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Kublai Khan was the grandson of Genghis Khan and the founder of the Yuan Dynasty in 13th-century China. He was the first Mongol to rule over China when he conquered the Song Dynasty of southern China in 1279. Kublai (also spelled Kubla or Khubilai) relegated his Chinese subjects to the lowest class of society and even appointed foreigners, such as Venetian explorer Marco Polo, to important positions over Chinese officials. After failed expeditions against Japan and Java, his Mongol dynasty declined toward the end of his reign, and was completely overthrown by the Chinese after his death.
Kublai Khan’s Early Life
The Mongols were a nomadic clan from the regions around present-day Mongolia. After uniting the individual nomadic tribes on the Mongolian plateau, Genghis Khan went on to conquer large portions of central Asia and China.
By the time Genghis’ grandson Kublai was born in 1215, the Mongol empire stretched from the Caspian Sea east to the Pacific Ocean. That same year, the Mongols had captured the northern China capital city of Yen-ching (modern-day Beijing), forcing the royal family to flee south.
Kublai was the fourth and youngest son of Genghis’ son Tolui and a woman named Sorkhotani Beki, who was a Nestorian Christian princess of the Kereyid Confederacy. Kublai and his brothers were largely raised by their mother, an intelligent and tolerant woman who dedicated herself to her sons’ careers.
Little is known about Kublai’s childhood, but he and brothers were taught the art of warfare at a young age. Kublai was reportedly adept in Mongolian traditions, having successfully brought down an antelope by the age of nine.
Kublai was also exposed to Chinese philosophy and culture early on thanks to his mother, who also ensured that he learned to read and write Mongol (though he wasn’t taught Chinese).
When Kublai was 17 years old, his father died. At that time, Kublai’s uncle, Ogodei Khan (third son of Genghis Khan) was the Great Khan and ruler of the Mongol Empire.
In 1236, Ogodei granted Kublai a fiefdom of some 10,000 households in the Hopei (Hebei) province. Initially, Kublai did not rule the area directly and instead left his Mongol agents in charge, but they imposed such high taxes that many farmers abandoned their homes to settle in areas not under Mongol rule.
When Kublai found out what was occurring in his lands, he replaced his Mongol retainers and tax merchants with Chinese officials, who helped restore the economy. (By the late 1240s, those who had fled were returning and the region became stable.)
By the early 1240s, Kublai had amassed numerous advisors from a range of philosophies and ethnic groups, including Turkish officials, Nestorian Christian Shiban, Mongol military men and Central Asian Muslims.
He relied heavily on Chinese advisors, and in 1242 had learned about Chinese Buddhism from the monk Hai-yun, who would become a close friend of his. Other counselors taught him Confucianism, though Kublai’s rudimentary understanding of Chinese language and reading was a huge limitation for him.
Kublali Conquers Yunnan
Ogodei Khan died in 1241. The title of Great Khan eventually passed on to his son Guyug in 1246, and then to Kublai’s eldest brother Mongke in 1251.
Great Khan Mongke declared Kublai the viceroy of Northern China. He sent their brother Hulegu west to pacify the Islamic states and lands and focused his attention on conquering Southern China.
In 1252, Mongke ordered Kublai to attack Yunnan and conquer the Dali Kingdom. Kublai spent more than a year preparing for his first military campaign, which lasted three years, and by the end of 1256 he had conquered Yunnan.
The successful campaign had greatly expanded Kublai’s domain and it was time for him to initiate a large-scale project that would demonstrate his growing attachment to and concern for his Chinese subjects: the establishment of a new capital.
Kublai ordered his advisors to select a site based on the principles of feng shui, and they chose an area on the frontier between China’s agricultural lands and the Mongolian steppe.
His new northern capital would later be named Shang-tu (Upper Capital, in contrast to Chung-tu, or Central Capital, the contemporary name for Beijing). Europeans would later interpret the city’s name as Xanadu.
The Great Khan
Kublai’s growing power did not go unnoticed by Mongke, who sent two of his trusted aides to Kublai’s new capital to investigate revenue collection. After a hasty audit, they uncovered what they claimed to be numerous breaches of the law and began to violently purge the administration of high-ranking Chinese officials.
