Khubilai Khan of Mongol

Kublai Khan

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

This article is about the Mongolian emperor. For other uses, see Kublai Khan (disambiguation).

Khagan of the Mongol Empire
Founder of the
Yuan Dynasty
Emperor of China

Portrait of Kublai Khan during the era of theGreat Yuan.

Reign May 5, 1260 – February 18, 1294
Coronation May 5, 1260
Titles Zhongtong (中統) 1260–1264
Zhiyuan (至元) 1264–1294
Setsen Khan (Цэцэн хаан)
Temple name: Shizu (世祖)
Posthumous name: Emperor Shengde
Shengong Wenwu
Born 23 September 1215
Died 18 February 1294(aged 78–79)
Place of death Dadu (Khanbalic)
Buried Burkhan KhaldunKhentii province
Predecessor Mongke Khan
Successor Temur Khan
Consort Chabi
Consort Tegulen
Wife Nambui
Royal House Borjigin
Mongolian: Боржигин
Royal anthem There is only god in heaven and only one lord Chingis khaan on earth.
Father Tolui
Mother Sorghaghtani Beki

Kublai (or KhubilaiKhan (Mongolian: Хубилай хаан; Chinese: 忽必烈; pinyinHūbìliè) (September 23, 1215[1] – February 18, 1294[2]) was the fifth Great Khan of the Mongol Empire from 1260 to 1294 and the founder of the Yuan Dynasty in East Asia. As the second son of Tolui and Sorghaghtani Beki and a grandson of Genghis Khan, he claimed the title of Khagan of the Ikh Mongol Uls (Mongol Empire) in 1260 after the death of his older brother Möngke in the previous year, though his younger brother Ariq Böke was also given this title in the Mongolian capital at Karakorum. He eventually won the battle against Ariq Böke in 1264, and the succession war essentially marked the beginning of disunity in the empire.[3] Kublai’s real power was limited to China and Mongolia after the victory over Ariq Böke, though his influence still remained in the Ilkhanate, and to a lesser degree, in the Golden Horde, in the western parts of the Mongol Empire.[4][5][6] His realm reached from the Pacific to the Urals, from Siberia to Afghanistan – one fifth of the world’s inhabited land area.[7]

In 1271, Kublai established the Yuan Dynasty, which at that time ruled over present-dayMongoliaTibetEastern TurkestanNorth China, much of Western China, and some adjacent areas, and assumed the role of Emperor of China. By 1279, the Yuan forces had successfully annihilated the last resistance of the Southern Song Dynasty, and Kublai thus became the first non-Chinese Emperor who conquered all China. He was the only Mongol khan after 1260 to win new great conquests.[8]

As the Mongol Emperor who welcomed Marco Polo to China, Kublai Khan became a legend in Europe.[8]

Early years

Kublai (b. 23 Sep. 1215) was the second son of Tolui and Sorghaghtani Beki. As his grandfather Genghis Khan advised, Sorghaghtani chose as her son’s nurse a BuddhistTangut woman whom Kublai later honored highly.

On his way back home after the conquest of Khwarizmian Empire, Genghis Khan performed the ceremony on his grandsons Mongke and Kublai after their first hunting in 1224 near the Ili River.[9] Kublai was nine years old and with his eldest brother killed a rabbit and an antelope. His grandfather smeared fat from killed animals onto Kublai’s middle finger following the Mongol tradition.

After the Mongol-Jin War, in 1236, Ogedei gave Hebei Province (attached with 80,000 households) to the family of Tolui who died in 1232. Kublai received an estate of his own and 10,000 households there. Because he was inexperienced, Kublai allowed local officials free rein. Corruption amongst his officials and aggressive taxation caused the flight of large numbers of Chinese peasants, which in turn led to a decline in tax revenues. Kublai quickly came to his appanage in Hebei and ordered reforms. Sorghaghtani sent new officials to help him and tax laws were revised. Thanks to those efforts, people returned to their old homes.

The most prominent, and arguably influential component of Kublai Khan’s early life was his study and strong attraction to contemporaryChinese culture. Kublai invited Haiyun, the leading Buddhist monk in North China, to his ordo in Mongolia. When he met Haiyun in Karakorum in 1242, Kublai asked him about the philosophy of Buddhism. Haiyun named Kublai’s son, Zhenjin (True Gold in Chinese language), who was born in 1243.[10] Haiyun also introduced Kublai the former Taoist and now Buddhist monk, Liu Bingzhong. Liu was apaintercalligrapher, poet and mathematician, and became Kublai’s advisor when Haiyun returned to run his temple in modernBeijing.[11] Kublai soon added the Shanxi scholar Zhao Bi to his entourage. Kublai employed other nationalities as well, for he was keen to balance local and imperial interests, Mongol and Turk.

Khagan’s viceroy in North China

File:Qubilai Setsen Khaan.JPG

Portrait of young Kublai

In 1251, his eldest brother Möngke became Khan of the Mongol Empire, and KhwarizmianMahmud Yalavach and Kublai were sent to China. Kublai received the viceroyalty over North China and moved his ordo to central Inner Mongolia. During his years as viceroy, Kublai managed his territory well, boosting the agricultural output of Henan and increasing social welfare spendings after receiving Xi’an. These acts received great acclaim from the Chinese warlords and were essential to the building of the Yuan Dynasty. In 1252 Kublai criticized Mahmud Yalavach, who never stood high in the valuation of his Chinese associates, over his cavalier execution of suspects during a judicial view and Zhao Bi attacked him for his presumptuous attitude toward the throne. With Chinese Confucian-trained officials’ resistance, Mongke dismissed Mahmud Yalavach.[12]

In 1253, Kublai was ordered to attack Yunnan, and he asked the Kingdom of Dali to submit. The ruling faimly, Gao, resisted and murdered Mongol envoys. The Mongols divided their forces into three. One wing rode eastward into the Sichuan basin. The second column under Subotai’s son Uryankhadai took a difficult way into the mountains of western Sichuan.[13]Kublai himself headed south over the grasslands, meeting up with the first column. While Uryankhadai galloping in along the lakeside from the north, Kublai took the capital city of Daliand spared the residents despite the slaying of his ambassadors. The Mongols appointed King Duan Xingzhi as local ruler and stationed a pacification commissioner there.[14] After Kublai’s departure, unrest broke out among the Black jang. By 1256, Uryankhadai had completely pacified Yunnan.

Kublai was attracted by the abilities of Tibetan monks as healers. In 1253 he made Phagspa lama of the Sakya order member of his entourage. Phagspa bestowed on Kublai and his wife, Chabi (Chabui), a Tantric Buddhist initiation. Kublai appointed Uyghur Lian Xixian (1231–1280) to head his Pacification Commission in 1254. Some officials who were jealous of Kublai’s success muttered that he was getting above himself, dreaming of his own empire by rivalling Mongke’s capital Karakorum (Хархорум). The Great Khan Mongke sent 2 tax inspectors, Alamdar (Ariq Böke’s close friend and governor in North China) and Liu Taiping, to audit Kublai’s officials in 1257. They found fault, listed 142 breaches of regulations, accused Chinese officials, even had some executed and Kublai’s new Pacification Commission was abolished.[15] Kublai sent a two-man embassy with his wives and then in person appealed to Mongke as brother to brother. Mongke publicly forgave his younger brother and reconciled with him.

