Nicholas Morton’s latest work, “The Mongol Storm: Making and Breaking Empires in the Medieval Near East”, delves into the drastic changes brought about by the Mongol invasions of the early 13th century. His book investigates the cataclysmic geopolitical consequences of this period and poses the question: “In times of chaos and upheaval, who survives?”. Over the course of the book, Morton draws on research in multiple languages to trace the tumultuous century following the arrival of the Mongols, examining the devastating impact on the diverse states of the region and their inhabitants.
- The book starts in 1218 when the first rumors of a formidable force from the East set the stage for the failure of the Fifth Crusade. The book paints a vivid picture of the havoc and terror that ensued over the next decade, during which the Mongols inflicted one crushing defeat after another.
- Morton pays close attention to the nuanced responses of the small Christian states and kingdoms to the Mongol threat. He portrays their internal politics and the strategies they employed to survive amidst the chaos.
- The book brings to light how the Mongol rulers’ policy of religious tolerance had socially destabilizing effects, disrupting established hierarchies and power dynamics. This had profound implications for both Christian and Muslim elites.
- The Mongol’s shift from conquest to governance resulted in a volatile scramble for influential roles within their administration. This had both socio-political and economic implications, such as disrupted trade followed by the opening of new commercial routes and markets.
- Morton concludes with an analysis of the fallout of four decades of Mongol dominance. The ascension of Muslim-ruled states like the Mamluk Sultanate and the Ottomans marked the end of the Crusader kingdoms, and the Mongols’ influence began to wane, bringing new geopolitical challenges.