NOMAD EMPIRES & NOMAD GRAND STRATEGY: THE RISE AND FALL OF NOMAD MILITARY POWER, c. 1000 BC – AD 1500

Most history was always written from the perspective of great empires such as Rome, Persia, and China. For them, and their historians, the nomads of the Eurasian steppes were little more than savage troublemakers. Nomads of different tribes and lineages were also hard to distinguish from one another. Few imperial commentators went farther than merely to list the nomad tribes they received reports of, and when possible, to note which tribe or nomad dynasty had subjugated the others. Whether these early lists of nomad names were based on linguistic, ethnic, or political relationships was seldom clear. Neither was the ethnic identity of the nomads often known, who in any case were all regarded as barbarians. While the empire’s soldiers, spies, and statesmen had to deal with the nomads, the nomad threat was hardly ever seen as a subject worthy of the attention of the serious historian, except when his task was to glorify the general or emperor who for once managed to inflict a severe defeat on the nomads. Nomad savages were seen as raiders and looters, not strategists or makers of policy.
Yet, nomad leaders were astute enough to know not only military tactics but also strategy and how best to impose their political will on the hapless sedentary empires that faced them. The ruler of a nomad empire knew which strategies
worked. He also knew that he needed his agrarian neighbours as a source of revenue and luxury goods, if nothing else.

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