Genghis Khan or Chinggis Khaan[note 3] (born Temüjin,[note 4] c.
1162 – August 18, 1227), was the founder and first Great Khan
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 the Empire and being
proclaimed "Genghis Khan", he launched the
Mongol invasions that
conquered most of Eurasia. Campaigns initiated in his lifetime include
those against the Qara Khitai, Caucasus, and Khwarazmian, Western Xia
and Jin dynasties. These campaigns were often accompanied by
large-scale massacres of the civilian populations – especially in
the Khwarazmian and
Western Xia controlled lands. By the end of his
Mongol Empire occupied a substantial portion of Central Asia
Genghis Khan died he assigned
Ögedei Khan as his successor.
Later his grandsons split his empire into khanates. Genghis Khan
died in 1227 after defeating the Western Xia. He was buried in an
unmarked grave somewhere in Mongolia. His descendants extended the
Mongol Empire across most of
Eurasia by conquering or creating vassal
states in all of modern-day China, Korea, the Caucasus, Central Asia,
and substantial portions of Eastern Europe and Southwest Asia. Many of
these invasions repeated the earlier large-scale slaughters of local
populations. As a result,
Genghis Khan and his empire have a fearsome
reputation in local histories.
Beyond his military accomplishments,
Genghis Khan also advanced the
Mongol Empire in other ways. He decreed the adoption of the Uyghur
script as the
Mongol Empire's writing system. He also practiced
meritocracy and encouraged religious tolerance in the
and unified the nomadic tribes of Northeast Asia. Present-day
Mongolians regard him as the founding father of Mongolia.
Although known for the brutality of his campaigns and considered by
many to have been a genocidal ruler,
Genghis Khan is also credited
with bringing the
Silk Road under one cohesive political environment.
This brought communication and trade from
Northeast Asia into Muslim
Southwest Asia and Christian Europe, thus expanding the horizons of
all three cultural areas. His name is pronounced /ˈdʒɛŋɡɪs
ˈkɑːn/ or usually /ˈɡɛŋɡɪs ˈkɑːn/; Mongolian:
Чингис хаан, Çingis hán; Mongolian
pronunciation: [t͡ʃʰiŋɡɪs xaːŋ] ( listen).
1 Early life
1.3 Early life and family
1.3.1 Wives and children
2 Uniting the
2.1 Early attempts at power
2.2 Rift with
Jamukha and defeat at Dalan Balzhut
2.3 Return to power
2.4 Rift with Toghrul
2.5 Sole ruler of the
Mongol plains (1206)
4 Military campaigns
Western Xia Dynasty
4.2 Jin dynasty
4.3 Qara Khitai
4.4 Khwarazmian Empire
4.5 Georgia, Crimea, Kievan Rus and Volga Bulgaria
Western Xia and Jin Dynasty
6 Death and burial
7.1 Politics and economics
7.4 After Genghis Khan
8.1.1 In Mongolia
8.1.2 In Japan
8.2.1 In China
10 Physical appearance
11 Depictions in modern culture
11.2 Television series
11.5 Short stories
11.7 Video games
12 Name and title
12.1 Name and spelling variations
14 See also
17 Further reading
17.1 Primary sources
18 External links
Main article: Family tree of Genghis Khan
Temüjin was related on his father's side to Khabul Khan, Ambaghai,
and Hotula Khan, who had headed the
Khamag Mongol confederation and
were descendants of
Bodonchar Munkhag (c. 900). When the Jurchen Jin
dynasty switched support from the
Mongols to the
Tatars in 1161, they
destroyed Khabul Khan.[not in citation given]
Yesügei (leader of the
Borjigin clan and nephew to
Ambaghai and Hotula Khan), emerged as the head of the ruling Mongol
clan. This position was contested by the rival
Tayichi'ud clan, who
descended directly from Ambaghai. When the
Tatars grew too powerful
after 1161, the Jin switched their support from the
Tatars to the
Autumn at the Onon River, Mongolia, the region where Temüjin was born
and grew up.
Little is known about Temüjin's early life, due to the lack of
contemporary written records. The few sources that give insight into
this period often contradict.
Temüjin's name was derived from the
Mongol word temür meaning "of
iron", while jin denotes agency. Temüjin thus means
Temüjin was probably born in 1162 in Delüün Boldog, near the
Burkhan Khaldun and the rivers Onon and Kherlen in modern-day
northern Mongolia, close to the current capital Ulaanbaatar. The
Secret History of the
Mongols reports that Temüjin was born grasping
a blood clot in his fist, a traditional sign that he was destined to
become a great leader. He was the second son of his father Yesügei
who was a Kiyad chief prominent in the
Khamag Mongol confederation and
an ally of
Toghrul of the Keraite tribe. Temüjin was the first
son of his mother Hoelun. According to the Secret History, Temüjin
was named after the
Tatar chief Temüjin-üge whom his father had just
Yesukhei's clan was
Borjigin (Боржигин), and
Hoelun was from
Olkhunut sub-lineage of the
Khongirad tribe. Like other
tribes, they were nomads. Temüjin's noble background made it easier
for him to solicit help from and eventually consolidate the other
Mongol tribes.
Early life and family
Temüjin had three brothers Hasar, Hachiun, and Temüge, one sister
Temülen, and two half-brothers Begter and Belgutei. Like many of the
nomads of Mongolia, Temüjin's early life was difficult. His father
arranged a marriage for him and delivered him at age nine to the
family of his future wife
Börte of the tribe Khongirad. Temüjin was
to live there serving the head of the household Dai Setsen until the
marriageable age of 12.
While heading home, his father ran into the neighboring Tatars, who
had long been
Mongol enemies, and they offered him food that poisoned
him. Upon learning this, Temüjin returned home to claim his father's
position as chief. But the tribe refused this and abandoned the
family, leaving it without protection.
For the next several years, the family lived in poverty, surviving
mostly on wild fruits, ox carcasses, marmots, and other small game
killed by Temüjin and his brothers. Temujin's older half-brother
Begter began to exercise power as the eldest male in the family and
would eventually have the right to claim
Hoelun (who was not his own
mother) as wife. Temujin's resentment erupted during one hunting
excursion when Temüjin and his brother Khasar killed Begter.
In a raid around 1177, Temujin was captured by his father's former
allies, the Tayichi'ud, and enslaved, reportedly with a cangue (a sort
of portable stocks). With the help of a sympathetic guard, he escaped
from the ger (yurt) at night by hiding in a river crevice.[citation
needed] The escape earned Temüjin a reputation. Soon,
Bo'orchu joined forces with him. They and the guard's son Chilaun
eventually became generals of Genghis Khan.
