Genghis Khan
Copyright Michael D. Robbins 2005

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See various suggested years of birth.



“It is not sufficient that I suceed - all others must fail.”
(Mars in Capricorn; Opposition Cancer Moon?!)

“I am the punishment of God...If you had not committed great sins, God would not have sent a punishment like me upon you.”

“If my body dies, let my body die, but do not let my country die.”

"The greatest joy a man can know is to conquer his enemies and drive them before him. To ride their horses and take away their possessions. To see the faces of those who were dear to them bedewed with tears, and to clasp their wives and daughters in his arms"

"With Heaven's aid I have conquered for you a huge empire. But my life was too short to achieve the conquest of the world. That task is left for you."
---Genghis Khan, to his sons at the end of his life.



Genghis Khan

While his image in some regions of the world has traditionally been that of a ruthless and bloodthirsty conqueror[3], Genghis Khan is an iconic and beloved figure in Mongolia, where he is seen as the father of the Mongol Nation (see also Mongolia). Before becoming a Khan, Temüjin eliminated and united many of the nomadic tribes of north East Asia and Central Asia under a social identity as the "Mongols."

Genghis Khan was born between 1150 and 1160. In his early childhood, he learned how to ride a horse at a very young age. Later when he was over six years old, he was allowed to participate in uniting expeditions with his clan/tribe. At around the age of nine, his tribal leader father was poisoned and he and his household was driven away by his clan that thought he was too young to rule. Taught by his mother, he became leader of his family and learned how to care for and protect others which would be important for controlling an empire.

In the middle of his life when he was in his 40s or 50s, after creating the Mongol nation, Genghis Khan set out on conquests and defeated the Jin Dynasty. He learned much from the Chinese including siege warfare. He also used diplomacy. However, in the case of the Khwarezmid Empire, diplomacy failed, and he resolved the situation with warfare. Through these means, Genghis Khan created one of the most powerful empires in history. Starting with the invasion of Western Xia and Jin Dynasty in northern China and consolidating through numerous conquests including the Khwarezmid Empire in Persia, Mongol rule across the Eurasian landmass radically altered the demography and geopolitics of these areas. The Mongol Empire ended up ruling, or at least briefly conquering, large parts of modern day China, Mongolia, Russia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, Iraq, Iran, Turkey, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Moldova, South Korea, and Kuwait.

Genghis Khan died on 1227 for unclear reasons. He is widely regarded as one of the most significant leaders in history. His sons and grandsons controlled the empire after his death and the empire endured for over 150 years.

The Onon river, Mongolia in fall, a site where Temujin was born and grew up.Little is known about his early life, and the few sources providing insight into this periodo barça do not agree on many basic facts. He was born in a tribe and named Temujin because at the time his father had just captured a chieftain from the tartar tribe with that name. His father was a tribal leader and his precessors were also chieftains engaging in constant warfare and conflict with other tribes like others. He was therefore of a noble line and through his lineage he was able to find alliance with his earlier allies more easily. He was likely born around 1162 to 1167 [1] in the mountainous area of Burhan Haldun in Mongolia's Hentiy Province near the Onon and the Herlen (Kherülen) rivers. Folklore and legend state that Temujin was born with a blood clot in his fist, an indication that he was destined to become a conquering leader. He was the eldest son of Yesükhei, a minor tribal chief of the Kiyad and a nöker (vassal) of Ong Khan of the Kerait tribe,[4] possibly descended from a family of blacksmiths (see below, name). Yesükhei's clan was called Borjigin ), and his mother, Hoelun, was of the Olkhunut tribe of the Mongol confederation. They were nomads like almost all Central Asian Turkic and Mongol confederations.

Temüjin was related through his own father to Qabul Khan, Ambaghai and Qutula Khan who had headed the Mongol confederation under the Jin Dynasty until the Jin switched support to the Tatars in 1161 and destroyed Qabul Khan[5]. Genghis' father, Yesugei (khan of the Borjigin and nephew to Ambaghai and Qutula Khan) emerged as the head of the ruling clan of the Mongols, but this position was contested by the rival Tayichi’ud clan, who descended directly from Ambaghai. When the Tatars, in turn, grew too powerful after 1161, the Jin moved their support from the Tatars to the Kerait.

