“The Greatest happiness is to scatter your enemy, to drive him before you, to see his cities reduced to ashes, to see those who live him shrouded in tears, and to gather into your bosom his wives and daughters.” -Genghis Khan
Genghis Khan; the name reverberates through the chronicles of Asia and Europe along with a tapping of horse-hooves and bawls of several ruined people. His armies left a trail of terror, death, pain and annihilation. However, he also shaped up an active empire with a flourishing trade, tolerance of religion, common language and some basic laws and customs. A brilliant and fierce commander, he attained unmatched success in establishing an Empire which not only extended across Asia but also Europe. Unbelievably, in just a span of twenty-five years, Genghis Khan’s military occupied a bigger area and ruled a larger population than even the Romans could capture in four hundred years.
A glimpse into Genghis Khan’s childhood
Born in 1162 (some sources give it as 1155 or even 1165) to a tribal leader Yesügei, the young Genghis Khan (previously Temujin) had to face a lot of internecine conflict and warfare in his former days. At a very early age, Temujin’s father was murdered by an enemy tribesman who left Temujin helpless and immobilized. He was even held in captivity as a slave by his rival tribes. However, through immense tenacity, skill, shrewdness and good fortune, Temujin fled and achieved a status of a terrifying warrior as well as leader of men. Soon, he assembled together a band of loyal to lead his military.
At 16, he married his childhood bride Börte, who was kidnapped when he was held captive. However, she waited for him patiently all these years and finally Temujin with the help of certain friends rescued her successfully. Although Börte was found to be with a child, Temujin valiantly declared he would raise the baby as if it were his own blood.
The Turning Point
In 1206, a council of Mongolian tribesmen came together to proclaim Temujin as ‘Genghis Khan’; signifying the ‘Oceanic Ruler of the Universe.’ With the support and help of three of the strongest tribes, Genghis Khan was able to unite the different Mongolian clans into one. This unity and loyalty which Genghis Khan received from his clan members was extremely rare at that point in history.
It was Genghis Khan’s ambition to conquer and ransack booty. So, he first turned his attention to the influential Chinese empire. He was victorious in conquering their towns and cities and over staying his forced welcome. This permitted him to twirl his attentions to the West and so, Genghis Khan directed his Mongolian armies in that direction; profoundly into the middle of Europe; spreading terror and obliteration.
Genghis Khan did not simply kill people but also conquered and gained wealth. His tactics have often been called the ‘art of war’. He could gracefully accept the capitulation of a defeated enemy and would often used skillful expertise to evade disagreements and clashes simply with the help of an emissary who would spread stories of terror and the looming force of Genghis Khan’s warfare machine.
He always exhibited great loyalty and faithfulness to those who were faithful and loyal to him, and equally he could turn on those he considered to be disloyal or disrespectful. For instance, his 3 year movement in Khwarezm was completely atrocious as he took out vengeance on civilians in the area.
Genghis Khan even motivated trade and commerce within his empire. He forbade his troop to attack merchants and so during his control of the main trading routes, trade and culture flourished as people could easily travel within the Mongolian Empire; stretching from China in the East to the Black Sea in the West. In addition, Genghis Khan was also tolerant of religions and let off the priests from paying taxes.
Finally in 1226, Genghis Khan died after failing from a horse and soon after his death the united Mongol started breaking up into variety of factions.
In reality, Genghis Khan’s reputation preceded him; as a violent and brutal killer of children and women. But that was all a part of his plan to facilitate surrender and decrease resistance from enemy who might act otherwise. He was loyal, self-reliant, understood his people and had a grand vision to change the world; just as all rulers should be.
By: Deepti Verma
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