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See the fact file below for more information on Kublai Khan or alternatively, you can download our comprehensive worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
- Kublai Khan was born in Mongolia sometime in 1215. He was grandson of Genghis Khan, the founder and ruler of the vast Mongol Empire. Kublai was the son of Tolui, one of the favorite sons of Genghis Khan. The Mongol Empire was at the height of its glory when Kublai was born. At a very young age, he was taught to become a fighter, hunter, and horseman.
- In addition, he studied ancient philosophies like Confucianism and Buddhism.
- In 1251, when Kublai’s brother, Möngke, became the Great Khan, Kublai was sent to rule Northern China while his brother conquered the south. He established the north capital of Shangdu and helped his brother in expanding the empire with his great military skills.
- Kublai was surrounded with Chinese advisers and exposed to Chinese culture and customs during his rule in the north.
- In 1259, while at war with the Song dynasty, Mönghe died of dysentery or cholera. After hearing the news, Ariq Böke, Kublai’s younger brother, consolidated power in the Mongol capital of Karakorum. As a result, Kublai arranged a truce with the Song and immediately returned to the capital. After a year, he disputed his brother’s claim and named himself the Great Khan.
- The claims of Ariq Böke and Kublai resulted in civil war. It was not until 1264, when Ariq Böke surrendered to Kublai in Shangdu. In order to secure Kublai’s succession, he ordered the execution of his brother’s supporters.
Kublai as the Great Khan:
- After securing the crown, Kublai Khan continued conquering the Song Dynasty in the south. He employed the strategy of catapults to tear down the walls and naval expansion. The Mongols adopted the use of trebuchets during the war against the Persians.
- He was considered as a wise Khan as he exhibited great respect for Chinese culture. Kublai transferred the capital city from Karakorum to Dadu also known as Khanbaliq (present day Beijing).
- In 1271, Kublai Khan officially founded the Yuan Dynasty with him as its first emperor. It took him five more years to fully subdue the Song Dynasty and unite China under one ruler by 1276.
- Kublai Khan ruled the Mongol Empire with a mixture of Mongolian and Chinese administration. The Mongols were known as skilled warriors while the Chinese contributed good governance and bureaucracy.
- A walled palace was built on the inside of the capital city. Kublai Khan secured the city with huge fortification. He also built a palace in the southern city of Shangdu (Xanadu).
- Aside from fortifications, Kublai Khan also built infrastructure such as roads and canals to improve transportation and trading. This step also gave way to open trading with foreign merchants through the Silk Road.
- Furthermore, the Grand Canal system was connected from the Yellow River to Peking.
- His rule introduced a new social hierarchy based on race, which divided the population into four classes: on top were the Mongols, followed by the non-Chinese from central Asia, northern Chinese, and southern Chinese at the bottom.
- Kublai Khan’s administration was divided into three branches ensuring the oversight of civilians, military affairs, and major officials.
- In was during the rule of Kublai Khan that paper money called chao was first used as the primary means of exchange or currency. His people were also free to choose their spiritual beliefs due to religious tolerance. Islam became a minority religion along with Buddhism and Shamanism (religion of the Mongols).
- He also ordered the creation of a new language for the Mongols that resembled Chinese writing.
- According to The Travels of Marco Polo, he met Kublai Khan in Shangdu and became one of his trusted servants in the court.
- Marco Polo was a Venetian merchant and adventurer who told stories about the Far East in his book Il Milione. He stayed for approximately 17 years in the Khan’s court in Peking and gained wealth before returning to Venice.
Misfortunes, Death, and Legacy of Kublai Khan:
- At the height of Kublai Khan’s rule, his cousin, Kaidu, tried to unseat him by questioning the unjustly passed power of Great Khan. Members of the Mongolian aristocracy found his rule as Chinese-centered and biased to his Mongolian heritage.
- Moreover, members of the lower Chinese class showed great resentment because they were heavily taxed and unfairly punished.
- After conquering China, Kublai Khan led unsuccessful military attacks in Burma (1277, 1283 and 1287), Java (1293), and Japan (1274 and 1281). His people felt that their taxes were used inappropriately for further expansion. Over 70,000 troops, or half of the fleet from northern and southern China, were killed or captured during the expedition to Japan due to kamikaze or divine wind.
- In 1292, another failed campaign diminished Kublai’s troops and his persistence for expansion. The attempted conquest in Java was ill-fated and most of his men were killed by tropical diseases from the rainforest of Indonesia.
- After several military losses and personal grief after losing his beloved wife in 1281, Kublai Khan began to eat and drink excessively. He became overweight and sickly for years. On February 18, 1294, after 34 years of reign, he died at the age of 79. His grandson Temur succeeded as the Great Khan and emperor of the Yuan Dynasty.
- Among the Mongol rulers, Kublai Khan ranked second to Genghis Khan in terms of achievements. His reign was challenged by internal disparity between the Mongol and Chinese people. Mongols felt that Kublai Khan betrayed their heritage for looking to the Chinese way of governance.
- Kublai Khan’s respect for Chinese traditions created conflict with the other khanates comprising the Mongol Confederacy.
- In 1368, after several emperors following Kublai Khan, Zhu Yuanzhang, leader of the Red Turban Rebellion, attacked the capital of Dadu and established the new Ming Dynasty.
Kublai Khan Worksheets
This bundle includes 11 ready-to-use Kublai Khan worksheets that are perfect for students to learn about Kublai Khan who was the Fifth Great Khan, grandson of Genghis Khan, and Emperor of the vast Mongol Empire. He conquered China and founded the Yuan Dynasty in 1260.
This download includes the following worksheets:
- Kublai Khan Facts
- The Fifth Great Khan
- Pax Mongolica
- The Wise Khan Timeline
- Certified Yuan Dynasty
- The Four Class System
- Mongol or Chinese
- The Great Khans
- Khan’s Word Bank
- Kublai Khan’s Comic Table
- The Travels of Marco Polo
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Link will appear as Kublai Khan Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, January 18, 2018
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.