Chat with us, powered by LiveChat Let's focus on a major course theme: connectedness. The Mongols, Europeans, and Islamic empires enjoyed a great deal of cultural, economic, and intellectual exchang | Wridemy

Let’s focus on a major course theme: connectedness. The Mongols, Europeans, and Islamic empires enjoyed a great deal of cultural, economic, and intellectual exchang

Part I:

Let’s focus on a major course theme: connectedness. The Mongols, Europeans, and Islamic empires enjoyed a great deal of cultural, economic, and intellectual exchange during the thirteenth century. Despite frequent military conflicts, Mongols, Europeans, and Mamluks were part of an increasingly interconnected world. These connections can be seen in the flow of ideas, goods, and people. Many religions, for example, traveled along the Silk Road and took root in different regions—often merging with local beliefs and traditions. Provide 3 specific examples of this interconnectedness from the readings. Each example should be from a different reading.

Part II:

As we learned last week, history can tell us a lot about the writer. Let’s put this into practice! Reverse-analyze Ibn Khaldun’s description of Bedouin civilization. What does the text tell us about the Mamluk Empire and Islamic culture during the 14th century? Name at least two Islamic values or beliefs.

Part III:

Write a Works Cited page entry for The Travels of Ibn Battuta. Relevant information can be found on the last page of the reading. Check the Little Seagull Handbook for information on how to format Works Cited page entries.

*For Parts I and II, use in-text MLA citations when paraphrasing or quoting.

***Label each part (Part I, II, III.)

Western Washington University Western Washington University

Western CEDAR Western CEDAR

A Collection of Open Access Books and Monographs Books and Monographs


The Secret History of the Mongols: A Mongolian Epic Chronicle of The Secret History of the Mongols: A Mongolian Epic Chronicle of

the Thirteenth Century the Thirteenth Century

Igor de Rachewiltz The Australian National University

Follow this and additional works at:

Part of the Asian History Commons, and the East Asian Languages and Societies Commons

Recommended Citation Recommended Citation Rachewiltz, Igor de, "The Secret History of the Mongols: A Mongolian Epic Chronicle of the Thirteenth Century" (2015). Shorter version edited by John C. Street, University of Wisconsin―Madison. Books and Monographs. Book 4.

This Book is brought to you for free and open access by the Books and Monographs at Western CEDAR. It has been accepted for inclusion in A Collection of Open Access Books and Monographs by an authorized administrator of Western CEDAR. For more information, please contact [email protected]

The Secret History of the Mongols

A Mongolian Epic Chronicle of the Thirteenth Century

TRANSLATED BY IGOR DE RACHEWILTZ The Australian National University

SHORTER VERSION Edited by John C. Street

December 11, 2015

The Secret History of the Mongols, Translation by Igor de Rachewiltz is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution- NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. To view a copy of this license, visit

Cover illustration: Ögödei Qa’an (Ogedei Khan), third son and successor of ƒinggis Qan (Genghis Khan, ?1162-1227), reigned from 1229 to 1241. He was the real founder of the Mongol empire and, in the author’s opinion, he played an essential role in the composition of the Secret History of the Mongols.

Colour on silk, date unknown (? 14th c). Courtesy of the National Palace Museum, Taipei.


order.1 But if the elders of the companies do not proclaim

this order to the guards they shall be guilty and liable to

punishment. Further, elders of the companies without

permission from Us shall not, merely on the ground of

seniority, reprimand my guards who have enrolled as

guards equal to them. If any of them breaks the law let it

be reported to Us. Those liable to death We shall

certainly cut down. Those liable to punishment We shall

certainly discipline. If, without informing Us, they

themselves2 on the ground of seniority lay hands on my

guards, as requital for fists they shall be repaid with fists,

and as requital for strokes of the rod they shall be repaid

with strokes of the rod.’3 Thus he spoke.

