Wednesday, April 8

Kahn You Hear the Mongols Coming?

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By Art Cashin

On this day in 1241 A.D., two great armies met to help decide the fate of western civilization. Okay, so you looked it up, there were three great armies. And, so you know it was in Middle Europe. And, the guys from the East (a chalk bet) were called the Mongols. The cheerleaders for the other guys called them the Mongol Horde. They were not a crowd favorite.

About 25 years before, their leader, a guy named Genghis Khan used their inherent horsemanship and ferocity to conquer most of China. Having quickly run out of rice and opponents they headed west - overrunning Samarkand and 14 other poetic principalities until they engulfed Southern Russia.

Here they heard about grain and riches further west and saddled up. Genghis Khan excused himself without a golden parachute and died. That left the team to his son, Ogotai. The kid saw himself as an administrator and thus hired a grandson of his father (and you thought “Days of Our Lives” was confusing). Anyway the kid's name (he was 32) was Batu Khan and he was the General Petraeus of his day.

So, having ravaged a thousand miles of enemies, Batu Khan found himself, this day, facing the cream of Middle European Knighthood in the Middle Ages. He stood on a small hilltop and looked out on the mass of the Polish and German armies carefully set to repel him. The town was called Liegnitz. The towns' folk, checking the form charts, thought a trip in the countryside was in order.

Thus on this day, Batu Khan's forces swept toward the cream of western chivalry. But before they engaged, the Mongols split and swept to the left and the right. The cream of Europa - probably muttering "What the hell is this!" turned to watch the Mongols speeding away on either side. The joy and laughter was short-lived. A third flank of Mongols now attacked the coalition which was facing the wrong way. The first two forces of Mongols turned to attack them leaving no secure front. The result was a massacre. And the cream of Europa soon became the curds and whey of Europa.

To mark the day, try not to get distracted when you think victory is at hand.

Many thanks to Mr. Cashin and UBS Financial Services who graciously allow his historical musings to be republished on this site. To enjoy more of Art's posts simply click on "Cashin's Comments" in the label section on the sidebar.

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