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The Secret History of Genghis Khan

Documentary about the Secret History of the Mongols, a book said to have been written by Genghis Khan's adopted son which reveals a different man to the butcher of legend.


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Genghis Khan.

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The world's most famous warrior.

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He rose from abject poverty to rule most of the known world.

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It is claimed that one in every 200 men alive today is descended from him.

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History records him as a brutal butcher.

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But, for centuries, his true story lay buried, forgotten in Chinese archives.

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Who was the real man behind the legend?

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And how did he inspire his successors from beyond the grave

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to conquer the largest land empire the world has ever seen?

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Written nearly 800 years ago,

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an extraordinary text reveals the Secret History Of Genghis Khan.

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Europe, in the year 1241.

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Although Genghis Khan had been dead for more than a decade, his legacy lived on.

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Priests prophesied a coming apocalypse,

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as Mongolian hordes approached the borders of the Holy Roman Empire.

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The whole continent watched and waited in terror.

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Drawing from the Book of Revelations,

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they saw the invaders as the armies of Satan.

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Their fears would soon be realised.

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The Mongol army descended like a storm.

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The knights of Europe faced warriors the likes of which they had never seen before.

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Fearless in battle,

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moving at lightning speed on highly-trained horses,

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armed with bows able to penetrate the strongest armour,

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Mongol warriors had yet to be defeated.

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And they were now within striking distance of the very heart of Europe.

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Genghis Khan was no longer alive.

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But his legacy, passed on through the pages of the Secret History Of The Mongols,

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was all too real.

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14 years earlier, just after Genghis Khan's death,

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the heads of the Mongol tribes gathered together.

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They were preparing for the fulfilment

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of Genghis's grand strategy, sketched out just before he died -

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nothing less than the conquest of the entire world.

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In the midst of this tribal gathering was the Khan's adopted son, known as Shigi the Blessed.

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He was recording for the Secret History the events surrounding the great Khan's extraordinary life.

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"In the Year of the Rat, they came all together,

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"the nobles of the right wing, the princes of the left wing, and the leaders of the thousands."

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But the Secret History Of The Mongols was not to be an ordinary history book.

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The inspiration for future leaders, it was a blueprint for power.

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We have to bear in mind always that the Secret History

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is a history written in order to educate.

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This is essentially a mirror for princes,

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a manual of statecraft.

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The original manuscript has never been found.

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But over 500 years after it was written,

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a Chinese copy came to light, hidden away in private archives.

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It was not a straightforward history of the Mongol Empire.

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It was far more personal than that.

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Genghis's rise is the real subject of the Secret History.

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How he puts this into effect in the actual creation of the empire

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is of less interest.

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This is not a military history at all.

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Genghis Khan's story begins in the middle of the 12th century.

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His father, a powerful Mongolian general,

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returned to camp after a successful raid on a neighbouring tribe.

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He was spurred on by good news.

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His wife had given birth to a son.

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"As he was born, he emerged clutching a blood clot

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"the size of a knucklebone dice in his right hand.

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"To this boy, they gave the name Temujin."

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The shamans interpreted the blood clot as a sign from heaven,

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a sign Temujin, the future Genghis Khan, would become a fierce warrior.

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In the legend that grew up around Genghis in later centuries,

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he was meant to be not the child of an ordinary person,

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but the child of the sun himself.

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So there's room for the belief

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that his birth was supernatural and that heaven presided over his birth,

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and that his destiny as a world conqueror was a heavenly, ordained destiny.

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Temujin was born into a family of noble descent.

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His father was a respected warrior who had increased his clan's wealth and land.

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He brought up Temujin to ride and hunt from an early age -

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skills essential for survival in the vastness of Central Asia.

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As he grew, Temujin became friendly with a boy from a neighbouring clan called Jamuka.

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Following Mongol tradition, as the two became closer, they swore vows to be friends for life.

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Becoming sworn friends was, if you like, the glue, the political glue, of Mongol society.

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In this very flexible society, loyalty was the key political virtue.

