What would Western Europe look like if the Mongol Empire never existed?

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Dec 2015
219
NYC
#1
Western Europe as we know it was the primary force behind all the political, economical, technological, scientific and even cultural advancements in the modern world. Modern day civilization was essentially birthed in Western Europe and it was Western European imperialism that changed the world completely. However, looking back in history, the West wasn't all that powerful as it was back in the late 1400s (when Western Europeans began colonizing the Americas) to now. Before all of this, the centers of civilization were: China, India, the Islamic world and the Byzantine Empire. These were the places where scientific, economic and technological progress were all happening (Islamic Golden Ages, Song Dynasty to name a few) while Western Europe was stuck in the dark ages basically in major stagnation. But then the Mongol invasion came and caused a long period of stagnation within these areas. China was ravaged and eventually ruled by Mongols (the Ming being the last Han-led dynasty). The Mongol invasions paved the way for Mughals (a Mongol ethnicity) who, while rich, made no progress whatsoever to science or technology and mostly adhered to Islamic learning. The Mongol invasion also planted the seeds for the Ottoman Empire to spread throughout the Middle East, North Africa and Southeastern Europe and further stagnated technological or scientific progress. It was then that such progress was transferred to Western Europe via Italy (Italian Renaissance) as well as some contributions made by Islamic Spain. It was then when Western European countries (in particular Britain, France, Spain, Portugal and Netherlands) began colonizing parts of the world, originally to seek alternative routes to India and China after the Ottomans blocked the more traditional land routes, but later evolved into imperialism when Western European powers gains so much wealth from plundering the Americas and in later centuries, Africa and Southeast Asia. It was this wealth along with Western European powers competing with each other for power that caused the advancement of learning as well as the advancement of science and technology to rise exponentially in the past 400-500 years, which eventually led to the modern world in the direction of Western Europe (America being an extension of Western Europe).

But ultimately, it was the Mongol Empire that caused such major shift, from the traditional hotspots of advanced civilizations (Asia, North Africa and the Mediterranean) to the less advanced, but now most powerful and most influential Western Europe. If the Mongol Empire never existed (assuming Genghis Khan and later relatives never existed), what would Western Europe look like? Would it still be in major stagnation as it was before the Renaissance? Which civilization would eventually led the 'modern world' (as in, something akin to today's modern world, although different but similar in many ways)?
 
Sep 2016
1,141
Georgia
#2
Ricster4455 Western Europe wasn't in the Dark Ages at that time. Pretty much no serious historian supports ,, Dark Ages '' myth. Only first few of centuries after the fall of Roman Empire can be somewhat described like that.

Historians will also point out 12th century Renaissance and Carolingian Renaissance.

Mongols pillaged and had control over Russia for centuries, but Russia still became one of the most powerful countries in the world. Russia was invaded and subdued. However, it still became a powerhouse.

Venetian Republic, Florence, Genoa and etc. didn't build their wealth on plundering the Americas. Cities of Hanseatic League also didn't build their wealth on plundering America. Hanseatic League existed during the time of Mongols, by the way.

European powers competed between themselves before the discovery of America and it's colonization. France was one of the most prosperous countries in Europe by the end of 15th century and participated in a series of wars in Italy. French exploration of America only begun in 16th century and it was quite limited for a very long time. France became dominant thanks to it's big population of 20 million people and fertile land. Also thanks to policies of Richelieu and Colbert.

France lost it's American colonies in Seven Years War and Haiti was lost by the end of 18th century. However, France still was able to crush all of Europe during Napoleon's reign. French would invade Algeria only in 1830 and other countries in the second half of 19th century.

Netherlands weren't even independent in the beginning of 16th century. They were under control of Habsburgs. However, they still had plenty of wealth. Dutch Republic was created and finally gained independence only in 17th century, after fighting for decades against Spanish.

I also need to mention, that Spain still suffered several bankruptcies in 16th century despite having plenty of colonies. Spain still had financial crises, despite colonies. In 17th century Spain will regress even more and lose it's status of ,, Great Power '' despite possessing so many colonies.

I fail to see why did you mention Portugal ? It never became the dominant power of Europe and even was under the rule of Spanish Habsburgs in 1580 - 1640.

What colonies did Norway have ? It didn't have colonies in America or Africa. However, now it is one of the wealthiest countries in the world and with a high standard of living. It also was under the rule of Denmark for centuries.

What great colonies did Sweden have ? New Sweden was lost to the Dutch by 1655 and Swedish Gold Coast to Denmark in 1663. Not to mention, that Sweden lost it's Baltic Provinces in 1721 and became third-rate power. However, modern Sweden is one of the best countries to live in. Same goes for Finland.

Germany was decentralized and not unified for centuries. Brandenburg had some colonies, but all of them were lost by the middle of 18th century. Prussia and other German states still became prosper and were able to crush other European powers in 19th century, despite not having Colonies. Only when Germany was finally unified and German Empire created ( which is the late 19th century) , it started to colonize Africa.

