Genghis Khan (August 18, 1227), born Temüjin, was the founder and first () of the , which became the in history after his death. He came to power by uniting many of the s of , and, after being proclaimed the universal , or ''Genghis Khan'', he launched the , which ultimately conquered most of , reaching as far west as and as far south as . His major campaigns include those against the , , and the and dynasties, and raids into , the , and . Genghis Khan and his empire have a fearsome reputation in local histories.Ian Jeffries (2007).
Mongolia: a guide to economic and political developments
'' Taylor & Francis. pp. 5–7. .
Many medieval chroniclers and modern historians describe Genghis Khan's conquests as wholesale , causing great changes and a drastic decline of population as a result of and . A conservative estimate amounts to about four million civilians (whereas other figures range from forty to sixty million) who lost their lives as a consequence of Genghis Khan's military campaigns. In contrast, of the kingdom of , who willingly left the Qara Khitai empire to become , viewed him as a liberator. Genghis Khan was also portrayed positively by early sources out of respect for the great spread of culture, technology and ideas under the Mongol Empire. By the end of the Great Khan's life, the Mongol Empire occupied a substantial portion of and . Due to his exceptional military successes, Genghis Khan is often considered to be one of the greatest conquerors of all time. Beyond his military accomplishments, Genghis Khan also advanced the Mongol Empire in other ways. He decreed the adoption of the as the Mongol Empire's writing system. He also practised and encouraged in the Mongol Empire, unifying the nomadic tribes of Northeast Asia. Present-day regard him as the founding father of . He is also credited with bringing the under one cohesive political environment. This brought relatively easy communication and trade between Northeast Asia, Southwest Asia, and Christian , expanding the cultural horizons of all three areas.

Name and spelling

According to the ''Secret History'', Temüjin was named after the chief Temüjin-üge whom his father had just captured. The name Temüjin is also equated with the Turco-Mongol ''temürči(n)'', "", and there existed a tradition that viewed Genghis Khan as a smith, according to , which, though unfounded, was well established by the middle of the 13th century. The honorary title ''Genghis Khan'' is possibly derived from the ''tengiz'', meaning ,ЧИНГИСХА́Н
— , 2010
making his title literally "oceanic ruler", interpreted figuratively as "universal ruler". Genghis Khan is spelled in a variety of ways in different languages such as Chinggis Khaan, English ''Chinghiz'', ''Chinghis'', and ''Chingiz'', , : ''Cengiz Han'', ''Çingiz Xan'', ''Chingizxon'', ''Shın'g'ısxan'', ''Çingiz Han'' ''Çıñğız Xan'', ''Şıñğıs xan'', ''Çiñğiz Xaan'', ''Çiñğizhan'', : Чингисхан (''Čingiskhan'') or Чингиз-хан (''Čingiz-khan''), etc. Temüjin is written in Chinese as . When established the in 1271, he had his grandfather Genghis Khan placed in official records and accorded him the ''Taizu'' () and the ''Emperor Shengwu'' (). later expanded Genghis Khan's title to ''Emperor Fatian Qiyun Shengwu'' (). Genghis Khan is thus also referred to as ''Yuan Taizu'' (Emperor Taizu of Yuan; ) in .

Early life

Birth and lineage

Genghis Khan was probably born in 1162 in , near the mountain and the rivers and in modern-day northern , close to the current capital . ' 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 , second wife of his father , who was a chief prominent in the confederation and an ally of of the Keraite tribe. clan was (Боржигин), and was from the sub-lineage of the tribe. Like other tribes, they were s. Temüjin's noble background made it easier for him to solicit help from and eventually consolidate the other Mongol tribes. Genghis Khan was related on his father's side to , , and , who had headed the confederation and were descendants of (c. 900). When the switched support from the Mongols to the in 1161, they destroyed . Genghis Khan's father, (leader of the - clan and nephew to and ), emerged as the head of the ruling Mongol clan. This position was contested by the rival clan, who descended directly from . When the Tatars grew too powerful after 1161, the switched their support from the to the .

