How the west was nearly lost

Western civilization — that is, from which blossomed democracy, art, philosophy, literature, science, and the industrial revolution.

Under General Sabotai the Mongols were prepared to invade Vienna in the first winter months of 1242. No question they would have decimated the city with their vastly superior army of nomadic warriors. At the time no other military force in the world could match their lethal combination of speed, maneuverability, discipline, and weaponry. From there, the Mongols would have pursued conquest into the Low Countries and then France and Italy. Had Antwerp, Paris, or any other European city resisted, the Mongols’ would have destroyed the city to ruins and murdered all of its inhabitants. The alternative of surrendering wasn’t much brighter; the cities would have been torched and the women and children spared for a dreadful life of slavery. This was the modus operandi of the Mongols, who left a trail of blood and tears stretching for thousands of miles, from China to Central Asia to Southern Russia and as far west as Hungary.

How then was Western Europe saved from this horrific fate? The turn of events was spurred by the timely death of Ogadai, Khan of the Mongols and third son of the infamous Genghis Khan. General Sabotai followed the Mongol law which required him to be present in the homeland to choose a new Khan. The formidable Mongol army never returned to Europe again.

For source material, read ‘The death that saved Europe‘ in the fascinating book, What If?, edited by Robert Cowley.

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