Further, he ordered as follows: ‘My guards are of

higher standing than the outside commanders of a

thousand; the attendants of my guards are of higher

standing than the outside commanders of a hundred and

of ten. If outside leaders of a thousand quarrel with my

guards We shall punish those who are leaders of a


279 Further, Ögödei Qa’an said, ‘We shall not cause

suffering to the nation that Our father Činggis Qa’an

established with so much toil. We shall make the people

rejoice, causing them to rest

Their feet upon the ground,

Their hands upon the earth.

Sitting now on the throne made ready by Our father the

Qa’an, so that people do not suffer, every year from these

people one two-year-old sheep out of every flock shall be

given as levy for Our soup.5 They shall also provide one

sheep out of every hundred sheep and give it to the poor

and needy within the same unit. And when the Qa’an’s

brothers and the numerous troops6 and guards gather

————– 1 See above, §227 ad fin. 2 I.e., the elders of the companies. 3 See above, §227 ad fin. 4 See above, §228. 5 I.e., for the support of the Qa’an. 6 I.e., the Qa’an’s family and the officers.


together at feasts and meetings, how could drink for all be

levied every time from the people? From the various

units of a thousand of different areas mares shall be

provided and milked, and the mare-milkers shall be the

ones to tend them. The camp-masters shall constantly

provide replacements of mares and shall in turn be

herders of the milch mares. And when the Qa’an’s

brothers gather together We shall give them gifts and

rewards. Conveying satins, gold and silver ingots,

quivers, bows, breastplates, weapons and the land-tax

grains into the storehouses, We shall have people guard-

ing them: storemen and grainkeepers must be selected

from different areas and made to guard the storehouses.

And, dividing camps1 and waters, We shall give them to

the people. If We select campmasters from the various

units of a thousand to reside in the camps, that will surely

be an appropriate measure.

‘Moreover, as there is nothing but wild animals in the

Čöl2 country, Čanai and Ui’urtai, being put in charge of

the campmasters, shall make them dig wells in the Čöl for

people to live in this rather vast area, and they shall build

brick walls around the wells to protect them from wild


‘Further, when the messengers ride in haste We allow

them to ride moving freely among the population, and as

a result the pace of these riding messengers is slow and

they are an affliction on the people. Now We shall settle

the matter once and for all by providing post-station

masters and post-horse keepers from the various units of a

thousand of different areas, by setting up a post station at

every stage, by not allowing the messengers to move

freely among the population unless on urgent business,

but instead by having them ride in haste through the post

stations. If we do this, it will surely be an appropriate


————– 1 I.e., the grazing grounds (nuntuq). 2 Lit., ‘the Desert’ (= the Gobi; cf. above, §188), but perhaps more

generally ‘the desert country’ (RSH 2.1027).


‘When Čanai and Bolqadar,1 being well informed,

proposed these measures to Us We considered that they

were indeed right and said, “Let elder brother Ča’adai

decide. If these measures under discussion are appro-

priate and he approves them, let the decision come from

elder brother Ča’adai.”’

After Ögödei Qa’an had sent this message, a reply

came from elder brother Ča’adai, saying, ‘I approve these

very measures about which you have asked me in your

message – all of them. Thus, act accordingly!’

Further, elder brother Ča’adai’s word came, saying,

‘From here I shall have post stations connecting with

yours.2 Also, from here I shall send messengers to Batu,

and Batu shall have his post stations connected with

mine.’ And a further word came from him, which he sent

saying, ‘Of all the measures, the one concerning the

establishment of post stations is the most appropriate that

has been proposed.’

280 Thereupon Ögödei Qa’an said, ‘Elder brother Ča’adai

and Batu, and the other brothers, princes of the right

hand3 – all of them; Otčigin Noyan and Yegü, and the

other brothers, all the princes of the left hand;4 the

princesses and sons-in-law of the centre, and the com-

manders of ten thousand, of a thousand, of a hundred and

of ten, have all together approved the following: “If, for

the soup of the Universal Ruler5 one provides every year

one two-year-old wether out of every flock, it won’t be a

burden at all. To provide one one-year-old sheep out of

every hundred sheep and give it to the poor and needy is

good. If we have post stations set up and provide post-

station masters and post-horse keepers to manage them

there will be peace for the many peoples, and for the

messengers in particular convenience in travelling.” They

unanimously approved this.’