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To break it was one of the most serious of crimes.

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As the two boys exchanged arrows as a symbol of their promise,

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they forged a bond that should have lasted forever.

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Instead, Temujin would learn a harsh lesson about betrayal.

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When Temujin was just eight years old, his father took him to find a bride.

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As was Mongol tradition, his marriage would cement an alliance with a neighbouring tribe.

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In a world of inter-tribal feuding, there was security in numbers.

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On arrival at their camp, Temujin's eyes were drawn to a graceful girl named Borte.

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This would turn out to be much more than just a typical Mongolian arranged marriage.

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It would become a bond of love.

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In a rare romantic moment, the Secret History lapses into poetry to describe the betrothal.

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"She had light in her eyes, she had fire in her eyes.

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"He was pleased with her."

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Genghis could be seen as a bit of a romantic.

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He absolutely adored Borte.

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They were said to have been united in the light of the moon.

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Contrary to his reputation as a womaniser,

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the Secret History reveals that she would be his one great love.

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The Secret History portrays Genghis in a much fuller sense than we're used to in the West.

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He was a very soft man

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who cared for and looked after his mother and his wife and his children,

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and was incredibly loyal to those alliances that he built up.

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Later, as Khan, Genghis would take more wives, as tradition demanded.

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But it would be Borte's children who would rule the empire after his death.

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Shortly after his betrothal to Borte, a messenger brought news

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that would, for a time, tear the two children apart.

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In an act of revenge, Temujin's father had been poisoned

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by the tribe he had been raiding at the time of his birth.

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The boy had to return to his people.

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And to an uncertain fate.

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In a defining moment in the future Khan's life, he, his mother and seven siblings,

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were abandoned by their own tribe,

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left to fend for themselves.

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"All the people had gone away, leaving only the mother and her sons.

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"She was borne of great courage.

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"With a stick in her hand, she fed them by digging up roots."

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This was a woman who needed quite exceptional strength of character

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to save herself and her five boys.

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So I think her role in his upbringing was absolutely crucial.

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We have to bear in mind just what sort of environment Mongolia might have been.

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This is one of the coldest places in the world,

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with temperatures in winter that go down to 80 below zero.

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If you don't have an alpha male looking after you, you've had it.

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Without the guidance of a father, and with supplies scarce,

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Temujin began to fall out with his half-brother, Begter.

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As they jockeyed for food and power, the conflict turned to violence.

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The future Khan had yet to learn the importance of family ties.

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"Begter sat in the clearing, watching the family's horses grazing.

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"Temujin and his other brother crept up from behind, drawing their arrows to shoot.

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"Begter said, "How can you treat me like some dirt in your eye,

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"like something that's keeping the food from your mouth?

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"How can you do this when there's no-one to fight but our own shadows?"

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Temujin doesn't declare that he's just killed his brother Begter, but his mother can see it.

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She says she can see it from his face as he enters through the doorway.

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And then she starts violently berating her son.

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The Secret History describes his mother's reaction in graphic detail.

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She compares him to a ravening dog.

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She tells him that he's like a panther, a lion, a jackal, a monster, a pike.

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Temujin was not proud of what he had done,

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but he had learnt a harsh lesson, one that he was keen to pass on.

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Temujin at the time was 13, and was in no position, really, to judge himself. But later he was.

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And that was why he regarded it as so important

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that the rest of his tribe should know that this had been a great crime.

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But as a springboard for power, strong family ties were not enough.

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The Secret History said the future Khan's path to leadership was preordained.

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To make the point, it tells of several narrow escapes

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where ordinary men would not have survived.

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It describes how, as a boy, Temujin and his family were constantly hunted by his father's old enemies.

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One day, unable to escape his pursuers,

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Temujin was captured, bound and brought to the camp of an enemy clan.

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He faced living the rest of his life as a slave.

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Humiliated and ridiculed, he was forced to serve his tormenters.

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But one of his captors, Sorkhan Shira, sensed in the young man

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a potential future leader, even as the others continued in their efforts to break his will.

