Genghis Khan

Genghis Khan

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This article is about the person. For other uses, see Genghis Khan (disambiguation).

“Temüjin” redirects here.

Genghis Khan


Khagan of the Mongol Empire
Reign 1206–1227
Coronation spring[1] 1206 in khurultai at theOnon RiverMongolia
Full name

Genghis KhanCinggis qayan.png
(birth name: Borjigin Temüjin)
Mongolian scriptᠪᠣᠷᠵᠢᠭᠢᠨ ᠲᠡᠮᠦᠵᠢᠨ.

Titles KhanKhagan
Temple name: Taizu (太祖)
Posthumous name: Emperor Fatian Qiyun Shengwu
Born c. 1162
Birthplace Khentii MountainsMongolia
Died 1227 (aged 65)
Successor Ögedei Khan
Consort Börte Ujin
Offspring Jochi
Royal House Borjigin
Father Yesükhei
Mother Ho’elun

Genghis Khan (pronounced /ˈdʒɛŋɡɪs ˈkɑːn/ or /ˈɡɛŋɡɪs ˈkɑːn/[2]Mongolian: Чингис Хаан orᠴᠢᠩᠭᠢᠰ ᠬᠠᠭᠠᠨChinggis Khaan, or Činggis Qaγan), IPA: [tʃiŋɡɪs xaːŋ]listen); probably[3]1162–1227), born B. Temüjin ( pronunciation (help·info), was the founder, Khan (ruler) andKhagan (emperor) of the Mongol Empire, which became the largest contiguous empire in history after his death.

He came to power by uniting many of the nomadic tribes of northeast Asia. After founding theMongol Empire and being proclaimed “Genghis Khan”, he started the Mongol invasions that would ultimately result in the conquest of most of Eurasia. These included raids or invasions of the Kara-Khitan KhanateCaucasusKhwarezmid EmpireWestern Xia and Jin dynasties. These campaigns were often accompanied by wholesale massacres of the civilian populations – especially in Khwarezmia. By the end of his life, the Mongol Empire occupied a substantial portion of Central Asia and China.

Genghis Khan Sword

Before Genghis Khan died, he assigned Ögedei Khan as his successor and split his empire intokhanates among his sons and grandsons.[4] He died in 1227 after defeating the Tanguts. He was buried in an unmarked grave somewhere in Mongolia at an unknown location. His descendants went on to stretch the Mongol Empire across most of Eurasia by conquering and/or creatingvassal states out of all of modern-day China, Korea, the Caucasus, Central Asian countries, and substantial portions of modern Eastern Europe and the Middle East. Many of these invasions also resulted in large-scale slaughter of the local populations and are not viewed positively in these parts of the world today.

Genghis Khan in the battle of the Indo valley

Beyond his great 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 promoted religious tolerance in the Mongol Empire, and created a unified empire from the nomadic tribes of northeast Asia. Present-day Mongolians regard him highly as the founding father of Mongolia.[5]

Early life


Temüjin was related on his father’s side to Khabul KhanAmbaghai and Qutula Khan who had headed the Mongol confederation. When the Chinese Jin Dynasty switched support from the Mongols to the Tatars in 1161, they destroyed Khabul Khan.[6] Genghis’s father, Yesügei(leader of the Borjigin and nephew to Ambaghai and Qutula Khan), emerged as the head of the ruling clan of the Mongols, but this position was contested by the rival Tayichi’ud clan, who descended directly from Ambaghai. When the Tatars grew too powerful after 1161, the Jin switched their support from the Tatars to the Keraits.



The Onon RiverMongolia in autumn, a region where Borjigin Temüjin was born and grew up.

Because of the lack of contemporary written records, there is very little factual information about the early life of Temüjin. The few sources that provide insight into this period often conflict.

Temüjin was born in 1162[3] in a Mongol tribe near Burkhan Khaldun mountain and the Onon andKherlen Rivers in modern-day Mongolia, not far from the current capital UlaanbaatarThe 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 Yesükhei, a minor tribal chief of the Kiyad and an ally of Ong Khan of the Kerait tribe,[7] and the oldest son of his mother Hoelun. According to the Secret History, Temüjin was named after aTatar chieftain whom his father had just captured. The name also suggests that they may have been descended from a family of blacksmiths (see section Name and title below).

Yesükhei’s clan was called Borjigin (Боржигин), and Hoelun was from the Olkhunut, the sub-lineage of the Onggirat tribe.[8][9] 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]

No accurate portraits of Genghis exist today, and any surviving depictions are considered to be artistic interpretations. Persian historianRashid-al-Din recorded in his “Chronicles” that the legendary “glittering” ancestor of Genghis was tall, long-bearded, red-haired, and green-eyed. Rashid al-Din also described the first meeting of Genghis and Kublai Khan, when Genghis was shocked to find that Kublai had not inherited his red hair.[10] Also according to al-Din Genghis’s Borjigid clan, had a legend involving their origins: it began as the result of an affair between Alan-ko and a stranger to her land, a glittering man who happened to have red hair and bluish-green eyes. Modern historian Paul Ratchnevsky has suggested in his Genghis biography that the “glittering man” may have been from the Kyrgyz people, who historically displayed these same characteristics. Controversies aside, the closest depiction generally accepted by most historians is the portrait currently in the National Palace Museum in Taipei, Taiwan (see picture above).[citation needed]


Early life and family

Temüjin had three brothers named Khasar (or Qasar), Khajiun, and Temüge, and one sister named Temülen (or Temülin), as well as two half-brothers named Bekhter and Belgutei. Like many of the nomads of Mongolia, Temüjin’s early life was difficult. His father arranged a marriagefor him, and at nine years old, he was delivered by his father to the family of his future wife Börte, who was a member of the same tribe as his mother. Temujin was to live there in service to Sansar, the head of the new household, until he reached the marriageable age of 12. While heading home, his father ran into the neighbouring 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 “khan” 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.

Genghis Khan and Ong Khan. Illustration from a 15th century Jami’ al-tawarikh manuscript

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 10-year-old Temüjin killed his half-brother, Bekhter, during a fight which resulted from a dispute over hunting spoils.[11] This incident cemented his position as head of the household.

