Mongol Empire Under Kublai Khan

Mongol Empire Under Kublai Khan

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Goryeo under Mongol rule

Goryeo under Mongol rule refers to the rule of the Mongol Empire, specifically the Mongol-ruled Yuan dynasty of China over the Korean Peninsula from about 1270 to 1356. [1] After the Mongol invasions of Korea and the capitulation of Korea's Goryeo dynasty in the 13th century, Goryeo became a semi-autonomous vassal state and compulsory ally of the Yuan dynasty for about 80 years. The ruling line of Goryeo was permitted to rule Korea as a vassal of the Yuan, which established Zhengdong Province (征東行省 literally "Conquering the East") in Korea. Members of the Goryeo royal family were taken to Dadu, and typically married to spouses from the Yuan imperial house. As a result, princes who became monarchs of Goryeo during this period were effectively imperial sons in-law (khuregen). Yuan overlordship ended in the 1350s when the Yuan dynasty itself started to crumble and King Gongmin of Goryeo began to push the Mongol garrisons back.

Extended Invasions

Kublai Khan&rsquos costly invasions of many territories in the east did not go smoothly and some went on for many years, draining the Mongol treasury and utilizing precious resources. Although the invasions of Burma in 1277, 1283, and 1287 forced the population to eventually capitulate, they were never more than a vassal state. Similarly, the Yuan forces invaded Sakhalin Island off the coast of modern-day Russia multiple times between 1264 and 1308, and the various tribal groups also eventually became a vassals after long years of turmoil. Southern Asian regions often agreed to Yuan rule and taxation only in the face of more bloodshed and terror. Conversely, Mongol invasions of Japan (1274 and 1280) and Java (1293) under Kublai Khan ultimately failed and illustrated the costly effects of constant invasive military tactics.

The Rise of Kublai Khan and the the Mongol Invasions of China

Genghis Khan united the Mongol and Turkic tribes of the steppes and became Great Khan in 1206. He and his successors expanded the Mongol Empire across Asia. Under the reign of Genghis&rsquos third son, Ögedei Khan, the Mongols destroyed the weakened Jin dynasty in 1234, conquering most of northern China. Ögedei offered his nephew Kublai a position in Xingzhou, Hebei. Kublai was unable to read Chinese but had had several Han Chinese teachers attached to him since his early years by his mother Sorghaghtani. He sought the counsel of Chinese Buddhist and Confucian advisers. Möngke Khan succeeded Ögedei&rsquos son Güyük as Great Khan in 1251, and he granted his brother Kublai control over Mongol-held territories in China. Kublai built schools for Confucian scholars, issued paper money, revived Chinese rituals, and endorsed policies that stimulated agricultural and commercial growth. He adopted as his capital city Kaiping in Inner Mongolia, later renamed Shangdu.

Möngke Khan commenced a military campaign against the Chinese Song dynasty in southern China. The Mongol force that invaded southern China was far greater than the force they sent to invade the Middle East in 1256. Möngke died in 1259 without a successor. Kublai returned from fighting the Song in 1260 and learned that his brother, Ariq Böke, was challenging his claim to the throne. Kublai convened a kurultai in Kaiping that elected him Great Khan, but a rival kurultai in Mongolia proclaimed Ariq Böke Great Khan, beginning a civil war. Kublai depended on the cooperation of his Chinese subjects to ensure that his army received ample resources. He bolstered his popularity among his subjects by modeling his government on the bureaucracy of traditional Chinese dynasties and adopting the Chinese era name of Zhongtong. Ariq Böke was hampered by inadequate supplies and surrendered in 1264. All of the three western khanates (Golden Horde, Chagatai Khanate, and Ilkhanate) became functionally autonomous only the Ilkhans truly recognized Kublai as Great Khan. Civil strife had permanently divided the Mongol Empire.

