Summary of "Genghis Khan" by James Chambers (Part VII)
Chapter VII: The Last Campaign
After Genghis Khan's break, where he spent a few summers entertaining philosophers and artists, Genghis was finally ready to leave home again, this time forever.
As he was marching out, there was contention between his army and his family. His eldest son Jochi, his bastard son, was protested against by other men for the heir to the throne. Genghis always treated him equally, though and paid this no mind. Jochi also never showed this with his actions. He was a fearless and enthusiastic leader on the battlefield. Where he and Genghis differed so much was the public slaughtering. Jochi contested it, whereas Genghis considered it necessary.
Eventually, Jochi’s commitment slowed down. Genghis called on Jochi for battle, but he reported back he was ill. This was later discovered to be a lie when Genghis learned he was out hunting multiple times. Another incident occurred when Jochi showed up late to defend his brother in battle, which could have ended disastrously. So, Jochi was summoned to court. He offered his father several thousand horses as forgiveness, and his father accepted. Jochi died shortly after, though, and it was believed that Genghis poisoned him.
Not all relationships with his sons and eldest commanders ended poorly, though. Jebe and Subutai, two of Genghis Khan’s most experienced commanders that would continue their conquest after Khan’s death, described their legendary adventures to Genghis during their march. In just two years, 20,000 men rode over 5,500 miles and fought more than a dozen battles against superior numbers. They also shared priceless information with Genghis about the Turko-Mongols, who lived across Russia to Hungary and beyond. Subutai's dream was to conquer them, which he'd eventually fulfill.
Europeans barely knew anything about the Mongols, and now the Mongols learned a lot about the Europeans. The Europeans didn't even think the Mongols would come back to invade; they assumed they were exploring for intelligence purposes. The Mongols knew this and manipulated the information the Europeans received about them, creating a more extensive fog of war.
At the same time, King David had a massive army in India. And in 1225, David and his Tangut army rode East to fight the Mongols. In 1226 when the battles began, Genghis fell ill. His officers pleaded with him to return home, but he refused, growing weaker each day. The captain would go down with his ship.
Khan's armies were now using original invasion strategies that their defenders didn't even know were possible. The Mongols were building dams and diverting rivers into cities. They were attaching felt to their horse's hooves and purposely raiding enemies while travelling over any body of frozen water. They were throwing corpses over city walls with catapults. Little constant victories like this that would leave the Mongols completely decimating their opponent allowed them to split up other armies and dwindle them down quickly.
In 1227, after enough battles were won, the Mongols laid siege to the capital. Genghis died in his tent but kept it a secret. His last wishes were to execute the king and his courtiers when they came out to negotiate and then storm into the city to slaughter all the civilians, including the animals.
He was buried in northern Mongolia in an unmarked grave according to his wishes. Two years later, 49 horses and 40 bejewelled virgins were sacrificed on his grave to keep him company. After a few more years, the overgrowth made the grave lost with time, another wish of his. Like other great conquerors, Genghis has no tomb. He left an empire that founded dynasties that ruled Asia for centuries. For another 100 years, Jochi's descendants ruled in the west, and the great Mongol dynasty was expanded through Khan descendants in India and Russia.
Khan's strategies were studied by Napoleon and were still being taught to Russian cavalry officers at the beginning of the 20th century. In World War II, two leading tank commanders attributed their success to being students of the Mongol army.
If it weren't for the horrific bloodshed that Khan left in his wake, he might stand above all others as the greatest conquerer in history.