Perhaps no empire in history has risen so spectacularly as that of the Mongols. In less than 80 years, a band of warriors originally comprised of several men grew to an empire that encompassed all from the Pacific Ocean to the Danube River. This story is about one of the most dramatic series conquests in history and how it was the Mongols themselves who shattered their own invincibility.
In the 12th century, various Turkic and Mongol-Tungusic tribes roamed the steppes of Mongolia. One of these tribes was the Mongols. Around the 1130, the Mongols emerged as a powerful tribe, defeating neighboring nomads and forcing the Jin Empire of Northern China to pay tribute. However, the glory was short lived. In 1160, the Mongol Kingdom was shattered, having been defeated by the neighboring Tartars tribe. The Mongol clans (divisions within a tribe) became disunited and fought amongst themselves for what little there was.
The leader of the Mongol Kiyad Sub-Clan was
Yesugei, who happened to be a descendant of a Khan (chieftain) of the former Mongol Kingdom. In 1167, Yesguei and his wife had a son named Temujin, the one who would become Genghis Khan. When Temujin was nine years old, his father was poisoned by Tartar chiefs. Since he was much to young to rule, his clansmen deserted him. Temujin and his family (7 people total) moved to the most desolate areas of the steppes, eating roots and rodents for living. He had many great adventures, ranging from chasing horse thieves to being captured by enemies. When Temujin was 16, the Merkid Tribe attacked his family and captured his wife. With an army of five men, Temujin could not retaliate on his own, so he turned to one of his father’s old friends, Toghrul Khan of the Kereyid Tribe, who in turn, also enlisted a Mongol coalition leader, Jamugha. Together they defeated the Merkids and Temujin recovered his wife. Temujin quickly took advantage of his powerful allies, particularly Jamugha, who was also happened to be a Mongol and a childhood friend of his, and became a notable figure on the steppes. Temujin and Jamugha took control over most of the Mongol Clans, but that was not enough for Temujin.
According to the Secret History of the Yuan Dynasty, one day while Temujin and Jamugha were riding at the front of the Mongols, Temujin decided to “keep going” while Jamugha stopped to pitch tent. Temujin broke up with Jamugha and the Mongols were split into two groups. Hostilities soon broke out between the two parties. In a clash over a minor event, Temujin was defeated and was forced into exile. However, Temujin returned ten years later and reestablished his position. From there, he embarked on a conquest of the Mongolia that lasted several years. Unfortunately, the details are too great to be perused in this article. In short, by 1204 Temujin had subjugated all that opposed him. He defeated the Tartars, the Kereyids tribe under Toghrul Khan (who eventually betrayed him), the Naimans the Merkids, and Jamugha’s Mongol clans
The Empire by 1204
In 1206, Temujin held a great Khuriltai (assembly) on the banks of the Onon River. There, he took the title Chingis Khan. The name Chingis Khan is commonly referred to as Genghis Khan. However, “Genghis” is actually a corrupted variation, and thus for accuracy reason, he will be referred to as “Chingis” Khan. During the Khuriltai of 1206, Chingis Khan decreed the structure and laws for his new Empire.