Genghis Khan

Founder of the Mongol Empire (c. 1162–1227) / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Genghis Khan (born Temüjin; c.1162  25 August 1227), also Chinggis Khan,[lower-alpha 1] was the founder and first khan of the Mongol Empire, which he ruled from 1206 until his death in 1227; it later became the largest contiguous empire in history. After spending most of his life uniting the Mongol tribes, he launched a series of military campaigns, conquering large parts of China and Central Asia.

Quick facts: Genghis Khan, Khan of the Mongol Empire, Reig...
Genghis Khan
Reproduction of a 1278 portrait taken from a Yuan-era album – National Palace Museum, Taipei
Khan of the Mongol Empire
Reign1206 – 25 August 1227
Khentii Mountains
Died(1227-08-25)25 August 1227
Xingqing, Western Xia
Mongol script: ᠴᠢᠩᠭᠢᠰ ᠬᠠᠭᠠᠨ Chinggis Khagan
see § Name and title
Posthumous name
Fatian Qiyun Shengwu Emperor (皇帝)
Temple name
Taizu (太祖)

Born between 1155 and 1167 and given the name Temüjin, he was the oldest child of Yesugei, a Mongol chieftain of the Borjigin clan, and his wife Hö'elün. When Temüjin was eight, his father died and his family was abandoned by its tribe. Reduced to near-poverty, they managed to survive, although Temüjin killed his half-brother Behter to secure his position. As he grew to manhood, he began to gain followers, and he made alliances with two prominent steppe leaders named Jamukha and Toghrul; they worked together to retrieve Temüjin's kidnapped wife Börte. As his reputation grew, his relationship with Jamukha deteriorated into open warfare. Temüjin was decisively defeated in c.1187, possibly spending the following years as a subject of the Jin dynasty; upon reemerging in 1196, he swiftly began gaining power. Toghrul came to view Temüjin as a threat, and launched a surprise attack on him in 1203. Temüjin retreated, then regrouped and overpowered Toghrul; after defeating the Naiman tribe and executing Jamukha, he was left as the sole ruler in the Mongolian steppe.

Temüjin formally adopted the title "Genghis Khan", the meaning of which is uncertain, at an assembly in 1206. Carrying out reforms designed to ensure long-term stability, he then transformed the Mongols' tribal structure into an integrated meritocracy dedicated to the service of the ruling family. After thwarting a coup attempt from a powerful shaman, Genghis began to consolidate his power. In 1209, he led a large-scale raid into the neighbouring Western Xia, who agreed to Mongol terms the following year. He then launched a campaign against the Jin dynasty, which lasted for four years and ended in 1215 with the capture of the Jin capital Zhongdu. His general Jebe annexed the Central Asian state of Qara Khitai in 1218. Genghis was provoked to invade the Khwarazmian Empire the following year following the execution of his envoys; the campaign toppled the Khwarazmian state and devastated the regions of Transoxiana and Khorasan, while Jebe and his colleague Subutai led an expedition that reached Georgia and Kievan Rus'. In 1227, Genghis died while subduing the rebellious Western Xia; following a two-year interregnum, Genghis's third son and heir Ögedei acceded to the throne in 1229.

Genghis Khan remains a controversial figure. He was generous and intensely loyal to his followers, but ruthless towards his enemies. He welcomed advice from diverse sources in his quest for world domination, for which he believed the shamanic supreme deity Tengri had destined him. The Mongol army under Genghis killed millions of people, but his conquests also facilitated heightened commercial and cultural exchange over an unprecedented geographical area. He is remembered as a backwards, savage tyrant in Russia and the Muslim world, while his legacy has undergone considerable reassessment in recent Western scholarship. He was posthumously deified in Mongolia; modern Mongolians recognise him as the founding father of their nation.

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