Kublai’s Confucian and Buddhist advisors persuaded Kublai to appeal to his brother on a familial level in person. Monkge — facing both a religious conflict between Buddhist and Daoists and a need for allies in conquering the Song Dynasty in Southern China — made peace with Kublai.
Kublai held a debate in his new capital in 1258. He ultimately declared the Daoists the losers of the debate and punished their leaders by forcefully converting them and their temples to Buddhism and destroying texts.
Mongke launched his campaign against the Song Dynasty and instructed his youngest brother Arik Boke to protect the Mongol capital of Karakorum. In 1259, Mongke died in battle and Kublai learned of his brother’s demise while fighting the Song in the Sichuan province.
Arik Boke gathered troops and held an assembly (called a kuriltai) in Karakorum, where he was named the Great Khan.
Kublai and Hulegu, who had returned from the Middle East upon hearing of Mongke’s death, held their own kurilta – Kublai was named Great Khan, sparking a civil war, which would eventually end with Arik Boke’s surrender in 1264.
Kublai Khan as Yuan Dynasty Emperor
As Great Khan, Kublai set his sight on unifying all of China. In 1271, he established his capital at modern-day Beijing and named his empire the Yuan Dynasty – one of several efforts to win over his Chinese subjects.
His efforts paid off, with much of the Song imperial family surrendering to Kublai in 1276, but the war continued for another three years. In 1279, Kublai became the first Mongol to rule all of China when he conquered the last of the Song loyalists.
Kublai held a relatively wise and benevolent reign, with his rule distinguished by grand infrastructure improvements (including an efficient Mongolian postal system and an extension of the Grand Canal), religious tolerance, scientific advancements (improvements to the Chinese calendar, accurate maps, and institutes of medicine, among other things), paper currency backed by gold reserves and trade expansions.
Despite adopting and improving on many Chinese systems and ideals, Kublai and his Mongols did not want to become Chinese – they kept many of their own customs and remained unassimilated to Chinese life.
In 1275, Marco Polo was presented at the court of Kublai Khan. The young Venetian so impressed the ruler that he appointed him to several diplomatic and administrative posts, which he held for about 16 years before his return to Venice.
Failed Military Campaigns
Kublai instituted a class system that placed Mongols on top, followed by Central Asians, Northern Chinese, and finally Southern Chinese. The latter two classes were more heavily taxed, especially to fund Kublai’s failed – and expensive – military campaigns.
These campaigns included attacks on Burma, Vietnam and Sakhalin, which successfully resulted in these regions becoming tributary states of the empire with tributes that were, unfortunately, dwarfed by the costs of the individual campaigns.
Kublai also launched two failed sea-borne invasions of Japan, in 1274 and 1281.
In the second, a vast armada of some 140,000 troops from China converged in ships off the island of Kyushu, but a powerful typhoon – which some Japanese believed to be a kamikaze or “divine wind” – struck the invading troops. Many of their vessels sank, and about half of the troops perished or were captured.
This was followed by a failed subjugation of Java (now Indonesia) in 1293. In less than a year, Kublai’s troops were forced to withdraw, overcome by tropical heat, terrain and diseases.
Kublai Khan’s Death and Legacy
Kublai began to withdraw from the day-to-day administration of his empire after his favorite wife Chabi died in 1281 and his oldest son died in 1285.
He drank and ate in excess, causing him to become obese; additionally, the gout that plagued him for many years worsened. He died on February 18, 1294, at the age of 79 and was buried in the khans’ secret burial site in Mongolia.
Uprisings against Mongol rule would begin in earnest some 30 years later, and by 1368 the Yuan Dynasty was overthrown.
Rossabi, M. (2009). Khubilai Khan: His Life and Times, 20th Anniversary Edition, With a New Preface. Berkeley; Los Angeles; London: University of California Press. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/j.ctv1xxz30.
Kublai Khan: China’s favourite barbarian; BBC.
The Legacy of Genghis Khan; The MET.
Kublai Khan; ThougtCo.
The Mongol Dynasty; Center for Global Education.
The Reader’s Companion to Military History. Edited by Robert Cowley and Geoffrey Parker.
