Hist 487_16 The Beginning of Mongol rule in China

The largest empire the world has ever seen was created by the Mongols. During their rule communication and trade throughout the Eurasian continent was greatly enhanced. "Eurasian history begins with the Mongols" and indirectly led to the European Age of Exploration"(Rossabi, p. 1-2). Yet the diversity of peoples and cultures as well as the size of the empire made it difficult to stay in power and control over a long period.

Extension of the Mongol empire:

The succession of rulers in the four Mongol territories after Chinggis Khan's death was the result of a power struggle between Sorghaghtani Beki (Tolui Khan's wife and Khubilai Khan's mother; Nestorian Christian) who supported Batu Khan and Güyüg Khan (son of Ögödei and Töregene) who died during his attack against Batu.

First generation of Mongol rulers after the conquest led by Chenggis:

Khaghan: Ögödei (d. 1241; Chinggis Khan's third son); he defeated the Jin Dynasty and occupied north China
Batu Khan (Chinggis Khan's grandson) ruled over the Golden Horde
Chaghadai (second son of Chinggis Khan) ruled over Central Asia
Tolui (Chinggis Khan's youngest son; father of Khubilai Khan) ruled over north China and Mongolia

The next generation of rulers owed much to the initiative of their mother, Sorghaghtani Beki, Tolui's wife, for their political positions:
1. Möngke became Khaghan
2. Khubilai became Khaghan and ruler over China
3. Hülegü became ruler over Persia (after having destroyed Baghdad)
4. Arigh Böke ruled over the Mongol homeland

Location of the Mongol capital Khara Khorum and the capital of the Great Khanate, Dadu
Karakorum received a city wall and permanent buildings under the rule of Ögödei (r. 1229-1241)

-1206 Temüjin (1167-1227) becomes Chinggis Khan, supreme ruler:

Khubilai's rule over China as Great Khan

Portrait of Khubilai Khan

Portrait of Chabi, Khubilai's second wife

When setting up the new administration for China, Khubilai again followed many ideas of his Chinese advisers:

- the tax burden for the peasants should be minimal
- paper money should be used as currency
- the state monopolies should be kept
- a successor should be named
The only advice Khubilai did not follow was the restauration of the civil service administration because he did not want to become too dependant on Chinese officials.

Golden cup with 'thumb plate'

Mongol silk robe

Central Asian decor of a Mongol silk robe