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Yuan Dynasty
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Yuan Dynasty

This article is part
of the series:
History of China
Pre-Xia
Xia Dynasty
Shang Dynasty
Zhou Dynasty
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Han Dynasty
Three Kingdoms
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This article is part
of the series:
History of Mongolia
Before Chinggis Khan
Mongol Empire
Chagatai Khanate
Golden Horde
Ilkhanate
Yuan Dynasty
Northern Yuan
Oyirad
Jn Ghar Empire
Qing Dynasty
Modern History
Independent Mongolia
Inner Mongolia
Buryat Republic
Kalmykia

The Yuan Dynasty (Mongolian: Dai n Yeke Mongghul Ulus; Chinese: 元朝) (1271-1368), also called the Mongol Dynasty, was part of the Mongol Empire. In Chinese historiography, it followed the Song Dynasty and preceded the Ming Dynasty in China.

In 1231, Korea fell into Mongol hands, which later used as a base for invading Japan. By the mid-13th century, the Mongols had subjugated north China and the Muslim kingdoms of Central Asia and had twice penetrated Europe. With the resources of his vast empire, Kublai Khan, a grandson of Genghis Khan and the supreme leader of all Mongol tribes, began his drive against the Southern Song. Even before the extinction of the Song dynasty, Kublai Khan had established the first alien dynasty to rule all China--the Yuan. In 1279, Guangzhou fell into Mongol hands, which marks the end of the Southern Song and the onset of China under the Mongols.

Although the Mongols sought to govern China through traditional institutions, using Han Chinese bureaucrats, they were not up to the task. The Han were discriminated against socially and politically. All important central and regional posts were monopolized by Mongols, who also preferred employing non-Chinese from other parts of the Mongol domain--Central Asia, the Middle East, and even Europe--in those positions for which no Mongol could be found. Chinese were more often employed in non-Chinese regions of the empire.

As in other periods of alien dynastic rule of China, a rich cultural diversity developed during the Yuan dynasty. The major cultural achievements were the development of drama and the novel and the increased use of the written vernacular. Given the unified rule of central Asia, trades between East and West flourished. The Mongols' extensive West Asian and European contacts produced a fair amount of cultural exchange. Western musical instruments were introduced to enrich the Chinese performing arts. From this period dates the conversion to Islam, by Muslims of Central Asia, of growing numbers of Chinese in the northwest and southwest. Nestorianism and Roman Catholicism also enjoyed a period of toleration. Lamaism (Tibetan Buddhism) flourished, although native Taoism endured Mongol persecutions. Confucian governmental practices and examinations based on the Classics, which had fallen into disuse in north China during the period of disunity, were reinstated by the Mongols in the hope of maintaining order over Han society. Advances were realized in the fields of travel literature, cartography, and geography, and scientific education. Certain key Chinese innovations, such as printing techniques, porcelain production, playing cards, and medical literature, were introduced in Europe, while the production of thin glass and cloisonne became popular in China. The first records of travel by Westerners date from this time. The most famous traveler of the period was the Venetian Marco Polo, whose account of his trip to "Cambaluc," the Great Khan's capital (now Beijing), 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. The works of John of Plano Carpini and William of Rubruck also provided early descriptions of the Mongols to the West.

The Mongols undertook extensive public works. Road and water communications were reorganized and improved. To provide against possible famines, granaries 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, which was completely renovated. These commercially oriented improvements encouraged overland as well as maritime commerce throughout Asia and facilitated the first direct Chinese contacts with Europe. Chinese and Mongol travelers to the West were able to provide assistance in such areas as hydraulic engineering, while bringing back to the Middle Kingdom new scientific discoveries and architectural innovations. Contacts with the West also brought the introduction to China of a major new food crop--sorghum--along with other foreign food products and methods of preparation.

In time, Khubilai's successors became sinicized, and they then lost all influence on other Mongol lands across Asia. 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 their Mongolian army and their Chinese subjects. China was torn by dissension and unrest; bandits ranged the country without interference from the weakening Yuan armies.

The last of the nine successors of Khubilai was expelled from Dadu in 1368 by Zhu Yuanzhang, the founder of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), and died in Karakorum in 1370. Although Zhu, who adopted Mongol military methods, drove the Mongols out of China, he did not destroy their power.

