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Mongol Empire

Mongol Empire
Ikh Mongol Uls
Nomadic empire
Government Elective monarchy;
later also hereditary
Great Khan
 •  1206–1227 Genghis Khan
 •  1229–1241 Ögedei Khan
 •  1246–1248 Güyük Khan
 •  1251–1259 Möngke Khan
 •  1260–1294 Kublai Khan (Nominal)
 •  1333–1368 Toghan Temür Khan (Nominal)
Legislature Kurultai
 •  Genghis Khan proclaims
the Mongol Empire
 •  Death of Genghis Khan 1227
 •  Pax Mongolica 1250–1350
 •  Empire fragments 1260–1294
 •  Fall of Yuan dynasty 1368
 •  Collapse of the
Chagatai Khanate
 •  1279[1][2] 33,000,000 km² (12,741,371 sq mi)
Currency Various [note 3]
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Khamag Mongol
Khwarazmian Empire
Qara Khitai
Jīn dynasty
Song dynasty
Western Xia
Abbasid Caliphate
Nizari Ismaili state
Kievan Rus'
Volga Bulgaria
Kingdom of Dali
Kimek Khanate
Sultanate of Rum
Chagatai Khanate
Golden Horde
Yuan dynasty
Northern Yuan dynasty
Timurid Empire
Anatolian Beyliks
Mamluk Sultanate
Grand Duchy of Lithuania
Kingdom of Poland
Today part of

The Mongol Empire (Mongolian: Mongolyn Ezent Güren    ; Mongolian Cyrillic: Монголын эзэнт гүрэн; also Орда ("Horde") in Russian chronicles), existed during the 13th and 14th centuries and was the largest contiguous land empire in history.[3] Originating in the steppes of Central Asia, the Mongol Empire eventually stretched from Central Europe to the Sea of Japan, extending northwards into Siberia, eastwards and southwards into the Indian subcontinent, Indochina, and the Iranian plateau, and westwards as far as the Levant and Arabia.

The Mongol Empire emerged from the unification of nomadic tribes in the Mongolia homeland under the leadership of Genghis Khan, who was proclaimed ruler of all Mongols in 1206. The empire grew rapidly under his rule and then under his descendants, who sent invasions in every direction.[4][5][6][7][8][9] The vast transcontinental empire connected the east with the west with an enforced Pax Mongolica allowing trade, technologies, commodities, and ideologies to be disseminated and exchanged across Eurasia.[10][11]

The empire began to split due to wars over succession, as the grandchildren of Genghis Khan disputed whether the royal line should follow from his son and initial heir Ögedei, or one of his other sons such as Tolui, Chagatai, or Jochi. The Toluids prevailed after a bloody purge of Ögedeid and Chagataid factions, but disputes continued even among the descendants of Tolui. After Möngke Khan died, rival kurultai councils simultaneously elected different successors, the brothers Ariq Böke and Kublai Khan, who then not only fought each other in the Toluid Civil War, but also dealt with challenges from descendants of other sons of Genghis.[12][13] Kublai successfully took power, but civil war ensued as Kublai sought unsuccessfully to regain control of the Chagatayid and Ögedeid families.

The Battle of Ain Jalut in 1260 marked the high-water point of the Mongol conquests and was the first time a Mongol advance had ever been beaten back in direct combat on the battlefield. Though the Mongols launched many more invasions into the Levant, briefly occupying it and raiding as far as Gaza after a decisive victory at the Battle of Wadi al-Khazandar in 1299, they withdrew due to various geopolitical factors.

By the time of Kublai's death in 1294, the Mongol Empire had fractured into four separate khanates or empires, each pursuing its own separate interests and objectives: the Golden Horde khanate in the northwest; the Chagatai Khanate in the middle; the Ilkhanate in the southwest; and the Yuan dynasty in the east based in modern-day Beijing.[14] In 1304, the three western khanates briefly accepted the nominal suzerainty of the Yuan dynasty,[15][16] but it was later overthrown by the Han Chinese Ming dynasty in 1368. The Genghisid rulers of the Yuan retreated to the Mongolia homeland and continued to rule the Northern Yuan dynasty, while the Golden Horde and the Chagatai Khanate lasted in one form or another for some additional centuries after the fall of the Yuan dynasty and the Ilkhanate.


  • Name 1
  • History 2
    • Pre-empire context 2.1
    • Rise of Genghis Khan 2.2
    • Early organization 2.3
      • Push into Central Asia 2.3.1
    • Death of Genghis Khan and expansion under Ögedei (1227–1241) 2.4
      • Invasions of Kievan Rus' and central China 2.4.1
      • Push into central Europe 2.4.2
    • Post-Ögedei power struggles (1241–1251) 2.5
      • Death of Güyük (1248) 2.5.1
    • Rule of Möngke Khan (1251–1259) 2.6
      • Administrative reforms 2.6.1
      • New invasions of the Middle East and Southern China 2.6.2
      • Death of Möngke Khan (1259) 2.6.3
    • Disunity 2.7
      • Dispute over succession 2.7.1
      • Civil war 2.7.2
      • Campaigns of Kublai Khan (1264–1294) 2.7.3
    • Disintegration into competing entities 2.8
      • Developments of the khanates 2.8.1
    • Relict states of the Mongol Empire 2.9
  • Military organization 3
  • Society 4
    • Law and governance 4.1
    • Religions 4.2
    • Arts and literature 4.3
    • Mail system 4.4
  • Silk Road 5
  • Legacy 6
  • See also 7
  • Notes 8
  • References 9
    • Citations 9.1
    • Sources 9.2
  • Further reading 10
  • External links 11


What is referred to in English as the Mongol Empire was so called the Ikh Mongol Uls (ikh: great, uls: state; Great Mongolian State).[17] In the 1240s, Genghis's descendant Güyük Khan wrote a letter to Pope Innocent IV which used the preamble, "Dalai (great/oceanic) Khagan of the great Mongolian state (ulus)".[18]

After the succession war between Kublai Khan and his brother Ariq Böke, Ariq limited Kublai's real power to the eastern part of the empire. Kublai officially issued an imperial edict on December 18, 1271 to name the country "Great Yuan" (Dai Yuan, or Dai Ön Ulus) to establish the Yuan dynasty. Some sources state that the full Mongolian name was Dai Ön Yehe Monggul Ulus.[19]


Pre-empire context

Mongolian tribes during the Khitan Liao dynasty (907-1125)
Map of Eurasia showing the different states
Eurasia on the eve of the Mongol invasions, c. 1200.

