Genghis Khan (1162-1227) was the leader of the Mongols. He was born as Temujin near the border between Mongolia and Siberia, and his father was poisoned by rivals when Temujin was about 10. Temujin eventually killed his half-brother to take over his household, and he married a woman named Borte with whom he had four sons and daughters (whose number is unknown).
He went on to unite the warring nomads of the Mongolian plateau. Part of his strength came from relying on trusted friends rather than only on relatives, and he prevented his troops from looting until they had won a decisive victory. He was an animist in belief but tolerated the practice of other religions, including Christians, Buddhists, and others. He attracted followers from other religions as well. He went on to rule over one million people, and during his reign, he disallowed the enslavement of Mongols and the kidnapping of women. He advanced the culture of his realm and developed a writing system and a census in addition to allowing the free practice of religion.
He took over large parts of China and central Asia through the strength of his cavalry and through trick strategies such as fake retreats followed by deadly sieges. He conquered twice as much land as any other leader in history and before his death in 1227. The Mongol empire continued until 1368 and encompassed the largest contiguous land empire of all time.
Genghis Khan was born Timujin c. 1167 to a noble Mongol family. His father was poisoned when Genghis was ten, and, as he had some claim to leadership, he was often targeted by those who had murdered his father. He was even imprisoned in a wooden cage for a time, but managed to escape. He became well versed in Mongol diplomacy, which called for bravery in battle and loyalty, although loyalty was secondary in importance; if one could better himself by betraying others, he was expected to do so. By 1206, he had managed to united all the Mongol clans into a single unit under his leadership and he was accordingly declared to be "universal leader," or in the Mongol tongue, Genghis Khan. He escaped his father's fate by having his warriors fight in units comprised of men from different clans, so they would not unite and dispose of him. By virtue of his leadership, the Mongol Empire soon became the largest the world had seen.
Although Genghis was a mighty warrior, he was not interested in administering an Empire, and employed others to do this for him, His primary interest was tribute from those he had conquered. He died in 1227 at which time his Empire was divided by four of his heirs.