Temur Khan

Image Source: Public Domain

About Temur Khan

Lifespan: 1265-1307 A.D

Reign Years: 1294 – 1307 A.D

Given Name: Borjigin Temur

Reign Name: Chengzong

Temür Khan – Yuan Dynasty

Temür Khan, better known as Emperor Chengzong of the Yuan Dynasty, was the empire’s 2nd ruler. He reigned from 1294 to 1307 and was also known as the 6th Great Khan of the Mongols. The Yuan Dynasty emperor was an adequate ruler who built the patterns of power for the future.

Temür Khan was the son of Zhenjin and grandson of Kublai Khan. Under his rule, the Mongol Empire’s west Khanates embraced his supremacy.

Emperor Chengzong was the final Yuan ruler to have firm control over the country. However, he never really exercised real power over Mongol areas in the Middle East and Russia.

Temür Khan’s rule over the Yuan Dynasty and other areas was greatly successful. He was able to do well despite having to quell and engage in rebellions in Southern China and Korea. There were even challenges to this throne, as well as intense corruption in the empire.

Nevertheless, he was able to rule and lead adequately.

Early Life and Enthronement

Just like his Kublai Khan, his grandfather Temür or Emperor Chengzong followed Buddhism immensely. He followed his grandfather to suppress the Nayan rebellion and other rival relatives in 1287.

Then, Temür Khan and Oz Temür, Kublai’s official, guarded the Liao River and Liaodong areas against the Nayan’s ally, Qadaan. Eventually, they defeated him, and in 1293, Kublai Khan appointed Temur as the princely overseer of Karakorum.

After Kublai died in 1294, his old officials suggested that the court have a Kurultai in Shangdu. Since brothers Temur and Gammala were the only ones left to succeed, they held a competition. The basis of the competition was this: who among the two had more knowledge about Genghis’ sayings. In the end, Temür Khan won and was declared Emperor Chengzong.

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Reign of Temür Khan

Temür Khan was a highly competent and efficient emperor of the Yuan Dynasty. He was able to maintain and run the empire like how Kublai Khan did. However, he wasn’t able to make any great achievements, unlike Kublai.

Emperor Chengzong continued tons of economic reforms of Kublai Khan while attempting to recover and build the Mongol’s economy. He needed to do this because of the previous high-costing campaigns that ensued during Kublai’s reign.

It was also him who allowed the Mongol empire to heal from the after-effects of the Vietnam Campaign. A lot of high positions in his empire were filled with individuals from different origins. These included the Mongols, Muslims, the Han Chinese, and a couple of Christians.

Policies for Political and Social Stability

Temür Khan allotted new assets and guards for his mother. He even renamed her ordo or camp Longfugong palace. It eventually became the central power of the Khunggirad in the next few decades. For the Mongol and statesmen of the West, they were assisted by some Chinese administrators and Muslim financers.

The most outstanding Muslim statesman of that time was Bayan, Saiyid Ajall Shams al-Din’s great-grandson. He was assigned to handle the Finance Ministry.

Under the Mongol administrators’ lead, the Yuan Dynasty’s court endorsed policies designed to guarantee social and political stability. During the reign of Temur, there were orders to have portraits of the Khatuns and Khagans painted.

Temür also reversed the anti-Taoist policy granted by his grandfather. Doing so allowed him to make the Taoist Zhang Luison the co-chairperson of the Academy of Scholarly Worthies. Additionally, Temür banned the distillation and sales of alcohol in 1297.

Confucianism in Temür Khan’s Rule

Ideologically, the administration under Temür displayed respect for Confucianism, as well as Confucian scholars. Soon after his accession, Emperor Chengzong issued an edict to honor Confucius. He appointed Harghasun, someone close to the Confucian scholars, as right-grand chancellor in his secretariat.

Despite this, the Mongol court did not embrace every principle of Confucianism.

Tax Exemption

Temür Khan didn’t set any extra fiscal burdens on his people. The exemptions from taxes and levies were granted a couple of times for almost all Yuan people. He even exempted Dadu and Shangdu from taxes for a year.

For the Mongol commoners, he exempted them from taxes for two years. In 1302, he prevented the collection of anything over the fixed tax quotas.

Simultaneously, the government’s financial state deteriorated, draining their monetary reserves in the process. This occurrence weakened the paper currency system’s credibility, and corruption among the officials became a big issue.

Expansion to Southeast Asia

Soon after taking the throne in 1294, Temur Khan stopped all preparations for future expansions in Japan and the Dai Viet. It’s because their new leader ignored and disregarded his grandfather’s envoy. With that, Temür ordered messengers to Champa and Japan, demanding submissions.

Champa easily accepted his terms; however, the Kamakura Shogunate didn’t and declined. Not only that, but the Japanese Wokou assaulted the Ningbo in Zheijiang later during Temür’s rule.

The Burmese Campaign

Temür was supposed to push through with the Burmese campaign. Yet after the visit of Burma’s prince, he aborted the plan.

Not only that, but he released the envoys of Dai Viet to display his goodwill. With that, the Tran Court started sending tributary missions.

However, the government of Temür Khan had to suppress the rebellions in the mountainous southwestern areas. The location was led by tribe chiefs like Song Longji and the female ruler Shejie.

By the request of Tribhuvanaditya, the Burmese prince, Temür dispatched a group of the Yuan Army to Burma. They were able to repel the Shans of Myanmar.

Not only that, but Temür acquired envoys from Cambodia and Siam. He then sent Zhou Daguan to Khmer, Cambodia, where Zhou recorded an account of the journey.

In 1300, a vindictive expedition began. It was against those from Burma who ousted Temür’s protectorate.

Other groups that attacked the Yuan realms were the Shan leaders of Babai Xifu. From 1301 to 1303, Temür ordered his Yunnan-based troops to prevent the advances of the Babaixifu.

These expeditions were costly, and it sparked the rebellion of Song Longji, a Yunnan official. It also led to the revolt of the Gold Tooths, the ancestors of Dai.

After the revolts were successfully suppressed, Temür ordered his army to withdraw from Burma. Then, both South and Central Burma came under the Tai leaders who offered a nominal tribute to the Yuan.

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Death of Temür Khan and the Disintegration of Mongol Rule in China

During the last few years of Emperor Chengzong, peace among the Yuan and west Mongol Khanates was formed in 1304. This was after the Kaidu Kublai war that lasted over 30 years, which led to the Mongol Empire’s permanent separation.

Temür Khan was known as their supposed suzerain. Despite experiencing short-lived peace, it built the Yuan Dynasty’s nominal supremacy over the west Khanates.

And since his only son died a year earlier than him, Temür had no male heir. His death led to the empire’s disintegration, and leaders that followed were more focused on the Chinese courts. They didn’t care much about the sound administration of their territories.

Disasters such as the Yellow River’s flooding and widespread famine caused deprivation and chaos. And since the leaders didn’t care about their lands, the government didn’t take any measures to deal with these issues.

After some time, a couple of Chinese leaders were alarmed by the crumbling of state control. With that, they built their regional authorities and enforced their rules by creating their private troops.

Sixty years after the death of Emperor Chengzong of the Yuan Dynasty, the Mongol rule in China ended virtually.