Updated: Sep 15, 2022
In 1162, Deep in the heart of Asia a child was born holding a blood clot in his fist. According to folklore this was a sign from heaven and meant that he was destined to be a great Leader. His life was to become the greatest stories ever told, his name GENGHIS KHAN. Many believe that he was EVIL, a merciless Barbarian who killed millions but the real story of Genghis khan is far more intriguing. Here is the complete story of Genghis khan. How did he unite the Mongols, how did he build the most resilient force on earth, how did he transform the Mongol Hordes into a disciplined fighting machine that could conquer the whole of Europe, and why on his deathbed did he believe that his mission was unfulfilled? Shortly after his death his heirs gathered all memoirs into an epic account of his life and called it ‘The Secret History of The Mongols’. This is the story of how that tiny fist which held a blood clot transformed into a formidable Iron Hand and came to rule the largest Empire ever known to Mankind. The boy who would become Genghis Khan was called Temujin. At the age of Nine, his Father was poisoned and killed by a rival tribe named Tartars while sharing a meal at a wedding on the way home. That shocking day turned him from a child to a man. His father was a wealthy person, but that day he understood that being wealthy cannot protect his family, and that wealth can’t buy real power. He understood at a very young age that real power always triumphs over wealth. The real power is elsewhere. And his entire life he sought to gain that real power and be that powerful man who could have protected his family at times of need. And here starts the journey of the most feared conqueror in all of history.
He began with nothing. His father’s wealth proved to be of no use. And over the years he learnt the secrets of REAL power and gained a profound understanding on the different aspects of power and how to wield it. After he learnt of his father’s death, he rushed back home to claim his position as clan chief, but his clan refused to accept him as the leader, and his family was shunned from their own tribe and became near-refugees in their own clan. They were exiled and had survive the harsh winter alone. Temujin vowed for revenge and to be never made fun of his age ever again. So, during a hunting expedition he killed his half-brother and claimed his seat as the chief of his clan. In a very a young age Temujin learnt the harsh truth of Mongol life: power is won by blood spilled, and very often held the same way. Temujin knew that to survive he must grow in power and forge ties with other tribes. At the age of sixteen Temujin married a girl he had been promised to. Her name was Börte. This marriage cemented the alliance between his clan and hers.
But soon after the marriage Börte was kidnapped and raped by a rival tribe Tartars which had differences with Temujin’s long lost father. At that time Temujin had only one man he could trust. Jamukha. Jamukha and Temujin were Blood Brothers, a bond greater than all bonds in the mortal lives of humans. Temujin and Jamukha forged an alliance with Toghrul, a person who had fought alongside their father many years ago. He was the leader of an alliance of many tribes. Put together Temujin’s power had been increased by heaven and Earth. Together they raided the rival tribe which kidnapped and raped Borte. They defeated and butchered their rivals. Temujin who was barely twenty had now defeated one of the strongest tribes of Mongol. Nine months later Borte gave birth to a child. Nobody knew who the real father was- Temujin or the rival tribe leader. Nonetheless Temujin raised it as his own son.
As months passed there was a cold war brewing between the blood brothers. This was fuelled by a fortune teller. And soon Jamukha split the tribe and left. The thing Temujin feared the most had come true-disunity. Two years later Jamukha’s tribe accused a member of Temujin’s tribe of stealing horses, but his revenge was brutal, he killed the accused person. But Temujin didn’t want to pick up a fight. But a few days later Temujin’s tribe was ambushed by Jamukha. Temujin’s fighters were unprepared. The fields were soaked with blood and Temujin lost a lot that day. It was a horrific defeat to Temujin. On the other hand, Jamukha captured the generals of Temujin and boiled them alive in front of the whole tribe. On learning about the atrocities of Jamukha, Temujin vowed that he would never again be defeated nor his loyal servants be dishonoured. Temujin now started training his men, and disciplined them. He asserted the position of commander in chief. He was then building a professional fighting machine from scratch, which would be known throughout the world in a few years. Training in horsemanship and archery was made compulsory for all, even children. They were trained to hit moving targets to increase accuracy. Temujin had thrown out the tribal divisions and had created a modern army. And then when he was ready, he rode west during the summer of 1204 to confront his blood brother. Temujin told his generals that one tribe is like a single arrow, but many arrows stacked together could never be broken. Temujin didn’t just rely on inspirational and motivational speeches. He also practiced psychological warfare. He camped on the foothills of the mountain ranges. He ordered each his men to light not just one but five fires during the night as he knew that Jamukha’s spies would we watching them prepare for battle. As anticipated Jamukha’s scouts reported that Temujin’s army was so large that they could see more fires than there were stars in the sky…. Jamukha then led his army into the battle. He was about to face a force that would subsequently conquer 12 million sq. miles in the next two decades. On the battlefield Jamukha saw one of the most disciplined armies. When Jamukha’s men were in reach, Temujin’s men released a storm of arrows which nearly destroyed half of Jamukha’s army. According to ‘the Secret History of the Mongols’ each tactic was meticulously planned, revised and practiced. And then suddenly a group of Temujin’s men fled from the battlefield. Jamukha’s men followed them. But little did they know that they were being lured to a trap. Seeing his army destroyed, Jamukha fled. At the end of the short war, Temujin had won it with little causalities. Soon Jamukha was captured. But Temujin forgave him and offered him a chance to join him again. But Jamukha wished to be punished for the sins he committed, he wished to die without bleeding, and so Temujin granted him his wish by breaking his spine and giving a merciful death. As the news of Jamukha’s death spread, the future of Mongolia changed. Something happened that had never happened in the history of Mongolia; a single man was recognised as the leader of all tribes in the whole of Mongolia. Temujin was given the title Genghis Khan, The universal ruler, Ruler to all men. This begins the era of Genghis Khan.