At this time, none of the tribal confederations of
united politically, and arranged marriages were often used to solidify
temporary alliances. Temüjin grew up observing the tough political
climate, which included tribal warfare, thievery, raids, corruption,
and revenge between confederations, compounded by interference from
abroad such as from
China to the south. Temüjin's mother Hoelun
taught him many lessons, especially the need for strong alliances to
ensure stability in Mongolia.
Wives and children
As previously arranged by his father, Temüjin married
Börte of the
Onggirat tribe when he was around 16 in order to cement alliances
between their two tribes. Soon after the marriage,
kidnapped by the
Merkits and reportedly given away as a wife. Temüjin
rescued her with the help of his friend and future rival, Jamukha, and
Toghrul of the Keraite tribe. She gave birth to a son,
Jochi (1185–1226), nine months later, clouding the issue of his
parentage. Despite speculation over Jochi,
Börte would be Temüjin's
only empress, though he did follow tradition by taking several
Börte had three more sons, Chagatai (1187–1241), Ögedei
Tolui (1190–1232). Genghis later took about 500
secondary wives and "consorts", but
Börte continued to be his life
companion. He had many other children with those other wives, but they
were excluded from succession, only Börte's sons being considered to
be his heirs. However, a
Tatar woman named Yisui, taken as a wife when
her people were conquered by the Mongols, eventually came to be given
almost as much prominence as Börte, despite originally being only one
of his minor wives. The names of at least six daughters are
known, and while they played significant roles behind the scenes
during his lifetime, no documents have survived that definitively
provide the number or names of daughters born to the consorts of
See also: Proto-
Mongols and List of medieval
Mongol tribes and clans
The locations of the Mongolian tribes during the Khitan Liao dynasty
In the early 13th century, the Central Asian plateau north of China
was divided into several tribes of confederation, including Naimans,
Merkits, Tatars, Khamag Mongols, and Keraites, that were all prominent
and often unfriendly toward each other, as evidenced by random raids,
revenge attacks, and plundering.
Early attempts at power
Temüjin began his ascent to power by offering himself as an ally (or,
according to other sources, a vassal) to his father's anda (sworn
brother or blood brother) Toghrul, who was Khan of the Keraites, and
is better known by the Chinese title "Wang Khan", which the Jurchen
Jin dynasty granted him in 1197. This relationship was first
Börte was captured by the Merkits. Temüjin turned to
Toghrul for support, and
Toghrul offered 20,000 of his Keraite
warriors and suggested that Temüjin involve his childhood friend
Jamukha, who had himself become Khan of his own tribe, the
Although the campaign recaptured
Börte and utterly defeated the
Merkits, it also paved the way for the split between Temüjin and
Jamukha. Before this, they were blood brothers (anda) vowing to remain
Jamukha and defeat at Dalan Balzhut
Jamukha and Temüjin drifted apart in their friendship, each began
consolidating power, and they became rivals.
Jamukha supported the
traditional Mongolian aristocracy, while Temüjin followed a
meritocratic method, and attracted a broader range and lower class of
followers. Following his earlier defeat of the Merkits, and a
proclamation by the shaman Kokochu that the Eternal Blue Sky had set
aside the world for Temüjin, Temüjin began rising to power. In
1186, Temüjin was elected khan of the Mongols. Threatened by this
Jamukha attacked Temujin in 1187 with an army of 30,000 troops.
Temüjin gathered his followers to defend against the attack, but was
decisively beaten in the Battle of Dalan Balzhut. However,
Jamukha horrified and alienated potential followers by boiling 70
young male captives alive in cauldrons. Toghrul, as Temüjin's
patron, was exiled to the Qara Khitai. 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 Jin initiated an attack against their formal
vassal, the Tatars, with help from the
Keraites and Mongols. Temüjin
commanded part of this attack, and after victory, he and
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
Naimans to the west, the
Merkits to the north, the
Tanguts to the south, and the Jin to the
Jurchen inscription (1196) in
Mongolia relating to Genghis Khan's
alliance with the Jin against the Tatars.
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
Yassa code of law, Temüjin promised
civilians and soldiers wealth from future war spoils. When he defeated
rival tribes, he did not drive away their soldiers and abandon their
civilians. Instead, he took the conquered tribe under his protection
and integrated its members into his own tribe. He would even have his
mother adopt orphans from the conquered tribe, bringing them into his
family. These political innovations inspired great loyalty among the
conquered people, making Temüjin stronger with each victory.
Rift with Toghrul
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Senggum, son of
Toghrul (Wang Khan), envied Temüjin's growing power
and affinity with his father. He allegedly planned to assassinate
Toghrul was allegedly saved on multiple occasions
by Temüjin, he gave in to his son and became uncooperative with
Temüjin. Temüjin learned of Senggum's intentions and eventually
defeated him and his loyalists.
Genghis Khan and
Toghrul Khan, illustration from a 15th-century Jami'
One of the later ruptures between Temüjin and
Toghrul was Toghrul's
refusal to give his daughter in marriage to Jochi, Temüjin's first
son. This was disrespectful in
Mongolian culture and led to a war.
Toghrul allied with Jamukha, who already opposed Temüjin's forces.
However, the dispute between
Toghrul and Jamukha, plus the desertion
of a number of their allies to Temüjin, led to Toghrul's defeat.
Jamukha escaped during the conflict. This defeat was a catalyst for
the fall and eventual dissolution of the Keraite tribe.
The next direct threat to Temüjin was the
Naimans (Naiman Mongols),
Jamukha and his followers took refuge. The
Naimans did not
surrender, although enough sectors again voluntarily sided with
Temüjin. In 1201, a khuruldai elected
Jamukha as Gür Khan,
"universal ruler", a title used by the rulers of the Qara Khitai.
Jamukha's assumption of this title was the final breach with Temüjin,
Jamukha formed a coalition of tribes to oppose him. Before the
conflict, several generals abandoned Jamukha, including Subutai,
Jelme's well-known younger brother. After several battles,
turned over to Temüjin by his own men in 1206.
According to the Secret History, Temüjin again offered his friendship
to Jamukha. Temüjin 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
Sole ruler of the
Mongol plains (1206)
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Genghis Khan proclaimed
Khagan of all Mongols. Illustration from a
Jami' al-tawarikh manuscript.
Mongol Empire c. 1207
The part of the
Merkit clan that sided with the
Naimans were defeated
by Subutai, who was by then a member of Temüjin's personal guard and
later became one of Genghis Khan's most successful commanders. The
Naimans' defeat left Temüjin as the sole ruler of the
– all the prominent confederations fell or united under his Mongol
Accounts of Genghis Khan's life are marked by claims of a series of
betrayals and conspiracies. These include rifts with his early allies
Jamukha (who also wanted to be a ruler of
Mongol tribes) and
Wang Khan (his and his father's ally), his son Jochi, and problems
with the most important shaman, who allegedly tried to drive a wedge
between him and his loyal brother Khasar. His military strategies
showed a deep interest in gathering intelligence and understanding the
motivations of his rivals, exemplified by his extensive spy network
and Yam route systems. He seemed to be a quick student, adopting new
technologies and ideas that he encountered, such as siege warfare from
the Chinese. He was also ruthless, demonstrated by his tactic of
measuring against the linchpin, used against the tribes led by
As a result, by 1206, Temüjin had managed to unite or subdue the
Merkits, Naimans, Mongols, Keraites, Tatars, Uyghurs, and other
disparate smaller tribes under his rule. This was a monumental feat.
