Descent from Genghis Khan

Descent from Genghis Khan

Descent from Genghis Khan in East Asia is well-documented by Chinese sources. His descent in West Asia and Europe was documented through the 14th century, in texts written by Rashid-al-Din Hamadani and other Muslim historians. With the advent of genealogical DNA testing, a larger and broader circle of people have begun to claim descent from Genghis Khan.

Jochi, Genghis Khan’s eldest son, had many more recorded progeny than his brothers Ögedei, Chagatai, and Tolui—but there is some doubt over his paternity. According to The Secret History of the Mongols, the boy was sent to Genghis by Chilger, who had kidnapped his first wife Börte, keeping her in captivity for about a year. In one passage, Chagatai refers to Jochi as “bastard” (although the true meaning of the Mongol term is obscure). To this, Genghis Khan responds: “How dare you talk about Jochi like this? Is not he the eldest of my heirs? That I never heard such wicked words again!” (p255). All in all, Genghis Khan pronounces the words “Jochi is my eldest son” thrice (p210, 242, 254).

Modern historians speculate that Jochi’s disputed paternity was the reason for his eventual estrangement from his father and for the fact that his descendants never succeeded to the imperial throne. On the other hand, Genghis always treated Jochi as his first son, while the failure of the Jochid succession may be explained by Jochi’s premature death (which may have excluded his progeny from succession).

Another important consideration is that Genghis’ descendants intermarried frequently. For instance, the Jochids took wives from the Ilkhan dynasty of Persia, whose progenitor was Hulagu Khan. As a consequence, it is likely that many Jochids had other sons of Genghis Khan among their maternal ancestors.



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