chapter  1
Politics, memory and identity
Pages 26

In the thirteenth century, Chinggis Khaan and his immediate successors established the largest contiguous land empire ever. For accomplishing what Napoleon only dreamed of, Chinggis Khaan (more commonly known in the West as Genghis Khan) was rewarded in Europe with such titles as “The Scourge of God” and “World Conqueror.”1 The Mongolian armies were thought by some to be a punishment sent by God. The medieval Europeans were never quite sure how to react to the Mongols who were rumored to be some sort of fantastic monsters, but could perhaps prove an ally against the infidel Muslims during the Crusades. They defeated the best European military forces of the time, famously affected fish prices in England and Columbus was spurred on by tales of the great wealth of the Mongol rulers of China.2