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 this.
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 worn out.
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 the country.
26. He ordered his son, Jagatai-baen-Jenghiz Khan to see that the Yassa was observed.
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 to others.
36. All except the legal heirs are strictly forbidden to make use of any of the property of the deceased.