There are many, many references, as I read along, to “The Secret History”.
And I ask myself—why not just read the Secret History by Cleaves? But,
that’s just an aside—I keep reading.
There are Temujin and Jamuka—-get out your notebook–
Temujin is the childhood name of Genghis—and Jamuka is his very good
friend. They play together, make vows of friendship, drink each other’s
blood—Same stuff you did when you were little.
These little tales are interspersed with the ways of the military. I have
to admit the military exploits are clever and interesting. The battling
armies would fight each other—-at a distance—they didn’t like being
splattered with blood–and didn’t want to be able to smell each other’s
breath . . .
And yet when darkness fell, everyone stopped fighting and the armies
camped close to each other during the night—-so there would be no
Temujin conquered more and more tribes, and had a growing allegiance
of followers. He named his group People of the Felt Walls because of
the felt covering on their gers—–oh, OK, their tents.
A clever trick Temujin employed to make his army look bigger, was used
at night. He would camp up in the hills, and order each man to make
FIVE fires. That way when the enemy looked up at the advancing army
they thought it was huge.
And he was more organized than you or I. Way back then, in the 1200’s
he organized his armies in units or multiples of 10. Pretty good, hm?
You’re not going to read the book, are you. I feel it.
Well, after awhile, about page 65, Temujin is undefeated and names his
nation Yeke Mongol Ulus—The Great Mongol Nation and he chose a
NEW NAME! ——–Chinggis Khan. Chin means strong, firm,
unshakable, and fearless—-and is sort of close to chino which means
wolf. So, we’re getting there in a manner of speaking.
Genghis keeps busy organizing and making new laws and rules—with
emphasis on power going to those showing greatest allegiance, not to
family members. (This makes family members grumpy.)
And he has important new rulings:
1. no more kidnapping
2. no more abduction and enslavement of any Mongol.
3. all children will be considered legitimate
4. adultery is outlawed—-well, not between relatives–that’s
5. animal rustling will be a capital offense
now this next one’s BIG
6. there will be complete and total religious freedom for everyone
I’m reminded of Ben Franklin’s Autobiography and all the firsts that he
brought to America in the way of institutions—paved streets, first
library, hospital, etc. Genghis Khan was making earthshaking changes
in his day, too.
GK managed to become the one and only khan in power. Yet there was
always someone sniping behind his back. Twice, though, in my reading
so far, he’s taken care of those pests—usually by snapping their backs.
I’m on page 82—starting Part II of the book. See? there are these little
divisions in the book—to encourage you.