Genghis Khan: Rise to Power and First Year of Reign (Fall 2012)

            Genghis Khan, born as Temujin, had control of the world’s largest empire during his reign. He secured thousands of miles of land all across Asia and Europe. He was born in 1162, although some historians claim that he was born in 1155. He was born into a noble military family in central Mongolia. His father was Yesugei, who was a cheiftain of the Borjigin tribe.The Borjigin tribe was a part of the Khamag Mongol confederation.  His mother was named Hoelun who was from the Olkhunut tribe. He was the first son for his mother and the third for this father. He was named after a Tatar chief who was captured by Khan’s father. 

            Khan’s childhood was eventful and it shaped his later life. He was influenced by many people in his short life time span that led him to be the brilliant emperor that he was. Khan was very close with his father growing up. His father was a very courageous man who always took care of his family. He was a man that followed traditions because when Khan was just nine years, his father took Khan to meet his future wife. Her name was Borte and she was from the Onggirat tribe. The marriage was arranged between the two fathers of the different tribes. Borte’s father, Dai Setsen, was a chieftain. The two fathers were attempting to solidify relations between the two tribes. Khan was to stay there until he reached the age at which he could marry, 12 years old. During his three years there, he was to be in service of Dai Setsen. Khan was expected to listen to Dai Setsen and do whatever he asked. 

            Khan received devastating news shortly after he moved to his new home. His father was killed by their rival tribe, the Tatars. The tribe offered Yesukgei food and Yesukhei accepted. The food that he ate was poisoned. When Khan heard the news, he wanted to go back to his tribe to be the successor of his father. He wanted to rule the Borjigin tribe, but he was not allowed to do so because of his age. There was nothing more he could do. The tribe abandoned the fatherless family. Khan was influenced by his father because his father had strong control within the Mongol Empire and was always looking to expand it. His father’s death inspired Khan because he wanted to take over his tribe and take his father’s place. Khan wanted to prove to his tribe members that he could have a strong rule in the Mongol Empire. His father’s death also influenced Khan’s rise to power because Khan wanted to avenge the tribe who killed his power. He wanted to destroy the tribe and kill the person whoever killed his father. 

            Khan was also influenced by his family. After they were deserted by their tribe, the family lived in poverty. The family members were his four siblings, two half-brothers, and a family servant. They often only ate plants and dead carcasses. There was one occasion when Khan found a fish and his half-brother Behter snatched the fish out of his hand. Behter ate the fish all by himself and did not share any of it. Khan was extremely irate at this point because finding a fish was like finding a precious rare gem. Khan shot Behter with his bow and arrow, killing Behter. Khan’s strong personality started to show at this point in his life. He was very passionate for what he believed in - even if that meant killing his half-brother. He did not think it was necessary to have a selfish person in their family when they were all struggling to stay alive. Khan was very loyal and kind to the people who treated him well, but not to the people who treated him negatively. Khan’s dysfunctional family events helped shape his personality. Among other family members, his mother, also had a part in influencing Khan to rise to power. She lacked of authority because she could not take care of her family, like her deceased husband had. Khan tried to take place of his father in trying to provide food for his family. He killed his half-brother because of Behter’s selfishness. That tragic event shows that Khan would have shared the fish with his whole family, instead of eating it for himself. He was loyal to the people that treated him with respect. His mother tried to do as much as she could, however she couldn’t do much because of her gender. She was limited. Khan’s leadership skills were developed during this time.

            Genghis Khan married Borte when he was 16 and she was 17. Their fathers originally arranged their marriage years before. They married in order to fix their tribe’s past relations. Tribes were becoming independent and didn’t have solid alliances. The marriage between Khan and his wife fixed the relations between their two tribes, respectively. 

            Khan was influenced by many events in his life: his father dying, his tribe deserting him, and killing his half-brother. His most influential event that really changed his life was when he was 20 years old and captured by the Taichai’ut tribe. They were former allies of his tribe. He was made a slave for the tribe. He escaped from the yurt that the tribe was keeping him tied too. He successfully escaped and that night he hid in a river bank. When he was attempting to run away from the tribe that captured him, he met Jelme and Arslan. They would be his two future generals. The three joined forces at that moment. Khan’s escape made widespread news and was heard all around Asia. His reputation was blowing up and soon every tribe in the area knew who Khan was. 

