Saturday, July 2, 2011

Jebe ( ? - 1225), Loyal General of Genghis Khan

Mongol warriors in hand-to-hand combat at the battle of the Kalka River 1223

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

When Genghis Khan attacked this tribe, Jebe was said, according to The Secret History of Mongols (one of the prime sources related to the life of Genghis Khan and his followers) to have shot and injured Genghis Khan in the neck during the battle. After the battle, Genghis Khan 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). Jebe is said to have voluntarily confessed that he shot Genghis Khan himself 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 Genghis Khan 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 him a new name, Jebe, which means both "arrow" and "rust" in Mongolian. Jebe was not his birth name (which was Zurgadai), but a nickname based on this occasion.

Jebe is further known to have become one of the best and most loyal commanders of Genghis Khan in later conquests. His ability as a general puts him in one rank with Subutai ba'atur.

After Jebe scored great victories over Kuchlug of Kara-Khitan, Genghis Khan himself was said to be jealous and was afraid Jebe would rebel against him. When rumors 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 shot the horse) as a sign of loyalty. From then on Genghis Khan never doubted this skilled general again.

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

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