Where are Genghis Khan's Mongols?

Where are Genghis Khan's Mongols?

In the 13th century, Mongol hordes invaded most of the known world and Genghis Khan's nobles had strong legacies to rule in China, Iran and Central Asia in the the following centuries. What about the Mongol soldiers and common people in the areas? Were they assimilated or dissolved in any sense or do the descendants of Mongols still live in areas other than Mongol proper?

Wikipedia provides an excellent answer on the Descendants of Genghis Khan.

Some of the main points:

  • Another important consideration is that Genghis's descendants intermarried frequently. For instance, the Jochids took wives from the Ilkhan dynasty of Persia, whose progenitor was Hulagu Khan. As a consequence, it is likely that many Jochids had other sons of Genghis Khan among their maternal ancestors.

  • Among the Asian dynasties descended from Genghis Khan were the Yuan Dynasty of China, the Ilkhanids of Persia, the Jochids of the Golden Horde, the Shaybanids of Siberia, and the Astrakhanids of Central Asia.

  • The ruling Wang Clan of the Korean Goryeo Dynasty became descendants of the Genghisids through the marriage between King Chungnyeol and a daughter of Kublai Khan. All subsequent rulers of Korea for next 80 years, through King Gongmin, were thus descended from Genghis Khan.

  • After the Mongol invasion of Russia, the Rurikid rulers of Russian principalities were eager to obtain political advantages for themselves and their countries by marrying into the House of Genghis.

  • … Hence, it is not surprising to note that from Nurhaci to the Shunzhi Emperor, all the empresses and major concubines were Mongols.

It is also worth noting The Ian Ashworth Effect also mentioned in the link above and in this SE Skeptics discussion:

It has been claimed and researched (link to paper) that:

8% of all Asian men and thus 0.5% of all men would be descendant of Genghis Khan.

The conclusion from Skeptics was that the research stacked up:

It appears to have a robust result, that it seems reasonably to provisionally accept unless counter evidence is produced.

The vast majority of Genghis Khan's Mongols either were driven back to Mongolia or were absorbed into the general population of China. Some modern-day Chinese do retain their Mongol heritage as evidenced in the following linguistic map of Mongol Languages:

Some of the Mongol populations include: Bonan, Mongour, Dongxiang, Yugur, Sogwo Arig, Sichuan Mongols, Yunnan Mongols. Thanks to Dagvadorj for correcting me and pointing that out.

Genghis Khan's empire had at least four main parts: (modern) Russia, the Middle East (mainlhy Persia), Central Asia (Kazakhstan), and China-Mongolia.

The soldiers who occupied the first three parts (mostly) intermarried with local women. In China-Mongolia (under Kublai Khan), many Mongolians intermarried with Chinese. Only a few Mongolians (between modern Mongolia and Lake Baikal) remained relatively "pure," which is why there are so few of them today. The genes of the others ended up elsewhere.

The Secret History of the Mongols

The Secret History of the Mongols (Traditional Mongolian: Mongγol-un niγuča tobčiyan, Khalkha Mongolian: Монголын нууц товчоо , Mongolyn nuuts tovchoo [note 1] Chinese: 《蒙古秘史》 pinyin: Měnggǔ Mìshǐ lit. 'Mongol Secret History') is the oldest surviving literary work in the Mongolian language. It was written for the Mongol royal family some time after the 1227 death of Genghis Khan (born Temujin). The author is anonymous and probably originally wrote in the Mongolian script, but the surviving texts all derive from transcriptions or translations into Chinese characters that date from the end of the 14th century and were compiled by the Ming dynasty under the title The Secret History of the Yuan Dynasty (Chinese: 《元朝秘史》 pinyin: Yuáncháo Mìshǐ ). Also known as Tobchiyan (Chinese: 脫必赤顏 pinyin: Tuōbìchìyán or 脫卜赤顏 Tuōbǔchìyán ) in the History of Yuan.

The Secret History is regarded as the single most significant native Mongolian account of Genghis Khan. Linguistically, it provides the richest source of pre-classical Mongolian and Middle Mongolian. [2] The Secret History is regarded as a piece of classic literature in both Mongolia and the rest of the world.

The only copy of it was found in China and published by a Russian monk Palladius (Pyotr Ivanovich Kafarov) in 1872. [ contradictory ]

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Mongolian history: From Genghis Khan to socialism - Mongolia Trip

When you think of Mongolia, the first thing that probably comes to your mind is Genghis Khan and the Mongolian Empire. There is a widespread belief among foreigners that nothing of importance happened in Mongolian history after the empire's fall. And it's mostly true. Mongolia was rarely mentioned or participated in major world events after the conquests of Genghis Khan. But like most things, if you actually dig, A LOT has happened before and after the Mongolian Empire. So, to save you from reading the entirety of a Wikipedia article, we wrote this (relatively) short article about the history of Mongolia.

