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Genghis Khan Mini Unit Study

If you were alive in the thirteenth century, living anywhere from Manchuria in the east to Hungary in the west, one of the most frightening sounds you could possibly hear would be the thundering sound of a large group horsemen as they rode across the plains towards your home. Why? Because it just might be Genghis Khan and his Mongol hordes, on their way to conquer your village or city! Between 1206, when Genghis Khan became the Mongol leader, and 1294, when his last great successor, Kublai Khan, died, the Mongol Empire grew at a phenomenal pace via conquest to become the second largest empire in world history.

Today, Genghis Khan is remembered as a ruthless warrior, brilliant military strategist, and an efficient political leader. For instance, any resistance to Mongol rule was met with swift and cruel punishment – the razing of cities and slaughter of inhabitants. But those that submitted were treated fairly well. In military matters, Genghis Khan was able to train his warrior to move fast, travel light, and survive extreme hardship – all advantages in fighting larger forces. As for politics, Genghis Khan governed by Yassa, a code of law he developed, that provided discipline for the Mongols and enabled trade and commerce both within the Mongol Empire and with neighboring kingdoms.

In this mini unit study, you can: read a brief overview of the life of Genghis Khan, learn quick facts about the Mongol Empire, look at a timeline of key events in his life, examine the legacy of Genghis Khan through Mongol art, view a map of the Mongol Empire at the time of his death, listen to an interview with an author of a recent book on Genghis Khan about his research into Khan’s life, and have a discussion or write an essay about the ruler’s leadership qualities.


Brief overview of Genghis Khan
(Note: Spelling differences due to transliteration method)

Quick facts on Genghis Khan and the Mongols

Map and Timeline

Map of Mongol Empire at time of Genghis Khan’s death


Timeline of key events in the life of Genghis Khan


Examination of the legacy of Genghis Khan through Mongol art

Excellent teaching guide for the art exhibit in the link above (PDF file)

Interview with Genghis Khan book author about research into the famous rulers life

Discuss or write about the leadership qualities of Genghis Khan

Recommended Resource

Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World

Here's one for the adults and older students:

An interesting, thought-provoking account of the conqueror's life and legacy. From his early years as the son of a widow abandoned by her clan, he showed remarkable ability as a charismatic leader and unifier. In 25 years, his army amassed a greater empire than the Romans had been able to achieve in 400.

... This colorful retelling discusses many of the innovations that marked Khan's rule and contributed to his success. Although his name is now erroneously associated with terror and slaughter, he showed surprising restraint during a time when few others in power did. He allowed freedom of religion, encouraged free trade, developed a paper currency, and observed diplomatic immunity.

As he encountered new cultures, he adopted or adapted their best practices, and constantly updated his military strategies. Although Khan's death occurs at the midpoint of this book, the tales of his survivors' exploits and the gradual fall of the Mongol dynasties are engaging and informative... (School Library Journal)

Book (Paperback)
Authors: Jack Weatherford
Amazon Price: $9.72
Read more about the book on Amazon

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