Not to mention, that Germany was really devastated by Thirty Years War. It was catastrophic.

Byzantine Empire was crushed in 13th century and Crusaders took Constantinople in 1204. Byzantine Empire then got divided into several states for a century.

The seeds for Ottoman Empire got planted by Seljuks. Turk-Seljuks invaded Middle East in 11th century and crushed Byzantine forces. Then Sultanate of Rum was created in Minor Asia.

Many achievements of Islamic Golden Age were also based on the works of Ancient Greek scholars.

When was Japan colonized by Europeans or destroyed by Mongols ? Something like that never happened to Japan and it had stability for 250 years. However, Japan was a feudal backwater in the beginning of 19th century and started to develop quickly only after 1868 Meiji Revolution.

I also fail to see how the development of Parliamentarism in England, which started in 12th century is somehow ,, major stagnation and Dark Ages ''.
 
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Larrey

Ad Honorem
Sep 2011
5,572
#4
The same would be the answer.

The Mongols initially engendered vague European hopes of hooking up with a powerful Christian empire to the east, which obviously came to nothing, and then a brief period of scare over the possible threat of a Mongol invasion, which then for the most part failed to actually materialize. None of it really impacted the internal logic of society and economics if High Middle Age Europe.

The Ottomans started their rise in the relative mess in Anatolia the Mongols had left. Had it not the Seljuks would likely have continued as dominant. It's not obvious the difference would have been particularly great. The Ottoman expansion was gradual and took centuries.

The Medieval world wasn't yet globally interconnected in the way the European overseas expansion of global trade caused in the 16th c. The Mongols neither helped nor hindered that development, and the causes behind the expansion were present in Europe anyway. Most of which having to do with a confluence economic motives and developments in navigational technology, neither of which were things that the Mongols had any great habit of or contributed to.
 
Nov 2010
7,648
Cornwall
#6
The Mongol invasion also planted the seeds for the Ottoman Empire to spread throughout the Middle East, North Africa and Southeastern Europe and further stagnated technological or scientific progress. It was then that such progress was transferred to Western Europe via Italy (Italian Renaissance) as well as some contributions made by Islamic Spain.
eh what?

Contributions to what exactly? And when exactly?

I think you are trying to roll far too much history into 1 post
 
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Larrey

Ad Honorem
Sep 2011
5,572
#8
Would the Black Death have ever made it to Europe without the Mongols? That was responsible for quite a lot of societal upheaval.
Why wouldn't it make it to Europe? It followed the trade routes, not the Mongols, and turned up in Europe a century after them.
 
Dec 2015
219
NYC
#9
Ricster4455
Western Europe wasn't in the Dark Ages at that time. Pretty much no serious historian supports ,, Dark Ages '' myth. Only first few of centuries after the fall of Roman Empire can be somewhat described like that.
Yes it was. It was in a major period of economic, social and political stagnation where no progress was made and kingdoms mostly waging war on each other in the name of religion.

Ricster4455
Historians will also point out 12th century Renaissance and Carolingian Renaissance.
Which occurred centuries after the Mongol invasions and marked the end of the Western European dark ages.

Ricster4455
Mongols pillaged and had control over Russia for centuries, but Russia still became one of the most powerful countries in the world. Russia was invaded and subdued. However, it still became a powerhouse.
Incorrect. Russia during that time was not the most powerful countries. In fact, "Russia" didn't even exist in those times. It was mainly a federation of Slavic and Finnic people situating in an area coresponding to what is now Ukraine, Belarus, Western Russia and parts of the Baltic sea. You are confusing modern Russia with Russia pre-Mongol invasions.

Ricster4455
Venetian Republic, Florence, Genoa and etc. didn't build their wealth on plundering the Americas. Cities of Hanseatic League also didn't build their wealth on plundering America. Hanseatic League existed during the time of Mongols, by the way.
Of course, they didn't build their wealth on plundering the Americas, as these city states existed much earlier than the Western European states and build their wealth on trading with the East. But these Italian city states did plundering of their own (the Venetians plundered and looted Constantinople as well as other Italian city-states engaging in Crusade missions).
Nevertheless, it was Western European powers in the late 1400s to the 1900s when they began colonizing the Americas and later on Africa and Southeast Asia where they gains an immense fortune compared to that of any other empire or city-state, which allowed them to advance economically, politically, scientifically and technologically and surpass the rest of the world.
 
Dec 2015
219
NYC
#10
Ricster4455
European powers competed between themselves before the discovery of America and it's colonization. France was one of the most prosperous countries in Europe by the end of 15th century and participated in a series of wars in Italy. French exploration of America only begun in 16th century and it was quite limited for a very long time. France became dominant thanks to it's big population of 20 million people and fertile land. Also thanks to policies of Richelieu and Colbert.
Yes and it was this competition between Western European powers which allowed them to advance their weaponry and expand their influence (compared to the Islamic world, India and China during those times where they had no competition. China remained the dominant power in East Asia, India in South Asia and the most of the Islamic world which was under the Ottoman empire with the exception of a few places didn't have to worry about competing forces). France was still a major colonizing power in the Americas alongside the English, Spanish, Portuguese and Dutch, and still profited from the Americas.

