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A very Mughal-looking Genghis Khan with his wife Börte, dividing his Empire between his four sons
Khatun of the Mongol Empire and Khamag Mongol
Reign 1189 – 1230?
Successor Moqe
Spouse Genghis Khan
Khojen Beki
Alaqai Beki
House Olkhunut
Father Dei Setchen
Born c. 1162
Died 1230?
Avarga, Mongolia

Börte Üjin (Mongolian: Бөртэ үжин; born c. 1162) was the first wife of Genghis Khan, the founder of the Mongol Empire. Börte became the head of the first Court of Genghis Khan, and Grand Empress of his Empire. Little is known about the details of her early life, but she was betrothed to him at a young age, married at 17, and then kidnapped by a rival tribe. The decision by her husband to rescue her may have been one of the key decisions that started him on his path to conquer the world. She gave birth to four sons and five daughters, who, along with their own descendants, were the key bloodline which further expanded the Mongol Empire.


Early life

Few historical facts are known about her life, but Mongolians have many legends about her. What little is known is generally from The Secret History of the Mongols.

Börte was born around 1162 into the Onggirat or Olkhunut, where her father, Dei Seichen, was a chieftain. Her mother's name was Tchotan. This tribe was friendly to the Kiyad tribe, into which Temüjin (Genghis Khan) was born. Little is known about the details of her meeting with Temujin, although it is probable their marriage was set up by Yesükhei, Genghis' father, to solidify relations between their two tribes. It was decided, perhaps by others, that Börte was to marry Temüjin at the marriageable age of 12.[citation needed]


After she married Temüjin, she was abducted in a dawn raid by the Merkit tribe. Several months later, Temüjin, with his allies Wang Khan and Jamuqa, rescued her from her captors. Some scholars describe this event as one of the key crossroads in his life, which moved him along the path towards becoming a conqueror.

Börte had been held captive for eight months, and she gave birth to Jochi after she was rescued, leaving doubt as to who the father of the child was as her captors possibly raped her. However, Genghis let Jochi remain with his family and claimed him as his own son. He was supposed to be Genghis' successor but because of his doubt of being Jochi's real father, his brothers would not accept him as ruler and Genghis had to choose another son realizing they would not accept Jochi. Jochi then became leader of the Golden Horde.

Grand Empress

She was revered by the Mongols after Temüjin became the Great Khan, and was crowned the Grand Empress. As Genghis Khan continued to expand his influence and empire, Börte remained behind and assisted Genghis' brother Temüge in ruling the Mongol homeland.

Börte is often portrayed as a beautiful woman dressed in a white silken gown, with gold coins in her hair, holding a white lamb, and riding a white steed.[citation needed]


Börte's sons:


  • Khojen Beki, the eldest, was betrothed to Tusakha, son of Senggum, and grandson of Ong Khan, ruler of the Kerait tribe; she eventually married Botu, of the Ikires tribe, and widower of her paternal aunt Temulun.
  • Alaqai Beki, married first to Alaqush Digit Quri, chieftain of the Ongüt tribe; then to his nephew and heir Jingue; and finally to her stepson Boyaohe
  • Tümelün, married to Chigu, son of Anchen, son of Dei Sechen, Börte's father
  • Altalün, married first to Olar, chieftain of the Olkunut tribe; then to her stepson Taichu, and later to the Uyghur idiqut.
  • Checheyigen, married to Törölchi, son of Quduka beki, of the Oirat tribe.

Although several of Genghis Khan's children by other wives or concubines received some form of recognition in the empire, including land or military commands, including troops, only Börte's children were recognized as potential Great Khans. She, together with his mother Hoelun, was counted as one of his most trusted advisors.


  • Grousset, Rene. Conqueror of the World: The Life of Chingis-khan (New York: The Viking Press, 1944) ISBN 0-670-00343-3.
  • Ratchnevsky, Paul. Genghis Khan: His Life and Legacy. (Blackwell Publishing 1991) ISBN 0-631-16785-4.
  • Man, John. Genghis Khan: Life, Death and Resurrection (London; New York : Bantam Press, 2004) ISBN 0-593-05044-4.

For other relevant sources, see Genghis Khan.

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