You are using an outdated browser. Please upgrade your browser to improve your experience and security.

Genghis Khan

Mongol ruler
print Print
Please select which sections you would like to print:
verifiedCite
While every effort has been made to follow citation style rules, there may be some discrepancies. Please refer to the appropriate style manual or other sources if you have any questions.
Select Citation Style
Share
Share to social media
Facebook Twitter
URL
/biography/Genghis-Khan
Feedback
Corrections? Updates? Omissions? Let us know if you have suggestions to improve this article (requires login).
Thank you for your feedback

Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article.

Join Britannica's Publishing Partner Program and our community of experts to gain a global audience for your work!
External Websites
  • The Met Museum - Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History - Biography of Genghis Khan
  • Asia for Educators - The Mongols in World History - Biography of Chinggis Khan
  • LiveScience - Genghis Khan, Founder of Mongol Empire: Facts and Biography
Britannica Websites
Articles from Britannica Encyclopedias for elementary and high school students.
  • Genghis Khan - Children's Encyclopedia (Ages 8-11)
  • Genghis Khan - Student Encyclopedia (Ages 11 and up)
Alternative Titles: Ching-gis Khan, Chinggiss Khan, Chingis Khan, Jenghiz Khan, Jinghis Khan, Temüjin, Temuchin
Below is the full article. For the article summary, see Genghis Khan summary.

Genghis Khan, Genghis also spelled Chinggis, Chingis, Jenghiz, or Jinghis, original name Temüjin, also spelled Temuchin, (born 1162, near August 18, 1227), Mongolian warrior-ruler, one of the most famous conquerors of history, who consolidated tribes into a unified Mongolia and then extended his empire across Asia to the Adriatic Sea.

Top Questions

What was Genghis Khan’s early life like?

How did Genghis Khan come to power?

What was Genghis Khan best known for?

When did Genghis Khan die?

Early struggles

Various dates are given for the birth of Temüjin (or Temuchin), as Genghis Khan was named—after a leader who was defeated by his father, Yesügei, when Temüjin was born. The chronology of Temüjin’s early life is uncertain. He may have been born in 1155, in 1162 (the date favoured today in Mongolia), or in 1167. According to legend, his birth was auspicious, because he came into the world holding a clot of blood in his hand. He is also said to have been of divine origin, his first ancestor having been a anecdotes illustrate both Temüjin’s straitened circumstances and, more significantly, the power he already had of attracting supporters through sheer force of personality. Once he was captured by the Taychiut, who, rather than killing him, kept him around their camps, wearing a wooden collar. One night, when they were feasting, Temüjin, noticing that he was being ineptly guarded, knocked down the sentry with a blow from his wooden collar and fled. The Taychiut searched all night for him, and he was seen by one of their people, who, impressed by the fire in his eyes, did not denounce him but helped him escape at the risk of his own life. On another occasion horse thieves came and stole eight of the nine horses that the small family owned. Temüjin pursued them. On the way he stopped to ask a young stranger, called Bo’orchu, if he had seen the horses. Bo’orchu immediately left the milking he was engaged in, gave Temüjin a fresh horse, and set out with him to help recover the lost beasts. He refused any reward but, recognizing Temüjin’s ity, attached himself irrevocably to him as a prestige as members of the royal Borjigin clan, in spite of their rejection by it. Among other things, he was able to claim the wife to whom Yesügei had betrothed him just before his death. But the Merkit people, a tribe living in northern Mongolia, bore Temüjin a grudge, because Yesügei had stolen his own wife, Höelün, from one of their men, and in their turn they ravished Temüjin’s wife Börte. Temüjin felt able to appeal to Toghril, khan of the Kereit tribe, with whom Yesügei had had the relationship of anda, or sworn brother, and at that time the most powerful Mongol prince, for help in recovering Börte. He had had the foresight to rekindle this friendship by presenting Toghril with a sable skin, which he himself had received as a bridal gift. He seems to have had nothing else to offer; yet, in exchange, Toghril promised to reunite Temüjin’s scattered people, and he is said to have redeemed his promise by furnishing 20,000 men and persuading Jamuka, a boyhood friend of Temüjin’s, to supply an army as well. The contrast between Temüjin’s destitution and the huge army furnished by his allies is hard to explain, and no ity other than the narrative of the Secret History is available.

Get all the answers from the experts.