The Mongols It has been said that the Mongols were the most cruel and barbaric of the peoples that have roamed this earth. My research paper is on the greatest of the Mongols, Genghis Khan. Genghis Khan was, even in the lightest sense, a military genius. Genghis Khan almost conquered the world. He instilled in humankind a fear that lasted for ages. But what drove him to do it? Was it by chance? This paper will explain how the general’s childhood molded the man into the best war general of the known world.
The Mongols originally consisted of loosely organized nomadic tribes. (Nomadic refers to a tribe whose members wander and travel around, never staying in one place very long). They were considered barbarians, by European standards. They had no written language, and they were uneducated, except in warfare. Their land was in the most sense barren, for it was the Gobi Desert. In the Gobi, weather could change at a moments notice, from scorching heat to blustering cold.
To protect themselves from the unforgiving cold, the Mongols smeared themselves with oil and grease. This offered sufficient protection, but they had to still worry about the wind, for the desert was barren, and with no trees to divert the wind, the gusts were sometimes enough to make riding on horseback difficult. Their culture was very unique. In the spring, meat, fur, and milk were abundant. In the winter, however, it was not. The Mongols evidently did not care much for their children, for they did not sacrifice their food for them.
Whenever food was brought in during the winter, all of it was put in the a pot and then the order of people got it. The order of people were – the able-bodied men taking the first portions, the aged and the women received the pot next, and the children had to fight for the rest (Lamb 23). When there was a shortage of cattle, the children didn’t survive so easily. Milk, one of their chief sources of nutrition, existed only in the form of kumiss, milk put in leather satchels, fermented and beaten. It was nourishment, and also intoxicating, especially to a kid of three or four years (Lamb 26).
Their fires were not fueled by wood, since trees were scarce in the desert. Instead, it was fueled by cattle and horse dung, which had to make for a certainly unpleasant smell. When festivals came about, as they rarely did, big piles of dung were lit and the same order of the eating applied to the fire, with the women sometimes being able to sit! on the left of the fire. The children were not introduced to hardship; they were born into it. After they were weaned from their mothers milk to mare’s milk, they were expected to manage almost entirely for themselves.
The children learned to live by themselves, in houses, called yurts and they learned to organize hunts, stalking dogs and rats, beating them with crude, blunt clubs and arrows. They also learned to ride sheep by holding on to the wool. The yurts were made of felt, animal skin shaved close, stretched over wooden sticks, with an opening at the top to let out the smoke. Page 3 The felt was covered with white lime, and pictures were drawn onto it. This tent was serviceable, for its dome shaped top allowed it to resist the high winds (Fox 29). Endurance was life for the young Genghis Khan, called at birth Temujin, or “The Finest Steel”.
It was a name given to him by his father, the name of an enemy taken prisoner. Temujin’s father was the Khan of the Yakka, or Great, Mongols. He had control of over 47,000 tents and his name was Yesukai (Lamb 24). Temujin had numerous duties, just as did the other boys of the camp. They had to fish the streams that the family passed on their trek.
They looked after the family’s horses, learning out of necessity to stay in the saddle for several days at a time, and to survive without food for three to four days. The boys watched the skyline for raiders and spent many nights in the snow without a fire. When there was food available, in the form of mutton or horse flesh, they ate and made up for lost time, eating incredible amounts of food, in hopes of storing it away for the long haul. As a child and later as an adult, Temujin must have been tall, with high-set shoulders, the kind that you see in football players. He had a whitish tan about his skin, and when he greased his body it must have made it look darker.
His eyes were set against a sloping forehead, far apart from each other – green, with black pupils. His hair was long and reddish-brown, falling to his back in braids. He was a quiet person, speaking only when he meditated what he said. Page 4 It is told in a story that Yesukai and Temujin were passing by a strangers tent and a young girl caught Temujin’s attention. She was only nine years old, yet still a beauty.
Her name was Bourtai – a name that traveled all the way back to her tribes ancestor, The Gray Eyed. The next day, a deal was made, and Temujin was left to make the acquaintance of his future bride and father-in-law. A few days later, a Mongol galloped up with word that Yesukai, Temujin’s father, had been poisoned while presumably sleeping in the tent of some enemies, and was asking for Temujin. Even though Temujin rode as fast as a horse could go, he found his father dead. Had Temujin accompanied Yesukai, he might have been poisoned as well. More than his father’s death had gone on in the clan.
The clan elders had discussed the future, and more than two-thirds had elected to abandon the chieftain standard and find other ways of protection. They were fearful in leaving the protection of themselves and their family and herds to a young, inexperienced boy. “The deep water is gone”, they told him, “The strong stone is broken. What have we to do with a woman and her children?” (Lamb 25). Temujin was now leader of the Yakka Mongols, but he had no more than the remnants of a clan around him, and he had to face the fact that his fathers enemies could come back and seek their revenge on him.
The grazing land of the Mongols were very desirable, being Page 5 north of the encroaching sands of the Gobi, between the two fertile valleys of the small rivers Kerulon and Onon. The hills were covered with birch and fir, and game was plentiful, …