September 16, 2012
World History AP
The Mongol invasion of China was perhaps one of the greatest political, social, and economic commotions in Chinese history. Obscure people, who lived the Gobi Desert, present day Outer Mongolia, accomplished it. The Mongols were a prestige nomadic group of people who gained prominence in the 13th century. The Mongols transformed Russia and China in many significant ways .One major way was consisting of a dominant military occupation for both countries. The invasion of China done by the Mongols extended for six decades in the 13th century. The result of this invasion was the destruction of the Sung Dynasty, and the creation of the Yuan Dynasty, one of the shortest lived of the major Dynasties in Chinese history. The Mongol Empire started their victory under the rule of Chinngis Khan in 1206. By the year 1279, the Mongol leader Kublai Khan continued the empire’s triumph with establishing the Yuan Dynasty. Despite, the Mongols impact on Russia the Mongolian Empire was defeated time after time which resulted in the success of the empire. To comprehend the Mongol invasion and its effects on Chinese culture you must trace back to the start of this empire. Temujin, later called Chinnghis Khan, was the son of a local Chieftain who had a small clan. His father passed of poison when he was still young and abandoned Temujin. At the age of forty Temujin was elected Grand Khan of the Mongols in 1206. Although he had a difficult start, when he died twenty years later, his rule extended from the Caspian to the northern coast of China. Genghis Khan was perhaps one of the greatest military visionaries in human history, and his armies were perhaps the best-trained horsemen in all of history. Genghis Khan would also organize his troops into decimal units. Moreover, his armies were very mobile and could travel far reaching distances at quick paces.
If any town that the Mongols encountered resisted, Chinngis Khan would ruthlessly lay obstruction and completely massacre the residents of the town. When news of his tactics spread, his armies easily and successfully took over towns that would surrender as soon as the Mongols arrived. It was in this fashion that the Mongol armies destroyed entire populations in China and other surrounding areas such as Poland, Russia, and Iran. The Mongolian Empire was perhaps the largest empire in human history in terms of geographical expanse. Genghis Khan was most interested, personally in capturing China for its riches, therefore he expanded southward. By 1227 he had conquered the city of Beijing, and by 1241 the Mongols had conquered all of northern China. After the death of Genghis Khan in 1227, the next Great Khan to rule was Genghis' son, Ogodei (1229-1241). With all the change positioned on China, it was during his rule that China began to be fully broken both economically and politically. The Mongols, in order to form durable political units, and to continue their expansion, began to associate with the peoples they had conquered. Since the Mongols were a small minority in a world of many different people of opposite backgrounds, they began to copy Chinese institutions. Overtime, the harshness of the Mongols softened under the influence of the Chinese people and Chinese institutions like mailing transmits, new warehouses, and the issuing of paper money were instituted in Mongol China. However, it would not be until the rule of Kublai Khan that Chinese political structure and philosophies would be applied. In 1260 Kublai Khan was elected Great Khan in the Mongol capital of Karakorum. In 1263 he moved his capital from Karakorum to Beijing. In 1271, he expected the Chinese dynastic name of Yüan Dynasty after capturing most of North and Central China. Kublai Khan decided
to build a strong central government in order to strengthen his authority as a foreign ruler over China. He succeeded in making the emperorship completely tyrannical. One of Kublai Khan's most uncertain accomplishments was dividing the people of China into four groups, in a caste-like system from top to bottom: Mongols were at the top, then non-Chinese people, next were the Northern Chinese, and finally at the bottom were the people from south. He also ordered that Chinese could not bear arms, learn to speak Mongolian, or gather in groups. The people were additionally humiliated by having to kneel to the Mongols and other non-Chinese people by being required to bow when they came in contact with them. Another change that Kublai Khan instituted while being emperor was to suspend the Examination System completely. The Examination System had been cut back considerably before Kublai Khan , by his brother Ogodei in North China, but with the demise of the Sung in Southern China, the Examination system was suspended forever in all of china. Cultural transmission between China and the rest of the world also increased during the Mongol occupation. Since most of the Chinese selected were excluded from participating in running the Empire, most of those in government were of foreign birth. It was also during this cultural exchange between China and the rest of the world that Kublai Khan asked for diplomats from the Roman Catholic Pope, and diplomats from other beliefs to come to China. Merchants from areas as far as the Middle East and Western Europe and Constantinople began trading with China around this time as well. However none of these cultural exchanges had any effect on the Chinese people after the end of the Yuan Dynasty. The Yüan Dynasty finally fell around the year 1368 due in part to the uprising of Chinese peasants. The Mongols had conquered the Chinese people to the point that only rebellion
could bring an end to such cruelty. The causes which lead to the collapse of the Yuan Empire were all mutually related to each other: disorder in the administration, where countless clashing regulations in force, the greed of the Mongol and Moslem officials, an extremely rapid rise of the paper money, etc. The history of the Mongol invasion and the subsequent Yuan Dynasty is one of the simple brutalities and exploitation. The Chinese at the end of the fourteenth century were self-confidently themselves again, and apparently unharmed.