Byzantines vs. Mongols

Since this forum seems to have a thing pitting Romans and Mongols against each other, I was wondering what people think of this setup:

The Byzantine Empire of 1025 never collapses, and retains the organization, territory, and army of that time period into the 1200s (adjusting for technological advancements and foreign influences of those two centuries). The lands of Norman Sicily are reclaimed during those centuries, so there is no threat from that corner.

In the east the Mongol invasions begin on schedule (yes, I know, butterflies, but for the purposes of this scenario, just go with it). When the Mongol arrive in Armenia, the Byzantines have leadership comparable to Nikephoros Phokas, John Tzimisces, and Basil II.

How would these medieval Romans fare against the Mongols (in a military contest, most likely in reality the Byzantines would just buy the Mongols off)? Remember that in this scenario, the Mongol goal is to conquer the Byzantine Empire, while the Byzantines are just defending home soil. How well do they do?

And yes, I'm aware of at least one thread on the same topic, but I didn't want to necro something which had been dead since December.
 
Although the Byzantines, at the height of their power, had the most qualitative military in the West, I think given how well the Mongols did against an even more disparate range of armies than even the B's faced historically--- The Mongols would win. Why? Superior organization. Technology on a par or better than the Byzantines--they could call on the best the East had to offer. Ability to deploy greater numbers. I can't think of an area the Byzantines would be better than par than the Mongols. Only if the the logistic lines of the Mongols were overstretched, as apparently they were historically against the Mamluks would Constantinople stand a chance. My 2 Bezants.

Anatolia would be run over. Unless the Mongols have a feasible way to get at Constantinople by land, perhaps parts of the European empire survive.
 
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I think the Byz would buy a diversion or two with cash; the old "here's a stack of cash, go and attack them over there" trick. The window for Mongol conquest is reasonably small, and paid diversions could see much of that time windoww being taken up elsewhere.
 
I think the Byz would buy a diversion or two with cash; the old "here's a stack of cash, go and attack them over there" trick. The window for Mongol conquest is reasonably small, and paid diversions could see much of that time windoww being taken up elsewhere.

Actually they could use this as a really good oppurtunity to reconquer the levant. Their neighbors would be absolutely spent and they would still be at full strength.
 
Yes I suppose so, they could make gains on most borders.

This diplomacy would be well backed by a strong army and fortifications, the Byz were well versed in fighting armies from the steppes and this would enter into the Mongol calculations.
 
I'd say the Byzantines, with an army equivalent to this era, and good leadership - not necessarily everything quite as on top of things as here - have a good chance of winning.

Jalal ad-Din Mingburnu beat the Mongols a few times with an army that would be a less disciplined and professional (if probably more native-talent due to its origins) of the kind of cavalry the Byzantines have to oppose the Mongols.

The Byzantines don't have a whole lot of advantages over the Mongols, except for one thing: All those things we list the Mongols as being so awesome for?

Been there, learned that lesson.


But I'm wagering that the best the Byzantines can do are 70-30 odds their favor, speaking abstractly. They're very good, but the Mongols are the toughest army of their day, and even a Byzantine army in the best traditions of Byzantine armies is nothing more than that - and gunpowderless, probably (not necessarily, but probably).

The main advantage I'd bet on is that most of the Mongol forces aren't Mongols - meaning that they're more or less reluctant allies/subjects who can and will be bribed by the Byzantines.
 
Or hope that the Mongols don't bring their siege train as they apparently didn't when they invaded Hungary historically. Although the Mongols generally slaughtered any organized resistance in the field, Hungarian castles & fortified towns held out.
 
Or hope that the Mongols don't bring their siege train as they apparently didn't when they invaded Hungary historically. Although the Mongols generally slaughtered any organized resistance in the field, Hungarian castles & fortified towns held out.

The Mongol siege train is not some invincible thing smashing everything in its path.
 
Is there evidence that opponents were able to bribe/detach non-Mongol elements of their military in the 13th Century, Elfwine? The Mongols generally practiced draconian punishments on defectors and rebels. Seems like that was pretty effective.
 
Is there evidence that opponents were able to bribe/detach non-Mongol elements of their military in the 13th Century, Elfwine? The Mongols generally practiced draconian punishments on defectors and rebels. Seems like that was pretty effective.

Use of bribery as a tool of strategy is not something most of the Mongol opponents were good at. And the western steppes are far from the base of the Mongols.

And yes, it was pretty damn efficient - although no more than the best of what they could find from outside the steppe.
 
Is there evidence that opponents were able to bribe/detach non-Mongol elements of their military in the 13th Century, Elfwine? The Mongols generally practiced draconian punishments on defectors and rebels. Seems like that was pretty effective.

