xxxxxAs we have seen, Genghis Khan became the Mongol leader in 1206 (JO) and created an empire which spanned over a vast area of southern Asia. On his death in 1227, his sons became rulers of four Khanates or Kingdoms: the Great Khanate (China), the Hulagu (Persia), the Chagatai (Turkestan), and the Golden Horde (southern Russia). Under this new arrangement the empire continued to expand, but, as we shall see, the greatest expansion was to take place under the leadership of Genghis Khan's grandson, the famous Kublai Khan, on coming to power in 1260.

xxxxxAs we have seen, Genghis Khan became ruler of the Mongol peoples in 1206 (JO) and, seven years later, embarked upon a military campaign which was to create an empire stretching over vast tracts of Asia. He began his conquest of northern China in 1213, had captured Peking by 1215, occupied the Korean peninsula by 1218, and, before invading India and Russia, had conquered Khwarezm, a vast empire stretching across modern Iraq and Iran and parts of Turkestan. When he died in 1227 after falling from his horse, his territory extended from the Black Sea in the west to the Yellow Sea in the east, and Siberia in the north to the northern borders of South East Asia in the south. It was, in fact, the largest area that any one man has ever controlled.

xxxxxOn his death the empire was divided among the sons of his primary wife, as was the custom, and four Khanates or kingdoms came into existence: the Great Khanate (later led by Kublai Khan); the Hulagu Khanate in Persia; the Chagatai Khanate in Turkestan; and the Khanate of the Golden Horde, later established by Batu Khan in southern Russia. Thus expansion continued on a broad front. Genghis Khan's successor, Ogodei, launched an attack on the Chin dynasty of northern China (a task continued by Kublai Khan in 1251), whilst in 1241 Batu began the invasion of central Europe, and in 1258 Hulagu, having set out to extend Mongol rule into the world of Islam, captured the city of Baghdad. But, as we shall see, it was under the leadership of Kublai Khan, coming to power in 1260, that the empire was to reach its widest dimensions and, later, to meet its first major defeats.



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