In a discussion about evil men over the course of history, those whose actions led to the death of millions of people, there are a few names that are spoken of repeatedly in mainstream conversations but among the few, there is only one man whose genocidal record rose to a significant figure in comparison to the percentage of the global population at the time. That man is Genghis Khan, the first Great Khan of the Mongol Empire.
Genghis Khan reigned between 1206 and 1227 and during that time, recorded a number of accomplishments, including creating the largest empire in the history of the world. Students of history are most likely to be familiar with his life and record as a ruler, but for those who aren’t, here is a quick look at who he was and what made him one of the most feared men in all of history.
Biography of Genghis Khan
Like a lot of great men in history, Genghis Khan was born into a humble home. Before he became Genghis Khan, he was Temujin, born circa. 1162 in Khamag Mongol. He was the second son born to his father, Yesugei and was the first of his mother, Hoelun. He was born into the Borijigin tribe, one of the Mongol tribes who were nomads. Genghis Khan was aged nine when he lost his father to the Tatars, who were rivals of the Mongol people. His death led to a life of poverty for his wives and sons, including Genghis.
Following an escape after he was captured by the Tayichi’ud, Genghis Khan began to develop a reputation as a fierce man and leader and soon began his quest to unite the Mongol people. He began his military career by joining the Khan of the Keraites, his father’s blood brother. Under him, he grew in power and influence but in his first reign as the Khan of the Mongols, he was defeated in battle by his best friend, Jamukha, who had become his rival as the Khan of the Jadaran.
After losing the battle to Jamukha in 1187, he returned to power in 1197 with the help of Mongols and the Keraites and begun the quest to conquer the world. Genghis Khan expanded the Mongol Empire through wars, building an empire that covered the Adriatic to the Pacific, and reached modern-day geographical areas like Poland, Hungary, Finland, Austria, Croatia, Vietnam, Burma, Japan, and Indonesia.
His empire is believed to have covered 12 million square miles, a figure that is similar to the entire size of the continent of Africa, and to achieve such vastness, he recorded a death toll that has been estimated to be several hundred millions of people, a figure believed to have represented about two percent of the global population at the time.
Genghis Khan, during his lifetime, was able to maintain loyalty and service under his reign by practicing meritocracy, religious tolerance, and he was known to take his conquered tribes under his protection and giving spoils of war to civilians and soldiers. As a result, he was able to conquer multiple dynasties like Western Xia, Jin, Qara Khitai dynasties, and the Khwarazmian Empire. He reigned between spring 1206 until his death on August 18, 1227.
Genghis Khan’s Children
Genghis Khan conquered the world with the help of his sons, who all went on to rule after his passing. Through marriages to Borte, a woman who had been arranged for him to marry since he was the age of nine, Yisui and Qiguo are some of the known wives of Khan, but Borte was the most prominent one. In total, Genghis is believed to have had a total of twelve wives during his lifetime.
Through Borte, Genghis had four sons, namely Jochi, Chagatai, Ogedei, and Tolui. Genghis is known to have had several more sons and daughters through his other wives, including at least six daughters born to the Khagan.
Following the death of Genghis Khan, his son, Ogedei took his stead and ruled after him.
Other Facts About The Khagan of the Mongol Empire
- Media Adaptations of His Life Story
Over the course of history, his life has been the subject of various media adaptations, including multiple films like Genghis Khan (1950), The Conqueror (1956), Mongol (2007), which earned an Academy Award nomination. Also, novels, TV shows, poetry, and songs have been written about his empire.
- He Killed His Brother
One of his early recorded kills was his half-brother, Begter, the eldest son in the family who began to rule over the family and attempted to marry Genghis’ mother. Genghis, who at the time was still known as Temujin, killed him during a hunting excursion.
- Genghis Khan’s Death
The Khagan of the Mongol Empire died in August 1227. The cause of his death has been speculated to be a variety of reasons but the popular belief is that he died from an injury he sustained after falling from his horse, an injury that couldn’t heal properly because of his old age. He was buried in an unmarked grave in Mongolia.