Was there a noble cause to Genghis Khan's campaign?

Was there a noble cause to Genghis Khan's campaign?

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Genghis Khan has a reputation as a ruthless warlord and genocidal maniac, but I've heard rumors of him being a politician interested in unifying local tribes and bringing peace to the region. Was there a noble motivation to his campaign?

I think it is important to consider an arc of development for Gengis Khan and not to consider his actions in isolation.

First would be the early childhood and youth phase where Genghis Khan, who was only known as Temujin struggled to survive in a tough political climate of Mongolia, surrounded by constant warfare, raids, blood revenge, and dire poverty. To this must be added constant interference from outside interests, such as China, who would manipulate one tribe against another, causing constant instability.

Next is the period during which he united the Mongol tribes. This was done in two ways. His closest friends and allies were promoted in a form of meritocracy and rewarded for their loyalty. Others were recruited as allies and yet others were tricked or manipulated. The end result, however, was an unprecedented unification of Mongolia that hugely benefitted the Mongolian people. You have to realize that at that time, with tribal thinking dominating all forms of organization in Mongolia, this was a huge and difficult feat.

Next came the period of conquest and this needs itself to be divided into two phases.

In the first phase, Genghis Khan invaded China, and though not conquering the whole of China, laid the foundations for the future Yuan dynasty that his successors created. Perhaps the results here though positive from a Mongolian perspective were mixed from a Chinese perspective, with a loss of pride and control of China by the Chinese.

The second phase consisted of the invasion of Persia and all the lands to the west of Persia. This period started with Genghis khan trying to deal with the Shah of Persia, but when his ambassadors were rebuffed (or killed), Genghis Khan descended on the continent, obliterated cities, took men and boys as soldiers and pressed the remaining population into slavery. The histories of the Persians therefore view Genghis Khan as a bloodthirsty tyrant, and in fact the term Genghis is derived from the persian word Changiz, which means the claw of the tiger, referring to how a tiger will rip apart its prey. However, you have to note that from Changiz Khan's perspective, brutality was an effective strategy as many cities simply capitulated at the first sight of his army.

All in all though, Genghis Khan, like many emperors before or after him started off faced with the central problem of how to create a united land that can guarantee the security of his people; like so many other emperors, the expedient answer was war and invasion, which perhaps for the time was the only method. And like so many emperors, once he started invading and had success, the question of security morphed into something more, perhaps seeking glory and a grand place in history, especially given that the people of the region were well aware of Alexander the Great's conquests and measured greatness against what Alexander had conquered.

First of all, never had Genghis Khan been some kind of maniac. He was a very reasonable man, you can figure this out by reading The Secret Chronicle of The Mongols.

The reason to conquest Jin dynasty in Chinese is to secure the newly formed unification of Mongol people because Jin dynasty had long been pressuring Mongol tribes. The reason to conquest Khwarezm Empire in Persia is because they had shown disrespectful manners to Mongol envoys. Genghis Khan kindly requested the local official who was responsible for massacre of Mongol envoys. However, they refused and behaved further disrespectful. Also, reasons to enter Central Asian Kara Khitan and Middle Eastern Baghdad were based on the request by the local people because they wanted protection against runaway Naimans and Hashashin (Assassin) respectively.

Genghis Khan's "noble cause" was his fight for the "underdog." That is, he waged war on large, proud empires such as Jurchen (Manchurian) China, Persia, and others, on behalf of (initially) weak and poor Mongolian (and other) tribes. In doing so, he brought down some major tyrannies (although often, "the cure was worst than the disease").

After the smoke of battle had cleared, he brought religious and cultural tolerance to the whole Mongolian empire, and trade and educational opportunities to poor (even to this day) people of central Asia. This was, however, at the expense of richer nations like Persia, Russia, and China.

Genghis Khan created a system of advancement based on merit, rather than birth. This was most apparent in the appointment of his army commanders at all levels. He also took the best artisans, scholars etc. of his conquered countries to his capital at Karakorum to work for his "government."

Basically, Genghis Khan ruled better than he conquered; the reverse was true for many others.

It would be quite difficult to determine his exact reasons for his actions, so we have to look at his specific actions, and the reasons behind others' similar actions. Note: this is all speculation.

We know for a fact that he conquered large swaths of land, the nobility of which is a matter of opinion. However, with this example, you must keep in mind the fact that many emperors with similar actions were done for gain of personal power, there were few emperors who conquered massive areas of land only for their nations, and for no personal gain.

However, we also know he was relatively tolerant to people of other religions and cultures. This may indicate that he really did want to unite the tribes around him.

So he may have done it for personal power, and he may have truly done it for nationalism.

Mongol conquest of Western Xia

The Mongol conquest of Western Xia was a series of conflicts between the Mongol Empire and the Tangut-led Western Xia dynasty in northwestern China. Hoping to gain both plunder and a vassal state, the Mongol leader Genghis Khan commanded some initial raids against Western Xia before launching a full-scale invasion in 1209. This marked both the first major invasion conducted by Genghis and the first major Mongol invasion of China.

Decisive Mongol victories:
a) Subjugation of Western Xia

a) Emperor Huanzong (1205)
Emperor Li Anquan
(1207–1208, 1209–1210)
Kao Liang-Hui
Wei-ming Ling-kung (1209–1210)

a) Total numbers unknown, over 30,000 in 1209 campaign

a) Total numbers unknown, over 270,000 in 1209 campaign

After a nearly year-long siege of the capital, Yinchuan, although the diverted river accidentally flooded the Mongol camp, the Tangut emperor Li Anquan surrendered in January 1210. For nearly a decade the Western Xia served the Mongols as vassals and aided them in the Mongol–Jin War, but when Genghis invaded the Islamic Khwarazmian dynasty in 1219, Western Xia attempted to break away from the Empire and ally with the Jin and Song dynasties. Angered by this betrayal, in 1225 Genghis Khan sent a second, punitive expedition into Western Xia. Genghis intended to annihilate the entire Western Xia culture, and his campaign systematically destroyed Western Xia cities and the countryside, culminating in the siege of the capital in 1227 along with forays into Jin territory. Near the end of the siege, in August 1227, Genghis Khan died from an uncertain cause, though some accounts say he was killed in action against Western Xia. After his death, Yinchuan fell to the Mongols and most of its population was massacred.

Genghis Khan History Assessment

Identification and Evaluation of SourcesThe question being asked for investigation is, “To what extend did Genghis Khan contribute to Mongol military success between 1209 – 1227?” The sources used for examination include a secondary source, Timothy May’s The Mongol Art of War and a primary source, which is a firsthand report from Friar John of Plano Carpini written following a journey he spent in the Mongol Empire.

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May’s The Mongol Art of War evaluates military tactics and strategies used by Genghis Khan throughout his conquests. The author of the text is a historian whose main academic area of study is Mongol conquests. Although the text is a secondary source, May makes frequent use of primary sources in his own research for instance, much of the analysis stems from reports written by a variety of Khan’s contemporaries, including the English chronicler Mathew Paris, who described Mongolian conquests in the year 1240. The focus of the text is on specific military tactics and strategies used by Genghis Khan. The Mongols under Khan were notorious for the brutality in which they waged war, but from a purely strategic level, the Mongols’ absolute destruction of their enemies often garnered the most efficient results: as Genghis Khan and his reputation for savagery grew, many conquered territories submitted themselves before conflict ensued, forgoing the need for war. Limitations of the source are rooted in its classification as a secondary, rather than primary source, and therefore not as reliable as a primary source. Nevertheless, May makes ample use of his own sources in order to legitimize his claims.

The primary source used is a passage written by a Franciscan recounting his journey with the Mongol Empire, with whom he spent some time observing military strategies. The accounts paint vivid detail of Mongolian conquests, often describing the carnage left behind following an invasion. As a primary source written by someone who witnessed several conquests firsthand, the document should be considered an authentic account however, one possible limitation of the source is that the retelling of these accounts may have been embellished for an audience. Nevertheless, even if the document includes embellished details, it provides a clear account of how Genghis Khan was at least perceived by others in the 13th century.

Much of what is known about Genghis Khan’s early life is speculative, as all accounts of his youth were written after he had ascended to power. Thus, even contemporary histories written while Genghis Khan was in power may have been written with an intent to portray Khan in as favorable a light as possible. Nevertheless, whether factual or hyperbolic, primary historical accounts of Genghis Khan’s youth provide insight on the culture in which he would have been raised.

One aspect of his early life, corroborated through several primary texts, as evidenced in Timothy May’s The Mongol Art of War, is that Genghis Khan (named as Temujin, with the title of ‘Genghis Khan’ being an honorary title meaning ‘great leader’) was raised in a region of Northeast Asia populated largely by nomadic tribes. Collectively, these tribes formed the territory of Mongolia, although Mongolia itself was not a sovereign state at the time. Tribes would often feud with one another, and leadership in the tribe was largely hereditary, although challenges to leadership were not uncommon. One account describes how Temujin, after witnessing the murder of his father by poison, attempted to reclaim his father’s right to rule the tribe although he was summarily rejected (Ratchnevsky 24). Following this rejection, Temujin’s family was exiled from the tribe and lived in poverty. When Temujin’s older half brother claimed leadership over the family, Temujin and his other brother murdered the half-brother.

Another popularized account of notable events in Genghis Khan’s youth include a daring escape after being captured by a rival nomadic tribe. His first wife was also kidnapped, and summarily rescued by Genghis Khan. These two events are notable in the recorded histories because they appear to emphasize heroic leadership qualities. However, as these events occurred before Genghis’ rise to power, and therefore not a part of any official documentation, these accounts remain largely speculative.

Temujin’s rise in political power began when he forged alliances with his father’s former associates. A series of successful raids against neighboring tribes soon gave Temujin a reputation as a gifted military leader, known for his brilliant tactics. As he rose in rank, he was soon directing his tribe against other tribes, forcing them into submission. As other tribes declared their allegiance to Temujin, he was eventually elected as the Mongolian leader, or Genghis Khan. Genghis Khan is notable for his goal in unifying the nomadic Mongolian tribes, which previously had no aspirations for building an empire. Psychoanalytic histories of Genghis Khan posit that Khan’s motivation for unifying the Mongolian tribes was based on his experiences as a youth witnessing the violence and infighting between tribes: in order to maintain peace, unification of the tribes was a desired goal (Weatherford 57). He was also able to gain allegiance among many conquered Mongolian tribes, particularly among soldiers who sought to join his armies. Thus, the unification of the Mongolian tribes is Genghis Khan’s first notable series of conquests.

Following unification, and therefore a consolidation of power throughout Mongolia, Genghis Khan turned his armies toward neighboring territories. Here, primary sources of the time are more credible due to these events being part of several official recorded histories, both sympathetic and hostile toward Khan. Genghis Khan’s strategy was about control, rather than spreading terror: he would often propose a neighboring territory or city-state enter a relatively one-sided agreement, whereby the territory would be largely left alone as long as it recognized Khan as their leader and payed tribute (De Hartog 14). If they agreed, they would be included in the larger Mongolian Empire, and would remain at peace. However, if they refused, Genghis Khan would order his troops to destroy the city in as brutal a fashion as possible. Thus, Genghis Khan’s ideal tactic was intimidation.

As described in Timothy May’s The Mongol Art of War, Mongol successes under Genghis Khan in the years 1209 – 1227 were largely won via strategic intelligence, rather than brute force. In the vast majority of conflicts, Mongol armies were outnumbered, yet superior training and tactics resulted in Mongol victories. Military conquests under Genghis Khan often began with intelligence gathering: Mongol spies would scout enemy territories, identifying vantage points such as hills and other areas that would provide high ground. These were tactics that he had learned during his initial campaign of unifying the Mongolian tribes. While other armies would often assemble as large a force as possible, there was often little military understanding on strategy other than using the size of a force to achieve victory. Khan understood that large, assembled forces had the problem of being immobile, requiring substantial resources, and being relatively slow. Thus, much of his initial attacks involved harassing the enemy’s larger force, then once the enemy had become confused, launching his main force to attack a weakened enemy. Once the campaign was launched, Mongolian soldiers would occupy high ground in order to better observe the battlefield, while individual armies would often use flanking methods to surround and confuse the enemy.

In addition to their tactical advantages, the Mongols also incorporated new technologies, such as Chinese siege warfare tools, to levy against their opponents. As more territories were conquered, these technologies were incorporated into campaigns if they were deemed to have strategic value. Beyond purely militaristic warfare, the Mongols also employed psychological warfare: as their reputation became more feared, they would leverage their reputation by demanding that cities either pay tribute or be destroyed. If the offer was accepted, there would be no need for bloodshed, representing a peaceful annexation. However, if the offer was refused, the Mongols would move in and destroy the city, killing both soldiers and civilians alike without discrimination. Women and children were not spared in the ensuing occupation. Thus, the Mongols were able to bolster their reputation as a brutal and efficient force, creating fear among any who would oppose them.

