Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

The Secret History of the Mongol Queens by…

The Secret History of the Mongol Queens

by Jack Weatherford

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3201034,663 (4.13)22



Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 22 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
This is a most unusual book, in that it brings to life the history of forgotten women, and it would have been very difficult for Mr Weatherford to do the research around this.

I started the book with some degree of scepticism, and only bought the book after I read his credentials.

We meet some extremely interesting women along the way, especially Queen Manduhai The Wise. What I like is the way that, in a rather quiet manner, he brings them to life. Genghis Khan comes out as an extremely intelligent man who, unfortunately could not impart his principles to his sons.

I am not sure that I agree with the part about the Taj Mahal being inspired by the gers, because the Mughal Empire was more closely related to Timur than to the Mongols. In fact, they were known as the House of Timur! ( )
  RajivC | Apr 6, 2016 |
6648001The Secret History of the Mongol Queens: How the Daughters of Genghis Khan Rescued His Empire by Jack Weatherford. ★★★★★

A section from the ancient text The Secret History of the Mongols was cut away by censors, leaving only these words of Genghis Khan: “Let us reward our female offspring.” In The Secret History of the Mongol Queens, Jack Weatherford chronicles the stories of Genghis Khan's daughters and the queens who came after them. The stories of many of these women have been largely forgotten in the mainstream historical narrative, but they had important and overlooked roles in Mongol history.

So much of this book is fascinating. It's filled with powerful women who I had no idea ever existed. The only one I had any prior knowledge of was Khutulun, a great-great granddaughter of Genghis Khan who said that she would only marry a man who could beat her in wrestling. For the majority of the women covered in the book, there's not a whole lot of information. The woman who receives the most focus is Mandukhai Khatun, the subject of the last third of the book who reforged the Mongols into one nation. Among other things, she also rode into battle pregnant with twins!

The Secret History of the Mongol Queens is an easily accessible book, one that you don't need much prior knowledge or a degree in history to get something out of. It's not dry or exceedingly academic in tone, and so much of it really feels like stories. I think this is aided by the many dramatic events that occur in Mongolian history. It left me thinking that many of these sections ought to be adopted into historical novels or television shows.

I recommend The Secret History of the Mongol Queens to anyone with an interest in history, particularly women in history.

Originally posted on The Illustrated Page. ( )
  pwaites | Apr 4, 2016 |
About 25 years ago, I was enlightened by Jack Weatherford's book Indian Givers about the contributions that Native Americans had made to American society -- everything from governmental structures (federalism ala the Iroquois federation) to roadways.

In 2004 he published Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World for which he received the 2007 Order of the Polar Star, the highest award for service to the Mongolian nation. A retired professor from Macalester College, he now resides In Ulaan Batar, Mongolia and his native Charleston, SC. I've not read his earlier book on Genghis Khan, but I couldn't resist Mongol Queens when I came across it.

It's a fascinating tale of Genghis's wives and the daughters who were married into conquered kingdoms along the Silk Road to serve as sheilds in the "son-in-law" states to protect the Mongolian Empire. After Genghis died, a power struggle arose between his sons and daughters, leading to the suppression of women's rights and the slow dissolution of the Empire. From the 13th to the 15th century, the great empire that Genghis had amassed fell into warring states, many of which were taken over by those they had conquered. Weatherford traces the rise and fall of those powers.

Then in the last third of the book, he focuses on Queen Manduhai, the young widow of Manduul Khan, who in the late 15th century, after her husband's death, sought out the child Batu Mongke Kayan, descendant of Genghis and Kublai Khan, and had him declared the Great Khan. She raised him and then married him. She rode into war to subdue the rebellious Mongolian tribes and together they reunited the Mongolian kingdom -- not as an empire, but as a united nation.

Weatherford's history is popular history, and as some critics have pointed out, has some factual errors. But he knows the Mongolians intimately, understands their culture, deeply appreciates their art and history, and recovers the suppressed tales of the Mongolian queens. ( )
1 vote janeajones | Aug 3, 2015 |
[audiobook] Absolutely fascinating! I want to get a hardcopy of this so I can go back through and take notes. My favorite bits were those that revealed some of the personality and character of the historical figures (excerpts from historical documents) and the details about Mongolian culture from the time of Gengis Khan onward. This book also revealed to me how very little I actually knew about the history of Mongolia and the areas that became part of the Mongolian Empire, and about Genghis Khan himself (he was a much more moderate and wise fellow than I ever realized, with some quite enlightened attitudes and laws regarding women (according to this book, at least).

