9 things you might not know about Genghis and the Great Mongol Khans

  1. Rashid al-Din’s Compendium of Chronicles suggests that Genghis Khan had a harem of over 500 wives and concubines.

  2. Ögödei Khan, Genghis’s son and successor, died at the age of 55 from excessive alcohol consumption. The Secret History of the Mongols, the only surviving source on Genghis and the early Mongol empire written by the Mongols themselves, states that one of Ögödei's greatest failings was ‘to be conquered by wine’.

  3. Genghis Khan, who was illiterate, commissioned the first written language for Mongolian. This script remains in use today.

  4. The Mongol army used subterfuge to confuse their opponents and exaggerate the size of their force. Tactics ranged from spreading rumours and lighting five campfires per soldier at night to tying branches to their horses’ tails during battle to produce dust clouds, creating the impression of approaching cavalry.

  5. Nobody knows how, when or where Genghis Khan died. It is believed that Genghis commanded his death was to be kept a closely guarded secret and therefore every living thing that witnessed his funeral procession was massacred.

  6. Genghis Khan enforced a law of complete religious tolerance which ruled that all religions of the Mongol empire were to be treated with equal respect.

  7. Tales of the Mongol army’s heavy looting of defeated realms are infamous. It is thought that Genghis Khan kept little of the plundered riches for himself as he viewed wealth and luxury as a sign of weakness.

  8. The kilns at Jingdezhen and the surrounding Jiangxi Province, world renowned for the exquisite blue and white porcelains they produced during the Ming dynasty, began production under Mongol rule in the Yuan dynasty.

  9. Güyüg Khan, Genghis’s grandson, ruled the Mongol empire for just two years, 1246-1248. His widow, Oghul Qaimish, governed the empire for a longer period than her husband, acting as regent from 1248-1251.

Explore more about the lives and achievements of Genghis Khan and his successors in our exhibition Genghis: Rise of the Mongol Khans. TO VIEW THE FULL EXHIBITION BOOK PLEASE CONTACT US AT INFO@NOMADEXHIBITIONS.COM.

David Roberts