quinta-feira, 18 de fevereiro de 2010

Genghis Khan - The greatest warrior of them all !

(Part I)

This post is dedicated to the english speaking followers of our blog - that our counter reveals are in greater number than the portuguese ones...
Since I've read the fantastic book by Henry Hoyle Howorth (History of the Mongols from the 9th to the 19th century), complemented by the magnificent historic romance by Conn Iggulden (in three volumes - Bones of the Hills, Lords of the Bow and Wolf of the Plain) I became a Genghis fan.
By the way, it always suprises me how cheap you can get a paperback edition in english of almost any good book. In Portugal it seems everybody wants to make a profit at the expense of somebody else's work, by the way of a simple translation.
There is always some controversy concerned, when we try to qualify someone as "the greatest" or "the best". It can be a bit like trying to define the best color or the best taste.
In this case, involving a military subject, I'll try to be as objective as possible, by the way of resorting to three criteria:
a) The state of affairs or military situation Genghis had when he rose to a command position;
b) The achievements he made during his lifetime;
c) What happened to his empire after he died.
We all know that the Mongols originally lived, well, in Mongolia (as La Palisse would have said...).
There seems to be some controversy regarding the ethnic origins of the Mongols. The above mentioned author is adamant in stating that they are a people of turkic descent - I think it is best for me to trust him on that.
The name "Mongol" derives from the word "Mong", meaning brave, daring or bold. And Genghis was, in his time, the bravest of them all!
Genghis birth name was Temudjin, and he was thirteen years old when his father (Yessugei) died - poisoned by the Tartars.
It is said Temudjin was born in the year 1162 (others say 1155, among other dates) with a blood clot in his fist, something the soothsayers pledged was as sign of greatness (as Conn Iggulden would have us believe). But it did not seem that way for a while.
His father, Yessugei, was a famous warrior of the royal blood line and was leader of several tribes. With his death, several of them broke their allegiance and claimed their independence. Temudjin's mother (Burte or Borte) mounted her horse, took the royal standard in her own hands (it was called Tuk and was made of yak or horse's tails) and pursued the fugitives, bringing a number of them back.
After that Temudjin (Genghis), as he grew up, had the usual quarrels with the other nomad tribes of the mongolian plains (his was the Borshig's), namely the Jadjerats, Taidshuts, Jelairs, Olkhonods and other familiar and easy to pronounce family names. As was costum in those days, he was shot at (with arrows...), taken prisioner and tortured, among other things. Of course, he did exactly the same, and as often as he could, to the other dwellers of those plains.
Mongolia at that time was what some call a desert. The people were nomads and literally carried their house in carts wherever they went - the Yurt or Ger. They made a living by hunting and tending to their herds and by stealing their neighbour's - a sistem that led to a almost constant state of warfare between the tribes and that prevented any possibility of political union.
To be continued...