Genghis Khan was one of the world’s greatest conquerors. The son of a minor chief in what is now eastern Mongolia, he was born in 1167 and was originally named Temujin. Temujin united the nomadic tribes of Mongolia in a disciplined military state. His followers called him Genghis Khan, or "Universal Ruler."
In 1207, Genghis Khan led the Mongols on the first of many destructive, bloody invasions. Nobody knows exactly how many people were slaughtered by his destructive raids, but even the most conservative estimates suggest that the armies of Genghis Khan killed several million people. Genghis Khan never learned how to read, but his success as a ruler resulted from his superior military organization, strategy and mobility.
Genghis Kahn’s grandson, Kublai Khan, conquered China and moved his capital to the city now known as Beijing in 1271. Kublai Khan probably did not know how to speak Chinese, but he took the Chinese name Yuan for his dynasty. The Yuan was the only foreign dynasty to rule all of China. At its height, the Mongol empire stretched from Korea to Hungary and as far south as Vietnam. It was the largest empire the world has ever known. The Mongols are remembered mostly for their ferocious military force, but they improved the road system linking China with Russia and promoted trade throughout the empire and with Europe.
After Kublai Khan died in 1294, the Mongols became less warlike. They were resented as an elite, privileged class exempt from taxation. Several natural disasters and a peasant rebellion caused the Mandate of Heaven to shift to a Buddhist peasant, Hung-wu. Hung-wu expelled over 60,000 Mongols, ending almost a century of Mongol rule and beginning the Ming Dynasty.
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The Genghis Khan Equestrian Statue is a 130-foot tall statue near Ulan Bator, Mongolia that was erected in 2008.
In 1259, the Mongol Empire was the largest contiguous land empire in history. It stretched from Central Europe east to the Sea of Japan; from Siberia in modern Russia to as far south as the Indian subcontinent.
Kublai Khan (1215 – 1294), was the grandson of Genghis Khan and the founder of the Chinese Yuan Dynasty.