Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

History rehabilitates the tyrants of old in Central Asia
Boston.com ^ | October 24, 2003 | H.D.S. Greenway

Posted on 10/26/2003 1:22:46 PM PST by nwrep

By H.D.S. Greenway, 10/24/2003

UNTIL THE TYRANTS of the 20th century came along, they were the most efficient, cold-blooded, feared, and destructive conquerors the world had ever known. They were the Mongol horsemen from the steppes of Central Asia, whose hordes under the leadership of Genghis Khan built a 13th-century empire by mass slaughter -- burning cities and terrifying half a dozen civilizations from Russia to the East China Sea. Genghis Khan's grandson, Hulagu, leveled Baghdad, and Iraqis have invoked his name ever since to brand their enemies, including the Americans.

It is said that you could smell their stench downwind before you could see their dust or hear the thunder of their horses signaling onrushing death. It is said that they could stay in the saddle for days, living on mare's milk or the blood of their own horses if necessary. According to a contemporary Persian account they were covered with lice "which looked like sesame growing on bad soil." It is also said that they could ride 70 miles a day and fire their steel-tipped arrows 200 yards with deadly accuracy at full gallop.

They swept all before them -- the armies of the emperor of China, Russians on the banks of the Dnieper, and the storied Khanates of Central Asia. And if surrender was not immediate, all were slaughtered.

Great centers of learning, Bukhara, Urgench, and Samarkand, were sacked and destroyed. Indeed there is hardly a building standing in Central Asia that predates the Mongols. They rode on into India, laying waste to the provinces of the Indus River. At Herat, which fell only after a six-month siege, the victorious Mongols spent a whole week killing and burning. According to some accounts as many as a million and a half people were slaughtered. Genghis Khan's sons and grandsons would rule over his empire after his death in 1227. When Hulagu sacked fabled Baghdad of the "Thousand and One Nights," it was the greatest city of the Islamic world. Its fall ended the Abbasid Caliphate, and Baghdad never recovered its former glory, even though Saddam Hussein dreamed of it.

A century later, Timur the Lame, or Tamerlane as he was known in the west, rose to better Genghis Khan. For 15 years he ravaged Persia, sacked Baghdad again, mounted expeditions into Anatolia and over the Caucasus, and attacked India. He plundered Delhi, put 100,000 to the sword, and is said to have skinned alive any surviving Hindus he could put his hands on. His signature was the towers of skulls he would leave behind.

In the west the names of Genghis Khan and Tamerlane have a mystic and deeply seated association with death and destruction. Their reputations as mass murderers still ring down through the centuries as symbols of unparalleled awfulness.

(Excerpt) Read more at boston.com ...


TOPICS: Editorial; Miscellaneous; News/Current Events; Philosophy; Unclassified
KEYWORDS: archaeology; genghis; genghiskhan; genocide; ggg; godsgravesglyphs; history; khan; mongolmassmurderers; tyrants

1 posted on 10/26/2003 1:22:46 PM PST by nwrep
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: nwrep
Hitler had a point. Julius Caesar--whose name, in it's more modern versions "Kaisar" and "Tsar", still means greatness--and Alexander of Macedonia--whom the world persists in referring to as "The Great"--were dispicable tyrants.

I do like the Mongolian version of the pony express though.

2 posted on 10/26/2003 1:36:06 PM PST by Savage Beast (Truth is a relentless searchlight!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: nwrep; a_Turk
Let the Turks and Mongols remember their history and rejoice in it as warriors of the steppe.
A union or alliance of countries from the Dardanelles to the Tien Shien mountains can serve as a bulwark against the Islamist Arabs, Communist Chinese, and revanchist Russians. They are Muslims but of various branches and tolerent histories.

These lands have a growing but diverse population. They are rich in oil, natural gas, and other resources. If they do not unite, they will become vassals of the Islamists, Chinese, or resurgent Russians.

3 posted on 10/26/2003 1:45:27 PM PST by rmlew (Peaceniks and isolationists are objectively pro-Terrorist)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: nwrep
The Mongols wore silk shirts, so that when they where shot with arrows, the silk would enfold the arrowhead and could be drawn out easily. This little innovation was instrumental to their success.

BTW, I read an interesting book (I can't remember the title now) about how the Mongols where actually pawns of the Chinese even though they had conquered China. They where completely illiterate, and the Chinese where the bureaucrats of the Mongol empire. I'm not sure if it's true, but it's an interesting notion anyway.

