Which Aspects Of Chinese Culture Did The Mongols Adopt


Mongols in World History

The Mongols were excellent supporters of the arts. It was they who, for example, came up with the notion of creating a new written language that could be used to transcribe a variety of languages spoken throughout the Mongol realms. Khubilai Khan commissioned the Tibetan ‘Phags-pa Lama to create a new writing, which became known as “the Square Script” or the ‘Phags-pa script after the Lama’s birthplace in Tibet. The Square Script, which was completed about 1269, was a remarkable endeavor to create a new written language from scratch (read more about the Square Script here).

The Mongol rulers issued a large number of decrees, regulations, and laws to persuade the general public to use the new script, but it never gained widespread acceptance and was restricted primarily to official purposes — on paper money, official seals, a few porcelain pieces, and the passports that they issued to their subjects.


The Mongol monarchs were avid fans of the theater, and the Yuan Dynasty was the era during which Chinese drama reached its pinnacle. The Mongols were particularly taken by the spectacles on display in the theater at this period, which included acrobats, mimes, and brightly colored costumes, among other things. The Mongol court established a dedicated theater within the royal grounds in Daidu (Beijing) and provided financial and other assistance to a number of playwrights throughout their reign.


The art of painting flourished as well under the reign of the Mongols. Zhao Mengfu, one of the greatest painters of the Yuan Dynasty, was appointed to a court position by Khubilai Khan, and together with Zhao’s wife Guan Daosheng, who was also a painter, Zhao received a great deal of support and encouragement from the Mongols. Zhao’s wife Guan Daosheng was also a painter. Khubilai was also a patron of a number of other Chinese artists (Liu Guandao being one of them), as well as craftsmen working in pottery and exquisite fabrics, among other things.

Mongol Rituals

Despite the fact that Chinese culture was respected and encouraged in a variety of ways, as previously noted, this support did not come at the price of the Mongols’ own indigenous culture. That is, even while they accepted many of the values and political institutions of the people they conquered and ruled, the Mongols did not discard their own cultural legacy. In reality, the Mongol rulers went to great lengths to ensure that the rituals, rites, and “taste” of traditional Mongol life were preserved.

In reality, traditional Mongol shamanism was well-supported, and shamans were appointed to posts in Khubilai Khan’s court in China during this time period.

And when a Mongol princess reached the eighth or ninth month of her pregnancy, she followed the practice of giving birth in a special ger (the traditional Mongol dwelling) that had been set aside for her.

See images from a traditional Mongol cultural celebration, which is being held today in various locations. More information about traditional Mongol life and traditions may be found at: The Pastoral-Nomadic Life of the Mongols.

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The Mongols adopted what components of Chinese culture they could find.

Mongols Yuan Dynasty

Following the collapse of the Song Dynasty in 1279 C.E., the Mongols formally seized control of China. They governed until the Ming Dynasty came over in 1368 C.E., when they were deposed.

Answer and Explanation:

The Mongols grew in power and conquered much of Asia throughout their expansion. During the year 1279 C.E., Kublai Khan and his vast horde captured the Middle Kingdom, often known as the Great Chinese Empire. See the complete response below for more information.

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In China, the Mongol Empire was a dynasty that began in Chapter 18/ Lesson 3. In the 13th century, the Mongol Empire conquered China and expanded to become the second-largest empire in history. Take a look at the Mongol conquest of China, which began with Genghis Khan and continued into the Yuan Dynasty under his grandson, Kublai Khan.

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Photographs courtesy of.Photos.com/Photos.com/Getty Images The Mongol invasion and conquest of China was one of the most disruptive events in Chinese history, and it came dangerously close to resulting in genocide when the Mongol emperor Mongke pondered mass executions as a means of breaking the Chinese people’s resistance to the Mongols. In contrast, the Yuan dynasty, which was created by the Mongols and reigned for for around a hundred years, left Chinese civilization in relatively intact condition.

