After join the dispersed Mongolian tribes under his leadership, he forged a formidable Empire which would extend throughout Asia.
Representation of Genghis Khan on a tapestry
Genghis Khan leading his troops
The proclamation of Genghis Khan
Genghis Khan on the battlefield
The mongol Empire at the time of maximum expansion
Who was called to forge the most vast Empire that humanity has known was born in the desolate steppes of Mongolia, there where the cold and wind make the hard men like the diamond, insensitive as stones and tenacious as the rough grass that grows under the icy snow. The Mongolian people was one of small nomadic people roaming with their herds by the confines of the Gobi desert, in search of pastures. Each had its own kan or Prince, responsible care that a certain order to reign in its territory.
The kiutes, tribes of the southwest of Lake Baikal, had chosen as head to Yesugei, who had managed to gather under his command some forty thousand stores. Upon returning from a battle against the Tatars, the warrior was found with your favorite Oelon-Eke (cloud mother), had given him an heir, which was called Temujin. The child had on the wrist a red stain, so the shaman predicted that it would be a famous warrior. Years later, indeed, Temujin was to become Genghis Khan, the famous Mongolian conqueror. His birth is contained in the Chinese annals in the year 1162, year of the horse.
He was nine years old when his father, according to Mongol custom, took him with them in a long March to find him a wife. They traversed the vast steppes and the Gobi desert, and came to the region where they lived the chungiratos, bordering on the wall of china. There they found Burte, a girl of her age who, according to tradition, would be «wife mother who was given by his noble father».
The fate of Temujin suffered a serious setback when Yesugei, his father, died poisoned by Tatars. He was then thirteen and had to attend the ruin of their own, since the tribes who had gathered around his father began to desert, because they didn't want to pay obedience to a woman or a boy. Soon Oelon-Eke was alone with their children. They must gather themselves diminished herd that had left, and eating fish and roots rather than the usual diet of sheep and Mare's milk. It was a time of real hardship in which a Badger was a piece of enormous value, that the brothers could face death together.
The situation worsened further when the family was attacked by the head of the tribe of the taieschutos, Tartugai, who led him to his camp gagged by a heavy yoke of wood neck and blindfolded by the dolls to be sold as a slave. Temujin could release one night: it floored her guardian and crushed her skull with the yoke, and hid in the dry bed of a brook that did not come off until dawn. After convincing a wandering Hunter to release him from the yoke and concealing him one for a prudent time, Temujin was able to return to their camp. This feat gave him great fame among the other clans, and everywhere began arriving Mongolian young people to join him.
Representation of Genghis Khan on a tapestry
The life of Genghis Khan is an uninterrupted series of victorious battles: the first fought it against the merkitas, in punishment for having kidnapped Burte, his wife, and the success was due to the help provided by the tribe of the keraitos, a turcomongol village which had many Muslim and Nestorian Christians. The head of the keraitos, Toghrul, put at your disposal a large troop to attack the merkitas, and account «Mongolian saga"which, as a result of the punitive expedition, three hundred men were passed to knife and the women were turned into slaves.
After defeating the merkitas, the future Genghis Khan already were found only: whole tribes joined to it. Their camp was growing day by day and their is forged around ambitious plans, as of waging war to Tartugai. In 1188 he managed to gather an army of 13,000 men to deal with 30,000 Warriors of Tartugai, and defeated them comfortably, thus indicating what would be their fate: always fight enemies far superior in number and beat them. Of as a result of this victory returned to settle again in the territories of his family near the Onon River, and all the tribes that had abandoned him to the death of his father returned to meet to your around, recognizing it as the sole legitimate head.
King of the Mongols
He ran the year 1196, and among the Mongols ran the voice that it was time to choose a new King of the Mongols between the heads of the camps. When the shaman declared that the eternal blue sky had destined to Temujin for such charge no one objected, and the election of the new Khan, which then had twenty-eight years of age, was celebrated with great splendor. Temujin was concerned above all to strengthen his own tribe, constituting a real army and also be informed of what happens in their vassal tribes.
Under his rule he managed to unify all the Mongol tribes to go to war against the nomadic peoples of the South, the Tartars, and inflicted a severe defeat to them in 1202. Reward the Chinese emperor, staunch enemy of the Tartars, granted him the title of Tschaochuri, Plenipotentiary between rebels from the border. His alliance with the Khan of the keraitos, on the other hand, given increasing power. Peoples who not submitted you were defeated on the battlefield and pushed into the rainforest or deserts, and properties spread at the hands of the victors. Thus the Mongols fame eclipsed that of all the other tribes, spreading to the ends of the steppes.