Prehistory (Before the Mongol Empire)

We won't bore you with the prehistoric part too much because, well, it's prehistoric. In short, nobody knows much about primitive Central Asian nomads. All we know is that before Genghis Khan was born, there were actually a few empires, with the Xiongnu empire being the first. First founded in 209 BCE, the empire conducted destructive raids on lands of the Qin dynasty. These raids resulted in the construction of the Great Wall of China for protection. Unfortunately, the ethnic core of the Xiongnu Empire remains muddy. They could've been Huns, Mongols, or Turks. The Xiongnu people didn't really write much because they were nomadic people at constant war with China. So keeping track of their history probably wasn't really a top priority.

After Xiongnu came the Xianbei Empire, which was founded in 93 CE. Unlike Xiongnu, they lacked organization and were assimilated into China. Next up is the Rouran Khaganate. They were a little more advanced than the previous two confederations. However, it is said that the Khaganate was an aggressive, militarized society. So it was probably similar to the ancient Greek city-state Sparta in that it wasn't really a great place to live peacefully. After the eventual decline of the Rouran Khaganate, the First Turkic Khaganate succeeded them. But, as the name implies, they were Turks, and the Khaganate eventually collapsed in a series of civil wars.

Temüjin (Chaos of the warring tribes)

Genghis Khan is the most critical figure in Mongolian history. He is basically Mongolia's George Washington. But to understand how the Mongol Empire was founded, we have to mention the Khamag Mongol. They were basically a predecessor state to the Mongol Empire. Genghis Khan's father actually was the 4th khan of the Khamag Mongol. And like most rulers, he was poisoned by his enemies. This left the then nine-year-old Temüjin (Genghis Khan) without much power. After his father's death, the tribe abandoned Temüjin and their family, essentially leaving them to die.

For the next several years, they lived in extreme poverty, mostly eating fruits and squirrels hunted by Temüjin and his brothers. Speaking of brothers, his older half-brother Begter repeatedly tried to exercise power over the family and wanted to marry Temüjin's mother. Temüjin did not like that. So while hunting for food, he killed him with a bow and arrow. During this time, Mongolia was completely fractured without a central power.

Around 1177, Temüjin was captured by a tribe and enslaved. A sympathetic guard is said to have freed Temüjin, and he escaped at night. The guard's son eventually became a general of Genghis Khan. He also married the woman he was supposed to marry at nine years old before his father's death. Unfortunately, that wife, Börte, was kidnapped by yet another tribe. Temüjin then gathered 20,000 soldiers with the help of his father's friend and completely annihilated that tribe. This event became a stepping stone to more power. Eventually, after much death and betrayal, he earned the title 'Genghis Khan' or universal leader in 1206 and readied for conquest.

Genghis Khan (Mongol Empire)

Before we get to the war and destruction part, Genghis Khan was actually a pretty competent and progressive ruler (by 13th century standards). He organized his army using the decimal system. 10 soldiers basically functioned as a squad (arban). 100 soldiers were platoons (zuuns) 1,000 - battalions (mingghans) and 10,000 soldiers were an army (tumen). He also highly valued loyalty and friendship. People who were loyal to him were placed in high positions. Being surrounded by highly skilled and loyal people was crucial to his conquest.

While merciful with his allies, Temüjin was brutal with his enemies. He swiftly defeated neighboring countries. Almost every city the Mongol army attacked was utterly destroyed, and its populace slaughtered. Every single Mongol soldier was expected to execute 24 people each battle. The Mongol Empire ravaged the entirety of Asia. Soldiers of the empire committed large-scale massacres, which were horrific. These atrocities made the Mongol Empire infamous for its brutality. Genghis Khan famously invaded and decimated the Khwarezmian Empire, poured molten silver into a governor's eyes and ears for killing his messengers. In the end, he roughly slaughtered 40-60 million civilians, causing a drastic decline in population and an increase in famine.

Even though Genghis Khan was a ruthless warlord to his enemies, his influence is more nuanced. He practiced meritocracy and encouraged religious tolerance, which was mostly unheard of at the time. After Temüjin's death, his sons and grandsons made the Mongol Empire the largest contiguous empire in history. Kublai Khan, one of his grandsons, founded the Yuan dynasty and became emperor of all China. Unfortunately, the descendants of Genghis Khan started a succession war amongst each other that tore the massive empire apart.

