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The Mongol Empire. World History I. Focus Activity. Write down the first words or phrases that come to mind when you see the following terms: Empire Marco Polo Genghis Khan. Who are the Mongols?. Homeland – Rugged steppe region north of China Nomads

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the mongol empire

The Mongol Empire

World History I

focus activity
Focus Activity

Write down the first words or phrases that come to mind when you see the following terms:

  • Empire
  • Marco Polo
  • Genghis Khan
who are the mongols
Who are the Mongols?
  • Homeland – Rugged steppe region north of China
  • Nomads
    • Depended upon animals (especially the horse)
    • Constantly searching for water and vegetation
  • Precarious (fragile, dangerous) lifestyle
    • At the mercy of nature
    • Relied upon trade with other civilizations in times of need
    • Motive for empire?
genghis khan
Genghis Khan
  • Especially fierce, powerful Mongol leader who lived from about 1162 to 1227
    • Consolidates dispersed Mongolian tribes
    • Creates a Mongolian Empire
    • Name means “Universal Ruler”
  • Encouraged skills of battle and the mindset of a warrior
  • Advantage of cavalry over foot soldiers
  • Warfare was a way for individuals to gain honor, power and riches in Mongolian society
early mongolian empire
Early Mongolian Empire
  • Capital = Karakorum
  • Early 1200s Genghis Khan captures Beijing, central Asia and most of Persia
  • Genghis’ legacy:
    • Unity
    • Religious tolerance
    • Written language for the Mongolians
    • Mongolian legal code
kublai khan
Kublai Khan
  • Grandson of Genghis, known as the “Great Khan”
  • Conquers the rest of China, Tibet and Southeast Asia [tried but failed to conquer Japan]
  • Establishes the Yuan Dynasty in northern China in 1271 – conquer Southern Sung in 1279
    • Adopts many Chinese beliefs, customs and institutions
yuan dynasty 1271 1368
Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368)

Benefits of the Yuan Dynasty to the Chinese:

  • Extended the Grand Canal
  • Instituted efficient government
    • Over 10,000 courier stations
  • Supported the arts
  • Increased trade with India and Persia
  • Contact with Europe

Disadvantages of the Yuan Dynasty:

  • Had to pay tributes
  • Language barrier
  • Second-class citizens
marco polo
Marco Polo
  • Italian merchant and explorer
  • Very impressed with the Mongol society

“If you put together all the Christians in the world, with their Emperors and their Kings, the whole of these Christians, …would not have such power, or be able to do so much as this Kublai, who is Lord of all the Tartars in the world.”

decline of the yuan
Decline of the Yuan


  • Huang He (Yellow) River floods causing destruction and famine
  • String of weak successors
  • Chinese unrest
mongolian empire review
Mongolian Empire: Review
  • Given what you know about Mongolian culture, try to explain the meaning of this Mongolian proverb:
    • "Better the bone be broken than one’s reputation.“
  • In what ways did the Mongolians create an “empire”?
  • What aspects of Mongolian lifestyle and culture contributed to the creation of an empire?
mongolian empire review1
Mongolian Empire: Review

Read the following passage from Marco Polo’s accounts of his travels. What is he saying about Kublai Khan? What is he saying about his empire?

“Whenever the Great Khan sits at the table on any great court occasion, his table is elevated a good deal above the others…Outside the hall are more than 40,000 people; for there is always a great crowd of folk bringing presents to the Lord, or coming from foreign countries with curiosities…On the buffet are placed all the Lord's drinking vessels, among which are certain pitchers of the finest gold, which are big enough to hold drink for eight or ten persons.”