Here we detail about the top 10 ten things of the Emperor Chengiz Khan who has left his imprints in the ancient history of central Asia.
They are: 1. The Rise and Progress of Chengiz 2. Administration, Education and Culture in Chengiz’s Rule 3. Chengiz and his conflict with Khwarezmshah 4. Chengiz’s Conquest of Anturved 5. Chengiz and his Fight for Khwarezm—the Centre of Learning 6. Chengiz and the fall of Khwarezm and everything else.
1. The Rise and Progress of Chengiz:
Temochin, who later became famous in history as Chengiz Khan, was born in the middle of the 12th century. The Kin dynasty was then ruling over North China, but even at that period, the Mongols were strong enough to merit the status of allies of the Chinese, and towards the end of the 12th century the Chinese Government incited them against the Tatars. It was in the battles that followed that Temochin first distinguished himself and that the Mongols chose him as their Kagan (Khan).
Temochin renamed his tribe and it now began to be officially referred to in Chinese documents as the Mongol tribe, although the common name for them was still the Tatars. By giving the name Mongol to the tribe, Temochin showed his intention of recalling his descent from the famous Kutluk Kagan.
According to tradition, Temochin had established ten different posts in his court, viz:
1. Korchies—Four persons to carry bows and arrows.
2. Akhtachi—Those who supervised the pastures.
3. Baurchi—Those who looked after the cooking.
4. Terigin—Supervisors of carts.
5. Cherbi—Supervisors of the household.
6. Four persons who carried swords.
7. Three supervisors to look after the horses.
8. Messengers to carry secret messages.
9. Trainers of horses.
10. Advisers who sat on either side of the king.
By 1203, Temochin had conquered the Karaites and gained control over Eastern Mongolia.
By 1206, he had defeated the Naimun tribe, killed their ruler Jamuka, and brought the whole of Mongolia under his sway. He now unfurled his flag and proclaimed himself King of Mongolia, at the same time assuming the title Chengiz Khan, which means the Supreme Emperor. He now increased the strength of his bodyguard from 80 to 800, a number which later raised to 1000. The number of those appointed to other important posts was likewise increased.
Chengiz maintained strict discipline in his army. Those found absenting themselves from duty were whipped and at the third offence dismissed.
2. Administration, Education and Culture in Chengiz’s Rule:
The Karaites and Naimuns were culturally more advanced than the Mongols and it was from them that the latter acquired the rudiments of culture. Chengiz was also influenced to some extent by the Muslim traders that came to trade with the Northern nomads. After his conquest of the Karaites, he introduced the written script in his court, entrusting this task to the Naimun Khan’s chief scribe, the Uigur Tashatun. It was to him also that Chengiz entrusted the education of his children. Chengiz used two seals, the Red Seal for official documents and the Blue Seal for private letters.
The first teachers and state officials of the Mongols were Uigurs. Even after Chengiz had extended his Empire as far as China and the Muslim countries he continued to employ Uigurs both in his court and office. The historian, Aufi, has written of the Uigurs that among them were to be found followers of every faith, except the Jewish. He describes the Uigurs as peace-loving and unfit for war. By far the vast majority of the Karaits and Uigurs were Buddhists.
The Buddhist religion became the national faith of the Mongols and remains so till this day. Muslim and European historians have stated that Uigur temples contained the images of the dead and that their prayers contained the words “Om Mani Padme Hun“, and that, as with modern Buddhists, the Uigurs referred to their sacred books as Nome. This originates from a Greek word which probably travelled to Central Asia through the Mams.
There was no conflict between the Uigur Buddhists and Uigur Christians, and the Christian Uigur Chief, Ching, sided with his Buddhist brethren against the Karluks. But Uigurs of all faiths were united against the Muslims.
The use of the Uigur script by the Mongols resulted in the recording of all the traditional laws, Yasa. For a long time these laws were the highest authority for the Mongol Emperors. The adopted son of Chengiz, Shiki Kutuki Noyon, was the first to master this script. Chengiz made him his Chief Justice and appointed his second son, Jagtei, guardian of the Yasa.
According to the custom prevailing among the Mongols, the princes and other members of the royal family were given estates over which to rule. Juchi, the eldest son of Chingiz, was appointed to the administration of the region lying between the territory of the Sibir tribe and the jungles to the south.