In another incident in 1182 he was captured in a raid and held prisoner by his father’s former allies, the Bjartskular (“wolves”). The Bjartskular enslaved Temüjin (reportedly with a cangue), but with the help of a sympathetic watcher, the father of Chilaun(who would later become a general of Genghis Khan), he was able to escape from the ger in the middle of the night by hiding in a river crevice.[citation needed] It was around this time that Jelme and Arslan, two of Genghis Khan’s future generals, joined forces with him. Along with his 18 siblings, they provided the manpower needed for early expansion. Temüjin’s reputation also became widespread after his escape from the Bjarttskular.

At this time, none of the tribal confederations of Mongolia were united politically, and arranged marriages were often used to solidify temporary alliances. Temujin grew up observing the tough political climate of Mongolia, which includes tribal warfare, thievery, raids, corruption and continuing 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 Ho’elun taught him many lessons about the unstable political climate of Mongolia, especially the need for alliances.

As previously arranged by his father, Temüjin married Börte of the Olkut’hun tribe when he was around 16 in order to cement alliances between their respective tribes. Börte had four sons, Jochi (1185–1226), 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, and records of daughters are nonexistent. 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, Jamuka, and his protector, Ong Khan of the Kerait tribe. She gave birth to a son, Jochi, nine months later, clouding the issue of his parentage. Despite speculation over Jochi, Börte would be his only empress, though Temüjin did follow tradition by taking several morganatic wives.[12]


Genghis Khan’s religion is widely speculated to be Shamanism or Tengriism, which was very likely among nomadic MongolTurkic tribes of Central Asia. But he was very tolerant religiously, and interested to learn philosophical and moral lessons from other religions. To do so, he consulted Christian missionaries, Muslim merchants, and the Taoist monk Qiu Chuji.

Uniting the confederations

File:Asia 1200ad.jpg

Asia in 1200 AD

The Central Asian plateau (north of China) around the time of Temüjin (the early 13th century) was divided into several tribes or confederations, among them Naimans,MerkitsUyghursTatarsMongols, and Keraits, that were all prominent in their own right and often unfriendly toward each other as evidenced by random raids, revenges, and plundering.

Temüjin began his slow ascent to power by offering himself as an ally (or, according to others 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 Ong Khan (or “Wang Khan“), which the Jin Empire granted him in 1197. This relationship was first reinforced when Börte was captured by the Merkits; it was Toghrul to whom Temüjin turned for support. In response, Toghrul offered his vassal 20,000 of his Kerait warriors and suggested that he also involve his childhood friend Jamuka, who had himself become Khan (ruler) of his own tribe, the Jadaran.[13] 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 Jamuka. Temüjin had becomeblood brother (anda) with Jamuka earlier, and they had vowed to remain eternally faithful.

The main opponents of the Mongol confederation (traditionally the “Mongols”) around 1200 were the Naimans to the west, the Merkits to the north, 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. As an incentive for absolute obedience and following his rule of law, the Yassacode, 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.[14]

File:Genghis Khan's enthronement in 1206.jpg

Genghis Khan proclaimed Khagan of all Mongols. Illustration from a 15th century Jami’ al-tawarikh manuscript

Toghrul’s (Wang Khan) son Senggum 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[15] 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 Jamuka, who already opposed Temüjin’s forces; however the internal dispute between Toghrul and Jamuka, plus the desertion of a number of their allies to Temüjin, led to Toghrul’s defeat. Jamuka escaped during the conflict. This defeat was a catalyst for the fall and eventual dissolution of the Kerait tribe.

Genghis Khan in traditional Mongolian writing

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

According to the Secret History, Temüjin again offered his friendship to Jamuka, asking him to return to his side. Temüjin had killed the men who betrayed Jamuka, stating that he did not want disloyal men in his army. Jamuka 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. Jamuka requested this form of death, despite the fact that in the past Jamuka had been known to have boiled his opponent’s generals alive. The rest of the Merkit clan that sided with the Naimans were defeated by Subutai, who is now a member of Temüjin’s personal guard and would later become one of the successful commanders of Genghis Khan. The Naimans’ defeat left Genghis Khan as the sole ruler of the Mongol plains, which means all the prominent confederations fell and/or united under Temüjin’s 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 Jamuka (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 break him up with brother Qasar who was serving Genghis Khan loyally. His military strategies showed a deep interest in gathering goodintelligence and understanding the motivations of his rivals as exemplified by his extensive spy network and Yam route systems. He seemed to be a quick student, adopting new technologies and ideas that he encountered, such as siege warfare from the Chinese.

As a result by 1206 Temüjin had managed to unite or subdue the MerkitsNaimansMongolsKeraitsTatarsUyghurs and disparate other smaller tribes under his rule. It was a monumental feat for the “Mongols” (as they became known collectively). At a Kurultai, a council of Mongol chiefs, he 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.

See also: Mongols before Genghis Khan and Mongols

Military campaigns

File:Gengis Khan empire-en.svg

Mongol conquests

Mongol conquests
File:Mongol Empire map.gif
Expansion of the Mongol Empire
Date 1206- 1324
Location Eastern and Central Europe, Middle East, Asia
Result Mongol victory and the fall of Mongol Empire
Jin Dynasty
Dali Kingdom
Western Xia
Song Dynasty
Khwarizmian Empire
Kievian Rus
Volga Bulgaria
Mamluk Sultanate
Sultanate of Rûm
Mongol Empire
Commanders and leaders
Caliph Al-Musta’sim
Hōjō Tokimune
Bela IV of Hungary
Brativoj and Butko Julijanov
Danilo of Halych
Shah Mohammed of Khworezm
Tran Hung Dao
Henry of Silesia
Jayakatwang of Java
and other
Genghis Khan
Batu Khan
Kublai Khan
Nogai Khan
Orda Khan
Jebe Noyon
and other

The Mongol invasions progressed throughout the 13th century, resulting in the vast Mongol Empire covering much of Asia and Eastern Europe by 1300.

The Mongol Empire emerged in the course of the 13th century by a series of conquests and invasions throughout Central and Western Asia, reachingEastern Europe by the 1240s. The speed and extent of territorial expansion parallels the Hunnic/Turkic conquests of the Migration period (the 6th centuryTurkic Khaganate).

The territorial gains of the Mongols persisted into the 15th century in Persia (Timurid dynasty) and in Russia (Tatar and Mongol raids against Russian states), and into the 19th century in India (the Mughal Empire).