Temüjin had three brothers, Khasar (or Qasar), Khajiun, and Temüge, and one sister, Temülen (or Temulin), as well as two half-brothers, Bekhter and Belgutei.

Genghis Khan's empress and first wife Borte had four sons, Jochi (1185–1226), Chagatai (?—1241), Ögedei (?—1241), and Tolui (1190–1232). Genghis Khan also had many other children with his other wives, but they were excluded from the succession, and records on what daughters he may have had are nonexistent. The paternity of Genghis Khan's eldest son, Jochi, remains unclear to this day and was a serious point of contention in his lifetime. Soon after Borte's marriage to Temüjin, she was kidnapped by the Merkits and reportedly given to one of their men as a wife. Though she was rescued, she gave birth to Jochi nine months later, clouding the issue of his parentage.

According to traditional historical accounts, this uncertainty over Jochi's true father was voiced most strongly by Chagatai. According to The Secret History of the Mongols, just before the invasion of the Khwarezmid Empire by Genghis Khan, Chagatai declared before his father and brothers that he would never accept Jochi as Genghis Khan's successor. In response to this tension[6] and possibly for other reasons, it was Ögedei who was appointed as successor and who ruled as Khagan after Genghis Khan's death. Jochi died in 1226, before his father.[7]

Mongolian ger (yurt) similar to the one Temüjin was born and grew up in.Based on legends and later writers, Temüjin's early life was difficult. When he was only nine, as part of the marriage arrangement, his father Yesukhei delivered Temüjin to the family of his future wife Borte, members of the Onggirat tribe. He was to live there in service to Deisechen, the head of the household, until he reached the marriageable age of 12. He grew up in a tough political climate because of tribal warfare, thievery, raids, revenges between the confederations, foreign forces, influences etc. and none of them were under a single political control, except the Chinese dynasties.

Because of political reasons, while heading home his father was secretly poisoned by eating poisoned food from the neighbouring Tatars by taking him to their base in retaliation for his campaigns and raids against them. This gave Temüjin a claim to be the clan's chief, although his father's clan refused to be led by a boy and soon abandoned him and his family including his mother Hoelun and left them without protection.

For the next few years, Temüjin and his family lived the life of impoverished nomads, surviving primarily on wild fruits, marmots and other small game hunted by Temujin and his brothers. In one incident, Temüjin murdered his half-brother Bekhter over a dispute about sharing hunting spoils. Despite being severely reproached by his mother, he never expressed any remorse over the killing. The incident also cemented his position as head of the household. In another incident in 1182, he was captured in a raid by his former tribe, the Ta'yichiut, and held captive. The Ta'yichiut enslaved Temüjin (reportedly with a cangue), but he escaped with help from a sympathetic captor, the father of Chilaun, a future general of Genghis Khan. His mother, Hoelun, taught him many lessons about survival in the harsh landscape and even grimmer political climate of Mongolia, especially the need for alliances with others, a lesson which would shape his understanding in his later years. Jelme and Bo'orchu, two of Genghis Khan's future generals, joined him around this time. Along with his brothers, they provided the manpower needed for early expansion and diplomacy.

Temüjin married Börte of the Konkirat tribe around the age of 16, being betrothed as children by their parents as a customary way to forge a tribal alliance. She was later kidnapped in a raid by the Merkit tribe, and Temüjin rescued her with the help of his friend and future rival, Jamuqa, and his protector, Ong Khan of the Kerait tribe. She remained his only empress, although he followed tradition by taking several morganatic wives. Börte's first child, Jochi, was born roughly nine months after she was freed from the Merkit, leading to questions about the child's paternity.

Temüjin became blood brother (anda) with Jamuqa, and thus the two made a vow to be faithful to each other for eternity.

From Temüjin to Genghis Khan
Temüjin began his slow ascent to power by offering himself as a vassal to his father's anda (sworn brother or blood brother) Toghrul, who was Khan of the Kerait and better known by the Chinese title Ong Khan (or "Wang Khan"), which the Jin Empire granted him in 1197. This relationship was first reinforced when Borte was captured by the Merkits; it was to Toghrul that Temüjin turned for support. In response, Toghrul offered his vassal 20,000 of his Kerait warriors and suggested that he also involve his childhood friend Jamuqa, who had himself become khan of his own tribe, the Jajirats.[8] Although the campaign was successful and led to the recapture of Borte and utter defeat of the Merkits, it also paved the way for the split between the childhood friends, Temüjin and Jamuqa.

