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The rise and fall of the Mongol Empire - Anne F. Broadbridge

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It was the largest contiguous land empire in history— stretching from Korea to Ukraine, and from Siberia to southern China. And was forged on the open plains. In the 12th century, the East Asian steppe was home to scattered groups of nomads who, by 1206, would be united under the innovative leadership of a man named Temujin. Anne F. Broadbridge details the rise and fall of the Mongol Empire.

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TED-Ed Animations feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Anne F. Broadbridge
  • Director Hernando Bahamon
  • Narrator Nishat Ruiter
  • Storyboard Artist Hernando Bahamon
  • Art Director Ivan Barrera
  • Animator Didier Moreno
  • Compositor Didier Moreno
  • 3D Animator Andres Hernandez
  • Composer Manuel Borda
  • Director of Production Gerta Xhelo
  • Editorial Producer Alex Rosenthal
  • Associate Producer Bethany Cutmore-Scott
  • Script Editor Alex Gendler
  • Fact-checker Joseph Isaac
  • See more
Additional Resources for you to Explore
The Mongol Empire was the largest contiguous land empire in history, yet remains largely unknown. Chinggis Khan established it with the help of other men and women in the nomadic society from which he came, along with the spirit world, and certain military innovations of his own. The Empire went on to shape the history of Asia, the Middle East and Europe for centuries.


The Mongol Empire has inspired tremendous interest among scholars and the general public alike. But the languages required to study the topic are a barrier to research, since they include medieval versions of Mongolian, Chinese, Russian, Persian, Armenian, Georgian, Korean, Tibetan, Japanese, Uighur, Latin, French, Hungarian and Arabic, to name only some. Even if you read only translations, you still need English, German, French and Russian.

Mongol history is therefore fascinating, but a hard nut to crack, and we know less than we want to about many subjects. But we do have some things:

For a general history of the Mongol Empire, read Timothy May’s The Mongol Empire (2018). Here

Or check out the older but still good The Mongols, by David O. Morgan. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 2007. Here

Since the Mongol military and their astonishing conquests were deservedly famous, learn why in Timothy May’s The Mongol Art of War (2007). And here

For women in the Mongol Empire:
Broadbridge, Anne F. Women and the Making of the Mongol Empire. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018. Here
De Nicola, Bruno. Women in Mongol Iran: The Khatuns, 1206-1335. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press 2017. And here

And if it’s the Mongols in China you seek, try Rossabi, Morris. Khubilai Khan: His life and times. Berkeley, University of California Press, 1988, 2009. Rossabi's Khubilai Khan

Khubilai was also made famous by Samuel Tayor Coleridge in his opium-fueled poem, “Kubla Khan.” For the text of Coleridge’s poem: Kubla Khan

For an explanation of the writing of the poem under the influence of a little opium:
Coleridge writes under the influence

For novels, see the work of John May or Conn Iggulden.

Or if you prefer movies, check out the trailer for Sergei Bodrov’s Mongol (2008), shot in Inner Mongolia (China) and Kazakhstan. Here’s the trailer: Mongol (Bodrov) trailer

By contrast, The Conqueror (1955), starring John Wayne and Susan Hayward, is universally described as the worst movie on the Mongols ever produced. Darker still, for years, ugly rumors have linked it to the premature deaths from cancer of most of the cast and crew, including Wayne and Hayward themselves, which might have been caused by filming downwind from nuclear test sites in Nevada. Here is a 2015 take from the UK newspaper, The Guardian: The Guardian on nuclear fallout and John Wayne

Or another take from Medical Bag: Death of John Wayne

Finally, don’t miss the Crash Course in History lesson on the Mongols: Mongols Crash Course

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About TED-Ed Animations

TED-Ed Animations feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Anne F. Broadbridge
  • Director Hernando Bahamon
  • Narrator Nishat Ruiter
  • Storyboard Artist Hernando Bahamon
  • Art Director Ivan Barrera
  • Animator Didier Moreno
  • Compositor Didier Moreno
  • 3D Animator Andres Hernandez
  • Composer Manuel Borda
  • Director of Production Gerta Xhelo
  • Editorial Producer Alex Rosenthal
  • Associate Producer Bethany Cutmore-Scott
  • Script Editor Alex Gendler
  • Fact-checker Joseph Isaac
  • See more