It resulted in peace between previously warring tribes, and a single
political and military force. The union became known as the Mongols.
At a Khuruldai, a council of
Mongol chiefs, Temüjin was acknowledged
as Khan of the consolidated tribes and took the new title "Genghis
Khan". The title
Khagan was conferred posthumously by his son and
Ögedei who took the title for himself (as he was also to be
posthumously declared the founder of the Yuan dynasty).
Genghis Khan was a tengrist, but was religiously tolerant and
interested in learning philosophical and moral lessons from other
religions. He consulted Buddhist monks, Muslims, Christian
missionaries, and the Taoist monk Qiu Chuji.
Genghis Khan, and the following Yuan Emperors forbade Islamic
Halal butchering, forcing
Mongol methods of butchering
animals on Muslims, and other restrictive decrees continued. Muslims
had to slaughter sheep in secret.
Genghis Khan explicitly called
Jews "slaves", and demanded that they follow the Mongol
method of eating rather than the halal method.
Circumcision was also
Jews were also affected, and forbidden by the
Among all the [subject] alien peoples only the Hui-hui say "we do not
Mongol food". [Cinggis Qa'an replied:] "By the aid of heaven we
have pacified you; you are our slaves. Yet you do not eat our food or
drink. How can this be right?" He thereupon made them eat. "If you
slaughter sheep, you will be considered guilty of a crime." He issued
a regulation to that effect ... [In 1279/1280 under Qubilai] all
the Muslims say: "if someone else slaughters [the animal] we do not
eat". Because the poor people are upset by this, from now on,
Musuluman [Muslim] Huihui and Zhuhu [Jewish] Huihui, no matter who
kills [the animal] will eat [it] and must cease slaughtering sheep
themselves, and cease the rite of circumcision.
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Mongol invasions and conquests
Western Xia Dynasty
Mongol conquest of Western Xia
During the 1206 political rise of Genghis Khan, the
Genghis Khan and his allies shared its western borders with
Western Xia dynasty of the Tanguts. To the east and south was the
Jin dynasty, founded by the Manchurian Jurchens, who ruled northern
China as well as being the traditional overlords of the Mongolian
tribes for centuries.
Mongol warriors and the Chinese
Genghis Khan entering Beijing.
Genghis Khan organized his people, army, and his state to first
prepare for war with Western Xia, or Xi Xia, which was close to the
Mongolian lands. He correctly believed that the more powerful young
ruler of the Jin dynasty would not come to the aid of Xi Xia. When the
Tanguts requested help from the Jin dynasty, they were refused.
Despite initial difficulties in capturing its well-defended cities,
Genghis Khan managed to force the emperor of Xi Xia to submit to
Mongol conquest of the Jin dynasty
In 1211, after the conquest of Western Xia,
Genghis Khan planned again
to conquer the Jin dynasty. Wanyan Jiujin, the field commander of the
Jin army, made a tactical mistake in not attacking the
Mongols at the
first opportunity. Instead, the Jin commander sent a messenger,
Ming'an, to the
Mongol side, who defected and told the
the Jin army was waiting on the other side of the pass. At this
engagement fought at Yehuling, the
Mongols massacred hundreds of
thousands of Jin troops. In 1215, Genghis besieged, captured, and
sacked the Jin capital of Zhongdu (modern-day Beijing). This forced
the Jin ruler, Emperor Xuanzong, to move his capital south to Kaifeng,
abandoning the northern half of his empire to the Mongols. Between
1232 and 1233,
Kaifeng fell to the
Mongols under the reign of
Genghis's third son,
Ögedei Khan. The Jin dynasty collapsed in 1234,
after the siege of Caizhou.
Main article: Qara Khitai
Kuchlug, the deposed Khan of the Naiman confederation that Temüjin
defeated and folded into his
Mongol Empire, fled west and usurped the
Qara Khitai (also known as the Western Liao, as it was
originally established as remnants of the Liao dynasty). 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 tumen (20,000
soldiers) against Kuchlug, under his younger general, Jebe, known as
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 Kashgar.
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 Lake Balkhash,
which bordered Khwarazmia, a
Muslim state that reached the Caspian Sea
to the west and
Persian Gulf and the
Arabian Sea to the south.
Mongol conquest of Khwarezmia
In the early 13th century, the
Khwarazmian dynasty was governed by
Shah Ala ad-Din Muhammad.
Genghis Khan saw the potential advantage in
Khwarazmia 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 Khwarazmian city of
Otrar, 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
Genghis Khan then sent a second group of three
Mongols and a Muslim) to meet the
instead of the governor Inalchuq. The
Shah had all the men shaved and
Muslim beheaded and sent his head back with the two remaining
Genghis Khan planned one of his largest
invasion campaigns by organizing together around 100,000 soldiers (10
tumens), his most capable generals and some of his sons. He left a
commander and number of troops in China, designated his successors to
be his family members and likely appointed
Ögedei to be his immediate
successor and then went out to Khwarazmia.
Genghis Khan watches in amazement as the Khwarezmi Jalal ad-Din
prepares to ford the Indus.
Mongol army under Genghis Khan, generals and his sons crossed the
Tien Shan mountains by entering the area controlled by the Khwarazmian
Empire. After compiling intelligence from many sources Genghis Khan
carefully prepared his army, which was divided into three groups. His
Jochi led the first division into the northeast of Khwarazmia. The
second division under
Jebe marched secretly to the southeast part of
Khwarazmia 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 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 Otrar, relying on superior strategy
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
rather than surrender.
Genghis Khan ordered
Jebe to hunt
him down, giving them 20,000 men and two years to do this. The Shah
died under mysterious circumstances on a small island within his
The Mongols' conquest, even by their own standards, was brutal. After
Samarkand fell, the capital was moved to
Bukhara by the
remaining men, while
Genghis Khan ordered two of his generals and
their forces to completely destroy the remnants of the Khwarazmian
Empire, including not only royal buildings, but entire towns,
populations, and even vast swaths of farmland.
Significant conquests and movements of
Genghis Khan and his generals
Samarkand using captured enemies as body shields.
