Genghis Khan portrait painted on a Mongolian hillside, 2006
A little over 800 years ago, a forward-thinking and ambitious warrior, Temujiin, united the disparate tribes of central Asia to create the nation of Mongolia. In doing so, he became Genghis (Chinggis) Khan—the “Oceanic” or “Universal” ruler of a sprawling world empire.
His empire’s contributions include diplomacy, religious tolerance, the art of warfare, a unified writing system, and a new communications system. Genghis Khan is also credited with helping to bring communication and trade from northeast Asia to the Muslim Southwest Asia and Christian Europe. From a collection of nomadic cultures on the Eurasian steppes, Ghengis created the largest contiguous land empire in history.
Michael Chang, associate professor in the department of history and art history at George Mason University, separates the man from the myth and offers an historical overview of Genghis Khan’s military genius, political savviness, and his questionable use of terror that led to the emergence of the Mongols under his leadership.
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