Tribal upbringing

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 had three brothers , , and , one sister , and two half-brothers and . Like many of the s of Mongolia, Temüjin's early life was difficult. His father for him and delivered him at age nine to the family of his future wife of the tribe . Temüjin was to live there serving the head of the household Dai Setsen until the of 12. While heading home, his father ran into the neighboring , who had long been Mongol enemies, and they offered his father food which poisoned him. Upon learning this, Temüjin returned home to claim his father's position as chief, but the tribe refused him and abandoned the family, leaving it without protection. For the next several years, the family lived in poverty, surviving mostly on wild fruits, ox , s, and other small game killed by Temüjin and his brothers. Temüjin's older half-brother 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. Temüjin's resentment erupted during one hunting excursion when Temüjin and his brother killed . In a raid around 1177, Temüjin was captured by his father's former allies, the , and enslaved, reportedly with a (a sort of portable stocks). With the help of a sympathetic guard, he escaped from the (yurt) at night by hiding in a river crevice. The escape earned Temüjin a reputation. Soon, and joined forces with him. They and the guard's son eventually became generals of Genghis Khan. At this time, none of the tribal s of Mongolia were united politically, and arranged marriages were often used to solidify temporary alliances. Temüjin's mother Hoelun taught him many lessons, especially the need for strong to ensure stability in Mongolia.

Wives and concubines

As was common for powerful Mongol men, Genghis Khan had many wives and concubines. These women were often queens or princesses that were taken captive from the territories he conquered or gifted to him by allies, vassals or other tribal acquaintances. 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 (Mongol imperial guard) to protect the s 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. 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. Genghis Khan's principal or most famous wives and concubines included: , , , , , and .

Uniting the Mongol confederations, 1184–1206

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

Early attempts at power

Temüjin began his ascent to power by offering himself as an ally (or, according to other sources, a ) to his father's ''anda'' (sworn brother or ) , who was of the . This relationship was first reinforced when was kidnapped by Merkits in around 1184. To win her back, Temüjin called on the support of Toghrul, who offered 20,000 of his Keraite warriors and suggested that Temüjin involve his childhood friend , who was Khan of his own tribe, the Jadaran.

Rift with Jamukha and defeat

As and Temüjin drifted apart in their friendship, each began consolidating power, and they became rivals. Jamukha supported the traditional , while Temüjin followed a method, and attracted a broader range and lower class of followers. Following his earlier defeat of the Merkits, and a proclamation by the that the had set aside the world for Temüjin, Temüjin began rising to power. In 1186, Temüjin was elected khan of the . 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 . However, Jamukha horrified and alienated potential followers by in cauldrons. Toghrul, as Temüjin's patron, was exiled to the . The life of Temüjin for the next 10 years is unclear, as historical records are mostly silent on that period.

Return to power

Around the year 1197, the initiated an attack against their formal vassal, the , with help from the and . Temüjin commanded part of this attack, and after victory, he and Toghrul were restored by the Jin to positions of power. The Jin bestowed Toghrul with the honorable title of Ong Khan, and Temüjin with a lesser title of ''j'aut quri''. Around 1200, the main rivals of the (traditionally the "Mongols") were the to the west, the s to the north, the to the south, and the 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. As an incentive for absolute obedience and the 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.

Rift with Toghrul

, 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 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 , Genghis Khan's first son. This was disrespectful in Mongolian culture and led to a war. Toghrul allied with , 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 tribe. 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 under the leadership of with whom Jamukha and his followers took refuge. The Naimans did not surrender, although enough sectors again voluntarily sided with Genghis Khan. In 1201, a elected as , "universal ruler", a title used by the rulers of the . 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 , 's well-known younger brother. After several battles, Jamukha was turned over to Genghis Khan by his own men in 1206. According to the ''Secret History'', Genghis Khan again offered his friendship to . 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.

