A child named Temujin was born on this landscape. He was the son of a defeated Mongol chieftain, and his childhood was harsh. However, Temujin was ambitious, clever, charismatic, and a great warrior. He became a tribal leader and, in 1206, the Mongol people gave him the title Genghis Khan meaning “universal ruler.”
China’s next great leader was Genghis Khan’s grandson, Kublai Khan. He rose to become leader of the Mongol Empire in 1264. Kublai Khan was determined to add to his empire by conquering all of southern China. By 1271, he had succeeded, giving the Mongols control over most of China. That year he declared himself emperor, adopting the dynastic name Yuan and preparing to help his army meet new challenges.
In 1212, Genghis Khan and the Mongols invaded northern China, destroying more than 90 cities and killing their inhabitants. Turning west, he destroyed an empire in what is now Iran. He then invaded southern Russia and, in 1215, destroyed China’s capital.
His worst moments are the death of his father, a defeated Mongol chieftain, left young Temujin and his mother to eke out a living on the harsh steppe.
Best moment despite conflicts among the tribes, there was one thing they all needed—more grazing lands. Genghis Khan organized the diverse bands into a powerful military machine that would sweep mercilessly across Asia in one of history’s most impressive conquests.
When Genghis Khan died around 1226, he had conquered much of central Asia. Four of his sons shared his vast empire, dividing it into four khanates, or regions, and expanded their rule into Europe and southern China.