The Mongol’s Unfair Game

From the years 1245-1246, the Mongol Khan Güyük and Pope Innocent IV had continually sent letters to each other discussing important matters in regards to the expanding Mongol Empire. Knowing that the Mongols sought out to conquer Eastern Europe, it is expected that the letters had many high demands. In one of the letters, written around November 1246, the Khan demanded that Pope Innocent IV, along with European rulers, to pledge allegiance at his court. He emphasized his superior position as Khan of the Mongols, using God’s name as an appeal for loyalty and justification.

The Mongol Khan’s threatening letter was not at all merciful to the Europeans. It was an unfair game, either the Europeans give up their names or they give up their lives. The Mongols are known for their brutal ways, destroying cities and villages until nothing stands. Because of their reputation, many people feared the Mongols, thus raising the white flag before any major damage.

Why talk about the Mongols? Considering that their empire ended hundreds of years ago, what can our present gain from their history? Well it turns out that history is a great way to understand our present and make predictions for our future. Referencing back to significant events in history is useful for analysis because history tends to repeat itself and shows many similar patterns.

A recent game similar to that of the Mongols is the Ukraine conflict. When Russia annexed Crimea from the Ukraine in March of 2014, many other conflicts have arisen since then. Most recent is Russia cut coal supplies to the Ukraine, making the city Kiev on its last leg. It is estimated that Kiev only has a limited coal supply to last them for one month. Although the city can salvage the remains, Kiev is the capital and largest city in Ukraine and requires coal to sustain their power needs.

Why did Russia decide to punish the Ukraine? Didn’t they suffer enough? Well, the reason for cutting the coal supply was because the Ukraine refused to help rebuild power lines the Crimea. Now, they have to face the dilemma of finding other suppliers for coal before they run out.

The conflict between the Ukraine and Russia is similar to that of the Mongols and the Eastern Europeans because it is the act of a larger power threatening another for selfish needs. The Mongols was expanding their empire, asked Eastern Europe for cooperation before any major punishment. Russia had already annexed Crimea from the Ukraine, asked for cooperation but was answered with refusal, and is now inflicting punishment. Two completely different time frames but all in all similar concept.

To an average Minnesotan, current events around the globe should matter because it is a part of our history, and proves the advancement of society. It is no surprise that many people, including average Minnesotans, are watching the news, reading newspapers or news stories on their devices. The spread of significant issues, like that of the Ukraine conflict, proves technological and communication advancements. We live in a society that relies on widespread communication to find information and to make our own judgments, making people more interactive and open minded. Information is right at our fingertips and is a major part of society, even to a society that is far too cold in the winter.

-Annie Nguyen

Sources:

Primary source: http://www.asnad.org/en/document/249/

Primary source translation: https://ballandalus.wordpress.com/2015/06/01/mongol-papal-encounter-letter-exchange-between-pope-innocent-iv-and-guyuk-khan-in-1245-1246/

Contemporary source: http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/11/27/us-ukraine-crisis-coal-idUSKBN0TG0QH20151127#Ltdgp57YqsbDA443.97

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