The Mongol invasions and the Aegean world (1241–61)
By John Giebfried
Mediterranean Historical Review, Vol.28:2 (2013)
Abstract: This article examines the decisive role played by the Mongols in the political history of the Aegean region in the thirteenth century. The Mongol invasions of 1241–44 were the key turning point in the struggle for hegemony in the region. It was these invasions that allowed the Empire of Nicaea to rapidly expand its power at the expense of its Mongol-ravaged rivals: Bulgaria, the Seljuq Sultanate of Rum, and the Latin Empire of Constantinople and thus assert itself as the preeminent power in the region, leading to the reconquest of Constantinople in 1261.
Introduction: The expansion of the Mongol empire was a key force in reshaping the thirteenth century world. From Hungary to China, Mongol interventions caused numerous changes in the political landscape. Mongol influence on the history of Europe, China, Central Asia, and the Middle East has been studied in great detail by scholars, but to date only a modest amount of work has been done regarding their impact on the fractious situation around the Aegean in the thirteenth century.
The fate of this region – which was torn by the struggle for pre-eminence between the Latin Empire of Constantinople, Bulgaria, the Turkish Sultanate of Rum, and the Byzantine Greek splinter-states in Nicaea and Epirus – was profoundly shaped by the Mongol invasions.
Top Image: Greece and the Aegean Sea in a 1482 map from Geographia by Francesco Berlinghieri