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The Mongol Yuan dynasty

Yuan dynasty The Mongols were the first non-Chinese people who dominated the entire China. Since the 11th century, the Mongolian had threatened to assault China, when the Song emperors paid tribute to individual Mongolian tribes to keep their armies from invading. But these nomadic tribes were unified by the great ruler Genghis Khan in 1206, who formed rapidly a huge powerful empire militarized.

Genghis began a series of wars, and within 70 years the Mongols had conquered China and many parts of central and west Asia, creating the largest empire the world had ever seen.

The Yuan lands stretched from Eastern Europe to the Korea Peninsula and from Siberia to the Indian subcontinent, but the empire was divided into four khanates (states) that frequently were at war with each other.

By 1278, Genghis's grandson called Kublai Khan, founded the Yuan dynasty. He moved the Mongol capital from Karakorum (in Mongolia) to Khanbalik (modern Beijing) in order to adopt the Chinese customs and lifestyle.

The Mongols formed the conditions for exchange of thoughts and goods across Asia, but also caused enormous devastation on settled populations. They opened the country to travelers, missionaries and to foreign trade and religious beliefs. They improved East-west communications and Arab, Venetians and Russians arrived to Chinese ports.

The Grand Canal was extended from Hangzhou to Beijing, while in Beijing was built a new city wall and the Palace of All Tranquilities, currently known as the Forbidden City. Venetian merchant Marco Polo described much of this in his impressions of Yuan lifestyle and treasures on Chinese paper after living in the court of Kublai for many years. He narrated the wealth and splendor of Chinese cities.

By 1368, the high taxation, the famine and severe floods brought a series of uprisings in China. One of the northern rebel tribes led by Zhu Yuanzhang seized Beijing and The Yuan dynasty in China ended, although Mongols continued to make incursions into China from their base in Mongolia in posterior years.

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