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I Love the Golden Horde!

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Postby TwoTonic Knight » Wed May 31, 2006 9:19 pm

1. The Mongols did indeed have heavy cavalry, complete with (at least) half-armor for their mounts (typically the two front ranks, the back three ranks having lighter or no armor). Whether it was iron or horn, or some combination I'll let the real experts debate.

2. The Mongols understood what they had and how to use it. Tactically, they were both more disciplined (the key) and sophisticated then their opponents.

3. Could anyone have stopped them? I mean, besides themselves? Maybe. Maybe not. It's a counter-factualists field day. Tactically, facing the english longobow with dismounted knights would have given them fits. The perfect weapon to take out their horse, and no mounted knights to accomodate the obligatory fake retreat. Of course, they'd probably just bypass them. Or have their invasion fleet sunk by a divine wind. :D

4. I have deep reservations about warrior societies that despite their successes, exacted a heavy toll on both themselves and those around them to achieve and maintain that success - though I suppose that the Mongols at least could get a day's march away from those that they conquered, unlike the Spartans. This is both a factor of their extreme brutality and utter ruthlessness and their willingness to let things go along as before as long as compliance with their rule was maintained.

5. But then, I'd pillage anyplace for a Klondike Bar, so clearly I'm not one to judge.
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Postby ragnarok » Wed May 31, 2006 9:55 pm

I also seriously disagree with China being any kind of world power in the Medieval period. China had more internal conflict than Van Halen, and never really maintained any kind of anything outside of their own area.

As a matter of fact, the Western Europeans and the Steppe peoples are the only two groups at all (in the Medieval period) that can be said to have exerted serious influence and military power outside their normal 'sphere.'


You're not exactely right. There are in fact historic records about the journey of one Chinese admiral who sailed as far as West Africa and purssuaded the local rulers to accept the devine authority of the Chinese emperor. Chinese influence through trade and cultural exchange was felt not only in the Far East but all over Asia. I don't believe one should underestimate the cultural and economic influence and emphasize only on military might.

I'm not sure how you define the 'sphere' of certain peoples, but as far as I understand it, I may point to other examples:
Alexander's conquest of the Middle East, Egypt and parts of Central Asia left traces which can be seen even today (and I don't mean archeological evidence only).
Bizanthia exerted efficient control over the Levant, the Crimean Peninsula and almost the whole of North Africa for centuries after the fall of the Western Roman Empire.
The Arabs remained in Spain for almost eight centuries and Grenada is somewhat away from Baghdad or Damascus.

If you'd ask me the Steppe Nomads' "sphere" was where they were at the moment.

The Mongols were able to defeat a wide variety of powerful militaries, and the Europeans they did fight, the Mongols defeated them decisively. It isn't a huge leap to say that the Mongols could have beaten the Western Europeans.


Althogh the "what if" game is quite controversial, you are most probably right about the Mongols defeating both the French and the English. However, they suffered several defeats which, combined with the internal turmoil inside the Horde, let to the halt of their push onwards. And yet Mongols did defeat the forces you've mentioned, but they were not only engaged in almost constant hostilities each other but also sufferred from the feudal division whithin their societies. The Steppe Nomads on the other hand had no such problems and were always united behind their leader as long as the latter was able to achieve victory and secure their only values - plunder and prey (no kidding, similar accounts on their habbits are found even in the middle of the XIX-th century).

The Seljuqs (a nomadic empire) were a serious threat in the south east


The Seljuqs were semi-sedentary although they never build large cities. Most sources do not reffer to them as an empire (although I'm not sure what modern Turkish histogrphy has to say about this). Most of the time they lived as Bizanthian foederati in Asia Minor. They used to side with either the Bizanthians or the Arabs in times of struggle. In the XIII-th century they aided Nicean emperor John III Duca Vatacius and later Michael Paleologos in their quest to recapture Constantinopolis from the crusaders.
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Postby Scnicker » Thu Jun 01, 2006 1:28 pm

