Mongolian History Essay

This essay has a total of 1284 words and 6 pages.

Mongolian History


After the migration of the Jurchen, the Borjigin Mongols had emerged in central Mongolia
as the leading clan of a loose federation. The principal Borjigin Mongol leader, Kabul
Khan, began a series of raids into Jin in 1135. In 1162 (some historians say 1167),
Temujin, the first son of Mongol chieftain Yesugei, and grandson of Kabul, was born.
Yesugei, who was chief of the Kiyat subclan of the Borjigin Mongols, was killed by
neighboring Tatars in 1175, when Temujin was only twelve years old. The Kiyat rejected the
boy as their leader and chose one of his kin instead. Temujin and his immediate family
were abandoned and apparently left to die in a semi-desert, mountainous region.

Temujin did not die, however. In a dramatic struggle described in The Secret History of
the Mongols, Temujin, by the age of twenty, had become the leader of the Kiyat subclan and
by 1196, the unquestioned chief of the Borjigin Mongols. Sixteen years of nearly constant
warfare followed as Temujin consolidated his power north of the Gobi. Much of his early
success was because of his first alliance, with the neighboring Kereit clan, and because
of subsidies that he and the Kereit received from the Jin emperor in payment for punitive
operations against Tatars and other tribes that threatened the northern frontiers of Jin.
Jin by this time had become absorbed into the Chinese cultural system and was politically
weak and increasingly subject to harassment by Western Xia, the Chinese, and finally the
Mongols. Later Temujin broke with the Kereit, and, in a series of major campaigns, he
defeated all the Mongol and Tatar tribes in the region from the Altai Mountains to
Manchuria. In time Temujin emerged as the strongest chieftain among a number of contending
leaders in a confederation of clan lineages. His principal opponents in this struggle had
been the Naiman Mongols, and he selected Karakorum (west-southwest of modern Ulaanbaatar,
near modern Har Horin), their capital, as the seat of his new empire.

In 1206 Temujin's leadership of all Mongols and other peoples they had conquered between
the Altai Mountains and the Da Hinggan (Greater Khingan) Range was acknowledged formally
by a council of chieftains as their khan. Temujin took the honorific chinggis, meaning
supreme or great (also romanized as genghis or jenghiz), creating the title Chinggis Khan,
in an effort to signify the unprecedented scope of his power. In latter hagiography,
Chinggis was said even to have had divine ancestry. The contributions of Chinggis to
Mongol organizational development had lasting impact. He took personal control of the old
clan lineages, ending the tradition of noninterference by the khan. He unified the Mongol
tribes through a logistical nexus involving food supplies, sheep and horse herds,
intelligence and security, and transportation. A census system was developed to organize
the decimal-based political jurisdictions and to recruit soldiers more easily. As the
great khan, Chinggis was able to consolidate his organization and to institutionalize his
leadership over a Eurasian empire. Critical ingredients were his new and unprecedented
military system and politico-military organization. His exceptionally flexible mounted
army and the cadre of Chinese and Muslim siege-warfare experts who facilitated his
conquest of cities comprised one of the most formidable instruments of warfare that the
world had ever seen.

At the time of his first kuriltai at Karakorum, Chinggis already was engaged in a dispute
with Western Xia, the first of his wars of conquest. In 1205 the Mongol military
organization, based on the tumen (see Glossary), had defeated the much larger Tangut
forces easily. Despite problems in conquering the well-fortified Western Xia cities, the
results were the same in the campaigns of 1207 and 1209. When peace was concluded in 1209,
the Western Xia emperor, with substantially reduced dominion, acknowledged Chinggis as

Ogedi and Continuing Conquest
In compliance with the will of the dead khan, a kuriltai at Karakorum in 1228 selected
Ogedei as khan. The kuriltai also decided to launch a campaign against the Bulghars, Turks
in the region of Kazan on the middle Volga River, and to complete the conquest of the
outlying Western Xia territories. By 1229 Batu Khan, grandson of Chinggis, had defeated
most of the Bulghar outposts, and in 1231 Ogedei sent an expedition to conquer the Korean

That same year, Ogedei decided to destroy Jin. He formed an alliance with the Song, then
sent Tului southward with a large army into Jin territory. In 1232 in the middle of the
campaign, Tului died, and Subetei took command. He continued on to besiege Kaifeng, the
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