After several days only a few remaining soldiers, loyal 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. Ata-Malik Juvayni, a high official in the
service of the
Mongol empire, wrote that in Termez, on the Oxus, "all
the people, both men and women, were driven out onto the plain, and
divided in accordance with their usual custom, then they were all
The city of
Bukhara was not heavily fortified, with 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. 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.
Mongol soldiers looted the city, a fire broke out, razing most
of the city to the ground.
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 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 Juvayni states that
Mongol soldiers were given the task of executing twenty-four
Urgench citizens each, which would mean that 1.2 million people
were killed. The sacking of Urgench is considered one of the bloodiest
massacres in human history.
In the meantime,
Genghis Khan selected his third son
Ögedei as his
successor before his army set out, and specified that subsequent Khans
should be his direct descendants.
Genghis Khan had left Muqali, one of
his most trusted generals, in command of all
Mongol forces in Jin
China while he battled the
Khwarezmid Empire to the west.
Georgia, Crimea, Kievan Rus and Volga Bulgaria
Mongol invasions of Georgia and
Armenia and Mongol
invasion of Volga Bulgaria
Mongol "Great Khans" coin, minted in 1221 at Balk, Afghanistan, AH 618
After the defeat of the Khwarazmian Empire in 1220, Genghis Khan
gathered his forces in Persia and
Armenia to return to the Mongolian
steppes. Under the suggestion of Subutai, the
Mongol army was split
into two forces.
Genghis Khan led the main army on a raid through
Afghanistan and northern India towards Mongolia, while another 20,000
(two tumen) contingent marched through the
Caucasus and into Russia
Jebe and Subutai. They pushed deep into
Mongols defeated the kingdom of Georgia, sacked the
Genoese trade-fortress of
Crimea and overwintered near the
Black Sea. Heading home, Subutai's forces attacked the allied forces
of the Cuman–Kipchaks and the poorly coordinated 80,000 Kievan Rus'
troops led by
Mstislav the Bold
Mstislav the Bold of
Mstislav III of Kiev who
went out to stop the Mongols' actions in the area.
emissaries to the Slavic princes calling for a separate peace, but the
emissaries were executed. At the
Battle of Kalka River
Battle of Kalka River in 1223,
Subutai's forces defeated the larger Kievan force. They may have been
defeated by the neighbouring
Volga Bulgars at the Battle of Samara
Bend. There is no historical record except a short account by the Arab
historian Ibn al-Athir, writing in Mosul some 1100 miles away from the
event. 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
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. 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.
Mongols learned from captives of the abundant green pastures
beyond the Bulgar territory, allowing for the planning for conquest of
Hungary and Europe.
Genghis Khan recalled
Subutai back to Mongolia
soon afterwards, and
Jebe died on the road back to Samarkand. The
famous cavalry expedition led by
Subutai and Jebe, in which they
encircled the entire
Caspian Sea defeating all armies in their path,
remains unparalleled to this day, and word of the
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
Transoxiana and Persia to an already formidable empire while
destroying any resistance along the way. Later under Genghis Khan's
grandson Batu and the Golden Horde, the
Mongols returned to conquer
Volga Bulgaria and
Kievan Rus' in 1237, concluding the campaign in
Western Xia and Jin Dynasty
Mongol invasion of China
Western Xia dynasty, Jin/Jurchen dynasty,
Song dynasty and Kingdom of
Dali in 1142
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,
Ganzhou, 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
Helan Mountains but was defeated. In
November, Genghis laid siege to the Tangut city Lingzhou and crossed
the Yellow River, defeating the Tangut relief army. According to
legend, it was here that
Genghis Khan reportedly saw a line of five
stars arranged in the sky and interpreted it as an omen of his
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.
Genghis Khan and three of his four sons. Illustration from a
Jami' al-tawarikh manuscript
The succession of
Genghis Khan was already a significant topic during
the later years of his reign, as he reached old age. The long running
paternity discussion about Genghis's oldest son
Jochi was particularly
contentious because of the seniority of
Jochi among the brothers.
According to traditional historical accounts, the issue over Jochi's
paternity was voiced most strongly by Chagatai. In The Secret History
of the Mongols, just before the invasion of the
Khwarezmid Empire by
Genghis Khan, Chagatai declared before his father and brothers that he
would never accept
Jochi as Genghis Khan's successor. In response to
this tension, and possibly for other reasons,
appointed as successor.
Ögedei Khan, born
Ögedei (c. 1185 – December 11, 1241) was the
third son of
Genghis Khan and second
Great Khan (Khagan) of the Mongol
Empire. He continued the expansion that his father had begun and was a
world figure when the
Mongol Empire reached its farthest extent west
and south during the invasions of Europe and Asia.
Main article: Jochi
Genghis Khan was aware of the friction between his sons (particularly
between Chagatai and Jochi) and worried of possible conflict between
them if he died. He therefore decided to divide his empire among his
sons and make all of them Khan in their own right, while appointing
one of his sons as his successor. Chagatai was considered unstable due
to his temper and rash behavior, because of statements he made that he
would not follow
Jochi if he were to become his father's successor.
Tolui, Genghis Khan's youngest son, was not suitable since in Mongol
culture, youngest sons were not given much responsibility due to their
Jochi were to become successor, it was likely that Chagatai
would engage in warfare with him and collapse the empire. Therefore,
Genghis Khan decided to give the throne to Ögedei.
Ögedei was seen
Genghis Khan as dependable in character and relatively stable and
down to earth and would be a neutral candidate that might defuse the
situation between his brothers.
Jochi died in 1226, during his father's lifetime. Some scholars,
notably Ratchnevsky, have commented on the possibility that
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
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.
Death and burial
Main article: Tomb of Genghis Khan
Mongol Empire in 1227 at Genghis Khan's death
Genghis Khan died in August 1227, during the fall of Yinchuan, which
is the capital of Western Xia. 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 The Secret History of
Genghis Khan fell from his horse while hunting and died
because of the injury. He was already old and tired from his journeys.
Galician–Volhynian Chronicle alleges he was killed by the
Western Xia in battle, while
Marco Polo wrote that he died after the
infection of an arrow wound he received during his final campaign.
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 Oirads.
Years before his death,
Genghis Khan asked to be buried without
markings, according to the customs of his tribe. After he died, his
body was returned to
Mongolia and presumably to his birthplace in
Khentii Aimag, where many assume he is buried somewhere close to the
Onon River and the
Burkhan Khaldun mountain (part of the Kentii
mountain range). According to legend, the funeral escort killed anyone
and anything across their path to conceal where he was finally buried.
Genghis Khan Mausoleum, constructed many years after his death, is
his memorial, but not his burial site.
