(born c. 1162) was the first wife of Genghis Khan
(1162-1227), the founder of the Mongol Empire
. Börte became the head of the first Court of Genghis Khan, and Grand Empress of his Empire. Little is known about the details of her early life, but she was betrothed to him at a young age, married at 17, and then kidnapped by a rival tribe. The decision by her husband to rescue her may have been one of the key decisions that started him on his path to conquer the world. She gave birth to several children, who, along with their own descendants, were the key bloodline which further expanded the Mongol Empire.
Few historical facts are known about her life, but Mongolians
have many legends about her. What little is known, is generally from The Secret History of the Mongols
Börte was born around 1162 into the Onggirat tribe, where her father, Dei Seichen, was a chieftain. Her mother's name was Tchotan. This tribe was friendly to the Kiyad tribe, into which Temüjin (Genghis Khan) was born. Little is known about the details of her meeting with Temujin. It was decided, perhaps by others, that Börte was to marry Temüjin at the marriageable age of 17.
After she married Temujin, she was abducted in a dawn raid by the Merkit tribe. Several months later, Temüjin, with his allies Wang Khan and Jamuqa, rescued her from her captors. Some scholars describe this event, when Temujin decided to rescue her, as one of the key crossroads in his life, which moved him along the path towards becoming a conqueror.
Börte had been held captive for eight months, and she gave birth to Jochi after she was rescued, leaving doubt as to who the father of the child was. However, Genghis always clearly claimed the boy as his son.
She was revered by the Mongols after Temüjin became the Great Khan, and was crowned the grand empress. As Genghis Khan continued to expand his influence and empire, Börte remained behind and assisted Genghis Khan's brother Temuge in ruling the Mongol homeland.
Börte is often portrayed as a beautiful woman dressed in a white silken gown, with gold coins in her hair, holding a white lamb, and riding a white steed.
- Khojen Beki, the eldest, was betrothed to Tusakha, son of Senggum, and grandson of Ong Khan, ruler of the Kerait tribe; she eventually married Botu, of the Ikire tribe, and widower of her paternal aunt Temulun.
- Alaqai Beki, married first to Alaqush Digit Quri, chieftain of the Ongüt tribe; then to his nephew and heir Jingue; and finally to her stepson Boyaohe
- Tümelün, married to Chigu, son of Anchen, son of Dei Sechen, Börte's father
- Altalün, married first to Olar, chieftain of the Olqunu’ut tribe; then to her stepson Taichu
- Checheyigen, married to Törölchi, son of Quduka beki, of the Oirat tribe.
Although several of Genghis Khan's children by wives or concubines received some form of recognition in the empire, including land or military commands, including troops, only Börte's children were recognized as potential Great Khans. She, together with his mother Hoelun, was counted as one of his most trusted advisors.
- Grousset, Rene. Conqueror of the World: The Life of Chingis-khan (New York: The Viking Press, 1944) ISBN 0-670-00343-3.
- Ratchnevsky, Paul. Genghis Khan: His Life and Legacy. (Blackwell Publishing 1991) ISBN 0-631-16785-4.
- Man, John. Genghis Khan: Life, Death and Resurrection (London; New York : Bantam Press, 2004) ISBN 0-593-05044-4.
''For other relevant sources, see Genghis Khan.