Organization of Genghis Khan’s empire

During the early stages of Mongol supremacy, the empire established by Genghis absorbed civilizations in which a strong, unified, and well-organized state power had developed. The social organization of the Mongols was, however, characterized by pastoralism and a decentralized patrilineal system of clans. Antagonism existed between a society of this nature and the subjugated advanced civilizations, between a relatively small number of foreign conquerors and a numerically strong conquered population. In the early phases of conquest, the Mongols usually attempted to impose the social structure of the steppes upon their new subjects. It was customary for the Mongols to enslave a conquered tribe and to present whole communities to distinguished military leaders as a sort of personal appanage. These slaves became sooner or later an integral part of the conquering tribe. In the conquered areas a similar procedure was adopted. Groups of the settled population, usually those living in a certain territory, became the personal property of Mongol military leaders who exploited the local economic forces as they liked. No use was made of the existing state machinery or bureaucracy, and the former political divisions were entirely disregarded. Nor was there any attempt to organize the numerous local Mongol leaders who enjoyed a high degree of independence from the court of the khans. Ruthless exploitation under strong military pressure was therefore characteristic of the early phase of Mongol domination, which may be said to have lasted until about 1234, some seven years after Genghis Khan’s death.

The central power rested with the khan, who was assisted by military and political councilors. No departmental administration was, however, established during the early stages of Genghis Khan’s empire. The highly hierarchized military organization of the Mongols had no political or administrative counterpart. The influence of the councilors, who were appointed by the khan regardless of their nationality, was nevertheless great. It was a former Jin subject, the Khitan Yelü Chucai (1190–1244), a man of high talents with an excellent Chinese education, who dissuaded Genghis from converting the whole of north China into pastureland. Other councilors were Uighurs, and for some time the Uighur language was as much used in the court chancery as Mongol. The Uighur script was also adopted for writing Mongol. The oldest known document in the Mongol language is a stone inscription carved in approximately 1224.

The economy of the conquered areas was not properly organized during the period of conquest. The abolition of highly organized governments gave an opportunity for the exploitation of local production by the Mongol appanage-holders who relied to a great extent on non-Mongol tax-farmers. There was no single financial system for the whole empire or even for large parts of it. The absence of civil organization at the top, the great independence of the various appanages, and the high priority accorded to military affairs had a strongly disintegrating effect and were, at least in the early phases of Mongol rule, detrimental to economic progress and prosperity. The Mongol empire was, under Genghis and his successors, not yet a state in the normal sense of the word but a vast agglomeration of widely different territories held together by military domination.

As the empire grew through new conquests after Genghis’s death, the same pattern repeated itself: a period of military, and at the same time decentralized, rule marked the first stage of Mongol domination. The result was a noticeable variation of practice within the empire. Newly conquered areas were still subject to direct exploitation bearing the imprint of a nomadic and military mentality, but, in those areas which had been subjugated earlier, attempts were made to build up a state machinery and bureaucracy in order to consolidate Mongol rule. This was done mostly in accordance with the traditional administrative system of the individual territory.

This general tendency, together with the absence of an original Mongol concept for ruling a settled population, accounts for the entirely different development that occurred in various countries. This resulted in an empire that may not have been “Mongol” but was a Chinese, Persian, or central Asian empire with a Mongol dynasty. This trend was expressed more in some locations than others because the absorptive power of the various civilizations differed in intensity. In China, for instance, the Mongols could maintain their rule better than elsewhere because the strong Chinese tradition of centralized state power supplied a stable framework of governmental organization.

The original absence of a state concept on the part of the Mongols is reflected in the ruling clan’s attitude to the empire. The empire was considered to be not the khan’s personal property but the heirloom of the imperial clan as a whole. Already in Genghis’s lifetime the empire was divided among his four favourite sons into ulus, a Mongol word which denotes the supremacy over a certain number of tribes rather than a clearly defined territory. Tolui, the youngest, received the eastern part—the original homeland of the Mongols together with the adjacent parts of north China. Ögödei became ruler of the western part of the steppes (modern northern Xinjiang and western Mongolia). Chagatai received the lands of Khara-Khitai (modern northern Iran and southern Xinjiang). The eldest son, Jöchi, followed by his son Batu, ruled over southwest Siberia and west Turkistan (an area later known as the territory of the Golden Horde). To these four Mongol empires a fifth was added when Hülegü, a son of Tolui, completed the conquest of Iran, Iraq, and Syria and became the founder of the Il-Khanid dynasty in Iran. The unity of the Mongol empire was therefore from the beginning undermined by disintegrating factors, and the history of the empire after Genghis’s death may consequently be subdivided into two periods, the first being characterized by relative unity in the empire ruled by a great khan who was recognized by all branches of the royal clan, the second showing a more or less complete independence of the separate empires, which thereafter had no common history.

