Saturday, December 9, 2017

Yuan Dynasty - Mongol Conquest

The Yuan Dynasty was developed from the mighty Mongolian Empire on the northern prairie. It was founded by Tiemuzhen, who initially unified all tribes of the Mongolian minority and was honored as Genghis Khan (meaning the ruler of the world). Since then, the Genghis Khan led his invincible army to start a large-scale offensive into the outside world.

The first military target was Xixia which was located in the middle and western areas of China and in 1205, 1207 and 1209, the Mongolian army launched three massive invasions. Under such military threat, the helpless Xixia was forced to pay tributes to the Mongol and sue for peace. In 1211, attacks were made on the Jin Dynasty (1115 - 1234) and even the Great Wall cannot stop them. Four years later, the Mongolian army captured one of the major cities of Jin, Zhongdu (currently Beijing). After that, most areas in the north of the Yellow River fell under Mongol control. Following the last wish of Genghis Khan on his deathbed, Xixia was defeated in 1227. Wo Kuotai, third son of Genghis Khan, ascended the throne seven years later and defeated the Jin Dynasty.

From then on, the Mongolian army continued to march westward and Mongol troops even advanced into the European continent. As the military strength of the Mongols became stronger and stronger, the territory of the great Mongolian Empire became larger and larger. Gradually, grandsons of Genghis Khan established four grand khanates respectively in Eastern Europe, North Asia, Central Asia, the Arab region and the vast Central Plain regions of China. Among them, Kublai Khan, one of Genghis Khan's grandsons, unified the vast land of the northern areas of China and founded a new dynasty in 1271- the Yuan Dynasty, with Yuandadu (currently Beijing) as its capital.

In the hope of unifying the southern areas of China, Kublai Khan launched a fierce attack against the Southern Song Dynasty (1127 - 1279) in 1276. With weak military strength and treacherous court officials, the Song court lost its capital city Lin'an (currently Hangzhou in Zhejiang Province) soon after the Yuan troops' attack.  By 1279 the Yuan army had eradicated the last troops of the Southern Song and when the last emperor of Song committed suicide by jumping into the sea, the militant Mongolian minority had finally achieved their goal of conquering the whole of China.

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