The Mogul Temüjin, known to history as Chinggis Khaan or Genghis Khan, was a warrior and ruler of great genius. Regarded by many as the founder of the Mongol nation, he was a soldier of ambition and determination. He was the organizer of the Mongol armies and mastermind behind campaigns that eventually carried the Mongol armies as far as the Adriatic Sea in one direction, and the Pacific coast of China in the other.
Various dates are given for the birth of Temüjin, as Genghis Khan was first named, but it is generally accepted as between 1155 – 1167 AD. According to legend, his birth was auspicious because he came into the world holding a clot of blood in his hand—a sign that he was destined to be a warrior and a hero. His early life, however, was far from easy. Temüjin’s father was poisoned when he was only nine, and the Borjigin clan abandoned his mother and siblings. For a time, the small family led a life of extreme poverty. Eventually, against all odds, Temüjin rose to the rank of a minor chieftain and was able to persuade Toghril, the powerful khan of the Kereit tribe, to give him an army of 20,000 Mongols. Often outnumbered, this small force, through the cunning and guile of Temüjin, began to systematically seize power from one Mongol tribe and clan after another. His approach was ruthless; he exterminated all of the clan’s defeated nobility and took the common people as his own soldiers and servants.
This was a turning point in world history; it heralded the birth of the Mongol nation. In 1206, Temüjin was named Genghis Khan, the “emperor of all emperors.” The united Mongols were now ready to move out beyond the steppe and Genghis Khan and his “Mongol hordes” defeated great empires.
At the time of his death in 1227, Genghis Khan had conquered half of the known world, and to this day it remains the largest continental empire in human history. As he lay on his deathbed, his last words to his son and heir were, “I have conquered for you a large empire, but my life was too short to take the whole world—that I leave to you.” Little could he have imagined that some 770 years later, his impact would be felt in worlds he could not have imagined. He remains one of history’s great military geniuses.