Forced migrations and slavery in the Mongol empire (1206–1368)

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The Mongol Empire (1206-1368) had a tremendous impact on slavery across Eurasia. While slaves played a minor role in pre-Imperial Mongolia, the Mongols saw people as a resource, to be distributed among the imperial family and used for imperial needs, like material goods. This view created a whole spectrum of dependency running from free men to full slaves. More specifically, the huge conquests of the United Empire (1206-60) resulted in huge supply of war captives, many of whom eventually sold in the Eurasian slave markets. With the dissolution of the Empire and the halt of its expansion, the demand for slaves remained high, and other means were sought for supplying it. The chapter discusses slavery among the pre-imperial Mongols; the general context of slavery caused by Mongol mobilization and redistribution policies; the various ways of becoming a slave in the Mongol Empire; and the slaves’ dispersion, uses, conditions as well as manumission mechanisms and opportunities for social mobility. It highlights the different types of slavery (extrusive versus intrusive) in China and the Muslim and Christian worlds and argues that in Mongol Eurasia slavery was not always a social death.
Original languageAmerican English
Title of host publicationThe Cambridge world history of slavery
EditorsCraig Perry, David Eltis, Stanley L. Engerman, DavidEditors Richardson
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages24
Volume2: AD 500–AD 1420
StatePublished - 2021

Publication series

NameThe Cambridge World History of Slavery
PublisherCambridge University Press


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