Genghis Khan (Temujin) Biography

Learn about the life of Genghis Khan, the thirteenth century Mongolian conqueror, by reading this biography.
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Military Leader / Ruler

Born: ca. 1162
Died: August 1227
Birthplace: Mongolia
Best known as: 13th century Mongolian conqueror

Genghis Khan was the official title of a Mongol warrior named Temujin, a 13th century ruler who founded an empire that included parts of China, Central Asia, the Middle East and Europe. After a childhood of violence and enslavement, Temujin became a powerful tribal chieftan. By 1206 he had unified rival clans and taken the title Genghis Khan (or Chinggis Khan), meaning "universal ruler." Over the next three decades he led a constant military campaign that ravaged vast areas and subjugated millions of people, earning him a reputation in the history books as a brutal monster. His successful military tactics included quick cavalry attacks and novel methods of siege warfare, and he is famous for adapting his methods to meet new challenges. In recent years his image in the West as a warmonger has been tempered somewhat with the acknowledgment that under his rule there was a beneficial transfer of culture and technology as his armies moved through Asia, the Middle East and Europe. An able administrator, Genghis Khan established an empire that lasted more than 150 years after his death. Over time his empire was divided and weakened and most of his conquests were lost; his last ruling descendant, Amil Khan of Bukhara, was deposed by Soviet forces in 1920.

Extra credit: Genghis Khan was the grandfather of another famous (and slightly more civilized) ruler, Kublai Khan.

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