The Yuan Dynasty, remained in Mongolia, and is called the Northern Yuan by modern historians. Accoording to Chinese political orthodoxy, there could be only one legitimate empire, and so both dynasties denied the legitimacy of the other, although modern Chinese historians tend to regard the Ming dynasty as more legitimate.

Chinese called the Mongols "Tatar" (韃靼 d d) instead of "Mongol" (蒙古 meng2 gu3) even though they called themselves "Mongghul". A Chinese army invaded Mongolia in 1380. In 1388 a decisive victory was won; about 70,000 Mongols were taken prisoner, and Karakorum was annihilated. In 1388 the throne was taken over by Yesder, a descendant of Arigh Bugha. Getting through the turbulent period, descendants of Khubilai were restored to the throne. When Lingdan Khan, the last grand-Khan of the Mongols, died on his way to Tibet in 1634, his son Ejei surrendered to the Manchu and gave the great seal of the Yuan Emperor to Hong Taiji. As a result, Hong Taiji established the new dynasty of Qing as the successor of the Yuan Dynasty in 1636.

Rulers of Yuan Dynasty

Temple names Posthumous names Khan Names Given names Period of Reigns Era names and their according range of years
Convention: use first name (e.g. Temujin) or Khan names for khans before Kublai Khan. Use "Yuan" + temple name or posthumous name after. A mix of the three for Kublai Khan.
Note:
1) all first names of the sovereigns were those more familiar to western readers.
2) Timur or Temr means the same Mongolian words but Temr will be used for avoiding confusion with the Timur (Timurlane or Tamerlane) who attempted to retore the Mongolian Empire in Central Asia.
Taizu (太祖 Tizǔ) too tedious; thus, not used when referring to this sovereign Genghis Khan Borjigin Temujin (孛兒只斤鐵木真 Birzhījīn Tiěmzhēn) 1206-1227 did not exist
Ruizong (睿宗 Ruzōng) too tedious; thus, not used when referring to this sovereign ? Borjigin Tolui (孛兒只斤拖雷 BirzhījīnTuōli) 1228 did not exist
Taizong (太宗 Tizōng) too tedious; thus, not used when referring to this sovereign gedei Khan Borjigin gedei (孛兒只斤窩闊台 Birzhījīn Wōkuti) 1229-1241 did not exist
did not exist did not exist Tregene Khtn (乃馬真 Nǎimǎzhēn) regent 1241-1246 did not exist
Dingzong (定宗 Dngzōng) too tedious; thus, not used when referring to this sovereign Gyk Khan Borjigin Gyk (孛兒只斤貴由 Birzhījīn Guyu) 1246-1248 did not exist
did not exist did not exist ? Oghul Ghaymish (海米失 Hǎimǐshī) regent 1248-1251 did not exist
Xianzong (憲宗 Xinzōng) too tedious; thus, not used when referring to this sovereign Mngke Khan Borjigin Mngke (孛兒只斤蒙哥 Birzhījīn Mnggē) 1251-1259 did not exist
Shizu (世祖 Shzǔ) too tedious; thus, not used when referring to this sovereign Kublai Khan Borjigin Kublai (孛兒只斤忽必烈 Birzhījīn Hūbli) 1260-1294 Zhongtong (中統 Zhōngtǒng) 1260-1264
   Zhiyuan (至元 Zhyun) 1264-1294
Chengzong (成宗 Chngzōng) too tedious; thus, not used when referring to this sovereign Temr ljeyt Khn Borjigin Temr (孛兒只斤鐵木耳 Birzhījīn Tiěmr) 1295-1307 Yuanzhen (元貞 Yunzhēn) 1295-1297
   Dade (大德 Dd) 1297-1307
Wuzong (武宗 Wǔzōng) too tedious; thus, not used when referring to this sovereign Qayshan Glk Borjigin Qayshan (孛兒只斤海山 Birzhījīn Hǎishān) 1308-1311 Zhida (至大 Zhd) 1308-1311
Renzong (仁宗 Rnzōng) too tedious; thus, not used when referring to this sovereign Ayurparibhadra Borjigin Ayurparibhadra 孛兒只斤愛育黎拔力八達 Birzhījīn iylblbād) 1312-1320 Huangqing (皇慶 Hungqng) 1312-1313
   Yanyou (延祐 Ynyu) 1314-1320
Yingzong (英宗 Yīngzōng) too tedious; thus, not used when referring to this sovereign Suddhipala Gege'en Borjigin Suddhipala (孛兒只斤碩德八剌 Birzhījīn Shudbāl) 1321-1323 Zhizhi (至治 Zhzh) 1321-1323
Convention: 'for the following sovereign only, use "yuan" + posthumous name, i.e. 元泰定帝 Yun Ti Dng D.
Jinzong (晉宗 Jnzōng) Taiding Di (泰定帝 Tidng D) Yesn-Temr Borjigin Yesn-Temr 孛兒只斤也孫鐵木兒 Birzhījīn Yěsǔn-Tiěmr) 1321-1328 Taiding (泰定 Tidng) 1321-1328
   Zhihe (致和 Zhh) 1328
did not exist Tianshun Di (天順帝 Tiānshn D) Arigaba Borjigin Arigaba (孛兒只斤阿速吉八 Birzhījīn Āsjbā) 1328 Tianshun (天順 Tiānshn) 1328
Wenzong (文宗 Wnzōng) too tedious; thus, not used when referring to this sovereign Jijaghatu Toq-Temr Borjigin Toq-Temr (孛兒只斤圖鐵木兒 Birzhījīn T-Tiěmr) 1328-1329 and 1329-1332 Tianli (天曆 Tiānl) 1328-1330
   Zhishun (至順 Zhshn) 1330-1332
Mingzong (明宗 Mngzōng) too tedious; thus, not used when referring to this sovereign Qoshila Qutuqtu Borjigin Qoshila (孛兒只斤和世剌 Birzhījīn Hshl) 1329 did not exist
Ningzong (寧宗 Nngzōng) too tedious; thus, not used when referring to this sovereign Irinchibal Borjigin Irinchibal (孛兒只斤懿璘質班 Birzhījīn Ylnzhbān) 1332 Zhishun (至順 Zhshn) 1332
Convention: 'for the following sovereign only, use "yuan" + posthumous name.
Hui Zong (惠宗 Hu Zōng) Shundi (順帝 Shnd) Toghan-Temr Borjigin Toghan-Temr 孛兒只斤妥懽鐵木兒 Birzhījīn Tuǒhuān Tiěmr) 1333-1370 Zhishun (至順 Zhshn) 1333
   Yuantong (元統 Yuntǒng) 1333-1335
Zhiyuan (至元 Zhyun) 1335-1340
Zhizheng (至正 Zhzhng) 1341-1368
Zhiyuan (至元 Zhyun) 1368-1370