Genghis Khan Mausoleum
Genghis Khan Mausoleum in the town of Ejin Horo Banner, Inner
In 1939 Chinese Nationalist soldiers took the mausoleum from its
position at the 'Lord's Enclosure' (Mongolian: Edsen Khoroo) in
Mongolia to protect it from Japanese troops. It was taken through
Communist-held territory in
Yan'an some 900 km (560 mi) on
carts to safety at a Buddhist monastery, the Dongshan Dafo Dian, where
it remained for ten years. In 1949, as Communist troops advanced, the
Nationalist soldiers moved it another 200 km (120 mi)
farther west to the famous Tibetan monastery of
Kumbum Monastery or
Ta'er Shi near Xining, which soon fell under Communist control. In
early 1954, Genghis Khan's bier and relics were returned to the Lord's
Enclosure in Mongolia. By 1956 a new temple was erected there to house
them. In 1968 during the Cultural Revolution, Red Guards destroyed
almost everything of value. The "relics" were remade in the 1970s and
a great marble statue of Genghis was completed in 1989.
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. Folklore says that a river was
diverted over his grave to make it impossible to find (the same manner
of burial as the Sumerian King
Gilgamesh of Uruk and Atilla the Hun).
Other tales state that his grave was stampeded over by many horses,
and that trees were then planted over the site, and the permafrost
also did its part in hiding the burial site.
Genghis Khan left behind an army of more than 129,000 men; 28,000 were
given to his various brothers and his sons. Tolui, his youngest son,
inherited more than 100,000 men. This force contained the bulk of the
elite Mongolian cavalry. By tradition, the youngest son inherits his
father's property. Jochi, Chagatai,
Ögedei Khan, and Kulan's son
Gelejian received armies of 4,000 men each. His mother and the
descendants of his three brothers received 3,000 men each.
Politics and economics
Main article: Organization of the
Mongol Empire under Genghis Khan
Mongol Empire was governed by a civilian and military code, called
the Yassa, created by Genghis Khan. The
Mongol Empire did not
emphasize the importance of ethnicity and race in the administrative
realm, instead adopting an approach grounded in meritocracy. The
exception was the role of
Genghis Khan and his family. The Mongol
Empire was one of the most ethnically and culturally diverse empires
in history, as befitted its size. Many of the empire's nomadic
inhabitants considered themselves
Mongols in military and civilian
life, including Mongols, Turks and others and included many diverse
Khans of various ethnicities as part of the
Mongol Empire such as
There were tax exemptions for religious figures and, to some extent,
teachers and doctors. The
Mongol Empire practiced religious tolerance
Mongol tradition had long held that religion was a personal
concept, and not subject to law or interference.
Sometime before the rise of Genghis Khan, Ong Khan, his mentor and
eventual rival, had converted to Nestorian Christianity. 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 civil state under the Great Yassa
that would have established the legal equality of all individuals,
including women. However, there is no evidence of this, or of the
lifting of discriminatory policies towards sedentary peoples such as
the Chinese. Women played a relatively important role in the Mongol
Empire and in the family, for example
Töregene Khatun was briefly in
charge of the
Mongol Empire while the next male leader
being chosen. Modern scholars refer to the alleged policy of
encouraging trade and communication as the
Pax Mongolica (Mongol
Genghis Khan realised that he needed people who could govern cities
and states conquered by him. He also realised that such administrators
could not be found among his
Mongol people because they were nomads
and thus had no experience governing cities. For this purpose Genghis
Khan invited a Khitan prince, Chu'Tsai, who worked for the Jin and had
been captured by the
Mongol army after the Jin dynasty was defeated.
Jin had captured power by displacing Khitan. Genghis told Chu'Tsai,
who was a lineal descendant of Khitan rulers, that he had avenged
Chu'Tsai's forefathers. Chu'Tsai responded that his father served the
Jin dynasty honestly and so did he; also he did not consider his own
father his enemy, so the question of revenge did not apply. This reply
impressed Genghis Khan. Chu'Tsai administered parts of the Mongol
Empire and became a confidant of the successive
Mongol military tactics and organization
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.
Muqali, a trusted lieutenant, was given command of the
against the Jin dynasty while
Genghis Khan was fighting in Central
Jebe were allowed to pursue the Great Raid into
Caucasus and Kievan Rus', 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.
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
Another important aspect of the military organization of Genghis Khan
was the communications and supply route or Yam, adapted from previous
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
Several years before his death,
Genghis Khan divided his empire among
his sons Ögedei, Chagatai, Tolui, and
Jochi (Jochi's death several
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 as
Genghis Khan assigned them:
Empire of the Great Khan:
Ögedei Khan, as Great Khan, took most of
Eastern Asia, including China; this territory later to comprise the
Yuan dynasty under Kublai Khan.
Mongol homeland (present day Mongolia, including Karakorum): Tolui
Khan, being the youngest son, received a small territory near the
Mongol homeland, following
Chagatai Khanate: Chagatai Khan, Genghis Khan's second son, was given
Central Asia and northern Iran.
Blue Horde to Batu Khan, and
White Horde to Orda Khan, both were later
combined into the Kipchak Khanate, or
Khanate of the Golden Horde,
under Toqtamysh. Genghis Khan's eldest son, Jochi, had received most
of the distant Russia and Ruthenia. Because
Jochi died before Genghis
Khan, his territory was further split up between his sons. Batu Khan
launched an invasion of Russia, and later Hungary and Poland, and
crushed several armies before being summoned back by the news of
After Genghis Khan
See also: List of
Genghis Khan's son and successor,
Contrary to popular belief,
Genghis Khan did not conquer the whole
area of the eventual
Mongol Empire. At the time of his death in 1227,
the empire stretched from the
Caspian Sea to the Sea of Japan. Its
expansion continued for one or more generations. Under Genghis's
Ögedei Khan the speed of expansion reached its peak. Mongol
armies pushed into Persia, finished off the
Western Xia and the
remnants of the Khwarezmids, clashed with the imperial
Song dynasty of
China, and eventually took control of all of
China in 1279. They also
pushed further into Russia and eastern Europe.
Like other notable conquerors,
Genghis Khan is portrayed differently
by conquered peoples than those who conquered with him. Negative views
persist in histories written by many cultures from different
geographical regions. They often cite the systematic slaughter of
civilians in conquered regions, cruelties and destruction by Mongol
armies. Other authors also cite positive aspects of Genghis Khan's
Genghis Khan on the reverse of a
Kazakhstan 100 Tenge coin. The coin
was minted as a collectable to honor the warlord, and is not used in
Genghis Khan is credited with bringing the
Silk Road under one
cohesive political environment. This allowed increased communication
and trade between the West, Middle East and Asia, thus expanding the
horizons of all three cultural areas. Some historians have noted that
Genghis Khan instituted certain levels of meritocracy in his rule, was
tolerant of religions and explained his policies clearly to all his
soldiers. In Turkey,
Genghis Khan is considered a great military
leader, and it is popular for male children to carry his title as
Genghis Khan had been revered for centuries by
Mongols and certain
other ethnic groups such as Turks, largely because of his association
Mongol statehood, political and military organization, and his
victories in war. He eventually evolved into a larger-than-life figure
chiefly among the
Mongols and is still considered the symbol of
During the communist period in Mongolia, Genghis was often described
as a reactionary, 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 Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party Central Committee.
