Mongolian History

Figure 1.--

Mongolia is located on the vast plains of central Asia. A basic problem in Mongolian people is wether the history is that of the centeal Asian steppe with many different peoples of which the Mongolians were only one. Or is Mongolian history that of the ethnic Mongolian people. The central Asian steppe has been the crucible for forming war-like people that have played a major role in both European and Asian history. Perhaps it was the harshness of the environment that was the critical factor. War-like nomadic tribes frim central Asia have played amajor role in history, at times attacking west and at times attacking east toward China. It was pressure from nomadic tribes that drove the Germans toward the Roman Empire, eventually overrunning it. At times the nomads have focused on the riches of nearby China. The construction of the Greal Wall was a response to their depredations. Genghis Khan united the Mongol tribes (1205). Genghis from his Mongolian homeland conducted a series of military cmpaigns with built the largest empire in human history. Only his early demise prevented the Mongols from entering Western Europe. His descendents rulled China. China eventually threwoff Mongol rule. The Chinese seized Inner Mongolia (1635). And subsequently subgegated Outer Mongolia. As part of the Russian Revolution and subsequent Civil War which spilled into Siberia, Outer Mongolia broke away from China (1921). The Soviet-dominated Mongolian People's Republic was declared (1924). They never were formally annexed by the Soviet Union, but the government was controoled by the Soviets. The Chinese retained control of Inner-Mongolia. The Communists after the Revolution combined Inner Mongolia with Mongol areas of western Manchria and the former privince of Jehol to form the the Inner Mongolian Autinomous Region.

The Steppe Crucible

Mongolia is located on the vast, grassy plains of central Asia. This has been the crucible for forming over millenia a war-like people. The savage nomadic warriors of the steppe that have played a major role in both European and Asian history. Perhaps it was the harshness of the environment that was the critical factor. Perhaps it was vast grasslands that provided the perfect range for horses, a critical element in warfare. And competition for resources meant that the steppe tribes have to developm military skills to survive. These war-like nomadic tribes frim central Asia have played amajor role in history, at times attacking west and at times attacking east toward China. The critical factor appears to have been China. When China was weak the central Asian nomads struck east and south at China. When China was strong, it deflected the central Asian tribes westward. It was pressure from these nomadic tribes that drove the Germans toward the Roman Empire, eventually overrunning it. At times the nomads have focused on the riches of nearby China. The construction of the Greal Wall was a response to their depredations. Most of what we know about the Mongols comes from the people they conquered because the Mongols were a pre-literate people.


Anthropologists until the late 20th century had to construct the relations and mpvements of early people with linguistics and studying artofacts such as pottery. Modern genetic studies provide a badly needed additional tool. DNA evidence reveal that that the tribes of northern Mongolia share common origins with the tribes of Siberia and Native American peoples.


The first human presence in what is now Mongolia dates to about 0.5 million years ago. The Broze Age begins (4000 BC). The first hearding is noted (2000 BC). Iron tools hearding the Iron Age are found (about 700 BC). The Chinese are the first to mention war-like tribes from Central Asia (5th century BC). The Chinese begin to build the earliest sections of the Great Wall as a barrier to the rise of Hunnu, the Hunic state (5th century BC).

