How do you defend against the Mongols?

Nov 2018
77
Russian Federation
nomad composite bow much stronger than medieval english longbow. special family recipes.

Chambers states that the pull varied from 100 to 160 pounds. This seeming discrepancy certainly reflects the fact that draw weight varied with the strength of the user, and with what use the bow had been made for. As could be expected, there was a considerable difference in shooting range. Whereas the English longbow could shoot at distances up to 250 yards or around 228 meters, the Mongol counterpart can hit its target at 350 yards or 320 meters and, if the archer is well trained for the task, even beyond that.
...
Lhagvasuren refers to an ancient inscription on a stone found in the basin of the river Kharkiraa, a left tributary of Urlengui river which flows into the trans-Bajkal river Erdene. The text of the inscription, supposedly dated from 1226, may be interpreted as follows: "While Chinggis Khan was holding an assembly of Mongolian dignitaries, after his conquest of Sartaul (East Turkestan), Esungge shot a target at 335 alds" (536m). Lhagvasuren draws the conclusion in his article that such feats were rather common for Mongolian archers during the 1200's, and writes: "This case illustrates the strength, accuracy and sharpness, physical prowess of the Mongolians who lived more than 700 years ago."
as i said not necessary aim into chest. or most armoured enemy. enough to destroy weaker half of the army, take out the rest after.
 
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Nov 2018
98
Idaho
Of course for the time of the Mongol invasion, full plate armor didn't exist. It's mostly mail/scale/lamellar/gambesons.
You can blame the English more than the mongolphiles for this myth of bows going through armor. IRL it took repeated blows or really massive levers (polearms) to get through that stuff. Of course mail/jazeraint/etc. are not nearly as tough as full plate, but even early medieval armor had partial plate for some heavy cavalry and infantry.

While knights in armor were not invincible (they still took the impact of weapons and had some targetable weak points) against a random blow without mass behind it (as arrows usually are) they stood a good chance of tanking almost any human powered weapon.
 
Oct 2013
12,488
Europix
... The military analysis is good from the Hungarian side, lacking from the Mongol side, but the historical analysis is unfortunately heavily dated. ...

Very honestly: I mentioned Bànlaky Jozsef not as a reliable/unreliable source. I mentioned it in a specific context: BeginnerHistorian lecturing on knowledge, basing on Wiki and "wish to read" Amazon proposed lists. I was simply curious to see his answer. There would have been two answers possible "I dunno, didn't red it" or one like Your answer . There was none. You're right, rather childish from my part, but that's me, sometimes I can't help it.

I agree with Your analysis. For myself, it was an interesting read not from Mongol POV (and You already explained why) but from Hungarian POV. There aren't masses of works on Hungarian military history.

... Wiki is a very bad resource for Mongol campaigns, due to poor sourcing and the ease of distorting what sources actually say. Plus the abundance of nationalistic secondary sources that can be used to push an agenda, and abundance of people who want to push an agenda doesn't help. For whatever reason the Mongols seem to attract a bizarre amount of misinformation, as evidenced by this thread where most of it is just flat out wrong, unsubstantiated, or silly. ...
Agree again.

I believe that one of the reasons it's history.

Mongol invasion was the last invasion of Europe and it had a huge impact, that is resented even today.

On the historical trauma that was perpetuated in the collective imaginary the rise of the nationalism added the "we sacrificed ourselves to defend Christendom and European civilization", plus the East-West opposition pushed by Communist regimes, that added "we're lagging back because our sacrifices, while Westerners could stay cozy and develop".

These "mantras" are present even in good historical books, written by real historians. Coupled with the lack of primary resources, with the lack of a holistic approach (and if there's a subject that needs a holistic approach, it's certainly the Mongols!), gives You all the bizarreries You mentioned. Sometimes, even without an agenda.

... hborrgg's post on military manual excerpts and Tokugawa Ieyasu's post on Japanese fortifications. ...
And no mention, not a word, not even a bad one on my post on Russian fortifications ?!? I'm deeply hurt! Joking, of course.

Seriously now: I thank You for the time You took in replying, and I thank You a lot for the reading suggestions. I appreciate it. A lot!
 
Oct 2013
12,488
Europix
There is pretty serious problem academically speaking. "Could not take the citadel" does not necessarily mean the Mongols tried to hurl their rock throwing engines at it but failed. It does not necessarily mean they tried to storm the citadel but failed. It does not necessarily mean the Mongols lost droves of men to the crossbowmen on the defenders. It's at most what could have happened, but it's dishonest to describe the battle in such detail when the sole sentence it relies upon is that the Mongols 'could not take the citadel'.

