I found out that Mongol Empire had around 100,000 soldiers on the field. Most of them were cavalries and they had great battle tactics.

Isn't that figure however a bit low to conquer and control that huge land?

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    I am pretty sure, this question might need some refinement, but generally a good question. It shouldn't be a "-3". The reasons are not trivial. Commented Apr 23, 2015 at 7:05
  • @CsBalazsHungary the reasons are not trivial, but the form is so poor that I'm hardly surprised to see such a score. It should just be edited not to look like a kid wondering about a random fact and just asking it.
    – o0'.
    Commented Apr 23, 2015 at 8:09
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    @Lohoris I edited a bit, I ask Telmuun Dunia to edit it further if some focus is lost, please try to keep integrity, and focusing less on personal impressions. Commented Apr 23, 2015 at 8:21
  • @CsBalazsHungary middle ground: let's anwer anyway, ignoring the question form and focusing on what's actually being asked, but downvote if the form is poor. Downvoting is necessary in order to give feedback to the users about which kind of post we like to see in this site. (the fact that if other people improve your post you will get better votes without any effort on your part, certainly does not help…)
    – o0'.
    Commented Apr 23, 2015 at 9:30
  • It's also worth noting that on a standard Mercator Projection areas North of 45 degrees Latitude are represented with significant exaggeration in size compared to areas South of 45 degrees Latitude. So while this empire was impressive in its size, it is not actually as large as it is commonly drawn. For example, about 80% of modern Mongolia and Kazakhstan, and virtually all of Siberia, lies North of 45 degrees Latitude. Sevastopol is only a few minutes south of 45 degrees North Latitude. Commented Apr 30, 2015 at 1:56

4 Answers 4


The mongols weren't fighting modem armies. 100k is huge for a medieval army. Most of what the mongols conquered were steppes which weren't very highly populated to start off with. The Chinese or Persians had large populations, but their infantry army was no match for mongol horse archers.

So basically the mongols were successful because 100k cavalry armies were very formidable.

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    and because they could move rapidly, the mongols could cover at least 3 times the distance an infantry army could a day if not 5-6 times, so especially for places unfortified or where their armies were spread out to counter threats from difference places, the mongols could sweep through an entire countries in a mater of a week or 2 compared to month - year long campaigns a traditional army would need. Border post today, captial in a week, while it could take months to gather an army large enough to defend.
    – Himarm
    Commented Apr 21, 2015 at 13:54

The success of the mongolian army was built on more factors:

  • size: as it mentioned, an army with 100.000 people wasn't small at all. Take note that the population of Holy Roman Empire (today: Germany, Netherlands, North Italy, Austria, Czech Republic, Slovenia, Switzerland, Belgium, Luxembourg, and some parts of France) in 1200 was only 5 million!
  • tactics: While Europe tried to focus on cheap infantry, and heavy cavalry, Mongolians had relatively cheap light cavalry with firing capabilities. It proved it's value before in Hunnic, Scythian, Hungarian and numerous other armies. For some reason it didn't become popular in Europe. On addition, these armies consisted skilled close combat units as well with spear and swords. Also worths to mention that Mongols mustered armies from conquered territories, so their army could get fresh supplies and manpower through advancing, lessening the burden of logistics, and practically eliminating the problem of refilling the numbers in the army.
  • timing: it was the Mongols' fortune that Europe by that time sent numerous exhausting conquests to the middle east, namely the crusades, these campaigns resulted less, and it was serious waste of human resources. Mongols came just after these crusades, which gave them significant advantages. A note on this: Mongols never conquered Holy Roman Empire's main territory, but it certainly influenced the fact that literally pathetic amount of help was given to Hungary, Poland, Lithuania, Galicia. And it was Europe's luck that Ogodei Khan died in 1255 and Mongolian advance stopped.
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    For some reason it didn't become popular in Europe worth mentioning (even if briefly) those reasons. Unless I'm mistaken, that's because it would require extensive training, which all adult mongols had, while european armies were mostly made out of conscripted citizens, right?
    – o0'.
    Commented Apr 23, 2015 at 9:04
  • @Lohoris valid point, actually steppe origined nations had very early and long horseback training, and that could be the key factor which was missing in Europe's non-nomadic culture. Commented Apr 23, 2015 at 9:20

I think the success might have had more to do with tactics than with the size of the army on the field. One of the ingenious methods Genghis Khan employed to win over the loyalty of his enemies was the order to execute them (and their families) if they would not ally with him and his forces. The majority of the nomads was reported to have realigned allegiance in order to avoid the infamous brutal onslaught of the Mongol warriors. In return, those who switched camps were rewarded a peaceful life, and promised lands and food. As enemies throughout the steppes became allies, even though the area was huge, it was more efficient to win by politics than by sheer military conquests (although that was not uncommon towards those who were unwilling to change allegiance).

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    1. Could you provide some references to this? 2. Is this not a pretty common tactic in many wars? "Accept me as the supreme ruler or face death." Why would that be an added advantage for Genghis?
    – Rajib
    Commented Apr 29, 2015 at 13:25
  • @Rajib, in fact that might have been one of the oldest tricks in the book. Genghis grew up in one of the fractured and disunited tribe of the steppes, and he knew if he was going to win, he had to achieve unification. He established leadership, common enemies, a common history for the peoples, and a sense of glory in future military endeavors. It went beyond the mere scare of facing death if you disagreed with him. It was not unique to him, but it helped the Mongols got to where they would be. I'm sure there were other contributing factors as well.
    – andzrev
    Commented Apr 29, 2015 at 14:47

Fundamentally the major Mongol success was the conquest of China, and that was due to fact China was divided and Mongols were successful in getting large amounts of assistance by allying with Chinese factions.

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