The Huns

The central Asian steppes gave rise to the Huns and their leader Attila. What is now Mongolia was populated by various people, most of whom are lost to history. The earliest known group which organize a state of importance was the Xiongnu, or Hun state. Very little is known about the origins of the Huns. Historians have yet to determine with any certainty if the Huns were a proto-Mongolian or a proto-Turkic tribal people. The Huns emerged as a powerful nomadic state in central Asia led by a monarch which they called “shanyu”. The the Xiongnu or Huns developed as a minor nusiance to a amajor challenge for the Chinese. The growth of the Great Wall reflected the rising power of the Huns. Modun the most powerful Hun shanyu rose to power (209 BC). He not only united the Hun but conquered neighboring tibes, carving out a vast kingdom in what is now Mongolia and wider areas of central Asia. He then turned his attention on China ruled at the time by the Han dynasty. The result was a titanic struggle between the Hun and Han Chinese. Shanyu Modun had a much smaller army, but managed to defeat the Han in a series of ebgagements. The Han were firced to sign a humiliaring peace treaty. The Chinese emperor recognized Modun and this Hunic Empire. Shanyu Modun also conducted acampaigns in the west, defeating the Sogdians an Iranian-speaking people. The Hunnic Empire gradually declined after Shanyu Modun died. The tribes split. The southern tribes were defeated or absorbed. The northern tribes were driven west out of central Asia. These are the tribes that pressed the German west and eventually reached Europe themselves. The Huns were the first mounted Asian warriors to move east and threaten Europe. They appeared on war horses out of the trackless Asian steppes. The Huns first appear inn Western history when they come in contact with Rome in the late-4th century AD. It was the Huns who drove other tribes west, including the Germans. And the Germans and Huns would destroy the Roman Empire.

Xianbei / Sumbe

With the Hunnic tribes driven out of China and slintering, the neigboring Xianbei attack and defeat them (156 AD). The Xianbei become the most powerful tribe in central asia. The Xianbei are widely believed to have been of Mongol origin. Their first great leader, Tanshihuai, rose to power as a young man. He managed to unite loosely asociated clans to attack first the Huns, greatly expanding their domaine (156 AD). He then attcked the and Chinese to secure the southern borders (158 AD). The Chinese fielded a 30,000 man army which was destroyed. Tanshihuai died at a young age and without his leadership the Xianbei soon descended into clan tribal feuding and rapidly lost power.

Contested Era

For three central Asian was racked by violence which spilled over into China (250-550 AD). Vatious tribaled groups fought with each other and raided into China. The Xianbis and Huns continued their rivalry and raided China. Short lived stares appeared. The Huns firmed the Jiao state. The Xianbis formed the Muyun and Toba states. These were the largest of these short-lived states, but there were other smaller ones. The Xianbi leaders styled themselves “khans” and this title gradually became adopted by the other steppe peoples.

Joujan kingdom

The most important steppe state during this period was Joujan kingdom created by the Xianbi. They conquered northern China (317). The Joujan Kingdom eventually covered most of modern Mongolia. the Xianbi gained control over the western tribes of Tele. The Joujan adopted a systen of military obligations. They like mot of the Steppe people were animists who believed like the Hun that spirits existed in nature. Theypracticed divination and sorcery. Historical document reveal that Buddhist missionaries reached the Joujan and had begun to make converts. The monk Dharmapriya converted over 300 Joujan families. The subjected tribes revolted (6th century). They were unable to maintain control of the Turlic tribes. The Turkic leader Bumin ended Joujan dominance (545 AD). The Xianbi fled to China or perished. or assimilated.

Toba kingdom (330 AD- )

The Joujan vied with the Toba, a state formed by the Xianbei in the south (about 300 AD).

First Turkic Empire (550-630)

The Turkic leader Bumin ended Joujan dominance and founded what was to becone a Turkic Empire (545 AD). The Kyrghiz defeated the ruling Uighurs (840). The Kitan rise to dominance (916). They establish an empire encompasing eastern Mongolia, Manchuria, and northern China. The Chinese defeated the Kitanns (1122). Bumin and his partner Istemi created the first great Turkic empire. It extended from the Yellow Sea west to the Urals (550-90). The Turkic Army eventually extended the Empire to the Caspian Sea. Here they made contact with both the Byzantine Empire and Iran. The Turkic Empire thus dominated the Silk Road connecting China and the West. It was a fact of emense commercial importance and source of wealth. The power of the Empire forced concessions on China, receiving silk in tribute. This was traded in the West. The Turkic Empire established diplomatic relations with Byzantines and Iranians and exchanged ambassadors. The Turkic Empire gradually declined. The Empire could not deal with the problem of disaffected princes. This combined with revolts of subjected peoples in a vast empire gradually sapped the strength of the Empire. The Empire split into Eastern and Western divsions. The weakened Eastern Turkic khan Kat-Il khan surrendered to the Chinese Tang dynasty (early-7th century). The Western Turkic kingdom converted itself into a confederation to appease the major trines. The Confederation local tribes, but this led to the decline of centralized power and eventual desintegration. The Chinese Tang dynasty thus extebnded its hegemony unto much of central Asia (around 630). The Turkic empire left some of the earliest written records from Central asia--mostly stone monuments. The inscriptions on these monuments were written in an early Turkic alphabet. They provide important insights into lifestyle and religion. The Turkics peoplewere anamists and practiced shamanism.

