chapter  11
39 Pages

Traders and adventurers

We noticed (p. 36) how the poverty and weakness of the twelfth-century Mongols was a byword among their descendants. One result of the conquests of Chinggis Khan was the emergence of a Mongol leadership whose purchasing power was considerably expanded and who, according to Carpini, owned great wealth in gold, silver, silk and precious stones.1 This new élite, frequently willing to pay inflated prices for commodities that were not available within the steppe economy, constituted an attractive market for merchants, mainly Uighurs and Muslims travelling even from distant regions of Western Asia.2 This is why traders within independent territories on occasions identified their own interests with a Mongol victory: Lahore fell in 1241, according to JÑzjÄnÇ, because merchants in the city, whom the Mongols had issued with permits to traffic beyond the Indus and the Hindu Kush, deliberately undermined the governor’s efforts to defend it against the besieging Mongol army.3