Genghis Khan and Modern Society

Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World written by Jack Weatherford, professor of anthropology at Macalester College, is an analysis of Genghis Khan’s life and his influence on the establishment of modern society. The novel shines a divergent light on Genghis Khan veering from the bloodthirsty and ruthless leader that he has so often been portrayed and instead focusing on the lowly steppe boy that pushed past adversity to become the leader of one of the largest empires in history.

Weatherford opens the book with Genghis Khan’s attack on the city of Bukhara. This account demonstrates the Mongol army’s view of conquering cities. The first action taken is to send in ambassadors for negotiations, if they surrender willfully then the city could continue on, but under the reign of the Mongols. In the case of Bukhara though, the tribesman refused the treaty, disfigured the ambassadors, and looted their caravans; they were going to battle. The Mongols used fear and chaos.

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They would capture the small towns that surround the main city, causing people to seek refuge in the city, and then they would strike behind enemy lines. In the Mongols eyes there was only honor in a victory, not in war.

The first section discusses the development of Genghis Khan. Rather than being a born leader as most would suspect, he became who he was through experience and learning from the mistakes of others as well as his own. Temujin was born in the year 1162 along the Onon River near the border of Mongolia and Siberia to his kidnapped mother Hoelunand her captor Yesugei, of the Borijin (Mongols).

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Temujin was not valued by his father and at a time was left behind when the clan moved camps. Fat Khan of the Targutai clan took him into his ger, and trained him with the consideration that was placed on a prized colt. The family was reunited and at the age of nine Yesugei took his son in search of a wife.His father stopped on the way home to feast with the Tartars and was poisoned. The family scraped by, but tensions rose between Temujin and his older half brother, Begter. Temujin and his younger brother killed Begter. With bloodshed the Tayichiud sent warriors to capture and enslave Temujin within their camp; he would escape years later. When he was sixteen he retrieved his bride, Borte and sought protection from his father’s ally, Ong Khan. The Merkid sought to equal the scales tipped when his mother was taken and so they stole his new wife. He prayed to his spiritual guide, anddecided to fight to win back his wife. The two were reunited, years later he would make his first play for khan.

Temujin got enough support to become khan of a small group. He created a power structure based on one’s abilities and their loyalty rather than by bloodline. When victory was achieved, Temujin ordered the execution of aristocratic leaders, banned slavery of the conquered, and would adopt an orphan to symbolize the transition of people. The clan moved to the Tsenker River and created the capitol Avarga; it would remain the center of operations until his death. In his conducting of various raids, he allowed no looting to be done until complete victory; this concept would be used in all of his conquests. In the year 1204 the Mongols defeated the Naiman and Tayang, finishing the nomadic raids and uniting Mongolia under one rule. Two years following the victory, Temujin summoned a khuriltai (vote); Temujin was made Gur-Khan or Great Khan. From there he became Genghis Khan of the “Yeke Mongol Ulus” or Great Mongol Nation. I found the fact that he changed his name to Chinggis Khan, but he became known by the Persian spelling as Genghis Khan to be intriguing. Within section two Weatherford focuses on the expansion of the Mongol Empire outside of Mongolia. Genghis Khan and his descendantswould come to conquer from anything inward fromPoland in the northwest to Egypt in the southwest and between Java and Japan to the east.

War for Genghis Khan was very precise. Prior to heading out scavengers would be sent to analyze the area and its conditions. His army was composed in sections of tens, hundreds, thousands, ten thousands, where men would live and fight together. Warriors would carry only what was needed;all food came through hunting, allowing them to travel more efficiently. The army was composed only of cavalry;as children warriors had learned to become skilled riders which made them quick in battle and hard to overcome for the European’swho relied on hand to hand combat. Tactics were used to sabotage the enemy by creating inner turmoil. They altered tactics from herding and hunting on the steppes to warfare against people. Warhad a direct purpose, to preserve Mongol life. When the age of conquering and combat faded Genghis Khan didn’t resurrect a state or system he created his own unlike most dynasties or empires. He created his own “Great Laws”, which he became widely known for. He emphasized religious freedom, free trade, universal culture, and the abolishment of torture.

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Genghis Khan and Modern Society. (2022, Apr 23). Retrieved from

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