Who: Born Temüjin
What: Founder and Great Khan of the Mongol Empire
Where: Born in the Khentii Mountains, northern Mongolia.
Why: Extended the Mongol Empire to control 25% of the world’s population.
When: 1155 or 1162 – August 18 1227
“Conquering the world on horseback is easy; it is dismounting and governing that is hard.” – Genghis Khan.
Genghis Khan is undoubtedly one of the most famous people of his time, yet not much is known of him. He was born to humble beginnings, losing his father to murderous Tatars aged nine, growing up with his six siblings and mother on the harsh, unforgiving Mongolian steppes. He began attracting followers, eschewing the Mongolian custom of nepotism in favour of a meritocracy, and rose to unite the nomadic, tribal Mongols, founding the Mongol Empire in 1205, being proclaimed ‘Genghis Khan’ or ‘Universal Ruler’. Under this banner, he proceeed to conquer most of Asia, creating the largest land empire ever. He was known for his brutality, massacring civilians as he conquered them, resulting in the deaths of up to forty million people, possibly reducing the world’s entire population by up to 11 percent. Traditional narratives dictate he died after being thrown from a horse, but it is unclear how he died, or where he was interred. After his death in 1227, he named his third son Ögedei his heir, who continued his murderous legacy, and the Mongol Empire continued until its dissolution by the Chinese Ming Dynasty in 1368.