Yuan Dynasty

Yuan Dynasty

Overview
The Yuan Dynasty , or Great Yuan Empire was a ruling dynasty
Dynasty
A dynasty is a sequence of rulers considered members of the same family. Historians traditionally consider many sovereign states' history within a framework of successive dynasties, e.g., China, Ancient Egypt and the Persian Empire...

 founded by the Mongol leader Kublai Khan
Kublai Khan
Kublai Khan , born Kublai and also known by the temple name Shizu , was the fifth Great Khan of the Mongol Empire from 1260 to 1294 and the founder of the Yuan Dynasty in China...

, who ruled most of present-day China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

, all of modern Mongolia
Mongolia
Mongolia is a landlocked country in East and Central Asia. It is bordered by Russia to the north and China to the south, east and west. Although Mongolia does not share a border with Kazakhstan, its western-most point is only from Kazakhstan's eastern tip. Ulan Bator, the capital and largest...

 and its surrounding areas, lasting officially from 1271 to 1368. It is considered both as a division of the Mongol Empire
Mongol Empire
The Mongol Empire , initially named as Greater Mongol State was a great empire during the 13th and 14th centuries...

 and as an imperial dynasty
Dynasties in Chinese history
The following is a chronology of the dynasties in Chinese history.Chinese history is not as neat as is often described and it was rare for one dynasty to change peacefully into the next. Dynasties were often established before the overthrow of an existing regime, or continued for a time after they...

 of China. In Chinese history
History of China
Chinese civilization originated in various regional centers along both the Yellow River and the Yangtze River valleys in the Neolithic era, but the Yellow River is said to be the Cradle of Chinese Civilization. With thousands of years of continuous history, China is one of the world's oldest...

, the Yuan Dynasty followed the Song Dynasty and preceded the Ming Dynasty
Ming Dynasty
The Ming Dynasty, also Empire of the Great Ming, was the ruling dynasty of China from 1368 to 1644, following the collapse of the Mongol-led Yuan Dynasty. The Ming, "one of the greatest eras of orderly government and social stability in human history", was the last dynasty in China ruled by ethnic...

. Although the dynasty was established by Kublai Khan
Kublai Khan
Kublai Khan , born Kublai and also known by the temple name Shizu , was the fifth Great Khan of the Mongol Empire from 1260 to 1294 and the founder of the Yuan Dynasty in China...

, he had his grandfather Genghis Khan
Genghis Khan
Genghis Khan , born Temujin and occasionally known by his temple name Taizu , was the founder and Great Khan of the Mongol Empire, which became the largest contiguous empire in history after his death....

 placed on the official record as the founder of the dynasty or Taizu .
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Encyclopedia
The Yuan Dynasty , or Great Yuan Empire was a ruling dynasty
Dynasty
A dynasty is a sequence of rulers considered members of the same family. Historians traditionally consider many sovereign states' history within a framework of successive dynasties, e.g., China, Ancient Egypt and the Persian Empire...

 founded by the Mongol leader Kublai Khan
Kublai Khan
Kublai Khan , born Kublai and also known by the temple name Shizu , was the fifth Great Khan of the Mongol Empire from 1260 to 1294 and the founder of the Yuan Dynasty in China...

, who ruled most of present-day China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

, all of modern Mongolia
Mongolia
Mongolia is a landlocked country in East and Central Asia. It is bordered by Russia to the north and China to the south, east and west. Although Mongolia does not share a border with Kazakhstan, its western-most point is only from Kazakhstan's eastern tip. Ulan Bator, the capital and largest...

 and its surrounding areas, lasting officially from 1271 to 1368. It is considered both as a division of the Mongol Empire
Mongol Empire
The Mongol Empire , initially named as Greater Mongol State was a great empire during the 13th and 14th centuries...

 and as an imperial dynasty
Dynasties in Chinese history
The following is a chronology of the dynasties in Chinese history.Chinese history is not as neat as is often described and it was rare for one dynasty to change peacefully into the next. Dynasties were often established before the overthrow of an existing regime, or continued for a time after they...

 of China. In Chinese history
History of China
Chinese civilization originated in various regional centers along both the Yellow River and the Yangtze River valleys in the Neolithic era, but the Yellow River is said to be the Cradle of Chinese Civilization. With thousands of years of continuous history, China is one of the world's oldest...

, the Yuan Dynasty followed the Song Dynasty and preceded the Ming Dynasty
Ming Dynasty
The Ming Dynasty, also Empire of the Great Ming, was the ruling dynasty of China from 1368 to 1644, following the collapse of the Mongol-led Yuan Dynasty. The Ming, "one of the greatest eras of orderly government and social stability in human history", was the last dynasty in China ruled by ethnic...

. Although the dynasty was established by Kublai Khan
Kublai Khan
Kublai Khan , born Kublai and also known by the temple name Shizu , was the fifth Great Khan of the Mongol Empire from 1260 to 1294 and the founder of the Yuan Dynasty in China...

, he had his grandfather Genghis Khan
Genghis Khan
Genghis Khan , born Temujin and occasionally known by his temple name Taizu , was the founder and Great Khan of the Mongol Empire, which became the largest contiguous empire in history after his death....

 placed on the official record as the founder of the dynasty or Taizu . Besides Emperor of China
Emperor of China
The Emperor of China refers to any sovereign of Imperial China reigning between the founding of Qin Dynasty of China, united by the King of Qin in 221 BCE, and the fall of Yuan Shikai's Empire of China in 1916. When referred to as the Son of Heaven , a title that predates the Qin unification, the...

, Kublai Khan had also claimed the title of Great Khan
Khagan
Khagan or qagan , alternatively spelled kagan, khaghan, qaghan, or chagan, is a title of imperial rank in the Mongolian and Turkic languages equal to the status of emperor and someone who rules a khaganate...

, i.e. supremacy over the other Mongol khanates (Chagatai Khanate
Chagatai Khanate
The Chagatai Khanate was a Turko-Mongol khanate that comprised the lands ruled by Chagatai Khan , second son of the Great Khan Genghis Khan, and his descendents and successors...

, Golden Horde
Golden Horde
The Golden Horde was a Mongol and later Turkicized khanate that formed the north-western sector of the Mongol Empire...

, Ilkhanate
Ilkhanate
The Ilkhanate, also spelled Il-khanate , was a Mongol khanate established in Azerbaijan and Persia in the 13th century, considered a part of the Mongol Empire...

); however this claim was only truly recognized by the Il-Khanids, who were nevertheless essentially self-governing. Although later emperors of the Yuan Dynasty were recognized by the three virtually independent western khanates as their nominal suzerains, they each continued their own separate developments. The Yuan is sometimes referred to as the Empire of the Great Khan, as the Mongol Emperors of the Yuan held the title of Great Khan of all Mongol Khanates.

Kublai Khan and Ariq Böke


In 1259 Great Khan Möngke
Mongke
Mongke means "eternal" in Mongolian language and may refer to:-Medieval:* Möngke Khan , Great khan of the Mongol Empire* Yesü Möngke, khan of Chagatai khanate, 1247-1252* Mengu-Timur Mongke (also Mönkh, Monkh, Munkh) means "eternal" in Mongolian language and may refer to:-Medieval:* Möngke Khan...

 died while Kublai Khan
Kublai Khan
Kublai Khan , born Kublai and also known by the temple name Shizu , was the fifth Great Khan of the Mongol Empire from 1260 to 1294 and the founder of the Yuan Dynasty in China...

, his brother, was campaigning against the Song Dynasty
Song Dynasty
The Song Dynasty was a ruling dynasty in China between 960 and 1279; it succeeded the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period, and was followed by the Yuan Dynasty. It was the first government in world history to issue banknotes or paper money, and the first Chinese government to establish a...

 in South China
Northern and southern China
Northern China and southern China are two approximate regions within China. The exact boundary between these two regions has never been precisely defined...

 and Ariq Böke
Ariq Boke
Ariq Böke , the components of his name also spelled Arigh, Arik, Bukha, Buka , was the youngest son of Tolui , a son of Genghis Khan. After the death of his brother the Great Khan Mongke, Ariq Boke briefly took power while his brothers Kublai and Hulagu were absent...

, his other brother, commanded the Mongol homelands. A khuraldai, or the great assembly of higher nobility took place in Karakorum
Karakorum
Karakorum was the capital of the Mongol Empire in the 13th century, and of the Northern Yuan in the 14-15th century. Its ruins lie in the northwestern corner of the Övörkhangai Province of Mongolia, near today's town of Kharkhorin, and adjacent to the Erdene Zuu monastery...

, then the capital of the Mongol Empire, which proclaimed Ariq Böke as the Great Khan in the traditional Mongolian style. Hearing of this, Kublai aborted his Chinese expedition and gathered another great assembly at his headquarters in the city of Kaiping (Shangdu in present-day Inner Mongolia
Inner Mongolia
Inner Mongolia is an autonomous region of the People's Republic of China, located in the northern region of the country. Inner Mongolia shares an international border with the countries of Mongolia and the Russian Federation...

) and, in 1260, he was proclaimed the Great Khan. However, this assembly convened by Kublai was deemed illegitimate from the perspective of the Mongolian tradition of throne inheritance: the empire already had Ariq Böke as legitimate Great Khan, who was in the capital. In addition, it was said that that Kublai made extensive use of bribery of princes. Ariq Böke sent an ambassador to his brother: "By the state's law, the Great Khan is proclaimed by the great assembly, but you have ignored the supreme doctrine; sitting in China and, following Chinese laws, you are acting autocratically."

Kublai declared Ariq Böke to be a usurper, and, following the traditional Chinese custom, proclaimed the era name to be "Zhong-tong". According to Chinese history, Kublai Khan gained the title of Emperor (huang di), although the Chinese Song Dynasty
Song Dynasty
The Song Dynasty was a ruling dynasty in China between 960 and 1279; it succeeded the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period, and was followed by the Yuan Dynasty. It was the first government in world history to issue banknotes or paper money, and the first Chinese government to establish a...

 at that time still resisted him in South China. In 1261-1264, he fought against his brother, and eventually Ariq Böke was defeated and surrendered to Kublai. As the winning Great Khan, Kublai Khan now expected the allegiance of other khanates.

However, at this time the khans of the Golden Horde
Golden Horde
The Golden Horde was a Mongol and later Turkicized khanate that formed the north-western sector of the Mongol Empire...

 and of the Chagatai Khanate
Chagatai Khanate
The Chagatai Khanate was a Turko-Mongol khanate that comprised the lands ruled by Chagatai Khan , second son of the Great Khan Genghis Khan, and his descendents and successors...

 did not recognize Kublai Khan as the Great Khan. The conflicts between Kublai Khan and the khanates in Central Asia
Central Asia
Central Asia is a core region of the Asian continent from the Caspian Sea in the west, China in the east, Afghanistan in the south, and Russia in the north...

 led by Kaidu
Kaidu
Kaidu was the leader of the House of Ogedei and the de facto khan of the Chagatai Khanate. He ruled part of modern-day Xinjiang and Central Asia during the 13th century, and actively opposed his uncle, Kublai Khan, who established the Yuan Dynasty in China until his death in 1301...

 had lasted for a few decades, until the beginning of the 14th century, when both of them had died. Hülegü
Hulagu Khan
Hulagu Khan, also known as Hülegü, Hulegu , was a Mongol ruler who conquered much of Southwest Asia...

