The Mongol Empire
Published: 2.21.2017
Level 5   |   Time: 2:25
Accent: British
Source: BBC Global News Podcast (2.18.2017)

A short lecture on the history of the Mongol Empire.


You can download the file [ HERE ].


triangle Directions

  1. REVIEW the vocabulary.
  2. LISTEN to the audio above.
  3. ANSWER the questions.
  4. CHECK your answers.

triangle Vocabulary

  • feuding [adj] - fighting
  • the spine of Asia [n] - the mountains of Asia
  • the Huns [n] - a group of people living in central Aisa from the 1st to 7th Century
  • trigger [n] - cause, starting event
  • steppe lands[n] - large grasslands
  • nomads [n] - people who move around often
  • flocks [n] - a group of sheep
  • charismatic [adj] - charming and inspiring
  • savage [adj] - violent and uncontrolled
  • tolerant [adj] - allow other ideas, views, cultures
  • tribal [adj] - related to a tribes or small groups
  • suppress [v] - prevent, stop, limit, control
  • teach a moral [exp] - teach a lesson
  • savaged [v] - destroyed
  • went berserk [exp] - went crazy

[n] - noun,  [v] - verb,  [adj] - adjective,  [exp] - expression

triangle Questions

  1. The Mongol Empire didn't...
    have a strong leader.
    emerge from nowhere.
    travel across the spine of Asia.

  2. Attila the Hun is a good example of...
    another tribal leader that conquered a lot territory.
    a successful Mongol leader.
    a particularly violent leader.

  3. According to the speaker, the triggers that often allow large groups to emerge and dominate are...
    changes in climate.
    a charismatic military leader.
    innovations in technology.
    gateways that allow conquest to happen quickly.
    Tolerance of different religions.
    violent conquest.

  4. The common image of the Mongols today...
    is usually represented as quite violent.
    comes from a lot of first-hand accounts.
    is very accurate.

  5. The Mongols were actually very tolerant of...

  6. The Mongols were good at...
    moving quickly across the steppe lands.
    learning new languages.
    integrating a diverse group of people into their empire.

  7. The Mongols were often violent in order to...
    set an example preventing other groups from resisting.
    reduce the population of their enemies.
    prevent rival religious groups from becoming more popular.

  8. The city of Merv in Turkmenistan...
    had a strong political alliance with the Mongols.
    was destroyed by the Mongols.
    became the capital of the Mongol empire.

  9. The Mongol empire was...
    the most violent empire in Asia.
    the only empire to conquer Turkmenistan.
    the largest land empire in history.

triangle Script

It was an amazing rise to power really for the Mongols from virtually nowhere, wasn't it? Because at the time, it is basically, what, feuding clans? How did they unite into this great force and was that partly due to the leadership of Genghis Khan?

Well I think we think of the Mongols as sort of appearing from nowhere, but actually it's not quite the case. In fact, across the spine of Asia, tribal groups who quite often form big umbrella groups and prove incredibly successful like the Huns for example. Atilla, the greatest leader of the Huns in the third and fourth centuries.

So it's not unusual. There's normally a series of different triggers that allow for a big grouping to emerge like the Mongols do. And that's normally linked to some form of change in climate across the step lands, where the nomads keep their flocks. It's usually linked to a particularly charismatic and able military leader, as Genghis Khan clearly was. And then a series of sort of gateways that allow conquest happened very quickly.

And I think when we when we think about the Mongols today, we think of savage barbaric ultra violent warriors. But actually the Mongol world was one that was incredibly sophisticated, incredibly tolerant actually particularly when it comes to things like religion, and the Mongols were extraordinarily good administrators.

The Mongols were very very good at integrating people within the tribal structures. They were very conscious of the fact that with lots of identities in play you could either suppress and force everyone to become like yourself or you allow for as much oxygen to air in the system as possible.

And so the Mongols they were spectacularly violent on occasion, but it was highly selective. It was intended to teach a very bloody moral. Cities like Nishapur and Merv in modern Turkmenistan were absolutely destroyed leveled.

But those single acts, those cities that were that were savaged, opened up gateways because by and large people then didn't want to resist the Mongols as they spread across Asia And the Mongols that they did build an empire that was the biggest land empire that's ever been seen in history.

So we should probably think about what they did that was right and how that happened rather than to sort of think of the Mongols as sort of purely as barbarians who appeared from nowhere and went berserk.