Jochi: a Mongol Army Leader and the Eldest Son of Genghis Khan

Overview

Jochi was a Mongol army leader and the eldest son of Genghis Khan. He was Genghis Khan's four sons by his main wife Börte, though paternity questions dogged him throughout his life. He was an accomplished military leader who, together with his brothers and uncles, took part in his father's conquest of Central Asia.

Jochi

From 1182 to 1227

Khan of the Ulus of Jochi

Predecessor

None

Successor

  • Orda
  • Batu
  • Berke

Born

1182 (Khamag Mongol)

Died

1227

Burial

Zhezkazgan, Kazakhstan

Wives

  • Sarkan Khatun
  • Bekutemish Khatun
  • Ukin Kuchin Khatun
  • Sultan Khatun

House

Borjigin

Dynasty

Ulus of Jochi

Father

Genghis Khan

Mother

Börte

Religion

Tengrism

Early Life

The true parentage of Jochi is a subject of debate. Soon after Börte's marriage to Genghis Khan, he was then known as Temüjin. Members of the Mergid confederation kidnapped her. As a spoil of war, she was delivered to a certain Chilger Bökh, the Yehe Chiledu's brother. She was held captive by Chilger Bökh for a few months until being rescued by Temüjin. She gave birth to Jochi not long after that. Genghis Khan treated Jochi as his first son, but it was never certain if Temüjin or Chilger Bökh was his biological father. Although Jochi's descendants were the eldest branch of Genghis Khan's family, they were never considered for succession when claiming their father's ancestry, and there was evidence of animosity between Jochi and Genghis Khan.

Battles of Conquest

Jochi conquered various Siberian forest peoples in 1207, extending the Mongol Empire's northern boundary for the first time. Jochi commanded two wars against the Kyrgyz on behalf of his father in 1210 and 1218. Jochi was a key player in Central Asia's Khwarezm war, which lasted from 1219 until 1221. During this war, his soldiers took Signak, Jand, and Yanikant in April 1220. Following that, he was assigned leadership of an attack against the Khwarezmian Empire's capital, Urgench (Gurganj, in Turkmenistan). Because Jochi engaged in extensive negotiations with the town to encourage it to surrender peacefully and preserve it from destruction, the siege of the town was delayed. This action was deemed faulty militarily by Jochi's brother Chagatai.

Chagatai intended to destroy the city, but Genghis Khan had promised Jochi the city if he won. This disagreement over military matters widened the chasm between Jochi and Chagatai. Genghis Khan intervened in the campaign and named Ögedei as the operation's leader. Ögedei resumed his efforts, seizing, plundering, and destroying the town, as well as massacring its residents. Early in 1221, differences in tactics between Jochi and Chagatai exacerbated their feud over the succession. Genghis Khan convened a political and military council to resolve the issue. A formal meeting used in both public and private issues. Temüjin had been elected Khan of his tribe during a kurultai. He summoned them frequently throughout Genghis Khan's early campaigns to gain public support for his wars; such gatherings were critical to Genghis Khan's legitimacy. The importance of tribal tradition was also crucial. Jochi favoured heading the clan and the Empire after his father died since he was Genghis Khan's first-born son. Chagatai addressed the issue of Jochi's legitimacy at the familial kurultai in 1222. Genghis Khan made it plain at that encounter that Jochi was his legitimate first-born son. He was concerned, though, that the two's squabbles would split the Empire. Genghis Khan had chosen gedei, his third son, as his heir by early 1223. Both Jochi and Chagatai agreed for the sake of the Empire's survival, but the schism between them never mended. Their feud would irrevocably split the Mongol Empire's European and Asian parts on a political level.

Succession Controversy

After completing the Khwarezm expedition in the autumn of 1223, Genghis Khan set out for Mongolia. Jochi withdrew to his territory north of the Aral and Caspian Seas, but Ögedei, Chagatai, and Tolui accompanied him. He stayed there till his death, and he never saw his father again during his existence. Genghis Khan split his Empire into khanates during his lifetime and distributed them among his four surviving sons. Jochi was entrusted with the Empire's westernmost region, located between the Ural and Irtysh rivers. Following Genghis Khan's death in 1229, this partition was finalized in the Kurultai, and Jochi's dynasty was given the lands in the west up to the point where Mongol horses' hooves had stomped. Six months before Genghis Khan, Jochi had died. Genghis Khan handed only four thousand 'original' Mongol troops to each of his three eldest sons and ten thousand to Tolui, his youngest son, following Mongol tradition. As a result, Jochi's ancestors expanded their Empire mostly with the support of auxiliary warriors from the enslaved Turkic communities. The Golden Horde's Turkic identity arose primarily as a result of this. Jochi's estate was split between his sons. Orda and Batu, his sons, formed the White and Blue Hordes, respectively, and later merged their holdings to form the Kipchak Khanate or Golden Horde. Shiban, another of Jochi's sons, was given lands to the north of Batu and Orda's Ülüs.

Jochi was tasked by Genghis Khan with overseeing and conducting the community hunt. Hunting was essentially a large-scale military exercise that was expressly tailored for army training. It often spanned thousands of square kilometres, requiring the cooperation of multiple tumens, and lasted anywhere from one to three months. The Yassa contained the rules and procedures for conducting the military exercise. Certain occurrences suggest that Jochi was nicer than Genghis Khan, albeit the epithet "kind" must be understood in light of the standards of his time and environment, as Jochi was not without his share of the slaughter of civilians. For example, Jochi once pleaded with his father to spare the life of an enemy chief's son, who happened to be a skilled archer and had been kidnapped. Such a brilliant archer, Jochi claimed, could be a valuable addition to the Mongol army. This argument was dismissed by Genghis Khan, who had the hostage executed.

Inheritance

Berke, Jochi's son, was one of the first Mongols to convert to Islam. Öz Beg Khan, Tokhtamysh, and Hac I Giray was among his other descendants. Mongol sovereignty reached its westernmost extent under Jochi's son Batu, and the Golden Horde was formed to cement the Jochid ulus. Later, Öz Beg Khan would preside over the Horde's Islamization and manage the Horde's economic, military, and political golden period.

Wives, Other Women and Children

Jochi, like his father, had a great number of wives and concubines, although information about these ladies is scant. At least 14 sons and two daughters were born to Jochi.

Name

Note

Orda

1206–1251

Berke

Khan of the Golden Horde from 1257 to 1267

Tangad

 

Shiban

 

Sinqur

 

Muhammed

 

Togay-Timur

the predecessor of late khans of the Great Horde.

Qoluyiqan

She wedded Törelchi, first-born of Quduqa-beki of the Oirats.

Begtütmish,

sister of Sorghaghtani and Ibaqa

Another Daughter

Companion of the Qarluq chief of Almaliq.

In Fiction

Jochi appeared as a recurring character in Kenichi Matsuyama's 2007 Japanese-Mongolian film "Genghis Khan: To the Ends of the Earth and Sea" and Wakeel Farooqui's 1978 Pakistani drama Aakhri Chattan.

Last updated: 2021-October-12
Tags: Mongol Empire
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