Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Reasons to love Genghis Kahn

Yes, I know, he ruthlessly murdered countless people.  If a town did not surrender at his arrival, he took the life of almost every soul, serving as an example to subsequent towns, who did indeed learn the proper lesson and immediately surrendered the town and paid a hefty tribute.  That is one reason among many he was able to establish the largest empire of all time (in terms of people; second largest in terms of land area): he didn't have to fight all of them.

Yet, like many powerful emperors, he did some good, and is likely to have given the Mongol people on the Asiatic steppes a more enriched life.  Before Genghis, the Monguls were scattered tribes constantly warring with each other, looting each other's livestock, and stealing each other's wives.  Genghis ended this division, provided stability, and provided his people a surprising array of freedoms.  Here are some of his admirable edicts established after he became Kahn of all the Mongul people and the Tatars.

Genghis Kahn

  • forbade the kidnapping of women for wives
  • forbade abduction of Mongols for use as slaves
  • forbade slavery of Mongols
  • declared all children to be legitimate
  • outlawed the selling of women into marriage
  • outlawed adultery (between married people of separate households)
  • punished animal rustling with death (is that a good thing?)
  • prevented the Tragedy of the Commons in hunting for wild animals by only allowing animals to be hunted between September and April and preventing hunters from killing more than what they needed for food, and
  • in what some historians to be the first instance of a ruler doing so, Genghis Kahn ensured complete and total religious freedom for everyone.
Thanks to Genghis Kahn, his people lived in security and peace, assured of their right to property, given human rights many people do not have today, and provided women a level of freedom none of their ancestors possessed.  Though he raped Europe, Genghis Kahn was in many ways a blessing to his people.


Jack Weatherford
Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World
2004.  Pages 68-70.
Three Rivers Press: NY, NY.

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