The accounts of Mongol brutality are largely described in the accounts of an English chronicler, Mathew Paris, who wrote about Mongol conquests in 1240, following the period of Genghis Khan’s initial invasions. Thus, although this is a primary source, it was itself written as a recent historical account. The descriptions in the text provide a view of Genghis Khan as a tactical and military genius who was able to conquer much larger armies in their own territory. This is due to Khan’s strategy of employing a highly mobile army: while other territories would value the size of a military force, Khan paid more attention to identifying specific choke points, occupying high ground as a more defensible position, and flanking the enemy to cause confusion. Khan also understood the value of military intelligence: before each conflict, he would send spies to gather as much relevant information as possible, and then use the information to optimise the campaign. Paris’ accounts of Khan also include the aftermath of a Mongol invasion: soldiers would be instructed to destroy anything that did not have direct value for the Mongolian empire. A city’s infrastructure and key buildings would be destroyed, and civilian lives were not spared.

The challenge of research for a historian, as opposed to a scientist or mathematician, is that investigations of history invariably rely on qualitative, rather than quantitative, research. Even primary accounts may sometimes differ, as they rely on an individual’s interpretation or observation. However, historical research becomes more complete the more thorough one examines common subtexts and threads. For this research, for instance, the common thread throughout both the secondary and primary sources used is the brutality of Mongolian conquest. While specific information such as the exact size of Mongolian armies may differ, all accounts identify that the Mongols often laid waste to anyone who opposed them without remorse. Thus, the challenge for the historian is identifying and drawing connections between sources while ensuring the information presented is accurate.



Genghis Khan was related on his father's side to Khabul Khan, Ambaghai, and Hotula Khan, who had headed the Khamag Mongol confederation and were descendants of Bodonchar Munkhag (c. 900). When the Jurchen Jin dynasty switched support from the Mongols to the Tatars in 1161, they destroyed Khabul Khan. [22] [23]

Genghis Khan's father, Yesügei (leader of the Kiyat-Borjigin [10] clan and nephew to Ambaghai and Hotula Khan), emerged as the head of the ruling Mongol clan. This position was contested by the rival Tayichi'ud clan, who descended directly from Ambaghai. When the Tatars grew too powerful after 1161, the Jin switched their support from the Tatars to the Keraites. [24] [25]


Little is known about Genghis Khan's early life, due to the lack of contemporary written records. The few sources that give insight into this period often contradict.

Temüjin means "blacksmith". [26] According to Rashid al-Din Hamadani, Chinos constituted that branch of the Mongols which existed from Ergenekon through melting the iron mountain side. There existed a tradition which viewed Genghis Khan as a blacksmith. Genghis's given name was Temüjin was equated with Turco-Mongol temürči(n), "blacksmith". Paul Pelliot saw that the tradition according to which Genghis was a blacksmith was unfounded though well established by the middle of the 13th century. [27]

Genghis Khan was probably born in 1162 [note 2] in Delüün Boldog, near the mountain Burkhan Khaldun and the rivers Onon and Kherlen in modern-day northern Mongolia, close to the current capital Ulaanbaatar. The Secret History of the Mongols reports that Temüjin was born grasping a blood clot in his fist, a traditional sign that he was destined to become a great leader. He was the first son of Hoelun, second wife of his father Yesügei, who was a Kiyad chief prominent in the Khamag Mongol confederation and an ally of Toghrul of the Keraite tribe. [28] According to the Secret History, Temüjin was named after the Tatar chief Temüjin-üge whom his father had just captured.

Yesukhei's clan was Borjigin (Боржигин), and Hoelun was from the Olkhunut sub-lineage of the Khongirad tribe. [29] [30] Like other tribes, they were nomads. Temüjin's noble background made it easier for him to solicit help from and eventually consolidate the other Mongol tribes. [31]

Early life and family

Temüjin had three brothers Hasar, Hachiun, and Temüge, one sister Temülen, and two half-brothers Begter and Belgutei. Like many of the nomads of Mongolia, Temüjin's early life was difficult. [32] His father arranged a marriage for him and delivered him at age nine to the family of his future wife Börte of the tribe Khongirad. Temüjin was to live there serving the head of the household Dai Setsen until the marriageable age of 12. [33] [34]

While heading home, his father ran into the neighboring Tatars, who had long been Mongol enemies, and they offered him food that poisoned him. Upon learning this, Temüjin returned home to claim his father's position as chief. But the tribe refused this and abandoned the family, leaving it without protection. [35]

For the next several years, the family lived in poverty, surviving mostly on wild fruits, ox carcasses, marmots, and other small game killed by Temüjin and his brothers. Temüjin's older half-brother Begter began to exercise power as the eldest male in the family and would eventually have the right to claim Hoelun (who was not his own mother) as a wife. [36] Temüjin's resentment erupted during one hunting excursion when Temüjin and his brother Khasar killed Begter. [36]

In a raid around 1177, Temüjin was captured by his father's former allies, the Tayichi'ud, and enslaved, reportedly with a cangue (a sort of portable stocks). With the help of a sympathetic guard, he escaped from the ger (yurt) at night by hiding in a river crevice. [37] The escape earned Temüjin a reputation. Soon, Jelme and Bo'orchu joined forces with him. They and the guard's son Chilaun eventually became generals of Genghis Khan. [38]

At this time, none of the tribal confederations of Mongolia were united politically, and arranged marriages were often used to solidify temporary alliances. Temüjin grew up observing the tough political climate, which included tribal warfare, thievery, raids, corruption, and revenge between confederations, compounded by interference from abroad, such as from China to the south. [39] Temüjin's mother Hoelun taught him many lessons, especially the need for strong alliances to ensure stability in Mongolia. [40]

As was common for powerful Mongol men, Genghis Khan had many wives and concubines. [41] [42] He frequently acquired wives and concubines from empires and societies that he had conquered, these women were often princesses or queens that were taken captive or gifted to him. [42] Genghis Khan gave several of his high-status wives their own ordos or camps to live in and manage. Each camp also contained junior wives, concubines, and even children. It was the job of the Kheshig (Mongol imperial guard) to protect the yurts of Genghis Khan's wives. The guards had to pay particular attention to the individual yurt and camp in which Genghis Khan slept, which could change every night as he visited different wives. [43] When Genghis Khan set out on his military conquests, he usually took one wife with him and left the rest of his wives (and concubines) to manage the empire in his absence. [44]


The marriage between Börte and Genghis Khan (then known as Temüjin) was arranged by her father and Yesügei, Temüjin's father, when she was 10 and he was 9 years old. [45] [46] Temüjin stayed with her and her family until he was called back to take care of his mother and younger siblings, due to the poisoning of Yesügei by Tatar nomads. [47] In 1178, about 7 years later, Temüjin traveled downstream along the Kelüren River to find Börte. When Börte's father saw that Temüjin had returned to marry Börte, he had the pair "united as man and wife". With the permission of her father, Temüjin took Börte and her mother to live in his family yurt. Börte's dowry was a fine black sable jacket. [48] [49] Soon after the marriage between them took place, the Three Merkits attacked their family camp at dawn and kidnapped Börte. [50] She was given to one of their warriors as a spoil of war. Temüjin was deeply distressed by the abduction of his wife and remarked that his "bed was made empty" and his "breast was torn apart". [51] Temüjin rescued her several months later with the aid of his allies Wang Khan and Jamukha. [52] Many scholars describe this event as one of the key crossroads in Temüjin's life, which moved him along the path towards becoming a conqueror.

“As the pillaging and plundering went on, Temüjin moved among the people that were hurriedly escaping, calling, ‘Börte, Börte!’ And so he came upon her, for Lady Börte was among those fleeing people. She heard the voice of Temüjin and, recognizing it, she got off the cart and came running towards him. Although it was still night, Lady Börte and Qo’aqčin both recognized Temüjin’s reins and tether and grabbed them. It was moonlight he looked at them, recognized Lady Börte, and they fell into each other’s arms.” -The Secret History of the Mongols [51]

Börte was held captive for eight months, and gave birth to Jochi soon after she was rescued. This left doubt as to who the father of the child was, because her captor took her as a "wife" and could have possibly impregnated her. [50] Despite this, Temüjin let Jochi remain in the family and claimed him as his own son. Börte had three more sons, Chagatai (1183–1242), Ögedei (1186–1241), and Tolui (1191–1232). Temüjin had many other children with other wives, but they were excluded from the succession, only Börte's sons could be considered to be his heirs. Börte was also the mother to several daughters, Kua Ujin Bekhi, Alakhai Bekhi, Alaltun, Checheikhen, Tümelün, and Tolai. However, the poor survival of Mongol records means it is unclear whether she gave birth to all of them. [53]


During his military campaign against the Tatars, Temüjin fell in love with Yesugen and took her in as a wife. She was the daughter of a Tatar leader named Yeke Cheren that Temüjin's army had killed during battle. After the military campaign against the Tatars was over, Yesugen, one of the survivors went to Temüjin, who slept with her. According to the Secret History of the Mongols, while they were having sex Yesugen asked Temüjin to treat her well and to not discard her. When Temüjin seemed to agree with this, Yesugen recommended that he also marry her sister Yesui. [54]

Being loved by him, Yisügen Qatun said, ‘If it pleases the Qa’an, he will take care of me, regarding me as a human being and a person worth keeping. But my elder sister, who is called Yisüi, is superior to me: she is indeed fit for a ruler.’

Both the Tatar sisters, Yesugen and Yesui, became a part of Temüjin's principal wives and were given their own camps to manage. Temüjin also took a third woman from the Tatars, an unknown concubine. [56]


At the recommendation of her sister Yesugen, Temüjin had his men track down and kidnap Yesui. When she was brought to Temüjin, he found her every bit as pleasing as promised and so he married her. [57] The other wives, mothers, sisters and daughters of the Tatars had been parceled out and given to Mongol men. [56] The Tatar sisters, Yesugen and Yesui, were two of Genghis Khan's most influential wives. Genghis Khan took Yesui with him when he set out on his final expedition against the Tangut empire. [58]


Khulan entered Mongol history when her father, the Merkit leader Dayir Usan, surrendered to Temüjin in the winter of 1203–04 and gave her to him. But at least according to the Secret History of the Mongols, Khulan and her father were detained by Naya'a, one of Temüjin's officers, who was apparently trying to protect them from Mongol soldiers who were nearby. After they arrived three days later than expected, Temüjin suspected that Naya'a was motivated by his carnal feelings towards Khulan to help her and her father. While Temüjin was interrogating Naya'a, Khulan spoke up in his defense and invited Temüjin to have sex with her and inspect her virginity personally, which pleased him. [59]

In the end Temüjin accepted Dayir Usan's surrender and Khulan as his new wife. However, Dayir Usan later retracted his surrender but he and his subjects were eventually subdued, his possessions plundered, and he himself killed. Temüjin continued to carry out military campaigns against the Merkits until their final dispersal in 1218. Khulan was able to achieve meaningful status as one of Temüjin's wives and managed one of the large wifely camps, in which other wives, concubines, children and animals lived. She gave birth to a son named Gelejian, who went on to participate with Börte's sons in their father's military campaigns. [60]

Möge Khatun

Möge Khatun was a concubine of Genghis Khan and she later became a wife of his son Ögedei Khan. [61] The Persian historian Ata-Malik Juvayni records that Möge Khatun "was given to Chinggis Khan by a chief of the Bakrin tribe, and he loved her very much." Ögedei favored her as well and she accompanied him on his hunting expeditions. [62] She is not recorded as having any children. [63]


Juerbiesu was an empress of Qara Khitai, Mongol Empire, and Naiman. She was a renowned beauty on the plains. She was originally a favored concubine of Inanch Bilge khan and after his death, she became the consort of his son Tayang Khan. Since Tayang Khan was a useless ruler, Juerbiesu was in control of almost all power in Naiman politics. [64]

She had a daughter named Princess Hunhu (渾忽公主) with Yelü Zhilugu, the ruler of Liao. After Genghis Khan destroyed the Naiman tribe and Tayang Khan was killed, Juerbiesu made several offensive remarks regarding Mongols, describing their clothes as dirty and smelly. Yet, she abruptly rescinded her claims and visited Genghis Khan's tent alone. He questioned her about the remarks but was immediately attracted to her beauty. After spending the night with him, Juerbiesu promised to serve him well and he took her as one of his empresses. Her status was only inferior to Khulan and Borte. [ citation needed ]

Ibaqa Beki

Ibaqa was the eldest daughter of the Kerait leader Jakha Gambhu, who allied with Genghis Khan to defeat the Naimans in 1204. As part of the alliance, Ibaqa was given to Genghis Khan as a wife. [65] She was the sister of Begtütmish, who married Genghis Khan's son Jochi, and Sorghaghtani Beki, who married Genghis Khan's son Tolui. [65] [66] After about two years of childless marriage, Genghis Khan abruptly divorced Ibaqa and gave her to the general Jürchedei, a member of the Uru'ut clan and who had killed Jakha Gambhu after the latter turned against Genghis Khan. [65] [67] The exact reason for this remarriage is unknown: According to The Secret History of the Mongols, Genghis Khan gave Ibaqa to Jürchedei as a reward for his service in wounding Nilga Senggum in 1203 and, later, in killing Jakha Gambhu. [65] Conversely, Rashid al-Din in Jami' al-tawarikh claims that Genghis Khan divorced Ibaqa due to a nightmare in which God commanded him to give her away immediately, and Jürchedei happened to be guarding the tent. [65] Regardless of the rationale, Genghis Khan allowed Ibaqa to keep her title as Khatun even in her remarriage, and asked that she would leave him a token of her dowry by which he could remember her. [65] [67] The sources also agree that Ibaqa was quite wealthy. [68]

In the early 12th century, the Central Asian plateau north of China was divided into several prominent tribal confederations, including Naimans, Merkits, Tatars, Khamag Mongols, and Keraites, that were often unfriendly towards each other, as evidenced by random raids, revenge attacks, and plundering.

