History of International Relations Textbook

The Mongol khanates

Genghis Khan’s family tree

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The Mongol empire at its height spanned much of the Eurasian continent but it was not the creation of only one man. When Genghis Khan died in 1227, the Mongols had not yet arrived in Europe, not taken Persia, the Middle East, and not yet occupied China. These conquests were for Genghis Khan’s successors, his sons and grandsons, to complete. Family trees are always complicated, and difficult to remember. This is what Genghis Khan’s family tree looks like.

These are the main protagonists:

Börte, 1161-1230, Temujin’s  wife and grand empress of the empire.  The couple was married when Temujin was 17. Soon after that Börte was abducted by a neighboring tribe, but Temujin recaptured her and this event is often cited as the beginning of his career as a conqueror. Börte was not Temujin’s only wife, but the couple seem to have had very fond feelings for each other. She was his trusted advisor with responsibility for her own territory.

Börte gave birth to four sons:

Jochi, 1181-1227. May not have been Temujin’s son since he was born soon after Börte’s return to her husband, but Temujin always treated him as his own first son. He was not, however, accepted by his brothers as the legitimate successor to their father. When Genghis Khan divided his empire Jochi got the western-most part, a territory which later came to constitute the Golden Horde, in today’s Russia.

Chagatai, 1183-1242. Was the leading critic of Jochi and was considered hotheaded by his brothers. He inherited the Central Asian parts of the empire from his father. Later known as the Chagatai Khanate. He was very fond of airag [Read more: How to Make Kumis]

Ögedei, 1186-1241, was the third son and successor to Genghis Khan, as a compromise solution instead of picking Jochi or Chagatai. He expanded the empire into the Middle East and attacked the Jin dynasty and moved into Korea. It was during his reign that the Mongols expanded into Europe.

Tolui, 1192-1232, was the youngest of Genghis Khan’s sons, and inherited the traditional Mongol heartlands from his father. His descendants ruled Mongolia until 1691.

Tolui had four sons who played a prominent role in Mongol politics and territorial expansion, but there were intense rivalries and occasionally wars between them.

Möngke, 1218-1265, occupied much of Western Asia, including Persia, and was responsible for the sacking of Baghdad in 1258, but his forces also lost an important battle at Ain Jalut, 1260, against the forces of the Mamluk rulers of Egypt. His part of the empire became later known as the Ilkhanate, located, roughly, in today’s Iran.

Kublai, 1215-1294, was in conflict with his brothers and fought a war against Ariq Böke, 1260-1264, after which the empire began to fall apart. Kublai was the Mongol ruler who eventually overran China in 1271 and founded the Yuan dynasty which was to last until 1368 when it was overrun by the Ming. He moved his captial to Beijing.

Hulagu, 1218-1265, occupied much of Western Asia, including Persia, and was responsible for the sacking of Baghdad in 1258, but his forces also lost an important battle at Ain Jalut, 1260, against the forces of the Mamuluk rulers of Egypt. His part of the empire became later known as the Ilkhanate, located, roughly, in today’s Iran.

Ariq Böke, 1219-1266. was the youngest son of Tolui. After the death of Möngke in 1260, he claimed the throne but was defeated by his brothers. He was eventually imprisoned by Kublai and when he died, only 45 years old, rumors had it he was poisoned. He represented traditional Mongolian values in opposition to the softer, more Chinese, lifestyle preferred by Kublai.