Chinggis Khan Research Paper

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Chinggis Khan (popularly known in the West as Genghis Khan) was a tribal leader in the late twelfth and early thirteenth centuries. He first united Mongolia, then conquered northern China and much of Central Asia. The Mongol Empire eventually stretched from the Pacific Ocean to the Adriatic Sea.

Chinggis (Genghis) Khan was born with the name of Temujin. Although Chinggis Khan has a negative image in the West, he is one of history’s most charismatic and dynamic leaders. After surviving tribal wars in Mongolia, Temujin built a tribal confederation that restructured Mongolia and established an empire that encompassed more territory than that of any other conqueror. His successors continued to expand it, making it the largest contiguous empire in history.

Born to the noble family of Yesugei and Ho’elun of the Borjigin Mongols, Chinggis Khan was betrothed as a child to Borte of the Onggirat, another Mongol tribe. Yesugei was assassinated on his way home from leaving Temujin with Borte’s family, after which Temujin returned to his own family. Temujin endured many additional hardships in his youth, including tribal warfare and the kidnapping of his wife Borte, but slowly he recruited supporters and assumed a mantle of leadership among the Mongols.

After rising to power in 1185, Temujin experienced several setbacks, but eventually he emerged victorious. A key to his success was an alliance with Toghril Ong- Khan, ruler of the Keraits, a powerful tribal confederation. With Toghril’s support, Temujin regained Borte and became a major power in Mongolia. Eventually, relations between Temujin and Toghril soured, but Temujin was victorious in the ensuing war between them. By 1206 Temujin was the paramount power in Mongolia and received the title Chinggis (or, traditionally in English, Genghis) Khan (thought to mean Oceanic, or Firm, Resolute Ruler).

After uniting the various tribes of Mongolia into a single nation, Chinggis Khan went on to conquer much of northern China and Central Asia. His wars were as often occasioned by his desire for retaliation for perceived wrongs as for territory or riches. In 1207 the Mongols began operations against the kingdom of Xi Xia, which comprised much of northwestern China and parts of Tibet. This campaign lasted until 1210, when the Xi Xia ruler submitted to Chinggis Khan.

Chinggis Khan did not rest long. In 1211 he led his armies against the Jin dynasty, which ruled northern China. War continued against the Jin until 1234, well after Chinggis Khan’s death. Meanwhile, in 1219, during the war in China, a caravan under the protection of Chinggis Khan was massacred in Otrar, a city of the empire of Khwarizm, which consisted of much of modern Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Iran, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan.

With his armies engaged in China, Chinggis Khan attempted to find a peaceful solution, but the ruler of Khwarizm forced the issue by refusing to turn over the governor of Otrar. Chinggis Khan left a trusted general, Muqali, to battle the Jin and led an army into Central Asia. The war lasted from 1219 to 1222, and the Mongols destroyed Khwarizm. Striking from several directions, Chinggis Khan’s armies carried out a campaign that is still considered strategically remarkable even today. Yet despite having conquered Khwarizm, Chinggis Khan kept only the territories north of the Amu Dar’ya River so as not to overextend his armies.

In 1226 his armies invaded Xi Xia once again to quell an uprising there. During the campaign, Chinggis Khan fell from his horse and later died from internal injuries suffered in the fall. His followers completed the reconquest of Xi Xia and then buried Chinggis Khan in a secret location that remains a mystery, although several modern expeditions have attempted to find it.

In the scope of world history, Chinggis Khan’s achievements are many. An organizational and strategic genius, he not only created one of the most highly disciplined and effective armies in history, he also gave birth to the core administration that ruled his empire. His nonmilitary achievements included the introduction of a writing system to the Mongols, the promotion of religious tolerance throughout the empire, and unity among the Mongols. Furthermore, Chinggis Khan fostered transcontinental trade. The empire secured trade routes and encouraged merchants from all regions to travel and do business within the empire. Because of this, new goods, technologies, and ideas spread across Eurasia. But Chinggis Khan’s most enduring accomplishment is the presence in the twenty-first century of a Mongol nation and culture. Mongols today still venerate him as the founding father of Mongolia.


  1. Cleaves, F. W. (Ed. & Trans.). (1982). The secret history of the Mongols. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
  2. Juvaini, ‘A. M. (1997). Chingghis Khan: The history of the world-conqueror. Seattle: The University of Washington Press.
  3. Martin, H. D. (1950). The rise of Chingis Khan and his conquest of North China. Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins Press.
  4. Morgan, D. (1986). The Mongols. Oxford, U.K.: Basil Blackwell.
  5. Ratchnevsky, P. (1992). Chingghis Khan: His life and legacy. T. N. Haining, (Trans.). Cambridge, U.K.: Blackwell.
  6. Togan, I. (1998). Flexibility and limitation in steppe formations: The Kerait khanate and Chinggis Khan. Leiden, Netherlands: Brill.
  7. Weatherford, J. (2004). Chingghis Khan and the making of the modern world. New York: Crown Publishing Group.

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