Second Turkic Empire (689-745)

Turkic people under Chinese hegemony served Tang dynasty arnies. They were used in battles against Koreans, Tibetans, and others. A revolt led to the formatiin of the Second Turkic Empire (689- ). They were called the Blue Turks because they so revered the sky. The Blue Turks left China and returned to the open steppes. Here they found many enemy tribes. Not only were the Chinese in the south histile, but they faced the Karluks and Kyrgyzs to the west. The Blue Turkic army were led by Kul-tegin who proved to be a gifted military commander. They defeated both the Karluks and Kyrgyzs and became the dominant force in central Asia. khan Bilge, general Kul-tegin and councellor Tonyukuk revived the traditions ofvthe steppe peoples. With their strong armies, no one dared attack them and several generations lived in oeace. Khan Yollig-tegin left several stone writings. A civil war began as a resukt if a court mutint and the Uighurs became involved, eventually defeating the Blue Turks (745).

Uighurs (745-840)

The Uighur were a nomadic Turkic tribe on the central Asian steppe. They had language afinities with the Blue Turks. The interved in a civil war between the Blue Turks. As Blue Turkic factions warred with each other, subject people began to revolt, greatly weaking the Blue Turkic Empire. Uighurs played an important role in the mutiny and proived to be strongest military force. They succeded in overthrowing Turkic rule (745). They proceeded to establish their own kingdom on the foundation of the Blue Turkic Empire. Uighur khan Peilo asserted his dominance over the new sate and established diplomatic relations with Tang China. His heir, Moyanchur, inherited the throne (747). He was confronted with resistance from the Uighur nobility. He supressed the rebels nobility. He then led a series of foreign military campaigns. He crushed the Turgesh and Kyrgyz in the West. The Uighurs conducted other campaigns to establish their dominance in central Asia. The Uighurs like other central Asia powers were attracted by the weakth of China. They began to interfere in Chinese affairs, The first incident was a Chinese attempt to discipline a Lushan warlord. The Uighurs established diplomatic relations with Tibet. These three kingdoms (Uighur, China and Tibet) were the major powers in Asia. They traded at time lived in peace, but there were many wars. They negotiated alliances and coalitions. The Uighurs could not mach the economic base of China. The traditional Uighur religion was animism, worshipping natural spirits and demons. They convered to Manichaeanism, a mystic form of Christianity with strong Gnostic influences (late-8th century). This was a religion which evolved in Iran. The Iranian influence also introduced a the Sogdian alphabet. The warfare overtime weakened the Uighurs. The Uighur Kingdom began to weaken as subject people became restive (early 9th century). Kyrgyz lord Ajo declared his independence (818). Ajo attacked the Uighurs (840). He defeated the Uighur army and seized the capital and treasury. He killed many Uighur people. The remnants headed by Pan Tore fled to Zungaria. Others managed to escape further east (Manchuria).

