Once Mongolia was united and most of China conquered, Chenggis continued the expansion of his new empire. When new areas were conquered, any new warfare techniques, technologies and methods found were quickly incorporated as part of their own. Explosives, navies, tactical maneuvers all became part of the already impressive Mongolian forces.
Even Japan was not safe. It seems that the Khan's had also formed the greatest naval fleet the world had ever known (at least as measured in sheer numbers of vessels and men) which set sail for that tiny country with conquest in mind. Only an unexpected and massive storm saved them. The entire Mongol fleet was lost, ships and souls alike.
To make a long story short, the Mongolian Empire would not only become the largest the world has ever know, but also the longest lasting! The map shown here gives some idea of the extent of that empire which was continued under his well known grandson, Kubla (Khubilia) Khan.
History may well credit Chenggis Khan with creating religious tolerance as well as forcing unity within a previously divided Russia and China - something that would come to haunt Mongolia many years later. If one were to conjecture, this may have been one reason such an empire were allowed to rise to power. Unity and religious tolerance would be necessary for a people to advance and grow. None-the-less, the Mongols were referred to as the Golden Horde for a reason. As another writer has described them, "They were extremely ruthless but still in many ways they had one of the most advanced cultures of that era. The Mongolians were some of the most intelligent warriors of the time and yet they were the most barbaric as well."
But as one might expect, the very size of that empire would become it's downfall. It required years to traverse the length of it on horse back, and it would first divide into four major fragments before finally disintegrating entirely.
Though their legacy is a mixed one, is it any wonder that the nation as it now stands, still prizes their unique Mongolian history very highly. The name Chenggis Khan remains a significant part of their culture, with one the largest statues ever built, that of Chenggis Khan, having only been recently completed (follow this link to see additional pictures of that rather impressive complex Chenggis Statue).
More recent Mongolian history, however, is not quite as notable. Over the past couple of hundred years, Mongolia has, in turn, been alternately conquered by Russia and China. Much has been lost as a result. And yet, the hand of the Lord can be seen even in the difficulties left behind by those two great powers.
Chinese rule brought the adoption of the Buddhist religion. Then, when Russia conquered Mongolia in 1921, they brought with them their atheistic beliefs, destroying all monasteries and killing any monks they could find. Few of the old historic structures or the monks themselves survived. We've included this picture of one which we recently visited which did survive. It is found at the far end of a box canyon and would be easy to miss. Indeed, we would likely have not seen it ourselves had we not been with someone who could point it out to us. We will post more on our little trip next time.
Though the loss of the old historic structures and, of course, the loss of lives is lamentable, here again a purpose can be seen. It would likely have been much more difficult to introduce the Gospel to a people who remained steeped in a Buddhist faith and tradition. That faith still is predominant in Mongolia, though not as deeply entrenched as it once was. The people of Mongolia are accepting the Gospel in greater numbers than just about any other Asian country.
When Elder Maxwell dedicated this land for the teaching of the Gospel, he included a promise that Mongolia would become a beacon to those countries around them. That promise is in the process of fulfillment today.
Mongolia may well become a nation with much influence once again. But this time, that influence will be a bit different.
Next post: Our recent visit with some of that history.