Khereit and their neighbours at 1200.
|Capital||centered on the site of nowadays city Ulaanbaatar in during Wang Khan|
|-||11th century||Markus Buyruk Khan|
|-||12th century||Saryk Khan (2nd)|
|-||12th century||Kurchakus Buyruk Khan (3rd)|
|-||12th century-1203||Wang Khan (last)|
|Historical era||High Middle Ages|
|-||Markus Khan was first recorded khan.||11th century.|
|-||Genghis Khan unified the Kereit and then established the Great Mongol State.||1203|
|Today part of||Mongolia|
The Kereit (Mongolian: Хэрэйд/Khereid; Kazakh: Керейт) was the most dominant tribe of the five major tribal confederations (khanlig) in the Mongolian plateau during the 12th century. As allies of Genghis Khan, the Kerait were influential in the rise of the Mongol Empire. In the 11th century, they converted to Nestorian Christianity and were a key example of prominent Christians among the Mongols.
The Kereit were located between the mountain ranges of Khangai and Khentii and were centered on the site of the present day city of Ulaanbaatar and in the willow groves of the Tuul River, to the west of the Khamag Mongol and to the east of the Naiman.
The last ruler, Toghrul, gained fame as far away as Europe for his battles with Muslims, and several women from the Kereit clan became influential women in the Mongol court. Sorghaghtani Bekhi, the younger daughter of Toghrul's brother Jakha Khambu, married a son of Genghis Khan, and their four sons, including Great Khans Kublai Khan and Möngke Khan, became prominent leaders of the Empire.
According to Mongol legend there was once an ancient Khan who had seven sons. These seven sons had unusually dark faces. That is why the tribal confederation they founded was called Khereed or 'Crows'. 'Kheree' means 'crow' in Mongolian. Others claim that the Keraits were named so because they originally lived at a place called 'Khereet' meaning 'crow-with' or 'place with crows'. Yet another theory maintains that the name 'Khereed' derives from the Mongolian word 'Kherees' meaning 'cross' and is connected to their Christian religion.
The Keraits first enter into history as the ruling faction of the Zubu confederacy, a large alliance of tribes that dominated Mongolia during the 11th and 12th centuries and often fought with the Liao Dynasty of northern China, which controlled much of Mongolia at the time. After the Zubu confederacy broke up, the Keraits retained their dominance on the steppe right up until they were absorbed into Genghis Khan's Mongolian state. They consisted of eight tribes, including the Khereit, Jirkhin, Khonkhoid, Sukhait, Albat, Tumaut, Dunghaid and the Khirkh.
Before Wang Khan 
Markus Buyruk Khan, was a Kerait leader who also lead the Zubu confederacy. In 1100, he was killed by the Liao Dynasty. Kurchakus Buyruk Khan was a son and successor of Bayruk Markus, among whose wives was Toreqaimish Khatun, daughter of Korchi Buiruk Khan of the Naiman. Kurchakus's younger brother was Gur Khan. Kurchakus Buyruk Khan had many sons. Notable sons was Toghrul,Yula-Mangus, Tai-Timur, Bukha-Timur.
After Kurchakus Buyruk Khan died, Ilma's servant — Eljidai from Tatar — became the de facto regent. This upset Toghrul who had his younger brothers killed and then claimed the throne. After this, Gur Khan raided Toghrul. Yesugei Baghatur helped Toghrul.
By 13th century, there was a significant Mongolization process among the Kerait people (Khereyid in Mongolian). Although, the ruling aristocracy was of Turkic stock, the general population of the khanate was Mongol.
Keraits who joined western khanates became more Turkicized forming Tatars, Kazakhs and Khirgizs while there currently exists Kerayid clan of Mongols in present-day Mongolia.
Wang Khan and Kereits in Mongol Empire 
Toghrul (Wang Khan), who was the son of Kurchakus by Ilma Khatun, reigned from 1160s to 1204. His palace was located at present-day Ulaanbaatar and he became blood-brother to Yesugei. Genghis Khan called him khan etseg ('khan father').
The Tatars rebelled against the Jin Dynasty in 1195. The Jin commander sent an emissary to Temujin. A fight with the Tatars broke-out and the Kereit-Mongol alliance defeated them. In 1196, the Jin Dynasty awarded Toghrul the title of "Wang" (king), to Toghrul Khan's pleasure. After this, Toghrul was recorded under the title Wang Khan.
In 1203, Temüjin defeated the Kerait, who were distracted by the collapse of their own coalition. Toghrul tried to escape to the Naimans, but was killed by a Naiman warrior who did not recognize him. The remaining Kerait submitted to Temüjin's rule, but out of distrust, Temüjin dispersed them among the other Mongol tribes.
