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From Wikipedia:

At the Battle of Kalka River in 1223, Subutai's forces defeated the larger Kievan force, while losing the battle of Samara Bend against the neighboring Volga Bulgars – one of the Mongol's few, if not only, utter defeat; the Khwarizmi historian al-Nasawi says only 4,000 survived.[30] The Russian princes then sued for peace. Subutai agreed but was in no mood to pardon the princes. As was customary in Mongol society for nobility, the Russian princes were given a bloodless death. Subutai had a large wooden platform constructed on which he ate his meals along with his other generals. Six Russian princes, including Mstislav III of Kiev, were put under this platform and crushed to death.

"Bad ass of the week" is another site that mentions this along with another imaginative instance involving the Persians:

After defeating his ancient enemies in China, the Mongols turned West. The Russian and Persian Empires fell within a couple of years. When Baghdad was captured, the Mongols wrapped the Sultan of Persia and his family up in a giant rug and then trampled him with their horses. When the Mongols conquered the Russian steppe and stormed Kiev, they put wooden planks over the bodies of captured Russian generals and princes and slowly crushed them to death by eating dinner on top of them.

I have also seen this mentioned in a novel that I am reading. It sounds like a really bizarre form of torture. Did this really happen?

  • I heard this repeated on a history podcast I listen to so I don't have any reason to doubt it, would have to sit and dig up sources for a proper response though. – rjzii Oct 4 '12 at 17:42
  • The story about the Sultan of Persia is inaccurate. The original story is that when Baghdad was captured the Abbasid Caliph was rolled up in a rug and trampled by horses, without his family. I believe the Caliph's two older sons were killed the next day and his youngest son was spared and given a minor title. This version is told in Sir Henry Horworth, History of the Mongols, and other sources. – M. A. Golding May 17 '18 at 18:16
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Yes, this is generally accepted as historically accurate and is generally well documented in the historical record (direct1) as well as being consistent with Mongolian prohibitions on shedding royal blood at the time.

Rather than shed the blood of rival princes -- one of Genghis Khan’s commands -- Jebe and Subedei ordered the unfortunate commander and two other princes stretched out under boards and slowly suffocated as Mongols stood or sat upon the boards during the victory banquet.

- "All the Khan’s Horses" by Morris Rossabi, Natural History, October 1994

Captured princes were laid down to be suffocated to death under the planks on which Mongols held a banquet for their victory over Russians.

- "The First Raid of Mongols on Russia" by Iwao Yamaguchi (山口, 巖)


  1. Sadly, since this book is available in full on Google Books, the best I can find is the call out. But it does include mention of the source citation which can sometimes be previewed on Amazon.

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