Isaac Meyer

Historian, teacher, podcaster

Tag: mongols

Episode 215 – The Scourge of the Gods, Part 6

The 1281 invasion is at the gates (or the seawall, I suppose). How will round 2 play out?

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Conlan, Thomas. In Little Need of Divine Intervention.

Rossabi, Morris. Kublai Khan: His Life and Times.

Turnbull, Stephen. The Mongol Invasions of Japan of 1274-1281.

Adams, Ryon. Outfought and Outthought: Reassessing the Mongol Invasions of Japan.

Images

Japanese forces arrayed along the new defensive walls of Hakata. The walls proved invaluable to holding the city and preventing a large scale Mongol landing.

Samurai and Mongol vessels engage in Hakata bay.

Japanese raiding vessels (right) raid a Yuan dynasty warship. These naval raids were incredibly effective, leading to the decision to lash Yuan ships together for safety — and making the ships vulnerable in turn to typhoon winds.

An Edo period print of the 2nd typhoon.

Wrecks of Mongol vessels from the 1281 invasion, like this one discovered in 2011, are shedding new light on our understanding of both the invasion itself, and of medieval Chinese shipbuilding techniques.

General Tran, who led the war effort against the Mongols in Vietnam, remains a cultural hero to the Vietnamese people. His skillful generalship also prevented Kubilai from amassing a new force for a third invasion.

Episode 214 – The Scourge of the Gods, Part 5

This week, we prepare for round two. How are the Japanese getting ready for another invasion, and how does that new invasion begin?

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Conlan, Thomas. In Little Need of Divine Intervention.

Rossabi, Morris. Kublai Khan: His Life and Times.

Turnbull, Stephen. The Mongol Invasions of Japan of 1274-1281.

Adams, Ryon. Outfought and Outthought: Reassessing the Mongol Invasions of Japan.

Images

A detail shot of a Mongol ship from Takezaki Suenaga’s scrolls (called the Moko Shurai Ekotoba, or Illustrated Account of the Mongol Invasions). Though initially composed as proof of Takezaki’s valor in battle, they also provide a handy source of information about Mongol weapons and ships.

Another shot from the Moko Shurai Ekotoba, showing Takezaki single-handedly fighting a group of Mongols. As a record of his achievements, we can’t really trust this text to be entirely honest about his fighting skills — this depiction of how many Mongols he could defeat at once should be taken with a few grains (if not an outright fistful) of salt.

Remnants of the defensive walls of Hakata, still visible today.

Another shot of the Hakata walls, giving you a better sense of what their height at the time would have been.

Episode 213 – The Scourge of the Gods, Part 4

This week, we cover exciting topics like meteorology and internal Mongol family politics! But wait, there’s also a bit of Zen theology dashed in to spice things up!

It’s an eclectic week on the podcast for sure!

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Conlan, Thomas. In Little Need of Divine Intervention

Turnbull, Stephen. The Mongol Invasions of Japan of 1274-1281

Adams, Ryon F. “Outfought and Outthought: Reassessing the Mongol Invasions of Japan.”

Images

An ink painting by Yosai Kikuchi from the late Edo Period depicting the 1274 typhoon. The exact nature of the storm remains unclear, but the story has retained popularity throughout Japan’s history.

Discovered Mongol shipwrecks like this one (from the 1281 campaign) help us investigate the truth (or lack thereof) behind the stories of the “divine wind.”

This isn’t really super relevant to this week, but I found this example of a Yuan dynasty hand cannon too cool not to include.

A park in Jingmen, Guangdong commemorating the final Yuan dynasty victory over the old Song dynasty in 1279. The final destruction of the Song absorbed a great deal of Kublai’s attention between the invasions.

The divisions of the Mongol Empire at the time of the war between Kublai and Kaidu. Green is Kublai’s territory, Grey is Kaidu’s, and purple is that of the Ilkhan Abaqa.

Episode 212 – The Scourge of the Gods, Part 3

This week I promise we’ll actually get to the 1274 invasion. But first, how were the samurai who defended Japan organized, and what weapons did they use?

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Turnbull, Stephen. The Mongol Invasions of Japan of 1274-1281.