The Kidan Kingdom (9th-10th centuries)

The Kidans were a ethnic Mongolian people. This is something that is often diffucuklt to determine. Language studies are often the orincipal method used by scholars. Thnicity of couse is not symnonamous with ethnicity, but is often the only evidence available to scholars. The Kidans were a Mongolian-speaking people who lived in Western Manchuria. The Kidans were ruled by a monarchy, but they elected the leader. The eight Kidan clans selected arepresentative to elected one single ruler for a period of 3-years. For most of the 9th century this system prevented internzl conflict. And the Kidans avoided wars with neighboring tribes. Elui Ambagan was one of the elected rulers. He decided, however, that he did not want to giveup the kingship and declared himself khan (907). He also began a campaign of aggressive wars. Elui Ambagan conquered the neighbouring nations. The Kidans thus emerged as a major power in central Asia. On his death, his son Deguan inherited a prosperous kingdom with a powerful army (927). China as always was a lure for steppe people with a powerful army. And with that army he struck south at China. Deguan in a series of successful military campaigns seized 16 Chinese districts, including Beijing. The Chinese were forced to acknowledge the Deguan's tile as khan (936). A decade later, Deguan launched an invasion deepinto China (946). He captured the capital city.

Liao Dynasty (936-1125)

China's Liao Dynasty was one of seveeal foreign dynasties, in this case of Kidan origins. Deguan after capturing the Chinese capital declared himself emperor, founding the Liao Dynasty. He did not yet control all of China and the areas in the west controlled by the former dynasty. Southern China remained beyond Liao control as well as north-eastern indigenous peoples. Te Liao fought a major war with the nomadic Tatars (966-73). Net the Lio turned south to conquer the rest of China. A war in the east failed to subgegate the Koreans. The Jurchens were a Manchu-speaking people which paid tribute to the Liao. By the 12th century, the Liao Dynasty was weakening as a result of continued war and feuds within the royal family. The Jurchens rebelled which led to the fall of the Liao (1125).

Black Kidans (1125-1217?)

Kidan prince Elui Dashi fought the Jurchens. After the defeat of the Liao army, he with survivors fled China westwards. They eventully were confronted by the Seljuks. Seljuk sultan Sanjar attacked the Kidans (1141). Elui Dashi's army defeated the Seljuks. Elui Dashi settled his people i central Asian. They became known as the Kara-kidans or Black Kidans. The Kidans were strongly influenced by two centuries in China. They adopted Chinese hieroglyphics. Earlier nomadic lords had been mosly pre-literate. Others used syllabic Iranian or runic alphabets. Although Kidan, the Liao Empire adopted the Chinese administrative model and a great deal of Chinese culture. The cultural level of the Kidans was thus higher than other steppe people. The Han-Lin Academy provided courses in Chinese and Kidan learning to the Kidan princes. The Black Kidans were finally conquered by Genghis Khan (1217?).

Early Mongol History (10th-12th centuries)

The origins and early history of the Mongols are largely unknown. They were a pre-literate people and thus leftbno written record. The first written records come from the Chinese. In fact all early written records come from the people the Mongols attacked. Chinese histories first mention the Mongols (10th century). At the time, the they inhabited a large swath of northeastern Asian steppe (eastern Central Asia and much of northern Manchuria). Mongol legends claim that Grey Wolf and Beautiful Deer were the fathers if the Mongol people. The first non-legendary Mongol leader known to history is Bodonchar (about 970). It is his decendents that became the khan or titular leader of the Mongols. The khan, however, had little actual power. Real power rested in the individual clans and tribes, each of which had their own leaders. And their was constant warfare between these tribal and clan lords. The Mongols despite their internal disputes were emerging as a major regional power. China at the time was dominated by the Jurchen Tszing dynasty which overthrew the Liao. The Jurchens to control the Mongols would carry out punitive expeditions against the border tribes. A there was no real centralized Mongol nation, the Mongols were not able to effectively resist the Jurchen attaks. It is into this enviroment that a boy named Temüjin was born to Yesugey, a relative of the Mongol khan (1162).