Portrait on a hillside in Ulaanbaatar, 2006
In the early 1990s, the memory of
Genghis Khan underwent a powerful
revival, partly in reaction to its suppression during the Mongolian
People's Republic period.
Genghis Khan became one of the central
figures of the national identity. He is considered positively by
Mongolians for his role in uniting warring tribes. For example,
Mongolians often refer to their country as "Genghis Khan's Mongolia",
to themselves as "Genghis Khan's children", and to
Genghis Khan as the
"father of the Mongols" especially among the younger generation.
However, there is a chasm in the perception of his brutality.
Mongolians maintain that the historical records written by
non-Mongolians are unfairly biased against
Genghis Khan and that his
butchery is exaggerated, while his positive role is underrated.
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
Mongolian tögrög (₮). Mongolia's main international airport in
Ulaanbaatar is named Chinggis Khaan International Airport. Major
Genghis Khan statues stand before the parliament and near
Ulaanbaatar. There have been repeated discussions about regulating the
use of his name and image to avoid trivialization.
President Elbegdorj's second inauguration on 10 July 2013, in front of
the monument to
Genghis Khan at the Government Palace in Ulaanbaatar
Genghis Khan is regarded as one of the prominent leaders in Mongolia's
history. He is responsible for the emergence of the
Mongols as a
political and ethnic identity because there was no unified identity
between the tribes that had cultural similarity. He reinforced many
Mongol traditions and provided stability and unity during a time of
almost endemic warfare between tribes. He is also credited for
introducing the traditional
Mongolian script and creating the first
written Mongolian code of law, the Ikh Zasag ("Great
Administration"). Mongolian President
Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj has
noted that the Ikh Zasag heavily punished corruption and bribery,
and he considers
Genghis Khan a teacher for anti-corruption efforts
who sought equal protection under the law for all citizens regardless
of status or wealth. On the 850th anniversary of Genghis's birth, the
President stated "Chinggis ... was a man who deeply realized that
the justice begins and consolidates with the equality of law, and not
with the distinctions between people. He was a man who knew that the
good laws and rules lived longer than fancy palaces." 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.
As of 2012[update], Elbegdorj issued a decree establishing Genghis
Khan's birthday as a national holiday on the first day of winter
(according to the Mongolian lunar calendar).
Japanese like Kenchō Suyematsu have claimed that the ethnic Japanese
Minamoto no Yoshitsune
Minamoto no Yoshitsune was Genghis Khan.
Genghis Khan Monument in Hohhot, Inner Mongolia, China
There are conflicting views of
Genghis Khan in the People's Republic
of China. The legacy of Genghis and his successors, who completed the
China after 65 years of struggle, remains a mixed
China suffered a drastic decline in
population. The population of north
China decreased from 50
million in the 1195 census to 8.5 million in the
Mongol census of
1235–36. An unknown number of people migrated to Southern
Mongolia there are a monument and buildings dedicated to him
and considerable number of ethnic
Mongols in the area with a
population of around 5 million, almost twice the population of
Mongolia. While Genghis never conquered all of China, his grandson
Kublai Khan completed that conquest and established the Yuan dynasty
that is often credited with re-uniting China. There has been much
artwork and literature praising Genghis as a military leader and
political genius. The Mongol-established
Yuan dynasty left an
indelible imprint on Chinese political and social structures for
subsequent generations with literature during the preceding Jin
dynasty relatively fewer.
Genghis Khan supported the Chinese Daoist sect leader
Qiu Chuji and
after personally meeting him in what is now Afghanistan, gave him
control of all religious affairs in northern China.
Main article: Destruction under the
Invasions like the Battle of
Baghdad by his grandson are treated as
brutal and are seen negatively in Iraq. This illustration is from a
Jami' al-tawarikh manuscript.
In the Middle East, and particularly in Iran,
Genghis Khan is almost
universally condemned as a destructive and genocidal warlord who
caused enormous destruction to the population of these areas.
Steven R. Ward wrote that "Overall, the
Mongol violence and
depredations killed up to three-fourths of the population of the
Iranian Plateau, possibly 10 to 15 million people. Some historians
have estimated that Iran's population did not again reach its
Mongol levels until the mid-20th century."
Afghanistan (along with other non-Turkic
Muslim countries), he is
generally viewed unfavorably, though some groups display ambivalence
as it is believed that the Hazara of
Afghanistan are descendants of a
Mongol garrison stationed there.
The invasions of Merv, Samarkand, Urgench, Nishapur, Bamyan,
Herat among others caused mass murders, such as when large portions of
Khorasan Province were completely destroyed. His descendant Hulagu
Khan destroyed much of Iran's north and sacked Baghdad, although his
forces were halted by the Mamluks of Egypt. Hulagu's descendant Ghazan
Khan once returned to beat the Mamluks and briefly gain the control of
Syria, but were eventually defeated. According to the works of the
Persian historian Rashid-al-Din Hamadani, the
Mongols killed more than
70,000 people in
Merv and more than 190,000 in Nishapur. In 1237, Batu
Khan, a grandson of Genghis Khan, launched an invasion into Kievan
Rus'. Over the course of three years, the
Mongols annihilated all of
the major cities of Eastern Europe with the exception of
Giovanni de Plano Carpini, the Pope's envoy to the
Mongol Great Khan,
Kiev in February 1246 and wrote:
They [the Mongols] attacked Russia, where they made great havoc,
destroying cities and fortresses and slaughtering men; and they laid
siege to Kiev, the capital of Russia; after they had besieged the city
for a long time, they took it and put the inhabitants to death. When
we were journeying through that land we came across countless skulls
and bones of dead men lying about on the ground.
Kiev had been a very
large and thickly populated town, but now it has been reduced almost
to nothing, for there are at the present time scarce two hundred
houses there and the inhabitants are kept in complete slavery.
Mongol invasion of Hungary. The dismounted Mongols, with captured
women, are on the left, the Hungarians, with one saved woman, on the
Among the Iranian peoples, Genghis Khan, along with
Hulagu and Timur
are among the most despised conquerors in the region.
Although the famous
Mughal emperors were proud descendants of Genghis
Khan and particularly Timur, they clearly distanced themselves from
Mongol atrocities committed against the Khwarizim Shahs, Turks,
Persians, the citizens of
Baghdad and Damascus, Nishapur,
historical figures such as Attar of
Nishapur and many other notable
Muslims. However, Mughal Emperors directly patronized the legacies of
Genghis Khan and Timur; together their names were synonymous with the
names of other distinguished personalities particularly among the
Muslim populations of South Asia.