, another brother of Kublai Khan, ruled his Ilkhanate
Ilkhanate
The Ilkhanate, also spelled Il-khanate , was a Mongol khanate established in Azerbaijan and Persia in the 13th century, considered a part of the Mongol Empire...

 and paid homage to the Great Khan but actually established an autonomous khanate, and after Ilkhan Ghazan's enthronement in 1295, Kublai's successor Emperor Chengzong sent him a seal reading "王府定國理民之寶" in Chinese script to symbolify this. The four major successor khanates never came again under true one rule, and border clashes also frequently occurred among them, although Yuan Dynasty's nominal supremacy was recognized by the other three after the death of Kaidu.

Founding of the Dynasty



From the beginning of his reign (1260), Kublai Khan had adopted many customs from earlier Chinese dynasties, such as era names
Chinese era name
A Chinese era name is the regnal year, reign period, or regnal title used when traditionally numbering years in an emperor's reign and naming certain Chinese rulers . Some emperors have several era names, one after another, where each beginning of a new era resets the numbering of the year back...

 and bureaucracy. He had several Chinese teachers attached to him since his early years. Not only did they explain him the Chinese history and ideology, but also permanently gave advice on governance.

After winning the war against Ariq Böke, Kublai Khan began his reign over his empire with greater aspirations and self-confidence. In 1264, he transferred his headquarters to be near the capital of the former Jurchen Jin Dynasty. In 1266 he ordered the construction of his new capital at that site, in what is now the modern city of Beijing
Beijing
Beijing , also known as Peking , is the capital of the People's Republic of China and one of the most populous cities in the world, with a population of 19,612,368 as of 2010. The city is the country's political, cultural, and educational center, and home to the headquarters for most of China's...

. The city had been called Zhongdu during the Jin Dynasty, and in 1272 it came to be known as Dadu
Khanbaliq
Khanbaliq or Dadu refers to a city which is now Beijing, the current capital of the People's Republic of China...

  in Chinese, Daidu to the Mongols, and Khanbalykh ("City of the Khans") to the Turks. As early as 1264, Kublai decided to change the era name from Zhong-tong (中統) to Zhi-yuan (至元). With the desire to rule all of China, Kublai Khan formally claimed the Mandate of Heaven
Mandate of Heaven
The Mandate of Heaven is a traditional Chinese philosophical concept concerning the legitimacy of rulers. It is similar to the European concept of the divine right of kings, in that both sought to legitimaze rule from divine approval; however, unlike the divine right of kings, the Mandate of...

 by proclaiming the new Yuan Dynasty in 1271 in the traditional Chinese style. This would become the first non-Han dynasty to rule all of China.

The official title of the Dynasty, Da Yuan , originates from a Chinese classic text called I Ching
I Ching
The I Ching or "Yì Jīng" , also known as the Classic of Changes, Book of Changes and Zhouyi, is one of the oldest of the Chinese classic texts...

, "大哉乾元" (dà zāi qián yuán), literally translating to 'Great is the Heavenly and Primal', with "qián" being the symbol of the Heaven, and the Emperor. Therefore, Yuan was the first dynasty in China to use Da in its official title, as well as being the first dynasty to use a title that did not correspond to an ancient region in China. In 1272, Dadu officially became the capital of the Yuan Dynasty.

In the early 1270s, Kublai began his massive drive against Southern Song Dynasty
Song Dynasty
The Song Dynasty was a ruling dynasty in China between 960 and 1279; it succeeded the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period, and was followed by the Yuan Dynasty. It was the first government in world history to issue banknotes or paper money, and the first Chinese government to establish a...

 in South China. By 1273, Kublai had blockaded the Yangzi River with his navy and besieged Xiangyang, the last obstacle in his way to capture the rich Yangzi River basin. In 1275, a Song force of 130,000 troops under Chancellor
Chancellor of China
The Chancellor , variously translated as Prime Minister, Chancellor of State, Premier or Chief Councillor, was a generic name given to the highest-ranking official in the imperial government in ancient China...

 Jia Sidao
Jia Sidao
Jia Sidao was a chancellor during the late Song Dynasty of China. He dominated the Song court from 1260 to 1273, after rising to the rank of chancellor due to his sister being a concubine of the Emperor Lizong...

 was defeated by the Yuan force. By 1276, most of the Southern Song territory had been captured by Yuan forces. In 1279, the Yuan army led by the Chinese general Zhang Hongfan
Zhang Hongfan
Zhang Hongfan was a Han Chinese general of the Mongol Empire in China. As commander of the Mongol army and navy, he annihilated the Southern Song by crushing the last Song resistance at the Battle of Yamen in 1279, where he is said to have captured 8000 enemy vessels...

 had crushed the last Song resistance in Battle of Yamen
Battle of Yamen
The naval Battle of Yamen took place on 19 March 1279 and is considered to be the last stand of the Song Dynasty against the invading Mongol-controlled Yuan Dynasty...

, which marks the end of the Southern Song and the onset of all of China under the Yuan. Yuan Dynasty is traditionally given credit for reuniting China after several hundred years since the late Tang Dynasty
Tang Dynasty
The Tang Dynasty was an imperial dynasty of China preceded by the Sui Dynasty and followed by the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period. It was founded by the Li family, who seized power during the decline and collapse of the Sui Empire...

.

After the founding of the dynasty, Kublai Khan was put under pressure by many of his advisers to further expand the sphere of influence of the Yuan through the traditional Sinocentric
Sinocentrism
Sinocentrism is an ethnocentric perspective that regards China to be the center of civilization and superior to all other nations. The related but distinct concept of the superiority of the Han Chinese ethnicity both within and without China is known as Han chauvinism.- Overview and context...

 tributary system. However, the attempts to establish such tributary relationships were rebuffed and expeditions to Japan
Mongol invasions of Japan
The ' of 1274 and 1281 were major military efforts undertaken by Kublai Khan to conquer the Japanese islands after the submission of Goryeo to vassaldom. Despite their ultimate failure, the invasion attempts are of macrohistorical importance, because they set a limit on Mongol expansion, and rank...

 (twice), Dai Viet
Mongol invasions of Vietnam
Mongol invasions of Vietnam or Mongol-Vietnamese War refer to the three times that the Mongol Empire and its chief khanate the Yuan Dynasty invaded Đại Việt during the Trần Dynasty and the Kingdom of Champa: in 1257–1258, 1284–1285, and 1287–1288. The Mongols were defeated by Đại...

 (twice during Kublai's rule), and Java
Mongol invasion of Java
In 1293, Kublai Khan, the Great Khan of the Mongol Empire and the founder of the Yuan Dynasty, sent a large invasion fleet to Java with 20,000 to 30,000 soldiers...

, would later meet with less success. Kublai established a puppet state in Myanmar
Mongol invasion of Burma
After the conquest of China, Kublai Khan, the founder of the Yuan Dynasty and the Great Khan of the Mongol Empire, invaded the Pagan Kingdom of Burma in 1277 and 1283. However, the Yuan armies later again invaded Burma several times in order to assert supremacy over the territory.- Initial...

, which caused anarchy in the area, and the Pagan Kingdom
Pagan Kingdom
The Pagan Kingdom or Pagan Dynasty was the first kingdom to unify the regions that would later constitute the modern-day Burma...

 was broken up into many regions warring with each another. In order to avoid more bloodshed and conflicts with the Mongols, Annam and Champa
Champa
The kingdom of Champa was an Indianized kingdom that controlled what is now southern and central Vietnam from approximately the 7th century through to 1832.The Cham people are remnants...

 later established nominal tributary relations with the Yuan Dynasty.

Rule of Kublai Khan


Unlike his predecessors, Kublai established a government with institutions resembling the ones in earlier Chinese dynasties and made reforms to maintain his centralized rule.

Kublai Khan was seen as a martial emperor, reforming much of China and its institutions, a process that would have taken decades to complete. For example, he consolidated his rule by centralizing the government of China — making himself (unlike his predecessors) an absolute monarch
Absolute monarchy
Absolute monarchy is a monarchical form of government in which the monarch exercises ultimate governing authority as head of state and head of government, his or her power not being limited by a constitution or by the law. An absolute monarch thus wields unrestricted political power over the...

. He divided his empire into Xing Zhongshusheng (行中書省), usually translated as "branch Secretariat" or "province", each governing the areas of approximately two or three modern-day Chinese provinces, and this provincial-level government structure became the model for later Ming
Ming Dynasty
The Ming Dynasty, also Empire of the Great Ming, was the ruling dynasty of China from 1368 to 1644, following the collapse of the Mongol-led Yuan Dynasty. The Ming, "one of the greatest eras of orderly government and social stability in human history", was the last dynasty in China ruled by ethnic...

 and Qing
Qing Dynasty
The Qing Dynasty was the last dynasty of China, ruling from 1644 to 1912 with a brief, abortive restoration in 1917. It was preceded by the Ming Dynasty and followed by the Republic of China....

 dynasties. Kublai Khan also reformed many other governmental and economic institutions, especially the tax system. Kublai Khan sought to govern China through traditional institutions, and also recognized that in order to rule China he needed to employ Han Chinese
Han Chinese
Han Chinese are an ethnic group native to China and are the largest single ethnic group in the world.Han Chinese constitute about 92% of the population of the People's Republic of China , 98% of the population of the Republic of China , 78% of the population of Singapore, and about 20% of the...

 advisers and officials, though he never relied totally on Chinese advisers. Yet, the Hans were discriminated against politically. Almost all important central posts were monopolized by Mongols, who also preferred employing non-Hans from other parts of the Mongol domain in those positions for which no Mongol could be found. Hans were more often employed in non-Chinese regions of the empire. In essence, society was divided into four classes in order of privilege: Mongols, Semu
Semu
Semu is the name of a caste established in China under the Yuan Dynasty. Contrary to popular belief, the term "Semu" did not imply that caste members had "colored eyes" in contrast with black-eyed Mongol Yuan people...

 ("Various sorts", for example: Central Asians), Northerners, and Southerners. During his lifetime, Kublai Khan built the capital of the Yuan, Dadu
Khanbaliq
Khanbaliq or Dadu refers to a city which is now Beijing, the current capital of the People's Republic of China...

, which is present-day Beijing, and made Shangdu
Xanadu
-Description of Xanadu by Toghon Temur :The lament of Toghon Temur Khan , concerning the loss of Daidu and Heibun Shanduu in 1368, is recorded in many Mongolian historical chronicles...

