• The Lost Roman Legion of Crassus

    Marcus Licinius Crassus was one of the richest men in the Roman World and part of the First Triumvirate with notables such as Pompeius Magnus and Julius Caesar.  He had made his money through picking up the property of those killed in Sulla’s proscriptions at firesale prices.  Indeed, he was accused of adding the name of a particularly rich man just so he could pick up his property at bargain basement prices.  Combine that through slave trafficking and silver mines, gave Crassus a fortune estimated by Pliny at 200 million sestertii, or about 8.5 billion in today’s dollars.  If his name sounds familiar, you may have heard in the old…

  • Babur

    There was the blood of conquerors in his veins.  On his mother’s side, he was descended from the great Genghis Khan.  On his father’s side, the man who took on the Mongols and founded his own empire, Timurlane.  It made sense that this young man would found an empire of his own.  However, he was born far from it. Zahir al-Din Muhammad was born February 15, 1483 in the principality of Fergana, what is now Uzbekistan. Umar Shaykh Mīrzā,his father, was the ruler of Fergana, but died early when his young son was only eleven.  His death was reported as happening “”while tending pigeons in an ill-constructed dovecote that toppled…

  • Timurlane

    After the death of Genghis Khan, the Mongol Empire had fragmented into separate khanates as his descendants squabbled amongst themselves.  The empire he built was too big for any of them to rule, so it was split into pieces and divided between them.  The northwestern portion was called Golden Horde, and by 1336 the majority of it was ruled by Sultan Mohammed Oz Beg.  His domain ran from Moscow to the Aral Sea and his capital was Sarai. Also in 1336, a son was born to a Turco-Mongol tribal leader of the Barlas in Transoxiana.  Transoxiana is located at the edge of the mountains just south of the beautiful city…

  • Genghis Khan in Khwarizm-  The Flail of God

    By 1218, Genghis Khan had united the Mongols and together they had conquered northern China.  The had expanded westward as well by conquering Kara-Khitai and were collecting tribute from Korea.  They first encountered the Empire of Khorezm, which extended from the Aral Sea to the Persian Gulf in one direction and from Iraq to India in the other.  The Empire was led by the Shah Ala ad-Din Mohammed II. He also had designs of China, and was miffed the Mongols had gotten their first. As the way of things, envoys met and exchanged expensive gifts.  The Mongols sent   jade, ivory, gold, cloaks of rare white camel wool to Samarkand, the…

  • Kamikaze and the Aborted Mongol Invasions of Japan

    In Simon Schama’s History of Britain, he makes the comment that the weather bats for England.  Apparently the weather has that same deal with Japan.  The word “kamikaze” brings visions of suicide pilots from World War II, but the word actually means “divine wind”.  In this case, the kamikaze defended the Japanese islands from invasion fleets. In the 13th century, the Mongols had swept through Asia and had finished bringing Goryeo, or Korea, into the empire.  Kublai Khan had become the first emperor of the Yuan (or Mongol) dynasty of China.  Now he cast his hungry eyes towards Japan.  At this time, Japan was ruled by the Shogunate Regents of…