Ögedei Khan

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Ögedei, (also Ögädäi, Ögedäi, Ogotai, Ogtai, Oktay, Chinese language 窝阔台) (1186-1241), was the third son of Genghis Khan and second Great Khan of the Mongol Empire by succeeding his father. He continued the expansion of the empire that his father had begun. Like all of Genghis' primary sons, he participated extensively in conquests in Western China and Central Asia.

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[edit] Background

Ogedei was the third son of Genghis Khan, but his favorite from the time he was a young child. He was an extremely charismatic man, and known for his ability to sway doubters in any debate he was involved in, simply by force of his personality. Ogedei was a physically big man, jovial and charismatic, who seems mostly to have been interested in enjoying good times. He did not inherit Genghis Khan's genius, but he was intelligent and steady in character, despite being an alcoholic. His charisma is partially credited for his success in keeping the Empire on the path his father had set, and his practicality. He was also a relatively humble man, who knew his limitations, did not believe himself a genius, and was willing to listen and use the great generals his father left him, and those he himself found to be most capable. Like all Mongols, he was raised as a warrior from childhood, and like all children of Genghis Khan, he was a part of his father's push to world empire. His military experience was notable for his willingness to listen to his generals, and adapt to the circumstances they were dealing with. He was an extremely pragmatic man, much like his father, and looked at the end, rather than the means. Though he clearly lacked his father's genius, his steadiness of character and dependability were the traits that his father most valued, and that gained him the role of successor to his father, despite two older brothers.

[edit] Ascendency to Supreme Khan

He was elected supreme khan in 1229, according to the kuriltai held after Genghis' death, although this was never really in doubt as it was Genghis' clear wish that he be succeeded by Ögedei. His charisma is partially credited for his success in keeping the Empire on the path his father had set. Thanks mostly to the organization left behind by Genghis Khan, and the personal charisma of Ogedei, the affairs of the Mongol Empire remained for the most part stable during his reign. To this it must again be added that Ogedei was an extremely pragmatic man, and knew his limitations. He had no delusions that he was his father's equal as a military commander or organizer, and used the abilities of those he found most capable, to keep the empire on the steady path his father had set.

During his reign, the Mongols completed the destruction of the Jurchen Jin empire (in 1234), coming into contact and conflict with the Southern Song. In 1235, under the khan's direct generalship, the Mongols began a war of conquest that would not end for forty-five years, and would result in the complete annexation of all of China. Mongol armies vassalized Korea, established permanent control of Persia proper (commanded by Chormagan) and, most notably, expanded westward under the command of Batu Khan to subdue the Russian steppe. Their western conquests included almost all of Russia (save Novgorod, which became a vassal), Hungary, and Poland. Ögedei's sons Kadan and Güyük attacked Poland and Transylvania, respectively.

Ögedei Khan had granted permission to invade the remainder of Europe, all the way to the "Great Sea," the Atlantic Ocean, and only his death prevented the probable overwhelming of Austria, Germany, Italy, France, and Spain, and the remaining small European principalities. Indeed, Mongol forces were moving on Vienna, launching a fierce winter campaign against Austria and Germany in the first wave into western Europe, when Ögedei died. Most historians believe only his death prevented the complete conquest of Europe. Certainly the ease with which the Mongols had destroyed the Poles at the Battle of Legnica, and two days later, destroyed the Hungarian army at the Battle of Mohi, did not bode well for the remainder of the European powers.

The Mongol expansion throughout the Asian continent under the leadership of Ögedei helped bring political stability and re-establish the Silk Road, the primary trading route between East and West.

[edit] Aftermath of Ogedei's death

Ögedei's death in 1241, brought the Mongol invasion of Europe to a premature end. The commanders heard the news as they were advancing on Vienna, and withdrew for the kuriltai in Mongolia, never again to return so far west.

His son Güyük eventually succeeded him after the five-year regency of his widow Töregene Khatun. But Batu Khan, Khan of the Kipchak Khanate in Russia, never accepted Guyuk, who died on the way to confront him. It was not until 1255, well into the reign of Mongke Khan, that Batu felt secure enough to again prepare to invade Europe. Fortunately for the Europeans, he died before his plans could be implemented. His son intended to carry them out, but he also died, and in 1258, Batu's brother Berke, ascended to the Kipchak Khanate. A muslim, he was more interested in stopping his cousin Hulagu from doing any more damage to the Holy Land than invading Europe. Historians begin the decline of the united Mongol Empire from Ogedei's death, though Mongke's ascension halted the interfamilial fighting for a time.

[edit] References

  • Amitai-Preiss, Reuven. The Mamluk-Ilkhanid War, 1998
  • Chambers, James, The Devil's Horsemen: The Mongol Invasion of Europe
  • Hildinger, Eric, Warriors of the Steppe: A Military History of Central Asia, 500 B.C. to A.D. 1700 *Morgan, David -- The Mongols, ISBN 0-631-17563-6
  • Nicolle, David, -- The Mongol Warlords Brockhampton Press, 1998
  • Reagan, Geoffry, The Guinness Book of Decisive Battles , Canopy Books, NY (1992)
  • Saunders, J.J. -- The History of the Mongol Conquests, Routledge & Kegan Paul Ltd, 1971, ISBN 0-8122-1766-7
  • Sicker, Martin -- The Islamic World in Ascendancy: From the Arab Conquests to the Siege of Vienna, Praeger Publishers, 2000
  • Soucek, Svatopluk -- A History of Inner Asia, Cambridge, 2000

[edit] External links

Preceded by:
Genghis Khan
Great Khan of Mongol Empire
1229–1241
Succeeded by:
Güyük Khan
edit Khagans of Mongol Empire
Genghis Khan - Tolui Khan (regent) - Ogedei Khan - Töregene Khatun (regent) - Guyuk Khan - Mongke Khan - Khublai Khan
bg:Угедей хан

de:Ugedai Khan es:Ugedei fa:اوگتای‌خان fr:Ögödei id:Ogadai Khan he:אוגדיי חאן mn:Єгєєдэй хаан nl:Ögedei Khan ja:オゴデイ pl:Ugedej pt:Ogedei sk:Ogotaj fi:Ögödei-kaani zh:窝阔台

Ögedei Khan

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