Genghis Khan

Genghis Khan

2005, History  -   73 Comments
Ratings: 7.38/10 from 103 users.

Genghis KhanOf all the images the name Genghis Khan brings to mind, that of a visionary who brought literacy, law and culture to his people rarely springs to mind. His name is usually synonymous with evil, his image that of a brutal barbarian who slaughtered millions in his quest for power. Yet a BBC drama-documentary is aiming to change the reputation of one of the world's most notorious warlords to that of a heroic figure who achieved greatness against all odds.

Genghis Khan is right up there with the likes of Hitler and Attila the Hun as one of the bogeymen of history, said Ed Bazalgette, the programme's producer.

We hear the phrase somewhere to the Right of Genghis Khan. Everyone has heard the name yet few people know much about his story. It is one of the great untold stories of history and we wanted to get behind the myths. No one is suggesting that he was a benign individual but his history was written by those he defeated. To make a parallel, imagine if our country's history was written by the people of Africa or India.

He was intent on sharing his riches with his people, and wanted to raise levels of culture, law and literacy. He also brought Chinese medicine to his people. Amassing material wealth did not matter much to him, as he shared everything with his loyal supporters. He was seen as a generous leader.

Genghis Khan also demonstrated a rather liberal and tolerant attitude to the beliefs of others, and never persecuted people on religious grounds. Born in Mongolia sometime after 1160, he created the largest known empire, covering a fifth of the world, stretching from the Pacific to the Black Sea.

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73 Comments / User Reviews

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  1. Harry McNicholas

    A few things. His empire collapsed after a few generations. Sorry that is wrong The last khanate of the Golden Horde was destroyed by the Soviet Union in 1924. As to descendents. only 200 people have been found to be his descendents. The rest is BS. The Khaan was no better or worse than any conqueror in history just better at it. Unlike the Muslims and Christians he did no allow torture. Also, the two main religions of this time in Mongolia were Tengriism and Christianity. Mongolia did not become a Buddhist country until the 17th century. The Kalmyk Republic is S.E. Europe is a Mongolian state and is the only Buddhist country in Europe.

    1. Jeff

      One in every 200 men is a direct descendant of Genghis Khan. 200, lol, try 20 million.

    2. Rizz

      It depends on your definition of torture I guess. Putting entire cities to the torch and making family members watch one another be raped and then killed is torture IMO.

  2. Jack

    He wasn't 'blood-thirsty'; there was a reason behind everything he did. Also, he never said that thing about 'taking everything away from the conquered is the highest pleasure in life.' Read Jack Weatherford's book 'Ghengis Khan'.

  3. Melissa

    Dan Carlin's Hardcore History has a 5 series podcast titled Wrath of Khans that is very insightful and discusses exactly what avd420 mentions. Genocidal maniac turns epic hero because of the passage of time. I highly recommend the entire HH series, but especially the Wrath of Khans for a different perspective.

  4. Johan Borgstrøm

    Cannot watch it because I live in Denmark :-[
    Really annoying!

  5. Anita Vold

    Djingis Khan was the greatest. He did the historie for the rest of the wourld. And all wars are barbaric and the most of the men are barbaric to....

  6. Rais Karauchy

    The name "Mongol" until 17th-18th centuries meant belonging to a political community, and was not the ethnic name. While “the name "Tatar" was “the name of the native ethnos (nation) of Genghis Khan” , “…Genghis Khan and his tribesmen did not speak the language, which we now call the "Mongolian”…" (academic Vasiliev, 19th century). This also is confirmed by many other facts. Read about a real Tatar (Turk) History in a book "Forgotten Heritage of Tatars" (by Galy Yenikeyev). You can find it on Smashwords company site.

  7. Rais Karauchy

    A well-grounded rebuttal of the chinese- persian myths about "incredible cruelty of nomadic mongol-tatar conquerors", and about "a war between the Tatars and Genghis Khan", as well as a lot of from the real Tatar (Turk) History, what the official historians hidden from the public, you can learn in the book of an independent historian Galy Yenikeyev "Forgotten Heritage of Tatars", published by Smashwords. On the site of Smashwords is an electronic version of this book in English – it’s easy to find on the Internet.

  8. Peter Laird

    Absolutely brilliant, many, many thanks for this documentary.