Sole ruler of the Mongol plains

The part of the clan that sided with the were defeated by , who was by then a member of Genghis Khan's personal guard and later became one of Genghis Khan's most successful s. The Naimans' defeat left Genghis Khan as the sole ruler of the – 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 , and problems with the most important , who allegedly tried to drive a wedge between him and his loyal brother . His showed a deep interest in gathering and understanding the s of his rivals, exemplified by his extensive spy network and route systems. He seemed to be a quick student, adopting new technologies and ideas that he encountered, such as from the . He was also ruthless, demonstrated by his tactic of , used against the tribes led by Jamukha. As a result, by 1206, Genghis Khan had managed to unite or subdue the s, , , Keraites, , , 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 ', a council of Mongol chiefs, Genghis Khan was acknowledged as of the consolidated tribes and took the new "Genghis Khan". The title 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 ). 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."

Military campaigns, 1207–1227

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 of the dynasty. To the east and south of the Western Xia dynasty was the militarily superior , founded by the rian , who ruled northern China as well as being the traditional overlords of the Mongolian tribes for centuries.May 2012, pg. 1211 Though militarily inferior to the neighboring Jin, the Western Xia still exerted a significant influence upon the adjacent northern s. Following the death of the leader to Temujin's emerging in 1203, Keriat leader Nilqa Senggum led a small band of followers into Western Xia before later being expelled from Western Xia territory. Using his rival Nilga Senggum's temporary refuge in Western Xia as a pretext, Temujin launched a raid against the state in 1205 in the region. The next year, in 1206, Temujin was formally proclaimed Genghis Khan, ruler of all the Mongols, marking the official start of the Mongol Empire, and the same year of the Western Xia was deposed by in a coup d'état. In 1207, Genghis led another raid into Western Xia, invading the and sacking , the main garrison along the , before withdrawing in 1208. Genghis then began preparing for a full-scale invasion, organizing his people, army and state to first prepare for war. By invading Western Xia, Temujin would gain a tribute-paying vassal, and also would take control of caravan routes along the and provide the Mongols with valuable revenue.Kohn 2007, pg. 205 Furthermore, from Western Xia he could launch raids into the even more wealthy Jin dynasty. He correctly believed that the more powerful young ruler of the Jin dynasty would not come to the aid of the Western Xia. When the Tanguts requested help from the Jin dynasty, they were refused. Despite initial difficulties in capturing Western Xia cities, Genghis Khan managed to force to submit to vassal status.

Jin dynasty

In 1211, after the conquest of Western Xia, Genghis Khan planned again to conquer the . Luckily for the Mongols, Wanyan Jiujin, the field commander of the Jin army made several tactical mistakes, including avoiding attacking the Mongols at the first opportunity using his overwhelming numerical superiority, and instead initially fortifying behind the Great wall. At the subsequent , which the Jin commander later committed to in the hope of using the mountainous terrain to his advantage against the Mongols, the general's emissary defected to the Mongol side and instead handed over intelligence on the movements of the Jin army, which was subsequently outmanoeuvred, resulting in hundreds of thousands of Jin casualties. In 1215, Genghis besieged the Jin capital of Zhongdu (modern-day ). According to , the inhabitants resorted to firing gold and silver cannon shot on the Mongols with their muzzle-loading cannons when their supply of metal for ammunition ran out. The city was captured and sacked. This forced the Jin ruler, , to move his capital south to , abandoning the northern half of his empire to the Mongols. Between 1232 and 1233, under the reign of Genghis's third son, Ögedei Khan. The Jin dynasty collapsed in 1234, after the .

Qara Khitai

, the deposed of the confederation that Temüjin defeated and folded into his Mongol Empire, fled west and usurped the of (also known as the Western Liao, as it was originally established as remnants of the ). Genghis Khan decided to conquer the Qara Khitai 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 (20,000 soldiers) against Kuchlug, under his younger general, , 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 Qara Khitai more vulnerable to Mongol conquest. As a result, Kuchlug's army was defeated west of . Kuchlug fled again, but was soon hunted down by Jebe's army and executed. By 1218, as a result of the defeat of Qara Khitai, the Mongol Empire and its control extended as far west as , which bordered , a Muslim state that reached the to the west and and the to the south.

