About Genghis khan

The Mongol Empire or Genghis Khaan’s conquest existed during the 13th and 14th centuries and was the largest contiguous land empire in history. Originating in the steppes of Central Asia, the Mongol Empire eventually stretched from Eastern Europe and parts of Central Europe to the Sea of Japan, extending northwards into Siberia, eastwards and southwards into the Indian subcontinent, Indochina and the Iranian Plateau; and westwards as far as the Levant and the Carpathian Mountains.

Born in north central Mongolia around 1162, Genghis Khan was originally named "Temujin" after a Tatar chieftain that his father, Yesukhei, had captured. Successful; the Mongol Empire was the largest empire in the world before the British Empire, and lasted well after his own death in 1227.

The early success of the Mongol army owed much to the brilliant military tactics of Genghis Khan, as well as his understanding of his enemies' motivations. He employed an extensive spy network and was quick to adopt new technologies from his enemies. The well-trained Mongol army of 80,000 fighters coordinated their advance with a sophisticated signaling system of smoke and burning torches. Large drums sounded commands to charge, and further orders were conveyed with flag signals. Every soldier was fully equipped with a bow, arrows, a shield, a dagger and a lasso. He also carried large saddlebags for food, tools and spare clothes. The saddlebag was waterproof and could be inflated to serve as a life preserver when crossing deep and swift-moving rivers. Cavalrymen carried a small sword, javelins, body armor, a battle-ax or mace, and a lance with a hook to pull enemies off of their horses. The Mongols were devastating in their attacks. Because they could maneuver a galloping horse using only their legs, their hands were free to shoot arrows. The entire army was followed by a well-organized supply system of oxcarts carrying food for soldiers and beasts alike, as well as military equipment, shamans for spiritual and medical aid, and officials to catalog the booty.

Following the victories over the rival Mongol tribes, other tribal leaders agreed to peace and bestowed on Temujin the title of "Genghis Khan," which means "universal ruler." The title carried not only political importance, but also spiritual significance. The leading shaman declared Genghis Khan the representative of Mongke Koko Tengri (the "Eternal Blue Sky"), the supreme god of the Mongols. With this declaration of divine status, it was accepted that his destiny was to rule the world.

Major conquest

In 1207, he led his armies against the kingdom of Xi Xia and, after two years, forced it to surrender. In 1211, Genghis Khan's armies struck the Jin Dynasty in northern China, lured not by the great cities' artistic and scientific wonders, but rather the seemingly endless rice fields and easy pickings of wealth.

Although the campaign against the Jin Dynasty lasted nearly 20 years, Genghis Khan's armies were also active in the west against border empires and the Muslim world. Initially, Genghis Khan used diplomacy to establish trade relations with the Khwarizm Dynasty, a Turkish-dominated empire that included Turkestan, Persia, and Afghanistan. But the Mongol diplomatic mission was attacked by the governor of Otrar, who possibly believed the caravan was a cover for a spy mission. When Genghis Khan heard of this affront, he demanded the governor be extradited to him and sent a diplomat to retrieve him. Shah Muhammad, the leader of the Khwarizm Dynasty, not only refused the demand, but in defiance sent back the head of the Mongol diplomat.

This act released a fury that would sweep through central Asia and into eastern Europe. In 1219, Genghis Khan personally took control of planning and executing a three-prong attack of 200,000 Mongol soldiers against the Khwarizm Dynasty. The Mongols swept through every city's fortifications with unstoppable savagery. Those who weren't immediately slaughtered were driven in front of the Mongol army, serving as human shields when the Mongols took the next city. No living thing was spared, including small domestic animals and livestock. Skulls of men, women, and children were piled in large, pyramidal mounds. City after city was brought to its knees, and eventually the Shah Muhammad and later his son were captured and killed, bringing an end to the Khwarizm Dynasty in 1221.

Scholars describe the period after the Khwarizm campaign as the Pax Mongolica. In time, the conquests of Genghis Khan connected the major trade centers of China and Europe. The empire was governed by a legal code known as Yassa. Developed by Genghis Khan, the code was based on Mongol common law but contained edicts that prohibited blood feuds, adultery, theft and bearing false witness. Also included were laws that reflected Mongol respect for the environment such as forbidding bathing in rivers and streams and orders for any soldier following another to pick up anything that the first soldier dropped. Infraction of any of these laws was usually punishable by death.
With the annihilation of the Khwarizm Dynasty, Genghis Khan once again turned his attention east to China. The Tanguts of Xi Xia had defied his orders to contribute troops to the Khwarizm campaign and were in open revolt. In a string of victories against Tangut cities, Genghis Khan defeated enemy armies and sacked the capital of Ning Hia. Soon one Tangut official surrendered after another, and the resistance ended. Genghis Khan hadn't quite extracted all the revenge he wanted for the Tangut betrayal, however, and ordered the execution of the imperial family, thus ending the Tangut lineage.