  9. L0LAW0NKA

    I always have to wonder when I see documentaries like these, you know, all the labeling. Why is it that a quest for power is always seen as evil? I mean is power really so bad, because if it is, then you could say that our politicans today with THEIR diplomatic quests for power are also Evil.

    I don't understand the thought process behind the label artists.

    1. Michael

      Funny you should say that because, according to the french philosopher Alain, « The most visible trait of the just man is that he doesn't want to govern others at all, but only to govern himself ».
      Thus according to him, and those who believe him, a quest to power can only be evil.
      Having power isn't bad. Wanting power is. Sadly, power corrupts, and having power can only lead to wanting it.

    2. Kerry Jaensch

      what a load of **** buddy. humans are unable to lead themselves as individuals en masse in any fashion that would not immediately turn to anarchy and then self distruction or minimally groups of related families (see where i am going here....) which would inevitably be headed by an elder (or leader) of some sort in order that there is a person who is empowered to have final say and to end all dipute on a subject. We much prefer an organised committee to do the job which usually requires a leader of some sort - that could be why through out history we see that humans have always forged a governing body elected or birthright (and eventually slain when they all turn out to be dickheads) beware of french philosophers - they may have been drunk from wine or role-play sex when making their comments - which somehow upon occasion just happen to ignore the socio-biology of the human species!

    3. a_no_n

      Communism is a very good modern example of what you are saying.

      Communist ideology is that no one person should be in control. Which naively ignores the fact that wherever you create a vacuum in power, someone will fill it, and as has always been proved the worst possible person who has been the only one arrogant enough to do it.

  10. lullajah

    kinda interesting but not detailed enough

  11. Godsclaws

    this is a frail, frrraaaiiiillll skeleton of information on Genghis Khan compared to the four books by Conn Iggulden called "the epic story of the khan dynasty" which details Temujin/Genghis Khan's life from his birth to after his death when his sons and grandsons conquered. GREAT books.

  12. mountainski

    history repeats itself , as with the rise in 2011 + of China once again

    1. jerry lindo

      I must say that I naively thought the same way and felt that China is the longest reign, if not the most stable civilization among the ancient. That was until I visited a site run by the Chinese completely nullifying that paradigm.

      The Chinese Han were persecuted by the Mongols and treated like foreigners in their own country. Mongol rule of China is accurately recorded by Italian Marco Polo, and could have been the blueprint for European colonial rule in Africa, Asia, etc. Even today, the Communists treat this period as the sad colonial past of China.

  13. Ider

    He was the greatest emperor the world has ever had

  14. Ider

    He was the greatest emperor that the world has ever had.

  15. Rhythm

    Thank you but how can I have the full move and not from you tube

    1. Shawn Maharaj

      Nope, that goes to Shah Cyrus of Iran.

  16. gaboora

    Good general account. Not specific enough, but very smoothly done. The doc seems much shorter than it actually is because of all the action.

  17. Pierre Moua

    Most of the story that are past down about Genghis Khan were by chinese people so what would you think the outcome would had been? Lets ask the Indians back in the 1700 and 1800's what they thought of the White man.

  18. TonyIII

    He was the perfect embodiment of a monstrous barbarian.The world would have been better off without him.

  19. Crow Zerox

    to Conqueror the world huh? i think he might've actually did it if he didnt die of an illness speaking of his death i thought he died in a tsunami heading towards japan?? anyways great documentary

  20. lex lexich

    great documentary, i agree with greg...

  21. Greg_Mc

    I thought the doc was pretty good but like rtiom I would have prefered it be longer, although that could just be because I was enjoying watching it and didn't want it to end so quickly.

    1. TonyIII

      There is a movie on his life that goes into much more detail.

    2. Greg_Mc

      Thanks TonyIII I will have a look around and see if I can find it.
      Including this doc there are 3 things I have come across in the past few weeks that helped with my interest. First there was a book I am reading that for the most part takes place in Mongolia and at it's core involves Genghis Kahn where he was buried and the treasure he was buried with. Then I watched this doc followed by watching "Long way round" where Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman travel most of the world on motor bikes and they do a good part of the doc going through Mongolia where I could see the landscape, their houses (Ger's) and the goat milk drink they have daily. It all just tied together nicely each giving me some information and the long way round doc showed the Mongolian countryside, the people (who seemed to all be very nice) and a bit of how they live. So it was a nice coincidence having all 3 things come along at near the same time, gave me an interest in Mongolia where before there was none at all.