Kublai Khan by Anige of Nepal
- Occupation: Khan of the Mongols and Emperor of China
- Reign: 1260 to 1294
- Born: 1215
- Died: 1294
- Best known for: Founder of the Yuan Dynasty of China
Kublai was the grandson of the first great Mongol emperor Genghis Khan. His father was Tolui, the youngest of Genghis Khan's favorite four sons. Growing up, Kublai traveled with his family while his grandfather Genghis conquered China and the Muslim nations to the west. He learned to ride horses and shoot a bow and arrow. He lived in a round tent called a yurt.
As the grandson of Genghis Khan, Kublai was given a small area of northern China to rule. Kublai was very interested in the culture of the Chinese. He studied the philosophies of Ancient China such as Confucianism and Buddhism.
When Kublai was in his thirties his older brother Mongke became Khan of the Mongol Empire. Mongke promoted Kublai to the ruler of Northern China. Kublai did a good job managing the large territory and a few years later his brother asked him to attack and conquer southern China and the Song Dynasty. While leading his army against the Song, Kublai found out that his brother Mongke had died. Kublai agreed to a peace treaty with the Song where the Song would pay him tribute each year and then returned back north.
Becoming the Great Khan
Both Kublai and his brother Ariq wanted to become the Great Khan. When Kublai returned to the north he found out that his brother had already laid claim to the title. Kublai didn't agree and a civil war broke out between the two brothers. They fought for nearly four years before Kublai's army finally won and he was crowned the Great Khan.
After gaining the crown, Kublai wanted to complete his conquest of southern China. He laid siege to the great cities of the Song dynasty using a type of catapult called a trebuchet. The Mongols had learned about these catapults while at war with the Persians. With these catapults, the Mongol army threw huge rocks and thundercrash bombs onto the cities of the Song. The walls crumbled and soon the Song Dynasty was defeated.
In 1271 Kublai declared the start of the Yuan Dynasty of China, crowning himself as the first Yuan emperor. It still took five more years to completely conquer the Song Dynasty of the south, but by 1276 Kublai had united all of China under one rule.
In order to run the large empire, Kublai combined many aspects of Mongol and Chinese administration. He also incorporated Chinese leaders into the government. The Mongols were good at fighting wars, but he knew they could learn a lot about running a large government from the Chinese.
The capital city of the Yuan Dynasty was Dadu or Khanbaliq, which is now known as Beijing. Kublai Khan had a huge walled palace built in the center of the city. He also built a southern palace in the city of Xanadu which is where he met the Italian explorer Marco Polo. Kublai also built up the infrastructure of China building roads, canals, establishing trade routes, and bringing in new ideas from foreign countries.
In order to make sure that the Mongols remained in power, Kublai established a social hierarchy based on race. At the top of the hierarchy were the Mongols. They were followed by the Central Asians (non-Chinese), the northern Chinese, and (at the bottom) the southern Chinese. The laws were different for the different classes with the laws for the Mongols being the most lenient and the laws for the Chinese being very harsh.
Kublai died in 1294. He had become overweight and was sickly for years. His grandson Temur succeeded him as the Mongol Great Khan and Yuan emperor.
Although Kublai Khan was the grandson of Genghis Khan, very little is known about his childhood. We do know that Kublai was born in 1215 to Tolui (the youngest son of Genghis) and his wife Sorkhotani, a Nestorian Christian princess of the Kereyid Confederacy. Kublai was the couple's fourth son.
Sorkhotani was famously ambitious for her sons and raised them to be leaders of the Mongol Empire, despite their alcoholic and fairly ineffectual father. Sorkhotani's political savvy was legendary Rashid al-Din of Persia noted that she was "extremely intelligent and able and towered above all the women in the world."
With their mother's support and influence, Kublai and his brothers would go on to take control of the Mongol world from their uncles and cousins. Kublai's brothers included Mongke, later also Great Khan of the Mongol Empire, and Hulagu, Khan of the Ilkhanate in the Middle East who crushed the Assassins but was fought to a standstill at Ayn Jalut by the Egyptian Mamluks.