In much of Russia, Middle East, Korea, China, Ukraine, Poland and
Genghis Khan and his regime are blamed for considerable
destruction and loss of population.
Main article: Descent from Genghis Khan
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, and many other
nobilities of central Asian countries claimed descent from Genghis
Khan. During the Soviet purge most of the
Mongol nobility in Mongolia
Genghis Khan on the Mongolian 1,000 tögrög banknote
The closest depiction generally accepted by most historians is the
portrait currently in the
National Palace Museum
National Palace Museum in Taipei, Taiwan,
which was drawn under the supervision of his grandson Khubilai during
Yuan dynasty and depicts
Genghis Khan with typical Mongol
Depictions in modern culture
Genghis Khan at his mausoleum, China
There have been several films, novels and other adaptation works on
the Mongolian ruler.
Mural of siege warfare,
Genghis Khan Exhibit in San Jose, California,
Portrait of Genghis Khan, 2012
Genghis Khan, a 1950 Philippine film directed by Manuel Conde.
Changez Khan, a 1957 Indian film directed by Kedar Kapoor.
Changez Khan, a 1958 Pakistani film.
The Conqueror, released in 1956 and starring
John Wayne as Temüjin
Susan Hayward as Börte.
Genghis Khan a 1965 film starring Omar Sharif.
Under The Eternal Blue Sky, a Mongolian film directed by Baljinnyam,
which was released in 1990. Starring
Agvaantserengiin Enkhtaivan as
Genghis Khan, an unfinished 1992 film starring Richard Tyson, Charlton
Heston and Pat Morita.
Genghis Khan - A Proud Son Of Heaven, a 1998 film made in Mongolian,
with English subtitles.
Genghis Khan: To the Ends of the Earth and Sea, also known as The
Descendant of Gray Wolf, a Japanese-Mongolian film released in 2007.
Mongol, a film by
Sergei Bodrov released in 2007. (Academy Award
nominee for Best Foreign Language Film).
No Right to Die - Chinggis Khaan, a Mongolian film released in 2008.
By the Will of Genghis Khan, a Russian film released in 2009.
Genghis Khan makes a cameo in Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay as one of the
many names which
Vandal Savage adopted in history.
Genghis Khan, a 1987 Hong Kong television series produced by TVB,
starring Alex Man.
Genghis Khan, a 1987 Hong Kong television series produced by ATV,
starring Tony Liu.
Genghis Khan, a 2004 Chinese-Mongolian co-produced television series,
starring Ba Sen, who is a descendant of Genghis Khan's second son
The End of Genghis, a poem by F. L. Lucas, in which the dying Khan,
attended by his Khitan counsellor Yelü Chucai, looks back on his
Jenghiz Khan and
Batu Khan by Vasili Yan, trans. L. E. Britton,
The Conqueror series of novels by Conn Iggulden
Steppe by Piers Anthony
Jenghiz Khan in Telugu (Indian language) by Thenneti Suri
Genghis Khan (Last incarnation) in Metro 2033 by Dmitry Glukhovsky
The Private Life of
Genghis Khan by
Douglas Adams and Graham Chapman
West German pop band
Dschinghis Khan took its name from the
German-language spelling of Genghis Khan, "Dschingis Khan". They
participated in the
Eurovision Song Contest 1979
Eurovision Song Contest 1979 with their song of
the same name.
Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings
Aoki Ookami to Shiroki Mejika IV: Genghis Khan
Crusader Kings 2
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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, Ordos, Inner Mongolia
One theory suggests the name stems from a palatalised version of the
Mongolian and Turkic word tenggis, meaning "ocean", "oceanic" or
Lake Baikal and ocean were called tenggis 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".
The English spelling "Genghis" is of unclear origin. Weatherford
claims it derives 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
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, Turkic for iron (modern Mongolian: төмөр, tömör).
The name would imply a blacksmith or a man strong like iron.
No evidence has survived to indicate that
Genghis Khan had any
exceptional training or reputation as a blacksmith. But the latter
interpretation (a man strong like iron) is supported by the names of
Genghis Khan's siblings, Temülin and Temüge, which are derived from
the same root word.
Name and spelling variations
Genghis Khan (/ˈɡɛŋɡɪs ˈkɑːn, ˈdʒɛŋɡɪs
ˈkɑːn/; Mongolian: [tʃiŋɡɪs
xaːŋ] ( listen)) is spelled in variety of ways in
different languages such as Mongolian Chinggis Khaan, English
Chinghiz, Chinghis, and Chingiz, Chinese: 成吉思汗; pinyin:
Chéngjísī Hán, Turkic: Cengiz Han, Çingiz Xan, Çingiz Han,
Chingizxon, Çıñğız Xan, Chengez Khan, Chinggis Khan, Chinggis
Xaan, Chingis Khan, Jenghis Khan, Chinggis Qan, Djingis Kahn, Russian:
Чингисхан (Čingiskhan) or Чингиз-хан
(Čingiz-khan), etc. Temüjin is written in Chinese as simplified
Chinese: 铁木真; traditional Chinese: 鐵木眞; pinyin:
Kublai Khan established the
Yuan dynasty in 1271, he had his
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 (Emperor Taizu of Yuan, Chinese: 元太祖)
in Chinese historiography.
Monument in Hulunbuir, Inner Mongolia, China
Probably 1155, 1162, or 1167: Temüjin was born in the Khentii
When Temüjin was nine, his father
Yesükhei was poisoned by Tatars,
leaving Temüjin and his family destitute.
c. 1184: Temüjin's wife
Börte was kidnapped by Merkits; he called on
Wang Khan for aid, and they rescued her.
c. 1185: First son
Jochi was born; leading to doubt about his
paternity later among Genghis's 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 Jamukha's Jadarans.
1202: Adopted as Wang Khan's heir after successful campaigns against
1203: Victory over Wang Khan's Keraites.
Wang Khan himself killed by
accident by allied Naimans.
1204: Victory over
Naimans (all these confederations unite and become
Jamukha was killed. Temüjin was given the title
Genghis Khan by
his followers in a
Kurultai (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
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.
Genghis Khan turned to west and the Khara-Kitan
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.
Genghis Khan died after conquering the Tangut people. Cause of
death is uncertain.
