Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

Mongol Siege Warfare on the Banks of the Euphrates and the Question of Gunpowder (1260–1312)


This article discusses the Mongol approach to warfare, then goes on to consider the Mongols' conversion to the notion that they would have to develop a siege train, since walled cities cannot easily be taken by a cavalry charge. The contribution of Chinese siege engineers is discussed, and there is a survey of Chinese siege techniques as they evolved before the Mongol period. The author considers the evidence for the use of inflammable materials, and then moves to the question of gunpowder. The widespread (not quite universal) consensus that the Chinese used gunpowder is discussed, and then attention moves to Hulegu's expedition to western Asia in the 1250s. It is pointed out that none of the major sources seems to imply the use of anything that might be construed as gunpowder technology during those campaigns. Lastly, the author considers, in some detail, sieges conducted by the Ilkhanid Mongols against Mamluk border strongholds during the succeeding decades, drawing attention to and explaining those sieges' increasing lack of success.

Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

D. O. Morgan , “The Mongol Armies in Persia”, Der Islam, 56 (1979), pp. 8687

T. Allsen , Culture and Conquest in Mongol Eurasia (Cambridge, 2001), p. 24

J. A. Boyle , “The Death of the last Abbasid Caliph: a contemporary Muslim account”, Journal of Semitic Studies, 6, 2 (1961), pp. 150161

G. M. Wickens , “Tusi, Nasir al-Din on the Fall of Baghdad: a Further Study”, Journal of Semitic Studies, 7, 1 (1962), pp. 2335

R. Amitai-Preiss , Mongols and Mamluks: The Mamluk- Ilkhanid War 1260–1281 (Cambridge, 1995)

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society
  • ISSN: 1356-1863
  • EISSN: 1474-0591
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-the-royal-asiatic-society
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 15
Total number of PDF views: 48 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 192 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 27th May 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.