All significant conquests and movements of Genghis Khan and his generals during his lifetime (Map above)

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 Tanguts‘ Western Xia Dynasty. To its east and south was the Jin Dynasty, founded by the ManchurianJurchens, who ruled northern China as well as being the traditional overlord 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 closer to the Mongolian lands. He correctly believed that the more powerful Jin Dynasty’s young ruler would not come to the aid of Xi Xia. When the Tanguts requested help from the Jin Dynasty, they were flatly refused.[15] Despite initial difficulties in capturing its well-defended cities, Genghis Khan forced the surrender of Western Xia by 1209.

Jin Dynasty

Main article: Mongol-Jin War

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 promptly 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 Yanjing (later known as Beijing). This forced the Emperor Xuanzong to move his capital south to Kaifeng, abandoning the northern half of his kingdom to the Mongols.

Kara-Khitan Khanate

Main article: Kara-Khitan Khanate


Location of Kara-Khitan Khanate

The Liao Dynasty (simplified Chinese: 辽朝; traditional Chinese: 遼朝; pinyin:Liáo CháoKhitan language: Mos Jælut)[1][2], 907-1125, also known as theKhitan Empire (契丹國 pinyinQìdān Guó, Khitan: Mos diau-d kitai huldʒi gur)[3], was an empire in East Asia that ruled over the regions of Manchuria,Mongolia, and parts of northern China proper. It was founded by the Yelü clan(耶律 Yēlǜ, Khitan: Jalut, Jælut) of the Khitan people in the same year as Tang Dynasty collapsed (907), even though its first ruler, Yelü Abaoji, did not declare an era name until 916.

Although it was originally known as the Empire of the Khitan, the Emperor Yelü Ruan officially adopted the name “Liao” (formally “Great Liao”) in 947 (938?). The name “Liao” was dropped in 983, but readopted in 1066. Another name for China in English, Cathay, is derived from the name Khitan. This is also the origin of the Russian word for China, Китай or Kitay, and that of several other East European languages.

The Liao Empire was destroyed by the Jurchen of the Jin Dynasty in 1125. However, remnants of its people led by Yelü Dashi established Xi (Western) Liao Dynasty 1125-1220, also known as Kara-Khitan Khanate, which extended its influence over Central Asia into Persia and survived until the arrival ofGenghis Khan‘s unified Mongolian army.

Kuchlug, the deposed Khan of the Naiman confederation that Temüjin defeated and folded into the Mongol nation, fled west and usurped the khanate of Kara-Khitan(also known as Kara Kitay). 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 theCaspian Sea to the west and Persian Gulf and the Arabian Sea to the south.


Liao funerary mask, an ancestor of the Kara-Khitans, 10-12th century AD.


Liao funerary mask, 10th century.


Sancai plate, Liao Dynasty, 10-12th century.

Kara Khitan (Hala Qidan) was the name used by the Khitans to refer to themselves. The phrase is often translated as the Black Khitans in Turkish, but its original meaning is unclear today.[3] On the same line, “Kara-Khitan” literally means in Mongolian “Khar (Хар) Kidan(Хятан), Since no direct records from the empire survive today, the only surviving historical records about the empire come from outside sources. Since the empire took on trappings of a Chinese state, Chinese historians generally refer to the empire as theWestern Liao Dynasty, emphasizing its continuation from the Liao Dynasty in North and Northeast China. The Jurchens referred to the empire as Dashi or Dashi Linya (after its founder), to reduce any claims the empire may have had to the old territories of the Liao Dynasty. Muslim historians initially referred to the state simply as Khitay or Khitai. It was only after the Mongol conquest that the state began to be referred to in the Muslim world as the Kara-Khitai or Qara-Khitai.[4]

File:Liao Dynasty - Guan Yin statue.jpg

Liao Dynasty polychrome wood carving of Guan YinShanxi Province, China, (A.D. 907-1125)


Liao Dynasty furniture excavated from an underground palace inFangshan District of Beijing


Liao dynasty sancai luohan, circa 1000.

File:Tianning Pagoda 1.JPG

The Pagoda of Tianning Temple (Beijing), built by 1119 or 1120.

File:The Fugong Temple Wooden Pagoda.jpg

The Pagoda of Fogong Temple, built in 1056 during the reign of Emperor Daozong of Liao.

File:SFEC BritMus Asia 020.JPG

Glazed stoneware sculpture of a Buddhist luohan, Liao Dynasty.

A Liao Dynasty marble Amitabha Buddha from Hebei, in the Northern Qistyle

Khwarezmian Empire

Main article: Mongol invasion of Khwarezmia

File:Khwarezmid Empire 1190-1220.png

Khwarezmid Empire (1190–1220)

File:Khwarezmian Empire 1190 - 1220 (AD).PNG

File:During the battle of Indus.jpg

Date 1218 – 1221
Location Central AsiaIranAfghanistan and modern Pakistan
Result Complete Mongol victory
Khwarezmia added to the Mongol Empire
Mongol Empire Khwarezmia
Commanders and leaders
Genghis Khan,
Ala ad-Din Muhammad,
Jalal al-Din,
Inalchuq† (executed)
Temur Meliq
80 000-100,000 mounted archers, with powerful siege engines
400,000-450,000 men, however not organized into armies, only city garrisons and very low draft rate left the majority unmobilized.

Genghis Khan watches in amazement as the KhwarezmiJalal ad-Din prepares to ford the Indus.

In the early 13th century, the Khwarezmian 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 caravan 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 Ogedei 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 Jebemarched 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 internal disquisitions 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 charged Subutai and Jebe with hunting him down, giving them two years and 20,000 men. 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, and Genghis Khan dedicated two of his generals and their forces to completely destroying the remnants of the Khwarezmid Empire, including not only royal buildings, but entire towns, populations and even vast swaths of farmland. According to stories, Genghis Khan even went so far as to divert a river through the Khwarezmid emperor’s birthplace, erasing it from the map.

File:Minaret in Samarkand.jpg

A minaret in Samarkand. (Above)

The Mongols attacked Samarkand using 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.[16]


Ruins of Muhammad’s palace in Urgench.

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.[17] 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. While this is almost certainly an exaggeration, 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.

