Empire of the Great Khan
Kublai Khan
• Grandson of Genghis Khan
• Took the title of ‘Great Khan’ in 1260.
• Remember the Mongol Empire was
already divided into 4 Khanates.
• Kublai Khan focused on extending the
power of his own Khanate, which already
included Mongolia, Korea, Tibet, and
Northern China.
• Kublai Khan wanted ALL of China.
Kublai Khan
• It took 3 generations of Mongol leaders to
complete the conquest of China begun by
Genghis Khan.
– 1233, Genghis’s son, Ogadai conquered
Northern China.
– This opened Southern China open to attack.
– Chinese soldiers fought the Mongols for 40
years, but in 1279, Kublai Khan’s army
overwhelmed them.
4 Khanates
Khanate of
Kublai Khan
Kublai Khan- China’s new emperor
• Founded a new dynasty – Yuan Dynasty
• It lasted less than a century.
– In 1368, it was overthrown.
– But the Yuan era was important in China’s
Considered one of
China’s greatest emperors
• Kublai Khan united China for the first time
in 300 years.
• Established greater foreign trade and
• Allowed Chinese culture to remain and
made few changes in the government.
Enjoyed luxuries
• Kubali Khan spent most of his life in
• He enjoyed living as a Chinese emperor.
– Summer palace at Shangdu, or Xanadu
– Built a new square walled capital in Beijing
– Marco Polo called his palace, “the largest that
was ever seen.”
– The Silk Road ended in Beijing.
– Beijing means “Northern Capital”
Marco Polo- excerpt from
The Travels of Marco Polo
• “The hall is so vast
and so wide that a
meal might well be
served there for more
than 6,000 men….the
whole building is at
once so immense and
so well constructed
that no man in the
world…could imagine
any improvement in
design or execution.”
Kublai Khan
Wall remnants of Kublai Khan’s
summer palace at Xanadu
Failure in Japan
• Kublai Khan tried to conquer Japan.
• In 1274 and also in 1281, The Great Khan
sent huge fleets against Japan.
• Mongols forced Koreans to build, sail, and
provide boats, a costly task that almost
ruined Korea.
• The second fleet carried 150,000 Mongol,
Chinese, and Korean warriors.
– It was the largest seaborne invasion force in history
until WWII
• After 53 days of fighting, a typhoon swept
furiously across the Sea of Japan.
– Mongol ships were crushed against the rocky shores.
– Many Mongols drowned
– For centuries afterward, the Japanese spoke
reverently about the kamikaze, or “divine wind’ that
saved Japan.
Mongol Rule in China
• Had little in common with Chinese
• Obeyed different laws and followed
different customs
• Chinese officials served at the local levels,
while Mongols and foreigners had the
highest government positions.
Grand Canal
• Kublai Khan restored the ‘Grand Canal’
• This ensured the steady trade of grain
from China’s southern heartland to
northern China.
Foreign Trades
• Safe caravan routes across the Mongol Empire
for trade.
• Established mail routes that linked China to India
and Persia
• Invited foreign merchants to China.
• People transported Chinese silk and porcelain.
• Other Chinese inventions that went west
included printing, gunpowder, the compass,
paper currency, and playing cards.
Marco Polo
• Most famous European to visit China.
• Traveled by caravan on the Silk Roads
and arrived at Kublai Khan’s palace
around 1275.
• Marco learned several Asian languages
and Khan sent him to various cities on
government missions.
• Polo served the Great Khan for 17 years.
• In 1292, Marco Polo left China and
returned to Venice, Italy.
• They returned by sea around Southeast
Asia and India.
• Marco Polo was captured during a war
between Venice and Genoa, Italy.
• He was imprisoned.
• While in prison, he told the full story of his
travels and adventures.
Marco Polo’s stories
Fantastic wealth
‘Burning of the black stones’ - coal
Khan’s government
Trade in Beijing
His stories were put into a book, which
sold many copies.
• Many people, however, did not believe it
and thought they were ‘tall tales’.
The End of Yuan Empire
• Khan sent several expeditions into
Southeast Asia.
• His armies and navies suffered many
humiliating defeats.
• The heavy spending for wars, public
works, and royal luxuries created
resentment among the overtaxed Chinese.
• Died in 1294, almost age 80
• The Yuan Dynasty remained in power for
another 74 years.
• Family members fought over who would
• Rebellions broke out in many parts of
China during the 1300s
– Tired of Mongol Rule
– Famine
– Flood
– Disease
– Economic problems
– Official corruption
• In 1368, the Chinese rebels overthrew the
Mongols and seized power.
• The rebel leader founded a new dynasty –
the Ming dynasty.
• Some Mongols remained in China, but
most of them returned to their homeland
on the Mongolian Steppe.
• By the end of the Yuan Dynasty the
Mongol Empire had disintegrated.
• Three out of the four Khanates had fallen
• Only the ‘Golden Horde’ remained, which
ruled Russia for another 250 years.
• Ivan III finally led the way to Russia’s
independence in 1480.
Artifacts from Yuan Dynasty
• http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p9Ol0IJ
1. Kublai Khan founded the ________________ Dynasty.
2. Kublai Khan was the grandson of __________________________.
3. Unlike his ancestors, Kublai Khan lived most of his life in ________________ instead
of ___________________________.
4. As the emperor of China, Kublai Khan built a new capital and palace at the site of the
modern-day city of _______________________.
5. Kublai Khan assumed the title of Great Khan, a role that, in theory, placed him in
control of the entire ______________________ ________________________.
6. Up until World War II, the largest seaborne invasion in history was one that the
Mongol launched against ___________________.
7. In 1368, the last Mongol Khan of China was overthrown and power was seized by
8. Under Mongol rule, most of the highest government posts were awarded to two
_________________________ and __________________.
9. _____________ __________________ was the most famous European to visit China
during the lifetime of Kublai Kahn. Later, he described Kublai Khan and his court to
disbelieving Europeans.
10. Many traders and missionaries travel to and from China on the trade route called the
• You are a Chinese citizen. Write a letter to
Kublai Kahn explaining what is unfair, or
what you dislike about his leadership.
• You must have at least 3 reasons listed
with descriptions and explanations in your
• You must also explain who you are, what
your occupation is, and what your life is
• Use # 25 to help you with your letter.

The Great Khan