In the year 1162, a child was born into nomadic nobility in Mongolia clutching a blood clot in his tiny little fist. His father Yesugei and his mother Hoelun were both very proud because they knew it meant that their son Temujin would go on to become a legendary warrior. It was obvious right from the start that he was destined for greatness. He would even come to believe that it was his God-given right and responsibility to rule the world.
When Temujin was only nine years old his father was poisoned by Tartars. That was the day that Temujin’s childhood ended and he swore to avenge his father’s murder. Regardless, with the loss of their leader Yesugei’s army disbanded and his family was left to fend for themselves. Temujin’s mother Hoelun and his best friend Jamuka were his only real companions, especially after he killed his half-brother.
As a child, Temujin had also been betrothed to a girl named Borte. So, years later when they were finally married their tribes were brought together along with them. However, during a raid from a nearby tribe, his wife was kidnapped by a rival chieftain. Meanwhile, Temujin was forced to flee for his own personal safety.
With nowhere else to turn Temujin decided to seek out help from an old family friend. Temujin and Jamuka gained an audience with the leader of several loosely-knit tribes named Toghrul. He had previously fought alongside Temujin’s father and was a well-respected elder with lots of power to back him up. Toghrul was the Khan of the Keraites and he commanded a great and powerful army.
So, in the mountains of northern Mongolia, they tracked down where Borte was being held as a prisoner. When they finally found her Temujin and the others laid waste to everyone and everything that had been involved in her abduction, including all the family members of the men that took her. Temujin had only recently turned 20 years old but he was already absolutely ruthless.
Then nine months after getting her back, his wife Borte gave birth to a son of questionable paternity. She had consummated her marriage to Temujin but had also been raped many times by her captor. Regardless, Temujin diligently raised the child as his own.
As the honor-bound blood brother of Jamuka, Temujin also gladly ruled the tribe together with him. However, it soon came to his attention that Jamuka wanted to be the one true leader. The thing was that Temujin wanted to institute a new kind of meritocracy while Jamuka wanted to retain the traditional ways of aristocratic nobility.
Jamuka felt very much entitled to the throne, which inevitably split the tribe. Then two years later he declared war on Temujin. Their armies met on the plateau of central Mongolia where Jamuka’s men ambushed and slaughtered nearly all of Temujin’s armed forces. Being outnumbered and outwitted the generals were all captured and even boiled alive, while Temujin went into hiding yet again. There he swore to never be defeated or to have his soldiers dishonored from that moment on.
Temujin developed the most elite fighting force that he could muster in almost no time at all. Everyone was vigorously trained in compulsory horseback riding and archery lessons. They became so proficient that they learned to release their arrows just as the horses' hooves left the ground to achieve maximum accuracy. They even wore silk shirts under leather that acted as surprisingly effective body armor against oncoming arrows. They were an ancient military like no other and they became unstoppable.
In the summer of 1204, Temujin and his new army rode west to confront Jamuka. In the foothills of the Khentii Mountains, he met with his generals to give them an epic speech to inspire them to victory. Temujin had a man hold up one arrow over his head and break it. Then Temujin told the generals that as individual tribes they could easily be defeated, but not in unity. After that, the man held up a fist full of arrows and showed how they couldn’t be broken. This was meant to show them the strength that their tribes all had together as one, and it worked beautifully.
Temujin was an excellent strategist and a great predictor of behavior. He knew that Jamuka would send out scouts to look for any advancing threats. So the night before the battle was to occur Temujin ordered his men to each light not one but five separate fires. When the scouts saw this they thought there were more fires on Earth than there were stars in Heaven and they became terrified. They frantically reported back that there was an advancing army of immense size just over the horizon. This was a cunning act of psychological warfare that helped them win the war before it even ever really began.
Another great military tactic that he employed was to hold squadrons in reserve as well as regrouping them during battle. At one point Jamuka and his men were lured away by what appeared to be men fleeing from the fight, but this was only a feigned retreat. It soon became obvious that they had just been led into a trap and they were efficiently shot down by a barrage of arrows.
Jamuka barely escaped with his life. After successfully hiding out the entire winter, in the spring some of Jamuka’s men turned on him and took him to Temujin. They thought they were going to be rewarded but instead, they were executed. Then Jamuka had his back ritualistically broken over a spear so as to not shame him by spilling his blood.
After years of civil war, the historic defeat of his lifelong friend and bitter rival brought about unprecedented unity in Mongolia for the very first time. So, Temujin was given a new title in the year 1206. He was dubbed the “Universal King” and he became an Emperor of sorts. Temujin became known as Chinggis Khaan to his people, which the world has come to know as Genghis Khan. In this way, he forged a nation and changed the entire course of history.
Then his burgeoning country faced evermore challenges. Having entered the global arena, China would soon take notice. They had the greatest Empire in the East and Temujin worried that they would not tolerate him on their border, so he attacked preemptively. He led 50,000 troops on a six-year campaign to invade the great nation of China.
They crossed the Gobi desert and when confronted by the immense imposing Great Wall the Mongols simply went around it. The thing was that the Chinese had placed small iron spikes along the way creating a kind of medieval minefield of sorts that would puncture the feet of the horses which would topple over with their riders down onto the spikes below.
