The country of the Mongols lay in heart of Asia, where the two rivers Onon and Kherulen ran down to the east and north east from the mountain massif of Burkhan Khaldun. It was a beautiful land extended over a large area. There were thick forests in the river valleys, but between them stretched great expenses of bare steppe. It was hot in the summer time and covered with snow in the winter time.
To the north west were ranges of beautiful high mountains, with ice on their summits. Beyond these mountains, three or four miles away, was the great lake Baikal. To the south east was the Gobi desert. But there were more mountains bare and rough, a jumble of mountains, and running among them, swooping and diving from summit to summit was the Great Wall of China. Once upon a time, Chinese people built this to keep Mongols out, sometimes it did, sometimes it did not.
Mongols had a history and traditions, legends and songs and rules of behavior which governed the way they lived. They had a religion and believed in shamanism in which they considered Eternal Blue Heaven as a creator. Mongols were a nomadic people living off of their herds and flocks. They had no cities and moved between the Great Wall of China and Lake Baikal, summer and winter, to find grazing for the animals. They hunt animals and trade the fur and skin for consumer needs such as flour, rice and other products from neighboring peoples. Their homes were gers, round felt tents which were much more comfortable to carry and easily disassembled or moved from place to place.
Beyond the Mongol tribes, there were Chin Emperors who ruled the China. Chin Emperors were powerful. Even tough Chinese were more numerous, and they had bigger armies and walled cities to defend themselves in, they didn't attempted to capture Mongols because Mongols could destroy them if they were agreed among themselves and well led. Mongols are originally aggressive people and they were superb archers and horse riders.
The Mongols were a small nation, but once, long ago under Khaidu Khan , and again under Khabul Khan , Khaidu's great grandson, they were more powerful above all the nations of this region. There were Merkit, Naiman, Khereit, Tatar, Tangut, Taijiut, and few more tribes in Mongol nation in that time. They quarreled and fought and stole from each other, as men have done in other countries. After the death of Ambakhai Khan, the grandson of Khaidu Khan, the Tatars came pouring down from the east, scattering the Mongol clans, slaying the people and driving off the cattle and the horses from the grazing-grounds around the ruined camps. Khutula Khan, the son of Khabul Khan fought bravely against them. Defeated in battle, they reassembled the scattered tribes and fought again. They fought thirteen major battles against Tatars and thirteen times they were defeated. Under Khutula Khan, the greatness of Mongols came to an end. Khutula Khan, it seemed, was the last Khan of the Mongols.
One of the princes who survived these thirteen battles was one of Khutula Khan's brothers, Bartan Baatar. This title of Baatar meant that Bartan was a particularly powerful and noble warrior and a strong prince. Bartan was the eldest surviving son of Khabul Khan. He was , therefore, older than Khutula, but Ambakhai had sent him no message, so he had not been elected Khan. Bartan Baatar served Khutula loyally in this bad time.
His principle wife bore him four sons. Of these, the third was Yesughei, the father of Chingis Khan.
Yesughei was a young man, barely more than a boy, when his uncle Khutula was elected Khan. He was old enough, to fight in the first of those thirteen battles against the Tatars and in the course time he fought in them all, gaining a great reputation and the title of Baatar, which is given to few including his father.
Yesughei went out hawking by himself one day, along the banks of the Onon river. He was about twenty then, fierce, proud, and highly-strung, like a noble horse. It was a pleasant scene, the young prince trotting long by the banks of the river through a sparse wood, with his hawk on his wrist the sunlight coming through the leaves and the bare hill above.
Coming to the edge of the wood, he saw in the distance a single horseman coming down the hill riding beside a single wagon, towards the river. Yesughei recognized the horseman was the Merkit, who was a handsome, young, well dressed man. What attracted Yesughei's attention more was the woman sitting inside the covered wagon. Yesughei thought he had never seen such a girl. Oulen was a unusually beautiful young lady. Yesughei wanted this girl whatever the consequences. He rode back to the camp and found two of his brothers there, Neikun and Daritai. He asked for their aid, and they agreed to give it. They caught the wagon and stole the woman.