Toghrul's son, Senggum, was jealous of Temüjin's growing power and he allegedly planned to assassinate Temüjin. Toghrul, though allegedly saved on multiple occasions by Temüjin, gave in to his son[9] and adopted an obstinate attitude towards collaboration with Temüjin. Temüjin learned of Senggum's intentions and eventually defeated him and his loyalists. One of the later ruptures between Toghrul and Temüjin was Toghrul's refusal to give his daughter in marriage to Jochi, the eldest son of Temüjin, which signified disrespect in the Mongol culture. This act probably led to the split between both factions and was a prelude to war. Toghrul allied himself with Jamuqa, Temüjin's blood brother, or anda, and when the confrontation took place, the internal divisions between Toghrul and Jamuqa, as well as the desertion of many clans that fought on their side to the cause of Temüjin, led to Toghrul's defeat. This paved the way for the fall and extinction of the Kerait tribe.

The next direct threat to Temüjin was the Naimans, with whom Jamuqa and his followers took refuge. The Naimans did not surrender, although enough sectors again voluntarily sided with Temüjin. In 1201, a Khuriltai elected Jamuqa as Gur Khan, universal ruler, a title used by the rulers of the Kara-Khitan Khanate. Jamuqa's assumption of this title was the final breach with Temüjin, and Jamuqa formed a coalition of tribes to oppose him. Before the conflict, however, several generals abandoned Jamuqa, including Subutai, Jelme's well-known younger brother. After several battles, Jamuqa was finally captured in 1206 after several shepherds kidnapped and turned him over to Temüjin.

According to the Secret History, Temüjin generously offered his friendship again to Jamuqa and asked him to turn to his side. Jamuqa refused and asked for a noble death, that is, without spilling blood, which was granted by breaking his back. The rest of the Merkit clan that sided with the Naimans were defeated by Subutai (or Subedei), a member of Temüjin's personal guard who would later become one of the greatest commanders in the service of the Khan. The Naimans' defeat left Genghis Khan as the sole ruler of the Mongol plains. All these confederations were united and became known as the Mongols.

By 1206,Temüjin managed to unite the Merkits, Naimans, Mongols, Uyghurs, Keraits, Tatars and disparate other smaller tribes under his rule through his charisma, dedication, and strong will. It was a monumental feat for the "Mongols" (as they became known collectively), who had a long history of internecine dispute, economic hardship, and pressure from Chinese dynasties and empires. At a Kurultai, a council of Mongol chiefs, he was acknowledged as "Khan" of the consolidated tribes and took the title Genghis Khan. The title Khagan was not conferred on Genghis until after his death, when his son and successor, Ögedei took the title for himself and extended it posthumously to his father (as he was also to be posthumously declared the founder of the Yuan Dynasty). This unification of all confederations by Genghis Khan established peace between previously warring tribes. The population of the whole Mongol nation was around 200,000 people including civilians with approximately 70,000 soldiers at the formation of unified Mongol nation.

The Mongol Empire created by Genghis Khan in 1206 was bordered on the west by the Western Xia Dynasty. To its east and south was the Jin Dynasty, who at the time ruled northern China as well as being the traditional overlord of the Mongolian tribes. Temüjin organized his people and his state to prepare for war with Western Xia, or Xi Xia, that was closer to the Mongol border. He believed that the Jin Dynasty had a young ruler who would not come to the aid of Tanguts of Xi Xia. He guessed correctly. When the Tanguts requested the Jin Dynasty for help, they were refused.[10]

The Jurchen had also grown uncomfortable with the newly unified Mongols. It may be that some trade routes ran through Mongol territory, and they might have feared the Mongols eventually would restrict the supply of goods coming from the Silk Road. Genghis Khan also was eager to take revenge against the Jurchen for their long subjugation of the Mongols by stirring up conflicts between Mongol tribes. The Jurchen had executed some Mongol Khans in the past.

