Why the Mongol Invasions of Europe so small?

Bart Dale

Ad Honorem
Dec 2009
7,095
Bart the quote in the last section of your post is messed up, I didn't get the latter half of your post. It's rectified below.



These are the sources I used to show Mongols were outnumbered:

Next Batu went to Poland and Hungary and having divided the army on the border of these two countries, he sent 10 thousands of warriors under his brother Ordu against Poland.." -Historia Tartarorum​
Yet although there was an enormous number of them, they say that in that battle (Mohi) the forces of the Hungarians were actually greater. But there is no race in the world that has such experience in warfare or that knows so well, especially on open ground, how to get the better of their enemy, whether by courage or skillful tactics. -History of the Bishops of Split​
At this point Batu, the elder of the two leaders of the Tatar host, ascended a hill to spy out carefully the disposition of the whole army. He returned to his followers and told them;We can be confident, comrades; for although there is a great host of this enemy, they have allowed themselves to take poor counsel, and will thus not be able to escape our hands. For I have seen them like sheep without a shepherd, enclosed within the narrowest of folds. -Master Roger's Epistle​
After crossing the river, Batu saw that the enemy was many, and wanted to quickly return to camp to plan further. Subotai refused, and said "You go back if you want, if I don't reach Xiu Nei river and Ma Cha city then I will not go back; -Yuan Shih​

^Which of them came from Juvaini? None?
I never said anything of them came from Juvaini. Can you show me where I did?

I cited Juvaini to show there was a lot of false claims about the Mongols having smaller forces even in contemporary sources, and to show you can't accept claims, even from contemporary sources, at face value. A claim of 400,000 for the Hungarians is total nonsense and demonstrates a lot of what is claimed about the number of Mongol opponents must be treated skeptically and is not reliable, even for contemporary sources.

It was not clear to me who you were quoting where, and so rather than waste time.puzzling out, I just want to show such statements need to be questioned.



The Hungarians, trusting their number, made fun of all this and—owing to the matters discussed above—had neither mind nor spirit for fighting…………… Nevertheless, a thousand warriors were deployed every night [to the bridge at Mohi] to guard the [rest of the Hungarian] army. -Historia Salonitanorum Atque Spalatinorum Pontificum by Thomas of Split​
That quote says nothing about whether the Mongols were more or less numerous, and so doesn't tell us if the Mongols were out numbered or not. The same be said for you other Christian sources, it was difficult to tell which quote came from where.

There is nothing in the quote to imply in the quote the Mongols were outnumbered. Do you have a better European quote?

Perhaps Modern writers read History of the Bishops of Split or Master Roger's Epistle which said the Mongols were outnumbered. I didn't say anything about Modern writers. None of the four sources I used were made by modern writers, at best translated by modern writers. Anyway, if even European sources say they had the numerical advantage when they have the incentive to do otherwise, it's hard to argue against that.
And what contemporary European says that? I don't see you providing it. The quote above doesn't. It talks about thousands guarding a bridge, nothing about the number of Mongols, so it tells us nothing.


Actually 5 tumens is more like 25,000-30,000 as heavenlykaghan convincingly argued.
We know for certain that s tumen is a unit of 10,000 because we have contemporary sources that state just that. While at times the tumen may have been less than 10,000, you haven't provided evidence that it is always significantly less than 10,000 as you claim, or even usually.

In Juvaini, Batu sent out 10,000 with his brother to spy on the Hungarians, which would imply that a tumen was 10,000. It also impiles that if Batu could spare 10,000 for just a scouting mission, his army was.considerably larger than that.

Another source claimed that the force sent to Poland was 10,000. ("Tartar Relation", Giovannia da Pian del Carpine pg 80) so whatever the tumen size was in other armies, it seems that Batu's tumens were 10,000, consistent with the known value of a tumen as 10,000.

More importantly Rashid certainly DID NOT say that the Mongol forces were 5 tumens nor did he say it numbered 40,000. This was what I thought too but it's wrong upon reading the original source. All Rashid said that the Mongol army took 5 different routes to Europe:
He did say the total was 40,000 in a different section. If you take the numbers of the troops in Rashdid Al-Din 1:198, 2:152, which combined were the number of Batu forces invading Bulgaria. The assumption is that he would have roughly the same numbers when he invaded Hungary, less a few losses.

