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The Best Invasion Ever

 
       Usually, an enemy invasion is considered to be a bad thing. The very word summons to the mind's eye pictures of slaughtered innocents, burnt towns, and salted fields. The Mongol Invasion of a little under 800 years ago certainly included many of these horrifying images, but there was a lot of good as well.

          Good news is always accompanied by bad news, however, so I shall endeavor to quickly explain the negative effects of the Mongol Invasion before proceeding to that which was beneficial. Hundreds of thousands of people were killed. Whole towns and cities were razed to the ground. The most terrifying effect was that of disease. Fleas buzzed, following the thunder of horsemen into Europe, spreading the bubonic plague, that infamous Black Death, which killed 25% of all Europeans, around 60-79 million people at the time.

          These negatives, while admittedly awful, faded away with the medicine of time, and brought in a whole host of positives. Firstly, for a whole eighty years, the Mongol Empire and many surrounding nations experience the 'Pax Mongolica', a time of great tranquility, and what caused the other beneficial effects soon to be demonstrated.

          The 'Pax Mongolica' tremendously boosted our world's modern technological advances, for one. Gunpowder, papermaking, and the primitive printing press made their way into Western hands. This scientific explosion also expanded our knowledge of medicine, and health.

          More than just technology found its way into Europe. The 'Pax Mongolica' reestablished the Silk Road, with Mongols specifically focusing on protecting trade routes, keeping the money and resources flowing. Silk gave tremendous wealth to its sellers, and was soon followed by other natural goods. Many Eastern and Western domesticated creatures and plants swapped hands.

          In addition, the Mongol Empire was one of the first truly tolerant empires Europe truly interacted with. Mongol citizens could be Christian, Muslim, Taoist, Buddhist, or Hindu all so long as they did not attract the wrath of their Khan. The famous Christian explorer Marco Polo made use of this, crossing Eurasia in one of the most legendary, recorded adventures in history. Marco Polo was an inspiration for explorer Christopher Columbus's exploration, as well, so it is safe to say that without Mongol invasion, the colonization of America would have taken place much later than in our timeline.

          Peace in the northern steppes meant that Russian tribes could finally unite as well. Up until the Invasion, the frozen North held no strong kingdom, or local power, instead consisting of many miniature tribes and city states. With the ominous, but no longer attacking Mongol presence, Russians panicked, and fought to create a home for themselves. By 1450, two hundred years after the initial invasion, there was a true regional power - Muscovy - and in 1480, they pushed the remnants of the Mongol settlers out of their land once and for all.

          There are so many other fascinating things that occurred as a result, but I think I'll close with one of the most interesting. Ever since the Hellenic kingdom of Lydia started using silver coins, most Western civilizations utilized rounded gold or silver pieces to signify money, but Eastern influences would change that. Paper money, a foreign invention, was distrusted at first, especially because it was simply paper, as compared to valuable metals, but it soon caught on, and Europeans were using it as if they had invented it in the first place.

          I hope this look into the effects of the Mongol Invasion was interesting. It's always a good idea to look more deeply into topics that look bad at first glance, instead of dismissing them as horrific. While they did spread the Black Death, they also spread religion, regional unity, trade goods, wealth, and immense knowledge. Historical pessimism can be replaced with historical optimism. What at first glance seems to be filled with negatives, is really just one side of a coin. Sometimes, you just need to flip it around and see what's on the other side.
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