From an early age, Kublai proved adept at traditional Mongol pursuits. At 9, he had his first recorded hunting success and he would relish hunting for the rest of his life. He also excelled at conquest, the other Mongolian "sport" of the day.
Kublai Khan - Biography, Death and Achievements - HISTORY
Kublai Khan (1215-1294) was the Mongol emperor under whom the Mongol Empire reached its greatest extent, becoming at its height one of the largest the world had ever seen. He was the grandson of Genghis Khan and continued his grandfather’s policy of military expansionism and conquest. Despite this, he displayed altruism by encouraging the development of science and arts. Kublai was the founder of the Yuan Dynasty and proclaimed himself the Chinese emperor.
Early Life and Upbringing
Kublai Khan’s childhood is not well documented only the bare facts are known. He was born on September 23, 1215, the fourth son of Genghis Khan’s youngest son, Tolui, and a Nestorian princess named Sorkhotani. Because of Tolui’s alcoholism, it was Kublai’s politically influential mother who set him on the path to leadership and encouraged him to compete with his cousins and uncles for rule over the Mongol Empire.
The young Kublai excelled at traditional Mongol activities and sports from an early age. He was particularly proficient at hunting, having killed an antelope when he was only nine years old. He never lost his love of the hunt, which he used to great effect when he was engaged in war and conquest in his adult life.
Rise to Greatness
Kublai’s first taste of power came in 1236, when he was granted a fiefdom of 10,000 households by an uncle. The young man gave his agents freedom in terms of day-to-day administration. However, he was forced to intervene after those agents imposed exorbitant taxes on the peasants. After amending the situation, Kublai became viceroy of Northern China in 1251. In 1253, he launched a three-year offensive to the southwest.
Kublai was enamored and highly influenced by Chinese culture. He told his advisors to use “feng shui” to decide on a site for his new capital city. The chosen site, which lay at a strategic point between the Mongolian steppes and the more fertile Chinese plains, was called Shang-tu (or known as “Xanadu” to European chroniclers). In 1259, Kublai’s brother passed away, and his younger brother, Arik Boke, was named Great Khan. Kublai objected to the decision, and a civil war ensued.
Winning Ultimate Power
In the climactic battle of the war, Arik Boke’s armies were attacked by Kublai’s at Karakhoram, the capital of the Mongol empire, and suffered a crushing defeat at Kublai’s hands. Nevertheless, the younger man’s forces refused to surrender at first, and it was only in late August of 1264 that Arik Boke was forced to admit that he had been defeated, surrendering in the city of Shang-tu.
Kublai was now the undisputed Great Khan, ruling not only Mongolia and Mongol-occupied China but also a wider, somewhat looser empire. This encompassed the Ilkhanates of the Middle and the Russian Golden Horde, among others. Despite the vastness of his domain, Kublai could still not be sure that his hold on Song China was secure, so he turned his attention southward.
Peace Comes to China
Kublai decided that the best way of consolidating Mongol control over China was with a hearts-and-minds campaign. This proved extremely controversial, especially when he moved the imperial capital to Dadu (present-day Beijing) and converted to Buddhism, but he refused to back down even when rioting broke out in some of his major cities.
By 1276, the Song family who headed China had accepted their defeat and had surrendered to Kublai. Despite this, active resistance continued for another three years, only finally ending with the Battle of Yamen in 1279. The eight-year-old Chinese emperor was killed when he and an imperial official jumped into the moat of the besieged royal castle. Both drowned.
Another part of Kublai’s successful attempt to win over Chinese opinion was his adoption of a Chinese dynastic name: Yuan. Despite his violent conquest of the region, he generally ruled it rather pragmatically. He made good use of the efficient administration and bureaucracy that was already in place in China, although it was partially reorganized along Mongol lines. Large numbers of Chinese officials were employed.
In his reign, Kublai Khan encouraged artistic expression as well as scientific development. He supported to astronomers and the makers of clocks as well as sponsoring the introduction of a written language for tribes which did not already have one. It was during this period that Marco Polo made his famous visit. He was to remain at the Mongol court for several years, at Kublai’s insistence.
