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In the book Genghis Khan and the making of the modern world Jack Weatherford tells the story of Genghis Khan and the Mongol Empire and how it became to be the beginnings of the modern world. Genghis Khan was the most powerful and influential leader during the thirteenth century. In just about thirty years Genghis Khan and the Mongol army conquered more land ever conquered in world history. Genghis Khan was a leader of strength and ideas; he created fear all throughout Eurasia. Despite the fear he put on Eurasia, Genghis Khan united many different cultures and races. Genghis Khan made many innovations during his thirty years ruling the Mongol empire such as making warfare more revolutionized, expanded routes of trade, they invented something that was called the printing press with movable type, and he put laws against torture and gave the people a freedom to religion. Many more innovations were made during Genghis khan and his grandson’s rule that made the foundation for the modern world.
Not all leaders are born leaders. Genghis Khan as a little boy was not a likely person for being such a powerful and leader of the Mongol empire. He was just like any ordinary hunter and gatherer on the steppe. Genghis Khan; although ordinary he did face many terrors during his childhood.” He was kidnapped and forced to be a slave for killing his first victim Begter by a tribe called the Tayichud.”(26) This was the beginning to the start of his determination to get revenge on every tribe that gave terror to him in his childhood. His main goal was to conquer and to destroy the aristocratic feudal systems that were going on while he was trying to rule the biggest empire of all time. The beginnings of his campaigns were really just raids to get supplies and to do so he needed a tactic to get fear running through the territory was going to conquer. Genghis Khan; well not yet the ruler; “created tactics such as frightening the other side by upsetting the enemy’s spirit banners.” (47) That was the start of many tactics and innovations in warfare. “He had produced a new type of steppe army based on greater variety of tactics, they were no longer an attacking swarm of individuals; they were now a united formation” (62) “He organized his army into groups and they should fight together as brothers”, (52) “like in any family of brothers in which the eldest had total control, the eldest man took the leadership position in the Mongol arban, but the men could also decide to choose another to hold this position” (52) by this being allowed in the Mongol army it went against the belief that eldest men are always in control so it was a sense of a political kind of democracy.
Warfare, although important in creating the Mongol empire, wasn’t the only thing that marked the start of the Mongol empire and foundation to the modern world. With his organized warfare Genghis Khan united all people after he conquered a tribe or territory. He brought people from different places of the steppe and united them no matter what race or religion they were. By doing this; “He had abolished the distinction between black and white bones, all his followers were now one united people”. (53) Before Genghis Khan’s rule there was always a sense of kinship and tradition; by uniting every person he conquered there was a greater sense of friends and community. “He had shown that rather than relying on the bonds of kinship and tradition, members of his tribe could now look to Temujin for direct support; he greatly centralized the power of his rule while at the same time strengthening the commitment of his followers.”(51) He was a leader not a king that controlled every aspect of people’s lives. People of the tribe are comfortable with the knowing that they are always protected by Genghis Khan. That is something that the modern world is known for. People are safe in their homes knowing that they have a leader but they can live their own lives too.
Although warfare and uniting the people of different cultures and religions were big steps toward making the modern world, Genghis Khan made many laws. These laws are seen in our constitution today or just common sense to the people of the modern world. Some of these laws that Genghis Khan made were that he “forbade the kidnapping of women”,(68) “he forbade the taking and enslavement of any Mongol”(68), “he forbade the selling of women into marriage”(68), like we see today, “theft was made a criminal offense”(69), “he also forbade the hunting of animals between certain months because their breeding time”(69), and “he made the law that every person from his family must be elected by a khuriltai”(69) which is the people or jury. Torture was something him and his army didn’t do to the people he conquered and he defined that “to be a just Mongol, one had to live in a just community.” (70) These laws reflect the laws we have now in the modern world. “There were many laws to enforce so Genghis Khan needed some kind of supreme judge to punish the thieves and criminals.” (71) These laws and how he managed the people through a large body of land has shown that Genghis Khan was a great leader and wanted the best for his people.
Making of the new world was based on many aspects including freedom of religion. Nowhere else in the world did anyone have that kind of freedom of religion as in Genghis Khan’s empire. When he conquered a tribe or territory he took people from different religion backgrounds into his tribe and he never forced one type of religion on them. This step in his empire made the rest of the world have religious freedom. Genghis Khan did many things that the rest of the world never knew they can do. “Trade and free commerce were the steps towards making the modern world.”(234) “He expanded trade from Asia to the Middle East and he destroyed cities that were not necessary.”(105) “On the spot of the cities he would make routes of trade. He made the selling and buying of goods easier for the people.” (119) With trade being so easy because of Genghis Khans renovation of trade routes diplomatic immunity had come about which was a policy held between government which made sure that diplomats can pass freely and safely to the next country or territory.
Although trade was important for the Mongol Empire to flourish and made the foundation for the modern world; there were things that come with trade such as paper money, printing, and the compass. The compass was the Mongols invention but with this invention it stayed a good tool for hunters and the modern world today. Printing with movable type was another innovation of the Mongols and Genghis Khan’s grandson. The invention of printing quickly escalated to the making of paper money. The invention of paper money was a big aspect of the making the modern world. Paper money made trade easier and lighter. Before paper money people would trade one thing for another to get what they wanted or needed. Now in the modern world people use money every day and do not understand where it was first recognized; by the Mongols.
The Mongols conquered many territories. When the Mongol empire was at its powerful place it went from the Korean peninsula in the east and it was on most of china and Russia territory including Vietnam and Cambodia in the south but it never hit Europe. All these territories were ruled by Genghis Khan but even before Genghis khan was the great leader of the Mongol empire there were many other nomadic tribes trying to conquer and influence their neighbors also. In the China during the time of the Shang and Zhou dynasties circa 1800 – 500 BC nomads from the north brought influences with them such as chariot ware fare, but they were not conquered buy them. The Mongols conquered almost everywhere they stepped foot on but although Europe was not conquered by the Mongols but they got many influences from them. Jack weatherford states that “Although never ruled by the Mongols, in many ways Europe gained the most from their world system” (234) “The Europeans received all the benefits of trade, technology transfers, and the global awakening without paying the cost of Mongol conquest.”(234) Some other nomads that tried to conquer and change the world were the Aryans in India circa 1500-1000BC. They invaded northwest India and brought in a new language, Sanskrit, cattle and horses. Like the Mongols; Aryans made big innovations in India when they invaded. Also similar to the Mongols they added to diversity. Although the Aryans conquered Northwest India they forced a new language on them unlike the Mongols who instead they learned from their conquests and the people they took in to their empire. Another nomadic group that tried to conquer was the Vikings which were smart enough to use ships to transport their people and goods which are much cheaper than going by foot. The Mongols also after a while of conquering on horses or by foot they realized that ships and having a transportation system was better and much more efficient.
The Mongols like any other army were linked with murder and terror. Jack Weatherford although tells the story of the Mongols as an army, he also tells the story of how Genghis Khan did everything in his power not to kill people that were able to give up and go to his side. Genghis khan gave people a chance but if they betrayed him in any way he would do something worse to them. Genghis Khan conquered many cities and territories but he took the people with him and did not torture or kill them. He united people of all different races and religions so he could develop empires which lead to modernization of the modern world. He had to kill the aristocratic powers to be a powerful ruler. Genghis Khan was a very fierce leader who conquered everywhere he went so he could be one more step toward innovation and modernization.
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