Batu Khan (about 1205 – 1255), a Mongol king and Genghis Khan’s grandson formed the Blue Horde, which subsequently became the Golden Horde (Kipchak Khanate). For almost 250 years, the Golden Horde controlled Rus and the Caucasus, conquering Poland and Hungary. Batu had a minor part in the Mongol conquest of Europe, with his commander Subutai credited with strategic planning.
Batu won the Battle of Mohi in 1241 after conquering Rus, Volga Bulgaria, and Crimea. He returned to Mongolia momentarily for the Great Khan election in 1246 but then resumed leadership over the Golden Horde. Despite playing minor roles in European operations, Batu’s impact includes bringing Europe’s attention beyond its borders and helping to secure the Silk Road during the Mongol Empire’s existence, as well as promoting cultural links across diverse worlds.
Although Genghis Khan accepted Jochi as his son, questions regarding his origins remained owing to the circumstances surrounding his mother’s abduction. This problem damaged Jochi’s relationship with Genghis, almost resulting in a civil war before Jochi’s death.
Despite receiving just 4,000 men to begin his own khanate, Jochi’s son Batu, recognized as his most skilled, boosted his armies by enlisting vanquished Turkic people. Batu and his brother Orda split the provinces when Genghis and Jochi died, with Orda’s White Horde to the east and Batu’s Golden Horde to the west of the Volga River.
Berke, Batu’s brother, replaced him and struggled with Hulagu Khan despite nominally supporting the Khanate of China. Berke, unlike Batu, had no desire to conquer Europe but instead sought obedience from Hungarian King Bela IV and dispatched armies to Lithuania and Poland.
Batu had at least four offspring, including Sartaq, who temporarily governed the Golden Horde, and his genealogy continued through successive generations.
Following the death of Genghis Khan’s son Jochi, his domains were split among Jochi’s sons, with Batu ascending to the position of Khan of the Golden Horde, also known as the Ulus of Jochi or Kipchak Khanate. Orda Khan, Jochi’s eldest son, backed Batu’s ascension. Temuge, Genghis Khan’s youngest brother, was present at Batu’s coronation.
Ogedei, Genghis Khan’s successor, dispatched three tumens headed by Kukhdei and Sundei to subjugate tribes near the lower Ural River in 1229. Batu fought in Ogedei’s expedition against the Jin dynasty in North China, while his younger brother fought against other Western tribes.
During the 1230s, Ogedei assigned estates in Shanxi to Batu and Jochi’s family, with local governance under imperial control. Following Jochi’s death, his sons were given distinct areas, with Orda controlling the lands around the Volga River and Lake Balkhash and Batu ruling the provinces west of the Volga, ranging from the north shore of the Caspian Sea to the Ural River.
Also Read: Why Mongols Were So Successful
Conquest of Rus
Following the Mongol-Jin War, Great Khan Ogedei tasked Batu with conquering western kingdoms. Batu commanded an army of potentially 130,000 men to attack Europe in 1235, with family and prominent generals accompanying him. Subutai, who led the army, conquered Volga, Bulgaria after a year-long war in 1236.
The Mongols then demanded loyalty from Yuri II of Vladimir-Suzdal, resulting in Ryazan’s destruction in 1237. The capitals of Moscow and Vladimir-Suzdal were destroyed, and Yuri II’s army was beaten.
Batu’s forces were further split, destroying fourteen Rus cities but sparing Smolensk, Novgorod, and Pskov. The conquest reached a climax in the winter of 1239 with the destruction of Chernihiv and Pereyaslav, followed by the storming of Kyiv in December 1240.
Invasion of Europe
Cuman exiles sought asylum in the Kingdom of Hungary in the 13th century. Batu Khan repeatedly sought the return of the Cumans from King Bela IV, but discussions failed, resulting in Mongol threats. Batu’s goal was to protect his flanks and maybe conquer all of Europe.
Subutai and Batu’s Mongol army attacked Central Europe in three groups, destroying Poland, Hungary, Austria, and Dalmatia. While some Mongol troops had won, Subutai was hoping for a decisive triumph over the Magyars, Croats, and Templars. The Battle of Mohi in 1241 was a major Mongol victory over King Bela IV and his allies.
Despite preparations to attack Austria, Italy, and Germany, the death of Ogedei Khan caused a Mongol retreat, with Batu Khan solidifying his conquests in Asia and the Urals. Batu’s chance to become the Great Khan escaped him, causing him to turn his emphasis to his current lands.
The Battle of Mohi and Batu Khan’s Military Tactics
One of Batu Khan’s most major military triumphs was the Battle of Mohi. In 1241, Batu’s army clashed with King Bela IV’s Hungarian army. Batu defeated the Hungarians with a mixture of deceit and surprise.
