Genghis Khan, or Zingis Khan, an Asiatic conqueror, born about 1160, died in August, 1227. His father was the chief of a horde, consisting of numerous families or clans, and tributary to the khan of eastern Tartary. When born, the child had his hand full of blood; and, pleased by the interpretation of this sign as a prediction of conquest and glory, the father procured for Genghis, or, as he was then called, Temud-jin, an able teacher, who soon developed in him a talent for government and war. Te-mudjin was only in his 14th year when he succeeded his father, and after some reverses he made himself master of the neighboring tribes, 70 of whose chiefs are said to have been thrown into kettles of boiling water at his command. Against a league of more numerous tribes he was also victorious, but was unable to subdue them, and compelled to invoke the protection of Vang or Ung, the great khan of the Keraite Tartars. Temudjin supported him in his turn in different wars, and received the daughter of the khan in marriage. But his bravery, liberality, and success soon made him an object of envy and fear; a war ensued, in which the khan lost his army on the battle field, and his life while in flight.
Another enemy of Temudjin, Tayan, khan of the Nai-man Tartars, met with a similar fate in and after the battle of Altai, which gave Temudjin a great part of Mongolia and the capital Kara-korum. In the next spring he held a great assembly of his nation at Blun-Yuldad, his capital, where the representatives of all the hordes appeared and proclaimed him their great khan. Then, obeying the words of a shaman (inspired man), who promised him the conquest of the earth, he adopted the title of Genghis (greatest), and gave to his people that of Mongols (the bold). He organized their civil and military system, and laid down a code of laws which is still known in Asia under his name, and is based upon the belief in one God and the monarchy of one great khan, to be elected from the reigning family by the Kuraltai, or assembly of the nation. It grants great privileges to the nobles, allows polygamy, forbids to conclude peace except with the vanquished, and commands the delivery of arms into the hands of the government in times of peace, and when no national hunts are held. He granted equal rights to every religion, and admitted men of talents or merit to his court, whatever their creed. Appreciating the wisdom of other nations, he caused many celebrated books to be translated from foreign languages.
Ambition soon prompted him to new expeditions. The annexation of the Ugrian or central Tartars served to complete the conquest of Tar-tary; he now commenced that of China, passed the great wall, vanquished the opposing armies, plundered and destroyed 9G cities, reduced to ashes smaller towns and villages, and carried away multitudes of children, who were destroyed in the homeward march, besides a vast spoil of cattle, gold, silver, and silk. In a second expedition he was equally successful. He devastated the country, and in 1215 took Yehking (now Peking) by assault. This great city was pillaged and burned. Giving the command in the east to his son Tutshee, Genghis now turned his sword to the west, crushed some revolted tribes and their allies, and took a bloody revenge for the murder of his ambassadors on Mohammed, sultan of Kharesmia. A vast army, and the cities of Bokhara, Sa-marcand, and others, opposed him in vain. The Mongols conquered and devastated the whole country; the cities were destroyed, and with them immense treasures of eastern science and art; and numberless inhabitants were • slaughtered or carried away as slaves.
Another Mongol army marched against Kaptchak, and took Derbend on the shore of the Caspian sea; another reduced Iran and Astrakhan, and, after a bloody battle on the Kalka, southern Russia; another continued the conquest of China and subdued Corea. The countries N. W. of India were also conquered, and an expedition against that country was begun. In this he is said to have shared the fate of Alexander the Great in a similar undertaking; after some victories, the army refused to advance further, and he was compelled to return amid terrible difficulties. He then turned his arms against the kingdom of Tangut, passed the desert of Gobi in winter, and defeated 300,000 men on a frozen lake; the Tangut dynasty was extirpated. He was meditating new conquests when death ended his career. He was buried in his native home, and his funeral was celebrated with songs, and some historians say with a hecatomb of beautiful young girls. His empire was divided among his four sons, Oglutai, chosen great khan, Ja-gatai, Tului, and Tutshee, whose armies soon completed the conquest of China, overthrew the caliph of Bagdad, made the sultan of Ico-nium tributary, and penetrated as far as the Oder and the Danube.