Batu (1207 – 1255) was a grandson of Genghis who accompanied and, as a member of the Mongol royal family, was in nominal command of, Subatai’s campaign that conquered Russia and penetrated Europe to the Adriatic Sea and the walls of Vienna. He went on to found the Golden Horde – an independent Mongol state on the western Steppe that dominated Russia and the Caucasus for two and a half centuries, and that included at its peak most of Eastern Europe, with a territory extending from the Danube to Siberia.
Batu’s father, Jochi, had been entrusted by Genghis Khan to administer the Mongolian Empire’s west, comprised during Genghis’ days of Central Asia and Siberia. After Jochi’s death in 1227, the task fell to Batu. In 1237, with Subutai as his military commander, Batu initiated the Mongol conquest of Russia, which was completed by 1241. The Mongols then launched a multi-pronged invasion of Eastern Europe, with one army in Poland defeating a coalition of Germans and Poles, while another Mongol army defeated a larger Hungarian force hundreds of miles to the south.
Batu and Subutai then crossed the Carpathians and concentrated in Hungary for a campaign against Central and Western Europe, when news arrived of the Great Khan Ogedei’s death. Subutai wanted to continue, but Batu had ambitions of becoming the next Great Khan and, as a member of the royal family, outranked Subutai. He insisted that all return to Mongolia to participate in the selection of the new Mongol ruler, and thus, in 1242, with all of Europe within their reach and at their mercy, the Mongols decamped from Hungary and rode back to Mongolia.
Batu failed in his bid to get selected the next Great Khan and returned to administer his own domain from his new capital, Sarai, on the Volga. In 1251, the Great Khan in Mongolia recognized the independence and complete autonomy of Batu’s domain, which was known thereafter as the Golden Horde. It lasted into the 16th century before breaking up, with the last fragment surviving until 1847.