Sunday, February 20, 2005
Death of Genghis Khan
Genghis Khan died on August 25, 1227, in China during a campaign to put the kingdom of Hsi-Hsia, which was rebelling, back under control. This was a major loss for the Mongols. When they buried him they wanted to make sure he would never be disturbed in his final resting place. The guard of soldiers that protected his body killed anyone who came across them. No one was allowed to know the grave site. After the burial each of the guards had to be killed by another person. Then those people were killed. This was the final measure to keep this site a secret. The legacies of Genghis Khan have grown and influenced leaders all around the world. He turned the Mongolians from a small backwater tribe, into the major political power of Asia. Being illiterate himself, he wanted his people to have an alphabet. He found one with the Uighur tribe. Now the deeds and records of the Mongolian people could be written down and preserved by themselves. Even now, allmost all Mongolians are literate. Genghis Khan also set up the Yasa, the first complete written set of laws for his people. These laws were brought to faraway places thanks to his conquests. The Mongolian Empire was kept united during the reign of Genghis's son, Ogodai. He launched successful operations against Hungary and the Balkans. After Ogodai's death the empire was splite into four Khanates. Yet it was still obvious that this once poor boy who was barely able to survive had completely reshaped the lands, people, cultures, and governments of the places he conquered. Whole populations were killed, cities were burnt down but quickly rebuilt, old decaying and weakening kingdoms and empires were wiped off the face of the Earth and replaced with new, active, and virulent governments. Kubilai Khan, Genghis's great-grandson, created a golden age in the Yuan, or Mongol, dynasty in China. He was the ruling empire during Marco Polo's visit. In Central Asia, which I define as the lands between the Caspian Sea and Tian Shan mountains of China, was devastated when it was attacked, it became the Chagatai Khanate. Many descendants of Genghis Khan settled there. One of them would be Tamerlane, who 200 years after Genghis's death spawned a new period of Turco-Mongol conquests. The Khanate which governed Persia was called the Il-Khan. Amazed by the splendor of Persian civilization the Mongol rulers quickly adapted to it. They integrated their culture into Persia's. One could say that Genghis Khan severely damaged the Islamic religion, since many of its greatest cities were ruined by him. What is not widely known is that Genghis immediatly rebuilt the cities and reestablished government. In fact, all three of non-Chinese Khanates made Islam their major religion. Perhaps Genghis Khan's most important accomplishment was starting the first Era of Globalisation, the Age of Exploration. Due to him, large numbers of both Europeans and East Asians became more aware of each other. This sparked curiosity in what they had to offer each other. This curiosity sparked trade, which led to the search for better trade routs, which eventually led to the embarkation of Columbus and his "bumping into" the Americas.