Genghis Khan leading his troops
But his chief ambition was further: in 1203 turned against his former allies, the keraitos: Toghrul attacked by surprise with the support of the tribes of the East and annihilated the army that had helped it so many times. The following year he directed the fight against the naimanos, Turks of Western Mongolia, who lived in the Altai Mountains. This time the mongol Chief gave samples of a rare magnanimity, striving to facilitate the crossing of both peoples and get his assimilating the superior culture of the vanquished. But this was not your usual standard of conduct, since the mongol Chief brought together all the characteristics of the Warrior ruthless and cruel, affection to collective executions and systematic destruction of the conquered territories. With yours, Temujin was also relentless and ruthless as the steppe and terrible weather conditions. Invariably he killed all those they wanted to share power with him or simply disobeyed him.
Such was the case of Yamuga, his cousin and Playmate in childhood, with whom he had shared the bed in the days of adversity and fraternally shared scarce food that had. Dissatisfied with his role as subordinate, Yamuga planted him face and, after various skirmishes, took refuge in the mountains followed only by five men. One day, tired of fleeing, fellow threw upon him, solidly tied to his horse and handed him over to Temujin. When the two cousins were found, Yamuga Temujin criticized that it dealt with those five felons who dared raise a hand against their Lord. Acknowledging the Justice of such criticisms, Temujin ordered to detain the traitors and beheaded them. Then undeterred, gave order that estrangularan to his beloved cousin.
In 1206, year of the Panther, when all the tribes of the high Mongolia were already under its domain, Temujin was named Great Khan, or Emperor of emperors, with the man of Genghis. In the course of an important Assembly of chiefs, Temujin explained his idea that the public interest required to appoint a kan supremo, able to meet all the nomadic strength and throw it to the conquest of fabulous cities, Plains dotted with prosperous houses of tillage and delicious ports where foreign vessels docked. Before the enumeration of these possibilities, the Mongols shook is greed. Who could be that leader of caudillos? The name of Temujin, who had already been acclaimed head of an important Confederation of tribes and was both respected and feared, flew from mouth in mouth. Oppose your idea could be dangerous, and support it wasn't but consecrate a State of things and perhaps get big booties.
At his side, at the ceremony of Coronation, were his wife Burte and four sons speaking had with it: Yuci, Yagatay, Ogodei and Tuli. They were the only ones of their descendants who could inherit the title of Great Khan, privilege not reaching to which they had had with his other wives (including some Chinese and Persian princesses), or to the your favorite, Chalan, Princess merkita who used to accompany him in his warlike campaigns. After his coronation, he surrounded himself with a personal guard incorruptible and began teaching what he understood by discipline to his old comrades.
The proclamation of Genghis Khan
Genghis Khan dedicated his efforts to bring order to the steppes, imposing a severe hierarchy in the mosaic of tribes and territories that were under its domain. He reigned under the fixed laws of the severe Mongolian code known as the man of Yasa, it served as the basis for civil and military institutions, and organized his Kingdom so that serve exclusively for the war. It instilled the idea of nation to his subjects and put them to work in the production of food and war material for his army, reducing their needs to the minimum demanded by the everyday life in order that all the efforts and resources serve to hold combatants.
With them he could create a real state in weapons, in which each man, both in times of peace and war, was mobilized from the fifteen up to seventy years. Also women entered the organization with his work, and for this he granted them rights unknown in other Eastern countries, such as the property. This scaffolding social and political order was destined to the eternal goal of the nomads: take control of the Chinese Empire, behind the great wall. Before the age of forty-four years, Genghis Khan had already arranged his formidable war machine. However, if at the time an arrow enemy had penetrated by one of the boards of his armor, history would have not picked up even its name, because the major feats of his life would take place from that time.
At the foot of the great wall
In the year 1211 Genghis Khan gathered all their forces. He called on the warriors who lived from the Altai to the Chinggan mountain that they arose at his camp on the banks of the Kerulo River. To the East of his empire was China, with its ancient civilization. To the West, Islam, or the set of Nations that had arisen in the wake of Muhammad. More to the West stretched Russia, which was then a conglomerate of small States, and central Europe. Genghis Khan decided to first attack China. In 1211, he crossed the Gobi desert and crossed the great wall. The greater conquest of the Mongols, which would transform them into a world power, was falling. Taking advantage of that the country was in civil war, they went against the North China, ruled by the dynasty of the Kin, in a series of campaigns which ended in 1215 with the Beijing outlet.