————– 1 The Bulqadar of §278 above. 2 I.e., to facilitate communications. 3 I.e., of the west. 4 I.e., of the east. 5 I.e., for the support of the Qa’an. Cf. above, §279.


Having taken counsel with elder brother Ča’adai

regarding the order of the Qa’an, and this having been ap-

proved by elder brother Ča’adai, all the people from the

various units of a thousand of different areas according to

the Qa’an’s order were made to provide every year one

two-year-old wether out of every flock for the soup of the

Qa’an, and one one-year-old sheep out of every hundred

sheep for the poor and needy. They were made to pro-

vide mares, and herders of milch mares were also

assigned. They were made to provide herders of milch

mares, storemen and grainkeepers. They were made to

provide post-station masters and post-horse keepers, and

measuring the distance between each stage they had post

stations set up. Aračan and Toqučar were put in charge of

them. At a single stage of the post there had to be twenty

post-horse keepers, and at every stage there had to be a

post station with twenty post-horse keepers each.

The Qa’an ordered: ‘With regard to the geldings to be

used as post horses, the sheep to be used as provisions,

the milch mares, the oxen to be harnessed to carts, and the

carts, from the amount fixed by Us from now on,

If one causes even a piece of string to be lacking,

He shall be guilty and liable

To “splitting in half along the top of the head”;1

If one causes even a spoon-shaped spoke of a

wheel to be lacking,

He shall be guilty and liable

To “splitting in half along the nose.”’1

281 Ögödei Qa’an said, ‘This I have done after I sat on the

great throne of my father:

‘I campaigned against the ‡aqut people2 and I destroy-

ed them.3

‘As my second deed, I had post stations set up so that

our messengers could ride in haste all along the way; and

for that purpose I had all necessities conveyed to the post


————– 1 I.e., to the confiscation of half his goods. See RSH 2.1031-32. 2 I.e., the people of north China. See RSH 2.1032-33. 3 Lit., ‘I destroyed the ‡aqut people.’


‘As to the next1 deed, I had wells dug in places with-

out water and had the water brought forth, thus providing

the people with water and grass.

‘Further,2 I established scouts and garrison troops

among the people of cities everywhere and so I let the

people live in peace, causing them to rest

Their feet upon the ground,

Their hands upon the earth.3

‘After my father the Qa’an I have indeed added four

good deeds to his.

‘But, being placed on the great throne by my father

the Qa’an and being made to take upon myself the burden

of my many peoples, I was at fault to let myself be

vanquished by wine. This was indeed one fault of mine.

‘As to my second fault, to listen to the word of a

woman without principle, and to have the girls of my

uncle Otčigin’s domain brought to me was surely a

mistake.4 Even though I was the Qa’an and lord of the

nation, to participate in wrong and unprincipled actions,

this was indeed one fault of mine.

‘To secretly injure5 Doqolqu was also a fault of mine.

And why was it a fault? Because to secretly injure

Doqolqu who strove fiercely in the service of his rightful

lord, my father the Qan, was a fault and a mistake. Who

will now strive so fiercely in my service? Therefore, I

have myself acknowledged the fault of having secretly

harmed, without discernment, a person who diligently

observed the principle of loyalty in the service of my

father the Qa’an and in the service of all.

‘Further,6 being greedy and saying to myself, “What if

————– 1 I.e., the third. 2 I.e., as the fourth deed. 3 See above, §279. 4 For this complicated incident, nowhere mentioned in the Secret

History, see RSH 2.1034-36. 5 = ‘poison’? Cf. above, §68. And for this third fault, see RSH 1036-

37. 6 I.e., as the fourth fault (for which we have no direct additional

evidence). See RSH 2.1037-38.


the wild animals born with their destiny ordained by

Heaven and Earth go over to the territory of my

brothers?”, I had fences and walls built of pounded earth

to prevent the animals from straying. As I was thus con-

fining them, I heard resentful words coming from my

brothers. That, too, was a fault of mine.

‘After my father the Qa’an, I indeed added four good

deeds to his, and four deeds of mine were surely faults.’

