The Mongol conquests of China in the thirteenth century have typically been seen as a disaster for the subject Chinese peoples, placing them under the yoke of an invader insensitive to Chinese cultural values, distrustful of Chinese influences and inept in government.
This book assesses the Mongol achievements in China and re-considers their significance, arguing that the Mongols did not merely cause harm but also brought many benefits, not least bringing together nearly the whole of what was later referred to as ‘China’ and devising a system of government that, more or less successfully, held it together. It provides an account of the turbulent period immediately preceding the Mongol conquest of China, presenting evidence that strongly suggests the first use of gunpowder weapons in China. It goes on to examine the manner in which China was brought under Mongol rule, with particular focus on some of the major campaigns including the submission of the Uighur, the conquest of the Jin and Song empires, the campaigns in Dali, Yunnan and Korea, and the occupation of Tibet. Investigates the impact of Mongol rule, including the important lessons learned from ruling northern China and the later dynasties established by great Mongol rulers such as Khubilai Khan. Finally, it examines the reasons behind the collapse of the Mongol empire in China and the legacy left by Mongol rule.
Stephen G. Hawhas travelled extensively in Central Asia and China over a period of some 25 years. He is the author of The Lilies of China (1986), China: a cultural history (1990), A Traveller’s History of China, Broad-leaved Evergreens (2000) and Marco Polo’s China, as well as contributions to other books and a large number of periodical articles. He has a strong interest in natural history, especially botany, and has made a particular study of the flora of China.