    3. GoughLewis

      I think the film is "Mongol"

    4. Greg_Mc

      I couldnt find the movie Mongol on TDF but did find a few others that deal in part with Genghis Khan so they may be worth checking out.
      Thanks for the tip on the doc name Gough. Between Tony letting me know there is another movie out there and you giving me a possible title to work with I may be able to find it somewhere online

  22. rtiom

    "Most complete television portrait of Genghis Khan ever made", my assess!!
    It one of the shortest documentaries I've ever seen. This should have been an introduction to a 6 hour detailed account of not only his trials and tribulations, but also his conquests and losses until empire collapse. So, as for quality of this documentary it wasn't bad but I think I learned more from that movie that came out not too long ago.

    1. StillRV

      Except the empire collapsed 3-4 generations after he died. In fact the entire empire was not won by Genghis himself but by his sons and grandsons.

  23. hailflavour

    great doc only thing its lacking are subtitles

  24. melloyeyo

    I liked this one. The combination of narration while the actors do their lines keeps a nice flow and give more information.

  25. Piav

    He was just atyran, evil and left just death och notihing else. An evil death do human glad.

  26. Ross Payant

    There's no point to trying to apply your modern sense of morality to someone that far back history either to justify or condemn. He was a monster but EVERYONE was a monster, he was just better at it. Maybe he had some sort of positive legacy but plenty of terrible things have positive legacies (greater women's suffrage via the world wars, beautiful structures of the ancient world built with slave labor, etc).

    1. Greg_Mc

      Ross you make a very good point. I, like most people I would assume, just know him as a blood thirsty Mongol who built an empire using a great army and I would figure he was a bit of a tactition as well otherwise he couldn't have taken all the land he did. I don't think he abided by anything akin to the Geneva Convention lol. I havent watched the doc yet (I am just about to) and my knowledge of him, his times, his contemporaries and histroy in general is lacking greatly so I hope to gain some insight from this doc (hoping it is historically as accurate as possible, I am reading a fiction novel that is mostly set in modern day Mongolia but Khan is not only mentioned a bit in the book so far as is the secret location of his grave but his name is in the title so maybe this doc will make my reading of the book more interesting if I can pick up a few things about the guy) and some of the more intelligent well thought out and rational comments posted on here.

  27. StillRV

    Have yet to watch this, but am looking forward to it. Genghis may well be one of the most simplistic yet complex personalities of the past. He was so simple in his motivations (disrespect me, my family, or my people and I will lay waste to all that you know). At the same time his strategy for war and wielding of power in a nation never before unified under one horse tail was pure genius. He had the gift of "I don't give a S%%%" to the highest degree. It did not matter to him what color, creed, or nationality a man was or from what culture came an idea. If it worked and he could use it he did. In an odd sort of way the mongol people had more freedom under an all powerful emperor than many do in todays republics or democracies. As long as you didn't screw with the Khan you could do whatever. After he had unified the Mongol people he never really had to assert his power. He just got what he wanted by the sheer power of his will. People just naturally bent to him as a result of his persona. That and knowing that if you did try to rock the boat he would kill you before his morning piss. My favorite Genghis story is one were, after a long siege of an Islamic city in the mideast he finally took the city. The leader of the city offered him a massive quantity of gold for amnesty to go free and flee south. Genghis responded by having molten gold (the weight of one of his favored generals who had died in the siege) pored down the mans throat. That is a man that commands men.

  28. adilrye

    Genghis was a murderous man, but let's be honest, there was a context to all of this. Think of the time, the damn Middle Ages, where the concept of a humane war was barely a blip on the radar, AND that he grew up in the tribal, warrior based society of Mongolia. Naturally, when he and his people created an empire, they did it in the way that was norm back in the "old country", so to speak...that is to say, brutally. I'm not trying to justify his actions, but what's the point? Back then, perspectives on what war meant was completely different than today.

    Anyway, I do believe that despite his violent legacy, he did do quite a bit of positive in the context of world history. A mixed legacy to say the least.

    1. Zombie2501

      Name a war that was "humane".

    2. MatarD

      Still the concept and mentality exists in the United Nations, and wars are fought diffidently because of it. So, he/she is not incorrect in claiming its existence, even though it is wholeheartedly pulling reality in a deluded direction. Just one incorrect concept among others.

    3. adilrye

      Thank you, Matar D, exactly. There's no such thing as a humane war, but obviously there is a universally accepted concept of "rules of war". It's normal for an army to execute surrendering combatants, even though it happens, it's recognized as a war crime. Back then, that was expected and accepted.