Georgia and Volga Bulgaria

Main articles: Mongol invasions of Georgia and Mongol invasion of Volga Bulgaria

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 component 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 ofGeorgia, sacked the Genoese trade-fortress of Caffa in Crimea and overwintered near the Black Sea. Heading home, Subutai’s forces attacked the Kipchaks and were intercepted by the allied but poorly coordinated 80,000 Kievan Rus’ troops led by Mstislav the Bold of Halychand 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.[18] 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 ofHungary and Europe. Genghis Khan recalled Subutai back to Mongolia soon afterwards, and Jebe died on the road back to Samarkand. Subutai and Jebe’s famous cavalry expedition, in which they encircled the entire Caspian Sea defeating all armies in their path, except for that of 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 ultimately 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 the Kievan Rus in 1237, concluding the campaign in 1240.

Western Xia and Jin Dynasty

Main article: Mongol invasion of China

File:China 11b.jpg

Western Xia DynastyJin DynastySong Dynasty and Kingdom of Dali in 1142.

The vassal emperor of the Tanguts (Western Xia) had earlier refused to take part in the war against the Khwarezmid Empire after Genghis Khan and the main army marched towards Kharezmian Empire. Plus Western Xia and the defeated Jin Dynasty formed a coalition to resist the Mongols, counting on the campaign against the Khwarezmians to drain the Mongols’ ability to respond effectively.

In 1226, immediately after returning from the west, Genghis Khan began a retaliatory attack on theTanguts. His armies quickly took HeisuiGanzhou and Suzhou (not the Suzhou in Jiangsu province), and in the autumn he took Xiliang-fu. One of the Tangut generals challenged the Mongols to a battle near Helanshan, but was soundly defeated. In November, Genghis laid siegeto 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.


File:Genghis Khan and three of his four sons.jpg

Genghis Khan and three of his four sons[citation needed]. Illustration from a 15th centuryJami’ al-tawarikh manuscript

The succession topic of Genghis Khan was already significant during the later years of Genghis Khan’s reign since he was already reaching his older years. Also the long running paternity discussion about Genghis’ oldest son Jochi was already a relatively hot topic behind the scenes, which particularly was 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 declares before his father and brothers that he would never accept Jochi as Genghis Khan’s successor. In response to this tension[19] and possibly for other reasons, it was Ögedei who was appointed as successor.

File:Mongol Great Khans coin minted at Balk Afghanistan AH 618 AD 1221.jpg

Mongol “Great Khans” coin, minted atBalk, Afghanistan, AH 618, 1221 CE.


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.[20]

Genghis Khan was aware of this friction between his sons (particularly between Chagatai and Jochi) and worried of possible conflict between them if he died and therefore he decided to explicitly divide his empire among his sons and make all of them Khan in their own right and by appointing one of his sons as his successor. Chagatai was considered unstable due to his temper and rash behavior because of his 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 definitely not to be his successor because he was the youngest and in the Mongol culture, youngest sons were not given a huge responsibility due to their age. If Jochi was 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 Ogedei. Ogedei 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

Main article: Tomb of Genghis Khan

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Mongol Empire in 1227 at Genghis Khan’s death

In 1227, after defeating the Tangut people, Genghis Khan died (according to The Secret History of the Mongols). The reason for his death is uncertain and speculations abound. 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, ultimately dying of his injuries.[21] Others contend that he was felled by a protracted illness such as pneumonia. The Galician-Volhynian Chronicle alleges he was killed by the Tanguts in battle. Later Mongol chronicles connect Genghis’ death with a Tangut princess taken as war booty. One chronicle from the early 17th century even relates that the princess hid a small pair of pliers inside her vagina, and hurt the Great Khan so badly that he died. Some Mongol authors have doubted this version and suspected it to be an invention by the rival Oirads.[22]

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 Khaldunmountain (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.

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.[23] 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. JochiChagataiÖgedei 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

Main article: Mongol Empire

Politics and economics

File:Mongol Empire map.gif

Mongol Empire

Main article: Organization of the Mongol Empire under Genghis Khan

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 ofethnicity 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 TurksMongols, 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 anddoctors. The Mongol Empire practiced religious tolerance to a large degree because Mongol tradition had long held that religion was a very 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.[24] However, there is no contemporary 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 were 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; he did not consider his own father his enemy, so the question of revenge did not apply. Genghis Khan was very impressed by this reply. Chu’Tsai administered parts of the Mongol Empire and became a confidant of the successive Mongol Khans.


Main article: Mongol military tactics and organization

File:MongolCavalry crop.jpg

Reenactment of Mongol military movement.

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 Caucausus 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.


Before his death, Genghis Khan divided his empire among his sons ÖgedeiChagataiTolui, 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.


Modern day location of capital Kharakhorum

Following are the Khanates the way Genghis Khan assigned them:

See also: List of Mongol Khans

After Genghis Khan

File:Ogadai Khan.jpg

Genghis Khan’s son and successor,Ögedei Khaghan

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 would last until 1279 and that would conclude 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 are very persistent within histories written by many different cultures, from various 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 on the reverse of a Kazakhstan 100 Tenge coin

Genghis Khan is credited with bringing the Silk Road under one cohesive political environment. This allowed increased communication and trade between the WestMiddle 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 different religions and explained his policies clearly to all his soldiers.[25] 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.[26]

In Mongolia

Traditionally Genghis Khan had been revered for centuries among the Mongols, and also 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.

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Equestrian statue of Genghis Khan, the largest (40 metres tall) in the world, near Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.

During the communist period, Genghis Khan was often described as reactionary, and positive statements about him were generally avoided.[27] 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 Party Central Committee.

In the early 1990s, when democracy was established in Mongolia, the memory of Genghis Khan with the Mongolian traditional national identity has had a powerful revival partly because of his perception during theMongolian 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 various warring tribes. For example, it is not uncommon for Mongolians to refer to Mongolia 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.[28]


Genghis Khan on the Mongolian 1,000tögrög banknote

Genghis Khan’s name and likeness are endorsed on products, streets, buildings, and other places. His face can be found on everyday commodities, from liquors to the largest denominations of 500, 1,000, 5,000 and 10,000 Mongolian tögrög (₮). Mongolia’s main international airport has been renamed Chinggis Khaan International Airport, and major Genghis Khan statues have been erected before the parliament[29] and near Ulaanbaatar. There have been repeated discussions about regulating the use of his name and image to avoid trivialization.[30]

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Statue of Genghis Khan in front of the Mongolian government building in Sükhbaatar SquareUlaanbaatar

File:Chinggis Khan hillside portrait.JPG

Portrait on a hillside in Ulaanbaatar, 2006

Genghis Khan is now regarded as one of Mongolia’s prominent leaders.[31] He is responsible for the emergence of the Mongols as a political and ethnic identity because there was no unified identity between the various tribes that had cultural similarity. He reinforced many Mongol traditions and provided stability and unity during a time of almost endemic warfarebetween various tribes. He is also given credit for the introduction of the traditional Mongolian script and the creation of the Ikh Zasag, the first written Mongolian law.[32] 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.


