Genghis Khan (/ˈɡɛŋɡɪs ˈkɑːn/ or /ˈdʒɛŋɡɪs ˈkɑːn/, Mongol: [tʃiŋɡɪs xaːŋ] ( listen); Traditional Mongolian: ᠴᠢᠩᠭᠢᠰ ᠬᠠᠭᠠᠨ; Chingis/Chinghis Khan; 1162? – 18 August 1227), born Temüjin, was the founder and Great Khan (emperor) of the Mongol Empire, which became the largest contiguous empire in history after his demise. He came to power by uniting many of the nomadic tribes of northeast Asia. After founding the Mongol Empire and being proclaimed "Genghis Khan," he started the Mongol invasions that resulted in the conquest of most of Eurasia. These included raids or invasions of the Kara-Khitan Khanate, Caucasus, Khwarezmid Empire, Western Xia and Jin dynasties. These campaigns were often accompanied by wholesale massacres of the civilian populations – especially in the Khwarezmian controlled lands. By the end of his life, the Mongol Empire occupied a substantial portion of Central Asia and China. Before Genghis Khan died, he assigned Ögedei Khan as his successor and split his empire into khanates among his sons and grandsons. He died in 1227 after defeating the Western Xia. He was buried in an unmarked grave somewhere in Mongolia at an unknown location. His descendants extended the Mongol Empire across most of Eurasia by conquering or creating vassal states out of all of modern-day China, Korea, the Caucasus, Central Asia, and substantial portions of modern Eastern Europe, Russia, and the Middle East. Many of these invasions repeated the earlier large-scale slaughters of local populations. As a result Genghis Khan and his empire have a fearsome reputation in local histories. Beyond his military accomplishments, Genghis Khan also advanced the Mongol Empire in other ways. He decreed the adoption of the Uyghur script as the Mongol Empire's writing system. He also practiced meritocracy and encouraged religious tolerance in the Mongol Empire while unifying the nomadic tribes of northeast Asia. Present-day Mongolians regard him as the founding father of Mongolia. Vilified throughout most of history for the brutality of his campaigns, Genghis Khan is also credited with bringing the Silk Road under one cohesive political environment. This increased communication and trade from Northeast Asia to Muslim Southwest Asia and Christian Europe, thus expanding the horizons of all three cultural areas.
Temüjin was related on his father's side to Khabul Khan, Ambaghai, and Hotula Khan, who had headed the Khamag Mongol confederation and were descendants of Bodonchar Munkhag (c. 900). When the Chinese Jin Dynasty switched support from the Mongols to the Tatars in 1161, they destroyed Khabul Khan. Temüjin's father, Yesügei (leader of the Borjigin clan and nephew to Ambaghai and Hotula Khan), emerged as the head of the ruling clan of the Mongols. This position was contested by the rival Tayichi’ud clan, who descended directly from Ambaghai. When the Tatars grew too powerful after 1161, the Jin switched their support from the Tatars to the Keraits.