List of medieval Mongolian tribes and clans
List of Mongolian monarchs
Family tree of Genghis Khan
Rags to riches
Mongolian: Тэмүжин Temüjin [tʰemutʃiŋ] ( listen);
Middle Mongolian: Temüjin;
traditional Chinese: 鐵木真; simplified Chinese: 铁木真; pinyin:
Tiěmùzhēn; Wade–Giles: T'ieh3-mu4-chen1
^ Chinese: 成吉思汗; pinyin: Chéngjísī Hán; Wade–Giles:
^ While his name is most commonly rendered as "Genghis" in English,
historians of the
Mongol empire generally prefer the spelling
"Chinggis", which more closely approximates the name's correct
^ Sometimes also written in English as "Temuchin" or "Temujin".
^ "Central Asiatic Journal". Central Asiatic Journal. O. Harrassowitz.
5: 239. 1959. Retrieved July 29, 2011.
^ a b Rashid al-Din asserts that
Genghis Khan was born in 1155, while
the Yuanshi (元史, History of the Yuan dynasty) records his year of
birth as 1162. According to Ratchnevsky, accepting a birth in 1155
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,
Genghis Khan would have been 18, had he been born in
1155. Zhao Hong reports in his travelogue that the
questioned did not know and had never known their ages.
^ Ratchnevsky, Paul (1991). Genghis Khan: His Life and Legacy.
Blackwell Publishing. p. 142. ISBN 0-631-16785-4. It is
possible, however, to say with certainty that
Genghis Khan died in
August 1227; only in specifying the actual day of his death do our
^ Morgan, David (2007). The
Mongols (2 ed.). Blackwell Publishing.
p. 186. ISBN 978-1-4051-3539-9.
^ Saunders, John Joseph (2001) [First published 1972]. History of the
Mongol Conquests. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.
^ John Man (2004). Genghis Khan: Life, Death, and Resurrection
(reprint, illustrated ed.). Bantam. pp. 254–55.
ISBN 0-312-36624-8. Retrieved May 17, 2014.
^ Ian Jeffries (2007). Mongolia: a guide to economic and political
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from the original on March 6, 2010. Retrieved January 26, 2010.
^ Peter Taylor (May 27, 2015). "The World's Richest Terror Army". BBC.
Beheadings and mass slaughter are the hallmark of IS – whole
villages massacred, women cast into slavery. But this butchery is not
random. It is callous and calculated, as former British intelligence
Alastair Crooke points out: 'They in fact in some ways copy
Genghis Khan and the
Mongol approach to military conquest. You create
an absolute fear deliberately in your enemies, and the first time you
come to a village you kill everyone, the dogs, the cats, everything.
Destroy it down to the ground.'
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^ Guida Myrl Jackson-Laufer, Guida M. Jackson, Encyclopedia of
traditional epics, p. 527
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chʾao pi shih, Based Primarily on the English Translation by Francis
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Genghis Khan and the Making
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^ Hildinger 1997, pg. 113.
^ a b Hildinger 1997, pg. 114
^ Lane 2004, pg. xxvii
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Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern
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^ Ratchnevsky 1991, p. 126
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Genghis Khan Conquers
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Library resources about
Resources in your library
Resources in other libraries
Brent, Peter (1976). The
Mongol Empire: Genghis Khan: His Triumph and
His Legacy. London: Weidenfeld & Nicholson.
Bretschneider, Emilii (2002). Mediæval Researches from Eastern
Asiatic Sources; Fragments Towards the Knowledge of the Geography
& History of Central & Western Asia. This Elibron Classics
book is a facsimile reprint of an 1888 edition by Trübner & Co.,
London. Adamant Media Corporation. ISBN 978-1-4021-9303-3.
Cable, Mildred; Francesca French (1943). The Gobi Desert. London:
Chapin, David (2012). Long Lines: Ten of the World's Longest
Continuous Family Lineages. College Station, Texas:
VirtualBookWorm.com. ISBN 978-1-60264-933-0.
Charney, Israel W. (ed.) (1994). Genocide: A Critical Bibliographic
Review. New York: Facts on
File Publications. CS1 maint: Extra
text: authors list (link)
Farale, Dominique (2002). De Gengis Khan à Qoubilaï Khan : la
grande chevauchée mongole. Campagnes & stratégies (in French).
Paris: Economica. ISBN 2-7178-4537-2.
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siècles de guerre (in French). Paris: Economica.
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Khan's Polity 'an Empire'". Ab Imperio. 7 (1): 89–118.
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"Genghis Khan's Secret Weapon Was Rain", National Geographic, Roff
Smith, March 10, 2014
Born: c. 1162 Died: 1227
Khagan of Khamag Mongol
Khamag Mongol ended,
Mongol Empire established
Khagan of the
Khagans of the
Early Great Khans
Tolui Khan (as Regent)
Töregene Khatun (as Regent)
Oghul Qaimish (as Regent)
Kublai Khan / Ariq Böke
Yuan (Kublaid) Great Khans
Yesün Temür Khan
Mongol Empire (1206–1368)
Paiza / Gerege
Manghit / Mangudai
Administrative divisions and vassals
Invasions and conquests
Military tactics and organization
Organization under Genghis Khan
Society and economy
House of Borjigin
House of Ögedei
Tatar raids against Rus'
Tatar states in Europe
House of Ögedei
Qara Khitai (1216–18)
Western Xia (1205 / 1207 / 1209–10 / 1225–27)
China and Manchuria (1211–34)
Kingdom of Dali
Kingdom of Dali (1253–56)
Tibet (1236 / 1240 / 1252)
Japan (1274 / 1281)
Burma (1277 / 1283 / 1287)
Vietnam (1257 / 1284–88)
Georgia (1220–22 / 1226–31 / 1237–64)
Volga Bulgaria (1229–36)
Rus' (1223 / 1236–40)
Poland and Bohemia (1240–41)
Latin Empire (1242)
Palestine (1260 / 1301)
Division of the
Toluid Civil War
Toluid Civil War (1260–64)
Hulagu war (1262)
Kaidu–Kublai war (1268–1301)
Esen Buqa–Ayurbarwada war
Esen Buqa–Ayurbarwada war (1314–1318)
Töregene Khatun (regent)
Oghul Qaimish (regent)
Kublai Khan (Khagans of the Yuan)
Öz Beg Khan
Timeline of the
List of emperors of the
Yuan dynasty (1271–1368)
Mongol rulers posthumously promoted by
Kublai Khan as Yuan
Kublai Khan in 1260 as Khagan, officially assuming the
role of Emperor of
China as Yuan Shizu starting in 1271
Following conquest of Southern
Song dynasty in 1279 ruled all of China
Huizong (Emperor Shun)
Xia → Shang → Zhou → Qin → Han → 3 Kingdoms → Jìn / 16
Kingdoms → S. Dynasties / N. Dynasties → Sui → Tang → 5
Dynasties & 10 Kingdoms → Liao / Song / W. Xia / Jīn → Yuan
→ Ming → Qing → ROC / PRC
ISNI: 0000 0001 1810 1908
BNF: cb12098160c (data)