Thus he spoke.

282 The writing of this book was completed at the time

when the Great Assembly convened and when, in the

Year of the Rat, in the month of the Roebuck, the Palaces

were established at Dolo’an Boldaq of Köde’e Aral on the

Kelüren River, between Šilginček and […].1

————– 1 The name of the second locality is missing owing to a lacuna in the


  • The Secret History of the Mongols: A Mongolian Epic Chronicle of the Thirteenth Century
    • Recommended Citation
  • 170



Marco Polo



Excerpts from Apple Books.

[The journey of Nicolo and Maffeo Polo]



[The brothers Polo travel along the land Silk Road]

1. It should be known to the reader that, … in the year of our Lord 1250, Nicolo Polo, the father of the said Marco, and Maffeo, the brother of Nicolo, respectable and well-informed men, embarked in a ship of their own, with a rich and varied cargo of merchandise, and reached Constantinople in safety. After mature deliberation on the subject of their proceedings, it was determined… that they should continue their voyage into the [ Black Sea]. With this view they made purchases of many fine and costly jewels, and taking their departure from Constantinople, navigated the [Black Sea] … from whence they travelled on horseback many days until they reached the court of a powerful chief of the Western [Mongols]… He expressed much satisfaction at the arrival of these travellers, and received them with marks of distinction. …

The brothers having resided a year in the dominions of this prince, became desirous of revisiting their native country, but were impeded by the sudden breaking out of a war … in consequence of which, the roads being rendered unsafe for travellers, the brothers could not attempt to return the way they came. It was recommended to them, as the only practicable mode of reaching Constantinople, to proceed in an easterly direction… Accordingly they made their way to a town… situated on the confines of the kingdom of the Western [Mongols]. Leaving that place, and advancing still further, they crossed the Tigris [in Iraq], and came to a desert, the extent of which was a seventeen-day journey, wherein they found neither town, castle, nor any substantial building, but only [Mongols] with their herds, dwelling in tents on the plain. Having passed this tract they arrived at a well-built city called Bokhara, in a province of that name, belonging to the dominions of Persia… Here… they remained three years.

It happened while these brothers were in Bokhara, that … an ambassador [was] sent … to the Grand Khan, supreme chief of all the [Mongols], named Kublai, whose residence was at the extremity of the continent…. he proposed that [the brothers] should accompany him to the presence of the Great Khan, who would be pleased by their appearance at his court, which had not hitherto been visited by any person from their country… They agreed to this proposal, and recommending themselves to the protection of the Almighty, they set out on their journey in the suite of the ambassador, attended by several Christian servants whom they had brought with them from Venice. …

[The brothers meet Kublai Khan]

2. Being introduced to the presence of the Grand Khan, Kublai, the travellers were received with the condescension and affability that belonged to his character, and as they were the first Latins to make an appearance in that country, they were entertained with feasts and honored with other marks of distinction. Entering graciously into conversation with them, he made earnest inquiries on the subject of the western parts of the world, of the Emperor of the Romans, and of other Christian kings and princes. He wished to be informed of their relative consequence, the extent of their possessions, the manner in which justice was administered in their several kingdoms and principalities, how they conducted themselves in warfare, and above all he questioned them particularly respecting the Pope, the affairs of the Church, and the religious worship and doctrine of the Christians. … they gave appropriate answers upon all these points, and as they were perfectly acquainted with the [Mongol] language, they expressed themselves always in becoming terms; insomuch that the Grand Khan, holding them in high estimation, frequently commanded their attendance.

When he had obtained all the information that the two brothers communicated with so much good sense, he expressed himself well satisfied, and having formed in his mind the design of employing them as his ambassadors to the Pope, after consulting with his ministers on the subject, he proposed to them, with many kind entreaties, that they should accompany one of his officers… on a mission to the See of Rome. …

He gave orders that they should be furnished with a golden tablet displaying the imperial cipher, according to the usage established by His Majesty; in virtue of which the person bearing it, together with his whole suite, are safely conveyed and escorted from station to station by the governors of all places within the imperial dominions, and are entitled, during the time of their residing in any city, castle, town, or village, to a supply of provisions and everything necessary for their accommodation.

