The History of Genghis Khan, Part 1:
His ancestry

Here follows the true record of the heritage of the great lord Genghis Khan, Emperor of the World, Lord of the Seven Climes, Khan of Khans and Master of Thrones and Crowns, set down within the Secret History of the Mongols in the year 12281 of Our Lord by Shigi Kutuku2, the scribe of his son Tolui, at the Great Kuriltai of Kode'earal. Herein is traced the ancestry of Temujin to the twenty-second generation, from the first arrival of his ancestors Borte Chino and Qo'ai-maral in the land of Mongolia.

  1. Borte Chino and Qo'ai-maral3
  2. Batachi Khan
  3. Tamacha
  4. Qorichar-mergen
  5. Aujam-Boroul
  6. Sali-Qachau
  7. Yeke-nidu
  8. Sem-sochi
  9. Qarchu
  10. Borjigidai-mergen
  11. Toroqoljin-bayan4
  12. Dobun-mergen5
  13. Bodonchar (sometimes Buzanchar)6
  14. Qabichi-baatur
  15. Menen-tudun
  16. Qachi-kuluk
  17. Qaidu7
  18. Bai-shingqor-doqshin
  19. Tumbinai-sechin8
  20. Kabul Kaghan9
  21. Bartan-baatur
  22. Yesugei
  23. Temujin, who later took the title of Genghis Khan.

A note on the names: I have used Onon's spelling unless I could find a more pronounceable Romanization of the original Mongolian. However, if you have any better ideas, please message me.
Note also: This is mostly myth and legend.

1There is some debate on the exact date of the writing of the Secret History; some say 1240, others 1323. However, 1228 is the most likely date, for a number of reasons: First, we know it was written at a kuriltai in a Rat (sometimes Mouse) Year, as the History itself records; second, Genghis himself died in 1227, so the Mongols would have had to elect a new leader shortly thereafter; third, it does not mention the death of Tolui (youngest son of Genghis and regent of Mongolia after his father's death) in 1232.

2 Don't treat this as gospel, since I can find only one source giving the name of the author.

3"Borte Chino" is translated as "grey wolf" or "greyish-white wolf", while "Qo'ai-maral" means "beautiful doe". It is not entirely clear whether these were symbolic names or actual descriptions, whether they were human beings or actually a doe and a wolf (obviously they weren't actually a doe and a wolf; it is not clear whether the legend makes them out to be human or animal). The Secret History records that they crossed a lake (tenggis in the original) into Mongolia; unfortunately we cannot know which lake is meant, as no maps have survived (if indeed any were drawn in the first place). They settled at the base of Burkan-Kaldun, the holy mountain of the sky-god Tengri.

4The sons of Toroqoljin were called Dobun-mergen and Duwa-soqor. This latter had but one eye in the middle of his forehead; with it he could see a distance of thirty miles. This is quite clearly a legend, but it does show an interesting parallel to the Greek myth of the Cyclops. The Secret History records that he could see for "three journeys"; a journey was the distance a Mongol camp could move in one day: about ten miles.

5The wife of Dobun-mergen was Alan-goa (Outstanding Beauty), and she bore him two sons: Bugunutei and Belgunutei. He died shortly after their birth, yet Alan-goa gave birth to three more sons; Buqa-qatagi, Buqatu-salji, and Bodonchar-mungqaq. Now Dobun-mergen had a faithful servant called Maaliq Baya'ud, whose father he had saved from starvation in the wilderness, and after the death of the chieftain this servant remained and dwelt in his yurt. Then the trueborn sons of Dobun-mergen whispered against their mother, saying:

"This mother of ours has produced three sons, without our father's older brother, younger brother, or cousins or any husband. Only the Maaliq Baya'ud man lives in this yurt. They are probably his three sons."a

Alan-goa, hearing these rumors, brought her five sons together and gave each an arrow, which she commanded him to break. When they had done so, she tied five arrows together and again commanded each son to break the bundle. When each had tried and failed, she related to them this story, in order to allay the suspicion of her two firstborn sons:

"Every night, a shining yellow man came into the yurt through the light of the smoke-hole and over the top of the door. He caressed my belly and his light sank into it. He slunk sheepishly away like a yellow dog by the light of the sun and moon... All five of you were all born of this same belly. Alone, you can be broken easily by anyone. Together and of one mind, like bound arrow-shafts, none can easily vanquish you."b

a Secret History, p. 42. It was the custom of the Mongols that when a man died, one of his male relatives would take his widow as wife, so that any children would remain his true kin.
bSecret History, p. 43. Supposedly this yellow man was Tengri, supreme god of the Mongol religion.

6His name means "The Fool". Upon the death of his mother Alan-goa, the brothers of Bodonchar expelled him from the tribe, and he wandered alone in the wilderness. He took a wife of the Jarchiut tribe, and they had two sons. From the second son Qabichi-baatur came the line of Genghis Khan.

7 When Qaidu was a child, the Mongols fought a war of annihilation against the Jalair, a tribe driven out of their homeland by the encroaching Jurchen (who would found the Jin dynasty of North China, and would much later become the Manchus who founded the Qing Dynasty). Qaidu himself was nearly killed in this war; he was saved only by the intervention of his uncle Nachin-baatur, who hid him in a pile of firewood. In 1150, the Song Emperor Xiao Zong granted him the title of Khan. He was the first Mongol so recognized by the Chinese.

8 It is reported that he is the common ancestor of Timur and Genghis Khan. He had a son named Kajuli, who in turn fathered Erdemji Barlas, who was the originator of the Barlas tribe to which Timur belonged.

9 Kabul Kaghan was the first great ruler of the Mongols, recognized and supported by the Son of Heaven, who rewarded him greatly for his help against the Jurchen. His lordship did not pass to his descendants; rather he handed it to his second cousin Ambaqai. His great-grandfather Qaidu had three sons; one, Bai-shingqor-doqshin, was the grandfather of Kabul Kaghan; another, Charaqai-lingqu, was the grandfather of Ambaqaia. Of the third, the history is silent.

a While Ambaqai was ruler (in the early 12th century), the Mongols came into conflict with the Tatars (who were allied with the Jin). Ambaqai tried to make a peace treaty, but he was betrayed and murdered (nailed to a wooden donkey, as the legend has it) by the Tatars. His descendants swore revenge, but they were crushed and scattered by the Tatar tribe, aborting the rise of the Mongol kingdom. It would not recover until reunited by Genghis himself.


Anonymous (translated and annotated by Urgunge Onon); The Secret History of the Mongols; Richmond, Curzon Press, 2001.
Juvaini, Ala-ad-din Ata-Malik (tr. John Andrew Boyle); The History of the World-Conqueror, Vol. I; Cambridge, Harvard University Press, 1958.
Howorth, Henry H.; History of the Mongols, Pt. 1; London, Longmans, Green, and Co., 1876
Phillips, E.D.; The Mongols; New York, Frederick A. Praeger, Inc., 1969
Prawdin, Michael (tr. Eden and Cedar Paul); The Mongol Empire: Its Rise and Legacy; London, George Allen and Unwin Ltd., 1961.
Saunders, J.J; The History of the Mongol Conquests; London, Routledge and Kegan Paul Ltd., 1971.
Thanks also to The Debutante for assistance.

For the sons of Genghis Khan, proceed to the list of Mongol Khans.

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.