Yesugei Baghatur or Yesükhei (Modern Mongolian: Есүхэй баатар, Yesukhei baatar), was a major chief of the Khamag Mongol confederation and the father of Temüjin, later known as Genghis Khan. He was of Borjigin family, and his name literally means "like nine", meaning he had the auspicious qualities of the number nine, a lucky number to the Mongols.
Yesükhei, 13th century portrait
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Yesügei was the son of Bartan Baghatur, who was the second son of Khabul Khan, who was recognized as a khagan by the Jin Dynasty. Khabul Khan was, in turn, the great grandson of the Mongol chief Khaidu, the first to try to unite all of the Mongols. Yesügei's first and chief wife, Hoelun, a daughter of the Olkhunut forest people, was abducted by Yesügei with help of his elder brother Neguun taij and younger brother Daritai otchigin, from her newlywed husband Chiledu.
Yesügei and Hoelun had four sons Temüjin, (later known as Genghis Khan), Hasar, Hachiun, Temüge and a daughter, Temülen. Yesugei had two sons by his second wife Sochigel: Behter and Belgutei. The Secret History of the Mongols records that in his youth Temüjin killed his brother Behter in a fight for food. His other half-brother, Belgutei, however was a good friend, and later became a general under Genghis.
After the Hamag Mongol confederation khan Hutula died, the confederation had no elected king, but de facto Yesügei ruled the confederation. Yesügei had a bloodbrother, or anda, Toghrul Khan (later known as Wang Khan and Ong Khan). After Yesügei's death, Toghrul initially helped Temüjin in arranging his marriage to Börte and uniting the tribes, but later defected to Genghis' anda and rival, Jamukha.
In 1171 Yesügei died when his son Temüjin was nine years old. The Secret History of the Mongols records that he was poisoned by Tatars while sharing a meal at a wedding on the way home after leaving his son Temüjin at home of Dai Setsen, a noble man of Khongirad tribe, when two fathers, Yesügei and Dai Setsen, agreed that their children, Temüjin and Börte, would marry in the future. Yesügei died three days later at home with presence of this family and servants.