The area around Mongolia, Manchuria, and parts of North China had been controlled by the Liao dynasty since the 10th century. In 1125, the Jin dynasty founded by the Jurchens overthrew the Liao dynasty and attempted to gain control over former Liao territory in Mongolia. In the 1130s the Jin dynasty rulers, known as the Golden Kings, successfully resisted the Khamag Mongol confederation, ruled at the time by Khabul Khan, great grandfather of Temujin (Genghis Khan).[20]

The Mongolian plateau was occupied mainly by five powerful tribal confederations (khanlig): Khereid, Khamag Mongol, Naiman, Mergid, and Tatar. The Jin emperors, following a policy of divide and rule, encouraged disputes among the tribes, especially between the Tatars and Mongols, in order to keep the nomadic tribes distracted by their own battles and thereby away from the Jin. Khabul's successor was Ambaghai Khan, who was betrayed by the Tatars, handed over to the Jurchen, and executed. The Mongols retaliated by raiding the frontier, resulting in a failed Jurchen counter-attack in 1143.[20]

In 1147, the Jin somewhat changed their policy, signing a peace treaty with the Mongols and withdrawing a score of forts. The Mongols then resumed attacks on the Tatars to avenge the death of their late khan, opening a long period of active hostilities. The Jin and Tatar armies defeated the Mongols in 1161.[20]

During the rise of the Mongol Empire in the 13th century, the usually cold, parched steppes of central Asia enjoyed their mildest, wettest conditions in more than a millennium. It is thought that as a result, a rapid increase in the number of war horses and other livestock significantly enhanced Mongol military strength.[21]

Rise of Genghis Khan

Known during his difficult childhood as [22]

Temujin forbade looting of his enemies without permission, and he implemented a policy of sharing spoils with his Mongol warriors and their families instead of giving it all to the aristocrats.[23] He thus held the Khan title. These policies brought him into conflict with his uncles, who were also legitimate heirs to the throne; they regarded Temujin not as leader but merely an insolent usurper. This controversy spread to his generals and other associates, and some Mongols who had previously been allies with him broke their allegiance.[22]

War ensued, and Temujin and the forces still loyal to him prevailed, destroying all the remaining rival tribes from 1203–1205 and bringing them under his sway. In 1206, Temujin was crowned as the [22]

Early organization

Genghis Khan ascended the throne in the Yeke Quriltay region in the Onan river, from the Jami' al-tawarikh.

Genghis Khan innovated many ways of organizing his army, dividing it into decimal subsections of arbans (10 people), zuuns (100), khevtuul).[24] Genghis rewarded those who had been loyal to him and placed them in high positions, placing them as heads of army units and households, even though many of his allies had been from very low-rank clans.[25]

Compared to the units he gave to his loyal companions, those assigned to his own family members were quite few. He proclaimed a new law of the empire, Ikh Zasag or Yassa, and codified everything related to the everyday life and political affairs of the nomads at the time. He forbade the selling of women, theft of other's properties, fighting between the Mongols, and the hunting of animals during the breeding season.[25]

He appointed his adopted brother Shigi-Khuthugh supreme judge (jarughachi), ordering him to keep records of the empire. In addition to laws regarding family, food, and the army, Genghis also decreed religious freedom and supported domestic and international trade. He exempted the poor and the clergy from taxation.[26] Thus, Muslims, Buddhists, and Christians from Manchuria, North China, India, and Persia joined Genghis long before his foreign conquests. He also encouraged literacy, adopting the Uyghur script, which would form the Uyghur-Mongolian script of the empire, and he ordered the Uyghur Tatatunga, who had previously served the khan of Naimans, to instruct his sons.[27]

Push into Central Asia

Mongol Empire circa 1207

Genghis quickly came into conflict with the Jin dynasty of the Jurchens and the [22]

Before his death, Genghis Khan divided his empire among his sons and immediate family, making the Mongol Empire the joint property of the entire imperial family who, along with the Mongol aristocracy, constituted the ruling class.[29]

Death of Genghis Khan and expansion under Ögedei (1227–1241)

Coronation of Ögedei Khan in 1229 as the successor of Genghis Khan. By Rashid al-Din, early 14th century.

Genghis Khan died on August 18, 1227, by which time the Mongol Empire ruled from the Pacific Ocean to the Caspian Sea — an empire twice the size of the Roman Empire and Muslim Caliphate. Genghis named his third son, the charismatic Ögedei, as his heir. According to Mongol tradition, Genghis Khan was buried in a secret location. The regency was originally held by Ögedei's younger brother Tolui until Ögedei's formal election at the kurultai in 1229.[30]

Among his first actions, Ögedei sent troops to subjugate the Bashkirs, Bulgars, and other nations in the Kipchak-controlled steppes.[31] In the east, Ögedei's armies re-established Mongol authority in Manchuria, crushing the Eastern Xia regime and Water Tatars. In 1230, the Great Khan personally led his army in the campaign against the Jin dynasty (China). Ögedei's general Subutai captured the capital of Emperor Wanyan Shouxu in the siege of Kaifeng in 1232.[32] The Jin dynasty collapsed in 1234 when the Mongols captured Caizhou, the town where Wanyan Shouxu had fled. In 1234, three armies commanded by Ögedei's sons Kochu and Koten, as well as the Tangut general Chagan, invaded southern China. With the assistance of the Song dynasty, the Mongols finished off the Jin in 1234.[33][34]

Many Han Chinese and Khitan defected to the Mongols to fight against the Jin. Two Han Chinese leaders, Shi Tianze, Liu Heima (劉黑馬, Liu Ni),[35] and the Khitan Xiao Zhala defected and commanded the 3 Tumens in the Mongol army.[36] Liu Heima and Shi Tianze served Ogödei Khan.[37] Liu Heima and Shi Tianxiang led armies against Western Xia for the Mongols.[38] There were 4 Han Tumens and 3 Khitan Tumens, with each Tumen consisting of 10,000 troops.

Shi Tianze was a Han Chinese who lived in the Jin dynasty (1115–1234). Interethnic marriage between Han and Jurchen became common at this time. His father was Shi Bingzhi (史秉直, Shih Ping-chih). Shi Bingzhi was married to a Jurchen woman (surname Na-ho) and a Han Chinese woman (surname Chang), it is unknown which of them was Shi Tianze's mother.[39] Shi Tianze was married to two Jurchen women, a Han Chinese woman, and a Korean woman, and his son Shi Gang was born to one of his Jurchen wives.[40] His Jurchen wive's surnames were Mo-nien and Na-ho, his Korean wife's surname was Li, and his Han Chinese wife's surname was Shi.[39] Shi Tianze defected to the Mongol Empire's forces upon their invasion of the Jin dynasty. His son Shi Gang married married a Kerait woman, the Kerait were Mongolified Turkic people and considered as part of the "Mongol nation".[41][42]

The Yuan dynasty created a "Han Army" 漢軍 out of defected Jin troops and army of defected Song troops called the "Newly Submitted Army" 新附軍.[43]

In the West, Ögedei's general Chormaqan destroyed Jalal ad-Din Mingburnu, the last shah of the Khwarizmian Empire. The small kingdoms in Southern Persia voluntarily accepted Mongol supremacy.[44][45] In East Asia, there were a number of Mongolian campaigns into Goryeo Korea, but Ögedei's attempt to annex the Korean Peninsula met with little success. The king of Goryeo, Gojong, surrendered but later revolted and massacred Mongol darughachis (overseers); he then moved his imperial court from Gaeseong to Ganghwa Island.[46]

As the empire grew, Ögedei established a Mongol capital at Karakorum in northwestern Mongolia.[47]

Invasions of Kievan Rus' and central China

Painting of a battle scene
The sack of Suzdal by Batu Khan in 1238, miniature from 16th-century chronicle

Meanwhile, in an offensive action against the [22]

Another grandson of Genghis Khan, Batu Khan, overran the countries of the Bulgars, the Alans, the Kypchaks, Bashkirs, Mordvins, Chuvash, and other nations of the southern Russian steppe. By 1237, the Mongols began encroaching upon their first Kievan Rus' principality, Ryazan. After a three-day siege using heavy attacks, the Mongols captured the city and massacred its inhabitants, then proceeded to destroy the army of the Grand principality of Vladimir at the Battle of the Sit River.[48]

