Great Commanders coin series marches back into view with the leader of the Mongol Hordes, Genghis Khan

It was just six weeks ago that we were applauding the Mint of Gdańsk for its latest Roman Gods coin, which was a significant step-up in quality from the two earlier releases. Now, after a years’ hiatus, another of their series, ‘Great Commanders’ returns, with an equal jump. There have been two issues in this series to date, one every two years, and each follows a common theme and layout.

The reverse face carries a dynamic battle scene, packed with detail and high-relief, while the obverse has upon it a campaign map, showing the route each commander took on their most famous route. The first coin featured Spartacus, while the second the equally famous Spartan, Leonidas. Now we head East to the genius behind the rise of the Mongol Empire, Temujin, or Genghis Khan.

Straight up, the coin is gorgeous. In a single scene it manages to capture the brutality and chaos of the Mongol charge, while still keeping focus on the central figure – Genghis Khan. It’s another one of those designs that is packed in all over the coin face, exhibiting a fine sense of depth and fine detail. The antique finish is very nicely done, and the red gilding, although a little bright, certainly enhances the sense of brutality on show.

The obverse has always been a highlight of this series. So many coins in this genre have just a patterned border on them, but the campaign map is an inspired idea that ties in perfectly with the main theme. In this case, it also does a good job in laying out just how large the Mongol Empire was. It’s an issue of Niue, so the effigy of Queen Elizabeth II is here. It’s quite cool that the ruler of the second-largest empire in human history has on effigy on the back who is a descendant of the head of the first largest!

The coin is a two-ouncer, struck in 0.999 silver, and comes boxed with a certificate of authenticity. It looks amazing, and you can see that because the Mint of Gdansk took the time to get some terrific images together. It’s a trend we hope continues, given how visual this collectors market is. First class. Available to pre-order now.


Genghis Khan (aka Chinggis Khan) was the founder of the Mongol Empire which he ruled from 1206 until his death in 1227. Born Temujin, he acquired the title of Genghis Khan, likely meaning ‘universal ruler’, after unifying the Mongol tribes. Utterly ruthless with his enemies, countless innocents were slaughtered in his campaigns of terror – millions, according to medieval chroniclers.

Genghis Khan attacked the Xi Xia and Jin states and then Song China. In the other direction, his fast-moving armies invaded Persia, Afghanistan, and even Russia. Genghis Khan had a fearsome reputation, but he was an able administrator who introduced writing to the Mongols, created their first law code, promoted trade and granted religious freedom by permitting all religions to be freely practised anywhere in the Mongol world. In this way, Genghis Khan built the foundations of an empire which would, under his successors, ultimately control one-fifth of the globe.

The date of birth is not known for certain with some scholars choosing 1162 and others 1167. Temujin’s father was poisoned by a rival. when he was still only nine or twelve years old, so he could not maintain the loyalty of his father’s followers. As a consequence, he and his mother were abandoned on the Asian steppe, left to die. However, the outcast family managed to forage and live off the land as best they could. Things got worse when he was captured by a rival clan leader. Fortunately, Temujin was able to escape during the night and, gathering around him the few still-loyal followers of his father, he joined up with Toghril, chief of the Kerait, a tribe that his father had once helped. Temujin then married his betrothed from several years earlier, Borte.

Before long the leadership and martial talents of Temujin brought him victories over local rivals and his army grew in size. The conflicts were bitter with one tribal leader infamously boiling his captives in 70 large cauldrons. Temujin proved unstoppable, though, and he managed to unify most of the different nomadic tribes which roamed the grasslands of central Asia, each one composed of different but related clans, by creating a web of alliances between them. Temujin made himself the dominant leader through a mix of diplomacy, generosity, and his own ruthless use of force and punishments

As his army swelled to ever greater proportions, Temujin defeated, over a period of ten years or so, such rivals as the Tartars, Kereyids, Naimans, and Merkids until a Mongol confederation met at a great conference or kurultai at the Kerulen river in 1206 and formally declared Temujin their leader. The aim now was to combine this power base with the traditional Mongol skills of horsemanship and archery, and, not only overcome tradition rival neighbouring states but build an empire which then could conquer the richest state in Asia: China.

The Mongols were now unified, and their army had several advantages over those of their larger and more powerful neighbours. They were expert archers using their far-shooting composite bows and extremely tough soldiers, capable of riding for days on end with minimal food and water. Their stocky but nimble horses were a weapon in themselves and capable of surviving harsh temperatures. The Mongols had both light and heavy cavalry, and each rider typically had up to 16 spare horses, giving them a very long range of manoeuvre. On top of that, the Mongols never turned down an opportunity to employ enemy tactics and technology themselves. Adopting the skills and innovations of others became a forte in general, as the Khan’s ministers and commanders came from some 20 different nations.

Genghis attacked the Jin state and the plain of the Yellow River in 1205, 1209, and 1211, the latter invasion consisting of two Mongol armies of 50,000 men each. Also in 1215, the Great Khan attacked the Tangut state of Xi Xia in northern China, repeating his raids there of 1209. The Mongols continued their attacks on China over the next decade, with around 90 cites being destroyed in 1212-1213 alone. Even Korea did not escape the Khan’s attentions with an invasion force chasing down fleeing Khitans in 1216 and a Korean army then supporting the Mongols in battles against the Khitans in 1219.

Genghis Khan turned his army to the southwest and invaded what is today Turkistan, Uzbekistan, and Iran between 1218 and 1220. The target was the Khwarazm Empire. Genghis had sent a diplomatic mission requesting the Shah of Khwarazm submit to his overlordship, but the Shah had the ambassadors executed. Genghis responded by fielding an army of some 100,000 men which swept through Persia. In 1221 the Mongols swept into northern Afghanistan, in 1222 a combined army of Rus principalities and Kipchaks was defeated at Kalka, and then the Caspian sea was entirely encircled as the army returned to Mongolia.

The Mongol’s fearsome reputation as the military equivalent of a great plague was now firmly established. There was, though, another side to Genghis Kahn’s conquests. He knew that to keep hold of his territorial gains and ensure they continued to produce riches he could regularly cream off, there had to be in place some system of stable government. Accordingly, rulers were often permitted to keep power, there was religious tolerance for all the different faiths within the empire, international trade was encouraged and travelling merchants were given protection. Genghis Khan died on 18 August 1227 of an unknown illness, perhaps initially caused by falling from his horse while hunting a few months earlier.

Cartwright, M. (2019, September 16). Genghis Khan. World History Encyclopedia. Retrieved from

COMPOSITION 0.999 silver
WEIGHT 62.2 grams
FINISH Antique
MODIFICATIONS Ultra high-relief, Red gold gilding
BOX / C.O.A. Yes / Yes