Early attempts at power

Temüjin began his ascent to power by offering himself as an ally (or, according to other sources, a vassal) to his father's anda (sworn brother or blood brother) Toghrul, who was Khan of the Keraites, and is better known by the Chinese title "Wang Khan", which the Jurchen Jin dynasty granted him in 1197. This relationship was first reinforced when Börte was captured by the Merkits. Temüjin turned to Toghrul for support, and Toghrul offered 20,000 of his Keraite warriors and suggested that Temüjin involve his childhood friend Jamukha, who had himself become Khan of his own tribe, the Jadaran. [69]

Although the campaign rescued Börte and utterly defeated the Merkits, it also paved the way for the split between Temüjin and Jamukha. Before this, they were blood brothers (anda) vowing to remain eternally faithful.

Rift with Jamukha and defeat at Dalan Balzhut

As Jamukha and Temüjin drifted apart in their friendship, each began consolidating power, and they became rivals. Jamukha supported the traditional Mongolian aristocracy, while Temüjin followed a meritocratic method, and attracted a broader range and lower class of followers. [70] Following his earlier defeat of the Merkits, and a proclamation by the shaman Kokochu that the Eternal Blue Sky had set aside the world for Temüjin, Temüjin began rising to power. [71] In 1186, Temüjin was elected khan of the Mongols. Threatened by this rise, Jamukha attacked Temujin in 1187 with an army of 30,000 troops. Temüjin gathered his followers to defend against the attack, but was decisively beaten in the Battle of Dalan Balzhut. [71] [72] However, Jamukha horrified and alienated potential followers by boiling 70 young male captives alive in cauldrons. [73] Toghrul, as Temüjin's patron, was exiled to the Qara Khitai. [74] The life of Temüjin for the next 10 years is unclear, as historical records are mostly silent on that period. [74]

Return to power

Around the year 1197, the Jin initiated an attack against their formal vassal, the Tatars, with help from the Keraites and Mongols. Temüjin commanded part of this attack, and after victory, he and Toghrul were restored by the Jin to positions of power. [74] The Jin bestowed Toghrul with the honorable title of Ong Khan, and Temüjin with a lesser title of j'aut quri. [75]

Around 1200, the main rivals of the Mongol confederation (traditionally the "Mongols") were the Naimans to the west, the Merkits to the north, the Tanguts to the south, and the Jin to the east.

In his rule and his conquest of rival tribes, Temüjin broke with Mongol tradition in a few crucial ways. He delegated authority based on merit and loyalty, rather than family ties. [76] As an incentive for absolute obedience and the Yassa code of law, Temüjin promised civilians and soldiers wealth from future war spoils. When he defeated rival tribes, he did not drive away their soldiers and abandon their civilians. Instead, he took the conquered tribe under his protection and integrated its members into his own tribe. He would even have his mother adopt orphans from the conquered tribe, bringing them into his family. These political innovations inspired great loyalty among the conquered people, making Temüjin stronger with each victory. [76]

Rift with Toghrul

Senggum, son of Toghrul (Wang Khan), envied Genghis Khan's growing power and affinity with his father. He allegedly planned to assassinate Genghis Khan. Although Toghrul was allegedly saved on multiple occasions by Genghis Khan, he gave in to his son [77] and became uncooperative with Genghis Khan. Genghis Khan learned of Senggum's intentions and eventually defeated him and his loyalists.

One of the later ruptures between Genghis Khan and Toghrul was Toghrul's refusal to give his daughter in marriage to Jochi, Genghis Khan's first son. This was disrespectful in Mongolian culture and led to a war. Toghrul allied with Jamukha, who already opposed Genghis Khan's forces. However, the dispute between Toghrul and Jamukha, plus the desertion of a number of their allies to Genghis Khan, led to Toghrul's defeat. Jamukha escaped during the conflict. This defeat was a catalyst for the fall and eventual dissolution of the Keraite tribe. [78]

After conquering his way steadily through the Alchi Tatars, Keraites, and Uhaz Merkits and acquiring at least one wife each time, Temüjin turned to the next threat on the steppe, the Turkic Naimans under the leadership of Tayang Khan with whom Jamukha and his followers took refuge. [60] The Naimans did not surrender, although enough sectors again voluntarily sided with Genghis Khan.

In 1201, a khuruldai elected Jamukha as Gür Khan, "universal ruler", a title used by the rulers of the Qara Khitai. Jamukha's assumption of this title was the final breach with Genghis Khan, and Jamukha formed a coalition of tribes to oppose him. Before the conflict, several generals abandoned Jamukha, including Subutai, Jelme's well-known younger brother. After several battles, Jamukha was turned over to Genghis Khan by his own men in 1206. [ citation needed ]

According to the Secret History, Genghis Khan again offered his friendship to Jamukha. Genghis Khan had killed the men who betrayed Jamukha, stating that he did not want disloyal men in his army. Jamukha refused the offer, saying that there can only be one sun in the sky, and he asked for a noble death. The custom was to die without spilling blood, specifically by having one's back broken. Jamukha requested this form of death, although he was known to have boiled his opponents' generals alive. [ citation needed ]

Sole ruler of the Mongol plains (1206)

The part of the Merkit clan that sided with the Naimans were defeated by Subutai, who was by then a member of Genghis Khan's personal guard and later became one of Genghis Khan's most successful commanders. The Naimans' defeat left Genghis Khan as the sole ruler of the Mongol steppe – all the prominent confederations fell or united under his Mongol confederation.

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 Jamukha (who also wanted to be a ruler of Mongol tribes) and Wang Khan (his and his father's ally), his son Jochi, and problems with the most important shaman, who allegedly tried to drive a wedge between him and his loyal brother Khasar. His military strategies showed a deep interest in gathering intelligence and understanding the motivations of his rivals, 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. He was also ruthless, demonstrated by his tactic of measuring against the linchpin, used against the tribes led by Jamukha.

As a result, by 1206, Genghis Khan had managed to unite or subdue the Merkits, Naimans, Mongols, Keraites, Tatars, Uyghurs, and other disparate smaller tribes under his rule. This was a monumental feat. It resulted in peace between previously warring tribes, and a single political and military force. The union became known as the Mongols. At a Khuruldai, a council of Mongol chiefs, Genghis Khan was acknowledged as Khan of the consolidated tribes and took the new title "Genghis Khan". The title Khagan was conferred posthumously by his son and successor Ögedei who took the title for himself (as he was also to be posthumously declared the founder of the Yuan dynasty).

According to the Secret History of the Mongols, the chieftains of the conquered tribes pledged to Genghis Khan by proclaiming:

"We will make you Khan you shall ride at our head, against our foes. We will throw ourselves like lightning on your enemies. We will bring you their finest women and girls, their rich tents like palaces." [79] [80]

Genghis Khan was a Tengrist, but was religiously tolerant and interested in learning philosophical and moral lessons from other religions. He consulted Buddhist monks (including the Zen monk Haiyun), Muslims, Christian missionaries, and the Taoist monk Qiu Chuji. [81]

According to the Fozu Lidai Tongzai written by Nian Chang (b. 1282) Genghis Khan's viceroy Muqali was pacifying Shanxi in 1219, the homeland of Zen Buddhist monk Haiyun (海雲, 1203–1257), when one of Muqali's Chinese generals, impressed with Haiyun and his master Zhongguan's demeanor, recommended them to Muqali. Muqali then reported on the two to Genghis Khan who issued the following decree on their behalf: "They truly are men who pray to Heaven. I should like to support them with clothes and food and make them chiefs. I'm planning on gathering many of this kind of people. While praying to Heaven, they should not have difficulties imposed on them. To forbid any mistreatment, they will be authorized to act as darqan (possessor of immunity)." Genghis Khan had already met Haiyun in 1214 and been impressed by his reply refusing to grow his hair in the Mongol hairstyle and allowed him to keep his head shaven. [82] After the death of his master Zhongguan in 1220, Haiyun became the head of the Chan (Chinese Zen) school during Genghis Khan's rule and was repeatedly recognized as the chief monk in Chinese Buddhism by subsequent Khans until 1257 when he was succeeded as chief monk by another Chan master Xueting Fuyu the Mongol-appointed abbot of Shaolin monastery. [83]

Genghis Khan summoned and met the Daoist master Qiu Chuji (1148–1227) in Afghanistan in 1222. He thanked Qiu Chuji for accepting his invitation and asked if Qiu Chuji had brought the medicine of immortality with him. Qiu Chuji said there was no such thing as a medicine of immortality but that life can be extended through abstinence. Genghis Khan appreciated his honest reply and asked Qiu Chuji who it is that calls him eternal heavenly man, he himself or others. [84] After Qiu Chuji replied that others call him by that name Genghis Khan decreed that from thenceforth Qiu Chuji should be called "Immortal" and appointed him master of all monks in China, noting that heaven had sent Qiu Chuji to him. Qiu Chuji died in Beijing the same year as Genghis Khan and his shrine became the White Cloud Temple. Following Khans continued appointing Daoist masters of the Quanzhen School at White Cloud Temple. The Daoists lost their privilege in 1258 after the Great Debate organized by Genghis Khan's grandson Möngke Khan when Chinese Buddhists (led by the Mongol-appointed abbot or shaolim zhanglao of Shaolin monastery), Confucians and Tibetan Buddhists allied against the Daoists. Kublai Khan was appointed to preside over this debate (in Shangdu/Xanadu, the third meeting after two debates in Karakorum in 1255 and 1256) in which 700 dignitaries were present. Kublai Khan had already met Haiyun in 1242 and been swayed towards Buddhism. [85]

Genghis Khan's decree exempting Daoists (xiansheng), Buddhists (toyin), Christians (erke'üd) and Muslims (dashmad) from tax duties were continued by his successors until the end of the Yuan dynasty in 1368. All the decrees use the same formula and state that Genghis Khan first gave the decree of exemption. [86] Kublai Khan's 1261 decree in Mongolian appointing the elder of the Shaolin monastery uses the same formula and states "Činggis qan-u jrlg-tur toyid erkegü:d šingšingü:d dašmad aliba alba gubčiri ülü üjen tngri-yi jalbariju bidan-a irüge:r ögün atugai keme:gsen jrlg-un yosuga:r. ene Šaolim janglau-da bariju yabuga:i jrlg ögbei" (According to the decree of Genghis Khan which says may the Buddhists, Christians, Daoists and Muslims be exempt from all taxation and may they pray to God and continue offering us blessings. I have given this decree to the Shaolin elder to carry it). According to Juvaini, Genghis Khan allowed religious freedom to Muslims during his conquest of Khwarezmia "permitting the recitation of the takbir and the azan". However, Rashid-al-Din states there were occasions when Genghis Khan forbade Halal butchering. Kublai Khan revived the decree in 1280 after Muslims refused to eat at a banquet. He forbade Halal butchering and circumcision. The decree of Kublai Khan was revoked after a decade. Genghis Khan met Wahid-ud-Din in Afghanistan in 1221 and asked him if the prophet Muhammad predicted a Mongol conqueror. He was initially pleased with Wahid-ud-Din but then dismissed him from his service saying "I used to consider you a wise and prudent man, but from this speech of yours, it has become evident to me that you do not possess complete understanding and that your comprehension is but small". [87]

By the age of three, Mongol children were taught to ride horses by their mothers. In order to prevent injury, the children would be tied to the horse at first, and within a couple of years, the child would begin training with a bow and arrow.