Ok, it's time for me to enlighten you guys on some stuff... about Turks of course. Someone mentioned that the Seljuks weren't really Turks. Well, they are Turkish. Starting from the Great Hun Empire, Gok Turks and many other empires were Turkish, but later on, some immigrated to Europe and pillaged there while some moved through the Middle East and forming other empires there. Seljuks were established, but later on became Anatolian Seljuks and then they were destroyed by Mongolians. After that, many little countries started to form all around Anatolia and Middle East, battling each other to unite all the Turks under one flag. Osmanogullari (The sons of Osman) were one of those little countries. They eventually got bigger by buying land, being given land as a gift and of course with battles. After a while they started to attack Byzantine soil and after the conquest of Constantinopolis (now modern Istanbul), the Ottoman Empire was formed, but before Fatih the Conqueror, there was the Ankara War with the Mongolians. Yildirim Beyazit led the Ottoman Army and faced the Mongolians around Ankara (the modern capital city of Turkey), but most of the conscripts in the Turkish army betrayed the Ottomans and joined forces with Mongolians. At the end, Beyazit was taken as hostage and later on killed himself with a poisonous liquid that was hidden inside his ring. That was the only quarrel that the Ottomans had with Mongolians, but for The Great Seljuk Empire along with The Anatolian Seljuks, Mongolian army was a great threat. By the way, the name Seljuk is commonly used in modern Turkish as a boys name.

Hope this helps on Turks :).
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Postby The dark tide » Thu Jun 01, 2006 5:04 pm

You have probly already established this but the mongols didnt have very many people. The reason they did so well was because of there genious military tactics. the main thing that stopped there advance westward was the death of Ghengis Knan. After his death the mongolian tribes were split between his sons.
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Postby Damien » Fri Jun 02, 2006 11:44 am

Careful, I am not denigrating a culture, but instead, a cultural military. But, the Mongols decisively defeated the Russians, Polish, Teutonic Knights, and the Hungarians. I don't think it is a giant assumption to say that they'd defeat the French and English too. The only reason why they didn't was internal Mongolian politics.


I'm more careful about extrapolating quite that far. By that logic we can make a case for a lot of different peoples being fully able to defeat other peoples. For example, the English decisively defeated the French quite a few times - and still lost the war. Thus, we can just as easily say that the Mongols defeating Eastern Europeans does not immediately equate to them defeating all of Western Europe.

Quite a few historians argue the same point as you do (though I think they're often more careful about saying "the only reason why they didn't. . ." because such a statement does imply 'facts not in evidence' as it were. But I disagree with them too, because it's only supposition. I don't even disagree that it's a strong possibility. I just disagree that it's the invariable conclusion.


This also ignores earlier steppe nomads who invaded Europe - like the Huns, Avars, and Hungarians. All of whom had stunning successes against sedentary armies.


The Huns is a good example. They defeated Roman armies far more often than once, as well as plenty of other peoples. They did not, however, conquer Western Europe. They didn't even end up conquering the Romans.

The Avars are even better. They found that the Franks were a very difficult foe and turned away from them - and then only defeated the Gepids by joining forces with the European Lombards. And it was the Franks (and Bulgars) that destroyed the Avars.


I'm not sure the assumption that mercenary=adaptable is sound. Mercenaries can be just as rigid as non-mercenaries, it depends on their individual tactics, strategy, etc.


The point was that the Europeans were fully capable of seeing weaknesses in their tactics and troop supplement, and would readily take on different kinds of troops to fill any gaps they felt existed. They may not have done it by conquering entire peoples and taking over their troop stock, but the theory is the same as the one used by the Mongols; identify shortcomings and fix them.


It is certainly not a factual issue, since the Mongols never bothered invading western europe


Never bothered? That implies they didn't think it was worthwhile. From what I understand most historians agree that the Mongols would have attacked Western Europe fully if their empire had not fragmented.


The Mongols were able to defeat a wide variety of powerful militaries, and the Europeans they did fight, the Mongols defeated them decisively. It isn't a huge leap to say that the Mongols could have beaten the Western Europeans. And it isn't an insult to the Europeans either.


