Genghis Khan was the leader of the Mongol Empire, perhaps the mightiest in history. The empire he started eventually became the largest contiguous empire in history. He was born into a tribe in Northeast Asia, and warred with other tribes until he had united them all under his rule. The tactics and strategies used by the Mongols were unparalleled. He would slaughter his enemies in the most horrific and disturbing ways possible, terrifying many of his enemies into surrendering or even joining him. He managed to control millions of people with fear.
Enemy Archer Becomes His Greatest General
In 1201 an archer managed to shoot Genghis Khan in the neck with an arrow during the Battle of Thirteen Sides. After the battle was finally won, Genghis Khan asked who had shot his horse in an attempt to pretend he wasn’t hit. Zurgadai came forward and admitted to firing the shot, and added that he had shot Genghis Khan not his horse. He went on to say that if Genghis Khan wanted to kill him he could, but that if he let him live he would serve him loyally. Genghis was impressed by Zurgadai, and took him on. He even gave him a new name, Jebe, which means “arrow”, or “rust” in Mongolian. Jebe became one of Genghis’s most brilliant generals, and has even been compared to Subutai.
Genghis Khan employed a brutal tactic to try and lower his sides casualties by convincing his enemies to surrender and join his side instead of fighting. He would start out by asking them to surrender to him, knowing he could win but not wanting to go through the trouble. If they refused he would make sure to annihilate the enemy army, causing as much devastation as he could. He would go after them and their families killing everyone. This tactic of spreading fear was very successful, and led to many people surrendering and joining his side.
Inalchuq was a governor of Ortrar, a part of the Kwarezmian Empire in the early thirteenth century. He’s famous for provoking the wrath of Genghis Khan, and instigating the Mongol invasion of Kwarezmia. A Mongolian trade caravan arrived at Ortrar in 1218. Inalchuq accused them of being Mongol spies and executed them with the permission of Sultan Muhammed. Genghis Khan was infuriated by this and sent more men to demand that Inalchuq be punished. Sultan Muhammed beheaded one of them and shaved the beards of the other two in order to insult Genghis Khan.
Genghis sieged Ortrar for five months before breaching it’s walls. Inalchuq barricaded himself in the Citadel and managed to hold out for another month but couldn’t escape the Khan. Eventually him and his bodyguards resorted to throwing bricks down at the Mongol army. Once Genghis finally managed to get his hands on him, he had molten silver poured into his eyes and ears as a form of public execution.
He Caused The Deaths Of 40 Million People
It’s been estimated by many historians that Genghis Khan caused the deaths of around 40 million people, an insane figure. The Mongol conquests killed unprecedented numbers of people, it’s no wonder the Mongols were so feared. China’s population shrank by the millions, and he may have killed about three fourths of modern day Iran’s population during his invasion of the Kwarezmid Empire. It’s possible that at the time, Genghis Khan shrunk the world population by more than a tenth. It’s been said that Genghis once killed over 1.7 million people in a single hour, although this figure is unlikely.
Nishapur was a city in Iran with a population of about 1.75 million people. The city was conquered by the Mongols but at some point Toquchar, his favourite son in law, was killed by an archer there. His daughter was devastated and asked that everyone in the city be put to death. Mongol armies raided and killed everyone inside. Man, woman, child, and even animals were slaughtered. The attack was led by Tolui, Genghis’ youngest son. His daughter wasn’t satisfied. Worried that some may still be alive, she asked that everyone one of them was beheaded just to make sure.
This is where the story that Genghis Khan killed 1.75 million people in an hour came from. She asked that the heads be piled up into pyramids. It’s unlikely that this was done in an hour, making the pyramids alone took 10 days, and Genghis Khan wasn’t even at the city when all this happened.
Sent By God
“I am the punishment of God…If you had not committed great sins, God would not have sent a punishment like me upon you.” Genghis Khan announced before attacking Samarkand that he was sent to by god. Samarkand was a city in the Kwarezmia Empire. The Mongols conquered Samarkand in 1220, and it’s said that he didn’t disturb the inhabitants of the city. However he killed anyone who tried to hide or take shelter in the Mosque or the Citadel. He made sure to pillage the city, and conscript 30,000 soldiers and 30,000 craftsmen.
Rivers Turn Black And Red, With Blood And Ink
In 1258, the Mongols destroyed Baghdad. Survivors said that “the waters of the Tigris ran black with ink from the enormous quantities of books flung into the river and red from the blood of the scientists and philosophers killed.” It lasted from January 29 until February 10, 1258.
Genghis Murdered His Brother Over A Meal
Ghenghis Khan got into a disagreement with his step-brother over an animal he had hunted. He was angry at how the food was being shared, and probably wanted more for himself. Unfortunately his mother sided with his brother, and Genghis didn’t get what he wanted. Not content with the decision, he took matters into his own hands. Armed with a bow and arrow he murdered his unsuspecting brother.
His Body Was Never Found
Genghis ordered that when he died his body was to be hidden so that no one could find it. The Mongols who buried his body made sure to murder anyone they came across to keep the body hidden. Theories on how he died range from falling off a horse, to getting shot, to being killed while trying to force himself on a Chinese princess. It’s likely that his body is somewhere around the Mongolian mountain Burkhan Khaldun.
The Mongols had a rule which they all followed as best they could. The rule was that they couldn’t spill noble blood. Although they took this rule seriously they made sure to use every loophole they could, and kill nobles in creative ways that didn’t cause them to bleed. Sometimes this just meant snapping their necks or suffocating them. Nobles who died this way were the lucky ones. Often they would be killed in incredibly gruesome and creative ways. At the Battle of Kalka River in 1223, Subutai defeated a Kievan force much larger in number.
They sued for peace with the Mongols. Subutai then proceeded to executed six nobles by putting a wooden platform on top of them, and then banqueting on top with six of his generals until the nobles were crushed to death. One horrifying tactic even Genghis Khan wouldn’t employ, was boiling people alive. Although Genghis himself never tried this one of his rivals certainly did.