As for the rest of your statement, you gave zero quotes and not even the titles of your sources:
1. You claim "one source said 10,000 were killed" <--- You need to give the quote and title of the source for that claim.
The source was "Journal of Medieval Military History Vol 8", Clifford J. Rogers, John France's,Zero Kelly DeVries, pg115, referring to a contemporary source Epternacher Notiz.


2. You claim "other sources said that most of the Hungarians were killed" <--- You need to give the quote and title of the source for that claim [I probably can guess what one of this is but you need to put in some amount of effort into your posts instead of using vagueness such as this]. Since you used the plural "sources" I expect more than one source. [/Quote]

Thomas of Spalato "Historia" which is a source you have. 0ne source is all that is required, for such a commonly known thing. And I am going to have to insist you provide a primary source, not from another poster, that shows the tumens were far less than 10,000 all the time. William of Rubrik specifically stated a tumen was 10,000, and he is a contemporary source living among the Mongols.


Not really, as I said a significant portion of the Mongol army was sent to Poland where they defeated Polish armies in the field and sacked some of their urban centers. By the time the Mongols defeated the Polish at the Battle of Legnica, it was too late for them to help the Mongols in Hungary at the battle of Mohi. And you got this "30,000" number from Rashid, but Rashid didn't make this claim at all.
The force sent to Poland was around 10,000 based on other sources I mentioned above. The scouting force that Juvaini mentioned was 10,000, and this implies that (a) the tumens in Batu's army was 10,000, and (b), the Mongol forces were far more than 10,000, perhaps 30,000 would be the minimum. You wouldn't send a scouting force the size of your whole army or even half. Batu and Subutai wouldn't have until smaller than Batu sent with his Brother, so if Batu sent 10,000 with his brother Sibiquan (Ehiban), both he and Subutai would have units of 10,000 each, giving a total of 30,000, with 10,000 still in Poland.

If you look back at my postings, I came up the number 30,000 before I had heard of Rashdid Al-Din.
 
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Feb 2011
6,379
I never said anything of them came from Juvaini.

I cited Juvaini to show there was a lot of false claims about the Mongols having smaller forces even in contemporary sources, and to show you can't accept claims, even from contemporary sources, at face value. A claim of 400,000 for the Hungarians is total nonsense and demonstrates a lot of what is claimed about the number of Mongol opponents is not reliable, even for contemporary sources.

It was not clear to me who you were quoting where, and so rather than waste time.puzzling out, I just want to show such statements need to be questioned.
How is it not clear were I'm quoting from? I gave the quote title at the end of each quote. Here it is again, with the title of the source bolded:

Next Batu went to Poland and Hungary and having divided the army on the border of these two countries, he sent 10 thousands of warriors under his brother Ordu against Poland.." -Historia Tartarorum

Yet although there was an enormous number of them, they say that in that battle (Mohi) the forces of the Hungarians were actually greater. But there is no race in the world that has such experience in warfare or that knows so well, especially on open ground, how to get the better of their enemy, whether by courage or skillful tactics. -History of the Bishops of Split

At this point Batu, the elder of the two leaders of the Tatar host, ascended a hill to spy out carefully the disposition of the whole army. He returned to his followers and told them;We can be confident, comrades; for although there is a great host of this enemy, they have allowed themselves to take poor counsel, and will thus not be able to escape our hands. For I have seen them like sheep without a shepherd, enclosed within the narrowest of folds. -Master Roger's Epistle

After crossing the river, Batu saw that the enemy was many, and wanted to quickly return to camp to plan further. Subotai refused, and said "You go back if you want, if I don't reach Xiu Nei river and Ma Cha city then I will not go back; -Yuan Shih

The Hungarians, trusting their number, made fun of all this and—owing to the matters discussed above—had neither mind nor spirit for fighting…………… Nevertheless, a thousand warriors were deployed every night [to the bridge at Mohi] to guard the [rest of the Hungarian] army. -Historia Salonitanorum Atque Spalatinorum Pontificum by Thomas of Split

You say Juvaini's number is wrong, but Juvaini is not used in any source I used for the discussion at hand.
Juvaini exaggerated Hungarian numbers because he worked for the Mongols, not the Hungarians.
When the European sources were written, the authors did NOT work for the Mongols, they were biased in favor of the Europeans and still they claimed that the Mongols were outnumbered. It's not just one source but multiple European sources which claimed this.
You are ignoring the incentive of the authors here.