So Yesughei married Oulen. She was a woman of strong passions and great intelligence. The Great Khan's mother, she was smart and magnificent. Chingis Khan was never terrified of anything except her until the day she died.
Hoelun bore Yesughei five children. At the time of the first, Yesughei was away, fighting the Tatars in the east. On the fringes of this battle Yesughei captured two Tatar chieftains, Temujin Uge, and Khori Buka.
When Yesughei come back to the camp at Deliun Boldag on the Onon river, he found that Hoelun had given birth to a son . This son was clutching in his fist a small lump of blood, the size of a knucklebone. It was clear from this that he had every chance of becoming a great hero, if he lived.
The capture of the two Tatar chieftains would have been regarded as an adequately auspicious stroke of good fortune. So the boy was named Temujin, after the chief of the two Tatars.
This boy grew up to be, in later days, Chingis Khan, the World conqueror.
Betrothal of Temujin
There were three more sons. The next after Temujin was Khasar. He became his principle comrade as a boy and served him well as a man. Then there were Khachiun, and Temuge, and a daughter Temulin.
When Temujin was nine years old, Yesughei decided it was time to go and find a wife for him among Olkunut, the tribe from which Hoelun came. It was a custom for chieftains to select a wife for his sons from some people far away. This kept the ruling stock strong, besides ensuring that they had useful friends and relations in many different quarters. And although the country was peaceful as it had been, Yesughei set off to visit the Olkunut with quite a small party. The people he ruled were still powerful, though their power no longer extended over all the Mongols, and no one would lightly pick a quarrel with them.
In the camp of the Ongirrat he was greeted by the chieftain, Dai Sechen. Dai Sechen was a stately man with a proper awareness of his own worth and position. Having greeted Dai Sechen said "Where are you going Yesughei, my kinsman?"
Yesughei replied: "I am going to ask for a girl for my son from among the Olkunut, his maternal uncles."
Dai Sechen reflected on this for a time, and took a good look at Temujin, who was fiercely gnawing a meat and washing it down with fermented mare's milk.
"Your son Temujin has fire in his eyes and a bright power in his face" he commented. "Yesughei my kinsman, last night I had a dream. A white falcon, holding the sun in one of its talons and the moon in the other, flew down and settled on my hand."
"Yesughei, my kinsman, was not this a good dream? It foretold to me that you would come, bringing your son by the hand"
Dai Sechen's daughter was brought to him. She was ten, one year older than Temujin, and her name was Burte. Yesughei liked the brightness of her eyes and the nobility of her small face. Burte had a great deal of natural dignity like her father and was beautiful.
In the morning Yesughei asked Dai Sechen for the hand of his daughter, for Temujin. Dai Sechen was pleased. He could have asked for cattle or servants, but he had enough of both. What he did get was an alliance with a man who was the leader of the most powerful group currently leading Mongols, and a son-in-law who looked strong in both temperament and in physique. Dai Sechen said "Her fate is to be given to a man, not to grow old sitting at the door. I shall ask for nothing. I shall give you my daughter. When you ride away, leave your son here, to be my son-in-law."
Yesughei was also pleased, because not only was he provided with a wife of great promise, but also he could leave him behind in this relatively safe corner. Maybe he had feeling that something bad would happen to him later.
They held a betrothal feast. After it, Yesughei prepared for his departure. He selected a good spare horse from his train and gave it to Dai Sechen which is a custom between Mongol men who exchange a good horse for good faith. "Dai Sechen, my kinsman", he said in an anxious, fatherly way, "my son Temujin is afraid of dogs. So not let him be frightened by dogs." He didn't know that he would never see his beloved son again.
