Did Genghis Khan Have Any Grandchildren?


Posted by Julian Wymanton on Thursday, November 30, 2023

Genghis Khan, founder of the Mongol Empire in the 13th century CE, is one of the most influential and notorious figures in world history. As a prolific conqueror who united the nomadic tribes of the Mongolian plateau, Genghis Khan rapidly expanded his empire across much of Eurasia. Though renowned as a brilliant military strategist and ruler, Genghis Khan is also known for his prolific propagation of offspring. This begs the question - among Genghis Khan’s many children, did the great conqueror ever live to meet his grandchildren?

Genghis Khan’s Multiple Wives and Children

As was tradition for powerful Mongol chieftains of the time, Genghis Khan took on many wives and subsequently fathered numerous children. Though the exact number is unknown, historians estimate Genghis had between four and over one thousand wives and concubines over the course of his life. This resulted in equally prolific numbers of offspring - by some accounts, nearly 10% of men living in territories of the former Mongol Empire share a common male ancestor directly linked to Genghis Khan!

Portrait of Genghis Khan Famous portrait of Genghis Khan, founder of the Mongol Empire

Most well-documented among Genghis Khan’s children were his four sons by his chief consort Börte, though he fathered others by various wives and concubines across his territories. By best historical accounts, Genghis’ four sons were:

  • Jochi (c. 1185-1226 CE)
  • Chagatai (c.1187-1241 CE)
  • Ögedai (c.1185-1241 CE)
  • Tolui (c.1190-1232 CE)

As Genghis Khan’s male heirs, they each inherited command of a tumen (unit of 10,000 troops) and governed khanates as his trusted generals and advisors in conquest.

After succeeding their father upon his death in 1227 CE, tension arose among them over succession, as custom dictated that the eldest son should take the title of Great Khan. This was complicated by Jochi’s status as eldest but disputably legitimate first son. Nonetheless, Ögedai, being the third son but appointed successor by Genghis, secured power with the support of youngest brother Tolui.

Genghis Khan Likely Knew Some of His Grandchildren Prior to His Death

Though the later lives and offspring of Genghis Khan’s sons intertwined in complex succession conflicts for control of the empire, there is evidence Genghis lived long enough to meet at least a few of his grandchildren.

For one, his eldest son Jochi fathered at least 14 sons, among whom were famed grandsons Batu Khan, founder of the Golden Horde, and Orda Khan. As noted Mongol chronicles mention Jochi taking loyal oaths from commanders early in Genghis’ reign, Jochi likely had adult sons of fighting age in Genghis’ lifetime. Considering a common adulthood age threshold of 15 years old, Jochi’s early-born sons could have had children of their own by Genghis’ death in 1227 CE.

Additionally, Tolui, Genghis’ youngest son, married young by arrangement to Mongolian noblewoman Sorghaghtani Beki. Together they had several children including the famous Möngke Khan and Kublai Khan, though a few died in childhood. If we assume Tolui and Sorghaghtani bore children around the age of 15, their earliest offspring would have been young teenagers in Genghis’ final years.

So while Genghis likely knew some of his grandchildren from Jochi and other sons’ mature progeny, their names and identities are lost to history. Nonetheless, he still played the role of doting grandfather in his final years!

The Prolific Legacy of Genghis Khan’s Descendants

Though the names and details of Genghis’ actual grandchildren are obscured or unknown, his surviving sons and further progeny continued the Khan legacy of conquest after his death. As rivals and allies, Genghis Khan’s grandchildren and great-great grandchildren ruled and expanded Mongol realms for over a century beyond his lifetime through intricate alliances, ongoing conquests, and internecine conflicts. The rise and fall of the largest contiguous empire in history owed directly to the lasting influence and genetic legacy of his conquests.

The Sons of Jochi - Golden Horde and Beyond

As Jochi preceded his father in death in 1226 CE, leadership of the Jochid ulus (domain) comprising western and Russian lands passed to his sons. This gave rise to the Golden Horde Khanate controlling the Cuman-Kipchak confederation and later Russian principalities for nearly three centuries beyond Genghis’ own conquests. Jochi’s descendants continued attacking eastern Europe, though they were eventually checked by the Polish-Lithuanian army in 1320 CE at the Battle of the Ayunta River.

Jochi’s fifth son Berke is considered founder of the Idel-Ural region. Later infighting also gave rise to the Siberian Khanate, among other eastern European and central Asian splinter factions each tracing lineage back to Jochi himself.

Map of the Mongol Empire Map of the Mongol Empire at Genghis Khan’s Death

The House of Tolui - Sustaining the Great Khan

Unlike Jochi’s subtly Muslim eastern heirs, Tolui’s lineage ran the traditional course by consolidating Great Khan authority for several generations. Under Kublai Khan, grandson of Genghis by Tolui’s line, the Mongol Empire reached its greatest power and geographic scope as he established the Yuan Dynasty in China. As Kublai focused efforts on China and its Confucian principles, Mongolia proper and continuance of Genghis’ legacy fell to descendent khans ruling in his shadow.

Eventually Kublai’s successors lost influence until a breakaway faction took control under Dayan Khan, a seventh-generation descendant of Tolui. Until the 17th century CE, later Borjigin Khans continued to claim legitimacy as Genghisid autocratic rulers of the Mongol heartland. Even the remnants of the Northern Yuan dynasty persisted ruling Mongolia until the early 20th century consoldiation under Communist rule.

Verdict - Yes, Genghis Likely Knew Some of His Grandkids After All!

In conclusion, while records are too vague to identify them, there is reasonable basis within known timelines to state Genghis Khan knew at least a few of his grandchildren born early to his adult sons. Though he didn’t live to see future famous grandsons like Kublai Khan come of age and continue his conquest legacy, Genghis still played doting grandfather to a select few kids of the next generations.

So began the lasting genetic and cultural legacy of his vast conquests and proliferation. As DNA evidence proves, we feel Genghis Khan’s dominance to this day!


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Khan, I. (2004) Genghis Khan. Encyclopedia Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/biography/Genghis-Khan

Dept of Asian Art. “Yuan Dynasty (1271–1368)” In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/yuan/hd_yuan.htm

Weatherford, J. (2004) Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World. Three Rivers Press.