In China


Genghis Khan Monument in Hohhot

There are conflicting views of Genghis Khan in the People’s Republic of China with some viewing him positively in the Inner Mongolia section 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 grandsonKublai Khan completed that conquest,[33] and established the Yuan Dynasty that is often credited with re-uniting China. There has also 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.


Main article: Destruction under the Mongol Empire


Invasions like the Battle of Baghdad by his grandson are treated as brutal and are seen negatively in Iraq. This illustration is from a 15th century Jami’ al-tawarikhmanuscript.

In Iraq 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.[34] Similarly, inAfghanistan (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.[35][36] The invasions of Baghdad,SamarkandUrgenchKievVladimir 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. Among the Iranian peoples, he is regarded along with Alexander andTamerlane as one of the most despised conquerors of Iran.[37][38] In much of RussiaMiddle East,Korea, China, UkrainePoland and Hungary, Genghis Khan and his regime are credited with considerable damage, destruction and loss of population.


Main article: Descent from Genghis Khan

Zerjal et al. [2003][39] identified a Y-chromosomal lineage present in about 8% of the men in a large region of Asia (about 0.5% of the men in the world). The paper suggests that the pattern of variation within the lineage is consistent with a hypothesis that it originated in Mongolia about 1,000 years ago. Because the rate of such a spread would be too rapid to have occurred by genetic drift, the authors propose that the lineage is carried by likely male-line descendants of Genghis Khan, and that it has spread through social selection. In addition to most of the Mongol nobility up to the 20th century, the Mughal emperor Babur‘s mother was a descendant. Timur (also known as Tamerlane), the 14th century military leader, claimed descent from Genghis Khan.

Depictions in modern culture


The Genghis Khan Mausoleum in Ordos

There have been several films, novels and other adaptation works on the Mongolian ruler.


Poster for the film Mongol

  • “By the Will of Genghis Khan”, a Russian film released in 2009.

TV series

Year Production Lead actor Additional information
1987 TVB (Hong Kong) Alex Man see Genghis Khan (TVB)
1987 ATV (Hong Kong) Tony Liu 20 episodes
2004 China and Mongolia Ba Sen see Genghis Khan (2004 TV series)


  • The Conqueror series of novels by Conn Iggulden
  • “You Can’t, But Genghis Khan” from the Time Warp Trio book series

Short stories

Name and title

There are many theories about the origins of Temüjin’s title. Since people of the Mongol nation later associated the name with ching(Mongolian for strength), such confusion is obvious, though it does not follow etymology.


The gate of Genghis Khan Mausoleum

One theory suggests the name stems from a palatalised version of the Mongolian and Turkic wordtenggis, meaning “ocean”, “oceanic” or “wide-spreading”. (Lake Baikal and ocean were calledtenggis by the Mongols. However, it seems that if they had meant to call Genghis tenggis they could have said (and written) “Tenggis Khan”, which they did not. Zhèng (Chinese: 正) meaning “right”, “just”, or “true”, would have received the Mongolian adjectival modifier -s, creating “Jenggis”, which in medieval romanization would be written “Genghis”. It is likely that the 13th century Mongolian pronunciation would have closely matched “Chinggis”.[40]

The English spelling “Genghis” is of unclear origin. Weatherford claims it to derive from a spelling used in original Persian reports.Even at this time some Iranians pronounce his name as “Ghengiss”. However, review of historical Persian sources does not confirm this.[41]

According to the Secret History of the Mongols, Temüjin was named after a powerful warrior of the Tatar tribe that his father Yesügei had taken prisoner. The name “Temüjin” is believed to derive from the word temür, meaning iron (modern Mongolian: төмөр, tömör). The name would imply skill as a blacksmith.

More likely, as no evidence has survived to indicate that Genghis Khan had any exceptional training or reputation as a blacksmith, the name indicated an implied lineage in a family once known as blacksmiths. The latter interpretation is supported by the names of Genghis Khan’s siblings, Temülin and Temüge, which are derived from the same root word.


Monument in Hulunbuir

Name and spelling variations

Genghis Khan’s name is spelled in variety of ways in different languages such as Chinese: 成吉思汗; pinyinChéngjísī HánTurkicCengiz HanChengez KhanChinggis KhanChinggis Xaan,Chingis KhanJenghis KhanChinggis QanDjingis KahnRussian: Чингисхан (Čingiskhan) or Чингиз-хан (Čingiz-khan), etc. Temüjin is written in Chinese as simplified Chinese: 铁木真;traditional Chinese: 鐵木眞; pinyinTiěmùzhēn.

When Kublai Khan established the Yuan Dynasty in 1271, he had his grandfather Genghis Khan placed on the official record as the founder of the dynasty or Taizu (Chinese: 太祖). Thus, Genghis Khan is also referred to as Yuan Taizu (Chinese: 元太祖) in Chinese historiography.



The statue before his mausoleum

  • Probably 1155, 1162, or 1167: Temüjin was born in the Khentii mountains.
  • At the age of nine, Temüjin’s father Yesükhei was poisoned by Tatars, leaving him and his family destitute.
  • c. 1184: Temüjin’s wife Börte was kidnapped by Merkits; he called on blood brother Jamukaand Wang Khan for aid, and they rescued her.
  • c. 1185: First son Jochi was born; leading to doubt about his paternity later among Genghis’ children, because he was born shortly after Börte‘s rescue from the Merkits.
  • 1190: Temüjin united the Mongol tribes, became leader, and devised code of law Yassa.
  • 1201: Victory over Jamuka‘s Jadarans.
  • 1202: Adopted as Wang Khan’s heir after successful campaigns against Tatars.
  • 1203: Victory over Wang Khan’s Keraits. Wang Khan himself is killed by accident by allied Naimans.
  • 1204: Victory over Naimans (all these confederations are united and become the Mongols).
  • 1206: Jamuka was killed. Temüjin was given the title Genghis Khan by his followers in aKurultai (around 40 years of age).
  • 1207–1210: Genghis led operations against the Western Xia, which comprises much of northwestern China and parts of Tibet. Western Xia ruler submitted to Genghis Khan. During this period, the Uyghurs also submitted peacefully to the Mongols and became valued administrators throughout the empire.
  • 1211: After the kurultai, Genghis led his armies against the Jin Dynasty ruling northern China.
  • 1215: Beijing fell; Genghis Khan turned to west and the Khara-Kitan Khanate.
  • 1219–1222: Conquered Khwarezmid Empire.
  • 1226: Started the campaign against the Western Xia for forming coalition against the Mongols, the second battle with the Western Xia.
  • 1227: Genghis Khan died after conquering the Tangut people. Cause of death is uncertain, although legend states that he was thrown off his horse in the battle and contracted a deadly fever soon after.


