|Genghis Khan and the Great
|Born into the aristocracy of the Kiyat
clan, Borjigin tribe, Temujin (later Genghis Khan) might have followed
his father Yesugei as clan chief. But the clan deserted his camp after
Yesugei was murdered by Tatar enemies. Ten-year-old Temujin, his mother
Ho'elun, and his siblings were left to the elements and their enemies.
Over the next two decades, Temujin formed a group of faithful followers
and arranged important alliances with various tribal chiefs, which
helped him to succeed in his campaigns to reclaim first the Kiyat
clan and then the Borjigin tribe. By 1189, he had united the Mongolian
tribes. He then organized them to conquer his blood enemies, the
Tatars, and then the Naiman (the powerful Turkic tribe to the west).
In 1206, the Great Huraltai (Great Assembly of Mongolian tribesmen)
proclaimed Temujin supreme ruler of the Unified Mongolian State,
giving him the title of Genghis Khan, or Universal Ruler. *
Genghis Khan then reorganized the Mongolian tribal structure into
a military organization. He divided the entire population into military
units of tens, hundreds, and thousands, with accompanying households
and cattle to supply provisions for them.
Khan's banners of peace (white horse-tails) and war (black horse-tails)
displayed in the National Museum of Mongolian History. Between them
is a recreation of a bow, arrows, and quiver from the time of Genghis
|This reorganization shifted the people
from a tribal to military-feudal form. He introduced strong discipline,
law, and order, promoting education and knowledge, and encouraging
economic prosperity for his citizens. Genghis Khan also introduced
drastic liberal reforms (See Section 4).
|After devoting 5 years (1204-1209) to
the internal organization of the newly unified state, Genghis Khan
began his expansive military campaigns against neighboring groups
and then more distant empires. At the time of his death (1227), he
had conquered the territory from China to the Caspian Sea. *
||"Genghis Khan also introduced
drastic liberal reforms."
|Genghis Khan's son Ogodei succeeded him
in 1229, and he and other descendants extended the empire until it
stretched from the Black Sea to the Korean Peninsula, from the rest
of the Russian princedoms to the Bulgar principalities, Central Asian
territories, and all of East Asia. * His grandson Kubilai
Khan established the Yuan Dynasty in China, moving the Mongolian capital
from Harhorin (Karakorum) in Mongolia to Dadu (later called Beijing),
where he ruled over Mongolia and China. The Yuan Dynasty lasted a
little more than 100 years (1264-1368). Batu Khan, another grandson
and warlord, led the Golden Horde (13-15th centuries) in the conquest
of Hungary, Bulgaria, and Russia in the west and Central Asia. The
Ilkhanates of the Middle East, originally ruled by Genghis Khan's
sons, and India established rule over the highly civilized nations
of Iran, Iraq, Mesopotamia, India, and Persia.
The conquered populations endured many hardships from the Mongolian
conquests, such as burned and destroyed cities, heavy taxation,
and forced labor; once conquered, they had to pay tribute. But the
Mongolian Empire brought about positive effects as well. The great
expanse of the empire allowed trade and travel to flourish between
different countries, encouraging continued trade along the famous
Silk Road and forming additional trade routes throughout the vast
The Mongolian Empire brought together western and eastern cultures,
allowing them to intertwine. The Mongolian capital Harhorin, built
during Ogedei's rule around 1235, had a metropolitan culture and
served as a center of trade, multicultural exchange of arts and
sciences, and as a religious haven.
Khan as statesman, by Chimiddorj, 2001.