- Dec 2015
At least in this dimension, it seems like Mongolians pretty much shaped modern history as we know it; it seems that Chinese and Muslims did not quite recover from Mongolian invasions, at least culturally.Mongol invasions probably helped Europe more than most other areas because of a few things- reduced competition from rivals with central Asian and Chinese empires overthrown and interludes of anarchy in the following centuries, the spread of knowledge from the East to the West (mostly to due with trade potential) while China suffered immensely for awhile it also rebounded and the Mongol attempts at conquest of Japan and Vietnam strengthened those in feeling of national unity plus China had faced periodic invasions from the steppes for centuries- Mongols simply were more successful than most but China would most likely have suffered internal wars even if no Mongols had invaded. The Mongol domination of Russia but the use of Moscow to collect the tributes of other Rus kingdoms also set the stage for the rise of Russia and the expansion of European systems into central Asia even before British managed to take control of India.
Mongols were probably the worst for Islamic world as they wiped out several centuries-old centers of learning and convinced many that they were punishment for transgressions and led to renewed repression and calcification of Islamic practices and less tolerance overall which still echoes to the present time.
Arguably, the Song Dynasty was the most liberal and progressive time of Dynastic China; unfortunately, it was marred by a militarily unfriendly bureaucracy and system in a time of conquests and empires.
The Ming Dynasty started as a militarily competent empire; its military might and efficiency waned during its later years and fell to the Manchu regime.
Arguably, Later Ming Dynasty also witnessed emergence of relatively advanced ideas; they were still Confucian in root.
Li Zhi, (ironically, his name puns with reason in Chinese), a late Ming Chinese philosopher, was known to be quite close to European Enlightenment in thoughts.
Why the thoughts of Li Zhi did not take root in China?
Being nicknamed "the Dynasty of Wild Boar Hide", which is the nickname of Nurhaci, the founder of the Manchu Dynasty, Qing Dynasty was known for technological and relative cultural stagnation;
China did not have its own "Humanitarian Revolution" nor "Enlightenment".