Eventually, Genghis Khan led his army against Western Xia and conquered it, despite initial difficulties in capturing its well-defended cities. By 1209, the Tangut emperor acknowledged Genghis as overlord.

Defeat of the Jin Dynasty
In 1211, Genghis Khan set about bringing the Nüzhen (the founders of the Jin Dynasty) completely under his dominion. The commander of the Jin army made a tactical mistake in not attacking the Mongols at the first opportunity. Instead, the Jin commander sent a messenger, Ming-Tan, to the Mongol side, who promptly defected and told the Mongols that the Qin army was waiting on the other side of the pass. At this engagement fought at Badger Pass the Mongols massacred thousands of Jin troops. Decades later, when the Taoist sage Ch'ang Ch'un was passing through this pass to meet Genghis Khan, he was stunned to still see the bones of so many people scattered in the pass. On his way back, he camped close to this pass for three days and prayed for the departed souls. In 1215 Genghis besieged, captured, and sacked the Jin capital of Yanjing (later known as Beijing). This forced the Jin Emperor Xuanzong to move his capital south to Kaifeng.

Death and burial
Mongol Empire in 1227 at Genghis Khan's deathOn August 18, 1227, during his last campaign with the Western Xia Empire of the Tanguts, Genghis Khan died. The reason for his death is uncertain. Many assume he fell off his horse, due to old age and physical fatigue; some contemporary observers cited prophecies from his opponents. The Galician-Volhynian Chronicle alleges he was killed by the Tanguts. There are persistent folktales that a Tangut princess, to avenge her people and prevent her rape, castrated him with a knife hidden inside her and that he never recovered.

Genghis Khan asked to be buried without markings. After he died, his body was returned to Mongolia and presumably to his birthplace in Hentiy aymag, where many assume he is buried somewhere close to the Onon River. According to legend, the funeral escort killed anyone and anything across their path, to conceal where he was finally buried. The Genghis Khan Mausoleum is his memorial, but not his burial site. On October 6, 2004, "Genghis Khan's palace" was allegedly discovered, and that may make it possible to find his burial site. Folklore says that a river was diverted over his grave to make it impossible to find (The same manner of burial of Sumerian King Gilgamesh of Uruk.) Other tales state that his grave was stampeded over by many horses, over which trees were then planted and the permafrost also did its bit in hiding the burial site. The burial site remains undiscovered.

Genghis Khan's practices

It is not entirely clear what Genghis Khan's personality was truly like, as with any historical person without an autobiography, but his personality and character were moulded by the many hardships he faced when he was young, and in unifying the Mongol nation. Genghis Khan fully embraced the Mongol people's nomadic way of life according to his quotations, and did not try to change their customs or beliefs. As he aged, he seemed to become increasingly aware of the consequences of numerous victories and expansion of the Mongol Empire, including the possibility that succeeding generations might choose to live a sedentary lifestyle. According to quotations attributed to him in his later years, he urged future leaders to follow the Yasa, and to refrain from surrounding themselves with wealth and pleasure. He was known to share his wealth with his people and awarded subjects handsomely who participated in campaigns in the book The Secret History of the Mongols.

Honesty and loyalty
Genghis Khan seemed to value honesty and loyalty to himself highly from his subjects. Genghis Khan put some trust in his generals, such as Muqali, Jebe and Subudei, and gave them free rein in battles. He allowed them to make decisions on their own when they embarked on campaigns on their own very far from the Mongol Empire capital Karakorum. An example of Genghis Khan's perception of loyalty is written in The Secret History of the Mongols that one of his main military generals Jebe had been his enemy and shot his horse. When Jebe was captured, he said he shot his horse and that he would fight for him if he spared his life or would die if that's what he wished. Genghis Khan spared Jebe's life, Jebe betrayed his former commander, and he became one of the powerful, successful generals of Genghis Khan.

Yet, accounts of Genghis Khan's life are marked by claims of a series of betrayals and conspiracies. These include rifts with his early allies such as Jamuqa (who also wanted to be a ruler of Mongol tribes) and Wang Khan (his and his father's ally), his son Batu, and problems with the most important Shaman who was allegedly trying break him up with brother Qasar who was serving Genghis Khan loyally. Many modern scholars doubt that all of the conspiracies existed and suggest that Genghis Khan was inclined to paranoia.