The Rise of Socialism (Contemporary Mongolian history)

After the fall of the Mongol Empire, a period of factional conflict started. In the 17th century, the Qing dynasty absorbed Mongolia, and Tibetan Buddhism spread rapidly. After the fall of the Qing dynasty, Mongolia achieved independence from the Republic of China in 1921. Russian Bolsheviks were crucial in Mongolia's independence, and in 1924 Mongolia became a socialist state. During the socialist rule, thousands of monks were executed without trial. Like most socialist countries, religious practices were prohibited. Freedom of the press was on its deathbed, and people who opposed the government were executed. In short, life was pretty bleak for the Mongolian people. Like other countries under Soviet rule, Mongolia conducted a peaceful democratic revolution and, in 1990, became a semi-presidential republic. Mongolia has experienced unprecedented peace and economic growth since.

Today, Mongolia is a lower-middle-income country with a market-based economy. Although not a developed country, Mongolia has progressed at a remarkable pace since the fall of communism. Even though Mongolian history has a , current day Mongolia has become one of the safest countries in the world.

Military practices

The amazing military achievements of the Mongols under Genghis Khan and his successors were due to superior strategy and tactics rather than to numerical strength. Mongol armies were chiefly composed of cavalry which afforded them a high degree of mobility and speed. Their movements and maneuvers were directed by signals and a well-organized messenger service. In battle they relied mainly on bows and arrows and resorted to man-to-man fighting only after having disorganized the enemy’s ranks. Mongol armaments and tactics were more suited to open plains and flat countries than to mountainous and wooded regions. For the siege of walled cities they frequently secured assistance from artisans and engineers of technically advanced conquered peoples such as Chinese, Persians, and Arabs.

Another factor contributing to the overwhelming success of their expeditions was the skilful use of spies and propaganda. Before attacking they usually asked for voluntary surrender and offered peace. If this was accepted, the population was spared. If, however, resistance had to be overcome, wholesale slaughter or at least enslavement invariably resulted, sparing only those whose special skills or abilities were considered useful. In the case of voluntary surrender, tribesmen or soldiers were often incorporated into the Mongol forces and treated as federates. Personal loyalty of federate rulers to the Mongol khan played a great role, as normally no formal treaties were concluded. The “Mongol” armies, therefore, often consisted of only a minority of ethnic Mongols.

Genghis Khan&rsquos death

Genghis Khan sought out Daoist priests, whom he believed knew the secret to eternal life. However, in the midst of a campaign against the Tangut people (whom he said had broken their word to him) he died, apparently of natural causes. His body was returned to Mongolia and his tomb was said to have been relatively modest for a ruler of his stature, although its location is unknown today.

After his death his son, Ogedai, succeeded him until his own death in 1241. Rossabi notes that future successions were contested, leading to disputes, wars and eventually the empire breaking into different states. &ldquoSuch conflicts and the ensuing disunity would be prime factors in the collapse of the Mongol empire,&rdquo he writes.

To the people who became subjects of the empire, the rise of Genghis Khan was stunning and, to some, almost divine.

&ldquoBefore the appearance of (Genghis Khan) they had no chief or ruler. Each tribe or two tribes lived separately they were not united with one another, and there was constant fighting and hostility between them,&rdquo Juvayni wrote.

But when &ldquothe phoenix of prosperity wishes to make the roof of one man its abode, and the owl of misfortune to haunt the threshold of another … neither scarcity of equipment nor feebleness of condition prevents the fortunate man from attaining his goal …&rdquo

The Great Khan

Kublai’s growing power did not go unnoticed by Mongke, who sent two of his trusted aides to Kublai’s new capital to investigate revenue collection. After a hasty audit, they uncovered what they claimed to be numerous breaches of the law and began to violently purge the administration of high-ranking Chinese officials.

Kublai’s Confucian and Buddhist advisors persuaded Kublai to appeal to his brother on a familial level in person. Monkge — facing both a religious conflict between Buddhist and Daoists and a need for allies in conquering the Song Dynasty in Southern China — made peace with Kublai.

Kublai held a debate in his new capital in 1258. He ultimately declared the Daoists the losers of the debate and punished their leaders by forcefully converting them and their temples to Buddhism and destroying texts.

Mongke launched his campaign against the Song Dynasty and instructed his youngest brother Arik Boke to protect the Mongol capital of Karakorum. In 1259, Mongke died in battle and Kublai learned of his brother’s demise while fighting the Song in the Sichuan province.

