Establishment Of The Empire


Plans for the formation of a government.--His court at

Karakorom.--Embassadors.--Temujin forms a constitution.--Election

of khans.--Division of the country.--Organization of the

army.--Arms and ammunition.--Hunting.--Slaves.--Polygamy and

slavery.--Concubines.--Posthumous marriages.--Punishment for

theft.--Religion.--Freedom of choice.--Assembly of the khans.--Dilon

Ildak.--Their encampm
nt.--Tents and herds of cattle.--Temujin's

address.--Temujin is elected grand khan.--He is enthroned and

honored.--The old prophet Kokza.--Probably insane.--His

predictions.--The title Genghis Khan.--Homage of the khans.--Inaugural

address.--Rejoicings.--Departure of the khans.

There was now a vast extent of country, comprising a very large

portion of the interior of the Asiatic Continent, and, indeed, an

immense number of wealthy, powerful hordes, under Temujin's dominion,

and he at once resolved to consolidate his dominion by organizing a

regular imperial government over the whole. There were a few more

battles to be fought in order to subdue certain khans who still

resisted, and some cities to be taken. But these victories were soon

obtained, and, in a very short time after the great battle with

Tayian, Temujin found himself the undisputed master of what to him was

almost the whole known world. All open opposition to his rule had

wholly disappeared, and nothing now remained for him to do but to

perfect the organization of his army, to enact his code of laws, to

determine upon his capital, and to inaugurate generally a system of

civil government such as is required for the management of the

internal affairs of a great empire.

Temujin determined upon making Karakorom his capital. He accordingly

proceeded to that city at the head of his troops, and entered it in

great state. Here he established a very brilliant court, and during

all the following winter, while he was occupied with the preliminary

arrangements for the organization and consolidation of his empire,

there came to him there a continual succession of embassadors from the

various nations and tribes of Central Asia to congratulate him on his

victories, and to offer the allegiance or the alliance of the khans

which they respectively represented. These embassadors all came

attended by troops of horsemen splendidly dressed and fully armed, and

the gayety and magnificence of the scenes which were witnessed in

Karakorom during the winter surpassed all that had ever been seen

there before.

In the mean time, while the attention of the masses of the people was

occupied and amused by these parades, Temujin was revolving in his

mind the form of constitution which he should establish for his

empire, and the system of laws by which his people should be governed.

He conferred privately with some of his ablest counselors on this

subject, and caused a system of government and a code of laws to be

drawn up by secretaries. The details of these proposed enactments

were discussed in the privy council, and, when the whole had been well

digested and matured, Temujin, early in the spring, sent out a

summons, calling upon all the great princes and khans throughout his

dominions to assemble at an appointed day, in order that he might lay

his proposed system before them.

Temujin determined to make his government a sort of elective monarchy.

The grand khan was to be chosen by the votes of all the other khans,

who were to be assembled in a general convocation for this purpose

whenever a new khan was to be installed. Any person who should cause

himself to be proclaimed grand khan, or who should in any other way

attempt to assume the supreme authority without having been duly

elected by the other khans, was to suffer death.

The country was divided into provinces, over each of which a

subordinate khan ruled as governor. These governors were, however, to

be strictly responsible to the grand khan. Whenever summoned by the

grand khan they were required to repair at once to the capital, there

to render an account of their administration, and to answer any

charges which had been made against them. Whenever any serious case

of disobedience or maladministration was proved against them they were

to suffer death.

Temujin remodeled and reorganized the army on the same or similar

principles. The men were divided into companies of about one hundred

men each, and every ten of these companies was formed into a regiment,

which, of course, contained about a thousand men. The regiments were

formed into larger bodies of about ten thousand each. Officers were

appointed, of all the various necessary grades, to command these

troops, and arrangements were made for having supplies of arms and

ammunition provided and stored in magazines under the care of the

officers, ready to be distributed to the men whenever they should


Temujin also made provision for the building of cities and palaces,

the making of roads, and the construction of fortifications, by

ordaining that all the people should work one day in every week on

these public works whenever required.

