Genghis Khan – Conqueror Of Nations, Ruler Of People

David Tee - - Genghis Khan is a title, not a name. Genghis Khan was born with the name "Temujin." The name means "blacksmith" or "one who forges.

The Mongols use the word Khan to denote position or authority. So when we read his name, Genghis Khan, we are saying Genghis, the ruler, or Genghis, the ruler.

Genghis Khan: Conqueror Of Nations, Ruler Of People

A bust of Genghis Khan adorns a wall in the presidential palace in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. Image credit: Jim Garamone, American Forces Press Service - via wikipedia  

The title Khan is also used in India and other Asian countries with the exact definition. Whether this was an independent use or influenced by the Mongol ruler and his heirs is unknown.

Genghis's Start

Historians have discovered quite a bit about Genghis Khan (1162 - 1227). His father, Yesukai, ruled over 40,000 Mongol families. His mother, Hoelun, was taken prisoner by his father's people and forced to marry his father.

Genghis displayed such leadership qualities that even his older brothers and other clan leaders called Temujin their leader. It was before he assumed his father's place upon the latter's death.

When Temujin reached 9, his parents arranged a marriage with the 10-year-old daughter of Dai Sechen, the leader of another tribe. But little else is known about Genghis' early years apart from this information.

Genghis Khan’ s Rise To Power

Since the Mongol people had no natural written language before Genghis Khan turned the people into rulers of a large empire, it is hard to determine his exact rise to power. Legends say that before he got powerful, Genghis was a captive of the Jin Dynasty, and the Merkit captured his wife.

Genghis Khan: Conqueror Of Nations, Ruler Of People

Memorial monument of Djingis Khan outside Dadal which is a possible birthplace. Image credit: I, Chinneeb/Wikipedia

Another legend states that he eventually grew up and served Ong Khan. He was such a faithful servant that Ong Khan made Genghis his heir even though he was not his son. It led to conflict with the Kan's natural son, whom Genghis had to defeat to gain supreme rule over all the Mongols.

Once this conflict was over, Genghis took the title Universal Ruler, which is what the name and title Genghis Khan mean.

Genghis Khan And The Law

After he was recognized as the Supreme Ruler of the Mongols and the world, Genghis Khan worked on revising the law. Some of his changes may have been influenced by his mother's situation and his own.

One of his first acts was to ban or make illegal the kidnapping of women.  He also declared that selling women for marriage was illegal. Then, he stated that all children were legitimate in the eyes of the empire, no matter who their parents were.

Other accomplishments included the regulating of hunting. This act made more meat available to all people. He also made the stealing of animals a capital offense. Even taking lost property was considered to be theft in his eyes.

Genghis Khan began record keeping and had the Mongol language put down on paper. He also created official seals and an official who oversaw all judicial decisions, plus he had the power to give the death sentence if needed.

Genghis Khan's Military Conquest

Part of having the favor of the people and the gods, Genghis Kahn had to continue to prove himself militarily. Most of his conquests remained in the north of India, Kashmir, and the Caspian Sea.

Genghis could conquer much of China, but south of Beijing was out of his reach. His conquests also included some of now Siberia and all of the Korean peninsula. These conquests cemented his role as the Supreme leader of the Mongols, and the people saw that he had the favor of the gods, so they remained loyal to him.

Genghis Khan's Death

He was in a battle against the Tangut people when life and death caught up with him. Genghis Khan seems to have died (1227 AD) not of a fatal blow from an enemy or a traitor but of natural causes.

His tomb is not extravagant by any means, yet its location has been unknown since the end of the Mongol Empire. Some believe it is hidden in the Khentii Mountains and protected because it is cursed. On his death, his son Ogedai replaced him as ruler and reigned until AD 1241.

Written by – David Tee - Staff Writer

Updated on January 22, 2023

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