Arik Boke gathered troops and held an assembly (called a kuriltai) in Karakorum, where he was named the Great Khan.

Kublai and Hulegu, who had returned from the Middle East upon hearing of Mongke’s death, held their own kurilta – Kublai was named Great Khan, sparking a civil war, which would eventually end with Arik Boke’s surrender in 1264.

2. Challenges

Whether he was motivated to conquer by famine on the Mongolian plains, the need for horses after great battles, or the belief that he had the divine right to conquer the world, his forces stood against the best armies of his time. Genghis Khan transformed Mongolian society from one based on a traditional tribal lifestyle into one governed by skilled rulers with authority spanning large portions of the known globe. Until then, the Mongols had never had a single chief or ruler over them as a whole. Following a bloody struggle to unite them, Genghis Khan then had one million fighters at his disposal, and the world before him to pillage.



Genghis Khan 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. [22] [23]

Genghis Khan's father, Yesügei (leader of the Kiyat-Borjigin [10] 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 Keraites. [24] [25]


Little is known about Genghis Khan's early life, due to the lack of contemporary written records. The few sources that give insight into this period often contradict.

Temüjin means "blacksmith". [26] According to Rashid al-Din Hamadani, Chinos constituted that branch of the Mongols which existed from Ergenekon through melting the iron mountain side. There existed a tradition which viewed Genghis Khan as a blacksmith. Genghis's given name was Temüjin was equated with Turco-Mongol temürči(n), "blacksmith". Paul Pelliot saw that the tradition according to which Genghis was a blacksmith was unfounded though well established by the middle of the 13th century. [27]

Genghis Khan was probably born in 1162 [note 2] in Delüün Boldog, near the mountain 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 first son of Hoelun, second wife of his father Yesügei, who was a Kiyad chief prominent in the Khamag Mongol confederation and an ally of Toghrul of the Keraite tribe. [28] According to the Secret History, Temüjin was named after the Tatar chief Temüjin-üge whom his father had just captured.

Yesukhei's clan was Borjigin (Боржигин), and Hoelun was from the Olkhunut sub-lineage of the Khongirad tribe. [29] [30] 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. [31]

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. [32] 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. [33] [34]

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. [35]

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. Temüjin'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 a wife. [36] Temüjin's resentment erupted during one hunting excursion when Temüjin and his brother Khasar killed Begter. [36]

In a raid around 1177, Temüjin 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. [37] The escape earned Temüjin a reputation. Soon, Jelme and Bo'orchu joined forces with him. They and the guard's son Chilaun eventually became generals of Genghis Khan. [38]

At this time, none of the tribal confederations of Mongolia were 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. [39] Temüjin's mother Hoelun taught him many lessons, especially the need for strong alliances to ensure stability in Mongolia. [40]

As was common for powerful Mongol men, Genghis Khan had many wives and concubines. [41] [42] He frequently acquired wives and concubines from empires and societies that he had conquered, these women were often princesses or queens that were taken captive or gifted to him. [42] Genghis Khan gave several of his high-status wives their own ordos or camps to live in and manage. Each camp also contained junior wives, concubines, and even children. It was the job of the Kheshig (Mongol imperial guard) to protect the yurts of Genghis Khan's wives. The guards had to pay particular attention to the individual yurt and camp in which Genghis Khan slept, which could change every night as he visited different wives. [43] When Genghis Khan set out on his military conquests, he usually took one wife with him and left the rest of his wives (and concubines) to manage the empire in his absence. [44]


The marriage between Börte and Genghis Khan (then known as Temüjin) was arranged by her father and Yesügei, Temüjin's father, when she was 10 and he was 9 years old. [45] [46] Temüjin stayed with her and her family until he was called back to take care of his mother and younger siblings, due to the poisoning of Yesügei by Tatar nomads. [47] In 1178, about 7 years later, Temüjin traveled downstream along the Kelüren River to find Börte. When Börte's father saw that Temüjin had returned to marry Börte, he had the pair "united as man and wife". With the permission of her father, Temüjin took Börte and her mother to live in his family yurt. Börte's dowry was a fine black sable jacket. [48] [49] Soon after the marriage between them took place, the Three Merkits attacked their family camp at dawn and kidnapped Börte. [50] She was given to one of their warriors as a spoil of war. Temüjin was deeply distressed by the abduction of his wife and remarked that his "bed was made empty" and his "breast was torn apart". [51] Temüjin rescued her several months later with the aid of his allies Wang Khan and Jamukha. [52] Many scholars describe this event as one of the key crossroads in Temüjin's life, which moved him along the path towards becoming a conqueror.