Death of Yesughei
Yesughei Baatar rode away and his homeward journey was less fortunate. On the yellow steppe north of the mountain Chekcher he came across some Tatars gathered round a fire, feasting. Yesughei didn't know who the Tatars were, but they knew who he was.
They invited Yesughei to join the feast. Yesughei was not eager to join them, but in view of their greater numbers it would be unwise to seem discourteous. So he joined them around the fire, and the Tatars, bearing in mind that Yesughei and his father Bartan Baatar had pillaged their camp in former days, slipped something into his drink that would serve as a revenge.
Yesughei, riding onwards, began to feel ill, and traveled with increased haste, riding day and night. Upon arrival at his camp he took to his bed. He ordered Munglik, one of his servant to bring his son, Temujin quickly. When Temujin arrived at the camp, his father was dead.
Chingis Khan's Youth
After Yesughei died, there was no leader who could hold the camp together. It was just as Mongols could find no Khan on whom all the people could agree. The strongest chieftain among them was Targutai of the Taijiut clan.
For a time Oulen treated worth respect, as the widow of the chieftain. She made efforts to keep her camp, but after a while all of Oulen's people joined up with the Taijiut clan and left her. There were no people left except her immediate household. There were her five children and all of them still very young. There were one or two other widows, of Yesughei's men, and their infants, and two boys who were half brothers of Temujin. These two Bektair and Belgutei, were Yesughei's sons by another woman before he met Oulen. They had no kinsmen and Oulen had brought them up with her own sons.
When the last of Oulen's people abandoned her to follow Targutai, Taijiut clan, they took their own beasts, and left her with only Yesughei's flocks and herds.
Oulen, however, was a woman of resource. She dashed up and down the Onon the whole of that summer, gathering what food she could find and bringing it back to the camp. Later on in the season she gathered wild apples and cherries, juniper berries, hazel nuts and the edible fruit of the pine that flourishes in those regions.
In this way the noble lady Oulen nourished and kept alive her sons, who were destined to become the great ones of the earth.
In the winter they killed off some of their small flock, and others died, so that they had even fewer. It became difficult to live and find food for her sons.
When the spring came, Temujin and his brothers applied themselves with new seriousness to the task of keeping alive. They sat on the banks of the Onon river, fishing. They caught a few small fish. As they grew in skill, they occasionally caught a sizable grayling, but it didn't happen often.
Oulen had to do the major part of the food gathering and keep some sort of order in the tents, besides this, she was trying all the time to teach Temujin and his brothers as much as she could of Mongol law and custom, the history of their ancestors, and correct ways of behavior, so that they would grow up to be worthy chieftains, as she didn't doubt for a moment that they would. Actually she was the very smart woman who made her son a ruler of Mongols and conqueror of the World.
Bektair and Belgutei, Temujin's half brothers were both bigger than Temujin and Khasar , being older, though since they were not the sons of Yesughei's wife, Oulen, they had little rank or position. When the boys quarrel each other one time, Oulen said " We have no friends but our shadows, no whips but the tails of our horses. You ought to be thinking of all the time how we can avenge ourselves on the Taijiut. Instead of that you quarrel among yourselves like Alun Gua Queen's five sons."
Alun Gua was a beautiful Mongol queen of long ago who had five sons. One of them was the great chieftain Bodonchar, who is the ancestor of Chingis Khan. When these five sons were always quarreling, she took five sticks and give the five to each to break. They easily broke a stick. She took a bundle of five sticks and tied them together, and gave that to her sons to break. None of them could break the bundle of tied sticks… The story proved to the men that when united they stand, but when divided they fall. Oulen had been telling this story to her sons that they must be united and peaceful to destroy their enemies.
Temujin was conscious, at the age of eleven, of being a chieftain. There are times when a chieftain can overlook small infringements of his authority without endangering it, and times when he must act to preserve it.
One day Temujin and Khasar picked up their bows and went out on to the steppe. In the distance they saw Bektair on a hillock, keeping watch over nine mares and a silver-grey gelding.
