[theme music] NARRATOR: It is the dawn of the 13th century over Asia A fierce storm rages deep within the heart of the continent Growing to a tempest, it spills over into China devastating one of the most ancient cultures on earth Then, gathering momentum, its violent fury vents westward laying waste Afghanistan and Persia Riding these bitter winds are unstoppable hordes mercilessly carving out an empire that will know no equal in all of human history Eventually, it will stretch over 4,000 miles from the shores of the Pacific to the banks of the Danube in Central Europe From the hidden hinterland of Mongolia, stream ruthless and highly efficient warriors, united under a leader who galvanizes them to challenge the world His rise to power among the tribes of Central Asia would forever influence history, forging alliances, defining frontiers, creating new maps But by the time his visions are fulfilled, millions would lie dead in his trail Known by many terms, madman and genius, bloodthirsty warrior and brilliant politician, architect of nations and destroyer of civilizations, he was all of these His name, Genghis Khan The closing decades of the 12th century are a time when medieval Europe is thriving On the opposite side of the world, Chinese civilization has reached its peak Sandwiched somewhere between these two extremes is an inhospitable region of desert, forest, and grassland These are the legendary steppes of Central Asia known today as Mongolia But in ancient times, the Chinese simply referred to it as the barbarian wilderness It was populated by tribes of warring nomads, the Tartars, Mongols, Merkits, and Naimans To keep them from raiding Chinese settlements, a great wall has been slung across China’s northern boundary Built almost 2,300 years ago, it was a monument to China’s strength and power But in the 13th century, a new threat arises from deep within the continent It comes in the form of a single man, a man whose name has thundered down to us through the pages of history He is Genghis Khan But this renowned figure who would rise to become one of the world’s greatest or perhaps most infamous military rulers sprang from humble beginnings He was born somewhere in the steppes in about the year 1165 TIMOTHY SEVERIN: This background to Genghis Khan is contained in an account called the “Secret History of the Mongols,” which is a sort of an official history written, not in Genghis Khan’s lifetime but soon afterwards, ascribing the background to this man who became the ruler of the world It said he was born with a clot of blood in his hand, of the infant And this was a good sign This was an omen that he would be a great warlord NARRATOR: Genghis Khan’s life was controversial Some saw him as a conquering hero, others, as a tyrant Persian, Russian, and Chinese scribes all wrote of him, but dates, names, and events often do not coincide The Secret History of the Mongols remains the most reliable source of information about him and about the times in which he lived The world into which the young Khan was born could not be more harsh, no more difficult DR. NICOLA DI COSMO: 12th century Mongolia was actually a grim place to be brought up The Mongols themselves were broken into a number of clans, families, tribes And at a particular point in time, they did not have a common head, a chief

Feuds among families were very common And life was extremely uncertain TIMOTHY SEVERIN: There was an enormous amount of space But yet, the environment was so harsh that there was actually no room for clemency of any sort The weakest died If the climate didn’t get to you, your neighbors would NARRATOR: Strength was found in numbers and a man could have as many wives as he could afford Genghis’s father had two In keeping with the aggressive customs of the Mongols, he abducted his wife, Hoelun, Genghis’s mother from her previous husband in another tribe As a boy, Genghis grew up with three brothers, a sister, and two half brothers, the children of his father’s second wife Genghis’s earliest years are much like those of any boy of his time, hunting, riding, roaming the plains The nomads lived in their felled tents, and moved continuously from place to place When the grazing ran out, they simply packed up and moved away to new pastures As a boy, Genghis lives an uneventful childhood He is brave and defiant It is said the only thing he fears are dogs Their barking frightens him Deeply introspective, he spends much time in solitude TIMOTHY SEVERIN: He was quite a loner He was somebody who kept his own counsel And I think this made him different He was not a person who consulted others He took his own decisions He had a sense of his own destiny without any question about that at all NARRATOR: As is the custom, it is soon time to select a girl for Genghis to marry when he reaches adulthood He was about eight or nine years old when his parents arranged a marriage for him to Borte, a woman from a different tribe In fact, his father took him and deposited him with the other tribe so that he would grow up with his intended NARRATOR: Genghis’s father now sets out on the return ride to his own camp Along the way, fate