The Taoists had exploited their wealth and status by seizing Buddhist temples. Mongke demanded that the Taoists cease their denigration of Buddhism repeatedly and ordered Kublai to end the clerical strife between the Taoists and Buddhists in his territory.[16]Kublai called a conference of Taoist and Buddhist leaders in early 1258. At the conference, the Taoist claim was officially declared refuted and Kublai forcibly converted their 237 temples to Buddhism and destroyed all copies of the fraudulent texts.[17][18][19][20]

In 1258, Möngke put Kublai in command of the Eastern Army and summoned him to assist with attack on Sichuan. Already suffering from gout, Kublai was allowed to stay, however, he moved to assist his brother, Mongke. Before Kublai could arrive in 1259, word reached him that Möngke had died. Kublai decided to keep the death of his brother a secret and continued to attack Wuhan, nearYangtze. While his force was besieging WuchangSubotai‘s son Uryankhadai joined him.

Enthronement and civil war

File:Mongol Empire in 1259.JPG

The Mongol Empire in 1259-60

The Song minister Jia Sidao made a secret approach to Kublai to propose terms and asked whether the Song paid an annual tribute of 200,000 taels of silver and 200,000 bolts of silk, in exchange for the Mongols agreeing that the Yangtze should be the frontier between the states.[21] Kublai first declined but reached a peace agreement with Jia Sidao and returned north to the Mongolian plains because he learned in a message from his wife that Ariq Böke had been raising troops.[22]

He soon received news that his younger brother Ariq Böke had held a kurultai at the Mongolian imperial capital of Karakorum and was pronounced Great Khan by Mongke’s old officials. Most of Genghis Khan’s descendants favored Ariq Böke as Great Khan; however, his two brothers Kublai and Hulegu were in opposition. Kublai’s Chinese staff encouraged him to ascend the throne, and virtually all the senior princes in North China and Manchuriasupported his candidacy.[23] Upon returning to his own territories, Kublai summoned a kurultai of his own. Only a small number of the royal family supported Kublai’s claims to the title, though the small number of attendees, included representatives of all the Borjigin lines except that of Jochi, still proclaimed him Great Khan, on April 15, 1260, despite his younger brother Ariq Böke’s apparently legal claim.

File:Kublai's enthronement.JPG

Kublai was chosen by his supporters except the Golden Horde at the kurultai in 1260

This subsequently led to warfare between Kublai and his younger brother Ariq Böke, which resulted in the eventual destruction of the Mongolian capital at Karakorum. In Shaanxi and Sichuan, Mongke’s army supported Ariq Böke. Kublai dispatched Lian Xixian to Shaanxi and Sichuan where they executed Ariq Böke’s civil administrator Liu Taiping and won over several wavering generals.[24] To secure his southern front, Kublai did try for a diplomatic solution by sending envoys to Hangzhou, but Jia broke his promise and arrested them.[25] Kublai sent Abishqa as new khan to the Chagatai Khanate. Ariq Böke captured Abishqa, two other princes and 100 men and had his own man, Alghu, crowned khan of Chagatai‘s territory. Then came the first armed clash between Ariq Böke and Kublai. Ariq Böke was lost and his commander Alamdar was killed at the battle. In revenge, Ariq Böke had Abishqa executed. Kublai closed the food supply to Karakorum with the support of his cousin Khadan, son of Ogedei Khan. Karakorum fell quickly to Kublai’s large army, but in 1261 Ariq Böke temporarily took it again after Kublai’s departure. During the war with Ariq Böke, Yizhou governor Li Tan revolted against Mongol rule in February 1262. Hearing this, Kublai ordered his Chancellor Shi Tianze and Shi Shu to take the offense against Li Tan. These two armies crushed Li Tan’s revolt in a few months and Li Tan was executed. Execution was also the fate of Wang Wentong, who was the father-in-law of Li Tan and had been appointed the Chief Administrator of the Zhongshusheng, “Department of Central Governing”) early in Kublai’s reign and became one of the most trusted Han Chinese officials of Kublai. This incident instilled in him a strong distrust of ethnic Hans. After he became emperor, Kublai began to ban the titles of and tithes to Han Chinese warlords.

The Chagatayid Khan Alghu declared his allegiance to Kublai Khan and defeated a punitive expedition sent by Ariq Böke against him in 1262. Ilkhan Hulegu also sided with Kublai and criticized Ariq Böke. Ariq Böke surrendered to Kublai at Xanadu on August 21, 1264. The rulers of western khanates acknowledged the reality of Kublai’s victory and rule in Mongolia.[26] When Kublai summoned them to organize another kurultai, Alghu Khan demanded security for his illegal position from Kublai in return. Despite tensions between them, both Hulegu and Berke, khan of the Ulus of Jochi (Golden Horde), accepted Kublai’s invitation at first.[27][28] However, they soon declined to attend the new kurultai. Although, Kublai pardoned his younger brother, he executed Ariq Böke’s chief supporters.


Great Khan of the Mongol Empire

The Mongol Empire in 1294. Mongol vassals are indicated in grey, except for Central Europe.


Archibishop John of Cilician Armenia, in a painting from 1287. His dress displays aChinese dragon, an indication of the thriving exchanges with the Mongols during the period.

Suspicious deaths of 3 Jochid princes in Hulegu’s service, the sack of Baghdad, and unequal distribution of war booties strained the Ilkhanate’s relations with the Golden Horde. In 1262, Hulegu’s complete purge of the Jochid troops, and support for Kublai in his conflict with Ariq Böke brought open war with the Golden Horde. Khagan Kublai reinforced Hulegu with 30,000 young Mongols in order to stabilize the political crises in western regions of the Mongol Empire.[29] As soon as Hulegu died on 8 February 1264,Berke marched to cross near Tiflis to conquer the Ilkhanate, but he died on the way. Within a few months of these deaths, Alghu Khan of the Chagatai Khanate died too.In the new official version of the family history, Kublai Khan refused to write Berke’s name as the khan of the Golden Horde for his support to Ariq Böke and wars with Hulegu, however, Jochi’s family was fully recognized as legitimate family members.[30]

Kublai named Abagha as the new Ilkhan and nominated Batu’s grandson Mongke Temurfor the throne of Sarai, the capital of the Golden Horde.[31][32] The Kublaids in the east retained suzerainty over the Ilkhans (obedient khans) until the end of its regime.[33][34] Kublai also sent his protege Baraq to overthrow the court of Oirat Orghana, the empress of the Chagatai Khanate, who put her young son Mubarak Shah on the throne in 1265, without Kublai’s permission after her husband’s death. Ogedeid prince Kaidu declined to personally come to the court of Kublai. Kublai instigated Baraq to attack him. Baraq began to expand his realm northward, fighting Kaidu and the Jochids after he seized power in 1266. He also pushed out Great Khan’s overseer from Tarim basin. When Kaidu and Mongke Timur defeated him together, Baraq joined an alliance with the House of Ogedei and the Golden Horde against Kublai in the east and Abagha in the west. But smart Mongke Temur stayed out of any direct military expedition against theEmpire of the Great Khan. The armies of Mongol Persia defeated Baraq’s invading forces in 1269. When Baraq died the next year, Kaidu took the control over the Chagatai Khanate.

