Yuan Dynasty in Inner Asia
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Yuan Dynasty in Inner Asia
Yuan dynasty, c. 1294.

The Yuan dynasty in Inner Asia was the domination of the Yuan dynasty in Inner Asia in the 13th and the 14th centuries. The Genghisid rulers of the Yuan came from the Mongolian steppe, and the Mongols under Kublai Khan established the Yuan dynasty (1271-1368) based in Khanbaliq (modern Beijing). The Yuan was a Chinese dynasty that incorporated many aspects of Mongolian and Inner Asian political and military institutions.[1]

The Yuan directly ruled over parts of modern China, Korea, Mongolia, and Siberia (Russia). Specifically, the Yuan extended to Manchuria (modern Northeast China and Outer Manchuria), Mongolia, Siberia, the Tibetan Plateau and parts of Xinjiang. People from these 'Inner Asian' regions either belonged to the 'Mongol' class, 'Northern Han' class, or 'Semu' class.

In addition, the Yuan emperors held nominal suzerainty over the three western Mongol khanates (the Golden Horde, the Chagatai Khanate and the Ilkhanate).

Northeast Asia

Manchuria within the Yuan dynasty.

Manchuria was originally ruled by the Han, Tang, Liao, and Jin dynasty before the emergence of the Mongol Empire in the early 13th century. During the Mongol conquest of the Jin dynasty (1211-1234), North China became ruled by Mongols, and Manchuria became part of the Yuan dynasty.

In 1269, the Yuan founder Kublai Khan set up the Liaoyang province (?) which extended to the Korean Peninsula. In 1286, it became a Xuanweisi (). In 1287, the Liaoyang province was established again, and lasted until the end of the Yuan dynasty.

According to Yuanshi, the official history of the Yuan dynasty, the Mongols militarily invaded Sakhalin island and subdued the Guwei () there. By 1308, all inhabitants of Sakhalin had submitted to the Yuan dynasty. After the overthrow of the Yuan dynasty by the Ming dynasty in 1368, some Mongols under Naghachu (originally a Yuan official) fled to Northeast Asia, where he became a general of the Northern Yuan dynasty. The Ming then conquered and annexed Manchuria after the Ming military campaign against Naghachu in 1387.


Mongolia within the Yuan dynasty.

The Mongols came from the Mongolian steppe, and Karakorum was the capital of the Mongol Empire until 1260.

During the Toluid Civil War, Mongolia was controlled by Ariq Böke, a younger brother of Kublai Khan. After Kublai's victory over Ariq Böke, Mongolia was put within the Central Region () directly governed by the Central Secretariat at the capital Khanbaliq (Dadu). However, it was shortly occupied by Kaidu, leader of the House of Ögedei and de facto khan of the Chagatai Khanate during his war with Kublai Khan, although it was later recovered by the Yuan commander Bayan of the Baarin.

Temur was later appointed a governor in Karakorum and Bayan became a minister.

During the rule of Külüg Khan, the third Yuan emperor, Mongolia was put under the Karakorum province (? Helin Province) in 1307, although parts of Inner Mongolia were still governed by the Central Secretariat.

The province was renamed to the Lingbei province (?) by his successor Ayurbarwada Buyantu Khan in 1312. After the overthrow of the Yuan dynasty by the Ming dynasty in 1368, the Mongols retreated to Mongolia and Siberia, which became the ruling center of the Northern Yuan dynasty.


Tibet within the Yuan dynasty.

After the Mongol conquest of Tibet in the 1240s, Tibet was incorporated into the Mongol Empire. After the enthronement of Kublai Khan, founder of the Yuan dynasty, Tibet was put under the Bureau of Buddhist and Tibetan Affairs or Xuanzheng Yuan, a government agency and top-level administrative department set up in Khanbaliq that supervised Buddhist monks in addition to managing the territory of Tibet.[2][full ]

Besides modern-day Tibet Autonomous Region, the Yuan also governed a part of Sichuan, Qinghai and Kashmir. It was separate from the other provinces of the Yuan dynasty such as those of former Song dynasty of China, but still under the administrative rule of the Yuan.

One of the department's purposes was to select a dpon-chen ('great administrator'), usually appointed by the lama and confirmed by the Yuan emperor in Beijing.[3]

During the Yuan rule of Tibet, Tibet retained nominal power over religious and regional affairs, while the Yun managed a structural and administrative rule over the region,[4][full ] reinforced by military intervention.

Tibetan Buddhism was one of the main state religions of the Yuan dynasty, and the Sakya leader Drogön Chögyal Phagpa became Imperial Preceptor of Kublai Khan.