 ' onMouseout='HidePop("41548")' href="http://www.absoluteastronomy.com/topics/Marco_Polo">Marco Polo
Marco Polo
Marco Polo was a Venetian merchant traveler from the Venetian Republic whose travels are recorded in Il Milione, a book which did much to introduce Europeans to Central Asia and China. He learned about trading whilst his father and uncle, Niccolò and Maffeo, travelled through Asia and apparently...

 as Xanadu) the summer capital. He also improved the agriculture of China, extending the Grand Canal, highways and public granaries. Marco Polo, a Venetian merchant who served under Kublai Khan as an official, described his rule as benevolent: relieving the populace of taxes in times of hardship; building hospitals and orphanages; distributing food among the abjectly poor.
He also promoted science and religion, and strongly supported the Silk Road
Silk Road
The Silk Road or Silk Route refers to a historical network of interlinking trade routes across the Afro-Eurasian landmass that connected East, South, and Western Asia with the Mediterranean and European world, as well as parts of North and East Africa...

 trade network, allowing the contacts between Chinese technologies and the western ones. It is worth mentioning that prior to meeting Marco Polo, Kublai Khan had met Nicolo Polo, Marco Polo's father and Matteo Polo. Through conversation with the two merchants, Kublai Khan developed a keen interest in the Latin world especially Christianity and sought to invite a hundred of missionaries through a letter written in Latin to the Pope so that they may convince the masses of idolators the errors of their belief. Thus Nicolo and Matteo Polo served as ambasadors for Kublai Khan to the West. After having completed their mission of accompanying a young Mongol princess to marry the Mongol ruler Arghun, their perilous journey would end with them returning to Venice and meeting young Marco Polo of seventeen in 1271. The three returned to the East and once again met with Kublai Khan, and it was said that Marco Polo served as an emissary of Kublai Khan throughout his domain for seventeen years. Although Nicolo and Maffeo failed to bring back any missionaries with them or a letter from the Pope due to the Great Schism, they were successful in returning with oil from the lamp of God in Jerusalem. Marco Polo's travels would later inspire many others like Christopher Columbus to chart the passage to the "Middle Kingdom" the realm of the East, present day China in search of wealth and splendor.
He issued paper banknote
Banknote
A banknote is a kind of negotiable instrument, a promissory note made by a bank payable to the bearer on demand, used as money, and in many jurisdictions is legal tender. In addition to coins, banknotes make up the cash or bearer forms of all modern fiat money...

s known as Chao
Chao (currency)
The Chao , was the official banknote of the Yuan Dynasty in China. Unlike the earlier paper money such as Jiaozi, it was the first paper currency to be used as the predominant circulating medium in the history of China....

 (鈔) in 1273. Paper currency had been issued and used in China before Yuan time; by 960, the Song Dynasty, short of copper for striking coins, issued the first generally circulating notes. However, during the Song Dynasty, paper money was used alongside the coins. On the other hand, Yuan was the first dynasty in China to use paper currency as the predominant circulating medium. The Yuan bureaucrats made paper bills from the mulberry bark paper.

While he had claimed nominal supremacy over the rest of the Mongol Empire, his interest was clearly in China, along with the areas in its traditional Sinocentric
Sinocentrism
Sinocentrism is an ethnocentric perspective that regards China to be the center of civilization and superior to all other nations. The related but distinct concept of the superiority of the Han Chinese ethnicity both within and without China is known as Han chauvinism.- Overview and context...

 tributary system. From the beginning of his reign, the other three khanates of the Mongol Empire became de facto independent and only one recognized him as Khagan
Khagan
Khagan or qagan , alternatively spelled kagan, khaghan, qaghan, or chagan, is a title of imperial rank in the Mongolian and Turkic languages equal to the status of emperor and someone who rules a khaganate...

. By the time of Kublai Khan’s death in 1294, this separation has deepened, although later Yuan emperors had nominal supremacy in the west til the end of their rule in China. The temple name
Temple name
Temple names are commonly used when naming most Chinese, Korean , and Vietnamese royalty. They should not be confused with era names. Compared to posthumous names, the use of temple names is more exclusive...

 given for Kublai Khan is Shizu .

Early rulers after Kublai



Succession was a problem for the Yuan Dynasty, later causing much strife and internal struggle. This emerged as early as the end of Kublai's reign. Kublai originally named his eldest son, Zhenjin
Zhenjin
Zhenjin was the second son of Kublai Khan, founder of the Yuan Dynasty. He was designated as the Crown Prince by Kublai Khan in 1273, and became the head of Zhongshusheng .The North Chinese Buddhist monk Haiyun gave him the name, Zhenjin , when he was born in 1243...

  as the Crown Prince
Crown Prince
A crown prince or crown princess is the heir or heiress apparent to the throne in a royal or imperial monarchy. The wife of a crown prince is also titled crown princess....

  — but he died before Kublai in 1285. Thus, Zhenjin's son ruled as Temür Khan for approximately 10 years following Kublai's death (between 1294 and 1307). Temür Khan decided to maintain and continue much of the work begun by his grandfather. He also made peace with the western Mongol khanates as well as the neighboring countries such as Vietnam, which recognized his nominal suzerainty and paid tributes for a few decades. However, the corruption in the Yuan Dynasty began during the reign of Temür Khan.

Külüg Khan came to the throne after the death of Temür Khan. Unlike his predecessor, he did not continue Kublai's work, but largely rejected it. He introduced a policy called "New Deals", and the central of this policy were monetary reforms. During his short reign (1307 to 1311), Yuan government fell into financial difficulties, partly due to bad decisions made by Külüg. By the time he died, China was in severe debt and the Yuan Dynasty faced popular discontent.

The fourth Yuan emperor, Buyantu Khan was a competent emperor. He was the first among the Yuan emperors who actively supported and adopted the mainstream Chinese culture
Culture of China
Chinese culture is one of the world's oldest and most complex. The area in which the culture is dominant covers a large geographical region in eastern Asia with customs and traditions varying greatly between towns, cities and provinces...

 after the reign of Kublai, to the discontent of some Mongol elite. He had been mentored by Li Meng, a Confucian academic. He made many reforms, including the liquidation of the Department of State Affairs , which resulted in the execution of 5 of the highest ranking officials. Starting in 1313 imperial examination
Imperial examination
The Imperial examination was an examination system in Imperial China designed to select the best administrative officials for the state's bureaucracy. This system had a huge influence on both society and culture in Imperial China and was directly responsible for the creation of a class of...

s were reintroduced for prospective officials, testing their knowledge on significant historical works. Also, he codified much of the law, as well as publishing or translating a number of Chinese books and works.

Gegeen Khan, Buyantu Khan's son and successor, continued his father's policies to reform the government based on the Confucian principles, with the help of his newly appointed grand chancellor
Chancellor of China
The Chancellor , variously translated as Prime Minister, Chancellor of State, Premier or Chief Councillor, was a generic name given to the highest-ranking official in the imperial government in ancient China...

 Baiju. During his reign, the Da Yuan Tong Zhi (Chinese
Chinese language
The Chinese language is a language or language family consisting of varieties which are mutually intelligible to varying degrees. Originally the indigenous languages spoken by the Han Chinese in China, it forms one of the branches of Sino-Tibetan family of languages...

: 大元通制, "the comprehensive institutions of the Great Yuan"), a huge collection of codes and regulations of the Yuan Dynasty began by his father, was formally promulgated.

Later years of the Dynasty



The last years of the Yuan Dynasty were marked by struggle, famine, and bitterness among the populace. The dynasty was, significantly, one of the shortest-lived dynasties in the history of China
History of China
Chinese civilization originated in various regional centers along both the Yellow River and the Yangtze River valleys in the Neolithic era, but the Yellow River is said to be the Cradle of Chinese Civilization. With thousands of years of continuous history, China is one of the world's oldest...

, covering just a century, 1271 to 1368. In time, Kublai Khan's successors lost all influence on other Mongol lands across Asia, while the Mongols beyond the Middle Kingdom saw them as too Chinese. Gradually, they lost influence in China as well. The reigns of the later Yuan emperors were short and were marked by intrigues and rivalries. Uninterested in administration, they were separated from both the army and the populace. China was torn by dissension and unrest; outlaw
Outlaw
In historical legal systems, an outlaw is declared as outside the protection of the law. In pre-modern societies, this takes the burden of active prosecution of a criminal from the authorities. Instead, the criminal is withdrawn all legal protection, so that anyone is legally empowered to persecute...

s ravaged the country without interference from the weakening Yuan armies.

Regardless of the merits of his reign, Shidebala (Emperor Yingzong) ruled for only two years (1321 to 1323); his rule ended in a coup at the hands of five princes. They placed Yesün Temür (or Taidingdi) on the throne, and, after an unsuccessful attempt to calm the princes, he also succumbed to regicide
Regicide
The broad definition of regicide is the deliberate killing of a monarch, or the person responsible for the killing of a monarch. In a narrower sense, in the British tradition, it refers to the judicial execution of a king after a trial...

. Before Yesün Temür's reign, China had been relatively free from popular rebellions after the reign of Kublai. Yuan control, however, began to break down in those regions inhabited by ethnic minorities. The occurrence of these revolts and the subsequent suppression aggravated the financial difficulties of the Yuan government. The government had to adopt some measure to increase revenue such as selling offices, as well as curtailing its spending on some items.

When Yesün Temür died in Shangdu in 1328, Tugh Temür was recalled to Dadu by the Qipchaq commander El Temür. He was installed as the emperor (Emperor Wenzong) in Dadu while Yesün Temür's son Ragibagh succeeded to the throne in Shangdu with the support of Yesün Temür's favorite retainer Dawlat Shah. Gaining support from princes and officers in Northern China and some other parts of the dynasty, Dadu-based Tugh Temür eventually won the civil war against Ragibagh in 1329. Afterwards, Tugh Temür abdicated in favour of his brother Kusala who was backed by Chagatai Khan Eljigidey
Eljigidey
Eljigidey was khan of the Chagatai Khanate, a division of the Mongol Empire in 1326-1329. He was the son of Duwa. After the death of his brother Kebek, Eljigidey took control of the Chagatai Khanate. He was involved in the succession struggles of Yuan court from 1327 to 1328. His friend Kusala was...

 and announced Dadu's intent to welcome him. However, Kusala suddenly died only 4 days after a banquet with Tugh Temür. He was supposedly killed with poison by El Temür, and Tugh Temür then remounted the throne. Tugh Temür also managed to send delegates to the western Mongol khanates such as Golden Horde
Golden Horde
The Golden Horde was a Mongol and later Turkicized khanate that formed the north-western sector of the Mongol Empire...

 and Ilkhanate
Ilkhanate
The Ilkhanate, also spelled Il-khanate , was a Mongol khanate established in Azerbaijan and Persia in the 13th century, considered a part of the Mongol Empire...

 to be accepted as the suzerain of Mongol world. However, he was mainly a puppet of the powerful official El Temür during his latter three-year reign. El Temür purged pro-Kusala officials and brought power to warlords, whose despotic rule clearly marked the decline of the dynasty.
Due to the fact that the bureaucracy was dominated by El Temür, Tugh Temür is known for his cultural contribution instead. He adopted many measures honoring Confucianism
Confucianism
Confucianism is a Chinese ethical and philosophical system developed from the teachings of the Chinese philosopher Confucius . Confucianism originated as an "ethical-sociopolitical teaching" during the Spring and Autumn Period, but later developed metaphysical and cosmological elements in the Han...

 and promoting Chinese cultural values
Culture of China
Chinese culture is one of the world's oldest and most complex. The area in which the culture is dominant covers a large geographical region in eastern Asia with customs and traditions varying greatly between towns, cities and provinces...