Ricster4455
France lost it's American colonies in Seven Years War and Haiti was lost by the end of 18th century. However, France still was able to crush all of Europe during Napoleon's reign. French would invade Algeria only in 1830 and other countries in the second half of 19th century.
Actually, during the Napoleonic Wars, France did win a couple battles, but ultimately lost when they attempted to invade Russia. France still became a major world colonizer alongside Britain even when the French lost their American colonies.

Ricster4455
I also need to mention, that Spain still suffered several bankruptcies in 16th century despite having plenty of colonies. Spain still had financial crises, despite colonies. In 17th century Spain will regress even more and lose it's status of ,, Great Power '' despite possessing so many colonies.
Spain's downfall came from repeated wars and losses by the competing British and French powers. Plus, they didn't even have the means to keep control over such a vast territory from the start.

Ricster4455
I fail to see why did you mention Portugal ? It never became the dominant power of Europe and even was under the rule of Spanish Habsburgs in 1580 - 1640.
Yes, they were among the many colonial powers of Western Europe. They colonized Brazil and several areas in Africa.

Ricster4455
What colonies did Norway have ? It didn't have colonies in America or Africa. However, now it is one of the wealthiest countries in the world and with a high standard of living. It also was under the rule of Denmark for centuries.

What great colonies did Sweden have ? New Sweden was lost to the Dutch by 1655 and Swedish Gold Coast to Denmark in 1663. Not to mention, that Sweden lost it's Baltic Provinces in 1721 and became third-rate power. However, modern Sweden is one of the best countries to live in. Same goes for Finland.
We're talking about Western Europe here, that is, the areas which were once part of the Western Roman empire, that is: Britain, France, the Iberian countries, Italy, parts of Germany. Most of the major European colonizers and most of the scientific, technological, political and economic achievements came from areas around Western Europe, the most significant being Britain, who birthed the Industrial Revolution which led to where we are today.

Ricster4455
Germany was decentralized and not unified for centuries. Brandenburg had some colonies, but all of them were lost by the middle of 18th century. Prussia and other German states still became prosper and were able to crush other European powers in 19th century, despite not having Colonies. Only when Germany was finally unified and German Empire created ( which is the late 19th century) , it started to colonize Africa.
Germany was somewhat like Italy in that, while not unified as a country, were still the same ethnicity (Italian states were all still ethnically Italian, likewise, German states were still ethnically German). And while not unified as a country, the sates were still very wealthy and they made major contributions a lot to science, technology as well as economy and politics.

Ricster4455
Not to mention, that Germany was really devastated by Thirty Years War. It was catastrophic.
They were still wealthy following the industrial revolution.

Ricster4455
Byzantine Empire was crushed in 13th century and Crusaders took Constantinople in 1204. Byzantine Empire then got divided into several states for a century.

The seeds for Ottoman Empire got planted by Seljuks. Turk-Seljuks invaded Middle East in 11th century and crushed Byzantine forces. Then Sultanate of Rum was created in Minor Asia.
And the Ottoman Empire was the one who sealed the fate of the Byzantine Empire. The Seljuks migrated into Anatolia as a result of escaping from Mongol slaughtering. It was the Mongols who caused the migration of Turks into Anatolia, who would in turn rule the remains of the Byzantine empire and later seal all land routes to India and China, causing Western Europeans to venture towards the sea to get to China and India.

Ricster4455
Many achievements of Islamic Golden Age were also based on the works of Ancient Greek scholars.
Just like the works of Ancient Greek scholars were based on innovations made by the Ancient Egyptians and Ancient Near Eastern cultures. The Egyptians and pre-Islamic Middle Eastern civilizations laid the blueprint of knowledge for Ancient Greeks to learn from and innovate, the same in turn how Ancient Greek knowledge laid the blueprint of knowledge for Romans and later on, Islamic civilizations and Western Europeans (which paved the way for the Renaissance, then the scientific revolutions, then the Industrial Revolutions and the modern world)

Ricster4455
When was Japan colonized by Europeans or destroyed by Mongols ? Something like that never happened to Japan and it had stability for 250 years. However, Japan was a feudal backwater in the beginning of 19th century and started to develop quickly only after 1868 Meiji Revolution.
Where did I say "Japan was colonized by Europeans or destroyed by Mongols". What does Japanese have to do with my question, which is basically who would the major power of the world be if the Mongol empire never changed history. The Japanese were always a backwater. It was only during the 19th century where they were forced to adapt to Western European technology in order to defend themselves from Western European imperialism.

Ricster4455
I also fail to see how the development of Parliamentarism in England, which started in 12th century is somehow ,, major stagnation and Dark Ages ''.
Okay...where did I even mention "Parliamentarism in England". England was still in major stagnation with all those religious wars, no innovations made whatsoever in science or technology, invasions from Germanic tribes, black death, etc.
 
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