The Deathbed Confessions of Genghis Khan

Contributor: Brian Anthony. Lesson ID: 11462

Someone once said "There is no such thing as a bad boy." Did he ever meet Genghis Khan? Khan's name is synonymous with evil. Some say he brought benefits to the world. Learn how to best judge history!



learning style
personality style
Otter, Golden Retriever
Grade Level
High School (9-12)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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If you get too close to any historical hero, you eventually find some information that doesn't fit the positive image you had held before. For example, Thomas Jefferson, the champion of civil liberties, owned slaves. Is it fair to judge someone like Jefferson based on the standards of our time?

Reflect on the following questions and discuss with your parent or teacher:

  • What are examples of truly great moral figures of the past?
  • What are examples of truly bad people from the past?
  • What standards can we use to judge historical figures?

There are few people whose name is more associated with wickedness and destruction than Genghis Khan.

He was the ruler of a vast empire that covered most of the known world of the day, and is said to have been responsible for the demise of one-tenth of the human beings alive at the time. Would you be surprised to discover that there are some historians who say, "Well, he wasn't all bad!"

Let's learn some of the basic facts about the great Mongol leader's life and see if there is anything good to be mentioned. As you read the following article about Genghis Khan, write a three- or four-sentence summary for each section:

  • introduction
  • early life
  • rise to power
  • building an empire
  • Genghis Khan's death

Read the article, Genghis Khan, Founder of Mongol Empire: Facts & Biography, by Owen Jarus, courtesy of Live Science. Compose your five short summaries, then share them and discuss the following questions with your parent or teacher:

  • What role did Genghis Khan play in history?
  • What benefit, if any, did Khan have for the world?
  • What objective standards can we use to judge historical figures?

You have gathered some of the basic facts of Genghis Khan's life. In the Got It? section, you will dive head-first into the debate about his life. You might be surprised how much you end up liking the guy!

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