No one knows what Genghis Khan looked like. The only images of the Khan started appearing after he died, so it’s unclear how accurate they are to his likeness. In fact, Genghis specifically forbid anyone to craft his likeness.


6 incredible photos of Navy ships barely fitting through the Panama Canal

Posted On March 31, 2021 10:30:52

The Panama Canal is a man-made 52-mile-long waterway through Panama that connects the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. When it opened in 1914, about 1,000 vessels transited the canal. By 2012, more than 815,000 vessels had passed through. In 2016, the waterway was expanded to allow larger vessels with more cargo. Here are five impressive pictures of massive U.S. naval vessels passing through the Panama Canal.

1. USS Saratoga (CV-3)

USS Saratoga (CV-3) transits the canal during the inter-war period (U.S. Navy)

2. USS Lexington (CV-2)

USS Lexington (CV-2) in one of the Panama Canal’s locks in March 1928 (U.S. Navy)

3. USS Boxer (CVS-21)

USS Boxer (CVS-21) passes through the canal in 1958 before she was redesignated as an experimental amphibious assault ship (LPH-4) in 1959. Note the personal vehicles carried on her flight deck (U.S. Navy)

3. USS Valley Forge (CV-45)

USS Valley Forge (CV-45) was one of the last aircraft carriers to transit the Panama Canal (U.S. Navy)

4. USS Missouri (BB-63)

USS Missouri (BB-63) had just 8 inches of clearance on either side (U.S. Navy)

5. USS New Jersey (BB-62)

USS New Jersey (BB-62) transits the Panama Canal in 1984 (USS New Jersey)

6. USNS Comfort (T-AH-20)

USNS Comfort (T-AH-20) passes through the Miraflores Lock (U.S. Navy)

At the beginning of the Civil War, most surgeons didn’t know how to treat gunshot wounds

Posted On January 28, 2019 18:38:44

While more soldiers died of disease than from battle injuries during the Civil War, a three-page document written by P.J. Horwitz, the surgeon general of the Union’s Navy, proves that many members of the medical corps had little idea of how to treat a gunshot wound at the war’s start. Part of the online exhibition “Passages Through the Fire: Jews and the Civil War,” put together by the Shapell Manuscript Foundation, Slate shared a transcript of Horowitz’s “rudimentary advice” in regards to handling injuries caused by bullets on the battlefield.

Head over to Slate to read Horwitz’s full treatise.


Rider (Genghis Kahn)

Rider's true identity is Genghis Kahn.  Gengis Kahn, born Temüjin, was the founder and Great Khan (emperor) of the Mongol Empire, which became the largest contiguous empire in history after his demise.

He came to power by uniting many of the nomadic tribes of northeast Asia. After founding the Mongol Empire and being proclaimed "Genghis Khan," he started the Mongol invasions that resulted in the conquest of most of Eurasia. These included raids or invasions of the Kara-Khitan Khanate, Caucasus, Khwarezmid Empire, Western Xia and Jin dynasties. These campaigns were often accompanied by wholesale massacres of the civilian populations – especially in the Khwarezmian and Xia controlled lands. By the end of his life, the Mongol Empire occupied a substantial portion of Central Asia and China.

Before Genghis Khan died, he assigned Ögedei Khan as his successor and split his empire into khanates among his sons and grandsons. [7] He died in 1227 after defeating the Western Xia. He was buried in an unmarked grave somewhere in Mongolia at an unknown location. [8] His descendants extended the Mongol Empire across most of Eurasia by conquering or creating vassal states out of all of modern-day China, Korea, the Caucasus, Central Asia, and substantial portions of modern Eastern Europe, Russia, and the Middle East. Many of these invasions repeated the earlier large-scale slaughters of local populations. As a result Genghis Khan and his empire have a fearsome reputation in local histories. [9]

Beyond his military accomplishments, Genghis Khan also advanced the Mongol Empire in other ways. He decreed the adoption of the Uyghur script as the Mongol Empire's writing system. He also practiced meritocracy and encouraged religious tolerance in the Mongol Empire while unifying the nomadic tribes of northeast Asia. Present-day Mongolians regard him as the founding father of Mongolia. [10]

Vilified throughout most of history for the brutality of his campaigns, Genghis Khan is also credited with bringing the Silk Road under one cohesive political environment. This increased communication and trade from Northeast Asia to Muslim Southwest Asia and Christian Europe, thus expanding the horizons of all three cultural areas. 

Early Life


Temüjin was related on his father's side to Khabul Khan, Ambaghai, and Hotula Khan, who had headed the Khamag Mongol confederation and were descendants of Bodonchar Munkhag (c. 900). When the Chinese Jin Dynasty switched support from the Mongols to the Tatars in 1161, they destroyed Khabul Khan. [11]

Temüjin's father, Yesügei (leader of the Borjigin clan and nephew to Ambaghai and Hotula Khan), emerged as the head of the ruling clan of the Mongols. This position was contested by the rival Tayichi’ud clan, who descended directly from Ambaghai. When the Tatars grew too powerful after 1161, the Jin switched their support from the Tatars to the Keraits.


Due to the lack of contemporary written records, scant factual information exists about the early life of Temüjin. The few sources that provide insight into this period often conflict.

Temüjin was born in 1155 or 1162 [3] in Delüün Boldog, near Burkhan Khaldun mountain and the Onon and Kherlen rivers in modern-day northern Mongolia, not far from the current capital Ulaanbaatar. The Secret History of the Mongols reports that Temüjin was born with a blood clot grasped in his fist, a traditional sign that he was destined to become a great leader. He was the third-oldest son of his father Yesügei, a Khamag Mongol's major chief of the Kiyad and an ally of Toghrul Khan of the Kerait tribe, [12] and the oldest son of his mother Hoelun. According to the Secret History, Temüjin was named after a Tatar chieftain, Temüjin-üge, whom his father had just captured. The name also suggests that they may have been descended from a family of blacksmiths.

Yesukhei's clan was called Borjigin (Боржигин), and Hoelun was from the Olkhunut, the sub-lineage of the Onggirat tribe. [13] [14] Like other tribes, they were nomads. Because his father was a chieftain, as were his predecessors, Temüjin was of a noble background. This higher social standing made it easier to solicit help from and eventually consolidate the other Mongol tribes. [citation needed]

Early Life and Family

Temüjin had three brothers named Hasar, Hachiun, and Temüge, and one sister named Temülen, as well as two half-brothers named Behter and Belgutei. Like many of the nomads of Mongolia, Temüjin's early life was difficult. His father arranged a marriage for him, and at nine years of age he was delivered by his father to the family of his future wife Börte, who was a member of the tribe Onggirat. Temüjin was to live there in service to Dai Setsen, the head of the new household, until he reached the marriageable age of 12.

While heading home, his father ran into the neighboring Tatars, who had long been enemies of the Mongols, and he was subsequently poisoned by the food they offered. Upon learning this, Temüjin returned home to claim his father's position as chieftain of the tribe however, his father's tribe refused to be led by a boy so young. They abandoned Hoelun and her children, leaving them without protection.

For the next several years, Hoelun and her children lived in poverty, surviving primarily on wild fruits and ox carcasses, marmots, and other small game hunted by Temüjin and his brothers. It was during one hunting excursion that 14-year-old Temüjin killed his half-brother Behter during a fight over hunting spoils. [15] This incident cemented his position.

In another incident, around 1177, he was captured in a raid and held prisoner by his father's former allies, the Tayichi'ud. The Tayichi'ud enslaved Temüjin (reportedly with a cangue, a sort of portable stocks), but with the help of a sympathetic guard, the father of Chilaun (who later became a general of Genghis Khan), he was able to escape from the ger (yurt) in the middle of the night by hiding in a river crevice. [citation needed] It was around this time that Jelme and Bo'orchu, two of Genghis Khan's future generals, joined forces with him. Temüjin's reputation also became widespread after his escape from the Tayichi'ud.

At this time, none of the tribal confederations of Mongolia were united politically, and arranged marriages were often used to solidify temporary alliances. Temüjin grew up observing the tough political climate of Mongolia, which included tribal warfare, thievery, raids, corruption, and continual acts of revenge carried out between the various confederations, all compounded by interference from foreign forces such as the Chinese dynasties to the south. Temüjin's mother Hoelun taught him many lessons about the unstable political climate of Mongolia, especially the need for alliances.

  • Marriage to Borte:  As previously arranged by his father, Temüjin married Börte of the Onggirat tribe when he was around 16 in order to cement alliances between their respective tribes. Soon after Börte's marriage to Temüjin, she was kidnapped by the Merkits and reportedly given away as a wife. Temüjin rescued her with the help of his friend and future rival, Jamukha, and his protector, Toghrul Khan of the Kerait tribe. She gave birth to a son, Jochi (1185–1226), nine months later, clouding the issue of his parentage. Despite speculation over Jochi, Börte would be Temüjin's only empress, though he did follow tradition by taking several morganatic wives. [16]
    Börte had three more sons, Chagatai (1187—1241), Ögedei (1189—1241), and Tolui (1190–1232). Genghis Khan also had many other children with his other wives, but they were excluded from the succession. While the names of sons were documented, daughters were not. The names of at least six daughters are known, and while they played significant roles behind the scenes during his lifetime, no documents have survived that definitively provide the number or names of daughters born to the consorts of Genghis Khan. [17]

Temüjin valued loyalty above all else and also valued brotherhood. [18] Jamukha was one of Temüjin's best friends growing up, but their friendship was tested later in life, when Temüjin was fighting to become a khan. Jamukha said this to Temüjin before he was killed, "What use is there in my becoming a companion to you? On the contrary, sworn brother, in the black night I would haunt your dreams, in the bright day I would trouble your heart. I would be the louse in your collar, I would become the splinter in your door-panel. as there was room for only one sun in the sky, there was room only for one Mongol lord." [18]

  • Religion:  He was religiously tolerant and interested in learning philosophical and moral lessons from other religions. To do so, he consulted Buddhist monks, Muslims, Christian missionaries, and the Taoist monk Qiu Chuji. [19] The Secret History of the Mongols chronicles Genghis praying to the Burhan Haldun mountain.

Uniting the Mongol Confederations

During the early 13th century the Central Asian plateau north of China was divided into several tribes or confederations, among them Naimans, Merkits, Tatars, Khamag Mongols, and Keraits, that were all prominent in their own right and often unfriendly toward each other, as evidenced by random raids, revenge attacks, and plundering.

Temüjin began his ascent to power by offering himself as an ally (or, according to other sources, a vassal) to his father's anda (sworn brother or blood brother) Toghrul, who was Khan of the Kerait, and is better known by the Chinese title "Wang Khan", which the Jin Empire granted him in 1197. This relationship was first reinforced when Börte was captured by the Merkits. Temüjin turned to Toghrul for support, and in response, Toghrul offered his vassal 20,000 of his Kerait warriors and suggested that he also involve his childhood friend Jamukha, who had himself become Khan (ruler) of his own tribe, the Jadaran. [20]

Although the campaign was successful and led to the recapture of Börte and utter defeat of the Merkits, it also paved the way for the split between the childhood friends, Temüjin and Jamukha. Temüjin had become blood brother (anda) with Jamukha earlier, and they had vowed to remain eternally faithful.

Rival Tribes in the Immediate Reigon

The main opponents of the Mongol confederation (traditionally the "Mongols") around 1200 were the Naimans to the west, the Merkits to the north, the Tanguts to the south, and the Jin and Tatars to the east. By 1190, Temüjin, his followers, and their advisors had united the smaller Mongol confederation only. In his rule and his conquest of rival tribes, Temüjin broke with Mongol tradition in a few crucial ways. He delegated authority based on merit and loyalty, rather than family ties. [21]

As an incentive for absolute obedience and following his rule of law, the Yassa code, Temüjin promised civilians and soldiers wealth from future possible war spoils. As he defeated rival tribes, he did not drive away enemy soldiers and abandon the rest. Instead, he took the conquered tribe under his protection and integrated its members into his own tribe. He would even have his mother adopt orphans from the conquered tribe, bringing them into his family. These political innovations inspired great loyalty among the conquered people, making Temüjin stronger with each victory. [21]

Senggum, son of Toghrul (Wang Khan), was jealous of Temüjin's growing power, and his affinity with his father. He allegedly planned to assassinate Temüjin. Toghrul, though allegedly saved on multiple occasions by Temüjin, gave in to his son [22] and became uncooperative 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, a sign of disrespect in the Mongolian culture. This act led to the split between both factions and was a prelude to war. Toghrul allied himself with Jamukha, who already opposed Temüjin's forces however, the internal dispute between Toghrul and Jamukha, plus the desertion of a number of their allies to Temüjin, led to Toghrul's defeat. Jamukha escaped during the conflict. This defeat was a catalyst for the fall and eventual dissolution of the Kerait tribe.

