Mongol primary sources:

  • Secret history of the Mongols

    Secret history of the Mongols

    The Secret History of the Mongols was written for the Mongol royal family some time after Genghis Khan's death by an anonymous author and probably originally in the Uyghur script, though the surviving texts all derive from transcriptions or translations into Chinese characters dating from the end of the 14th century. This is a new open source translation made by Igor de Rachewiltz in 2015. Read More
  • Altan Tobchi

    Altan Tobchi

    The Altan Tobchi, or Golden Summary, is a 17th-century Mongolian chronicle. It is generally considered second in dignity to the Secret History of the Mongols as a historical chronicle and piece of classical literature. It is a major source of knowledge on the "Chingisiin Bilig" or Wisdom of Genghis, a code of ethical conduct specifically directed toward future generations of Mongolian ruling nobility. Read More
  • Jāmiʿ al-Tawārīkh

    Jāmiʿ al-Tawārīkh "Compendium of Chronicles"

    The Jāmiʿ al-Tawārīkh "Compendium of Chronicles" was commissioned by Ghazan and initially was a history of the Mongols and their dynasty, but gradually expanded to include the entire history since the time of Adam to Rashid al-Din's time. Read More
  • Juvaini, The History of the World Conqueror

    Juvaini, The History of the World Conqueror

    Atâ-Malek Juvayni, 1226–1283, was a Persian historian who wrote an account of the Mongol Empire, History of the World Conqueror. Juvayni visited the Mongol capital of Karakorum twice, beginning his history of the Mongols conquests on one such visit . He was with Ilkhan Hulagu in 1256 at the taking of Alamut and was responsible for saving part of its celebrated library. He had also accompanied Hulagu during the sack of Baghdad in 1258. Read More
  • The Mulfuzat Timury

    The Mulfuzat Timury

    The Malfuzat-i Timurī is supposedly Timur's own autobiography, but almost certainly a 17th century fabrication.The scholar Abu Taleb Hosayni presented the texts to the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan, a distant descendant of Timur, in 1637–38, supposedly after discovering the Chagatai language originals in the library of a Yemeni ruler. Even as a fake, the story is still interesting. Read More
  • G. Mend-Ooyo

    G. Mend-Ooyo

    G.Mend-Ooyo was born on the open steppe of Dariganga, in the eastern part of Mongolia, and grew up herding livestock and riding swift horses. He is a writer who is deeply connected with his roots in nomadic culture, and his work shows a profound spiritual respect for the earth and for the natural world, and an unbroken link with nomadic life, with the peaceful steppe of his homeland, and with the tradition of Mongolian wisdom. Read More
  • British Library, Mongolian Collection

    British Library, Mongolian Collection

    The Mongolian collections at the British Library comprise several thousand items, including around ninety rare woodblock prints of Buddhist sutras and religious works. Read More
  • Manchu archery Read More
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Secodary sources:

European travelers, explorers and adventurers

  • Sven Hedin, Adventures in Tibet

    Sven Hedin, Adventures in Tibet

    The favourable reception accorded to my book, Central Asia and Tibet, has emboldened me to prepare a cheaper and more popular edition. This, although of course based upon the longer work, has been entirely re-written from beginning to end specially for the present issue. The halo of romance and the magic of the unknown which have for so long drawn the adventurous as by a magnet to the mysterious land of Tibet have now been Read More
  • Sven Hedin, The Silk Road

    Sven Hedin, The Silk Road

    This vivid book reflects that exciting expedition ¬ the constant mishaps, serious accidents and dangers; the immensity of China; the divergent ethnic groups; the ambitious generals; and the brigands. Read More
  • Sven Hedin, Overland to India

    Sven Hedin, Overland to India

    The very name of India is alone sufficient to fire the imagination of the reader. He fancies he hears the murmur Of warm winds among the palms and mango trees, and thinks Of the teeming life and the continual struggle for existence in tropical jungles. He seems to see the brilliant trains of Indian princes, swarming crowds of dusky Hindus, grand troops of elephants, tigers trying to escape from the bloodthirsty hunters, gilded pagodas, and Read More
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  • What is an “international system” and what are its main units?
  • What is the difference between an international system and an international society?
  • What kinds of international systems are there?
  • How should international systems best be studied?

Class discussion: Hedley Bull and the English School

  • What is a “Grotian” international system?
  • How is order maintained in international relations
  • What is the history of diplomacy?


Additional material:



  • Who were the Incas?
  • Who were the Aztecs?
  • Which other political entities existed in the Americas?



This week too the presentations are based on BBC documentaries. Please consult this page regarding “lost kingdoms of South America” and this for “lost kingdoms of Central America.” Please pick one of the following:

  • Chachapoyo.
  • the Tiwanaku,
  • the Chimor,
  • the Taino.
  • the Olmec.

Additional resources:

  • Erik’s lecture notes.
  • Erik’s map of the Americas.
  • Blanton, Richard, and Gary Feinman. “The Mesoamerican World System.” American Anthropologist 86, no. 3 (1984): 673–682.
  • Mann, Charles C. 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus. 1st edition. New York: Vintage Books, 2006.
  • Marcus, Joyce. “A Synthesis of the Cultural Evolution of the Zapotec and Mixtec.” The Cloud People. Divergent Evolution of the Zapotec and Mixtec Civilizations. Clinton Corners: Percheron Press. Revised Edition, 2003.


  • Why and how did the Mongols come to create an empire which spanned most of the Eurasian continent? What made the Mongols militarily successful?
  • How was Mongol diplomacy conducted?
  • Why did the Mongol empire eventually decline and fall?
  • “Nomadic political theory“: tactics in war. principles of social organization, the role of paths and nodes.

Required readings:

  • Erik Ringmar,”The Mongol Khanates,” History of International Relations (Cambridge: Open Books Publisher, forthcoming)
  • Starr, S. Frederick. “The Mongol Century.” In Lost Enlightenment : Central Asia’s Golden Age from the Arab Conquest to Tamerlane, 436–37. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2013.
  • Schurmann, H. F. “Mongolian ​Tributary Practices of the Thirteenth Century.” Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 19, no. 3/4 (December 1956): 304-89.


​Additional resources:


  •  Who were the Mughals?  Why and how did they manage to conquer the Indian subcontinent?
  • Prior to the Mughals, how were political relations organized on the subcontinent?
  • How should we explain the Indianization of Southeast Asia?



  • Who was Tamerlane? What do you know about his successors?
  • Who built the Taj Mahal and why?​ 
  • What was going on at Angkor Wat?
  • Why is Hinduism the dominant religion in Bali?  How is Hinduism reflected in Balinese customs and traditions?

​Additional material: