Showing posts with label central asia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label central asia. Show all posts

Chagatai Khanate

Chagatai Khanate
Chagatai Khanate

Genghis Khan (c. 1167–1227) had four sons by his principal wife, Borte. The eldest son, Juji, and second son, Chagatai, were such fierce rivals that Genghis decided to bypass both in favor of his third son, Ogotai Khan as his successor khaghan (Grand Khan), and all of his sons agreed with his choice.

Genghis also assigned territories to each son to govern, although all would acknowledge the leadership of the khaghan and cooperate with him in expanding the Mongol Empire. Juji received land farthest from the paternal homeland—the western territories that would include Russia and eastern Europe; his followers were called the Golden Horde.

Chagatai received west Turkestan, the Tarim Basin, and the western Tian Shan (T’ien Shan) region. Ogotai received Dzungaria and part of Central Asia, while the youngest son, Tului, received the Mongolian homeland. This arrangement was confirmed just before Genghis Khan died in 1227. Two years later the Kuriltai (council of nobles) elected Ogotai the next khaghan.

Chagatai’s allotment, which was enlarged later, also included the Ili River valley, Kashgaria, Turfan and Kucha in present-day northwestern China, and Transoxiana, including the towns of Samarkand. These disparate lands became known as the Chagatai Khanate. Except for the oasis towns most of the khanate was steppe land inhabited by various nomads, most of Turkic ethnicity.

Chagatai was a warrior and also a staunch upholder of Mongol traditions. Genghis had appointed him guardian of the Mongolian law code called “Yasa” which he had sternly administered. Chagatai and his successors kept up a seminomadic lifestyle, changing from winter to summer camp as the seasons dictated.

Whereas the Mongol realms under Kubilai Khan and his heirs in China, the Yuan dynasty (1279–1368), and the il-khanate of Hulagu Khan and his successors in Persia and the Middle East had fixed boundaries, rich resources, large sedentary populations, and long established traditions of governance, the Chagatai Khanate had shifting boundaries, tribal populations with weak state institutions, and relatively sparse resources.

Chagatai statue
Chagatai statue

It was hemmed in by other Mongol dominions ruled by branches of Genghis Khan’s descendants in three directions—the Yuan dynasty, the Il-Khanate, and the Golden Horde in Russia. The only direction for expansion was into Afghanistan and India. Beginning in the 1290s Chagatai Khanate forces took control of eastern Afghanistan from which they raided northwestern India.

In 1303 an expedition of 120,000 men besieged Delhi for two months and devastated a wide area. Another force of 40,000 horsemen returned to India in 1304 but was defeated and 9,000 prisoners were trampled to death by elephants. A similar fate befell the men of the last attacking army in 1305–1306.

Not able to expand outward the heirs of Chagatai were constantly embroiled in wars and rivalries of the other three branches of the family, and among themselves. Although the Chagatai Khanate was poor in resources, its central location along the Silk Road allowed it to collect abundant taxes and tolls. Frequent wars and predatory policy toward trade and sedentary people often resulted in the breakdown and ultimately decline in international trade by land routes.

Major differences and incompatibilities divided the eastern and western halves of the khanate. The western part, originally part of the Khwarazm kingdom, was Islamized, urbanized, and more advanced than the eastern region, which was more pastoral, nomadic, and animistic. Lacking a cohesive government, each went its own way.

Chagatai died in 1242 and was succeeded by his grandson Kara Hulagu. Interference by the khaghan and involvement by the Chagatai Khanid rulers in the dynastic struggle of other branches of the family resulted in many upheavals.

Leaders of the Chagatai Khanate became involved when Mongke Khaghan died in 1259 and a succession struggle erupted between his brothers Kubilai and Arik Boke; they sided with the winner Kubilai. Later they supported Kaidu Khan, a grandson of Ogotai, who challenged Kubilai for the throne of the khaghan. The destructive wars continued until Kaidu’s death in 1301.

Although Kubilai won against his rivals, the unity of the Mongol Empire was fractured forever, and even though the Chagatai rulers were not in contention for overall leadership, their central position in the line of communications between the different branches of the family played a significant role in the breakdown of unity of the Mongol Empire.