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

According to the Secret History, Temüjin again offered his friendship to Jamukha, asking him to return to his side. Temüjin had killed the men who betrayed Jamukha, stating that he did not want disloyal men in his army. Jamukha refused the offer of friendship and reunion, saying that there can only be one sun in the sky, and he asked for a noble death. The custom is to die without spilling blood, which is granted by breaking the back. Jamukha requested this form of death, despite the fact that in the past Jamukha had been known to have boiled his opponent's generals alive.

Sole Ruler of the Mongol Plains (1206)

The part of the Merkit clan that sided with the Naimans were defeated by Subutai, who was by then a member of Temüjin's personal guard and later became one of the most successful commanders of Genghis Khan. The Naimans' defeat left Temüjin as the sole ruler of the Mongol plains – all the prominent confederations fell or united under his Mongol confederation.

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 Jamukha (who also wanted to be a ruler of Mongol tribes) and Wang Khan (his and his father's ally), his son Jochi, and problems with the most important shaman, who was allegedly trying to drive a wedge between him and his loyal brother Khasar. His military strategies showed a deep interest in gathering good intelligence and understanding the motivations of his rivals, 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. He was also ruthless, demonstrated by his tactic of measuring against the linchpin, used against the tribes led by Jamukha.

As a result, by 1206 Temüjin had managed to unite or subdue the Merkits, Naimans, Mongols, Keraits, Tatars, Uyghurs, and other disparate smaller tribes under his rule. It was a monumental feat for the "Mongols" (as they became known collectively). At a Khuruldai, a council of Mongol chiefs, Temüjin was acknowledged as "Khan" of the consolidated tribes and took the new 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 and a single political and military force under Genghis Khan.

Millitary Campaigns

Western Xia Dynasty

During the 1206 political rise of Genghis Khan, the Mongol Empire created by Genghis Khan and his allies shared its western borders with the Western Xia Dynasty of the Tanguts. To the east and south was the Jin Dynasty, founded by the Manchurian Jurchens, who ruled northern China as well as being the traditional overlords of the Mongolian tribes for centuries.

Genghis Khan organized his people, army, and his state to first prepare for war with Western Xia, or Xi Xia, which was close to the Mongolian lands. He correctly believed that the more powerful young ruler of the Jin Dynasty would not come to the aid of Xi Xia. When the Tanguts requested help from the Jin Dynasty, they were refused. [22] Despite initial difficulties in capturing its well-defended cities, Genghis Khan managed to force the emperor of Xi Xia to submit to vassal status.

Jin Dynasty

In 1211, after the conquest of Western Xia, Genghis Khan planned again to conquer the Jin Dynasty. The commander of the Jin Dynasty 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 defected and told the Mongols that the Jin army was waiting on the other side of the pass. At this engagement fought at Badger Pass the Mongols massacred thousands of Jin troops. In 1215 Genghis besieged, captured, and sacked the Jin capital of Zhongdu (modern-day Beijing). This forced the Emperor Xuanzong to move his capital south to Kaifeng, abandoning the northern half of his kingdom to the Mongols. Between 1232 and 1233, Kaifeng fell to the Mongols under the reign of Genghis' third son, Ögedei Khan. The Jin Dynasty collapsed in 1234, after the siege of Caizhou.

Kara-Khitan Khanata

Kuchlug, the deposed Khan of the Naiman confederation that Temüjin defeated and folded into his Mongol Empire, fled west and usurped the khanate of Kara-Khitan (also known as the Western Liao, as it was originally established as remnants of the Liao Dynasty). Genghis Khan decided to conquer the Kara-Khitan khanate and defeat Kuchlug, possibly to take him out of power. By this time the Mongol army was exhausted from ten years of continuous campaigning in China against the Western Xia and Jin Dynasty. Therefore Genghis sent only two tumen (20,000 soldiers) against Kuchlug, under his younger general, Jebe, known as "The Arrow".

With such a small force, the invading Mongols were forced to change strategies and resort to inciting internal revolt among Kuchlug's supporters, leaving the Khara-Khitan khanate more vulnerable to Mongol conquest. As a result, Kuchlug's army was defeated west of Kashgar. Kuchlug fled again, but was soon hunted down by Jebe's army and executed. By 1218, as a result of defeat of Kara-Khitan khanate, the Mongol Empire and its control extended as far west as Lake Balkhash, which bordered the Khwarezmia (Khwarezmid Empire), a Muslim state that reached the Caspian Sea to the west and Persian Gulf and the Arabian Sea to the south.

Khwarezmian Empire

In the early 13th century, the Khwarazmian dynasty was governed by Shah Ala ad-Din Muhammad. Genghis Khan saw the potential advantage in Khwarezmia as a commercial trading partner using the Silk Road, and he initially sent a 500-man caravan to establish official trade ties with the empire. However, Inalchuq, the governor of the Khwarezmian city of Otrar, attacked the caravan that came from Mongolia, claiming that the caravan contained spies and therefore was a conspiracy against Khwarezmia. The situation became further complicated because the governor later refused to make repayments for the looting of the caravans and handing over the perpetrators. Genghis Khan then sent again a second group of three ambassadors (two Mongols and a Muslim) to meet the Shah himself instead of the governor Inalchuq. The Shah had all the men shaved and the Muslim beheaded and sent his head back with the two remaining ambassadors. This was seen as an affront and insult to Genghis Khan. Outraged, Genghis Khan planned one of his largest invasion campaigns by organizing together around 200,000 soldiers (20 tumens), his most capable generals and some of his sons. He left a commander and number of troops in China, designated his successors to be his family members and likely appointed Ögedei to be his immediate successor and then went out to Khwarezmia.

The Mongol army under Genghis Khan, generals and his sons crossed the Tien Shan mountains by entering the area controlled by the Khwarezmian Empire. After compiling intelligence from many sources Genghis Khan carefully prepared his army, which was divided into three groups. His son Jochi led the first division into the northeast of Khwarezmia. The second division under Jebe marched secretly to the southeast part of Khwarzemia to form, with the first division, a pincer attack on Samarkand. The third division under Genghis Khan and Tolui marched to the northwest and attacked Khwarzemia from that direction.

The Shah's army was split by diverse internecine feuds and by the Shah's decision to divide his army into small groups concentrated in various cities. This fragmentation was decisive in Khwarezmia's defeats, as it allowed the Mongols, although exhausted from the long journey, to immediately set about defeating small fractions of the Khwarzemi forces instead of facing a unified defense. The Mongol army quickly seized the town of Otrar, relying on superior strategy and tactics. Genghis Khan ordered the wholesale massacre of many of the civilians, enslaved the rest of the population and executed Inalchuq by pouring molten silver into his ears and eyes, as retribution for his actions. Near the end of the battle the Shah fled rather than surrender. Genghis Khan ordered Subutai and Jebe to hunt him down, giving them 20,000 men and two years to do this. The Shah died under mysterious circumstances on a small island within his empire.

The Mongols' conquest, even by their own standards, was brutal. After the capital Samarkand fell, the capital was moved to Bukhara by the remaining men, while Genghis Khan ordered two of his generals and their forces to completely destroy the remnants of the Khwarezmid Empire, including not only royal buildings, but entire towns, populations, and even vast swaths of farmland. According to legend, Genghis Khan even went so far as to divert a river through the Khwarezmid emperor's birthplace, erasing it from the map. [citation needed]

The Mongols attacked Samarkand using African prisoners as body shields. After several days only a few remaining soldiers, die-hard supporters of the Shah, held out in the citadel. After the fortress fell, Genghis supposedly reneged on his surrender terms and executed every soldier that had taken arms against him at Samarkand. The people of Samarkand were ordered to evacuate and assemble in a plain outside the city, where they were killed and pyramids of severed heads raised as a symbol of victory. [23] Ata-Malik Juvayni, a high official in the service of the Mongol empire, wrote that in Termez, on the Oxus, "all the people, both men and women, were driven out onto the plain, and divided in accordance with their usual custom, then they were all slain". [23]

The city of Bukhara was not heavily fortified, with a moat and a single wall, and the citadel typical of Khwarezmi cities. The city leaders opened the gates to the Mongols, though a unit of Turkish defenders held the city's citadel for another twelve days. Survivors from the citadel were executed, artisans and craftsmen were sent back to Mongolia, young men who had not fought were drafted into the Mongolian army and the rest of the population was sent into slavery. As the Mongol soldiers looted the city, a fire broke out, razing most of the city to the ground. [24] Genghis Khan had the city's surviving population assemble in the main mosque of the town, where he declared that he was the flail of God, sent to punish them for their sins.

Meanwhile, the wealthy trading city of Urgench was still in the hands of Khwarezmian forces. The assault on Urgench proved to be the most difficult battle of the Mongol invasion and the city fell only after the defenders put up a stout defense, fighting block for block. Mongolian casualties were higher than normal, due to the unaccustomed difficulty of adapting Mongolian tactics to city fighting.

As usual, the artisans were sent back to Mongolia, young women and children were given to the Mongol soldiers as slaves, and the rest of the population was massacred. The Persian scholar Juvayni states that 50,000 Mongol soldiers were given the task of executing twenty-four Urgench citizens each, which would mean that 1.2 million people were killed. The sacking of Urgench is considered one of the bloodiest massacres in human history.

In the meantime, Genghis Khan selected his third son Ögedei as his successor before his army set out, and specified that subsequent Khans should be his direct descendants. Genghis Khan also left Muqali, one of his most trusted generals, as the supreme commander of all Mongol forces in Jin China while he was out battling the Khwarezmid Empire to the west.

George, Crimea, Kievan Rus, and Volga Bulgarai

After the defeat of the Khwarezmian Empire in 1220, Genghis Khan gathered his forces in Persia and Armenia to return to the Mongolian steppes. Under the suggestion of Subutai, the Mongol army was split into two forces. Genghis Khan led the main army on a raid through Afghanistan and northern India towards Mongolia, while another 20,000 (two tumen) contingent marched through the Caucasus and into Russia under generals Jebe and Subutai. They pushed deep into Armenia and Azerbaijan. The Mongols destroyed the kingdom of Georgia, sacked the Genoese trade-fortress of Caffa in Crimea and overwintered near the Black Sea. Heading home, Subutai's forces attacked the allied forces of the Cuman–Kipchaks and the poorly coordinated 80,000 Kievan Rus' troops led by Mstislav the Bold of Halych and Mstislav III of Kiev who went out to stop the Mongols' actions in the area. Subutai sent emissaries to the Slavic princes calling for a separate peace, but the emissaries were executed. 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 defeats the Khwarizmi historian al-Nasawi says only 4,000 survived. [25] 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.

The Mongols learned from captives of the abundant green pastures beyond the Bulgar territory, allowing for the planning for conquest of Hungary and Europe. Genghis Khan recalled Subutai back to Mongolia soon afterwards, and Jebe died on the road back to Samarkand. The famous cavalry expedition led by Subutai and Jebe, in which they encircled the entire Caspian Sea defeating all armies in their path except for the Volga Bulgars, remains unparalleled to this day, and word of the Mongol triumphs began to trickle to other nations, particularly Europe. These two campaigns are generally regarded as reconnaissance campaigns that tried to get the feel of the political and cultural elements of the regions. In 1225 both divisions returned to Mongolia. These invasions added Transoxiana and Persia to an already formidable empire while destroying any resistance along the way. Later under Genghis Khan's grandson Batu and the Golden Horde, the Mongols returned to conquer Volga Bulgaria and Kievan Rus' in 1237, concluding the campaign in 1240.

Western Xia and Jin Dynasty

The vassal emperor of the Tanguts (Western Xia) had earlier refused to take part in the Mongol war against the Khwarezmid Empire. Western Xia and the defeated Jin Dynasty formed a coalition to resist the Mongols, counting on the campaign against the Khwarezmians to preclude the Mongols from responding effectively.

In 1226, immediately after returning from the west, Genghis Khan began a retaliatory attack on the Tanguts. His armies quickly took Heisui, Ganzhou, and Suzhou (not the Suzhou in Jiangsu province), and in the autumn he took Xiliang-fu [disambiguation needed] . One of the Tangut generals challenged the Mongols to a battle near Helanshan but was defeated. In November, Genghis laid siege to the Tangut city Lingzhou and crossed the Yellow River, defeating the Tangut relief army. According to legend, it was here that Genghis Khan reportedly saw a line of five stars arranged in the sky and interpreted it as an omen of his victory.