  29. Alan Strife MacDonald

    greek and roman history > your history

  30. Tyler Shipowich

    1 in 200 men today can trace their lineage to Ghengis Khan
    what a pimp, spread his seed farther than anyone i guess to

    1. Guest

      It is also a testament to the masses of men he killed. You can't reproduce if you are dead.

    2. His Forever

      What a yucky thought! Thanks for that! ;-)

  31. J009_5B

    Was Genghis an atheist?

    1. His Forever

      Not sure. Good question.

    2. StillRV

      Not really, He was more like an agnostic. His roots were in shamanistic tribal faith, The common beliefs of the Mongols, at the onset of Genghis' reign, were in the "sky father" and the earth. Quite similar to native American beliefs. Over the course of the expansion of his empire Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, and many other denominations became incorporated into the national beliefs. As for Genghis he believed in whatever made him stronger. Early on there are accounts of his having eaten parts of the hearts of his enemies as he rose to power. Rooted in the shamanistic beliefs that to consume ones enemy granted the victor the strength of that enemy. After the conquest of china Buddhist monks brought new fighting styles and discipline that Genghis appreciated. He had his sons taught by those monks. All in all i would say Genghis' attitude toward religion was one of utilitarianism. If the religion served him in some way fine, if not he could care less about it.

    3. J009_5B

      Brilliant, thanks a lot!

  32. tariqxl

    I love that line ''who were as loyal as only mercenaries could be'' lol

  33. S.E.T.H

    funny how in this documentary the information presented is "according to the secret history".

    1. adilrye

      The Secret History of the Mongols is a canon of work from directly after the death of Genghis Khan accounting his life and the rise of the Mongol's not like they're doing a corny "secret files" type thing.

  34. Guest

    He must have been a follower of pedophile and mass murderer Mohammad. No wonder he inflicted such a defeat on muslim Baghdad, called the centre of knowledge at the time, in 1258 that muslim faithfuls never fully recovered from its shocking impact on their culture and beliefs. Jihad against the Mongols didn't work out, I guess :D

    1. dhaanto diisow

      @ ariif
      what a hatred!!! towards a man claimed by many academic historians as one of the greatest leaders in the history of mankind & why would you bring your delusive and baseless arguments to where they r needed least,,

    2. avd420

      Baseless? It's written in the Quran.

    3. Guest

      It was an ironic comment. I just wanna see peoples reactions to that :D

    4. avd420


      You should look up the definition of ironey.

      What you did would be called a prank.

    5. adilrye

      I'm assuming this is sarcasm?

      and avd420....none of that is in the Qur'an.

    6. Sertsis

      Steeped in sarcasm I'd say.

    7. Hassan Talal Maitla

      Well I won't be surprised if the anti-religion brigade on TDF actually takes your comment as a fact rather than sarcasm. Amazing how they shroud their prejudice under the banner of 'freethinking'.

    8. avd420

      I took it as fact. What part wasn't?

    9. Sertsis

      You're the one whose shrouded, boy! Nobody tells me who to love or hate,... I do that on my own, and it'll have nothing to do with your race or religion... I'm not black and white, you are!

  35. MatarD

    Awesome, thanks for this one. Just about to start Conn Iggulden's final book in his series about him (novels).

    Genghis's honor mentality was really extreme, a human nuke. 40 million killed 600 years ago is sick.

  36. Mulakush

    I find it strange that in European view, Alexander is called great and not the barbaric murderer that he really was.

    1. avd420

      I always wondered that too. How long of a timeline has to pass before a mass murder becomes an icon. Will this happen to Hitler and Stalin in a few hundred years?

      But I disagree that Alexander was barbaric. He was ultra-progressive even compared to todays standards and improved the quality of life for all the lands he conquered.

    2. Guest

      Conquest and Invasion with "Consent"? Wow, what a cheap argument for european defence of crap history. :D

    3. avd420

      Someones got some resentment built up. Would you like me to apologize for Alexander? hahahah

    4. His Forever

      Good point. I don't consider either one of these men as "great" but rather just very good at killing on a massive scale to feed their power hunger.

    5. Mark Willey

      It needs to be remembered that "Great" was a title given to him by his men...not by the people he conquered!

    6. Jack1952

      The Europeans that he conquered didn't think he was so great.