Then, in the borderlands, the Mongols encountered a group of heavily-armed mercenaries that had been hired by the Chinese government. However, they quickly surrendered and joined up as reinforcements. It was apparent that they would have all died otherwise, so they switched sides to save their own lives.
Regardless, when the Mongols finally got to Beijing, Temujin realized that there was an enormous wall surrounding the city that stood 40 feet high and was 10 miles long completely encircling the capital. It was totally impregnable and the mission seemed impossible. However, the Mongols just set up camp outside the city to prevent anything from getting in or out of Beijing. This quickly turned into a logistical nightmare for Northern China.
As more and more Chinese citizens defected the Mongols captured people with trade skills like engineers to interrogate and enslave them. Temujin learned how to build catapults and battering rams for siege warfare. All the while they grew stronger and stronger by feasting on more and more captured supplies. Beijing soon became a kind of prison camp. Thousands of innocent people starved to death and some even resorted to cannibalism.
Although the Chinese commander still controlled a powerful garrison with an array of weapons, the Mongols finally attacked in 1215. Knowing the first wave would all inevitably die Genghis Khan had prisoners of war roll the siege machines toward the walls. They were no match for the diabolical Chinese soldiers who filled huge clay pots with molten metal, crude oil, and excrement. They set them on fire and lobbed them over the walls directly onto the Mongols.
In spite of this, Genghis Khan and the Mongols stormed the city, and the Chinese commander promptly committed suicide. Then, for an entire month, the Mongols plundered, raped, and murdered their way through the capital city of Northern China. It was so gruesome that the roads were still slick from the human fat for years to follow. The Mongols also left a mountain of bones in their wake.
Of course, Genghis Khan was just as much about creating life as he was destroying it. Throughout the years he had sex with more women than anyone else ever will, leaving behind literally millions of direct descendants to this very day. It is currently estimated that roughly one in every two hundred people is closely related to Genghis Khan. He left behind a huge genetic legacy as part of his plans for world domination.
Genghis Khan even established a new kind of cosmopolitan town in Karakorum, Mongolia. This would eventually serve as the capital of the Mongol Empire. It became a magnificent trading center and a cultural melting pot of epic proportions. This was in sharp contrast to the long-standing nomadic traditions of his people. To have a capital city was totally unheard of in Mongolia. Temujin even ordered the capture of experts from all the lands and had them brought to Karakorum to serve the Empire. As an example, they established a medical corps that started from the teachings of Chinese physicians.
Although Genghis Khan was illiterate he completely understood the value of writing and decreed that his legal judgments would all have to be recorded. This set a new standard of living on the Eurasian steppe. Soon Genghis Khan established a system for mail that had riders delivering state secrets along routes complete with staging posts and everything. One messenger alone could cover as much as a hundred and twenty-five miles in a single day.
Realizing that his territory was also on the Silk Road, Genghis Khan sent a series of embassies to his closest neighbor the Sultan Muhammad II of Khwarezmia. This was followed by a caravan of 1500 camels carrying precious goods. The Muslim governor on the frontier post in Otrar was a man named Inalchuq who was the uncle of the Sultan. He seized all the goods the merchants had brought with them, claiming that the Mongol envoys were full of spies. Inalchuq then requested permission to have them executed.
Genghis Khan saw this as a declaration of war and prepared his men for battle in 1219. They set out to defeat the Khwarezmian Empire of Central Asia driven by revenge. After a 5-month long siege in Otrar they devastated the city. The greedy governor was then dragged out of hiding in the citadel and held down in the streets while molten silver was poured into his eyes and ears.
In February of the year 1220, Genghis Khan plotted a three-pronged attack on the Sultan’s stronghold in Samarkand where there was a much larger army. The Mongols were sent in as two columns of soldiers to strike from opposing directions in order to confuse their enemies. The skirmishes were absolutely relentless with constant regrouping. In response to this, the Sultan spread his troops out over the surrounding farmland and river valleys.
While the Mongols attacked from the east and west Genghis Khan prepared for the main assault from the north. He made use of secret bandit routes and watering holes to gain access from the rear covering 300 miles of desert to do so. Then in March, they emerged from the sands like elite special forces teams. It was the most daring rearguard attack in the history of warfare. The Mongol Empire defeated the Islamic world in this way in just ten days.
Throughout the years, Genghis Khan conquered more than twice as much territory as Julius Caesar, controlling twelve million square miles of territory and ruling over more than thirty million people. The Mongols just annexed one kingdom after another from Beijing to Rome. Then feeling that he was growing too old too quickly, in the year 1222 the aging Mongol Emperor sent for a renowned Taoist monk who traveled to Genghis Khan’s court to make a special appearance. Genghis Khan then asked the holy man to create an elixir of life that would make him immortal.
As was to be expected, the reluctant sage said that it was impossible to prolong earthly existence in that kind of way. So, in the end, it was Genghis Khan’s dying wish for his son to complete the mission of global conquest that he had begun all those years ago. After his passing on August 18th of 1227, the immediate family was more than willing to continue on with the dynasty. His funeral was a rather private affair and to this very day, the burial place of the greatest Mongolian of all time still remains a closely guarded secret.