How do you defend against the Mongols?

Theodoric

Ad Honorem
Mar 2012
2,549
The fact that they were so effective against the mongols was more or less the reason that guns and cannons became popular in the first place.

The main downside is that early guns and cannon tended to be most effective when used from behind stone walls or stationary wagon forts, they were still relatively expensive, and you needed to put them in the hands of extremely well trained and disciplined troops if you didn't want them lighting themselves on fire. So they frequently still weren't enough to turn the tide against the mongols on their own.

Still very useful if you have them though.
Haha, I was making an attempt at humour. I realize they are more effective than other weapons. It was directed at the fact that even in spite of the Song Dynasty having massive walls and firearms to defend against the Mongols, they still got crushed thanks to the effectiveness of the Mongol siege weaponry.
 
Jul 2018
295
Hong Kong
Haha, I was making an attempt at humour. I realize they are more effective than other weapons. It was directed at the fact that even in spite of the Song Dynasty having massive walls and firearms to defend against the Mongols, they still got crushed thanks to the effectiveness of the Mongol siege weaponry.
Actually, the navy played the most important role in the Mongol conquest of Southern Song. It was also the most crucial factor that caused the fall of Xiangyang by the Yangtze River.
 

Willempie

Ad Honorem
Jul 2015
4,328
Netherlands
Mongol bows and specific tactics are definitely tough to get a clear picture for, especially since many Mongol battles started with the enemy at a heavy strategic disadvantage, making it difficult to examine 'even fights'. It seems very likely that Mongol tactics and equipment were comparable and based on Khitan/Jurchen tactics and equipment, though perhaps further evolved given their consistent success against the Jurchen. We know from Mongol sources that they had a number of different tactical formations they could switch between during combat, which was controlled by the commander using flags and signals.
I shortened your post a little ;)
From what I gather is that when you deal with a Mongol army you first get the horse archers and then the heavy cavalry and that unlike most other armies they act in waves and adapt depending on the reaction of the other army. If the opposing army keeps ts cohesion they just pick off soldiers with their bows (similar to Crassus vs the Parthians).
So basically you need two things for defense: defense against archers and against heavy cavalry.
This means that when the Mongols invade you need to have fortresses (which you either have or not) and that you need an army capable of attacking them. That army also needs to be able to defend against them in open battle. So for an European invasion (I don't know enough about China, Russia or India), I would get as many pavise crossbowmen and wagons (which you would need for supplies anyway), plus a lot of pikemen/spearmen. That should keep the defense covered. For offense you have the knights and light cavalry.
So with your army you should take up a strategic position, which threatens any siege and which is supplieable (by water preferably).
Obviously the problem is that there needs to be a strategic position, a couple of strategically fortresses which don't fold and a couple of rivers.

Plus that when the invasion is on its way I'd hire Du Guesclin to annoy the invading force
 

Willempie

Ad Honorem
Jul 2015
4,328
Netherlands
Actually, the navy played the most important role in the Mongol conquest of Southern Song. It was also the most crucial factor that caused the fall of Xiangyang by the Yangtze River.
That is one thing that I don't get about Chinese history. No conquest in Europe ever succeeded because of fleets in the rivers. Why did it in China?
 
Aug 2012
791
Washington State, USA.
Thee things. Castles and fortifications are great. Heavy cavalry is great if you use them at just the right time, but most of all you need to bring them in for close quarters combat. The Hungarians were there at Mohi. They had the main body of a Mongol army penned up against the river, and they started running when they seen Mongol horsemen were flaking them. They should have just keep fighting. They took terrible losses trying to get away, but they inflicted heavy casualties on the Mongols the short time they had them at sword point.
 
Aug 2014
3,886
India
  • SSDD

    SSDD

Keep 4 rank pikeman in front with big shields strapped to their left hand, the pike is 5 meter long requires handling by 2 hands so the shield is strapped to left land, they are on knee position, make pike formation, shield is big enough to cover pikeman's body and pikes are to defend against cavalry charge., then place 160 lb draw weight capable bow and archers behind them in 4 ranks, one rank will stand up fire while the others reloads on knee position, the flanks will be protected by pikemen too. On rear hield carriers, especialized shield bearers with long bladed sword to defeat back cavalry charges in case they are attacked from rear. A box formation, front, left, right protected by pikemen, archers firing arrows from middle, shield bearers protecting rear. Mongols will be defeated or any mounted archery based army.
 