3. Chengiz and his conflict with Khwarezmshah:
After some years of preparation, the Mongol army began to advance towards China. In the west, the northern part of the Saptanada had already been annexed to the Mongol Empire and in 1215, after the fall of Peking, the whole of North China came under his control. Now Mohammed Khwarezmshah also had dreams of conquering China, but he had no idea of the size of China, or of its strength. He therefore, sent Bahauddin Razi as his ambassador to Chengiz, hoping thereby to know something about China.
At this time, the Kin Emperor, Swen Chang, was a prisoner in the hands of the Mongols, and the Khwarezmian ambassador saw with his own eyes the destruction caused by the war, the rotting corpses that were lying everywhere, and the bones that were heaped before the gates of Peking. Bahauddin learnt that on the day Peking fell, sixty thousand girls committed suicide by jumping from the city walls, to avoid falling into Mongol hands.
Chengiz received the ambassador with honour and said to him: “We recognize the Khwarezmshah as Emperor of the west, just as we consider ourselves Emperor of the east. We want to live in peace and friendship with him and would like the trade between our two empires to grow.” But the Khwarezmshah was not so much interested in trade, as in assessing his rival’s strength.
Trade was also carried on in those days with Russia, but the traders ran great risk. Not only was there danger of the boats being sunk in the rivers, but the risk of losing everything whenever there was war in the territories through which the caravans passed.
Trebezend was the centre of trade between Greece and Russia and when the Selzuks attacked the town, the merchants, most of whom were Muslims, suffered great loss. On the other hand, when there was peace between the Khwarezmians and the Karakhitai, trade began to flourish and the poet, Sheikh Sadi, accompanied one of the caravans to -Kashgar. Bahauddin was accompanied by Ahmed Khozendi and Ahmed Balchich, with a carvan carrying merchandise. At first they tried to extort exorbitant price for their goods but when threatend by Chengiz, they offered him all their goods as a gift. Chengiz chose the goods he wanted and ordered the payment of a gold balish (one balish: 75 dinars) for every bale of cloth embroidered with gold and a silver balish for every bale of cotton cloth.
Up to this time the Mongols had treated the Muslims with great respect, but latter after bitter experience, they too showed great cruelty towards them on more than one occasion.
Chengiz Khan sent a delegation to the Khwarezmshah in return along with a caravan carrying merchandise of all kinds, including a lump of gold which had been mined in China and that was as big as the lump of a camel, jade, walrus, tusks, wool spun from camel hair, and so on. The delegates reported that Chengiz was desirous of having friendly relations with the Khwarezmshah and hoped that their sovereign would rejoice at his victory over China, just as he rejoiced over the Khwarezmshah’s victories.
The Khwarezmshah drew aside one of the representatives of Chengiz, who was a Khwarezmian, and asked him if it was true that Chengiz had taken Peking. On hearing that it was a fact, he flew into a rage and said that the infidel Emperor had no right to call him his son. However, he consented to sign a treaty with Chengiz.
Just at this time, the caravan that had left Mongolia with the delegation was approaching Khwarezm when it was stopped by the ruler of Utrar, Inal Khan, who was related to Turkan Khatun. On the plea that they were spies he murdered the traders and looted their caravan. Only one person escaped to carry the news to Chengiz.
Chengiz was a man of great patience. He took the news calmly and sent a slave called Kufraj Bugra to draw the attention of the Khwarezmshah to this outrage and to demand that Inal Khan be handed over to him for punishment.
However, not only did the Khwarezmshah refuse to meet the representatives of Chengiz, but he put Kufraj to death and shaved off the beards of his retinue. The Khwarezmshah refused to listen to the advice of his ministers, many of whom told him that Chengiz Khan was well disposed towards him and that his reference to the Khwarezmshah as his “son” meant no disrespect, but showed his regard for him.
Chengiz was not in a position to attack the Khwarezmshah until he had first disposed of the Karakhitai ruler, Kuchluk. Kuchluk was the son of the ruler from whose hands Chengiz had wrested Mongolia and who had escaped at that time. The opportunity presently arose for Chengiz to have Kuchluk beheaded and from there on the Khwarezmshah had the powerful Chengiz Khan as his neighbour. Even his own Muslim subjects were not well-disposed towards the Khwarezmshah, as he had slain several hundred of the Muslim traders sent by Chengiz.