(Be warned: there were several passages that were so gruesome and horrendous that it was hard for me to read them, detailing punishments and wartime acts of extreme brutality) ( )
  devafagan | Jan 2, 2015 |
This is, or has, both speculative history and history told as story--as per his first on the Mongols, 'Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World'. Perhaps I found more quibbles with this one. For instance, his dissolute Ogodei doesn't square with the kindly drunk portrayed in Juvaini 'Genghis Khan: The History Of The World Conqueror'--on which grounds and similar, I thought the good/evil contrast between Genghis' daughters and his sons too strongly put. Nor did I believe the 'war on women' concept. It's true that Mongols' foreign wives, from tribes and peoples who had once been conquests, were soon left with the government to themselves. Did they believe in Mongol values, Genghis' values? It seems they contributed to what quickly became a brawl for family power, Genghis' innovations forgotten. This gist of the story I go along with, but again and again I felt 'too strongly put' or I scrawled a question mark next to the text.

I thought the book too much about queens... true, 'Queens' is the title. But had we seen them against a background of ordinary Mongol women, had women's status been examined, then they wouldn't have stood out as so exceptional, and I think the 'war on women' idea might fall apart. Why? The 13th century was an age of queens, not just at Kara Korum but in Mongol-occupied or Mongol-allied territories--because steppe values spilt over, in a way they never had before. Before the 13th century, Liao and Western Liao had a history of queens in charge, upon which the Mongols drew, and even women in politics in settled states, Tangut and traditional Song China, seemed to say, 'If she can in Liao, I can.' Given this, I don't understand where an anti-woman attitude came from. I need that explained. It isn't like it was there before--before the innovations of Genghis--to rear its ugly head again when he was gone. If there was a mother-son tug of power, I've read about similar in Tangut and in Liao, where widows, left in charge, do not want to hand on to sons once they come of age and the battle's on, that mothers often won (these were part-steppe societies in the couple of centuries before the Mongols).

Still, this is a massively valuable book, just like his other, since Mongol queens weren't talked about in the streets before Jack Weatherford.

For a book that looks at women in steppe societies, and has more on the lives of ordinary women (as much evidence as can be scraped together) and women of power in the lead-up to the Mongols, see: 'Women of the Conquest Dynasties: Gender and Identity in Liao and Jin China'. A book on Western Liao, 'The Empire of the Qara Khitai in Eurasian History: Between China and the Islamic World', tells of further innovations, indeed the first women khans. If Genghis tried to institute power for his daughters, these were the examples he had to follow.

I'd better footnote what I say on the spillover of steppe attitudes to women into settled territories: 'Early Mongol Rule in Thirteenth-Century Iran: A Persian Renaissance' displays this in the west. ( )
1 vote Jakujin | Feb 23, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
no reviews | add a review
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
First words
Last words
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language
Book description
The Mongol queens of the thirteenth century ruled the largest empire the world has ever known. Yet sometime near the end of the century, censors cut a section from The Secret History of the Mongols, leaving a single tantalizing quote from Genghis Khan: “Let us reward our female offspring.” Only this hint of a father’s legacy for his daughters remained of a much larger story.

The queens of the Silk Route turned their father’s conquests into the world’s first truly international empire, fostering trade, education, and religion throughout their territories and creating an economic system that stretched from the Pacific to the Mediterranean. Outlandish stories of these powerful queens trickled out of the Empire, shocking the citizens of Europe and and the Islamic world.

After Genghis Khan’s death in 1227, conflicts erupted between his daughters and his daughters-in-law; what began as a war between powerful women soon became a war against women in power as brother turned against sister, son against mother. At the end of this epic struggle, the dynasty of the Mongol queens had seemingly been extinguished forever, as even their names were erased from the historical record..

One of the most unusual and important warrior queens of history arose to avenge the wrongs, rescue the tattered shreds of the Mongol Empire, and restore order to a shattered world. Putting on her quiver and picking up her bow, Queen Mandhuhai led her soldiers through victory after victory. In her thirties she married a seventeen-year-old prince, and she bore eight children in the midst of a career spent fighting the Ming Dynasty of China on one side and a series of Muslim warlords on the other. Her unprecedented success on the battlefield provoked the Chinese into the most frantic and expensive phase of wall building in history. Charging into battle even while pregnant, she fought to reassemble the Mongol Nation of Genghis Khan and to preserve it for her own children to rule in peace.

At the conclusion of his magnificently researched and ground-breaking narrative, Weatherford notes that, despite their mystery and the efforts to erase them from our collective memory, the deeds of these Mongol queens inspired great artists from Chaucer and Milton to Goethe and Puccini, and so their stories live on today. With The Secret History of the Mongol Queens, Jack Weatherford restores the queens’ missing chapter to the annals of history. [product description from
Amazon 6/15/11]
Haiku summary

No descriptions found.

A history of the ruling women of the Mongol Empire, this work reveals their struggle to preserve a nation that shaped the world.

» see all 2 descriptions

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
98 wanted1 pay2 pay

Popular covers


Average: (4.13)
2 1
3 5
3.5 3
4 19
4.5 2
5 13


An edition of this book was published by Audible.com.

See editions

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


Help/FAQs | About | Privacy/Terms | Blog | Store | Contact | LibraryThing.com | APIs | WikiThing | Common Knowledge | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | 105,886,131 books! | Top bar: Always visible