Chinggis Khan was an outstanding conqueror and a great national figure of Asian Middle Ages. Through war and conquest, Chinggis Khan and the Mongols created the largest empire in the world history ”” as its boundaries were stretched from Hungary to Korea. This conquest is known to be one of the world’s biggest invasions of all times. But was Chinggis Khan only a conqueror or was he a man who changed the world he lived in?
The future Mongol emperor was born under the name of Temujin, probably in 1155 in Deluun BoldogÂ near Burkhan Khaldun mountain and the Onon and Kherlen rivers of modern Mongolia, not far from the current capital, Ulaanbaatar. His father was a man of a noble kin, a steppe aristocrat, who had certain significance among people and was known to be very brave ”“ his soubriquet “Bagadur”ť means “an epical hero”ť. After the father’s death, Temujin had to participate in a tense struggle for power, and eventually he became an actual ruler of the numerous tribes. This status was consolidated by the assembly of tribal aristocracy in 1206, when Temujin was proclaimed a great khan and given a new title ”“ Chinggis Khan. This great conqueror is known all over the world as a man of an outstanding intellect who tremendously influenced his age and the future. The Mongol Empire influenced most of the Eurasian continent, set up taxation and transport systems, and succeeded in ruling various nations that held many different religions.1
One of the greatest legacies of Chinggis Khan was the religious tolerance principle. Although Chinggis Khan himself remained loyal to Mongolian shamanism and never decided to convert to any religion of the peoples that he conquered. The sphere of his religious interests was turned to Daoism, especially because of the belief that Daoists could prolong human life. He provided tax relief to the Buddhist monasteries and to some other religious institutions. Moreover, during his expedition to Central Asia Chinggis Khan occasionally was accompanied by a Daoist sage from China Â – Changchun. This man’s first-hand account has eventually become one of the most important primary sources of the history about Chinggis Khan and the Mongols.
Mongols had been tolerated by their subjects, who often outnumbered the Mongols by as much as a thousand to one, because they continued to produce a tremendous flow of trade goods long after the strength of their army had dispersed.4
After the outbreak of plague, each branch of the Golden Family of Chinggis Khan had to fend for itself in an increasingly volatile environment that might easily turn bellicose. Their two advantages ”“ military strength and commercial gain ”“ were taken away. The Mongols in Russia, central Asia, Persia and the Middle East searched for new modes of power and legitimacy by intermarrying with their subjects and willfully becoming more like them in language, religion, and culture. Mongol authorities purged the remaining elements of shamanism, Buddhism and Christianity from their families and strengthened their commitment to Islam, which was the primary religion of their subjects, or, in the case of the Golden Horde in Russia, the religion of the Turkic army that helped keep the family in power.
The tolerance in religion can be described as Chinggis Khan was a deeply religious man, and, feeling constantly his personal bond with the divine being, he considered this religiousness to be an indispensable condition of the psychical aim that he appreciated in his subjects.
Another great achievement of Chinggis Khan was the creation of the first Mongol written language. In 1204, when he did not yet gained the title of “Chinggis Khan,” he made an assignment of one of his Uyghur retainers so that he developed a written language for the Mongols based upon the Uyghur script. Although Chinggis Khan did not speak any language apart from his mother tongue, he was a man of great intellect, and he understood the great importance of written language. With its help, he wanted to satisfy the requirements of his state and to raise the cultural development of the dependent nomadic people.