June 15, 2023
Often mentioned in video games, films, movies and computer war games, the name could be familiar. But who was Genghis Khan?
He rose to become the most powerful warrior in history. He created and ruled the biggest empire in history - the Mongolian Empire. This empire covered some 9 million square miles (23 million square km) of territory, making it the largest land empire in world history. At the height of its power, there were more than a million men serving in the the armies of the khan - emperor of the Mongol Empire.
Genghis (Chinggis) Khan was born Temujin from a minor Borjigin tribe in North Central Mongolia with a blood clot in his hand. It was an omen to the tribe that he was destined to be of great power. He was also said to have been of divine origin, his first ancestor having been a gray wolf, "born with a destiny from heaven on high."
When he was 9 years old, his father took him to be with his future bride Börte. On his way home his father, Yesugei, was approached by an enemy clan, the Tartars and invited him for a peace meal by which he was poisoned. When Temujin heard of his father's passing, Khan tried to instill himself as the rightful leader, but their tribe didn't want to recognize him or his family as the true leaders of his clan. His family was outcasted by their own tribe. In his early years, Temujin killed his half-brother inorder to establish himself as head of the family before he was 16.
At the age of 20, Khan had mastered the skills and brutality necessary to avenge his father. He annihilated the Tartar army, ordering the deaths of every Tartar male taller than a linchpin (3 feet) by immediate beheading.
Temujin became the first great Khan (emperor) around the age of 40. By historical accounts, he was illiterate, just like many of his generals. People of the Mongolian steppe were not familiar with the written word. His generals and armies had difficulties communicating and sending orders. Genghis Khan realized his shortcomings and the weak spots of his army. This did not serve as a barrier to him. With every conquest, Genghis Khan asked for the skills and literacy of his new prospects. Scholars, priests, and people that had formal education were assimilated among the Mongol ranks. He built councils of skilled and educated people to help him make the Mongol empire versatile and this allowed him to control the Silk Road and trade with other nations.
Ruthless, Genghis was determined to conquer the world, and over the century of the empire's power, the khans came close to achieving that. This was attributable to leadership and to the efficacy of their tactics, weapons and strategies. For example, the Mongols combined the arrow storm with hit-and-run tactics during battle. They changed horses frequently to keep their mounts fresh. They used this technique throughout the peak of their power.
He built the Mongolian Empire at a huge and terrible cost, told in tales tales of conquest, utter destruction, violence and bloodshed.
Many people were slaughtered in the course of Genghis Khan's invasions. On the other hand, he granted religious freedom to his subjects, abolished torture, encouraged trade and created the first international postal system. The Mongols were remarkably quick in transforming themselves from a purely nomadic tribal people into rulers of cities and states and in learning how to administer their vast empire. They readily adopted the system of administration of the conquered states, placing a handful of Mongols in the top positions but allowing former local officials to run everyday affairs.
Genghis Khan is considered to be one of the greatest rulers the world has seen, probably the most powerful one who ever lived. Under him, great alliances were forged and many territories captured. He was a universal leader and was often compared with other great leaders in history such as Alexander the Great. He unified the Mongolian steppe under a massive empire that challenged the Jin Dynasty in China and captured territory as far west as the Caspian Sea. He extended his empire across Asia to the Adriatic Sea.
Genghis Khan's personality was a complex one. He had great physical strength, tenacity of purpose, and an unbreakable will.
Was he a bloodthirsty barbarian or a genius warrior? Know more about Genghis Khan. Listen to the podcast in either Tagalog or Ilocano.
PHOTOS: via google (Wikipedia/Oxford Alumni/Enc. Britannica/
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