Genghis Khan was a Mongol leader who managed to conquer 12 million square miles of territory until his untimely death in 1227 while on a mission to conquer yet another territory.
While on his extremely successful mission, Khan ruthlessly cut through Europe and Asia, leaving behind millions of corpses but also taking forth a modern culture to the Mongolians. He was not as harsh as many may assume when it comes to religion, but rather encouraged freedom of worship. Having conquered such massive territories affiliated to different religions, the last thing Genghis Khan would have wanted was a religious revolt against him.
Here we give you 6 facts that you probably don’t know about the iconic historical figure in Mongolia.
His enemies were his most trusted generals
The Great Khan never used class, past allegiance or ancestry to promote an officer but rather based on skill – something he was gifted to spot. One story is told of how he was nearly killed in a 1201 battle after his horse was shot from under with an arrow and fell him to the ground. After conquering the territory, Genghis addressed the Taijut prisoners, demanding to know the shooter. One man stepped forth to the dismay of many. Mesmerized by his courage, Genghis promoted him to an officer in his army and nicknamed him “Jebe”- arrow – to honor their first contact.
His real name wasn’t “Genghis”
He was born around 1162 as Temujin, a name which also meant “blacksmith” or “iron”. The later to be “Genghis Khan” did not possess this name until 1206 when he was declared the tribal leader of if the Mongols. Khan is a traditional name which means “ruler” or “leader”. Historians are yet to know how Genghis originated. Probably it was an “ocean” or something close to that but used in this context, it meant “universal ruler” or “supreme ruler”.
His exact looks lack a definitive description
Being such an iconic figure, very little is said about his personal life or how he appeared physically. There are no surviving sculptures of him while the information held by historians is either unreliable or contradictory. In most descriptions, he is seen as a tall and strong man with bush beard and long hair. One of the most surprising descriptions emerged in the 14th century, depicting Genghis to have red hair. This questionable description was coined by Rashid al-Din, a Persian chronicler who never met Genghis in person.
His childhood was rough
Right from being a child, Genghis was faced with life brutality within the Mongolian Steppe. When he was 9 years old, his father was poisoned by the Tatars tribe while his own tribe expelled his family, leaving their mother to take care of the 7 children on her own.
Genghis grew up as a hunter forging ways to survive. One story is told of a time when he killed his own brother after the duo quarreled over food.
These difficulties did not stop him from becoming a formidable soldier in his early-20s. He gathered an army of supporters and started to forge alliances with the leaders of important tribes. By 1206, he had managed to establish himself as the undisputed leader at home and turned his attention to external conquest.
He settled all his scores
Talk of a man who achieved anything he wanted. Any resisting society had to face the sword. In 1219, Genghis Khan engaged in a campaign that was triggered by the Shah of the Khwarezmid Empire breaking a treaty with the Mongols. The two had agreed to exchange food substances peacefully but whne his first emissaries were killed, the enraged Khan responded by unleashing the full force of his Mongol hordes on the Khwarezmid territories in Persia. The results of the attack saw millions killed and the rival empire in ashes.
40 million people were killed under his name
Whereas getting the exact figures on the people killed during the Mongol conquests is difficult, Historians estimate the figure to be about 40 million. The Middle Ages census show that Chinese population increased by tens of millions during the Khan’s lifetime while scholars hold that he is likely to have murdered three-fourths of modern-day Iran’s population in the war against the Khwarezmid Empire. With all these speculations, there is a possibility that the Mongol attacks may have reduced 11 percent of the world population.