In 1207, he led his armies against the kingdom of Xi Xia and, after two years, forced it to surrender. In 1211, Genghis Khan's armies struck the Jin Dynasty in northern China, lured not by the great cities' artistic and scientific wonders, but rather the seemingly endless rice fields and easy pickings of wealth.

Although the campaign against the Jin Dynasty lasted nearly 20 years, Genghis Khan's armies were also active in the west against border empires and the Muslim world. Initially, Genghis Khan used diplomacy to establish trade relations with the Khwarizm Dynasty, a Turkish-dominated empire that included Turkestan, Persia, and Afghanistan. But the Mongol diplomatic mission was attacked by the governor of Otrar, who possibly believed the caravan was a cover for a spy mission. When Genghis Khan heard of this affront, he demanded the governor be extradited to him and sent a diplomat to retrieve him. Shah Muhammad, the leader of the Khwarizm Dynasty, not only refused the demand, but in defiance sent back the head of the Mongol diplomat.

This act released a fury that would sweep through central Asia and into eastern Europe. In 1219, Genghis Khan personally took control of planning and executing a three-prong attack of 200,000 Mongol soldiers against the Khwarizm Dynasty. The Mongols swept through every city's fortifications with unstoppable savagery. Those who weren't immediately slaughtered were driven in front of the Mongol army, serving as human shields when the Mongols took the next city. No living thing was spared, including small domestic animals and livestock. Skulls of men, women, and children were piled in large, pyramidal mounds. City after city was brought to its knees, and eventually the Shah Muhammad and later his son were captured and killed, bringing an end to the Khwarizm Dynasty in 1221.

Scholars describe the period after the Khwarizm campaign as the Pax Mongolica. In time, the conquests of Genghis Khan connected the major trade centers of China and Europe. The empire was governed by a legal code known as Yassa. Developed by Genghis Khan, the code was based on Mongol common law but contained edicts that prohibited blood feuds, adultery, theft and bearing false witness. Also included were laws that reflected Mongol respect for the environment such as forbidding bathing in rivers and streams and orders for any soldier following another to pick up anything that the first soldier dropped. Infraction of any of these laws was usually punishable by death.
With the annihilation of the Khwarizm Dynasty, Genghis Khan once again turned his attention east to China. The Tanguts of Xi Xia had defied his orders to contribute troops to the Khwarizm campaign and were in open revolt. In a string of victories against Tangut cities, Genghis Khan defeated enemy armies and sacked the capital of Ning Hia. Soon one Tangut official surrendered after another, and the resistance ended. Genghis Khan hadn't quite extracted all the revenge he wanted for the Tangut betrayal, however, and ordered the execution of the imperial family, thus ending the Tangut lineage.

Genghis Khan's Death

Genghis Khan died in 1227, soon after the submission of the Xi Xia. The exact cause of his death is unknown. Some historians maintain that he fell off a horse while on a hunt, and died of fatigue and injuries. Others contend that he died of respiratory disease. Genghis Khan was buried without markings, according to the customs of his tribe, somewhere near his birthplace—close to the Onon River and the Khentii Mountains in northern Mongolia. According to legend, the funeral escort killed anyone and anything they encountered to conceal the location of the burial site, and a river was diverted over Genghis Khan's grave to make it impossible to find.

Before his death, Genghis Khan bestowed supreme leadership to his son Ogedei, who controlled most of eastern Asia, including China. The rest of the empire was divided among his other sons: Chagatai took over central Asia and northern Iran; Tolui, being the youngest, received a small territory near the Mongol homeland; and Jochi (who was killed before Genghis Khan's death). Jochi and his son, Batu, took control of modern Russia and formed the Golden Horde. The empire's expansion continued and reached its peak under Ogedei Khan's leadership. Mongol armies eventually invaded Persia, the Song Dynasty in southern China, and the Balkans. Just when the Mongol armies had reached the gates of Vienna, Austria, leading commander Batu got word of the Great Khan Ogedei's death and was called back to Mongolia. Subsequently, the campaign lost momentum, marking the Mongol's farthest invasion into Europe.

Among the many descendants of Genghis Khan is Kublai Khan, who was the son of Tolui, Genghis Khan's youngest son. At a young age, Kublai had a strong interest in Chinese civilization and, throughout his life, did much to incorporate Chinese customs and culture into Mongol rule. Kublai rose to prominence in 1251, when his eldest brother, Mongke, became Khan of the Mongol Empire and placed him as governor of the southern territories. Kublai distinguished himself by increasing agricultural production and expanding Mongol territory. After Mongke's death, Kublai and his other brother, Arik Boke, fought for control of the empire. After three years of intertribal warfare, Kublai was victorious, and he was made Great Khan and emperor of the Yuan Dynasty of China.