Transcript Document

The Mongols and the Yuan
Barfield, Thomas, The Perilous Frontier,”, Ch. 6, "The Mongol
Empire“, pp 164-222; OR
“Observations on Marriage and Inheritance Practices in Early
Mongol and Yuan Society with particular reference to the
Levirate” in Holmgren, Jennifer, Marriage, Kinship and Power in
Northern China, Part III, pp 127-192.
The Mongols and the Yuan
Genghis Khan
Succession in the Mongol Empire
The Yuan Dynasty
 Governance
Mongolorization of China
The End of the Yuan
The Mongols were first mentioned by the Chinese during the
Tang dynasty.
 At first it referred to a small and insignificant tribe whose
confederation had been destroyed by the Jurchen and other
nomadic attacks.
 After a civil war the Mongols became so fragmented that they
no longer had a Khan.
In the 13th century it grew into an umbrella term for a large
group of tribes united under the rule of Genghis Khan (Mongol
After the fall of the Empire, the Mongols were assimilated into
local populations and many of their descendants adopted local
religions — for example, the western Mongol states (Khanates)
adopted Islam.
Introduction (2)
The Mongols usually herded horses, cattle, camels, sheep, and
 When lineages became large they would be divided and
become smaller ones.
 The Mongol system of inheritance gave each son a portion as
he married but the youngest son did not receive his share
until after the mother’s death.
 The women’s ties with her natal/birth family was weakened
by the payment of bride-price through years of labor or
 Levirate was the preferred form of marriage for all classes of
Mongol society.
Genghis Khan
Genghis Khan (Temüjin) (11671227) was born when the steppe
was in chaos and he entered tribal
politics at the age of 16.
He married Borte, aged 14, and
later named her empress of the
Mongolian Empire.
 She gave birth to four sons
and five daughters – the eldest
son, Jochi (d.1227), was born
after she had been abducted
by Merkits; although Genghis
acknowledged him as his own
son, the paternity was always
Genghis Khan (2)
In 1190, the leaders of his tribe elected Genghis Khan of the
Mongols; he became master of all the tribes of Mongolia (about
the size of Alaska) at the age of 40.
 He molded the different tribes into a single people —
building an army, imposing uniform laws, and establishing a
written language.
 He allied with his neighbors and built an empire of 13.8
million square miles with more than 100 million people.
The Mongols had tried to exploit China but the Jurchen Jin 金
refused to pay; instead they fought the Mongols until the Jin
(Gold) was destroyed.
Genghis Khan (3)
Genghis distrusted his patrilineal relatives and put about a dozen
of them to death – almost anyone who had a claim to the throne.
This distrust was based on:
 His relatives having deserted his family when his father died.
 Disputes with his relatives after he became supreme leader.
He organized a personal following rather than one based on
tribal loyalties:
 Members of his lineage were excluded from major positions.
 His army was commanded by men who owed personal loyalty
to him.
When he became master of Mongolia the highest positions in his
army went to his most loyal commanders.
Genghis Khan
Map of Asia and Europe – c. 1200
Eve of Mongol Expansion
Genghis Khan
Map of Europe and Asia, 1206, 1294
Succession in the
Mongol Empire
The Mongols did not have a FIRM fraternal/lineal succession.
 Instead, it was both a legal and political struggle.
 Each faction would present a case for itself and point up
the defects in their rivals.
 The right to rule also had to be maintained by military
power to defeat any rivals.
 Military success always justified irregular successions.
 The regent, the principal wife of the previous Khan,
would rule until a successor has been determined.
Therefore, the Mongols had problems in passing a united empire
to the sons and grandsons of the founder.
Genghis did not name a successor until 1218 when he was
reminded that even great conquerors die.
Succession in the
Mongol Empire (2)
Genghis wanted to name his eldest son, Jochi 朮赤 (c.11851227), as his successor but his second son (Chaghadai) objected
to Jochi’s paternity as their mother had been kidnapped, held
captive for several months, then had returned pregnant.
 Genghis made it clear, at a tribal meeting, that Jochi was his
legitimate first born son but in order not to split the empire
he would not name either of the first two sons as successor
but would name his third son, Ögedei.
 Jochi was given lands in the Siberian steppes; his
descendants later ruled the area called the Golden Horde
(1378-1440s) in present day Russia.
Succession in the
Mongol Empire (3)
When Genghis died, his empire was divided among his other
three sons:
 Chagatai (d.1241) was considered a hothead and was given
Central Asia and northern Iran as well as 4,000 “original”
Mongol troops.
