1. The Islamic Heartland Never Recovered From Genghis Khan’s Impact
Yet another significant impact of the Mongol conquest on the Islamic heartland in Central Asia was cultural. The new Mongol rulers differed greatly from their predecessors. They spoke a different language, hailed from a very different culture, and possessed a world view alien to their subjects. In the centuries preceding the Mongol conquest, the Persian parts of the Islamic world had experienced a great cultural flowering. With the patronage of discerning Persian-speaking rulers, literature and poetry reached a peak with figures such as Ferdowsi, who composed Persia’s national epic, the Shah Namah. Mongol rulers, who spoke no Persian, or learned it only haltingly, had little interest in patronizing Persian poets and men of letters.
When they did, they seldom knew enough of the language’s nuance and linguistic intricacy to discern excellence from schlock. As a result, Persian culture went into a centuries-long decline. It was an experience similar to that of the Arabs, who flourished for centuries, only to go into a cultural decline after they came to be dominated by Turks who neither understood nor cared much for their arts and literature. The region never recovered from the adverse impacts of the Mongol invasion. By the time the locals shook off the Mongol yoke, or absorbed and assimilated their conquerors, centuries had passed. During that time, Western Europe had experienced the Renaissance, began the Age of Discovery and Exploration – and took the first steps towards eventual global hegemony. The Islamic world never caught up.
Where Did We Find This Stuff? Some Sources and Further Reading
Burgan, Michael – Empire of the Mongols (2005)
Hildinger, Erik – Warriors of the Steppe: Military History of Central Asia, 500 BC to 1700 AD (1997)
Lamb, Harold – Genghis Khan: The Emperor of All Men (1927)
McLynn, Frank – Genghis Khan: His Empire, His Conquests, His Legacy (2015)
Morgan, David – The Mongols (2007)
Saunders, John Joseph – The History of the Mongol Conquests (2001)
Weatherford, Jack – Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World (2004)