Due to the lack of contemporary written records, scant factual information exists about the early life of Temüjin. The few sources that provide insight into this period often conflict. Temüjin was born in 1155 or 1162 in Delüün Boldog, near Burkhan Khaldun mountain and the Onon and Kherlen rivers in modern-day northern Mongolia, not far from the current capital Ulaanbaatar. The Secret History of the Mongols reports that Temüjin was born with a blood clot grasped in his fist, a traditional sign that he was destined to become a great leader. He was the third-oldest son of his father Yesügei, a Khamag Mongol's major chief of the Kiyad and an ally of Toghrul Khan of the Kerait tribe, and the oldest son of his mother Hoelun. According to the Secret History, Temüjin was named after a Tatar chieftain, Temüjin-üge, whom his father had just captured. The name also suggests that they may have been descended from a family of blacksmiths. Yesukhei's clan was called Borjigin (Боржигин), and Hoelun was from the Olkhunut, the sub-lineage of the Onggirat tribe. Like other tribes, they were nomads. Because his father was a chieftain, as were his predecessors, Temüjin was of a noble background. This higher social standing made it easier to solicit help from and eventually consolidate the other Mongol tribes
Temüjin had three brothers named Hasar, Hachiun, and Temüge, and one sister named Temülen, as well as two half-brothers named Behter and Belgutei. Like many of the nomads of Mongolia, Temüjin's early life was difficult. His father arranged a marriage for him, and at nine years of age he was delivered by his father to the family of his future wife Börte, who was a member of the tribe Onggirat. Temüjin was to live there in service to Dai Setsen, the head of the new household, until he reached the marriageable age of 12. While heading home, his father ran into the neighboring Tatars, who had long been enemies of the Mongols, and he was subsequently poisoned by the food they offered. Upon learning this, Temüjin returned home to claim his father's position as chieftain of the tribe; however, his father's tribe refused to be led by a boy so young. They abandoned Hoelun and her children, leaving them without protection. For the next several years, Hoelun and her children lived in poverty, surviving primarily on wild fruits and ox carcasses, marmots, and other small game hunted by Temüjin and his brothers. It was during one hunting excursion that 14-year-old Temüjin killed his half-brother Behter during a fight over hunting spoils. This incident cemented his position. In another incident, around 1177, he was captured in a raid and held prisoner by his father's former allies, the Tayichi'ud. The Tayichi'ud enslaved Temüjin (reportedly with a cangue, a sort of portable stocks), but with the help of a sympathetic guard, the father of Chilaun (who later became a general of Genghis Khan), he was able to escape from the ger (yurt) in the middle of the night by hiding in a river crevice. It was around this time that Jelme and Bo'orchu, two of Genghis Khan's future generals, joined forces with him. Temüjin's reputation also became widespread after his escape from the Tayichi'ud. At this time, none of the tribal confederations of Mongolia were united politically, and arranged marriages were often used to solidify temporary alliances. Temüjin grew up observing the tough political climate of Mongolia, which included tribal warfare, thievery, raids, corruption, and continual acts of revenge carried out between the various confederations, all compounded by interference from foreign forces such as the Chinese dynasties to the south. Temüjin's mother Hoelun taught him many lessons about the unstable political climate of Mongolia, especially the need for alliances.
Marriage to Börte As previously arranged by his father, Temüjin married Börte of the Onggirat tribe when he was around 16 in order to cement alliances between their respective tribes. Soon after Börte's marriage to Temüjin, she was kidnapped by the Merkits and reportedly given away as a wife. Temüjin rescued her with the help of his friend and future rival, Jamukha, and his protector, Toghrul Khan of the Kerait tribe. She gave birth to a son, Jochi (1185–1226), nine months later, clouding the issue of his parentage. Despite speculation over Jochi, Börte would be Temüjin's only empress, though he did follow tradition by taking several morganatic wives. Börte had three more sons, Chagatai (1187—1241), Ögedei (1189—1241), and Tolui (1190–1232). Genghis Khan also had many other children with his other wives, but they were excluded from the succession. While the names of sons were documented, daughters were not. The names of at least six daughters are known, and while they played significant roles behind the scenes during his lifetime, no documents have survived that definitively provide the number or names of daughters born to the consorts of Genghis Khan. Temüjin valued loyalty above all else and also valued brotherhood. Jamukha was one of Temüjin's best friends growing up, but their friendship was tested later in life, when Temüjin was fighting to become a khan. Jamukha said this to Temüjin before he was killed, "What use is there in my becoming a companion to you? On the contrary, sworn brother, in the black night I would haunt your dreams, in the bright day I would trouble your heart. I would be the louse in your collar, I would become the splinter in your door-panel....as there was room for only one sun in the sky, there was room only for one Mongol lord."
Religion He was religiously tolerant and interested in learning philosophical and moral lessons from other religions. To do so, he consulted Buddhist monks, Muslims, Christian missionaries, and the Taoist monk Qiu Chuji. The Secret History of the Mongols chronicles Genghis praying to the Burhan Haldun mountain.