Toghrul's younger brother was Jakha Khambu, a lifelong ally of Genghis Khan, and the father of Sorghaghtani Bekhi. Toghrul's son was Nilkha Sengum. Sorghaghtani Beki, daughter of Jakha Khambu, became Tolui's khatun. She was mother of Great Khans Kublai Khan, Möngke Khan, and Ilkhanate-founder Hulagu Khan. Rinchin protected Christians when Ghazan began to persecute them. But he was executed by Abu Said when fighting against his custodian Chupan of the Suldus clan in 1319.
Rashid Al-Din Hamadani (1247–1318) says in the Jami-at-tawarikh (Section Three, Kerait Tribe):
At that time they had more power and strength than other tribes. The call of Jesus - peace be upon him - reached them and they entered his faith. They belong to the Mongol ethnicity. They reside along the Onon and Kerulen rivers, the land of the Mongols. That land is close to the country of the Khitai.
The Kereit were converted to Nestorianism, a sect of Christianity, early in the 11th century. Other tribes evangelized entirely or to a great extent during the 10th and 11th centuries were the Naiman and the Ongud.
An account of the conversion of the Kerait is given by the 13th century Jacobite historian Gregory Bar Hebraeus. According to Hebraeus, in early 11th century, a Kereit king lost his way while hunting in the high mountains. When he had abandoned all hope, a saint (Mar Sergius or Saint Sergius) appeared in a vision and said, "If you will believe in Christ, I will lead you lest you perish." He returned home safely. When he met Christian merchants, he remembered the vision and asked them about their faith. At their suggestion, he sent a message to the Metropolitan of Merv for priests and deacons to baptize him and his tribe. As a result of the mission that followed, the king and 20,000 of his people were baptized. Rashid al-Din says in the Jami al-Tawarikh that the Kereit "are given over to the worship of Jesus". William of Rubruck, who encountered many Nestorians during his stay at Mongke Khan's court and at Karakorum in 1254-1255, notes that Nestorianism in Mongolia was tainted by shamanism and Manicheism and very confused in terms of liturgy. He attributes this to the lack of teachers of the faith, power struggles among the clergy and a willingness to make doctrinal concessions in order to win the favour of the Khans.
The legend of Prester John, otherwise set in India or Ethiopia, was also brought in connection with the Nestorian rulers of the Kerait. In some versions of the legend, Prester John was explicitly identified with Toghrul. But Mongolian sources say nothing about his religion. The Chinese series "Genghis Khan" depicts Wang Khan Toghrul as a devout Christian, with a cross mounted on top of his royal yurt which has a Christian altar inside and shows him regularly making the sign of the cross. A scene of this critically acclaimed Chinese "Genghis Khan" series on YouTube shows Genghis Khan presenting a gift to Wang Khan (his father's sworn brother) and asking for military assistance (starting from 09:08)). The Japanese-Mongolian film "Genghis Khan: To the Ends of the Earth and Sea" also depicts Wang Khan Toghrul of the Kerait as Christian, with a church bell behind his royal yurt and Christian cross signs on his flag, his throne as well as covering his yurt. This can be seen starting from "3:00" minutes on this YouTube video of the film (dubbed Thai) which shows a young Genghis Khan presenting a gift to Wang Khan Toghrul ([dead link]).
Descendants in modern times 
See also 
- The Kerait Khanate and Chinggis Khaan, p.122
- Li, Tang (2006). Sorkaktani Beki: A prominent Nestorian woman at the Mongol Court. In Malek, Roman; Hofrichter, Peter. "Jingjiao: the Church of the East in China and Central Asia". Monumenta Serica Institute (Steyler Verlagsbuchhandlung GmbH). ISBN 978-3-8050-0534-0.
- The Mongol Century, Department of Asian Pacific Studies, San Diego State University
- R. Grousset, The Empire of the Steppes, New Brunswick, New Jersey, Rutgers University Press, 1970, p191.
- Kereys, Files about origins of Kirgiz-Kaisak(Kazak) people, Muhamedzhan Tynyshbaev
- Kereys, Genealogy of türks, kirgizes, kazakhs and ruling dynasties, Shakarim Qudayberdy-uly
- Compendium , Paris, 1866, p.362
- Erica C. D. Hunter, “The Conversion of the Kerait to Christianity in A.D. 1007”, Zentralasiatische Studien, 22 (1989-1991), pp.143-163.
- Silverberg, Robert (1972). The Realm of Prester John. Doubleday. p. 12.
- Moffett, A History of Christianity in Asia pp. 400-401.
- Atwood, Christopher P. Encyclopedia of Mongolia and the Mongol Empire. ISBN 0816046719.
- Khoyt S.K. Kereits in enthnogenesis of peoples of Euroasia: historigraphia of the problem. Elista, 2008. 82 p. ISBN - 978-5-91458-044-2 in Russian
- Хойт С. К. Кереиты в этногенезе народов Евразии: историография проблемы. Элиста, 2008. 82 с. ISBN - 978-5-91458-044-2