Khwarazmian Empire

In the early 13th century, the was governed by . Genghis Khan saw the potential advantage in Khwarazmia as a commercial trading partner using the , and he initially sent a 500-man to establish official trade ties with the empire. Genghis Khan and his family and commanders in the caravan gold, silver, silk, various kinds of textiles and fabrics and pelts to trade with the Muslim traders in the Khwarazmian lands. However, , the governor of the Khwarazmian city of , attacked the caravan, claiming that the caravan contained spies and therefore was a conspiracy against Khwarazmia. The situation became further complicated because the governor later refused to make repayments for the looting of the caravans and hand over the perpetrators. Genghis Khan then sent a second group of three ambassadors (two Mongols and a Muslim) to meet the Shah himself, instead of the governor Inalchuq. The had all the men shaved and the Muslim and sent his head back with the two remaining ambassadors. Outraged, Genghis Khan planned one of his largest invasion campaigns by organizing together around 100,000 soldiers (10 ), 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 to be his immediate successor and then went out to Khwarazmia. The Mongol army under Genghis Khan, generals and his sons crossed the mountains by entering the area controlled by the . After compiling intelligence from many sources Genghis Khan carefully prepared his army, which was divided into three groups. His son led the first division into the northeast of Khwarazmia. The second division under marched secretly to the southeast part of Khwarazmia to form, with the first division, a on . The third division under Genghis Khan and marched to the northwest and attacked Khwarazmia 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 Khwarazmia's defeats, as it allowed the Mongols, although exhausted from the long journey, to immediately set about defeating small fractions of the Khwarazmian forces instead of facing a unified defense. The Mongol army quickly seized the town of , 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. Genghis Khan next advanced on the city of , which was not heavily fortified, with just a moat and a single wall, and the citadel typical of Khwarazmian 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. The 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. After the surrender of Bukhara, Genghis Khan also took the unprecedented step of personally entering the city, after which he had the city's aristocrats and elites brought to the mosque, where, through interpreters, he lectured them on their misdeeds, saying: "If you had not committed great sins, God would not have sent a punishment like me upon you." With the capture of Bukhara, the way was clear for the Mongols to advance on the capital of , which possessed significantly better fortifications and a larger garrison compared to Bukhara. To overcome the city, the Mongols engaged in intensive psychological warfare, including the use of captured Khwarazmian prisoners as body shields. After several days only a few remaining soldiers, loyal supporters of the , held out in the citadel. After the fortress fell, Genghis executed every soldier that had taken arms against him. According to the Persian historian , the people of Samarkand were then 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. Similarly, Juvayni wrote that in the city , to the south of , "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". Juvayni's account of mass killings at these sites is not corroborated by modern archaeology. Instead of killing local populations, the Mongols tended to enslave the conquered and either send them to Mongolia to act as menial labor or retain them for use in the war effort. The effect was still mass depopulation. The piling of a "pyramid of severed heads" happened not at but at , where Genghis Khan's son-in-law was killed by an arrow shot from the city walls after the residents revolted. The Khan then allowed his widowed daughter, who was pregnant at the time, to decide the fate of the city, and she decreed that the entire population be killed. She also supposedly ordered that every dog, cat and any other animals in the city by slaughtered, "so that no living thing would survive the murder of her husband". The sentence was duly carried out by the Khan's youngest son .
How Stuff Works. Retrieved April 27, 2021
According to widely circulated but unverified stories, the severed heads were then erected in separate piles for the men, women and children. Near to the end of the battle for , the Shah fled rather than surrender. Genghis Khan subsequently ordered two of his generals, and , to destroy the remnants of the Khwarazmian Empire, giving them 20,000 men and two years to do this. The Shah died under mysterious circumstances on a small island in the Caspian Sea that he had retreated to with his remaining loyal forces. Meanwhile, the wealthy trading city of was still in the hands of Khwarazmian 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 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. These numbers are considered logistically implausible by modern scholars, but the sacking of Urgench was no doubt a bloody affair.