Meanwhile, Kublai stabilized the Mongol rule in Korea by mobilizing for another Mongol invasion after he appointed Wonjong (r. 1260-1274) as the new Goryeo king in 1259 in Kanghwa. He forced two rulers of the Golden Horde and the Ilkhanate to call a truce with each other in 1270 despite the Golden Horde’s interests in the Middle East and Caucasia.[35] He called 2 Iraqi siege engineers from the Ilkhanate in order to destroy the fortresses of the Song China. After the fall of Xiangyang in 1273, Kublai’s commanders, Aju and Liu Zheng, proposed to him a final campaign of annihilation against the Song Dynasty, and Kublai made Bayan the supreme commander.[36] Therefore, Kublai ordered Mongke Temur to revise the second census of the Golden Horde to provide sources and men for his conquest of China.[37] The census took place in all parts of the Golden Horde, including Smolensk and Vitebsk in 1274-75. The Khans also sent Nogai to Balkan to strengthen Mongol influence there.[38]

As the Great Khan Kublai renamed the Mongol regime in China Dai Yuan in 1271, he sought to sinicize his image as Emperor of China in order to win the control of millions Chinese people. When he moved his headquarters to Khanbalic or Dadu at modern Beijing, there was an uprising in the old capital Karakorum that he barely staunched. His actions were condemned by traditionalists and his critics still accused him of being too closely tied to Chinese culture. They sent a message to him: “The old customs of our Empire are not those of the Chinese laws… What will happen to the old customs?”.[39][40] Even Kaidu attracted the other elites of Mongol Khanates, declaring himself to be a legitimate heir to the throne instead of Kublai who had turned away from the ways of Genghis Khan.[41][42]Defections from Kublai’s Dynasty swelled the Ogedeids’ forces.


Painting of Kublai Khan on a hunting expedition, by Chinese court artist Liu Guandao, c. 1280.

The Song imperial family surrendered to the Yuan in 1276, making the Mongols the first non-Chinese people to conquer all of China. Three years later, Yuan marines crushed the last of the Song loyalists. The Song Empress Dowager and her grandson, Zhao Xian, were then settled in Khanbalic where they were given tax-free property. Kublai’s wife Chabi took a personal interest in their well-being. However, Kublai had Zhao sent away to become a monk to Zhangye later. Kublai succeeded in building powerful Empire, creating an academy,offices, trade ports and canals and sponsoring arts and science. The record of the Mongols lists 20,166 public schools created during his reign.[43] Achieving actual or nominal dominion over much of Eurasia, and having seen his successful conquest of China, Kublai was in a position to look beyond China.[44] However, Kublai’s costly invasions of BurmaAnnam,Sakhalin and Champa secured only the vassal status of those countries. Mongol invasions of Japan (1274 and 1280) and Java (1293) failed. At the same time his nephew Ilkhan Abagha tried to form a grand alliance of the Mongols and the Western Europeans to defeat the Mamluks in Syria and North Africa that constantly invaded the Mongol dominions. Abagha and his uncle Kublai focused mostly on foreign alliances, and opened trade routes. Khagan Kublai dined with a large court every day, and met with many ambassadors, foreign merchants, and even offered to convert to Christianity if this religion was proved to be correct by 100 priests.

Kublai’s son Nomukhan and generals occupied Almaliq from 1266-76. In 1277, a group of Genghisid princes under Mongke’s son Shiregi rebelled, kidnapping Kublai’s two sons and his general Antong. The rebels handed them over to Kaidu and Mongke Temur. The latter was still allied with Kaidu who fashioned an alliance with him in 1269, although, he promised Kublai Khan his military support to protect him from the Ogedeids.[45] Great Khan’s armies suppressed the rebellion and strengthened the Yuan garrisons in Mongolia andUighurstan. However, Kaidu took control over Almaliq.

Extract of the letter of Arghun to Philip IV of France, in the Mongolian script, dated 1289. French National Archives.

In 1279-80, Kublai decreed death for those who performed Islamic-Jewish slaughtering of cattles, which offended Mongolian custom.[46] When the Muslim Ahmad Teguder seized the throne of the Ilkhanate in 1282, attempting to make peace with the Mamluks, Abagha’s old Mongols under prince Arghun appealed to the Great Khan. After the execution of Ahmad, Kublai confirmed Arghun’s coronation and awarded his commander in chief Buqa who helped his master the title of chingsang. However, a large Muslim community was created in China under Kublai’s rule and the Muslims still shared power with the Mongols within his administration. In spite of his lack of direct control over the western khanates and the Mongol princes’ rebellions, it seems Kublai could intervene in their affairs because Abagha’s son Arghun wrote that Great Khan Kublai ordered him to conquer Egypt in his letter to the Pope Nicolas IV.[47]

Kublai’s niece Kelmish, who was married a Khunggirat general of the Golden Horde, was powerful enough to have Kublai’s sons Nomuqan and Kokhchu returned. The court of the Golden Horde sent them back as a peace overture to the Yuan Dynasty in 1282 and induced Kaidu to release the general of Kublai. Konchi, khan of White Horde, established friendly relations with the Yuan and the Ilkhanate, receiving luxury gifts and grain from Kublai as reward.[48] Despite political disagreement between contending branches of the family over the office of Khagan, the economic and commercial system which trumped their squabbles continued.[49][50][51][52]

Warfare and foreign relations

See also: Mongol military tactics and organization and Mongol conquest of the Song Dynasty

File:Yuan chinese gun.jpg

Hand cannon from the MongolYuan Dynasty (1271–1368)

File:Yuan dynasty banknote with its printing plate 1287.jpg

Yuan dynasty banknote with its printing plate, 1287.

File:Belt plaque with dragon design.jpg

A Yuan Dynasty jade belt plaque featuring carved designs of a dragon.


The Bailin Temple Pagoda of Zhaoxian County, Hebei Province, built in 1330 during the Yuan Dynasty.

A Yuan Dynasty blue-and-whiteporcelain dish with fish and flowing water design, mid fourteenth century, Freer Gallery of Art.

File:Yuan porcelain buddha.JPG

A white porcelain Buddhist statue from the Yuan Dynasty

Despite Kublai restricted the functions of kheshig (khan’s bodyguard), he created a new imperial bodyguard, at first entirely Chinese in composition but later strengthened with KipchakAlan (Asud), and Russian units.[53][54][55] Once his own kheshig was organized in 1263, Kublai put three of the four shifts of the kheshig under descendants of Genghis Khan’s four steeds, Borokhula, Boorchu andMuqali. Kublai Khan began the practice of having the four great aristocrats in his kheshig sign alljarliqs (decree), a practice that spread to all other Mongol khanates.[56] Both Mongol and Chinese units were organized according to the same decimal organization that Genghis Khan used. The Mongols eagerly adopted new artillery and technologies. While Kublai’s younger brother Hulegu used 1,000 Chinese mangonel operators under Barga Mongol Ambaghai, he brought siege engineers,Ismail and Al al-Din, from Iraq and Iran. The world’s earliest known cannon, dated 1282, was found inMongol-held Manchuria.[57] Kublai and his generals avoided total destruction of South China for economic benefits. Effective assimilation of Chinese naval techniques allowed the Yuan army to quickly conquer the Song and advance beyond the seas.

