• peter clings

The First Mongol Invasion though Transylvania

There are some very interesting chronicles from the East that shed some light onto the campaigns of the two Mongol generals. That provides more evidence for the makings of Transylvania prior to that Invasion. As I have already described in a previous answer, the Turkic Border Guards that we suppose were the ancestors of the Székelys established themselves in the current location toward then end of the 12th century. They made space for German Saxon colonists from the West who started building cities in the new territory. That Hungarian invasion caused the displacement of a very large Romanian population from the region, that were forced to relocate across the mountains in the partially forested area close to the outer slopes of the Carpathian mountain ranges


There is a very interesting Persian chronicle Jāmiʿ al-Tawārīkh written by Rashid-al-Din Hamadani (Fazel-Ullah-Raschid) soon after the Invasion (1247). It describes the Mongol invasion of the two commanders. The text pertaining to them reads as it follows (from Bezerenbam and Mișelav)


In the middle of the spring (1240), the princes crossed the (...) mountains to enter in the country of Bulars and Bashguirds. Orda, who marched on the right, passing through Ilaut country, met Bezerenbam with an army; the latter has been defeated. Cardan and Buri went against the Sassans, and defeated them after three battles. Budjek crossed the mountains of that country in order to enter in Cara-Ulag, defeated the Ulags, crossed the (...) mountains, and entered in the country of Mişelav, where he beat the awaiting enemy.


Since the Alexandru Dimitrie Xenopol most Romanian historians have tried to interpret the above in a way of another. The name ‘Bezerenbam’ resembles a lot with ‘Basarab ban’ to lead to a possible connection with the voievode Litivoi, and ‘Mişelav’ with ‘Seneslav’. However, the names ‘Ulag’ and ‘Cara-Ulag’ are for sure about the ‘Vlachs’ and ‘Lesser-Vlachs’ because that was the Turkic name given to the Romanians. The interesting aspect of the text, that has been noted otherwise, is that the names ‘Ulag’ are given to those that lived next to or among the ‘Sassans’ (Saxons), and ‘Cara-Ulags’

those across the mountains


The Persian text mentioned that Böchek fought both the Cara-Ulag in the Ilaut country (maybe lower Moldova), and the Ulag (the army of Miselav) but defeated them. However, the also fought the Sassans in 3 battles and defeated them too. Most likely that during the first battle the Voievod Pousa perished too


The actual damage of the Transylvanian cities was commanded by Kadan who crossed the Carpathians on a northern pass. He was said to had captured Rodna, and took 600 German Saxon prisoners with him. Those guided him throughout Transylvania



First the mongols took and devastated the city of Bistrița, then Cluj. Having failed to join with Böchek, his nephew’s column, Kadan then headed South and devastated the city of Sibiu (then Hermanstadt). Outraged by his family loss, he massacred all his guides not before devastating the poorly defended city of Alba Iulia, eventually he reached Oradea in time for the story of Carmen Miserable to begin


There is no more record of the Bogutai’s column that was heading though the Wallachian pains. One can only suppose what may have happen to his army. My guess is that he might have tried to cross the mountains along the Olt pass but perished before reaching the city of Sibiu where he might have joined either Kadan or Böchek (who also didn’t make it there either)


There are at least a couple of Italian chronicles that describe the above, but they seem less informed than the Persian chronicle


In a nutshell, during the First Mongol Invasion, the Romanian population did not yet have time to organize to pose any significant resistance to the invaders from the east. Having being pushed out from their traditional habitat in Transylvania just 2 generations prior, time was too short to have organized with a unique leadership. The Mongols on their retreat choose not to flee though Transylvania because they had foolishly massacred their guilds and without them, they would have had a very hard time to cross the mountains by themselves


8 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All