In 1227, Genghis Khan's army attacked and destroyed the Tangut capital of Ning Hia and continued to advance, seizing Lintiao-fu, Xining province, Xindu-fu, and Deshun province in quick succession in the spring. At Deshun, the Tangut general Ma Jianlong put up a fierce resistance for several days and personally led charges against the invaders outside the city gate. Ma Jianlong later died from wounds received from arrows in battle. Genghis Khan, after conquering Deshun, went to Liupanshan (Qingshui County, Gansu Province) to escape the severe summer. The new Tangut emperor quickly surrendered to the Mongols, and the rest of the Tanguts officially surrendered soon after. Not happy with their betrayal and resistance, Genghis Khan ordered the entire imperial family to be executed, effectively ending the Tangut lineage.

According to one legend, Genghis Khan was castrated by a Tangut princess using a hidden knife, in revenge for his treatment of the Tanguts and to stop him from raping her. [26] [27] [28] After his castration, Genghis Khan died, and the Tangut princess committed suicide by drowning in the Yellow River according to the legend. [29] [30] This account has never been verified, however, and there is no evidence to support its historicity. In some mythical legends, Genghis fell into a trance after being castrated and will one day awake and return to the Mongol people. [31] [32]


The succession of Genghis Khan was already a significant topic during the later years of his reign, as he reached old age. The long running paternity discussion about Genghis' oldest son Jochi was particularly contentious because of the seniority of Jochi among the brothers. According to traditional historical accounts, the issue over Jochi's paternity was voiced most strongly by Chagatai. In 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, [33] and possibly for other reasons, Ögedei was appointed as successor.


Ögedei Khan, born Ögedei (c. 1186 - 11 December 1241) was the third son of Genghis Khan and second Great Khan (Khagan) of the Mongol Empire. He continued the expansion that his father had begun and was a world figure when the Mongol Empire reached its farthest extent west and south during the invasions of Europe and Asia.


Jochi died in 1226, during his father's lifetime. Some scholars, notably Ratchnevsky, have commented on the possibility that Jochi was secretly poisoned by an order from Genghis Khan. Rashid al-Din reports that the great Khan sent for his sons in the spring of 1223, and while his brothers heeded the order, Jochi remained in Khorasan. Juzjani suggests that the disagreement arose from a quarrel between Jochi and his brothers in the siege of Urgench. Jochi had attempted to protect Urgench from destruction, as it belonged to territory allocated to him as a fief. He concludes his story with the clearly apocryphal statement by Jochi: "Genghis Khan is mad to have massacred so many people and laid waste so many lands. I would be doing a service if I killed my father when he is hunting, made an alliance with Sultan Muhammad, brought this land to life and gave assistance and support to the Muslims." Juzjani claims that it was in response to hearing of these plans that Genghis Khan ordered his son secretly poisoned however, as Sultan Muhammad was already dead in 1223, the accuracy of this story is questionable. [34]

Genghis Khan was aware of the friction between his sons (particularly between Chagatai and Jochi) and worried of possible conflict between them if he died. He therefore decided to divide his empire among his sons and make all of them Khan in their own right, while appointing one of his sons as his successor. Chagatai was considered unstable due to his temper and rash behavior, because of statements he made that he would not follow Jochi if he were to become his father's successor. Tolui, Genghis Khan's youngest son, was not to be his successor because he was the youngest and in the Mongol culture, youngest sons were not given much responsibility due to their age. If Jochi were to become successor, it was likely that Chagatai would engage in warfare with him and collapse the empire. Therefore Genghis Khan decided to give the throne to Ögedei. Ögedei was seen by Genghis Khan as dependable in character and relatively stable and down to earth and would be a neutral candidate and might defuse the situation between his brothers.

Death and Burial

In August 1227, during the fall of Yinchuan, the capital of Western Xia, Genghis Khan died. The exact cause of his death remains a mystery, and is variously attributed to being killed in action against the Western Xia, illness, falling from his horse, or wounds sustained in hunting or battle. [35] [36] [37] Some historians maintain that he fell off his horse during a horseback pursuit from the land of present day Egypt due to battle wounds and physical fatigue, dying of his injuries. [38] The Galician-Volhynian Chronicle alleges he was killed by the Western Xia in battle, while Marco Polo wrote that he died after the infection of an arrow wound he received during his final campaign. [39] Later Mongol chronicles connect Genghis' death with a Western Xia princess taken as war booty. One chronicle from the early 17th century even relates that the princess hid a small dagger and stabbed him, though some Mongol authors have doubted this version and suspected it to be an invention by the rival Oirads. [40]

Years before his death, Genghis Khan asked to be buried without markings, according to the customs of his tribe. After he died, his body was returned to Mongolia and presumably to his birthplace in Khentii Aimag, where many assume he is buried somewhere close to the Onon River and the Burkhan Khaldun mountain (part of the Kentii mountain range). According to legend, the funeral escort killed anyone and anything across their path to conceal where he was finally buried. The Genghis Khan Mausoleum, constructed many years after his death, is his memorial, but not his burial site.

In 1939 Chinese Nationalist soldiers took the mausoleum from its position at the 'Lord's Enclosure' (Mongolian: Edsen Khoroo) in Mongolia to protect it from Japanese troops. It was taken through Communist-held territory in Yan'an some 900 km on carts to safety at a Buddhist monastery, the Dongshan Dafo Dian, where it remained for ten years. In 1949, as Communist troops advanced, the Nationalist soldiers moved it another 200 km farther west to the famous Tibetan monastery of Kumbum Monastery or Ta'er Shi near Xining, which soon fell under Communist control. In early 1954, Genghis Khan's bier and relics were returned to the Lord's Enclosure in Mongolia. By 1956 a new temple was erected there to house them. [41] In 1968 during the Cultural Revolution, Red Guards destroyed almost everything of value. The "relics" were remade in the 1970s and a great marble statue of Genghis was completed in 1989. [42]

On October 6, 2004, a joint Japanese-Mongolian archaeological dig uncovered what is believed to be Genghis Khan's palace in rural Mongolia, which raises the possibility of actually locating the ruler's long-lost burial site. [43] Folklore says that a river was diverted over his grave to make it impossible to find (the same manner of burial as the Sumerian King Gilgamesh of Uruk and Atilla the Hun). Other tales state that his grave was stampeded over by many horses, and that trees were then planted over the site, and the permafrost also did its part in hiding the burial site.

Genghis Khan left behind an army of more than 129,000 men 28,000 were given to his various brothers and his sons. Tolui, his youngest son, inherited more than 100,000 men. This force contained the bulk of the elite Mongolian cavalry. By tradition, the youngest son inherits his father's property. Jochi, Chagatai, Ögedei Khan, and Kulan's son Gelejian received armies of 4,000 men each. His mother and the descendants of his three brothers received 3,000 men each.

Mongol Empire

Politics and Economics

The Mongol Empire was governed by a civilian and military code, called the Yassa, created by Genghis Khan. The Mongol Empire did not emphasize the importance of ethnicity and race in the administrative realm, instead adopting an approach grounded in meritocracy. The exception was the role of Genghis Khan and his family. The Mongol Empire was one of the most ethnically and culturally diverse empires in history, as befitted its size. Many of the empire's nomadic inhabitants considered themselves Mongols in military and civilian life, including Turks, Mongols, and others and included many diverse Khans of various ethnicities as part of the Mongol Empire such as Muhammad Khan.

There were tax exemptions for religious figures and, to some extent, teachers and doctors. The Mongol Empire practiced religious tolerance because Mongol tradition had long held that religion was a personal concept, and not subject to law or interference. [citation needed] Sometime before the rise of Genghis Khan, Ong Khan, his mentor and eventual rival, had converted to Nestorian Christianity. Various Mongol tribes were Buddhist, Muslim, shamanist or Christian. Religious tolerance was thus a well established concept on the Asian steppe.

Modern Mongolian historians say that towards the end of his life, Genghis Khan attempted to create a civil state under the Great Yassa that would have established the legal equality of all individuals, including women. [44] However, there is no evidence of this, or of the lifting of discriminatory policies towards sedentary peoples such as the Chinese. Women played a relatively important role in Mongol Empire and in family, for example Töregene Khatun was briefly in charge of the Mongol Empire when next male Khagan was being chosen. Modern scholars refer to the alleged policy of encouraging trade and communication as the Pax Mongolica (Mongol Peace).

Genghis Khan realised that he needed people who could govern cities and states conquered by him. He also realised that such administrators could not be found among his Mongol people because they were nomads and thus had no experience governing cities. For this purpose Genghis Khan invited a Khitan prince, Chu'Tsai, who worked for the Jin and had been captured by the Mongol army after the Jin Dynasty was defeated. Jin had captured power by displacing Khitan. Genghis told Chu'Tsai, who was a lineal descendant of Khitan rulers, that he had avenged Chu'Tsai's forefathers. Chu'Tsai responded that his father served the Jin Dynasty honestly and so did he also he did not consider his own father his enemy, so the question of revenge did not apply. This reply impressed Genghis Khan. Chu'Tsai administered parts of the Mongol Empire and became a confidant of the successive Mongol Khans.


Genghis Khan put absolute trust in his generals, such as Muqali, Jebe and Subutai, and regarded them as close advisors, often extending them the same privileges and trust normally reserved for close family members. He allowed them to make decisions on their own when they embarked on campaigns far from the Mongol Empire capital Karakorum. Genghis Khan expected unwavering loyalty from his generals, and granted them a great deal of autonomy in making command decisions. Muqali, a trusted general, was given command of the Mongol forces against the Jin Dynasty while Genghis Khan was fighting in Central Asia, and Subutai and Jebe were allowed to pursue the Great Raid into the Caucasus and Kievan Rus', an idea they had presented to the Khagan on their own initiative. The Mongol military was also successful in siege warfare, cutting off resources for cities and towns by diverting certain rivers, taking enemy prisoners and driving them in front of the army, and adopting new ideas, techniques and tools from the people they conquered, particularly in employing Muslim and Chinese siege engines and engineers to aid the Mongol cavalry in capturing cities. Another standard tactic of the Mongol military was the commonly practiced feigned retreat to break enemy formations and to lure small enemy groups away from the larger group and defended position for ambush and counterattack.

Another important aspect of the military organization of Genghis Khan was the communications and supply route or Yam, adapted from previous Chinese models. Genghis Khan dedicated special attention to this in order to speed up the gathering of military intelligence and official communications. To this end, Yam waystations were established all over the empire. [45] The followers of Khan consisted of several Christians, Muslims, and Buddhists. They were united only in their devotion to Khan and their oath to him and each other. The oaths sworn at Baljuna created a type of brotherhood, and in transcending kinship, ethnicity, and religion, it came close to being a type of modern civic citizenship based upon personal choice and commitment. This connection became a metaphor for the new type of community among Khan's followers that eventually dominated as the basis of unity within the Mongol Empire.


Several years before his death, Genghis Khan divided his empire among his sons Ögedei, Chagatai, Tolui, and Jochi (Jochi's death several months before Genghis Khan meant that his lands were instead split between his sons, Batu and Orda) into several Khanates designed as sub-territories: their Khans were expected to follow the Great Khan, who was, initially, Ögedei.

Following are the Khanates the way Genghis Khan assigned them:

  • Empire of the Great Khan: Ögedei Khan, as Great Khan, took most of Eastern Asia, including China this territory later to comprise the Yuan Dynasty under Kublai Khan.
  • Mongol homeland (present day Mongolia, including Karakorum): Tolui Khan, being the youngest son, received a small territory near the Mongol homeland, following Mongol custom.
  • Chagatai Khanate: Chagatai Khan, Genghis Khan's second son, was given Central Asia and northern Iran.
  • Blue Horde to Batu Khan, and White Horde to Orda Khan, both were later combined into the Kipchak Khanate, or Khanate of the Golden Horde, under Toqtamysh. Genghis Khan's eldest son, Jochi, had received most of the distant Russia and Ruthenia. Because Jochi died before Genghis Khan, his territory was further split up between his sons. Batu Khan launched an invasion of Russia, and later Hungary and Poland, and crushed several armies before being summoned back by the news of Ögedei's death.
After Ganghis Kahn

Contrary to popular belief, Genghis Khan did not conquer all of the areas of the Mongol Empire. At the time of his death, the Mongol Empire stretched from the Caspian Sea to the Sea of Japan. The empire's expansion continued for a generation or more after Genghis's death in 1227. Under Genghis's successor Ögedei Khan the speed of expansion reached its peak. Mongol armies pushed into Persia, finished off the Xi Xia and the remnants of the Khwarezmids, and came into conflict with the imperial Song Dynasty of China, starting a war that lasted until 1279 and that concluded with the Mongols gaining control of all of China. They also pushed further into Russia and eastern Europe.