Mongol Empire (13th-14th centuries)

The steppe people of central Asia played a huge role in world history. Often they primarily impacted China. The Mongols are but one of these peope, but by far the best known. This is because they not only invaded and conquered China, but struck west and entered Europe. This occured just as Europe was emerging from the medieval era and as a result of the Renaisance enterijg the modern age. The Nongols came very close to ending that process. Hardened by the great central Asian steppe, the Mongols developed as superb horsemen and warriors. Temudjin united the Mongol tribes and was proclaimed Khan (1205). Genghis from his Mongolian homeland conducted a series of military cmpaigns with built the largest land empire in human history. Genghis led what was described at the time as the Mongol hordes. In fact the Mongol army commonly was smaller than the armies that they defeated. Although a relatively small population, the Mongols established the most extensive empire in history, streaching from Korea to Eastern Europe. Only the Japanese suceessfully defied the Mongols. The Mongols also conquered and influenced many of the major world powers, China, Russia, Persia, amd India. The Mongol Empire eventually extend from the Pacific to Eastern Europe.

Yuan Dynasty (1279-1368)

Kublai /Hubilay Khan was the granson of Genghis. Kublai not only was the Mongol Kahn, but he completed the conquest of southern China and became emperor. He also annexed Korea. It was Kublai's court that Marco Polo and Ibn Battuta described. Polo leaves us with a particularly engaging description of Kublai. His reign was the longest of all the great khans. Vietnam and Burma recognized the overlordship of the Great Khans now the emperors of China. Kublai's attempts to conquer Japan failed. Two emense fleets were destroyed. His moved his court from Karakorum to Beijing and founded the Yuan dynasty (1279). This established the northern city of Beijing as the capital of China. The Mongol Empire under Kublai covered most of the Eurasian continent--the greatest empire in human history measured in lanf area. The empire consisted of four dominions that were beginning to develop separate identities. The principal locus of power was the great khan’s realm (Mongolia and China). The other dominions were the Golden Horde (Russia and Urals), the Chagatay realm (Central Asia), and the Ilkhan kingdom (Iran and the Middle East). Kublai proved to be the last effective Great Khan. Temur Oljaitu Khan (1295-1307) was the grandson of Kublai Khan. He inherited the Mongol Empire at its peak (1300), streaching from the Pacific Ocean west to the Mediterrean Sea including China, Central Asia, the Middle East, and Russia. The khans that followed Kublai were not effective rulers. They proived incapable of administering and mintaining the emense empire that Genghis and his descendents had created. The Mongols were a small group in relation to China and the other dominions. Revolts began to occur and provinces to secede. The Golden Horde founded by Batu severed ties with the Great Khan (1312). Chagatay was taken over by the natives (1340s). The Mongols in Petrsian were radually absorbed into the native population. Wth the The imperial khanate in China slowly declined as the Chinese people began to rise up. The Chinese mutiny spelled the end of the Mongolian Empire. Khan Togoon-Tömör and his Mongol followers fled China for the Mongolian hearland (1368).

Lesser Khans (1368-1691)

With the fall of the Yuan Dynasty abnd the withdrawl back to the Mongolian heartland on the great central Asian steppe, the Mongols returned to a nomadic exustence, Mongol historians call this period the “The Age of Lesser Monarchs”. The Mongol tribes which Ghenghis had unified solinteed. The khan no longer was able to speak for a unified Mongol nation. Most of the khans ruked only briefluy and with little rreal authority. They were offen opposed by the nobility who led the different tribes. The local chiefs regained a great deal of their former authority. The Oirads seceded from the Mongol nation and established their own monarchical khan line. There were more than 22 khans ruling the Mongols during this period. An Oirad prince briefly usurped the throne (1450). This broke the traditional line from Genghis. Ghenghis' dynasty was soon restored (1455). Khan Batmönh reversed the decline for a time (1470). He united the tribes for 40 years, but with his death the desintegration resumed. The Mongols themselves broke into western and eastern domains. This was the beginning of what became known as Iner and Outer Mongolia. The eastern part nearest China divided as Outer and Inner lands. The Oirads became increasingly active raiders. The division of the tribes gradualy resulted in the development of distinct dialects. Despite the political decline, Mongolian historians describe important scholars and poets (15-17th centuries). were marked by outstanding. Prince Tsogt was a poet and philosopher of some nerit. Buddhism became an important influence (16th century). khan Altan officially accepted Buddhist teaching and rejectied the traditional shamanic beliefs (1572). Buddhism opened a vast literature on philosophy, theology and natural sciences to the Mongol people. The Mongols after embracing Buddhism, elected a Buddhist religious leader--the Bogd (1639). The Bogd was made responsible for overseeing all religious affairs.