1The Mongol Conquest

The steppes of Eurasia were home to a diverse range of nomadic peoples that resided north of the Great Wall. The Mongol empire, created by Genghis Khan in 1244, was unlike any other empire in history. Although charismatic “khans” or tribal leaders were not uncommon in the steppe, putting together temporary confederations of tribes that governed vast territory was unprecedented. The Mongols under Genghis Khan destroyed and conquered the Kin empire of northern China, the Persian Empire, and vast swaths of territory in what is now Russia in a short period of time.

Cities that surrendered would be administered equitably and justly, according to the terms of the capitulation.

While the Song Dynasty in southern China fought for a period of time, the Mongols, led by Kublai Khan, established the Yuan dynasty in 1271 and conquered the whole country of China.

2Confucianism in Mongol China

Former Chinese conquerors had traditionally attempted to embrace Chinese culture and maintain the Chinese system of government, which was overseen by Confucian scholar-bureaucrats, prior to the Mongol invasion. Kublai Khan’s governance was patterned after the Chinese notion of an imperial dynasty, but he had little faith in Confucian intellectuals or the Chinese populace as a whole. The Confucian examination system was outlawed, and Han Chinese were not permitted to assume positions of authority in Yuan China’s bureaucracy.

He did not entirely repress the Confucian system, despite his dislike for it, and the old Chinese intellectual elite survived the invasion and rose to prominence once the Mongols were expelled.

3Chinese Religion

Islam and Tibetan Buddhism both prospered in China under the Yuan Dynasty, thanks to the Mongols’ generally liberal attitude toward all religious traditions that they came across. Kublai Khan even sponsored discussions between the leading religious instructors of Buddhism and Daoism, which were broadcast on television and radio. In response to the defeat of the Daoist professors in these arguments, Buddhist leaders convinced the Mongol overlords to crush Daoist monasteries and convert them into Buddhist centers.

All of the main faiths that existed in China prior to the Mongol invasion were still flourishing after the invasion.

4Art and Culture

Despite the Mongol invasion, Chinese aesthetic and literary traditions not only survived, but flourished during the period of Mongol control. As a result of being denied the ability to work in their usual capacity as highly educated officials, Confucian literati redirected their attention to creative endeavors such as landscape painting. In spite of the fact that the literati preferred to depict themselves as being independent of the Mongol government, the Mongol emperors were active patrons of the arts, providing financial assistance to notable painters and artisans.

The Mongol invaders either left all of China’s primary components of traditional culture intact or actively encouraged them to survive.

He has written nine books, which have been published on a variety of themes, including history, martial arts, poetry, and fantasy fiction.

The Mongol Dynasty

In 1211, Genghis Khan’s armies invaded the quasi-Chinese Chin-ruled region of northern China, and in 1215, they destroyed the capital city of Beijing. Hisson Ogodei conquered and dominated all of northern China by 1234, and he reigned from 1229 to 1241, when he died. The Chinese Southern Song were destroyed by Kublai Khan, the grandson of Genghis Khan, in 1279, and for the first time in history, all of China was under foreign dominion. In 1271, Kublai Khan gave his dynasty the name Yuan, which literally translates as “beginning of the cosmos.” Chinese history dates back to 1279 and ends in 1368 with the Yuan dynasty.

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As a result, when you look at his image, he appears to be quite similar to previous Chinese rulers.

He eliminated civil service examinations and preferred to utilize Chinese in his administration, and he set different regulations for Mongols and Chinese citizens in his administration.

A census of the population was conducted by Kublai Khan, who divided it into four categories: Mongols; Miscellaneous aliens (which included West Asian Muslims who performed important services for the Mongols); North Chinese, also known as Han people, who were subjects of the Chin state and their descendants, including Chinese, Jurchen, Khitans, and Loreans; and finally Southern Chinese, subjects of the Southern Sung, who the Mongols considered to be the least trustworthy of the Chinese.

