Genghis Khan: barbarian or hero?

Genghis Khan: barbarian or hero?

Jan 05 2016
Often depicted as a barbarian and a bloodthirsty leader, creating an empire accross Eurasian continent and damaging cities on his way, Genghis Khan was it that real barbarian or the leader that united a country and dressed the basis of the modern society as early as the 13th century?  Today historical data can explain what was real and what was not in this matter, so let's start! For a better understanding, let's write the good things about Genghis Khan in green, while the more critical ones (considered as bad) will be in red. So everyone knows Genghis Khan, the great leader of the 13th century that created an empire to the cost of millions of lifes, and left ruins of cities on his way. Maybe, but let's not forget that he was one of the greatest leaders of all time. Born under the name of Temujin, he was an orphan, and left without any ressource, he made his way out to unite the clans of what is now Mongolia, and ultimately to create the biggest empire on earth! Spreading from the Pacific ocean, up to the heart of Europe.
Genghis Khan: barbarian or hero?

------------

It is said, that because of his invasions, the North of China lost about the 2/3 of its population! It is also known that under the ruling of the Jin dynasty, all the northern tribes were under influence of the Chinese, even been paid to kill each other, and the Jin were actually attacking them at some points. About the population decrease, it can also be explained by a bad management of counting people, and that a great part of the farmers at that moment voluntarily engaged themselves into the army of Genghis Khan, decreasing de-facto the statistics of the population taken into account.

------------

Armies of Genghis Khan burned down cities, massacred their inhabitants and created chaos on the surroundings. Genghis Khan actually preferred that his enemies surrender and pay a tax to be protected then, and believed into loyalty and diplomatic laws. Those cities which have been destroyed were the results of rebellions against the Khan after having been surrendered to him, or if they killed the Mongolian ambassadors sent to negotiate.
Genghis Khan: barbarian or hero?

------------

Historical reports stated the Mongolian army of the Khan was far more brutal than expected: some were ripping the children out of their mothers belly, use prisoners as human shields or fill the moats with human prisoners in order to support the weight of the siege weapons into gaining control of the enemy castle. As barbarian as it sounds, it may be true. But is it more terrible that all the inventions and atrocities made during the middle age time? It does not excuse these methods, but tend to depict the Khan as a tactitian of his time. We cannot deny the great changes made for the good of people under his influence : by uniting the tribes, the tradition of kidnapping women has been abolished. Also, mongolian women have been given a more important role in society, creating new rights especially for them, like taking part of important decisions, have the responsability of homes, divorce as an option for married couples... Temujin would remain with his first wife all his life, and raising his illegitimate son as his own.

------------

His conquests contributed to the loss of 40 millions of people accross Europe, well after his own death. It is about 10% of the world known population at that time! This, is without counting the damages caused by the black plague, introduced by the Golden Horde into Europe, when they laid the siege of Kaffa in 1345. You have to understand also, that those historical documents have been written about 100 years after the actual events, not 100% accurate or to be trusted.  Mongolians, in fact at the siege of Kaffa didn't introduce the great black plague to the city by throwing their dead bodies inside, but by indirectly bringing the disease with them unnoticed, carried by animals such rats. Modern medicine states in fact people who got infected could not infect other people.  Interesting note: from the people who survived the Mongolian attacks were integrated to the new Empire, and many benefited from the change. Mongolian Empire was tolerant with different religious practices, people were treated as equal, and by their work, or enlisted as a soldier of the State, it was possible to get a better position in life.  Some more developed systems appeared with the Mongolian conquests such like the unified postal system, universal justice, and a mix of cultures of the countries.
Genghis Khan: barbarian or hero?

------------

Bagdad was part of the dark history under the Empire. Cultural capital city at the period, Bagdad has been destroyed by the attacks of Hulagu Khan, as well as great libraries, hospitals and palace burned down... Unlucky Bagdad was, its Caliph actually refused to surrender the city. Hulagu Khan was then punished later for this by Berke Khan. Generally speaking, Mongolian Empire was avoiding those sorts of practice, saving doctors, literate people, and craftsmen in every surrendered locations. They would be used then for the Empire, and spreading new knowledge as a result.

------------

What to say about the complete destruction of the Kievan Rus', when the Mongolian invasion raced towards Ukraine in 1240? This action took place at the golden age of the Kevian State, and thus pushing it backwards into the middle age time while the rest of Europe was flourishing into the Renaissance. You have to know that West Europe was not any better, nor a quiet and peaceful place to be. Mongolian invasions allowed prosperity on new roads, like the famous Silk road towards West, allowing commercial routes and exchange of culture. Russia and China unified as states as we know them now, benefited actually from the Empire of the Mongols. Genghis Khan left his inheritors be part of the noble casts that were the decision maker well after his death, creating both stability and flourishing periods for the conquered lands.

------------

And you, reader of this article, might even be related somehow to the great Khan himself! A study revealed that around 16 million men are sharing the same genes of Genghis Khan today, that is to say, about 1 men out of 200 ! Does the historical accomplishments of a leader can overpower the losses caused by such a rise? So let us know what you think about this article, all comments are most welcomed!  

