genghis khan


  • [59] Rise to power Early campaigns Burkhan Khaldun mountain, where Temüjin hid during the Merkit attack, and which he later came to honour as sacred Accompanied by Belgutei,
    Temüjin returned to Dei Sechen to marry Börte when he became an adult at fifteen.

  • [72][90][91] The oath-takers of Baljuna were a very heterogenous group—men from nine different tribes, who included Christians, Muslims, and Buddhists, were united only by
    loyalty to Temüjin and to each other; this group became a model for the later empire, being termed a “proto-government of a proto-nation” by historian John Man.

  • [30][31] The origin of his birth-name is contested: the earliest traditions hold that his father had just returned from a successful expedition against the Tatars with a captive
    named Temüchin-uge, after whom he named the newborn in celebration of his victory, while later traditions highlight the root temür (meaning iron), also present in the names of two of his siblings, and connect to theories that Temüjin means

  • [73] Modern historians such as Ratchnevsky and Timothy May consider it very likely that Temüjin spent a large portion of the decade following the clash at Dalan Baljut as
    a servant of the Jurchen Jin dynasty.

  • [117] Despite this setback, the Mongols still posed a threat to Western Xia, and with the state’s crops destroyed and no relief coming from the Jin, Li Anquan agreed to submit
    to Mongol rule by giving a daughter, Chaka, in marriage to Genghis and paying a tribute of camels, falcons, and textiles.

  • [8] All accounts of his adolescence and rise to power under the name Temüjin derive from two Mongolian sources—The Secret History of the Mongols, and the Altan Debter (“Golden

  • Since the Mongol army was exhausted after ten years of continuous campaigning against the Western Xia and Jin dynasty, Genghis Khan sent just two tumen (20,000 soldiers) under
    his general Jebe, known as “the Arrow”, to pursue Kuchlug.

  • [49][50] Around this time, Temüjin developed a close friendship with Jamukha, another boy of aristocratic descent; the Secret History notes that they exchanged knucklebones
    and arrows as gifts and swore the anda pact—the traditional oath of Mongol blood brothers–at the age of eleven.

  • Having attained control over one million people and over fifteen million animals,[106] Genghis Khan began what May has termed a “social revolution”.[107].

  • In any case, the major trial rulers remained with Jamukha, but forty-one named leaders joined Temüjin along with many commoners: these included Subutai and others of the Uriankhai,
    the Barulas, the Olkhonuds, and many more.

  • As he would later go on to overthrow that state, such an episode, detrimental to Mongol prestige, was omittted from all their sources.

  • Led by the widows of Ambaghai, a previous Mongol khan, a Tayichiud faction excluded Hoelun from the ancestor worship ceremonies which followed a ruler’s death and soon abandoned
    the camp.

  • As Temüjin was only around ten, and Behter around two years older, neither was considered old enough to rule.

  • Behter’s younger full-brother Belgutei did not seek vengeance, and became one of Temüjin’s highest-ranking followers alongside Qasar.

  • [81][82] Desiring complete supremacy in eastern Mongolia, Temüjin defeated first the Tayichiud and then, in 1202, the Tatars; after both campaigns, he executed the clan leaders
    and took the remaining warriors into his service.

  • Having spent the majority of his life uniting the Mongol tribes, he launched a series of military campaigns which conquered large parts of China and Central Asia.

  • • Khagan of the Mongol Empire: Reign: Spring 1206 – 25 August 1227; Successor: Tolui (as regent) Ögedei Khan; Born: Temüjin, c. 1162, Khentii Mountains, Khamag Mongol; Died:
    25 August 1227[1] Xingqing, Western Xia; Burial: Unknown (see Burial place of Genghis Khan); Spouse: Börte, Khulan Khatun, Yesugen Khatun, Yesulun Khatun, Ibaqa Khatun, Möge Khatun; Issue: Jochi, Chagatai, Ögedei, Alakhai Bekhi, Tolui; Names:
    Mongol script: Chinggis Khagan; Posthumous name: Emperor Fatian Qiyun Shengwu; Temple name: Taizu; Dynasty: Borjigin; Father: Yesügei; Mother: Hoelun Name and title There is no universally adopted system of transliterating original Mongolian
    names into English; many different systems and standards continue to be in use today, resulting in modern spellings that often differ considerably from the original pronunciation.

  • [54][55] The Secret History relates one such occasion when he was captured by the Tayichiuds who had abandoned him after his father’s death.