  • However, even though the Mongols could not have governed China without the assistance of some of the Chinese elite, they were apprehensive of incorporating Chinese, particularly the Southern Song, into their administration.
  • Genghis Khan also maintained a separate legal system for Mongols and Chinese.
  • Despite the fact that many of his people want to establish the herding way of life inside the wall, in 1262 he issued an order preventing the nomads’ animals from wandering on farmland within the city.
  • This was especially important in the north, where farms had been ravaged by continual conflict.
  • Marco Polo said that he fed 30,000 hungry people every day in the main city of Venice.
  • Self-help programs like as tree planting, irrigation and flood control, fish stocking in rivers and lakes and the promotion of silk manufacturing were encouraged by the government.
  • She also assisted the censor in keeping an eye on the populace.

Kublai Khan established a set and predictable tax structure.

The nobility were then compensated by the government.

Besides work, he also requested that people bring in horses and supplies to help him.

The usage of corvee was not employed in order to evict farmers from their property so that it might be converted to grazing land.

Russians, Arabs, Jews, Genoese, and Venetians were among the outsiders who were welcomed by the Mongols.

However, the Mongols themselves were not participating in the caravan trade; rather, they encouraged others to participate.

Merchants in Yuan China were confident and had a high level of social standing.

When crossing the border into China, merchants were required to change their foreign metals into paper money.

Marco Polo was extremely fascinated with the trading that took on on the Yangtze.

Kublai Khan made significant advancements in the communication infrastructure throughout his kingdom.

Kublai Khan’s rule ended with the establishment of 1,400 postal stations, which used 50,000 horses, 8,400 mules, 6,700 mules, 4,000 carts, 6,000 boats as well as 200 dogs and 1,150 sheep to transport the mail.

Rider-messengers might go up to 250 kilometers in a single day.

They tried to keep as much distance as possible between themselves and the Chinese people they governed.

The ladies did not adopt the Chinese habit of foot binding, which was only beginning to gain popularity among upper-class Chinese at the time of their migration.

Kublai Khan had to make a difficult decision on where to locate the capital.

His kingdom served as the saddle for his horse, and he avoided what was remained of the Chinese capital city of Chengdu as much as possible (Beijing).

In order to maintain their nomadic lifestyle, the Mongols preserved a big area of steppe grass at their summer palace, which was located near the capital.

As time progressed, Shangdu evolved into a hideaway where the Mongols could feel more connected to their nomadic roots, owing to its extensive hunting grounds.

When Kublai Khan reached his zenith in 1279, he had established himself as a scholar and warrior, in addition to being a military leader.

He collaborated with them on the development of a fresh screenplay.

He believed that taxing people rather than murdering them was the wiser course of action.

He was accepting to people of all faith backgrounds.

In the years after 1279, however, Kublai Khan’s control began to wane, and his fall from power follows the well-known pattern of an empire’s collapse.

In his mind, defeating Japan would enhance his reputation as a great world conqueror, rather than a Chinese bureaucrat, and would give him legitimacy as the Great Khan.

In 1281, he attempted again, this time dispatching 140,000 soldiers, who were backed up by more Korean forces.

His reputation of invincibility was shattered by the l281 loss, and when he attempted to re-establish it through campaigns in Southeast Asia, he was defeated there as well.

The peasants suffered as a result of the rising weight of taxes.

In order to counteract inflation, Kublai Khan ordered the money to be devalued by a factor of five to one.

Kublai Khan became less tolerant as a result of economic difficulties.

This persecution persisted until the year 287.

In spite of Kublai Khan’s attempts to reign as a wise emperor, the Mongols were unable to adapt to Chinese culture.

They said Confucianism was anti-foreign, overly complex, and had an excessive number of social limitations.

The Mongols were always considered outsiders in Chinese views, even after Kublai Klan reinstituted the test and let Chinese to serve in lower-level government positions, probably in an effort to make the people happier.

Between 1308 and 1333, there were eight emperors, two of whom were assassinated and all of whom died at a young age.

It was precisely at this time that the Mongols wasted their efforts in a succession dispute, when the empire required strong central control to remain in power.

Because they no longer had a central figure to whom they could pledge their loyalty, military leaders turned their attention away from fighting and toward farming, increasing their own power while simultaneously lowering the morale of their troops.

Chinese officials cited peasant unrest as the most significant factor, which was exacerbated by over-taxation, corvee, failed military campaigns, and general insecurity.

