Genghis – born Temujin somewhere in northern Mongolia around 1162 AD, son of the chieftain Yesugei of the Borjigin tribe – laid the foundation for the largest contiguous empire in civilization, mostly through engaging in wholesale massacres of civilian populations across central Asia and northern China. Genghis was proclaimed “Universal Ruler” by the Mongols, and established meritocracy and religious tolerance, forbid the kidnapping and selling of women, banned slavery, and made the theft of livestock punishable by death.
Before he turned ten, Temujin’s father had been poisoned and his family shunned by their tribe. Shortly thereafter, the boy killed his older brother and took over as head of the family, making alliances and building a reputation as a fierce warrior. At the age of 20 he led an army of 20 thousand, and set out to unify the Mongols. By 1205 he had vanquished all rivals and the following year, at a conclave of representatives from every tribe, Temujin was proclaimed Genghis Khan. The leading shaman even declared him the earthly representative of Mongke Koko Tengri (the “Eternal Blue Sky”), the supreme god of the Mongols.
Wasting no time in capitalizing on his divine status, in 1207 Genghis led his horsemen against the kingdom of Xi Xia, forcing it to succumb to his rule two years later (mostly because there was no one left to resist). He then turned on the Jin dynasty in northern China, drawn not by its scientific and artistic wonders but by seemingly endless rice fields which could feed the expanding empire. While war against the Jin dragged on for 20 years, Genghis also moved westward, gathering 200 thousand Mongols to thrash the Khwarizm dynasty (spanning modern Turkestan, Persia and Afghanistan), piling the skulls of men, women, and children so high that by 1221 it was no more.
As was Genghis in 1227, when he died - reportedly from falling off his horse.