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Jebe

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Jebe

Jebe (or Jebei; Mongolian: Зэв, Zev; birth name: Zurgadai) (died 1225) was one of the prominent Noyans (generals) of Genghis Khan. He belonged to the Besud clan, part of the Taichud tribe, which was at the time of Genghis Khan under Targudai Khiriltug's leadership.

In 1201, during the Battle of the Thirteen Sides, Genghis Khan was wounded by an arrow to the neck. His loyal subordinate, Jelme, cared for him. After the battle (which Genghis Khan had won), he asked the defeated to reveal who shot "his horse" in the neck (euphemizing his own injury as his horse's in an apparent attempt to conceal his injury, or possibly to prevent false confessions). Zurgadai is said to have voluntarily confessed that he shot him and not his horse, and further said, that if Genghis Khan desired to kill him, it was his choice, but if he would let him live, he would serve him loyally. Genghis Khan, in his own usual custom, highly valued honesty and loyalty in his soldiers and so, in the traditions of nomadic chivalry, pardoned him and praised him on this account. He then gave Zurgadai a new name, Jebe, which means both "arrow" and "rust" in Mongolian.

Jebe became one of the best and most loyal commanders of Genghis Khan in later conquests. His ability as a general puts him on the level of Subutai ba'atur.

After Jebe scored victories over Kuchlug of Kara-Khitan, Genghis Khan, though glad of his general's victory, was said to be concerned, not knowing if Jebe would seek greater ambition at his expense and rebel against him. When word of this reached Jebe, he immediately returned to where Genghis Khan was and offered 100 white horses (the same kind of horse that Genghis Khan was riding when Jebe wounded him) as a sign of loyalty. He never doubted Jebe again.

He had made a legendary raid around the Caspian Sea where he and Subutai defeated the Kievan Rus' and Cumans at the Battle of the Kalka River. This preceded the conquest of Kievan Rus', and he likely died on his return from the conquests of the Kievan Rus'. He left an indelible mark on history with his conquests in China, the conquest of Central Asia, and into Europe at Kiev and the Rus.

References

  • Urgunge Onon (trans.), revised by Sue Bradbury (1993), Chinggis Khan: The Golden History of the Mongols. London: The Folio Society.
  • Secret History of the Mongols: full text, history, translations into Russian, German, French, original transliteration
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