“As the pillaging and plundering went on, Temüjin moved among the people that were hurriedly escaping, calling, ‘Börte, Börte!’ And so he came upon her, for Lady Börte was among those fleeing people. She heard the voice of Temüjin and, recognizing it, she got off the cart and came running towards him. Although it was still night, Lady Börte and Qo’aqčin both recognized Temüjin’s reins and tether and grabbed them. It was moonlight he looked at them, recognized Lady Börte, and they fell into each other’s arms.” -The Secret History of the Mongols [51]

Börte was held captive for eight months, and gave birth to Jochi soon after she was rescued. This left doubt as to who the father of the child was, because her captor took her as a "wife" and could have possibly impregnated her. [50] Despite this, Temüjin let Jochi remain in the family and claimed him as his own son. Börte had three more sons, Chagatai (1183–1242), Ögedei (1186–1241), and Tolui (1191–1232). Temüjin had many other children with other wives, but they were excluded from the succession, only Börte's sons could be considered to be his heirs. Börte was also the mother to several daughters, Kua Ujin Bekhi, Alakhai Bekhi, Alaltun, Checheikhen, Tümelün, and Tolai. However, the poor survival of Mongol records means it is unclear whether she gave birth to all of them. [53]


During his military campaign against the Tatars, Temüjin fell in love with Yesugen and took her in as a wife. She was the daughter of a Tatar leader named Yeke Cheren that Temüjin's army had killed during battle. After the military campaign against the Tatars was over, Yesugen, one of the survivors went to Temüjin, who slept with her. According to the Secret History of the Mongols, while they were having sex Yesugen asked Temüjin to treat her well and to not discard her. When Temüjin seemed to agree with this, Yesugen recommended that he also marry her sister Yesui. [54]

Being loved by him, Yisügen Qatun said, ‘If it pleases the Qa’an, he will take care of me, regarding me as a human being and a person worth keeping. But my elder sister, who is called Yisüi, is superior to me: she is indeed fit for a ruler.’

Both the Tatar sisters, Yesugen and Yesui, became a part of Temüjin's principal wives and were given their own camps to manage. Temüjin also took a third woman from the Tatars, an unknown concubine. [56]


At the recommendation of her sister Yesugen, Temüjin had his men track down and kidnap Yesui. When she was brought to Temüjin, he found her every bit as pleasing as promised and so he married her. [57] The other wives, mothers, sisters and daughters of the Tatars had been parceled out and given to Mongol men. [56] The Tatar sisters, Yesugen and Yesui, were two of Genghis Khan's most influential wives. Genghis Khan took Yesui with him when he set out on his final expedition against the Tangut empire. [58]


Khulan entered Mongol history when her father, the Merkit leader Dayir Usan, surrendered to Temüjin in the winter of 1203–04 and gave her to him. But at least according to the Secret History of the Mongols, Khulan and her father were detained by Naya'a, one of Temüjin's officers, who was apparently trying to protect them from Mongol soldiers who were nearby. After they arrived three days later than expected, Temüjin suspected that Naya'a was motivated by his carnal feelings towards Khulan to help her and her father. While Temüjin was interrogating Naya'a, Khulan spoke up in his defense and invited Temüjin to have sex with her and inspect her virginity personally, which pleased him. [59]

In the end Temüjin accepted Dayir Usan's surrender and Khulan as his new wife. However, Dayir Usan later retracted his surrender but he and his subjects were eventually subdued, his possessions plundered, and he himself killed. Temüjin continued to carry out military campaigns against the Merkits until their final dispersal in 1218. Khulan was able to achieve meaningful status as one of Temüjin's wives and managed one of the large wifely camps, in which other wives, concubines, children and animals lived. She gave birth to a son named Gelejian, who went on to participate with Börte's sons in their father's military campaigns. [60]

Möge Khatun

Möge Khatun was a concubine of Genghis Khan and she later became a wife of his son Ögedei Khan. [61] The Persian historian Ata-Malik Juvayni records that Möge Khatun "was given to Chinggis Khan by a chief of the Bakrin tribe, and he loved her very much." Ögedei favored her as well and she accompanied him on his hunting expeditions. [62] She is not recorded as having any children. [63]


Juerbiesu was an empress of Qara Khitai, Mongol Empire, and Naiman. She was a renowned beauty on the plains. She was originally a favored concubine of Inanch Bilge khan and after his death, she became the consort of his son Tayang Khan. Since Tayang Khan was a useless ruler, Juerbiesu was in control of almost all power in Naiman politics. [64]