Yuan Dynasty (after expelled from China by Ming in 1368) 1368 - mid 14th century
Temple Names (Miao Hao 廟號 Mio Ho) Posthumous Names (Shi Hao 諡號) Khan Names Born Names Period of Reigns Era Names (Nian Hao 年號) and their according range of years
Convention: use khan names or born names.
Note: 1) all first names of the sovereigns were those more familiar to western readers. 2) Timur or Temr means the same Mongolian words but Temr will be used for avoiding confusion with the Timur (Timurlane or Tamerlane) who attempted to restore the Mongolian Empire in Central Asia.
Convention: 'for the following sovereign only, use "yuan" + posthumous name.
Hui Zong (惠宗 Hu Zōng) (same person as the last Yuan emperor in China) Shundi (順帝 Shnd) Toghan-Temr Borjigin Toghan-Temr 孛兒只斤妥懽鐵木兒 Birzhījīn Tuǒhuān Tiěmr) 1333-1370 Zhishun (至順 Zhshn) 1333
   Yuantong (元統 Yuntǒng) 1333-1335
Zhiyuan (至元 Zhyun) 1335-1340
Zhizheng (至正 Zhzhng) 1341-1368
Zhiyuan (至元 Zhyun) 1368-1370
Zhaozong (昭宗 Zhāozōng) did not exist Biliketu Khan? Borjigin Ayushilidrala ? (孛兒只斤愛育識里達臘 Birzhījīn iyshlǐdl) 1370-1378 Xuanguang (宣光 Xuānguāng) 1371-1378
did not exist did not exist Usahar Khan? Borjigin Togus-Temr 孛兒只斤脫古思鐵木兒 Birzhījīn Tuōgǔsī Tiěmr) 1378-1387 Tianguang (天光 Tiānguāng) 1378-1387
Note: ....5 more khans before the Bei-Er-Zhi-Jin family stepped down from the khan throne....

The imperial family belongs to the Borjigin clan of the Kiyan superclan.

Name transliteration form Mongolian:

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