Steppe empires

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    Nomadic pastoralism in the steppe lands of Eurasia provided the ecological basis for a succession of steppe empires. These empires periodically conquered larger settled civilizations by virtue of the nomads’ superior mobility, communications, and battle tactics. Steppe empires were seldom able to establish a durable hegemony over settled zones, because the demands of routine government commonly undermined the nomads’ military advantage. More successful were hybrid empires which retained strong nomadic features while collecting institutionalized tribute from neighboring settled civilizations and feeding this income into lucrative trans-continental trade routes. The Mongol empire of the 13th century and after was the largest and most successful steppe empire, partly because its size enabled it to sponsor trade on an unprecedented scale and to avoid rapid absorption by conquered civilizations.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationThe Encyclopedia of Empire
    Editors John MacKenzie
    Place of PublicationUnited States
    PublisherJohn Wiley & Sons Ltd.
    ISBN (Print)9781118440643
    Publication statusPublished - 2016


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