Diplomatically and militarily, Kublai’s foreign policy, as the previous Mongolian Khagans, was imperialistic. Kublai Khan made Goryeo(Korea) a tributary vassal in 1260. The Yuan helped Wonjong stabilize his control over Korea in 1271. After the Mongol invasion in 1273, the Goryeo was fully integrated in the Yuan realm.[58][59][60][61][62] The Goryeo in Korea became a Mongol military base and several myriarchy commands were established there. The court of the Goryeo supplied Korean troops and ocean naval force for the Mongol campaigns. Despite the opposition of his Confucian-trained Chinese advisers, Kublai decided to invade Japan, BurmaVietnam andJava, following his Mongol officials. These costly conquests along with the introduction of paper currency, caused inflation. From 1273 to 1276 war against the Song Dynasty and Japan made emissions of paper currency explode from 110,000 ding to 1,420,000 ding.[63]


v • d • e

Mongol invasions

Invasions of Japan

Main article: Mongol invasions of Japan

File:Mōko Shūrai Ekotoba 2.jpg

The samurai Suenaga facing Mongol arrows and bombs. Mōko Shūrai Ekotoba (蒙古襲来絵詞), circa 1293.

Letter from Kublai Khan to the Emperor of Japan, written in Classical Chinese (the lingua franca in East Asia at the time), dated 8th Month, 1266. Now stored in Todai-jiNara,Japan.


A stone defense wall in Hakata, now Fukuoka


The Mongol fleet destroyed in a typhoon, ink and water on paper, by Kikuchi Yōsai, 1847

File:Takezaki suenaga ekotoba bourui.jpg

Defensive wall at Hakata

File:Takezaki suenaga ekotoba3.jpg

Japanese samurai boarding Yuan ships in 1281


Samurai who discipline Mongolian intruder

Kublai Khan twice attempted to invade Japan; however, both times, it is believed that bad weather, or a flaw in the design of ships that were based on river boats without keels nevertheless destroyed his fleets. The first attempt took place in 1274, with a fleet of 900 ships. The second invasion occurred in 1281.The Mongols sent two separate forces this time; an impressive force of 900 ships containing 40,000 Korean, Chinese, and Mongol troops set out from Masan, while an even larger force of 100,000 sailed from southern China in 3,500 ships, each close to 240 feet (73 m) long. The fleet was hastily assembled and ill-equipped to handle the sea.


The Mongolian Yuan troops. Mōko Shūrai Ekotoba (蒙古襲来絵詞).

In November, they sailed out into the treacherous waters that separated Korea and Japan by 110 miles. The Mongols easily took over Tsushima Island about halfway across the strait and then Ika Island closer to Kyushu. The Korean fleet reached Hakata Bay on June 23, 1281 landing its forces and animals, but the ships from China were nowhere to be seen.

The samurai warriors rode out against the Mongol forces for individual combat, but the Mongols held their formation. As usual, the Mongols fought as a united force, not as individuals. Instead of coming out for duels, the Mongols bombarded the samurai with exploding missiles and showered them in arrows. Eventually, the remaining Japanese withdrew from the coastal zone inland to a fortress. The Mongol forces did not chase the fleeting Japanese into an area about which they lacked reliable intelligence at that time.

Dr. Kenzo Hayashida, a marine archaeologist, headed the investigation that discovered the wreckage of the second invasion fleet off the western coast of Takashima. His team’s findings strongly indicate that Kublai Khan rushed to invade Japan and attempted to construct his enormous fleet in only one year (a task that should have taken up to 5 years). This forced the Chinese to use any available ships, including river boats, in order to achieve readiness. Most importantly, the Chinese, then under Kublai’s control, were forced to build many ships quickly in order to contribute to the fleet in both of the invasions. Hayashida theorizes that, had Kublai used standard, well-constructed ocean-going ships, which have a curved keel to prevent capsizing, his navy might have survived the journey to and from Japan and might have conquered it as intended.

David Nicolle writes in The Mongol Warlords that “Huge losses had also been suffered in terms of casualties and sheer expense, while the myth of Mongol invincibility had been shattered throughout eastern Asia.” He also wrote that Kublai Khan was determined to mount a third invasion, despite the horrendous cost to the economy and to his and Mongol prestige of the first two defeats, and only his death and the unanimous agreement of his advisers not to invade prevented such a third attempt.

After his first invasion of Japan, in response, the Japanese pirates, known as Wokou, raided Korea. But the Mongol-Korean forces pushed them back, and the Wokou pirates experienced a low point of their activity due to the higher degree of military preparedness in the Goryeo and the Kamakura. In 1293, the Yuan navy captured 100 Japanese from Okinawa.[64]

Invasions of Vietnam

Main article: Mongol invasions of Vietnam

File:Yuet-Meng 2.png

Map depicting Mongol campaign inĐại Việt(the name for Vietnam at the time, which consisted of the present-day northern Vietnam) in the north andChampa in the south in 1285

Kublai Khan also twice invaded Đại Việt. When Kublai became the Great Khan in 1260, the Trần Dynasty sent tribute every 3 years and received a darugachi.[65][66] But their king soon declined to attend the court in person. The first incursion (the second Mongol invasion of Đại Việt) began in December 1284 when Mongols under the command of Toghan, the prince of Kublai Khan, crossed the border and quickly occupied Thăng Long (now Hanoi) in January 1285 after the victorious battle of Omar in Vạn Kiếp (north east of Hanoi). At the same time Sogetu fromChampa moved northward and rapidly marched to Nghe An (in the north central region of Vietnam now) where the army of the Tran under general Tran Kien surrendered to him. However, the Trần kings and the commander-in-chief Trần Hưng Đạo changed tactics from defence to attack and struck against the Mongols. In April, General Trần Quang Khải defeated Sogetu in Chuong Duong (now part of Hanoi) and then the Trần kings won a big battle in Tây Kết where Sogetu died. Soon after, general Trần Nhật Duật also won a battle in Hàm Tử (now part of Hưng Yên) while Toghan was defeated by General Trần Hưng Đạo and Kublai Khan failed in his first attempt to invade Đại Việt. Toghan had to hide himself inside a bronze pipe to avoid being killed by the Đại Việt archers; this shameful act became a disastrous humiliation for the Mongol Empire and for Toghan himself.

After his first failure, Kublai wanted to install Nhan Tong’s brother Tran Ich Tac, who had defected to the Mongols, as king of Annam, but hardship in the Yuan’s supply base in Hunan, and Kaidu’s invasion aborted his planned invasion. In 1285 the Brigung sect rebelled, attacking monasteries of Paghspa’s sect in Tibet. The Chagatayid Khan, Duwa, came in to aid the rebels, and laid siege to Kara-Kocho while defeating Kublai’s garrisons in the Tarim basin.[67] Kaidu destroyed an army at Beshbalik and occupied the city the next year. Many Uyghurs abandoned Kashgar for safer bases back east in the Yuan. Only after Kublai’s grandson Buqa-Temur crushed the resistance of the Brigung sect, killing 10,000 Tibetans in 1291, Tibet was fully pacified.