. His most concrete effort to patronize Chinese learning was his founding of the Academy of the Pavilion of the Star of Literature , first established in the spring of 1329, and was designed to undertake "a number of tasks relating to the transmission of Confucian high culture to the Mongolian imperial establishment". The academy was responsible for compiling and publishing a number of books, but its most important achievement was its compilation of a vast institutional compendium
Compendium
A compendium is a concise, yet comprehensive compilation of a body of knowledge. A compendium may summarize a larger work. In most cases the body of knowledge will concern some delimited field of human interest or endeavour , while a "universal" encyclopedia can be referred to as a compendium of...

 named Jingshi Dadian . He supported Zhu Xi
Zhu Xi
Zhū​ Xī​ or Chu Hsi was a Song Dynasty Confucian scholar who became the leading figure of the School of Principle and the most influential rationalist Neo-Confucian in China...

's Neo-Confucianism
Neo-Confucianism
Neo-Confucianism is an ethical and metaphysical Chinese philosophy influenced by Confucianism, that was primarily developed during the Song Dynasty and Ming Dynasty, but which can be traced back to Han Yu and Li Ao in the Tang Dynasty....

 and also devoted himself in Buddhism
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

.

After the death of Tugh Temür in 1332 and subsequently the death of Rinchinbal (Emperor Ningzong) in the end of the same year, the 13-year-old Toghun Temür (Emperor Huizong), the last of the nine successors of Kublai Khan, was summoned back from Guangxi
Guangxi
Guangxi, formerly romanized Kwangsi, is a province of southern China along its border with Vietnam. In 1958, it became the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region of the People's Republic of China, a region with special privileges created specifically for the Zhuang people.Guangxi's location, in...

 and succeeded to the throne after El Temür's death. Nevertheless, Bayan
Bayan of the Merkid
Bayan of the Mergid was a Mongol general of the Mergid clan and official in the Yuan Dynasty. At the turn of the 13th/14th centuries he, together with the Turk El Temür, was a member of the group around Qaishan. Qaishan was a nephew of Temür Khan and appointed to defend Mongolia against the...

 became another powerful official as El Temür was in the beginning of his long reign. As Toghun Temür grew, he came to disapprove of Bayan's autocratic rule. In 1340 he allied himself with Bayan's nephew Toghtogha, who was in discord with Bayan, and banished Bayan by coup. With the dismissal of Bayan, Toghtogha seized the power of the court. His first administration clearly exhibited fresh new spirit. He also gave a few early signs of a new and positive direction in central government. One of his successful projects was to finish the long-stalled official histories of the Liao
Liao Dynasty
The Liao Dynasty , also known as the Khitan Empire was an empire in East Asia that ruled over the regions of Manchuria, Mongolia, and parts of northern China proper between 9071125...

, Jin and Song
Song Dynasty
The Song Dynasty was a ruling dynasty in China between 960 and 1279; it succeeded the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period, and was followed by the Yuan Dynasty. It was the first government in world history to issue banknotes or paper money, and the first Chinese government to establish a...

 dynasties, which were eventually completed in 1345. Yet, Toghtogha resigned his office with the approval of Toghun Temür, which marked the end of his first administration, and he was not called back until 1349.

From the late 1340s onwards, people in the countryside suffered from frequent natural disasters such as droughts, floods and the resulting famines, and the government's lack of effective policy led to a loss of popular support. In 1351, the Red Turban Rebellion
Red Turban Rebellion
The Red Turban Rebellion was an uprising much influenced by the White Lotus Society members that targeted the ruling Yuan Dynasty.- Causes :...

 started and grew into a nationwide uprising. In 1354, when Toghtogha led a large army to crush the Red Turban rebels, Toghun Temür suddenly dismissed him for fear of betrayal. This resulted in Toghun Temür's restoration of power on the one hand and a rapid weakening of the central government on the other. He had no choice but to rely on local warlords' military power, and gradually lost his interest in politics and ceased to intervene in political struggles. He fled north to Shangdu from Dadu (present-day Beijing) in 1368 after the approach of the forces of the Míng Dynasty
Ming Dynasty
The Ming Dynasty, also Empire of the Great Ming, was the ruling dynasty of China from 1368 to 1644, following the collapse of the Mongol-led Yuan Dynasty. The Ming, "one of the greatest eras of orderly government and social stability in human history", was the last dynasty in China ruled by ethnic...

 (1368–1644), founded by Zhu Yuanzhang in the south. He had tried to regain Dadu, which eventually failed; he died in Yingchang
Yingchang
Yingchang was one of the important cities in the Yuan Dynasty. It was situated on Lake Taal in modern Inner Mongolia.The city of Yinchang was built by the Qongirat Mongols in 1271. The city was the administrative seat of the Mongol prince of Lu...

 (located in present-day Inner Mongolia
Inner Mongolia
Inner Mongolia is an autonomous region of the People's Republic of China, located in the northern region of the country. Inner Mongolia shares an international border with the countries of Mongolia and the Russian Federation...

) two years later (1370). Yingchang was seized by the Ming shortly after his death. Some royal family members still lived in Henan
Henan
Henan , is a province of the People's Republic of China, located in the central part of the country. Its one-character abbreviation is "豫" , named after Yuzhou , a Han Dynasty state that included parts of Henan...

 today.

The Prince of Liang, Basalawarmi
Basalawarmi
Basalawarmi , commonly known by his hereditary title, the Prince of Liang, was a descendant of Kublai Khan and a Yuan Dynasty loyalist who fought against the ascendant Ming Dynasty in China.-Before the fall of the Yuan:...

 established a separate pocket of resistance to the Ming in Yunnan
Yunnan
Yunnan is a province of the People's Republic of China, located in the far southwest of the country spanning approximately and with a population of 45.7 million . The capital of the province is Kunming. The province borders Burma, Laos, and Vietnam.Yunnan is situated in a mountainous area, with...

 and Guizhou
Guizhou
' is a province of the People's Republic of China located in the southwestern part of the country. Its provincial capital city is Guiyang.- History :...

, but his forces were decisively defeated by the Ming in 1381.

Northern Yuan




The Yuan remnants retreated to Mongolia after the fall of Yingchang to the Ming in 1370, where the Yuan Dynasty was formally carried on, and is known as the Northern Yuan. According to Chinese political orthodoxy, there could be only one legitimate dynasty whose rulers were blessed by Heaven
Heaven
Heaven, the Heavens or Seven Heavens, is a common religious cosmological or metaphysical term for the physical or transcendent place from which heavenly beings originate, are enthroned or inhabit...

 to rule as Emperor of China
Emperor of China
The Emperor of China refers to any sovereign of Imperial China reigning between the founding of Qin Dynasty of China, united by the King of Qin in 221 BCE, and the fall of Yuan Shikai's Empire of China in 1916. When referred to as the Son of Heaven , a title that predates the Qin unification, the...

 (see Mandate of Heaven
Mandate of Heaven
The Mandate of Heaven is a traditional Chinese philosophical concept concerning the legitimacy of rulers. It is similar to the European concept of the divine right of kings, in that both sought to legitimaze rule from divine approval; however, unlike the divine right of kings, the Mandate of...

), and so the Ming and the Northern Yuan denied each other's legitimacy as emperors of China, although the Ming did consider the previous Yuan which it had succeeded to be a legitimate dynasty. Historians generally regard Míng Dynasty
Ming Dynasty
The Ming Dynasty, also Empire of the Great Ming, was the ruling dynasty of China from 1368 to 1644, following the collapse of the Mongol-led Yuan Dynasty. The Ming, "one of the greatest eras of orderly government and social stability in human history", was the last dynasty in China ruled by ethnic...

 rulers as the legitimate emperors of China after the Yuan Dynasty, though Northern Yuan rulers also claimed to rule over China, and continued to resist the Ming under the name "Yuan" or "Northern Yuan".

The Ming army pursued the Northern Yuan forces into Mongolia in 1372, but were defeated by the latter under Ayushridar and his general Köke Temür
Köke Temür
Köke Temür , also known as Wang Baobao , was a Han-Naiman general of the Yuan Dynasty. His mother was the daughter of a Mongolian prince while his father was an ethnic Han Chinese with the surname Wang. Before he was given the Mongolian name by the Yuan court in the early 1360s, he was known by his...

. They tried again in 1380, ultimately winning a decisive victory over Northern Yuan in 1388. Many Mongols were taken prisoner, and Karakorum (the Northern Yuan capital) was sacked in 1380. Eight years later, the Northern Yuan throne was taken over by Yesüder
Jorightu Khan, Emperor Xingyuan of Northern Yuan
Jorightu Khan was a Mongol Khan of the Northern Yuan Dynasty in Mongolia. There are questions about the identity of Jorightu: some scholars believe that Jorightu was Yesüder who was a descendant of Arik Boke and Engke Khan was Yesüder's son succeeding him, while other believe that the two were...

, a descendant of Ariq Böke
Ariq Boke
Ariq Böke , the components of his name also spelled Arigh, Arik, Bukha, Buka , was the youngest son of Tolui , a son of Genghis Khan. After the death of his brother the Great Khan Mongke, Ariq Boke briefly took power while his brothers Kublai and Hulagu were absent...

, instead of the descendants of Kublai Khan
Kublai Khan
Kublai Khan , born Kublai and also known by the temple name Shizu , was the fifth Great Khan of the Mongol Empire from 1260 to 1294 and the founder of the Yuan Dynasty in China...

. The following centuries saw a succession of Genghisid rulers, many of whom were mere figureheads put on the throne by those warlords who happened to be the most powerful. Periods of conflict with the Ming Dynasty intermingled with periods of peaceful relations with border trade. In 1402, Örüg Temür Khan
Örüg Temür Khan
Örüg Temür or Gulichi was a Mongol leader who temporarily throned himself Khan of the Mongols in the early 15th century. He might be the same person, Ugechi Khashikha who appeared in Mongolian history. Khashikha means prince or duke in Tungusic languages...

 (Guilichi) abolished the name Great Yuan; he was however defeated by Öljei Temür Khan
Öljei Temür Khan
Öljei Temür Khan was the Mongol khan of the Northern Yuan Dynasty in Mongolia. He was a son of Elbeg Nigülesügchi Khan and younger brother of Gün Temür Khan...

 (Bunyashiri), protege of Tamerlane (Timur Barulas) in 1403. The new khan Batumongke
Dayan Khan
Dayan Khan , was a Mongol khan who reunited the Mongols under Chinggisid supremacy in the Northern Yuan Dynasty in Mongolia...

 (1464–1517/43) took the title Dayan meaning "Da Yuan" or "Great Yuan". and reunited the Mongols. His successors continued to rule until the submission to the Qing Dynasty
Qing Dynasty
The Qing Dynasty was the last dynasty of China, ruling from 1644 to 1912 with a brief, abortive restoration in 1917. It was preceded by the Ming Dynasty and followed by the Republic of China....

, ending the Northern Yuan in 1635.

Impact





A rich cultural diversity developed during the Yuan Dynasty. The major cultural achievements were the development of drama
Drama
Drama is the specific mode of fiction represented in performance. The term comes from a Greek word meaning "action" , which is derived from "to do","to act" . The enactment of drama in theatre, performed by actors on a stage before an audience, presupposes collaborative modes of production and a...

 and the novel
Novel
A novel is a book of long narrative in literary prose. The genre has historical roots both in the fields of the medieval and early modern romance and in the tradition of the novella. The latter supplied the present generic term in the late 18th century....

 and the increased use of the written vernacular
Vernacular Chinese
Written Vernacular Chinese refers to forms of written Chinese based on the vernacular language, in contrast to Classical Chinese, the written standard used from the Spring and Autumn Period to the early twentieth century...

