Of 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.