Batu Khan - Invasion of Central Europe

Invasion of Central Europe

The Cuman refugees took shelter in the Kingdom of Hungary. Batu sent at least five messengers to Béla IV, the king of Hungary but they were all killed. For the last time Batu demanded that Bela have the Cumans returned and warned: "It is much easier for the Cumans to escape than it is for you...you dwell in houses and have fixed towns and fortresses, so how will you escape me". Batu Khan then decided to "reach the ultimate sea", where the Mongols could proceed no further. Some modern historians speculate that Batu intended primarily to assure his flanks were safe for the future from possible interference from the Europeans, and partially as a precursor to further conquest. Most believe he intended the conquest of all Europe, as soon as his flanks were safe, and his forces ready.

Having devastated the various Rus principalities, Subutai and Batu sent spies into Poland, Hungary, and as far as Austria, in preparation for an attack into the heartland of Europe. With a clear picture of the European kingdoms, they brilliantly prepared an attack. Batu Khan was the overall leader, but Subutai was the actual commander in the field, and as such was present in both the northern and southern campaigns against Rus. The Mongols invaded central Europe in three groups. One group conquered Poland, defeating a combined force under Henry II the Pious, Duke of Silesia and the Grand Master of the Teutonic Order at Legnica. A second crossed the Carpathian Mountains and a third followed the Danube. The armies swept the plains of Hungary over the summer and in the spring of 1242 regained impetus and extended their control into Austria and Dalmatia as well as invading Bohemia. While the northern force under Ögedei's son Khadan and Baidar, the son of Chagatai, won the Battle of Legnica and another army of Güyük or Büri triumphed in Transylvania, Subutai was waiting for another victory over the Magyars, the Croats and the Templars on the Hungarian plain. In 1241, a Tatar (Mongol) army led by Bujek crossed the mountains of the Kara Ulagh ("Black Vlachs"); Bujek defeated the Vlachs and one of their leader named Mišlav. After the siege of Pest, Batu's army withdrew to the Sajo River where they inflicted the tremendous defeat on King Béla IV and his allies at the Battle of Mohi on April 11. Khadan, Baidar, and Orda went to Hungary, devastating Moravia en route. The Mongols appointed a darughachi in Hungary and minted coins in the name of the Khagan. According to Michael Prawdin, the country of Bela was assigned to Orda by Batu as an appanage. Batu sent Khadan in pursuit of Bela who fled to Croatia.

The Mongol battalions checked the forces of the Holy Roman Empire and Babenberg Austria. During his campaign in Central Europe, Batu demanded that Frederick II, the Holy Roman Emperor, dethrone himself, and said: "I am coming to usurp your throne instead of you". The latter only replied that he would make a good falconer, for he understood birds very well. The Emperor and Pope Gregory IX called fgor a crusade against the Mongol Empire, but Europe was plagued by internal strife. Subutai achieved perhaps his most lasting fame with his victories in Europe as did he in Eastern Persia.

By late 1241, Batu and Subutai were finalizing plans to invade Austria, Italy and Germany, when the news came of the death of Ögedei Khan (died in December, 1241). Batu wanted to continue the war, but Subutai reminded him of the law of Yassa (Их Засаг). The Mongols withdrew in late spring of 1242, as the Princes of the blood, and Subutai, were recalled to Karakorum where the kurultai was held. The Second Bulgarian Empire was forced to acknowledge Batu's supremacy. Batu was a potential Great Khan. But when he failed to win this he turned to consolidate his conquests in Asia and the Urals.

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