From Wikipedia:

The campaign was heralded by the Battle of the Kalka River in 1223, which resulted in a Mongol victory over the forces of several Rus' principalities. The Mongols nevertheless retreated. A full-scale invasion of Rus' by Batu Khan followed, from 1237 to 1240. The invasion was ended by the Mongol succession process upon the death of Ögedei Khan. All Russian states were forced to submit to Mongol rule and became part of the Golden Horde empire, some of which lasted until 1480.

Mongol invaders of Russia enjoyed a level of success never experienced by the Europeans. Why is that?

  • 4
    Because they were coming from the other direction of course. Aug 29, 2015 at 0:10
  • 4
    There was no such thing as "Russia" at the time of Mongols.
    – Alex
    Aug 29, 2015 at 2:33
  • 1
    Is this another unwelcomed question? If yes, I will delete it. What is wrong with it this time? I would like to know before I delete it.
    – curious
    Aug 29, 2015 at 3:18
  • @Tyler Durden: that is an important insight. Why was it easier to attack Russia from the East than from the West?
    – curious
    Aug 29, 2015 at 4:44
  • 1
    @curious, your subject line makes the assumption that the three invasions are in any way comparable. That makes your question seem naive. Better ask how and why the Mongols defeated the Rus.
    – o.m.
    Aug 29, 2015 at 6:20

2 Answers 2


The mongols, when at their best, were unified and powerful. At the time, Russian city-states and kingships had little to no unity, and as the mongols were the top dogs of their time, they easily dispatched the little true resistance they were given. Plus, much of Russian land is plateau. The mongols were given a big boost with this as their horses and archers achieved maximum results under these conditions.

Mongols were also very self-sufficient and never lost troops easily. There have been (true) stories on how one scouting party sent by Genghis Khan nearly annihilated all of Eastern Europe and West Asia. They could survive in near intolerable conditions like Russia and Mongolia due to generations of living off the barren land. They also picked up new troops nearly everywhere they went as the Khans were very tolerant of caste and religion, as long as one also worshiped the Khan. Many great Mongolian troops and generals were farmed of conquered villages and states.

In hindsight, it may be confusing to some people seeing Russia as the big power it is today, but Russia was just groups of weak states at that time.

  • 5
    It's worth to mention that "never losing mongolian troops easily" means sending those "newly recruited troops" to the slaughter.
    – Matt
    Aug 29, 2015 at 20:48

Just a couple of thoughts.

  1. Rus' internal weakness Due to disunity Russian feodal states were not capable to form a grand alliance.
  2. Kievan Rus vs Russian Empire Rus had no such territory or human resources as Russia had. Napoleon seized far bigger piece than mongols did but still was too far from the true success.
  3. Military superiority At the very least, in the 13th century mongol army was the most mobile one. That helped them not only to conquer Russian states but also to control them efficiently.
  4. Political and administrative management Mongol conquests could be compared with Arab conquests. That was not just "robbery". They created new administrative system which included both "conquered" and "free" Russian states.
  • 1
    Speaking of the military superiority, they were apparently the first to use a one-man horse-rider as an archer (i.e. the rider could efficiently fire arrows and ride a horse simultaneously). This cavalry archer became the most lethal unit on the battlefield, constituting 60% of total cavalry force. The Mongol horse probably needs a thread of it's own - it is extremely hardy and unlike any other horse in the world. Mongol mounted troopers also carried with them extra horses per person and rotated horses for riding as one horse became tired, allowing them to travel long distances in short time.
    – Samid
    Nov 14, 2018 at 3:52

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