Kublai Khan
grandson of Genghis Khan, founded Mongol dynasty

1216 - 1294

Kublai Khan, the grandson of Genghis Khan, founded the Mongol, or Yuan, dynasty that ruled China from 1279 to 1368. Kublai was the son of Tolui and brother of the fourth Great-Khan, Mangu. Kublai conquered Yunnan and Annam, and when Mangu died in 1259, Kublai became Great-Khan and ruler of the Mongol Empire. But his other brothers did not recognize his position. They disregarded Genghis Khan's warning to his heirs to remain united under one Great-Khan, and the unity of the All-Mongolia Empire soon ended.

Kublai established his capital in Cambaluc (now Beijing) in 1264. His forces took Quinsay (now Hangzhou), the capital of the Song dynasty, in 1276 and in the same year destroyed the Song fleet near Guangzhou (Canton). By 1279, Kublai had completed the conquest of China. For the first time in Chinese history, a "barbarian" people had conquered the whole country. Burma, Cambodia, and other countries of Southeast Asia were forced to recognize the Yuan dynasty as their rulers. But Kublai's attempts to conquer Japan and Java failed. He also was unable to gain direct control over the western half of the Mongol Empire. Under Kublai's rule, art and science flourished, and cultural relations were established with countries throughout the world.

See also MARCO POLO.
Contributor: Franz Michael, Dr.Jur., Former Prof. of International Affairs and Far Eastern History, Institute for Sino-Soviet Studies, George Washington Univ.


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