  1. ^ “History of the World Conqueror”,the author is Ala-al-Dn‘Aa-Malik Juwain
  2. ^ The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition (2000).
  3. a b Rashid al-Din asserts that Genghis Khan lived to the age of 72, placing his year of birth at 1155. The Yuanshi (元史, History of the Yuan dynasty, not to be confused with the era name of the Han Dynasty), records his year of birth as 1165. According to Ratchnevsky, accepting a birth in 1155 would render Genghis Khan a father at the age of 30 and would imply that he personally commanded the expedition against the Tanguts at the age of 72. Also, according to the Altan Tobci, Genghis Khan’s sister, Temülin, was nine years younger than he; but the Secret History relates that Temülin was an infant during the attack by the Merkits, during which Genghis Khan would have been 18, had he been born in 1155. Zhao Hong reports in his travelogue that the Mongols he questioned did not know and had never known their ages.
  4. ^ John Joseph Saunders-The History of the Mongol Conquests
  5. ^ “Genghis Khan”North Georgia College and State University. Retrieved 2010-01-26.
  6. ^ Ratchnevsky, Paul (1991). Genghis Khan: His Life and Legacy.Blackwell Publishing. pp. 9–10. ISBN 0-631-16785-4.
  7. ^ Morgan, David (1990). The Mongols (Peoples of Europe). p. 58.
  8. ^ Guida Myrl Jackson-Laufer, Guida M. Jackson-Encyclopedia of traditional epics,p. 527
  9. ^ Paul Kahn, Francis Woodman Cleaves-The secret history of the Mongols, p.192

10. ^ “THE MONGOLS — PART I”. Republican China. Retrieved 2008-05-20.

11. ^ “The Emperors of Emperors”California State University. Retrieved 2008-05-20.

12. ^ “Genghis Khan Biography (1162/7)”The Biography Channel. Retrieved 2008-05-20.

13. ^ Grousset, Rene (1944). Conqueror of the World: The Life of Chingis-khanNew YorkViking Press.

14. ^ Weatherford, Jack (2004). “2: Tale of Three Rivers“. Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World. Three Rivers Press. p. 44. ISBN 0-609-80964-4.

15. ^ a b Man, John (2004). Genghis Khan: Life, Death and ResurrectionLondonNew YorkBantam PressISBN 0-593-05044-4.

16. ^ Central Asian world cities

17. ^ Morgan, David (1986). The Mongols. The Peoples of Europe. Blackwell Publishing. ISBN 0-631-17563-6.

18. ^ De Hartog, Leo (1988). Genghis Khan: Conqueror of the World.LondonUKI.B. Tauris. pp. 122–123.

19. ^ Ratchnevsky 1991, p. 126

20. ^ Ratchnevsky 1991, pp. 136–7

21. ^ Haenisch, Erich (1948). Die Geheime Geschichte der Mongolen.Leipzig. pp. 133, 136.

22. ^ Heissig, Walther (1964). Die Mongolen. Ein Volk sucht seine GeschichteDüsseldorf. p. 124.

23. ^ “Palace of Genghis Khan unearthed”BBC. 2004-10-07. Retrieved 2008-05-20.

24. ^ Pocha, Jehangir S. (2005-05-10). “Mongolia sees Genghis Khan’s good side”International Herald Tribune. Retrieved 2008-05-20.

25. ^ Clive Foss, The Tyrants, page 57, Quercus, London, 2007.

26. ^ “Ismi Didikle” (in Turkish). Ismi Didikle. Retrieved 2008-05-05.

27. ^ Christopher Kaplonski: The case of the disappearing Chinggis Khaan.

28. ^ Griffiths, Daniel (2007-01-11). “Asia-Pacific | Post-communist Mongolia’s struggle.”. BBC News. Retrieved 2009-08-03.

29. ^ Once Shunned, Genghis Khan Conquers Mongolia Again.

30. ^ “Business | Genghis Khan may get protection.”. BBC News. 2006-10-06. Retrieved 2009-08-03.

31. ^ “ASIA-PACIFIC | Mongolia glorifies Genghis Khan.”. BBC News. 2002-05-03. Retrieved 2009-08-03.

32. ^ “The Yasa of Chingis Khan”. Retrieved 2010-02-16.

33. ^ Inner Mongolia Travel Guide.

34. ^ “The Legacy of Genghis Khan” at Los Angeles County Museum of Art–again.

35. ^ Zerjal, et el.; Xue, Y; Bertorelle, G; Wells, RS; Bao, W; Zhu, S; Qamar, R; Ayub, Q et al. (2003). “The Genetic Legacy of the Mongols”The American Journal of Human Genetics 72 (3): 717–721. doi:10.1086/367774PMID 12592608.PMC 1180246. Archived from the original on September 29, 2007. Retrieved 2007-12-28.

36. ^ Genetics: Analysis Of Genes And Genomes By Daniel L. Hartl, Elizabeth W. Jones, p. 309.

37. ^ Phoenix From the Ashes: A Tale of the Book in Iran.

38. ^ Civilizations: How we see others, how others see us.

39. ^ Zerjal, et el.; Xue, Y; Bertorelle, G; Wells, RS; Bao, W; Zhu, S; Qamar, R; Ayub, Q et al. (2003). “The Genetic Legacy of the Mongols”The American Journal of Human Genetics 72 (3): 717–721. doi:10.1086/367774PMID 12592608.PMC 1180246. Archived from the original on September 29, 2007. Retrieved 2007-12-28.

40. ^ Lister, R. P. (2000 [c1969]). Genghis Khan. Lanham, Maryland: Cooper Square Press. ISBN 0-8154-1052-2.