The revolt was led by a Chinese orphan named Hongwu, a peasant soldier who turned away from banditry to become a Buddhist monk. The Ming dynasty was established in 1368 as a result of his efforts. Jean Johnson is the author of this piece.

China – Changes under Kublai Khan and his successors

  • The authority of dynastic rulers and the succession of emperors
  • Early Chinese dynasties such as the Dong (Eastern) Jin (317–420), as well as subsequent dynasties in the south (420–589)
  • A group of sixteen kingdoms in the north (303–439), known as the Shiliuguo (Sixteen Kingdoms).
  • During the decline of the Nan Song, there was an internal unity.
  • There was an anti-foreign movement during the second Opium War (also known as the Arrow War).
  • The demise of the dynasty coincided with reformist and revolutionist movements.
  • Since 1949, the leaders of the People’s Republic of China have been:

What did the Mongols adopt? – SidmartinBio

A century before the arrival of Genghis Khan, in the 13th century, practically every religion had gained adherents, ranging from Buddhism to Eastern Christianity, Manichaeanism, and Islam. While the Yuan dynasty mostly embraced Tibetan Buddhism, there were other religions prevalent in the eastern provinces of the Mongol Empire throughout their reign.

How did the Mongols adapt to Chinese culture?

In spite of Kublai Khan’s attempts to reign as a wise emperor, the Mongols were unable to adapt to Chinese culture. The Mongols fought assimilation on ideological and cultural grounds, and they attempted to keep themselves legally apart from the Chinese. They said Confucianism was anti-foreign, overly complex, and had an excessive number of social limitations.

What are three positive things the Mongols brought to China?

The terms in this collection (18)

  • Due to increased protection, trade along the Silk Road increased
  • The army was divided into groups of 10, 100, and 1,000
  • Canals were built to improve transportation and communication
  • Tax-free customs zones were established along the caravan routes of the Silk Road
  • And economic diversification was promoted.

Were Mongols most positive or negative?

The customs and beliefs of the Mongols had both beneficial and harmful ramifications. In spite of the fact that the Mongolian empire encouraged communication and variety, the empire was also responsible for the deaths of a great number of innocent individuals.

Which is aspect of Chinese culture did the Mongols adopt?

Which components of Chinese culture did the Mongols absorb and which did they reject? the manner in which people dress and the structure of government the artwork and the advanced style of architecture the civil service tests and the appointments to government positions The taxation system, as well as modern agricultural technologies

Why was the Mongol Empire bad for China?

The arbitrariness of Mongol nobles and bureaucrats engendered widespread animosity among the Chinese people as a whole. China’s agricultural populace was never able to develop satisfying connections with the Mongol ruling elite, according to historical evidence.

What was the primary language of the Mongol Empire?

In the beginning, the dominant language was Mongol; most of the judgments, ordinances, and decrees were produced in Mongol, with a Chinese interlinear version afterwards appended. Due to the fact that this Chinese version was written in colloquial language rather than in the official documentary manner, and since it followed the Mongol word order, it must have appeared barbarian to the local literati.

How did Kublai Khan change the Mongol government?

Changes under Kublai Khan and his successors The accession of Kublai Khan to the throne in 1260 signaled a significant shift in Mongol administration practice. Kublai Khan relocated the Mongol government’s capital from Karakorum, Mongolia, to Shangdu (“Upper Capital”), which is located near present-day Dolun in Inner Mongolia, which he called “Upper Capital.”

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The Rise of the Mongols and the Mongol Empire

Armies of unified Mongol tribes stormed throughout Eurasia under the command of Genghis Khan, who was known as the “Great Khan.” In only a few decades, Genghis Khan and his grandsons established a large empire that stretched over 5000 miles and stretched from Eastern Europe to China’s Pacific coastline. In addition to expanding their empire, the Mongol troops succeeded in overthrowing the traditional power structures (governments) that had ruled Eurasia for hundreds of years. As a result of the Mongol conquests, there was a great deal of political turmoil in the places where they settled.

With the exception of their huge domain outside of North and Central Asia, the Mongols had lost most of their vast empire within 100 years.