Military strategy
His military strategies showed a deep interest in gathering good intelligence and understanding the motivations of his rivals as exemplified by his extensive spy network and Yam route systems. He seemed to be a quick student, adopting new technologies and ideas that he encountered, such as siege warfare from the Chinese. The book Secret History makes it clear he was not physically courageous and even says he was afraid of dogs. Many legends claim that Genghis Khan always was in the front in battles, but these may not be historically accurate.

Genghis Khan's religion is widely speculated to be Shamanism, which was very common among nomadic Mongol-Turkic tribes of Central Asia. Genghis Khan towards the later part of his life became interested in the ancient Buddhist and Tao religions from China. The Taoist monk Ch'ang Ch'un, who rejected invitations from Song and Jin leaders, travelled more than 5000 kilometres to meet Genghis Khan close to the Afghanistan border. The first question Genghis Khan asked him was if the monk had some secret medicine that could make him immortal. The monk's negative answer disheartened Genghis Khan, and he rapidly lost interest in the monk. He also passed a decree exempting all followers of Taoist religion from paying any taxes. Genghis Khan was by and large tolerant of the multiple religions and there are no cases of him or the Mongols engaging in religious war against people he encountered during the conquests as long as they were obedient. However, all of his campaigns caused wanton and deliberate destruction of places of worship if they resisted.[17]

Muslim historian Rashid al-Din, foremost contemporary historian on Genghis Khan, recorded in his "Chronicles" that Genghis was tall, long-bearded, red-haired, and green-eyed. According to other first hand accounts recorded by al-Din, from sources as widespread as Marco Polo to Zhao Hong[citation needed], Genghis's family was noted in particular for its propensity in producing various shades of red hair. Rashid al-Din also described the first meeting of Genghis and Kublai Khan, when Genghis was shocked to find Kublai had not inherited his red hair. [citation needed]

Genghis's Borjigid clan, al-Din also reveals, had a legend involving their clan: it began as the result of an affair(technically an immaculate conception) between Alan-ko and a stranger to her land, a glittering man who happened to have red hair and blueish-green eyes. Modern historian Paul Ratchnevsky has suggested in his biography of Genghis that this strange man may have been from the Kirghiz people who historically were noted as often displaying these very same characteristics. It is all purely speculative, however.

By himself
Perhaps a rare insight into Genghis Khan's perspective of himself was recorded in a letter to the Taoist monk Ch'ang Ch'un. The letter was presumably not written by Genghis Khan himself, as tradition states that he was illiterate, but rather by a Chinese person at a later point and recorded as his in the Chinese histories. A passage from the letter states:

Heaven has abandoned China owing to its haughtiness and extravagant luxury. But I, living in the northern wilderness, have not inordinate passions. I hate luxury and exercise moderation. I have only one coat and one food. I eat the same food and am dressed in the same tatters as my humble herdsmen. I consider the people my children, and take an interest in talented men as if they were my brothers. We always agree in our principles, and we are always united by mutual affection. At military exercises I am always in front, and in time of battle am never behind. In the space of seven years I have succeeded in accomplishing a great work, and uniting the whole world in one empire. (Bretschneider)

Short timeline
c. 1155-1167 - Temüjin born in Hentiy, Mongolia.
c. 1171 - Temüjin's father Yesükhei poisoned by the Tatars, leaving him and his family destitute
c. 1184 - Temüjin's wife Borte kidnapped by Merkits; calls on blood brother Jamuqa and Wang Khan (Ong Khan) for aid, and they rescued her.
c. 1185 - First son Jochi born, leading to doubt about his paternity later among Genghis' children, because he was born shortly after Borte's rescue from the Merkits.
1190' - Temüjin unites the Mongol tribes, becomes leader, and devises code of law Yassa.
1201 - Wins victory over Jamuqa's Jadarans.
1202 - Adopted as Ong Khan's heir after successful campaigns against Tatars.
1203 - Wins victory over Ong Khan's Keraits. Ong Khan himself is killed by accident.
1204 - Wins victory over Naimans (all these confederations are united and become the Mongols).
1206 - Jamuqa is killed. Temüjin given the title Genghis Khan by his followers in Kurultai (around 40 years of age).
1207-1210 - Genghis leads operations against the Western Xia, which comprises much of northwestern China and parts of Tibet. Western Xia ruler submits to Genghis Khan. During this period, the Uyghurs also submit peacefully to the Mongols and became valued administrators throughout the empire.
1211 - After Khuriltai, Genghis leads his armies against the Jin Dynasty that ruled northern China.
1215 - Beijing falls, Genghis Khan turns to west and the Khara-Kitan Khanate.
1219-1222 - Conquers Khwarezmid Empire.
1226 - Starts the campaign against the Western Xia for forming coalition against the Mongols, being the second battle with the Western Xia.
1227 - Genghis Khan dies leading fight against Western Xia. How he died is uncertain, although legend states that he was thrown off his horse in the battle, and contracted a deadly fever soon after.