. The political unity of China and much of central Asia promoted trade between East and West. The Mongols' extensive West Asian and European contacts produced a fair amount of cultural exchange. The other cultures and peoples in the Mongol World Empire also very much influenced China. It had significantly eased trade and commerce across Asia
Asia
Asia is the world's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres. It covers 8.7% of the Earth's total surface area and with approximately 3.879 billion people, it hosts 60% of the world's current human population...

 until its decline; the communications between Yuan Dynasty and its ally and subordinate in Persia, the Ilkhanate
Ilkhanate
The Ilkhanate, also spelled Il-khanate , was a Mongol khanate established in Azerbaijan and Persia in the 13th century, considered a part of the Mongol Empire...

, encouraged this development. Buddhism had a great influence in the Yuan government, and the Tibetan-rite Tantric Buddhism had significantly influenced China during this period. The Muslims of the Yuan Dynasty introduced Middle Eastern cartography
Cartography
Cartography is the study and practice of making maps. Combining science, aesthetics, and technique, cartography builds on the premise that reality can be modeled in ways that communicate spatial information effectively.The fundamental problems of traditional cartography are to:*Set the map's...

, astronomy
Astronomy
Astronomy is a natural science that deals with the study of celestial objects and phenomena that originate outside the atmosphere of Earth...

, medicine, clothing, and diet in East Asia. Middle Eastern crops such as carrot
Carrot
The carrot is a root vegetable, usually orange in colour, though purple, red, white, and yellow varieties exist. It has a crisp texture when fresh...

s, turnip
Turnip
The turnip or white turnip is a root vegetable commonly grown in temperate climates worldwide for its white, bulbous taproot. Small, tender varieties are grown for human consumption, while larger varieties are grown as feed for livestock...

s, new varieties of lemon
Lemon
The lemon is both a small evergreen tree native to Asia, and the tree's ellipsoidal yellow fruit. The fruit is used for culinary and non-culinary purposes throughout the world – primarily for its juice, though the pulp and rind are also used, mainly in cooking and baking...

s, eggplants, and melon
Melon
thumb|200px|Various types of melonsThis list of melons includes members of the plant family Cucurbitaceae with edible, fleshy fruit e.g. gourds or cucurbits. The word "melon" can refer to either the plant or specifically to the fruit...

s, high-quality granulated sugar
Sugar
Sugar is a class of edible crystalline carbohydrates, mainly sucrose, lactose, and fructose, characterized by a sweet flavor.Sucrose in its refined form primarily comes from sugar cane and sugar beet...

, and cotton
Cotton
Cotton is a soft, fluffy staple fiber that grows in a boll, or protective capsule, around the seeds of cotton plants of the genus Gossypium. The fiber is almost pure cellulose. The botanical purpose of cotton fiber is to aid in seed dispersal....

 were all either introduced or successfully popularized during the Yuan Dynasty.
Western musical instruments were introduced to enrich Chinese performing arts. From this period dates the conversion to Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

, by Muslims of Central Asia, of growing numbers of Chinese in the northwest and southwest. Nestorianism
Nestorianism
Nestorianism is a Christological doctrine advanced by Nestorius, Patriarch of Constantinople from 428–431. The doctrine, which was informed by Nestorius's studies under Theodore of Mopsuestia at the School of Antioch, emphasizes the disunion between the human and divine natures of Jesus...

 and Roman Catholicism also enjoyed a period of toleration. Buddhism
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

 (especially Tibetan Buddhism
Tibetan Buddhism
Tibetan Buddhism is the body of Buddhist religious doctrine and institutions characteristic of Tibet and certain regions of the Himalayas, including northern Nepal, Bhutan, and India . It is the state religion of Bhutan...

) flourished, although Taoism
Taoism
Taoism refers to a philosophical or religious tradition in which the basic concept is to establish harmony with the Tao , which is the mechanism of everything that exists...

 endured certain persecutions in favor of Buddhism from the Yuan government. Confucian governmental practices and examinations based on the Classics
Chinese classic texts
Chinese classic texts, or Chinese canonical texts, today often refer to the pre-Qin Chinese texts, especially the Neo-Confucian titles of Four Books and Five Classics , a selection of short books and chapters from the voluminous collection called the Thirteen Classics. All of these pre-Qin texts...

, which had fallen into disuse in north China during the period of disunity, were reinstated by the Yuan court, probably in the hope of maintaining order over Han society. Advances were realized in the fields of travel literature, cartography
Cartography
Cartography is the study and practice of making maps. Combining science, aesthetics, and technique, cartography builds on the premise that reality can be modeled in ways that communicate spatial information effectively.The fundamental problems of traditional cartography are to:*Set the map's...

, geography
Geography
Geography is the science that studies the lands, features, inhabitants, and phenomena of Earth. A literal translation would be "to describe or write about the Earth". The first person to use the word "geography" was Eratosthenes...

, and scientific education.

Certain Chinese innovations and products, such as purified saltpetre
Potassium nitrate
Potassium nitrate is a chemical compound with the formula KNO3. It is an ionic salt of potassium ions K+ and nitrate ions NO3−.It occurs as a mineral niter and is a natural solid source of nitrogen. Its common names include saltpetre , from medieval Latin sal petræ: "stone salt" or possibly "Salt...

, printing techniques, porcelain
Porcelain
Porcelain is a ceramic material made by heating raw materials, generally including clay in the form of kaolin, in a kiln to temperatures between and...

, playing cards and medical literature, were exported to Europe and Western Asia, while the production of thin glass
Glass
Glass is an amorphous solid material. Glasses are typically brittle and optically transparent.The most familiar type of glass, used for centuries in windows and drinking vessels, is soda-lime glass, composed of about 75% silica plus Na2O, CaO, and several minor additives...

 and cloisonné
Cloisonné
Cloisonné is an ancient technique for decorating metalwork objects, in recent centuries using vitreous enamel, and in older periods also inlays of cut gemstones, glass, and other materials. The resulting objects can also be called cloisonné...

 became popular in China. The Yuan exercised a profound influence on the Chinese Ming Dynasty. The Ming Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang (1368–97) admired the Mongols' unification of China and adopted its garrison system.

The first recorded travels by Europeans to China and back date from this time. The most famous traveler of the period was the Venetian
Venice
Venice is a city in northern Italy which is renowned for the beauty of its setting, its architecture and its artworks. It is the capital of the Veneto region...

 Marco Polo
Marco Polo
Marco Polo was a Venetian merchant traveler from the Venetian Republic whose travels are recorded in Il Milione, a book which did much to introduce Europeans to Central Asia and China. He learned about trading whilst his father and uncle, Niccolò and Maffeo, travelled through Asia and apparently...

, whose account of his trip to "Cambaluc," the capital of the Great Khan, and of life there astounded the people of Europe. The account of his travels, Il milione (or, The Million, known in English as the Travels of Marco Polo), appeared about the year 1299. Some argue the accuracy of Marco Polo's accounts due to the lack of mentioning the Great Wall of China, tea houses, which would have been a prominent sight since Europeans had yet to adopt a tea culture, as well the practice of foot binding by the women in capital of the Great Khan. Some suggests that Marco Polo acquired much of his knowledge through contact with Persian traders since many of the places he named were in Persian.

The Yuan undertook extensive public works. Road and water communications were reorganized and improved. To provide against possible famines, granaries
Granary
A granary is a storehouse for threshed grain or animal feed. In ancient or primitive granaries, pottery is the most common use of storage in these buildings. Granaries are often built above the ground to keep the stored food away from mice and other animals.-Early origins:From ancient times grain...

 were ordered built throughout the empire. The city of Beijing was rebuilt with new palace grounds that included artificial lakes, hills and mountains, and parks. During the Yuan period, Beijing became the terminus of the Grand Canal of China
Grand Canal of China
The Grand Canal in China, also known as the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal is the longest canal or artificial river in the world. Starting at Beijing, it passes through Tianjin and the provinces of Hebei, Shandong, Jiangsu and Zhejiang to the city of Hangzhou...

, which was completely renovated. These commercially oriented improvements encouraged overland and maritime commerce throughout Asia
Asia
Asia is the world's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres. It covers 8.7% of the Earth's total surface area and with approximately 3.879 billion people, it hosts 60% of the world's current human population...

 and facilitated direct Chinese contacts with Europe. Chinese travelers to the West were able to provide assistance in such areas as hydraulic engineering. Contacts with the West also brought the introduction to China of a major food crop, sorghum
Sorghum
Sorghum is a genus of numerous species of grasses, one of which is raised for grain and many of which are used as fodder plants either cultivated or as part of pasture. The plants are cultivated in warmer climates worldwide. Species are native to tropical and subtropical regions of all continents...

, along with other foreign food products and methods of preparation.

The Yuan Dynasty (1271–1368) was the first time that non-native Chinese people ruled all of China. In historiography of Mongolia, it is generally considered to be the continuation of the Mongol Empire. Mongols are widely known to worship the Eternal Heaven, and according to the traditional Mongolian ideology Yuan is considered to be "the beginning of an infinite number of beings, the foundation of peace and happiness, state power, the dream of many peoples, besides it there is nothing great or precious" which conquered the whole China. In traditional historiography of China on the other hand, the Yuan Dynasty is usually considered to be the legitimate dynasty between the Song Dynasty
Song Dynasty
The Song Dynasty was a ruling dynasty in China between 960 and 1279; it succeeded the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period, and was followed by the Yuan Dynasty. It was the first government in world history to issue banknotes or paper money, and the first Chinese government to establish a...

 and the Ming Dynasty
Ming Dynasty
The Ming Dynasty, also Empire of the Great Ming, was the ruling dynasty of China from 1368 to 1644, following the collapse of the Mongol-led Yuan Dynasty. The Ming, "one of the greatest eras of orderly government and social stability in human history", was the last dynasty in China ruled by ethnic...

. Note, however, Yuan Dynasty is traditionally often extended to cover the Mongol Empire before Kublai Khan
Kublai Khan
Kublai Khan , born Kublai and also known by the temple name Shizu , was the fifth Great Khan of the Mongol Empire from 1260 to 1294 and the founder of the Yuan Dynasty in China...

's formal establishment of the Yuan in 1271, partly because Kublai had his grandfather Genghis Khan
Genghis Khan
Genghis Khan , born Temujin and occasionally known by his temple name Taizu , was the founder and Great Khan of the Mongol Empire, which became the largest contiguous empire in history after his death....

 placed on the official record as the founder of the dynasty or Taizu . Despite the traditional historiography as well as the official views (including the government of the Ming Dynasty
Ming Dynasty
The Ming Dynasty, also Empire of the Great Ming, was the ruling dynasty of China from 1368 to 1644, following the collapse of the Mongol-led Yuan Dynasty. The Ming, "one of the greatest eras of orderly government and social stability in human history", was the last dynasty in China ruled by ethnic...

 which overthrew the Yuan Dynasty), there also exist Chinese people who did not consider Yuan Dynasty as a legitimate dynasty of China, but a period of foreign domination. The latter believe that Han Chinese were treated as second-class citizen
Second-class citizen
Second-class citizen is an informal term used to describe a person who is systematically discriminated against within a state or other political jurisdiction, despite their nominal status as a citizen or legal resident there...

s, and China stagnated economically and scientifically; in addition, Chinese technologies such as gunpowder and the compass spread to Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

 under the Yuan. But there are also other views.