Leave a message

Your email address will not be published.
Comment *
Name *
Email address *
Hey, my name is actually sean
14 January 2020
This sounds suspiciously like the Ted-Ed video I watched as well. Either ted-ed copied this page, or this page copied ted-ed
Reply
Comment *
Name *
Email address *
Ron
28 December 2019
It's sad that all the comments seem to demand he be branded as a hero or villain. Sometimes we can't just have our world as black or white. The world is primarily gray. Not everything can be defined as purely good or evil.
Reply
Comment *
Name *
Email address *
Elaine
12 December 2019
I think it's awesome that people out there agree that Temüjin wasn't all that bad. He did a lot of good for his people and the people he adopted into his tribe. The fact that he's seen as a barbarian while Alexander the Great and Napoleon Bonaparte are looked upon as 'heroes' baffles me. I personally think Temüjin was in between good and evil, in that gray area. A lot of bad things done by the Mongols were done after his reign, too.
RE
16 January 2020
Have you read any history? Mongols did nothing but burn centuries of civilisation for money rape and greed. Alexander aimed to conquer and rule, not burn. The mongols set Europe/China back in time from the growth others had created. It’s easy to quickly burn and move on before an enemy can react. It takes a true ruler to defend and grow a society. The Mongols are easily the most over celebrated empire of all time
Reply
Comment *
Name *
Email address *
Aman
30 October 2019
Are you seriously out of your mind? Developing one's own culture and empire is one thing, destroying hundreds of others another. In the name of developing other regions millions were killed and cultures, societies destroyed. Burning cities, libraries and hospitals, kidnapping women, looting kimgdoms, temples and households was not an uncommon practice of the Empire. Although I agree that judging historical figures on today's values is not right, but till what extent can his methods be justified? Many of his methods were unacceptable even then! By the way even Hitler worked to develop HIS country at the cost of others. Genghis Khan worked towards developing HIS country at the cost of others. You get what I am saying. He wasn't a messiah who conquered kingdoms to free the people from the evil Kings who tortured their people. No. And what does the writer mean by 'create new knowledge'? Destroying others traditions and indigenous knowledge to proliferate one's own is NOT right. I don't know if he was secular or not, so I can't say anything about that. P.S. His surname is Gandhi, not Ghandi.
Ron
28 December 2019
I'm not sure what you are complaining about exactly. If you read the article, it was expressed multiple times the barbarism and violence Genghis Khan inflicted. He did however create some good for his people. The author never states that the "ends justified the means", not does he say that his good out weighed his bad. He merely listed facts in a fairly impartial way. Your comment about him working to develop HIS country, well of course he did, as does every country in the world today and in the past.
Reply
Comment *
Name *
Email address *
marcehiruka
14 October 2019
so is he a villain or hero
Reply
Comment *
Name *
Email address *
robert
10 October 2019
this guy does not look menacing lol
Reply
Comment *
Name *
Email address *
Ariyan Ahmadzadeh Behrouz
10 October 2019
So overall he was good or bad??
Reply
Comment *
Name *
Email address *
tavey
13 September 2019
this was EXTREMELY helpful
Reply
Comment *
Name *
Email address *
Bryan Knight
31 May 2019
I have just finished reading Jack Weatherford’s book on Genghis Khan. Amazingly I have also just attended Book of Mormon where “hell” is frequented by Hitler. Genghis Khan and other “evil” entities. The man deserves better. History now knows the truth and his place in history needs to be established correctly. I recently did a min poll, asking friends and relatives to name the three most evil people in history. Hitler got a jersey in 12 of the 15 people. GK received 10 votes. When I rattled off some facts gleaned from the book. 7 were surprised and changed their mind. Why is his life not a movie based on fact?? He should be listed alongside Pasteur, Mandela, Lincoln and Ghandi not Hitler. He is now top of my list of people I’d invite to dinner. Amazing human being.
Ertugrul
10 December 2019
Your an idiot mate. How is killing ANYONE a could thing?
Reply
Comment *
Name *
Email address *
FBI
30 May 2019
FBI OPEN UP jk good info
Reply
Comment *
Name *
Email address *
john smith
28 May 2019
Thank you whoever wrote this it is very useful.
Reply
Comment *
Name *
Email address *
nunya
30 April 2019
just men seriously??
Reply
Comment *
Name *
Email address *
Unurjargal Gombo
17 April 2019
Very good article about Chingis Khaan .. First time I read such a positive article about Chingis Khaan .. He accomplished a lot of good things which people should know... Ine day I will write about Him and make a good movie 🎥... Thanks..
RE
16 January 2020
Umm.... what good do you mean? A great ruler conquers and evolves a situation. The mongols used feigned retreats to burn and rape... where would they eventually go? Nomadic empires are not true empires. Strong rulers use government to create defensible societies. The Mongols would have never lasted longer than they did and they didn’t deliver any good or legacy rather than the worlds largest rape party
Reply
Comment *
Name *
Email address *
Leonardo Dicaprio
05 April 2019
just great great great!
Reply
Comment *
Name *
Email address *
Soso
06 March 2019
So Genghis Khan was a hero or a villain? Please let me know
Addi
15 November 2019
He is how ever you want to perceive him. He is a hero because regardless of his actions he was able to bring forth such a tremendously large empire all by himself and what he had done honestly wasn't anything worse than what leaders of this world have been doing for the past centuries. Like Hitler or Alexander the Great or the Aztec Empire even. He is a villain because he caused the brutal deaths of many.
dillan campbell
14 October 2019
Hero for sure.
yo
08 May 2019
how?
LeonardoDaVinci
05 April 2019
Great article!
Genghis Khan
05 April 2019
Villain
kyrsten limelight
14 March 2019
he was a hero.
Reply
Comment *
Name *
Email address *
STELLA GIMENEZ
27 February 2019
I love this article and thank you for sharing your knowledge about Genghis Khan here. Do you have any source of information or any information about what had made Temujin 'inspired' to start his idea of uniting the tribes? How old he might have been at that time? I imagine very young. Did he have a mentor? A shaman? Thank you, Stella
Reply
Comment *
Name *
Email address *

Hello

I am Daniel from "Horseback Mongolia". Send us your request, and we will answer you within 48 hours.
Call us at
+(976)-11-331 098