Genghis Khan’s Empire: Conquests and Victories

Mongol ruler Genghis Khan built a great empire with his conquests that left his mark on history.

16 mins read

Born in the village of Deli-ün Boldok on the right bank of the Onon River in Eastern Siberia on January 21, 1155 at the beginning of the year of the pig according to the Turkish calendar, Timuchin’s father was Yesugay Bahadir, the leader of the Mongols, and his mother was Houlen Ece. Timuchin was named after Timuchin, the leader of a Tatar tribe captured by his father before he was born. Having lost his father at the age of 13, Timuçin was abandoned with his family, left alone and subjected to oppression. It was 27 years of hardship, during which Timuchin and his family struggled to make a living by fishing and hunting. During this time, Timuchin fought against the Tayciyuts and several other tribes and gained political, administrative and military experience.

In 1195, many tribes joined Timuchin. In 1197 he defeated the Merkits and killed their leader Tokta-Beki. In 1199, together with Ong Khan, he defeated the Nayman Khan Buyruk Khan. In 1200, Timuchin launched a march against the tribes who had allied with the Tayciyuts and defeated them. In the same year, when the Tayjiyuts, Katagins and Dörmen united, Timuchin and Ong Khan fought against them again and defeated them. In 1201, many tribes that were Timuchin’s enemies united and proclaimed Camoha (Camuka) Secen as the great khan. Timuchin fought against them and won a victory.

Genghis Khan's Empire: Conquests and Victories
A miniature depicting Genghis Khan (Derviş Mehmed, Sübhatü’l-ahbâr, Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, Cod AF, nr. 50, vr. 11a)

In 1202 Timuchin led a major campaign against the Tatar province and dealt a heavy blow to his enemies. When the Naymans regrouped in the same year, Timuchin and Ong Khan fought together against them. In 1203 Timuchin was assassinated, but Timuchin learned of the plot in advance and took precautions against the attack. He sacked the homeland of Ong Khan and his son Senggun. In 1204 Timuchin reorganized his allies and won victory over his enemies.

In 1205, he led an expedition to Tangut province and plundered its cities.

In 1206, Timuchin was proclaimed kagan with the title “Genghis” and became the greatest ruler of the steppe tribes, having a nine-piece white tunic erected at a congress held on the banks of the Onon River. In 1207, he organized a second campaign against the Tanguts and returned with rich booty. In the same year, he forced the Kyrgyz ruler to become a subject, and the Kyrgyz ruler sent a white-colored falcon to declare his allegiance.

In the winter of 1208, when Nayman ruler Tayang Khan’s son Güçlüg allied with the Merkits, Timuchin defeated them and killed the Merkit ruler. In 1209, Uyghur Idikutu became subject to Timuchin. Timuchin organized another campaign against the Tanguts in 1210 and subjugated them to him. In the same year, Karluk Arslan Khan also submitted to Timuchin.

Between 1212-1214, Timuçin entered Hıtay country four times and subjugated them to himself. In 1215, he sent an army to Balasagun and took the region under his rule. In 1217, he sent one of his commanders Subitay Noyan against Merkits and Buragul Noyan against Dörmen Bahadır. Then he sent his son Cuci against the Kyrgyz and captured the Kyrgyz province.

In 1219, Timuçin withdrew from Hıtay and decided to organize a campaign against the Khwarizmshahs. During this campaign, he launched an attack against the Khwarizmshahs after an incident in Otrar. He captured Bukhara and Samarkand in 1220. After taking Otrar, he sent his sons who participated in the siege of other cities to different regions. Many people died during this campaign.

After the conquest of the Khwarizmshahs, Timuchin gave his son Juchi Western Siberia and appointed him as the ruler of the region. He himself went on a campaign against Jalaluddin Khwarizmshah and captured the entire Khwarizmshah country. In 1226, he once again entered the country of the Tanguts and killed the Tangut ruler Shidurhu and other notables. However, he fell ill during this campaign and died in August 1227 and was buried in Burhan Haldun in Mongolia.

Genghis Khan was known for his extraordinary physical strength and resolute will. The hardships he endured as a child gave him great patience and endurance, and he honed his intellect through experience. By the time of his death, his vast empire and its core principles stretched from Korea to the Near East, from southern Europe to southern Siberia and the Chinese hinterland. During his lifetime, however, only the Mongol tradition prevailed and he remained alien to other cultures. The state structure was based solely on Mongol traditions. Genghis Khan worked for himself and his relatives and organized the state only in his and his relatives’ interests. His organization of the empire lasted for about forty years after his death, but the rule of his family lasted for several generations.