Government


The structure of the Yuan government took shape during the reign of Kublai Khan
Kublai Khan
Kublai Khan , born Kublai and also known by the temple name Shizu , was the fifth Great Khan of the Mongol Empire from 1260 to 1294 and the founder of the Yuan Dynasty in China...

 (1260–1294). While some changes took place such as the functions of certain institutions, the essential components of the government bureaucracy remained intact from the beginning to the end of the dynasty in 1368.

The bureaucracy system created by Kublai Khan reflected various cultures in the empire, including that of the Han Chinese
Han Chinese
Han Chinese are an ethnic group native to China and are the largest single ethnic group in the world.Han Chinese constitute about 92% of the population of the People's Republic of China , 98% of the population of the Republic of China , 78% of the population of Singapore, and about 20% of the...

, Khitan
Khitan
The history of the Khitans dates back to the 4th century AD. The Khitan people dominated much of Mongolia and modern Manchuria by the 10th century, under the Liao Dynasty, and eventually collapsed by 1125 ....

s, Jurchens, Mongols and Tibetan Buddhists. While the official terminology of the institutions may indicate the government structure was almost purely that of native Chinese dynasties, but the Yuan bureaucracy actually consisted of a mix of elements from different cultures. The Chinese-style elements of the bureaucracy mainly came from the native Tang
Tang Dynasty
The Tang Dynasty was an imperial dynasty of China preceded by the Sui Dynasty and followed by the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period. It was founded by the Li family, who seized power during the decline and collapse of the Sui Empire...

, Song
Song Dynasty
The Song Dynasty was a ruling dynasty in China between 960 and 1279; it succeeded the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period, and was followed by the Yuan Dynasty. It was the first government in world history to issue banknotes or paper money, and the first Chinese government to establish a...

, as well as Khitan Liao
Liao Dynasty
The Liao Dynasty , also known as the Khitan Empire was an empire in East Asia that ruled over the regions of Manchuria, Mongolia, and parts of northern China proper between 9071125...

 and Jurchen Jin dynasties. Chinese advisers such as Liu Bingzhong
Liu Bingzhong
Liu Bingzhong , or Liu Kan was a Yuan Dynasty court adviser and architect. He was born in Ruizhou , during the Jin Dynasty. In 1233, he entered the Jin's bureaucracy. He still was an officer after the Mongol-Yuan Dynasty replaced the Jin, but later he became a monk...

 and Yao Shu
Yao Shu
Yao Shu , courtesy name Lingzhang , formally Count Cheng of Wuxing , was an official of the Chinese dynasty Tang Dynasty and Wu Zetian's Zhou Dynasty, serving twice as chancellor during Wu Zetian's reign.- Background :...

 gave strong influence to Kublai's early court, and the central government administration was established within the first decade of Kublai's reign. This government adopted the traditional Chinese tripartite division of authority among civil
Civil
Civil may refer to:*Civic virtue, or civility*Civil action, or lawsuit*Civil affairs*Civil and political rights*Civil disobedience*Civil engineering*Civilian, someone not a member of armed forces*Civil law , multiple meanings...

, military
Military
A military is an organization authorized by its greater society to use lethal force, usually including use of weapons, in defending its country by combating actual or perceived threats. The military may have additional functions of use to its greater society, such as advancing a political agenda e.g...

, and censor
Censor
Censor may refer to:*Censorship, the control of speech and other forms of human expression*Roman censor, a magistrate for maintaining the census, supervising public morality, etc*Cato Censor , Roman statesman...

ial offices, including the Central Secretariat (Zhongshusheng) to manage civil affairs, the Privy Council (Shumiyuan) to manage military affairs, and the Censorate (Yushitai) to conduct internal surveillance and inspection. The actual functions of both central and local government institutions however showed a major overlap between the civil and military jurisdictions, due to the Mongol traditional reliance on military institutions and offices as the core of governance. Nevertheless, such a civilian bureaucracy, with the Central Secretariat as the top institution that was (directly or indirectly) responsible for most other governmental agencies (such as the traditional Chinese-style Six Ministries
Three Departments and Six Ministries
The Three Departments and Six Ministries system was the main central administrative system adopted in ancient China. The system first took shape after the Western Han Dynasty , was officially instituted in Sui Dynasty , and matured during Tang Dynasty...

), was created in China. At various times another central government institution called the Department of State Affairs (Shangshusheng) mainly dealt with finance
Finance
"Finance" is often defined simply as the management of money or “funds” management Modern finance, however, is a family of business activity that includes the origination, marketing, and management of cash and money surrogates through a variety of capital accounts, instruments, and markets created...

 was established (such as during the reign of Külüg Khan or Emperor Wuzong), but usually became abandoned soon afterwards.

While the existence of these central government departments and the Six Ministries (which had been introduced since the Sui
Sui Dynasty
The Sui Dynasty was a powerful, but short-lived Imperial Chinese dynasty. Preceded by the Southern and Northern Dynasties, it ended nearly four centuries of division between rival regimes. It was followed by the Tang Dynasty....

 and Tang
Tang Dynasty
The Tang Dynasty was an imperial dynasty of China preceded by the Sui Dynasty and followed by the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period. It was founded by the Li family, who seized power during the decline and collapse of the Sui Empire...

 dynasties) gave a sinicized image in the Yuan administration, the actual functions of these ministries also reflected how Mongolian priorities and policies reshape and redirect those institutions. For example, the authority of the Yuan legal system, the Ministry of Justice did not extend to legal cases involving Mongols and Semuren, where there were separate courts of justice for them. Cases involving members of more than one ethnic group were decided by a mixed board consisting of Chinese and Mongols. Another example was the insignificance of the Ministry of War
Ministry of War
A Ministry of War or Ministry for War is an administrative, supply and services agency of an army, as opposed to the entire military establishment. Both Mexico and Brazil both still maintain a War Department for the support of their armies...

 compared with native Chinese dynasties, as the real military authority in Yuan times resided in the Privy Council.

Imperial lifestyle



Since its invention in 1269, the 'Phags-pa script, a unified script for spelling Mongolian
Mongolian language
The Mongolian language is the official language of Mongolia and the best-known member of the Mongolic language family. The number of speakers across all its dialects may be 5.2 million, including the vast majority of the residents of Mongolia and many of the Mongolian residents of the Inner...

 and Chinese
Chinese language
The Chinese language is a language or language family consisting of varieties which are mutually intelligible to varying degrees. Originally the indigenous languages spoken by the Han Chinese in China, it forms one of the branches of Sino-Tibetan family of languages...

 languages, was preserved in the court until the end of the Dynasty. Most of the Emperors could not master written Chinese, but they could generally converse well in the language. The Mongol custom of long standing quda/marriage alliance with Mongol clans, the Onggirat
Onggirat
The Hongirat , also known as Qongirat is a Central Asian tribe, one of the major divisions of the Mongols. Variations on the name include Onggirat, Wangjila , Yongjilie , and Guangjila in Chinese sources and Ongrat or Kungrat in Turkish.The original pastures of the Hongirats were in eastern...

 and the Ikeres, kept the imperial blood purely Mongol until the reign of Tugh Temur whose mother was a Tangut concubine. The Mongol Emperors had built large palaces and pavilions, but some still continued to live as nomads at times. Nevertheless, a few other Yuan emperors actively sponsored cultural activities; an example is Tugh Temur (Emperor Wenzong), who wrote poetry
Poetry
Poetry is a form of literary art in which language is used for its aesthetic and evocative qualities in addition to, or in lieu of, its apparent meaning...

, painted
Painting
Painting is the practice of applying paint, pigment, color or other medium to a surface . The application of the medium is commonly applied to the base with a brush but other objects can be used. In art, the term painting describes both the act and the result of the action. However, painting is...

, read Chinese classical texts, and ordered compilation of books.

Kublai and his successors kept a Tibetan
Tibetan Buddhism
Tibetan Buddhism is the body of Buddhist religious doctrine and institutions characteristic of Tibet and certain regions of the Himalayas, including northern Nepal, Bhutan, and India . It is the state religion of Bhutan...

 lama of the Sakya
Sakya
The Sakya school is one of four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism, the others being the Nyingma, Kagyu, and Gelug...

 order at court. Mongol patronage of Buddhism
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

 resulted in a number of monuments of Buddhist art. Mongolian Buddhist translations, almost all from Tibetan originals, began on a large scale after 1300. Many Mongols of the upper class such as the Jalayir
Jalayir
Jalayir is one of the Darliqin Mongol tribes according to Rashid-al-Din Hamadani's Jami' al-tawarikh. After the Mongol conquest in the 13th century many Jalayirs spread over Central Asia and the Middle East. Jalayirs are one of the founding tribes of Mongolia's largest ethnic group Khalkha....

 and the Oronar nobels delighted in patronizing Confucian scholars and institutions. A considerable number of Confucian and Chinese historical works were translated into Mongolian language
Mongolian language
The Mongolian language is the official language of Mongolia and the best-known member of the Mongolic language family. The number of speakers across all its dialects may be 5.2 million, including the vast majority of the residents of Mongolia and many of the Mongolian residents of the Inner...

.

The average Mongol garrison family of the Yuan Dynasty seems to have lived a life of decaying rural leisure, with income from the harvests of their Chinese tenants eaten up by costs of equipping and dispatching men for their tours of duty. The Mongols practiced debt slavery and by 1290 in all parts of the Mongol Empire Mongol commoners were selling their children into slavery. Seeing this as damaging the Mongol nation, Kublai forbade the sale abroad of the Mongols in 1291, and likewise Ilkhan
Ilkhanate
The Ilkhanate, also spelled Il-khanate , was a Mongol khanate established in Azerbaijan and Persia in the 13th century, considered a part of the Mongol Empire...

 Ghazan (1295–1304) in Persia budgeted funds to redeem Mongol slaves.

Social classes



Politically, the system of government created by Kublai Khan was the product of a compromise between Mongolian patrimonial feudalism
Feudalism
Feudalism was a set of legal and military customs in medieval Europe that flourished between the 9th and 15th centuries, which, broadly defined, was a system for ordering society around relationships derived from the holding of land in exchange for service or labour.Although derived from the...

 and the traditional Chinese autocratic-bureaucratic system. Nevertheless, socially the educated Chinese elite
Elite
Elite refers to an exceptional or privileged group that wields considerable power within its sphere of influence...

 were in general not given the degree of esteem that they had been accorded previously under native Chinese dynasties. Although the traditional Chinese elite were not given their share of power, the Mongolians and the Semu
Semu
Semu is the name of a caste established in China under the Yuan Dynasty. Contrary to popular belief, the term "Semu" did not imply that caste members had "colored eyes" in contrast with black-eyed Mongol Yuan people...

ren (various allied groups from Central Asia
Central Asia
Central Asia is a core region of the Asian continent from the Caspian Sea in the west, China in the east, Afghanistan in the south, and Russia in the north...

 and the western end of the empire) largely remained strangers to the mainstream Chinese culture, and this dichotomy gave the Yuan regime a strong "colonial
Colonialism
Colonialism is the establishment, maintenance, acquisition and expansion of colonies in one territory by people from another territory. It is a process whereby the metropole claims sovereignty over the colony and the social structure, government, and economics of the colony are changed by...

