Mongke Khan

Image Source: Public Domain

About Mongke Khan

Lifespan: 1209-1259 A.D

Reign Years: 1251 – 1259 A.D

Given Name: Borjigin ongke

Reign Name: Xianzong

Möngke Khan – Yuan Dynasty

Mongke Khan, the fourth Khagan of the Mongol Empire. He was a leader who ruled from 1251 to 1259 and was the first Khagan coming from the Toluid line.

During his rule, he created significant reforms to further improve the Mongol Empire’s administration. Plus, the Mongols were able to capture Syria, Iraq, and the Kingdom of Dali.

Mongke Khan was one of the great generals of the empire. He was a committed reformer who ended the excesses and issues of Ogedei’s court.

Under his rule, trade, plus law and order in the Mongol Empire was excellent. There were even claims that a maiden who had a pot of gold could walk the entire empire unharmed.

Enthronement of Mongke Khan

Except for Ogedei and Chagadai’s heir, most of the royal princes considered Batu Khan. They saw him as the rightful individual to be elected as the fourth Khagan.

But during this time, Batu chose the steppes of the Volga over those of Mongolia. So, he declined this offer and chose Mongke to take the throne instead. His nomination as the empire’s fourth Khagan was proven by a Kuriltai in 1251.

During his reign, he executed some of Ogedei’s sons since they disagreed with his election. Plus, he even restored the vigor of past Mongol rulers, which was absent since Genghis Khan’s death.

The Rule of Mongke Khan

In 1251, he was finally elected as the great Khan and was also the last person who held this title at the Karakorum. Under his rule, the people experienced exceptional brilliance, and the Mongol Empire continued expanding rapidly. Their territory became so huge and diverse that Mongke was considered the last great Khan who exerted real authority.

Administrative Changes

Mongke Khan made a couple of major administrative changes as well. He made sure to disinherit the sons of Ogedei and arranged for him and Kublai Khan to inherit the East Asian lands.

The fourth Khagan set a limit on the domains of Chagadai’s successors, avoiding it to stretch indefinitely to the southwest. He made sure that Southwest Asia was to be inherited by Hulegu, Mongke Khan’s brother. He was among the first Mongol rulers of Iran.

Not only that, but this Mongol Empire’s ruler created vital reforms to mobilize both manpower and resources. Mongke Khan did this by stopping different abuses, unifying the tax collecting system, and re-establishing economies in some conquered lands.

In 1252, he started the census of the resources and people of his land to assess control resources and taxes. It was even established to identify the skilled craftsmen around.

Invasion of Iraq

In the west, the army of Mongke Khan, led by his brother Hulegu, started attacking Iran. The act crushed the last resistance present there, and it occurred by the end of 1256.

The Mongol Empire’s army then attacked Iraq, where they took Baghdad in 1258. After, they headed to Syria in 1259 to take Damascus and Aleppo. They continued their conquest until they reached the Mediterranean Seas’ shores.

Invasion of China

Mongke Khan commenced the war in China with great skill and intensity. His main assistant during the battle was Khublai, who acted as viceroy in China.

In 1252 and 1253, Khublai captured Nanchao, while Tonkin was eventually invaded and then pacified. The conquest and invasion ended in 1257 after the fall of Hanoi.

As they continued, the resistance of the Song Empire was quite formidable. Yet, it soon began to crumble due to the series of outstanding campaigns directed by the fourth Khagan.

In August 1258, Mongke Khan died of dysentery. His death led to another lull in their battle against China and even stopped their advances towards West Asia.

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Death of Mongke Khan

Amid their campaign, Mongke Khan died in 1256. The Mongol Empire emperor’s death gave the Southern Song a lengthy reprieve since Kublai stopped the campaign immediately. This was done to secure his succession as the Khagan.

With Mongke Khan’s death, the civil war between Kublai and some of his brothers and cousins ensued. It then led to the Mongol Empire’s apogee under the fallen leader, which never recovered from the succeeding crises.