Genghis Khan was known for wiping out anyone who resisted, including his children, tribes and cities. Contemporaries, such as Ibn al-Asir, described the Mongol invasion as the greatest catastrophe in the history of mankind and expressed this with great sorrow. Genghis Khan’s armies wreaked havoc in the Islamic countries they invaded. Mongol soldiers destroyed important centers of Islamic culture and civilization, used mosques as stables, and left the land of the Khwarizmshahs in ruins. Genghis Khan’s destruction of Islamic cultural and civilizational monuments continued after his death, and the Mongols killed many Muslims and destroyed mosques, madrasas and libraries.

Genghis Khan treated scholars and religious people well and protected them regardless of religion. His military success was based on his organizational skills, discipline, quick action and ruthlessness to achieve his goals. One of his most prominent characteristics was his hatred for traitors. He punished those who betrayed him immediately, while rewarding those who remained loyal.

The laws of Genghis Khan are a collection of rules, known as the “Code of Genghis Khan”, which contains the legal and military regulations of the Mongol Empire. Not all of this law was created by Genghis Khan; in fact, it originated as a compilation of Mongol customs and traditions passed down from generation to generation. Genghis Khan made some additions to these rules and formally promulgated them at his election congress in 1206. Organized in thirty-three volumes and kept in the Mongol treasury, it was given to his son Chagatai, who knew best how to apply it. Mongol dynasties that converted to Islam, including the Timurids, followed these laws rigorously. Although the Law of Genghis Khan has not survived in its entirety, its various articles are found in many works on Mongol history, notably The Secret History of the Mongols, Câmiʿu’t-tawârîḫ, Târîh-i Cihângüşâ, and the History of Abü’l-Ferec. These laws were enforced with the utmost ruthlessness when necessary; the penalty for crimes such as murder, robbery, deliberate lying, adultery, sexual perversions, practicing witchcraft, and hiding stolen property were punishable by death.

Genghis Khan had four sons (Juchi, Chagatai, Ogedey and Tuluy) and five daughters. After his death, the country was divided between the sons. Since his eldest son Juchi died before his father, his grandson Batu inherited his inheritance and founded the White Horde, which formed the basis of the Golden Horde State. His second son Chagatai founded a state named after him. His third son Ögedey was elected as the great khan at a congress attended by Mongol leaders and became the heir apparent. His youngest son Tuluy was given Mongolia, the center of the empire. Tuluy’s sons Mengü Khan and Kublai Khan succeeded Ögedey as the great khan for two generations.

Genghis Khan’s Declaration as Khan and First Conquests:

  • In 1206, he was proclaimed kagan with the title of Genghis Khan.
  • In the same year, a second campaign was organized against the Tanguts.
  • Kyrgyz and Uighurs declared their loyalty to Genghis Khan.
  • In 1210, the Tanguts were defeated again and the Tangut ruler gave his daughter to Genghis Khan.
  • In 1211, Karluk Arslan Khan also declared his allegiance to Genghis Khan.
  • Between 1212 and 1214, the Hytays were defeated four times and they became loyal to Genghis Khan.

Westward Campaigns and the End of the Khwarizmshahids:

  • In 1219, Genghis Khan embarked on a campaign to the west after the Khwarizmshah governor of Otrar plundered a trade caravan.
  • In 1220, Bukhara, Samarkand and Otrar were captured.
  • There were great massacres in Merv and Nîşâbur.
  • Gürgenç was captured and destroyed after a long siege.
  • Jalaluddin Khwarizmshah was defeated in Ghazni and Sindh and fled.
  • In 1224 Genghis Khan captured the whole Khwarizmshah country.

Last Campaigns and Testament:

  • In 1226 the Tanguts were defeated again and the Tangut ruler was killed.
  • Genghis Khan died in 1227.
  • Ögedey was declared kagan.
  • Chagatay was put in charge of legislative affairs and Tuluy was put in charge of the armies.

Genghis Khan’s Legacy:

  • Genghis Khan built the largest contiguous land empire in history.
  • The Mongols conquered most of Asia and parts of Europe.
  • Genghis Khan established a system of laws called the Law.
  • The Mongols contributed to the development of trade by securing trade routes.


