How did the Yuan military fight?

Nov 2014
421
ph
Were there any objective historical accounts as to how the Yuan army fought? Why were the Southern Song able to deal with the Jin army, while they unable to deal with the Yuan army, and why were the Europeans able to get a handle on the Mongols after Mohi while the Chinese were unable to adjust? Were Chinese fortifications weaker than European fortifications, since European stone castles were impregnable to Mongol siege engines while the Chinese forts like Xianyang fell easily with counterweight trebuches?
 
Sep 2014
1,222
Queens, NYC
If my memory of dates is correct, the Mongols and the Song started fighting one another in 1234. The final victory of the Mongol/Yuan was 1279. A 45-year fight sounds as if the Song, for at least a long while, could "handle" the Mongols. (Yes, I know Kubilai and a relative were distracted for a while in a civil war).

The Europeans were eventually successful in beating the Golden Horde because the latter was at the farthest end of the Mongol-ruled regions, with access to smaller numbers and probably less well-developed siege resources.
 

Dreamhunter

Ad Honorem
Jun 2012
7,505
Malaysia
^
But the Golden Horde almost overwhelmed Ottoman empire during Bayazid's time. While the Europeans had trouble coping with the Ottomans.
 
Aug 2016
977
US&A
^
But the Golden Horde almost overwhelmed Ottoman empire during Bayazid's time. While the Europeans had trouble coping with the Ottomans.
Maybe it's just a modern difference but I hear a lot more about how powerful and monstrous the Mongols were. The Ottomans? Well, in terms of commonly known history among westerners, they only really come into prominence in World War 1. Not that they weren't a major power in the middle ages, but it seems like the Mongols were always taken more seriously for whatever reason.
 
Sep 2016
611
天下
Maybe it's just a modern difference but I hear a lot more about how powerful and monstrous the Mongols were. The Ottomans? Well, in terms of commonly known history among westerners, they only really come into prominence in World War 1. Not that they weren't a major power in the middle ages, but it seems like the Mongols were always taken more seriously for whatever reason.
Ottomans coming into prominence with the Great War? What? What about Warna, Constantinople, Vienna? Mongols were significant only for a short period in 13th century.
 

Dreamhunter

Ad Honorem
Jun 2012
7,505
Malaysia
Maybe it's just a modern difference but I hear a lot more about how powerful and monstrous the Mongols were. The Ottomans? Well, in terms of commonly known history among westerners, they only really come into prominence in World War 1. Not that they weren't a major power in the middle ages, but it seems like the Mongols were always taken more seriously for whatever reason.
Cud be becos they left behind a bloddier trail of wanton, violent destruction.
 

Bart Dale

Ad Honorem
Dec 2009
7,095
Were there any objective historical accounts as to how the Yuan army fought? Why were the Southern Song able to deal with the Jin army, while they unable to deal with the Yuan army, and why were the Europeans able to get a handle on the Mongols after Mohi while the Chinese were unable to adjust? Were Chinese fortifications weaker than European fortifications, since European stone castles were impregnable to Mongol siege engines while the Chinese forts like Xianyang fell easily with counterweight trebuches?
When the Mongols attacked Europe, that was very far away, and to improve mobility, I suspect Mongols may have left their heavier siege equipment behind. China was a lot closer to Mongolia.

But the Mongols did have trouble with fortifications. Much of their success against well fortified cities and forts came as a result of either treachery, as in the case Baghdad, or because people surrendered the forts or cities voluntarily as part of Mongol propoganda. When the Mongols did eventually conquer the Song, their army contained a lot of Chinese, who no doubt provided the expertise in capturing fortified places.

However, the Chinese may also had less experience at the time with fortifications. For most of its history it was a unified country, and its enemies, like the Mongols, were not really into building fortifications. So they didn't get involved in extensive sieges like people farther west, where you had a lot more political entities that were more or less at equal levels of technology, and a lot more fortifications. So while the Chinese had the basic technology for sieges against fortifications, they just had as a rule less practice in engaging in sieges and capturing fortifications. So it is not surprising if their siege equipment, as in the case of the counterweight trebuchets, was less advance. Their fortification at the time seems less sopnisticated too, I don't see the concentric layers of defense you find in European or Japanese castles.

In addition, you hear a lot of accounts of a city falling in China because someone opened the gates. China has a history where the Chinese often helped some foreigners take over because they sometimes thought that foreign rulers would be preferable, for example in the case of the Manchu, who had a lot of help from Chinese in conquering China. That kind of history didn't exist in Europe.
 

Bart Dale

Ad Honorem
Dec 2009
7,095
^
But the Golden Horde almost overwhelmed Ottoman empire during Bayazid's time. While the Europeans had trouble coping with the Ottomans.
I thought the Golden Horde were the descendents of Mongol troops based largely in Eastern Europe, not the Mongols troops that came straight from Mongolia. The Golden Horde itself, when it tried to invade Hungary after the first Mongol invasion got soundly beaten.

Timur who beat the Bayazid was not a member of the Golden Horde. Keep in mind that shortly after Timur's time, you see the rise of gunpowder weapons which changed the nature of warfare. Timur was said to be the last of the great nomadic conquerors. Much of the Ottoman empire later success was due to its early and successful adoption of gunpowder weapons, its success against Europe was not as fighting as nomads,
 
May 2009
1,346
Were there any objective historical accounts as to how the Yuan army fought? Why were the Southern Song able to deal with the Jin army, while they unable to deal with the Yuan army, and why were the Europeans able to get a handle on the Mongols after Mohi while the Chinese were unable to adjust? Were Chinese fortifications weaker than European fortifications, since European stone castles were impregnable to Mongol siege engines while the Chinese forts like Xianyang fell easily with counterweight trebuches?
It should be pointed out that it wasnt just any ordinary trebuchet that broke Xiangyang. Khubilai brought in Muslim engineers from the Ilkhanate and they created a giant "super trebuchet" that was finally able to get the job done. The Sung also had their own internal problems and court intrigues to deal with. Those can doom a nation as easily as an invading army can.

The Mongols always had their own separate armies apart from the existing armies of conquered nations. The conquered armies used their own native tactics (under their own native commanders) and the Mongols used their tactics. During the first invasion of Japan, for example, we see the Mongols using many of their standard tricks like using prisoners of a fallen town as cannon fodder for storming the next town.