Descent from Genghis Khan

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Genghis Khan portrait

Descent from Genghis Khan (Mongolian: Алтан ураг Altan urag, meaning "Golden lineage"), generally called Genghisids, is traceable primarily in Central Asia; Mongolia, Inner Mongolia in China, and Siberia.[citation needed] His four sons and other immediate descendants are famous by names and by deeds. Later Asian potentates attempted to claim descent from the Borjigin even on flimsy grounds, such as was considered Mongol matrilineal descent. In the 14th century, valid sources (heavily dependent on Rashid-al-Din Hamadani and other Muslim historians) all but dried up. With the recent popularity of genealogical DNA testing, a larger and broader circle of people started to claim descent from Genghis Khan.

Paternity of Jochi[edit]

Jochi, Genghis Khan's eldest son, had many more recorded progeny than his brothers Ögedei, Chagatai, and Tolui—but there is some doubt over his paternity. According to the The Secret History of the Mongols, the boy was sent to Genghis by Chilger, who had kidnapped his first wife Börte, keeping her in captivity for about a year. In one passage, Chagatai refers to Jochi as "bastard" (although the true meaning of the Mongol term is obscure). To this, Genghis Khan responds: "How dare you talk about Jochi like this? Is not he the eldest of my heirs? That I never heard such wicked words again!" (255). All in all, Genghis Khan pronounces the words "Jochi is my eldest son" thrice (210, 242, 254).

Modern historians speculate that Jochi's disputed paternity was the reason for his eventual estrangement from his father and for the fact that his descendants never succeeded to the imperial throne. On the other hand, Genghis always treated Jochi as his first son, while the failure of the Jochid succession may be explained by Jochi's premature death (which may have excluded his progeny from succession).

Another important consideration is that Genghis' descendants intermarried frequently. For instance, the Jochids took wives from the Ilkhan dynasty of Persia, whose progenitor was Hulagu Khan. As a consequence, it is likely that many Jochids had other sons of Genghis Khan among their maternal ancestors.

Asian dynasties[edit]

Asian dynasties descended from Genghis Khan included the Kublaids of China, the Hulaguids of Persia, the Jochids of the Golden Horde, the Shaybanids of Siberia, and the Astrakhanids of Central Asia. As a rule, the Genghisid descent played a crucial role in Tatar politics. For instance, Mamai (1335-1380) had to exercise his authority through a succession of puppet khans but could not assume the title of khan himself because he lacked Genghisid lineage.

Timur Lenk (1336-1405), the founder of the Timurid Dynasty, claimed descent from Genghis Khan; however, this claim remains questionable: there is no clear evidence for his own descent; he associated himself with the family of Chagatai Khan through marriage. He also never assumed the title "Khan" for himself, but employed two members of the Chagatai clan as formal heads of state. The Mughal imperial family of the Indian subcontinent descended from Timur through Babur and also from Genghis Khan (through his son Chagatai Khan).

The ruling Wang Clan of the Korean Goryeo Dynasty became descendants of the Genghisids through the marriage between King Chungnyeol (reigned 1274-1308) and a daughter of Kublai Khan. All subsequent rulers of Korea for the next 80 years, until King Gongmin, also married Borjigid princesses. But since all Mongol injects were females, no Y-haplotype entered the Korean royal and noble families during this period, only matrilinear mtDNA.

At a later period, Tatar potentates of Genghisid stock included the khans of Qazan and Qasim (notably a Russian tsar, Simeon Bekbulatovich, formally Grand Prince of All Rus' from 1575 to 1576, died 1616) and the Giray dynasty, which ruled the Khanate of Crimea until 1783.[1]

As the Russian Empire annexed Turkic polities, their Genghizid rulers frequently entered the Russian service. For instance, Kuchum's descendants became Russified as the Tsarevichs of Siberia. Descendants of Ablai Khan assumed in Russia the name of Princes Valikhanov. All these families asserted their Genghisid lineage. The only extant family of this group is the House of Giray, whose members left Soviet Russia for the United States and United Kingdom. Even more a Russian tsar Simeon Bekbulatovich as a grandson of Ahmed Khan bin Küchük was a descendant of Genghis Khan.