He tricked the Hungarian army into retreating, then surrounded them with his cavalry. The Hungarian army was devastated as a result of their inability to mount an effective resistance. The Battle of Mohi confirmed Batu’s reputation as a superb military strategist.
Batu Khan and the Formation of the Golden Horde
Batu Khan’s conquests in early 13th-century Eastern Europe helped build the Golden Horde, a large Mongol kingdom that included modern-day Russia, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan. Founded in 1243, the Golden Horde lasted over two centuries, displaying a unique combination of Mongol and Turkic influences in its political and cultural elements.
The governing class included Mongol aristocracy as well as native Turkic elites, resulting in a diversified political framework. Despite being structured under the conventional Mongol khanate paradigm, authority among Genghis Khan’s successors was frequently shared, resulting in a complicated power dynamic.
The Golden Horde represented a cultural blend of Mongol and Turkic traditions, promoting a distinct identity and encouraging cultural contacts. Economically, the Golden Horde’s advantageous placement at trade crossroads aided prosperity, establishing the Golden Horde as a long-lasting and dominant power in the Eurasian landscape.
Role in Mongol Succession and Power Dynamics in Eastern Europe
Batu Khan, after leaving Hungary, established camps along the Volga River. He delayed the Mongol kurultai, leading to Guyuk’s election as the Mongol Emperor in 1246. Batu served as the viceroy of the Western empire, overseeing Russia, appointing Jochid governors in Iran, and maintaining authority without opposing the Great Khan.
During Batu’s absence, political developments occurred in Kievan Rus’, including the execution of Prince Mstislav. Upon Batu’s return, he acknowledged Grand Prince Yaroslav II as suzerain and sent him to participate in Guyuk Khan’s inauguration. Yaroslav was poisoned in Mongolia.
Batu collaborated with Russian princes, introducing Turco-Mongol practices like fire passing. Prince Michael of Chernihiv was assassinated for refusing to pay homage to Genghis Khan’s mausoleum. Danylo of Halych yielded to Batu diplomatically, exchanging prisoners and settling Keraites in Carpathian-Galicia.
Tensions arose between Batu and Guyuk, with Guyuk asserting authority in Iran and the Caucasus. Sorghaghtani Beki warned Batu of potential danger, but Güyük died before they could meet. Reports on Guyuk’s death differ, with some implicating Batu in the alleged crime.
Mongke and Batu
Batu, a Mongol commander, saw an opportunity in the 13th century to oust the House of Ogedei from Mongol sovereignty.
Despite pretending to back Oghul Qaimish as regent, Batu convened kurultai in 1250, naming Mongke as the next Great Khan. The Ogedeid and Chagatayid lineages opposed Mongke, but a later kurultai in 1251 confirmed him as Great Khan. Batu accused dissident households of conspiring, which resulted in sanctions.
During Mongke’s reign, Batu, a significant figure in the west, permitted census-taking and maintained a close connection with Mongke. He sent a Jochid envoy to Hulagu’s Middle East mission, which had been delayed due to Berke’s influence.
Batu ruled over a huge realm alongside Mongke and other rulers. He delegated state affairs to his son, Sartaq, before his death in 1255.
Batu Khan’s Personality, Appearance, and Family
Personality and Appearance
Batu was friendly to his own people, but they dreaded him. He is, however, the most merciless in battle; he is highly cunning and extremely devious in combat, having fought for a long period.
William of Rubruck described him as being around the height of his master, John de Beaumont, and having reddish patches all over his face.
Batu Khan, who stood about five feet and seven inches (1.70 m) tall, fathered at least four children:
1. Sartaq, the son of Batu Khan and Boraqchin, was the Khan of the Golden Horde from 1255 until 1256.
2. Toqoqan is the second name.
3. Andewan is the third name.
4. Ulagchi, most likely the son of Sartaq, also known as Ju Lai (Dzhulaibek).
Batu’s mother, Ukhaa Ujin, was of the Mongol Onggirat clan, and his major Khatun, Boraqchin, was of the Alchi-Tatar tribe.
Batu’s brother Berke inherited the Golden Horde after the deaths of Batu and his son Sartaq, as well as a brief regency of Boraqchin for Ulagchi. Berke, who did not share the Mongol family’s desire for unification, waged war against Hulagu Khan.
Batu’s dynasty ruled the Jochid Ulus until 1360, more than a century after Berke’s death in 1264. His brothers’ descendants, Orda and Tuqatimur, succeeded to the throne of the Golden Horde.
Vision and Decision-Making of Batu Khan
Batu Khan had a definite vision for the Mongol Empire’s future. He recognized the significance of broadening the empire’s borders and consolidating authority in order to achieve long-term success. He was a strategic thinker who could see the broad picture and make long-term plans.
His vision extended beyond military victories, as he saw the significance of establishing strong institutions and infrastructure to support the empire’s expansion. This included investing in trade and commerce, encouraging cultural interaction, and developing administrative mechanisms to successfully manage the empire.