intercedes He meets a party of Tartar tribesmen on a hunting expedition They offer him food and drink But unbeknown to him, they have laced it with poison Three days later, he stumbles into his tent, and collapses into the arms of his wife, Hoelun, mortally ill Genghis is immediately sent for but it is too late His father is dead With her husband gone, the rest of the clan desert Hoelun, leaving her as sole defender of the family According to the legend, Hoelun really was the influence in Genghis Khan’s life which was that he should stand up for himself But that cooperation was the key to success And there’s a famous story that she took an arrow, a broken arrow in front of the children and said, you see, this arrow break And then took a bunch of arrows and handed them to the children and said, try and snap the bunch of arrows And, of course, they couldn’t And she said, well, that is when you hold together as a group, you will be that much stronger NARRATOR: Genghis relishes the significance of the lesson But within the family itself, there is friction Hoelun’s many duties include taking care of the two stepchildren from her husband’s second wife, who has also deserted her Being only half brothers to her own children, they become the cause of much dissent One day, Genghis catches a fish and one of the half brothers snatches it away from him Without hesitation, Genghis draws an arrow and coldly kills the boy They just used him as target practice It was a deliberate ambush The moral of that story is you did not cross Genghis Khan Even when he was very young, he was totally ruthless NARRATOR: Only 13 years old, the one who would become known as the Great Khan is already a murderer

But this is merely the beginning of a fateful sign of things to come By the time Genghis Khan turns 15 in the year 1180, he has become a proficient hunter, skilled at horsemanship, and physically superior to his siblings They easily fall under his spell allowing him to take the initiative His mother senses his inner strength and gives him the reins of leadership in the family His name becomes known among neighboring clans But mistrust and suspicion are never far away in the harsh world of the steppes Not everyone welcomes the news of his rising popularity Fearing him as a possible future threat, the clan who deserted his family when his father died decided to intervene The secret history tells us that they invade Genghis’s encampment with the intention of capturing him But he runs away Nine days later, they find him tired and exhausted They take him back to their tents, where they place a heavy wooden yoke around his neck intending to keep him as their prisoner There was a party a couple of evenings later And while his captors were celebrating, he managed to overpower the young man who was in charge from his guard, and wriggled out of the felled tent and got away to a river And, of course, his absence is discovered The next episode then illustrates what a sly and clever man he was because instead of running off, which would’ve been extremely difficult wearing his board, he went back into the tent of the person who had failed to raise the alarm, and essentially blackmailed him And said, now, if I am found in this tent, I will tell them that you saw me in the river, and you did nothing about it You’ve now got to help me properly You’ve got to get this board off and provide me with a horse so I can get away, which is very shrewd thinking on his part Then that’s how it turned out He actually rode away with the help of this man NARRATOR: In 1182, when Genghis is 16 years old, he decides it is time to marry He returns to claim Borte, the woman to whom he was pledged at the time of his father’s death As a wedding gift, the girl’s family gives him a magnificent sable coat After taking his bride back to his encampment, he leaves her in the charge of his mother, and then rides into the distant forest with the new coat He presents it as a gift to a chieftain by the name of Toghrul, one of his late father’s friends But there is purpose behind the gesture In Mongol custom, alliances are formed by gift-giving, where you give somebody a particularly valuable gift, and in a way, you purchase, if you like, his allegiance, or buy the respect that you’ve shown him by giving this gift NARRATOR: Genghis begs Toghrul to help him win back the loyalty of the tribesmen who deserted him and his family His plea is sympathetically heard, and a solemn pact is struck News of the agreement between Genghis and Toghrul spreads Soon, other clans offer him their support to reconstitute the tribe Then suddenly, disaster strikes Early one morning, invading Merkit horsemen galloped toward Genghis’s tents These are the people from whom his father once abducted his mother, Hoelun And now, they are on a mission of revenge to kidnap every woman in Genghis’s tent He and most of his family escaped, but in the skirmish, his young wife is left behind Genghis knows she has been stranded to await an unknown fate at the hands of the Merkits His decision to allow his wife to be captured in that way was basically survival It was strategic He had to protect himself and protect the few men that he had available to them They couldn’t be allowed to straggle behind in order to save his wife Genghis and two of his brothers ride frantically to the encampment of Toghrul It is time to make use of the alliance cemented with him earlier over the presentation of the sable coat MAN 3: “Thus, spake Toghrul, ‘now, keeping to my word in return for the coat of sables,