The Qing of China completely exterminated one branch (Ligdan Khan's descendants) of the Borjigids after an anti-Qing revolt in 1675 by Ejei Khan's brother Abunai and Abunai's son Borni against the Qing.[2] The Qing Emperors then placed the Chahar Mongols under their direct rule.

Eastern European gateways[edit]

After the Mongol invasion of Rus', the Rurik dynasty rulers of Russian principalities were eager to obtain political advantages for themselves and their countries by marrying into the House of Genghis. Alexander Nevsky was adopted by Batu Khan as his son.[citation needed] Alexander's grandson Yury of Moscow married a sister of Öz Beg Khan; however, they had no progeny. On the other hand, petty Mongol princelings of Genghisid stock sometimes settled in Russia. For instance, Berke's nephew adopted the Christian name Peter and founded St. Peter's Monastery in Rostov, where his descendants were long prominent as boyars.[3]

St. Theodore Stratelates, the patron saint of Fyodor the Black, as illustrated in his personal Gospel Book.

Crimean Khanate Khan Meñli I Giray was the maternal grandfather of Suleiman the Magnificent through his daughter, Ayşe Hafsa Sultan; thereafter, the Ottoman dynasty could also claim descent from Genghis Khan through his son Jochi.

The issue of three Russian-Mongol marriages may be traced down to the present. The most famous was the marriage of St. Fyodor the Black, later proclaimed a patron saint of Yaroslavl, to a daughter of the Mongol khan Mengu-Timur.[4] Fyodor's relations with the khan were idyllic: he spent more time in the Horde (where he was given extensive possessions) than in his capital. Male-line descendants of Fyodor's marriage to the Tatar princess include all the later rulers of Yaroslavl and two dozens princely families (such as the Shakhovskoy, Lvov, or Prozorovsky, among others), which passed Genghis genes to other aristocratic families of Russia.[citation needed]

Gleb, Prince of Beloozero, a grandson of Konstantin of Rostov, was another Rurikid prince influential at the Mongol court. Gleb married the only daughter of Sartaq Khan. From this marriage descends the House of Belozersk, whose scions include Dmitry Ukhtomsky and Belosselsky-Belozersky family.

The most problematic is the marriage of Narimantas, the second son of Gediminas of Lithuania, to Toqta's daughter. The earliest source for this marriage is the "Jagiellonian genealogy", compiled in the 18th-century from Ruthenian chronicles by one Joannes Werner. While the marriage is not utterly impossible (Narimont spent several years in the Horde), there are no extant chronicles which mention Narimont's wife. This highly uncertain gateway derives particular interest from the fact that the House of Golitsyn, Khovansky and Kurakin princely families are Narimont's agnatic descendants.


The Genghisid descent of the Russian tsars or kings of Georgia cannot be reconstructed from extant documentary evidence. The possibility of such a descent for Western European royalty is even less realistic.

The most popular route is based on the House of Basarab of Wallachia, which today forms southern Romania. The first attested ancestor of the Basarab princes was a boyar, Thocomerius. There are several theories as to his origin. The most popular theory is that he was of Cuman extraction, as noted by the researcher Istvan Vassary (Toq-Tomir: Tihomir).[5] There were a significant number of Cumans in the region in his time. Also, a major fact such as being descended from Genghis Khan, would have unlikely been hidden, and would have rather been exploited. Some genealogists identify Thocomerius with a Bulgarian boyar named Tikhomir (from the Slavic roots for "calm" and "peace").

Some descendants of the Basarabs moved to neighboring Hungary, and it has been quite convincingly argued that Countess Claudine Rhédey von Kis-Rhéde (great-great-grandmother of Queen Elizabeth II) is a descendant of the Basarab rulers.

DNA evidence[edit]

Numerous studies by teams of biochemists, based on the Y-DNA of modern descendants of Genghis Khan, have indicated that Genghis Khan may have belonged to a subclade of Haplogroup C-M217 (C2) such as C-F4002 (C2b1a3).[6]

However, research published in 2016 suggested that Genghis belonged to haplogroup R-M343 (R1b).[7] The controversial result was based on analysis of five bodies, dating from about 1130 – 1250, which were found in graves in Tavan Tolgoi, Mongolia. The remains are believed to belong to members of the Mongol "Golden Family", at around the time of Genghis Khan.

