Yuan Dynasty

Yuan Dynasty

History of China

Yuan Dynasty
Kublai Khan, founder of the Yuan dynasty ©Image Attribution forthcoming. Image belongs to the respective owner(s).
1271 Jan 1 - 1368

Yuan Dynasty

Beijing, China

The Yuan dynasty was a successor state to the Mongol Empire after its division and an imperial dynasty of China established by Kublai (Emperor Shizu), leader of the Mongol Borjigin clan, lasting from 1271 to 1368. In orthodox Chinese historiography, the Yuan dynasty followed the Song dynasty and preceded the Ming dynasty.


Although Genghis Khan had been enthroned with the Chinese title of Emperor in 1206 and the Mongol Empire had ruled territories including modern-day northern China for decades, it was not until 1271 that Kublai Khan officially proclaimed the dynasty in the traditional Chinese style, and the conquest was not complete until 1279 when the Southern Song dynasty was defeated in the Battle of Yamen. His realm was, by this point, isolated from the other Mongol khanates and controlled most of modern-day China and its surrounding areas, including modern Mongolia. It was the first non-Han dynasty to rule all of China proper and lasted until 1368 when the Ming dynasty defeated the Yuan forces. Following that, the rebuked Genghisid rulers retreated to the Mongolian Plateau and continued to rule until their defeat by the Later Jin dynasty in 1635. The rump state is known in historiography as the Northern Yuan dynasty.


After the division of the Mongol Empire, the Yuan dynasty was the khanate ruled by the successors of Möngke Khan. In official Chinese histories, the Yuan dynasty bore the Mandate of Heaven. In the edict titled Proclamation of the Dynastic Name, Kublai announced the name of the new dynasty as Great Yuan and claimed the succession of former Chinese dynasties from the Three Sovereigns and Five Emperors to the Tang dynasty.

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