How large was the mongol empire under kublai khan

Answer- The Mongol Empire was the second-largest empire by maximum land area (24.0 million km²). The top 10 largest empires are: British Empire, Mongol Empire, Russian Empire, Qing dynasty, Spanish Empire, Second French colonial empire, Abbasid Caliphate, Umayyad Caliphate, Yuan dynasty, Portuguese Empire.

at its peak, it covered some 9 million square miles (23 million square km) of territory, making it the largest contiguous land empire in world history.

C. It stretched from the Pacific Ocean to Eastern Europe. hope I helped.

Under Kublai Khan the Mongol empire reached its largest extension. He ruled over 24000000 km² (nearly 10000000 mi²). The empire went from China and Korea to Iran and southern Russia, from the Korean peninsula to the Danube River.

During Kublai's reign the empire was divided into four smaller Kanatos but he still remained as the Great Khan of all of them. He was actually the first Khan to successfully conquest China in 1279, making him the first Yuan ruler of the whole China. After his death, the mongols didn't elect a new Khan and the Kanatos became more independent.


Kublai Khan by Anige of Nepal
  • Occupation: Khan of the Mongols and Emperor of China
  • Reign: 1260 to 1294
  • Born: 1215
  • Died: 1294
  • Best known for: Founder of the Yuan Dynasty of China

Kublai was the grandson of the first great Mongol emperor Genghis Khan. His father was Tolui, the youngest of Genghis Khan's favorite four sons. Growing up, Kublai traveled with his family while his grandfather Genghis conquered China and the Muslim nations to the west. He learned to ride horses and shoot a bow and arrow. He lived in a round tent called a yurt.

As the grandson of Genghis Khan, Kublai was given a small area of northern China to rule. Kublai was very interested in the culture of the Chinese. He studied the philosophies of Ancient China such as Confucianism and Buddhism.

When Kublai was in his thirties his older brother Mongke became Khan of the Mongol Empire. Mongke promoted Kublai to the ruler of Northern China. Kublai did a good job managing the large territory and a few years later his brother asked him to attack and conquer southern China and the Song Dynasty. While leading his army against the Song, Kublai found out that his brother Mongke had died. Kublai agreed to a peace treaty with the Song where the Song would pay him tribute each year and then returned back north.

Becoming the Great Khan

Both Kublai and his brother Ariq wanted to become the Great Khan. When Kublai returned to the north he found out that his brother had already laid claim to the title. Kublai didn't agree and a civil war broke out between the two brothers. They fought for nearly four years before Kublai's army finally won and he was crowned the Great Khan.

After gaining the crown, Kublai wanted to complete his conquest of southern China. He laid siege to the great cities of the Song dynasty using a type of catapult called a trebuchet. The Mongols had learned about these catapults while at war with the Persians. With these catapults, the Mongol army threw huge rocks and thundercrash bombs onto the cities of the Song. The walls crumbled and soon the Song Dynasty was defeated.

In 1271 Kublai declared the start of the Yuan Dynasty of China, crowning himself as the first Yuan emperor. It still took five more years to completely conquer the Song Dynasty of the south, but by 1276 Kublai had united all of China under one rule.

In order to run the large empire, Kublai combined many aspects of Mongol and Chinese administration. He also incorporated Chinese leaders into the government. The Mongols were good at fighting wars, but he knew they could learn a lot about running a large government from the Chinese.

The capital city of the Yuan Dynasty was Dadu or Khanbaliq, which is now known as Beijing. Kublai Khan had a huge walled palace built in the center of the city. He also built a southern palace in the city of Xanadu which is where he met the Italian explorer Marco Polo. Kublai also built up the infrastructure of China building roads, canals, establishing trade routes, and bringing in new ideas from foreign countries.

In order to make sure that the Mongols remained in power, Kublai established a social hierarchy based on race. At the top of the hierarchy were the Mongols. They were followed by the Central Asians (non-Chinese), the northern Chinese, and (at the bottom) the southern Chinese. The laws were different for the different classes with the laws for the Mongols being the most lenient and the laws for the Chinese being very harsh.

Kublai died in 1294. He had become overweight and was sickly for years. His grandson Temur succeeded him as the Mongol Great Khan and Yuan emperor.

Raising a Khan

In 1206 Genghis Khan united the tribes of the Mongol steppe and set their warlike sights far beyond their homeland. When Genghis died in 1227, they had all but conquered the Jin dynasty of northern China, and swaths of Central Asia. (Tree rings reveal Genghis Khan's secret ally was rain.)

