Mongol invasion of Central Asia

Mongol invasion of Central Asia

The Mongol invasion of Central Asia occurred after the unification of the Mongol and Turkic tribes on Mongolian plateau in 1206. It finally completed when Genghis Khan conquered the Khwarizmian Empire in 1221.

The Uyghurs, Qarluqs and Khara-Khitan Khanate

Driven from China by the Jurchen Jin Dynasty, in 1124 some Khitans moved westward under Yeh-lü Ta-shih’s leadership and created the Kara khitan (Black Khitai, or Western Liao) Khanate between in the Semirechye and the Chu River. They subdued the Uyghurs, Qarluqs and local Turkic and Tajik peoples.

However, their power was finally shattered in 1211, through the combined actions of the Khwārezm-Shah ʿAlāʾ ad-Dīn Muḥammad (1200–20) and Küchlüg, a fugitive Naiman prince in flight from Genghis Khan’s Mongols. The Uyghurs killed an overseer of the Kara-Khitan and declared their allegiance to the Mongols. A Uyghur leader married the daughter of Genghis in order to secure his realm. A leader of the Qarluq and Buzar, the warlord of Chuy Valley, followed the Uyghur example. Kuchlug usurped the throne and allied with Shah Muhammad of Khorazm.

Fearing of former Christian but now buddhist Kuchlug's persecution, Muslims asked help from the Mongols. Genghis dispatched his general Jebe to conquer the Kara-Khitan. Jebe completed his mission within a few days and Kuchlug died in 1218.


The Mongol invasion of Khwarezmia lasted from 1219 to 1221. In fact, it was not originally the intention of the Mongol Empire to invade the Khwarezmid Empire. Indeed, Genghis Khan had originally sent the ruler of the Khwarezmid Empire, Ala ad-Din Muhammad, a message greeting him as his equal: "you rule the rising sun and I the setting sun". The Mongols' original conquest of all "people in felt tents", unifying the nomadic tribes in Mongolia and then the Turcomens and other nomadic peoples,[citation needed] had come with relatively little bloodshed, and almost no material loss.

The Mongol invasion of Central Asia however would entail the utter destruction of the Khwarezmid Empire along with the massacre of much of the civilian population of the region. The Mongols systematically exterminated a particularly large portion of the people of the cities, such as Bukhara. This earned the Mongols a reputation for bloodthirsty ferocity that would mark the remainder of their campaigns.


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