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Kublai Setsen Khan
Emperor Shizu of Yuan
Portrait of Kublai Khan
5th Khagan of the Mongol Empire
Reign 5 May 1260 – 18 February 1294
Coronation 5 May 1260
Predecessor Möngke Khan
Successor Temür Khan (Yuan dynasty)
1st Emperor of the Yuan dynasty
Reign 18 December 1271 – 18 February 1294
Successor Temür Khan
Born 23 September 1215
Mongol Empire
Died 18 February 1294 (aged 78)
Khanbaliq, Yuan dynasty, China
Burial Burkhan Khaldun (now Khentii Province, Mongolia)
Religion Tibetan Buddhism

Kublai was the fifth Khagan (Great Khan) of the Mongol Empire, reigning from 1260 to 1294. He also founded the Yuan dynasty in China as a conquest dynasty in 1271, and ruled as the first Yuan emperor until his death in 1294.

Kublai was the fourth son of Tolui and a grandson of Genghis Khan. He succeeded his older brother as Khagan in 1260, but had to defeat his younger brother in the Toluid Civil War lasting until 1264. This episode marked the beginning of disunity in the empire.

Kublai's seizure of power in 1260 pushed the Mongol Empire into a new direction. Despite his controversial election, which increased the conflict with Mongols, Kublai's willingness to formalize the Mongol realm's joint relations with China brought the Mongol Empire to international attention. Kublai and his predecessors conquests were largely responsible for re-creating a unified powerful China.

Kublai's real power was limited to China and Mongolia, though as Khagan he still had influence in the Ilkhanate and to a lesser degree, in the Golden Horde. If one counts the Mongol Empire at that time as a whole, his realm reached from the Pacific Ocean to the Black Sea, from Siberia to what is now Afghanistan.

In 1271, Kublai established the Yuan dynasty, which ruled over present-day Mongolia, China, Korea, and some adjacent areas, and assumed the role of Emperor of China. By 1279, the Mongol conquest of the Song dynasty was completed and Kublai became the first non-Han emperor to conquer all of China.

Kublai wrote many pages of Chinese poetry, though most of his works have not survived.

He succeeded in building a powerful empire, created an academy, offices, trade ports and canals and sponsored science and the arts. The record of the Mongols lists 20,166 public schools created during Kublai's reign.

Kublai promoted economic growth by rebuilding the Grand Canal, repairing public buildings, and extending highways. Kublai encouraged Asian arts and demonstrated religious tolerance.

Muslim scholars, scientists and astronomers contributed to the construction of the observatory in Shaanxi. Astronomers such introduced 7 new instruments and concepts that allowed the correction of the Chinese calendar.

Muslim mathematicians introduced Euclidean Geometry, spherical trigonometry and arabic numerals in China, cartographers made accurate maps of all the nations along the Silk Road and greatly influenced the knowledge of Yuan dynasty rulers and merchants.

The imperial portrait of Kublai was part of an album of the portraits of Yuan emperors and empresses, now in the collection of the National Palace Museum in Taipei.

White, the color of the royal costume of Kublai, was the imperial color of the Yuan dynasty.

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