Khan means “ruler,” and was often written as khagan—the great khan. On Genghis’s death, his son, Ögödei, became the second khagan, whose own son, Güyük, became the third. In 1251 the succession passed to Möngke, son of Genghis’s son Tolui.

Kublai, Möngke’s brother, was born in 1215. Their mother was Sorghaghtani, a member of an eastern Christian denomination. As Tolui’s wife, she orchestrated dynastic politics with supreme skill, ensuring that Möngke succeeded as the fourth khagan in 1251. She also played a crucial role in shaping Kublai.

Sorghaghtani ensured Kublai was taught Mongol traditions. She encouraged toleration of other faiths, including Islam, and employed Chinese tutors so that Kublai could learn the local traditions and the foundations of Buddhism and Taoism. This multicultural education later helped him understand the importance of tolerating a conquered region’s traditions and faiths.

As a warrior, Kublai showed himself a grandson of Genghis Khan. When Möngke became khagan in 1251, Kublai participated in his brother’s territorial expansion, a process driven by the tried-and-tested Mongol methods of extreme brutality.

Trusted advisors

Compared to other cultures, Mongol women during the time of Kublai Khan enjoyed higher social status within their society. They enjoyed more rights, including the ability to own and inherit property. Historians attribute their position to the Mongols’ nomadic origins. When warriors were away on horseback, women organized and ran the camps. From commoners to nobility, women were encouraged and expected to be capable administrators. Kublai’s mother, Sorghaghtani, raised her sons to value education and the lessons of other cultures. Kublai’s wife, Chabi, was no different. A woman of intelligence, independence, and open-mindedness, her traits complemented Kublai’s priorities as a leader, and the two became a power couple. Chabi’s ability to navigate Chinese and Mongol culture helped her husband to do the same.

The Mongols and the Environment

The Mongol Empire is remembered as a mighty empire that rose from a small group of nomads in the steppes of Central Asia who were practically unstoppable, and at its height was composed of Central Asia, China, and large parts of the Middle East and Eastern Europe. Yet, the impact the Mongols had on the environment they conquered is not looked at in great depth.

The Mongols took advantage of the areas they conquered, including mining for precious metals and rocks that they would later use to craft beautiful artwork and tools. An example of this can be found in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. A Safe Conduct Pass , according to the description in the Met Museum website, was a passport for people who went on state missions and also was a patent used by those in government. The important thing to note about these passes, though, is that they are made of “iron with a silver inlay” meaning that the Mongols had to extract the metals from the ground in order to make the passes. Metalwork became of great importance to the Mongol Empire, especially during Genghis Khan’s rule, as new ideas and technologies were exchanged between cultures in the 13th century (Met Museum). Unfortunately, the processes the Mongols used to get the metals have left areas in China with pollutants and contaminated soil. In the article “Kublai Khan and the Mongols were Terrible Polluters” by Popular Science, there is mention of a study in which researchers found high levels of pollutants near silver deposits around Lake Er in China. The sediment layers where those pollutants were located correspond to the years when the Yuan Dynasty was ruling the area. The processes the Mongols used involved “ burning, melting, and separating, during which large amounts of lead and other contaminants can get released into the environment” (Griggs).

This article shows that humans have been contaminating the environment for a very long time, and most importantly it gives evidence that contaminating can leave long-lasting impacts on the environment, as made evident by farmers in China who have to deal with soil permeated with lead and other poisonous metals.

This issue is not only interesting, but it is important to look into because with the new technologies that have arisen since the pre-fifteen hundreds era there has been a lot of different ways the earth has been polluted. The effect this has had on the environment may not be apparent yet, but it will most probably have a negative effect on the world future generation live in.

Mongol Empire

Genghis Khan (also spelled Chinggis Khan) was born in what is now Mongolia, probably around 1165 AD. Often cited as a military and administrative genius, he created a powerful chiefdom / state out of the pastoral tribes of the area, uniting Mongolia by 1207. Eventually, his sons and grandsons helped create the biggest land empire in history, extending from the coast of eastern Asia to eastern Europe. It included all of China, Mongolia, Korea, Persia (Iran), Pakistan, Afghanistan, Turkistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Armenia, parts of Russia, India, Hungary and at times Burma, Vietnam,Thailand, and Cambodia, as well as other modern countries. Many of these areas were of course occupied by strong political states, such as the Angkor (AD 802-1431) in Cambodia, who in this case were not incorporated into the Mongol Empire (see pp. 488-491 in text.) The map below shows the Mongol Empire's greatest extent, with some of the divisions of the Empire during the time of Genghis Khan's sons and grandsons.


