Nomadic Empires (400 CE-1650 CE)

All for True, True for All:
The following is a listing of characteristics attributed to all nomadic peoples.

Political: The rulers of the nomads were khans. Khans ruled their people through loyalty to clans and allies. Powerful khans ruled indirectly through lesser khans whose jurisdiction was over their clans. Nomadic politics were all about knowing when to make alliances and when to break them.

Economic: The nomadic economy was a lesser one. The products they created were limited due to constant travel, but they traded with settled peoples on a small scale to solve immediate problems. Because of their mobility though central Asia, nomads also stimulated long-distance trade between settled peoples by guiding caravans.

Social: The people of nomadic tribes were divided into nobles and commoners. The nobles were charismatic leaders who won recognition and gained power to organize clans, tribes, and alliances. However, they did little real governing except during times of war, where they gained absolute power. Nobles passed their elite status to their children, but if they were seen as unfit, they could be sent back to the commoner class. Just as nobles could be sent back, commoners who showed courage and charisma could gain noble status.

Military: The power of the nomadic peoples rested with their cavalry. As children warriors began training to ride horses and shoot arrows, and their mobility on horses let them easily outmaneuver and overpower enemies. This maneuverability allowed them to utilize strategies unseen by settled societies and enabled them to conquer foreign territories easily.

Cultural: The nomadic societies relied on herding for sustenance of life, as the central Asian plains provided little land suitable for farming, but rather open pastures. They raised cattle, goats, and camels, but goats and horses were most prominent. They lived on the milk, meat, and hide of their animals and used almost every part for tools, fire, clothes, and dwellings. The original nomadic religion was based on shamanistic authority, individuals who communicated to the gods and nature spirits to invoke divine aid for their tribes.

The nomads of Central Asia had several small empires and kingdoms early on, but the first that falls into the 400-1650 CE timeslot is the Abbasid Empire.

Abbasid Empire

Although the Abbasid Empire was originally a Muslim and Arab empire, during the 700's Turkish nomads began living on the outskirts for trade benefits. Most prominent among them were the Saljuqs, who began to serve in the Abbasid army and eventually overshadowed the caliphs and assumed control over the empire while the caliphs became figureheads. In 1055, the Saljuq leader Tughril Beg was recognized by the Abbasid caliph as sultan (chieftain).

After taking hold of the Abbasid Empire, many Saljuq Turks migrated north to Byzantine-held Anatolia and broke Byzantine power there after a defeat in Eastern Anatolia and the capture of the Byzantine emperor. After the loss of Byzantine control, Turkish peoples could easily migrate into Anatolia and brought Islam from the Abbasids. They restricted the Christian church, while promoting Islam and giving converts better social and economic opportunities. A few centuries later, Anatolia was a prominently Turkish and Islamic land.

The Saljuqs were very adoptive of Abbasid qualities, ruling through the caliph, inheriting wealthy Abbasid cities such as Baghdad, using the Abbasid military, and even enhancing Islamic social and cultural traditions. The only real transition is a shift from Arabic and Persian domination to Turkish authority.

Sultanate of Delhi

Led by Mahmud of Ghazni, Turkish peoples began plundering Northern India in the early 11th century. Although they were not interested in ruling, by the 13th century their descendents claimed control over all of Northern India, centering their rule at Delhi. The Sultans of Delhi planned to extend rule to all of India but these dreams were never realized as outside forces such as the Mongols, other Turkish invaders, or Southern Indian resistance. What did the outside forces do? You kind of trail off...

The Mongols

The Mongol Empire ignited during the 1200s and 1300s, vastly spread across Asia and Europe. Deeply rooted to familial-based societies, a powerful, centralized government seemed very unlikely until an ambitious military leader named Chinggis Khan forged alliances between authoritative Mongol clans.

Exceptionally-skilled horseback warriors, the Mongols quickly assumed authority of the Asian steppes. The Mongol capital was installed at Karakorum (present-day Har Horim), which represented imperial authority. In 1211 CE, when Mongol forces invaded the Jurchen territory, they renamed the capital to Khanbalique (present-day Beijing) as the center for Mongol rule in China.

After Chinggis Khan’s death, his vast empire was divided into four regional territories among his heirs. China was given to the great khans, Chinggis’s son was handed the Chaghatai khanate in central Asia, Persia was distributed to the ilkhans, and the Golden Horde controlled Russia.

The most powerful and talented heir to a regional government was Khubilai Khan, Chinggis’s grandson. He promoted Buddhism, but actively supported Daoists, Christians and Muslims. He consolidated his rule in East Asia easily and swiftly. He dismantled the Confucian education system which corrupted Chinese bureaucracy, eventually leading to the empire’s downfall, along with the sheer size being difficult to maintain order. Also, in 1274 and 1281 he attempted two massive seaborne invasions of Japan, but both times he failed both times due to the kamikaze, or the "divine winds" that sunk around 4,500 ships.

Ottoman Empire

When Persia fell to Mongol rule, nomadic Turks began migrating to the Ilkhanate, following charismatic leaders on campaigns of conquest. A western Anatolian leader, Osman, declared independence from the Saljuq sultan in 1299 and attracted followers (subsequently known as Ottomans or Osmanlis). Ottoman military operations allowed expansion to the Balkan Peninsula. The Byzantine Empire was instrumental in Ottoman extension.
Sultan Mehmed II captured Constantinople in 1453, a monumental victory for the Ottomans. The Byzantine Empire fell to the Ottomans. The capital was renamed Istanbul, and soon became a thriving center of commerce and wealth for the authoritative Ottoman Empire.

The Empire of Tamerlane

In the late 1300s, the brutal Turkish conqueror Tamerlane came to power in central Asia. His rule influenced the Indian Mughal Empire, the Safavid Empire, and the Ottoman Empire. He claimed power by extending his authority through the Chaghatai khanate, and established an imperial capital at Samarkand. He attacked Persia, Afghanistan, Russia, and India.

His skill in military campaigning didn’t transfer to his renowned imperial administration. Therefore, he appointed regional governors to uphold bureaucratic structures, collect taxes, resolve internal and external issues, etc. Tamerlane’s sons and grandsons maintained control over previously-conquered regions until the early sixteenth century when the Mughal, Safavid, and Ottoman Empires became prominent.


edited by Caroline Courtney, everything was really good information wise and there were hardly any mistakes, I underlined the main titles to help split information up easier and just corrected a few sentences that needed rewording. Nice job!

Evaluators: Michael Bigham, Wright Goodwin, and Austin Denson. This was really great. I only added like three thoughts, and they are the ones that are underlined. Probably one of the best topics on here, congratulations!