Perhaps the best-known of the Central Asian nomads, they are certainly among the best documented. The Mongols arose as a complex group of closely related tribes dwelling in the steppes and semi-arid regions south of the Yakut taiga, adjacent to the Gobi Desert. Ethnographically, their origins are obscure; the best scholarship tends to the view that they are a composite of remnants of the Hsiung-Nu (Huns) combined with proto-Turks -- there are certainly some strains of early Manchu and Tungus as well. They emerge into history from the 12th century onward, and in the 13th century they established what is perhaps the largest single Empire the world has yet seen (both the Mongol Empire at it's greatest extent, c. 1245, and the British Empire together with the Commonwealth at it's greatest extent c. 1920, covered about 14, 000, 000 sq. miles (33,400,000 sq. km.) -- about 25 % of the world's land surface - and interestingly enough, there is very little overlap between the two).

Presently this covers: the Gaoche, the Golden Horde, the Jadirat, the Keraits, the Khalka, the Merkits, Mongolia, the Naimans, the Nogai, the Ordos, the Qaidu, Qara Khitai, the Sechen, Sibir (the White Horde), the Tatar, the Tumed, T'umen', and the Tushtietu.

A tribal confederacy of the Turkic Tiele people, located north of China and emerging after the disintegration of the Hsiung-nu.

The GOLDEN HORDE The Golden Horde was the Western division of the Mongol Empire, subject to the Great Khans at Karakorum, and ruling most of Russia.

The JADIRAT A Mongol tribal confederacy subordinate to the Keraits.

KASIMOV This Tatar Khanate will be detailed HERE.

KAZAN This Tatar Khanate will be detailed HERE.

KERAITS A Mongol people living in central Asia, Nestorian Christians from 1008. Granted the title of Wang (King) by the Chinese Emperor in 1183.

KHALKA An urdu which emerged into prominence in central Mongolia during the 16th and 17th centuries. It is the Khalka dialect that forms the basis behind the modern Mongolian language.

KRYM (Girai Khanate) The Tatar Khans of Crimea will be found HERE.

The MERKITSAn Asian tribe inhabiting southeastern Siberia during the Middle Ages, regarded by their neighbours as being particularly ferocious. Their ethnicity is somewhat obscure; the balance of the evidence suggests that they were Mongolic (related to Mongols, Naimans, Keraits, and Khitan), but it has also been postulated that they are more closely related to Paleo-Asians such as the Chukchi, or Tungusic (Manchu and Evenk). Temujin Genghis Khan had Merkit ties: his mother was the wife of Chiledu, abducted from him by Genghis' father, sparking a long-running feud.

MONGOLIA Inner Mongolia, the prairie country athwart the Gobi desert in central Asia. It should be noted that before the 13th century there was no all-encompassing term for these people; "Mongol" was merely one of the tribes of these folk. Others were the Merkits, the Keraits, the Khitai, the Naimans, the Qaidu, and the Tatars. Owing to internecine feuding, the Mongol tribe was decimated at the end of the 12th century; it was left to the genius of Temujin Genghis to restore the fortunes of his people, and unify his nation...

NAIMANSA Mongol people dwelling in central Asia, closely related to the Qara Khitai, and subsurvient to them until 1177. Like the Khitai, these were also Nestorian Christians.

The NOGAI The Nogai people are related to the famous Nogai Horde of the 13th and 14th centuries, though they contain large admixtures of Cuman blood. The Nogai Khanate had taken its name from Nogai (died in 1299) one of the great commanders of the early Golden Horde (1223-1502) and his khanate was founded following the collapse of the Golden Horde. The Khanate included the regions extending from the Volga to the Irtish Rivers and from the Caspian Sea towards to the Aral. Its capital was Saraycik, located at the mouth of Yayik River. Most of its people were Turkic tribes connected to Cumans (Kipchak), similar to the Kazan, Crimean, Astrakhan and Sibir Khanates. Among these tribes, the Mangit people, regarded as Mongolians that had become Turkified, held a privileged position. After the submission of the Kazan and Astrakhan Khanates to Russia (1552-1557), the Nogai Khanate fragmented into several septs. Those in the north of the Caucasus were referred to as the "Küçük Orda" (Lesser Horde), and those within the environs of Emba Lake were called the "Altiul Orda". Those that remained under the domination of Ismail Khan were united under the collective name of Greater Nogai Horde, and they recognised the domination of Ivan IV (1555-1557). Until the first half of the 17th century a number of Nogai tribes were nomadic on the steppes between the Danube and the Caspian. As indicated above, originally Mongol, the Nogai language is now a Turkic dialect of the Cuman  group. The invasion of the Kalmucks forced several of the Nogai tribes to leave the steppes and withdraw to the foothills of the North Caucasus. In the Moscow chronicles from the 16th and 17th centuries there are several references to them, including the two Nogai Hordes, the Great and the Small. The former roamed beyond the River Volga, the latter somewhat to the west. Both had numerous military encounters with the Russians. In the 17th century some of the Nogai chiefs entered into an alliance with Moscow and fought at times together with the Russians against the Kabardians, the Kalmucks and peoples of Dagestan. Since the early 19th century the majority of the Nogai have settled in North Caucasia.

ORDOS An urdu located in western Mongolia.

QAIDU A Mongol tribe, closely related to Temujin's Tayichuts, periodically the pre-eminant tribe among the Mongols.

QARA KHITAI The western division of the Khitai, a Mongol people who inhabited eastern Central Asia for over a millenia. The Qara (Black) Khitai established a ramshackle empire in the 12th century which merged with the Golden Horde in the 13th century. The names of some of the rulers I have notes on look the way they do because the only source for them are Chinese annals. The Khitai court gave religious equality to all, and was a refuge for Jews, Manichaeans, Nestorians, and others. Their Moslem subjects called the Khitai "idolators", which probably meant Buddhist; The Khitai aristocracy were Nestorian Christians, however, as can be seen by their names. The name of Khitai is memorialized in the mediaeval European label for the far east: Cathay.

SECHEN An urdu in eastern Mongolia. a branch of the Khalka.

SIBIR This is actually "Nearer Siberia", the Yenisei River basin region located between the Ural Mountains to the west, the Lena basin to the east, the Arctic sea to the north, and Mongolia and Khazakhstan to the south. It is a vast region, roughly two thirds the size of Australia, but encompassing less than half of all of Siberia. Most of it is taiga, tundra, or Arctic wetlands, and it has been a place of exile for Russians since early Czarist days.

TATAR Ironically, the Mongol tribe whose name is the most familiar is one in which I have the least data on. These Turko-Mongolic nomads of western Mongolia had their name adopted by most Europeans as the overall term used to describe the Golden Horde, and it, or close variants (Tartar, etc.) has become the adjective of choice for anything savage and seemingly unconquerable. There is still a Tatar ethnic group living in the Crimea; composed of remnants of the Golden Horde, it undoubtable holds some Tatar blood within it, but is by-in-large a mixture of various Mongol types with Cuman, Cossack, Turkic, and perhaps Alan and Khazar.

TUMED An urdu in southern Mongolia.

T'UMEN' A city in western Siberia, 200 miles (320 km.) east of Sverdlovsk. A Mongol Khanate in the late Middle Ages and early modern era.

TUSHTIETU A Khanate of the Northern Khalka.