^ a b Rashid al-Din asserts that Genghis Khan lived to the age of 72, placing his year of birth at 1155. The Yuanshi (??, History of the Yuan dynasty, not to be confused with the era name of the Han Dynasty), records his year of birth as 1162. According to Ratchnevsky, accepting a birth in 1155 would render Genghis Khan a father only at the age of 30, and would imply that at the ripe age of 72 he personally commanded the expedition against the Tanguts. Also, according to the Altan Tobci, Genghis Khan's sister, Temulin, was nine years younger than he; but the Secret History relates that Temulin was an infant during the attack by the Merkits, during which Genghis Khan would have been 18, had he been born in 1155. Zhao Hong reports in his travelogue that the Mongols he questioned did not and had never known their ages.

Mongolia’s greatest hero
There have been many powerful generals who conquered, expanded their nation’s borders, and influenced millions of people with a clash of culture around the world. Among the most renowed leaders are Alexander the Great spreading Greek Hellenism, Gaius Julius Caesar of the Roman Empire, Hannibal of Catharage with his elephants, Frederick II 'the Great' of Prussia, and Napoleone Buonoparte I of France.

Few generals, however, matched the effectiveness and cunning that was possessed by Genghis Kahn of the Mongol hoard. Genghis Khan was an incredibly skilled general, and led the Mongol nation to heights that it had never experienced before.

Genghis Kahn, or Temujin as he was called before his rise to power, was born sometime between the late 1150’s to the early 1160’s (Britannica 2002, n.p.). He was called Temujin because, in the Mongol culture, children were named after the leader of the last tribe to be defeated by the child’s father (Price-groff 81). Childhood was short and difficult for the Mongols, and Temujin learned how to ride horses when he was three, and hunt and fish before he turned six years old (81). The Mongols also had very early arranged marriages, and Temujin was no exception. At the age of nine, his father, Yesugei, made arrangements to have him wed a girl from a neighboring tribe (“Genghis Kahn”, par. 1). As part of the arrangement, Yesugei left Temujin with the tribe until he came of age. On his way home, Yesugei was poisoned by a tribe offering him hospitality, and in his last breaths, he expressed his desire to have his son succeed his reign.

However, Yesugei’s followers did not want to let Temujin reign, for he was still a child. So, they exiled his family, believing that without a clan and the protection it offered, they would die. However, instead of giving up, the resourceful Mongol family lived off the land and prospered. Temujin became stronger and stronger, and took control of the family. When one of his brothers stole a fish from him, Temujin killed the thief with an arrow, a harsh discipline that was somewhat common for Mongols (Price-goff 82). As he continued to grow, other tribes feared that he was becoming too strong, and devised a plan to capture Temujin (Britannica 2002, n.p.). Temujin was tied with a wooden yoke that restricted his movement. However, he was able to use this device as a weapon, and escaped one night by knocking his guard in the head (Price-goff 82). Even at the young age of sixteen, Temujin’s resourcefulness and strength were gaining respect.

After escaping, Temujin considered himself a grown man, and went to peruse the items that had been taken from him when he was exiled. He found the wife that had been promised to him and married her. He started to make alliances with other tribes, and was eventually assimilated into the tribe of his wife. Soon after this event, the camp was raided and his wife was captured. Temujin soon planned a counter attack and, with the help of Toghrul (his wife’s father) and Jamuka (his friend from childhood), he rescued his wife, as well as gaining respect as a war leader.

