What are some of the costliest mistakes ever made in history?
Muhammad II, emperor of the Khwarezmian empire, received an envoy from neighbouring eastern steppe tribal kingdom. The message from the tribal king read:
“I am master of the lands of the rising sun while you rule those of the setting sun. Let us conclude a firm treaty of friendship and peace.”
Muhammad II was reluctant to accept this offer which only expected peaceful trade relations. Few days down the line, a caravan and its envoys from the tribal kingdom were killed in a Khwarezmian village. The tribal king sent new envoys to inquire. They were killed as well and Muhammad II publicly humiliated the tribal king. Muhammad II had no idea that his diplomatic fiasco had altered fate of the Eurasian continent.
The tribal king was none other than Genghis Khan.
By the time Genghis sent his envoys westwards, he was in his fifties. After a very difficult life & tumultuous wars, he had finally united Mongolian steppe tribes under one banner. The things he wanted now was peaceful trade with neighbouring empires and spending the remaining days in the beautiful steppes of Mongolia. War was not on top of the list for sure.
However, Muhammad II had breached the sacred Mongol code by killing political envoys. Enraged Genghis Khan attacked Khwarizmian region and literally annihilated it within two years. Rise of Mongol horsemen, hitherto unknown in mainstream, proved phenomenal. Once they marched, there was nobody to counter them.
Attack on Khwarizmian was the beginning ofof Central Asia. Genghis Khan would go on conquering till his last breath. And the next two generations would continue the legacy with similar efficiency. Within two generations Mongols had conquered much of the Eurasian continent, creating a continuous empire spanning 33 million sq Km.
This is the modest kingdom which Genghis Khan founded, and was content with, till Muhammad II screwed up. The animation shows rapid expansion of empire. 1219 marks Genghis’ invasion of Khwarizmian Empire.
This is the largest extent of Mongol Empire, just two generations later:
Had Muhammad II punished the killers of envoys and accepted a peaceful commercial offer- Caliph of Baghdad wouldn’t be killed, there would be no Yuan dynasty, Modern Turkic empire wouldn’t exist, there would be no, and hence no Babur to start the Mughal Empire. Genghis Khan would have probably died peacefully in quaint Mongolian hills, obscured in history and content with simplicity.
That was some mistake.