Jul 2018
295
Hong Kong
Mongols will be defeated or any mounted archery based army.
"will be"....argh, your arrogance is beyond limitation. Have you forgotten the fact that you're just a military history learner, by what confidence you believe any army adopted your advice in tactical formation would surely defeat the Mongol army (or any mounted-archery based army as you said) ?

As I emphasized, what made the Mongol most dangerous was not simply because of their horse-archery tactics nor strong discipline, but their "adaptability" as a predator exerting his instinct of nature to hunt down a prey — the Mongol army never sticked on any "single tactic" or formation., especially under the command of some of the greatest Mongol military commanders like Subutai or Jebe.

For example, suppose I am the Mongol army commander in encounter with your anti-Mongol-army formation, I would consider deploying trebuchets (a kind of large-sized catapult) to bombard and wreck your troops' rank ; if I have any gunpowder weapon / units at disposal, I would utilize them to disrupt and cause much chaos among your ranks as possible. I would not sent my cavalry closing in until your army's defense was severely softened. Once your army suffer heavy casualties or plunge into disorder by my trebuchet / gunpowder units, my cavalry would launch the decisive attack by trapping your army from all sides. I guess your army don't have much chance to against this tactics unless you have large amount of cavalry as a mobile force to counter-disrupt my formation.

I am quite sure that Subutai would adopt similar tactics in encounter with "your tactical formation", he could easily "outwit" you when you're careless and have no backup plan. Or else, you think that you're smarter than those Mongols, to the extent that they "will be defeated" by any army following your tactical guide which was merely a comglomeration of various military knowledge and theories ? Yours are just "theories", but those Mongols' military strength and talents were "real things".
 
Aug 2014
3,886
India
  • SSDD

    SSDD

"will be"....argh, your arrogance is beyond limitation. Have you forgotten the fact that you're just a military history learner, by what confidence you believe any army adopted your advice in tactical formation would surely defeat the Mongol army (or any mounted-archery based army as you said) ?

As I emphasized, what made the Mongol most dangerous was not simply because of their horse-archery tactics nor strong discipline, but their "adaptability" as a predator exerting his instinct of nature to hunt down a prey — the Mongol army never sticked on any "single tactic" or formation., especially under the command of some of the greatest Mongol military commanders like Subutai or Jebe.

For example, suppose I am the Mongol army commander in encounter with your anti-Mongol-army formation, I would consider deploying trebuchets (a kind of large-sized catapult) to bombard and wreck your troops' rank ; if I have any gunpowder weapon / units at disposal, I would utilize them to disrupt and cause much chaos among your ranks as possible. I would not sent my cavalry closing in until your army's defense was severely softened. Once your army suffer heavy casualties or plunge into disorder by my trebuchet / gunpowder units, my cavalry would launch the decisive attack by trapping your army from all sides. I guess your army don't have much chance to against this tactics unless you have large amount of cavalry as a mobile force to counter-disrupt my formation.

I am quite sure that Subutai would adopt similar tactics in encounter with "your tactical formation", he could easily "outwit" you when you're careless and have no backup plan. Or else, you think that you're smarter than those Mongols, to the extent that they "will be defeated" by any army following your tactical guide which was merely a comglomeration of various military knowledge and theories ? Yours are just "theories", but those Mongols' military strength and talents were "real things".
What is arrogance here? That formation may advance or retreat. Can a catapult be easily moved on rough terrain? Imagine a Phalanx formation, but this Phalanx formation cant be flanked as flanks are protected, this phalanx formation also has big shields and archers in middle, they can reply against arrow fires from out side. Though I admit I did not keep catapult in consideration but neither I mentioned about my cavalry. If my cavalry can fire arrows then it is best, if not they will be riding armoured horses, body armour, a shield strapped on their left hand and javelins, they can easily attack or disrupt catapult crews.

Plus I can keep my own catapults in midst of archers while keeping rest of formation as before. In that case my formation essentially will be a big moving fortress.
 
Jul 2018
295
Hong Kong
Theoretically, it works. But building up such a large professional army comprising wide variety of units fitting up with complicated formations must be no easy task in the late Medieval Era, not even the great power like the 13th century Kingdom of Hungary could accomplish this without much obstacles. First of all, where does the huge sum of money come from ? Secondly, how to equip, command and control such vast force in part of organization and leadership ?

Moreover, there’re no telecommunication in that era, how would you ensure the effective coordination and order among the army to make sure your original plans work anyway ?
 

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