- Genghis Khan: his life and legacy (review)
- Australian and New Zealand Association of Medieval and Early Modern Studies (Inc.)
- Volume 13, Number 1, July 1995
- pp. 176-178
- View Citation
176 Reviews professor at the Augustinian 'general school' in Erfurt, inquisitor in Olomouc, and penitentiary in Avignon. The reader is reminded again of how international the world of even 'a moderately successful friar' of the fourteenth century could be. Ocker shows how Klenkok was regarded highly as a theologian by his younger contemporaries but then was largely forgotten after his death. His one claim to later fame was his ongoing attack on the Sachsenspiegel as the basis of Saxon law. This brought Klenkok notoreity, threats against his life, and conflict - not only with secular authorities such as the city council of Magdeburg, but also with such clerics as Walter Kerlinger, the powerful Dominican inquisitor, and Herbord of Spangenburg, a member of an Erfurt chapter and Erfurt city scribe. Klenkok's position on the Sachsenspiegel had been shaped by the strong Augustinian commitment to Papal absolutism and he consequently regarded such legal codes as a challenge to that authority. Ocker argues that Klenkok's inability to gain strong support from local bishops, inquisitors, and even members of his own order demonstrates how universal principles could not simply be applied to local conditions if they were to upset the complex web of regional and local political support and dependency. Such insights by the author are valuable, yet they are little developed in this book. Its strength is not conceptual. Its value lies in the presentation and discussion of the detail of scholastic, and particularly Augustinian, life in the fourteenth century. By building on the wealth of recent investigation by scholars such as Damasus Trapp, Adolf Zumkeller, and William Courtenay, it demonstrates how our understanding of that fourteenth-century world is being progressively shaped by regional and local realities. Charles Zika Department of History University of Melbourne Ratchnevsky, Paul, Genghis Khan: his life and legacy , ed. & trans. T. N. Haining, Oxford and Cambridge Mass., Blackwell, 1991; cloth; pp. xvii, 313; 25 illustrations, 2 dynastic tables, 1 map, glossary, main personalities, chronology; R. R. P. AUS$55.00 [distributed in Australia by Allen & Unwin]. This translation and edition of Ratchnevsky's Chinggis-Khan: sein Leben unde Wirken (1983) is very welcome since it is far and away the best study Reviews 177 of the life and achievements of the founder of the Mongol empire now available. Moreover, the extensive editing undertaken by the translator, and his supplying of new appendices of dynastic charts, a chronology, a list of main personalities, and a glossary, have transformed the ponderous scholarly German original into a work in English comprehensible to the nonspecialist in Mongol history. What will strike non-specialist readers of this book most strongly is the convincing way in which Ratchnevsky dispels the myth that Mongol success was based on the ferocity of their discipline, the use of terror as a political weapon, and the skills of the Mongols as light cavalry. Rather, Ratchnevsky shows clearly that in all these respects, and also others, the Mongols were matched by their opponents. H e draws attention to the importance of the reforms promulgated by Temuchin at the Khuriltai of 1206, where he was proclaimed as Genghis ('Oceans') Khan, which enshrined in law initiatives which had facilitated his rise to power. From his youth he had attracted, and given command to, talented individuals, irrespective of their social origins. His greatest followers and generals, such as the ex-serf Jebe, Jelme, the son of a non-noble tribesman, and Subodei, the son of a blacksmith, were raised by him from the lowest levels of traditional Mongol society to positions of high authority. The creation in 1206 of armies composed of ninety-five regiments of 1000 warriors commanded by such men, each in turn composed of ten squadrons of one hundred, and one hundred troops of ten, together with the structuring of the whole of Mongol society around these regiments, completely overturned the traditional tribal structures of Mongol society. They replaced its ancient nobility of birth by a command stmcture based on merit and created a cadre of enormous talent around the Ghenghizid dynasty. The regiments were complemented by the 10,000-man bodygyard of the Great Khan, formed from the families of commanders and sons of rivals incorporated into it...