Georgia, Crimea, Kievan Rus and Volga Bulgaria

After the defeat of the Khwarazmian Empire in 1220, Genghis Khan gathered his forces in and to return to the Mongolian steppes. Under the suggestion of , the Mongol army was split into two forces. Genghis Khan led the main army on a raid through and northern India towards Mongolia, while another 20,000 (two ) contingent marched through the and into Russia under generals and Subutai. They pushed deep into and . The Mongols defeated the , sacked the trade-fortress of in and overwintered near the . Heading home, Subutai's forces attacked the allied forces of the – and the poorly coordinated 80,000 troops led by of and who went out to stop the Mongols' actions in the area. sent emissaries to the princes calling for a separate peace, but the emissaries were executed. At the in 1223, Subutai's forces defeated the larger Kievan force. They may have been defeated by the neighbouring at the . There is no historical record except a short account by the Arab historian , writing in Mosul some away from the event.John Chambers, ''The Devil's Horsemen: The Mongol Invasion of Europe'', Atheneum, 1979. p. 31 Various historical secondary sources – Morgan, Chambers, Grousset – state that the Mongols actually defeated the Bulgars, Chambers even going so far as to say that the Bulgars had made up stories to tell the (recently crushed) Russians that they had beaten the Mongols and driven them from their territory. The Russian princes then sued for peace. Subutai agreed but was in no mood to pardon the princes. Not only had the Rus put up strong resistance, but also Jebe – with whom Subutai had campaigned for years – had been killed just prior to the Battle of Kalka River. 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 , 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 . Genghis Khan recalled Subutai back to Mongolia soon afterwards. The famous cavalry expedition led by Subutai and Jebe, in which they encircled the entire Caspian Sea defeating all armies in their path, remains unparalleled to this day, and word of the Mongol triumphs began to trickle to other nations, particularly in 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 and to an already formidable empire while destroying any resistance along the way. Later under Genghis Khan's grandson and the , 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 Khwarazmians 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, , and Suzhou (not the Suzhou in Jiangsu province), and in the autumn he took -fu. One of the Tangut generals challenged the Mongols to a battle near but was defeated. In November, Genghis laid to the Tangut city and crossed the , 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 -fu, province, -fu, and 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 (, 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 royal lineage.

Death and succession

Genghis Khan died in August 1227, during the fall of , which is the capital of . 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. According to ', Genghis Khan fell from his horse while hunting and died because of the injury. He was already old and tired from his journeys. The ' alleges he was killed by the Western Xia in battle, while wrote that he died after the infection of an arrow wound he received during his final campaign. Later Mongol chronicles connect Genghis's death with a Western Xia princess taken as war booty. One chronicle from the early 17th century even relates the legend 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 . 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 and presumably to his birthplace in , where many assume he is buried somewhere close to the and the 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 , constructed many years after his death, is his memorial, but not his burial site. Before Genghis Khan died, he assigned as his successor. 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 . By tradition, the youngest son inherits his father's property. , , , 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. The title of Great Khan based to , the third son of Genghis Khan, making him the second Great Khan () of the Mongol Empire. Genghis Khan's eldest son, Jochi, died in 1226, during his father's lifetime. Chagatai, Genghis Khan's second son was meanwhile passed over, according to ', over a row just before the invasion of the in which Chagatai declared before his father and brothers that he would never accept Jochi as Genghis Khan's successor due to questions about his elder brother's parentage. In response to this tension and possibly for other reasons, Ögedei was appointed as successor. Later, his grandsons into s. Genghis Khan died in 1227 after defeating the Western Xia. His extended the Mongol Empire across most of Eurasia by conquering or creating vassal states in all of modern-day China, , the , Central Asia, and substantial portions of Eastern Europe and . Many of these invasions repeated the earlier large-scale slaughters of local populations.