As I mention above - it isn't a huge leap, no. But it isn't factual, nor the only supposition one can make. (I'm ignoring the 'faced a wide variety of powerful militaries' because the Europeans did the same, but I'm going to get into that later on here.)


By the time the Mongols had reached the west, they had conquered the Abbassids and Song China, as well as every nomadic kingdom inbetween.


The Abbasids had already taken hard hits from Western Europeans for centuries, however. It's no great surprise that they were screwed when a large, functional army showed up out of nowhere. As a matter of fact, there was plenty of talk of truce between Western Europeans and Abbasids when the Mongols showed up, because neither group in that area had sufficient strength left, after 200 years of war, to take on the group alone.

It's like you and Two-Tonic (if I can use you for this, TT!) beating the crap out of each other for about an hour, and then me coming in and knocking you out with a 2x4. It's not the greatest victory for me, is it?


It isn't whether Europe is a world power or not, but when it was. By your own admission, Europe in the medieval period was mired in internal conflicts. The Seljuqs (a nomadic empire) were a serious threat in the south east, and the Almoravids were a serious threat in the south west (Spain).


Quite right. But even by the admission of decidedly anti-European historians (one of my favourites being David Nicole), the Europeans were a powerhouse of the medieval period. They controlled Western and Eastern Europe, held huge amounts of land in the Middle East and Egypt, and, though most people don't seem to realize it, were an established sea power thanks to the Italians, especially the Venetians.

As a matter of fact, I have yet to come across the claim before that the Europeans were not a serious power of the era. As I pointed out, only the Western Europeans and Mongols seem to have, during that time in history, really maintained themselves as a power outside their normal 'sphere.'


Song China played an important role in Mongolia and Turkestan in an effort to control the nomad threat. They recieved tribute from Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Tibet, and other smaller kingdoms. To say the Song China was less of a world power than England or France is illadvised, at best.


What I see when you say this is 'Asians were a power in Asia.' So this goes back to varied enemies and that.

I point to the Normans. They swept down from Scandinavia and took a huge portion of land for themselves (Normandy), took over a fair amount of France, conquered England, took part of Italy, held states in the Middle East for 2 centuries, aided in taking part in conquering some smaller states of Egypt, and even were the driving force in sacking Byzantium.

That's a huge amount of land for one group to run across and take over. The problem is that many people look at Western Europeans as one group - Western Europeans. Those same people are more than willing to see Chinese as Chinese and Japanese as Japanese, instead of seeing them all as Asians.

It has to be one or the other. Either Asians are Asians, or Western Europeans aren't 'just Western Europeans.' When taken out of the context of being one giant group of people, the Western Europeans' accomplishments are much more impressive and have a greater regional span.


PS. I hope this has been fun for you. A real historical discussion is rare for me, and this is lots of fun!


Oh yeah, no hard feelings. I also love these kinds of discussions. Not many people out there can talk intelligently about history in this way - it's excellent. Most of the discussions I get involved in concerning history usually involve phrases like : "L33t1111!one, sameri sooo pwnd!"




1. The Mongols did indeed have heavy cavalry, complete with (at least) half-armor for their mounts (typically the two front ranks, the back three ranks having lighter or no armor). Whether it was iron or horn, or some combination I'll let the real experts debate.


From what I've read, the Mongols did not have -effective- heavy cavalry. It was one of their weak points. At least compared to the heavy cavalry of Europeans and Middle Easterners. It just doesn't seem to have really been something the Mongols ever got particularly effective at using.


5. But then, I'd pillage anyplace for a Klondike Bar, so clearly I'm not one to judge.


Okay, I am so sigging this.



Chinese influence through trade and cultural exchange was felt not only in the Far East but all over Asia.


As I pointed out above, this is exactly what I'm talking about. Asians were a power in Asia. I don't recall any Chinese states in Italy, however.


I'm not sure how you define the 'sphere' of certain peoples, but as far as I understand it, I may point to other examples:
Alexander's conquest of the Middle East, Egypt and parts of Central Asia left traces which can be seen even today (and I don't mean archeological evidence only).


I think you may have missed where I pointed out that I was referring to the medieval period. Obviously the Macedonians, Romans, and other peoples, did a fine job of conquering their known worlds in earlier eras.


