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|Centuries:||12th century – 13th century – 14th century|
|Decades:||1250s 1260s 1270s – 1280s – 1290s 1300s 1310s|
|Years:||1278 1279 1280 – 1281 – 1282 1283 1284|
|1281 by topic|
|State leaders – Sovereign states|
|Birth and death categories|
|Births – Deaths|
|Establishments and disestablishments categories|
|Establishments – Disestablishments|
|Art and literature|
|1281 in poetry|
|Ab urbe condita||2034|
|Bahá'í calendar||−563 – −562|
|English Regnal year||9 Edw. 1 – 10 Edw. 1|
|Chinese calendar||庚辰年 (Metal Dragon)
3977 or 3917
— to —
辛巳年 (Metal Snake)
3978 or 3918
|- Vikram Samvat||1337–1338|
|- Shaka Samvat||1203–1204|
|- Kali Yuga||4382–4383|
|Japanese calendar||Kōan 4
|Minguo calendar||631 before ROC
|Thai solar calendar||1824|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to 1281.|
- August 12 – Battle of Kōan (Hakata Bay): The second Mongol invasion of Japan is foiled, as a large typhoon – famously called a kamikaze, or divine wind – destroys much of the combined Chinese and Korean fleet and forces, numbering over 140,000 men and 4,000 ships.
- Kublai Khan orders the burning of sacred Taoist texts, resulting in the reduction in number of volumes of the Daozang (Taoist Canon) from 4,565 to 1,120.
- The Mon kingdom of Haripunchai falls as its capital Lamphun (in present-day Thailand) is captured by King Mangrai's Lannathai kingdom.
- October 29 – Second Battle of Homs: Mamluk sultan Qalawun defeats an invasion of Syria by Mongol Ilkhan Abaqa Khan.
- Osman I, founder of the Ottoman Empire, becomes bey of the Sögüt tribe in central Anatolia; in 1299 he will declare independence from the Seljuk Turks, marking the birth of the Ottoman Empire.
- An offensive by the Byzantine Empire significantly reduces the size of the Kingdom of Albania, as it recaptures land seized from the Despotate of Epirus by Charles I of Sicily 10 years earlier.
- Pope Martin IV authorizes a Crusade against the newly re-established Byzantine Empire in Constantinople; French and Venetian expeditions set out toward Constantinople but are forced to turn back in the following year.
- July – Niccolò Bonsignori heads a hundred of Ghibelline exiles in a failed attempt to topple the Sienese government.
- Guy of Dampierre, count of Flanders, licenses the first Lombards merchants to open a changing business in his realm.
- Richard de Bury, English statesman (d. 1345)
- Castruccio Castracani, duke of Lucca (d. 1328)
- Yuri III Danilovich, Grand Prince of Russia (d. 1325)
- Henry, 3rd Earl of Lancaster (d. 1345)
- Hamdallah Mustawfi, Ilkhanid Iranian historian (d. 1349)
- Rudolf I of Bohemia (d. 1307)
- February 16 – Gertrude of Hohenburg, queen consort of Germany (b. c.1225)
- September 10 – John II, Margrave of Brandenburg-Stendal (b. 1237)
- October 8 – Princess Constance of Greater Poland (b. c.1245)
- December 24 – Henry V, Count of Luxembourg (b. 1216)
- date unknown – Ertuğrul, father of Osman I (b. 1198)
- Munro, John H. (2003). "The Medieval Origins of the Financial Revolution". The International History Review 15 (3): 506–562.