The second invasion of Đại Việt by Kublai Khan began in 1287 and was better organized than the previous effort, utilizing a large fleet and plentiful stocks of food. The Mongols, under the command of Toghan, moved to Vạn Kiếp (from the north west) and met the infantry and cavalry of Omar (coming by another way along the Red River) and there they quickly won the battle. The naval fleet rapidly attained victory in Vân Đồn (near Ha Long Bay) but they left the heavy cargo ships stocked with food behind which General Trần Khánh Dưquickly captured. As foreseen, the Mongolians in Thăng Long (now Hanoi) suffered an acute shortage of sustenance. Without any news about the supply fleet Toghan found himself in a tight corner and had to order his army to retreat to Vạn Kiếp. This was when Đại Việt’s Army began the general offensive by recapturing a number of locations occupied by the Mongol invaders. Groups of infantry were given orders to attack the Mongols in Vạn Kiếp. Toghan had to split his army into two and retreat.

In early April the naval fleet led by Kublai’s Kipchak commander Omar and escorted by infantry fled home along the Bạch Đằng river. As bridges and roads were destroyed and attacks were launched by Đại Việt’s troops, the Mongols reached Bạch Đằng without an infantry escort. Đại Việt’s small flotilla engaged in battle and pretended to retreat. The Mongols eagerly pursued Đại Việt troops and fell into their prearranged battlefield. “Thousands” of Đại Việt’s small boats from both banks quickly appeared, fiercely launched the attack and broke the combat formation of the enemy. Meeting a sudden and strong attack, the Mongols tried to withdraw to the sea in panic. Hitting the stakes, their boats were halted, many of which were broken and sank. At that time, a number of fire rafts quickly rushed toward them. Frightened, the Mongolian troops jumped down to get to the banks where they were dealt a heavy blow by an army led by the Trần king and Trần Hưng Đạo. The Mongolian naval fleet was totally destroyed and Omar was captured. At the same time, Đại Việt’s Army made continuous attacks and smashed to pieces Toghan’s army on its route of withdrawal through Lạng Sơn. Toghan risked his life making a shortcut through thick forest to flee home. Nevertheless, the Đại Việt and the Kingdom of Champa had recognized Kublai’s supremacy in order to avoid more conflicts.[66][68]

Southeast Asia and South seas

Main articles: Mongol invasion of Burma and Mongol invasion of Java

Three expeditions against Burma (1277, 1283, 1287) brought the Mongol forces to the Irrawaddy delta, and the Mongols capturedBagan, the capital of Pagan Kingdom in Burma, and established their puppet government.[69] Kublai had to be content with the acknowledgment of a formal suzerainty again but the Burmese finally became tributary state and sent tributes until the expulsion of the Mongols from China.[70] The Khmer kingdom of Cambodia and small states in Malay and South India submitted to Kublai’s rule between 1278-1294. Mongol interests in these parts had always been purely commercial and tributary relationship.

During the last years of his reign Kublai launched a naval punitive expedition of 20-30,000 men against the Javanese kingdom ofSinghasari (1293) – INDONESIA, but the Mongol forces were compelled to withdraw, by the Majapahit Dynasty – INDONDESIA, after considerable losses of more than 3,000 troops. In 1294, two Thai kingdoms of Sukhotai and Chiangmai became vassal states of Kublai’s empire.[69]

Fall of Singhasari

File:Candi singosari.jpg

Singhasari temple built as a mortuary temple to honor Kertanegara, the last king of Singhasari.

During Kertanegara‘s reign, Meng-ki, an emissary sent by the Mongol Khan, Kublai Khan, came to Singhasari and demanded submission. Kertanegara took the demand as an insult and slashed Meng-ki’s face and cut his left ear before allowing the delegation to return to Khanbaliq. In preparation for the invasion threat from the powerful emperor of the Yuan Dynasty, Kertanegara sent a huge portion of his army to conquer the Malay Peninsula to block a Chinese invasion by land. This expedition was called the Pamalayu expedition. In the meantime, one of his vassals, Jayakatwang, king of Kediri, a fiefdom of Singhasari, rebelled and killed Kertanegara with a surprise attack during a Tantrayana holy festival. Raden Wijaya, one of Kertanegara’s sons-in-law and also a descendant of Ken Arok, fled soon after Jayakatwang’s victory. He escaped to Madura and with the Madura regency’s favor, Wijaya was granted land in the village of Tarik, which then became the core of the future kingdom of Majapahit.

When the Mongol fleet arrived, Raden Wijaya manipulated them into fighting the usurper Jayakatwang. The Mongols didn’t realize that they destroyed a different ruler. Before they realized what had happened, Wijaya attacked his exhausted former allies when they were feasting in victory, thus driving them from Java. The exhausted Mongols were not outnumbered, but they were severely outwitted. The Mongol’s retreat was also attributed to the monsoonal wind which came only at certain times of the year, and it was important for the fleet to return home when the wind arrived. Wijaya then founded the new kingdom of Majapahit.

File:Harihara, statue.jpg

The statue of Harihara, the god combination of Shiva and Vishnu. It was the mortuary deified portrayal of Kertarajasa. Originally located at Candi Simping, Blitar. (National Museum of Indonesia,Jakarta)

Mongolia invasion of Java, the end of Singhasari kingdom and the beginning of Majapahit empire :

Indonesia is one of the few areas that thwarted invasion by the Mongol horde by repelling a Mongol force in 1293.

As the center of the Malayan peninsula trade winds, the rising power, influence, and wealth of the Javanese Singhasari empire came to the attention of Kublai Khan of the Mongol Yuan dynasty based in China. Moreover, Singhasari had formed an alliance with Champa of Vietnam. Both Java (Singhasari) and Champa were worried about Mongol expansion and raids against neighboring states, such as their raid of Bagan (Pagan) in Burma. Kublai Khan then sent emissaries demanding submission and tribute from Java. In 1280, Kublai Khan sent the first emissary to King Kertanegara, demanding Singhasari’s submission and tribute to the great Khan. The demand was refused. The next year in 1281, the Khan sent another envoy, demanding the same, which was refused again. Eight years later, in 1289, the last envoy was sent to demand the same, and King Kertanegara, the last ruler of the Singhasari kingdom, refused to pay tribute. In the audition throne room of the Singhasari court, King Kertanegara humiliated the Khan by cutting and scarring Meng Ki’s face, one of the Mongols’ envoys (some sources even state that the king cut the envoy’s ear himself). The envoy returned to China with the answer—the scar—of the Javan king written on his face.

Enraged by this humiliation and the disgrace committed against his envoy and his patience, in late 1292 the great Kublai Khan sent a massive 1,000 war jung ships for a punitive expedition which arrived off the coast of Tuban, Java in early 1293.

King Kertanegara, whose troops were now spread then and located elsewhere, did not realize that a coup was being prepared by the former Kediri royal lineage. In 1292, Duke Jayakatwang, a vassal king from the Kingdom of Daha (also known as Kediri or Gelang-gelang), prepared his Kediri army to conquer Singhasari and kill its king if possible, assisted by Arya Wiraraja, a regent from Sumenep on the island of Madura.