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THEY LAUGH MOCKINGLY

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But with heaven on his side, all was not as hopeless as it seemed,

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for Temujin was already showing that he was an astute judge of character.

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One night, whilst lashed to a yoke, he overcame his guard.

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Realising that he had no chance of escaping on foot, he headed for the river.

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"If I run for the woods, they will spot me," he thought to himself.

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"So he went to the river, using his yoke as a float."

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He should have been quickly recaptured,

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but, in the Secret History, nothing happens by chance.

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It was Sorkhan Shira, the captor who had seen in him a future leader, who found him.

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"As Sorkhan Shira passed by the river, he saw Temujin lying there and spoke to him quietly.

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"It's because you're a clever young man that they are afraid of you.

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"Just stay where you are.

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"I won't tell them I've seen you."

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Temujin shows himself to be a remarkable judge of character.

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He sees instantly the sort of person who is going to help him.

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He is able to choose the character, to choose his allies, and to then build on this,

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and it's going to be the basis for his political career.

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The Secret History has many gaps, lost years in the life of the young Genghis Khan.

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It is years later before Shigi takes up the story again.

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His youth behind him, Temujin emerged as an imposing man,

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a man now in command of a small army of Mongol warriors.

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Having been reunited with his childhood love, Borte, now his wife,

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Temujin became ever more ambitious.

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But the Secret History tells us that there was more to his path to power than simple brute force.

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Instead, Temujin set about recruiting allies.

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He set his sights on the most powerful warlord in all Mongolia,

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Toghril Khan, leader of the Kereits.

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He would give him his most precious possession.

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"In the old days, you and my father were blood brothers.

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"You were like my father.

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"I've just married a woman, and I've brought the wedding gift to you."

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He had a knack for getting people on board.

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He simply gives him the most valuable object he has.

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And, without asking for a favour in return,

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he throws it entirely before this ruler whom he wants to impress.

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And his bread comes back to him on the waters.

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A year later, Toghril comes to him and says, "I have not forgotten that coat, that sable coat you gave me.

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"And I inscribed my promise to help you under my own heart.

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"And now I will help you."

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As his influence continued to grow, eager and enterprising young men

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were soon drawn to Temujin's side, where they were trained as warriors.

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As an incentive for loyalty,

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he promised them raids and rich rewards.

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His riders were trained in a very special skill -

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to fire their arrows at their enemies while riding away at full gallop.

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It was a manoeuvre that would help make them the greatest army on earth.

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The archer gallops towards the enemy lines.

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At the last moment, pivots, swings round in the saddle,

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and looses, in quick succession, up to six arrows.

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And the damage that this does has to be seen to be believed.

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It is a fearsome bow.

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I think we would need to forget the idea of a bow altogether and think of a rifle

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if we wanted to get some idea of the toll that these bowmen took.

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But before Temujin and his men faced the armies of the West,

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they would be forced to contend with enemies closer to home.

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The Mongols were surrounded by other powerful tribes who were a constant threat.

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Through the Secret History, Temujin's successors learnt that, away from battle,

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heaven's chosen leader should always put his own safety first.

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The point was made as his family made camp during a hunting expedition.

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"The camp was at the Kerulen river's source,

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"when one morning, just before dawn, his mother's servant woke the camp with a startling cry.

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"Mother, mother, get up, the ground is shaking.

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"I hear it rumble."

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An enemy tribe had spotted them.

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With his warriors too far away to help, Temujin and his family were forced to flee for their lives.

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But there were not enough horses for everyone.

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In what looked like a selfish act, Temujin took a horse for himself.

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Then ordered his mother to take the only remaining one, abandoning his wife to certain capture.

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But there was method to his madness.

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Temujin might have been seen as a coward here, just leaving his wife behind,

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but he knew that she would be strong enough to be able to cope with this, and that she would be able to gather

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crucial information about the inner workings of the Merkit for him when he went to retrieve her later on.

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With his wife now acting as his spy, to assure his own safety, Temujin fled into the hills.

