On this day in 1227 one of the most important men ever to exist – Genghis Motherfucking Khan – died.
I am still cut up about it.
People are out here being basic as hell about Genghis on the regular to which I say please consider – if you believe that Alexander the Great was, in fact, Great, but think that Genghis Khan was not one of the greatest men who ever lived, you are uncritically accepting racist – and discredited and outmoded – historical narratives.
Jack Weatherford, Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World (Three Rivers Press, 2005)
Jon Man, Genghis Khan, His Heirs, and the Making of Modern China (Corgi, 2015)
Frank McLynn, Genghis Khan: The Man Who Conquered the World (The Bodly Head Ltd, 2015)
Jack Weatherford, Genghis Khan and the Quest for God: How the World’s Greatest Conqueror Gave Us Religious Freedom (Viking: 2016)
Or maybe just take Hark A Vagrant’s and my word for it.
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Twitter brought me here. Loving what you do, the world needs hip-hop literate medievalists now more than ever and doesn’t even know it.
Can we get a bit more of a drill-down into your thoughts on the Cults of Conquerors? Because of course it’s totes racist to regard Alexander as “great” and Temujin as the spectre of Oriental tyranny. But what if you were more inclined to the view that, say, they’re both basically murderous thugs and that the way much of history (at least popular history) revolves around the exploits of such men — as if they alone dictate the shape and achievements of civilizations — indicates a kind of endemic misogyny more than anything else? Would that seem like a true statement to you?
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I think that is really prescient and one of the problems that we have with history, generally. We tend to focus on the lives of those who are considered ‘great’, by which we mean had a large impact on the world. Historically a lot of the time that is measured in violence, specifically. Large scale violence changes things, and we tend to focus history around change as a fulcrum. I’m going to think on this one – I think it’s worth a longer reflection.
I’ll look forward to your thoughts!
Great stuff! I agree completely, and I wonder just how much better the world would have been if his Mongol hordes had managed to finish the job of sweeping across Europe. I love that he is still honoured in Mongolia today. (See for example, The HU, a heavy metal band that uses Mongolian instruments and Mongolian throat singing! Awesome stuff.)
Great rant and totally on point. Fuck yeah, Ghengis Khan! Truly an amazing dude. One of my heroes, for sure.
Let it be said by this American settler that George Washington was much closer to a Hitler figure of his time than a Khan. His name in many languages here was “Town Destroyer”, and you can probably guess that he didn’t bother walking them down a trail of tears first. Jackson would have been thrilled to be compared to him. He also owned people. This comment is not to criticize Dr. Janega – the postmodern american character is clearly ignorant of history, and Khan clearly is telling him what he needs to hear in order to understand. But we should understand the comic in this fuller context