THE GREAT YASSA OF JENGHIZ KHAN
The fragments of the Great Yassa of Jenghiz Khan which
have come down to us through Makrizi:
1. An adulterer is to be put to death without any regard as to whether
he is married or not.
2. Whoever is guilty of sodomy is also to be put to death.
3. Whoever intentionally lies, or practices sorcery, or spies upon the
behaviour of others, or intervenes between the two parties in a quarrel
to help the one against the other is also to be put to death.
4. Whoever urinates into water or ashes is also to be put to death.
5. Whoever takes goods (on credit) and becomes bankrupt, then again
takes goods and again becomes bankrupt, then takes goods again and yet
again becomes bankrupt is to be put to death after the third time.
6. Whoever gives food or clothing to a captive without
the permission of his captor is to be put to death.
7. Whoever finds a runaway slave or captive and does not return him
to the person to whom he belongs is to be put to death.
8. When an animal is to be eaten, its feet must be tied, its belly ripped
open and its heart squeezed in the hand until the animal dies; then
its meat may be eaten; but if anyone slaughter an animal after the Mohammedan
fashion, he is to be himself slaughtered.
9. If in battle, during an attack or a retreat, anyone let fall his
pack, or bow, or any luggage, the man behind him must alight and return
the thing fallen to its owner; if he does not so alight and return the
thing fallen, he is to be put to death.
10. Jenghiz Khan decided that no taxes or duties should be imposed ...
upon fakirs, readers of the Al-Koran, lawyers, physicians, scholars,
people who devote themselves to prayer and asceticism, muezzins and
those who wash the bodies of the dead.
11. He ordered that all religions were to be respected
and that no preference was to be shown to any of them. All this he commanded
in order that it might be agreeable to God.
12. He forbade his people to eat food offered by another until the one
offering the food tasted of it himself, even though one be a prince
and the other a captive; he forbade them to eat anything in the presence
of another without having invited him to partake of the food; he forbade
any man to eat more than his comrades, and to step over a fire on which
food was being cooked or a dish from which people were eating.
13. When a wayfarer passes by people eating, he must alight and eat
with them without asking for permission, and they must not forbid him
14. He forbade them to dip their hands into water and ordered them to
use some vessel for the drawing of water.
15. He forbade them to wash their clothes until they were completely
16. He forbade them to say of anything that it was unclean,
and insisted that all things were clean and made no distinction between
the clean and unclean.
17. He forbade them to show preference for any sect, to pronounce words
with emphasis, to use honorary titles; when speaking to the Sultan or
anyone else simply his name was to be used.
18. He ordered his successors to personally examine the troops and their
armament before going to battle, to supply the troops with everything
they needed for the campaign and to survey everything even to needle
and thread, and if any of the soldiers lacked a necessary thing that
soldier was to be punished.
19. He ordered women accompanying the troops to do the work and perform
the duties of the men, while the latter were absent fighting.
20. He ordered the warriors, on their return from the campaign (battle)
to carry out certain duties in the service of the Sultan.
21. He ordered them to present all their daughters to
the Sultan at the beginning of each year that he might choose some of
them for himself and his children.
22. He put Emirs (princes/generals or noyans) at the head of the troops
and appointed commanders of thousands, hundreds, and tens.
23. He ordered that the oldest of the Emirs, if he had committed some
offence, was to give himself up to the messenger sent by the sovereign
to punish him, even if he was the lowest of his servants; and prostrate
himself before him until he had carried out the punishment prescribed
by the sovereign, even if it be to put him to death.
24. He forbade Emirs to address themselves to anyone except the sovereign.
Whoever addressed himself to asnyone but the sovereign was to be put
to death, and anyone changing his post without permission was also to
be put to death.
25. He ordered the Sultan to establish permanent postal communications
in order that he might be informed in good time of all the events of
26. He ordered his son, Jagatai-baen-Jenghiz Khan to see that the Yassa
From Mirhond (or Mirhovend):
27. He ordered that soldiers be punished for negligence; and hunters
who let an animal escape during a community hunt he ordered to be beaten
with sticks and in some cases to be put to death.
28. In cases of murder (punishment for murder) one could ransom himself
by paying fines which were: for a Mohammedan - 40 golden coins (Balysh);
and for a Chinese - one donkey.
29. The man in whose possession a stolen horse is found must return
it to its owner and add nine horses of the same kind: if he is unable
to pay this fine, his children must be taken instead of the horses,
and if he have no children, he himself shall be slaughtered like a sheep.
30. The Yassa of Jenghiz Khan forbids lies, theft and adultery and prescribes
love of one's neighbor as ones's self; it orders men not to hurt each
other and to forget offences completely, to sparae countries and cities
which submit voluntarily, to free from taxes temples consecrated to
God, and to respect old people and beggars. Whoever violates these commands
is to be put to death.
31. (The Yassa prescribes these rules:) to love one another, not to
commit adultery, not to steal, not to give false witness, not to be
a traitor, and to respect old people and beggars. Whoever violates these
commands is put to death.
From various sources:
32. (The Yassa of J. K. prescribes that) a man who chokes on food must
be driven out of the camp and immediately killed; and whosoever puts
his foot on the threshold of the tent of the commander of an army shall
also be put to death.
33. If unable to abstain from drinking, a man may get drunk three times
a month; if he does it more than three times he is culpable; if he gets
drunk twice a month it is better; if once a month, this is still more
laudable; and if one does not drink at all what can be better? But where
can such a man be found? If such a man were found he would be worthy
of the highest esteem.(Riasanovsky considers this fragment to belong
to the Maxims of J.K., maxim 20)
34. Children born of a concubine are to be considered as legitimate,
and receive their share of the heritage according to the disposition
of it made by the father. (Beats the law of primogenture in Europe where
only oldest inherited) Much more civilized. The distribution of property
is to be carried out on the basis of the senior son receiving more than
the junior, the younger son inheriting the household of the father.
The seniority of children depends upon the rank of their mother; one
of the wives must always be the senior, this being determined chiefly
by the time of her marriage.
35. After the death of his father, a son may dispose of the father's
wives, all except his mother; he may marry them or give them in marriage
36. All except the legal heirs are strictly forbidden to make use of
any of the property of the deceased.