The Mongols captured the Armenian nobles to surrender as well.[48]

Giovanni de Plano Carpini, the Pope's envoy to the Mongol Great Khan, traveled through Kiev in February 1246 and wrote:

They [the Mongols] attacked Russia, where they made great havoc, destroying cities and fortresses and slaughtering men; and they laid siege to Kiev, the capital of Russia; after they had besieged the city for a long time, they took it and put the inhabitants to death. When we were journeying through that land we came across countless skulls and bones of dead men lying about on the ground. Kiev had been a very large and thickly populated town, but now it has been reduced almost to nothing, for there are at the present time scarce two hundred houses there and the inhabitants are kept in complete slavery.[49]

Despite the military successes, strife continued within the Mongol ranks. Batu's relations with Güyük, Ögedei's eldest son, and Büri, the beloved grandson of Chagatai Khan, remained tense and worsened during Batu's victory banquet in southern Kievan Rus'. Nevertheless, Güyük and Buri could not do anything to harm Batu's position as long as his uncle Ögedei was still alive. Meanwhile, Ögedei continued with invasions into the Indian subcontinent, temporarily investing Uchch, Lahore, and Multan of the Delhi Sultanate and stationing a Mongol overseer in Kashmir,[50] though the invasions into India eventually failed and were forced to retreat. In northeastern Asia, Ögedei agreed to settle conflicts with Goryeo by making it a client state and sent Mongolian princesses to wed Goryeo princes. He then reinforced his keshig with the Koreans through both diplomacy and military force.[51][52][53]

Push into central Europe

Painting of a battle scene with mounted warriors on either side
The battle of Liegnitz, 1241. From a medieval manuscript of the Hedwig legend.

The advance into Europe continued with Mongol invasions of Poland and Hungary. When the western flank of the Mongols plundered Polish cities, a European alliance between the Poles, the Moravians, and the Christian military orders of the Hospitallers, Teutonic Knights and the Templars assembled sufficient forces to halt, although briefly, the Mongol advance at Legnica. The Hungarian army, their Croatian allies and the Templar Knights were beaten by Mongols at the banks of Sajo River on April 11, 1241. After their victories over European Knights at Legnica and Muhi, Mongol armies quickly advanced across Bohemia, Serbia, Babenberg Austria and into the Holy Roman Empire.[54][55]

Before Batu's forces could continue into [58]

Post-Ögedei power struggles (1241–1251)

Following the Great Khan Ögedei's death in 1241, and before the next kurultai, Ögedei's widow Töregene took over the empire. She persecuted her husband's Khitan and Muslim officials, giving high positions to her own allies instead. She built palaces, cathedrals, and social structures on an imperial scale, supporting religion and education.[59] She was able to win over most Mongol aristocrats to support Ögedei's son Güyük. But Batu, ruler of the Golden Horde, refused to come to the kurultai, claiming he was ill and the Mongolian climate was too harsh for him. The resulting stalemate lasted more than four years and further destabilized the unity of the empire.[59]

Batu Khan consolidates the Golden Horde

When Genghis Khan's youngest brother Temüge threatened Töregene to seize the throne, Güyük came to Karakorum to try and secure his position.[60] Batu eventually agreed to send his brothers and generals to the kurultai convened by Töregene in 1246. Güyük by this time was ill and alcoholic, but his campaigns in Manchuria and Europe gave him the kind of stature necessary for a Great Khan. He was duly elected at a ceremony attended by Mongols and foreign dignitaries from both within and without the empire — leaders of vassal nations, representatives from Rome, and other entities who came to the kurultai to show their respects and negotiate diplomacy.[61][62]

Güyük Khan demanding Pope Innocent IV's submission.

Güyük took steps to reduce corruption, announcing that he would continue the policies of his father Ögedei, not Töregene. He punished Töregene's supporters, except governor Arghun the Elder. He also replaced young Qara Hülëgü, the khan of the Chagatai Khanate, with his favorite cousin Yesü Möngke to assert his newly conferred powers.[63] He restored his father's officials to their former positions and was surrounded by the Uyghur, Naiman, and Central Asian officials, favoring Han Chinese commanders who helped his father conquer Northern China. He continued military operations in Korea, advanced into Song China in the south and Iraq in the west, and ordered an empire-wide census. Güyük also divided the Sultanate of Rum between Izz-ad-Din Kaykawus and Rukn ad-Din Kilij Arslan, though Kaykawus disagreed with this decision.[63]

Not all parts of the empire respected Güyük's election. The Hashshashins, former Mongol allies whose Grand Master Hasan Jalalud-Din had offered his submission to Genghis Khan in 1221, angered Güyük by refusing to submit, instead murdering Mongol generals in Persia. Güyük appointed his best friend's father Eljigidei as chief commander of the troops in Persia and gave them the task of both reducing the strongholds of the Assassins Muslim movement and conquering the Abbasids in the center of the Islamic world, Iran and Iraq.[63][64][65]

Death of Güyük (1248)

In 1248, Güyük raised more troops and suddenly marched westwards from the Mongol capital of Karakorum. The reasoning was unclear: some sources wrote that he sought to recuperate his personal property Emyl; others suggested that he might have been moving to join Eljigidei to conduct a full-scale conquest of the Middle East, or possibly to make a surprise attack on his rival cousin Batu Khan in Russia.[66]

Suspicious of Güyük's motives, Xinjiang, possibly a victim of poison.[66]

Photograph of a field with a large stone tortoise
A Stone Turtle at the site of the Mongol capital, Karakorum.

Güyük's widow [67]

Batu instead nominated [67]

Batu sent Möngke under the protection of his brothers, [67]

Rule of Möngke Khan (1251–1259)

A stele of Mongke Khan in Mongolia (dated 1257)

When Möngke's mother Sorghaghtani and their cousin [68]

Shiremun moved with his own forces towards the emperor's nomadic palace with a plan for an armed attack, but Möngke was alerted by his falconer of the plan. Möngke ordered an investigation of the plot, which led to a series of major trials all across the empire. Many members of the Mongol elite were found guilty and put to death, with estimates ranging from 77–300, though princes of Genghis's royal line were often exiled rather than executed.[68]

Möngke eliminated the estates of the Ögedeid and the Chagatai families and shared the western part of the empire with his ally [68]

Administrative reforms

Möngke was a serious man who followed the laws of his ancestors and avoided alcoholism. He was tolerant of outside religions and artistic styles, leading to the building of foreign merchants' quarters, Buddhist monasteries, mosques, and Christian churches in the Mongol capital. As construction projects continued, Karakorum was adorned with Chinese, European, and Persian architecture. One famous example was a large silver tree with cleverly designed pipes that dispensed various drinks. The tree, topped by a triumphant angel, was crafted by Guillaume Boucher, a Parisian goldsmith.[69]

Stylized line drawing of Hulagu, seated and drinking from a bowl
Hulagu, Genghis Khan's grandson and founder of the Il-Khanate. From a medieval Persian manuscript.

