Kublai Khan’s mother took the time to educate her younger son in the teachings of Confucius. Without renouncing the violent ways of the Mongols, she encouraged the two sides of his nature that would be the key to his success.
In 1236, at the age of twenty-one, Kublai was granted his own land to rule in northern China by his uncle, who was the great khan.
At the time, the bureaucrats and officials heavily taxed the people and the people were often forced to work for the state like road building.
Encouraged by his mother, Kublai Khan decided to change this and brought about reforms. The peasants of northern China appreciated what he did for them.
However, traditional Mongol ruling families distrusted what he was doing in China.
When his brother Mongke became the great khan in 1251 after his uncle’s death, Kublai Khan was given more land to rule in northeastern China.
It was now time to prove that he was a warrior. To the Mongols, military success was a sign of a strong leader.
His chance came when his older brother decided to go to war with the powerful Southern Sung Dynasty.
Kublai Khan made the first move in 1252. When he was victorious in his first battle, he returned to Northern China and built a new city to rival his brother’s capital.
This led to a family rift that threatened to tear the empire apart, but his strong relationship with Mongke solved the problem.
On the next campaign to conquer the Southern Song Dynasty, Kublai Khan’s older brother became sick and died. The armies were recalled to decide who the next great khan would be.
Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.
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