The Secret History of Mongols (The History) is the one surviving literary source of information about the Mongols, dated around 1240. The author is unknown, and he gives unique accounts of Genghis Khans life and rule as well as describes the life in medieval Mongolia. It is invaluable source of information for historians, linguists and other scientists. Written originally in Mongolian, soon after the discovery, it was translated into other languages, such as Chinese.
The historical importance of the manuscript is invaluable. It has been studied and researched very thoroughly; however, it still is an inexhaustible source of historical information. Some parts of The History was written in poem, other parts are narrative, retelling legends and describing historical accounts, yet other parts are written in the official formal language.
The chronicles had received much attention and scrutiny. Historical events descriptions were compared to those, mentioned in other sources, and it was established that The History is fairly accurately reports various historical information. Therefore, it became one of the primary sources for history of Mongolia studies.
The document overall is unique, as it describes the early rulers of Mongolia. In addition, information from this document is first-hand from Mongols, rather than the information, documented by the Chinese historians, thus, it is more reliable.
Mongols did not have any documented historical sources prior to The History; any information existed in verbal form and was passed on from generation to generation. The History was written shortly after Tumujin’s (Genghis Khan’s) death and gives chronologic accounts of events during his life and the life of his successor.
The Secret History of Mongols tells a lot about the most powerful political figure of all times - Genghis Khan. The chronicles are written not just to give an objective account of the life during his time; it goes into details of explaining the political culture thereof.
Genghis Khan is a title of a supreme ruler in Mongolia. However, when some historical accounts are reviewed, the Genghis Khan is associated with a specific historical figure in Mongol history, Mongol supreme ruler, whose name was Temujin. Through leading many successful military campaigns, he made his country known and great. He organized the Mongols and the tribes he conquered in a military fashion. The History tells us about military and civil organization of Mongols at that time, the army structure and duties, assigned to commanders and governor’s bodyguards. Specific instructions were given on how to recruit new warriors from among conquered tribes. Officers’ and bodyguards’ privileges are also described.
The writing is reverently give accounts on the Great Khan’s life and also speaks about his special gifts and nature; the Great Mongolian leader is not portrayed as a hero, however, but as an ambitious political leader.
The History is an act of commemoration of Genghis Khan’s deeds, his leadership and his family history. It also explains the development of the Mongol army and how Genghis Khan extended Mongol’s power and government through war conquests. At the time he was in power, Mongols were thought of as a terrible foe for many countries and nations. At some point he ruled over majority of Europe’s and Asian people.
In the work, first chapter is devoted to the youth and the heritage of Genghis Khan. It talks about the great ancestors and the genealogy. Some of those are believed to be fictional or mythical figures or, even, animals. The author also gives the names and specifics on the conflicts between clans. Then, after giving a well-rounded historical background, the author describes wars, waged by Mongols and military strategies, implored at that time. Temujin gained supreme military power over all his country’s tribes, and had been proclaimed Genghis Khan. Historical method of appointing a new ruler is described in the document with the new term of Great Assembly, being introduced to the reader. After his appointment, Genghis Khan rewards all those who supported him.
Historically, the Genghis Khan is thought of as a cruel, heartless man; however, The Secret History of Mongols gives the insight into his personality. He had loyal friends he was very generous with; he also had enemies and those he conquered, whom he acted very decisively with. If it would not be for his decisiveness, he would not have succeeded in uniting Mongolian tribes; much less in gaining a rule over territory that stretch all the way to China, middle East, Russia and other countries of Eastern Europe.
Then, the document describes Genghis Khans successor’s appointment as well as other events and political and war campaigns.
There are some accounts that might have been described with no precise accuracy. Since the information about those times was passed on orally before the first Mongolian Chronicles were written, it is possible that some information documented might have been slightly altered by the time it was put on paper. Also, there is not much information about mistakes or faults that any major figures mentioned in The History, so in this way it might be perceived as not full history. However, the reason for it is that writing these chronicles was to show the model of a leader for the future rulers to follow.
Genghis Khan was a unique leader who used his genius to serve his country. There was never another great leader in the history of Mongolia ever again. His name is amongst the most known world leaders of all times. The Secret History of Mongols is a unique historical manuscript that contains important information about Genghis Khan, his rule, political system as well as culture of Mongols.