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Batu, Khan of the Golden Horde: The Mongol Khans Conquer Russia

In the thirteenth century, the West had mastered its own barbarians and was now pushing forward the frontiers of Christendom against Islam, which was the only enemy that it still feared.

The Mongols appeared like a bolt from out of the blue. Suddenly without warning, an army of unknown barbarians appeared on the southeastern Russian border. A bishop of the Orthodox Church called them Tatars, after the Latin word for hell, tartarus.

The Russian princes went to the aid of their own barbarian neighbors, the Kipchak Turks, and there was a great battle on the River Kalka on the Russian steppe close to the Sea of Azov.

The Russian princes were utterly defeated. The Prince of Kiev and other princes who surrendered were laid under boards and suffocated while the Mongols feasted on top.

This is the beginning of the campaign that put Russia under the Mongol yoke for a period of 200 years until the coming of the Romanov czars in the person of Ivan the Terrible. It is a fascinating backdrop to the historical events of today, for it explains why there are Tatars in the Crimea. They are the descendants of Chinggis Khan's armies. For the story of the Russian campaign as a backdrop to current events, this is a very lively read with characters concerned with the same subjects as the characters in Shakespeare's Histories: power, wealth, pride, war, love and sex, betrayal, intrigue and skulduggery in high places.


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