 Ogodei, the third eldest was made Great Khan and was
elected supreme Khan and given command over his brothers
as well as 4,000 “original” Mongol troops.
According to the Mongol custom, the youngest son, Touloui,
was given the Mongol homeland and the largest number of his
“original” Mongol troops – 101,000.
Succession in the
Mongol Empire (4)
Ögedei’s succession and confirmation by election as Khan raised
him and his line to a position of superiority but Toloui had
inherited his father’s personal forces which made him very
 Ögedei Khan had named the favorite son of one of his wives
to succeed him and when the heir died, he named his
grandson – the son of the heir, Shiremun – as his successor.
His principal wife, Töregene, opposed the choice as she wanted
the succession to go to her eldest son, Güyük, but she was
unable to persuade Ögedei to change his selection.
 Some say that she then encouraged Ögedei to drink to hasten
his death and when he did not die fast enough, she or her
sisters eventually poisoned him (1241).
Güyük, rushed to the capital when he heard of his father’s death.
Succession in the
Mongol Empire (5)
Ögedei’s brothers had all died so his principal wife and widow,
Toregene, became regent for five years.
 She issued decrees enabling her to rule directly and appointed
her favorites to high positions.
 She distributed gifts to influential people to buy support for
her son.
It took her four years to ensure the succession of her son, Güyük,
as he had made powerful enemies.
The arguments for opposition to Güyük’s succession were:
 Ögedei’s successors had not been given dynastic succession
rights by Genghis Khan so the question remained open as to
whether the succession should remain in in Ögedei’s line.
 If succession should remain in his line, then a successor
had already been named – the grandson, Shiremun.
Succession in the
Mongol Empire (6)
If succession should be fraternal, the throne should go to
Jochi’s sons, who were the most senior heirs of the next
 If there was a problem about Jochi’s legitimacy, then it
should go to Chaghadai’s sons; then Toloui’s sons.
 Ögedei’s sons pushed for their rights -- if they succeeded
then the succession would remain in their line in future
 By the time the council was convened, Toregene had gathered
support for her son.
 Batu, heir to Jochi’s line, did not support Güyük refused to
attend the council though he did send his brothers.
 Güyük received the greatest support at the Council and was
enthroned; he said that future succession would be limited to
2015/7/18 Ögedei’s descendants.
Succession in the
Mongol Empire (7)
After his mother’s death, Güyük wanted to increase his personal
powers and so he:
 Executed his mother’s advisors.
 Interfered in the succession politics of the Chaghadai line
appointing Chaghadai’s surviving son who was not popular
instead of the one Chagatia had named – the grandson.
 He tried to reduce the power of the Toloui line by reducing
the number of imperial troops under its command.
His greatest problem was in dealing with Batu, from Jochi’s line,
as he commanded a powerful army in the Siberian steppes.
 He organized the armies of the east and planned to attack
Batu but died before he was able to do so (1248).
Succession in the
Mongol Empire (8)
There was now another succession struggle; Güyük’s widow
became regent but she was unable to maintain authority as:
 Güyük had ruled for only two years and so had not gathered
enough power.
 His two sons were both young and were competing against
their cousin Shiremun – grandson of Ögedei.
Jochi’s son, Batu, called for a Council in the west as he had gout
and could not travel but the sons of Ögedei, Güyük, and
Chaghadai refused to participate arguing that a legal Council
could only be held in the Mongol heartland.
 The Mongol heartland was under the regent, Beki, widow of
Touloui -- Ghenghis’ youngest son.
Succession in the
Mongol Empire (9)
Under Beki’s leadership, the family had outwardly given
complete support to Güyük and had made no protest over his
taking their military units away from them.
 Behind the scenes, Beki quietly befriended many of Güyük’s
opponents, building political support for her sons.
 Beki now saw her opportunity to gain the throne for sons.
 Instead of holding the Council in the heartland, she told her
sons to travel to Batu’s camp where Batu declared Beki’s son,
Mongke (r. 1251-1259), his choice for Great Khan.
 Batu said that Güyük’s succession was a usurpation as Ögedei
had named his grandson, Shiremun, as his choice for the Great
 He said that the throne could not be left to Ögedei’s
descendants as they were too young.
Succession in the
Mongol Empire (10)
Batu’s support of Mongke was critical as Batu had more of a
right to the throne than Möngke as he was the senior descendant
of Genghis.
 Batu renounced his rights and in exchange for full autonomy
in the west.
