9. Genghis Khan
“I am the punishment of God. If you had not committed great sins, God would not have sent a punishment like me upon you.” Named Temujin at birth, Genghis Khan (Great Khan), was the founder and first Khan of the largest empire on Earth: The Mongol Empire (1206-1368). At it’s peak his empire covered an area of more than 10 million square miles, or about 20% of the world’s land area. His army was almost unstoppable as it rode through Asia, the Middle East, and Europe. Had it not been for his death in 1227, nothing would have stood in his way as he headed toward Eastern Europe and the rest of the Middle East.
Born in 1162 in a land full of nomadic tribes and living a harsh life due to raids and attacks between the tribes, he became Khan of the Mongols at the age of 24. By 1206 he had unified all the other tribes. He created single political and military force to maintain peace. He then adopted the title of Genghis Khan and embarked on a quest to conquer Asia.
Rather than basing his rule as an aristocracy (as it was in the tribes) he followed a meritocratic method, instituted a new code of law, and integrated rival tribes into his own which inspired loyalty. He built an extensive spy network and communication lines. He adopted new ideas and technology such as the Chinese siege weapons. His army was fast and versatile, largely due to the use of mounted archers. They were trained to shoot accurately while riding and shoot in all directions; even from behind. No infantry at the time could withstand Khan’s marching hordes led by his generals such as Subutai and Jebe, which were actually the ones responsible for extending the empire.
Most of his campaigns involved sophisticated strategies and coordinated attacks, even from miles away. Many were indeed ruthless, adopting mass murder, massacres, enslavement and destruction of entire cities and towns, mostly seen in the Khwarezmian Empire and Chinese Xia lands. At Urgench, more than 250,000 Turkish were slaughtered, and the rest enslaved, in one of the bloodiest genocides in history. He died in 1227, just when the capital of Western Xia has fallen.