Proponents of the theory regarding C-M217 have put forward hypothetical Y-DNA profiles, such as a 25 Marker "Genghis Khan" profile released by Family Tree DNA:

Y-STR Name 385a 385b 388 389i 389ii 390 391 392 393 394 426 437 439 447 448 449 454 455 458 459a 459b 464a 464b 464c 464d
Haplotype 12 13 14 13 29 25 10 11 13 16 11 14 10 26 22 27 12 11 18 8 8 11 11 12 16

Zerjal et al. (2003)[8] identified a Y-chromosomal lineage present in about 8% of the men in a large region of Asia (about 0.5% of the world total). The paper suggests that the pattern of variation within the lineage is consistent with a hypothesis that it originated in Mongolia about 1000 year ago, and thus several generations prior to the birth of Genghis. Such a spread would be too rapid to have occurred by genetic drift, and must therefore be the result of selection. The authors propose that the lineage is carried by likely male-line descendants of Genghis Khan and his close male relatives, and that it has spread through social selection due to the power that Genghis Khan and his direct descendants held and a society which allowed one man to have many children through having multiple wives and widespread rape in conquered cities.[9]

Later descendants[edit]

Actor Batdorj-in Baasanjab (also known as Ba Sen) is Genghis Khan's descendant through the Chagatai lineage.[10] He is well known for his portrayals of his ancestors and distant relatives in films and television series (including Genghis Khan himself, his father Yesugei, his son Ögedei Khan, and his grandsons Möngke Khan and Kublai Khan).

Popular culture[edit]

  • In The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, the motorway contractor Mr. Prosser is (unknown to himself) a direct patrilineal descendant of Genghis Khan. This manifests itself in a predilection for fur hats, a desire to have axes hanging above his front door, being slightly overweight and occasional visions of screaming Mongol hordes.
  • Fictional character Shiwan Khan, who is described as the last living descendant of Genghis appears in The Shadow, a collection of serialized dramas, originally on 1930s radio. He also appeared in the 1994 film adaptation, The Shadow.
  • Marvel Comics supervillains the Mandarin and his son Temugin, both primarily opponents of Iron Man, are descendants of Genghis Khan.
  • Many characters in the Brazilian soap opera Da Cor do Pecado claim to be directly descended from Genghis Khan and are very passionate about martial arts.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ According to some scholars, the Girays were regarded[by whom?] as the second family of the Ottoman Empire after the House of Ottoman: "If Rome and Byzantium represented two of the three international traditions of imperial legitimacy, the blood of Genghis Khan was the third. ... If ever the Ottomans became extinct, it was understood that the Genghizid Girays would succeed them." (Simon Sebag Montefiore. Prince of Princes: The Life of Potemkin. London, Weidenfeld & Nicholson, 2000, p. 244).
  2. ^ Li & Cribb 2014, p. 51.
  3. ^ See the medieval life of St. Peter of the Horde and records of the Petrovsky Monastery.
  4. ^ Later sources indicate that Fyodor's father-in-law was Nogai and his mother-in-law was one of Nogai's wives, whose father was Emperor Michael VIII Palaiologos.
  5. ^ István Vásáry (2005) "Cumans and Tatars", Cambridge University Press
  6. ^ Derenko et al., Distribution of the Male Lineages of Genghis Khan’s Descendants in Northern Eurasian Populations , Russian Journal of Genetics, 2006.
  7. ^ G. Lkhagvasuren et al., 2016,"Molecular Genealogy of a Mongol Queen’s Family and Her Possible Kinship with Genghis Khan", PLOS 1
  8. ^ Zerjal et al., The Genetic Legacy of the Mongols, American Journal of Human Genetics, 2003.
  9. ^
  10. ^ (Chinese) 巴森:再现成吉思汗风采

Further reading[edit]

  • Chapin, David (2012). Long Lines: Ten of the World's Longest Continuous Family Lineages. College Station, Texas: ISBN 978-1-60264-933-0.