Genghis Khan is an extremely famous historical figure, and although a lot of people dislike him for his war-like nature and phenomenal success in attacking other nations, he’s a point of interest for many individuals. Have you ever wondered what he looked like, and what sort of stature he had?
Nobody knows how tall Genghis Khan was; historical records simply reference him as being “tall.” It’s difficult to say how tall this would be, because height varies enormously in the Mongol population. It is likely that he rode a Mongolian pony, meaning he probably wasn’t exceptionally tall. Several historians estimate that he was between 5 foot 6 inches and 5 foot 8 inches (1.68 meters and 1.73 meters).
We’re going to find out more about his height and how it has been estimated, plus a few other key facts about this fascinating person.
How Tall Was Genghis Khan?
As mentioned above, nobody knows for sure how tall Genghis Khan was; we can only go on historians’ best guesses, which are based on limited evidence. However, most place him somewhere between 5 foot 6 inches and 5 foot 8 inches.
That may not sound like it fits with the “tall” description in historical documents, but remember that average heights don’t remain the same year after year. People have got taller in recent decades, and the average American man today is still only 5 foot 8 inches. Genghis Khan could easily have been considered tall for his era, even if he was only 5 foot 6 inches.
If he was 5 foot 8 inches, he could easily have been several inches taller than many of his countrymen, which would have led to the descriptor.
Today’s average Mongol man is between 5 foot 3 inches (1.60 meters) and 5 foot 11 inches (1.80 meters). If Genghis Khan was alive now, he would still be within these parameters, which suggests that he was tall for his time.
It’s also important to be aware that Genghis Khan rode one of the native Mongolian horses, and these tended to be fairly small, although they were powerful animals. One of these horses was usually between 12 and 14 hands tall, which translates to about 4 feet (1.22 meters) and 4 feet 8 inches (1.42 meters).
That’s a little shorter than most European horses, so Genghis Khan can’t have been a giant, or he would have been unable to ride one of these stout creatures. It doesn’t give us an accurate measurement, but it does indicate that the estimates probably aren’t far off.
Unfortunately, there’s no way to tell exactly how tall Genghis Khan was, because there is a lack of historical documents. Although some sources do allude to his height and even refer to the “godlike” stature of the Mongols, we can’t get much more from this than has already been considered.
How Old Was Genghis Khan?
Again, there’s no precise information on how old Genghis Khan was when he died, but it is thought that he lived until his mid-60s. He is thought to have died in the summer of 1227, but it isn’t known what killed him.
Some scholars state that he was ill, while others think battle wounds probably finished him off. A 2021 study suggested that the bubonic plague may have been the cause of death, while there are some myths from the time that suggest he was fatally injured by a princess he had taken captive.
There is a lot of mystery surrounding his death, and it is thought that he ordered his death to be kept a secret while the kingdom of Xi Xia (which he was attacking at the time) was obliterated.
It’s not clear how long his heirs managed to conceal his death, but it is likely that they transported him back to Mongolia. He was buried without markings, as was the custom for his tribe, and nobody knows the exact location of his body.
Following his death, his heirs continued to build on his work, increasing the size of the Mongol empire to encompass large parts of Eurasia. It was maintained until the 14th century, when it collapsed, although some rulers in Asia still claim kinship with Genghis Khan.
How Much Did Genghis Khan Weigh?
One of the things that many people associated Genghis Khan with is being overweight – but was he really all that heavy?
It’s again difficult to know, since there are no records of his weight. However, it’s quite likely that the depiction of him as a fat man is inaccurate.
A lot of people draw this conclusion due to ancient paintings of Genghis Khan, but many of these would have been painted by people who never saw him. In some cases, being large was equated with wealth and power, and it’s quite possible that the artists depicted him in these ways to demonstrate respect for him.
It’s likely that at least in his youth, Genghis Khan was fit and healthy. He would have led an active life, riding, wrestling, and shooting with a bow, which probably meant he was not overweight.
It is possible that in his later years, Genghis Khan got heavier, especially as he was likely less present on the battlefield. However, it’s generally thought that he probably maintained his physique, and that modern perceptions of his weight have either been misled by ancient paintings, or guided by a general dislike for the man.
There’s no historical evidence to suggest that Genghis Khan was overweight, and it’s not thought that he died as a result of overeating or an unhealthy diet. Given that he continued to fight in battles up to his death, he was probably physically fit throughout his life.
Overall, little is known about Genghis Khan’s appearance, although it is thought that he was a reasonably tall individual, who probably died in his mid-60s. By modern standards, he would likely be of average height or a little shorter, but for his time, he probably cut an imposing figure, especially when mounted on horseback.