Essay by van_EcksJunior High, 8th gradeA+, July 2005

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GENGHIS KHAN, Mongol conqueror, whose nomad armies created a vast empire under his control, from China to Russia. He was born near Lake Baykal in Russia, the son of Yesukai (d. 1180?), a Mongol chief and ruler of a large region between the Amur River and the Great Wall of China. At the age of 13, Temujin succeeded his father as tribal chief. His early reign was marked by successive revolts of his subject tribes and an intense struggle to retain his leadership, but the Mongol ruler soon demonstrated his military genius and conquered not only his intractable subjects but his hostile neighbors as well. By 1206 Temujin was master of almost all of Mongolia. In that year, a convocation of the subjugated tribes proclaimed him Genghis Khan (Chin. chêng-sze, "precious warrior"; Turk. kh[amacr ]n, "lord"), leader of the united Mongol and Tatar tribes; the city of Karakorum was designated his capital.

The khan then began his conquest of China. By 1208 he had established a foothold inside the Great Wall, and in 1213 he led his armies south and west into the area dominated by the Juchen Chin (or Kin) dynasty (1122-1234), not stopping until he reached the Shantung Peninsula. In 1215 his armies captured Yenking (now Beijing), the last Chin stronghold in northern China, and in 1218 the Korean Peninsula fell to the Mongols.

In 1219, in retaliation for the murder of some Mongol traders, Genghis Khan turned his armies westward, invading Khoresm, a vast Turkish empire that included modern Iraq, Iran, and part of Western Turkestan. Looting and massacring, the Mongols swept through Turkestan and sacked the cities of Bukhara and Samarqand. In what are now northern India and Pakistan, the invaders conquered the cities of Peshawar and Lahore and the surrounding countryside. In 1222...