Genghis Khan did not live to complete the conquest of China. His heirs, however, continued to expand the Mongol empire. For the next 150 years, they dominated much of Asia. Their furious assaults toppled empires and spread destruction from southern Russia through Muslim lands in Southwest Asia to China. In China, the Mongols devastated the flourishing province of Sichuan (see chwahn), and annihilated its great capital city of Chengdu.

Impact of Mongol Rule

Once conquest was completed, the Mongols were not oppressive rulers. Often, they allowed conquered people to live much as they had before—as long as they regularly paid tribute to the Mongols.

Genghis Khan had set an example for his successors by ruling conquered lands with toleration and justice. Although the Mongol warrior had no use for city life, he respected scholars, artists, and artisans. He listened to the ideas of Confucians, Buddhists, Christians, Muslims, Jews, and Zoroastrians.

The Mongol Peace

In the 1200s and 1300s, the sons and grandsons of Genghis Khan established peace and order within their domains. Today, many historians refer to this period of order as the Pax Mongolica, or Mongol Peace.

Political stability set the stage for economic growth. Under the protection of the Mongols, who now controlled the great Silk Road, trade flourished across Eurasia.

According to a contemporary, Mongol rule meant that people “enjoyed such a peace that a man might have journeyed from the land of sunrise to the land of sunset with a golden platter upon his head without suffering the least violence from anyone.”

Cultural exchanges increased as foods, tools, inventions, and ideas spread along the protected trade routes. From China, the use of gunpowder moved westward into Europe. Techniques of papermaking also reached parts of Europe, and crops and trees from the Middle East were carried into East Asia.

Mongols Rule China

Although Genghis Khan had subdued northern China, the Mongols needed nearly 70 more years to conquer the south. Genghis Khan's grandson, Kublai Khan (KOO bly KAHN), finally toppled the last Song emperor in 1279. From his capital at Khanbaliq, present-day Beijing, Kublai Khan ruled all of China as well as Korea, Tibet, and Vietnam.

A map shows the Mongol empire.
Image Long Description

Analyze Maps

At its height, the Mongol empire was the world's largest up to that time. Describe the growth of the empire between 1227 and 1294. Did Genghis Khan or his successors conquer the most land?

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Table of Contents

World History Topic 1 Origins of Civilization (Prehistory–300 B.C.) Topic 2 The Ancient Middle East and Egypt (3200 B.C.–500 B.C.) Topic 3 Ancient India and China (2600 B.C.–A.D. 550) Topic 4 The Americas (Prehistory–A.D. 1570) Topic 5 Ancient Greece (1750 B.C.–133 B.C.) Topic 6 Ancient Rome and the Origins of Christianity (509 B.C.-A.D. 476) Topic 7 Medieval Christian Europe (330–1450) Topic 8 The Muslim World and Africa (730 B.C.-A.D. 1500) Topic 9 Civilizations of Asia (500–1650) Topic 10 The Renaissance and Reformation (1300–1650) Topic 11 New Global Connections (1415–1796) Topic 12 Absolutism and Revolution Topic 13 The Industrial Revolution Topic 14 Nationalism and the Spread of Democracy (1790–1914) Topic 15 The Age of Imperialism (1800–1914) Topic 16 World War I and the Russian Revolution (1914–1924) Topic 17 The World Between the Wars (1910–1939) Topic 18 World War II (1930–1945) Topic 19 The Cold War Era (1945–1991) Topic 20 New Nations Emerge (1945–Present) Topic 21 The World Today (1980-Present) United States Constitution Primary Sources 21st Century Skills Atlas Glossary Index Acknowledgments