Genghis Khan’s Empire Compared to Alexander the Great’s
There are two influential conquerors in this lifetime, Genghis Khan (1162-1227, r. 1206-27) and Alexander the Great (356 BC-323 BC, r. 336-323 BC) . However, Genghis Khan built his empire from dirt and dominated more land than anyone in history, which shows that Genghis Khan is the most reputable tyrant to date. Ways that Khan is superior to Alexander are; he started as Temujin, impoverished and practically a slave, self taught, conquered over 15 million square miles of land, time of reign was 21 years, had over 100,000 troops, and his empire subsequently lasted over 141 years after his death. Alexander spent most of his childhood preparing to inherit the throne when his time came. His Father King Philip ensured Alexander was prepared well by hiring the Great Philosopher Aristotle. Not long after Alexander found himself serving in the military, with a goal to expand Macedonia to a great empire. Genghis Khan on the other hand was raised in a different matter. Genghis Khan grew up living in poverty, he had no royalty family ties or any help learning how to rule an empire. When the death King Phillip crushed the hearts of the people of Macedonia, they put their fate into Alexander to continue his father’s legacy and make Macedonia. Genghis Khan created his empire from nothing while Alexander the Great was handed down the position.
Alexander the Great is known for being one of history’s greatest military leaders. During his time as King of Macedonia his army conquered land spreading from Greece to India, expanding the great empire on Macedonia. Alexanders life was planned to overtake the throne when it was his time Alexander’s father King Philip hired Aristotle to be Alexander’s teacher. Genghis Khan was born into poverty but rose his way up thru uniting Nomadic tribes to build his own empire. His great leadership was self-taught thru Genghis Khan himself, this is what gave him the title ?Supreme Khan’ or better known as King of Kings.
What Alexander learned from Aristotle showed in his later years as being king of Macedonia, It would appear that alexander received from him not only his doctrines of Morals and of Politics (Livius). Unfortunately, his father King Philip was assassinated right when Macedonia was at its strongest. Right before King Philip’s death, he was in the process of organizing his philanthropy to expand Macedonia. Alexander inherited a powerful kingdom, with an even more powerful military. King Phillip build his army around fierce warriors like his son alexander, and his empire was very stable and ready to expand. What King Phillip left behind for Alexander was his own legacy, and knowledge of expanding Macedonia, including a very powerful and fierce army. Alexander’s mother Olympias was born 375 BC, she was the fourth wife to King Philip and the daughter to Neoptolemus, king of Molossians an ancient Greek tribe. With Alexander’s military experience and his teaching from Aristotle, this led to great success in conquering land.
The Battle of Chaeronea was one of Alexander’s first accomplishments. At the time the neighboring city states were threatened by the rise of King Philip, which led to this battle. Alexander was only 18, but his role in this battle which was to command the left wing, is what led to his father’s success and his as well. As the news of King Philip death spread throughout the land, neighboring city states like Athens and Corinth engage full attacks on macedonia. This was Alexander’s first battle as new king, and he showed a promising future by defeating both cities and overtaking them as well. In the same year as being the new king, Alexander would go on a series of win, ensuring complete control over greece. Alexander greatest accomplishment was being known as one of the most influential people in history. When he would conquer a new land he would influence the people to accept his ideas and morals, but Alexander did not do this for every new land. He was kind at heart, but also very strategical. When Alexander went on to conquer parts of Egypt, he was not interested in imposing his own ideas of truth, religion, or behavior upon the people as long as they willingly kept the supply lines open to feed and equip his troops(Mark).
Khan stands even among these military greats. Genghis Khan was born with a sign from the gods, holding a blood clot representing he will be a great and fierce leader. When his father was poisoned, his tribe left him and his family to survive in the dessert. Genghis Khan soon gained control of the tribe from killing his own brother who was hoarding food, with this action he immediately gained respect. Genghis Khan knew his tribe was weak, and he wanted better. He sought out to expand his tribe thru marriage. Khan built his army that conquered Jin Dynasty then assimilated Jin tech to his army which then led to the elimination of the persians.There were a lot of uninhabited land that khan was undoubtedly interested in enough that he want ally the way to the mid east. He is a mastermind in battle and campaign. He ordered his generals to take more space. Jebe took north and he and others took south and then went east. Contrary to popular beliefs, Khan and the mongols were not savages due to the fact that they usually spare civvies out of honor. They killed them when the civs stayed.because of the war. Compared to Alexander, Khan has a way more humble approach. Alexander became a power hungry man and he was dangerous to be around that his friend were no longer safe. This was due to his upbringing as a prince and a warrior. Khan was the son of a chieftain but lost everything when he was nine, grew up in poverty and a manhunt.
Khan is just a tough guy who learnt everything with his experience. He united the mongols and then built a loyal driven army. The mongolian army is considered history’s most perfect war machine. It was fast and unstoppable, led by generals who were the best at the time; Jebe, Khan, Ogedei, etc. They were all handpicked by Tem himself. Which made the campaigns lot easier. The mongol cav is the greatest car ever. Heavy, light, and archers were second to none at the time. Mongols smashed euro knights and several caliphates. In Poland, east Germany, and Hungary, no knights could stop the mongols. In Mohi, they were outnumbered, but used chem weapons to cover their cavs. Lured center in, then used bow n arrow to weaken the whole army. Then swung their wings at the enemy flanks completely obliterating the europeans.