Although the country over which this new government was to be

established was now at peace, Temujin was very desirous that the

people should not lose the martial spirit which had thus far

characterized them. He made laws to encourage and regulate hunting,

especially the hunting of wild beasts among the mountains; and

subsequently he organized many hunting excursions himself, in

connection with the lords of his court and the other great chieftains,

in order to awaken an interest in the dangers and excitements of the

chase among all the khans. He also often employed bodies of troops in

these expeditions, which he considered as a sort of substitute for


He required that none of the natives of the country should be employed

as servants, or allowed to perform any menial duties whatever. For

these purposes the people were required to depend on captives taken in

war and enslaved. One reason why he made this rule was to stimulate

the people on the frontiers to make hostile excursions among their

neighbors, in order to supply themselves and the country generally

with slaves.

The right of property in the slaves thus taken was very strictly

guarded, and very severe laws were made to enforce it. It was

forbidden, on pain of death, to harbor a slave, or give him meat or

drink, clothing or shelter, without permission from his master. The

penalty was death, too, if a person meeting a fugitive slave

neglected to seize and secure him, and deliver him to his master.

Every man could marry as many wives as he pleased, and his female

slaves were all, by law, entirely at his disposal to be made


There was one very curious arrangement, which grew out of the great

importance which, as we have already seen, was attached to the ties of

relationship and family connection among these pastoral nations. Two

families could bind themselves together and make themselves legally

one, in respect to their connection, by a fictitious marriage arranged

between children no longer living. In such a case the contracts were

regularly made, just as if the children were still alive, and the

ceremonies were all duly performed. After this the two families were

held to be legally allied, and they were bound to each other by all

the obligations which would have arisen in the case of a real

marriage. This custom is said to be continued among some of the Tartar

nations to the present day. The people think, it is said, that such a

wedding ceremony, duly solemnized by the parents of children who are

dead, takes effect upon the subjects of it in the world of spirits,

and that thus their union, though arranged and consecrated on earth,

is confirmed and consummated in heaven.

Besides these peculiar and special enactments, there were the ordinary

laws against robbery, theft, murder, adultery, and false witness. The

penalties for these offenses were generally severe. The punishment for

stealing cattle was death. For petty thefts the criminal was to be

beaten with a stick, the number of the blows being proportioned to the

nature and aggravation of the offense. He could, however, if he had

the means, buy himself off from this punishment by paying nine times

the value of the thing stolen.

In respect to religion, the constitution which Temujin made declared

that there was but one God, the creator of heaven and earth, and it

acknowledged him as the supreme ruler and governor of all mankind, the

being "who alone gives life and death, riches and poverty, who grants

and denies whatever he pleases, and exercises over all things an

absolute power." This one fundamental article of faith was all that

was required. For the rest, Temujin left the various nations and

tribes throughout his dominions to adopt such modes of worship and to

celebrate such religious rites as they severally preferred, and

forbade that any one should be disturbed or molested in any way on

account of his religion, whatever form it might assume.

At length the time arrived for the grand assembly of the khans to be

convened. The meeting was called, not at Karakorom, the capital, but

at a central spot in the interior of the country, called Dilon Ildak.

Such a spot was much more convenient than any town or city would have

been for the place of meeting, on account of the great troops of

horses and the herds of animals by which the khans were always

accompanied in all their expeditions, and which made it necessary

that, whenever any considerable number of them were to be convened,

the place chosen should be suitable for a grand encampment, with

extensive and fertile pasture-grounds extending all around.

As the several khans came in, each at the head of his own troop of

retainers and followers, they severally chose their ground, pitched

their tents, and turned their herds of horses, sheep, and oxen out to

pasture on the plains. Thus, in the course of a few days, the whole

country in every direction became dotted with villages of tents, among

which groups of horsemen were now and then to be seen galloping to and

fro, and small herds of cattle, each under the care of herdsmen and

slaves, moved slowly, cropping the grass as they advanced along the

hill-sides and through the valleys.

At length, when all had assembled, a spot was selected in the centre

of the encampment for the performance of the ceremonies. A raised seat

was prepared for Temujin in a situation suitable to enable him to

address the assembly from it.[C] Before and around this the various

khans and their attendants and followers gathered, and Temujin made

them an oration, in which he explained the circumstances under which

they had come together, and announced to them his plans and intentions

in respect to the future. He stated to them that, in consequence of

the victories which he had gained through their co-operation and

assistance, the foundation of a great empire had been laid, and that

he had now called them together in order that they might join with him

in organizing the requisite government for such a dominion, and in

electing a prince or sovereign to rule over it. He called upon them

first to proceed to the election of this ruler.