Like other notable conquerors, Genghis Khan is portrayed differently by those he conquered and those who conquered with him. Negative views of Genghis Khan persist in histories written by many cultures from different geographical regions. They often cite the cruelties and destruction brought upon by Mongol armies, not to mention the systematic slaughter of civilians in the conquered regions other authors cite positive aspects of Genghis Khan's conquests as well.


Genghis Khan is credited with bringing the Silk Road under one cohesive political environment. This allowed increased communication and trade between the West, Middle East and Asia, thus expanding the horizons of all three cultural areas. Some historians have noted that Genghis Khan instituted certain levels of meritocracy in his rule, was tolerant of religions and explained his policies clearly to all his soldiers. [46] In Turkey, Genghis Khan is looked on as a great military leader, and it is popular for male children to carry his title as name. [47]

  • In Mongolia:  Traditionally Genghis Khan had been revered for centuries among the Mongols and among certain other ethnic groups such as the Turks, largely because of his association with Mongol statehood, political and military organization, and his historic victories in war. He eventually evolved into a larger-than-life figure chiefly among the Mongols and is still considered the symbol of Mongolian culture. 
    During the communist period, Genghis Khan was often described as a reactionary, and positive statements about him were generally avoided. [48] In 1962, the erection of a monument at his birthplace and a conference held in commemoration of his 800th birthday led to criticism from the Soviet Union and resulted in the dismissal of Tömör-Ochir, a secretary of the ruling Mongolian People's Revolutionary PartyCentral Committee.

In the early 1990s the memory of Genghis Khan with the Mongolian national identity has had a powerful revival partly because of his perception during the Mongolian People's Republic period. Genghis Khan became one of the central figures of the national identity. He is looked upon positively by Mongolians for his role in uniting warring tribes. For example, it is not uncommon for Mongolians to refer to their country as "Genghis Khan's Mongolia", to themselves as "Genghis Khan's children", and to Genghis Khan as the "father of the Mongols" especially among the younger generation. However, there is a chasm in the perception of his brutality. Mongolians maintain that the historical records written by non-Mongolians are unfairly biased against Genghis Khan and that his butchery is exaggerated, while his positive role is underrated. [49]

In Mongolia today, Genghis Khan's name and likeness are endorsed on products, streets, buildings, and other places. His face can be found on everyday commodities, from liquor bottles to candy products, and on the largest denominations of 500, 1,000, 5,000, 10,000, and 20,000 Mongolian tögrög (₮). Mongolia's main international airport in Ulaanbaatar is named Chinggis Khaan International Airport. Major Genghis Khan statues have been erected before the parliament [50] and near Ulaanbaatar. There have been repeated discussions about regulating the use of his name and image to avoid trivialization. [51]

Genghis Khan is regarded as one of the prominent leaders in Mongolia's history. [52] He is responsible for the emergence of the Mongols as a political and ethnic identity because there was no unified identity between the tribes that had cultural similarity. He reinforced many Mongol traditions and provided stability and unity during a time of almost endemic warfare between tribes. He is also given credit for the introduction of the traditional Mongolian script and the creation of the Ikh Zasag (Great Administration), the first written Mongolian law. [53] "Ikh Zasag law adopted during Genghis Khan’s time in Mongolia had points to punish illegal matters related to corruption and bribery very heavily," Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj noted. [54] President Elbegdorj sees Genghis Khan as a leader from whom to learn for anti-corruption efforts as Genghis Khan sought equal protection under the law for all citizens regardless of status or wealth. "Chinggis (Genghis Khan). was a man who deeply realized that the justice begins and consolidates with the equality of law, and not with the distinctions between people. He was a man who knew that the good laws and rules lived longer than fancy palaces," Elbegdorj said in his speech on the 850th anniversary of Chinggis Khaan's birth. [55] In summary, Mongolians see him as the fundamental figure in the founding of the Mongol Empire and therefore the basis for Mongolia as a country.

From 2012, Mongolia will celebrate Chinggis Khaan's birthday as a national holiday, on the first day of winter according to the Mongolian lunar calendar (not to be confused with the Asian new year). [56]

  • In China
    There are conflicting views of Genghis Khan in the People's Republic of China with some viewing him positively in the Inner Mongolia region where there is a monument and buildings about him and where there are considerable Mongols in the area with a population of around 5 million, almost twice the population of Mongolia. While Genghis Khan never conquered all of China, his grandson Kublai Khan completed that conquest [57] and established the Yuan Dynasty that is often credited with re-uniting China. There has been much artwork and literature praising Genghis as a great military leader and political genius. The years of the Mongol-established Yuan Dynasty left an indelible imprint on Chinese political and social structures for subsequent generations with literature during the Jin Dynasty relatively fewer. In general the legacy of Genghis Khan and his successors, who completed the conquest of China after 65 years of struggle, remains a mixed topic, even to this day.

China suffered a drastic decline in population. [58] The population of north China decreased from 50 million in the 1195 census to 8.5 million in the Mongol census of 1235–36. An unknown number of people migrated to Southern China in this period. [59]

Genghis Khan supported the Chinese Daoist sect leader Qiu Chuji and after personally meeting him in what is now modern day Afghanistan, gave him control of all religious affairs in northern China.


In the Middle East and Iran, he is almost universally looked on as a destructive and genocidal warlord who caused enormous damage and destruction to the population of these areas. [60] Steven R. Ward wrote that "Overall, the Mongol violence and depredations killed up to three-fourths of the population of the Iranian Plateau, possibly 10 to 15 million people. Some historians have estimated that Iran's population did not again reach its pre-Mongol levels until the mid-20th century." [61]

Similarly, in Afghanistan (along with other non-Turkic Muslim countries) he is generally viewed unfavorably though some groups display ambivalence as it is believed that the Hazara of Afghanistan are descendants of a large Mongol garrison stationed therein. [62] [63]

The invasions of Baghdad, Samarkand, Urgench, Kiev, Vladimir among others caused mass murders, such as when portions of southern Khuzestan were completely destroyed. His descendant Hulagu Khan destroyed much of Iran's northern part and sacked Baghdad although his forces were halted by the Mamluks of Egypt, but Hulagu's descendent Ghazan Khan would return to beat the Egyptian Mamluks right out of Levant, Palestine and even Gaza. According to the works of the Persian historian Rashid-al-Din Hamadani, the Mongols killed more than 70,000 people in Merv and more than 190,000 in Nishapur. In 1237 Batu Khan, a grandson of Genghis Khan, launched an invasion into Kievan Rus'. Over the course of three years, the Mongols destroyed and annihilated all of the major cities of Eastern Europe with the exceptions of Novgorod and Pskov. [64]

Giovanni de Plano Carpini, the Pope's envoy to the Mongol Great Khan, travelled through Kiev in February 1246 and wrote:

They [the Mongols] attacked Russia, where they made great havoc, destroying cities and fortresses and slaughtering men and they laid siege to Kiev, the capital of Russia after they had besieged the city for a long time, they took it and put the inhabitants to death. When we were journeying through that land we came across countless skulls and bones of dead men lying about on the ground. Kiev had been a very large and thickly populated town, but now it has been reduced almost to nothing, for there are at the present time scarce two hundred houses there and the inhabitants are kept in complete slavery. [65]


Among the Iranian peoples, Genghis Khan is regarded along with Hulagu and Timur as one of the most despised conquerors in the region. [66] [67]

Although the famous Mughal Emperors were proud descendants of Genghis Khan and particularly Timur, they clearly distanced themselves from the Mongol atrocities committed against the Khwarizim Shahs, Turks, Persians, the citizens of Baghdad and Damascus, Nishapur, Bukhara and historical figures such as Attar of Nishapur and many other notable Muslims. However, Mughal Emperors directly patronized the legacies of Genghis Khan and Timur together their names were synonymous with the names of other distinguished personalities particularly among the Muslim populations of South Asia.

In much of Russia, Middle East, Korea, China, Ukraine, Poland and Hungary, Genghis Khan and his regime are credited with considerable damage, destruction and loss of population.

Physical Appearance

The closest depiction generally accepted by most historians is the portrait currently in the National Palace Museum in Taipei, Taiwan which was drawn during the Mongol Yuan dynasty rule of China and depicts Genghis Khan with typical Mongol features.

Intermixing between the Mongoloid and Europoid population in Northern Mongolia have existed during the Xiongnu period long before the time of Genghis Khan. [68] Skulls of the well preserved Xiongnu and pre-Xiongnu tomb were examined and were found to have been an hybrid population with physical appearance of predominately Mongoloid with only 11% Europoid admixture. [69] Genghis Khan was identified to have been Haplogroup C-M217, a common mongoloid paternal marker. [62] Genetic testing of ethnic Mongolians mtDNA in Xinjiang, China were found to have 14.3% west Eurasian mtDNA, [70] which shows Caucasoid maternal contribution into the Mongolian mtDNA gene pool. Historically, the Tarim Basin in present-day Xinjiang was home to many ethnic groups, including some of East-West admixture, such as the people of the Xiaohe Tomb complex. [71]

In 2012, an expedition to find Richard’s remains led to the former grounds of Greyfriars Church. Part of these grounds were now part of a parking lot. When researchers finally found Richard’s body, the couldn’t believe where it lay: the king’s remains were found under a reserved parking space marked “R.”

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The Mongols first appeared in the dynastic history of the Tang dynasty and were described as a branch of the Shiwei, who were vassals of the Göktürks from 553 to 745. The Shiwei lived in the Lesser Khingan Range until the 10th century when the Mongol component moved to the Argun River and became vassals of the Khitans. The Mongols continued moving west until they reached the Onon River and Kherlen River in the 11th century. [1]

Alternatively according to Mongol mythology, they were descended from a blue-grey wolf birthed by Heaven, and a fallow dow. Together they crossed a lake to reach Burkhan Khaldun where they gave birth to a human male. This human male, named Bat Tsagan, was the ancestor of all Mongols. In the 11th generation of Bat Tsagan's lineage, Dobun Mergen married a young woman named Alan Gho'a of the Khorilar. After Dobun Mergen died, Alan Gho'a gave birth to Bodonchar Munkhag, who founded the Borjigin clan. [2]

Bodonchar's great-great-grandson Kaidu was born sometime during the 11th century and was the first khagan who "ruled all the Mongols". [3] His grandson Khabul Khan was invited to the Jin court at one point and in a drunken outburst, tweaked the Jin emperor's beard. The emperor initially decided to let Khabul go unpunished but changed his mind and ordered his officials to have Khabul captured. The Jin pursuers were ambushed and killed, and Kaidu died shortly after, depriving the Jin any chance of revenge. From 1135 to 1147, the Mongols continuously raided Jin borders. The Jin retaliated and allied with the Tatars, who captured the new Mongol khan, Ambaghai of the Taichiud, under the pretense of making peace and handed him over to the Jin court. Before he was captured, Ambaghai managed to send a messenger back to his kinsmen, urging them to fight the Tatars to the death. [4] Ambaghai was nailed to a wooden donkey and left to die. Around the time of Ambaghai's capture in the 1150s or 1160s, Khabul's grandson Yesugei abducted a Khongirad woman as his bride from the Merkits. He participated in a series of raids launched by Hotula Khan against the Tatars. Upon his return from one of these attacks, his wife gave birth to Temüjin, who would become Genghis Khan. [5]

The Mengda Beilu records that the Mongols developed a profound hatred of the Jin because of massacres and atrocities that they committed in the late twelfth century. Whether these stories were real memories or a form of propaganda being used against the Jin is difficult to ascertain. Chinggis Khan certainly tried to unite other tribes to his cause by evoking their shared hatred of the Jin. On meeting the Khitan prince, Yelü Chucai, for instance, Chinggis Khan claimed that his war against the Jin was vengeance for their actions against the Khitan people. [6]

Genghis Khan was born as Temüjin in 1162 to Yesugei, the leader of the Borjigin clan, and Hoelun of the Olkhonud tribe. In 1171, Yesugei took Temüjin east through Tatar territory to the Khongirad, who were closely related to the Olkhonud tribe of his wife, to arrange a future marriage between his son and Börte. Temüjin was left behind with the Khongirad to learn their ways, however Yesugei was poisoned by the Tatars during his return trip. Temüjin left the Khongirad for his father, but arrived too late to see his father alive. His father's followers scattered and Hoelun was left to care for her children by herself. [7] She took them to the Khentii Mountains where they lived for several years eking out an existence through fishing and grubbing roots. [8] Little is known about the events of Temüjin's life during these years except for three flashpoints. At one point Temüjin killed his half-brother Begter for stealing a fish. He then became the captive of the Taichiud and lived in a cage for some time before escaping with the help of a tribesman named Suldus Shira. [9] In 1173, he became the blood brother (anda) of Jamukha from the Jadaran (Jajirad) clan. The Jadaran clan considered itself descended from the Borjigids, but others say they were an illegitimate offshoot of uncertain birth. [10]

