M is for Mongols

Published April 24, 2012 by caitlinnicoll

Genghis Khan

Under Genghis Khan, the Mongol empire was ethnically, culturally, and religiously diverse. Genghis allowed religious freedom, and even gave tax exemptions for religious figures, teachers and doctors. To the Mongols, religion was a personal concept. They did not believe the law should interfere.

Genghis however, was responsible for the deaths of over 40 million people. He and his descendants conquered much of Asia (including the Middle East) and western Europe; More than any other empire in history. He was reputed to be a merciless ruler, often killing the sons of the captured cities. Despite this, he was extremely shrewd and intelligent, often surrounding himself with teachers and religious figures of many cultures. He also untied all of the Mongolian confederations.

Genghis created a secret code of law called the Yassa. Not much is known about it, other than it was the principal law of the Mongolian people. The documents were kept secret and were only read by the royal family. No copies remain (or have at least been found) today. The most common form of punishment was death, even for small things.

Quite a gruesome legend surrounds Genghis’ death. It is said that a Tangut princess that he had captured in war hid a pair of pliers in her vagina and basically castrated him. He died of the pain, and probably blood-loss. Yes, you read that right.

His grandson, Kublai Khan established the Yuan dynasty, and became the first non-Chinese emperor of China.


The Mongols even had an empress of great power, who reunited the Mongol confederations. After the death of her husband, Mandull Khan, Mandukhani Khatan became adopted and regent over the seven year old Batmunkh. The boy was a direct descendant of Genghis and part of the Golden Horde. When he was old enough to rule, she married him. Manukhani was a fierce warrior and tactician, even leading a battle against the Oirats while pregnant with twins. She won that battle, btw.

The Mongols practiced Shamanism. A shaman is a person who is the intermediary between the physical and spiritual worlds. They were the healers and wise (wo)men of their communities. In many cultures, Shamans were two natured (transgendered), especially in Native American cultures. Two natured spirits were said to be more powerful, and were therefore greatly sought after.


Book recommendations for reading challenges:

Fantasy                                                                                                                          Sci-fi


5 comments on “M is for Mongols

  • “He was reputed to be a merciless ruler… he was extremely shrewd and intelligent”

    This combination seems all-too-common.

    Very interesting post overall. And I love that postage stamp.

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