Chengiz was not in a hurry. Without underestimating the Khwarezmshah’s strength he made very careful preparations for his campaign. Taking all his sons and important commanders with him, he spent the summer of 1219 on the banks of the Irtish and crossed the river in the autumn. He set up his camp on the Kayalig field, where the Karluk ruler joined him. His forces numbered over a hundred-and-fifty thousand, and he had also left an army behind in Mongolia, as the Chinese had not yet been fully subdued.
The Khwarezmian army was even bigger, but a large part of it, especially the Turkish mercenaries supported Turkan Khatun and were not well-disposed towards the Khwarezmshah. The latter, therefore, lived in constant fear of being betrayed. He had decided to await the attack of the Mongol army on the banks of the Sir Darya in expectation of the Mongol army being tired by the time it reached that place.
But the Mongols were mounted on horses which not only served them as a means of swift transport, but the blood of horses served them as food and drink also when none other food or drink was available. The Khwarezmshah’s plans did not therefore succeed and he was forced to flee from the Sir Darya and seek refuge in Samarkand. Finding that its defences were not ready he retreated to the Vakhshu. One day he found an arrow sticking to his tent which had evidently been launched by one of his own men. It was little wonder the Khwarezmshah lacked the courage to face Chengiz Khan!
4. Chengiz’s Conquest of Anturved:
In September, 1219, Chengiz approached Utrar and there divided up his armies according to a pre-arranged plan in the following manner:
1. One part of the army, which included Uigurs, was kept for Utrar.
2. Another part, under Juchi’s command, was sent towards the lower reaches of the Sir Darya.
3. A small contingent of five thousand for Vanaket and Khojend.
4. One part, under the commanded of his son, Tuluyu, for Bokhara to cut the main highway of the Sultan.
Even before the fall of Utrar, Badruddin, the son of a former priest of Utrar, who had been executed by the Khwarezmshah, had gone over to Chengiz. Many other priests, disgusted with the Khwarezmshah, had also decided to side with Chengiz and had begun to propagandise in his favour.
Although illiterate, Chengiz Khan was a commander whose military genius far surpassed that of Cyrus, Darius and Alexander, and whose exploits cause even those of Napoleon and Hitler to pale into insignificance.
Taking advantage of the fact that the Sir Darya was frozen, Chengiz was able to cross it without any difficulty. The next hurdle was the fortress of Zarnuk. By offering to spare the lives and property of the inhabitants he was able to persuade them to surrender without any resistance and before long he was joined by the Turkmans, who showed him a new route to Bokhara.
Chengiz reached Bokhara in February and after a siege lasting several days the town surrenderd. A garrison of four hnndred, which included the defeated Karakhitai Gurkhan Jamuka, held out for twelve days, but was ultimately overpowered. After the fortress had fallen, the entire army was massacred by the Mongols. The wealth plundered from the caravan that had been held up near Utrar was returned by the merchants of the town and the lives of the citizens were spared but their wealth was confiscated, the mosques were desecrated and copies of the Koran were torn up.
Chengiz was in Bokhara only for two hours, during which it was completely ransacked. After this the town was burnt down and only a few of the brick-built houses, some of the palaces and the Mosque escaped. It is possible, however, that the burning of the town may not have been intentional, because Chengiz did not regard himself as raider, but as a conqueror who had come to rule.
The Mongol army now marched towards Samarkand which was now ruled by Tugai Khan, the brother of Turkan Khatun, and had a garrison of over one hundred thousand men. Chengiz Khan reached Samarkand in march and pitched his tent in Kok Serai where he was joined by his sons Ugtai and Jugtai, fresh from the conquest of Utrar, which was captured after a long siege.
After Chengiz had besieged Samarkand the defenders began to organise sorties, but with disastrous results to themselves. The Mongols remained hidden and attacked those who emerged to such purpose and in the course of a few days over fifty thousand Samarkandians were killed. The town surrendered within five days and led by Tagai Khan, the Turks offered their services to Chengiz.
According to the Mongol practice the inhabitants were (forced to leave the town, after which it was sacked by the army. The Chief Priest and fifty thousand of his followers were put to death and Tagai Khan and thirty thousand Turkish soldiers were also killed. The skilled artisans were either distributed among the sons of the Khan, or recruited into the army and a tax of two hundred thousand dinars was levied on the inhabitants of town.
After the fall of the city and the massacre that followed, its population was reduced to one fourth of its original number. After the conquest of Samarkand Chengiz allowed his army to rest.