A Return to Conquest
By now, Kublai Khan was unchallenged as the ruler of the richest and largest empire in the world. However, his warlike nature could not be suppressed indefinitely. Growing restless, he decided to look east for further lands to conquer. He managed to incorporate much of Southeast Asia, including Burma and most of Vietnam, into his domain. The conquests cost so much that even with the tributes they acquired, the Mongols lost money on the ventures.
Perhaps Kublai’s most remarkable military ventures came by sea. Between 1274 and 1293, he attempted to invade Japan and conquer Java. These brought the Great Khan a new and unwelcome experience: military failure. In the case of the Japanese expeditions, his fleet was routed by storms, which were known to the Japanese as “kamikaze,” meaning “divine wind.”
Decline and Death
In the empire itself, some people took the failure of these seaborne expeditions as a signal that Kublai no longer possessed the “Mandate of Heaven” by which his rule was said to be assured by a divine power. In the span of four years in the 1280s, both the Khan’s wife and his eldest son and heir passed away. He took to gorging on food and alcohol, suffering from gout in his late years as a result of his over-indulgence.
Kublai Khan died on February 18, 1294 and was buried in a secret place reserved for Mongol rulers. His grandson, Temur, succeeded him, but did not possess the same charisma and military genius as Kublai Khan. The enormous empire that Kublai had built up gradually shrank back to its natural borders. China remained united even after the end of the Yuan dynasty in 1368.
Travels of the Polo family
Polo’s way was paved by the pioneering efforts of his ancestors, especially his father, Niccolò, and his uncle, Maffeo. The family had traded with the Middle East for a long time, acquiring considerable wealth and prestige. Although it is uncertain if the Polos were of the nobility, the matter was of little importance in Venice, a city of republican and mercantile traditions.
The family appears to have been shrewd, alert, and courageous about 1260 they foresaw a political change in Constantinople (e.g., the overthrow of the Crusaders who had ruled since 1204 by Michael VIII Palaeologus in 1261), liquidated their property there, invested their capital in jewels, and set off for the Volga River, where Berke Khan, sovereign of the western territories in the Mongol Empire, held court at Sarai or Bulgar. The Polos apparently managed their affairs well at Berke’s court, where they doubled their assets. When political events prevented their return to Venice, they traveled eastward to Bukhara (Bokhara) and ended their journey in 1265, probably at the grand khan’s summer residence, Shangdu (immortalized as Xanadu by English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge). Establishing friendly relations with the great Kublai Khan, they eventually returned to Europe as his ambassadors, carrying letters asking the pope to send Kublai 100 intelligent men “acquainted with the Seven Arts” they also bore gifts and were asked to bring back oil from the lamp burning at the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.
Kublai Khan, the grandson of Genghis Khan, completed his grandfather&rsquos conquest of China and founded the Yuan Dynasty.
Geography, Social Studies, World History
Kublai Khan was the grandson of Genghis Khan and a ruler of the Mongol Empire for over 30 years. Kublai Khan began the Yuan dynasty in present day Mongolia and China.
Image by Universal History Archive / Contributor
Kublai Khan was born in 1215, during the reign of his grandfather, the Mongol Emperor Genghis Khan. As a young boy, Kublai was taught the art of warfare and became a skilled warrior and hunter. He also was exposed to many elements of Chinese culture, which he grew to admire.
In 1251, Kublai&rsquos brother Möngke became the Great Khan, the ruler of the Mongol Empire. He put Kublai in charge of northern China. Kublai led successful military campaigns there and in surrounding areas, but unlike earlier Mongol military leaders, he treated the people he conquered with restraint. Kublai also established a new northern capital at Shangdu and surrounded himself with Chinese advisers to help him with the local population.
In 1259, Möngke was killed in battle while fighting the Chinese Song Dynasty in the south. Kublai learned that one of his brothers, Ariq Boke had been named to replace Möngke as the Great Khan. Kublai then established a truce with the Song and returned home, where he fought his brother&rsquos claim to the throne. In 1260, Kublai was named as the Great Khan.
Kublai Khan wanted to unite all of China under his rule, including the Song in the south. In 1271, he renamed his empire the Yuan Dynasty to better appeal to his Chinese subjects, and he established his capital in modern-day Beijing. Eventually, most Song Chinese accepted Kublai&rsquos rule. By 1279, the last of the Song opposition was defeated.
