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Batu Khan
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Batu Khan

Batu Khan (c. 1205 - 1255) was a Mongol ruler, founder of the Kipchak Khanate. He was a son of Jochi and grandson of Genghis Khan.

In 1235 Batu was assigned to oversee an invasion of Europe, directing an army of possibly 130,000 commanded by Subutai. Early he had directed the conquest of the Crimean Tartarss. The army crossed the Volga and invaded Volga Bulgaria in 1236. Then it invaded Russia from 1237. The army quickly subdued the proto-state of Kievan Rus, destroying the towns of Riazan and Vladimir in 1237-38 and sacking the capital Kiev in 1240. The Russia states were subdued but left as vassals rather than combined into the central Asian kingdom. A part of the army then invaded central Europe. One group conquered Poland, defeating a combined force under Henry the Pious, Duke of Silesia and the Grand Master of the Teutonic Order at Legnica. A second crossed the Carpathians and a third followed the Danube. The armies re-grouped and crushed Hungary in 1241, defeating the Hungarian army at the Battle of Muhi on April 11. The armies swept the plains of Hungary over the summer and in the spring of 1242 regained impetus and extended their control into Austria and Dalmatia as well as invading Bohemia.

Fortunately for Europe in the late spring of 1242 Batu withdrew from Europe following the news of the death of Ögedei Khan (died in December, 1241). Batu was a potential Grand Khan and when he failed to win this he turned to consolidate his conquests in Asia and the Urals. He established the capital of his khanate at Sarai (also transcribed as Saraj or Saray) on the lower Volga in 1242. He was planning new campaigns but he died in 1255 and the khanate passed to Sartak.

The Kipchak Khanate was known in Russia and Europe as the Golden Horde (Zolotaya Orda) after the yellow colour of their tents.