Founder of the Golden Horde, Jochi Khan, the son of three mothers

Ulus of Jochi
Photo credit: Midjourney-DALL-E

This year Kazakhstan is celebrating a significant event - the 800th anniversary of Ulus of Jochi. In light of this occasion, Kazinform News Agency invites the reader to learn more about the Great Jochi, namely the story about the mother of the great commander Jochi Khan, about his youth and upbringing.

Jochi is the eldest son of Genghis Khan, the great commander who founded the Golden Horde, the ancestor of the Kazakh khans. People say that “great people are made by their mothers.” This was the case with Jochi Khan, however, according to the writers, he was raised by three women.

According to historical data, a batyr from the Borzhigin clan of the Kiyat tribe named Yesugey went with his 9-year-old son Temujin (the future Genghis Khan) to the lands of the Khongirad tribe, where he married a girl named Borte for his son.

Soon Yesugei died, Temujin was left an orphan and experienced many difficulties at the very beginning of his life. Only after reaching adulthood, around 1178, he, in accordance with the steppe law and traditions of the nomads, went to his bride Borte and brought her home. Soon after his marriage, the Merkits attacked his family and, capturing Borte, took her away.

Then Temujin, with the help of Khan Togrul, the ruler of the Keraites tribe, freed Borte from captivity. In this regard, a rumor spread among the people that Jochi was not the natural son of Genghis Khan. This question is still open today. However, we know that Genghis Khan respected Borte all his life and loved Jochi.

Ulus of Jochi
Photo credit: from the personal archive of Ularbek Daleyuly

Borte was the daughter of the leader of the Khongirad tribe named Dei-sechen. She played an important role in the life of the Mongol emperor. In difficult and decisive moments, Genghis Khan listened to Borte's advice.

When young Temujin first tried to call upon the Mongol tribes to unite, Borte advised them to disassociate themselves from a Mongol general named Zhamukha. Temujin followed his wife’s advice and thanks to this he avoided death. Historians testify that Borte's intelligence and prudence had a great influence on the transformation of Temujin into the great Mongol emperor Genghis Khan.

Borte's four sons - Jochi, Chagatai, Ogedei, Tolui - inherited all the lands conquered by the Great Khagan, and each ruled their own ulus. The beloved wife of Genghis Khan, who became the mother of his four sons, the khans, Borte earned special respect and honor. Her name is written in history in golden letters.

The author of the historical novel “Jochi Khan” Ularbek Daleyuly noted that Borte received a good upbringing and was a very wise woman who managed to become a faithful companion and valuable adviser to Genghis Khan.

“Jochi’s childhood fell on a very difficult period. Raised by his mother Borte, he grew up to be a man of mature mind. At that time, the Khongirad tribe lived relatively calmly, without being subject to frequent attacks. Many wise people gathered at the headquarters of Borte’s father, Dei-sechen. Scientists from among the tanguts and shurshuts, subordinate to the Chinese Tang dynasty, also served at headquarters. Borte received knowledge from these people and was an educated woman. It was with such a knowledgeable and intelligent mother that Jochi grew up,” writes Ularbek Daleyuly.

The writer also reports that Jochi, in addition to his mother, was educated by his grandmother Hoelun and Genghis Khan’s younger sister Temulun.

“In general, we can say that Jochi was raised by three mothers. Perhaps the gentleness and kindness with which he was distinguished, being warlike, was passed on to him from these women. His grandmother, the mother of Genghis Khan, was distinguished by her beauty and intelligence, and was an experienced, energetic and strong woman… Also, Temujin’s younger sister, Temulun, was a strong fighter and an accurate archer. Temulun taught Jochi to be a warrior from an early age. Jochi absorbed courage, intelligence and prudence from three women. Perhaps, thanks to this upbringing, Jochi was kinder and more merciful than the other sons of Genghis Khan. He was against the extermination of many inhabitants in captured cities. If possible, Jochi tried to send envoys and offered to surrender without bloodshed,” says the book “Jochi Khan”.

Ularbek Daleyuly also writes that Jochi’s mercy was manifested in many cases, even during the period spent in bloody battles, at that cruel time.

“When Jochi grew up, in 1202 Genghis Khan began a war with the Tatar tribe. The troops commanded by Chagatai and Ogedei exterminated the Tatars, and captured the rest. Jochi's warriors in the villages he captured spared the residents and wounded soldiers, did not kill them and released them. They also did not try to take a lot of booty from these villages. After this, Genghis Khan removed Jochi from campaigns for 4 years and did not allow him to participate in battles. In 1207, Genghis Khan sent Jochi to conquer lands west of Lake Baikal. And here Jochi did not show much cruelty. The forest tribes who lived there - Teleut, Ursut - surrendered to the Mongol commander without a fight. The elders of the tribes agreed to agreements and presented gifts in the form of white horses, sables and steppe falcons. Having appreciated the military talent of his first-born, Genghis Khan, satisfied with the results of the campaign, gave Jochi the lands he had captured for management. It was on these lands that the foundation of the Ulus Jochi - the Golden Horde - was laid,” says writer Ularbek Daleyuly.

Jochi showed himself as a prominent commander at a young age. In 1211-1215 he took part in the campaign against China. After 3 years, Jochi passed the Kipchak steppe and, having reached the Irgiz steppe, entered into battle with the 60,000-strong army of Khwarazm, which was then ruled by Shah Muhammed. Despite the small number of his troops, thanks to his leadership abilities, Jochi defeated the army of Khorezmshah and achieved his goal. After this campaign, Jochi subjugated all the cities of Zhetysu.

In 1220-1222, Jochi conquered the cities of Otyrar, Syganak, Uzkent, Barshynkent, Zhankent and others, located along the banks of the Syr Darya. Thus, the state of Khwarazm was completely conquered.

In 1223, Genghis Khan organized a large kurultai on the Kulanbasy plain. At this kurultai, he divided all the lands he conquered into four sons from his eldest wife Borte. Jochi got the lands west of the Irtysh, including the northern part of Zhetysu, to the lower reaches of the Volga, that is, the entire territory of Deshti Kipchak. His headquarters was on the Irtysh River.

“The basis of the Ulus of Jochi was made up of Turkic-speaking tribes that had previously inhabited Deshti Kipchak. Ulus Jochi is us. We inhabit 65-70 percent of the territory occupied by the state founded by Jochi Khan and expanded by Batu Khan. The tribes and clans that participated in the creation of the Ulus of Jochi later united and became the Kazakh nation,” says writer Daleyuly.

They say that since Jochi’s mother was from the Khongirad tribe, he had very close relations with the population under his control. According to the testimony of eastern historians of that time, Jochi was a strong, brave man with a strong character. His intelligence and special courage inspired fear in Genghis Khan himself. The chronicler Minhaj-i Siraj Juzjani in his work “Tabakat-i-Nasiri”, written in 1260, noted: “Jochi does not allow the mongols in Khwarazm to do anything against the kipchaks, he loves them so much.”

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