Kublai Khan adopted many Chinese systems and ideas. However, he also established a social hierarchy that placed Mongols at the top and the Chinese peasantry at the bottom. He filled many government positions with foreigners, including Venetian merchant and adventurer Marco Polo, who lived in China for many years. In addition, Kublai Khan launched a series of expensive and unsuccessful military campaigns that were financed by the manual labor of the Chinese peasantry.
Later in his life, Kublai Khan developed excessive eating and drinking habits, particularly after the deaths of his favorite wife and a son. Kublai died in February 1294, at the age of 79. The rule of the Yuan Dynasty continued for the next 30 years, until Chinese uprisings led to the collapse of the dynasty in 1368.
Kublai Khan was the grandson of Genghis Khan and a ruler of the Mongol Empire for over 30 years. Kublai Khan began the Yuan dynasty in present day Mongolia and China.
Kublai Khan - Biography, Death and Achievements - HISTORY
Kublai Khan was the fifth Khagan of the Mongol Empire, reigning from 1260 to 1294. He founded the Yuan dynasty in China as a conquest dynasty in 1271, and ruled as the first Yuan emperor until his death in 1294. Take a look below for 30 more fascinating and interesting facts about Kublai Khan.
1. Kublai was the fourth son of Tolui and a grandson of Genghis Khan.
2. He succeeded his older brother Mongke as Khagan in 1260, but had to defeat his younger brother Ariq Boke in the Toluid Civil War lasting until 1264.
3. Kublai’s real power was limited to China and Mongolia, though as Khagan, he still had influence in the Ilkhanate and, to a significantly lesser degree, in the Golden Horde.
4. If one counts the Mongol Empire at that time as a whole, his realm reached from the Pacific Ocean to the Black Sea, from Siberia to what is now Afghanistan.
5. In 1271, Kublai established the Yuan dynasty, which ruled over present-day Mongolia, China, Korea, and some adjacent areas, and assumed the role of Emperor of China.
6. By 1279, the Mongol conquest of the Song dynasty was completed and Kublai became the first non-Han emperor to conquer all of China.
7. The imperial portrait of Kublai was part of an album of the portraits of Yuan emperors and empresses, now in the collection of the National Palace Museum in Taipei.
8. White, the color of the royal costume of Kublai, was the imperial color of the Yuan Dynasty.
9. He was born on September 23, 1215.
10. At the behest of Genghis Khan, Kublai’s mother chose a Buddhist Tangut woman as her son’s nurse.
11. During his early years, he was strongly attracted to contemporary Chinese culture and invited Haiyun, the leading Buddhist monk in North China to Mongolia to teach him the philosophy of Buddhism.
12. After the Mongol-Jin War in 1236, Kublai received an estate of his own, which included 10,000 households.
13. Because of his inexperience, he let the local officials have their way with his estate, which resulted in widespread corruption. He immediately implements reforms to set the affairs of the state right.
14. His elder brother, Mongke, became the Great Khan of the Mongol Empire in 1251, and Kublai was given control over Chinese territories in the eastern part of the empire.
15. He organized a group of Chinese advisers to introduce reforms in his territories.
16. He was entrusted with the responsibility of unifying China under the Mongol Empire.
17. Mongke put him in command of the Eastern Army in 1258 and asked him to assist with an attack on Sichuan. However, Mongke was killed while leading an expedition into Western China in 1259 and Kublai was elected as Mongke’s successor in 1260.
18. his younger brother, Ariq Boke, raised troops to fight Kublai for the throne and the warfare between the brothers resulted in the destruction of the Mongolian capital at Karakorum.
19. A bitter war continued between the brothers for years before Ariq Boke finally surrendered to Kublai in 1264.
20. Under Kublai Khan’s administration, the government was re-organized and a new capital city was constructed at present-day Peking, China, in 1267.
21. He was particularly famous for his acceptance of all religions.
22. He promoted science, art, and trade, leading to the economic, scientific and cultural development of his empire.
23. He focused on building effective infrastructural facilities and transportation systems, thus earning the goodwill and respect of his people.