Khasar and Temujin drew out their arrows and fit the nock to the strings. Bektair saw Khasar coming towards him and got up to run away, but when he turned round he saw Temujin coming from the rear. Temujin raised his bow with its nocked arrow and shot Bektair in the chest. As Bektair toppled forward, Khasar shot him in the back. Then they went back to Oulen's tent. Oulen, as soon as she saw their faces, knew what they had done, without asking.
"Murderers!" She shrieked, leaping at them. They stood there with bowed heads, and she ranted and raved at them, but she didn't hit them, they were too old for it. "You were born with a black bloodclot in your hand! You , Khasar, like a qasar dog that snaps at its own afterbirth! Panthers that cannot hold back their anger? Eagles that stoop on their own shadows?" Temujin listened his mother's words obediently. He never opposed his mother's word for his entire life and he respected her above all others.
Chingis Khan was afraid of two things, his mother Oulen and his wife Burte, even though he was grown up and was no longer afraid of dogs.
It is true, though, that after this regrettable incident there was a peace in Oulen's camp, and no one challenged Temujin's authority from then on. Perhaps his unusual instinct for ensuring that people would obey him was already developed at that early age.
Temujin in Captivity
The hard life went on for Oulen's small camp. They avoided meeting people as much as they could, and many people avoided them, thinking it unwise to be friends with them. But now somebody would pass by the camp from Taijiut.
The news was unwelcome to Targutai, the Taijiut chieftain. Someone came to camp in the spring, in the year of Tiger, 1182, after three or four hard winters had gone by, and told him how he had seen this little camp, and a capable-looking youth who could be no one else but Temujin.
Temujin was tall and broad shouldered, and at fourteen he was a man. He had cat's eyes, and fierce face full of authority.
Targutai held a council. It was not easy to decide what to do. Temujin had many kinsmen. Nobody would have minded if Oulen and her sons had died in the wilderness, but killing them was a dangerous business, calling for retribution. It was agreed that Temujin must be captured, but not killed.
There were some men in Targutai's camp, even among the Taijiut, who had been faithful followers of Yesughei, as Targutai had been. One of them slipped off and warned Oulen. Temujin and his people struck camp and rode off into the wooded mountains, south of the Onon with their loaded wagons, driving their flocks before them. They found a place deep in the forest backed by rocky cliffs. When Targutai and his men rode up through the woods, they found a stockade confronting them. It was a difficult place to attack if a skillful archer was concealed behind it.
They sent a men forward to speak to them. From a reasonably safe distance he shouted " Send us out the elder brother, Temujin. We have no need of the others."
The only way of avoiding capture was for him to escape alone. After nightfall Temujin rode quietly out. Some of the Taijiut had crept closer to the stockade in the darkness. They saw Temujin go and ran forward. The Taijiut scrambled for their horses in the darkness and rode after him.
Temujin could not hope to outride these men with the small lead he had. He rode across the rough mountainside until he saw what looked like a dense thicket. He dismounted and led his horse into an opening and crouched there, in the heart of the thicket.
Taijiut had seen him to go in but they didn't want to follow him. This was a place where he could kill several men before they laid hands on him.
Temujin stayed in that thicket for three days, and the Taijiut lay round it, watching. On the third night he thought he would try to slip away, but as he led his horse towards the one way out, the saddle fell off. Temujin said himself "…This must be a sign from Heaven that I am meant to stay here." He went back to his hiding place.
Three night later he was making his way out again when he saw a boulder across the entrance that he was sure had not been there before. He took this as another sign from Heaven that he was intended to stay in the thicket.
At last, after nine days he had gone hungrily by, he said to himself in desperation "Am I to die without a name?" He was too dizzy with hunger to put up a fight. Having captured Temujin they let the others go. Even at this time it was only Temujin who they were afraid of. Khasar was also a son of Yesughei and skilled with the bow, but he was just one more potential chieftain among others. Temujin was more than this. Men had to follow him or fear him, and already when he was only fourteen they could see this.