Genghis Khan left his general Muqali systematic dominance of this territory, and the following year returned to Mongolia to quell some rebellions of Mongol dissident tribes spoken refugee on the western borders, along with some Turkish tribes. From there he began the conquest of the great Muslim empire of Karhezm, ruled by the sultan Mohamed, which stretched from the Caspian Sea to the region of lower and from the Urals to the Persian plateau. In 1220 the sultan died dethroned at the hands of the Mongols, which then invaded Azerbaidyan and penetrated into the southern Russia, crossed the Dnieper River, along the sea of Azov and reached Bulgaria, under the command of Subitai. When already all over Europe trembled before the invading hordes, they returned to Mongolia. Genghis Khan was there preparing the ultimate and definitive attack on China. Meanwhile, other Mongolian armies had submitted Korea, wiped out the Jurasan and entered territory of Harat, Afghanistan, Ghazni and Merv.
In little more than ten years, the Empire had grown to cover from the shores of the Pacific to the very heart of Europe, including nearly all the known world, and more than half of the men that populated it. Karakorum, the capital of Mongolia, was the center of the Eastern world, and the Mongols threatened even with annihilate the forces of Christianity. Genghis Khan had not never lost a battle, despite facing Nations that had very superior outnumbered forces. It is likely that you would never put more than two hundred thousand men on foot of war; However, with these relatively small hosts, it pulverized empires of many millions of inhabitants.
An invincible army
Why was his army indestructible? The raw material of Genghis Khan were the Tatars horses and riders. The first were able to stay on their horses a day and a whole night, slept on snow if needed and progressed with equal vigour both when they ate as when it tasted not snack. The horses could spend up to three days without drinking and knew to find food in the most unlikely of places. In addition, Genghis Khan supplied his soldiers from a Cuirass of hardened and varnished leather and two arches, one to shoot from the horse and other heavier throwing arrows of steel, to fight at close range. They also wore a ration of dry curd, ropes for bows and wax replacement-needle for emergency repairs. They kept all this equipment in a leather bag that served them, swelling it to traverse the rivers.
The tactics deployed by Genghis Khan was always a model of precision. He placed his troops in five orders, with units separated by wide spaces. Front shock troops, formidably armed with swords, Spears and hammers. To rear, mounted archers. These advanced galloping through the spaces remaining between the most advanced, firing a barrage of arrows. When they arrived near the enemy they dismantling, wielding the heavy arches and released a hailstorm of steel-tipped darts. Then it was the turn of assault troops. After the Roman legion and the Macedonian phalanx, the Tartar Cavalry became unique example of military art.
Genghis Khan on the battlefield
But Genghis Khan could also win over one battle without sending or a single soldier to the front, using exclusively propaganda. The merchants of the caravan formed his fifth column, because through them he hired the services of agents in the territories that planned to invade. Thus came to know in detail the political situation of the enemy country, found out what they were discontented factions with the Kings and managed them to provoke internecine wars. Also he served as propaganda to sow terror, recalling his enemies the horrors that had unleashed in the Nations that had dared to stand up to it. Submit or perish, prayed his warnings.
The practice of terror was for him an effective political procedure. If resisting you a city, it was destroying it and gave death to all its inhabitants. The March continued its hosts, leaving a handful of its soldiers and a few hidden prisoners among the ruins. Soldiers then forced the captives to walk the streets, shouting for the withdrawal of the enemy. And so, when the few survivors of the bloodshed ventured out of their hiding places, were death. Finally, to avoid any fingiese dead, they cut it heads. There were cities in which half a million people succumbed.
An empire in inheritance
Such was the extraordinary military machine that Genghis Khan conquered the world. In the winter of 1227, the Mongolian troops, accompanied by all the children and grandchildren of Genghis Khan, undertook the March eastward, to invade the Kingdom tangut, in China. When already, nothing could save the populations of the fire and the sword, the old Kan became close to an end. No disease had manifested in him, but his certain instinct for death warned that he was close, and brought their children to divide the territories of his vast Empire: for the greatest, Yuci, were the steppes of the Aral and Caspian; to Yagatay was the region between Samarkand and Tufan; Ogodei was awarded the region East of Lake Baikal; for the child less, Tuli, were the primitive territories, near the Onon.