4 posted on 10/26/2003 1:46:09 PM PST by Batrachian
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Savage Beast
Julius Caesar and Alexander the Great were NOT despicable tyrants. Especially Caesar. Caesar treated those the Empire ruled with great mercy. There were many times when large parts of the Empire could have easily left Roman influence - but didn't - because being part of the Roman economy that Caesar - the great administrator and conquerer, built largely by himself. Julius Caesar is a hero of the western world and should be treated as such. The Roman Empire was one of the greatest things that ever happened to Europe, and without Caesar, there's a good chance its golden days would never have been.
5 posted on 10/26/2003 1:49:59 PM PST by Norse
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: Norse
There are certainly good things that are the legacy of Rome, but, all in all, the Roman Empire was one of mankind's most dubious achievements, and Julius Caesar was its father.
6 posted on 10/26/2003 1:58:46 PM PST by Savage Beast (Truth is a relentless searchlight!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: Savage Beast
Dubius...NO WAY!!! One of the greatest achievements!! Sure, because of the inferior method of obtaining leaders through succession, the Empire did some bad things - but all in all it was the vehicle of progress and prosperity for hundreds of years.
7 posted on 10/26/2003 2:01:25 PM PST by Norse
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: rmlew
I knew you were a felt boot licker.
8 posted on 10/26/2003 2:01:33 PM PST by Destro (Know your enemy! Help fight Islamic terrorisim by visiting www.johnathangaltfilms.com)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: nwrep
It is impossible to apply a modern "humane" standard to ancients leaders. If the Indians or Persians could have, they would have stacked the Mongol skulls just as high. It is important to remember that the early examples of psychological warfare (expressed by public atrocity) are notable only because of their success in intimidating their enemies. All civilizations at that time fought and ruled with a brutality unimaginable today (unless you have lived in someplace like Iraq or Rwanda.) In my opinion prior to the Enlightenment you can't really compare civilizations. Until you can have a civilianization with some recognition of the rights of man moral comparisons are moot. Even relatively "good" civilizations like the Hebrews, the Greeks, or the Moors justified a lot of slaughter at times.
9 posted on 10/26/2003 2:05:29 PM PST by azcap
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Destro
Its not my fault the Byzantines lost to the Seljuks in 1071.

You little slur does not bother me. Some of my ancestors wore those boots.
However, my support for them is strategic. Take a look at a map and refute my arguement.

10 posted on 10/26/2003 2:15:05 PM PST by rmlew (Peaceniks and isolationists are objectively pro-Terrorist)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: Norse; Savage Beast
While Julius Caesar was a dictator (Tyrant in Greek) Alexander the Great was what we would term a "constitutionally appointed" monarch of the Greek kingdom of Macedonia. He was Captain-General of allied Greek states (true they were forced into a military alliance after defeat) and was greeted as a liberator and confirmed as Pharaoh by the Egyptian priesthood. When Alexander became Shah of Persia, it was admittedly coronation by the sword of conquest, so it is in Persia that he came closest to being a tyrant but Alexander saw his war as a defensive war against Persia which threatened constant invasion of Greece. So if his conquest can be justified so in that regard he was also not a tyrant, like the victorious allies in Iraq or Germany were not tyrants.

Since the Macedonian Army proclaimed a king-it was the Macedonian army that stopped Alexander's conquests (no way a Roman legion or a Mongol Horde would pull that off) and Alexander had to abide by the decision of his congress.

Many people mistake powerful men for Tyrants. What makes men tyrants is that they are answerable to no one, cruelty to defeated enemies plays no role in the definition.

11 posted on 10/26/2003 2:16:36 PM PST by Destro (Know your enemy! Help fight Islamic terrorisim by visiting www.johnathangaltfilms.com)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: azcap
Indians especially under the Chandragupta-Asoka empire were compassionate comparable to modern times. The Persians were ruthless but they were also Zoroastrians who respected life if not freedom.
12 posted on 10/26/2003 2:20:42 PM PST by Destro (Know your enemy! Help fight Islamic terrorisim by visiting www.johnathangaltfilms.com)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

To: rmlew
It has nothing to do with losing wars. It has everything to do with being butchering barbarians. Winning wars and battles is easy. The Greeks and Romans both won and lost but they left in their wake compensation for their empires. The Turks left nothing to history. In fact the Turks destroyed cities and founded none in their place. Every Turkish city is a city founded by someone else. Some cities the Turks never bothered to rebuild because they did not know how once the populations were done away with.

The Mongols were actually better than the Turks because being Anamists they had no desire to convert conqured populations while the Turks being both Asiatic barbarians and Muslims were butchers even after resistance ended something the Mongols never did to those that accepted defeat.

13 posted on 10/26/2003 2:27:04 PM PST by Destro (Know your enemy! Help fight Islamic terrorisim by visiting www.johnathangaltfilms.com)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

To: Norse
Prosperity okay, but... Well--murderous tyrants, slavery, conquest--you name it. It wasn't without its benefits, as I say, but one of mankind's most dubious achievements? You bet.
14 posted on 10/26/2003 2:58:35 PM PST by Savage Beast (Truth is a relentless searchlight!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies]

To: Destro
Turks never build cities?
Ugrench, Samarkhand, Bukhara and hundreds of others where built by southern Turks.
The Ghuzz were barbarians when they invaded Anatolia. They lived by the horse. They grew over centuries. Of course they built over greek cities, just as the Greeks did when they conqueren the levant.

