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.


May, Timothy. The Mongol Conquests in World History.

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


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.