 Beki’s reputation for loyalty was used as to show the
qualifications of her sons to the empire’s highest offices – her
four sons – Möngke, Khubilai, Huglagu (Persia), and Ariq Boke
(d.1266) (Mongol homeland) – all became kings.
 Without her, the sons would not have replaced the lineage of
Ögedei as the main Mongolian royal line.
 Möngke succeeded as Khan and had the regent, Güyük’s widow,
placed in a sack and drowned; he also had supporters of the
Ögedei line put to death.
Succession in the
Mongol Empire (11)
In 1259 the Great Khan Möngke died, Touloui’s second eldest
son, Khubilai Khan, stopped battling Song China and rushed
back to have himself elected Khan (1260).
 Ariq Boke, youngest son of Touloui and commander of the
Mongol homelands had himself elected Khan at another council.
 Civil war broke out and eventually split the Mongol Empire
into virtually independent Khanates.
 Ariq Boke was captured in 1264 and died two years later.
 Succession problems continued throughout the Yuan dynasty
(1271-1368: 97 years) with nine Khans ascending the throne after
Khubilai Khan’s death in 1294 to 1368 (74 years: average 8 years
each) resulting in bureaucratic turnover and reversals of state
policies – these succession problems resulted in unrest and
revolutions until the end of the Yuan dynasty.
The Yuan dynasty
After the Mongols had conquered Xi Xia and the Jin (Gold),
Möngke increased raids on the Song border and Song frontier
officials were invited to defect (1254).
 Two years later, he used the excuse that the Song had
imprisoned Mongol envoys and took personal command of
the invasion of Southern Song.
While conducting the war in Sichuan, he had dysentery and
died; this stopped the war against the Song for 20 years as the
Mongols had to return to the homeland to elect the next Great
 Khubilai had been assigned to conquer China and after
being elected as the Great Khan, he returned to attack the
The Yuan dynasty (2)
During the invasions he made a silk banner with a message
telling the people that their lives would be spared if they
 His wife, Chabi, was his adviser and prevented him from
converting farmland to grazing land so as not to alienate his
Chinese subjects – she was a fervent Buddhist, preferring
Tibetan Buddhism.
Khubilai established the Yuan Dynasty in 1271 – it was the first
dynasty of non-Han origin to rule all of China.
 Khubilai Khan wanted to expand into Japan but he was twice
The Yuan Dynasty: Governance
Instead of having a dual organization, the Mongols employed a
single system of government with a hierarchy of ranked ethnic
preference groups to maintain their control.
 There were four categories of people and according to the
census in 1290:
 Mongols: 1 million.
 Semu 色目 (各色名目 ): western and central Asians: 1
 Khitai (Hanren 汉人): northern Chinese, Manchurians, and
Koreans: 10 million.
 Manji (Nanren 南人): (southern Chinese): 60 million.
 The Mongols, at first, ignored the Chinese administrators and
instead hired foreigners from western and central Asia to serve
as officials.
The Yuan Dynasty: Governance (2)
The Mongols and their Semu allies held about 30% of all official
positions, including most of the top military and civilian offices.
 They also had a virtual monopoly on positions in the Imperial
Guard from which officials are promoted.
 Even when the civil examination was revived, the percentages
of degrees awarded remained the same as the Mongols and
the se-mu had easier tests.
There was a large gap between the Mongolian elites and the
Chinese as all Mongolian imperial relatives enjoyed hereditary,
political, economic and military privileges.
 The Mongolian elite found little incentive to learn Chinese.
Mongolorization of China
The Mongols were concerned that their tribal people would be
sinicized as they were a small minority and no longer nomadic.
 To prevent this, they passed laws to force the Chinese
population to adopt Mongol practices:
 The Mongol form of marriage – levirate requiring the
widow to either remain single within the deceased
husband’s family, remarry a member of his family, or
someone chosen by the family for a brideprice.
 The assets of a woman (her dowry) were to be controlled
by the family of her husband.
 This made it difficult to return to her family as she
was impoverished and they would have to support her.
 It forced her to stay as a widow within her deceased
husband’s family.
Mongolorization of China (2)
Levirate practice was difficult for the Chinese to accept as:
 It was considered incest for the Chinese to marry the
husband’s sons and uncles.
 The principal wife, when widowed, would not want to
become the concubine of a married male member of the
husband’s family.
 The law was then amended to only require the widow to
marry an unmarried brother or to remain single.
 Additional modifications were made so that the widow can
remain single and not have to practice levirate if there was
one of the following conditions:
Mongolorization of China (3)
If the widow and her dependents could form a tax unit.