Early leadership (1177-1191) Edit

In 1177, Temüjin went back to the Khongirad and married Börte, but she was kidnapped shortly thereafter in a Merkit raid. Temüjin gathered 20,000 warriors and enlisted the help of his blood brother Jamukha and Toghrul, the khan of the Keraites. Together they helped Temüjin get back Börte. It's not clear how she was returned or whether a military action was involved in the process. One version of events claim the combined forces routed the Merkit and she was rescued along with much booty, but this could have been a composite narrative combining a later military action with an earlier event. Börte gave birth soon afterwards and although the child may have been fathered by a Merkit, Temüjin decided to raise him as his own anyway, naming him Jochi. [11]

The period of Temüjin's life from 1177 to 1191 is largely unknown except that Temüjin often fought the Taichiud, Salji'ut, Khadagin, and Tatars with mixed results. One of the clans following Temüjin eventually left and was defeated by the Taichiud, after which they joined Jamukha. [11] During the 1180s there was a drought in Mongolia which increased conflict between the tribes but Temüjin only played a limited part in these affairs. [12]

Attack on the Merkit (1191) Edit

The previous attack on the Merkit that resulted in the rescue of Börte may have been a separate campaign that occurred in 1191, and was confused in the sources. In 1191, Jamukha, Temüjin, and Toghrul and his brother Jakha Gambhu decided to attack the Merkit. However Temüjin and Toghrul were late to the rendezvous area by three days, which greatly angered Jamukha. Together the 40,000 strong allied forces made a detour east to attack the enemy camp from the north-east. A fisherman spotted them and warned the Merkit of the impending attack, but the Merkit failed to make the necessary preparations, and dispersed. [13]

Battle of Dalan Baljut (1193) Edit

Temüjin and Jamukha stayed together for a while after the battle. At one point they sent an embassy to the Khadagin and Salji'ut to try to win them over against the Taichiud. In 1193, Temüjin and Jamukha split when retainers of the two camps clashed over horse thievery. Temüjin took with him 41 tribal leaders and 10,000 men from Jamukha and was elected khan by his followers in the following days. The Taichiud became frightened by Temüjin's power and joined Jamukha. [14]

In 1193, Jamukha assembled 30,000 men and moved in an arc from the north to flank Temüjin's position. The two forces were evenly matched but Temüjin's side suffered slightly worse than Jamukha, and was forced to retreat to a defensible pass called Jerene near the Onon River. Despite Jamukha's victory, his harsh treatment of captives disgusted his allies so much that they defected to Temüjin, bringing with them 10,000 men. With less than 20,000 men at his side, Jamukha was no longer able to challenge Temüjin on the upper Kherlen River, and retreated further east. [15]

Initial victory over the Tatars (1195-1196) Edit

In 1195, the Jurchen Jin dynasty allied with the Tatars to attack the Khongirad. The resulting military operation was a success but the Tatar leader, Zuxu, quarrelled over the distribution of loot. Breakdown of communication led to a Jin attack on the Tatars in the following year. The Jin general Wanyan Xiang sent a vanguard detachment under Wanyan Anguo toward the Kherlen River, where they held off Tatar forces for three days before the main body of the Jin army arrived and defeated them. [16]

The Khongirad had not forgotten their previous conflicts. On 4 February 1196, they struck deep into Jin territory and defeated a Jin detachment. Meanwhile, the Tatars fleeing Jin forces were intercepted by Toghrul and Temüjin. The beleaguered Tatars chose to fight in a makeshift barricade instead of on the open field, probably because they were much weaker than the opposing force. The resulting melee resulted in the complete defeat of the Tatars. Toghrul and Temüjin later met with Jin officials, who were extremely pleased with the destruction of the Tatars, and awarded them with titles. One of the Jin officials, a Khitan by the name of Yelü Ahai, was so impressed with Temüjin, that he and his brother Tuhua later defected to him in 1203. [17]

Soon after the defeat of the Tatars, Toghrul was overthrown by his brother Erke Qara, who was backed by Inanch Bilge khan of the Naimans. A Naiman force entered Keraite territory and attacked Temüjin's camp, causing some damage. Toghrul fled to the Qara Khitai. [17]

The defeated Tatar Zuxu submitted to the Jin and rebelled again in the same year. Zuxu submitted to the Jin again in 1198 and died soon afterward. Wanyan Xiang ordered the construction of extensive defensive works to protect sedentary population in the north. No further Jin campaigns against the steppe nomads were carried out with the same success as that of 1196. [18]

Consolidating power (1196-1199) Edit

Threatened by the Naimans' increasing influence, Temüjin sought help from the Jurkins to conduct a joint expedition against the Naimans. The Jurkins responded by killing Temüjin's envoys. Temüjin attacked them in 1196 and subjugated the majority of the Jurkins, including Muqali, who would later become one of the Mongol Empire's foremost generals. Toghrul's brother Erke Qara also joined Temüjin after he helped him drive off the Merkit. In 1197, Toghrul returned and re-established himself as leader of the Keraites with the help of Temüjin. In the winter of 1197–8, Temüjin eliminated the remaining Jurkins and executed their leaders. [19]

From 1198 to 1199, Temüjin and Toghrul preyed on the Merkit, driving them ever furthern north. Toghrul chose not to share the booty with Temüjin, which upset him greatly. [20]

Confronting the Naimans (1199) Edit

Inanch Bilge khan died in 1198, splitting the Naimans between his two sons Tayang khan and Buyruq khan. In 1199, Temüjin, Toghrul, and Jamukha attacked Buyruq west of the Altai Mountains. Alarmed by the eastern invaders, Tayang sent a force under Kökse Sabraq, which intercepted Toghrul and took half his people hostage. Temüjin sent Muqali, Borokhula, Chilaun, and Bo'orchu to support the Keraites. They arrived in time to turn the tide of battle and routed the Naimans. Despite the victory in battle, the allied forces moved further east, possibly out of fear that the two Naiman factions might recoup and unite against them. [21]

Defeating the Tatars and Naimans (1200-1202) Edit

In 1200, Temüjin and Toghrul migrated eastwards along the Onon River into Taichiud territory and defeated the Taichiud in battle. Temüjin chased the fleeing Taichiud to a river crossing where he was surprised by a sudden counterattack that wounded him. The battle continued the next day until the Taichiud had been defeated. Next, the Khadagin, Salji'ut, Dorben, Tatar, and Khongirad tribes formed a coalition against Temüjin. The two sides engaged in a heavily contested battle that ended in retreat for Toghrul and Temüjin. [22]

While Toghrul was incapacitated for two years, Temüjin recovered his losses and returned to wage war on the Tatars and Dorben while his brother Qasar attacked the Khongirad. Temüjin's enemies, especially, the Khongirad, then gathered around Jamukha and named him gur-khan in opposition to Temüjin. Jamukha's forces suffered a defeat against Temüjin in 1201, resulting in a brief defection by the Khongirad before they returned to fighting Temüjin the next year. [23]

In 1202, Temüjin introduced new rules for distributing plunder. Several of his relatives disagreed with the new way of distribution and left with 10,000 men. In the same year Temüjin finished mopping up the Tatars. He intended to have all the Tatar captives executed, probably in revenge for his father, but his brother half-brother Belgutai leaked the information to the prisoners, who broke away and barricaded themselves on a hill. Temüjin's brother Qasar, whose wife was Tatar, also hid 500 captives who were supposed to be killed. [24]

Buyruq khan assembled a large coalition army including even Jamukha and the Oirats numbering 70,000 strong. Together they advanced on Temüjin and Toghrul's position at Buir Lake. Temüjin and Toghrul moved their forces behind the Jin defensive fortifications. Both sides' forces were scattered and the weather took a turn for the worse with heavy snows and wind blasting the battlefield. Buryuq decided to retreat but got stuck in an open field at one point. The coalition army fell into confusion. Jamukha took the opportunity to plunder his allies' baggage. This came to be known as the Battle of Köyiten. [25]

Toghrul's betrayal (1203) Edit

Toghrul's son Senggüm convinced his father to turn on Temüjin. They planned to ambush him while he was on his way to a wedding between the two families to cement their alliance, but a Keraite warned Temüjin beforehand and spoiled their plan. A battle ensued with Toghrul and Jamukha taking the offensive by attacking Qasar and defeating his army. Qasar escaped but most of his family was captured. Next they advanced on Temüjin, surprising him from the south, but Temüjin managed to move to a smaller enclosure to nullify the enemy's superior numbers. Senggüm was wounded in battle, throwing his forces into confusion, and allowing Temüjin to retreat. Toghrul decided not to give chase and returned to camp. This came to be known as the Battle of Qalaqaljit Sands. [26] [27]

Jamukha and a large portion of Toghrul's allies decided to split from him. When Toghrul caught wind of this, he attacked them, and some of them defected to Temüjin. By autumn of 1203, the situation between the two sides had been reversed, Temüjin's forces numbered more than 40,000 while Toghrul had barely half of that. Temüjin scouted out Toghrul's camp under false pretenses of defection by Qasar. When Toghrul's location had been ascertained, Temüjin's army rode through the night and surrounded the Keraite camp. The Keraites fought for three days before they surrendered. Toghrul fled the battle only to be killed by a Naiman called Qori Sübeči who did not believe his identity. Senggüm fled to Western Xia. [28]

Defeating Tayang khan (1204) Edit

Jamukha, the Merkits, and Keraites joined Tayang khan's Naimans in opposing Temüjin. By this time, Temüjin had 66,000 fighting men and moved most of them west in May 1204 to confront Tayang in what became the Battle of Chakirmaut. Supposedly Naiman scouts were unimpressed with the quality of Temüjin's troops, but Tayang wanted to retreat beyond the Altai Mountains to fight a war of attrition. Tayang's son Kuchlug as well as his senior officer argued against it and convinced Tayang to take the offensive against Temüjin. The opposition coalition forces crossed the Orkhon River but fell back to the foot of a mountain upon encountering Temüjin's forces. Temüjin ordered his army to stand in "lake" battle formation and to fight a "chisel" battle. His army dispersed in a long line as if to outflank the Naimans, which the Naimans responded by dispersing their own forces as well. Having deceived the Naimans into believing that he was going for a flanking maneuver, Temüjin led a frontal assault followed by the main army led by Qasar, driving the Naimans back to a mountain. Jamukha deserted the Naimans, who rejected Temüjin's offer of surrender and fought for another day until they were all killed. Tayang fell in battle. [29]

Kuchlug had been left to defend a rear camp. When Temüjin's army came upon him, Kuchlug fled with a few followers. Jamukha was caught soon afterward, delivered to Temüjin, and executed. [29]

Defeating Toqtoa (1205) Edit

Toqtoa's Merkits fled southwest of Khovd and moved even further west when Temüjin moved against him. Toqtoa and Kuchlug joined Buyruq khan west of the Altai. The Uvas Merkits tried to defect to Temüjin, but Temüjin considered them too weak to be of use and did not want to integrate them, so they rebelled and took some supplies with them. The other Merkits either surrendered or were killed by 1205. One of the captured was Töregene, who married Ögedei. She became regent of the Mongol Empire when her husband died in 1241. [30]

Raiding Western Xia (1205) Edit

In April 1205, Temüjin made his first major incursion on a non-Mongol power, the Western Xia. The Khitan, Yelü Ahai, who defected to Temüjin some years ago led the way, ostensibly in search for Senggum, Toghrul's son. The Xia armies dared not fight the Mongols on the open field and made no move against them. The Mongols moved unopposed, plundering the open country, and destroying a few fortifications. After they left in June, the Xia rebuilt the places destroyed. In December a counter-raid was organized by the Xia but ultimately no attack was made. Soon after Senggum was killed in battle. [31]

In the summer of 1206, the shaman Kokochu proclaimed Temüjin Genghis Khan (Chinggis Khan), the "Universal Ruler", at the Onon River. Genghis reorganized Mongol society into a military force based on units of a thousand known as mingghan. These were not only military units but also household units and used for taxation purposes. His family members, the altan urugh or Golden Kin, were given territory and assigned these mingghan. A 10,000 strong bodyguard unit known as the keshig was formed from the sons of commanders to ensure their loyalty to Genghis. [32]

In the winter, Genghis ambushed Buyruq while he was out hawking and killed him. Toqtoa and Kuchlug fled up along the Erdis River. [33] In 1207, Genghis sent his son Jochi to subdue the Oirats and Kyrgyz people west of Lake Baikal. They submitted voluntarily, adding 20,000 warriors to the Mongol army. [34]

Watch the video: Age of Empires 2 HD Genghis Khan Campaign Cutscenes English Ver. (January 2023).

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