There is a long story about how Temujin escaped from the Taijiut and how Sorkhan Shira and his sons Chimbai and Chila'un helped him to escape. Later Chimbai rose to command a thousand men in he Khan's army, Chila'un became one of those Four Coursers, the great generals whom Chingis Khan sent on missions of unusual difficulty or importance. He was known as Chila'un Baatar, the strong prince.
The Sable Cloak
It was not long after that Temujin decided that something essential was missing from his life. He had in mind all these years that he had been betrothed to Burte, the daughter of Dai Sechen, since he was nine. He took Belgutei with him and set off down the Kherulen river, to the country of the Onggirats. Dai Sechen was very glad to see him. He brought Burte to Temujin. She was in every way fitted to be the wife of a Mongol chieftain. They held a wedding feast, as custom demanded, but it was brief. They stayed there only one night and the following day, they set off again on the return journey. Chotan, who was Dai Sechen's wife, gave various presents to the bride and groom, and to Oulen a splendid cloak of sable, which was a magnificent gift.
What Temujin needed was friends. There was no doubt in Oulen's mind that they needed friends more than sable cloaks. Temujin could use this cloak to obtain what he needed. He sent Belgutei off across the mountains to ask Boorchu to come to him. His message was brief. It was "Let us be bound in blood-brotherhood."
Boorchu, when Belgutei brought the message to him, knew at once that he wished to become Temujin's anda , his sworn brother. He saddled his horse, a brown one with an arched back, rolled up his gray felt cloak and tied it to the saddle, collected his weapons, mounted and rode off with Belgutei across the mountains. He became the sworn brother of Temujin.
Before this, there were three capable men at the camp, Temujin, Khasar and Belgutei. Now there are four. It was a beginning, though a small one.
Temujin intended to go in search of his ally. He packed up the sable cloak and rode off with Khasar and Belgutei across the mountains to visit Toghrul, the Khan of Khereits. Temujin found him in his camp in the black forest in on the Tuul river. Toghrul, was a friend to Temujin's father, Yesughei. Having been hospitably received by him and giving refreshment, Temujin addressed him formally, with every mark of respect. He presented Toghrul the sable cloak that Chotan had brought as a gift to Oulen. Toghrul was delighted and said "In the return of this black sable cloak, I will reunite your scattered people…"
The Merkit Raid
The news of everything that happened in the steppe was carried across the steppe, far beyond the lands of the Mongols. A leading chieftain of the Merkit, Tokhto'a, was particularly to interested to hear that Temujin, the son of Yesughei Baatar, who had stolen his brother, Chileidu's new bride, Oulen. He still keep in mind what happened in fifteen years ago for his closest family.
One night, after few days of travel, Merkits reached the Temujin's camp in the Burgi. Temujin didn't have enough force to protest Merkits and rode off in the direction of Burkhan Khaldun . When he returned, Merkits had stolen his wife Burte, as fifteen years ago, his mother was stolen from Merkits.
Temujin, taking Khasar and Belgutei with him, rode off again to visit Toghrul of Kereits. Toghrul of Kereits promised him to help him to bring his wife and destroy Merkits. Even Jamukha was pleased to give a hand to capture Merkits. Jamukha was young Mongol chieftain, the head of Jadaran clan. He was considered to be a distant kinsman of Temujin. As a small boy they had played knucklebones on the ice of the frozen river together in the camp on the banks of Onon, while Yesughei was still alive.
Temujin joined forces with Toghrul the Kereits, and Jamukha the Jadaran, in a large expedition against the Merkit. Now he is a chieftain of an small army of several thousand men.
Then one night the Mongols pursued the Merkit down the Selenge river during the night. When Temujin and his companions fell on their tents during the night, Tokhto'a and a few of his people had fled down the Selenge.
