Mongolian Families in Relation to the Chinese Families

The father of Genghis Kahn was Yisugei, belonging to the Kiyat-Borjigid nomad tribe in Mongolia. Yisugei was an aristocratic leader in his tribe as well as a fierce fighter. Genghis Kahn’s given name, Temuchin, comes from his birth story. Yisugei was coming home from a campaign against the Tartars when his first wife Ho’elun was in labor. He had brought captives with him and one was named Temuchin-uge. It was customary to name a child after a captive from a successful campaign.

There are also arguments made that Temuchin’s family were smiths, and the name comes from the word temur, with means iron. Temuchin had a brother named Temuge and a sister named Temulun. The birth date of Temuchin is not well known, the Chinese Zhao Hong says 1155, but instances in his early life do not concur with that early of a date. Most he was born between 1162 and 1167.

At an early age he made a blood-compact with a friend named Jamuka, in later years this would take great strain on Temuchin.

When Temuchin was eight to nine years old, Yisugei decided it was time to choose a fiancé for his son. Yisgugei had originally thought of a Onggirat bride for his son, as the Onggriat’s were one of the oldest and most respected tribes in Mongolia. On his way to the Oggirat, he stopped to visit Daisechen, a member of the Boskur tribe, which was a sub-tribe of the Oggirat. Yesugei took a immediate liking to Daischen’s daughter and started betrothal negotiations.

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After much discussion, Daisechen agreed but only if Temuchin was to live with him for a year. This was done to make up for the bride-price. The marriage would also allow a alliance with the two tribes, which was advantageous to the Kiyats. Yisugei was not able to benefit from the alliance though, during his return trip home he stopped at a Tartar encampment who recognized him and mixed poison into the food that they shared. His death had a profound affect on his family. The rest of the tribe deserted them because their leader was now gone. The remnants of the family were forced to hunt and gather on their own to survive.

There is a story about Temuchin and Kasar catching a fish, and the two older half-brothers Bekhter and Belgutei taking it from them, which was something that had been doing to torment the younger brothers. Temuchin and Kasar went to Bekhter and both shot him once. This is the only tarnishing part of the young Genghis Kahn’s life. He later said, “It is to Belgutei’s strength and Kasar’s Prowess as an archer that I owe the conquest of the World Empire.” 

Following the episode of the killing of Bekhter, Temuchin was taken into custody by the Tayichi’ut tribe. This may have been a result of the murder of Bekhter, but the history is unclear. He was put in a cage and guarded day and night. He only escapes on a feast day when the guard is a “puny youth.” He went to a tent of a person who had taken pity on him and was given a horse to aid in his escape.

This story illustrates how Temuchin understood people, and had the common sense to watch when the enemy is week to make his move. This also played an important role in future battle decisions, as Temuchin remembered the experiences and captivity in the Tayichi’ut camp. 

At the age of fifteen, Temuchin remembered the fiancé and decided to marry. He had moved into a new period of his life, and realized that if he was to attain power, he need the protection of a patron. He chose Toghrul, the leader of the Keraits. Temuchin had good reason to choose Toghrul. Yisugei had helped restore Toghrul to his leadership position after his uncle drove him out from his land. Temuchin reminded Toghrul of the relationship he and his father had saying, “In earlier days you swore friendship with my father, Yisugei.

Accordingly, you are as my own father and I bring you my wife’s wedding gift.” With this he presented Toghrul a sable cloak that was from his wife’s parents. Toghrul was greatly pleased, and granted the vassal relationship that Temuchin was looking for. Not long after, Temuchin was able to put his new relationship with Toghrul to the test. The Merkits, whose tribe Temuchins mother was stolen from, had heard that Temuchin now had a wife. In revenge for the kidnapping of Ho’elun, they attaked the Temuchin camp.

Everyone got away except Belgutei’s mother and Borte, Temuchin wife. The Merkits stopped and took the women, shooting that they now had their revenge for Ho’elun. Temuchin never hesitated, he went straight to Toghrul, who promised to rescue his wife. Toghrul and Jamuka both sent twenty thousand men to Temuchin’s assistance. The campaign was a complete success, Borte was rescued and Temuchin new he could trust Toghrul to assist him. 

After the successful rescue of Borte, Jamuka and Temuchin’s tribes camped together for about a year and a half. This was a very unusual thing to do for the nomadic tribes; usually they would separate after campaigns. To the bystander it was a time of merriment, but Temuchin used the time to make friends and recruit people to his tribe. Apparently Jamuka grew tired of the companionship of Temuchin and the two separated in a less than friendly way. This separation was another turning point in the life of Temuchin, it subtly announced that he was going to play an active role in the struggle for dominance over the Mongol tribes. Temuchin recognized that in order to win the loyalty of people he had to have a reputation of a just and loyal leader.

An example of Temuchin’s generosity is shown in a hunting story. Temuchin and his men were hunting near the Jeuret tribe, and he suggested that they camp together overnight. The next day, Temuchin had animals driven toward the Jeuret’s, and they killed a great number. Temuchin offered a treaty with this tribe and they considered it because of how the Tayichi’ut had treated them as ‘brothers.’ The leader of the Jeuret’s did not accept, but two of the leaders and their people joined the Temuchin camp.