Batu Khan was a determined leader who made rapid and efficient judgments. He was not scared to take chances and was prepared to take risky actions in order to attain his objectives. This characteristic was evident during his military battles, as he made strategic judgments that resulted in his wins.
His decisions were influenced by his intimate understanding of the area as well as the strengths and weaknesses of his adversaries. He was able to swiftly evaluate problems and devise a plan of action that would lead to success.
Batu Khan’s Role in Silk Road
Batu Khan’s expansion of Central Asia and Eastern Europe created new commercial routes and marketplaces, linking the East and West in unprecedented ways. He understood the Silk Road’s potential economic benefits and encouraged trade and commerce throughout the area, fostering the interchange of products and ideas.
Batu Khan’s activities contributed to the Silk Road becoming a safer and more stable commercial route, allowing commodities to interchange between China and Europe. He also built a tariff and control structure that aided in the protection of merchants and the safety of their goods.
Controversies Surrounding Batu Khan
The legacy of Batu Khan has sparked much debate and controversy. Some historians regard him as a brutal conqueror who caused tremendous agony and ruin. Others regard him as a visionary leader who was instrumental in ushering in a new age of cultural and economic interchange.
Batu Khan has also been the subject of conspiracy theories and tales, including the notion that he was implicated in the killing of his uncle, the Great Khan Ogedei. Finally, Batu Khan was a fascinating and complex person in Mongol history. Historians continue to study and discuss his victories in Eastern Europe, military tactics, and leadership style.
Regardless of the debates about his legacy, there is no doubt about the long-lasting influence he had on the globe, from the dissemination of culture and technology to the development of new forms of art and architecture. Batu Khan will be recognized as one of the greatest Mongol Empire commanders, and his legacy will continue to inspire and enthrall people for decades to come.
Batu and Subutai planned an attack on Austria, Italy, and Germany in late 1241 but retreated in 1242 after Ogedei Khan’s death. To avert a kurultai in Karakorum, Batu concentrated on securing wins in Asia as a result of Guyuk Khan’s election victory.
The absence of Subutai and Batu’s hatred toward Guyuk prevented another European invasion. Tensions between Batu and Guyuk arose as a result of an occurrence in 1240, resulting in difficult ties among Genghis Khan’s successors. Batu later constructed Sarai on the Volga, which contributed to the collapse of the Mongol Empire.
Despite his efforts to organize fights, Batu died in 1255. Sartaq, his son, inherited the khanate but avoided European invasion. Some claim that if the Mongols had continued, they may have reached the Atlantic.
For 230 years, the Kipchak Khanate, commonly known as the Golden Horde, ruled Russia through local rulers. Batu Khan, a crucial character in the Horde, remained in power, with his devoted subordinate Alexander Nevsky playing an important role.
The name “Golden Horde” may have arisen from the color of the Khan’s tent, and the term “horde” comes from the Mongol word “Orda,” which means “camp.” The Golden Horde survived longer than previous Khanates, even after the collapse of other Mongol empires. While Batu Khan is considered the ultimate commander, he may have depended on Subutai’s skill.
Batu Khan’s Mongol invasion not only exploited European rivalries but also focused attention on the globe outside Europe, promoting commerce, particularly with China. Through its wars, the Mongol Empire served as a cultural bridge between many cultures.
Batu, Genghis Khan’s grandson, made history by establishing the Khanate of Kipchak, popularly known as the Golden Horde, in Russia in 1255. He was named commander-in-chief of the Mongol empire’s western region in 1235, and by 1240, he had successfully invaded and conquered Russia.
In 1241, Batu resumed his war in central Europe, beating Henry II, Duke of Silesia, and the Hungarians. When the Mongol empire’s ultimate commander, Ogodei Khan, died in December 1241, Batu withdrew his army to participate in the choosing of a successor. This decision averted the impending invasion of Western Europe.
As a result of Batu’s establishment of the Golden Horde in southern Russia, the main center of Russian national life shifted from Kyiv to Moscow.
What is Batu Khan Famous For?
Batu, grandson of Genghis Khan and founder of the Khanate of Kipchak, or the Golden Horde (died in 1255 in Russia), was appointed commander-in-chief of the Mongol empire’s western region in 1235, with responsibility for the invasion of Europe. He had conquered all of Russia by 1240.
Who Did Batu Khan Defeat?
Batu stretched Mongol dominion to Siberia in the east. In 1240, the Mongol army destroyed and devastated Kyiv, Ukraine. Forces advanced toward Hungary and Poland, destroying Hungarian and Polish forces and fleeing the Hungarian monarch.
Why Did the Mongols Never Attack India?
When a Khan died, all of the Mongol generals returned home to pay their respects. Geographically, India is protected by desert, mountains, and the sea, and even if conquered, it would have required more than the type of governance that nomads could deliver.