Conlan, Thomas D. In Little Need of Divine Intervention: Takezaki Suenaga’s Scrolls of the Mongol Invasions of Japan. 

May, Timothy. The Mongol Conquests in World History.

Images

Modern practitioners of kyudo, or the martial art of archery, use a weapon very different in composition from Kamakura era samurai. Yet the basic structure remains the same, particularly the size of the weapon and unusual placement of the grip.

A Kamakura armor set; this particular one was for the heir of a major shugo family, and is thus more ornate than normal.

This detail from a scroll depicting the Mongol invasions gives you a good sense of the relative equipment of both sides.

This map labels both Tsushima and Iki islands, the first two targets of the 1274 invasion. Hakata bay is just to the left of the name Fukuoka.

A depiction of the 1274 combat. Note the exploding bomb in the center.

Episode 216 – The Scourge of the Gods, Part 7

This week: why is a military failure worth 7 episodes of our time? The legacy of the Mongol invasions of Japan, explained.

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Sansom, George. A History of Japan to 1334.

Conlan, Thomas. In Little Need of Divine Intervention.

Rossabi, Morris. Kublai Khan: His Life and Times.

Turnbull, Stephen. The Mongol Invasions of Japan of 1274-1281.

Adams, Ryon. Outfought and Outthought: Reassessing the Mongol Invasions of Japan.

Images

Temur Khan, successor of Kubilai. His hair is done in Mongolian fashion for this portrait, but Temur was a Confucianizer just like his grandfather.

A printing plate (left) and example of paper currency (right) from the Yuan dynasty. Paper money was an attempt to fund the dynasty’s wars, but overprinting led to destructive levels of inflation.

The Hongwu Emperor, the founder of the Ming Dynasty who would displace the Mongols only a few generations after Kublai’s death.

One of these days I’ll watch the taiga about Hojo Tokimune.

Younger folks might know Tokimune as the face of Japan in Civilization VI. Incidentally, the “triforce” actually was the Hojo family mon, or crest — it was the symbol of the Hojo family.

Episode 211 – The Scourge of the Gods, Part 2

This week: why did Kublai go to Japan? A quick overview of the tensions that led to the first invasion, and a look at the armies of Mongols and Chinese that would fight it.

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Turnbull, Stephen. The Mongol Invasions of 1274 – 1281.

May, Timothy. The Mongol Conquests in World History.

Conlan, Thomas. In Little Need of Divine Intervention.

Images

The reconstructed walls of Xiangyang. Though these walls are from a later time than the Mongol invasions, they give some sense of how imposing the original works were.

A Song dynasty river warship with a traction catapult attached to it. Warships like this one kept the Mongols out of south China for decades.

A basic schematic for a counterweight trebuchet. This design helped the Mongols break through the walls of the Chinese fortress of Xiangyang.

A reconstruction Mongol bow unstrung, strung, and at full draw. The bent horn tips add extra power by enabling the bow to flex more.

Lamellar armor from one of the predecessors of the Yuan (the Jin Dynasty). You can see how the loose arrangement of scales provides protection but also keeps the armor relatively light.

Episode 210 – The Scourge of the Gods, Part 1

This week: where did the Mongol Empire come from, and who was in charge when they decided to come after Japan? Also, why is the Kamakura shogunate the most convoluted form of government in a history of convoluted governments?

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

May, Timothy. The Mongol Conquests in World History.

Turnbull, Stephen. The Mongol Invasions of Japan in 1274-1281.

Images

The Mongol Empire as of 1260, when Kublai ascended to the title of Khagan (Great Khan). The Empire had, by this point, already begun fragmenting into its constituent pieces, each ruled by a branch of Genghis Khan’s descendants.

The war between Kublai and his brother Ariq raged across a huge chunk of Eurasia. This Persian image depicts one of Ariq’s early victories.

Kublai Khan, the charismatic and talented ruler of the Mongols during the invasions of Japan.

Kenchoji, a Buddhist temple in Kamakura, was built by Hojo Tokimune’s father. Zen Buddhism proved to be a major influence on Tokimune.

Hojo Tokimune in his prime. Note the shaved head, a symbol of Buddhist monastic observance.

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