The Kediri (Gelang-gelang) army attacked Singhasari simultaneously from both north and south. The king only realized the invasion from the north and sent his son-in-law, Nararya Sanggramawijaya, famously known as Raden Wijaya (died 1309), northward to vanquish the rebellion. The northern attack was put at bay, but the southern attackers successfully remained undetected until they reached and sacked the unprepared capital city of Kutaraja. Jayakatwang usurped and killed Kertanagara during the Tantra sacred ceremony, thus bring a tragic end to the Singhasari kingdom.

Having learned the of the fall of the Singhasari capital of Kutaraja due to Kediri’s treachery, Raden Wijaya tried to defend Singhasari but failed. He and his three colleagues, Ranggalawe, Sora and Nambi, went to exile under the favor of the same regent (Bupati) Arya Wiraraja of Madura, Nambi’s father, who then turned his back to King Jayakatwang. With Arya Wiraraja’s patronage, Raden Wijaya, pretending to submit to King Jayakatwang, won favor from the new monarch of Kediri, who granted him permission to open a new settlement north of mount Arjuna, the Tarik forest. In this wilderness, Wijaya found many bitter Maja fruits, so it was called Majapahit (literally meaning “bitter Maja”), the future capital of the empire. It is said that the bitterness of the fruit will satisfy a soldier’s thirst for water.

Early 1293, the Mongol naval forces arrived on the north coast of Java (near Tuban) and on the Brantas river mouth in order to flank what they thought was Singhasari. Raden Wijaya found the opportunity to use the unsuspecting Mongols to overthrow Jayakatwang. Raden Wijaya’s army allied with the Tartars (Mongols) in March of 1293 and battle ensued between Mongol forces against Daha forces in the creek bed of Kali Mas river, which was followed by the battle of Mongol forces against Daha forces that attacked the Majapahit regional army led by Raden Wijaya. The Mongols then stormed Daha and Jayakatwang finally surrendered.

Once Jayakatwang had been destroyed, Raden Wijaya then turned his troops to launch a surprise attack inside and outside the Mongol army column, creating chaos and forcing his former Mongol allies to withdraw from the island of Java.

Panicked, the Mongol army was confused and found themselves surrounded by enemies. It was the last time for the monsoon sea-wind to depart north for home. They would otherwise have had to wait for another six months on a hostile island for the next sea-wind. The panicked Mongols thus hurriedly fled the battle, withdrew to their ships and headed back to China in their war jungs. Prince Wijaya successfully drove the Mongols forces to the sea to return home on May 31, 1293.

The victor, Prince Wijaya, son-in-law of the last Singhasari King, then ascended the throne as Kertajasa Jayawardhana, the first king of the great Majapahit Empire, on November 12, 1293.

Conquest of Sakhalin

The Mongol forces made several attacks on Sakhalin, beginning in 1264 and continuing until 1308.[71] Economically, the conquest of new peoples provided further wealth for the tribute-based Mongol Dynasty. The Nivkhs and the Orokhs were subjugated by the Mongols. However, the Ainu people raided Mongol posts and fought with the indigenous people of Sakhalin, who submitted to the Great Khan.[72]Finally, the Ainu tribes accepted Mongol supremacy in 1308.


Main articles: Marco Polo and Rabban Sauma

File:Kublai giving support to the Venetians.JPG

Kublai gives financial support to the Polo family.

Under Kublai, the opening of direct contact between East Asia and the West, made possible by the Mongol control of the central Asian trade routes and facilitated by the presence of efficient postal services, was another spectacular phenomenon in the Mongol Empire. In the beginning of the 13th century, large numbers of Europeans and Central Asians – merchants, travelers, and missionaries of different orders – made their way to China. The presence of the Mongol power also enabled throngs of Chinese, bent on warfare or trade, to make their appearance everywhere in the Mongol Empire, all the way to Russia, Persia, and Mesopotamia.

There were several direct exchanges of missions between the Pope and the Great Khan, though each with a different motive. In 1266 Kublai entrusted the Venetianmerchants, the Polo brothers, to carry a request to the Pope for a hundred Christian scholars and engineers. The Polos arrived in Rome in 1269, receiving an audience from the future Pope Gregory X, and they set out with his blessing but no scholars.


Rabban Bar Sauma, the ambassador of Great KhanKublai and Ilkhan Arghun, travelled from Dadu in the East, to Rome, Paris and Bordeaux in the West, meeting with the major rulers of the period in 1287-1288

Marco Polo, Niccolo’s son, who accompanied his father on this trip, was probably the best-known foreign visitor ever to set foot in China and Mongolia. It is said that he spent the next 17 years (1275–1292) under Kublai Khan, including official service in the salt administration and trips through the provinces of Yunnan and Fukien. Although the flaws in his description of China have tempted modern historians to dispute his sojourn in the Middle Kingdom, the popularity of his journal, Description of the World, was such that it subsequently generated unprecedented enthusiasm in Europe for going east.

Marco Polo had his East Asian counterpart in Rabban Sauma, a Nestorian monk born around Khanbalik/Dadu (modern Beijing). He crossed central Asia to the Il-Khan‘s court in Iran in 1278 and was one of those whom the Mongols sent to Europe to seek Christian help against Islam. There must have been countless numbers of unknown others who crossed the Continent, spreading information about their land and bringing with them artifacts of their culture. Under Kublai, the first direct contact and cultural interchange between China and the West, however limited in scope, had become a reality never before achieved.

Emperor of the Yuan Dynasty

The Yuan Dynasty, c. 1294 and its client state Goryeo in modern Korea

Kublai used traditional decimal organization of the Mongol Empire and set up special gerfalcon posts exclusively for the highest officials in 1261. He adopted Chinese political and cultural models, and also worked to minimize the influences of regional lords who had held immense power before and during the Song Dynasty. Kublai heavily relied on his Chinese advisers until 1276. Nevertheless, his mistrust of ethnic Han Chinese caused him to appointMongols, Central Asians, Muslims and few Europeans to high positions more often than Han Chinese. Kublai began to suspect Han Chinese when his Chinese minister’s son-in-law revolted against him while he was fighting against Ariq Böke in Mongolia,[73] though he continued to invite and use many Han Chinese advisers such as Liu Bingzhong and Xu Heng. He employed 66 Uyghur Turks, 21of whom were resident commissioner running Chinese districts.[74] In 1262 he appointed his wife’s Muslim provisioner, Ahmad Fanakati, fiscal commissioner in chief and prefect of his Inner Mongolian capital, Xanadu (Shangdu).[75]

Kublai also appointed Phagspa Lama his state preceptor, giving him power over all the empire’s Buddhist monks. In 1270, after Phagspa created the Square script, he was promoted to imperial preceptor. Kublai established the Supreme Control Commission under Phagspa to administer affairs of both Tibetan and Chinese monks. During Phagspa’s absence in Tibet, the Tibetan monk Sangha rose to high office and had the office renamed the Commission for Buddhist and Tibetan Affairs. Assyrian Christians served Kublai and the Yuan court created Commission for the Promotion of Religion under the Assyrian physician, Isa, to supervise Christian churches and other religious affairs.[76][77] The Khagan set up a Muslim medical office for the court in 1270, a Directorate of Islamic astronomy in 1271, and a Muslim school for the sons of the dynasty in 1289. With deaths of his entrusted Chinese officials such as Liu Bingzhong (1274), Shi Tiaze (1275), Zhao Bi (1276) and Don Weibing (1278), Kublai turned to non-Chinese officials. Kublai appointed Ahmad Fanakati head of a department of state affairs. In 1286, Tibetan Sangha became the dynasty’s chief fiscal officer. However, their corruption later embittered Kublai. Thenceforwards, Kublai came to rely wholly on younger Mongol aristocrats. While Antong of the Jalayir, and Bayan of the Baarin served as grand councillors from 1265, Oz-temur of the Arulad headed the censorate. Borokhula’s descendant, Ochicher, headed a kheshig and the palace provision commission.