Genghis Khan died August 18, 1227, before achieving the Chinese surrender. His last command was not to disclose the news of his death until all fittings had reached their destination and all princes were found in their camps. For forty years it was the center of the Asian world, which had been transformed with its wars and conquests. The Mongol tribes were now a robust and disciplined, people with generals and strategists of talent educated in your school. After his death, the enormous Mongolian roll followed crushing people and Nations. Its successors dominated throughout Asia, penetrated further into Europe and defeated the Hungarians, poles and Germans. Later, the Empire decayed until disappearing. The Mongols are today an insignificant bunch of nomadic tribes, and Karakorum lies buried under the shifting sands of the Gobi desert. Even the name of the city has been cleared from the memory of the people.
Chronology of Chinggis Khan
|1167||He was born in the vicinity of the Onon River in Mongolia. His father, Yesugei, was the Chief of the tribe of the kiutes.|
|1176||He marries Burte, which would have four children.|
|1180||Death of his father. Prisoner is taken by the taieschutos, a tribe led by Tartugai, but he manages to escape.|
|1188||Manages to gather an army of 13,000 men with that defeat Tartugai.|
|1196||He was elected King of the Mongols.|
|1202||Defeat the Tatars.|
|1203||Breaks his alliance with the keraitos, who annihilates, and beat the naimanos.|
|1206||It has named Great Khan or universal Emperor in an Assembly of Mongolian heads.|
|1211-15||It concentrates its forces in Karakorum and begins the conquest of China in the North, which is completed with the fall of Beijing (1215).|
|1219||It is made with the Muslim empire Karhezm and sweeps Bukhara and Samarkand.|
|1226||He began a campaign against the Chinese Kingdom of Tangut.|
|1227||Foreseeing his death, partitioned the Empire between his four sons, and died in Ningxia (China) without completing the conquest of China.|
Genghis Khan and the Mongol Empire
The Mongolian people were located in the Northwest of China, in lathe to Lake Baikal and the Altai massif. Divided into tribes of nomadic herders who trashumaban with their cars and shops removable behind their flocks, while other groups were engaged in hunting in the Siberian taiga, the Mongols made frequent internal clashes for control of the territories of pastures and hunting and the kidnapping of women from other clans (to maintain exogamy and polygamy and avoid payment of strong leadership to the damsel's father). The warlike character of these people not favored its stability.
Their social structure, strongly hierarchical, reflected the predominance of military features: about the entire class of warriors rose an aristocracy which was the minority leader and who was responsible for the election of the Chief of the tribe. Occasionally, it chose a Supreme Head of the Mongolian people, i.e., Great Khan. Magnificent horsemen, skilled archers, tireless and cruel, the Mongols had not had contacts with higher civilizations and their beliefs just exceeded the level of shamanism: to heaven, Earth and the geniuses inhabiting the waters and fire worship, veneration by the ancestors, offerings of food and, exceptionally, bloody sacrifices of animals and people.
The gestation of the Empire
This disparate and internal rivalries, world surrounded by hostile Empires (the kara-jitan West, Uighurs and tanguts of Si-Hia in the South, the jurchen in the East), was unified and referred to its authority by the head of one of the clans: Temujin, starting from its small territory and with great tenacity, managed to dominate between 1198 and 1206 different tribes in Mongolia and be proclaimed Supreme ruler of the country by a general Assembly of Heads it awarded him the title of Genghis Khan. Secured his authority and formed the traits of a nascent State, Genghis Khan launched his people to a policy of expansion at the expense of the surrounding sedentary States, policy not aimed the achievement of loot, but the permanent conquest of their territory and the formation of a great mongol Empire.
The first campaigns headed eastward against the tangut's Si-Hia Kingdom and the northern Chinese Empire of the jurchen; from these, Genghis Khan was launched against the Kingdom of the kara-jitan in Eastern Turkestan. Thus, it had managed to control all the major Asian steppes and had an enormous strength to be reinforced the mongol army with troops contributed by the subject peoples. Apparently, Genghis Khan had no intention to enter into conflict with the Turkish sultanates of the South of his empire (result of the disintegration of the Caliphate of Baghdad), and at a first time effort to maintain good political and trade relations with these neighbours.
But the attack to a Mongol Caravan and murder of its components by the Turks of Kahrezm altered these projects and initiated a period of wars and expeditions, in the course of which were razed cities and fields of Transoxiana, Iran and Afghanistan, killed its inhabitants en masse and disrupted the agricultural and commercial activities. Some Mongolian detachments reached the Caspian Sea and plundered the Christian Kingdom of Georgia and southern Russia. Genghis Khan then returned to Mongolia, and in 1226, made his last campaign against the Kingdom tangut of Si-Hia, which had revolted, dying in the course of the same (1227).
