Weird History

13 Extreme Genghis Khan Stories That Sound Made Up - But Aren’t

When you hear the name of the feared Mongolian leader, you might automatically associate him with war, death, and conquest, and you would be right. Genghis Khan is known as the bloodthirsty leader of the Mongolian people as well as as a military mastermind revered for his political maneuverings and strategies. 

Born as Temujin Borjigin in the year 1162 CE, Khan became one of the most feared men the world had ever seen before his passing in August 1227. He lived a prolific life once he set out on the path to unite the nomadic tribes of the Mongolian plateau, setting in motion a rise to an empire worthy of the history books. 

At the epitome of his reign, Khan was in control of nearly 12 million contiguous square miles of territory and completely changed the known world. Although he was a mighty war leader and ruler, granting religious freedoms and abolishing acts of torture, history has documented acts of his brutality. During his rise to recognition and power, he rose from humble beginnings to gain the respect of many. Along the way, there are, however, many stories associated with the utter severity that was often required for him to retain his power and continue conquering lands.

  • He Left A Single Pile Of Human Bones So Large They 'Formed Mountains'
    Photo: Unknown author / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain

    He Left A Single Pile Of Human Bones So Large They 'Formed Mountains'

    From the 12th century until 1221, upon the Mongol massacre, there was a city known as the queen of cities located in modern-day Turkmenistan. Merv was the largest city in the world with a population of over half a million people, but it is estimated that Mongol forces killed over 700,000.

    On February 25, 1221, the Mongols arrived in Merv to assess for six days whether or not they would conduct a siege, but in the end decided to attack. The Mongols promised the people of Merv leniency upon their surrender, but they went on to completely ransack, raid and slay the entire city. Genghis Khan himself sat upon a golden throne and ordered all troops captured to be brought before him to be executed. The wealthy perhaps suffered the most as they were beaten and tortured while the Mongols searched for their wealth. Khan then set fire to the tomb of the Sultan Sanjar and burnt the city to the ground.

    Lastly, he piled the corpses. "People were killed in such large numbers," said Atâ-Malek Juyvani the court historian for Khan's grandson, "that the bones of the slain formed mountains and the desert ran red with blood of the dear ones."

  • He Executed Every Man In An Enemy Tribe Who Was Taller Than A Linchpin

    When Genghis Khan was 9 years old, he went to meet his future bride Börte. On his way home with his father, Yesugei, they were approached by an enemy clan, the Tartars, who wanted to invite them for a peace meal. This was the day Khan's father was poisoned and died for his past crimes against the Tartars.

    When he heard of his father's passing, Khan tried to instill himself as the rightful leader, but the people didn't want to recognize him or his family as the true leaders of his clan. At the age of 20, Khan had mastered the skills and brutality necessary to avenge his father. He annihilated the Tartar army and went one step further, ordering the deaths of every Tartar male taller than a linchpin (3 feet) by immediate beheading.

    It has been speculated that Khan utilized this technique as a preemptive against any revenge attacks from other tribes as it was common for tribes to attack one another during this time. By killing all the males of the Tartar line, he reduced the chance of counterattacks and perpetual conflict.

  • He Destroyed An Entire Empire For Murdering One Of His Messengers

    When Genghis decided to send a trade convoy, Sultan Mahammad II disregarded his message for trade and peace. The members of the first convoy were slain due to suspicions that they were not honestly after peace. Khan once again attempted another peace negotiation but again was met with resistance from the Sultan. He could not let this slight go and decided upon the course of war.

    Genghis Khan went on to conquer all Persian cities in the Khwarezm Empire. He swept through the Persian lands, ransacking, looting, and killing city after city, razing them to the ground.

  • He Almost Completely Erased A Kingdom From History For Not Sending Reinforcements

    After Genghis Khan granted the city of Xi Xia peace, he expected the leaders to uphold the agreement and send troops when he required their aid. During the attack on Khwarezmia, he requested troops from Xi Xia, who ultimately denied his request as they had decided to take a stand against Khan.

    A year before Khan's death, he marched on Xi Xia, and the Mongol army continued attacking the city following Khan's death in 1227. In a brutal act of power, the Mongol army systematically continued their warring and plundering until the capital surrendered.

    The Mongols went on to slay every single inhabitant and destroyed the royal cemetery. This led to the Xi Xia dynasty's ultimate demise as they were almost erased from history. It was only in the 20th century when archaeologists began to unearth artifacts and rediscover the Xi Xia peoples.