Bizanthia exerted efficient control over the Levant, the Crimean Peninsula and almost the whole of North Africa for centuries after the fall of the Western Roman Empire.


Byzantium inhereted the conquests of the Roman Empire. They exerted effective control over lands they already held. But again - medieval period.


The Arabs remained in Spain for almost eight centuries and Grenada is somewhat away from Baghdad or Damascus.


The Moors most certainly did stay in Spain. But they exerted no true power there, either, mostly fighting a defensive war to stay. They did not conquer, but settled uncontested until someone decided that being Christian meant no living in Europe.


You have probly already established this but the mongols didnt have very many people. The reason they did so well was because of there genious military tactics.


Didn't have many people? You're kidding, right? It wasn't unusual for the Mongols to outnumber their foes. There were plenty of them, especially if you count all of their subjugated peoples as Mongols.
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Postby The dark tide » Fri Jun 02, 2006 3:38 pm

Im no expert on mongolian history but when they battled with china I doubt they had more men. Also, when they were over so far west there numbers would have been thined due to the large amount of territory they had captured and the amount of troops they had lost in battle. Correct me if im wrong, I enjoy learning about the asian countries. :D
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Postby TwoTonic Knight » Fri Jun 02, 2006 4:22 pm

But, the Mongols decisively defeated the Russians, Polish, Teutonic Knights, and the Hungarians. I don't think it is a giant assumption to say that they'd defeat the French and English too. The only reason why they didn't was internal Mongolian politics.


I already laid out the scenario for the Mongols defeating the English (basically, they get their horses shot up and the feigned retreat doesn't work). Which is not to say that being able to stand off the Mongols in battle means you have won, but it is to say that it is a GIANT assumption to assume that the Mongols would have necessarily defeated the English, or the French for that matter (or get through the Germans to get at the French). Further, invading Switzerland would have been exceedingly difficult - the rugged terrain would have neutralized the light cavalry envelopment tactics, and allowed the swiss foot to close. The classic advantage of a light cav army is that it is difficult to hang a devastating loss on them since they can simply run away. In narrow passes, they might well have had their army cut to pieces by the Swiss.

It's like you and Two-Tonic (if I can use you for this, TT!) beating the crap out of each other for about an hour, and then me coming in and knocking you out with a 2x4. It's not the greatest victory for me, is it?


2x4 brick? LEGO as a means for world domination? Bwahaha!

But to address the point, a victory is a victory. Just any individual one doesn't make the next inevitable, and some less even less so.

From what I've read, the Mongols did not have -effective- heavy cavalry. It was one of their weak points. At least compared to the heavy cavalry of Europeans and Middle Easterners. It just doesn't seem to have really been something the Mongols ever got particularly effective at using.


They didn't have the couched lance, charge through the walls of Constantinople thing down pat, no. But they were effective within the parameters that they needed to be.

Bizanthia exerted efficient control over the Levant, the Crimean Peninsula and almost the whole of North Africa for centuries after the fall of the Western Roman Empire.


Byzantium inhereted the conquests of the Roman Empire. They exerted effective control over lands they already held. But again - medieval period.


The Byzantines did a considerable amount of conquering, most notably under General Belisarius during the reign of Justinian. Early medieval ("Dark Ages") for you quibblers. :D
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Postby ragnarok » Fri Jun 02, 2006 5:20 pm

Most of the discussions I get involved in concerning history usually involve phrases like : "L33t1111!one, sameri sooo pwnd!"


Familiar indeed! The last few discussions I've participated in were almost entirely made of comments concerning the other side's female relatives. More than sad!

The Byzantines did a considerable amount of conquering, most notably under General Belisarius during the reign of Justinian. Early medieval ("Dark Ages") for you quibblers.


(It aint true :P I was writing this at the moment.) However good point, that's exactely what I had in mind.

Also, when they were over so far west there numbers would have been thined due to the large amount of territory they had captured and the amount of troops they had lost in battle.


