Little known facts about Genghis Khan: He promoted meritocracy, introduced a uniform writing system, reconstructed roads

Fareeha Arshad

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Without any doubt, Genghis Khan was a barbaric conqueror. He had an equally brutal army. With his army, not only did he rule more than half the world, he killed over forty million people to reach his goal and become the ultimate victor. The Mongol empire made the largest contiguous land empire in history and stretched over twenty-three million square kilometres. Though his rule is known for the acts of remorselessness, there are a few surprising qualities to this Mongol leader that only a few know. Let’s dig into these details.

1. Genghis Khan introduced a uniform writing system in Mongolia

Genghis Khan introduced a writing system in his empire, the Uighur Script, used even today. This continuous script was adapted from the Mongol-conquered tribes of Uighur in 1204. The Mongol king often did this: conquered tribes that could benefit his empire in some way.

There have been several failed attempts to modify this script throughout history so that new alphabets could be introduced. Only in the mid-twentieth century Cyrillic was adopted as the standard script for Mongolic languages.

Strangely, the illiterate Genghis Khan placed great importance on learning to read and write. During his rule, he ordered the children in his empire to be taught how to read and write. He even placed importance on the laws of the empire to be written down.

2. Genghis Khan was an advocate for meritocracy

Genghis Khan didn’t have a uniform population under his rule. There were different tribes with different cultures and customs. This heterogeneity could have created a lot of unrest within the empire. Yet, the Mongol ruler managed to function in his kingdom smoothly. This had nothing to do with his fear among his people; instead, he tried to keep his nation happy.

One of the easiest things Genghis Khan did was to give any authority only based on the abilities of the potential candidate held. Every candidate had to prove their worth before being bestowed with any responsibility. No person was given a preference over the other based on any influence one could have.

3. Genghis Khan reconstructed the Silk Road

The Silk Road was a long stretch of road that linked the Eastern and Western parts of the world. It was a significant trade link and allowed for transporting expensive goods like silk and other precious items from Asia to Europe and vice versa.

Because this road was always filled with trade activities, it was also a haven for daylight robbers and bandits. But when the Silk Road came under Genghis Khan’s empire, nobody dared to touch any caravan on this road. This period came to be known as the Pax Mongolica when stability prevailed in this area, and the travellers and traders found themselves safe on this road. The Silk Road became so secure that travelling here was claimed as “a maiden laden with gold could travel it and go unmolested.”

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I am a scientist by profession and a historian by passion. I mostly write about history and science.

Texas State
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