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"Yet again," Shigi wrote, "the heavens had spared him from death."

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The future Khan started to believe that his destiny was ordained.

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He escaped once again from his pursuers and began to realise, saw for the first time,

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that perhaps he was being saved for a particular purpose.

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It was, if you like, a revelation of divine backing.

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It seems that he wished his followers to believe that he had always had divine backing,

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and that what was happening was a mere working out of the divine will.

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With his wife rescued, it was now that Genghis first emerged as the brutal mass murderer of history.

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Still barely 20 years old, he was gaining the reputation the shamans had forecast at his birth.

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As news of his successes spread, more and more men joined him.

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He was now strong enough to take on the Tatars, a blood feud that spanned the generations.

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"Now is the time of our revenge.

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"We will kill every Tatar man taller than the lynchpin on the wheel of a cart.

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"We will kill them until they're destroyed as a tribe."

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On his way to power, he trod on corpses. There's no question.

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"Return what people give to you," he said.

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He paid back the Tatars by measuring every one of their people

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against the axle of a dog cart.

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Anyone taller than the axle was exterminated.

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Generations of inter-tribal anger were unleashed.

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Here, the Secret History offers a terrible lesson.

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The battle was more than a skirmish to avenge a death, steal a bride or loot.

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This was to be the complete destruction of an entire tribe.

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All surviving Tatar men were beheaded.

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Only children and potential concubines were spared, taken as slaves.

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But Temujin's successes began to cause tensions, even amongst his own allies.

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The most powerful, Jamuka, his sworn friend from childhood,

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was now also a successful general in his own right.

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But there could not be two leaders.

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The ambitious Jamuka was about to change from friend to foe.

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The Secret History records a powerful message on the dangers of betrayal.

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Jamuka called upon his tribes to desert Temujin and ride with him instead.

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Their childhood vow of lifelong friendship turned into bitter hatred and jealousy.

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This is betrayal at a very high level.

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And we're supposed to believe from the Secret History that this was done easily by Jamuka.

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The Secret History is trying to set up Jamuka as the anti-hero to Genghis.

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Genghis remains true, he remains loyal to his oath.

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Jamuka betrays him, and this is a very important theme now,

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from now on in the Secret History.

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Jamuka's betrayal did not end there.

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In a conference between the three supposed allies,

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he sought to turn Temujin's sworn friend Toghril against him as well.

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The Secret History tells us that, although Genghis relied on the notion of sworn brotherhood,

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he was a little bit naive about these alliances, and it often took the insights of his mother or his wife

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to point out that these were very fragile alliances

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that could be betrayed.

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Jamuka whispered to Toghril that Temujin was seeking new alliances behind his back.

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"Temujin is sending messages back and forth to the Naiman.

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"While his mouth is saying words like "father" and "son," his actions speak otherwise.

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"How can you trust such a man?

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"If you don't stop him now, who will save you?

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"If you attack Temujin now, I'll pledge to attack him from the rear."

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Jamuka and Toghril combined forces and attacked Temujin together.

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It was a bitter battle,

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for all knew the winner would be the most powerful force on the Mongolian steppe.

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After a lengthy and close-run campaign, a year later, the fighting finally came to an end.

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Despite the odds, and having stared defeat in the face, Temujin emerged victorious.

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His former lord, Toghril, was now dead, and Jamuka, his arch rival, was on the run.

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Having once commanded tens of thousands of warriors,

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Jamuka now had to hide in the mountains with only a handful of followers.

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But Jamuka was not Temujin.

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He was incapable of inspiring the loyalty the future Khan had.

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Jamuka's men had learnt to their cost that he was not to be trusted.

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He had proved himself a traitor.

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Disillusioned, his followers hatched a desperate plan, a plan they believed would save their own lives.

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Bound, Jamuka was delivered to Temujin by his former comrades in arms.

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The men expected gratitude from Temujin for delivering his enemy.

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But in a powerful lesson in loyalty and allegiance,

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the Secret History makes it clear that they were gravely mistaken.

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Temujin turned on them in disgust.

