Mongke Khan Recovers
by Jeff Provine
says: we're very pleased to present a new story from Jeff Provine's
excellent blog This
Day in Alternate History Please note that the opinions expressed in this
post do not necessarily reflect the views of the author(s).
By September 3rd 1259,
after over a month of illness, the leader of the Mongol Empire, Mongke
Khan, had recovered enough to leave his tents and review his troops.
Most Khans moved northward during the summer heat, but Mongke had decided
to stay and see out the siege of Hechuan in southern China. He had been
wounded by shrapnel in August, which had hardly fazed the Khan. However,
while injured, his nurses had given him tainted water that produced a
"blood plague" of diarrhea (what modern scholars believed was cholera).
"Yay for mongols on the moon!" - reader's commentWhen
he had regained himself, Mongke called for doctors and priests to
determine what had caused the plagues. "Bad water" was the final decision,
and Mongke demanded better organization for all Mongol camps. He later
went on to start a medical school in China to determine what had been
"bad" about the water, and it was there in 1325 that germ theory was
developed, which gave the Horde a powerful upper-hand in its later
Mongke spent much of his illness pondering the future of his empire that
had already seen its share of internal warring. He had kept up good
feelings with Batu in the west, but it was not difficult to imagine the
Mongol forces being split. Electors needed to be better defined, leading
Mongke to create an addition to Genghis's Yassa defining whose influence
was significant and rules in case of a split vote. Later in his career,
Mongke would use this law as a basis for a stronger support system among
the princes to create something of a parliament for internal rule while
the Khan worked to further the ancestors' goal of world conquest.
Mongke died in 1287, seeing his empire grow by the decade. His brother
Hulagu Khan had defeated a combined force of the Mamluks and Franks at Ain
Jalut and conquered Egypt, opening the gateway to Africa. Kublai had moved
into Southeast Asia and dominated the islands of Japan on his third
invasion attempt. Further Mongols had marched into Central Europe, where
they had turned back in 1248 at the death of GŁyŁk Khan. The battles there
had been bloody as the Mongols struggled to adapt to the wetter weather
and denser populations, but the Horde had always excelled at adaptation.
They soon traded their bows for Arabic midfa (small cannons), eventually
creating the precursor to the musket. By Mongke's death, the Mongols were
approaching the Pyrenees Mountains.
"Mongols vs. Sioux? I'd love to see that!" -
reader's commentHis brother Kublai was elected after Mongke's death
for a short reign that ended in 1298 with the Khan's death after a long
illness. He had vouched for his son Temur to become Khan, but the elective
princes distrusted his gluttony and drunkenness and chose a distant
relation, Gentu. Conquests continued, wrapping up the whole of the Eastern
Hemisphere in a Mongol Empire that stretched from the Forest Kingdoms of
Ghana to the Scottish Highlands to the ice-block villages of the Arctic to
the islands of Oceania. Strict organization kept the empire in line with
severe penalties such as death for allowing a traveler to starve. In
exchange for obedience, the people were marginally free to worship and
seek employment as they chose.
Upon the discovery of the Western Hemisphere in the seventeenth century by
explorers crossing the Bering Sea, Mongols launched a new wave of
conquests (aided by the spread of smallpox) that filled their coffers with
gold. Much of the wealth went into art, which in turn furthered scientific
development that revolutionized the empire with networks of first
telegraph lines, then radio waves, then satellite links. While much the
same, society came under its own revolutions in the Empire with election
of princes and an end to slavery.
The Mongol's next invasion would be of nearby planets, setting foot on the
Moon on the 800th anniversary of Genghis Khan's birth. Using it as a light
gravity-field launching ground for missions to Mars and Jupiter, research
and mining facilities spread out through the Solar System. With the
Terrestrial Planet Finder probe, the Empire's next step of conquest is
soon to be found among the stars.
says in reality, Mongke Khan died of his illness on August 11, 1259. As
with all deaths of a Khan, the Mongol princes returned to elect the next,
causing Hulagu Khan to leave the Middle East with the majority of his army.
On September 3, 1260, the Mongol army under the Turkish general Kitbuqa
would suffer defeat in an ambush by the Mamluk Egyptians at Ain Jalut in
Palestine. While the defeat was on the outskirts of the empire and not
influential to the Mongols, it gave the West great hope in proving that the
Horde could be defeated. After Kublai Khan's reign (won from his brother
Ariq Boke in civil war), the empire would begin to splinter into its many
conquered lands, which were forever changed by their Mongol overlords.
To view guest historian's comments on this post please visit the
Today in Alternate History web site.
Jeff Provine, Guest Historian of
Today in Alternate History, a Daily Updating Blog of Important Events In
History That Never Occurred Today. Follow us on
Facebook, Myspace and
Imagine what would be, if history had occurred a bit
differently. Who says it didn't, somewhere? These fictional news items
explore that possibility. Possibilities such as America becoming a Marxist
superpower, aliens influencing human history in the 18th century and Teddy
Roosevelt winning his 3rd term as president abound in this interesting