Temujin found his wife Burte a covered wagon in the camp of Taijiut.
The chieftain usually have several women. These would be respected by his people, and their children properly looked after, but he had only one wife, whose sons were his heirs . Chingis Khan's favorite woman was the lady Hulan, who was honoured by all for her position, and he held the ladies Yesui and Yesugen in high esteem, but his wife was Burte, and no other woman was ever his wife, nor could Hulan's children, or those of his other empresses, be considered as the true sons of Chingis Khan.
Rise of Power
In the back of his mind, Temujin always sought power. He believes he was born to unite Mongols and even Heaven let him to do. He was a descendant of the Mongol Khans' who had ruled all over the Mongol nation. No doubt he thinks uniting Mongols and establishing its greatness as his duty. Whether he set out with the intention of killing his half-brother for stealing a fish, or of getting his wife back from the Merkit, that tireless spirit in the back of his mind saw to it that he always ended up with more power over other men than he started with.
Temujin sent his messengers galloping off across the steppes in every direction. The chieftains had shown some inclinations to join him, now they must make up their minds. If they were going to come, let them come.
The response was gratifying and it was more than Temujin had hoped for. The chieftains all over the steppe had decided that they needed a powerful leader and concluded that Temujin was the leader they needed.
Temujin rode all night at the head of his people. As the day brightened towards dawn, they could see, far off, groups of clansmen coming to join them. The clansmen who came at this time to join Temujin are too numerous to name. They came from many clans, from the Basut, the Suldus, the Jalair, the Qongqotan, the Olkunut, the Qorolas, the Durbenm and the Ikireism from the Noyakin and the Oronar. There came also, among the first arrive, Boorchu's kinsmen Ogolai, and Jelme's two younger brothers abandoning their clans, the Arulat, and the Urianqaidai. One of these brothers of Jelme was Subeedei. This was the Subeedei Baatar who brought Korea, chased the Shah Mohammed from Samarkand, conquered the Georgians and the Kumans, and rode round the Caspian with Jebe, and in later years, under Ogodai , overthrew the armies of Russia, Poland, Hungary, Serbia and Bulgaria and advanced to the gates of Vienna.
In later days, he broke with both of Jamukha and Toghrul because of the competition of becoming the leader of Mongols. In the summer of 1185, Temujin was elected as a Khan by a general council of all the chieftains. He was not a powerful big Khan at that time. But this was an important event, the choosing of Temujin as Khan, and none of those present realized quite how important it was.
The Great Khan of Mongols
The new Khan created an army which was more disciplined than any previously known among the Mongols. His bodies of horsemen, drilled in mock battles by their enthusiastic young captains, became accustomed to obeying words of command, they wheeled and retreated, shooting arrows over their cruppers, and turned to attack again, in tight and well-ordered formations.
In 1196, Khan's army met Tatars in Koyitan, and defeated them. It was the beginning of his payback for his father's death. After the battle, Chingis khan examined with curiously the faces of the young men who had been brought in with them.
"When we were at Koyitan," he said, "someone shot an arrow from the top of the hill and struck my horse in the shoulder, the brown war-horse with the white mouth. Who shot that arrow from the mountain?"
"I shot it" the young man admitted. "If the Khan puts me to death, there will be nothing left of me but a little piece of earth. But if I am pardoned, I shall ride in front of the Khan against the enemies, cleaving the bright water, and shattering the hardest stone."
The Khan studied the young man and considered his words. "A man who acted as an enemy," he said "usually hides himself, at least keeps quiet about what he has done. This man doesn't try to hide anything. He is a man worthy of championship. His name is Jirkhodoadai, but since he shot my horse with an arrow, I shall call him Jebe . He shall ride with me."
It was the story that Chingis Khan found one of his famous generals, Jebe, the Taijiut. Later years Jebe conquered Kara Kitay, and, with Subeedei, led his armies that marched round Caspian, defeating all the peoples it met on the way.