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"How can we allow men who lay hands on their own lord to live?

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"Who should trust people like this?

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"Such people should be killed, along with their descendants."

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Although Jamuka had betrayed him,

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Temujin still believed in the strength of the sworn childhood bond.

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He proposed to Jamuka that they bury their rivalries and join forces once again.

0:33:080:33:13

Jamuka refused, seeking only an honourable death.

0:33:210:33:26

"My blood brother, if you want to favour me,

0:33:260:33:30

"then simply see that my life is ended without shedding my blood."

0:33:300:33:34

His wish was granted.

0:33:360:33:39

But the Secret History would exonerate Genghis from blame.

0:33:390:33:43

The story of Jamuka's death is a story with a moral.

0:33:430:33:48

For Genghis himself

0:33:480:33:51

to wield the knife is a desecration of blood brotherhood.

0:33:510:33:56

How do we get round this?

0:33:560:33:58

We get round it, I think, in a Stalinist way,

0:33:580:34:01

with a show trial and a grovelling confession by the villain,

0:34:010:34:07

in which he begs for a merciful death.

0:34:070:34:10

Jamuka asks for his own death in order to exonerate Genghis himself.

0:34:100:34:16

In 1206, Temujin received the greatest honour ever given to a Mongol warrior.

0:34:210:34:27

At the age of 44, he was proclaimed Supreme Commander,

0:34:310:34:35

the Khan of all Mongols, by a grand assembly of tribes.

0:34:350:34:40

He determined to apply all the lessons he had learned throughout his life.

0:34:430:34:48

The importance of loyalty, allegiance, and total control, backed up by brutality.

0:34:480:34:55

Most of all, a real sense of divine mission and assured success.

0:34:580:35:03

But this was not to be the summit of his career, merely the beginning.

0:35:060:35:11

"Temujin, if you'll be our Khan, we'll search through the spoils

0:35:170:35:22

"for the beautiful women and virgins.

0:35:220:35:25

"If we disobey your command during battle, take away our possessions,

0:35:300:35:35

"our children and wives. Leave us behind in the dust,

0:35:350:35:40

"cutting off our heads where we stand, and letting them fall to the ground."

0:35:400:35:45

Temujin took a title nobody had ever been awarded before - Genghis Khan.

0:35:500:35:57

The title Genghis was utterly unique to him,

0:35:590:36:03

and nobody knows why it was chosen, and nobody's quite sure what it means.

0:36:030:36:09

CHEERING

0:36:120:36:15

The current thinking is that it's "fierce,"

0:36:150:36:18

so that he comes over as the "Fierce Khan," the Fierce King.

0:36:180:36:21

He set about putting into practice the lessons he had learnt

0:36:250:36:28

during his rise to power.

0:36:280:36:30

The Secret History recorded each innovation in meticulous detail.

0:36:330:36:38

"Genghis Khan set the lives of all Mongolian peoples in order

0:36:380:36:44

"and made this decree.

0:36:440:36:46

"To reward those who fought with me to establish the nation,

0:36:460:36:50

"I will make them leaders of a thousand."

0:36:500:36:54

He began by radically restructuring the army.

0:36:560:36:59

Disregarding tribal affiliations, he rewarded his most loyal followers

0:36:590:37:05

with power over a thousand men each.

0:37:050:37:08

Without regard to rank or status, he promoted according to ability alone.

0:37:090:37:15

It's one thing to talk about a meritocracy,

0:37:170:37:21

it's quite another to operate it. And here it was operated.

0:37:210:37:25

Shepherds were indeed given generalships

0:37:250:37:28

and leaders of vassal tribes were also given generalships, as well as Mongols.

0:37:280:37:35

So this was the reward of loyalty.

0:37:350:37:38

This is a new style of ordering large bodies of men.

0:37:460:37:51

If a commander left a wounded Mongol on the battlefield,

0:37:530:37:57

he would be executed. So "the buck stops here,"

0:37:570:38:01

is what a Mongol commander might have had on his desk.

