History has, for centuries, spoken of the Mongols alongside terms like "horde" and "pillage". A negative connotation at best and undoubtedly taken from local tales blown characteristically out of proportion.  However, when one looks in context at the period of time during which the Mongols reigned, their reputation is somewhat undeserved.

    Historians have taken the barbaric reputation of the Mongols and extrapolated it to cover their deeds and practices.  This has caused the Mongols to be little more than a vaguely remembered horde of ne'er-do-wells in the far reaches of our collective western memories of places far away.  Even Eastern historians look frowningly upon the time of Mongol rule, condemning their laziness and permissiveness; as well as their genocidal and barbaric nature.  Again, vastly overestimating their impact, and here is why.  Two censuses, one taken in 1317 and one taken in 1393, show that 40 million people died during these years.  As society needs someone to blame, the Mongols became the culprits.  This spawned a government supported effort to rid China of these Mongolian barbarians and thus was the animosity towards the Mongolians cemented.

    While this great loss of population may in fact be attributed to the Mongols, it is not as direct as historians would have one believe.  The Mongols had the misfortune of bringing over the disease that would kill the thousands that would eventually be attributed to their cruelty, the Bubonic, or Black Plague.  Not only did this plague bring bad connotation to the Mongol name, it also may have indirectly brought about the rise of Western Civilization.

    It is in some respects due to the Plague that Western civilization was allowed to pass the East on the road to world power.  It was because of the crippled state of China and the healthy state of the West that the west was able to overcome its Eastern competitor and supplant them in the seat of power.  Without doubt a nation of such magnitude as China would have invariably become a great world power, if only for its size.  It was not to be, however, and Western Civilization flourished.

Title and inspiration taken from a Daniel A. Voss' Essay, which can be found at

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