"The 13th century reign of Genghis Kahn was a significant time for the growth of Christianity, which had been introduced as early as the 8th century by Nestorian Christian missionaries from Persia. Genghis Kahn was married to a Christian woman. One of the Khan's daughters-in-law, Sorkaktani, was a Nestorian Christian who became the mother of three great emperors, including Kublai Khan. Another significant Christian influence in the 13th century was the assignment by Pope Innocent the IV of more than a dozen Dominican and Franciscan missionaries to Mongolia."1

After this event, many men from Jamuka’s tribe started to follow Temujin instead of their tribe leader (Price-goff 85). Temujin was starting to become a Kahn, a leader of the Mongol people. Jamuka was understandably jealous, and was pushed over the edge when one of Temujin’s soldiers killed Jamuka’s little brother (Price-goff 86). This event caused former allies and best friends to become enemies, and Temujin fled to northeastern Asia, possibly China, to escape from Jamuka’s wrath. Over next several years, Temujin gained several more followers, and started training his men for battle. The scattered Mongol people were starting to unite and become a single nation. Temujin organized his men into different categories: group of 10 called squads, groups of 100 called squadrons, and group of 1000 called quarans (Price-goff 85). These groups had precise functions and instructions, and each squad was a specialty unit that had a very specific skill set or task.

One of the emperors of China, hearing news that Temujin was near-by, called for his assistance in driving away raiding nomads, the Tartars. Temujin readily agreed, for these were the same people that had driven his ancestors out of their lands. So, Temujin once again made an alliance with Toghrul, his wife’s father, and Chin, the emperor of a Chinese tribe. They proceeded to massacre the Tartars, leaving “only the young alive” (Price-goff 86).

At this time, all of the Mongols had chosen one of two leaders: Jamuka or Temujin. With the added alliance of Toghrul, Temujin was now ready to take his vengeance on Jamuka. The first battle was so fierce that it forced Jamuka to retreat (Price-goff 89). Just when Temujin though he finally had the upper hand, he got word that his ally, Toghrul, had betrayed him. Fearing Temujin’s growing strength, he had planed with Jamuka to assassinate Temujin. However, Temujin heard of the plot and was able to retreat, regroup, and destroy Toghrul’s followers. He went on to defeat Jamuka and had him executed. Temujin was now the leader of all Mongols, the supreme Kahn, Genghis Kahn!

After unifying the Mongols, Genghis Kahn went on the conquer all of China. He breached the Great Wall, laid waste to many cities along the way, and captured the capitol (Britannica, n.p.). However, instead of become a tyrannical dictator after capturing the country, Genghis Kahn let the Chinese live had they had, with no pressure to change their customs or persecution to their religion. He saw that it would be more profitable to force the people to pay a light tax then conquering their culture. Additionally, because he was fair in his taxation, the Chinese people were much less likely to revolt.

After conquering the Chinese, Genghis Kahn turned his attention to trade. When the sultan of Persia killed his ambassadors and refused to trade, Genghis Kahn went to war yet again. He conquered almost all of west Asia, so that the Mongol empire covered almost all of Asia. After restoring the trade route in the west, Khan returned to his home in East Asia only to find the people in China had revolted. After stopping the revolt, Genghis Kahn was finally returning home. However, while on his horse, he became ill and died, ending the reign of one of the greatest rulers ever (Britannica 2002, n.p.).

Genghis Kahn was one of the most feared leaders of his time, and Mongolia reached levels of wealth it had never achieved, and never would achieve again. Genghis Kahn lived to about 70 years of age and died in August, 1227, one of Mongolia’s greatest heroes (Price-goff 91)


[Genghis Khan was] a man of tall stature, of vigorous build, robust in body, the hair on his face scanty and turned white, with cat's eyes, possessed of dedicated energy, discernment, genius, and understanding, awe-striking, a butcher, just, resolute, an overthrower of enemies, intrepid, sanguinary, and cruel.

No valid, accurate portrait of Genghis exists today, and any portraits are merely artistic interpretations of him. The actual descriptions of Genghis Khan from contemporary historians of his time were quite different than what is usually found in the portraits, however.

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