24. His first marriage was to Tegulen, but she died very early.
25. His second marriage was to Chabi Khatun of the Khunggirat, who went on to become his most favorite empress.
26. Chabi died in 1281 and Kublai married Chabi’s younger cousin, Nambui.
27. He had several children with Nambui, including Dorji, who was made the director of the Secretariat and head of the Bureau of Military Affairs in 1263.
28. His later years were difficult, marked by the deaths of his beloved wife and son.
29. Seeking comfort, he turned to food and alcohol and indulged in excess. He became obese and was plagued by many diseases, including gout and diabetes.
30. He went into depression when no physician could heal his maladies and finally died on February 18, 1294, at the age of 78.
The Mongolian empire conquered massive land sizes and also other countries back in the days. While doing so, his grandfather Genghis Khan also became one of the most powerful men in the world. Becoming one of the most powerful men also means that a massive amount of wealth as well.
Unfortunately, Kublai’s net worth remains a mystery because historians failed to find out any remains of that particular subject. But we believe that Kublai is in massive amounts as he started conquering more territory.
Assessment of His Reign
Kublai must be regarded as one of the great rulers in history. He showed natural magnanimity and imagination, and he was able to transcend the narrow nomad mentality of his ancestors and to administer a huge state with an ancient civilization. He was a vigorous, shrewd, and pragmatic ruler and was close in spirit to Genghis Khan. While his achievement ranked him second to Genghis among the Mongol rulers, he was not unpopular among the Chinese, enjoying the esteem of even the Chinese orthodox historians. During his lifetime he was acknowledged as the Great Khan of the Mongol confederacy, though in effect his authority was confined to China and its peripheral territories.
Nevertheless, Kublai was not content to be a sage emperor in the Chinese fashion rather, he aspired to be the all-embracing ruler of the entire Mongol Empire in the footsteps of his grandfather. His partial adoption of Chinese political traditions and his divide-and-rule tactics were ingenious devices in the administration of a complex, populous empire.
Unfortunately, Kublai's policy fell short of the anticipation of the conservative elements, who gradually became alienated from the predominately Sinicized Mongol court. As Kublai and his successors steeped themselves deeper in the Chinese tradition, there was a widening schism between the Mongol rulers of China and those of the other khanates within the Mongol confederacy. They preferred to maintain their nomad identity instead of looking toward China for leadership this estrangement, while weakening the Mongol solidarity, ironically helped to uphold and perpetuate the Mongol heritage after the fall of the Yüan dynasty in 1368.
Yuan Dynasty Administration
Kublai Khan made significant reforms to existing institutions under the Yuan Dynasty. He divided the Dynasty’s territory into a central region and peripheral regions that were under the control of various officials. He created an academy, offices, trade ports and canals, and sponsored arts and science. Mongol records also list 20,166 public schools created during his reign. He also, along with engineers, invented the Muslim trebuchet (hui-hui pao), a counterweight-based weapon that was highly successful in battle.
He also continued to welcome trade and travel throughout his empire. Marco Polo, Marco Polo’s father (an Italian merchant), and his father’s trade partner traveled to China during this time. They met Kublai Khan and lived amongst his court to establish trade relations. Polo generally praised the wealth and extravagance of Khan and the Mongol Empire. Some historians also speculate that trade was so accessible between the empire and Europe, that it may have contributed to the flow of disease, especially the black plague in the mid-1300s.
Trebuchet. The scheme of the “Muslim trebuchet” (hui-hui pao), invented during Kublai Khan’s rule.
By the time of Kublai’s death in 1294, the Mongol Empire had fractured into four separate empires, which were based on administrative zones Genghis had created. The four empires were known as khanates, each pursuing its own separate interests and objectives: the Golden Horde Khanate in the northwest, the Chagatai Khanate in the west, the Ilkhanate in the southwest, and the Yuan Dynasty, based in modern-day Beijing. In 1304, the three western khanates briefly accepted the rule of the Yuan Dynasty in name, but when the Dynasty was overthrown by the Han Chinese Ming Dynasty in 1368, and with increasing local unrest in the Golden Horde, the Mongol Empire finally dissolved.