She had a daughter named Princess Hunhu (渾忽公主) with Yelü Zhilugu, the ruler of Liao. After Genghis Khan destroyed the Naiman tribe and Tayang Khan was killed, Juerbiesu made several offensive remarks regarding Mongols, describing their clothes as dirty and smelly. Yet, she abruptly rescinded her claims and visited Genghis Khan's tent alone. He questioned her about the remarks but was immediately attracted to her beauty. After spending the night with him, Juerbiesu promised to serve him well and he took her as one of his empresses. Her status was only inferior to Khulan and Borte. [ citation needed ]

Ibaqa Beki

Ibaqa was the eldest daughter of the Kerait leader Jakha Gambhu, who allied with Genghis Khan to defeat the Naimans in 1204. As part of the alliance, Ibaqa was given to Genghis Khan as a wife. [65] She was the sister of Begtütmish, who married Genghis Khan's son Jochi, and Sorghaghtani Beki, who married Genghis Khan's son Tolui. [65] [66] After about two years of childless marriage, Genghis Khan abruptly divorced Ibaqa and gave her to the general Jürchedei, a member of the Uru'ut clan and who had killed Jakha Gambhu after the latter turned against Genghis Khan. [65] [67] The exact reason for this remarriage is unknown: According to The Secret History of the Mongols, Genghis Khan gave Ibaqa to Jürchedei as a reward for his service in wounding Nilga Senggum in 1203 and, later, in killing Jakha Gambhu. [65] Conversely, Rashid al-Din in Jami' al-tawarikh claims that Genghis Khan divorced Ibaqa due to a nightmare in which God commanded him to give her away immediately, and Jürchedei happened to be guarding the tent. [65] Regardless of the rationale, Genghis Khan allowed Ibaqa to keep her title as Khatun even in her remarriage, and asked that she would leave him a token of her dowry by which he could remember her. [65] [67] The sources also agree that Ibaqa was quite wealthy. [68]

In the early 12th century, the Central Asian plateau north of China was divided into several prominent tribal confederations, including Naimans, Merkits, Tatars, Khamag Mongols, and Keraites, that were often unfriendly towards 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 reinforced when 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 Jadaran. [69]

Although the campaign rescued 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 eternally faithful.

Rift with Jamukha and defeat at Dalan Balzhut

As 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. [70] 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. [71] In 1186, Temüjin was elected khan of the Mongols. Threatened by this rise, Jamukha attacked Temujin in 1187 with an army of 30,000 troops. Temüjin gathered his followers to defend against the attack, but was decisively beaten in the Battle of Dalan Balzhut. [71] [72] However, Jamukha horrified and alienated potential followers by boiling 70 young male captives alive in cauldrons. [73] Toghrul, as Temüjin's patron, was exiled to the Qara Khitai. [74] The life of Temüjin for the next 10 years is unclear, as historical records are mostly silent on that period. [74]

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 Toghrul were restored by the Jin to positions of power. [74] The Jin bestowed Toghrul with the honorable title of Ong Khan, and Temüjin with a lesser title of j'aut quri. [75]

Around 1200, the main rivals of the Mongol confederation (traditionally the "Mongols") were the Naimans to the west, the Merkits to the north, the Tanguts to the south, and the Jin to the east.

In his rule and his conquest of rival tribes, Temüjin broke with Mongol tradition in a few crucial ways. He delegated authority based on merit and loyalty, rather than family ties. [76] 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. [76]

Rift with Toghrul

Senggum, son of Toghrul (Wang Khan), envied Genghis Khan's growing power and affinity with his father. He allegedly planned to assassinate Genghis Khan. Although Toghrul was allegedly saved on multiple occasions by Genghis Khan, he gave in to his son [77] and became uncooperative with Genghis Khan. Genghis Khan learned of Senggum's intentions and eventually defeated him and his loyalists.

One of the later ruptures between Genghis Khan and Toghrul was Toghrul's refusal to give his daughter in marriage to Jochi, Genghis Khan's first son. This was disrespectful in Mongolian culture and led to a war. Toghrul allied with Jamukha, who already opposed Genghis Khan's forces. However, the dispute between Toghrul and Jamukha, plus the desertion of a number of their allies to Genghis Khan, led to Toghrul's defeat. Jamukha escaped during the conflict. This defeat was a catalyst for the fall and eventual dissolution of the Keraite tribe. [78]

After conquering his way steadily through the Alchi Tatars, Keraites, and Uhaz Merkits and acquiring at least one wife each time, Temüjin turned to the next threat on the steppe, the Turkic Naimans under the leadership of Tayang Khan with whom Jamukha and his followers took refuge. [60] The Naimans did not surrender, although enough sectors again voluntarily sided with Genghis Khan.

