Genghis Khan was born in 1162 in Mongolia (north of China). His name as a boy was Temujin, meaning finest steel in Mongolian.
Mongolia was inhabited by many different tribes who fought each other – it was not a unified state like China. Temujin’s father, Yesugai, was the chief (or khan) of one of these tribes.
At nine years old, a marriage was arranged for Temujin in a different tribe to a girl called Borte.
He went to live there for several years until he heard that his father had been poisoned by enemies.
The enemies were Tartars – people living in the north east of Mongolia. When Temujin arrived home, he found that another warrior had become khan and had kicked his family out of the tribe. Temujin plotted his revenge.
Temujin started by winning one-on-one fights, which the Mongols admired as he showed strength and courage.
This meant people joined him and he grew a tribe. He married Borte and the alliance with her tribe gave him even more fighters.
Eventually Temujin had a big enough army to defeat the Tartars.
After beating the Tartars, Temujin began to unite the Mongols as one country. He wanted to stop Mongol traditions and customs from being lost in history.
He conquered other tribes until everyone agreed to follow him. The country was united as a powerful empire in 1206.
The people called him Genghis Khan, which means chief of all.
Genghis was a good fighter and general. He made the army train every day in fighting and tactics so that there were no surprises on the battlefield.
He came up with new tactics which nobody had seen before, meaning he easily won his battles.
Genghis also introduced a law which meant soldiers were promoted based on ability, not their family.
Genghis believed that religion was vital. He did not tax Buddhist monasteries and other religious places.
He thought that people should be able to believe in what they wanted, as long as it taught good behaviour and morals.
The first Mongolian written language was created by Genghis Khan in 1204 (before he had united Mongolia)!
He also supported trades, crafts and arts because he thought they were important for the economy.
Genghis wanted to conquer more lands to expand the empire. He invaded China in 1211 and tried to overthrow the Jin dynasty in revenge for their bad treatment of his people.
He captured the capital city of the Jin province and so brought Northern China into the Mongolian empire.
Genghis tried to trade with Persia, in the west. However, the governments there were not interested and killed any traders.
In revenge, Genghis destroyed their cities and brought down their empire, killing everyone in his path.