Actually, Eastern Europe was rarely inhabited due to the invading Steppe Nomads. Even more than a century after the initial Mongol invasion (1239-1241) when the Russian Grand Prince Dimitriy Donski managed to gather all the forces of the Russian Principalities and inflict the Mongols their first defeat by Russians at Kulikovo, the chronicles stated that Horde lost a half of its troops and the winners almost 90%, although it is said that the Mongol casualties were three times more. You may calculate the balance in power. The Eastern European Plain remained scarecely populated until after the end of WWII.

Which is not to say that being able to stand off the Mongols in battle means you have won, but it is to say that it is a GIANT assumption to assume that the Mongols would have necessarily defeated the English, or the French for that matter (or get through the Germans to get at the French). Further, invading Switzerland would have been exceedingly difficult - the rugged terrain would have neutralized the light cavalry envelopment tactics, and allowed the swiss foot to close.


Indeed almost a similar scenario happened during the Horde's further push into Europe. In 1240 under Batay they reached the Western Caucasus and pillaged the Danube Valley. although they never sufferred a sound defeat they lost a number of minor battles which finally made them turn back in the begging of the next year. So, in my oppinion, it turns out to be true that those who actually stood off the Mongols managed to preserve their independence. It is also true that most probably the Mongols would have sufferred much if they had tried to secure mountain passes or face their enemies in an environment, hostile to their tactics. Tactics which they don't bother to change and once their enemies became accustomed to them there began hard times for the Horde. Unlike that the European armies have always been trying to surprise and (the term we invented here) out-tactic their enemies.

and, though most people don't seem to realize it, were an established sea power thanks to the Italians, especially the Venetians.


If you will allow me to strengthen your example, I'll add also Genua, Bizanthia (their Navy was undefeated untill the XII-th century), the Baltic Hanza, and last but not least the world-famous Normans who rulled the seas from North America to the Eastern Mediteranean.

However, the diversity and the flexibility of the Europeans not only helped to whithstand outside treats, but later to expand their influence all over the world.

5. But then, I'd pillage anyplace for a Klondike Bar, so clearly I'm not one to judge.


Don't be hard on yourself for you are not the only one, although Klondike sounds too cold to my liking. :lol: After all there is a saying that politics are made in pubs.
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Postby amadeus » Sat Jun 03, 2006 7:51 pm

I still want someone to comment on their seige technology! It was amazing! They created it so fast and in large numbers that they could batter down chinese walls quickly.

Oh, and you people mean to say that the English could defeat the Mongols on land!?!?

You are clearly out of your mind. The English favored a slow advance at the begining of the battle. Wearing down their enemies with their Yomenrey. Then they would advance slowly until the devastating cavalry charge. And that English strategy was very effective.

But against Mongols? No way. The mongols would storm in with their horses (which were much faster than any European breed) and meet the infantry head on. The English would try to flank the Mongol cavalry only to be met with a hail of arrows from a second brigade of horse archers storming in. The main Mongol cavalry would fall back, most likley get picked off by English Yomenrey, and the horse archers wuld clean up the English cavalry. At this point the Mongol horse archers would trun around and attempt a flank. And most likley fail. But it would buy them enough time for the Mongolian infantry (very massive, but poorley trained) and meet the English force. At this time. The English would not have a cavalry to save them. So the Yomenrey would fire at the infantry, and the pikes and swordsmen would crash in and kill the rest of the Mongolian infantry. At this time, more Mongolian cavalry would come in and feast on the helpless infantry.

This is my recreation of a battle between England and the Golden Horde.
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Postby Damien » Sat Jun 03, 2006 8:51 pm

This is my recreation of a battle between England and the Golden Horde.


And while. . . interesting. . it was little more than Mongol-fanboyism with no basis in fact, or at least a rather weak understanding of English -and- Mongolian tactics. See TwoTonic's post.


And there are two bottom lines you ignored:

1.) They never invaded Western Europe, so any judgement on the outcome of said battles is supposition.

2.) They'd have to go through the French and the Germans to get to the English, not to mention probably the Italians. Oh yeah, and an ocean. You remembered that England is an island, right? Mongols better hope the English don't know they're coming.