Not later than that expedition against the Tatars, Temujin defeated Targutai of Taijiut, who had threatened him and captured him a long time ago.
In 1197, Toghrul of Kereit given the title Wang Khan by Chinese. This was the politics of Chinese that make rivalry between Mongol Khans. Later they became enemies as Chinese wanted.
Temujin falls out with his anda Jamukha because of rivalry. In 1201, chieftains in some parts of steppe, as far east as the land of the Tatars, and as far west as those of Naiman elected Jamukha as a Khan and gave the title of Gur-Khan, proposing to set up opposition to Temujin, before his power grew too great.
In the Year of the Dog,1202, Temujin took his armies eastwards on another expedition against the Tatars. Temujin came against the Tatars at Dalan Namurgas, on the Khalkha river and defeated them conclusively.
In the next year, Khan’s army had a big battle with his former friend Wan Khan. Wan Khan was defeated and killed. Now his big enemies were the Jamukha Gur-Khan and Tayang Khan of Naiman.
In 1204, Tayang Khan of Naiman sent a message to Temujin and called him for a battle. Having organized the army, Temujin marched away from the mountainside of Ornu’u on the Khalkha river and took the way for war against the Naiman.
When Tayang Khan was captured he was gravely wounded, and he died not long afterwards. This was the end of the Tayang Khan who was the biggest enemy against Temujin in the east part of the country.
In the battle of Chakirmaut, Jamukha, who had allied himself with the Naiman, had lost many of his men, and the rest had deserted him seeing that his cause was lost. Then five of his followers betrayed him to Temujin. When Jamukha was brought before the Khan, Temujin said “How can a man who has laid his hands on his rightful lord be allowed to live. I could not trust unprincipled people who betrayed their master.” He had the five men beheaded immediately, before Jamukha’s own eyes. Then he said “ Now we two are together again. Let us be companions!… If one of us forgets something, the other will remind him of it, if one slumbers, the other will wake him up.” But Jamukha replied him “If you would be so gracious, my anda, as to put me to death with all possible speed, you would find that this act would bestow the gift of peace on my soul. If you condescend to kill me, pray do so without spilling any blood. When I’m dead, bury my body on some high place with a respect of Khan. I shall pray for you eternally.”
Temujin executed Jamukha without spilling any blood and buried him with a every respect of Khan as his anda wanted. Temujin ordered his descendants to remember all words Jamukha said and respect him as Temujin’s anda forever. The manner of Jamukha’s end did much to restore his reputation among men.
In Year of the Tiger, 1206, all the minor and major leaders of Mongol clans of the steppes, came to the heart of Mongolia, the source of the Onon river to hold an Ikh Khurildai. The nine-tailed white banner was raised on the bank of Onon river. They proclaimed the Great power of Mongol Empire and elected Temujin as a Great Khan, the Chingis Khan of Mongols. Chingis Khan means Oceanic ruler or Ruler of all men.
Lately his fame has caused people to think “The ruler of all that lies between the Oceans”. It is certainly true that the land he conquered extended from the Pacific Ocean in the east to the Baltic Sea in the west.
The Great Khan wished to be at peace with the nations around his borders. There was, in his opinion, only one way of making this peace secure, they must acknowledge him as their ruler.
Three powerful realms now bordered the Khan’s lands on the south. The easternmost of these was the Chin Empire. West of this, in the great bend of the Yellow River, was the kingdom of the Tanguts. Westwards again was the kingdom of the Kara Kitay.
Chingis Khan organized his army into units which was based on the decimal system. It was most effective way to rule the whole army and keep the rule of engagement. The largest unit was the tumen, which was made up of ten thousand troops. Each tumen consisted of myangat, which was made up of one thousand men. Each myangat consisted of zuut, which means troop of a hundred. The zuut were made up of ten, called arvan.