Organizational philosophy

Politics and economics

The Mongol Empire was governed by a civilian and military , called the , created by Genghis Khan. The Mongol Empire did not emphasize the importance of and in the administrative realm, instead adopting an approach grounded in . 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 the people, peoples, and others. There were of various non-Mongolian ethnicities such as . There were tax exemptions for religious figures and, to some extent, teachers and doctors. The Mongol Empire practiced because Mongol tradition had long held that religion was a personal concept, and not subject to law or interference. Genghis Khan was a , but was and interested in learning philosophical and moral lessons from other religions. He consulted monks (including the Zen monk Haiyun), , missionaries, and the monk . Sometime before the rise of Genghis Khan, Ong Khan, his mentor and eventual rival, had converted to . Various Mongol tribes were Shamanist, Buddhist 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 under the Great Yassa that would have established the legal equality of all individuals, including . However, there is no evidence of this, or of the lifting of discriminatory policies towards peoples such as the Chinese. Women played a relatively important role in the Mongol Empire and in the family, for example was briefly in charge of the Mongol Empire while the next male leader was being chosen. Modern scholars refer to the alleged policy of encouraging trade and communication as the (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 prince, , who worked for the Jin and had been captured by the Mongol army after the Jin dynasty was defeated. Jin had risen to power by displacing the Khitan people. 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 , and , 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 . Muqali, a trusted lieutenant, was given command of the Mongol forces against the Jin dynasty while Genghis Khan was fighting in Central Asia, and and were allowed to pursue the Great Raid into the Caucasus and , an idea they had presented to the Khagan on their own initiative. While granting his generals a great deal of autonomy in making command decisions, Genghis Khan also expected unwavering loyalty from them. The Mongol military was also successful in , 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 of the Mongol military was the commonly practiced to break enemy formations and to lure small enemy groups away from the larger group and defended position for and . Another important aspect of the military organization of Genghis Khan was the and route or ', adapted from previous Chinese models. Genghis Khan dedicated special attention to this in order to speed up the gathering of and official communications. To this end, Yam waystations were established all over the empire.



Genghis Khan is credited with bringing the 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 in his rule, was tolerant of religions and explained his policies clearly to all his soldiers. Genghis Khan had a notably positive reputation among some western European authors in the , who knew little concrete information about his empire in Asia. The Italian explorer said that Genghis Khan "was a man of great worth, and of great ability, and valor", while philosopher and inventor applauded the scientific and philosophical vigor of Genghis Khan's empire, and the famed writer wrote concerning : In Mongolia, Genghis Khan has meanwhile been revered for centuries by Mongols and many because of his association with tribal statehood, political and military organization, and victories in war. As the principle unifying figure in Mongolian history, he remains a larger-than-life figure in . He is credited with introducing the and creating the first written Mongolian code of law, in the form of the . During the in Mongolia, Genghis was often described by the government as a figure, and positive statements about him were avoided. 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 the dismissal of secretary Tömör-Ochir of the ruling . In the early 1990s, the memory of Genghis Khan underwent a powerful revival, partly in reaction to its suppression during the period. Genghis Khan became a symbol of national identity for many younger Mongolians, who 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.


There are conflicting views of Genghis Khan in China, which suffered a drastic .William Bonner, Addison Wiggin (2006).
Empire of debt: the rise of an epic financial crisis
'. John Wiley and Sons. pp.43–44.
The population of north China decreased from 50 million in the 1195 to 8.5 million in the Mongol census of 1235–36. However many were victims of plague. In province alone, 9 out of 10 were killed by the Black Death when was enthroned in 1333. Northern China was also struck by floods and famine long after the war in northern China was over in 1234 and not killed by Mongols.
/ref> The also contributed. By 1351, two out of three people in China had died of the plague, helping to spur armed rebellion, most notably in the form of the . An unknown number of people also migrated to Southern China in this period, including under the preceding Southern Song dynasty. The Mongols also spared many cities from massacre and sacking if they surrendered, including Kaifeng, Yangzhou, and Hangzhou. Ethnic Han and Khitan soldiers defected en masse to Genghis Khan against the -led . Equally, while Genghis never conquered all of China, his grandson , by completing that conquest and establishing the , is often credited with re-uniting China, and there is a great deal of Chinese artwork and literature praising Genghis as a military leader and political genius. The left an indelible imprint on Chinese political and social structures and a cultural legacy that outshone the preceding Jin dynasty.