" coloration.

The Mongol Empire employed many foreigners throughout all of its history. Kublai had introduced a hierarchy of reliability by dividing the population of the Yuan Dynasty into the following classes:
  • Mongols
  • Semu
    Semu
    Semu is the name of a caste established in China under the Yuan Dynasty. Contrary to popular belief, the term "Semu" did not imply that caste members had "colored eyes" in contrast with black-eyed Mongol Yuan people...

    ren, including Uyghurs, immigrants from the west and some clans of Central Asia
    Central Asia
    Central Asia is a core region of the Asian continent from the Caspian Sea in the west, China in the east, Afghanistan in the south, and Russia in the north...

  • North Chinese, Kitans, Jurchens
    Jurchens
    The Jurchens were a Tungusic people who inhabited the region of Manchuria until the 17th century, when they adopted the name Manchu...

     and Koreans
  • Southerners, or all subjects of the former Song Dynasty


Partner merchants and non-Mongol overseers were usually either immigrants or local ethnic groups. Thus, in China they were Uighurs, Turkestani and Persian
Persian people
The Persian people are part of the Iranian peoples who speak the modern Persian language and closely akin Iranian dialects and languages. The origin of the ethnic Iranian/Persian peoples are traced to the Ancient Iranian peoples, who were part of the ancient Indo-Iranians and themselves part of...

 Muslims, and Christian
Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

s. Foreigners from outside the Mongol Empire entirely, such as the Polo family
Marco Polo
Marco Polo was a Venetian merchant traveler from the Venetian Republic whose travels are recorded in Il Milione, a book which did much to introduce Europeans to Central Asia and China. He learned about trading whilst his father and uncle, Niccolò and Maffeo, travelled through Asia and apparently...

, were everywhere welcomed.

Despite the high position given to Muslims, some policies of the Yuan Emperors severe discriminated against them, restricting Halal slaughter and other islamic practices like Circumcision, as well as Kosher butchering for Jews, forcing them to eat food the Mongol way. Toward the end, corruption and the persecution became so severe that Muslim Generals joined Han Chinese
Han Chinese
Han Chinese are an ethnic group native to China and are the largest single ethnic group in the world.Han Chinese constitute about 92% of the population of the People's Republic of China , 98% of the population of the Republic of China , 78% of the population of Singapore, and about 20% of the...

 in rebelling against the Mongols. The Ming founder Zhu Yuanzhang had Muslim Generals like Lan Yu
Lan Yu (general)
Lan Yu was a Chinese general who contributed to the founding of the Ming Dynasty. His ancestral home was in present-day Dingyuan County, Anhui. In 1393 Lan was suspected and accused of plotting a rebellion and eventually put to death by the Hongwu Emperor...

 who rebelled against the Mongols and defeated them in combat. Some Muslim communities had the name in Chinese which meant "baracks" and also mean "thanks", many Hui Muslims claim it is because that they played an important role in overthrowing the Mongols and it was named in thanks by the Han Chinese for assisting them.

Administrative divisions


The territory of the Yuan Dynasty was divided into the Central Region (腹裏) and places under control of various Xing Zhongshusheng (行中書省 or 行省) or the Xuanzheng Yuan (宣政院).

The Central Region, consisting of present-day Hebei
Hebei
' is a province of the People's Republic of China in the North China region. Its one-character abbreviation is "" , named after Ji Province, a Han Dynasty province that included what is now southern Hebei...

, Shandong
Shandong
' is a Province located on the eastern coast of the People's Republic of China. Shandong has played a major role in Chinese history from the beginning of Chinese civilization along the lower reaches of the Yellow River and served as a pivotal cultural and religious site for Taoism, Chinese...

, Shanxi
Shanxi
' is a province in Northern China. Its one-character abbreviation is "晋" , after the state of Jin that existed here during the Spring and Autumn Period....

, the south-eastern part of present-day Inner Mongolia
Inner Mongolia
Inner Mongolia is an autonomous region of the People's Republic of China, located in the northern region of the country. Inner Mongolia shares an international border with the countries of Mongolia and the Russian Federation...

 and the Henan
Henan
Henan , is a province of the People's Republic of China, located in the central part of the country. Its one-character abbreviation is "豫" , named after Yuzhou , a Han Dynasty state that included parts of Henan...

 areas to the north of the Yellow River
Yellow River
The Yellow River or Huang He, formerly known as the Hwang Ho, is the second-longest river in China and the sixth-longest in the world at the estimated length of . Originating in the Bayan Har Mountains in Qinghai Province in western China, it flows through nine provinces of China and empties into...

, was considered the most important region of the dynasty and directly governed by Zhongshusheng (中書省, "Secretariat") at Dadu
Khanbaliq
Khanbaliq or Dadu refers to a city which is now Beijing, the current capital of the People's Republic of China...

; similarly, another top-level administrative department called the Xuanzheng Yuan governed the whole of modern-day Tibet
Tibet
Tibet is a plateau region in Asia, north-east of the Himalayas. It is the traditional homeland of the Tibetan people as well as some other ethnic groups such as Monpas, Qiang, and Lhobas, and is now also inhabited by considerable numbers of Han and Hui people...

 and a part of Kashmir
Kashmir
Kashmir is the northwestern region of the Indian subcontinent. Until the mid-19th century, the term Kashmir geographically denoted only the valley between the Great Himalayas and the Pir Panjal mountain range...

.

Xing Zhongshusheng (行中書省, "branch Secretariat" or "en-route Secretariat"), or simply Xingsheng (行省), were provincial-level administrative organizations or institutions, sometimes roughly translated as "Province
Province
A province is a territorial unit, almost always an administrative division, within a country or state.-Etymology:The English word "province" is attested since about 1330 and derives from the 13th-century Old French "province," which itself comes from the Latin word "provincia," which referred to...

", though they were not exactly provinces in modern sense. There were 11 Xing Zhongshusheng or Xingsheng in Yuan Dynasty.
  1. Gansu Xingsheng (甘肅行省) with Zhangye
    Zhangye
    -Administration:Zhangye has 1 urban district, 4 counties, 1 autonomous county, 97 towns, and 977 villages.-Demographics:Zhangye has a total population of 1,260,000, only 260,000 being urban residents...

     District as its seat of government. Under this came most of present-day Ningxia
    Ningxia
    Ningxia, formerly transliterated as Ningsia, is an autonomous region of the People's Republic of China. Located in Northwest China, on the Loess Plateau, the Yellow River flows through this vast area of land. The Great Wall of China runs along its northeastern boundary...

     Hui Autonomous Region (originally the Tangut territory), south-eastern Gansu
    Gansu
    ' is a province located in the northwest of the People's Republic of China.It lies between the Tibetan and Huangtu plateaus, and borders Mongolia, Inner Mongolia, and Ningxia to the north, Xinjiang and Qinghai to the west, Sichuan to the south, and Shaanxi to the east...

     Province, and part of north-eastern Amdo
    Amdo
    Amdo is one of the three traditional regions of Tibet, the other two being Ü-Tsang and Kham; it is also the birth place of the 14th Dalai Lama. Amdo encompasses a large area from the Machu River to the Drichu river . While culturally and ethnically a Tibetan area, Amdo has been administered by a...

    .
  2. Henan Jiangbei Xingsheng (河南江北行省) with Kaifeng
    Kaifeng
    Kaifeng , known previously by several names , is a prefecture-level city in east-central Henan province, Central China. Nearly 5 million people live in the metropolitan area...

     District as its seat of government. Under this came the Henan
    Henan
    Henan , is a province of the People's Republic of China, located in the central part of the country. Its one-character abbreviation is "豫" , named after Yuzhou , a Han Dynasty state that included parts of Henan...

     areas to the south of the Yellow River, north-east Hubei, Jiangsu, the north-eastern part of Jiangxi Province.
  3. Huguang Xingsheng (湖廣行省) with Wuhan
    Wuhan
    Wuhan is the capital of Hubei province, People's Republic of China, and is the most populous city in Central China. It lies at the east of the Jianghan Plain, and the intersection of the middle reaches of the Yangtze and Han rivers...

     of the present-day Hubei
    Hubei
    ' Hupeh) is a province in Central China. The name of the province means "north of the lake", referring to its position north of Lake Dongting...

     Province as its seat of government. Under this came a part of south-east Hubei, Hunan
    Hunan
    ' is a province of South-Central China, located to the south of the middle reaches of the Yangtze River and south of Lake Dongting...

    , Guangxi
    Guangxi
    Guangxi, formerly romanized Kwangsi, is a province of southern China along its border with Vietnam. In 1958, it became the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region of the People's Republic of China, a region with special privileges created specifically for the Zhuang people.Guangxi's location, in...

    , most of Guizhou
    Guizhou
    ' is a province of the People's Republic of China located in the southwestern part of the country. Its provincial capital city is Guiyang.- History :...

    , and parts of south-western Guangdong
    Guangdong
    Guangdong is a province on the South China Sea coast of the People's Republic of China. The province was previously often written with the alternative English name Kwangtung Province...

     Province.
  4. Jiangxi Xingsheng (江西行省) with Nanchang
    Nanchang
    Nanchang is the capital of Jiangxi Province in southeastern China. It is located in the north-central portion of the province. As it is bounded on the west by the Jiuling Mountains, and on the east by Poyang Lake, it is famous for its scenery, rich history and cultural sites...

     as its seat of government. Under this ya of present-day Jiangxi and Guangdong Province.
  5. Jiangzhe Xingsheng (江浙行省) with Hangzhou
    Hangzhou
    Hangzhou , formerly transliterated as Hangchow, is the capital and largest city of Zhejiang Province in Eastern China. Governed as a sub-provincial city, and as of 2010, its entire administrative division or prefecture had a registered population of 8.7 million people...

     as its seat of government. Under this came Jiangsu
    Jiangsu
    ' is a province of the People's Republic of China, located along the east coast of the country. The name comes from jiang, short for the city of Jiangning , and su, for the city of Suzhou. The abbreviation for this province is "苏" , the second character of its name...

     and Anhui
    Anhui
    Anhui is a province in the People's Republic of China. Located in eastern China across the basins of the Yangtze River and the Huai River, it borders Jiangsu to the east, Zhejiang to the southeast, Jiangxi to the south, Hubei to the southwest, Henan to the northwest, and Shandong for a tiny...

     areas to the south of the Yangtze River, Zhejiang
    Zhejiang
    Zhejiang is an eastern coastal province of the People's Republic of China. The word Zhejiang was the old name of the Qiantang River, which passes through Hangzhou, the provincial capital...

    , Fujian
    Fujian
    ' , formerly romanised as Fukien or Huguing or Foukien, is a province on the southeast coast of mainland China. Fujian is bordered by Zhejiang to the north, Jiangxi to the west, and Guangdong to the south. Taiwan lies to the east, across the Taiwan Strait...

