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This week in history: Kublai Khan

by / Friday, 15 May 2020 / Published in For Students, For Teachers, Post-Antiquity

This week in 1260, Kublai Khan became ruler of the Mongol Empire. Grandson to the well-known Genghis Khan, Kublai was the empire’s fifth Khagan, or Great Khan. Kublai succeeded to the throne after the death of his eldest brother, Mongke. The latter died in 1259 without naming a successor, and almost immediately Kublai’s younger brother, Ariq Boke, held a Mongol great council that named him Khagan. But Kublai then held his own great council, got declared Khagan, and went to war with Ariq Boke. The Mongol civil war that lasted 4 years, and of course Kublai won.

The civil war, however, divided and weakened the Mongol Empire, and soon it broke into several smaller empires. Kublai ruled as great Kahn, but his true realm was China, and he wielded less power in the rest of the empire than had any of the earlier Great Khans.

Kublai’s legacy includes many conquests but also some prominent losses. That includes three failed attempts at conquering Vietnam and two failed invasions of Japan.

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