The khans accordingly proceeded to the election. This was, in fact,

only a form, for Temujin himself was, of course, to be chosen. The

election was, however, made, and one of the oldest and most venerable

of the khans was commissioned to announce the result. He came forward

with great solemnity, and, in the presence of the whole assembly,

declared that the choice had fallen upon Temujin. He then made an

address to Temujin himself, who was seated during this part of the

ceremony upon a carpet of black felt spread upon the ground. In the

address the khan reminded Temujin that the exalted authority with

which he was now invested came from God, and that to God he was

responsible for the right exercise of his power. If he governed his

subjects well, God, he said, would render his reign prosperous and

happy; but if, on the other hand, he abused his power, he would come

to a miserable end.

After the conclusion of the address, seven of the khans, who had been

designated for this purpose, came and lifted Temujin up and bore him

away to a throne which had been set up for him in the midst of the

assembly, where all the khans, and their various bodies of attendants,

came and offered him their homage.

Among others there came a certain old prophet, named Kokza, who was

held in great veneration by all the people on account of his supposed

inspiration and the austere life which he led. He used to go very

thinly clad, and with his feet bare summer and winter, and it was

supposed that his power of enduring the exposures to which he was thus

subject was something miraculous and divine. He had received

accordingly from the people a name which signified the image of God,

and he was every where looked upon as inspired. He said, moreover,

that a white horse came to him from time to time and carried him up to

heaven, where he conversed face to face with God, and received the

revelations which he was commissioned to make to men. All this the

people fully believed. The man may have been an impostor, or he may

have been insane. Oftentimes, in such cases, the inspiration which the

person supposes he is the subject of arises from a certain spiritual

exaltation, which, though it does not wholly unfit him for the

ordinary avocations and duties of life, still verges upon insanity,

and often finally lapses into it entirely.

This old prophet advanced toward Temujin while he was seated on his

carpet of felt, and made a solemn address to him in the hearing of all

the assembled khans. He was charged, he said, with a message from

heaven in respect to the kingdom and dominion of Temujin, which had

been, he declared, ordained of God, and had now been established in

fulfillment of the Divine will. He was commissioned, moreover, he

said, to give to Temujin the style and title of Genghis Khan,[D] and

to declare that his kingdom should not only endure while he lived, but

should descend to his posterity, from generation to generation, to the

remotest times.

The people, on hearing this address, at once adopted the name which

the prophet had given to their new ruler, and saluted Temujin with it

in long and loud acclamations. It was thus that our hero received the

name of Genghis Khan, which soon extended its fame through every part

of Asia, and has since become so greatly renowned through all the


* * * * *

Temujin, or Genghis Khan, as we must now henceforth call him, having

thus been proclaimed by the acclamations of the people under the new

title with which the old prophet had invested him, sat upon his throne

while his subjects came to render him their homage. First the khans

themselves came up, and kneeled nine times before him, in token of

their absolute and complete submission to his authority. After they

had retired the people themselves came, and made their obeisance in

the same manner. As they rose from their knees after the last

prostration, they made the air resound once more with their shouts,

crying "Long live great Genghis Khan!" in repeated and prolonged


After this the new emperor made what might be called his inaugural

address. The khans and their followers gathered once more before his

throne while he delivered an oration to them, in which he thanked them

for the honor which they had done him in raising him to the supreme

power, and announced to them the principles by which he should be

guided in the government of his empire. He promised to be just in his

dealings with his subjects, and also to be merciful. He would defend

them, he said, against all their enemies. He would do every thing in

his power to promote their comfort and happiness. He would lead them

to honor and glory, and would make their names known throughout the

earth. He would deal impartially, too, with all the different tribes

and hordes, and would treat the Monguls and the Tartars, the two great

classes of his subjects, with equal favor.

When the speech was concluded Genghis Khan distributed presents to

all the subordinate khans, both great and small. He also made

magnificent entertainments, which were continued for several days.

After thus spending some time in feasting and rejoicings, the khans

one after another took their leave of the emperor, the great

encampment was broken up, and the different tribes set out on their

return to their several homes.