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ago, the time that Genghis's dynasty began its ascent to power._

Mongol soldiers doubtless raped many women during their extraordinarily cruel and murderous campaigns. But there may be a more significant reason for the existence of so many men carrying the specific chromosome of the Mongol royal house: Genghis accumulated a large harem in which he seems to have labored with surprising industry. The fourteenth century Persian historian Rashid ad-Din, who served as chief minister of the Mongol government of Persia, wrote that Genghis Khan had nearly 500 wives and concubines, and that it was his practice to take women into his harem as booty whenever he conquered a new tribe. Another Persian historian of the Mongol empire, 'Ata-Malik Juvaini, includes without further explanation the following observation in his History of the World Conqueror, completed in AD 1260: "Of the issue of the race and lineage of Chingiz-Khan there are now living in the comfort of wealth and affluence more than 20,000. More than this I will not say but shall rather avoid [the subject] lest the readers of this history should accuse the writer of these lines of exaggeration and hyperbole and ask how from the loins of one man there could spring in so short a time so great a progeny."292

Genghis's interest in procreation was shared by his sons, one of whom is credited with 40 sons. It seems to have been a deliberate policy of Genghis and his heirs to father as many children as possible. "It's pretty clear what they were doing when they were not fighting," comments a historian of the Mongol period,

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