The westward drive of Jengiz Khan's Mongols in the thirteenth century. They advanced as far as the Oder and the Danube, while 'the Ottoman Turks, working up from Asia Minor, overran the Eastern Empire and the Balkans.
Asia. China yielded to him, then Persia, and finally in 1222 his generals reached Russia. The princes of the Russian principalities refused to unite, and a great battle swept the northern kingdoms from history for the time. The invasion was renewed in 1235. This time it was the turn of the southern princes, and Kiev was burned to the ground. The invaders then swept in two swarms into Poland and into the Danubian plain. In 1241 Pesth was taken, and the Danube crossed.
In Poland they were no less successful, and Cracow fell before them. The ravage was continued up to the frontiers of Germanism, and it was only when walled cities met them that the Mongols, thousands of miles from their base, failed. Even then it was reasons of domestic policy, not defeat in the field, that made them withdraw. The eastern marches of Slavdom were a desert and Russia continued for generations in their possession, its remaining native rulers being mere vassals of the Great Khan. The end of the thirteenth century saw Asia brought within striking distance of Warsaw and Vienna.
The effects of the invasion are plainly seen in the next century. Rudolf of Habsburg, more Austrian duke than German emperor and bent on increasing his own hereditary dominions, found himself confronted with weak states. Skilfully taking advantage of their quarrels he allied himself with Hungary to crush the Bohemians on the Marchfeld (1278), and around Vienna created a German state which aspired to eastern domination. It was the tragedy of Germany that events made the Habsburgs become a dynasty and the country cease to be a German state.