5. Chengiz and his Fight for Khwarezm—the Centre of Learning:
Chengiz was fighting the Khwarezmshah, but the brunt of the fighting took place outside Khwarezm proper. In Khwarezm, Turkan Khatun was in control with her Turkish soldiers.
Khwarezm was a prosperous province which had become a centre of culture and learning. It is true that in the earlier stages Arab culture had made some contribution to the development of human thought, Philosophy and science but the Muslims prized fanaticism above culture and above everything and it was this fanaticism that was the driving and inspiring force behind their conquest and the reason why they believed in destroying rather than creating.
But the province of Khwarezm was a centre of the culture that had developed in the course of the past few centuries. One of the great Khwarezmian thinkers of this period was Sheheristani, who seemed to have followed in the footsteps of the Greek philosophers and refused to be blinded by dogmatism.
The poet Fakharuddin and the great teacher Shahabuddin also lived in Khwarezm. The latter had built a vast library, which was a treasure house of learning. When the Mongols attacked Khwarezm, he had to leave the town and was able to carry only a few of his books with him. This collection was ultimately destroyed and lost to the world.
6. Chengiz and the fall of Khwarezm:
Chengiz knew that the Khatun who had under her control so vast and prosperous a province as Khwarezm and a powerful Turkish army, could be a source of trouble. He, therefore, sent an emissary to her, saying: “I have no quarrel with you, but only with your son.” When the Khatun came to know that Mohammed had fled across the Vakshu, she decided to follow him. When she took shelter in the fortress of Ilal it was surrounded by the Mongols and ultimately it too fell. All the princesses were divided up by the Mongol commanders among themselves. The Khatun was taken to Mongolia, where she survived until 1232.
After the departure of the Khatun, Ali Kuhe Durugan took over the Royal treasury and other things. Later, prince Jalaluddin and others, also joined him. Deposing Ujlag Shah, who had seized the throne, Jalaluddin himself assumed control of the administration. Learning that the ruler of Khurasan revolted Jalaluddin rushed to quel the revolt. Even when the Mongols were at the door their internal quarrels did not cease. Within three days of his departure, news of the approach of Mongol troops came and Ujlag, and Akshah fled from Khwarezm.
With the departure of the quarrelling princes, the commanders got together and prepared to defend Gurganch. Some historians are of the opinion that one of them, Khumer Tagin, proclaimed himself Sultan. For the conquest of the town Chengiz sent a large army. Khwarezm was approached from the south-west by Jugtei and Ugtei and from the North-east by Juchi.
The Mongols had to pay a heavy price for the conquest of Gurganch. They lost thousands of their soldiers in the attempt to take the town, and even after they had entered it they had to fight for every street and every house before the inhabitants were forced to surrender. As the capture of the town had cost them so much, the Mongols were deter-mind to mete out exemplary punishment.
They massacred all the inhabitants, and not content with this, they broke open the dams and flooded the city, so that those who escaped the Mongol sword perished by flood. Every building was razed to the ground by the flood-waters which also destroyed many other towns in Khwarezm.
In April, 1221, the Mongols captured Gurganch, and thereafter, Jugtei and Ugtei joined Chengiz, who was besieging Talkan.
7. Chengiz as the Emperor:
When Chengiz Khan had reached the banks of the Irtish, he came to know of the famous Chinese Chang Chun, a believer in Taoism. Chengiz invited Chang to join him and from the travel notes left by the Chinese priest we get an idea of Central Asia as it was at this period. Chang Chun describes the Mongols as having built new roads and bridges across the rivers. He also visited a number of towns which had been taken by the Mongols and that were being administered by governors of different races.
On the 3rd of December, Chang Chun crossed the Jarphasan and entered Samarkand, which had suffered heavily when the Mongols took it. The town was ruled over by a Karakhitai governor, Ahai, who was well-versed in Chinese culture. It was Ahai who acted as interpreter when Chang Chun conversed with Chengiz.
Chang stayed in Samarkand on the first occasion until the 26th of April 1222, on the second, from mid-June to the 14th of September and on the third from the beginning of November till the 3rd of December. His account reveals that normal life had been restored in the city. When the muslim priests gave the call for morning prayers, men and women flocked to the mosques, women participating in the prayers alongside the men and those who neglected the prayers were severely punished.
