In 1205, Temujin was finally able to unite all of Mongolia, with the Tatars, Uyghurs, Mongols, Merkits, and Naimans, all submitting to him. He was given the name Genghis Khan in 1206, making him the sole ruler of all Mongols. Temujin, now Genghis Khan, then began his conquest with an army of around 105,000 men in 1206. Despite the rapid growth of his empire and the need to stretch out his forces, his army only grew to about 129,000 men by the time of his death in 1227.
Rise of Genghis Khan — Invasions and Conquests
His conquests included the Western Xia Dynasty, Jin Dynasty, Qara Khitai, Khwarazmid Empire, Georgia, Kievan Rus, Volga, Bulgaria and other territories spanning many, many more kingdoms and all of this took him only 21 years. The Mongol Empire by the time of his death in 1227, spanned over 12 million square kilometers, effectively more than twice the size of Alexander’s empire.
At its height in 1279, it spanned to over 23 million square kilometers, more than four times the size of Alexander’s empire. It stretched all the way from the Gulf of Finland in the far west, the Arabian Gulf in the far south to the East China Sea in the far east. The routes and trails of his conquests are a matter of debate but he probably went from Mongolia to Manchuria, Korea, Xinjiang, Kazakhstan, the Aral Sea, the Caspian Sea and then to northern Iran in those 21 years.
It is particularly interesting to estimate how many kilometers of traveling would those conquests be per year, on an average. Considering the fact that he managed to conquer around 571,428 square kilometers of land on an average per year, during his entire 21 years of conquest, it roughly amounts to around 1,565 square kilometers on an average per day and 65 square kilometers on an average per hour.
Of course, he didn’t acquire new territories every day throughout that time but when he did, he vanquished an unbelievable number of kingdoms in record time. In doing so, Khan is estimated to have killed around 40 million people or roughly 10% of the world’s population at that time. Being an adherent of a nomadic Mongolian faith called Tengrism, he spared no one and massacred Muslims, Christians, Buddhists and Jews alike. In fact, he is said to have reduced two-thirds of Iran’s population, all by himself.
In contrast, Alexander conquered roughly 530,000 square kilometers of land on an average per year during his 10 years of conquest. That amounts to around 60 square kilometers of territory gained per hour. The numbers are surprisingly pretty close for both of them.
But then, Genghis Khan was probably a greater victor overall because his life was much harder than Alexander’s and he was able to become the ruler of all the Mongols despite very humble origins, and he ultimately became the founder of the world’s largest contiguous empire, which, unlike the British Empire, only took 21 years to create in that day and age.
An interesting fact about Ghengis Khan
An interesting fact about Ghengis Khan discovered in recent times is that, according to a historical genetics paper published in 2003, one in every two hundred men are direct descendants of him. So believe it or not, you and me both could very well be a descendant of this great conqueror and astonishing figure of human history.
I am the flail of god. Had you not committed great sins, God would not have sent a punishment like me upon you.Genghis Khan
Featured Image: Artstation/@Thahn Tuan