0:38:010:38:05

And he paid for dereliction of duty with his own life.

0:38:050:38:09

Genghis Khan now felt powerful enough to explore beyond the vastness of the steppe.

0:38:130:38:19

He sent scouts in all directions.

0:38:210:38:24

Not just to find realms worthy of plunder,

0:38:250:38:28

but whole nations to conquer on the far side of the great deserts.

0:38:280:38:32

Neither the Gobi nor the Taklamakan

0:38:370:38:41

could stop Genghis Khan's faithful warriors.

0:38:410:38:44

With astonishing endurance,

0:38:490:38:51

they rode on through both freezing cold and burning heat.

0:38:510:38:54

The scouts returned with good news.

0:39:010:39:05

There was little obstacle to invasion.

0:39:050:39:08

But the Secret History once again reveals

0:39:080:39:12

that, contrary to Western legend,

0:39:120:39:13

Genghis Khan knew that there was more to achieving his ambitions than mere brute force.

0:39:130:39:20

Genghis Khan the warrior proved to be a wise statesman as well.

0:39:270:39:32

From defeated administrators, he would take lessons in ruling a realm.

0:39:340:39:39

Just as his military tactics are endlessly inventive,

0:39:400:39:45

endlessly flexible and receptive to new ideas,

0:39:450:39:48

so too when he saw what other people had to offer,

0:39:480:39:52

he simply paid them and they did the job.

0:39:520:39:55

So what the Mongols couldn't do themselves, they found someone else to do for them.

0:39:550:40:01

Although illiterate himself, the Khan was quick to grasp the importance of the written word.

0:40:010:40:08

The Secret History tells us how he overcame his own illiteracy.

0:40:080:40:12

He told Shigi to adopt writing from one of his new vassal tribes, the Uyghurs,

0:40:120:40:18

and that was the script that was taken on and taught to the princes, even while Genghis was still alive.

0:40:180:40:24

"Let no man violate his word.

0:40:270:40:29

"Strike fear in the hearts of thieves. Bring remorse to the tongues of liars.

0:40:290:40:35

"Execute those whom custom has condemned to death.

0:40:350:40:38

"Write everything in a blue book.

0:40:380:40:42

"Let no-one change anything Shigi Khutukhu - after taking counsel with me -

0:40:420:40:47

"has written on the white paper of his blue book."

0:40:470:40:50

With reform of his troops and administration under way,

0:40:550:40:59

Genghis Khan set his sights on his greatest neighbour, China.

0:40:590:41:04

The traditional source of Mongol loot,

0:41:060:41:09

it was a goal that would have universal support from his people.

0:41:090:41:14

His army would do more than loot and run.

0:41:150:41:19

This time, they would stay.

0:41:190:41:22

It was an expedition fraught with risk.

0:41:270:41:30

Genghis Khan consulted the oracle.

0:41:330:41:35

The outcome would be determined by how the bones split.

0:41:430:41:47

The charred bones split lengthwise.

0:41:560:41:59

The omens were good.

0:42:090:42:12

The greatest army Mongolia had ever seen was assembled.

0:42:160:42:21

They would march south into the richest region in Asia,

0:42:210:42:25

over 100,000 strong.

0:42:250:42:28

As victory followed victory, the soldiers were accompanied by women, children and servants,

0:42:300:42:36

well over 100,000 horses and vast herds of goats and sheep brought along for food.

0:42:360:42:43

At the command of Genghis Khan, his entire palace yurt was placed on a platform on wheels,

0:42:470:42:53

drawn by more than 20 oxen.

0:42:530:42:55

They approached northern China not simply as invaders,

0:43:010:43:04

but for the first time in Mongol history, with the intention of long-term occupation.

0:43:040:43:11

I think Genghis was driven by his character.

0:43:130:43:17

What he was doing, in psychological terms,

0:43:170:43:19

was to create himself a security network that could never, ever be threatened.

0:43:190:43:25

You create new frontiers, which then have to be defended,

0:43:270:43:31

which then have to be extended, which create new frontiers, etc.

