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He had about 500 wives, many of them given to him by opposing rulers as peace offerings.DeAgostini/Getty Images
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His father was killed when he was young and as an adolescent he murdered his half-brother in an argument over food. William Cho/Wikimedia Commons
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Genghis wasn't his real name. He was born as Temujin, which means "blacksmith."François Philipp/Flickr
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He didn't take the name Genghis Khan until he was around 40 years old. François Philipp/Flickr
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He could hold a serious grudge and once ordered the execution of an entire royal family after they refused to provide him with additional troops for a war campaign.Wikimedia Commons
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It wasn't uncommon for him to give his enemies a chance at peaceful surrender first, before moving in with violent opposition. Wikimedia Commons
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Genghis Khan remains a hero of Mongolian society and his image can be found everywhere from money to vodka labels. Jackmac34/Pixabay
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The archers in his army were able to shoot forward and backward on horseback at full gallop.Wikimedia Commons
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At the height of his power, the Mongol Empire stretched between 11 and 12 million square miles from northeast China to the Caspian Sea.Wikimedia Commons
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Khan's son attempted to expand the Mongol Empire into Europe, but the damp weather had turned much of Hungary into impassable swampland.Wikimedia Commons
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There's no definitive record of what he looked like. Though he was believed to have been tall with long hair and a bushy beard. National Palace Museum/Wikimedia Commons
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One tactic Khan used to make his army so strong was to seek out the best warriors among his enemies and bring them into his army. François Philipp/Flickr
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In a 1201 battle against the Taijut tribe, Khan was shot off his horse with an arrow. He survived and later demanded to know which of the prisoners was responsible. Impressed by the prisoner's boldness and skill, he made the man an officer in his army. Wikimedia Commons
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The prisoner was later given the name "Jebe,” or “arrow" and would become one of Khan's greatest field commanders. Wikimedia Commons
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Estimates put the Mongol army at 150,000 troops with a cavalry of 80,000.Wikimedia Commons
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How many deaths his war campaigns were responsible for isn't exactly known, but some historians put the number as high as 40 million. Wikimedia Commons
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To put that in perspective, his Mongol army killed so many people that he reduced Earth's carbon dioxide levels equal to a year's worth of gasoline usage. Wikimedia Commons
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His war with the Khwarezmid Empire resulted in casualties that amounted to three-fourths of modern-day Iran’s population.Academy of Sciences/Wikimedia Commons
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When he destroyed the Afghan city of Herat in 1221, there were reportedly only nine survivors of the city's population of 400,000.Wikimedia Commons
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His main reason for expanding his empire wasn't for riches, but to challenge and conquer other empires. Laika/Wikimedia Commons
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It's estimated that one in 200 men are direct descendants of Genghis Khan and share his Y chromosome. Heather Charles/ Chicago Tribune/TNS via Getty Images
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Khan's tomb is also said to be cursed and that if it is opened a great war will follow.Wikimedia Commons
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He was tolerant of other religions and had members of Muslim, Christian, and Buddhist faith in his clan. Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images
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As a teenager, he and his wife were abducted by a rival clan. Khan was made into a slave before eventually escaping. Archive Photos/Getty Images
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His cause of death is uncertain, but some reports suggest he bled out after being castrated by a Chinese princess. DeAgostini/Getty Images
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He was around 60 at the time of his death and had 40 virgins and 40 horses buried with him for the afterlife.Wikimedia Commons
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It's believed that Genghis Khan's tomb is located on a peak in the Khentii Mountains, but it has never been discovered.Pixabay
27 Genghis Khan Facts That Capture His Larger-Than-Life Legacy
Genghis Khan accomplished what no other human before him had ever done and what none have done since. Through brutal military force, he amassed one of history's greatest armies and built the largest contiguous empire the world has ever seen.
Second only to the British Empire in terms of overall size, Khan's Mongol Empire controlled much of Asia and laid claim to a quarter of the world's population during the 13th century. His conquests not only changed the ancient world but the ripple effect can still be seen today.
A conqueror of such great power and influence, Genghis Khan was destined to be a leader from birth according to Mongolian folklore. Local tradition holds that the blood clot found in his hand upon his birth — in the mountains of northeast Mongolia circa 1162 — meant that he would become a ruler.
Born with the name Temüjin and part of the Borjigin tribe, Khan had a difficult childhood. His father, the tribe's leader, was poisoned when he was just a young boy and the family spent much of his childhood living a nomadic and meager lifestyle without the protection of a tribe.
However, this only fueled Khan's quest for power. He soon aligned himself with his father's sworn ally Toghrul, leader of the Keraite tribe confederation. The alliance proved fruitful and the young warrior was able to gather 20,000 fighters and defeat the rival confederacy of Merkit.
These early military campaigns allowed Khan to slowly unite the various Mongolian tribes and launch larger campaigns that eventually allowed him to conquer nearly all of Eurasia.
Like other conquerors of the ancient world, Genghis Khan (a name he didn't adopt until middle age) was known for his fearsome military tactics and ruthless bloodshed. Entire cities were burned and those left alive were incorporated into the Mongol's growing population.
This gave Khan's empire an incredibly diverse population for the time and one that was made up of multiple faiths and skilled artisans of various trades. Without his seemingly unquenchable thirst for expansion of the Mongol Empire, the Silk Road likely would not have been as expansive as it became.
Despite his extraordinary influence, the number of verifiable Genghis Khan facts that we know today is still quite small. Depictions of his appearance vary and the uncertain location of his tomb has remained both a point of frustration and intrigue for archaeologists.
However, the fact that we only know about small parts of Genghis Khan's life and death is probably what he would have wanted. His soldiers actually went to great lengths to keep his tomb a secret.
As these interesting facts about Genghis Khan above show, however, what we do know about him proves that his life was one of monumental impact that the world still feels today.