Kublai Khan | Biography, Accomplishments, & Facts

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Highlights of Kublai Khan:

Occupation Khan of the Mongols and Emperor of China
Born 1215
Died 1294
1260 to 1294
known for Founder of the Yuan Dynasty of China

Biography of Kublai Khan:
Early Life

Genghis Khan, the first great Mongol monarch, had a grandson named Kublai. Tolui, the youngest of Genghis Khan’s four favorite sons, was his father. Kublai traveled as a child when his grandpa Genghis ruled over China and the western Muslim countries. He picked up horseback riding and bow and arrow shooting. He resided in a yurt, a circular tent.

A Young Leader

Kublai was granted control over a tiny portion of northern China since he was Genghis Khan’s grandson. Kublai had a keen interest in Chinese culture. He researched Chinese philosophical systems including Confucianism and Buddhism.

His elder brother Mongke succeeded Kublai as Khan of the Mongol Empire when Kublai was in his thirties. Kublai was elevated by Mongke to the position of Northern China’s ruler. Kublai managed the vast area well, and a few years later his brother requested him to assault and overthrow the Song Dynasty in southern China. Kublai learned that his brother Mongke had passed away while commanding his army against the Song. With the Song, Kublai agreed to a peace treaty in which the Song would pay him tribute annually before heading back up north.

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Turning into the Great Khan

Kublai and his brother Ariq shared the same aspiration to succeed the Great Khan. When Kublai arrived back in the north, he discovered that his brother had already claimed the position. Because Kublai disagreed, there was a civil war between the two brothers. Before Kublai’s army triumphed and he was dubbed the Great Khan, they engaged in battle for over four years.

Conquering China

Kublai aspired to finish conquering southern China once he had won the throne. He used a trebuchet, a kind of catapult, to lay siege to the major Song dynasty capitals. While fighting the Persians, the Mongols learned about these catapults. The Mongol army used these catapults to launch massive rocks and thundercrash bombs upon the Song cities. The Song Dynasty was shortly overthrown as the walls fell.

Dynasty of Yuan

Kublai proclaimed the Yuan Dynasty of China to begin in 1271, installing himself as its first emperor. In spite of the fact that it took Kublai another five years to totally subjugate the Song Dynasty in the south, all of China was united under his authority by 1276.

Kublai integrated many parts of Mongol and Chinese governance in order to administer the vast kingdom. Additionally, he included Chinese officials in the government. He was aware that although the Mongols were skilled at winning battles, they could learn a lot about managing a sizable government from the Chinese.

Beijing, today’s Dadu or Khanbaliq, served as the Yuan Dynasty’s capital. In the middle of the city, Kublai Khan had a massive walled palace constructed. In the city of Xanadu, where he first met the Italian adventurer Marco Polo, he also constructed a southern palace. Additionally, Kublai improved China’s infrastructure by constructing roads, canals, establishing trade routes, and importing innovative concepts from other nations.

Social Classes

Kublai established a racial hierarchy in society to guarantee the Mongols’ continued rule. The Mongols were at the top of the food chain. The non-Chinese of Central Asia, the northern Chinese, and (at the bottom) the southern Chinese came after them. The laws varied for the various classes, with the Mongols’ regulations being the most forgiving and the Chinese’s laws being very strict.


In 1294, Kublai perished. He had gained weight and been ill for a long time. He was succeeded as the Mongol Great Khan and Yuan Emperor by his grandson Temur.

Kublai Khan’s Interesting Facts and Information

Kublai was accepting of other religions, including Buddhism and Islam.

The Yuan Dynasty saw the height of trade along the Silk Road as Kublai promoted foreign trade and the Mongols provided protection for traders along the trade route.

In addition to conquering parts of Burma and Vietnam as well as starting wars against Japan, Kublai was not content with only dominating China.

By way of marriage, his daughter became the Queen of Korea.

In 1797, Samuel Taylor Coleridge penned the well-known poem Kubla Khan

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