The Romans also possessed some of the most cutting-edge fighting technology, such as flaming arrows that burst on impact and gunpowder projectiles and cannons, among other things.

His forces grew in size at a breakneck pace. Within a few decades, he had consolidated power over a large portion of Eurasia.

  • First, Genghis Khan’s troops subjugated Northern China and the other pastoral nomads of Central Asia before focusing their attention on the Middle East. Following Genghis Khan’s death in 1227, his successors added Western Russia and Southern China to the extensive list of peoples captured by the Mongols
  • The Mongols had already conquered a large portion of Europe and Asia.

The Mongols’ Ascension to the Throne The primary text is Genghis Khan’s greatest source of happiness in life.

The Mongols Created the Largest Land Empire in History

The Mongol Empire was the biggest land empire in history, with a population of over 100 million people. The rule of this vast kingdom was divided into two phases:

  • A consolidated and united empire was established during the first phase, under the direction of one great khan. Phase 2: the empire was divided into portions known as khanates, each of which was controlled by a different khan
  • And Phase 3: the empire was divided into fragments known as dynasties.

An illustration of the Mongol Empire’s expansion. Calendar of Events: The Periods of Mongol Governance

Phase 1: The United Mongol Empire

The Mongol empire remained united under the leadership of Genghis Khan and his immediate successor, his third son Ogedei. The Mongols constructed their capital city in Karakorum, which is now part of modern-day Central Mongolia, around 12th century. When the Mongol forces captured an area, Genghis and Ogedei would assign Mongols to administer the governmental affairs of the newly gained Mongol domains. The government of the Mongols differed depending on where you were in the empire. The following characteristics were common to early Mongol administration.

  1. The governors of the Mongol Empire oversaw the highest levels of government. Depending on their position, local officials might serve as counselors to Mongol leaders or oversee regional and local levels of administration, for example. Local princes were permitted to reign in some places if they swore loyalty to the Mongols and paid tribute to them. It was the Mongols who were the first to build bureaucratic systems of their own. There was no recognized Mongol state that governed over the huge lands occupied by the Mongols. Mongol governors typically continued to use the techniques of administration that had been in place before to the Mongol conquest.

The Mongols destroyed old Eurasian superpowers

During their conquests of land across Eurasia, the Mongol hordes wiped away many of the region’s ancient ruling forces. Among the most significant political shifts were:

  1. The conquest of Central Asian pastoral peoples that were not Mongol in origin
  2. In the Middle East, the collapse of the Seljuk Empire and the Abbasid Caliphate were major events. The invasion of China and the resulting collapse of the Song Dynasty are two major events in Chinese history. Incorporation of Eastern European countries into the Mongol tribute system

Phase 2: The Fragmented Khanates

The Mongol Empire underwent a significant transformation around the end of the 13th century. Khánates were political systems that emerged from the fragmentation of a united Mongol force commanded by a Great Khan into a number of smaller but nonetheless major governmental systems. These Khanates were as follows:

  • Golden Horde in Northcentral Asia and Eastern Europe
  • Chaghatai in Central Asia
  • Ilkhanate in the Middle East
  • And the Yuan Dynasty in Eastern Asia are all examples of empires that once existed.

It was the descendants of Genghis Khan who built and controlled the khanates. They were sovereign (independent) leaders inside their own regions, as were the rulers of the khanates.

The Yuan dynasty khanate in China

The Mongol conquest of China was a long and drawn-out process that lasted from 1235 until 1279. After leading the last military battles against the Song Dynasty, Kublai Khan (1215-1294) was crowned emperor of the Mongol-ruled Chinese Yuan Dynasty and ascended to the throne of China. Kublai Khan relocated the Chinese capital from Southern China to the northern region, where it is now known as Beijing. The Mongols used China as a means of profiteering. China was only a location from which the Mongol civilisation could collect resources for its own benefit.

  • The Mongols were at the pinnacle of the new Chinese social order, with ethnic Chinese and their Central Asian nomadic and Muslim allies at the bottom. Initially, many landowners in China supported or stayed neutral to Mongol control, and they were given assurances that their properties would be preserved. Some Confucian academics claimed that the Mongols’ victory over the Song dynasty signified that the Mongols had seized control of the Mandate Heaven. The majority of Chinese, on the other hand, despised foreign control and the second-class position that the Mongol leadership had imposed on them.

