Jebe

A 19th Century illustration of The Battle of the Kalka River - Jebe's greatest victory.
A 19th Century illustration of The Battle of the Kalka River – Jebe’s greatest victory.

Jebe born Zurgudai d 1125

Jebe was one of Genghis Khan’s foremost generals and advisors. Zurgudai was born to the Besud clan, part of the Taichud tribe. He joined Genghis Khan in 1201 after the Battle of Twelve Sides. During the battle Genghis was struck by an arrow and had to be nursed by Jelme. Questioned with the other captives, Zurgudai admitted injuring the Khan. He said that he did not fear death but if Genghis spared his life he would serve the Khan faithfully. Genghis was impressed by his honesty and pardoned Zurgadai. He renamed Zurgadai, Jebe, which means arrow in Mongolian.

Jebe became one of the best and most trusted Mongol commanders. After the fall of Zhongdhu, Jebe led a major campaign against Kuclug the Khan of the Black Khitan. Jebe defeated the unpopular Kuchlug and added the Khitan lands to the growing empire. He presented Genghis with 100 white horses as a token of his victory and his loyalty.

Jebe took part in the main invasion of Central Asia. However, in 1222 when the main campaign was winding down he and Subutai received the Khan’s permission to lead a great cavalry raid westwards. Between1222-24 their combined armies defeated the Georgians (twice) pacified nomadic Cumans who lived in the Caucuses and most famously defeated the combined forces of the Rus principalities at the Battle of the Kalka River May 1223. This was a classic example of Jebe’s skill as a commander. The Mongols feigned retreat, forcing the Rus to chase them for seven days. When the moment was right they turned destroyed the disorganised and split enemy forces. These campaigns prepared the way for a full invasion of Eastern Europe fifteen years later. Jebe died on his return from this great raid, probably in early 1225.

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