Although he had a strong Chinese contingent, Möngke relied heavily on Muslim and Mongol administrators and launched a series of economic reforms to make government expenses more predictable. His court limited government spending and prohibited nobles and troops from abusing civilians or issuing edicts without authorization. He commuted the contribution system into a fixed poll tax that was collected by imperial agents and forwarded to units in need.[70]

His court also tried to lighten the tax burden on commoners by reducing tax rates. Along with the reform of the tax system, he reinforced the guards at the postal relays and centralized control of monetary affairs. Möngke also ordered an empire-wide census in 1252 that took several years to complete, not being finished until Novgorod in the far northwest was counted in 1258.[70]

In another move to consolidate his power, Möngke assigned his brothers Hulagu and Kublai to rule Persia and Mongol-held China. In the southern part of the empire, he continued his predecessors' struggle against the Song dynasty. In order to outflank the Song from three directions, Möngke dispatched Mongol armies under his brother Kublai to Yunnan, and under his uncle Iyeku to subdue Korea and pressure the Song from that direction as well.[63]

Kublai conquered the Dali Kingdom in 1253, and Möngke's general Qoridai stabilized his control over Tibet, inducing leading monasteries to submit to Mongol rule. Subutai's son, Uryankhadai, reduced the neighboring peoples of Yunnan to submission and beat the Trần dynasty in northern Vietnam in 1257, but they had to draw back in 1258.[63] The Mongol Empire tried to invade Vietnam again in 1284 and 1287 but were defeated both times.

New invasions of the Middle East and Southern China

Mongol invasion of Baghdad

After stabilizing the empire's finances, Möngke once again sought to expand its borders. At kurultais in Karakorum in 1253 and 1258 he approved new invasions of the Middle East and [71]

The Muslims from [71]

The center of the Islamic Empire at the time was Baghdad, which had held power for 500 years but was suffering internal divisions. When its caliph [72]

His army advanced towards [72]

Death of Möngke Khan (1259)

Map of Asia
The extent of the Mongol Empire after the death of Möngke Khan (reigned 1251–59).

Meanwhile, in the northwestern portion of the empire, Batu's successor and younger brother Berke sent punitive expeditions to Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania, and Poland. Dissension began brewing between the northwestern and southwestern sections of the Mongol Empire, as Batu suspected that Hulagu's invasion of Western Asia would result in the elimination of Batu's own predominance there.[73]

In the southern part of the empire, Möngke Khan himself led his army to complete the conquest of China. Military operations were generally successful, but prolonged, so the forces did not withdraw to the north as was customary when the weather turned hot. Disease ravaged the Mongol forces with bloody epidemics, and Möngke died there on August 11, 1259. This event began a new chapter of history for the Mongols, as again a decision needed to be made on a new Great Khan. Mongol armies across the empire withdrew from their campaigns to once again convene for a new kurultai.[74]


Dispute over succession

The Mongols at war

Möngke's brother Hulagu broke off his successful military advance into Syria, withdrawing the bulk of his forces to [75]

In 1260, the Mamluks advanced from Egypt, being allowed to camp and resupply near the Christian stronghold of [75]

In a separate part of the empire, another brother of Hulagu and Möngke, [58]

Civil war

Kublai Khan, Genghis Khan's grandson and founder of the Yuan dynasty

Battles ensued between the armies of Kublai and those of his brother Ariqboke, which included forces still loyal to Möngke's previous administration. Kublai's army easily eliminated Ariqboke's supporters and seized control of the civil administration in southern Mongolia. Further challenges took place from their cousins, the Chagataids.[76][77][78] Kublai sent Abishka, a Chagataid prince loyal to him, to take charge of Chagatai's realm. But Ariqboke captured and then executed Abishka, having his own man Alghu crowned there instead. Kublai's new administration blockaded Ariqboke in Mongolia to cut off food supplies, causing a famine. Karakorum fell quickly to Kublai, but Ariqboke rallied and re-took the capital in 1261.[76][77][78]

In the southwestern Ilkhanate, Hulagu was loyal to his brother Kublai, but clashes with their cousin Berke, the ruler of the

  • Genghis Khan and the Mongols
  • The Mongol Empire
  • Mongols
  • The Mongols in World History
  • The Mongol Empire for students
  • Paradoxplace Insight Pages on the Mongol Emperors
  • William of Rubruck's Account of the Mongols
  • Mongol invasion of Rus (pictures)
  • Worldwide Death Toll
  • Mongol Empire Google Earth

External links

  • Brent, Peter. The Mongol Empire: Genghis Khan: His Triumph and his Legacy. Book Club Associates, London. 1976.
  • Buell, Paul D. (2003). Historical Dictionary of the Mongol World Empire. The Scarecrow Press, Inc.  
  • May, Timothy. "The Mongol Art of War." Westholme Publishing, Yardley. 2007. ISBN 978-1-59416-046-2 / ISBN 1-59416-046-5
  • May, Timothy. The Mongol Conquests in World History (Reaktion Books, distributed by University of Chicago Press; 2012) 319 pages
  • Rossabi, Morris. The Mongols: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford University Press, 2012. ISBN 978-0199840892

Further reading

  • Allsen, Thomas T. (1987). Mongol Imperialism: The Policies of the Grand Qan Möngke in China, Russia, and the Islamic Lands, 1251-1259. University of California Press.  
  • Allsen, Thomas T. (2004). Culture and conquest in Mongol Eurasia. Cambridge University Press.  
  • Amitai-Preiss, Reuven (1995). Mongols and Mamluks: The Mamluk-Ilkhanid War, 1260–1281. Cambridge, UK; New York, USA: Cambridge University Press.  
  • Atwood, Christopher P. (2004). Encyclopedia of Mongolia and the Mongol Empire. New York, USA: Facts on File, Inc.  
  • Barfield, Thomas Jefferson (1992). The perilous frontier: nomadic empires and China. Blackwell.  
  • Burgan, Michael (2005). Empire of the Mongols. New York, USA: Infobase Publishing.  
  • Finlay, Robert (2010). The Pilgrim Art: Cultures of Porcelain in World History. Berkeley, California, USA: University of California Press.  
  • Franke, Herbert (1994). Twitchett, Denis; Fairbank, John King, eds. Alien Regimes and Border States, 907-1368. The Cambridge History of China 6 (Cambridge, UK; New York, USA: Cambridge University Press).  
  • Halperin, Charles J. (1985). Russia and the Golden Horde: The Mongol Impact on Medieval Russian History. Bloomington, Indiana, USA: Indiana University Press.  
  • Howorth, Henry H. (1965) [London edition, 1876]. History of the Mongols from the 9th to the 19th Century: Part I: The Mongols Proper and the Kalmuks. New York, USA: Burt Frankin. 
  • Hull, Mary. (1997). The Mongol Empire (World History Series). Greenhaven Press.  
  • Jackson, Peter (1978). "The dissolution of the Mongol Empire".  
  • Jackson, Peter (2003). The Delhi Sultanate: A Political and Military History. Cambridge, UK; New York, USA: Cambridge University Press.  
  • Lane, George (2006). Daily life in the Mongol empire. Westport, Connecticut, USA: Greenwood Press.  
  • Man, John (2004). Genghis Khan: Life, death and resurrection. New York, USA: Thomas Dunne Books.  
  • Man, John (2007). Kublai Khan: from Xanadu to superpower. Bantam Books.  
  • Morgan, David (2007). The Mongols (2nd ed.). Malden, Massachusetts, USA; Oxford, UK; Carlton, Victoria, Australia: Blackwell Publishing.  
  • Ratchnevsky, Paul (1993). Haining, Thomas Nivison (translator), ed. Genghis Khan: His Life and Legacy. Wiley-Blackwell.  
  • Rossabi, Morris (1983). China Among Equals: The Middle Kingdom and Its Neighbors, 10th–14th Centuries. Berkeley, California, USA: University of California Press.  
  • Sanders, Alan J. K. (2010). Historical Dictionary of Mongolia. Lanham, Maryland, USA: Scarecrow Press.  
  • Saunders, John Joseph (2001). The history of the Mongol conquests. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA: University of Pennsylvania Press.  
  • Rybatzki, Volker (2009). The Early Mongols: Language, Culture and History. Indiana University.  
  • Sverdrup, Carl (November 2010). "Numbers in Mongol Warfare". In Rogers, Clifford J.;  
  • Vladimortsov, Boris (1969). The Life of Chingis Khan. B. Blom. 
  • Weatherford, Jack (2004). Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World. New York, USA: Three Rivers Press.  