Likewise if I find a passage which merely said that the Mongols 'took the citadel', it does not mean I get to invent my own battle story. The source over the subject is a 5 word phrase with no detail whatsoever. It's not as if we're making a movie in which we could take artistic license. We're talking history here.
Yes but no.

You are right, of course.


But no, half of the time we aren't talking history here. The theme is "how You defend ... " and a lot of answers/propositions are the "I'd .... ", that's a speculative exercise.

In this case (as in a couple of previous ones) I just pointed that it happened in RL, that isn't just a speculation.
 
Oct 2013
12,488
Europix
Well you did have those Turks at the gates of Vienna....
IDK. My impression is that Ottomans were/are perceived more as a "classical/normal empire" (You know, French at the Gates of Moscow, Germans at the gates of Paris, aso), while the Mongols were the last "savage blood thirsty migrants" (You know, like Huns and other Magyars).

I'm not talking about history or reality, but about perceptions.
 
Apr 2018
236
USA
I think hunnictraveler has already contradicted his own claims. Why would the mongols or any of the horse archers that succeeded them such as the Manchu, Tatars, Bashkirs, Mughals, Safavids, ottomans, etc. have ever bothered to close with their enemy or use lances or armor at all if they had a way to defeat opponents from 200-500 meters away? Why would they need to conduct feigned retreats if they could just mow down incoming cavalry like machinegunners as they got near?

The simple answer of course is that no, they couldn't defeat enemy with far shooting alone, and it was likely only done for harrassment for the most part.
 
Nov 2018
98
Idaho
The simple answer of course is that no, they couldn't defeat enemy with far shooting alone, and it was likely only done for harrassment for the most part.
From what I have read the Mongols had pretty substantial heavy cavalry, too, cataphracted like the princes of Rus or the Sarmatians, and supposedly this is how the Great Khan himself was equipped. They would harass and break up enemies with their light horsemen and then go in with sabers and lances once the enemy formations were broken up and disordered.
 
Aug 2018
56
Anatolia
So there is an account of a group of Muslims' facing a Mongol horseman, narrated on an Arab source. They just stop on their tracks and wait for the Mongol to execute them on the spot. In surprise, an outsider protests and asks them to grab their arms and just kill him, they answer "We can do nothing, he is a Mongol".
So he pulls his sword out and kills the Mongol to their surprise.
It's narrated that during the massacres of the East sometimes some Mongol woman would just enter into a house, order the family not to move and wait for her and then bring her sword, execute them.
Can we say that nothing less than Theodosius's walls could stop them? I would love to know if they failed at any siege, not talking about breaking the siege to bring aid to other troops.
 
Apr 2018
236
USA
You can blame the English more than the mongolphiles for this myth of bows going through armor. IRL it took repeated blows or really massive levers (polearms) to get through that stuff. Of course mail/jazeraint/etc. are not nearly as tough as full plate, but even early medieval armor had partial plate for some heavy cavalry and infantry.

While knights in armor were not invincible (they still took the impact of weapons and had some targetable weak points) against a random blow without mass behind it (as arrows usually are) they stood a good chance of tanking almost any human powered weapon.
I could definitely speak at length about the ways that the English longbow was overrated. So even if eastern composite bows were 20-40% more efficient than the longbow, I'd say that the bar is set pretty low.

For instance, even during the reign of Elizabeth there were archers in england capable of shooting at very impressive distances for a self-bow, but this was only with very delicate, expensive bows and very expensive arrows, not the kind of weapons that were considered suitable for military campaigns. From Barnabe Rich in 1599:

". . . for although there be many that in their gaming bowes and there arrowes, fitted to their length, and neately feathered, will shoote sixteene or eighteene score, yet when they shall be brought to their liverie bowes, which are rather made to indure weather, then for free shooting, their arrowes likewise big timbered, their fethers ruffled, whereby they will gather winde, and ordinarily made of such length, that very few will draw them to the heads by two three inches, these things considered, if tenne amongst a hundred do shoote above tenne score, all the rest will shoote short of nine."

There are also a lot of problems with trying to assume really high draw weights. In the past decade or so even a lot of the more optimistic historians have been walking back some of their estimates for the Mary Rose bows, suggesting an average closer to 100-120 lbs. And again even if an archer can draw a really strong bow once, having to draw it again and again gets tiring fast. Especially on long campaigns where archers have aready been worn out from marching, sleeping out in the cold on hard ground, and don't aways have the opportunity to eat good, hearty meals each day, it apperently wasn't uncommon for many archers to be unable to draw their bows more than half way. Getting archers to draw and aim properly with each shot was especially problematic during pitched battles where there was a lot of confusion and when the enemy was often shooting back at them with actual guns and cannons.
 

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