Who is Chinggis Khan
No one knows when Temüjin, who was to be known as Genghis Khan, actually came to life. Some historians say he was born in 1155, some others claim 1162, or even 1167. According to The Secret History of the Mongols, an epic tale written under the rule of Ogödei, son of Genghis and second Great Khan, Temüjin grew up along the banks of the river Onön, approximately 200 km north-east of Ulan-Baatar, the current capital of Mongolia. After the treacherous death of his father Yesugei the brave, poisoned by the Tatars, deadly enemies of the Mongols, Temüjin had really harsh times. The boy was too young to inherit his father’s legacy. Instead of that, a rival clan took over the tribe and banished Temüjin. During years, he and his family lived like outcasts. When Temüjin eventually married Börte, the lovely girl with whom he was engaged when he was just a child, things got even worse. His wife was kidnapped by the Merkits, another people from the forests of the north, as a revenge of the rape of a woman of their kind, taken by Yesugei a generation before. So was the merciless law of the grasslands. Temüjin had to forge alliances in order to recover both his spouse and his rank. Jamuqa, his blood brother, helped him. So did Toghril, king of the Kereit. With these powerful allies, Temüjin chastised the renegades and finally gained control of his clan. The clash with his previous protectors was now a matter of time. Only one man could unify the tribes of the steppes of Mongolia. Of course, Temüjin prevailed. Even Tengri, god of the eternal blue sky, had foreseen the extraordinary destiny of the now young man.
After being elected khan, “king”, in 1189, Temüjin gathered the quriltaï, a kind of parliament of the Mongol princes, in 1206. Here, he was appointed to a brand new rank, especially forged for himself and this very moment : Genghis Khan, which literally means something like “universal king, emperor”. For the first time in History, all the tribes of northern Asia were united in the fist of one single ruler. Genghis Khan trained his warriors and ordered Uyghur wise men to create an alphabet for his people, and re-established the yasaq, an ancient oral code. The Mongols had now an army, a language they could write off, and a law. They were ready to fulfill their own destiny. Genghis Khan led his troops into China. He burnt Beijing to the ground, while his commanders were invading the north of the country. In 1219, merchants sent by the khan in the west were executed by a minister of the Kharezm shah, once a major empire in Central Asia. This kingdom also was destroyed by the Mongols, who pushed as far as Russia.
When Genghis Khan died in 1227, he had built the biggest empire the world had ever seen. Stretching from the Caspian Sea to the Korean border, this huge kingdom was soon to be even bigger, under the rule of Temüjin’s sons and grandsons. As asked, the “universal emperor” was buried not under a mausoleum, but on the slopes of the sacred mount Burqan-Qaldun. The exact location of his tomb is still unknwown.
On one hand, Genghis Khan was undoubtedly a ruthless warrior, who butchered millions of innocent people. But on the other hand, he was a wise king, who brought prosperity to his people, and re-opened the connections between the West and East. Some say that history is written by the winners. It’s rather written by those who have access to knowledge, and in these times, many of them were terrified by the Mongols. Truth is far more complicated, as usual. Visit Mongolia, and you’ll have the opportunity to find out who Genghis Khan really was. Maybe then, you will understand better why he’s still one of the most famous characters of mankind.