And since it's true that sources "could be wrong", I will remember that for your own sourcing below.

That quote says nothing about whether the Mongols were more or less numerous, and so doesn't tell us if the Mongols were out numbered or not. The same be said for you other Christian sources, it was difficult to tell which quote came from where.

There is nothing in the quote to imply in the quote the Mongols were outnumbered.
Hungarians "trusting in their number" imply that they were outnumbered. Batu wanting to retreat due to that "the enemy was many" imply that they were outnumbered. Batu claiming that there was "a great host of this enemy" imply that the Mongols were outnumbered. And the first European source I gave said "forces of the Hungarians were actually greater", what more do you want?

it was difficult to tell which quote came from where.
This tells me you're not reading. I gave each of my quotes twice, and at the end of each quote I gave the title of the quote. Which means I gave the book name for every quote I used twice. Each time the quotes are indented so it's not as if they are hiding. By this current post it's thrice, and bolded so you won't miss it a third time.

And what contemporary European says that? I don't see you providing it. The quote above doesn't. It talks about thousands guarding a bridge, nothing about the number of Mongols, so it tells us nothing.
This is what you replied to: Perhaps Modern writers read History of the Bishops of Split or Master Roger's Epistle which said the Mongols were outnumbered.
The post you replied to contained the answer to your question. The quotes above specifically said forces of the Hungarians were actually greater, amongst other things. You picked the part of the quote which didn't talk about Hungarian numbers relative to that of the Mongols, and ignored the parts that did.

He has done no such thing. We know for certain that s tumen is a unit of 10,000 because we have contemporary sources that state just that. Please provide the comptemporary source to back up the claim.
What you have is not contemporary sources about the tumen but second hand google searched websites and an anti-Chinese rant that had nothing to do with the topic at hand. Heavenlykaghan did provide contemporary sources, I quoted one to you again, you missed it again.

In Juvaini, Batu sends out 10,000 with his brother to spy on the Hungarians, which would imply that a tumen was 10,000. It also impiles that if Batu could spare 10,000 for just a scouting mission, his army was.considerably larger than that.
You are cherry-picking. You said Juvaini exaggerated the 400,000 number for the Hungarians and the 200,000 number for the Mongolians, but suddenly you believe his 10,000 number for Mongol scouting forces in the same battle? You say "sources could be wrong".
In the same breath you both accuse the source of exaggerating for the battle of Mohi yet still use the same source's number for the battle of Mohi.

Another source claimed that the force sent to Poland was 10,000. ("Tartar Relation", Giovannia da Pian del Carpine pg 80) so whatever the tumen size was in other armies, it seems that Batu's tumens were 10,000, consistent with the known value of a tumen as 10,000.
Tumen means ten thousand in Mongolian but its military division consists of well less than 10,000 men. Ergo if a tumen was sent to Poland then it consists of less than 10,000 men. It's easy for Europeans to be confused by the manpower of a Mongol tumen because the linguistic definition and the military definition of a tumen is not the same.


He did say the total was 40,000 in a different section. If you take the numbers of the troops in Rashdid Al-Din 1:198, 2:152, which combined were the number of Batu forces invading Bulgaria. The assumption is that he would have roughly the same numbers when he invaded Hungary, less a few losses.
I do not see this different section from Rashid. If Rashid said that the total number of Mongols was 40,000 in their invasion of Europe, you should quote it.

Thomas of Spalato "Historia" which is a source you have. 0ne source is all that is required, for such a commonly known thing.
Let me guess, despite using the plural "sources" you can't quote from the other source because it don't exist? I also asked you for the quote which you haven't provided.
 