In the 8th Year of Zhiyuan (1271), Kublai Khan officially declared the creation of the Yuan Dynasty, and proclaimed the capital to be atDadu (Chinese: 大都; Wade–Giles: Ta-tu, lit. “Great Capital”, known as Daidu to the Mongols, at today’s Beijing) in the following year. His summer capital was in Shangdu (Chinese: 上都, “Upper Capital”, a.k.a. Xanadu, near what today is Dolonnur). To unify China[78], Kublai Khan began a massive offensive against the remnants of the Southern Song Dynasty in the 11th year of Zhiyuan (1274), and finally destroyed the Song Dynasty in the 16th year of Zhiyuan (1279), unifying the country at last.

File:Theatre actors, Yuan Dynasty.jpg

The Chinese opera flourished during the Mongol rule in China.

China proper, Korea[79] and Mongolia itself were administered in 11 provinces during his reign with a governor and vice-governor each.[80][81] Aside from the 11 provinces was the Central Region (Chinese: 腹裏), consisting of much of present-day North China, was considered the most important region of the dynasty and directly governed by the Zhongshusheng (Chinese: 中書省, “Department of Central Governing”) at Dadu. In addition, Tibet was governed by another top-level administrative department called the Xuanzheng Institute (Chinese: 宣政院).

He ruled well, promoting economic growth with the rebuilding of the Grand Canal, repairing public buildings, and extending highways. However, Kublai Khan’s domestic policy also included some aspects of the old Mongol living traditions, and as Kublai Khan continued his reign, these traditions would clash more and more frequently with traditional Chinese economic and social culture. Kublai decreed that partner merchants of the Mongols should be subject to taxes in 1263 and set up the Office of Market Taxes to supervise them in 1268. With the Mongol conquest of the Song, the merchants expanded their sphere of operations to the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean. In 1286 maritime trade was put under the Office of Market Taxes. The main source of revenue of the government was the salt monopoly.[82]

The Mongol administration issued paper currencies from 1227 on.[83][84] In August 1260, Kublai created the first unified paper currency with bills that circulated throughout the Yuan with no expiration date. To guard against devaluation, the currency was convertible with silver and gold, and the government accepted tax payments in paper currency. In 1273, He issued a new series of state sponsored bills to finance his conquest of the Song, although eventually a lack of fiscal discipline and inflation turned this move into an economic disaster in the later course of the dynasty. It was required to pay only in the form of paper money called Chao. To ensure its use in circles, Kublai’s government confiscated gold and silver from private citizens as well as foreign merchants. But traders received government-issued notes in exchange. That is why Kublai Khan is considered to be the first of fiat money makers. The paper bills made collecting taxes and administering the huge empire much easier while reducing cost of transporting coins.[85] In 1287 Kublai’s minister Sangha created a new currency, Zhiyuan, to deal with the budget shortfall.[86] It was non-convertible and denominated in copper cash. Later Gaykhatu of the Ilkhanate attempted to adopt the system in Persia and Middle east, which was however a complete failure, and he was assassinated shortly after that.

He encouraged Asian arts and demonstrated religious tolerance. Despite his anti-Taoist edicts, Kublai respected the Taoist master and appointed Zhang Liushan the patriarch of Taoist Xuanjiao order.[87] Under Zhang’s advice, Taoist temples were put under the Academy of Scholarly Worthies. The empire was visited by several Europeans, notably Marco Polo in the 1270s who may have seen the summer capital Shangdu.

The capital city of the Emperor

File:Miaoyingsi baita.jpg

The White Stupa in Tadu (or Khanbalic)

After Kublai was proclaimed Khagan at his residence in Shangdu on 5 May 1260, he began to organize the country. Zhang Wenqian, who was a friend of Guo and like him was a central government official, was sent by Kublai Khan in 1260 to Daming where unrest had been reported in the local population. Guo accompanied Zhang on his mission. Guo was not only interested in engineering, but he was also an expert astronomer. In particular he was a skilled instrument maker and understood that good astronomical observations depended on expertly made instruments. He now began to construct astronomical instruments, including water clocks for accurate timing and armillary spheres which represent the celestial globe.Turkestani architect Ikhtiyar al-Din (also known as Igder) designed the buildings of the city of Khagan or Khanbalic.[88] The Great Khan also employed many foreign artists to build his new capital. One of them named Arniko from Nepal built the White Stupa which was the largest structure in Khanbalic/Dadu.[89]

Zhang advised Kublai Khan that his friend Guo was a leading expert in hydraulic engineering. Kublai knew the importance of water management, for irrigation, transport of grain, and flood control, and he asked Guo to look at these aspects in the area between Dadu (now Beijing or Peking) and the Yellow River. To provide Dadu with a new supply of water, Guo found the Baifu spring in the Shenshan Mountain and had a 30 km channel built to bring the water to Dadu. He proposed connecting the water supply across different river basins, built new canals with many sluices to control the water level, and achieved great success with the improvements which he was able to make. This pleased Kublai Khan and led to Guo being asked to undertake similar projects in other parts of the country. In 1264 he was asked to go to Gansu province to repair the damage that had been caused to the irrigation systems by the years of war during the Mongol advance through the region. Guo travelled extensively along with his friend Zhang taking notes of the work which needed to be done to unblock damaged parts of the system and to make improvements to its efficiency. He sent his report directly to Kublai Khan.

Nayan’s rebellion

During the conquest of the Jin, Genghis Khan’s younger brothers received large appanages in Manchuria.[90] Descendants of them strongly supported Kublai’s coronation in 1260, but the younger generation desired more independence. Kublai enforced Ogedei Khan’s regulations that the Mongol noblemen could appoint overseers, along with the Great Khan’s special officials, in their appanages, but otherwise respected appanage rights. His son Manggala established direct control over Singan and Shansi in 1272. In 1274 Kublai Khan appointed Lian Xixian to investigate abuses of power by Mongol appanage holders in Manchuria.[91] Lia-tung region was brought immediately under the Khagan’s control, in 1284, eliminating autonomy of the Mongol nobles there.[92]

File:Kublai at four elephants.png

The 19th century romantic view of Kublai’s four elephants.