Much of the conquest of so many cultures and states was motivated by the desire for territory and wealth, though some was retaliatory in payment for earlier attacks on the Mongols. The Mongols earned a reputation as savage conquerors, often destroying the populations of entire cities, but they also increased trade throughout Asia and into Europe and Africa. In the attempt to rule an ethnically and culturally diverse empire, Genghis Khan established what could be called a meritocracy, drawing local administrators from some of the best qualified individuals. (Of course the top administrators were always Mongols, the heirs of Genghis.) Unlike many other conquerors before and since, the Mongols did not try to change anyone's religious beliefs, and tolerated various tribal religions as well as Buddhism, Islam, and Christianity, among others. In addition, Genghis helped introduce a writing system to Mongolia.

The genetic imprint of Genghis Khan may still be found across Asia and Europe. The Y chromosome in humans is somewhat analogous to mitochondria in tracing human ancestry. Like mtDNA, the Y chromosome does not for the most part exchange genetic material during cell division it is handed down virtually intact (except for newly arisen mutations) form father to son. Therefore, a man's Y chromosome is identical to that of his father, his father's father, and his father's father's father, and extending backwards in time, with again, the exception of any new mutations. Studies of the Y chromosome from modern humans have discovered a Y chromosome that is found across central Asia and into Europe east of the Caspian Sea, from Korea all the way to the Czech Republic in Europe. The indications from associated mutations are that this particular Y chromosome, shared by close to 20 million men in Eurasia, indicates that these men had a common, and prolific, ancestor about 1100 AD. The most likely common ancestor is Genghis Khan, who left many sons and grandsons throughout the area of conquest in the map above. (from Adam's Curse, by Bryan Sykes, 2004)

Genghis Khan (1165-1227 AD) [Chinese painting on silk. Public Domain]

Kublai Khan, a grandson of Genghis Khan, completed the conquest of China in 1279, establishing the Yuan Dynasty. Though few Chinese were permitted to hold high office under the Yuan Dynasty , the Mongols in China became increasingly assimilated into Chinese culture. It was during Kublai' s reign that the Italian Marco Polo visited Beijing in 1275, meeting the Khan at his newly established capital. While Marco Polo was not the first European to visit the Mongols, he traveled further east than any of his predecessors, spent more time in China, and on his return stimulated many Europeans to find a quicker route to eastern Asia than the land and water Silk Roads (see map above). It was the desire for a quicker route to China and eastern Asia that ultimately led Europeans around Africa and across the Atlantic to the Americas--with disastrous consequences for the people of both Africa and the Americas.

By the time of Kublai Khan's death in 1294, the vast Mongol Empire was beginning to break down. The new dynasty that became established in China, the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644 AD), strengthened both the military and the Great Wall, rebuilding, repairing and extending this barrier to prevent any more incursions from the Mongols. In the name of extending trade, China under the Ming Dynasty also built large ships, launching a series of naval explorations that reached the east coast of Africa. China for a while was building the largest ships in the world, capable of carrying 500 men. However, after the last of these voyages in 1433, China abandoned the effort, destroyed records of these expeditions, and restricted ship-building to small vessels. If China had not stopped its naval explorations, without question they would have rounded Africa and sailed north into the Mediterranean, and possibly even tried to get to Europe by sailing east it is interesting to speculate how such voyages might have changed history. As it was, Bartolomeu Diaz, sailing for Portugal, rounded the southern tip of Africa in 1490, and his countryman Vasco de Gama headed an expedition that reached India in 1498. By that time, of course, Columbus, sailing for Spain, had reached the Americas.

In western Asia, Timur or Tamerlane, a one-time vassal of the Mongols, began in 1364 to reconsolidate much of the empire of the Mongols. In a series of campaigns every bit as bloody as that of the Mongols (it has been estimated that Timur slaughtered as many as 17 million people--90,000 were reported to have been beheaded in Baghdad alone), he ultimately controlled much of southwest and central Asia. He also spread Islam, forcing people to convert or be killed. His death occurred in 1405 while he was attempting to attack Ming Dynasty China, and his empire did not long survive.

Watch the video: ARTE: Dschingis Khan


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