In 1271 Kublai Khan named his dynasty Yuan which means "origin of the universe." The Yuan dynasty in China lasted from 1279 to 1368. Kublai Khan followed a tentative policy of Sinicization, that is, he adapted to the Chinese way of governing and when you look at his portrait, he looks very much like other Chinese rulers. On the other hand, although he used some Chinese in low positions in the government, he abolished the civil service exams, preferred to use Chinese in his bureaucracy and established separate rules for the Mongols and for the Chinese. His capital, present-day Beijing, became a cosmopolitan and wealthy city.
Mongol leader Genghis Khan (1162-1227) rose from humble beginnings to establish the largest land empire in history. After uniting the nomadic tribes of the Mongolian plateau, he conquered huge chunks of central Asia and China. His descendents expanded the empire even further, advancing to such far-off places as Poland, Vietnam, Syria and Korea. At their peak, the Mongols controlled between 11 and 12 million contiguous square miles, an area about the size of Africa. Many people were slaughtered in the course of Genghis Khan’s invasions, but he also granted religious freedom to his subjects, abolished torture, encouraged trade and created the first international postal system. Genghis Khan died in 1227 during a military campaign against the Chinese kingdom of Xi Xia. His final resting place remains unknown.
Genghis Khan, Founder of Mongol Empire: Facts & …
Temujin, later Genghis Khan, was born around 1162 near the border between modern Mongolia and Siberia. Legend holds that he came into the world clutching a blood clot in his right hand. His mother had been kidnapped by his father and forced into marriage. At that time, dozens of nomadic tribes on the central Asian steppe were constantly fighting and stealing from each other, and life for Temujin was violent and unpredictable. Before he turned 10, his father was poisoned to death by an enemy clan. Temujin’s own clan then deserted him, his mother and his six siblings in order to avoid having to feed them.
The Mongol Dynasty | Asia Society
Kublai Khan made a census of the population, dividing the people intofour categories: Mongols; Miscellaneous aliens (which included West Asian Muslims who performed important services for the Mongols); North Chinese called Han people, those who had been under the Chin state and their descendants, including Chinese, Jurchen, Khitans and Loreans; and finally Southern Chinese, subjects of the Southern Sung, whom the Mongols considered the least trustworthy. The Mongols could not have ruled China without the help of some of the Chinese elite and yet they were reluctant to use the Chinese, particular the Southern Song, in their government. Although Genghis Khan used some Chinese in lower positions in his government, he abolished the civil service exams, kept separate laws for Mongols and for the Chinese, and preferred to employ foreigners rather than Chinese in his bureaucracy as he thought they would be more trustworthy than the Chinese.
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Both overland and maritime trade flourished. The Mongols welcomed foreigners who included Russians, Arabs, Jews, Genoese and Venetians. Marco Polo was only one of many traders to receive a warm welcome and to work for the Khan. Mongols themselves were not involved in the caravan trade; they encouraged others. Kublai Khan used caravan merchants to gather intelligence, and he protected and encouraged them. Merchants felt secure and they had relatively high status in Yuan China. Kublai Khan was the first to put in country-wide use of paper currency. Merchants had to convert foreign metals into paper money when they crossed into China. Artisans got grants of food and did not have to do corvee. Marco Polo was very impressed with trade on the Yangtze. The Mongols used the Grand Canal to transport grain to the capital.
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Kublai Khan improved the communication system within his empire. At first its main use was for official news, but merchants used the system as well. By the end of Kublai Khan's reign, there were 1,400 postal stations, which used 50,000 horses, 8,400 oxen, 6,700 mules, 4,000 carts, 6,000 boats, 200 dogs and 1,150 sheep. Rest stops had hostels with kitchens, main halls, area for animals and to store grain. Rider-messengers could cover 250 miles a day.