Worldwide Locations

Worldwide Locations

The Mongol Dynasty

When Kublai Khan Ruled China

Genghis Khan's Monument in Hohhot, Inner Mogolia, China.

Genghis Khan's Monument in Hohhot, Inner Mogolia, China.

When Kublai Khan Ruled China
Economic problems made Kublai Khan less tolerant. He became increasingly distrustful of the merchants, many of whom were Muslim, and in the late 1270's he began to issue anti-Muslim legislation such as forbidding circumcision or slaughtering animals in the Muslimfashion. This persecution continued until l287. At the same time, he was increasingly supportive of Buddhists which led some of the Buddhist priests to take advantage of their positions.

Although Kublai Khan tried to rule as a sage emperor, the Mongols did not adjust to Chinese ways. Ideologically and culturally the Mongols resisted assimilation and legally tried to stay isolated from the Chinese. They thought Confucianism was anti-foreign, too dense had too many social restrictions. The Chinese intellectuals turned away from Buddhism although many Mongols liked it, so Buddhism did not bring them closer to the Chinese, either. Towards the end, Kublai Klan reinstituted the exam and let Chinese serve in lower level government position, perhaps to try and make the people happier, but the Mongols were always foreigners in Chinese eyes.

The Mongol rule became increasingly less stable after 1294 when Kublai Khan died and succession became a problem. In the period between 1308-1333 there were eight emperors; two were assassinated and all died young. Without an accepted rule of succession, the death of an emperor caused violent conflict among the different would-be rulers. At the very time when the empire needed strong central control to stay in power, the Mongols wasted their efforts battling over succession. Another familiar reason for the demise of an empire was the rise of local landlords. When the military leaders no longer had a central figure to whom to give their loyalty, they used the troops to farm their land, not to fight, increasing their own power and reducing the morale of the troops. The end of the Yuan rule in China came "by expulsion and not by absorption." For the Chinese, the most important factor was peasant unrest caused by the over-taxation, corvee, unsuccessful military campaigns and insecurity. The Chinese always resented the foreigners and in the end revolted and drove them out. A Chinese orphan Hongwu, a peasant soldier who gave up banditry to become a Buddhist monk, led the revolt and founded the Ming dynasty in 1368.