I will destroy the Merkit, and I shall return thee Borte, thy wife.'” The Secret History of the Mongols NARRATOR: Toghrul also enlists the aid of Jamukha, an old boyhood friend of Genghis, a man who is now chieftain of a neighboring clan Within months, they rally over 5,000 of their people to ride with them in search of Genghis’s wife Thrilled at the prospect of looting Merkit property, the warriors engaged the enemy and vanquished them, acquiring women and animals in the process In the midst of the Merkit encampment, they find Borte We’re not exactly sure what happened to Borte when she was captured by the Merkit tribe We do know that there are intimations in Secret History that Merkit raped her repeatedly during her stay with them NARRATOR: Borte is pregnant when rescued Shortly after her return to Genghis’s camp, she produces a son In the ensuing years, it will never be certain whose child it is, her Merkit captors or that of Genghis With the Merkit threat removed, Genghis now strikes up a close friendship with his boyhood friend, Jamukha, the man who helped him regain his wife The relationship intensifies And over time, the two men’s clans unite As their friendship blossoms, the men become inseparable MAN 3: “Genghis and Jamukha declared themselves blood brothers, and swore love for each other They rejoiced with feasts and banquets And at night, they slept together under the same blanket They loved each other for a whole year and half a second year.” The Secret History of the Mongols NARRATOR: Genghis’s mother and wife grow jealous of the bond between the two men They spread intimidating rumors about Jamukha trying to coerce Genghis to sever the relationship Whether it is their influence that enforces his decision or merely his own lust for power among the clan, he finally resolves to break the tie It happens early in the summer of 1185 The two men are leading their people to new grazing pastures Jamukha wants to camp in a fertile river valley, but Genghis merely continues riding ignoring his friend’s request to stop The split has come Without looking back, Genghis climbs a ridge to wait for the rest of his tribe to catch up with him Then, glancing back, he sees that not only his own people but many of Jamukha’s group have elected to follow him In the days that come, others joined them Though unforeseen at the time, this will eventually result in Genghis becoming one of the legends of history I don’t think Genghis had a plan for world conquest or even becoming the greatest leader among the Mongols It was one event leading to another based initially on bare survival when his father died And then as time went on, the progression involved the desire to satisfy his own retainers Then there was a pressure on him to continuously acquire more and more And that is really the heart of the matter NARRATOR: Those who do not agree to show allegiance to Genghis are now forced to do so often by brutal means TIMOTHY SEVERIN: He wanted power He wanted control He wanted wealth And wealth to the Mongols meant horses, fine clothing, and capturing the enemy’s women And there was a fine sort of quotation in the Secret History in which it is said that nothing is finer than to attack your neighbor and carry off all his horses and his women folk That is the joy of life DR. MORRIS ROSSABI: Genghis was brilliant at psychological warfare He engaged in terror for psychological reasons, for strategic reasons He would attack and destroy a specific unit or specific tribe and use devastating force in doing so in order to elicit surrenders by those who would be intimidated by such butchery TIMOTHY SEVERIN: Very often, thousands upon thousands

of his enemies would surrender ’cause of fear rather than having to endure the attacks by the Mongols NARRATOR: Now respected and feared, Genghis has his people’s unbridled allegiance With his gaze set on distant horizons, he begins a ruthless ride to victory, one that would ultimately lay much of the civilized world at his feet It is the year 1187, Genghis Khan is firmly in command of his people But he yearns to unite all unattached tribes even in the outermost reaches of Mongolia There are those who have not yet joined his alliance One of them is his old friend and now enemy, Jamukha After their split, the two men never re-established their relationship Jamukha and his followers keep a safe distance, but they are never far away The people of the two encampments maintain an uneasy peace But there is often tension between them, especially over grazing lands One day, an argument erupts into an all-out fight A man from Genghis’s camp rides to Jamukha’s tents and murders his brother Incensed, Jamukha seizes the opportunity to retaliate He attacks Genghis’s camp Not expecting the raid, many