Indeed, why? It is believed that the Mongol horde that went to conquer the west, had about two hundred thousand soldiers. Or a little less, according to other sources. But in any case, it was a huge force, capable of overthrowing kings and destroying empires.
The trick is that the state of the Khorezmshahs, which is a mixture of a nomadic Turkic base and sedentary Iranian farmers, could have sent a larger army into the field. Yes, besides, due to the well-developed production, many warriors would be very well equipped and armed. Where are the wild Mongols from the steppes before them?
In addition, this state reached power not so long ago and did not at all represent a loose empire that is falling apart under the weight of its own weight. On the contrary, it was strong and aggressive, claiming supreme power in the Muslim world.
So why did the Khorezmshah Ala ad-Din Mohammed II not gather all his troops to defeat Genghis Khan in a stubborn oncoming battle?
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According to a long historical tradition, it is believed that he was a weak and inept ruler who simply feared the enemy and hoped for strong walls. But this is not at all the case, because the entire previous career of this ruler suggests the opposite.
Immediately after coming to power, the thirty-year-old Muhammad had to repel the invasion of the Afghans-Ghurids, with which he coped quite successfully, and then even subjugated their western regions. He then managed to defeat the Karakitai nomads after his troops were defeated in the first battle. And shortly before the Mongol invasion, the Shah set out to conquer Baghdad and was forced to stop the campaign only after a heavy snowfall.
Moreover, Mohammed was not at all afraid of Genghis Khan himself. It was he who ordered to crack down on the embassy of his eastern neighbor, and then led the troops to the Tumens of Jochi and Subudai, who drove the Naimans and Merkits in East Turkestan. The offensive battle brought losses to both sides, but at night the Mongols retreated, and therefore the victory can be counted for the Khorezmshah.
In other words, he wasn’t exactly a coward. In his career, there have been many victories and defeats, and victories after defeats. It is unlikely that the ruler of Central Asia was afraid of a stubborn struggle.
But he never led the entire army against Genghis Khan. Why?
According to the campaign plan drawn up by Subudai, the Mongols marched west in four columns. Each of these cavalry corps carried Chinese engineers with throwing weapons and were capable of storming fortresses. Their capabilities were well known to their own command, which tested them in the Celestial Empire and the Tangut state of Xi Xia, but few people in the west knew about it.
The aristocracy of the Khorezmians, themselves former nomads, were fully aware that Genghis Khan could gather a huge army. But they reasonably believed that the Mongols who were strong in the steppe war did not know how to take cities. That is why already in 1218, a year before the invasion, large-scale work began in Khorezm to strengthen the city walls. A bet was placed on a siege war, and it would be quite reasonable if the leader of the Mongols did not create a new type of army.
In addition, the Turks who were in power in Khorezm understood that their empire was young, and most of the territories had been conquered quite recently, and their population had very dubious loyalty. They rightly feared that if the garrisons were weakened, popular riots would begin in the country.
But it soon turned out that Muhammad’s courtiers were mistaken in both. The Mongols know how to take fortresses, and due to the fact that they treated their inhabitants extremely harshly, uprisings could not be feared.
But when the Khorezmshah realized this, it was already too late to bring out the whole silushka into the field. The Mongols crushed the entire eastern part of the country, smashing the enemy piecemeal in small skirmishes and destroying the main cities. They literally tore apart the state and quickly established their control over the main provinces. There was no one to go out and fight with Genghis Khan – everyone died in Bukhara, Gurganj or Otrar.
That is why Khorezmshah Muhammad is not a coward or a fool, but a person who incorrectly assessed the fighting qualities of the enemy. This has happened many times in history and always ended in failure. One must think that if the Khorezmians managed to stop the Mongols, the ruin of Kievan Rus, the capture of South China and the conquest of the Middle East would not have happened. History would have taken a different path, and several great powers at once would not have experienced the horrors of Mongolian war.