            Khan had a childhood friend, Jamukha, who was known as his sworn brother. They grew up together and vowed to always be eternally faithful to each other because Jamuhka and Khan both were interested in ruling powers. They did not want their authority to take over their friendship. Jamukha ended up helping Khan later on in life for the recapturing of Khan’s wife. After that, their friendship grew rocky. They were both fighting to be the better khan and this deemed jealousy and hatred from Jamukha. Khan’s mother suggested to Khan that he should end his friendship with Jamukha and to move on. Khan and Jamukha didn’t stay friends and eventually became enemies. On Khan’s death bed, Jamukha whispered in his ear and told him that there was only room for one emperor. It was extremely clear after that that Jamukha was jealous of his once best friend.

            During Khan’s enslavement to the Taichai’ut tribe, his wife was captured in his village by the tribe known as Merkits. When he got back to his village and no one was there, he turned to his father’s sworn brother, Tonghrul, for help. Tonghrul had been very close with Yesukgei. Tonghrul was the Khan of the Kerait which is better known by the Chinese title of Wang Khan. He was granted such a high noble name in 1197. Khan was seeking support from Tonghrul because of Tonghrul’s army. Tonghrul offered support to Khan in giving him 20,000 soldiers to defeat the Merkit tribe. 

            After Tonghrul supported Khan, Khan joined forces with other close friends. Khan received the support from his childhood friend, Jamuka. Jamuka was already a ruler of his own tribe, the Jadaran. Jamuka agreed to help Khan recapture Borte back. The recapturing of his wife was a success. The three of the men defeated the Merkits and soon the Merkits were under Mongol rule. It was during this time that Genghis Khan received much attention for his army tactics and his strong lead as an army general. 

            Of the many influences Khan had before his rise of power, he also had a lot of advanced political tactics behind many of his accomplishments. One of first tactics that he used was integrating the conquered people in with his own people. Khan’s first major goal was to reunite all Mongols under one rule. He didn’t want any independent tribes. He wanted to connect every tribe under his rule so that he could start out of a lot of land. Khan conquered his rival tribes first. They were the Naiman, Kereit, Merkit, and the Tatar tribe. He did not take their land and force the people to live elsewhere, he let put them under his protection. He offered people great wealth if they followed him. Another political accomplishment of Khan was that he advised his prospected army generals that he was not going to pick generals because of family ties. He was going to give titles to the people who deserved them and followed his rule. Khan made it clear that his authority was going to rule over everyone else in the Mongol Empire.

            Khan’s empire was not a dictatorship; he had staff that set policies. The policies usually only surrounded issues such as war and peace; occasionally other topics were included. He had one a hural in his empire. A hural was a leader that was under Khan, who also had a say in policies for the empire. Khan had the final say in what policies were created by his staff. 

            Along with Khan’s strict authority over his new land, he forced the people to all speak the same language. He wanted one nation that spoke the same language so that there were not any barriers between the people. The Naiman tribe ruled the Mongol area before the Mongols were there, so the set language was Uighur. He had one of his captives modify the Uighur script to fit the Mongolian language. The sounds were adapted to with Mongolian sounds. 

            In conclusion, Genghis Khan had many personal identities of the people that shaped his life. His father, Yesugei, motivated Khan to avenge his father’s killers and to prove to his tribe that he was worthy of being a young chieftain. His tough life as a child shaped him to have leadership skills. He took control over his family, proving he was the man of the house, after killing his half-brother. His wife’s capture from a tribe forced Khan to show he had to use his connections to complete his goal. Khan’s political strategies, implemented in his first year of reign, deepened his authority to the Mongol people. Reuniting the rival tribes and allied tribes under one rule was a strong step in the right direction. Khan wasn’t able to have conquered the world’s largest empire if it was not for the influences he had in life or the strategies that he implemented.  

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