of Genghis’s men are killed 70 of his captured chieftains are taken back to Jamukha’s tents where they are tortured and boiled alive Shocked by this horrifying defeat, Genghis realizes that his men are not yet ready to support him in his bid for supreme power He sets out to mold them into a war machine, to convert them into warriors the likes of which the world has never seen before TIMOTHY SEVERIN: They put together the most professional army that hadn’t been seen in Central Asia It was absolutely extraordinary It was an incredibly mobile army It was fairly small, yet it moved so fast It could travel at duress at about 70 miles a day Bear in mind, in the Second World War, an army was very pleased to go 11 miles a day with tanks and motorized vehicles The Mongols could go up to 70 miles a day And at a push, their flying units would go 120 miles in a day They were just unbelievably quick NARRATOR: Grueling training and severe discipline sharpened the men for battle Their reputation spreads as far even as the Jin empire in that sprawling land of China that lies beyond the Great Wall The Jin invite Genghis to help them fend off bands of marauding Tartars who constantly attack their settlements It so happens that the Tartars are also old enemies of the Mongols So this is the opportunity Genghis has been waiting for In just a short time, triumph is his The Tartars are crushed However, this success is not celebrated by Jamukha Fearing his adversary’s growing military might, Jamukha attacks Genghis’s camp It is precisely what Genghis anticipates will happen This time, his forces will not be caught off-guard Once again, blood stains the Mongol landscape It will take three more battles before Jamukha’s supporters are finally defeated Jamukha himself escapes and seeks refuge with the Naimans, a powerful tribe that inhabits the north westerly region of the steppes They scorn the Mongols who, unlike themselves, have no written language, no agriculture, and no permanent settlements When Genghis learns that Jamukha has found shelter with the Naiman, he rides against them at the head of 80,000 cavalrymen The resulting battle virtually annihilates the Naiman people Once again, Jamukha escapes death, and for a time,

hides in the hills with a loyal group of followers But eventually, fearing revenge from the Mongols, his people deliver him into Genghis’s hands Appalled at this lack of respect and loyalty for their leader, Genghis orders Jamukha’s followers put to death even down to the last woman and child He offers to pardon Jamukha for the bloody conflict that has raged between them, but Jamukha refuses He begs to die and is reportedly suffocated to death inside a carpet For Genghis, the execution is too much to bear He cannot watch his old friend die revealing an unusual contrast to his usually depicted character as a cold-blooded murderer DR. MORRIS ROSSABI: Genghis was not someone who was just simply a pure murderer or a butcher He did have a very compassionate side And there are a number of incidents in the Secret History that indicate he was very wary of simply destroying human life without any cause There are a number of incidents in which he is described as having saved children or women from attacks by his own troops He was not a particularly violent man in the sense that he tried to justify every action of violence in one way or another Of course, vendetta, revenge was one of the ways in which he justified some rather gruesome actions But these were not out of step, let’s say, with respect to his time and age NARRATOR: With the Naimans destroyed, Genghis is now the undisputed warlord over more than two million people The taste of victory has been sweet, and he develops a voracious appetite for more conquests He turns his attention to the tribes scattered along the eastern and southern regions of the land Soon, another bloodbath begins The attacks are vicious, beating into submission those who have not yet joined his alliance Throughout the campaign, Genghis personally supervises each battle TIMOTHY SEVERIN: In one of them, he almost died He was wounded by an arrow in the neck and almost died of loss of blood His skill militarily seems to be in the ability to pick brilliant generals That really accounts for his success as a leader DR. NICOLA DI COSMO: Every action, every event of his life seemed to reveal a person who is extremely pragmatic but also has foresight He knows that if he does a certain thing at a certain time, that it’s going to pay off at some point in the future NARRATOR: In 1206, the Year of the Tiger, the people decide to proclaim Genghis their supreme and unequal ruler It is now that he officially acquires that title by which we know him today MAN 3: “The people proclaimed, ‘We will make you our leader, our great Khan We will fling ourselves like lightning upon your foes We shall give you the fairest girls from the enemy If we disobey you, take our flocks, and our wives, and our children, and throw our worthless heads upon the sand.’ ” When they had spoken their oaths before him, the people announced him as their supreme leader.” The Secret History of the Mongols NARRATOR: The meaning of the name, Genghis Khan, has long been debated It may have meant ruler of the great expanse or ocean even though Genghis himself would never set eyes upon the shores of any sea The title could have meant universal leader, for now, he has been elevated to an almost godlike position among his people Yet his life follows very basic human trends In between campaigns, he acquires more wives and fathers more children DR. MORRIS ROSSABI: Genghis has a number of wives In traditional total is at least four wives His most senior wife was Borte And she gave birth to four sons The oldest one is the one that’s problematic She may have been impregnated while she was captured by the enemy The three others were definitely Genghis’s sons And eventually, they would be given appendages or territory

by Genghis in various parts of his empire NARRATOR: Genghis Khan is now tormented by vivid dreams of conquest, always beckoning, always tormenting him is the vast domain that lies beyond the horizon especially on the other side of the Great Wall The lure becomes a driving force So carefully, he lays his plans and sets his sights on China At the age of 40 in 1206, Genghis Khan lays claim to his dream of conquering China He convenes a great meeting of tribal chieftains near the banks of the Onan river in eastern Mongolia It is the largest gathering of people in the history of the Mongols It is said that 400,000 tents covered the landscape Those who have come here rejoice in feast on horse meat and indulge in a potent alcoholic brew fermented from mare’s milk called airagh DR. MORRIS ROSSABI: Banquets and feasts would involve really getting absolutely plastered, drunk out of their minds When Europeans came, particularly European missionaries, they were quite appalled by the revelry and the drunkenness that the Mongols engaged in NARRATOR: Genghis himself often succumbs to the temptation of alcohol DR. MORRIS ROSSABI: He appears to be a very serious man, somewhat dower in his attitudes His only vice seems to have been his addiction to drink As with so many of the other leaders of the Mongol elite, alcoholism is a very serious problem NARRATOR: Genghis now turns his attention southward to the territory beyond the Great Wall But in the way lies the kingdom of Hsia, the land of the Tanguts, now modern day northern China It is through this region that trade passes between Central Asia and places to the west Caravans of merchants passing through often bring tales of the splendors and wealth of the Jin empire, of walled cities, of roads that cross rivers, of palatial boats that float majestically upon these rivers It is all new and very alluring to the great Khan In 1207, he puts his legions to the test If they can conquer western Hsia, they can take the Jin Empire Within two years, all of Hsia territory is conquered The kingdom becomes a state within the Khan’s growing empire of nations Now, the real prize awaits Genghis has sent envoys on a peace mission to the Jin empire But the Jin view them with suspicion, and they are put to death Despite helping to ward off the Tartars in their hour of need, to the Jin, the Mongols remain little more than barbarians In 1211, Genghis embarks on a three-day fast Alone in his tent, he meditates on the impending battle DR. NICOLA DI COSMO: He actually had a reputation as somebody who had magical powers He was later to claim that he was directly descended from the sky blue called the most powerful god of the Mongolian pantheon And I think it was that combination, he was shrewd politically, but there was something about him which backed up the fact that he could claim to have divine powers MAN 3: “Here me, oh my people Heaven has promised me a victory Now, we must prepare to make war to take vengeance on the Jin. ” The Secret History of the Mongols NARRATOR: Genghis leads his forces against the hated Jin Behind him ride 40,000 cavalrymen In the way stands the Great Wall, but it proves to be no barrier TIMOTHY SEVERIN: The Great Wall of China was, in many ways, a wasted effort It was a magnificent and rather futile gesture And there was never any problem for a major nomad army to breach the wall After all, you bring 30,000-40,000 troops against a single point on the wall, and you get through, there’s no way that it’ll stop you One of the most frightening things about fighting

the Mongols is this army appeared suddenly as if from nowhere, maneuvered in absolute discipline in total silence until the final charge of the heavy horse And nobody could stand up to it The Mongols were successful time after time after time They were invincible NARRATOR: The ruthless side of Genghis Khan now becomes terrifyingly real to his victims Captured prisoners including women and children are used as human shields in battle They are driven ahead of Mongol soldiers during attacks on settlements and often forced to bear arms against their own people In 1214 the forces of the Khan reached the capital of the Jin empire, Zhongdu, known today as Beijing It is walled and well-fortified For a year, it is encircled while its populace holds out Eventually, Genghis’s engineers develop siege towers and