Emperor Genghis Khan died on a day in August 1227. His body was escorted by a thousand knights and brought back to his homeland, buried on top of a mountain that the emperor himself had chosen many years earlier.
The leader had divided his territory among his four sons. According to the Mongolian tradition, the distribution of territories among family members did not mean the creation of separate political realities, but the empire of Genghis was so vast that it could not be ruled by a single leader.
In 1259, therefore, four great kingdoms or Khanates emerged which from that moment would have autonomous and sometimes even conflicting histories:
- the Khanate of the Great Khan that is the Ciina;
- the Khanate of Chagatai (Turkestan);
- the Khanate of Ilkhan (Persia);
- the Qipciaq Khanate, called the Khanate of the Golden Horde (Russia).
The Great Khan of China, Qubilai (1260-1294), founded the Yuan dynasty (1279-1368) and brought the capital to Beijing (with the Mongolian name of Qanbaliq) which became a great cosmopolitan center where Catholic missionaries and merchants arrived. However, the Mongol rule in China did not last long: peasant revolts, oppressed by the heavy tax regime, favored the restoration of a national dynasty, that of the Ming, which was established in the mid-fourteenth century.
The Ilkhans of Persia gave the country a long period of economic and cultural prosperity. They maintained close commercial relations with the Christian West also in an anti-Muslim function.
Around the middle of the 14th century, however, the rivalries within the clans split the empire into several autonomous principalities.
The Chagatai Khanate also had a similar fate, although it lasted until the 16th century, when the Mongols were replaced by the Muslim Khogia dynasty.
The Khanate of the Golden Horde, while reaching a very vast extension, never achieved cultural unity and was always divided between the Mongolian and the Muslim component. It disintegrated into many principalities which were then absorbed by the Russian Empire in the 18th century.
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