by John Rubino
When people talk about empires of the past, they generally mean Rome and Britain. But the biggest and in some ways most interesting empire was built and run by the Mongols in the 13th and 14th centuries. At its peak it stretched from China to Eastern Europe, which is more territory than Rome ever controlled.
Across that expanse there was free trade and unrestricted movement of people via the original “Silk Road” network. For a while there was a single currency which was accepted everywhere.
Genghis Khan — think of him as the Mongols’ (gleefully bloodthirsty) George Washington — organized his army along what we today would call colorblind lines. Instead of units based on clans and tribes, he mixed and matched soldiers of varied backgrounds and trained them to be loyal to one another regardless of origin. He also ordered his men to marry women from conquered cities, and to integrate into local cultures.