Using the law, Kublai Khan was able to preserve the Mongols’ privilege and status by establishing social differences between Mongols and native Chinese populations. Among the laws that benefitted the Mongols were: Language and learning are subject to restrictions. Employment restrictions in the government Promotion of Mongol culture is a priority. The Fusion of Mongol and Chinese Cultural Elements is a clickable illustration.

Governance in the Yuan khanate

Despite the legal and social divisions that existed between Mongols and native Chinese, and despite Kublai Khan’s lack of expertise in operating a sophisticated agrarian community, he was forced to embrace many Chinese governmental institutions and cultural traditions out of necessity. Governance techniques taken from the ChineseThe following governing practices were adopted from the Chinese:

  • The Mongols adopted Chinese governing bureaucracy and administrative procedures, as well as Chinese taxation and postal systems, and bestowed a Chinese title (the Yuan) on their Dynasty. They also adopted Chinese names for their ancestors, practiced traditional Confucian rituals, and built Daoist and Tibetan Buddhist temple complexes in Mongolia and China, among other things.

Mongol policies that are widely accepted The Mongols strove to earn favor with the Chinese populace in order to preserve their control over the country and continue their authority over it. Mongol emperors

  • Roads and canals were improved, taxes were temporarily reduced, Chinese intellectuals and artists were fostered (patronized), the death sentence was curtailed, peasant agriculture was supported, and Mongol herds were stopped from herding and grazing on peasants’ farms.

Despite the favorable features of Mongol government, the local Chinese were typically critical of the Mongols’ leadership. The Song Dynasty was defeated, and the Mongol Yuan Dynasty rose to power, as shown in this video.

The Ilkhanate in the Middle East

When the Mongols invaded the Middle East, they did so with violence and bloodshed, wreaking havoc on both the Seljuk and Abbasid Empires.

  • Hundreds of thousands of people were massacred by Mongol armies during the siege of Baghdad in 1258, according to historical records. According to some estimates, this figure is close to 800,000. There was never such widespread devastation during the conquest of Song dynasty China
  • Nonetheless, with the fall of Baghdad, the Islamic world’s heart, which had been beating for more than 500 years, was shattered. Having suffered a devastating setback for the first time in about 700 years, since the first wave of Muslim expansion under Muhammad, the Islamic world was in a state of shock and disbelief.
The transformation of the Ilkhanate Mongols

The Mongols, on the other hand, did not completely eliminate or crush Islam in the area of its origin. As a result, the Mongol dynasty made Islam the official religion of their reign, replacing Christianity. The approach resulted in a significant transformation of Mongol elites, compared to the transformation of Mongol monarchs in China.

  • Some members of the Mongol aristocracy were taught to read and write the Persian language, which was the language of modern-day Iran, where the Mongols established their capitals, and which was the language of the Mongol Empire at the time. When it comes to learning the Chinese language, Mongol elites in China did not make any real steps to do so. Some Mongols also abandoned their nomadic lifestyles, settled down, and went to agriculture
  • However, many continued to live a pastoral and nomadic lifestyle
  • Others married local people
  • And yet others married local people. When the Ilkhanate’s dominion came to an end in the 1330s, the Mongol ruling elite did not retreat to the safety of their own lands in Central Asia. In contrast to the Yuan Mongols in China, the Persian Mongols were able to successfully integrate into Persian society.
Governance in the Ilkhanate

The Mongols, despite their adoption of Islam and features of Middle Eastern culture, ruled in a brutal and destructive manner. The following are the most important characteristics of the Ilkhanate government. Images of the Mongols of the Ilkhanate

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The Golden Horde khanate in Central Asia (Russia)

Between 1237 and 1240, the Mongols invaded Russia with a savagery that equaled or exceeded that of Persia’s death and devastation, according to historical accounts. The city of Kyiv was reduced to a charred rubble by the fire. It was necessary to smoke residents from their houses before slaughtering them. Others were captured and sold into slavery by the Mongol conquerors. Russia was overrun by the Mongols under their governance. In Russia, the Mongols engage in social engagement. Mongol influence in Russia has lasted for a long time.