catapults to breach it In 1215, the city falls Genghis’s dominion has now doubled in size Millions more have become his subjects Yet he does not linger to enjoy his victory The call of the land of his birth is too strong DR. MORRIS ROSSABI: Genghis Khan occupied the city Beijing very briefly and then went back into the steppe lands He was a man of the steppes He was not a man of the cities And so he returned to his homeland and continued to roam around from place to place NARRATOR: Having gained new ground and expanded his empire, Genghis Khan’s spirit is more restless than ever Now, he looks to new horizons, to the vast tracts of land that stretched beyond China, to the west, to the very fringe of Europe itself By 1217, the way is open to the west, to a vast empire known as Khwarezm, covering what would become Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and northern Iran It is an Islamic union ruled by a sultan or Shah His power is as great as his domain And Genghis recognizes this He seeks only peace with the Shah To secure a treaty, he sends a caravan of diplomats to Khwarezm But at the border, it is seized and all of his envoys are massacred Outraged, Genghis sends another group of ambassadors directly to the Shah to complain, but they too are killed DR. MORRIS ROSSABI: The Mongols believed in the absolute inviolability of ambassadors So the murder of Genghis’s envoys in that way was a disastrous decision as Genghis had to avenge the killing of his envoys And so he set forth on his largest campaign to date, probably with about 200,000 troops, the largest single contingent of troops that he’d ever had, towards Central Asia NARRATOR: The scale of violence and destruction wrought by the Mongols upon the Muslim people of Khwarezm is unprecedented By the time the death and destruction subsides, Genghis Khan’s empire stretches from the Yellow Sea in the east to the Caspian in the west With one of his sons already dead in battle, Genghis makes plans to return to the steppes of Mongolia Ever ready to face the unforeseen, he first designates an heir to ensure that the sprawling empire he has created will have a leader in the event of his death DR. NICOLA DI COSMO: We certainly know that he had thought about his succession He had already designated an heir in the person of his son, Ogedei, in the presence of his elder son, Tolui In fact, it is interesting to note that this succession to Genghis Khan was one of the few episodes in Mongol history where we do not have a great amount of rivalry and conflict among the potential heirs NARRATOR: The empire is huge and unwieldy And Genghis is mindful of the need for efficient government TIMOTHY SEVERIN: Genghis Khan’s empire was ruled, if you like, at second hand

There were so few Mongols, there’s simply not enough of them to rule an empire the size that he created So the system he used was simply, he would overrun a city and province and replace the governor and the ruling elite with a handful of Mongols NARRATOR: In the summer of 1226, Genghis Khan embarks on his final campaign He rides at the head of 180,000 warriors to crush a rebellious uprising among the Tangut people where he waged war against the Hsia 20 years earlier On the way, he falls from his horse and suffered severe internal injuries During the next few months, his health deteriorates At the age of 62, the great Khan breathes his last It is August 18, 1227 But to this day, the location of his tomb remains a mystery TIMOTHY SEVERIN: The Mongols feared that their leaders would be dug up or grave robbers or whatever, and they had this custom of burying and hiding the burial places And the way they used to do, dig this chamber, put in the corpse, put in all some slaves who are killed, horses and all the wealth, then cover over the earth, and then drive teams of horses over the top so that everything was obliterated NARRATOR: The legacy of Genghis Khan would reach its ultimate fulfillment through his grandson, Kublai Khan During his reign, the borders of Mongol-held territory would span two continents By the year 1280, it had become the largest empire in history In the west, it had reached the banks of the Danube embracing immense tracts of Russia including Moscow and Kiev It sprawled northward to the Ural Mountains, to the Himalayas in the south, and included all of China and Korea in the east Never again would the world know anything like it Genghis laid the foundations for the greatest empire in world history And it’s not simply a matter of military conquest The reason that is significant is that it is during his, and his sons’, and grandsons’ generations that we have the first direct contact between East and West I think that’s probably the most significant aspect of Genghis’s achievement As a result of the conquest of much of Asia by the Mongols, a kind of peace and stability was established that allowed for the greatest flow of ideas, people, traders, technologies between East and West that had ever been known NARRATOR: The legacy continues even today, eight centuries after hordes of fearless warriors first swept forth from the steppes of Mongolia to take the world by storm