During the days of the Ramzan fast, meals were served at night. The most beautiful spot was the western suburb of the town which is now known as Kulemaagyan, and Babar described it as Kule Magak. It was full of fields, lakes and gardens that were more beautiful than any in China. Chang Chun writes that when, on one occasion, he decided to distribute gruel free to the hungry, there was a large gathering of people.
The Chinese priest went to meet Chengiz in April, when the bridge across the Vakhshu at Balakh which had been destroyed by the rebels had been restored by Jagtei. Chengiz was due to arrive from the Hindu Kush. Chang Chun left Samarkand on the 27th of April and crossed the Vakhshu and the Surkhan in boats. Dense forests stood on either side of the river. After crossing the Vakhshu, Chang journeyed for four days and on the 16th of May reached the camp of Chengiz Khan.
When Chengiz asked the Chinese priest to reveal to him the secret of the elixir of life which he was reputed to have discovered, Chang Chun replied: “There are means of preserving life, but there is no recipe for immortality.” Chengiz did not become angry on receiving his reply, but rather praised the Chinese for his honesty. Chengiz had appointed the 25th day of May as the date for hearing the teachings of the Chinese priest, but before he could do so news of the Muslim revolt reached him.
The plan was put off till November. Chang Chun returned to Samarkand, while Chengiz went towards the mountains. On the 28th of September, Chang Chun returned to the Mongol camp, which was situated somewhere east of Balakh. Chengiz was now on his way home after his conquest of the Muslim countries and the Chinese priest stayed with him for a few days.
8. Return of Chengiz to Mongolia:
As Saifuddin Agrak and Azim Malik, the rebel commanders of the Khwarezmshah, were still creating trouble, Chengiz had to wait on the banks of the Indus for three months. Meanwhile he planned to return to Mongolia via Tibet,-but later changed his mind and decided to go through Afghanistan.
After crossing the Bamyan mountains he reached Belgan, where he spent the summer. The Mongol armies built roads and destroyed mountain fortresses as they went. But the fortress of Gurjistan held out for fifteen months and was taken in the early part of 1223.
According to Chang Chun Chengiz Khan’s army crossed the Vakhshu by means of a bridge of boats. On the 20th, 24th and 28th of October, Chengiz listened to the discourses of Chang Chun, which were interpreted by Ahai and that were noted down. In November, they reached Samarkand, where the Chinese priest was accommodated in the old palace of the Sultan. While here, Chengiz met with an accident at the time of hunting and was advised by Chang Chun to give up the hobby.
Chengiz spent a long time in Samarkand and was joined there by his sons Jagtei and Ugtei. In 1223, Chengiz resumed his march towards the North and on the fields of Dulanbashi, his eldest son, Juchi, also joined him. The Mongol armies spent the summer of 1223 in this place. On the 1st of April Chang Chun had taken leave of the Khan. The summer of 1224 was spent by Chengiz on the banks of the Irtish and in the Spring of 1225, he returned home in Mongolia.
9. The Death of Chengiz (1227):
Even at the age of sixty five Chingiz was strong and healthy, indeed, he enjoyed robust health till the end of his life. He had astonishing self-control and was a strict disciplinarian. Although he could be cruel when necessary, did not find delight in causing pain. He strongly disapproved dishonesty and his subordinates never dared deceive him.
He did not indulge in excessive drinking. His harem contained beauties belonging to every country, from China to Russia and from India to outer Mongolia, but he was not one to spend all his time in the company of women. He was a nomad who wished his successors to continue the simple ways of their race. He was under the influence of Buddhist culture.
The sense of discipline and organisation created by Chengiz had a lasting effect, and it was due to this even after his death his vast empire did not break up.
Chengiz died in Mongolia in August 1227, at the age of seventy two. He left his heirs a vast empire stretching from the Pacific Ocean to Yuksin in the west, a huge well-organised army and a developed political admimistration. His subjects included Chinese, Tunguts, Afghans, Irans, Turks and numerous other races and tribes. He divided the empire into four parts for his four sons, but at the same time made it clear that over the whole empire there should only be one Khakan.
10. The Tomb of Chengiz:
It is not known exactly where Chengiz was buried though the Khanula Mountain, near Ulan Bator, is one of the spots where he is supposed to lie. Another place which is thought to contain his tomb is Yetjinkro in Aurdus province on the Hwang Ho.