“Unveiling the ‘Shocking’ Truth about Romantic World of Genghis Khan

The military conquests of Genghis Khan are well known. His Mongol cavalry swept across the open steppe taking vast swathes of territory. His armies plowed through China, conquering the central plains and Tibet. From humble beginnings in Mongolia, he created an empire that stretched from the Chinese coast in the east all the way to the Caspian Sea. Fifty years after his death, the Mongol Empire would reach its extent and is recognized today as the largest contiguous empire in history.

His conquests, however, were not confined to the battlefields watched over by the open sky. Those conquests are history. The Mongol empire is no more. It collapsed and disappeared many hundreds of years ago. His greatest conquests were, in fact, in the bedroom, so to speak.

With a huge harem of women, Genghis Khan left a genetic legacy that would outlive all of his military ambition. The result of his intimate relations is an even more staggering achievement than his hordes of soldiers could ever achieve.

Genghis Khan harem

Officially, Genghis Khan had 44 wives and concubines, but unofficially, historians believe the total number of women in his harem numbered around 500, although it is very difficult to be sure. Most of these women were from populations of people captured during Genghis Khan’s lifetime of conquest. Some were even gifted to him as tribute.

His harem was so large, in fact, that it had to be split into four camps called ordos, each one being administered by one of his four principal wives: Börte, Khulan, Yesui, and Yesugen. Börte was recognized as the great empress and outranked the other three principal wives, who were titled empresses (khatun). Each of the concubines had their own yurt for their own household, and as in the military, they had their own ranks.

Protecting his harem was the Imperial Guard known as the Kheshig, whose duty also included keeping an eye on which tent their Khan was in, as he would visit various tents every night. Naturally, this resulted in Genghis Khan having an incredible number of children.

How Many Children Did Genghis Khan Actually Have?

With a harem that numbered hundreds of women and with the Khan visiting several women every night, it is not a big leap of logic to assume that Genghis Khan had hundreds of children. In fact, it’s possible that he had well over a thousand. Records were not kept, so it’s impossible to discover the exact number. Despite the logic, tradition claims that he had 120 children in total, which is certainly less than what is probable, especially when one factors in the genetic evidence gained from testing the DNA of people living today in the areas that were covered by the great Khan’s empire.

What was recorded were the names of the children he had with his first wife, Börte. With her, Genghis fathered nine children – four sons and five daughters

Genetics and Doing the Math

Just as the history books and historical evidence paint a glorious picture of the life of Genghis Khan and his military and intimate conquests, science has given us an even greater image with statistical data that reveals the massive size of this picture.

In 2003, a study was conducted in which the Y-chromosome of Asian populations was examined. The study showed that 8% of all the men living today in the areas previously under the control of Genghis Khan carry a Y-chromosome that marks them as direct descendants of a patrilineal ancestor who lived 1,000 years ago in Mongolia. This figure is almost certainly Genghis Khan.

This 8% represents about 0.5% of the world’s total men, which is roughly 20 million. If this is doubled to also represent the female descendants of Ghengis Khan, then 40 million people today are direct descendants of Genghis Khan (out of a world population of 8 billion). That’s 1 in every 200 people on the planet!

There are, however, other “super-Y” lineages as the result of other powerful men, likely with extensive harems and/or a very active sex life. Of note is the Manchu Lineage, which can be traced back to northeastern China, and the Uí Néill Lineage, which can be traced back to Ireland.

In Central and Eastern Asia, being able to trace one’s lineage back to Genghis Khan is a particular mark of prestige, although, for genetic purposes, it means very little. It is of social importance rather than of biological importance. Having a copy of Genghis Khan’s Y-chromosome does not grant any special powers. Only bragging rights!

Throughout Asia, the descendants of Genghis Khan are found far and wide, and with the advent of the modern age with all its immigration and emigration, there is no part of human civilization that remains out of reach of the Great Khan’s children.

In Mongolia, Genghis Khan is considered a father to the nation, but he was a literal father more than could ever have been expected. He is an ancestor to so many Mongolians that his characterization as a father is certainly well-deserved.

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