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Women of Mongolia

Alan Goa

Alan Goa - known as the mythical mother of the Mongol peoples, is said to be descended from the grey wolf. Her fame has been solidified through the parable of the arrows.

In order to encourage unity in her five sons she gave each one an arrow and told them to break it, which they did easily. She then gave them a bundle of five arrows and not one son could break them.


Hoelun was the mother of Temujin. She was forced to flee into the wilderness with her children after her husband, the tribal leader Yesugei, was poisoned by a rival. However, the family managed to forage and live off the land. The lowest moment during this time was when Temujin murdered his brother Behter. Through this tragedy Hoelun was integral in teaching young Temujin unity and support helping him grow from a poor outcast to the most successful conqueror of all time.When the tribes became united and the empire began to grow, Hoelun became one of Genghis Khan’s most trusted advisors famously taking care of war orphans by adopting them and bringing them into the family.



Toregene was the second wife of Genghis Khan’s son and successor, Ogedei Khan. Upon Ogedei’s death, Toregene overthrew the regency to rule as Khatun from 1241 to 1246.

During her time as regent Torgene was infamous for her removal of senior officials and appointment of her own favorites, most notably Fatima, a Tajik slave who was put in charge of general administration

In a society traditionally led only by men Toregene, who has been credited as having great intelligence, shrewdness and formidable political skills managed to not only run the empire but also set up her eldest son Guyuk Khan as the next ruler of the empire, despite Ogodei’s wishes that the empire go to his grandson Siremun.

However, the relationship between Guyuk and Toregene would later falter with Toregene dying under unexplained circumstances.


Sorghaghtani was a Kerait princess who married Tolui, the youngest son of Genghis Khan. Her fame and prestige came after her husband’s death. Tolui is purported to have sacrificed himself in order to break a curse that his brother Ogodei Khan was under.

After Tolui’s death and when Ogodei Khan was fully recovered, he offered Sorghaghtani a new marriage that would bring her wealth and protection. Sorghaghtani refused citing her need to educate her four sons.

This decision turned out to be a good one as three of her four sons ended up being powerful Khan’s. Her eldest, Mongke, became Great Khan of the Mongol empire, her second eldest, Kublai, became Great Khan of the Mongol empire and the Yuan dynasty, and her third eldest, Hulagu, became Khan of the Ilkhanate dynasty that ruled Persia.

Oghul Qaimish

Oghul Qaimish was the wife of Guyuk Khan. When Guyuk died, Oghul ruled as regent. Oghul’s most famous moment was when she dismissed an embassy from King Louis IX of France, telling his ambassador that a great tribute would be required if his nation was to avoid destruction by a Mongol army.

She then became largely unpopular when she increased taxes for the peasantry from the traditional one in every hundred animals to the unrealistic one in ten animals. When Mongke Khan was then elected as ruler, Mongke began to purge the empire of all who were loyal to the previous regime. Oghul was wrapped in a felt sack and thrown into the Kerulen river; a fate usually reserved for witches as it was believed that evil cannot cross running water.


Mandukhai was the wife of Manduul Khan who was poisoned and died in 1479. This left several Mongol princes battling to become Khan. In the meantime, Mandukhai adopted and brought out of hiding a seven-year-old descendent of Genghis Khan. Mandukhai successfully declared the boy as Khan and ruled for him while he grew older.

Mandukhai turned out to be an effective leader. She waged war against the Oirat clan and increased pressure on the neighboring Ming dynasty. To contain her the Ming rapidly expanded the Great wall and began using gunpowder to defeat her troops.

Mandukhai fought in battles herself, even while pregnant, and was once injured while carrying twins of Dayan Khan. She and the twins survived, and her army won the battle.

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