Even when he died nearly 800 years ago, just hearing the name “Genghis Khan” and you will automatically conjure images of an intimidating, brutal and bloodthirsty Mongol ruler. Which is quite true of him — he was more brutal and cruel than all of the modern dictators if it means the number of people he and his army killed. However, Genghis Khan also practiced and encouraged racial tolerance and religious freedom, and embraced equality of all people, including women. Khan also led the civilization and modernization in Mongolia, where his people respected and even worshiped him.
Discover the other little-known but interesting facts about Genghis Khan — one of the most admired and condemned political and military leaders in history.
Genghis Khan was born in the mid-12th century to the head of a Mongol clan, Yesugei, near the capital Ulaanbaatar. His birth name is actually Temujin, and its meaning as well as the name change into Genghis Khan will be revealed later in this gallery.
In 1206 Genghis Khan was proclaimed the ruler of all Mongols. He unified the nomadic tribes of the ancient Mongolia also in that same year. These tribes occupied the plains which are located between China and Russia.
The Mongol Empire is the biggest contiguous land empire in history. Under Genghis Khan’s and his descendants’ rule, the empire extended rapidly from central Europe to the Sea of Japan. If the empire still stands today, it would have encompassed about 38 countries.
Although four women were known to be Genghis Khan’s wives, he otherwise had thousands of concubines within his harem. He also fathered several children with many of these women. So you don’t need to ask why there are a lot of people living in the present who are the direct descendants of Genghis Khan — about 16 million of them!
Genghis Khan is a ruthless ruler — a leader who used brutal, bloody force as his way of conquest. The wars that were fought in his name sometimes involved the extermination of an entire population. As a result, an estimated 40 million people were killed under his rule, which was about 10% of the world population during his time!
His real name was actually Temujin, meaning “of iron” or “blacksmith,” and this leads us to think his birth name was a prediction of what he would become in the future. Temujin was named after a strong and powerful warrior of the Tatar tribe whom Khan’s father, the chieftain Yesugei, had captured and imprisoned.
He wasn’t given the name “Genghis Khan” until 1206, when he was declared leader of the Mongols at a tribal meeting or assembly known as Kurultai. “Khan” is a traditional Mongol name meaning “leader,” but historians are unsure about “Genghis.” It is thought to mean “universal ruler” but it has yet to be confirmed. “Genghis” is also spelled as “Chinggis,” “Chingis,” “Jenghiz” or “Jinghis”
In Genghis Khan’s honor, the central bank of Mongolia issues togrog or tugrik bills with his face in them. Togrog or tugrik is the currency of Mongolia. Genghis Khan’s face appears on the obverse (front) side of the bill, in five denominations — 500, 1000, 5000, 10000 and 20000.