Who was Genghis Khan?
Genghis Khan was born in the early 1160’s (it has been argued between 1162 and 1167, but recently agreement has been made for 1167), the son of the Kiyat-Borjigid chieftain Yisugei. He was named Temujen because, at the time of his birth, his father had captured a Tatar chieftain of the same name. Legend says that the newborn Temujen had a bloodclot in the palm of his hand, an omen that he was destined to be a hero. When Temujen was a boy, his father was poisoned by a group of Tatars, and the Kiyat tribe broke up and scattered, abandoning their chief’s family and leaving Temujen’s mother, Ho’elun, to raise her children alone. Accounts of Temujen glorify him as intelligent, brave, and an adept fighter, even from an early age, and as such a potential threat to the leaders of other tribes of the steppe. As a young man, despite extreme hardships, he repeatedly met perils and endured crises through force of character and willpower. In 1189, after he was elected the new leader of the Kiyat, h
Genghis Khan (JENG-gis KON) has what you might call a nasty reputation. More than 700 years after his death, he is still remembered as a very bad guy. His image is that of a barbarian, a notorious villain. Like Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan led thousands of warriors into one battle after another, conquering lands and peoples far beyond his homeland. Both men were brilliant generals who built vast empires. Yet history often remembers Alexander as heroic, and Genghis Khan as bloodthirsty.
From his late teens to age thirty-eight in 1200, a Mongol named Temujin (Temüjin) rose as khan over various families. He was a good manager, collecting people of talent. He was vassal to Ong Khan, titular head of a confederacy better organized than other Mongol clans. Temujin joined Ong Khan in a military campaign against Tatars to their east, and following the success of this campaign Ong Khan declared Temujin his adoptive son and heir. Ong Khan’s natural son, Senggum (Senggüm), had been expecting to succeed his father and plotted to assassinate Temujin. Temujin learned of this, and those loyal to Temujin defeated those loyal to Senggum. Temujin was now established as the head of what had been Ong Khan’s coalition. And in 1206, at the age of 42, Temujin took the title Universal Ruler, which translates to Genghis Khan, and he addressed his joyous supporters thanking them for their help and their loyalty. Like peoples elsewhere, Genghis Khan’s subjects saw themselves at the center of th
Genghis Khan established the Mongol empire, conquered most of Asia and Europe and rightfully earned the reputation as one of the greatest military leaders of all time. Although he was often called “barbarian,” Genghis Khan achieved his victories through brilliant organization and tactics rather than barbaric behavior.