History of the Mongols, from Genghis Khan to Timur, or Tamerlane


Baron Abraham Constantin d’Ohsson’s Histoire des Mongols, depuis Tchinguiz-Khan jusqu'à Timour Bey, ou Tamerlan (History of the Mongols, from Genghis Khan to Timur, or Tamerlane) is considered the first serious Western study of the Mongols. It was published in Paris in 1824 and reissued in this four-volume edition in Amsterdam and The Hague in 1834‒35. D’Ohsson was born in Turkey in 1779. His father, Ignatius Mouradgea (1740–1807), was the son of a French mother and an Armenian Catholic father who was employed as a translator at the Swedish consulate in Izmir, Ottoman Turkey, and who adopted the name d’Ohsson in 1787. Ignatius followed his father’s career path and became a translator for the Swedish embassy in Constantinople (present-day Istanbul). This allowed Abraham Constantin to move to Sweden in 1798, where he graduated from the University of Uppsala and entered the Swedish diplomatic corps. He had a distinguished career as a diplomatic and government official, serving in various European capitals and in Stockholm, and eventually being elevated to baron. He also devoted himself to scientific and historical research and, in addition to his own work, helped to complete and publish his father’s monumental Tableau général de l'Empire othoman (General overview of the Ottoman Empire). Histoire des Mongols begins with an analysis of the nomadic origins of the Mongols, the rise of Genghis Khan (1162‒1227), and the reasons why the Mongols were successful in war. Subsequent volumes deal with the Mongol conquests and the history of the empire to the time of Timur (1336‒1405) and the founding of the Timurid dynasty. D’Ohsson served for a time at the Swedish embassy in Paris, and his research drew heavily on Arabic, Persian, and Syriac manuscripts in the Bibliothéque de la Nation (later the Bibliothéque nationale de France) as well as on Western sources. For many years Histoire des Mongols remained the standard work on the subject.

Last updated: September 30, 2016