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Genghis Khan was one of the fiercest rulers in all of history, with a kill count of around forty million people. By the time of his death, he had killed 10% of the world’s population. He was not only the first great Khan, but also founded the Mongol Empire. At the end of his rule, he fathered the largest connected land empire in all of history.
Genghis Khan, along with his sons, went to a huge scale war, and within only the short span of twenty-five years, amassed ten million square miles of land, thus being more territory than the Roman Empire obtained in four hundred years.
Ten million square miles is equivalent to the size of Africa, The United States, Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central America combined. This is obviously a huge accomplishment for one man and his sons.
Khan was born in Delüün Boldog in the year 1162 under the name Temujin, and was born clutching a blood clot, which was a sign that he would rise to become a powerful warrior in the future.
His early life was full of misery, starting with his father being poisoned and dying when he was at the age of 9. After his father’s death, he and his family were abandoned by his tribe because Mongol tribes would only follow a strong and respected leader. This left the young Temujin and his family to fend for themselves in the harsh steppes. At this point in time, Temujin killed his half-brother because he was accused of hording food while all the others were starving.
By killing his half-brother, this gave him and his best friend, and blood-brother, Jamukha the power to take control over the tribe.
Ten years after seizing control of the tribe, Temujin realized that his small tribe located in the grasslands of the steppes was weak and exposed to enemies. His new idea was to heighten the population of his tribe by marrying into another tribe, where he married his first wife, whose name was Börte. However, the greatest benefit of marrying Börte was not having a loving companion, but obtaining the new army that came with her.
It was not long after his marriage that a new adversary would befall him. A powerful Merkid tribe raided his camp, killed many, and stole Börte away from him. Temujin and Jamukha escaped and sought after an alliance with the nearest Khan, who fought alongside Temujin’s father. When Temujin humbly implored him for help, the Khan quickly accepted his request, and this gave Temujin the opportunity to head a massive fighting force.
Not long after Temujin gained this new power, he swiftly set his sights on the Merkid tribe who had previously wronged him. He quickly annihilated the entire Merkid camp and regained his wife in the process. After this victory, Temujin began to realize a difference in beliefs between him and his lifelong best friend Jamukha. Temujin felt that all skills should be valued, no matter where they came from, whereas Jamukha thought that only the talents of those of noble birth should be honored. This created a rift, and later a split, in the tribe.
Two years after this tribal split, the two now individual tribes would meet again. Jamukha and his faction tore through Temujin’s forces with ease because Temujin and his army were unprepared and vastly outnumbered. All Temujin’s surviving generals faced a very harsh death- being boiled alive. When Temujin found out what Jamukha had done, he solemnly vowed to seek revenge, and never be defeated again.
In the year 1204, the tribes under the control of Temujin and Jamukha fought again in a vital battle which would determine Temujin’s position as commander. On the night before the battle, Temujin told his men to each light five fires to give the false impression that their numbers were huge. On the next day, Temujin ordered his men to send out a barrage of arrows to weaken the enemy forces. After this, he yelled ‘retreat’ in order to lead the enemy into an ambush. His plan worked beautifully, and he had won one of the most crucial battles of his life.
Jamukha was later betrayed by two of his most trusted generals and was brought before Temujin. Temujin offered him a second chance. Jamukha refused, and Temujin gave him an honorable death. This was an amazing accomplishment for the Mongols because now they were one united empire. Due to this amazing feat, Temujin would no longer be known by Temujin, but by Genghis Khan, which translates to universal leader.
Now that he ruled the entire Mongol empire, he turned his attention towards the Chinese dynasty. He knew that the Chinese Emperor would never allow such a unified and powerful Mongolian force to be posted just outside of his walls. As he first entered the Chinese empire, he stole whatever he could, raped hundreds of women, and slaughtered anyone who tried to stand in his way. When they finally reached Beijing, they were greeted by 40-foot high walls which were totally foreign to the nomads. Khan’s strategy was to camp just outside the city’s wall, cutting off supply lines, until the Chinese forces were greatly deplenished by starvation. After the Chinese forces were weakened, the Mongols captured the Chinese Empire without resistance.
With the Chinese empire under his belt, Khan’s reputation was enhanced, and the Mongol empire reached new heights. However, Khan was not yet finished. He continued westward, seemingly without fault, and continued to conquer more of Europe.
In the year 1227, Genghis Khan died during his final annexation of China. According to tradition, his final words were, “I have conquered a large empire, but my life is too short to take the whole world. That I leave to you.” He was then buried in an unmarked grave, and those who helped with the burial were executed so that his burial place would be kept a secret.
Genghis Khan’s conquests have far-reaching effects, even today. In today’s world, every one in two hundred people are directly descended from him. Khan’s teaching also provided the basic grounds for our society today. The Mongols created a society based on equality and diversity. Khan also reestablished the very important Silk Road. Khan also directly caused a massive increase in trade and technology.
Overall, I believe that Genghis Khan was in general a power-hungry, genocidal maniac. However, I also feel that beneath the surface, Khan paved the way for modern society, and showed the importance of not allowing one empire to gain too much power. I do not think Khan was predestined to have a peaceful life, but one filled with turmoil, violence, but overall… success.
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