European Voyages of Discovery (15-16th centuries)

The Mongols had almost entered and conquered Western Europe (13th century) just as it was about to transition from the medieval age to the Renaissance. One result of the Renaissance was an explossion of learming that made possible the European voyages of discovery. These voyages made possible a seaborn trade between Europe and China, ending the great age of the Silk Road. The Mongols were a nomadic people with an essentially subsistence economy. They were never great creators of wealth. Rather they acquired wealth created by others through first raiding and than as they grew stringer, war and invasion. The Silk Road was an enotmous source of wealth for whoever dominated the route abd great trading cities on the route. As trade shifted to sea commerce and the Silk Road declined, an enormous source of wealth was closed off to the Mongols and the opeople of central Asia in general. The absence of wealth limited the ability of the Mongols to generate power. It was also a factor in the desintegration of the Mongol people. Without the lure of wealth from raiding and tribute, the lesser khans were unable to maintain the unity of the Mongul nation. Thus the Monguls who had dominated the greatest empire in history contunued to decline as the overall economy of central Asia declined. The Mongols who had been able to dominate both Russia abd China began to feel the pressure of their location between the two great Eurasian powers, China and Russia.

Manchu/Ching Dynasty

The Manchu from what is modern Manchuria invaded Ming China (1575). The Manchus advanced into China and their leader Nurhach declared his Ching (Manchu) Dynasty (1616). The Manchus army invaded Mongolia. khan Ligden was the last of Ghenghis' line. He represented the final resistance to the Manchu. With his death (1634), the dynasty and resistance collapsed. The council of Inner Mongolian princes accepted their defeat and recognized the authority of the Manchu emperor (1636). Some Mongol tribes actually sided with the Manchu, This allowed them to settle scores with rivals. The princes of Outer Mongolia endedcresistane and accepted the lordship of the Manchu empire (1691). This left Zungaria as the only still independent part of the Mongol nation. For the Mnchu, these and other successes in the west came at just the time that European naval powers had reached China and were beginning to become increasingly important in commerce.

Mongolia under the Manchus (17th-19th centuries)

The Manchus conquered first Inner and then Outer Mongolia, incorporating them in their new empire. The Manchu emperor thus became the ruler of the Mongols and of Mongolia. The Manchus did not replace the nobility. The Mongol nobles retained their place in Mongol society and traditional titles. The Manchus did proceed to implement an elaborate administrative system in Mongolia for the first time, both to govern and tax. The Manchus intervened more in Inner than Outer Mongolia and implemented an administeative system more along Chinese lines. The Manchus organized the 24 traditional provinces into six large regions. The Manchu appointed a governor to oversee Outer Mongolia. The governer ruled from Uliastai. Outer Mongolia was divided in to three provinces (1691). The provinces were: Tusheet khan province, Zasagt khan province and Setsen khan province. A fourth province was added (Sain khan province (1725). This was to reward lord Sain for hisassistance in the war with the Oirads who had earlier broken away from the Mongols. The Emperor appointed another govenor to rule centrl Mongolia from Huree. Eventually the tribes in western Mongolia were forced to also recognize the Emperor's authority. The emperor appointed a govenor in Howd (1762). The Mongols had embraced Buddhism during the era of the Lesser Khan. The Manchus as with other areas of their rule, did not seek to radically reform Mongol society, but to basically control it. They retained the Bogd (Buddhist religious keader). The Manchu created a ministy to oversee the Bogd. There was resistance to the Manchus, including number of rebellions. The most important occurred in western Mongolia, the most remote and traditional area. A group of Mongol nobels launched an uprising (1755). The leaders were Galdan boshigt, Amarsanaa, and Chingunjav. There were some initial successes. But after the Manchu mobilized and deployed a massive ar,y, it was easily crushed. Amarsanaa sought refuge in Russia. Other leaders were executed and their followers dealt with harshly. The Manchus supressed Mongol desires for autonomy. Under Manchu rule, Mongolia was entirely closed off from the outside world. Thus Mobgoliaentered the 20th century as a backward region of a traditional and declining Manchu Empire.

