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15


The military campaigns of the Mongols were fearsomely successful, almost entirely without defeat during the unification and existence of the Mongol Empire. A combination of highly effective psychological warfare, peerless discipline among their warriors, excellent equipment and tactical prowess, among other factors, allowed the Mongol expansion to be continued to such an extent as to have formed the largest empire the world has ever seen, nearly covering the entire land mass of Asia, and beyond.1 This massive expansion had brought a mere 700,000 Mongols to be the lords of Asia, spreading them thinly across a vast territory.2 How did so few people maintain control over such a vast and varied empire for hundreds of years? What was essential to the Mongol regime in foreign lands to overcome this issue? It appears unlikely that any part of the Mongol domain could possibly have been maintained without some cooperation on the part of the conquered society. Each Khanate had its own solutions to this problem; for Ghazan in the Ilkhanate this support was largely and consciously garnered from the deeply ingrained religious segment of Islam through his conversion and a number of pro-Islamic policies.

I intend to lay a foundation of the necessity of local support in these conquered societies due to the rapid spread of Mongol power, various methods that were used throughout the Mongol Empire to deal with this issue, including specific precedents for the use of religion by former Khans. I then will discuss Ghazans understanding of the political aspects of religion in the Ilkhanate during his time, as well as his possible motivations in converting to Islam and his religious policies during his reign, which resulted in support by the Islamic community. Finally I will look at the policies and actions initiated by Ghazan to actively cultivate Islamic support in creating and maintaining an orderly and stable Ilkhanate.

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