Feb 2011
6,379
Bart Dale said:
And I am going to have to insist you provide a primary source, not from another poster, that shows the tumens were far less than 10,000. William of Rubrik specifically stated a tumen was 10,000, and he is a contemporary source living among the Mongols. What contrmporary source says the tumens were always far less than 10,000 as you imply?
Regarding Rubrick (which you haven't quoted) Heavenlykaghan already addressed this to you:
You think a European traveler who visited the Mongol court only once is more authoritative than an official history which recorded an entire military institution systematically based on the sources of the Mongol court? This is all the more considering that William of Rubruck only had a passing reference to a Tumen whereas the Yuanshi actually broke down Tumens into different types, recorded the exact figures for each type and the different units at different locations, anyone with a bit of common sense knows the later is more authoritative and fortunately for us, real scholars have more sense than you when they recognize a more reliable source.

And I'm sorry, but I have not came across any scholar who thinks William of Rubruck is known for his accuracy, much less more reliable than the Yuanshi. Cite it or stop making things up. In fact both Allsen and Atwood have already noted that Islamic and Christian sources are mistaking the size of the Tumen because an outsider like William of Rubruck only relies on hearsays and not actual internal information and is certainly not more accurate than the Yuanshi, which actually contains mostly Mongol sources taken from archives with a detailed enumeration of soldiers which is not something that can simply be denounced by something as crude as "Yuanshi is known for errors".


For example Yuanshi V.99:
"In the 22nd year, second month, it is decreed to change the Jianghuai and Jiangxi Zhaotaosi into upper, medium and lower tumens, with Mongols, Han, and New surrendered soldiers, 37 total. " Among the 37, there were only 7 upper tumens, 8 middle tumen, and 22 lower tumen.

Here are just a few direct passages of Tumens which are not 10,000 as explicitly recorded in Yuanshi (in fact there isn't any that is 10,000)
"The Tumen Liu Delu had 5,000 soldiers to guard bafan."

Here is an upper Tumen as recorded in Yuanshi;
Recently, those Tumens guarding Jiankang, Taiping baoding, with the entire force numbering 7,212, is relocated to Huguang province."

The various Tumens moved to Bianliang:
"each Tumen selects 5,000 soldiers to be established along the province".

Furthermore, the "guard" in the Ming Weisuo system directly came from the Tumen, and it was only 5,400 in strength.
 
Feb 2011
6,379
Bart Dale said:
The force sent to Poland was around 10,000 based on other sources I mentioned above.
Out of the 5 routes that was sent to attack Europe, 2 of them went to Poland.

Let's get this straight.
You argue that a Mongol tumen has a manpower of 10,000 men because... they sent 10,000 men to attack Poland?

Let's compare:
Heavenlykaghan shows the size of a tumen by quoting sources in which the source said "a tumen is 3,000 men or 5000 men or 7000 men".
You show the size of a tumen by saying Mongols attacked Poland with 10,000 men, no mention of a tumen.

Heavenlykaghan's evidence supports his conclusion that a tumen is less than 10,000 men
Your evidence does not support you conclusion. You automatically suppose that just because 10,000 men was sent to attack Poland, it means a tumen was sent to attack Poland. It could mean more than 1 tumen was sent to attack Poland, or Europeans merely gave the linguistic translation of the Mongol "tumen" rather than the Mongol military definition of the tumen.

You also ignore his statement: Allsen and Atwood have already noted that Islamic and Christian sources are mistaking the size of the Tumen because an outsider like William of Rubruck only relies on hearsays and not actual internal information and is certainly not more accurate than the Yuanshi

"The Muslim historians often get Mongol army totals wrong because they count a tumen as 10,000 men. A tumen is a larger unit containing several mingghans, but hardly ten. In Chinese "10,000" an simply mean a large number. It is quite clear that when Cinggis Qan detached an officer with several mingghans, he usually gave him 2, 3 or 4 mingghans. Toquchar was sent across the Altai Mountains with 2 mingghans in 1211, Alaq had 3 in 1220, Jaci Qasar operated with 3 (in addition to his own guard unit) in 1215, while Sube-edei, Chepe, and Toqachar had 10 together in 1220." -Journey of Medieval Military History, Volume 8 by Clifford J. Rogers, John France, Kelly DeVries