The Mongols used Armenians and Georgians in the campaign against Baghdad, and they used defectors from the Jin and Song in their campaigns against China. I would assume that the Mongols would use subject peoples here who would not be interested in helping the Byzantine Empire in this scenario.
 
The Mongols used Armenians and Georgians in the campaign against Baghdad, and they used defectors from the Jin and Song in their campaigns against China. I would assume that the Mongols would use subject peoples here who would not be interested in helping the Byzantine Empire in this scenario.

Like who? Most of the peoples around the Byzantines aren't that hostile - not necessarily friendly, but not especially interested in the empire's destruction.
 
Like who? Most of the peoples around the Byzantines aren't that hostile - not necessarily friendly, but not especially interested in the empire's destruction.

I guess the Mongols might draw from the local Arabs, though I'm not sure they'll employ Georgians and Armenians as they did historically.
 
Bribery would be the most astute thing the Byzantines could do against such a formidable opponent---either direct buy off of the invaders or to initiate disaffection among some of the previously conquered peoples behind Mongol lines (though I pity what would happen to them!).
However, B444's original question focussed on military vs. military, not (cough) byzantine diplomatic strategies... & assumed the goal was conquest.

Well, looking at his original post, perhaps not. perhaps because this is running side by side with the Rome vs. Mongol thread. Even when Byzantium was far weaker, they survived Timur's incursion into Anatolia after the Ottoman's were defeated, bending the knee, as it were. Diplomacy served the Byzantines well, even when they were not at the top of their game.
 
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The Byz used diplomacy on the battlefield regularly; for example during seiges they would send fake letters to the besieged to sow dissention within the enemy camp. To discount strategems is to discount a major part of warfare in the east.
 
Yes. Of course, the Mongols were also very astute in the use of psy-ops. Both entities were intelligent enough to realize that their ends need not always have to be achieved through actual battle.
 
Negative on the bribing part. Can't think of a single example where that happened prior to Nogai's campaigns. They'd demand submission in return for peace. They were pretty clear on that, very clear and deliberately obnoxious. The Byzantines naturally wouldn't go for it.

If anything, regarding bribing, the Byzantines are way more vulnerable to their Turcic/Caucasian/Balkan auxiliaries defecting.

My take? Probably the Vladimir campaign as a model. Mongols draw the Byzantine army into the field, tie it down in some defensive position, and wait until the Roman leaders are desperate for a big battle before the army loses focus. Then they give it them on a field of their choosing. The Byzantines give a good account but probably lose as their lesser-quality units run away and the Guards die heroically.

Also, it would likely take place in Wallachia or Thrace rather than Anatolia. For something this big the Mongols would need the easiest approach...

...after which they come at the walls of Constantinople, and probably get stuck there far far too long, even with a siege train and Balkan prisoners/subjects/allies as dispensable infantry for storming....maybe even long enough to get a camp epidemic and go home.

Having no ships, they definitely won't think of attacking from the Golden Gate walls, which is what both the Venetians and the Ottomans did.
 
Negative on the bribing part. Can't think of a single example where that happened prior to Nogai's campaigns. They'd demand submission in return for peace. They were pretty clear on that, very clear and deliberately obnoxious. The Byzantines naturally wouldn't go for it.

If anything, regarding bribing, the Byzantines are way more vulnerable to their Turcic/Caucasian/Balkan auxiliaries defecting.

Why so?

My take? Probably the Vladimir campaign as a model. Mongols draw the Byzantine army into the field, tie it down in some defensive position, and wait until the Roman leaders are desperate for a big battle before the army loses focus. Then they give it them on a field of their choosing. The Byzantines give a good account but probably lose as their lesser-quality units run away and the Guards die heroically.

Also, it would likely take place in Wallachia or Thrace rather than Anatolia. For something this big the Mongols would need the easiest approach...

That sounds like the pessimistic outcome - maybe pessimistic is a little strong, but the "things go wrong" (for the Byzantines) one.

Why so with needing the easiest approach, by the way? Not arguing, but since Byzantines facing Mongols happens in my timeline, and I've been wondering how that works in terms of where the Mongols come from relative to the Empire, it'd be nice to hear something confirming this.

...after which they come at the walls of Constantinople, and probably get stuck there far far too long, even with a siege train and Balkan prisoners/subjects/allies as dispensable infantry for storming....maybe even long enough to get a camp epidemic and go home.

Having no ships, they definitely won't think of attacking from the Golden Gate walls, which is what both the Venetians and the Ottomans did.

And this is the ultimate problem.
 
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