In August 1227, during the fall of Yinchuan, the capital of Western Xia, Genghis Khan died. The exact cause of his death remains a mystery, and is variously attributed to being killed in action against the Western Xia, illness, falling from his horse, or wounds sustained in hunting or battle. Some historians maintain that he fell off his horse during a horseback pursuit from the land of present day Egypt due to battle wounds and physical fatigue, dying of his injuries. The Galician-Volhynian Chronicle alleges he was killed by the Western Xia in battle, while Marco Polo wrote that he died after the infection of an arrow wound he received during his final campaign. Later Mongol chronicles connect Genghis' death with a Western Xia princess taken as war booty. One chronicle from the early 17th century even relates that the princess hid a small dagger and stabbed him, though some Mongol authors have doubted this version and suspected it to be an invention by the rival Oirads. Years before his death, Genghis Khan asked to be buried without markings, according to the customs of his tribe. After he died, his body was returned to Mongolia and presumably to his birthplace in Khentii Aimag, where many assume he is buried somewhere close to the Onon River and the Burkhan Khaldun mountain (part of the Kentii mountain range). According to legend, the funeral escort killed anyone and anything across their path to conceal where he was finally buried. The Genghis Khan Mausoleum, constructed many years after his death, is his memorial, but not his burial site.
In 1939 Chinese Nationalist soldiers took the mausoleum from its position at the 'Lord's Enclosure' (Mongolian: Edsen Khoroo) in Mongolia to protect it from Japanese troops. It was taken through Communist-held territory in Yan'an some 900 km on carts to safety at a Buddhist monastery, the Dongshan Dafo Dian, where it remained for ten years. In 1949, as Communist troops advanced, the Nationalist soldiers moved it another 200 km farther west to the famous Tibetan monastery of Kumbum Monastery or Ta'er Shi near Xining, which soon fell under Communist control. In early 1954, Genghis Khan's bier and relics were returned to the Lord's Enclosure in Mongolia. By 1956 a new temple was erected there to house them. In 1968 during the Cultural Revolution, Red Guards destroyed almost everything of value. The "relics" were remade in the 1970s and a great marble statue of Genghis was completed in 1989. On October 6, 2004, a joint Japanese-Mongolian archaeological dig uncovered what is believed to be Genghis Khan's palace in rural Mongolia, which raises the possibility of actually locating the ruler's long-lost burial site. Folklore says that a river was diverted over his grave to make it impossible to find (the same manner of burial as the Sumerian King Gilgamesh of Uruk and Atilla the Hun). Other tales state that his grave was stampeded over by many horses, and that trees were then planted over the site, and the permafrost also did its part in hiding the burial site. Genghis Khan left behind an army of more than 129,000 men; 28,000 were given to his various brothers and his sons. Tolui, his youngest son, inherited more than 100,000 men. This force contained the bulk of the elite Mongolian cavalry. By tradition, the youngest son inherits his father's property. Jochi, Chagatai, Ögedei Khan, and Kulan's son Gelejian received armies of 4,000 men each. His mother and the descendants of his three brothers received 3,000 men each.
BEIJING (AP) -- Homosexual acts were punishable by death under Genghis Khan's rule, according to researchers who spent more than a year compiling the legendary Mongolian conqueror's code of laws, the official Xinhua News Agency said Thursday.
Article 48 of the code said men who "committed sodomy shall be put to death," according to experts at a research institute in the Chinese region of Inner Mongolia.
The experts at the Research Institute of Ancient Mongolian Laws and Sociology said the ban was put into place because Genghis Khan wanted to expand the Mongolian population, which was about 1.5 million at the time. The rival Song Dynasty, which dominated today's central China, was 100 million strong, Xinhua said. Khan's 13th century empire stretched across Asia all the way to central Europe.
The code also said that damaging grassland with unauthorized excavations or starting fires was punishable by death, Xinhua said, without providing details.
Experts compiled the Mongolian code based on historical texts, including Marco Polo's travelogue, Xinhua said. The original text was lost more than 600 years ago.