Genghis Khan (also referred to as Chingis, Jenghiz, or Jinghis, and originally known as Temujin,) was a warrior, founder and first Great Khan and emperor of the Mongol Empire―known among historians as the largest contiguous empire in history after his death.
After his rise to power, Ghengis Khan united the Mongol clans, and with his forces began the conquest a vast amount of territory in China and central Asia, with his army venturing as far west as present-day Bulgaria, Georgia, and Ukraine. At the height of his power up to his death in August 1227, Khan ruled what is today one of the largest empires in human history.
Early Life and Rise to Power
Born c. 1155 C.E., in April 16, 1162 C.E. (as is most favoured today in Mongolia), or in 1167 C.E., with the name Temujin, Ghenghis Khan was the son of Yesugei (or Yesukai), the leader of the Borjigin clan who later emerged as the head of the ruling Mongol clan, and was named after a leader who was defeated by his father when he was born. He is reported to have had three brothers Hasar, Hachiun, and Temüge, one sister Temülen, and two half-brothers Begtor and Belgutei.
Due to the lack of contemporary written records, little is known about Genghis Khan’s early life. Also problematic is that the few sources which give insight into this period are often contradictory. However, it is well acknowledged that Ghengis Khan’s early life was difficult. At age nine, his father had arranged for him to be married to Borte who was ten, and had him delivered to the family of his future.
There, young Temujin would serve the head of the household, Dai Setsen, until the age of 12 when he was eligible to marry. Following his father’s death―apparently by poisoning―not long after the arrangement, Temujin returned home to find his family’s power stripped from them. Along with his mother and siblings, he was forced to live in the streets, often contending with thieves and his father’s old rivals who hoped to lay waste to the family.
After a few years, Temujin decided that he was strong enough to return to Dai Sechen and take Borte’s hand in marriage. However, having overestimated his own strength, Borte was kidnapped in a raid by the Merkit tribe. To bring her back, Temujin sought help from two of his friends Jamuqa (also Ong Khan) and Toghrul (also Wang Khan) who enthusiastically offered their services as they hated the Merkit.
It is not clear if claims by Chinese historical sources that at some point Temujin was captured by the Jin Dynasty (who controlled part of China) and was held there for a number of years, however, the records do show that around 1200 Temujin had had entered an alliance with Toghrul with whom he launched a campaign against the Tatars, who were defeated in 1202.
In the years that followed, he would have a fall out with both of his friends who he successfully defeated and killed. He would go on to conquer most of Mongolia and forced the remaining tribes to acknowledge him as their leader, signaling the birth of the Mongol Empire. Upon ascension to the throne, he has proclaimed Genghis Khan which most likely meant “oceanic sovereign”.
Building an Empire and Death
After emerging as the Emperor of Mongolia, Genghis Khan, launched strings of invasions that saw to the conquest of most of Eurasia. Beginning with a successful campaign against the Jin Dynasty, who he took their capital Zhongdu in 1215, he also launched campaigns against the Qara Khitai, Khwarezmia, and the Western Xia dynasties.
So brutal were his campaigns that they were often accompanied by large-scale massacres of the civilian populations, and have left historians to conclude that he was a brutal ruler. However, he often ordered his troops not to harm artisans and to leave clerics alone, respecting holy men of other faiths. He is often thought to have maintained a fighting force of over 200,000 and had invaded Khwarezmia with as much as this number.
Ghenjis Khan devised a system of laws and regulations with which he ran his new empire. Also, he enacted policies which helped keep his army together, even when they were a long way from home. Furthermore, once he had conquered territories beyond Mongolia, he instituted a more sophisticated administrative structure and a regular system of taxation.
With these, he successfully transformed the Mongolian society from one based on a tribal system to one capable of staging conquests and running an empire. He introduces writing in Mongolia, adopting the use of the Uyghur script as the Mongol Empire’s writing system.
According to tradition, he had at a point sought out Daoist priests, whom he believed to possess the secret to eternal life. Genghis Khan died in August 1227, during a campaign in Yinchuan, the capital of Western Xia. The exact cause of his death remains a mystery, however, many historians believe that he, apparently, died of natural causes. Other possible causes of death are an injury sustained after falling from his horse while hunting and death in battle.
After his death, he was buried―according to his request―in an unmarked grave in Mongolia, and his son Ogedai, succeeded him as emperor. Together with other descendants, Ogedai 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. The empire would later break apart in the 14th century. However, his descendants would remain in power until 1920 when the las of them were finally deposed.
A 2003 research report, claims that 1 in 200 men in the areas that formed parts of the Mongol Empire are direct descendants of Genghis Khan.
(By, Ejiofor Ekene Olaedo)
SOURCES OF AUTHOR’S INFORMATION
Bawden, C. R. (2020, July 6). Genghis Khan. Retrieved July, 24, 2020 from Encyclopaedia Britannica: https://britannica.com/biography/Genghis-Khan
Jarus, O. (2014). Genghis Khan, Founder of Mongol Empire: Facts & Biography. Retrieved July, 24, 2020 from Live Science: https://livescience.com/amp/43260-genghis-khan.html
PLEASE SHARE THIS SO OTHERS CAN KNOW THIS HISTORY!