The conquests and leadership of Genghis Khan included widespread devastation and . The targets of campaigns that refused to surrender would often be subject to reprisals in the form of enslavement and wholesale slaughter. The second campaign against , the final military action led by Genghis Khan, and during which he died, involved an intentional and systematic destruction of Western Xia cities and culture. According to , because of this policy of total obliteration, Western Xia is little known to anyone other than experts in the field because so little record is left of that society. He states that "There is a case to be made that this was the first ever recorded example of attempted . It was certainly very successful '." In the under Genghis Khan, the Mongols razed the cities of , , , , and and killed the respective urban populations. His invasions are considered the beginning of a 200-year period known in Iran and other Islamic societies as the "Mongol catastrophe." , , Seraj al-Din Jozjani, and , Iranian historians from the time of Mongol occupation, describe the Mongol invasions as a catastrophe never before seen. A number of present-day Iranian historians, including , have likewise viewed the period initiated by Genghis Khan as a uniquely catastrophic era. Steven R. Ward writes that the Mongol violence and depredations in the "killed up to three-fourths of the population... 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." Although the famous were proud descendants of Genghis Khan and particularly Timur, they clearly distanced themselves from the Mongol atrocities committed against the Khwarizim Shahs, , , the citizens of and , , and historical figures such as and many other notable s. 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.



Unlike most emperors, Genghis Khan never allowed his image to be portrayed in paintings or sculptures. The earliest known images of Genghis Khan were produced half a century after his death, including the famous portrait in Taiwan. The portrait portrays Genghis Khan wearing white robes, a leather warming cap and his hair tied in braids, much like a similar depiction of Kublai Khan. This portrait is often considered to represent the closest resemblance to what Genghis Khan actually looked like, though it, like all others renderings, suffers from the same limitation of being, at best, a . Like many of the earliest images of Genghis Khan, the Chinese-style portrait presents the Great Khan in a manner more akin to a sage than a Mongol warrior. Other portrayals of Genghis Khan from other cultures likewise characterized him according to their particular image of him: in Persia he was portrayed as a sultan and in Europe he was pictured as an ugly barbarian with a fierce face and cruel eyes. According to sinologist , a Mongol painter known as Ho-li-hosun (also known as Khorisun or Qooriqosun) was commissioned by Kublai Khan in 1278 to paint the National Palace Museum portrait. The story goes that Kublai Khan ordered Khorisun, along with the other entrusted remaining followers of Genghis Khan, to ensure the portrait reflected the Great Khan's true image. The only individuals to have recorded Genghis Khan's physical appearance during his lifetime were the Persian chronicler and Chinese diplomat Zhao Hong. Minhaj al-Siraj described Genghis Khan as "a man of tall stature, of vigorous build, robust in body, the hair of his face scanty and turned white, with cats’ eyes, possessed of dedicated energy, discernment, genius, and understanding, awe-striking...". The chronicler had also previously commented on Genghis Khan's height, powerful build, with cat's eyes and lack of grey hair, based on the evidence of eyes witnesses in 1220, which saw Genghis Khan fighting in the Khorasan (modern day northwest Persia). According to Paul Ratchnevsky, the envoy Zhao Hong who visited the Mongols in 1221, described Genghis Khan as "of tall and majestic stature, his brow is broad and his beard is long". Other descriptions of Genghis Khan come from 14th century texts. The Persian historian in ', written in the beginning of the 14th century, stated that most Borjigin ancestors of Genghis Khan were "tall, long-bearded, red-haired, and bluish green-eyed," features which Genghis Khan himself had. The factual nature of this statement is considered controversial. In the , in a passage written in the 14th century, Genghis Khan is similarly described as a large, good-looking man, with red hair. However, according to , Rashid al-Din's text of red hair referred to ruddy skin complexion, and that Genghis Khan was of ruddy complexion like most of his children except for Kublai Khan who was swarthy. He translated the text as “It chanced that he was born 2 months before Möge, and when Chingiz-Khan's eye fell upon him he said: “all our children are of a ruddy complexion, but this child is swarthy like his maternal uncles. Tell Sorqoqtani Beki to give him to a good nurse to be reared”. 14th century Arabic historian also disputed Rashid al-Din's translation and claimed falsified the origin of her clan. Some Historians such as Denise Aigle claimed that Rashid al-Din mythicized the origin of Genghis Khan ancestors (the Borjigin clan) through his own interpretations of . Italian historian claimed that the Mongol origins of the early ancestors of Genghis Khan were animals born from the blue eye wolf (Borte Chino) and the fallow doe (Qo'ai Maral) that was described in the early legends, that their ancestors were animals.