The Collapse of the Mongol Khanates

The Mongol Empire came crashing down almost as fast as it had grown. Within a few decades, Mongol authority had sunk to a dangerous low point. Because numerous great khans were in charge of their own distinct khanates, the collapse did not occur at the same time. Different khanates faltered and dissolved within a few decades of their other in the 14th century, rather than the other way around. By the beginning of the 14th century, only the Golden Horde had remained, and even then, it was in a weakened position.

The fall of the Ilkhanate in the Middle East was a major historical event.

Kublai Khan

When Kublai Khan died in 13th-century China, he was the grandson of General Genghis Khan and the founding father of the Yuan Dynasty. By conquering the Song Dynasty in southern China in 1279, he became the first Mongol to govern over the whole Chinese continent. He confined his Chinese people to the lowest social strata and even promoted foreigners, such as the Venetian traveler Marco Polo, to high positions of authority over Chinese officials.

Kublai (sometimes written Kublai or Khubilai) reigned from 1492 to 1644. Due to a series of failed expeditions against Japan and Java, his Mongol kingdom began to wane near the conclusion of his reign, and it was eventually toppled by the Chinese shortly after his death.

Kublai Khan’s Early Life

The Mongols were a nomadic tribe who lived in the areas around modern-day Mongolia. As a result of unifying the many nomadic tribes on the Mongolian steppe, Genghis Khan went on to conquer vast swaths of Central Asia and China. By the time Genghis’ grandson Kublai was born in 1215, the Mongol kingdom had expanded from the Caspian Sea eastward to the Pacific Ocean, and it was the largest empire in history. The Mongols had taken the northern Chinese capital city of Yen-ching (modern-day Beijing) the previous year, forcing the royal family to escape to the southern provinces.

He was the fourth and youngest son of Tolui and a woman named Sorkhotani Beki.

The details of Kublai’s youth are few, although it is known that he and his brothers were taught the skill of battle at an early age.

Kublai was also exposed to Chinese philosophy and culture at a young age, courtesy to his mother, who also made certain that he learnt to read and write Mongol (despite the fact that he was not taught Chinese).

Early Rule

Kublai’s father passed away when he was seventeen years old. During that time period, Ogodei Khan (the third son of Genghis Khan), Kublai’s uncle and ruler of the Mongol Empire, served as the Great Khan. In 1236, Ogodei awarded Kublai a lordship in the Hopei (Hebei) region consisting of around 10,000 families. While initially leaving his Mongol agents in charge, Kublai established direct power over the region. However, the agents levied such exorbitant fees that many farmers fled their houses and settled in places that were not under Mongol administration.

Those who had left were returning by the late 1240s, and the region became more stable as a result.

He depended greatly on Chinese advisors, and it was via the monk Hai-yun that he first heard about Chinese Buddhism in 1242, and who would go on to become a close friend of his.

Kublali Conquers Yunnan

In 1241, Ogodei Khan passed away. Eventually, Kublai’s son Guyug succeeded him as Great Khan in 1246, and then Kublai’s eldest brother Mongke succeeded him as Great Khan in 1251. Kublai Khan was appointed as the viceroy of Northern China by Great Khan Mongke. He dispatched their brother Hulegu to the west to pacify the Islamic nations and regions, and he concentrated his efforts on conquest of Southern China and the surrounding areas.

In 1252, Mongke sent Kublai to attack Yunnan and capture the Dali Kingdom, which he did successfully. Kublai spent more than a year planning for his first military expedition, which lasted three years and resulted in the conquest of Yunnan by the end of 1256, after which he retired to Beijing.


A large-scale project that would demonstrate his growing attachment to and concern for his Chinese subjects was now necessary following the successful campaign that had greatly expanded Kublai’s domain. This project would be the establishment of a new capital, which would take several years to complete. As a result, Kublai instructed his advisors to choose a location based on the principles of feng shui, and they settled on a location at the border between China’s agricultural fields and the Mongolian steppe.