Yuan control over the region ended with the Ming overthrow of the Yuan, Tai Situ Changchub Gyaltsen's revolt against the Mongols, and the Ming annexation of Tibet.[5]


The Mongol Empire began to rule modern-day Xinjiang during their conquest of the Qara Khitai. After the division of the Mongol Empire and the established of the Yuan dynasty by Kublai Khan, Xinjiang became a battle place between the Yuan dynasty and the Chagatai Khanate. The Yuan had shortly put most of present-day Xinjiang under its control under the Bechbaliq province (), but they were occupied by the Chagatai Khanate in 1286. After a long-time war between them, most of Xinjiang became under the control of the Chagatai Khanate, while the Yuan dynasty only controlled eastern part of Xinjiang. No province was set up again by the Mongols of the Yuan in Xinjiang, although the Yuan did set up an institution named "?" in eastern Xinjiang in 1330, which was directly governed by the Yuan dynasty. After the fall of the Yuan dynasty in 1368, the Kara Del khanate was founded in Hami by the Yuan prince Gunashiri, a descendant of Chagatai Khan.

Suzerainty over Western Khanates

Yuan dynasty (in green) and the three western khanates, c. 1300.

The Yuan retained political suzerainty over the whole Mongol empire, including the three western khanates: the Golden Horde, the Chagatai Khanate and the Ilkhanate.

Since the Toluid Civil War in the 1260s, the Mongol Empire over time politically fragmented into four khanates.

The Kaidu-Kublai war (1268-1301) lasted a few decades.

After the death of Kublai Khan in 1294, Ghazan Khan of the Ilkhanate converted to Islam after his enthronement in 1295. He actively supported the expansion of Islam in his empire. Three years later, he sent his envoys to greet Kublai Khan's successor and 2nd Yuan emperor Temür, who responded favorably. The Ilkhanid envoys presented tribute to Temür and inspected properties granted to Hulagu in North China.[6] They stayed at the Yuan capital (Khanbaliq, modern Beijing) for four years.

Around 1300, Kaidu and Duwa of the Chagatai Khanate mobilized a large army to attack Karakorum (Yuan control) during the final stage of the Kaidu-Kublai war. The Yuan army suffered heavy losses while both sides could not make any decisive victory in September. Duwa was wounded in the battle and Kaidu died soon thereafter. After that, Duwa, Kaidu's son Chapar, Tokhta of the Golden Horde and Ilkhan Oljeitu (Ghazan's successor) negotiated peace with Temür Khan in 1304 and agreed him to be their nominal overlord.[7][better source needed] This established the Yuan suzerainty over the western khanates.

In 1306, more fighting between Duwa and Chapar soon broke out over the question of territory. Temür backed Duwa and sent a large army under Khayisan in the fall of 1306, and Chapar finally surrendered. The territory controlled by Chapar was divided up by the Chagataids and the Yuan. The nominal supremacy of the Yuan, based on the same foundations as that of the earlier Khagans (such as the continued border clashes among them), lasted around a century, until the Yuan was replaced by the Ming in China (1368).

The four khanates continued to interact with one another in the first half of the 14th century. They formed alliances, fought one another, exchanged envoys, and traded commercial products. In the case of the Yuan dynasty based in China and the Ilkhanate based in Iran (and later Ming in China and Timur Empire in Iran), there was an extensive program of cultural and scientific interaction, pooling their resources in a cooperative military endeavor.[8]

See also


  1. ^ Murowchick, Robert E. (1994). China: Ancient Culture, Modern Land. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press. p. 145. ISBN 0-8061-2683-3.
  2. ^ Ars Orientalis: 9. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  3. ^ Norbu, Dawa (2001). China's Tibet Policy. Psychology Press. p. 139. ISBN 9780700704743.
  4. ^ Wylie. p. 104. To counterbalance the political power of the lama, Khubilai appointed civil administrators at the Sa-skya to supervise the mongol regency. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  5. ^ Rossabi, Morris (1983). China Among Equals : The Middle Kingdom and Its Neighbors, 10th-14th Centuries. Berkeley: University of California Press. p. 194. ISBN 0-520-04383-9.
  6. ^ Allsen, Thomas T. (2001). Culture and Conquest in Mongol Eurasia. Cambridge University Press. p. 34. ISBN 0-521-80335-7.
  7. ^ ?.?-. ? 36 ?.
  8. ^ Twitchett, Denis C.; Franke, Herbert; Fairbank, John King. The Cambridge History of China. Volume 6. p. 413.

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