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Razib Khan's Unsupervised Learning

Jun 4, 2021

Dr. Marie Favereau is an associate professor at Paris Nanterre University. Her academic work has been on the Mamlukes of Egypt and the Mongol Golden Horde. Most recently, she is the author of The Horde: How the Mongols Changed the World. I recently reviewed it for UnHerdWhat the Mongols did for us: The Golden Horde wasn't barbarous, it created the modern world.

Dr. Favereau and I discuss the origin of the Golden Horde, the Mongols of the northwest who ruled much of Eastern Europe for centuries, and its evolution over several centuries. I was particularly curious about various things I’ve read about the Golden Horde in relation to other branches of the Mongol Empire. Was it the poorest? Was it marginal? Was it basically a Kipchak Turkic Khanate that had a Mongol veneer?

There are many truisms that are punctured in this conversation. For example, though the Golden Horde was poor in people, it was rich in resources. On a per-capita basis, it’s quite possible the Mongols of the Golden Horde were the richest west of China. The Golden Horde exported slaves to the Middle East and controlled the fur trade that had once been the purview of Novgorod the Great.

The Golden Horde was not on the margins of world history but actually drove it. We discuss extensively the role of the Horde in shaping the orientation of Russia and Russian history. It is likely that the preponderance of the subjects of the Horde were Slavic-speaking Orthodox Christians, and the Mongols and the Princes of Moscow had a very productive relationship for centuries. The rewriting of this history has been one of the great projects of Russian nationalism over the last few centuries.

Finally, we discuss future projects and avenues of research.