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Amir Amanullah Khan Award (Afghanistan)

Politics & War

Genghis Khan

Genghis Khan

• Born in north central Mongolia around 1162, Genghis Khan was originally named
“Temujin” after a Tatar chieftain that his father, Yesukhei, had captured.
• Little is known about Temüjin’s early life, due to the lack of contemporary written records.
Temüjin was born grasping a blood clot in his fist, a traditional sign that he was destined to become a great leader.
• 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.
• 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.
• Young Temujin was a member of the Borjigin tribe and a descendant of Khabul Khan, who briefly united Mongols against the Jin (Chin) Dynasty of northern China in the early 1100s. For the next several years, the family lived in poverty, surviving mostly on wild fruits, ox carcasses,


• At 16, Temujin married Borte, cementing the alliance between the Konkirat tribe and his own. Soon after, Borte was kidnapped by the rival Merkit tribe and given to a chieftain as a wife.
• Temüjin rescued her with the help of his friend and future rival, Jamukha, and his protector, Toghrul of the Keraite tribe. soon after, she gave birth to her first son, Jochi. Though Borte’s captivity with the Konkirat tribe cast doubt on Jochi’s birth, Temujin accepted him as his own.
• Börte had three more sons, Chagatai (1187–1241), Ögedei (1189– 1241), and 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.


• 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.
• 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.
• 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.


• Through a combination of outstanding military tactics and merciless Bbrutality, Temujin avenged his father’s murder by decimating the Tatar army, and ordered the killing of every Tatar male who was more than approximately 3 feet tall.
• By 1206, Temujin had also defeated the powerful Naiman tribe, thus giving him control of central and eastern Mongolia. 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.


• 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.
• 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.
• 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.


• 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.
• Religious tolerance was practiced in the Mongol Empire, but to defy the Great Khan was equal to defying the will of God. It was with such religious fervor that Genghis Khan is supposed to  ave said to one of his enemies.


• Genghis Khan wasted no time in capitalizing on his divine stature. While spiritual inspiration motivated his armies, the Mongols were probably driven as much by environmental circumstances. Food and resources were becoming scarce as the population grew.
• The Mongol Empire created by Genghis Khan and his allies shared its western borders with the 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.


• 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.
• 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.


• 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. In the early 13th century, the Khwarazmian dynasty was governed by Shah Ala ad-Din Muhammad.
• Genghis Khan used diplomacy to establish trade relations with the Khwarizm Dynasty,a Turkish-dominated empire that included Turkestan, Persia, and Afghanistan.
• Genghis Khan then sent a second group of three ambassadors (two Mongols and a Muslim) to meet the Shah himself, instead of the governor Inalchuq. The Shah had all the men shaved and the Muslim beheaded and sent his head back with the two remaining ambassadors. Outraged,
Genghis Khan planned one of his largest invasion campaigns by organizing together around 100,000 soldiers.


• The 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 son 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.


• 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.
• 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. 50,000 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.


• After the defeat of the Khwarazmian Empire in 1220, Genghis Khan gathered his forces in Persia and Armenia to return to the Mongolian steppes.
• Advancement within military and government ranks was not based on traditional lines of heredity or ethnicity, but on merit. There were tax exemptions for religious and some professional leaders.
• Genghis Khan died in 1227, 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.His burial site is unknown.


• The succession of Genghis Khan was already a significant topic,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.
• Ögedei was appointed as successor.Ögedei Khan, born Ögedei (1185 –1241) was the third son of Genghis Khan 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.
• 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.