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  1. ^ Founded in 1220 and served as capital from 1235 to 1260.
  2. ^ Following the death of Möngke Khan in 1259, no one city served as capital. Khanbaliq (Dadu), modern-day Beijing, was the Yuan capital between 1271 and 1368.
  3. ^ Including coins such as dirhams and paper currencies based on silver (sukhe) or silk, or the later Chao currency of the Yuan dynasty.


See also

The Crimean Khanate was the longest-lived of the successor states to the Mongol Empire; it was finally annexed by Russia in 1783.

Kalmyks were the last Mongol nomads to penetrate European territory, having migrated to Europe from Central Asia at the turn of the 17th century. In the winter of 1770–1771, approximately 200,000 Kalmyks began the journey from their pastures on the left bank of the Volga River to Dzungaria, through the territories of their Kazakh and Kyrgyz enemies. After several months of travel, only one-third of the original group reached Dzungaria in northwest China.[142]

Crimean Khanate and other descendants, the Mughal royal family of South Asia are also descended from Genghis Khan: Babur's mother was a descendant—whereas his father was directly descended from Timur (Tamerlane). The word "Mughol" is a Persian word for Mongol.

Kalmyk migration from Russia to China in 1770–1771
  • One of the more successful tactics employed by the Mongols was to wipe out urban populations that refused to surrender. In the Mongol invasion of Rus, almost all major cities were destroyed. If they chose to submit, the people were generally spared, though this was not guaranteed. For example, the city of Hamadan in modern-day Iran was destroyed and every man, woman, and child executed by Mongol general Subadai, after surrendering to him but failing to have enough provisions for his Mongol scouting force. Several days after the initial razing of the city, Subadai sent a force back to the burning ruins and the site of the massacre to kill any inhabitants of the city who had been away at the time of the initial slaughter and had returned in the meantime. Mongolian armies made use of local peoples and their soldiers, often incorporating them into their armies. Prisoners of war sometimes were given the choice between death and becoming part of the Mongol army to aid in future conquests.[141] In addition to intimidation tactics, the rapid expansion of the empire was facilitated by military hardiness (especially during bitterly cold winters), military skill, meritocracy, and discipline.
The first Mughal Emperor Babur and his heir Humayun.
  • Western researcher R. J. Rummel estimated that 30 million people were killed under the rule of the Mongol Empire. This is a low end estimate, as some estimates go as high as 80 million, with 50 million deaths being the middle ground. The population of China fell by half in fifty years of Mongol rule. Before the Mongol invasion, the territories of the Chinese dynasties reportedly had approximately 120 million inhabitants; after the conquest was completed in 1279, the 1300 census reported roughly 60 million people. While it is tempting to attribute this major decline solely to Mongol ferocity, scholars today have mixed opinions regarding this subject. Scholars such as Frederick W. Mote argue that the wide drop in numbers reflects an administrative failure to record rather than a de facto decrease, whilst others such as Timothy Brook argue that the Mongols reduced much of the south Chinese population, and very debatably of the Han Chinese population to an invisible status through cancellation of right to passports and denial of right to direct land ownership. This meant that the Chinese had to depend and be cared for chiefly by Mongols and Tartars, which also involved recruitment into the Mongol army. Other historians such as William McNeill and David Morgan argue that the Bubonic Plague was the main factor behind the demographic decline during this period.
  • David Nicole states in The Mongol Warlords, "terror and mass extermination of anyone opposing them was a well tested Mongol tactic."[137] About half of the Russian population may have died during the invasion.[138] However, Colin McEvedy (Atlas of World Population History, 1978) estimates the population of Russia-in-Europe dropped from 7.5 million prior to the invasion to 7 million afterwards.[137] Historians estimate that up to half of Hungary's two million population at that time were victims of the Mongol invasion.[139] Historian Andrea Peto says that Rogerius, an eyewitness, said "the Mongols killed everybody regardless of gender or age" and that "the Mongols especially 'found pleasure' in humiliating women."[140]
Dominican martyrs killed by Mongols during the Mongol invasion of Poland in 1260.
  • Moscow rose to prominence during the Mongol-Tatar yoke, some time after Russian rulers were accorded the status of tax collectors for the Mongols. The fact that the Russians collected tribute and taxes for the Mongols meant that the Mongols themselves would rarely visit the lands that they owned. The Russians eventually gained military power, and their ruler Ivan III overthrew the Mongols completely to form the Russian Tsardom. After the Great stand on the Ugra river proved the Mongols vulnerable, this led to the independence of the Grand Duke of Moscow.
  • Europe's knowledge of the known world was immensely expanded by the information brought back by ambassadors and merchants. When Columbus sailed in 1492, his missions were to reach Cathay, the land of the Grand Khan in China, and give him a letter from the monarchs Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile.
  • Some research studies indicate that the Black Death which devastated Europe in the late 1340s may have traveled from China to Europe along the trade routes of the Mongol Empire. In 1347, the Genoese possessor of Caffa, a great trade emporium on the Crimean Peninsula, came under siege by an army of Mongol warriors under the command of Janibeg. After a protracted siege during which the Mongol army was reportedly withering from the disease, they decided to use the infected corpses as a biological weapon. The corpses were catapulted over the city walls, infecting the inhabitants.[136] The Genoese traders fled, transferring the plague via their ships into the south of Europe, whence it rapidly spread. The total number of deaths worldwide from the pandemic is estimated at 75 million people, with an estimated 20 million deaths in Europe alone.
Tokhtamysh and the armies of the Golden Horde initiate the Siege of Moscow (1382).

Some of the other long-term consequences of the Mongol Empire include:

Non-military achievements of the Mongol Empire included the introduction of a writing system, a Mongol alphabet based on the Uighur characters, that is still used today in Inner Mongolia.[135]

According to some interpretations, Genghis Khan's conquests caused wholesale destruction on an unprecedented scale in certain geographical regions, and therefore led to some changes in the demographics of Asia, such as the mass migration of the Iranian tribes of Central Asia into modern-day Iran. The Islamic world was also subject to massive changes as a result of Mongol invasions. The population of the Iranian plateau suffered from widespread disease and famine, resulting in the deaths of up to three-quarters of its population, possibly 10 to 15 million people. Historian Steven Ward estimates that Iran's population did not again reach its pre-Mongol levels until the mid-20th century.[134]

The Mongol Empire—being at its height the largest contiguous empire in history—had a lasting impact, unifying large regions, some of which (such as eastern and western Russia and the western parts of China) remain unified today, albeit under different rulership.[133] The Mongols, except the main population, might have been assimilated into local populations after the fall of the empire, and some of these descendants adopted local religions—for example, the eastern khanate largely adopted Buddhism, and the three western khanates adopted Islam, largely under Sufi influence.[126]

Map of Asia
This map shows the boundary of 13th century Mongol Empire compared to today's Mongols in Mongolia, Russia, the Central Asian States and China.