The Secret History of the Mongols (trc. Ahmet Temir), Ankara 1948.

Jūzjānī, Ṭabaḳāt-i Nāṣirī, II, 97-148; see also. Index.

Muhammad b. Ahmad an-Nasawī, Sīrat-i Jalāl al-Dīn-i Mingburnī (tr. Anonim, nşr. Mujtebā Mīnovī), Tehran 1344 AH/1965, pp. 7-12, 16-17, 106-111, 121-124, 128; see also Index. Index.

Ibn al-Asīr, al-Kāmil, XII, 358-397; see also. Index.

al-Juwaynī, Târîh-i Cihângüşâ (Öztürk), I, 92-219.

Abū al-Faraj, Târih, II, 478-482.

a.mlf., Tārīḫu muḫtaṣari al-dīvel (nşr. Antūn Sāliḥānī al-Yesūī), Beirut 1890, pp. 228-236.

Rashid al-Dīn, Cāmiʿu al-tawārīḫ (nşr. Behmen Kerīmī), Tehran 1349 AH/1970, I, 213-388.

Müstevfî, Târîḫ-i Güzîde (Nawâî), pp. 362, 365-367, 494, 497, 529, 580, 669.

Ebülgazi Bahadır Khan, Şecere-i Türk (nşr. Desmaison), Petersburg 1871-74, I-II; a.e. (nşr. Rıza Nur), Istanbul 1925.

H. H. Howorth, History of the Mongols, London 1876-1927, I-IV.

Zeki Velidi Togan, Mongols, Chingiz and Turks, Istanbul 1941.

a.mlf., Introduction to General Turkish History, Istanbul 1946.

a.mlf., “Çingîz Ḫân”, UDMI, VII, 698-717.

B. Spuler, Die Goldene Horde: Die Mongolen in Russland: 1223-1502, Leipzig 1943.

B. Y. Vladimircov, Genghis Khan (trc. Hasan Ali Ediz), Istanbul 1950.

H. D. Martin, The Rise of Chingis Khan and His Conquest of North China, Baltimore 1950.

G. Vernadsky, The Mongols and Russia, New Haven 1953.

Ibrahim Kafesoglu, History of Khwarezmshahlar State, Ankara 1953.

a.mlf., “Türk Tarihinde Moğollar ve Cengiz Meselesi”, TD, V/8 (1953), pp. 105-136.

A. Y. Yakubovsky, Altınordu ve İnhitatı (trc. Hasan Eren), Istanbul 1955.

Mustafa Kafalı, The Establishment and Rise of the Golden Horde Khanate, Istanbul 1976.

a.mlf., Ötemiş Hacı’ya Göre Cuci Ulusu’nun Tarihi (doctoral dissertation, 1965), IU Ktp., nr. 4086.

R. Grousset, Steppe Empire: Attila, Genghis Khan, Timur (trc. M. Reşat Uzmen), Istanbul 1980, pp. 186-250.

Barthold, Turkestan, pp. 405-487; see also. Index.

a.mlf., “Genghis Khan”, IA, III, 91-98.

P. Ratchnevsky, Činggis-Khan Sein Leben und Wirken, Wiesbaden 1983.

L. Ligeti, Unknown Inner Asia (trc. Sadrettin Karatay), Ankara 1986, pp. 108-124.

Abdülkadir İnan, “Destân-ı Nesl-i Cengiz Han Kitabı Hakkında”, Articles and Studies, Ankara 1987, pp. 198-206.

D. Ayalon, “The Great Yāsa of Chingiz Khān: A Re-examination”, St.I, XXXIII (1971), pp. 97-140.

D. O. Morgan, “The ‘Great Yāsā of Chingiz Khān’ and Mongol Law in the Īlkhānate”, BSOAS, XLIX/1 (1986), pp. 163-176.

a.mlf., “Čengīz”, EIr., V, 133-135.

“Chingiz Khan”, TA, XII, 55-58.

“Law of Qingiz”, op. cit., XII, 58.

J. A. Boyle, “Čingiz-K̲h̲ān”, EI2 (Eng.), III, 41-44.

a.mlf., “Çingîz Ḫân”, UDMI, VII, 691-698.

DMF, 1/2, p. 857.

“Genghis Khan”, ABr., III, 460-462.


The ancient idea tries to provide the most accurate information to its readers in all the content it publishes.