Kublai Khan was the first significant non-Chinese to rule China and like his grandfather, Genghis Khan, he defeated and crushed his enemies with brutal force. Once Kublai defeated the Song Dynasty, he founded the Yuan Dynasty.
But one of the greatest influences over Kublai, while he was a child, was his mother. Unlike most Mongol women that often fought beside their men and ruled tribes and territories, she insisted that her son be educated in Chinese culture and the teaching of Confucius. That may have saved China’s civilization for a few more decades before the beginning of its decline.
The defeat of the Song Dynasty did not happen overnight. It was a long process that spanned decades. The start of this war was in 1235 when at the age of twenty-one, Kublai was given an area in northern China by his uncle, who was the great khan.
When his older brother Mongke became the great khan in 1251 after his uncle’s death, he gave Kublai more land to rule in northeastern China, and Kublai soon decided to wage war against the powerful Song Dynasty.
Kublai made his first major move against the Song in 1252. After he won those battles, but not the war, he returned to Northern China with plans to build a new city to rival his brother’s capital. First, he had to select a site. Kublai’s war with China’s Song Dynasty would last until 1279.
Then Kublai Khan’s older brother became sick and died and Kublai’s armies were recalled from the war during the time period it took to decide who the next great khan would be.
Continued in Part 2 on May 17, 2018
Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.
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