The Mongolian Empire is remembered for their barbaric conquests, and for the power of their great leaders, who succeeded to spread the empire to many continents. The Mongolians took their fighting to another level. By the age of 2, boys were trained to ride on horseback and archery. They fought each other to practice hand-to-hand tactics. They practice both Chinese martial arts of Kung fu as well as ancient Mongolian fighting techniques. They were trained to be stronger than any army in the world. The Mongols were unstoppable war machines. But among all this, we have forgotten one of the most fascinating people of the Mongolian empire, the warrior princess Khutulun. Unlike many other princesses and queens throughout history, Khutulun was remembered for her own glory, rather than the achievements of a husband or son. Khutulun was born in 1260, she was the daughter of Kaidu Khan, a royal descendent of Genghis Khan, who is known in history as one of the most powerful military leaders and influential rulers and Khutulun truly inherited his strength in battle.
Genghis Khan is known as one of the fiercest military leaders who ever lived. In his lifetime, he had conquered all of the Mongolian tribes and ruled them under one nation; he achieved this by training his army to be masterful warriors that were stronger than any other army in the world. They taught Falcons to deliver signals and coordinate with each other, which helped them disperse their army through large territories. Genghis Khan’s army was so strong that they were able to defeat the tribes one by one. He wanted to become the ruler of the entire world, so he also began to take over territory in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. Even though their army was known as being ruthless and barbaric warriors, the Mongolian empire actually brought a lot of innovation to the world during times of peace. They encouraged diplomacy and international trade; they were tolerant of all religions. While most people remember the great Khan, very few people know about his great-great-granddaughter Khutulun. Genghis Khan had several wives and he had many children. His grandson Kublai Khan became the emperor of Mongolia in 1260, and his siblings and cousins held positions of authority in the kingdom. Kublai Khan was not as feared as his great- grandfather Genghis Khan, and Mongolia would eventually begin to break off into civil wars. Kublai Khan would also go to war with Ariq Boke, his own brother. A man named Kaidu was the nephew of Kublai Khan and the chief of the House of Ogedei. The two cousins disagreed with one another about ruling the empire and this would cause wars.
An Italian explorer named Marco Polo wrote down the history of the Mongolian Empire while living amongst Kublai Khan’s royal court. Most information about Khutulun’s life is known from his books, as well as some comments made by a Persian statesman named Rashid-al-Din. Kaidu Khan had fourteen sons, but his favourite child by far was his daughter, Khutulun. She was known by a variety of names, including Aigiarm, which translated to ‘Shining moon.’ Unlike many other princesses, Khutulun is not remembered for her appearance; she was recognized for her excellent wrestling skills. At the time when war, practising and drinking was common for boys, girls were never told to do the same. Women were supposed to be gentle and submissive to men, though at the same time taking charge of household duties and farming. Yet Khutulun grew up to prove that she was far from becoming a princess. Khutulun was a tomboy since she was young, and she wanted to practice fighting with her brothers rather than dancing or playing with dolls. In the records of Marco Polo’s adventures, he describes Khutulun as looking statuesque. She was considered to be one of the greatest warriors in the Mongol army, and she remained an undefeated wrestling champion going up against male opponents. When Khutulun was old enough to get married several suitors began to show their interest in making her their wife but she wasn’t afraid to speak her mind to her father, and she declared that she would never get married unless a man could defeat her in wrestling, Marco Polo wrote that she wanted to marry a man who was more skilled and physically stronger than her and thus began a long line of suitors willing to take on the warrior princess.
Horses are a significant part of the culture of Mongolia. The numbers of horses actually outnumber the human population. The entry fee of the wrestling match was 100 horses. If they lost the wrestling match, they would have to forfeit their horses to The House of Ogedei, which will increase the wealth and power of their army. She became the owner of a stable of 10,000 horses in a couple of years. These wrestling matches were talked about throughout Mongolia, even many people travelled to see the fights. There are no written records of Khutulun ever getting married. If she got married, she would never be allowed to live out her passion in life, which was to be a warrior. Just like the male Mongolian warriors of her day, Khutulun participated in many battles alongside her father and his army. Marco Polo explains her strategy of galloping up to an enemy soldier on the other side of the frontline, picking him up with only one hand, then raising his body off the ground while riding a horse then bringing the opponent back to his side of the fight. Since she was lighter than a male rider, she was able to gallop on her horse at a faster speed. This terrified the enemy and it helped them to win more than one battle over the year. Kaidu Khan thought that Khutulun was the strongest fighter in his unit, and she would have been the most competent leader. She was also issued a silver medal to wear around her waist. She is the first Mongolian woman ever to hold the title.
Although Kaidu Khan decided to make Khutulun his heir, having a woman in charge was against the law. Near the end of his life, he attempted to make Khutulun the next Khan leader. At this point she was 41 years old, she had years of experience, and she was feared and respected amongst the army. She was ready to take on the role of a leader. Kaidu attempted to break all Mongolian traditions and appoint Khutulun as his true heir but only faced resistance from others, particularly from Khutulun’s many brothers. Instead, a rival named Duwa was given the position as the new Khan of their territory. In 1306, 5 years after Kaidu’s death, Khutulun died under unknown circumstances, at the age of 46. There is very little information about Khutulun, Marco Polo and Rashid-al-Din are only two historians who were around in the 1200s to write down the details of her life and they only devoted maybe one or two pages of their books to her story. Though she is mentioned barely in these texts of the Mongolian empire, the story of her strength was so fascinating and incredible that it was still passed along by the Mongolian and Chinese people by word of mouth. She only began her comeback in 1710 when a Frenchman named Francois Petis de la Croix, while he was putting together a biography of Genghis Khan, and wrote a story based on Khutulun. In his story, she was a Chinese princess called Turandot, but it was greatly changed from the facts of her life. Turandot threatened her suitors with riddles instead of wrestling matches, and if they lost, they were killed. Khutulun might have been the strongest Mongolian warrior of all time.
Information Collected from https://historycollection.com/the-mongol-princess-khutulun-literally-wrestled-her-way-to-victory/3/