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 Genghis Khan, and 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, Jamukha was turned over to Genghis Khan by his own men in 1206. [ citation needed ]

According to the Secret History, Genghis Khan again offered his friendship to Jamukha. Genghis Khan had killed the men who betrayed Jamukha, stating that he did not want disloyal men in his army. Jamukha refused the offer, saying that there can only be one sun in the sky, and he asked for a noble death. The custom was to die without spilling blood, specifically by having one's back broken. Jamukha requested this form of death, although he was known to have boiled his opponents' generals alive. [ citation needed ]

Sole ruler of the Mongol plains (1206)

The part of the Merkit clan that sided with the Naimans were defeated by Subutai, who was by then a member of Genghis Khan's personal guard and later became one of Genghis Khan's most successful commanders. The Naimans' defeat left Genghis Khan as the sole ruler of the Mongol steppe – all the prominent confederations fell or united under his Mongol confederation.

Accounts of Genghis Khan's life are marked by claims of a series of betrayals and conspiracies. These include rifts with his early allies such as Jamukha (who also wanted to be a ruler of Mongol tribes) and Wang Khan (his and his father's ally), his son 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 Jamukha.

As a result, by 1206, Genghis Khan 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, Genghis Khan 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 successor Ögedei who took the title for himself (as he was also to be posthumously declared the founder of the Yuan dynasty).

According to the Secret History of the Mongols, the chieftains of the conquered tribes pledged to Genghis Khan by proclaiming:

"We will make you Khan you shall ride at our head, against our foes. We will throw ourselves like lightning on your enemies. We will bring you their finest women and girls, their rich tents like palaces." [79] [80]

Genghis Khan was a Tengrist, but was religiously tolerant and interested in learning philosophical and moral lessons from other religions. He consulted Buddhist monks (including the Zen monk Haiyun), Muslims, Christian missionaries, and the Taoist monk Qiu Chuji. [81]

According to the Fozu Lidai Tongzai written by Nian Chang (b. 1282) Genghis Khan's viceroy Muqali was pacifying Shanxi in 1219, the homeland of Zen Buddhist monk Haiyun (海雲, 1203–1257), when one of Muqali's Chinese generals, impressed with Haiyun and his master Zhongguan's demeanor, recommended them to Muqali. Muqali then reported on the two to Genghis Khan who issued the following decree on their behalf: "They truly are men who pray to Heaven. I should like to support them with clothes and food and make them chiefs. I'm planning on gathering many of this kind of people. While praying to Heaven, they should not have difficulties imposed on them. To forbid any mistreatment, they will be authorized to act as darqan (possessor of immunity)." Genghis Khan had already met Haiyun in 1214 and been impressed by his reply refusing to grow his hair in the Mongol hairstyle and allowed him to keep his head shaven. [82] After the death of his master Zhongguan in 1220, Haiyun became the head of the Chan (Chinese Zen) school during Genghis Khan's rule and was repeatedly recognized as the chief monk in Chinese Buddhism by subsequent Khans until 1257 when he was succeeded as chief monk by another Chan master Xueting Fuyu the Mongol-appointed abbot of Shaolin monastery. [83]

Genghis Khan summoned and met the Daoist master Qiu Chuji (1148–1227) in Afghanistan in 1222. He thanked Qiu Chuji for accepting his invitation and asked if Qiu Chuji had brought the medicine of immortality with him. Qiu Chuji said there was no such thing as a medicine of immortality but that life can be extended through abstinence. Genghis Khan appreciated his honest reply and asked Qiu Chuji who it is that calls him eternal heavenly man, he himself or others. [84] After Qiu Chuji replied that others call him by that name Genghis Khan decreed that from thenceforth Qiu Chuji should be called "Immortal" and appointed him master of all monks in China, noting that heaven had sent Qiu Chuji to him. Qiu Chuji died in Beijing the same year as Genghis Khan and his shrine became the White Cloud Temple. Following Khans continued appointing Daoist masters of the Quanzhen School at White Cloud Temple. The Daoists lost their privilege in 1258 after the Great Debate organized by Genghis Khan's grandson Möngke Khan when Chinese Buddhists (led by the Mongol-appointed abbot or shaolim zhanglao of Shaolin monastery), Confucians and Tibetan Buddhists allied against the Daoists. Kublai Khan was appointed to preside over this debate (in Shangdu/Xanadu, the third meeting after two debates in Karakorum in 1255 and 1256) in which 700 dignitaries were present. Kublai Khan had already met Haiyun in 1242 and been swayed towards Buddhism. [85]