Could the Mongols defeat the English on land? Maybe. Could the English defeat the Mongols on land? Maybe. We don't know who would win because it didn't happen. And a very convincing case can be made for -EITHER- of them being the victor. Don't let yourself get so bogged down in being so ravenously fanboyish over one group that you fail to see the strengths of other groups.


And no, their siege technology was not particularly amazing. To point a fact, their siege technology was largely simply taken from anyone else they encountered. Particularly the Chinese. And maybe my memory is fuzzy, but I don't recall them battering down any walls 'quickly,' at least no more quickly than anyone else could have done it. Some sieges are quick, some aren't. Study up on European and Middle-eastern history and you'll find the same thing happening - quick and long sieges.



Edit: Note that "fanboyism" is not meant derrogatorily, but rather to say something to the effect of "over-enthusiastic appreciation of."
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Postby ragnarok » Sun Jun 04, 2006 9:39 am

I've mentioned above that the what if scenarios are very tricky. I see that Amadeus is enthusiasticc about the Horde but it takes a thorough approach to accurately analyze their strengths and weaknesses.

I am not well aware of Mongol siege tactics but the sources mention that from the 67 Russian towns they took none had stone walls - just wooden palisades. On the contrary it took them 3 attempts and a fair number of casualties to take the fortified city of Kazan. They never besieged a major city in Central or South-Eastern Europe. The castles which actually fell to the Mongols had garrissons of 15 - 60 men compared to a force measured in thousands. Those were the realities in Medieval Europe.

One should bare in mind that the English managed to achieve several sounding victories on mainland Europe even when most of the odds were against them. Their success was due to their supperior tactics. And it's not only the English - the Venetians (a city-state) maintained colonies all over the Mediteranean and the Crimean peninsula and were a respected power in that time.
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Postby TwoTonic Knight » Sun Jun 04, 2006 3:07 pm

amadeus wrote:I still want someone to comment on their seige technology! It was amazing! They created it so fast and in large numbers that they could batter down chinese walls quickly.

Oh, and you people mean to say that the English could defeat the Mongols on land!?!?

You are clearly out of your mind. The English favored a slow advance at the begining of the battle. Wearing down their enemies with their Yomenrey. Then they would advance slowly until the devastating cavalry charge. And that English strategy was very effective.

But against Mongols? No way. The mongols would storm in with their horses (which were much faster than any European breed) and meet the infantry head on. The English would try to flank the Mongol cavalry only to be met with a hail of arrows from a second brigade of horse archers storming in. The main Mongol cavalry would fall back, most likley get picked off by English Yomenrey, and the horse archers wuld clean up the English cavalry. At this point the Mongol horse archers would trun around and attempt a flank. And most likley fail. But it would buy them enough time for the Mongolian infantry (very massive, but poorley trained) and meet the English force. At this time. The English would not have a cavalry to save them. So the Yomenrey would fire at the infantry, and the pikes and swordsmen would crash in and kill the rest of the Mongolian infantry. At this time, more Mongolian cavalry would come in and feast on the helpless infantry.

This is my recreation of a battle between England and the Golden Horde.


All of the above is based on a misunderstanding of English tactics. The english would draw up on terrain that prevented sweeping flank attacks by either side (no endless grasslands favoring Mongolian light cavalry tactics). Their archers were quite proficient at shooting down cavalry. Further, they routinely fixed stakes that they carried with them to prevent cavalry charges. The knights would dismount to support the archers, both making the english extremely tough in melee and making them naturally resistant to the feigned retreat the Mongols depended on.

Basically, you lay out a frontal attack by the Mongols with cavalry (a scenario I don't think the Mongols were dumb enough to do, but I'll go with the flow). It would be repulsed with heavy loses. The english would only have a very small mounted reserve, and typically they only commited that at extreme need, so a flanking counterattack would be virtually impossible even if they wanted to by both the terrain and their own deployment. So, the knights are still there with the archers, the Mongol light cav have nothing to do, and the infantry comes in, and though they might be able to close, they would be easily repulsed.

But then, I'm clearly out of my mind. :wink:
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