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In the 13th and 14th centuries, the world was dominated by a rising power from Southern China called the Mongols. They were a group of Nomadic people settled in the forged plains of Asia. Led by the great Genghis Khan, the nomads quickly rose to power and called themselves the Mongol Empire. The Mongol Empire was the largest contiguous land empire in history and the second-largest empire by landmass. Stretched from Siberia to Korea and Russia to Ukraine, the Mongols covered all the major landmass of Asia, Europe, and Russia.

Genghis Khan and his quest for power

In the 12th century CE., the nomadic people of the forged plain of the East Asian steps lived under extreme conditions. These people were divided yet united by different Mongol tribes and the Turkic pastoral nomads called the Khans. These people survive on raring cows and sheep. They weren’t stable to one location, instead would travel and move places between summers and winters. Women managed the migration and other management responsibilities whereas the men were responsible for mounted warfare. The tribes were divided into five major groups- Keraites, Khamag Mongol, Naiman, Mergid, and Tatar. These tribes would often fight with one another for food and women.

Things changed when the great-grandson of Khabul Khan, the leader of Khamag Mongols, was born. Known as Temüjin, he was a stubborn kid who grew up with his mother. Though he was born and raised in poverty, Temüjin quickly rose to power and forged Strategic alliances with other leaders. He always promoted soldiers based on their merits and not on background unlike the other leaders of that time. His biggest military strategy was to include the soldiers and leaders of the conquered tribe into his own army, thus ensuring that the defeated leaders won’t engage with the rival groups. This way he also expanded his army.

Genghis Khan,mongol

When Temujin defeated Wang Khan, the leader of the biggest tribe Kurtait, Timurjin named himself Genghis Khan. By the end of the 11th century, Genghis Khan managed to unite all the tribes and formed the biggest army of the time. Under his leadership, the Mongols enlarged their state. They were shamanists and believed in the spirit of nature. One of the most important Laws introduced by the Khan was to forbade looting of his enemies without permission and distributing spoils evenly among the soldiers and not just within the aristocrats.

These new policies however made his army and subjects extremely loyal to him but also ignited the royals and aristocrats. Many of the heirs to the throne-like his uncles, generals, and other associates revolted against him. The forces still loyal to him defeated the revolt in 1206 and Genghis was crowned as a khagan, Emperor of the Yekhe Mongol Ulus. That marks the start of the then-lasting legacy of the Mongol Empire.

As his reign rewards based on merits, many people hailing from the lower class were placed on higher positions, whereas those among the royals who failed to display their potential were placed on low ranks. His code of laws prohibits the selling of women, theft, fighting among the Mongols, and the hunting of animals during the breeding season. He decreed religious freedom and allowed flexible trade. Though he was loyal to his own religion, Khan never forced conversion and even relaxed the poor from taxation. He even promoted the literacy of Uyghur script within his kingdom.

Opposite to the general belief of Mongols being a brutal and uncivilized Empire, they were in fact very much organized from inside. Under his leadership, the Mongols subdued land as far as northern China and eastern Islamic kingdoms. In 1227, Genghis Khan died, but before that he divided his empire among his sons, daughters, and immediate family members.

The Mongols after Genghis Khan

Genghis Khan,mongol

In the 1230s, his family securing Khan’s golden lineage conquered the Turks of Central Asia and the Russian states. In 1241, they destroyed two European armies and by the end of 1250, they seized other Islamic regions as far as Baghdad. In 1279, southern China also fell under the reign of the Mongols. But conquering these territories doesn’t mean war and death, instead, they leave the state’s internal politics alone and give them the liberty to continue to rule only under the name of the Mongols.

While capture or exchange of people was prohibited, they routinely do capture artists. But they encouraged their creativity and ask them to work for them. They once prized the gunpowder technique from China that further helped them secure many titles under their names.

But their reign wasn’t that smoother. As the legitimacy to the throne doesn’t automatically go to the eldest son, it allowed other legitimate relatives such as uncles, brothers, and cousins in the line of succession. After Genghis Khan son and heir Ogedei died, the Mongols scattered as the revolt broke to inherit the throne. By 1261, the offspring of Genghis Khan was in the middle of a civil war over the inheritance. This resulted in the division of the empire into four different empires. China was given to the Kublai Khan’s Yaun Dynasty, Iran was governed under the Ilkhanate, Central Asia was given to the Chagatai Khanate who bore great leaders like Timur, and Eastern Europe ruled under Golden Horde.

This way the Mongols ruled on the entire subcontinent and their descendants all over the world. For example, Central Asia was given to the Chagatai Khanate who bore great leaders like Timur and his descendant Babur went on to create the great Mughal Empire in India. And just like this today, it is revealed that men living in the region of the Mongol Empire bore nearly identical Y-chromosomes, an international group of geneticists studying Y-chromosome data suggest. This roughly translates that 0.5 percent of the male population in the world are the descendants of the Mongols and one in every 200 men alive today is a relative of Genghis Khan.

Though the reign of Genghis Khan was short, his legacy remained undefeated.


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