Genghis Khan's decree exempting Daoists (xiansheng), Buddhists (toyin), Christians (erke'üd) and Muslims (dashmad) from tax duties were continued by his successors until the end of the Yuan dynasty in 1368. All the decrees use the same formula and state that Genghis Khan first gave the decree of exemption. [86] Kublai Khan's 1261 decree in Mongolian appointing the elder of the Shaolin monastery uses the same formula and states "Činggis qan-u jrlg-tur toyid erkegü:d šingšingü:d dašmad aliba alba gubčiri ülü üjen tngri-yi jalbariju bidan-a irüge:r ögün atugai keme:gsen jrlg-un yosuga:r. ene Šaolim janglau-da bariju yabuga:i jrlg ögbei" (According to the decree of Genghis Khan which says may the Buddhists, Christians, Daoists and Muslims be exempt from all taxation and may they pray to God and continue offering us blessings. I have given this decree to the Shaolin elder to carry it). According to Juvaini, Genghis Khan allowed religious freedom to Muslims during his conquest of Khwarezmia "permitting the recitation of the takbir and the azan". However, Rashid-al-Din states there were occasions when Genghis Khan forbade Halal butchering. Kublai Khan revived the decree in 1280 after Muslims refused to eat at a banquet. He forbade Halal butchering and circumcision. The decree of Kublai Khan was revoked after a decade. Genghis Khan met Wahid-ud-Din in Afghanistan in 1221 and asked him if the prophet Muhammad predicted a Mongol conqueror. He was initially pleased with Wahid-ud-Din but then dismissed him from his service saying "I used to consider you a wise and prudent man, but from this speech of yours, it has become evident to me that you do not possess complete understanding and that your comprehension is but small". [87]

The Brutal Military Tactics of the Mongols Make ISIS Look Like Child’s Play

Genghis Khan (1162 – 1227) is the man that led the notorious Mongol, and the man that later became the “Great Khan” of the largest empire in the world. The Mongolian Empire in its prime conquered a large chunk of Asian and eastern Europen territory (four times bigger than the size of Alexander The Great’s territory). The Mongol tribes in the medieval period were considered savages (like any other tribe in the medieval period). The Arab chronicler Ibn Al-Athir wrote: “In the countries that have not yet been overrun by them, everyone spends the night afraid that they may appear there too.”

There was no such thing as a civilian population in Mongolia. War was a full time job where either you were a soldier or somehow supported a soldier. Members of rival tribes were separated and spread among different divisions. Discipline was established by the merciless enforcement of Mongol customs.

The Mongols were so proficient at plundering cities, terrorizing populations, killing soldiers and civilians, and seizing territory that they made Attila the Hun seem like a petty warlord. They massacred hundreds of thousands if not millions, and if the accounts of some historians are to be believed then they might as well created pyramids of skulls of their victims. The Mongol cry “feed the horses” was a signal to rape, murder and plunder the defenseless population.

By comparison with the terrifying acts of civilized armies of the era, the Mongols did not inspire fear by ferocity or cruelty of their acts so much as by the speed and efficiency with which they conquered and their seemingly total disdain for the lives of the rich and powerful. The Mongols unleashed terror as they rode east, but their campaign was more noteworthy for its unprecedented military success against powerful armies and seemingly impregnable cities than for its bloodlust or ostentatious use of public cruelty.

Although the Mongols were unequaled in their brutality, rumors, and stories of their atrocities often seemed much more worse than that of reality. One 13th-century illustrated English manuscript showed a pair of Mongols roasting a skewered victim. The Mongols sometimes ate the livers and hearts of their slain soldiers in hopes of obtaining their spirit and strength.

Historian Morris Rossabi said, “There’s no question that there was a great deal of destruction. Not all the cities were butchered, but some became examples of sowing terror in others. It was psychological warfare. Cities that offered resistance were often spared, escaping violence by offering tributes and letting Mongol soldiers loot unimpeded.”

Even though they were brutal, Genghis Khan’s principle was that every man who submits to his rule will be spared, but anyone who should refuse and oppose him by force of arms or dissension will be annihilated. In the same manner, he has all cities that resisted him transformed into a pile of rubble. Rich provinces were turned into deserts when strong possibilities of rebellion were detected. All these cruelties had a purpose: military necessity, retaliation, terrorization.

It is estimated that in Genghis Khan’s campaigns his army butchered around 40 – 60 million people (around 10% of the world population at the time ). A new study says that Genghis Khan killed so many people, that it was actually good for the environment…

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