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ENCYCLOPEDIC ENTRY

ENCYCLOPEDIC ENTRY

The Pax Mongolica

The Pax Mongolica

The Pax Mongolica ushered in an era of stability and commerce that successfully connected Europe and East Asia.

Grades

5 - 8

Subjects

Geography, Social Studies, World History

Image

Genghis Khan

Genghis Khan is the most famous ruler in all of Mongolia's history. Khan's empire occupied a large piece of modern day Asia, including most of China.

Image by Josse/Lemage

The Pax Mongolica, Latin for “Mongol peace,” describes a period of relative stability in Eurasia under the Mongol Empire during the 13th and 14th centuries. The Pax Mongolica brought a period of stability among the people who lived in the conquered territory.

After the death of the first Mongol emperor, Genghis Khan, in 1227, the resulting empire extended from the China’s Pacific coast to Eastern Europe. This meant that the Silk Road network, which had been dangerous to travel due to the warring kingdoms along the route, fell completely under Mongol control.

The resulting stability brought by Mongol rule opened these ancient trade routes to a largely undisturbed exchange of goods between peoples from Europe to East Asia. Along the Silk Road, people traded goods such as horses, porcelain, jewels, silk, paper, and gun powder. European travelers, such as the Venetian merchant Marco Polo, were able to go all the way to China and back. Polo went on to describe his experience in distant lands in a chronicle that captivated the European audience.

Aside from facilitating trade, the Mongol influence also improved the communication along the Silk Road by establishing a postal relay system. The Mongols culturally enhanced the Silk Road by allowing people of different religions to coexist. The merging of peoples and cultures from conquered territories brought religious freedom throughout the empire. Across the vast steppes of Asia, a traveler might encounter Muslims and Christians living and working alongside Mongols, who continued to practice their traditional religion.

But some of the things that made the Pax Mongolica so efficient are what caused its decline and fall in the mid-1300s. The efficient trade routes led to the rapid and unchecked spread of the bubonic plague, also known as the Black Death. The plague originated in central Asia, making its way westward to Europe where it spread further. In addition to disease, the fragmented empire endured increasing turmoil from within. This prevented further expansion and hastened its inevitable decline.

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Director
Tyson Brown, National Geographic Society
Author
National Geographic Society, National Geographic Society
Production Managers
Gina Borgia, National Geographic Society
Jeanna Sullivan, National Geographic Society
Program Specialists
Sarah Appleton, National Geographic Society, National Geographic Society
Margot Willis, National Geographic Society
Specialist, Content Production
Clint Parks,
Producer
André Gabrielli, National Geographic Society
other
Last Updated

May 20, 2022

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