    , and a small area in the north-east of Jiangxi
    Jiangxi
    ' is a southern province in the People's Republic of China. Spanning from the banks of the Yangtze River in the north into hillier areas in the south, it shares a border with Anhui to the north, Zhejiang to the northeast, Fujian to the east, Guangdong to the south, Hunan to the west, and Hubei to...

     Province.
  6. Liaoyang Xingsheng (遼陽行省) with present-day Liaoyang
    Liaoyang
    Liaoyang is a city in China, Liaoning province, located in the middle of the Liaodong Peninsula. The city is situated on the T'ai-tzu River and forms with Anshan a built up area of 2,057,200 inhabitants in 2010....

     District in Liaoning Province as its seat of government. Under this came north-east China
    China
    Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

     and the northern part of Korea
    Korea
    Korea ) is an East Asian geographic region that is currently divided into two separate sovereign states — North Korea and South Korea. Located on the Korean Peninsula, Korea is bordered by the People's Republic of China to the northwest, Russia to the northeast, and is separated from Japan to the...

    .
  7. Lingbei Xingsheng (嶺北行省) with Karakorum
    Karakorum
    Karakorum was the capital of the Mongol Empire in the 13th century, and of the Northern Yuan in the 14-15th century. Its ruins lie in the northwestern corner of the Övörkhangai Province of Mongolia, near today's town of Kharkhorin, and adjacent to the Erdene Zuu monastery...

     as its seat of government. Under this province came the present-day Mongolia
    Mongolia
    Mongolia is a landlocked country in East and Central Asia. It is bordered by Russia to the north and China to the south, east and west. Although Mongolia does not share a border with Kazakhstan, its western-most point is only from Kazakhstan's eastern tip. Ulan Bator, the capital and largest...

    , northern Inner Mongolia
    Inner Mongolia
    Inner Mongolia is an autonomous region of the People's Republic of China, located in the northern region of the country. Inner Mongolia shares an international border with the countries of Mongolia and the Russian Federation...

     and parts of Siberia
    Siberia
    Siberia is an extensive region constituting almost all of Northern Asia. Comprising the central and eastern portion of the Russian Federation, it was part of the Soviet Union from its beginning, as its predecessor states, the Tsardom of Russia and the Russian Empire, conquered it during the 16th...

    .
  8. Shaanxi Xingsheng (陝西行省) with Xi'an
    Xi'an
    Xi'an is the capital of the Shaanxi province, and a sub-provincial city in the People's Republic of China. One of the oldest cities in China, with more than 3,100 years of history, the city was known as Chang'an before the Ming Dynasty...

     as its seat of government. Under this came the majority of present-day Shaanxi
    Shaanxi
    ' is a province in the central part of Mainland China, and it includes portions of the Loess Plateau on the middle reaches of the Yellow River in addition to the Qinling Mountains across the southern part of this province...

     Province, the south-western part of Inner Mongolia
    Inner Mongolia
    Inner Mongolia is an autonomous region of the People's Republic of China, located in the northern region of the country. Inner Mongolia shares an international border with the countries of Mongolia and the Russian Federation...

    , south-eastern Gansu
    Gansu
    ' is a province located in the northwest of the People's Republic of China.It lies between the Tibetan and Huangtu plateaus, and borders Mongolia, Inner Mongolia, and Ningxia to the north, Xinjiang and Qinghai to the west, Sichuan to the south, and Shaanxi to the east...

    , north-western Sichuan
    Sichuan
    ' , known formerly in the West by its postal map spellings of Szechwan or Szechuan is a province in Southwest China with its capital in Chengdu...

    , and a small part of Qinghai
    Qinghai
    Qinghai ; Oirat Mongolian: ; ; Salar:) is a province of the People's Republic of China, named after Qinghai Lake...

    .
  9. Sichuan Xingsheng (四川行省) with Chengdu
    Chengdu
    Chengdu , formerly transliterated Chengtu, is the capital of Sichuan province in Southwest China. It holds sub-provincial administrative status...

     at its seat of government. Under this came most of present-day Sichuan
    Sichuan
    ' , known formerly in the West by its postal map spellings of Szechwan or Szechuan is a province in Southwest China with its capital in Chengdu...

     Province and parts of south-western Shaanxi
    Shaanxi
    ' is a province in the central part of Mainland China, and it includes portions of the Loess Plateau on the middle reaches of the Yellow River in addition to the Qinling Mountains across the southern part of this province...

    .
  10. Yunnan Xingsheng (雲南行省) with Kunming
    Kunming
    ' is the capital and largest city of Yunnan Province in Southwest China. It was known as Yunnan-Fou until the 1920s. A prefecture-level city, it is the political, economic, communications and cultural centre of Yunnan, and is the seat of the provincial government...

     as its seat of government. Under this came present-day Yunnan
    Yunnan
    Yunnan is a province of the People's Republic of China, located in the far southwest of the country spanning approximately and with a population of 45.7 million . The capital of the province is Kunming. The province borders Burma, Laos, and Vietnam.Yunnan is situated in a mountainous area, with...

     Province and parts of western Guizhou
    Guizhou
    ' is a province of the People's Republic of China located in the southwestern part of the country. Its provincial capital city is Guiyang.- History :...

    .
  11. Zhendong Xingsheng (征東行省) with Kaesong
    Kaesong
    Kaesŏng is a city in North Hwanghae Province, southern North Korea , a former Directly Governed City, and the capital of Korea during the Koryo Dynasty. The city is near Kaesŏng Industrial Region and it contains the remains of the Manwoldae palace. It was formally named Songdo while it was the...

     of present-day Korea
    Korea
    Korea ) is an East Asian geographic region that is currently divided into two separate sovereign states — North Korea and South Korea. Located on the Korean Peninsula, Korea is bordered by the People's Republic of China to the northwest, Russia to the northeast, and is separated from Japan to the...

     as its seat. It was a special institution set up when Kublai Khan attempted to invade Japan
    Japan
    Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

     in 1281, with the king of Goryeo
    Goryeo
    The Goryeo Dynasty or Koryŏ was a Korean dynasty established in 918 by Emperor Taejo. Korea gets its name from this kingdom which came to be pronounced Korea. It united the Later Three Kingdoms in 936 and ruled most of the Korean peninsula until it was removed by the Joseon dynasty in 1392...

     as its head. The setting of this Xingsheng was considerably different from all other Xingsheng, and unlike other Xingsheng, Zhendong (征東), literally "Conquer East" or "Eastern Expedition", was not a geographic name, and this institution was also referred to as "Japanese Expedition Xingsheng" (征日本行省) or just "Japan Xingsheng" (日本行省). It was abolished when the invasion of Japan had failed, though set up again later.


Below the level of Xing Zhongshusheng or Xingsheng, the largest political division was the circuit (道), followed by prefectures (府) operating under a prefect and subprefectures (州) under a subprefect. The lowest political division was the county (縣) overseen by a magistrate. This government structure at the provincial level was later copied by the Ming
Ming Dynasty
The Ming Dynasty, also Empire of the Great Ming, was the ruling dynasty of China from 1368 to 1644, following the collapse of the Mongol-led Yuan Dynasty. The Ming, "one of the greatest eras of orderly government and social stability in human history", was the last dynasty in China ruled by ethnic...

 and Qing
Qing Dynasty
The Qing Dynasty was the last dynasty of China, ruling from 1644 to 1912 with a brief, abortive restoration in 1917. It was preceded by the Ming Dynasty and followed by the Republic of China....

 dynasties.

See also

  • List of Emperors of the Yuan Dynasty
  • Mongol Empire
    Mongol Empire
    The Mongol Empire , initially named as Greater Mongol State was a great empire during the 13th and 14th centuries...

  • Yuan Dynasty family tree
  • Jin Dynasty (金朝)
    Jin Dynasty, 1115–1234
    The Jīn Dynasty ; Khitan language: Nik, Niku; ; 1115–1234), also known as the Jurchen Dynasty, was founded by the Wanyan clan of the Jurchens, the ancestors of the Manchus who established the Qing Dynasty some 500 years later...

  • Song Dynasty
    Song Dynasty
    The Song Dynasty was a ruling dynasty in China between 960 and 1279; it succeeded the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period, and was followed by the Yuan Dynasty. It was the first government in world history to issue banknotes or paper money, and the first Chinese government to establish a...

  • Ming Dynasty
    Ming Dynasty
    The Ming Dynasty, also Empire of the Great Ming, was the ruling dynasty of China from 1368 to 1644, following the collapse of the Mongol-led Yuan Dynasty. The Ming, "one of the greatest eras of orderly government and social stability in human history", was the last dynasty in China ruled by ethnic...

  • Western Xia
    Western Xia
    The Western Xia Dynasty or the Tangut Empire, was known to the Tanguts and the Tibetans as Minyak.The state existed from 1038 to 1227 AD in what are now the northwestern Chinese provinces of Ningxia, Gansu, eastern Qinghai, northern Shaanxi, northeastern Xinjiang, southwest Inner Mongolia, and...

  • History of Mongolia
    History of Mongolia
    The area of what is now Mongolia has been ruled by various nomadic empires, including the Xiongnu, the Xianbei, the Nirun, the Gökturks, and others. The Mongol Empire was founded by Genghis Khan in 1206. After the collapse of the Yuan Dynasty in 1368, the Mongols returned to their earlier patterns...

  • List of Mongol Khans
  • Jun ware
    Jun ware
    Chinese Jun ware is a type of celadon. The use of straw ash in the glaze bestows its unique blue glaze suffused with white. The ware was created near Linru County in the province of Henan at the Jun kilns of Yuzhou City during the Northern Song dynasty to the Jin Dynasty and Yuan dynasty...

  • Mongol invasions
    Mongol invasions
    Mongol invasions progressed throughout the 13th century, resulting in the vast Mongol Empire which covered much of Asia and Eastern Europe by 1300....

  • Europeans in Medieval China
    Europeans in Medieval China
    The term ‘Medieval China’ is quite a misnomer as there was no clear ‘medieval’ period in Chinese history. While the medieval period in Europe spanned over one thousand years, between the fifth and fifteenth centuries, the Chinese Imperial period spans a much greater period of time...

  • Islam during the Yuan Dynasty
    Islam during the Yuan Dynasty
    The establishment of the Yuan Dynasty in China had dramatically benefited Islam in China in contrast to previous dynasties. Foreigners in China were given an elevated status in the hierarchy of the new regime. The impact on China by its Muslims at this time, including the advancement of Chinese...

  • Hua-Yi distinction
    Hua-Yi distinction
    The distinction between Hua and Yi is an ancient Chinese conception that differentiated a culturally defined "China" from cultural or ethnic outsiders...


Further reading

  • Chan Hok-lam and de Bary, W.T., Yuan Thought: Chinese Thought and Religion Under the Mongols, (New York: Columbia University Press, 1982). ISBN 978-0231053242.
  • Langlois, John D., China Under Mongol Rule, (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1981). ISBN 978-0691101101.
  • Rossabi, M., Khubilai Khan: His Life and Times, (Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1989). ISBN 978-0520067400.

External links