If she and her dependents had lived with her own parents –
that is, the husband had joined her family to continue her
family line.
If she made a public vow not to remarry; but, if she broke
that vow and remarried, the marriage would be dissolved and
she would be given to a relative of her husband.
She could not be divorced by the husband without cause to
prevent the husband’s family from getting rid of her and keep
her dowry.
Mongolorization of China (4)
But, if the family wanted to get rid of a widow, keep her
dowry and get an additional bride price, it could force her
to remarry by making her life miserable.
 A widow was now property of the husband’s family
and if they wanted to remarry her to another family, it
would be their choice.
These restrictions forced the widow to either practice levirate or
remain a widow within her deceased husband’s family to serve
her in-laws.
The Yuan legacy of widow chastity, living with the in-laws, selfmutilation, and immolation influenced the Ming.
Mongolorization of China (5)
The Ming dynasty abolished the law on the enforced practice of
levirate but kept the law that allowed the late husband’s family to
control the widow’s assets.
 The economic situation continued to discourage widow
 To protect the widow who no longer had any assets and
could be forced by her in-laws into an unacceptable
remarriage, Ming law forbade anyone but the widow’s parents
to command her to remarry.
Filial piety changed from daughters taking care of their own
parents to daughters-in-law remaining at their husband’s home
to care for their in-laws.
Mongolorization of China (6)
Ming-Qing history featured the virtues of daughters-in-law
who would slash their faces with knives or cut off their
fingertips to show their determination to resist remarriage in
order to live and serve the deceased husband’s parents and
raise the heir.
Ming saw widow suicide as the highest form of virtue.
 The Biographies of Women in Ming History praised women
who commit suicide to defend their chastity – 400 were
selected from more than 30,000 submitted.
 The names of women honored for their chastity were also
inscribed on special lists in shrines to honor the “celebrated
officials and local worthy persons”.
Mongolorization of China (7)
In order to ensure that the honor did not only go to widows
from elite families, county magistrates had to find humble
commoner widows who could be so honored.
 The Qing Government praised chastity, suicide of women
resisting rape but condemned widow suicide as they felt that it
was not due to fidelity but to:
 Despair;
 Fear of being married off by her in-laws;
 Loss of security of her children;
 The prospect of an inferior remarriage;
 Fears of loneliness, of hardships, of unwillingness to face the
burdens of caring for a dead husband’s aging parents, abusive
 Hope that as a wandering ghost their spirit can return to take
revenge on the living persons who had made their lives
Mongolorization of China (8)
In the Qing, Emperor Yongzheng (1728), called for a stop to the
use of death to avoid responsibilities.
 He said that a widow had two important responsibilities -caring for her husband’s parents and raising her children or
adopted heir.
After 1728, the pattern of suicide changed.
 The reported number of suicide dropped.
 Women committed suicide after she had fulfilled her
responsibilities of caring for her parents-in-law and her
The End of the Yuan Dynasty
As the Mongols settled in China, they lost influence among the
Mongols in the rest of the Mongol Empire.
Within China, the people were bitter about the problems of
succession and famine.
 The Mongols saw the Yuan rulers as too Chinese and the
Chinese saw them as Mongolian.
 Bandits roamed the country without interference from the
weak Yuan armies and rebellions arose.
After the reign of Kubilai Khan, there was factionalism at court,
coups, murders, poisonings and purges.
 By the 1320s imperial politics revolved around a series of
strongmen who seized power and controlled the government
until they were suddenly replaced by their rivals.
The End of the Yuan Dynasty (2)
Conflicts in court diverted the government’s attention from
problems in the province such as misrule, famine, and peasant
In the 1330’s rebellions arose in several regions in south and
central China. The reasons the Chinese rose against the Mongols
 Institutionalized racism – keeping the Chinese inferior.
 Abandonment irrigation and water management projects
resulting in famine and flooding of the Yellow River
The Mongols were driven back to Mongolia by the founder of
the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644); in the 17th century, the Mongols
in their homeland were attacked by the Manchu and surrendered.
The Manchus and the Qing Dynasty
 Barfield, Thomas, The Perilous Frontier,” Ch. 7, "Steppe
Wolves and Forest Tigers," pp. 250-294; OR
 Pamela Crossley, “Thinking about Ethnicity in Early Modern
China,” Late Imperial China 11.1 (1990);
 Rawski, Evelyn S., “Imperial Women” in The Last Emperors,
pp. 127-159; OR
 Lee, Lily Xiao and Stefanowska, A.D., Biographical Dictionary of
Chinese Women: The Qing Period, 1644-1911