March of the Turanians: how Central Asian horselords shaped the modern world

From the 5th Century AD to the 12th Century AD, wave after wave of nomadic horse lords marched out of their Central Asian homelands, changing, forever, the course of history in Europe, South Asia and India, and, even, China.


It all began with Attila the Hun, who, arguably, sounded the death knell of the Western Roman Empire. But, as Sir Halford Mackinder, a British historian and geographer explained in his lecture the Geographical Pivot of History – these horse lords also shaped the ‘ideas’ of various nations, forcing them, through their shared experience of resistance to foreign invasion, to build their own, powerful nations.


In Europe, Charlemagne (2 April 748 – 28 January 814) emerged as a great emperor when he built up and fortified the marshlands of Austria as a bulwark against invasion from Central Asia through Hungary – the route that Attila had followed.


Sir Halford Mackinder developed a grand theory of geohistory, looking at history through the lens of geography, to explain both these movements out of Central Asia and how resistance to them led to the emergence of modern nations. In the linked video essay, I read Mackinder’s paper, while offering my own comments on these grand movements of history.