Mongol Emperor Genghis Khan (1162 – 1227 AD) was not just an infamously ruthless warrior, and founder of the largest contiguous empire in history, but was also a prolific father as well, siring so many children that one in 200 men around the world are reportedly directly descendant from him.
Born with the name “Temujin”, the title “ Genghis Khan ” was later bestowed upon him by tribal leaders after battle victories. It meant “universal ruler,” and such a title remains fitting, considering his suspected prolific genetic contribution to descendants centuries later.
Genghis Khan on horseback ( CC BY-SA 4.0 )
A major genetics study in 2003 showed that as many as 16 million living men were likely direct-line descendants of Genghis Khan. Genetic indicators on their Y-chromosomes suggested they all descended from a single male ‘super father’ from the Mongolian Khan lineage.
Y chromosomes are only passed down from father to son, and these indicators are used to establish a record of male lineage. The study suggested that this consistent, successful spread of patrilineage from father to son was a result of selection, not chance. According to the science journal Nature, the “establishment of such successful lineages often depends on social systems that allow powerful men to father children with multitudes of women.”
Genghis Khan had at least six Mongolian wives and over 500 concubines. The concubines were typically queens or princesses that were taken captive from the territories he conquered or gifted to him by allies, vassals or other tribal acquaintances. Judging by his lineage, it appears Genghis was able to make time for all of them and that these unions were quite productive!
Top image: Genghis Khan Equestrian Statue, Tsonjin Boldog, Mongolia. Source: Guy Bryant / Adobe Stock
By Liz Leafloor