Mongol China: The Yüan Dynasty 1268–79


Map Code: Ax02146

After overrunning the Jin Dynasty of northern China in 1234, the Mongols at first avoided the well-fortified cities of the southern Song. An early foray captured Hangzhou (1242), then the Mongols outflanked the Song to the west, conquering Yunnan (1253). Under the leadership of Kublai Khan (r. 1260–94), the Mongols turned upon the Song heartlands; the siege of Xiangyang (1267–73) became the campaign’s Stalingrad, a brutal battle in which the Chinese defenders rained cast-iron thunder crash bombs on the Mongol attackers. Unlike Stalingrad, the invaders prevailed, using siege engines imported from the Middle East. After Xiangyang’s fall, the forts along the Yangtze River swiftly surrendered. With the capture of Changzhou (1275) the Song and their child emperor (soon captured and replaced by an even younger brother) were cornered in the far southeast. Defeated at the naval battle of Yamen (1279) near Guangzhou, the Chinese general Lu Xiufu leapt from a nearby mountain with the young emperor in his arms, ending the Song Dynasty. Kublai Khan’s Yüan Dynasty now prevailed.

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