Genghis Khan(redirected from Chingis khan)
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Jenghiz Khan (jĕngˈgĭz, –gĭs kän) or Genghis Khan (jĕngˈgĭs, gĕngˈgĭs kän), Mongolian Chinggis Khaan, 1167?–1227, Mongol conqueror, originally named Temujin. He succeeded his father, Yekusai, as chieftain of a Mongol tribe and then fought to become ruler of a Mongol confederacy. After subjugating many tribes of Mongolia and establishing his capital at Karakorum, Temujin held (1206) a great meeting, the khuriltai, at which he accepted leadership of the Mongols and assumed his title. He promulgated a code of conduct and reorganized his armies. He attacked (1213) the Jurchen-ruled Chin empire of N China and by 1215 had occupied most of its territory, including the capital, Yenching (now Beijing). From 1218 to 1224 he conquered Turkistan, Transoxania, and Afghanistan and raided Persia and E Europe to the Dnieper River. Jenghiz Khan ruled one of the greatest land empires the world has ever known. He died while campaigning against the Jurchen, and his vast domains were divided among his sons and grandsons. His wars were marked by ruthless carnage, but Jenghiz Khan was a brilliant ruler and military leader. Timur was said to be descended from him.
See biographies by H. Lamb (1927, repr. 1960), B. J. Vladimirtsov (1930, repr. 1969), R. Fox (1936, repr. 1962), R. Grousset (tr. 1967), and R. P. Lister (1969); H. D. Martin, The Rise of Chingis Khan and His Conquest of North China (1950, repr. 1971); L. Kwanten, Imperial Nomads (1979).
(personal name, Temujin). Born circa 1155, in the district of Deliun-Boldok, on the Onon River; died Aug. 25, 1227. Military leader and founder of the unified Mongol empire.
Genghis Khan was the son of Yesugei, a member of the royal Borjigin clan. By 1204 he had eliminated his principal rivals and, having seized vast territories, became the de facto ruler of the many clan-tribal alliances in the subjugated regions. In 1206, at a khurultai (assembly) of the steppe aristocracy, he was proclaimed the great khan of all the tribes and was given the title Genghis, from the Turkic tengis (ocean, sea).
In domestic policy, Genghis Khan concentrated on uniting the Mongol tribes and centralizing the government of the newly created state in the interests of the feudalized clan-tribal aristocracy. In 1206 he promulgated decrees that constituted a codification of customary law (yasa). He divided the Mongol tribes into military-administrative units called thousands: at the command of the khan each unit had to produce 1,000 mounted soldiers. The thousands, along with pasturelands, were granted as fiefs (khubi) to his relatives and to the noions —members of a new class of feudal lords made up of his trusted lieutenants. Genghis Khan created a personal guard (keshig) of 10,000 men that served as the principal force in the suppression of any stirrings of discontent in the empire.
In foreign policy, Genghis Khan sought to extend the territory under his control as far as possible. His strategy and tactics were based on thorough reconnaissance and sudden attack; his troops tried to divide the enemy forces and set up ambushes using special detachments to lure the enemy. He also made use of large groups of cavalry that could maneuver quickly.
Genghis Khan subdued the peoples of Siberia and eastern Turkestan between 1207 and 1211 and attacked the Jurchen kingdom of Chin in 1211 (seeMONGOL CONQUESTS OF THE 13TH CENTURY). These wars, waged in the interests of the noion class, wreaked havoc on the peoples of the subjugated countries, most of which had achieved a higher level of economic and cultural development than the Mongol tribes, and hampered the development of the Mongol empire itself and the broad masses of its people—the simple arats (herdsmen bound to the land). The wars exhausted the empire and led to its political, economic, and cultural decline by the end of the 13th century. Genghis Khan died in the Tangut state of Hsi Hsia during a campaign undertaken in 1226.
REFERENCESTataro-mongoly v Azii i Evrope: Sb. st. Moscow, 1970.
Kychanov, E. I. Zhizn’ Temuchzhina, dumavshevo pokorit’ mir. Moscow, 1973.
N. TS. MUNKUEV