The successors of Genghis Khan
The vast Empire forged by Genghis Khan is distributed among the four incurred sons by his principal wife, although the title of Great Khan fell in the third of these, Ogodei, which, in this way, exercised the Supreme command over the various principalities or Khanates.
During the reign of Ogodei continued conquests Mongolian in China, where the control of the Empire from the North of the Kin culminating in taking the capital, Kaifeng. Also the first attacks against the southern Empire of the Song began, Iran, become independent after the death of Genghis Khan, is retook and consolidated the dominance of the South of Russia with the creation of the Khanate of the Golden Horde. Its capital, Sarai, became a big international market, where Venetians and Genoese bought products from the East, which were transported by Caravan that traveled throughout Asia. From the South of Russia, the Mongols subjected to plunder and tribute to the Russian principalities of Kiev and Moscow, and made repeated plundering about Poland, Silesia, Hungary and Dalmatia, although Ogodei death saved Europe from the mongol danger.
The reign of Ogodei is also the time of the Organization of the Empire, in which followed the first steps had given his father. He settled on a fixed capital, Karakorum, and it established his court and administration, with the services of Chinese and especially Uighurs, whose language and writing were currents in official documents. The tax system that guaranteed the maintenance of the public administration was regularized double based on a territorial tax of sliding scale, depending on the quality of the soil and the result of harvests, and a tax on commercial transactions. The army was structured in ten-year units (decades, hundreds, and regiments) and equipped with new weapons taken from the Chinese. An effective service of BBS and post allowed to connect quickly the points most distant from the Empire.
The mongol Empire at the time of maximum expansion
With Mongka (1251-1259), the mongol Empire reached its territorial peak; While the own Kan began the systematic conquest of the Chinese Empire in the Song, his brother Hulagu was destroying the Caliphate of Baghdad and controlled Syria, although he could not continue to Egypt: the Mamluks defeated the Mongols at Ain Yalut and managed to recover even Syria, taking advantage of the withdrawal of the bulk of the mongol army.
Kubilai Khan and the fragmentation of the Empire
The successor of Mongka, Kubilai Kan (Qubilay Kan) repudiated the Affairs of Western Asia and focused all its efforts on completing the conquest of South China, objective attained among 1276, the year of the making of Hangz Hou, and 1279, date in which the last resistance of the Song was liquidated. Kubilai, who had reunited all over China, moved the capital of his empire to Beijing (Kanbalic or "Kan city") and was considered the successor of the 22 Chinese, inaugurating dynasties which would bear the name of Yuan. As heir to the Chinese Emperors, claimed the homage of the States of the far East (Korea, Indochina, Burma) and tried to invade the Japan unsuccessfully on two occasions.
The reign of Kubilai coincides with a time of prosperity that, largely, is known thanks to the stories of the Venetian Marco Polo, which lived in China between 1271 and 1291. Commercial activity, favoured by the peace, could take advantage of the great commercial space created in the mongol Empire, and the contacts with the West proliferated not only in the border regions, but also in the heart of the Empire, until he reached European merchants, mostly Italians. Relations between Western Christendom and the mongol Empire had started years ago, when the papacy sent Juan Pian Carpini, in 1246, and San Luis de Francia to the Franciscan Guillermo Rubruck, in 1254, in order to establish an Alliance against Islam. Although it failed, is did establish trade relations which would be kept a long time.
At this point, however, the mongol Empire was already signs of decomposition. The khanates of Persia and the Golden Horde enjoyed de facto autonomy of action, while, in the own Mongolia, Kubilai had to submit several uprisings of the descendants of Genghis Khan. The sinicization of the Great Khan and its concentration in Chinese Affairs led him to worry about the rest of the Empire. The death of Kubilai was consummated the fragmentation of the mongol Empire, and each resulting entity had a different evolution.
The Yuan Empire remained until 1368, in which a Chinese nationalist backlash gave power to the Ming; the Khanate of Persia, conquered by the culture Iranian and fully Islamised since the end of the 13th century, lasted until 1335; the Golden Horde, weakened by the Tatars Tamerlan attacks between 1385-1395, could not maintain control of the Russian territories or to face successfully the nationalist movements, and to 1420 disintegrated into several smaller khanates, one of whom survived in the Crimea until the 18th century, but not any prominence.