The frequent civil wars and changes of rulers (there were 30 khan up to 1230) fatally weakened the central authority at the expense of local leaders. As the Chagatai Khanate was disintegrating in 1369, there rose in Samarkand a Mongol-Turkic leader who claimed descent from Genghis Khan.

His name was Timurlane (Tamerlane), meaning Timur the Lame. His military career that ended with his death in 1403 would replicate that of his famous ancestor. In the 14th century Chagatain rulers converted to Islam, the religion of many of the Turkic peoples they ruled. The official language of the khanate was changed from Mongolian to Chagatai Turkic. It continued to be used in the region they ruled until modern times.

Black Death

Black Death
Black Death

The Black Death (Black Plague, The Plague, Bubonic Plague) was so named because the skin on many of its victims turned black, a result of massive blood clots. Although there have been many plagues throughout history, the three most associated with the term Black Plague are pandemics (epidemics that affect huge geographic areas) that occurred in Justinian, began in Egypt, according to Procopius.

The disease spread from the coasts to inland areas, killing thousands of people each day. Allegedly, corpses were put on ships and sent out to sea to be abandoned. The power shift from south to north and from the Mediterranean to the British Isles is attributed to this devastation.

It was the second pandemic—a series of outbreaks that escalated from an early adegan in 1331 to the disastrous events in 1346—that is most frequently referred to as the Black Death. In 1346 a Mongol prince and his armies attempted to lay siege to Caffa, in the Crimea. However, the soldiers were stricken with this dreadful disease and withdrew, but not before catapulting infected corpses over the city wall.

The Christian defenders, who thought they were now safe from attack, left to return home but perished from the plague. The few who reached home spread the disease throughout Europe and as far north as Greenland. Within a year 80 percent of Marseille had died. According to various sources, the death rate varied from 12 to 50 percent. It is estimated that in Europe 20–25 million, and throughout the world 42 million people died.

There are three forms or types of the disease: bubonic, pneumonic, and septicemic. The most dramatic is the septicemic version. Immense numbers of bacteria cause DIC (disseminated intravascular coagulation), a condition where there is so much debris in the bloodstream, the blood hemorrhages under the skin and the afflicted person’s body, or parts of it, becomes black. These victims died almost immediately, within one to three days after they showed symptoms of the disease.

Plague doctor...the "beak" would contain herbs that would help to protect the Doctor from contracting the disease. It was basically useless...of course they didn't realize how disease was spread and the different methods of cross contamination, etc...
Plague doctor
Giovanni Boccaccio (1313–75), the author of characteristic symptoms after being exposed.

The most painful symptom was swelling of the lymph glands in the armpit, groin, and neck. These enlargements would become buboes, painful abscesses; skin infections filled with pus. When the bubo broke and drained, the purulent material inside was infectious and therefore spread to whomever touched the patient or the anything the patient’s clothing, bedding, or items that he handled.

Boccaccio wrote, “... in men and women alike there appeared, at the beginning of the malady, certain swellings, either on the groin or under the armpits, whereof some waxed of the bigness of a common apple, others like unto an egg, some more and some less, and these the vulgar named plagueboils ... to appear and come indifferently in every part of the body; wherefrom, after awhile, the fashion of the contagion began to change into black or livid blotches, which showed themselves in many, first on the arms and about the thighs and after spread to every other part of the person ... a very certain token of coming death ...”

Patients with the bubonic form spread the pneumonic form via fine droplets from a cough or sneeze. Although it was less lethal than the septicemic version, victims suffered from painful coughing episodes and eventually they coughed so much that the lining of their lungs became irritated and they coughed up blood.

People were so fearful of catching the plague that they abandoned their own family members, friends, homes, and public spaces in order to escape contact with anyone stricken with the disease. Doctors who were still willing to treat patients donned hoods with masks, beaks and hats in order to avoid breathing the air around a plague victim. They had no way of understanding the natural history or cause of this disease.

They blamed an unlucky conjunction of astrological influences, such as Saturn, Jupiter and Mars, and poison from the tails of comets, or blamed Jews for allegedly poisoned the wells. But even after the wells had been sealed, people continued to get the plague.