Mongolian’s disunity was always exploited by the great Empire of China. One of Genghis khan’s relative who tried to unify the Mongolians was executed by crucifixion in China. So, when Genghis Khan grew in power, he knew that the China would not tolerate such a formidable power on their border. So, he took the fight to them. He led an army of fifty thousand on a campaign, crossed the Gobi Desert, and invaded and captured territories in the north. In response the Chinese emperor sent a message stating “Our empire is as big as the sea, yours is but a handful of sand. How could we fear you?’’
The Chinese were the most civilised group of people in east Asia. Their army was one of the most advanced. But Chinese soldiers defected en masse to Genghis khan, he easily defeated the rest and plundered the territories of their riches. Genghis Khan had employed spies on a huge scale which gave him a tactical advantage during wars. Modern day China was then made up of two empires, the Western Xia dynasty and the Jin dynasty. The western Xia dynasty bordered Mongolia and was defeated. Now he turned his eyes towards the east- The Jin Dynasty. Beijing had a population of 350,000 and was one of the most sophisticated cities in Asia. But he faced only one obstacle between his ambitions and him which was The Great Wall of China. 40 feet high and 10 miles long it was a great defence mechanism. So, he adopted other strategies, he camped outside the wall blocking Beijing of all the resources, supplies and trade and with the help of the Chinese engineers who had defected he built catapults and battering rams. Genghis Khan was in no hurry. Slowly he turned Beijing into a prison. He announced that he would be merciful to those who surrendered, but Beijing never surrendered. Thousands starved to death. Survivors resorted to cannibalism. Finally, his army was ready to attack. He knew that the first wave of attack would be archery so he used captured enemy prisoners to move the siege machines forward. He ordered his men to wear silk clothes so that if his men were shot it would take the silk in with it, which would make it easier to draw the arrow out. Despite his attempts to master siege warfare, the Chinese soldiers were more advanced, they fired clay pots filled with crude oil, molten metals, etc which would burst into flames the moment it touched the ground and broke open. But ultimately the city fell. Since Beijing didn’t surrender, he looted it and plundered it. For a month Beijing was burning. Genghis Khan’s fearsome reputation grew from what he practiced in Beijing, but then what he created at Karakoram revealed an entirely different personality of him. He wanted Karakoram to be a great trading and cultural centre. He established his capital at Karakoram. He wanted his fellow Mongolians to benefit from his conquests. He learnt the Chinese military techniques; he also understood the importance of written word even though the Mongols couldn’t read or write. He ordered his courts to maintain written account of his judgements. This was the beginning of a legal system in China. Death penalty was given for kidnappers, and it was forbidden to enslave Mongols. Genghis Khan wanted to leave a legacy behind for the rest of the world. He didn’t want to be remembered just for his sword but for the other deeds he had done to the Mongols. Then he looked towards the west and expressed his interest in developing trade links with Persia. So, he sent a trade delegation to Persia. He developed an extensive network of messengers. A single messenger could travel a 100 mile each day. After he sent the trade delegation to Persia, a messenger carried a ‘Package’ to Genghis Khan all the way from Persia that would change the destiny of the Most successful Military commander the world has ever known. To be continued……..
Author Rishi D V