Each of these units was led by commanders and commanders were usually selected from Chingis Khan’s immediate family, warriors he trusted and respected.
Rules of engagement were clear to all, and rigorously enforced. For example, if a soldier deserted his troop, he was executed. If a soldier failed to stop to help a fellow warrior whose baggage fell from his horse, he was executed. It was the way Chingis Khan ruled his army.
Chingis Khan first attacked the Tanguts, because they were the weakest. The Mongols learned much there about attacking walled cities, which their wars in steppe had not taught them. Three separate campaigns, over the space of six years, sufficed to bring these people to submission.
The Chin Emperor, the Golden Khan, could no longer play one ruler off against another since there was only one left. The ministers of the Golden Khan came to him and told him that the Mongols were getting ready to attack his empire.
In 1213, a year after Tangut subjugated, the Mongols crossed the Great Wall, and after defeating the armies of the Emperor marched on Beijing. The Emperor offered them treaties of friendship and poured immense wealth on them as tribute, but as soon as the Mongol armies retired, he arrested the Great Khan’s envoys. The Mongols immediately came back again. In the Year of the Pig, 1215, Beijing was taken and sacked and the Emperor fled to the south of the Yellow River.
Kara Kitay still thought themselves too great a people to submit to Chingis Khan. The Great Khan, however, did not think them so great that he needed to lead an expedition against them himself.
Farther to the west lay the realms of the Sultan Mohammed, the Khwarizm-Shah. Chingis Khan considered himself to be at peace with this ruler until the news was brought to him that an embassy of a hundred of his men had been seized and slain by the governor of Otrar in the Sultan’s realms.
Chingis Khan said, “How can I let my golden leading-rein be broken by the Moslem people?”
In the spring of the Year of the Hare, 1219, the Great Khan set out for the west, taking the lady Hulan with him. His armies assembled on the Irtish. Chagaadai, and Ogodai were sent to besiege Otrar, Juchi marched down the Syr Darya, and the Khan took Bukhara and Samarkand. “I am the punishment of God,” proclaimed Chingis Khan after leaving the mosque at Bukhara. “If you had not committed great sins, God would not have sent a punishment like me upon you!”
From Samarkand, Jebe and Subeedei pursued the Sultan Mohammed across Persia until he took refuge in an island in the Caspian sea, and there died. Jebe and Subeedei marched round the south of the Caspian sea and conquered the Armenians and the Georgians. They then crossed the Caucasus northwards and came into the great steppes. The Russians and Kipchaks sent their armies against them and were defeated. In 1220 the Khan marched up the Amu Darya, the Oxus. In the following year he crossed that river and took Balk. Chingis Khan himself took his army across the Hindu Kush and descended into the plains of India.
Chingis Khan, who had lingered in the Hindu Kush in 1222, spent the following summer around Tashkent, and the summer after that on the upper Irtish. He came back to his headquarters in the spring of 1225.
In 1226 a new expedition was necessary to pacify the Tangut. Chingis Khan took with him the lady Yesui. During that winter, while they were still on the way south, the Khan went hunting the wild horses of Arbukha. His own horse, a roan, shied when the wild horses came running across in front of him, and the Khan was thrown.
He developed a fever. His advisers wished him to abandon the expedition, but Chingis Khan refused. The Tangut were duly pacified. One of Temujin’s last acts was to order the execution of their ruler, Burkhan.
In the Year of the Pig, 1227, Chingis khan ascended to Heaven. His sons brought him to his native land and buried him as he wished.
In the year of Rat, 1228, the Princes of Right Hand, with Chagaadai and Batu, the Princes of Left Hand, with Prince Otchigin, princes of the Center, with Tului, the Princesses, Sons-in-law, the leaders of ten thousands and the leaders of thousands came together in the khurildai at the Khuduu Aral on the Kherulen river and as Chingis Khan had commanded, raised up his third son Ogodai as Great Khan.