… Their expenses were defrayed, and escorts were furnished. But notwithstanding these advantages, so great were the natural difficulties they had to encounter, from the extreme cold, the snow, the ice, and the flooding of the rivers, that their progress was unavoidably tedious, and three years elapsed before they were enabled to reach a sea-port town in the Lesser Armenia, named Laiassus.

Departing from thence by sea, they arrived at Acre in the month of April, 1269.

… They embarked at Acre on a ship bound to Negropont, and from thence went on to Venice, where Nicolo Polo found that his wife, whom he had left with child at his departure, was dead, after having been delivered of a son, who received the name of Marco, and was now of the age of fifteen years. This is the Marco by whom the present work is composed, and who will give therein a relation of all those matters of which he has been an eyewitness.

3. [they are received by the new Pope Gregory]

Upon their arrival, His Holiness received them in a distinguished manner, and immediately dispatched them with papal letters… He also charged them with valuable presents, and among these, several handsome vases of crystal, to be delivered to the Grand Khan in his name, along with his benediction.

[The brothers, accompanied by the young Marco Polo, go on their new voyage]

Nicolo, Maffeo, and Marco … undismayed by perils or difficulties … continued their journey… [Finally] through the blessing of God, they were conveyed in safety to the royal court.

4. Upon their arrival they were honorably and graciously received by the Grand Khan, in a full assembly of his principal officers. … He immediately commanded them … to relate to him the circumstances of their travels, with all that had taken place in their negotiation with His Holiness the Pope. To their narrative, … he listened with attentive silence. The letters and the presents from Pope Gregory were then laid before him. … Upon his observing Marco Polo, and inquiring who he was, Nicolo made answer, “This is your servant, and my son”; upon which the Grand Khan replied, “He is welcome, and it pleases me much”, and he caused him to be enrolled amongst his attendants of honor. And on account of their return he made a great feast and rejoicing and as long as the said brothers and Marco remained in the court of the Grand Khan, they were honored even above his own courtiers. Marco was held in high estimation and respect by all belonging to the court. He learnt in a short time and adopted the manners of the [Mongols], and acquired a proficiency in four different languages, which he became qualified to read and write.

… In short, during seventeen years that he continued in the Grand Khan’s service, he rendered himself so useful that he was employed on confidential missions to every part of the empire and its dependencies; sometimes also he travelled on his own private account, but always with the consent, and sanctioned by the authority, of the Grand Khan. … Marco Polo [thus] had the opportunity of acquiring a knowledge, either by his own observation, or what he collected from others, of so many things, until his time unknown, respecting the Eastern parts of the world, and which he diligently and regularly committed to writing, as in the sequel will appear.

[The magnificent court of Kublai Khan]


When His Majesty holds a grand and public court, those who attend it are seated in the following order. The table of the sovereign is placed before his elevated throne, and he takes his seat on the northern side, with his face turned towards the south, and next to him, on his left hand, sits the Empress. On his right hand, upon seats somewhat lower, are placed his sons, grandsons, and other persons connected with him by blood, that is to say, who are descended from the imperial stock. … The tables are arranged in such a manner that the Grand Khan, sitting on his elevated throne, can overlook the whole. … The greater part of the officers, and even of the nobles … , eat, sitting upon carpets, in the hall; on the outside stand a great multitude of persons who come from different countries, and bring with them many rare and curious articles. …

In the middle of the hall, where the Grand Khan sits at table, there is a magnificent piece of furniture… Within this buffet are also the cups or flagons belonging to His Majesty, for serving the liquors. Some of them are of beautiful gilt plate. Their size is such that, when filled with wine or other liquor, the quantity would be sufficient for eight or ten men. Before every two persons who have seats at the tables, one of these flagons is placed, together with a kind of ladle, in the form of a cup with a handle, also of plate, to be used not only for taking the wine out of the flagon, but for lifting it to the head. This is observed as well with respect to the women as the men. The quantity and richness of the plate belonging to His Majesty is quite incredible. &#x201

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