  • Temüjin also had two half-brothers, Behter and Belgutei, from Yesügei’s second wife Sochigel, whose identity is uncertain.

  • 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.

  • [108][109][110] As most of the traditional tribal leaders had been killed during his rise to power, Genghis was able to reconstruct the Mongol social hierarchy in his favour.

  • The Onggirat chieftain, delighted to see the son-in-law he feared had been lost, immediately consented to the marriage, and accompanied the newlyweds back to Temüjin’s camp;
    his wife Čotan presented Hoelun with a black sable cloak, a sign of great wealth.

  • Outraged, Genghis Khan began planning one of his largest invasion campaigns and gathered around 100,000 soldiers (10 tumens), his most capable generals and some of his sons.

  • These included Sorkan-Shira, who had come to his aid previously, and a young warrior named Jebe, who, by killing Temüjin’s horse and refusing to hide that fact, had displayed
    military skill and personal courage.

  • [16] His contemporary Juvayni, who had travelled twice to Mongolia and attained a high position in the Ilkhanate administration, was more sympathetic; his account is the most
    reliable for Genghis Khan’s western campaigns.

  • [97][98] The Merkits would be decimated later that year, while Jamukha, who had abandoned the Naimans at Chakirmaut, was betrayed to Temüjin by companions who were executed
    for their lack of loyalty.

  • [74][75] Zhao Hong, a 1221 ambassador from the Song dynasty, recorded that the future Genghis Khan spent several years as a slave of the Jin.

  • [102][103] A third hypothesis proposes that the title is related to the Turkic “tängiz”, meaning “sea” or “ocean”; the title “Genghis Khan” would mean “master of the ocean”,
    and as the ocean was believed to surround the earth, the title ultimately implied “Universal Ruler”.

  • [51][52][53] As the family lacked allies, Temüjin was likely taken prisoner on multiple occasions.

  • Due to the erratic nature of the sources, this period of Temüjin’s life is uncertain; he may have spent time as a servant of the Jin dynasty.

  • [37] A 16th century depiction of Börte and Genghis Khan in later life When Temüjin was eight years old, Yesügei decided to betroth him to a suitable girl; he took his heir
    to the pastures of the prestigious Onggirat tribe, which Hoelun had been born into, and arranged a marriage between Temüjin and Börte, the daughter of an Onggirat chieftain named Dei Sechen.

  • The Jin army made several early tactical mistakes, including not attacking the Mongols early on when it had overwhelming numerical superiority, and instead initially fortifying
    behind the Great Wall.

  • Led by Toghrul’s son Senggum, the Kereit elite believed the proposal to be an attempt to gain control over their tribe, while the doubts over Jochi’s parentage would have
    offended them further.

  • At around the same time, he assisted Toghrul with reclaiming the lordship of the Kereit, which had been taken by a family member with the support of the powerful Naiman tribe.

  • He called in every possible ally and swore a famous oath of loyalty, later known as the Baljuna Covenant, to his faithful followers, which would later grant them exclusivity
    and prestige.

  • A now-pregnant Börte was recovered successfully and soon gave birth to a son, Jochi; although Temüjin raised him as his own, questions over his true paternity followed Jochi
    throughout his life.

  • In fact, Toghrul may not have participated in the warfare, and the title was only thus given as a pacificatory gesture.

  • [79][75] Temüjin was able to subdue the disobedient Jurkin tribe, who had previously offended him at a feast and had refused to participate in the Tatar campaign: after eliminating
    their leaders, he had Belgutei symbolically break a leading Jurkin’s back in a staged wrestling match in retribution.

  • Genghis Khan died in 1227 while besieging the rebellious Western Xia; his third son and heir Ögedei succeeded to the throne two years later.

  • [115] With the path now open, Genghis advanced to the capital, which held a garrison of about 150,000 soldiers, nearly twice the size and the Mongol army.

  • [22][23] Birth and early life The year of Temüjin’s birth is disputed, as historians favour different dates: 1155, 1162 or 1167.

  • Genghis Khan (born Temüjin; c. 1162 — 25 August 1227), also known as Chinggis Khan,[a] was the founder and first khagan of the Mongol Empire, which later became the largest
    contiguous land empire in history.

  • [12][13] Although it is clear that the chronology of the work is suspect and that some passages were removed or modified for better narration, the Secret History is valued
    more highly because the author is often critical of Genghis Khan.

  • [64][68] Temüjin and Jamukha camped together for a year and a half, during which, according to the Secret History, they reforged their anda pact, even sleeping together under
    one blanket.