Threatened by the advance of the Great Khan’s bureaucratizationBelgutei‘s fourth generation descendant, Nayan (not confused with Temuge‘s descendant Nayan), instigated revolt in 1287. Nayan attempted to link up with Kublai’s competitor Kaidu in Central Asia.[93]Manchuria’s native Jurchens and Water Tatars, who had suffered famine, supported Nayan. Virtually all the fraternal lines under Qadaan, a descendant of Khachiun, and Shikqtur, a grandson of Qasar, joined his rebellion.[94] Because Nayan was popular prince, Ebugen, a grandson of Genghis Khan’s son Khulgen, and the family of Khuden, a younger brother ofGuyuk Khan, contributed troops for his rebellion.[95]

The rebellion was crippled by early detection and timid leadership. Kublai sent Bayan to keep Nayan and Kaidu apart by occupying Karakorum, while he himself led another army against the rebels in Manchuria. Kublai’s commander Oz Temur’s Mongol force attacked Nayan’s 60,000 green soldiers on June 14, while Chinese and Alan guards under Li Ting protected Kublai. The army of Chungnyeol of Goryeo assisted Kublai in battle. After the hard fight, Nayan’s troops withdrew behind their carts, and Li Ting began bombardment and attacked Nayan’s camp that night. Kublai’s force pursued Nayan, who was eventually captured and executed in the traditional way for princes, without shedding of blood.[95] Meanwhile, the rebel prince Shikqtur invaded the Chinese districts in Liaoning but was defeated within a month. Kaidu pulled back westward to avoid a battle. However, Kaidu defeated a major Yuan army in Khangai and briefly occupied Karakorum in 1289. Kaidu had ridden away before Kublai himself mobilized a larger army.[96]

Widespread but uncoordinated risings of Nayan’s supporters continued until 1289 but were ruthlessly repressed. The rebel princes’ troops were taken from them and redistributed among the imperial family.[97] Kublai harshly punished the darugachis appointed by the rebels in Mongolia and Manchuria.[98] This rebellion forced Kublai to approve the creation of the Liaoyang Branch Secretariat on December 4, 1287, while rewarding loyal fraternal princes.

Later years

File:Khubilai Khan.JPG

Statue of Khubilai Khagan in Mongolia

Kublai dispatched his grandson Gammala to Burkhan Khaldun in 1291. Because Kublai wanted to make sure that he laid claims to the sacred place (Ikh Khorig), Burkhan Khaldun, where Genghis was buried, Mongolia was strongly protected by the Kublaids. With Bayan in control of Karakorum and reestablishing control over surrounding areas in 1293, Kublai’s rival relative Kaidu did not attempt anything large-scale for the next three years. From 1293 on Kublai’s army cleared Kaidu’s forces out of Central Siberian Plateau.

Kublai Khan originally designated his son Chingen-Temur (Zhenjin) as his successor. Chingen-Temur became the head of Zhongshusheng (“Department of Central Governing”), and actively administrated the dynasty in the Confucian fashion. After Nomukhan returned from the captivity in the Golden Horde, he expressed his resentment that Chingen-Temur had been made heir apparent. However, he was banished north. An official proposed that Kublai’s abdicate in favor Chingen Temur in 1285. This action angered the Khagan, and Kublai refused to see his son. Unfortunately, Chingen-Temur died in 1285, 9 years before his father. Kublai regretted and remained very close to his wife, Bairam (also known as Kokejin). With the death of Chabi, he began to withdraw from direct contact with his advisers, issuing instructions through one of his other queens Nambui. Kublai Khan, on the other hand, developed severe gout in the later part of his life. He also gained weight due to a fondness for eating animal organs and other delicacies. This also more than likely increased the amount of purines in his blood, leading to his problems with gout.

His illness may have been related to the deaths of not only his favorite wife, but also his chosen heir Zhenjin. Before his death, Kublai made Chingen-Temur’s son Temür the new Crown Prince, who in turn became the sixth Khagan of the Mongol Empire and the second ruler of the Yuan Dynasty after the death of Kublai Khan. Seeking an old companion to comfort him in his final illness, the palace staff could choose only Bayan, more than 30 years his junior. Kublai weakened steadily, and on 18 February 1294 he died. Two days later, the funeral cortege was ready and set out for the burial place of the khans in Mongolia.


See also: Family tree of Genghis Khan


Chabi, Khatun of Kublai and Empress of the Mongol Empire

Kublai married Tegulen at first but she died very early. Then he married Chabi Khatun of theKhunggirat. Chabi was his most beloved empress. After her death in 1286, Kublai married her young cousin, Nambui, in accordance with Chabi’s wish.

Kublai and his wives’ children included:

  • Dorji. He was the director of the Secretariat and head of the Bureau of Military Affairs from 1263. But he was sickly and died young.
  • Chingen-Temur (Zhenjin). He was the father of the Great Khan Temur.
  • Manggala. He was a viceroy in Shaanxi.
  • Nomukhan.
  • Khungjil
  • Aychi
  • Saqulghachi
  • Qughchu
  • Toghan, led Mongol armies into Burma and Vietnam.
  • Khulan-temur
  • Tsever
  • Khutugh beki. She married the king Chungnyeol and became the Empress of the Goryeo.[99]
  • and 1 son and 2 daughters


Kublai’s seizure of power in 1260 pushed the Mongolian Empire into a new direction. Despite his controversial election, which accelerated the disunity of the Mongols, his willingness to formalize the Mongol realm’s symbiotic relation with China gave the Mongolian Empire a cultural and administrative brilliance that impressed the world.

Kublai and his predecessors’ conquests were largely responsible for re-creating a unified, militarily powerful China. The Mongol rule of Tibet, Xinjiang, and Mongolia proper from a capital at modern Beijing also supplied the precedent for the Qing Dynasty‘s Inner Asian Empire.[100]

See also

References in Art

  • Kublai and Shangdu or Xanadu are the subject of various later artworks, including the English Romantic Samuel Taylor Coleridge‘s poem “Kubla Khan“, in which Coleridge makes Xanadu a symbol of mystery and splendour.
  • Kublai Khan and Xanadu are both mentioned in the song “Xanadu” by Canadian band Rush.

Historical Fiction

  • Kublai Khan is depicted in Italo Calvino‘s novel Invisible Cities, where he converses with Marco Polo about imaginary cities in his empire.



10 thoughts on “Khubilai Khan of Mongol

  1. I am really impressed together with your writing abilities well with the layout in your weblog. Is this a paid theme or did you modify it your self? Either way stay up the excellent high quality writing, it is rare to look a nice weblog like this one these days.


    1. Thank you very much for your comment, it means special to me.
      Please be informed that I used I used Theme Black – Letter Head By Ulysses Ronquillo provided by,
      and all for free. Please visit, there you will find hundreds of theme, also WordPress provided AKISMET
      to protect from Spam Comment.
      Please pass my apology to your friends maybe have sent comment but not get reply… meaning their comment goes to Spam Comment,
      and I couldnot reply directly from my Blog.
      Wish you all the best,


  2. Pingback: faith semmes
  3. I do trust all of the ideas you’ve offered for your post. They are very convincing and will certainly work. Nonetheless, the posts are very brief for newbies. May just you please extend them a bit from next time? Thanks for the post.


  4. You actually make it seem really easy together with your presentation but I to
    find this topic to be actually something which I
    believe I’d never understand. It seems too complex and extremely wide
    for me. I am having a look forward for your next post, I’ll try to get the grasp of it!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.