The Story of Mongolia's Greatest Leader: Part 2
Updated: Sep 15, 2022
Continued from Part 1
After capturing China, and choosing his capital city, he faced another challenge by the Qara Khitai empire which captured a Mongol city and killed its king. This king happened to be Genghis Khan’s grandson-in-law. So in retaliation, Genghis Khan invaded Qara Khitai and conquered it. Now Genghis Khan wished to lead a peaceful life in the capital. He understood that a country’s military defense must be backed by a good economy. So he shifted his focus from conquests to nation-building. He gave a lot of importance to establish trade links with other Kingdoms. After the conquest of the Qara Khitai dynasty in the west, his empire shared its border with the Khwarazm Empire. Genghis Khan sought to establish trade links with the Khwarazm empire through which the silk route passed and sent a 500 men strong trade delegation.
But, what came back was a package of slaughtered heads of his loyal servants. This infuriated Genghis Khan. Back when Jamukha had boiled Genghis Khan’s loyal generals, Genghis Khan had vowed that he would never tolerate his loyal servants being disrespected or demeaned. But now his loyal servants were killed, and their beheaded heads were sent as a gift to him. This time he had to retaliate, and bring the Shah of the Khwarazm empire to justice who was Ala ad-Din Muhammad II. Ala ad-Din Muhammad II had the trade delegation massacred in the city of Utrar and had the goods auctioned. But Genghis Khan, tired of wars tried to solve it in a diplomatic way and sent three ambassadors to meet the shah and demand that the governor of Utrar who carried out the orders of shah be handed over. But again the Shah beheaded one ambassador and humiliated the other two before being sent back. This was a declaration of war. Genghis Khan vowed to not stop until he gets his hand over the Shah and he wanted him alive. Genghis Khan invaded, Ala ad-Din Muhammad II fled to a small island in the Caspian sea where he died later. His son Jalaluddin became the new Shah and was pursued by Genghis Khan. Jalaluddin sought help from many other Persian rulers. Genghis Khan couldn’t let him get away, because he wanted the world to know about the consequences of messing with the Mongols. He destroyed every kingdom that helped Jalaluddin. As a result, the Islamic Heartland was left in complete ruins.
Jalaluddin fled and this time he reached India. India was then ruled by Islamic rulers - The Delhi Sultanate. Genghis Khan chased Jalaluddin wherever he went. Finally, he chased Jalalludin down to the Indus river. Jalaluddin barely managed to cross the Indus river. The Indus river marked the beginning of the Delhi Sultanate empire. On one side was India, ruled by the Delhi Sultanate, where Jallalludin fled to take refuge, and on the other side, Genghis Khan stood victorious after laying waste to the Islamic heartland with his fifty thousand soldiers. By then, war had become a sport to the soldiers of Genghis Khan. Many articles suggest that one soldier of Genghis Khan’s army was nearly equal to 10 normal foot soldiers. They were something like the Dothrakis of the Game of Thrones to whom killing was just a sport. In front of Genghis Khan was just a river that had to be crossed to enter India. India, the land that was one of the richest of all lands and contributed over 1/3rd to the entire world’s GDP at the time was just within his reach. All he had to do was just order his army to cross the river. Meanwhile, the Delhi Sultanate refused to help Jalaluddin knowing of the grave consequences of it. Genghis Khan had a choice to make, to continue pursuing Jalaluddin in India, and maybe later be the emperor of India which was the richest territory in the world at the time, or turn back.
All that was needed was just a hand sign to his men, Genghis Khan would have been the richest Emperors of all time. Instead, he turned back. This decision has perplexed historians for a long time. This decision became the cornerstone to understand Genghis Khan’s psychology and his way of thinking, and to understand the reason behind every action in his life.
Let’s dive deep into analyzing Genghis Khan’s personality. Genghis Khan lost his father at the age of nine, and he understood that power is the only thing that is respected in this world. All his life he pursued to be the most powerful and feared man in history. After his father’s death, his family was exiled from the very tribe that his father headed. As a result, Temujin had a very tough childhood. His family had to survive the harsh Mongolian weather during winter with little to no food. During these harsh times, his elder brother Begtar started stealing food from his own family. Begtar refused to share the food that he had gathered. And when Begtar started stealing food from his own family while his other younger siblings were starving to death, Temujin couldn’t tolerate it. He understood that his elder brother would be cruel to his family in the future, and could bring down his family. Temujin thought of him as a liability to his family. For Temujin, protecting his family from starvation was more important. So he picked up his bow and killed his elder brother knowing that he would be banished from his family for killing his elder brother. Temujin, a child who had learnt to ride a horse at the age of three, learnt to kill at the age of five, lost his father at the age of nine, had now killed his own brother at the age of thirteen, which according to him was for securing a bright future for his family. At the age of sixteen when his wife was kidnapped and raped, he vowed to destroy the entire bloodline of the tribe that kidnapped his wife. He killed Jamukha because Jamukha had betrayed him by ambushing and killing his men and boiling his loyal generals alive. After being declared the Genghis Khan or the “Universal Ruler” he invaded the western Xia dynasty and the Jin empire in retaliation for the crucifixion of his uncle in the past. He then invaded Qara Khitai in retaliation for killing his grandson in law, later invaded the Khwarazm empire in response to the public beheading of his trade delegation in Utrar. In short, all of Genghis Khan’s conquests were in response to some kind of provocations. When he stood at the banks of Indus, he knew that India had no enmity with the Mongols, so he just decided to turn back. He was the man who killed his brother, for what he thought was good for the future of his family. He was the person who married hundreds of princesses throughout his life, but he is the same man who vowed to destroy the entire bloodline of the tribe that kidnapped his first wife. He was the person who destroyed the entire Islamic world just to show the world that anybody who dares to pick up a fight with him must know the consequences of it. All his life he was crazy for power and wanted the world to fear him. At the same time, he was the person who let go of his one and only opportunity to conquer India which was the richest territory, he also let Jalaluddin flee because he knew that Jalaluddin had paid for his crimes. Jalaluddin had already lost everything that he had for one foolish act that he committed with his father back in his empire. To me, Genghis Khan is similar in many ways to the character of Klaus of “ The Originals” TV show. A person who could do anything for his family, even if he had to kill his own brother, a person who wanted the entire world to fear him, a person whose harsh childhood had shaped his personality, in many ways he fits the character description of Klaus. No child is born a villain. He was a rebel, but for a reason. It was the incidents that happened in his childhood that made him ruthless. He answered every problem of his life with blood. The beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. What do you think of Genghis Khan? Was he a criminal? Or was he a victim of circumstances? Let me know in the comments below. #Opinion #History