Not many things are known about Genghis Khan, apart from what’s usually read about him in history books. The ruthless warrior-ruler founded the Mongolian Empire, the largest empire in the world before the British Empire. His professional army destroyed tribes to expand their territories across Europe and Asia, leaving millions dead along the way. Who was the man behind Genghis Khan? Evan Andrews of History has some facts about the Mongol warlord.
1. Many Names
The guy had many names. His real name, Temujin, means “blacksmith” or “of iron.” He was named Genghis Khan 44 years later at a tribal meeting. He was also called Chinggis Khan, and Jingis. “Khan” means “leader,” while “Genghis” might have meant “ocean.”
2. Rough Life
As a child, the boy Temujin lived a rough life on the Mongolian steppes. At 9 years old, his father was poisoned by rival Tatar tribesmen. When the boy claimed his father’s position as clan chief, the clan refused his claim and expelled the whole family from the tribe. This led to a more turbulent life, with Temujin taking the role as head of the family. He married at 16 years old, became a slave, escaped from his captors, built an army, and later established himself as a fearsome warrior and leader.
3. What Did He Look Like?
Although sketches of his physical appearance show the typical Mongol features, there is no definite proof of what he looked like. The physical descriptions and accounts about him are often contradictory. He was portrayed as long-haired with a bushy beard. Rashid al-Din, a Persian historian, describes the Mongol ruler as red-haired and green-eyed. Most famous persons, even in the ancient ages, had sculptures or portraits; Genghis Khan obviously didn’t share the same vanity.