41. ^ Timothy May. “Book Review”. North Georgia College and State University. Retrieved 2008-02-20.


  • Ratchnevsky, Paul (1992, c1991). Genghis Khan: His Life and Legacy [Čingis-Khan: sein Leben und Wirken]. tr. & ed. Thomas Nivison Haining. Oxford, UK; Cambridge, Mass., USA: B. Blackwell. ISBN ISBN 0-631-16785-4.

Further reading

  • Brent, Peter (1976). The Mongol Empire: Genghis Khan: His Triumph and His Legacy. London: Weidenfeld & Nicholson.ISBN029777137X.
  • Bretschneider, Emilii (1888, repr. 2001). Mediæval Researches from Eastern Asiatic Sources; Fragments Towards the Knowledge of the Geography & History of Central & Western Asia. Trübner’s Oriental Series. London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner & Co (repr. Munshirm Manoharlal Pub Pvt Ltd). ISBN 81-215-1003-1.
  • Cable, Mildred; Francesca French (1943). The Gobi Desert. London: Landsborough Publications.
  • Charney, Israel W. (ed.) (1994). Genocide: A Critical Bibliographic Review. New York: Facts on File Publications.
  • De Hartog, Leo (1988). Genghis Khan: Conqueror of the World. London: I.B. Tauris & Co. Ltd..
  • (French) Farale, Dominique (2002). De Gengis Khan à Qoubilaï Khan : la grande chevauchée mongole. Campagnes & stratégies. Paris: Economica. ISBN 2-7178-4537-2.
  • (French) Farale, Dominique (2007). La Russie et les Turco-Mongols : 15 siècles de guerre. Paris: Economica. ISBN 978-2-7178-5429-9.
  • “Genghis Khan”Funk & Wagnalls New Encyclopedia. World Almanac Education Group. 2005. Retrieved 2008-05-22. Via the Internet Archive‘s copy of the History Channel Web site.
  • Smitha, Frank E. “Genghis Khan and the Mongols”Macrohistory and World Report. Retrieved 2005-06-30.
  • Kahn, Paul (adaptor) (1998). Secret History of the Mongols: The Origin of Chingis Khan (expanded edition): An Adaptation of the Yüan chʾao pi shih, Based Primarily on the English Translation by Francis Woodman Cleaves. Asian Culture Series. Boston: Cheng & Tsui Co..ISBN 0-88727-299-1.
  • Kennedy, Hugh (2002). Mongols, Huns & Vikings. London: Cassell. ISBN ISBN 0-304-35292-6.
  • Kradin, Nikolay; Tatiana Skrynnikova (2006). Imperiia Chingis-khana (Chinggis Khan Empire). Moscow: Vostochnaia literatura. ISBN 5-02-018521-3(Russian) (summary in English)
  • Kradin, Nikolay; Tatiana Skrynnikova (2006). “Why do we call Chinggis Khan’s Polity ‘an Empire'”. Ab Imperio 7 (1): 89–118. 5-89423-110-8.
  • Lamb, Harold (1927). Genghis Khan: The Emperor of All Men. New York: R. M. McBride & company.
  • Lister, R. P. (2000 [c1969]). Genghis Khan. Lanham, Maryland: Cooper Square Press. ISBN 0-8154-1052-2.
  • Man, John (2004). Genghis Khan: Life, Death and Resurrection. London; New York: Bantam Press. ISBN ISBN 0-593-05044-4.
  • Man, John (1997, 1998, 1999). Gobi: Tracking the Desert. London; New Haven, Conn: Weidenfeld & Nicolson; Yale University Press.ISBN 0-7538-0161-2.
  • Martin, Henry Desmond (1950). The Rise of Chingis Khan and his Conquest of North China. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press.
  • May, Timothy (2001). “Mongol Arms”Explorations in Empire: Pre-Modern Imperialism Tutorial: The Mongols. San Antonio College History Department. Retrieved 2008-05-22.
  • Morgan, David (1986). The Mongols. The Peoples of Europe. Blackwell Publishing. ISBN 0-631-17563-6.
  • Saunders, J.J. (1972, repr. 2001). History of the Mongol Conquests. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. ISBN0812217667.
  • Stevens, Keith. “Heirs to Discord: The Supratribal Aspirations of Jamuka, Toghrul, and Temüjin”PDF (72.1 KB) Retrieved 22 May 2008.
  • Stewart, Stanley (2001). In the Empire of Genghis Khan: A Journey among Nomads. London: Harper Collins. ISBN ISBN 0-00-653027-3.
  • Turnbull, Stephen (2003). Genghis Khan & the Mongol Conquests 1190-1400. Oxford: Osprey Publishing. ISBN 1-84176-523-6.
  • Valentino, Benjamin A. (2004). Final Solutions: Mass Killing and Genocide in the Twentieth Century. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press. ISBN 0801439655.
  • Weatherford, Jack (2004). Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World (review). New York: Crown. ISBN 0-609-61062-7.
  • Zerjal, Xue, Bertorelle, Wells, Bao, Zhu, Qamar, Ayub, Mohyuddin, Fu, Li, Yuldasheva, Ruzibakiev, Xu, Shu, Du, Yang, Hurles, Robinson, Gerelsaikhan, Dashnyam, Mehdi, Tyler-Smith (2003). “The Genetic Legacy of the Mongols” ([dead link] – Scholar search). The American Journal of Human Genetics 72 (72): 717–721;. doi:10.1086/367774PMID 12592608PMC 1180246.

Primary sources

External links

To Day :

Pictures of Mongolia’s Reindeer People

Mongolian Reindeer Pictures: Dukha Boy with Squirrel Skins from Hunt

Mongolian Reindeer Pictures: Dukha Boy with Squirrel Skins from Hunt

Dukha hunters pause to look for signs of game in the mountains. The reindeer are critical to the survival of the Dukha, as the people ride the reindeer into the forests to hunt.

Chinese animal-parts traders are increasingly hunting here. The traders kill brown bears for their gall bladders and paws and musk deer for their musk glands, contributing to the decline of local game populations. Dukha hunters now have to travel farther and longer to find food in the forests.

Mongolian Reindeer Pictures: Dukha Boy with Squirrel Skins from Hunt

A boy walks in front of reindeer ready to carry a load in a typical Dukha camp scene.

