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Genghis Khan

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Genghis Khan, or Ghengis Khan as he is more widely known, was born about the year 1162 to a Mongol chieftain, Yesugei, and his wife. He was born with the name of Temujin, which means 'iron worker' in his native language. When Temujin was born his fist was clutching a blood clot which was declared an omen that he was destined to become a heroic warrior.Very little is known of Temujin until he was around age 13 when his father declared that his son was to find a fiancÐ"©e and get married. After several days of travel Temujin and Yesugei came across a tribe of Mongols that were very hospitable and welcoming. Temujin was not there long when he noticed a certain girl, Borte the daughter of the chieftain. She was destined to become his wife. Temujin's father died when TemÐ"јjin was still young, poisoned by a group of Tatars. The Tatars were the chief power on the eastern Mongolia at the time, and long- time rivals of the Mongols. When Temujin heard how his father had died, vowed one day to avenge the death.

Temujin left Borte, returned to his tribe, with the intention to declare himself leader. At this time he was 13 years of age. Senior members of the tribe ridiculed his plans; rejected him as chief, and abandoned the youngster and his family to the Mongolian plains. While there were noble lineages among the Mongols, such as Temujin's, they did not enjoy the automatic loyalty of others. Nor did seniority guarantee a position of influence or power. Leadership seems to have often been a more informal institution, open to those with the right to contest for it. As a result of this rejection, Temujin extended his vengeful intentions to his own clan members. Life was very hard for the family. It is related that when Temujin discovered his own brother stealing food from the group had no hesitation in killing him. News that he was a stern leader that would kill his own brother to keep order became widely known. On a hunting trip he was ambushed by an enemy tribe and taken prisoner. While prisoner he killed his guard and escaped. The enemy searched, but excellent survival skills kept him alive until he could meet up with his own tribe. This act of courage spread his name to all parts of the Mongolian plains. Shortly after, another raid by strangers left the family with one horse and very little food. Temujin took chase but could not catch them. During his chase he met up with Bogurchi, the son of a rich man, who would become a blood- brother and trusted ally. Bogurchi helped Temujin retrieve the stolen horses but the thieves escaped. Word of these exploits became greatly exaggerated to thus enhance his reputation even further.

After four years, the time had come to marry Borte. As a wedding present her father gave him a very rare black sable fur. This gift proved to be one of the most important assets ever given to Temujin. Temujin used it to persuade Togrul, his father's sworn-brother, to join him in revenge attacks against the Tatars and other Mongol enemies. Togrul agreed to join and reconcile all of Temujin's fathers men.

Temujin was now aged seventeen. Already his road to glory had begun. Word of Temujin and Togrul spread far and wide. They called all Mongols to unite and defeat their enemies. Thousands of people came bringing weapons, food, and families. Temujin now had thousands of people under his command. The army became highly organized. They were divided into groups of tens, hundreds, thousands, and ten thousands. Each soldier carried his own food which usually consisted of powdered yak milk and dried milk and when food was scarce the soldiers would open up a vein of their horse to drink its blood. In 1183 the Mongols that gathered declared Temujin their great Khan, or king, giving him the name Genghis. At this time, he was still a junior member of the lineage, and his election is thus somewhat of a surprise. It may well have been an attempt by senior members of the lineage to install a Khan they thought they could control. This political maneuvering was not spectacularly successful.

The meaning of Genghis, or Ghengis, is widely debated. Some say it means "precious warrior", others indicate "spirit of light". In any case, it meant power for Genghis and an empire to command. Ghengis is credited with the creation of the Ih Zasag (Ð'' the Great Law', usually rendered into English as "The Great Yasa".) Although portrayed as a codified set of laws, this is debatable. Some scholars have suggested that the Ih Zasag was in fact a codification of existing customs. Despite Temujin being declared Khan, the Mongol people were not completely united into one entity. It took several campaigns to consolidate his position. The Keraits were led by a boyhood friend of Genghis's called Jamuga. Genghis offered Jamuga the chance to surrender. This offer was declined and several great battles ensued. The first in 1201 nearly destroyed all Jamuga's forces; with the final destruction of the Kerait army in 1203. Jamuga asked to be put to death without his blood being spilled. Genghis honored his old friend by having him beaten and suffocated between two felt blankets without spilling blood. The last rogue Mongol clan was defeated in 1204.

It was not until 1206 that Genghis was named Khan of Khans or King of Kings. With all of the Mongol tribes united and under his control he could now concentrate his forces on expanding his empire. In 1207 he began a crusade to conquer the lands of China. At that time China was divided into three separate empires. They were the Qin and Tangut empires in the north and the Sung Empire in the South. Genghis led battles against the Tangut state in what is now present day Xinjiang (northwest China), and the Qin in northern China, taking Peking in 1215. However, although most of northern China was under Mongol control Genghis's dream to dominate all Chinese territory would not be achieved during his lifetime but rather during the reign of his grandson Kublai Khan in 1279. With northern China under his control he now turned his attention westward. In 1218, the Khwarazm (modern Uzbekistan) Shah, Mohammed II, slaughtered a Mongolian caravan and a following delegation of ambassadors. This precipitated Genghis' attacks on Central Asia, although in any case it may well have been merely a matter of time before he attacked. Genghis sent a message to their leader Shah Mohammed, saying that the governor must be turned over to the Mongols or war would be declared on Khwarazm. The Khwarazm Empire refused and war was declared. Genghis led an attack force of 90,000 men from the north and he sent a general with 30,000 men to attack from the east. Despite this large army he was outnumbered by the Shah's army more than 400,000 men. Genghis's army was victorious, allowing a full

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