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Book Summary — Genghis Khan The Emperor Of All Men

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1 paragraph summary:

Genghis Khan’s birth name was Temujin.

Only once the council of the khans came together did they appoint an emperor in the year 1206 — Ghenghis Kha Khan, the Greatest of Rulers, the Emperor of All Men — which was the title he took on.

He didn’t set up his headquarters in the most prestigious part — Cathay — but in Mongolia’s barren plateau in the desert city Karakorum, the Black Sands.

The golden age of the Mongo empire followed his death all the way through the 13th century until the death of his grandson when the empire started to gradually dissolve. It was not until the 18th century that the last Mongol stronghold was taken over.

The Mongols were a nomad tribe which stretched from Europe to Asia. It (imo) was due to three things.

  1. Horse riding warfare — as a nomad tribe everyone grew up on a horse and could spend days on end on horseback.
  2. Legal System — a simple straight forward system based on loyalty.
  3. Transport — combined with the horseriding prowess this was the only way to keep a large empire together.

Mongol Values

Human life had no value in the eyes of the Mongols, who desired only to depopulate fertile lands to provide grazing for their herds.

One of the earliest tails was the one of Temujin slaying one of this half-brothers. Mercy in nomad tribes was of little value, but retribution was an obligation.

Khan had a deeply ingrained sense of loyalty and generosity.

“He permits the hunter to keep all game slain in the great hunts; after a battle each man keeps his just share of spoil. He has taken the coat from his back and given it as a present; he has come down from the horse he had mounted, and has given it to the needy.”

Loyalty was rewarded with status. To the extent that he implemented the title “paladins” who could do no wrong and kept all spoils and lands as well as their children for 9 generations.

“The merit of an action” he told his sons “is finishing it to the end.”

The Mongol’s gladiator arena was a 4 month hunt of surrounding animals and closing the circle in tighter and tighter.

Legal System — The Yassa

Ghenghis Kahn implemented the first “quasi” legal system — the Yassa.

The Yassa aimed at three things — obedience to Ghenghis Khan, a bringing together of the nomad clans and the merciless punishment of wrongdoing.

  1. All men should believe in one god.
  2. Leaders of religions should be freed of public charges.
  3. Death penalty for anyone to proclaim emperor unless elected by Khans.
  4. Honorary titles only allowed for Mongols.
  5. Can’t make peace with nations which don’t submit.
  6. Ruling to divide armies into tens, hundreds, thousands etc — rule of 10.
  7. Each soldier must receive arms from officer.
  8. Forbidden to pillage before the officers.
  9. A great hunt has to be held every winter and it’s forbidden to kill animals between March to October.
  10. Theft of horses is punished by death.
  11. Every men who doesn’t go to war has to work for the empire without reward for a certain time.
  12. Mongols can’t be slaves.
  13. Forbidden to give asylum to slaves.
  14. Adultery punished by death.
  15. Forbidden to bathe and wash during thunder.
  16. Chieftains who don’t come to the summons of Khan are to be slain.

This is a selection of points from the Yassa which has 20+ commandments.

He particularly disliked theft and adultery, which were to be punished by death.

Transport — The Yam

Khan devised the yam or Monogo horse-post — the pony express of the 13th century. Permanent comps were made at intervals along the line of march and a string of horses left at each at hundred miles apart.

Ghenghis Khan, the destroyer, had broken down the barriers of the Dark Ages. He had opened up roads. Europe came into contact with the arts of Cathay. A general reshuffling of ideas followed the opening of the roads.

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Goal: Read and summarise one book a week

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