Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Khubilai Khan Essays - Borjigin, Mongol Empire, Kublai Khan

Khubilai Khan The founder of Chinas Yuan, or Mongol, Dynasty was a brilliant statesman and military leader named Khubilai Khan. Grandson and the best-known successor of the great Mongol conqueror Genghis Khan, Khubiliai became the first emperor of the Mongol Empire. He completed the conquest of China that was begun by his grandfather. Khubilais major accomplishment was convincing China to be ruled by foreign people, the Mongols. His achievements were first brought to the Western and European society in the writings of Marco Polo, the Venetian traveler who lived in China for nearly 20 years. Khubilai Khan began to play a significant part in the consolidation of Mongol rule when his brother, Mangu Khan, became determined to complete the conquest of China in 1251. Upon the death of Mangu, only eight years later, Khubilai was proclaimed as the Great Khan.1 Then in 1279, Khubilai defeated the Southern Song Dynasty, bringing the remainder of China under his reign.2 This was the first time all of China was under foreign rule. Khubilai named the dynasty Yuan, meaning beginning or origin of the universe, to signify that this was the beginning of a long era of Mongol power.3 The Yuan Dynasty lasted from 1279 to 1368 in China.4 Where to put the capital was a major decision for Khubilai Khan. He ended up making two capitals: Upper Capital, called Shang-tu, and Central Capital, called Ta-tu, located at present-day Beijing.5 Ta-tu soon became a sophisticated and wealthy city. There Khubilai ruled as both the emperor of the Chinese Yuan Dynasty and the Great Khan of the Mongols. Khubilai adapted to the Chinese way of governing. He successfully followed the bureaucratic system through which Chinese dynasties had ruled. However, the Mongols carefully guarded their cultural identity and way of life. The Mongols could not have ruled China without the help of some of the Chinese aristocracy and yet they were reluctant to use the Chinese in their government. Chinese talent was excluded from positions of authority and discriminative social and legal laws were set up, limiting the freedom of the Chinese. To support agriculture, Khubilai Khan created an Office for Stimulation of Agriculture in 1261.6 Although many of his people wanted to establish the nomadic way of life inside the Great Wall, in early 1262, Khubilai passed a law forbidding nomads animals from roaming on farmland. He filled up granaries in case of future famines, especially in the north where the land had been ravaged. At the Central Capital, Ta-tu, Khubilai had 58 granaries, which stored 145,000 shih (one shih was equivalent to about 133 pounds) of grain.7 He organized the farmers into groups called the she. Each she composed of 50 families and were under the supervision of a village leader known as the she-chang.8 The shes chief purpose was to serve in the stimulation of agriculture. They were encouraged to complete self-help projects such as promoting silk production, planting trees, improving irrigation and flood control, and stocking rivers and lakes with fish. Each she were to observe their own members and reward those who worked efficiently and discipline those who were lazy. The she not only, in a sense, give peasants control over their lives, but also helped the government to watch over the people. It also introduced the peasant children with a better education in agricultural techniques and basic literacy.9 Khubilai Khan also organized a fixed, regular taxing system. Instead of paying taxes to the local collectors, the people just made one annual payment to the central government. The government then paid the nobles. Khubilai also demanded a great deal of unpaid labor from the people. Not only did Khubilai demand the people to provide labor, but also to provide their own horses and supplies. At the same time he issued laws and codes demanding overseers not to be troublesome. He commanded that the Yangtze River be extended 135 miles north by constructing the Grand Canal. The Grand Canal would link the Yangtze River with Ta-tu. When it was completed in 1289, the Grand Canal, first used only for official news, but soon merchants used the Grand Canal as well. Khubilai also tried to improve the communication system within his empire. By the end of Khubilais reign, there were 1,400 postal stations, which used 50,000 horses, 8,400 oxen, 6,700 mules, 4,000 carts, 6,000 boats, 200 dogs, and 1,150 sheep.10 Because of Khubilais strict accomplishments, soon both trade on land and overseas flourished. The Mongols welcomed foreigners including Russians, Arabs, Jews, Genoese, and Venetians.

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