Yuan Dynasty 元朝


Chinese Name: 元朝

English Name: Yuan Dynasty, Yuan Chao

Other Name:Great Yuan and Great Mongolia 大元大蒙古, Great Dynasty

Duration: About 1271 AD – 1368 AD

King: Kublai Khan 忽必烈, Timur 铁穆耳, Haishan 海山

Yuan Dynasty 元朝
Territory Map of Yuan Dynasty 元朝疆域图

Brief Introduction

The predecessor of the Yuan Dynasty 元朝 was great Mongolia established by Genghis Khan 成吉思汗.

In view of the fact that the territory of this dynasty was wider than that of any dynasty in history, Kublai Khan 忽必烈, the emperor of the Yuan Dynasty, was not grand enough to show his grandeur in the name of the place where he started as before. So in 1271, it took ” Great Yuan” as the country name, showing its territory.

The economic development of Mongolian tribes is very uneven. By the 12th century, most of them were engaged in hunting and nomadism, and only a few tribes were engaged in agriculture.

However, at this time, they obtained a large number of ironware through trade with the Central Plains, thus promoting the development of production. This makes the class differentiation more obvious. In order to plunder more wealth, slave owners of various tribes fought against each other.

Yuan Dynasty 元朝
Genghis Khan 成吉思汗

Many Mongolian tribes in the Mongolian Plateau were originally subordinates of the Jin Dynasty. With the decline of the Jin Dynasty, Mongolian tribes also began to grow and gradually separated from the rule of the Jin regime.

In 1204, Tiemuzhen 铁木真, the leader of Mongolian ministries, unified the Mongolian tribes on the Mongolian Plateau through war. Tiemuzhen was recommended as “Genghis Khan” by various tribes. The Mongolian Empire was established. Since then, the Mongolian grassland has ended the long-term scuffle.

Major Historical Events

Establish the Great Yuan 建立大元

After the founding of great Mongolia, it constantly launched foreign wars to expand its territory. In 1218, Mongolia destroyed the Western Liao Dynasty 辽. In 1227, when Western Xia 西夏 was destroyed, Genghis Khan also died in the expedition to Western Xia.

Yuan Dynasty 元朝
Great Mongolia 蒙古

After Genghis Khan died, his third son Wokuotai 窝阔台 succeeded on the throne. In 1234, Mongolia united with the Southern Song Dynasty to completely destroy Jin. In 1241, the Mongolian army on the western expedition once approached the hinterland of Eastern Europe. In 1246, Tubo 吐蕃 surrendered. In 1253, Kublai Khan made an expedition to the southwest to destroy Dali 大理.

In the foreign war, the Mongolian army slaughtered and enslaved a large number of people in areas that dared to resist after the destruction of the city. Many ethnic groups have been oppressed by cruel and unjust ethnic groups, and countless people and property have been lost in the war and subsequent plagues, famines, and natural disasters. It is also a rare dark period for war-torn areas.

In March of the lunar calendar in 1260, Kublai Khan ascended the throne with the support of the Han landlord class and some Mongolian kings.

Yuan Dynasty 元朝
Kublai Khan 忽必烈

Kublai Khan’s brother Ali Buge 阿里不哥 also called himself Khan, and immediately launched a four-year Imperial war with Kublai Khan. In 1264, when Ali Buko was defeated, Kublai Khan won the supreme rule of the Mongolian Khanate.

Unified domestic 统一海内

In 1279, Zhang Hongfan 张弘范, the demobilized General of the Jin Dynasty 金朝, commanded the army of the Yuan Dynasty to eliminate the last resistance forces in the Southern Song Dynasty 南宋 in the naval battle at Yanshan. The Southern Song Dynasty perished.

The unification of the Yuan Dynasty ended the North-South confrontation and the long-term coexistence of separatist and war-torn situations of various ethnic regimes in China since the separatist regime in the late Tang Dynasty and promoted the consolidation and development of a unified multi-ethnic country.

Yuan Dynasty 元朝
Zhang Hongfan’s work 张弘范作品

After Mongolia destroyed the Southern Song Dynasty, there was a dispute between the Confucian officials led by Xu Heng 许衡 and the financial management officials led by Ahema 阿合马 in the ruling class. Because Mongolia needs a lot of treasures to bestow on the kings, and the expenditure is heavy, the finance is becoming increasingly tight.

Confucian officials believed that the Yuan Dynasty should save money and reduce taxes. On the contrary, financial management officials believed that the southerners had a large amount of property, which should be confiscated to solve the financial problems of the court. So this problem did not stop in court.

To solve this problem, Kublai Khan launched a series of wars against neighboring countries. But for the sake of foreign war, he built the eastern expedition ship.

Yuan Dynasty 元朝
The war 战争

This has increased the burden on the people in the coastal and Jiangnan areas. The people were unable to bear the heavy feudal exploitation and oppression and revolted one after another.

Frequent civil strife, towards extinction 内乱频发,走向灭亡

During the Yuan Dynasty, the Mongolian rulers intensified their efforts to collect various miscellaneous taxes from the Han people. National oppression is very serious, and the plundering of Han people is more common.

They divided all ethnic groups into different levels and brutally exploited the Han people. The people rose up, and an uprising led by Zhao Chousi 赵丑厮 and Guo Pusa 郭菩萨 took place in 1325.

Yuan Dynasty 元朝
Peasant uprising 农民起义

However, the Mongolian ruling class was fighting for power and profit, which accelerated the decline of the Yuan Dynasty. By the end of the Yuan Dynasty, peasant uprisings had spread all over the country.

The red scarf army 红巾军 was the main insurgency force for the people to rise against the Yuan Dynasty at the end of the Yuan Dynasty. It was initially launched in combination with Mingjiao 明教, Maitreya 弥勒教, Bailian 白莲教, and other folk religions. Because of playing red flags, and wearing red scarves on the head, it is also called the red scarves army.

Yuan Dynasty 元朝
The red scarf army 红巾军

The Mongolian government sent troops to suppress the red scarves everywhere, and the prime minister personally supervised the war. It once won a great victory. But it was finally defeated by Zhu Yuanzhang’s 朱元璋 army, and the Yuan Dynasty was destroyed.

Important Influences

Characteristic Yuan Opera

The operas of the Yuan Dynasty, namely Yuan opera 元曲, are divided into Sanqu 散曲 and Zaju 杂剧. Sanqu has an independent life of poetry, while Zaju has an independent life of drama. At that time, the city was prosperous, and the Yuan government did not pay attention to Chinese literature and the imperial examination.

Yuan Dynasty 元朝
Zaju 杂剧

At that time, society advocated song, dance, and opera as public entertainment. All of these have sublimated the operas since Song and Jin Dynasties into Yuan operas.


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