Europe first heard the term “khan” in the year 1222.
A strange band of invaders from the east had pushed across the Volga and the Don, and was threatening Galicia and Bulgaria. (See HORDE.)
The Russian princes who opposed this invading force were destroyed with all their armies, and the inhabitants of towns and villages were massacred.
This, Europe learned, was the army of the Mongolian emperor who became known to the West as Genghis Khan, that is, Genghis the Ruler, or King, or Emperor.
The title became much more familiar to Europeans generally, however, in the latter part of the same century when the great Venetian traveler, Marco Polo, returned from his long expedition into China and wrote his memorable account of his travels and of his long stay at the court of the Great Khan, Kublai.
This ruler was a grandson of Genghis, and therefore retained the title which his grandfather had been the first to assume.