The break between Jamuka and Temuchin was becoming more evident. He was joined by Altan-otchigin and Kuchar-beki, both elder cousins. Having under-rated the abilities of Temuchin, Altan and Kuchar moved, according to custom, to elect Temuchin Kahn. It is not really correct to call Temuchin Genghis Kahn, not until the conquest of the nomadic tribes was complete. This election greatly angered Jamuka, who wanted the Kahnship himself. Jamuka used a petty situation to spark the battle, a relative of Jamuka had stolen several horses from one of the tribes that was in Temuchins camp. The owner of the horses rode to retrieve his property and killed the thief.

Jamuka used this as an excuse to strike at Temuchin and his ascent to Mongol leadership. He lead thirty thousand warriors against Temuchin and won the battle. Temuchin fled through up through the Jerene Pass near the Onon river. Jamuka did not peruse Temuchin for some reason, but stopped and ordered the execution of the Chinos princes who had tried to help Temuchin. The defeat of Temuchin caused a power vacuum, it had undermined the power that the Kerait rulers causing the balance of power to shift and Toghrul was driven from his kingdom. Toghrul’s Uncle also sought refuge with the Chin. Here there is about a ten year period without history on Temuchin, it is speculated that he too fled to the Chin territory. 

In 1196 Temuchin learned of a struggle between the Tartars and the Jurchid that had the Tartar’s retreating. He saw that as an opportunity to weaken the troublesome tribe. After waiting for the Jurchid commander, he took a small troop and successfully attacked the Tartar force. The Tartar prince was killed and a great amount of loot was taken. As a reward, the Chin commander bestowed the titles cha’ut-kuri to Temuchin and Wang Kahn to Toghrul.

Temuchin, fresh with the feeling of a victory, had a score to settle. Sacha-beki, a clansman of Temuchin had willingly not joined the battle against the Tartars and took the opportunity of Temuchin’s absence to plunder his encampment. Temuchin successfully confronts the Jurkin princes and knowing that they are guilty, they give them selves up to be executed. Temuchin’s next move was to bring Wang Kahn back to power. 

Inanch Kahn had deposed Wang Kahn had died, and his sons Buiruk Kahn and Tayang Kahn now ruled the land. The brothers were enemies and Temuchin and Wang Kahn intended to use this to their advantage. They attack Buiruk Kahn in 1198/9 and pursued him into the Altai Mountains. On their way back, they ran into the Naiman army and stopped for battle the next day. Wang Kahn decided to pull out during the night and leave Temuchin there, who when it is discovered, retreats himself.

Jamuka had told Wang Kahn that Temuchin was in cahoots with the Naimans and was there to destroy him. The Naiman forces however attacked Wang Kahn, carrying off his wife, children and Seggnum his son. Wang Kan sent a message to Temuchin asking for help. Temuchin rushed to the aid of Seggnum and successfully rescued Wang Kahn’s Family. Wang Kahn and Temuchin then moved to attack the Tayichi’ut tribe. It was a successful battle and the Tayichi’ut princes were killed. This caused quite the stir in the other tribes.

Five tribes including the Tartar and Onggriat’s, made an alliance together against Wang Kahn and Temuchin. They elected Jamuka as Gurkhan, Kahn of all tribes. In 1201 this coalition took to the field against Wang Kahn and Temuchin. The weather however was not favorable, and the coalition almost immediately broke up to return home. Temuchin pursued the Tayichi’ut and completely slaughtered them he had every male killed and took the women and children into his camp.

Wang Kahn rode after Jamuka but did not catch him. Temuchin who was very pleased with the victory over the coalition, immediately, in 1202 went to fight the Tartars. But before commencing on his trip, he proclaimed that any the troops would not stop to pick up any booty, it would be distributed after the battle was decided. The tactic worked and the battle was won. After the battle it was decided to completely extinguish the Tartars, the women and children were assimilated into his camp.

After the Tartar victory, Temuchin decided to seek a marriage alliance with Wang Kahn to strengthen the bond between them. He was flatly denied the alliance, Seggnum had no kind words for the offer. The Book quotes, “These words caused Genghis Kahn to lose his heartfelt affection for Wang Kahn and Nilka-seggnum.” In 1203, Seggnum, Jamuka, Altan and Kuchar with other tribal leaders organized an attack on Temuchin, without Wang Kahn’s direct approval. Temuchin was not prepared for the attack, and fled to northern Mongolia.

There was a short battle and Temuchin’s forces lost badly. But he was not pursued to complete destruction; the opponents thought he was done for. But once again, Temuchin makes a decision that would cause his popularity to heighten. During the battle, his troops got scattered, and he was separated from his top warriors and generals. He waited until his friends and his son joined them, before fully retreating. Staying was almost suicide, but he knew his warriors would come. 

Temuchin lost no time recruiting new people and tribes for his cause. The Onggirat’s were the first to pledge their help, and others quickly followed. Temuchin represented the national interests of the Mongols, and most of the people recognized that they would profit by supporting Temuchin. Once he had assembled the tribe to his best ability, the custom was to seal the alliance in an oath. The oath was taken at the river Baljuna, where Temuchin and his followers drank of the muddy waters of the river.

Temuchin in an attempt to divide his opponents sent messages to each individual. To Wang Kahn he talked about the reason for their breakup of the father/ son relationship that they had, Temuchin places the blame on Seggnum. To his cousins, Altan and Kuchar, he asks them to server his once again. To Jamuka, the letter admonished him for being jealous and expresses his disgust with his actions. And to Seggnum, he says not to hold on to the thoughts of becoming King and Ruler.

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Mongolian Families in Relation to the Chinese Families. (2023, May 17). Retrieved from

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