The tropical monsoons often act in concert, with coherent changes associated with both internal (i.e. ENSO) and forced (i.e. volcanic) variability. The term ‘global monsoon’ is often used to describe such variations. Yet the extent to which the global monsoon is able to explain variability at regional scales across timescales remains unclear. Here, the importance of the global monsoon concept is explored over the last millennium using simulations from the NCAR Last Millennium Ensemble.