The fall of the Mongol Empire in the 14th century led to the collapse of the political, cultural, and economic unity along the Silk Road. Turkic tribes seized the western end of the Silk Road trade routes from the Byzantine Empire, and sowed the seeds of a Turkic culture that would later crystallize into the Ottoman Empire under the Sunni faith. In the East, the native Chinese overthrew the Yuan dynasty in 1368, launching their own Ming dynasty and pursuing a policy of economic isolationism.[132]

Policies changed under the Great Khan Möngke. Because of money laundering and overtaxing, he attempted to limit abuses and sent imperial investigators to supervise the ortoq businesses. He decreed all merchants must pay commercial and property taxes, and he paid off all drafts drawn by high-ranking Mongol elites from the merchants. This policy continued in the Yuan dynasty.

After Genghis, the merchant partner business continued to flourish under his successors Ögedei and Güyük. Merchants brought clothing, food, information, and other provisions to the imperial palaces, and in return the Great Khans gave the merchants tax exemptions, and allowed them to use the official relay stations of the Mongol Empire. Merchants also served as tax farmers in China, Russia and Iran. If the merchants were attacked by bandits, losses were made up from the imperial treasury.

An Islamic gold coin inscribed in the name of Genghis Khan

Marco Polo is a famous western explorer who traveled east along the Silk Road, and the Chinese Mongol monk Rabban Bar Sauma made a comparably epic journey along the Road who ventured from his home of Khanbaliq (Beijing) to as far as Europe. And European missionaries, like William of Rubruck, also traveled to the Mongol court to convert believers to their cause, or went as papal envoys (sent on behalf of the pope) to correspond with Mongol rulers in an attempt to secure a Franco-Mongol alliance. It was rare, however, for anyone to journey the full length of Silk Road. Instead, merchants moved products like a bucket brigade, goods being traded from one middleman to another, moving from China all the way to the West; the goods moved over such long distances reached extravagant prices.

Mongols sometimes provided capital for merchants and sent them far afield, in an ortoq (merchant partner) arrangement. As the empire grew, any merchants or ambassadors with proper documentation and authorization received protection and sanctuary as they traveled through Mongol realms. Well-traveled and relatively well-maintained roads linked lands from the Mediterranean basin to China, greatly increasing overland trade and resulting in some dramatic stories of those who travelled through what would become known as the famed Silk Road.

The Mongols had a strong history of supporting merchants and trade. Genghis Khan had encouraged foreign merchants early in his career, even before uniting the Mongols. Merchants provided him with information about neighboring cultures, served as diplomats and official traders for the Mongols, and were essential for many needed goods, since the Mongols produced little of their own.

Silk Road

In Manchuria and southern Siberia, the Mongols still used dogsled relays for the yam. In the Ilkhanate, Ghazan restored the declining relay system in the Middle East on a restricted scale. He constructed some hostels and decreed that only imperial envoys could receive a stipend. The Jochids of the Golden Horde financed their relay system by a special yam tax.

Kublai Khan, the founder of the Yuan dynasty, built special relays for high officials, as well as ordinary relays which had hostels. During Kublai's reign, the Yuan communication system consisted of some 1,400 postal stations, which used 50,000 horses, 8,400 oxen, 6,700 mules, 4,000 carts, and 6,000 boats.

[56] in Central Europe within 4–6 weeks thanks to the Yam.Batu Khan, news reached the Mongol forces under Karakorum. When the Great Khan died in paiza was allowed to stop there for re-mounts and specified rations, while those carrying military identities used the Yam even without a paiza In order to reduce pressure on households, he set up relay stations with attached households every 25 miles (40 km). Anyone with [131] Genghis and his successor

The Mongol Empire had an ingenious and efficient mail system for the time, often referred to by scholars as the Yam, which had lavishly- furnished and well-guarded relay posts known as örtöö setup all over the Mongol Empire. The yam system would be replicated later in the United States, in the form of the Pony Express.[130] A messenger would typically travel 25 miles (40 km) from one station to the next, either receiving a fresh, rested horse, or relaying the mail to the next rider to ensure the speediest possible delivery. The Mongol riders regularly covered 125 miles (200 km) per day, better than the fastest record set by the Pony Express some 600 years later.

A partially unrolled scroll, opened from left to right to show a portion of the scroll with widely spaced vertical lines in the Mongol language. Imprinted over two of the lines is an official-looking square red stamp with an intricate design.
1305 letter (a roll measuring 302 by 50 centimetres (9.91 by 1.64 ft)) from the Ilkhan Mongol Öljaitü to King Philip IV of France.

Mail system

The Mongols also appreciated the visual arts, though their taste in portraiture was strictly focused on portraits of their horses, rather than of people.

14th century Mongol scribes used a mixture of resin and vegetable pigments as a primitive form of correction fluid;[129] this is arguably its first known usage.

Another classic from the empire is the Jami' al-tawarikh, or "Universal History". It was commissioned in the early 14th century by the Ilkhan Abaqa Khan, as a way of documenting the entire world's history, to help establish the Mongols' own cultural legacy. With hundreds of illustrated pages, it was effectively one of the first written histories of the world.

The oldest surviving literary work in the Mongolian language is The Secret History of the Mongols, which was written for the royal family some time after Genghis Khan's death in 1227. It is the most significant native account of Genghis's life and genealogy, covering his origins and childhood, through to the establishment of the Mongol Empire and the reign of his son, Ögedei.

Arts and literature

Initially there were few formal places of worship, because of the nomadic lifestyle. However, under Ögedei (1186–1241), several building projects were undertaken in the Mongol capital of Karakorum. Along with palaces, Ögedei built houses of worship for the Buddhist, Muslim, Christian, and Taoist followers. The dominant religions at that time were Shamanism, Tengrism and Buddhism, although Ögedei's wife was a Nestorian Christian.[125] Eventually, each of the successor states adopted the dominant religion of the local populations: the Chinese-Mongolian Yuan dynasty in the East (originally the Great Khan's domain) embraced Buddhism, while the three Western khanates (the Central Asian Chagatai Khanate, the Iranian Ilkhanate and the Eastern European Golden Horde) adopted Islam.[126][127][128]

At the time of Genghis Khan, virtually every religion had found Mongol converts, from Buddhism to Christianity and Manichaeism to Islam. To avoid strife, Genghis Khan set up an institution that ensured complete religious freedom, though he himself was a tengrist. Under his administration, all religious leaders were exempt from taxation, and from public service.[124]

Painting of a stylized building, showing Ghazan kneeling and accepting conversion
Persian miniature depicting Ghazan's conversion from Buddhism to Islam.


At the same time the Mongols imported Central Asian Muslims to serve as administrators in China, the Mongols also sent Han Chinese and Khitans from China to serve as administrators over the Muslim population in Bukhara in Central Asia, using foreigners to curtail the power of the local peoples of both lands.[123] The Mongols were very tolerant of other religions, and never persecuted people on religious grounds. This was associated with their culture and progressive thought. Some historians of the 20th century thought that it was a good military strategy, the occasion in which he was at war with Sultan Muhammad of Khwarezm, other Islamic leaders did not join the fight against Genghis — it was instead seen as a non-holy war between two individuals.

