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Genghis Khan grew up in a world of excessive tribal violence including murder, kidnapping and enslavement. As a child, he feared dogs and cried easily
At the time of his birth in 1162, no one in China had heard of Europe and no one in Europe had heard of China.
By the time of his death in 1227, he had connected them with diplomatic and and commercial contacts that still remains unbroken.
Genghis Khan was born near the border of modern Mongolia and Siberia. Holeum, a young kidnapped girl struggle to give birth to him, her first child. Temujin was not valued by his father who was already married before he kidnapped his mother and had a son, Begter, slightly older than him from his first wife. At the age of 9, Temujin choose his wife Borte. His father died at the same period.
With her husband dead and no other man willing to take her, Holeum's family  was abandon by the Tayichiud tribe protecting them. Holeum and and an other woman with their 7 children were left out behind to die. Most of Temujin's youth was consumed by the work of helping his family survive. In the land of harsh lives, they had fallen to the lowest level of steppe life.
Temujin became friend with Jamuka from a tribe near by and twice in their childhood, they swore an oath of eternal brotherhood becoming blood brother.
Temujin chafed under the sometimes bullying authority of his older half brother Begter, and the sibling rivalry grew more intense as the two approached adolescence. In the face of so many danger from predators and weather, Mongols developed a system in which children had to obey their parents unquestioningly. In absence of a father, the eldest son assumed that role. The elder brother had the right to control their every action, to assign them any task, and to take from them or give them whatever he pleased. After a dispute over a fish, Temujin shot his half brother to death with an arrow. Already, at this young age, Temujin played the game of life not merely for honor or prestige but to win. Temujin had determined that he would lead, not follow.
Temujin was captured by the Tayichiud - the same tribe that already abandoned his family out to die - for his crime on his half brother, they took him back to their main camp where, in an effort to break his will, they strapped him into a cangue, a devise something like an ox yoke, which permitted him to walk but immobilized his hands and prevented him from feeding himself or even getting a drink of water unaided. Each day, a different family assumed responsibility for guarding and caring for him. Tamujin was treated with disdain from his captor but he found sympathy and comfort among these families when they took him into their gers at night where they shared food with him.
The story of Temujin escape from his impossible situation is further testament to his character, which would shape his rise to power. One night, Temujin had been assigned to the care of a physically weak boy, the captive suddenly swung the cangue around violently struck the boy's head with it, and knocked him out. Rather than face almost certain death by fleeing on foot across the steppe wearing a cangue, Temujin took refuge at a family that treated him kindly. Despite the great risk to their own life, the reluctant host removed the cangue and burned it. They hid Temujin in a pile of wood during the next day when the hunt to for him resumed. That night, they cooked a lamb for him, and gave him a horse with which he managed to elude his trackers for the long flight back to his mother's distant and isolated camp.
The Secret History does not say exactly how long Temujin was captive with a cangue but it was several years.
For a poor family to risk their life to help him, Temujin must have had some special ability . Meanwhile, his humble family impressed him as well. The Tayichiud tribe who had once leave his family out to die and now appear eager to kill him. The other family which had no kinship tie to him, proved willing to risk their lives to help him.
In later life, Temujin would judge others primarily by their actions toward him and not according to their kinship bonds, a revolutionary concept in the steppe society.
Some 35 years later, after his initial capture by the Tayichiud and imprisonment in the cangue, Temujin rewarded the family that had helped him to escape by freeing them from bondage.
In 1178, Temujin turned sixteen. He had not seen his intended wife Borte since his father's death seven years earlier. He was pleased to discover that Borte still waited for him and was happy that her father still agreed on their marriage.
Early one morning, as the family slept in the ger, a raiding party of Merkids raced toward them. Temujin and his 6 brothers had just time to put on their boots and raced out to their horses. Temujin fled leaving behind his new bride that the Merkid captured.
Temujin faced a pivotal decision of his life. He could have choose to abandon any hope of recapturing his wife Borte and that would have been surely the expected course. Temujin choose to fight. He would find his wife or he would died trying. Tremujin find alliance with the tribe of Ong Khan. Ong Khan sent Temujin to seek additional alliance with the growing tribe of Jamuka. The army of Ong Khan and Jamuka gathered with Temujin small band. As they approach the Merkid camp, Borte who had been given to an older Merkid warrior was loaded into a cart and send away from the battle. She had no reason to suspect that the attack was launched to rescue her. Borte heard a voice crying out her name and recognized it as Temujin's. She jump out of the cart and run toward Temujin, they threw themselves upon each other in an emotional embrace. The reunited couple, still under 20 years of age, might have hoped to live joyously together but Temujin find that Borte was pregnant. Who fathered Borte's eldest child would reverberate through Mongol politic for the next century. In 1179, Temujin named the boy Jochi, which means "Visitor" or "Guest".
Temujin with his little group of followers moved away from the protection of the mountains and out onto the steppe  with the much more powerful Jamuka.
In 1181, Temujin felt he was bullied by Jamuka and with his small entourage fled in secret. By spontaneous choice, many of Jamuka's followers fled with Temujin taking, of course, their animals.
The rift between the 2 young men on that early summer night in 1181 evolved into 2 decades of warfare of who would lead the Mongols warriors. The 2 rivals spent the next quarter of the century stealing animals and women from each other, raiding each other's followers, and struggling to see which one would eventually rule all Mongols.