Genghis Khan Essay, Research Paper
Genghis Khan was considered a great military leader. And in many ways he was. Genghis Khan didn?t use the size of his army to defeat an enemy. He used logic and cunning. This was one of the traits that made Genghis Khan as well known as he was.
Genghis Khan was born and raised on the Mongolian steppe some time in the 1160?s.(Boyle 623) After his father, Yesugei, was killed by a rival tribe named the Tartars, Genghis and his brother Qasar, and his two half-brothers, Bektair and Belgutai were left with their mother Ho?lun. Life on the steppe was hard, especially in the winter time, and Temujin, (Genghis Khan?s original name before he was elected Khan; meaning Universal Ruler), and his brothers barely stayed alive. An old Mongolian legend said that one day after Genghis and Qasar caught a fish in the river, their older brothers took the fish and ate it. Later that day Genghis snuck up on his brother Bektair and murdered him with an arrow.(Cohen 84) This rugged childhood instinct was displayed throughout the rest of Genghis?s life, in all of his military conquests and in the building of the largest continuous land empire ever(Edwards 4) as well as the largest empire ever built by one man(Boyle 624).
The year 1206 was an important one for Genghis Khan. It was the year that this great military leader defeated all the rival tribes of Mongolia(Edwards 8) and was elected Khan(Boyle 625). Interestingly enough Genghis was not elected Khan until after the position was turned down by his older, more qualified family members.(Cohen 86) Soon after his election of Khan, Genghis searched for victims and began conquering groups to the west such as the Tanguts, a civilization based around the Huang He River in modern day China.(Edwards 10) Once his forces were strong enough, six years later, Genghis led his troops across the Great Wall and captured the Chines capital, Peking, in1215.(Cohen 96) Many felt the way Genghis conquered was cruel and unnecessary, but it was in fact smart. When conquering new territories, as Genghis learned early on, it was easier to wipe out the civilization rather than leave behind valuable troops to govern. Therefore, the troops that would have been left behind were able to stay with the army and help conquer more territories.(Cohen 102) This technique was helpful, more than some realize. This is because the Mongolian army, though well trained, never exceeded 110?000 men. This was a small number compared to some of the armies that fell to Genghis?s forces.(Edwards 30) Due to a disadvantage in manpower, Genghis had to find other ways to gain the upper hand over opponents. Such ways included the use of a communication system called the “orto” system. This system was borrowed from many other cultures and was based on a relay method. A rider would ride a horse from one relay station to the next, switching horses at each station. This ensured the accuracy of the message, making it as precise as possible while at the same time maximizing confidentiality.(Cohen 100) Another way Genghis gained an advantage over enemy forces lay in the commandment of the army. A decimal system that divided his troops into different groups was used. In this system, an arvan was the equivalent to ten men, a zuun was the equivalent of one hundred men, and a tumen stood for ten thousand men.(Edwards 25) The army was divided into tumens that integrated many different types of soldiers. Genghis used residents from conquered territories in his army, and the act of dividing the soldiers of one background throughout the army instead of putting the majority all in one tumen, encouraged loyalty to the army as a whole instead of their individual group.(Cohen 86) These tactics, along with superior training and excellent weapons helped Genghis create a large and stable empire.
Many believe that Genghis was born with natural military leadership ability. In fact, legend has it that hen was born with a piece of dried blood in his hand. This was thought to be a sign of a future warrior at the time.(Edwards 15) Genghis was able to show his natural leadership ability in many battles among the rival tribes along the steppe.(http://members.aol.com/dkaplan888/geng.htm) These small battles were excellent preparation for the larger wars that would come to Genghis in the future. Besides being a great leader ,Genghis was also an excellent speaker. R.P. Lister once said that Genghis had, “The power to arouse exaltation in his followers, so that they were no longer moved entirely by thoughts of self preservation? but became slightly mad”(Edwards 15) This ability was a large part of why Genghis?s armies were so successful in battle. It created loyalty among followers and also helped in gaining new supporters along the way.
Regarded as a hero throughout Mongolia, Genghis once explained the inspiration behind conquering the many territories that fell under his rule.(Cohen 130) Genghis once said, “Man?s greatest good fortune is to chase and defeat his enemy, seize his total possessions, leave his married women weeping and wailing, ride his gelding, use the bodies of his women?”(Edwards 24) Though sounding cruel and inhumane, this quote vividly describes the feeling of superiority over a person or people after conquering them. Obviously Genghis enjoyed taking part in such activities as those listed, when considering, that upon his death, Genghis?s empire stretched from the Pacific Ocean to the Black Sea. It also went from Tibet and the Chinese Region all the way up to Siberia, part of present day Russia.(Cohen 140)
Genghis Khan died on August 8, 1227. His death was supposedly caused by complications from a fall. The legend of his death talks about a burial in an underground tomb with forty virgins and forty horses. Then the grave site was covered and patted down to look as if nothing had been buried there, a job well done considering it hasn?t been found to this day.
Genghis Khan was a man of triumph and is regarded as a hero in many places around the world. A rugged childhood shaped the foundation of Genghis Khan as a man and as a leader. Military battles are what created the legacy that is carried with the name Genghis Khan and are what will shape all future thinking of this great man.
1. Boyle, John Andrew
Macmillan Educational Company
2. Edwards, M.
“The Great Khans”
3. Lawrence, S.V.
“Where Sleeps Genghis Khan?”
U.S. News and World Report
4. Cohen, Daniel
Conquerers on Horseback
Doubleday and Company Inc.