East Asian Power Politics (Late-19th and Early-20th centuries)

Mongolia wa surrounded by China and Russia with Japan on the prefifery. Momentous developments in these three powers would affect Mongolia's future. Mongolia in the late 19th century children was still ruled by Manchu China. The power abnd authority of the Emperor, however, was rapidly eroding. China lost the humiliating First Sino-Japanese war, vividly exposing the weakness of China (1894). One result was expanded Japanese influence in Korea and Manchuria. The Boxer rebellion exposed the weakness of the Imoperial system (1900). The Dowager Emperess was no longer able to control developments in China proper, let along in Mongolia. As a result, Mongolian leaders began to seriously consider independence. Japan unlike China pursued a rapid program of modernization and industrialization. The First Sino-Japanese war was only the first step in building a Japanese Empire. The Next was the Russo-Japanese War (1904-05) which confirmed the Japanese position in Korea and expabnded it in Manchuria. This brought the Japanese to the borders of Mongolia for the first time. The Manchu Imperial state was iver throen and the Republic of China proclaimed (1911). China became dominated by war lords and Republican officials were unable to exercise more than nominal authority in Mongolia.

Independence (1911-24)

Leading intellectuals and statesmen after the fall of the Manchu Empire declared Outer Mongolia independent (1911). Ourter Mongolia had never been integrated in the Chinese Empire to the degree of Inner Mongolia. The new Nationalist Government rejected independence, but did not immedistely have the force to intervene. Independent Outer Mongolia was organized as a theocracy, similar to developments in Tibet at the same time. The Bogd, Buddhist religious leader, became a secular political figure. A Mongoloan delegation headed by T. Namnansüren traveled to Tsarist Russia in an effort to obtain support for the new state (1913). There was little international support or even recognition of the Outer Mongolian government. After the outbreak of World War I, Russia, China, and Mongolia officials met in Kyakht and signed an agreement recognizing the autonomy, but not the independence of Mongolia (1915). Despite that agreement, the Chinese Nationalists cancelled the Kyakht Agreement invaded Mongolia to restablish Chinese authority (1919). They were concerned about the Russian Revolution and possible Soviet invasion of Mongolia. Mongolian leaders organized limited resistance. As part of the Russian Revolution and subsequent Civil War which spilled into Siberia, Outer Mongolia broke away from China (1921). Mongolia managed to briefly reestablish its independence proclaimed by Sukhbaatar. A theocratic state was restanlished, but the authority of Bogd VIII was limited by secular authorities. Bogd VIII died (1924).

Soviet Client State (1924-90)

