Genghis Khan: Biography, Family, Reign, and Quotes

Genghis Khan

Genghis Khan

Genghis Khan, from a very humble beginning, from a life of poverty, became the founder of the biggest empire in history – the Mongol Empire. He was known to be very intelligent in plotting against his enemies and used smart techniques in outwitting them.  His reign was based on him bringing tribes from Asia together.

Birth and early life of Genghis Khan

Most of the information about his birth is inconclusive due to lack of records.  It is said that he was born in 1162 CE between Mongolia of today and Siberia.

He was born near the Burkhan Kladun Mountains in Deluun Boldog.  He was the son of Yesugei, who was the head of the Borjigin tribe.  When he was born, he was named Genghis Temujin Khan.

It is said that his name Temujin meant “Iron”.  His father had forcibly married his mother after abducting her. It is said that, when he was born, he was holding on to some blood clot. According to their traditions, this meant that he was to become an affluent leader. His father was poisoned by the tribe of the Tatars that had issues with his clan.

Genghis Khan is believed to have had five brothers and a sister. They were six in number, namely Hachiun, Hasar, Temüge, Temülen – who was his sister – Begter and Belgütei were his half brothers.

In their tradition, one was allowed to get married by the age of twelve; so at the age of nine, his father handed him over to the family of the woman he was to be married to. Her name was Börte. He was to as a servant to the head of the girl’s family Dai Setsen until their eventual marriage.

It was this trip that his father was returning from when we got poisoned by the Tatars tribe. When Genghis found out, he went back home to assume the chieftaincy position that had once belonged to his father but was rejected by the clan.  His family was ignored since they had become a burden in the absence of his father.

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The life of Genghis Khan

Times were very difficult for him and his family as they were very poor and hardly had anything to eat.  They barely had enough to eat and usually survived on wild fruits and game that Temujin and his brothers killed.

During one of their hunting trips, Temujin killed his elder brother, Begter, after an argument had ensued between them.

During 1177, Temujin was taken into custody by the Tayichi ‘ud tribe and turned into a slave. However, he was able to escape after receiving support from a guard.

His escape made him a bit known and got some people to join him. He paid attention to all that went on between the tribes around him. His mother trained him well on how to make Mongolia stable.

Genghis Khan’s Wives and Children

As initially prearranged by his father, Khan eventually married Borte in 1178, strengthening the alliance between his tribe and that of Borte’s – the Khongirad tribe. Shortly after their marriage, Borte was kidnapped by the Merkit tribe, but she was later rescued by Khan, who received significant assistance from his friend, Jamukha.

Not long after Borte returned from her captivity, she gave birth to her first child, named Jochi. This caused the paternity of Jochi to be hugely questioned. However, Khan still considered him as his son. Khan and Borte gave birth to three more sons, namely Chagatai, Ögedei, and Tolui.

Khan had lots of other children with his numerous other wives. However, due to the Mongolian traditions, none of his other offspring could succeed him except the children he had with Borte.

It is believed that in addition to his four sons with Borte, Khan also had at least six daughters with his other wives.

Rise to Power

He rose to power by aligning himself to different tribes. Temujin made friends he could trust and put them in important places of power whilst he killed the heads of the clans he was against and made the rest of the member’s part of his tribe.

He had followers from different religions. His friend Jamukha made himself king of Jadaran, the same clan he was from.

In 1186, Genghis was made the Mongols King.  His friend was so scared by how fast he was rising that he launched an attack on him.  Though he beat Genghis, he lost some of the people willing to follow him when they watched him boil seventy (70) boys he had captured.

Genghis challenged the Khwarezm clan. Their sultan accepted to trade with Genghis but during the first delivery, they were robbed and some of the Khwarezm people were killed.

In retaliation, the sultan killed some of Genghis’ ambassadors.  He attacked the clan and killed a lot of people whiles keeping good workers.


Genghis Khan’s Death

Genghis Khan statue

A statue of Genghis Khan, located at Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. Image source:

Genghis Khan died on the 18th of August 1227. Based on his request and also his tribe’s customs, his body was buried close to his hometown near the Onon River. His grave (burial site) was unmarked, as he also requested, several years prior to his death.

The actual cause of his death still remains a mystery, with several sources giving varying accounts of how he died. For instance, an account from The Secret History of the Mongols suggests that Khan died as a result of the injuries he sustained after falling off a horse during hunting.

There’s another side of the story that states that he wasn’t killed by a horse injury but in battle with the Xi Xia tribe.

The legendary explorer and writer, Marco polo also claimed that Khan’s death was a result of an infected arrow that injured him during his last battle.

Another account states that a princess from the Xi Xia tribe stabbed him with a small knife she had hidden, but this version is said to be false by some Mongol writers.

Famous Genghis Khan’s Quotes

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