The Mongols

.. and water was abundant – due to the late melting of the snows – circumstances only too well known to the clans that had formerly been under the dominion of the Mongol and were now preparing to seize the possessions of the thirteen-year-old Temujin (Lamb 26). Disaster was almost inevitable, because Temujin was being hunted by the Targoutai, chieftain of the Taidjuts, arch enemies of the Mongols. The attack was launched without warning. Targoutai himself made for the tent where Temujin in all likelihood as hiding. Temujin and his brothers fled, before the onset of the warriors, all the brothers were safe, except for Temujin, as he began his flight alone.

The hunt began, with the hunters taking their time, for they were experienced nomads, and they were capable of tracking a horse for days when starving. Temujin managed to keep away from the pursuers for days, until he could finally take hunger no more. In looking for food he was caught and brought to Targoutai. Targoutai ordered for a kang to be placed on his shoulders. A kang is a wooden yoke that rest on the shoulders, holding the prisoners wrists at both ends, chafing him and not allowing him to lie flat, forcing on him the weakness of sleep (Brent 11).

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His chance for escape came when in the darkness of the tent, Page 6 he struck the guard over the head, knocking him out and escaping. He ran through the woods to a nearby river and, hearing his pursuers behind him, sunk down so that only his head was above water. In his spot, he watched the riders search for him. One warrior spotted him, hesitated, and went on without betraying him. In the kang Temujin was helpless.

He did something then that took intuition. He left his safe spot, followed the trail of the returning searchers, and slowly made his way to the yurt of the man who had chosen not to compromise his life. The man was, by luck, a stranger, stopping for the night with this hunting clan. The stranger agreed to help him escape, hiding him in the loose wool in his cart. It was very hot in the wool, certainly not pleasant, especially when the people came to search the tent.

They stuck swords in the wool, injuring Temujin’s leg. “The smoke of my house would have vanished, and my fire would’ve gone out forever had they found thee,” the stranger quietly remarked, giving Temujin food, milk and a bow with two arrows. “Go now to thy brothers and mother” (Lamb 29). And so Temujin was off, on a borrowed horse, and soon found his home in little better shape than was imagined by the stranger – the site of the camp filled with ashes of fires, his herds vanished, and his mother and brothers nowhere to be found. He soon tracked them down, and found them, tired and hungry, and in Page 7 hiding.

They lived well after a while, traveling at night to the camp of the well-wisher, with no more than eight horses in their string, living off of small game and surviving on fish instead of mutton. He could’ve left even then, but the energetic youth had no intentions of leaving his ancestral land to his enemies. He traveled to all of the remaining settlements to demand for his mother, the khan’s tithe of the four beasts-a camel, ox, horse, and sheep, to provide for her. He did not go to Toghrul, the “Provider” chieftain of the Karat Turks, who had drunk an oath with Yesukai, Temujin’s father, to be the title of foster father, should anything happen to the maternal father. Temujin replied to this with “To go as a beggar with empty hands, is to arouse scorn, not fellowship.” Temujin stuck to this determination, which was not a matter of false pride, but of a Yakka Mongol’s downright way of thinking (Lamb 30).

Temujin’s desire to stand on his own two feet and not look for help from his elders shows his inner strength. However, one of the strongest influences in Temujin’s life was most likely his mother. She was continuously reminding him of his late father’s greatness, of the need to avenge himself of the Taijiut chiefs who had taken away his men. She encouraged him to win followers for himself like a true prince (Fox 66). Page 8 Temujin learned many things, such as how to keep out of an ambush, and to break through the lines of men that were looking for him to kill.

As he was hunted, his cunning grew with the years (Lamb 30). As was the custom of Mongols, Temujin returned to the tent of Dai-noyon, the wise, and the maiden Bourtai, to be married. In the early days of his marriage, Temujin spent time in the tents of his wife’s people. He watched very carefully the workings of the village and the lives of the people. Much of which was not as hard a struggle and bare existence as his had so far been (Fox 68).

There are stories of Temujin’s raiding the camps of his enemies always seeking revenge when he felt wronged. In time, Temujin knew personally all the clan feuds and the personalities of the different leaders. It was clear in his mind who was the best ally, who was the most dangerous foe (Fox 67). As the warriors continued to return home to see what had happened to their homeland, many stayed and Temujin’s clan became bigger. They were welcomed back to a new ruler, Temujin.

By the time he was named Genghis Khan, Temujin was already a great Khan, having more power than his father, who had never attained the title. Temujin had a much greater following than his father, who had great chieftains obey him, such as Targotai. Genghis Khan’s power might never have come to be had it not been for his childhood. If his father wouldn’t have died, would he (Genghis) have had to go through as many hardships? If not, he Page 9 probably wouldn’t have become as great of a man that he was. So, in conclusion, the childhood of Genghis Khan had a direct link to the molding of his character into the great war general that he was.

Works Cited Brent, Peter. Genghis Khan. Great Britain, George Weidenfield and Nicolson, Ltd. 1976. Fox, Ralph. Genghis Khan.

New York, Harcourt, Brace and Co. Inc. 1936 Lamb, Harold. Genghis Khan: The Emperor of All Men. New York, Garden City Publishing Co. 1927 Lister, R.P. The Secret History of Genghis Khan.

Great Britain, Peter Davies, London 1969 The World Book Encyclopedia. G- Vol. 8. New York World Book, Inc. 1987.