The moment of the Mongols or When Europe grew out of its infancy
By Felicitas Schmieder
Published Online (2006)
Introduction: In the year 1241 the huge army of the Mongols, having built up a vast empire that they allegedly wanted to once reach from one ocean to the other, finally reached Central Europe. In Silesia and in Hungary, Latin Christian knights were defeated devastatingly. This happened in a crucial moment, and thus took on decisive momentum for world history. The Mongols meant that to be only one more step on their way to the Western end of the world, but it turned out to become, for later Europeans, on of the (presumably) most important steps in their history. In multiple ways they became aware of the real world, and they finally entered real world history.
At first glance, Latin Christianity was hit entirely unprepared. This is obvious, not the least, on the field of military action. Though the Mongols were the first steppe intruders for some centuries, the last disastrous battle against a nomadic army had taken place only some decades earlier, when the Latin conquerors of Constantinople had had to fight the old Cuman enemies of the Byzantines at the battle of Adrianople in 1205. This had been described and written down, noting all the typical and irresistible nomadic warfare and tactics, by wellknown Latin eyewitnesses. But there was, besides an idea of the heathen Other as such, no detailed concept of different, individual foreigners that could have provided the Latins with comparative information and helpful expectations when the Mongols appeared.