Who were the Mongols?
The Mongols were illiterate, religiously shamanistic and perhaps no more than 700,000 in number. They were herdsmen on the grassy plains north of the Gobi Desert, south of Siberia’s forests. Before the year 1200 AD, the Mongols were fragmented, moving about in small bands headed by a chief, or khan, and living in portable felt dwellings. The Mongols endured frequent deprivations and sparse areas for grazing their animals. They frequently fought over turf, and during hard times they occasionally raided, interested in goods rather than bloodshed. They did not collect heads or scalps as trophies.
Who is Genghis Khan?
Genghis Khan was a nomad from a Mongol tribe, who went on to become one of the world’s greatest conquerors. He was born as Temujin, around 1162 AD in a small village near the border of Mongol and Siberia. Early childhood for young Temujin, who later grew up to be Genghis Khan was violent and unpredictable.
Temujin’s father had been a minor chieftain of a noble clan, but he was murdered (poisoned) by a tribal rival Tatar before Temujin turned 10. The family was deserted by other members of their clan/tribe and they became social outcasts. Young Temujin, one of seven siblings with their mother had to survive in the harsh Mongolian Steppes hunting and foraging for survival.
A difficult and hard childhood shaped Temujin to become a strong and formidable warrior and leader by his 20s. Between 1206 AD and his death in 1227 AD, the Mongol leader Genghis Khan conquered nearly 12 million square miles of territory—more than any individual in history. Followed by Alexander the Great.
Although known for the brutality of his campaigns and conquests, he brought the Silk Road under one cohesive political structure. The Silk Road was important in connecting the trade routes between European and Eurasian, Persian, Chinese, Indian and some African Civilisations.
5 Interesting fun facts about Genghis Khan
- There is no definitive record of what he looked like! Although it has been said he had red hair and green eyes, although the Mongols were of ethnic diversity.
- Most of his most trusted generals were former enemies he had defeated over time in conquests.
- While conquering he never killed skilled crafts people.
- He created one of the first international postal systems. A resting place was organised at regular intervals to keep horses refreshed. As they were used as modes of mobility.
- He issued a diplomatic passport to merchants to ensure safe passage during trading. These diplomatic passports were called paizi and were medallions issued from his empire.