Yuan China 1271–1368


Map Code: Ax00627

After the division of the Mongol Empire in 1259, it split into four separate khanates, controlled by various elements of the Mongolian ruling class. The Yuan Dynasty was founded by Kublai Khan, grandson of Genghis Khan, and comprised the traditional northern Chinese Empire. Kublai Khan was careful to portray himself in as palatable a way as possible to his subjects, balancing traditional Chinese dynastic practices and his own Mongolian identity during his rule. The Yuan Dynasty expanded, defeating the Song Dynasty of southern China in 1279, but failed in a series of attempts to invade Japan. After Kublai Khan’s death, successive Mongolian emperors of China gradually began to lose control of the empire as government debt grew and a series of coups undermined the Yuan Dynasty’s power. The movement away from Mongolian policies angered many within the Mongolian elite and the Yuan Dynasty was fully removed from China by the Ming Dynasty in 1370.

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