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Genghis Khan – Rise to power

by David Mack
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Genghis Khan

Genghis Khan

He was born 1162 near Lake Baikal, Mongolia—died August 18, 1227, and was a Mongolian warrior-ruler who unified tribes and expanded his kingdom from Asia to the Adriatic Sea. Genghis Khan was a skilled warrior and ruler who brought all of Mongolia’s nomadic tribes under the strict military control of his dynasty. A series of looting and conquering excursions led the Mongol armies as far as the Adriatic Sea in one direction and the Chinese Pacific coast, culminating in establishing the mighty Mongol Empire.


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Background information

However, only non-Mongol sources give near-contemporary details regarding Genghis Khan’s life. Almost every source, especially those in the Mongol service, has emphasized the Mongol invaders’ immense destruction. One Arab scholar voiced public outrage at their remembrance. Beyond the reach of the Mongols, the 13th-century writer Matthew Paris referred to them as a “detestable nation of Satan that issued forth like demons from Tartarus, therefore the name Tartars.” His story reflects the terror generated by the Mongols.

Genghis Khan

Even though his generals essentially acted autonomously and without direct supervision, Genghis Khan shared his people’s reputation as the Mongol country’s originator, organizer of the Mongol army, and campaign genius. It would be incorrect to portray the Mongol wars as random incursions by barbaric tribes. It is also wrong to say that these battles were precipitated by the desiccation of Inner Asia, which forced nomads to seek new pastures. The Mongol invasions were also not uncommon.


Genghis Khan was neither the first nor the last nomadic invader to wreak havoc on Eurasia’s established border. His efforts were more significant, more successful, and longer-lasting than those of preceding predecessors. A vast portion of the Eurasian continent was affected by other civilizations.


Two societies in constant contact, mutually unfriendly if only because of their vastly contrasting lifestyles, yet interdependent. The nomads yearned for the essentials and pleasures of the south. They might be obtained via trade, taxing short caravans, or armed assaults. The Chinese settled peoples’ needless commodities from the steppe, but they couldn’t ignore the nomadic barbarians’ presence and always resisted expansion. A strong dynasty, such as the Manchus in the 17th century, might militarily rule Inner Asia. To prevent one tribe from growing too dominant, the Chinese sometimes had to swap barbarians, altering support and alliances.


The cycle of dynasty dominance and weakness in China was paralleled by the process of unity and dissolution among steppe peoples. If China was weak, a powerful nomadic tribe might conquer neighboring tribes and extend its rule beyond the steppe. Extending mobile authority over incompatible stationary culture created its foe. The nomads lost their customary advantage—quick mobility—and were devoured by the subjugated Chinese.


As a result, an assertive China reappears, and chaos reigns among the nomads, with transitory chieftains fighting over trivial concerns. The history of the Mongol conquests exemplifies this point of view, and Genghis Khan’s life must be evaluated against this background of political obstacles. His wars resulted from a chain of events managed by a soldier with ambition, perseverance, and genius. He took advantage of the fact that his tribal civilization was on the verge of unification, while China and other established countries declined.

Adversity at the beginning

Yesügei, Temüjin’s father, thrashed a chieftain named Temüjin when Temüjin (or Temuchin) was born (or Temuchin). Temüjin’s childhood is unknown. He was born in 1155, 1162 (the current date in Mongolia), or 1167. According to legend, he was born with a blood clot in his hand. According to mythology, his first ancestor was a grey wolf who was “born with a destiny from heaven on high.” His early years were everything but promising. Yesügei, a nine-year-old Borjigin Mongol, was poisoned to settle an ancient disagreement by a band of Tatars, another nomadic clan.

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Mongol federation

The year 1206 was a watershed moment in Mongol and world history; as the Mongols were finally ready to leave the steppe. Mongolia took a new shape. Petty tribal feuds and attacks were a thing of the past. The traditional clan and tribe names had either fallen out of the use or were scattered over. The Mongol realm attests to the death of the historic clan and tribe system.


Genghis Khan established a unified Mongol nation that has survived several upheavals (feudal fragmentation, incipient retribalization, colonial occupation). Attempts to get beyond the steppe, Genghis Khan was about to embark on his worldwide conquest. The new nation was designed to be a battleground. The forces of Genghis Khan were well-organized, well-equipped, and well-supplied. The generals were either his sons or individuals chosen by him.


According to several accounts, Genghis Khan had a complex personality. He had tremendous physical strength, purpose, and tenacity. He was not obstinate and listened to his wife and mother’s advice. He was quick. He was astute but not petty. He understood loyalty, unlike Toghril or Jamika. Enemies who betrayed their masters may expect severe retribution, but he would also profit from their treachery. In times of adversity, he would humbly worship the Mongols’ supreme deity, the Eternal Blue Heaven.


There was so much about his boyhood. The vision gets less harmonious as he leaves his comfort zone and approaches the strange, settled world beyond the steppe. He couldn’t see beyond the immediate benefits of killing and rapine, and his need for revenge was often overwhelming. Throughout his life, he drew devoted followers, both other nomads and sophisticated men from the established society. His fame may even inspire the ancient Daoist sage Changchun (Qiu Chuji) to reach Asia. Above all, he was a man who was willing to learn.



Genghis Khan’s achievements were enormous. He united the nomadic tribes and attacked large empires like Khwarezm and the more dangerous Jin dynasty with lesser forces. He didn’t, however, tire them. And he bequeathed a great army and realm to his son Gödei, whom he carefully selected as his successor. When Genghis Khan died, his generals invaded Persia and Russia.

His successors would reign over all of China, Persia, and a large portion of Russia. They accomplished what he couldn’t or didn’t want to do: they united their conquests into a unified empire. The mastery of Genghis Khan is known for their destruction, yet they were just the start of the Mongol Empire, the largest continental empire of medieval and modern times.

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