"Total Mongolian manpower was a tightly guarded secret, but estimates under Chinggis Khan range from 95,000 in 1206 to 129,000 at his death. Since the 1,000s averaged only half strength, this would indicate an available manpower of 50,000-75,000 at most....JEBE and Subueeteu AATUR commanded only three Tumens (nominally 30,000 men) on their lengendary sweep around the Caspian Sea."-
Christopher Atwood. Encyclopedia of Mongolia and the Mongol Empire

The scouting force that Juvaini mentioned was 10,000, and this implies that (a) the tumens in Batu's army was 10,000, and (b), the Mongol forces were far more than 10,000, perhaps 30,000 would be the minimum. You wouldn't send a scouting force the size of your whole army or even half. Batu and Subutai wouldn't have until smaller than Batu sent with his Brother, so if Batu sent 10,000 with his brother Sibiquan (Ehiban), both he and Subutai would have units of 10,000 each, giving a total of 30,000, with 10,000 still in Poland.
Juvaini in the same breath also said the Hungarian army was 400,000 strong and the Mongol army was half the manpower. You say Juvaini's number is inaccurate, multiple times, but the one time in which his number would support your case you hang onto his word as the gospel of Truth, even though this number is describing the exact same battle. This was what you said:
I cited Juvaini to show there was a lot of false claims about the Mongols having smaller forces even in contemporary sources, and to show you can't accept claims, even from contemporary sources, at face value. A claim of 400,000 for the Hungarians is total nonsense and demonstrates a lot of what is claimed about the number of Mongol opponents is not reliable, even for contemporary sources.
And the source you use to prove Mongol numbers is: Juvai

In conclusion on sourcing:
1) My sources include multiple European accounts which say that the Hungarians had a numerical advantage at the Battle of Mohi
2) Your source for Mongol numbers came from Juvaini, who you yourself admit wildly exaggerated numbers for the Battle of Mohi
 
Feb 2011
6,379
Bart, since you are say it's not clear who I'm quoting from....

Summary of Sources used so far for Mongol numerical inferiority/superiority in the Battle of Mohi.
Historia Tartarorum (used by Hack): The Hungarians, trusting their number, made fun of all this
History of the Bishops of Split (used by Hack): Yet although there was an enormous number of them, they say that in that battle (Mohi) the forces of the Hungarians were actually greater.
Master Roger's Epistle (used by Hack): [Mongol general says] "We can be confident, comrades; for although there is a great host of this enemy, they have allowed themselves to take poor counsel"
Yuan Shih (used by Hack): After crossing the river, Batu saw that the enemy was many, and wanted to quickly return to camp to plan further. Subotai refused, and said "You go back if you want, if I don't reach Xiu Nei river and Ma Cha city then I will not go back
Juvaini (used by Bart [Bart didn't quote him but the summary is the following]): Hungarians had 400,000 men, Mongols outnumbered by twice with a 10,000 man scouting party.

The rest of the sources used are unquoted and hence not represented until they are quoted to show they claim what you say they claim. Plus they are indirect evidence at best.

Bart, I'm not seeing how you could use Juvaini of all people to prove Mongol numerical superiority. Any sober person would toss all his numbers for this battle out the window, plus Juvaini said that the Mongols were outnumbered by the Hungarians by twice anyways.
Out of the quotes I used, only the Yuan Shih MIGHT have an incentive to exaggerate Hungarin numbers, the others have an incentive to make Mongols look numerically superior.