Under Yassa, chiefs and generals were selected based on merit. The empire was governed by a non-democratic parliamentary-style central assembly, called Kurultai, in which the Mongol chiefs met with the Great Khan to discuss domestic and foreign policies. Kurultais were also convened for the selection of each new Great Khan.[122] Throughout the empire, trade routes and an extensive postal system (yam) were created. Many merchants, messengers and travelers from China, the Middle East and Europe used the system. Genghis Khan also created a national seal, encouraged the use of a written alphabet in Mongolia, and exempted teachers, lawyers, and artists from taxes, although taxes were heavy on all other subjects of the empire.

The Mongol Empire was governed by a code of law devised by Genghis, called Yassa, meaning "order" or "decree". A particular canon of this code was that those of rank shared much of the same hardship as the common man. It also imposed severe penalties — e.g., the death penalty was decreed if one mounted soldier following another did not pick up something dropped from the mount in front. Penalties were also decreed for rape and to some extent for murder. Any resistance to Mongol rule was met with massive collective punishment. Cities were destroyed and their inhabitants slaughtered if they defied Mongol orders. On the whole, the tight discipline made the Mongol Empire extremely safe and well-run.

The executed - long and full beard probably means he is not a Mongol - has been thrown off a cliff.

Law and governance


All military campaigns were preceded by careful planning, reconnaissance, and gathering sensitive information relating to enemy territories and forces. The success, organization, and mobility of the Mongol armies permitted them to fight on several fronts at once. All adult males up to the age of 60 were eligible for conscription into the army, a source of honor in their tribal warrior tradition.[121]

Traditionally known for their prowess with ground forces, the Mongols rarely used naval power, with a few exceptions. In the 1260s and 1270s they used seapower while conquering the Song dynasty of China, though their attempts to mount seaborne campaigns against Japan were unsuccessful. Around the Eastern Mediterranean, their campaigns were almost exclusively land-based, with the seas controlled by the Crusader and Mamluk forces.[120]

Another advantage of the Mongols was their ability to traverse large distances, even in unusually cold winters; for instance, frozen rivers led them like highways to large urban centers on their banks. In addition to siege engineering, the Mongols were also adept at river-work, crossing the river Sajó in spring flood conditions with thirty thousand cavalry soldiers in a single night during the battle of Mohi (April 1241) to defeat the Hungarian king Béla IV. Similarly, in the attack against the Muslim Khwarezmshah, a flotilla of barges was used to prevent escape on the river.

Skillful use of couriers enabled these armies to maintain contact with each other and their leadership. Discipline was inculcated during a nerge (traditional hunt), as reported by [119]

Forces under the command of the Mongol Empire were trained, organized, and equipped for mobility and speed. Mongol soldiers were more lightly armored than many of the armies they faced but were able to make up for it with maneuverability. Each Mongol warrior would usually travel with multiple horses, allowing him to quickly switch to a fresh mount as needed. In addition, soldiers of the Mongol army functioned independently of [119]

Mongol general Subutai of the Golden Horde

The Mongols were most famous for their [118]

The number of troops mustered by the Mongols is the subject of some scholarly debate,[116] but was at least 105,000 in 1206.[117] The Mongol military organization was simple but effective, based on the [118]

Reconstruction of a Mongol warrior

Military organization

Increasingly isolated from their subjects, the Mongols quickly lost most of China to the rebellious Ming forces in 1368 and fled to their homeland Mongolia. After the overthrow of the Yuan dynasty, the Golden Horde lost touch with Mongolia and China, while the two main parts of the Chagatai Khanate were defeated by Timur (Tamerlane) (1336–1405), who founded the Timurid Empire. However remnants of the Chagatai Khanate survived and the last Chagataid state to survive was the Yarkent Khanate until its defeat by the Oirat Dzungar Khanate in the Dzungar conquest of Altishahr in 1680. The Golden Horde broke into smaller Turkic-hordes that declined steadily in power through four long centuries. Among them, the khanate's shadow Great Horde survived until 1502, when one of its successors, the Crimean Khanate, sacked Sarai.[115]

However, rival families of the Jochids began fighting for the throne of the Golden Horde after the assassination of his successor Berdibek Khan in 1359. The last Yuan ruler Toghan Temür (r. 1333–70) was powerless to regulate those troubles because the empire had nearly reached its end. His court's unbacked currency had entered a hyperinflationary spiral and the Han-Chinese people revolted due to the Yuan's harsh restrictions. In the 1350s Gongmin of Goryeo successfully pushed Mongolian garrisons back and exterminated the family of Toghan Temür Khan's empress while Tai Situ Changchub Gyaltsen managed to eliminate the Mongol influence in Tibet.[114]

As the power of the Mongols declined, chaos erupted throughout the empire as non-Mongol leaders expanded their own influence. The Golden Horde lost all of its western dominions (including modern Belarus and Ukraine) to Poland and Lithuania from 1342 to 1369. Muslim and non-Muslim princes in the Chagatai Khanate warred with each other from 1331–43, and the Chagatai Khanate disintegrated when non-Genghisid warlords set up their own puppet khans in Transoxiana and Moghulistan. Janibeg Khan (r. 1342–1357) briefly reasserted Jochid dominance over the Chaghataids to restore their former glory. Demanding submission from an offshoot of the Ilkhanate in Azerbaijan, he boasted that "today three uluses are under my control".[114]

The Battle of Blue Waters between the armies of Lithuania and the Golden Horde in 1362

Along with the dissolution of the Ilkhanate in Persia, Mongol rulers in China and the Chagatai Khanate were also in turmoil. The plague known as the Black Death, which started in the Mongol dominions and spread to Europe, added to the confusion. Disease devastated all the khanates, cutting off commercial ties and killing millions.[112] Plague may have taken 50 million lives in Europe alone in the 14th century.[113]

With the death of Ilkhan Eretna established an independent state (Ertenids) in Anatolia in 1336. Following the downfall of their Mongol masters, the loyal vassal, the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia, received escalating threats from the Mamluks and were eventually overrun.

Map of Asia
The relict states of the Mongol Empire by 1300.

Relict states of the Mongol Empire

Civil war erupted in the Yuan dynasty in 1328–29. After the death of Yesün Temür in 1328, Tugh Temür became the new leader in Dadu, while Yesün Temür's son Ragibagh succeeded to the throne in Shangdu, leading to the civil war known as the War of the Two Capitals. Tugh Temür defeated Ragibagh, but the Chagatai khan Eljigidey (r. 1326–29) supported Kusala, elder brother of Tugh Temür, as Great Khan. He invaded with a commanding force, and Tugh Temür abdicated. Kusala was elected khan on August 30, 1329. Kusala was then poisoned by a Kypchak commander under Tugh Temür, who returned to power. Tugh Temür (1304–32) was knowledgeable about Chinese language and history and was also a creditable poet, calligrapher, and painter. In order to be accepted by other khanates as the sovereign of the Mongol world, he sent Genghisid princes and descendants of other notable Mongol generals to the Chagatai Khanate, Ilkhan Abu Said, and Ozbeg. In response to the emissaries, they all agreed to send tribute each year.[111] Furthermore, Tugh Temür gave lavish presents and an imperial seal to Eljigidey to mollify his anger.

