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Genghis Khan Biography and Fun Facts

Genghis Khan was a mighty warrior and an excellent leader who led the Mongols to a period of greatness.  He helped his people get a lot more land to control.  His military tactical skills helped him grow stronger after each victory.

Temujin’s Early Life

Temujin’s (1162 to 1227) childhood was marked with difficulties, which was common with the nomads of Mongolia.  He had three brothers and one sister to go along with two half-brothers.  When he was 12 years old, his father, Yesugei, was poisoned while eating a meal with the Tatars, who had been enemies of the Mongols for a long time.  Yesugei died as head of the ruling clan of the Mongols and chief of the tribe Borjigin.  Afterward, Temujin wanted to be the new chief of the clan.  He was denied because the other members didn’t want to their leader be such a young boy.  His mother, Hoelun, then ended up having no protection for herself and her children.  Thus, they lived in poverty while her boys hunted small game to survive.  Temujin killed one of his half-brothers during a fight over hunting spoils, which led to him being in charge of the household.

Temujin’s Reputation

In 1182, Temujin was captured in a raid by his father’s former allies, the Bjartskular (wolves).  He ignited a reputation when he escaped with the help of a sympathetic watcher, who would later become a general for Genghis Khan.  Temujin also met two other men who join forces with him.  He also added his brothers to the new army.

Temujin Married Borte

Before Yesugei was murdered, he sent Temujin to marry a girl name Borte when he turned 16, of the Olkut’hun tribe, which is the same one Hoelun was from.  Yet, soon after the event, Borte was kidnapped by the Merkits.  Temujin did rescue her with the help of both a friend and future rival, Jamuka, and his mentor, Toghrul (Ong Khan of the Kerait tribe).  Afterward in about nine months later, Borte gave birth to a son, Jochi.  Mongolians used arranged marriages to cement alliances between the tribes from which the bride and groom came.

Unification of the Mongol Tribes

Before Temujin could become Genghis Khan, he had to unite all the neighborhood tribes to serve under him. Around the year 1200, he had to battle the major clans to unite all the warring Mongol tribes; Temujin had only united the smaller confederations ten years earlier.  His rule and his conquest of rivals included changing some of the traditional ways that the Mongols established.

Jin Dynasty

After Genghis Khan was able to secure his borders, the Jin dynasty of Jurchen people, who ruled a portion of northern China, sent a delegation in 1210 demanding the Mongols submit themselves as vassals.  The Mongols decided to fight to settle the matter.  The Jurchen emperor ended up recognizing the Mongol authority and agreed to pay the tribute.  It was only four years earlier that Temujin was elected as Genghis Khan, which means “Universal Ruler.”

Dealing with a Sultan

Genghis Khan sent a large caravan filled with merchants to the Khwarezmid Empire.  He wanted to trade for some goods, including weapons so the individuals that he sent would had to horseback all the way to somewhere between Central Asia to Persia.  Genghis sent envoys after the sultan said there were spies in the caravan.  After the envoys were attacked upon arriving, he retaliated by sending an army to Transoxiana.  The goal was to only scare the general population to flee and spread the news to other towns.  This way his troops, who he highly valued, would stay alive.  Every individual that fended off when the troops arrived were killed as a way to show as a warning. Those that fled were not chased after.  Consequently, Bukhara and the sultan’s capital city, Samarkand did not withstand.


Genghis Khan was able to get into Afghanistan and Persia.  Some people offered food to the Mongols in exchanged for guaranteed protection.  For the cities that were attacked upon in order for them to be conquered, he divided the survivors by profession.  The few that were literate and the ones that speak more than one language were drafted.  Right away he would kill the rich and powerful people because in the past some rulers betrayed him after his troops had withdrawn from their cities.

Battle in Central Asia

Genghis Khan sent 40,000 horsemen to go to Azerbaijan and Armenia.  Along the way they defeated Georgian crusaders, captured a fortress used for trading in the Crimea, and spent a winter along the coast of the Black Sea.  It was in the battle of Kalka River (1223) where they fought against Prince Mstitslav’s (Kiev) 80,000 warriors.  In this battle, the Mongols used their strengths to dominate despite being outnumbered 2 to 1.

Genghis’ Military Skills

The Mongol’s military consisted of well-trained horsemen who used bows and arrows to hit their targets from a distance and while going at a full gallop.  The enemies would be terrorized once they break ranks to chase after the more mobile Mongols covering immense distance.  Genghis would send hand signals, while battling, to the decimal units that he had the troops formed into.  Thus, he could move his troops around the battlefield easily.

The End of an Era

Genghis Khan returned to Mongolia in 1125.  His empire may have been the largest ever in terms of geographical expanse.  The Mongols had controlled from west to east from Poland to Siberia and north to south from Moscow to the Arabian Peninsula and Siberia to Vietnam.  He died in 1127 when he apparently fell off his horse to his death while he was fighting against the Tangut.  He was 65.  He chose his third son, Ogedei, to take the throne as the Great Khan.  Moreover, his troops were assured to conquer Hungary before they ended up leaving upon hearing the death of their leader.

Genghis Khan could be seen as the greatest conqueror ever based on the number of square miles conquered.  His empire was four times greater than what Alexander the Great achieved.  The Mongols believed that he had been the greatest man of all time that was sent from heaven.