The Dukha use their reindeer primarily for milk and to ride into the taiga to hunt for meat and furs. The reproductive rate of the reindeer is insufficient to counteract the decrease in the herds population caused by increased predation from both hungry Dukha and wolves.

Mongolian Reindeer Pictures: Dukha Boy with Squirrel Skins from Hunt

Dukha hunters with guns slung over their shoulders leave on a hunting expedition. Mountains rise in the background near the the border between Mongolia and the Russian region of Tyva.

Mongolian Reindeer Pictures: Dukha Boy with Squirrel Skins from Hunt

Dukha hunters find and kill a moose in the forest.

Mongolian Reindeer Pictures: Dukha Boy with Squirrel Skins from Hunt

Dukha girls lead the herd to graze in the mountains during the day and bring them back in the evenings. At the camp they are tied to the ground or herded inside a fenced area, where they spend the night after being milked.

Anthropologist Hamid Sardar suggests that 50 years of keeping reindeer in state farms under communism has left the younger Dukha devoid of knowledge regarding reindeer breeding.

Mongolian Reindeer Pictures: Dukha Boy with Squirrel Skins from Hunt

A Tsaatan [Dukha] woman ties down two reindeer in a fenced-off area. To protect them from wolves, the Tsaatan usually tie down their reindeer to notched stakes or round them up in [corrals] at night. During the day they are released into the mountains to browse for fresh leaves, lichen and mushrooms in the summer and lichen buried under the snow in winter.
Anthropologist Hamid Sadar

Mongolian Reindeer Pictures: Dukha Boy with Squirrel Skins from Hunt

A Tsaatan [Dukha] shaman called Ganzorig sits before his ancestor shrine. During the communist repression, the Dukha’s ancestral idols were destroyed. Since then the Dukha resorted to abstraction, representing their ancestors by a medley of rags hanging on the North side of the wigwam. The north is the side of the wigwam which never receives direct sunlightit is the direction to the portal between the world of the living and the black heaven of the ancestors.

Mongolian Reindeer Pictures: Dukha Boy with Squirrel Skins from Hunt

A Dukha boy holds on as his reindeer releases some energy. The Dukha, unlike other reindeer herders, have selectively bred their reindeer for strong backs so people can ride the animals over long distances through the mountains.

Mongolian Reindeer Pictures: Dukha Boy with Squirrel Skins from Hunt

Wildlife biologist Kirk Olson takes a blood sample from a reindeer with the help of some local people. Olson accompanied anthropologist Hamid Sadar on a journey to Mongolia, helping to identify the cause of the reindeer population decline.

Both Sadar and Olson believe the primary causes of the herds decline are societal pressures emerging from the remnants of communism in Mongolia and increasing commercial pressures on the northern forest.

Photo gallery by Chelsea Lane-Miller

Photograph copyright Hamid Sardar

Others Pictures of Mongolian People :

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2 thoughts on “Genghis Khan

  1. Read my exciting new e book;

    Temujin’s Bow-the Search for the Treasure of Genghis Khan
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    Temujin’s Bow
    By James H. Albert

    (Review by George I. Conroy, Editor, Memphis Jewish Journal)

    / Temujin’s Bow is a well-crafted yarn that’s not easy to pigeon-hole. It’s historical fiction but beyond that it’s in a genre all its own. The names of the characters we encounter as we turn the pages are not like those we’re used to reading…No Smiths or Joneses to be sure, but rather Asian names and those of tribes and dynasties.

    The tale begins with Temujin as a small boy at a time when his father has just been murdered. As one would expect his death has a profound effect on the child. Later motivated by the theft of the family’s food and their survival, Temujin is forced to kill his brother. This is his first violent act among countless others en route to becoming a thirteenth century Mongol leader. City after city soon resulted in nation after nation falling subject to this conqueror.

    The spoils of his wars were immense and accumulating. Temujin knew that if he distributed the wealth among his warriors that it would eventually make them soft, and weaken their resolve to fight. Instead the Mongol treasure would be hidden. The gold, silver, diamonds and jewels had taken weeks to transport to a secret place, but he was determined not to allow riches and luxury to destroy his empire.

    When Temujin died, his body was laid to rest in a tomb near where our readers first encountered him, the place where the child-warrior had buried his first hunting bow. His vast treasure was entombed with him. Temujin the boy had become Genghis Khan, the ruler of an empire. Thus Genghis Khan’s life ends and our story begins.

    The book’s pages are populated with historical characters and fictional personalities arising from real events reinterpreted by the clever author, who creates this epic narrative by presenting important and plausible alternative motives for the historical events of the era.

    Some of the historical characters encountered in the story include:
    Colonel Seishiro Itagaki was military attaché assigned to the Japanese embassy in China.
    General Baron Shigeru Honjo was Chief Aide-de-Camp to the Emperor of Japan who was arrested as a suspected war criminal in 1945 and later committed suicide.General
    Yoshitsugu Tatekawa was Japan’s ambassador to the Soviet Union who played a crucial role in negotiating the neutrality pact with Mongolia.
    Joseph Stalin was the supreme ruler of the Soviet Union. He led his country alongside America and England through World War II in their fight against Germany, Italy and Japan. As ruler of Russia, Stalin was the leader of world communism for almost thirty years.
    Georgy Zhukov was commander the First Soviet Mongolian Army Group, tasked in 1938 with stopping Japanese aggression along the Mongolian-Manchurian border.

    Zhou Enlai was the first Premier of the People’s Republic of China.
    Adolph Hitler was the Austrian-born leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party.

    The quest brings us from the past into the present where we are introduced to Kate Barrows, a fictional but beautiful English paleontologist whose research into dinosaur fossils leads her to the discovery of Temujin’s childhood bow.

    Enter Andrew “Drew” Moss a handsome former Navy SEAL and self made billionaire who agreed to finance Barrows’ project on the condition that he be kept informed about her progress. Drew soon learns the significance of the childhood bow and how far people and governments would go to get to the treasure. Aware of the bow’s discovery, both Russia and China prepare to go to war over the Khan’s treasure. America can not sit idly by while the world’s balance of power is shifted.

    Complicating the situation is the aged and powerful Mongol shaman, Achir Boo. Gifted in the arts of healing and magic he is determined to protect his people and the tomb from invaders.

    All of this comes to a dramatic and shocking conclusion at Kate Barrow’s project’s site on the bank of the Onon River in Mongolia. You will enjoy this entertaining and uniquely original e book. It is available for $4.95 at:


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