The Mongol Invasion in the Year 1241—Reactions among European Rulers and Consequences for East Central European Principalities




In this article I will argue that the Mongol invasions in the thirteenth century, especially 1241/42, left a deep impact on the perception and self-awareness of East Central European polities. The Polish and Hungarian peoples had to learn that they stood alone against incoming Asian nomads, lacking support from Western European kingdoms, foremost the Holy Roman Empire and the papacy. This process contributed to their notion of being part of a bigger historical region—East Central Europe (separated from the Ruthenian principalities in East Europe who were subjected to Mongolian control). In order to show the different stages of this process in the realms in East Central Europe I will analyze a) the prehistory before the Mongolian invasion of 1241, b) the retarded and reluctant reactions of the West European realms (especially the Holy Roman Empire) and c) the (painful) consequences for the East Central principalities. Within the limits of this article I focus on Bohemia, Hungary and Poland. After the Mongol invasion of 1241/42 East Central European princes at once changed their policy—at least visible in the Polish and Hungarian case. In order to become more resistant against future Mongol raids they reached for new strategies (fortifications, tactically establishing networks through matrimonial ties, rallying people by worshipping freshly created “national” saints).

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