Summary of sources used so far for the manpower of Mongol tumen:
Journey of Medieval Military History, Volume 8 by Clifford J. Rogers, John France, Kelly DeVries:
"The Muslim historians often get Mongol army totals wrong because they count a tumen as 10,000 men. A tumen is a larger unit containing several mingghans, but hardly ten. In Chinese "10,000" an simply mean a large number. It is quite clear that when Cinggis Qan detached an officer with several mingghans [1 mingghan = 1,000], he usually gave him 2, 3 or 4 mingghans. Toquchar was sent across the Altai Mountains with 2 mingghans in 1211, Alaq had 3 in 1220, Jaci Qasar operated with 3 (in addition to his own guard unit) in 1215, while Sube-edei, Chepe, and Toqachar had 10 together in 1220.
Christopher Atwood. Encyclopedia of Mongolia and the Mongol Empire:
"Total Mongolian manpower was a tightly guarded secret, but estimates under Chinggis Khan range from 95,000 in 1206 to 129,000 at his death. Since the 1,000s averaged only half strength, this would indicate an available manpower of 50,000-75,000 at most....JEBE and Subueeteu AATUR commanded only three Tumens (nominally 30,000 men) on their lengendary sweep around the Caspian Sea."​
Yuanshi V.99:
"In the 22nd year, second month, it is decreed to change the Jianghuai and Jiangxi Zhaotaosi into upper, medium and lower tumens, with Mongols, Han, and New surrendered soldiers, 37 total. " Among the 37, there were only 7 upper tumens, 8 middle tumen, and 22 lower tumen.
Yuanshi
"The Tumen Liu Delu had 5,000 soldiers to guard bafan."
Here is an upper Tumen as recorded in Yuanshi;
Recently, those Tumens guarding Jiankang, Taiping baoding, with the entire force numbering 7,212, is relocated to Huguang province."
The various Tumens moved to Bianliang:
"each Tumen selects 5,000 soldiers to be established along the province"

Your evidence is "William of Rubrick" who visited the Yuan court once, but you haven't quoted him. You are pitting that against the Yuan Shi, which is compiled by people who served in the Yuan court (Song Lian and Liu Ji). You say Yuan Shih is incorrect and contains errors, but these errors are the sort like "duplicated biographies", bad transliterations, inconsistent transliterations....... giving wrong numbers for the tunmen is a different type of mistake, and if the Yuan Shih did make a mistake regarding the tunmen that means it made multiple mistakes which just HAPPENS to use the same wrong number.

On the other hand this was all William of Rubrick said about the tunmen (you didn't quote him so I'm doing it for you): "they had offered (them) thirty-two thousand tumen of iascot a year, if they would only leave them in peace. A tumen is a number containing ten thousand. "
William of Rubrick is not describing the manpower of the Mongol military division of "Tumen", but the actual Mongol word that means "10,000". All the quotes given by heavenlykaghan is actually describing the typical manpower of a Tunmen division in Mongol military organization.
 
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You see the same phenomenon in the Jurchen mengan and mouke units. Theoretically a mengan was supposed to contain 1,000 men, but it wasn't uncommon for the actual sizes to be as low as 500. I think maybe this casual attitude toward unit size is a holdover of a tribal system where every camp constituted a military unit and there was no real uniformity
 
Jun 2012
7,154
Malaysia
Genghis Khan attacked with 200,000 men, an army that he'd taken more than a full year to personally assemble for the invasion. He had between 80 to 100 thousand mounted archers. Mongols on horseback outclassed just about anyone else of the time. Khwarezmians stood zero chance against a determined enemy. It was suicide for the Shah not to immediately make reparations for the trade mission disaster, but he didn't realize it until it was too late and the Khan was already coming for his head.
Combining stuff that I hv read from several sources, I'm kind of inclined to conclude that every initial Mongol envoy had like a sly stepwise strategy. One, they ask you, with not a little pressure, to submit to their Khan's overlordship. Two, they request to trade with you, offering merchandise that you wud not normally be interested in. It was something that wud provoke many a foreign ruler into some understandable but perhaps rash action. That then provides them with excuse/justification for an invasion.

They did the same to Singhosari, an ancient Indonesian kingdom on Java island. Kublay sent like 1,000 ships to invade. But they were eventually beaten by sly Javanese wile & guile.

Now, if the Khwarezmians had been able to fight them back with a similarly sized army well prepared for an invading opponent, I feel that the result might hv been far different. The Khwarezmians were, after all, progeny of the ancient Massagetae, who were certainly never easy prey for any invader of their time.
 

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