In the Chagatai Khanate, Esen Buqa I (r. 1309-1318) was enthroned as khan after suppressing a sudden rebellion by Ögedei's descendants and driving Chapar into exile. The Yuan and Ilkhanid armies eventually attacked the Chagatai Khanate. Realizing economic benefits and the Genghisid legacy, Ozbeg reopened friendly relations with the Yuan in 1326, and strengthened ties with the Muslim world as well, building mosques and other elaborate places such as baths. By the second decade of the 14th century, Mongol invasions had further decreased. In 1323, Abu Said Khan (r. 1316-35) of the Ilkhanate signed a peace treaty with Egypt. At his request, the Yuan court awarded his custodian Chupan the title of commander-in-chief of all Mongol khanates, but Chupan died in late 1327.[110]

Duwa was challenged by Kaidu's son Chapar, but with the assistance of Temür, Duwa defeated the Ögedeids. Tokhta of the Golden Horde, also seeking a general peace, sent 20,000 men to buttress the Yuan frontier.[109] Tokhta died in 1312, though, and was succeeded by Ozbeg (r. 1313–41), who seized the throne of the Golden Horde and persecuted non-Muslim Mongols. The Yuan's influence on the Horde was largely reversed and border clashes between Mongol states resumed. Ayurbarwada Buyantu Khan's envoys backed Tokhta's son against Ozbeg.

Hungarian King Béla IV in flight from the Mongols under general Kadan of the Golden Horde.

Struggling for influence within the Golden Horde, Kaidu sponsored his own candidate Kobeleg against Zawkhan River in 1301, the old valiant Kaidu died and was succeeded by Duwa.[107][108]

Ghazan's faith may have been Islamic, but he continued his ancestors' war with the Egyptian Mamluks, and consulted with his old Mongolian advisers in his native tongue. He defeated the Mamluk army at the Battle of Wadi al-Khazandar in 1299, but he was only briefly able to occupy Syria, due to distracting raids from the Chagatai Khanate under its de facto ruler Kaidu, who was at war with both the Ilkhans and the Yuan dynasty.

[106] Within four years, Ghazan began sending tributes to the Yuan court and appealing to other khans to accept Temür Khan as their overlord. He oversaw an extensive program of cultural and scientific interaction between the Ilkhanate and the Yuan dynasty in the following decades.[95] When

In spite of his conflicts with Kaidu and Duwa, Yuan emperor Temür established a tributary relationship with the war-like Shan brothers after his series of military operations against Thailand from 1297 to 1303. This was to mark the end of the southern expansion of the Mongols.

A European depiction of the four khans, Temür (Yuan), Chapar (House of Ögedei), Toqta (Golden Horde), and Öljaitü (Ilkhanate), in the Fleur des histoires d'orient.[105]

Developments of the khanates

Nearly a century of conquest and civil war was followed by relative stability (Pax Mongolica), and international trade and cultural exchanges flourished between Asia and Europe. Communication between the Yuan dynasty in China and Ilkhanate in Persia further encouraged trade and commerce between east and west. Patterns of Yuan royal textiles could be found on the opposite side of the empire adorning Armenian decorations; trees and vegetables were transplanted across the empire; and technological innovations spread from Mongol dominions towards the West.[102] Pope John XXII was presented a memorandum from the eastern church describing the Pax Mongolica: "... Khagan is one of the greatest monarchs and all lords of the state, e.g., the king of Almaligh (Chagatai Khanate), emperor Abu Said and Uzbek Khan, are his subjects, saluting his holiness to pay their respects."[103] However, while the four khanates continued to interact with one another well into the 14th century, they did so as sovereign states and never again pooled their resources in a cooperative military endeavor.[104]

After the death of Kaidu, the Chatagai ruler Duwa initiated a peace proposal and persuaded the Ögedeids to submit to Temür Khan.[96][97] In 1304, all khanates approved a peace treaty and accepted Yuan emperor Temür's supremacy.[98][99][100][101] This established the nominal supremacy of the Yuan dynasty over the western khanates. While this supremacy based on nothing like the same foundations as that of the earlier Khagans (such as the continued border clashes among them) and each of the four khanates continued to develop separately and function as different states, the nominal supremacy did last for a few decades.

Major changes occurred in the Mongol Empire in the late 1200s. Kublai Khan, after having conquered all of China and established the Yuan dynasty, died in 1294, and was succeeded by his grandson Temür Khan, who continued Kublai's policies. At the same time, the Toluid Civil War, along with the Berke–Hulagu war and the subsequent Kaidu–Kublai war greatly weakened the authority of the Great Khan over the entirety of the Mongol Empire and the empire fractured into autonomous khanates, including the Yuan dynasty and the three western khanates (the Golden Horde, the Chagatai Khanate and the Ilkhanate). All of them became functionally autonomous; only the Ilkhanate remained loyal to the Yuan court but endured its own power struggle, in part because of a dispute with the growing Islamic factions within the southwestern part of the empire.[95]

The funeral of Chagatai Khan.

Disintegration into competing entities

Nogai and Konchi, the khan of the White Horde, established friendly relations with the Yuan dynasty and the Ilkhanate. Political disagreement between contending branches of the family over the office of Great Khan continued, but the economic and commercial success of the Mongol Empire continued despite the squabbling.[92][93][94]

Mongol warrior on horseback, preparing a mounted archery shot.

After achieving actual or nominal dominion over much of Eurasia and successfully conquering China, Kublai pursued further expansion. His invasions of Burma and Sakhalin, were costly, and his attempted invasions of Annam and Champa ended in devastating defeat, but secured vassal statuses of those countries. The Mongol armies were massacred and smashed repeatedly in Annam and at the Battle of Bạch Đằng (1288). Annam (Vietnam) was ruled by the Tran dynasty, the Chinese region of Fujian was the original home of the Chinese Tran (Chen) clan before they migrated under Trần Kinh (陳京, Chén Jīng) to Dai Viet and whose descendants established the Trần dynasty which ruled Vietnam Đại Việt, and certain members of the clan could still speak Chinese such as when a Yuan dynasty envoy had a meeting with the Chinese-speaking Trần prince Trần Quốc Tuấn (later King Trần Hưng Đạo) in 1282.[86][87][88][89][90][91] However, Invasions of Japan in 1274 and 1280 and of Java in 1293 failed.[85]

The Mongols were eventually successful in their campaigns against (Song) China, and the Chinese Song imperial family surrendered to the Yuan in 1276, making the Mongols the first non-Chinese people to conquer all of China. Kublai used his base to build a powerful empire, creating an academy, offices, trade ports and canals, and sponsoring arts and science. Mongol records list 20,166 public schools created during his reign.[85]

In the south, after the fall of Xiangyang in 1273, the Mongols sought the final conquest of the Song dynasty in South China. In 1271, Kublai renamed the new Mongol regime in China as the Yuan dynasty and sought to sinicize his image as Emperor of China to win the control of the Chinese people. Kublai moved his headquarters to Dadu, the genesis for what later became the modern city of Beijing, although his establishment of a capital there was a controversial move to many Mongols who accused him of being too closely tied to Chinese culture.[83][84]

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

Campaigns of Kublai Khan (1264–1294)

Hulagu died on February 8, 1264. Berke sought to take advantage and invade Hulagu's realm, but he died along the way, and a few months later Alghu Khan of the Chagatai Khanate died as well. Kublai named Hulagu's son Abaqa as a new Ilkhan, and Abaqa sought foreign alliances, such as attempting to form a Franco-Mongol alliance with the Europeans against the Egyptian Mamluks. Kublai nominated Batu's grandson Möngke Temür to lead the Golden Horde.[81] Ariqboqe surrendered to Kublai at Shangdu on August 21, 1264.[82]


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