The Mongol Empire
The Mongol Empire grew after several nomadic tribes of Mongolia in East Asia unified under the leadership of a tribal leader named Genghis Khan. After many conquests, Genghis Khan was proclaimed ruler of the Mongols in 1206. Under his rule, the Mongol Empire grew rapidly through conquest. The Mongol armies attacked in all directions from the Mongolian Steppe and penetrated into China, Korea, Turkistan, Samarkand, and Russia. Many of these invasions included large-scale slaughters of local populations. As a result, Genghis Khan and his empire have a fearsome reputation in local histories.
The Mongols' remarkable military conquests came from their brilliant strategies and tactics. Their armies used skilled soldiers on horseback who could attack quickly. They used bows and arrows skillfully and, after weakening and enemy and bringing about chaos on the battlefield, they engaged in hand-to-hands fighting with swords, spears, and lances.
The peace that came after their conquests is known as the "Pax Mongolica" and it allowed for trade, technologies, and ideas to spread across Eurasia.
Genghis Khan died in 1227 after defeating the Western Xia Dynasty. His descendants continued his conquests across most of Eurasia.
Genghis Khan's grandson Kublai Khan was 11-years-old when Genghis died. He eventually ruled the Mongol Empire from 1260 to 1294. He is most famous for conquering Song China , founding the Yuan Dynasty, and assuming the title of Emperor of China in 1271.
The Yuan Dynasty ruled over present-day China, Mongolia, and Korea. Kublai became the first non-Han emperor to unite all of China. He ruled as the first Yuan emperor until his death in 1294.
Kublai's establishment of the Yuan Dynasty accelerated the fragmentation of the Mongol Empire. The Mongol Empire broke up into four khanates, or empires. These were the Golden Horde khanate in the northwest, the Chagatai Khanate in Central Asia, the Ilkhanate in the southwest, and the Yuan dynasty in the east, based in modern-day Beijing. Each khanate pursued its own interests and objectives.
At its peak, the Mongol Empire covered about 9 million square miles, making it the largest contiguous land empire in world history. Originating in Mongolia in East Asia, the Mongol Empire eventually stretched from Eastern Europe and parts of Central Europe to the Sea of Japan, extending northward into parts of the Arctic; eastward and southward into the Indian subcontinent, and westward as far as Northern Europe.