The Soviet-dominated Mongolian People's Republic was declared after the death of the Bogd VIII (1924). The Chinese retained control of Inner-Mongolia. The Communists after the Revolution combined Inner Mongolia with Mongol areas of western Manchuria and the former privince of Jehol to form the the Inner Mongolian Autinomous Region. Mongolia thus became a republic for the first time and a constitution promulgated. The revolution leaders establishing the republic were supported by the Soviets and of course chose to create a Communist state. This new regime became well established (1925-28). There were major differences among the MPRP leadership, primarily concerning the relationship with the Soviet Union. The Communists commenced to make major reforms in Mongolian society. Few countries were changed more than Mongolia which at the time was still an essentially feudal society. In an effort to create a classless society, the nobiloty with all its privliges was abloished. The new government introduced Western medicine and technologies. A modern educational system was set up, although much of the country was still nomadic pastoralists which were at first largely untouched by the reforms. Peljidiyn Genden believed in an independent Mongolia and was not a Communist idealogue. He emerged to lead the country (1932-36). Genden scaled back the attemots to create a Soviet command economy and afamently reject Soviet demands to allow Doviet Red Army troops to be statiined in Mongolia. He rejected a direct order from Stalin to "liquidate" Buddhist monks. Horloogiyn Choybalsan with Soviet backing replaced Genden. Choybalsan fell in line with the Soviets. The Soviets never formally annexed Mongoilia, but the country was integrated into the Soviet Empire. The Mongolian Government was controlled by the Soviets. And like the Soviet Union, Stalin subjected Mongolia to vicious purges. Thosands were executed or disappeared into the Gulag. The Japanese seizure of Manchuria (1931) created a land border between Jaoan and Mongolia. Presented with a serious Japanese threat, the Soviets even though they had a cooperative pupet regine, deciided to change policy in Mongolia. Instead of rapidly imposing socialism eventually decided on a more gradualist appriach which would generate less domestic resistance. Economic gradualism was calcukated to best support a program of building a national defense. Japan had seized Manchuria (1931). This brought the Japanese to the Mongolian border, but it was a poorly defined border. The Soviet-Mongolian army led by Zukov defeated a Japanese army in the Battle of Halhin Gol (1939). This was the scene of a little-publicised, but very important engagement of World War II. Japanese Army units began clashing with Mongolian border guards (1936). These small skirmishes between Japanese and Mongolians patrols gradually ecalated. With Europe moving toward war, Stalin gave General Zukov the assignment of putting an end to these destractions. The result was the Khakhingol Incident. (The Japanese reffered to these clashes in Manchiria and China as incidents. Even the war with China was referred to as an "incident".) The result was a massive Red Army offensive and decisive defeat of the Japanese Army. This almost certainly was a factor in Japan's subsequent decesion to attack America rather than the Soviet Union. As a result, Mongolia, unlike China, Japan, and the Soviet Union was not devestated by World War II. The Chinese Government after World War II recognized the full independence of Mongolia (1945). Choybalsan following Stalin's example, ruled Mongolia with a iron hand. After Stalin's death (1953) and Nikita Kruschev's denounciation of Stalin at the Twetith Party Congress, the Mongolian Party did the same to Choybalsan. The Party condemned Choybalsan's personality cult and many of his hard-line policies. Asthis was essentially the same policies beung pursued in Moscow, the Mongols has a degree of flexibility that they did mt have under Stalin. The Mongols shifted their priorities to ecomonic development and permitted small-scale private enterprise. The Soviets permited the Mongols to estanlish ties with "safe" countries--the new Communist countries established after World War II. Mongolia became regonized by the international community, although it was a Soviet puppet state. The country was admitted to the United Nations (1961). Mongolia continued as a Soviet puppet state until the late-1980s. The end of Soviet control and fall of Communism in Eastern Europe resonated in Mongolia.

Independence (1990- )

The democratic opposition grew in 1980s with the rlaxation og KGB controls. The opposition openly demanded political reforms and staged public demonstrations with substantial public participation (December 1989). The Soviets relinquished control of Mongolia (1990). Mongolia finally obtained real independence. The well-organized Communisys win the first multi-party elections. Mongolia adopted a new Constitution which guaranteed an open, competitive democracy and substantial economic changes (1992). The country launched on a demoritization process which seems more successfulthan the former-Soviet "stans" of central Asia. The Communists win the first election under the new Cobstitution (1992). A Democratic Coalition unexpevtedly defeat the Communists in an election (1996). The Communists won the next election (2000).


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Created: 12:51 AM 3/28/2009
Last updated: 7:36 AM 2/15/2016