|Famous Quote||“Everything is temporary.”|
|Known For||Conquering Asian Steppe/Asia, the largest empire in history, progressive governance policies for the time, fostering development of trade and academia.|
|Area Of World||Greater Asia Region|
If Alexander The Great was the west’s great general then the same could be said about Genghis Khan being the great of the east.
Genghis Khan lived a difficult life during a very difficult time. Being born into a tribal/nomadic family on the Asian steppe in modern-day Mongolia the young Genghis would at one point be an outcast surviving on wild berries and small game.
In spite of this difficult childhood, this one man would grow up to control the largest empire the world has ever seen. Out of this sprawling empire came several progressive policies for the great Khan’s time, out of which 3 are listed below.
- Religious Tolerance
- Meritocracy based culture
- Drastically increased trade between Europe and Asia
In order to govern an empire that stretched from China to Russia the Mongols had to implement such progressive policies.
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Without further ado, here are the top 3 biggest impacts the great Khan had upon the world.
1.) Religious Tolerance
Genghis Khan did not care about what religion his subjects followed. This was because the Mongols had a tradition of believing that religion was unique to each person.
Rather than dictate a state-sponsored religion Genghis Khan cared more about tradition and loyalty. Further, the Khan himself was a Tengrist. Tengrism itself is an ancient religion practiced by the people of the Euraisan Steppe that promotes balance and tolerance in respect to others and nature.
Due to this Genghis Khan always sought to understand other’s nature. Primary sources from the period detail Genghis Khan requesting to speak with leaders from differing religions just to learn more about their belief systems.
As a result of this Genghis Khan would promote a form of religious tolerance across his empire. People were free to practice what they wished so long as they were peaceful and respectful to others.
This form of religious tolerance was unheard of in the middle ages. Genghis Khan only existed one century after the last Christian crusade in the levant.
Because the Khan’s empire was so vast at its peak this religious tolerance impacted people from China to Russia. To this day we can feel the effects of Genghis Khan reverberate throughout the ages.
2.) Meritocracy-Based Culture
Even though Genghis Khan honored tradition there were several ways he broke with it. One of the major ones was to reward merit over family ties when appointing positions.
This completely changed the Mongol hierarchy system. Almost overnight Genghis Khan began to attract followers among the disenfranchised population in his realm.
These were people of the lower to the middle class who saw the Khan as a method to obtain more out of life. A direct result of this meritocracy-based system was a drastic increase in loyalty to Genghis Khan by his subjects. Further, this meritocracy-based system of governing attracted people from competing claims to the Khan throne in the Steppe.
Even when Genghis Khan conquered a realm or tribe he would assimilate the people into his realm and provide for their protection. As a result, often his enemies would see more to gain from surrendering to him rather than fighting.
To the people of the Mongol Empire Genghis Khan did not care about religion, race, or ethnicity. Rather the Khan recognized that in order to effectively govern such a vast empire he would have to implement a meritocracy-based system of promotion.
Genghis Khan recognized that he also had flaws in governing. Being nomadic in nature he was unskilled in governing a city or empire. This is why he assimilated others and immediately put them to work in helping govern his empire.
An example of this can be seen in Genghis Khan capturing and then immediately employing the Khitan prince Chu’Tsai to govern the Khans eastern territory. This style of leadership was iconic for Mongol leaders who while ruthless in battle were always looking for ways to assimilate their captors to work for them.
Meritocratic cultures simply did not exist during the time of Genghis Khan. Most other empires of the time gave out honors and promotions based on lineage. As a result of this the Mongol influence rapidly spread across the world and even to this day impacts our lives.
3.) Drastically Increased Trade and Communication Between Europe and Asia
Before Genghis Khan trade between Europe and Asia went through several kingdoms and city-states. Each of these would in turn take a portion of the revenue in the form of taxes.
As a result, trade was incredibly expensive between Asia and Europe. This caused goods and knowledge to only filter through slow trickles over time. This all changed with Genghis Khan’s conquest. As he conquered more and more land his power over trade in the region consolidated.
As a result, it became more cost-effective and safer to trade between the east and west. This directly led to a flourishing trade between the two regions.
Because of this increase in trade, the Mongols had to invent the world’s first widespread use of paper money. During the Khan’s time, coins were being minted however this was not enough. After experimenting years prior in 1227 Genghis Khan introduced the worlds first paper money.
Now traders in China could easily exchange currencies and goods with people in Persia. This drastically increased the efficiency of trade between the multiple cultures. Today much of the prosperity and ancient trade routes in Asia come from Genghis Khan’s influence.
Further, with the increase in trade came an increase in the speed of knowledge spreading between the east and west. Europeans would interact with Chinese mathematicians while Islamic astronomers would create star charts for the Mongolian Empire. Modern historians still argue over the impacts of this opening of trade between the east and west. Some historians credit Genghis Khan with placing the building blocks for the European Renaissance.
Regardless, nobody can argue that Genghis Khan’s lasting impact on uniting the lands of the East and West into one domain did not have a lasting impact on trade and the diffusion of knowledge.
There you have it; an entire article outlining the 3 biggest impacts that Genghis Khan had upon the world.
Many remember Genghis Khan for his ruthless military campaigns. However, few remember him for the then radically progressive policies that he implemented across the world’s largest empire.
These policies proved to be so effective that subsequent heads of state in the east employed similar policies to Genghis Khan. To this day we see these progressive policies impacting the lives of billions of people.
Due to this Genghis Khan stands as one of the most influential people in history.
Here at The History Ace I strive to publish the best history articles out there. If you like content like this then feel free to share around the internet and subscribe to the newsletter to remain up to date.
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Until next time, I wish you the best.