And if you want religious tyranny, don't get me started on the Byzantines occupation of israel. The wine press was often used as a means of torture and execution.
Don't forget the past, but don't let it consume you.
15 posted on 10/26/2003 2:59:26 PM PST by rmlew (Peaceniks and isolationists are objectively pro-Terrorist)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 13 | View Replies]

To: rmlew
Nope. Try again.
16 posted on 10/26/2003 3:52:35 PM PST by Destro (Know your enemy! Help fight Islamic terrorisim by visiting www.johnathangaltfilms.com)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 15 | View Replies]

To: Batrachian
I would not go so far as to call the Mongols "pawns", but it is true the Chinese, having been militarially defeated more or less absorbed the Mongol leadership in their massive bureaucracy. Not sure this is the book to which you refer, but try "Journeyor" a fairly accurate piece of historical fiction. Cuss them all you want, any effective gov't depends on its bureaucrats. This was one of the secrets of the Roman success in Julius' day. So long as the taxes got paid and civil unrest was kept to a low roar, the conquered nations could pray to whatever God they cared and pretty much exercize considerable autonomy so long as they respected the rights of Roman citizens
17 posted on 10/26/2003 5:17:21 PM PST by barkeep
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: Destro
Nope. Try again.

Whoa! That was an effective response!

18 posted on 10/26/2003 8:23:48 PM PST by Luke Skyfreeper
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 16 | View Replies]

To: Luke Skyfreeper; rmlew
Ugrench, Samarkand, Bukhara - Founded by peoples of Indo-European Persian stock not Mongoloid Turks.
19 posted on 10/26/2003 9:00:32 PM PST by Destro (Know your enemy! Help fight Islamic terrorisim by visiting www.johnathangaltfilms.com)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 18 | View Replies]

To: nwrep
Well How is this any different then the way Christians and Jews hold in high esteem bloodthirsty murderous tyrannts like Moses, Joshua, Judah and others?

Just read Numbers 31, Moses makes Ceasar, Alexander, Genghis Khan and Attila look like pussy cats
20 posted on 10/26/2003 9:00:58 PM PST by qam1 (Don't Patikify New Jersey)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: qam1
Alexander was not a tyrant.
21 posted on 10/26/2003 9:08:12 PM PST by Destro (Know your enemy! Help fight Islamic terrorisim by visiting www.johnathangaltfilms.com)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 20 | View Replies]

To: Destro
Alexander was not a tyrant.

One word:Tyre

Alexander the Great: The fall of Tyre

"The extent of the bloodshed can be judged from the fact that 6,000 fighting-men were slaughtered within the city's fortifications. It was a sad spectacle that the furious king {Alexander} then provided for the victors: 2,000 Tyrians, who had survived the rage of the tiring Macedonians, now hung nailed to crosses all along the huge expanse of the beach.

22 posted on 10/26/2003 9:39:25 PM PST by qam1 (Don't Patikify New Jersey)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 21 | View Replies]

To: qam1
If you are going to use a Greek word like Tyrant then you better know how it is to be used. Tyrant does not mean ruthless in war. Tyrant means a leader who is accountable to no authority i.e. a dictator.

Alexander was a constitutional monarch who had to be proclaimed in office according to the Macedonian constitution. Thus he was not a tyrant-see my post#11.

23 posted on 10/26/2003 9:52:50 PM PST by Destro (Know your enemy! Help fight Islamic terrorisim by visiting www.johnathangaltfilms.com)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 22 | View Replies]

To: Destro
ty•rant \"ti-rent\ n
1 : an absolute ruler : despot
2 : a ruler who governs oppressively or brutally
3 : one who uses authority or power harshly

(c)2000 Zane Publishing, Inc. and Merriam-Webster, Incorporated. All rights reserved

Alexander would most certainly fit #3



24 posted on 10/26/2003 10:20:08 PM PST by qam1 (Don't Patikify New Jersey)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 23 | View Replies]

To: qam1
I've always admired Joshua's liberal use of the whoopass can.
25 posted on 10/26/2003 10:27:54 PM PST by azcap
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 20 | View Replies]

To: qam1
Conduct in a seige or battle is not a character of tyranny-if he was a harsh ruler 24/7 he would fit that definition. Since he was by all accounts "enlightened" he also does not fit the tyrant mode modern PC standards not withstanding/
26 posted on 10/27/2003 10:40:18 AM PST by Destro (Know your enemy! Help fight Islamic terrorisim by visiting www.johnathangaltfilms.com)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 24 | View Replies]

A Blast from the Past.

Please ping me to other topics which are appropriate for the GGG list. Thanks.
Please FREEPMAIL me if you want on, off, or alter the "Gods, Graves, Glyphs" PING list --
Archaeology/Anthropology/Ancient Cultures/Artifacts/Antiquities, etc.
The GGG Digest
-- Gods, Graves, Glyphs (alpha order)

27 posted on 07/25/2005 9:36:45 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (Down with Dhimmicrats! I last updated by FR profile on Tuesday, May 10, 2005.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson