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Ho’elon, Mother of Genghis Khan

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Ho’elon, Genghis Khan’s mother, is eulogized in Mongolian history as a survivor who kept her family together under dire circumstances while teaching her son the basic skills of survival. According to The Secret History of the Mongols, the first literary work of Mongolian culture written some time after Genghis Khan's death in 1227 AD, Ho’elon was married at age thirteen to Yisugei, a minor chieftain with scant wealth.

Genghis, named Temujin, was born sometime in the 1160s. He was Ho’elon’s eldest son. When he was either nine or twelve, his father was poisoned by Tatar tribesmen. Ho’elon was left with seven children, all under the age of thirteen. With no male head, the rest of the clan scattered, shunning Ho’elon and her family. They suffered for many years, scraping past starvation by catching fish, snaring marmots, and gathering berries. In the face of adversity, Ho’elon held the family together, teaching Temujin many lessons on how to survive in the harsh landscape and political realities of Mongol life.


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