In Mongolia today, Genghis Khan's name and likeness appear on products, streets, buildings, and other places. His face can be found on everyday commodities, from liquor bottles to candy, and on the largest denominations of 500, 1,000, 5,000, 10,000, and 20,000 (₮). Mongolia's main international airport in is named , and there is a 40m-high east of the Mongolian capital. There has been talk about regulating the use of his name and image to avoid trivialization. Genghis Khan's birthday, on the first day of winter (according to the ), is a national holiday. Outside of Mongolia, there have been numerous works of literature, films and other adaptation works based on the Mongolian ruler and his legacy.


* "", one of ' by , is set at the court of Genghis Khan. * ''The End of Genghis'', a poem by , in which the dying Khan, attended by his counsellor , looks back on his life. * ' series of novels by * ''Steppe'' by * ''Genghis Khan'' (Last incarnation) in by * ''White cloud of Genghis Khan'' by * ' by and


* ', a 1950 Philippine film directed by . * ', released in 1956 and starring as Temüjin and as Börte. * ''Changez Khan'', a 1957 Indian Hindi-language film directed by Kedar Kapoor, starring as the emperor along with and in the lead roles. * ', a 1965 film starring . * ''Under the Eternal Blue Sky'', a Mongolian film directed by Baljinnyam, which was released in 1990. Starring as Temüjin. * ''Genghis Khan'', an unfinished 1992 film starring , and . * ''Genghis Khan – A Proud Son Of Heaven'', a 1998 film made in Mongolian, with English subtitles. * ', also known as ''The Descendant of Gray Wolf'', a Japanese-Mongolian film released in 2007. * ', a film by released in 2007. ( nominee for Best Foreign Language Film). * ', a Mongolian film released in 2008. * ', a Chinese film released in 2018.

Television series

* ', a 1987 Hong Kong television series produced by , starring . * ', a 1987 Hong Kong television series produced by , starring . * ', a 2004 Chinese-Mongolian co-produced television series, starring , who is a descendant of Genghis Khan's second son . *"Aaakhri Chattan", a 1978 Pakistani drama series having Zahoor Ahmed as Genghis Khan.


* West German pop band took its name from the German-language spelling of Genghis Khan. They participated in the with . * band released an all-instrumental track titled "Genghis Khan" on their 1981 sophomore album '. * The band released the song "" in 2017. * Mongolian Folk-Rock band released a song called ''The Great Chinggis Khaan'' in August 2019.

Video games

* ', a 1997 computer game * ', Genghis Khan-themed Japanese game series





* * * * * * * * * * * * * * Incorrect source cite: ** Cite based on title and URL: . ** Cite based on ISBN: * * * * * * * * * ; s * ** * * * **

Further reading

* * This Elibron Classics book is a facsimile reprint of an 1888 edition by Trübner & Co., London. * * * * * * * (summary in English) * * * * * * * * * * * , - , - {{Authority control Tengrist monarchs