Some of the treatments such as cupping, purging and bleeding, although acceptable in the 14th century, did more harm than good and weakened anyone who remained alive after such insults to their feeble bodies. Amazingly some people survived and because of their illness, developed antibodies that provided immunity against a future attack.

The Spread of the Black Plague

The Black Death ripped through Europe
The Black Death ripped through Europe

This second pandemic was facilitated by a number of factors. Populations had reached such high numbers in Europe that there was not enough food to feed everyone. Consequently those who could not afford the rising cost of food lacked adequate nutrition, and became easy targets for any new threat to health. There were trade routes connecting urban centers and increased travel in the form of caravans. Returning crusaders were spreading Christianity and, at the same time, the plague.

The causative organism Pasturella pestis (now called Yersinia pestis) was already present in the burrowing rodents of the Manchurian-Mongolian steppes but did not create a plague until the black rat (Rattus rattus) spread to Europe with a specific kind of flea. Rattus rattus originated in Asia but reached Europe during the early Middle Ages. They thrived in environments where people lived, near water, and traveled by ship.

The black rat’s flea Xenophylla cheopsis would bite the rat, but instead of being satisfied with its blood meal, its digestive tract would get plugged with plague bacteria, thus creating a constant hunger. It would voraciously bite anything in its path, including humans. When it found a human host, it spread the disease through repeated bites.

Europe had eradicated both the opportunity and the infection, but Asia suffered acutely. In the early 1890s an epidemic broke out in southern China, then in the city of Guangzhou in January of 1894, where 100,000 were reported dead. By May it had spread to the Tai Ping Shan area of Hong Kong.

As in any epidemic high population density, poor hygiene, inadequate health education, and the government’s inability to maintain a decent water supply and sewer treatment facility added to the poor defenses of the population. That year, 2,552 people died. Trade was affected and many Chinese left the colony. Plague continued to be a masalah in Asia for the next 30 years.

The causative organism of the plague was not isolated and described until the third pandemic in 1894. Shibasaburo Kitasato and Alexandre Yersin simultaneously discovered the bacteria responsible for the plague, soon after they arrived in Hong Kong to assist in the eradication of the plague there.

Originally named Pasturella pestis, the organism responsible for causing the Black Death was renamed Yersinia pestis after it was reclassified into a different genus on the basis of its similarities to other Enterobacteriaceae species.

Bayezid I

Bayezid I
Bayezid I

Bayezid I was declared sultan following the death of battlefield at Kosovo in 1389. To ensure his uncontested succession to the sultanate, Bayezid had his brother Yakub assassinated; subsequently the practice of fratricide became commonplace among heirs to the Ottoman throne.

To cement Ottoman control over Serbia, Bayezid married a Serbian royal princess. Bayezid immediately embarked on a series of successful military conquests, personally leading his troops throughout Thrace. Under Bayezid’s rule, only the heavily fortified cities on the coast, including Athens and Constantinople, remained outside Ottoman control.

Recognizing the importance of sea power in any attempt to seize Constantinople, the Ottomans began to build up their navy. Fearful of the mounting Ottoman threat, the Hungarian king and later Holy Roman Emperor Sigismund rallied Christian forces in Europe to attack the Ottomans at Nicopolis in 1396.

The Europeans were resoundingly defeated by the Ottoman troops, who were personally led on the battlefield by Bayezid who then conquered virtually all of the Balkans, the Turkoman areas of Karaman, Anatolia, and the eastern Mediterranean. Because of his military prowess, Ottoman troops called Bayezid the “thunderbolt” (yildirim).

However, Bayezid’s love of luxury and increasing arrogance alienated many of his subjects and offended many Timurlane, whose mounting power posed a serious threat to Bayezid’s conquests. In 1402 Ottoman and Mongol forces met on the battlefield at Ankara, where Bayezid was captured.

Brought before Timurlane, Bayezid was initially treated with respect, but after a failed attempt to escape, he was placed in an iron cage; he died several months later. Timurlane went on to conquer the rest of Anatolia but divided his newly gained territories among four of Bayezid’s sons. Although they pledged loyalty to Timurlane, upon his death three years later, they promptly resumed the Ottoman quest for empire.

Bayezid held by Timurlane
Bayezid held by Timurlane