, etc.) at the time of the Mongol invasion, and after this invasion, this age ended completely. The Mongolian sacking of Baghdad I previously mentioned, which succeeded Athens, and then Alexandria as the scientific capital of the world, ended the golden age and contributed NOT to the Renaissance as you have stated, but actually, to what many informally refer to as the Dark Ages; the Renaissance was the allieviation of this age (5).
Religious Tolerance: This state, unlike the Song dynasty, was predominantly Muslim. However, because the capital city of this Dynasty was the intellectual hub of the world, it was essentially a variegation of all religions across the known world. Not only were these religions tolerated, but they were encouraged, as scholars from around the world would come to Baghdad to discuss concepts of philosophy of religion and spirituality. This is where the famous transcriptions of all the most famous literary works including the Bible, Torah, Greek and Roman literature on Paganism, etc, were saved after the sacking of the Western world, and translated into Arabic; thus allowing the Renaissance to eventually occur. Unfortunately, the arrival of the Mongols put a quick and brutal end to this practice. The razing of the city destroyed many of the sole copies of ancient works that we will now never get the opportunity to see or read (6).
Feminism: Yes, it was a State dominated by Islam. And yes, Islam took a turn for the worse under the Abbasid Dynasty in terms of women's rights. However, the Mongolians, as you have agreed, were very religiously tolerant. Thus, they allowed Islam to remain untouched, doing nothing to rectify this problem created under the Abbasid Dynasty. Further evidence of this is that sadly, in the areas where women once enjoyed many rights and liberties (Egypt, Saudi Arabia, et al.) are still to this day the most repressive countries to women in the world.
Trade: I am not even going to say much about trade here, because I have already stated that the capital city became the cultural and intellectual beacon of the world, which already essentially states that this region was one of the most active trading centers in the world. A fact, again, I will reiterate, that was brought to an abrupt halt by the conquest of the Mongolian empire (5).
Now that I have given the facts about the two empires mentioned by my opponent, I would like to take this opportunity to rebutt the remaining standing arguments.
Renaissance Rebuttal: Your argument that Mehmet II is descended from the Mongols is irrelevent, and I could find no evidence that it was even factually accurate (but please, upon your rebuttal, I would encourage you to include it as it would be interesting information to note, even though it is superfluous to this debate).
Kublai Khan, the last leader of the Mongolian empire was the end of this dynasty, and the Mongolian state fell apart shortly after his death (6). Even if what you say about Mehmet II is true (which I really can't find any evidence of) he is so far removed from any associaton with the Mongols that it would be analogous to say King James VIII was instrumental the abolishment of slavery the United States; there is an enormous logical flaw in the cause-effect relationship.
Furthermore, there was already trade happening with the East-West since well before the Mongols came in to play. They in no way contributed to the Renaissance through the Silk Road because again, the chronological gap is just too large (2). Furthermore, not only did they not contribute to the beginnings of the Renaissance, they actually heavilly contributed to the Dark Ages with the sacking of Bagdhad, the explicit antithesis of the Renaissance (7).
The Black Death: My opponent has not rebutted the spread of the Black Death. This was a very severe and significantly crippling event for the entirety of Eurasia and the Mediterranean. To not address the average estimates of 150 MILLION deaths due to this is a very glaring error. The Mongols were the primary sources of the spread, so feel free to add this to the death toll (7).
Massacres: I am running out of space, so sadly, I cannot repeat your argument here. Again, however, it is blatantly false. It was quite common for a city to surrender and Genghis Khan would execute the people and raze the city regardless. He tactics were considered ruthless by common standards, even by his own men (8).
I would like to also make a comparison here because you state, "the reason why his numbers are so large is because he conquered more territory than any other general did before him" and I would like to show how this is false by offering the previous conquerer of Eurasia, Alexander the Great as a comparison. Alexander's conquests resulted in average estimates of 125,000 deaths (9). His empire was the exact same territory, but 5 times smaller (10). If we extrapolate this then, we arrive at a 625,000 death toll for Genghis Khan. However, Genghis Khan's death toll was 320 TIMES this, and that's using the conservative estimate of 40 million people killed under his massacres ALONE (11).
1. Gernet, Jacques (1962)
TheHighwayman forfeited this round.
Well, sadly you forfeited the last round and thus, I suppose the debate has come to a screeching halt.
I suppose I will take this last round to summarize my position on the debate as briefly as I possibly can for those of you who do not wish to read the debate at length.
Why Genghis Khan and the Mongol Empire Were Harmful Beyond Reconciliation
Religion: They generated no additional religious benefits, and allowed a Islam to take on an extremely oppressive form in areas like Egypt and Saudi Arabia that continue to this very day.
Feminism: They conferred no additional rights to women, and allowed Confucianism and Islam to take on extremely oppressive forms towards women.
Trade: They crippled trade and the intellectual golden age of the East by conquering Baghdad. They destroyed one of the most economically advanced civilizations in history. Furthermore, they spread the bubonic plague across Eurasia and beyond, which racked up a death toll of 170, 000, 000 people.
Worldwide Massacres: Not only did Genghis Khan ruthlessly and mercilessly kill over 40, 000, 000 people, he heavily influenced the military methods of mass slaughter in both Mao Zedong and Adolph Hitler (this is thoroughly proven through evidence and documentation from both leaders).
Based on the influence and plague he carried, as well as his own exploits, we can rack up his figures to:
Final Total Death Toll: 310 MILLION PEOPLE
Hardly worth his maintenance of the status quo in administration and decimation of intellectual trade.
**Note: I would also like the voters to call attention to the fact that not only did my opponent forfeit twice, but he also posted blatantly false information. Any voter who wishes to fact check can verify this.**
Thank you for your time,
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