  • [14] Multiple chronicles in Persian have also survived, which display a mix of positive and negative attitudes towards Genghis Khan and the Mongols.

  • Traditionally seen as a bond solely of friendship, as presented in the source, Ratchnevsky has questioned if Temüjin was actually serving as Jamukha’s nökor, in return for
    the assistance with the Merkits.

  • Aware that a different organisational structure was required to optimise his new nation, Genghis began a series of administrative reforms designed to suppress the power of
    tribal loyalties and to replace them with unconditional loyalty to the khan and the ruling family.

  • Külüg Khan later expanded this title into Fatian Qiyun Shengwu Huangdi (meaning “Interpreter of the Heavenly Law, Initiator of the Good Fortune, Holy-Martial Emperor”).

  • Yesügei gradually sickened but managed to return home; close to death, he requested a trusted retainer called Münglig to retrieve Temüjin from the Onggirat.

  • [116] The Mongols arrived in May, but were not equipped or experienced enough to take the city, and by October were still unsuccessful.

  • Later, when Genghis Khan sent a group of three ambassadors (two Mongols and a Muslim) to complain to the Shah, Muhammad II had all the men shaved and the Muslim beheaded.

  • [80] The tribal polities united by Temüjin to found the Mongol Empire During the following years, Temüjin and Toghrul campaigned separately and together against the Merkits,
    the Naimans, and the Tatars.

  • [24] While a dating to 1155 is supported by the writings of both Rashid al-Din and the Chinese diplomat Zhao Hong, other major sources such as the Yuán Shǐ and the Shengwu
    favour the year 1162.

  • “black bone”; sometimes qarachu), composed of the surviving pre-empire aristocracy and the most important of the new families.

  • The alliances with Jamukha and Toghrul failed completely in the early 13th century, but Temüjin was able to defeat both and claim sole rulership of the Mongol tribes.

  • With the tribes fully united, Genghis set out on a campaign of conquest.

  • The two grew close, and Temüjin began to build a following, as nökod such as Jelme entered into his service.

  • The latter, now lost, served as inspiration for two Chinese chronicles—the 14th-century Yuán Shǐ (lit.

  • [92][93][94] The Baljuna Covenant was omitted from the Secret History—as the group was predominantly non-Mongol, the author presumably wished to downplay the role of other

  • [25][b] The 1167 dating, favoured by Paul Pelliot, is derived from a minor source—a text of the Yuan artist Yang Weizhen—but is far more compatible with the events of Genghis
    Khan’s life.

  • As the betrothal meant Yesügei would gain a powerful ally, and as Börte commanded a high bride price, Dei Sechen held the stronger negotiating position, and demanded that
    Temüjin remain in his household to work off his future bride’s dowry.

  • Both Temüjin and Behter had claims to be their father’s heir: although Temüjin was the child of Yesügei’s chief wife, Behter was at least two years his senior.

  • It is possible that Hoelun may have refused to join in levirate marriage with one, or that the author of the Secret History dramatised the situation.

  • [47][87][88] The Baljuna Covenant “[Temüjin] raised his hands and looking up at Heaven swore, saying “If I am able to achieve my “Great Work”, I shall [always] share with
    you men the sweet and the bitter.

  • Traditionally seen as an expression of Song arrogance, the statement is now thought to be based in fact, especially as no other source convincingly explains Temüjin’s activities
    between Dalan Baljut and c.

  • [69] Tensions arose and the two leaders parted, ostensibly on account of a cryptic remark made by Jamukha on the subject of camping; scholarly analysis has focused on the
    active role of Börte in this separation, and whether her ambitions may have outweighed Temüjin’s own.

  • [11] The reliability of the Secret History as a historical source has been disputed: while the sinologist Arthur Waley saw it as near-useless from a historical standpoint
    and valued it only as a literary work, recent historians have increasingly used it to explore Genghis Khan’s early life.

  • Toghrul ruled hundreds of miles and commanded up to 20,000 warriors, but he was suspicious of the loyalty of his chief followers and, after being presented with the sable
    cloak, he welcomed Temüjin into his protection.

  • Later chroniclers including Rashid al-Din instead state that he was victorious but their accounts contradict themselves and each other.

  • [92] A ruse de guerre involving Qasar allowed the Mongols to catch the Kereit unawares at the Jej’er Heights, but though the ensuing battle still lasted three days, it ended
    in a decisive victory for Temüjin.

  • [76][77] Toghrul was given the title of Ong Khan by the Jin, traditionally as a reward for his support during the Tatar campaign.


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