First, Genghis Khan understood the value of persistence, even, or rather especially, during times of hardship. When his family was ejected from their tribe after his father’s death, which in medieval Mongolia was near equivalent to a death sentence, his mother provides the five children in her care with scrounged vegetables, fish, rats and anything else she could find. The Secret History of the Mongols describes his mother’s efforts in a very glowing and valiant tone. This no doubt reflects what Genghis Khan learned from her and the respect he had for her example in this regard. The Mongols reputation for invincibility comes not so much from their never receiving defeats or setbacks, they received many, but rather from the inevitability of their returning to finish the job.
Genghis Khan’s given name, was a naturally charismatic person. There is a caution here in how you take that statement. Charisma is not a very well defined term other than meaning likable. In the west our image of a charismatic person is different than an eastern or African image of charismatic behavior. What is seen as good leadership in one culture is considered devious or rude behavior to an another. Nonetheless, the record shows that from an early age Temujin was able to gain the loyalty of the people he met very quickly, what kind of personality was considered charismatic in medieval Mongolia I could not say.
Temujin understood the nature of Steppe politics, an education he no doubt received from his mother, who was promised as the wife of a khan and spent many years as the wife of a Khan. His understanding is shown when he goes to his Father’s blood-brother Togril and presents him with a gift of a black sable coat and asks to be put under his protection. It is worth noting when he takes this step he is only 16“17 years old. He was a person who was willing to accept criticism. When he arrived late to a rendezvous on a military campaign he gets publicly chewed out by his ally who arrived on time. He takes this to heart and future campaign by the Mongols would be planed in extreme detail at quilters which were attended not just by top Generals but by lower ranking offers as well who would also have opportunity to give their input.
Khan deeply valued loyalty and expected loyalty even in his enemies. There are quite a few examples of Genghis Khan executing traitors, his enemies traitors. Anyone who turned on their leader and went to Genghis expecting gratitude were quickly given their “reward” of a removed head. He was a man devoid of prejudice who ran a meritocracy as others pointed out. These two traits are very important to mention together. His top generals officials included shepherds, Cooks, Blacksmiths, Tartars, Merkids, Chinese, Arabs, and others. He thus surrounded himself with greatly skilled people who loyally advanced his goals. One story that really illustrates the opportunity for advancement available to subjects of the empire come from after Genghis Khan’s death. After driving away a mongol scouting party near Vienna the soldiers had captured a Mongol officer. To their surprise this Mongol was actually an Englishman. He evidently was forced to leave England for being involved with forcing King John to sign the Magna Carta, was forced to leave Europe after being excommunicated, and was pick up by the Mongols in Syria. His rising to their attention came from a skill for transcribing languages. Thus an Englishman became an officer in the Mongol army.
Khan was extremely disciplined. An act committed in anger is an act doomed to failure(Khan). Now bordering the Khwarezm empire and at war with the Jin of china on the other side Genghis khan sends a delegation lead by three muslims with gifts and tradable goods to establish diplomatic ties between them. The leaders of the delegation are murdered and the goods taken by the Governor of Otrar. Genghis believes very strongly in diplomatic immunity and reacts very violently when his ambassadors are harmed. However, in this case he sends a second delegation directly to the Shah Muhammad II to ask for justice. The Shah kills the leader of the three diplomats, shaves the beards of the other two and sends them home with the head of the leader. In Genghis Khan’s mind war is now not just inevitable but mandated. He spends a year and and a half making preparations for the war in Khwarizm. Now at war on two opposite fronts the Tanguts rebel, again, and refuse to offer help. Genghis cannot afford to deal with them now so he focuses on Khwarizm. Long story short he wipes them of the map and then returns to Mongolia and spends another three years preparing for war against the Tanguts. He then wipes them of the face of the earth. He takes measured actions when he is prepared or them, one year for Khwarizm and three years for the Tanguts, even when rightfully furious about murdered diplomats and rebellious vassals.
Others may argue, Alexander’s conquests had deep cultural/social/economic effects on the regions conquered compared to Genghis conquests that had limited “civilizational” effects that makes Alexander he most reputable conqueror. However, Khan opened the Silk road which linked the lands of Eurasia, Middle east, Indian subcontinent as well as Africa. Silk was lucratively traded by this route, hence the name. Though his intention was to seize the power of the trading routes to monetize the whole trading done here. He strategically occupied the points which produce the most wealth and income and took it for the development of his civilization. It is said that even if someone walks through the silk road with a gold plate on their head, they would still be unharmed. That is level of control he held over the Silk road.
Genghis Khan was the first to unify the Mongolian tribes. He created the largest empire the world had ever seen. He started making alliances and formed armies based on merit. Not of royal bloodline or rich people. One who works best would be given responsibility. Going against custom, Khan put competent allies rather than relatives in key positions and executed the leaders of enemy tribes while incorporating the remaining members of their clans into his. His followers included Christians, Muslims and Buddhists. Additionally, he abolished the clan system, which the rest of the Mongol emperors used. By doing this, he was able to ensure his subjects loyalty to him. Finally, he did not govern and left foreigners as rulers. He ruled indirectly by collecting tribute in forms of taxes. In my opinion, Genghis Khan’s unification of the Mongolian tribes, his abolition of the clan system, and his ruling system were his most influential actions.
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