Today in World History: February 18th

Kublai Khan, grandson of the great Mongolian Emperor Genghis Khan, died on this day in 1294. Continuing his grandfather’s legacy, Kublai Khan conquered the Far East with his vast armies of nimble and agile cavalry. Descending from the Mongolian Steppes, where his empire was already well established and feared, he conquered the Song Dynasty of China, to establish the Yuan Dynasty. He faced opposition from the Southern Song Dynasty for much of his reign, where the Chinese held out in strongholds that he eventually defeated in 1279, eight years after defeating the Northern Song. He abandoned his traditional nomadic roots in favor of the reconstruction of the Imperial City of Beijing, the current capital of China. From there his Mongol descendants slowly assimilated into Chinese cultures. Kublai was not limited to China, however, and he sent his armies as far west as Russia and Ukraine, to Southeast Asia. When Kublai died, his empire was split up into several khanates, or the Mongol equivalent of an empire. The Ilkhanate ruled over much of Persia and Iraq, the Golden Horde conquered Russia, and the Yuan Dynasty ruled over China.

“Why do you speak to me of the stones? It is only the arch that matters to me.”

-Kublai Khan

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