0:43:310:43:34

It's a never-ending process.

0:43:340:43:36

In 1211, the Mongol army first reached the walls of Beijing.

0:43:430:43:48

As wave after wave of Mongols attacked the city,

0:43:570:44:01

Genghis Khan continued his march northwards, leaving his generals to finish the job.

0:44:010:44:07

Victory would take four more years.

0:44:130:44:16

Yet this astonishing military campaign barely rates a mention in the Secret History.

0:44:160:44:22

Designed to reveal Genghis's character,

0:44:220:44:26

details of his military campaigns were simply not important.

0:44:260:44:30

His great conquests are by the by.

0:44:300:44:34

Sure, he happened to capture Beijing. Sure, he happened to conquer Russia.

0:44:340:44:39

Sure, he happened to conquer Iran, Iraq, on and on.

0:44:390:44:43

But that is of no interest to the author of the Secret History.

0:44:430:44:48

That is strictly a sideshow.

0:44:480:44:50

Although Genghis Khan was now at the height of his power,

0:44:560:44:59

the Secret History chooses to draw to a close, not on his military conquests,

0:44:590:45:04

but on a final act of revenge against a former ally who had betrayed him.

0:45:040:45:10

"The Tanghut people made a promise they didn't keep.

0:45:140:45:17

"Genghis Khan has gone to war with the Tanghut a second time and has destroyed them.

0:45:170:45:23

"Now this writing is finished,

0:45:230:45:25

"in the seventh moon of the Year of Rat."

0:45:250:45:29

To the very end, it is the lessons Genghis wished to pass on

0:45:290:45:33

which are the real message of the Secret History.

0:45:330:45:37

The importance of total control, gained through loyalty, allegiances, fairness and trust.

0:45:380:45:45

The power of brutality to strike terror into the hearts of enemies.

0:45:500:45:55

And the self-assurance that flows from a sense of divine support.

0:45:550:46:00

The Secret History would teach these lessons, even if it meant exposing the Khan's own failings.

0:46:020:46:08

I think that Genghis, in a way,

0:46:080:46:11

allows himself to be almost like the guide throughout these teachings. So we see where he makes mistakes

0:46:110:46:17

or where he succeeds, and future generations can see

0:46:170:46:20

that this was actually a real person who had to confront real issues.

0:46:200:46:24

For himself, Genghis Khan never claimed divinity.

0:46:280:46:32

But after his death, the writer of the Secret History

0:46:320:46:37

wanted his successors to believe that from the moment of the Khan's birth,

0:46:370:46:41

they were destined to rule the world.

0:46:410:46:44

Already it was becoming believed that Genghis himself and the whole empire was divinely ordained.

0:46:450:46:52

So, for 150 years, his personality absolutely imbued the empire.

0:46:530:46:59

I think this makes it something quite unique in history.

0:46:590:47:03

Yet the manner of his death was only too human.

0:47:070:47:11

In 1227, legend says that the founder of a nation of riders

0:47:140:47:19

fell off his horse and died of his wounds.

0:47:190:47:23

Shigi does not reveal where he was buried.

0:47:250:47:29

It is said that a thousand horses were driven over his grave,

0:47:310:47:35

until every last trace of Genghis Khan had vanished.

0:47:350:47:39

But through the Secret History,

0:47:410:47:43

he was able to pass on the lessons he had learned,

0:47:430:47:47

on his way from illiterate nomad to one of the most powerful leaders the world has ever seen.

0:47:470:47:54

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:48:190:48:22

E-mail [email protected]

0:48:220:48:25

Documentary looking at the Secret History of the Mongols, said to have been written by Genghis Khan's adopted son, which reveals a very different man to the brutal butcher of Western legend. Not just a womaniser, but a devoted husband. Not just a warrior, but a politician. Not just a conqueror, but a legislator. A man who wanted the lessons he had learnt - good and bad - to be passed onto his successors. Within its pages lies the inside story of how an illiterate nomad inspired his successors to conquer the largest land empire the world has ever seen.