Europeans would eventually interpret the city’s name as Xanadu, after the mythical land of Xanadu.

The Great Khan

Mongke was well aware of Kublai’s expanding influence, and he dispatched two of his trusted advisers to Kublai’s new city to examine income collection. Following a rapid audit, they discovered what they claimed to be several violations of the law and immediately launched a violent purging of the administration of high-ranking Chinese officials from the country. Kublai’s Confucian and Buddhist advisors convinced him to personally appeal to his brother on a familial level, as advised by the Confucians and Buddhists.

In 1258, Kublai Khan hosted a discussion in his new capital.

As part of his war against the Song Dynasty, Mongke enlisted the aid of his younger brother Arik Boke, who was tasked with protecting Karakorum, the Mongol capital.

Arik Boke recruited forces and convened an assembly (known as an akuriltai) at Karakorum, where he was dubbed “the Great Khan” and given the title of “Great Khan.” On news of Mongke’s death, Kublai and Hulegu, who had returned from the Middle East, conducted their ownkurilta– Kublai was proclaimed Great Khan, igniting a civil war that would finally culminate with Arik Boke’s surrender in 1264.

Kublai Khan as Yuan Dynasty Emperor

Kublai Khan set his sights on uniting all of China during his reign as Great Khan. As part of his efforts to win over his Chinese subjects, he founded his capital in modern-day Beijing and dubbed his dominion the Yuan Dynasty in 1271 — one of numerous attempts to do so. Even though his efforts were successful, with part of the Song royal dynasty surrendering to Kublai in 1276, the conflict lasted for another three years beyond that point. When Kublai Khan defeated the last of the Song loyalists in 1279, he became the first Mongol to control the whole country of China.

The Mongols, although adopting and improving on many Chinese institutions and values, did not wish to become Chinese, and thus they retained many of their own traditions and did not become fully integrated into Chinese society.

The young Venetian had made such an impression on the monarch that he was assigned to a number of diplomatic and administrative positions, which he occupied for almost 16 years before returning to Venice with his family.

Failed Military Campaigns

Kublai established a social hierarchy that placed Mongols at the top of the hierarchy, followed by Central Asians, Northern Chinese, and then Southern Chinese. The latter two groups were subjected to higher rates of taxation, which was used to pay Kublai’s unsuccessful – and expensive – military wars. This included campaigns in Burma, Vietnam and Sakhalin, which were successful in converting these regions into tributary states of the empire, with tributes that were, unfortunately, dwarfed by the overall costs of the campaigns.

In addition, Kublai attempted two unsuccessful seaborne invasions of Japan, in 1274 and 1281.

In the process, several of their ships sunk, and almost half of their troops died or were captured.

After a little more than a year on the battlefield, Kublai’s forces were forced to evacuate due to the effects of tropical heat, terrain, and sickness.

Kublai Khan’s Death and Legacy

After his beloved wife Chabi died in 1281 and his eldest son died in 1285, Kublai began to withdraw from the day-to-day management of his kingdom, and he eventually left it entirely. He overindulged in both food and drink, resulting in his becoming fat; in addition, the gout that had tormented him for many years became worse. He died on February 18, 1294, at the age of 79, and was interred at the Khans’ secret burial ground in Mongolia, where he had been hidden since his childhood. It would be another 30 years before uprisings against Mongol control would begin in earnest, and by 1368, the Yuan Dynasty would be abolished.


M. Rossabi is the author of this article (2009). Khubilai Khan: His Life and Times, 20th Anniversary Edition, With a New Preface is a biography of Khubilai Khan who lived in the 13th century. The University of California Press is based in Berkeley, Los Angeles, and London. This information was obtained from. Kublai Khan: China’s favorite barbarian, according to the BBC. The Museum of Modern Art (MET) exhibits the legacy of Genghis Khan. Kublai Khan and the Thought Company A look at the Mongol Dynasty from the perspective of the Center for Global Education.

Robert Cowley and Geoffrey Parker collaborated on the editing of this volume.

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