Temür Khan

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This article is about emperor of the Mongol Yuan dynasty. For Khan of the Post-Imperial Mongolia, see Öljei Temür Khan.
Öljeytü Temür Khan
Emperor Chengzong of Yuan
Emperor of the Yuan dynasty
Khagan of the Mongols
Portrait of Temür Khan during the Yuan era.
Emperor of Yuan dynasty
Reign May 10, 1294 – February 10, 1307
Coronation May 10, 1294
Predecessor Kublai Khan
Successor Külüg Khan
Consort Bulugan
Full name
Mongolian: ᠡᠮᠦᠷ
Chinese: 鐵穆耳 Temür Öljeytü Khan
Era dates
Yuanzhen (元貞) 1295–1297
Dade (大德) 1297–1307
Posthumous name
Emperor Qinming Guangxiao (钦明广孝皇帝)
Temple name
Chengzong (成宗)
Dynasty Yuan
Dynasty Borjigin
Father Zhenjin
Mother Kokejin (Bairam egchi)
Born October 15, 1265
Died February 10, 1307(1307-02-10) (aged 41)
Dadu (Khanbalic)

Temür Öljeytü Khan (Mongolian: Öljiyt Tömör, Өлзийт Төмөр, Öljeytü Temür), born Temür (also spelled Timur, Mongolian: Төмөр, October 15, 1265 – February 10, 1307), also known by the temple name Chengzong (Emperor Chengzong of Yuan; Chinese: 元成宗; pinyin: Yuán Chéngzōng; Wade–Giles: Yüan2 Ch'eng2-tsung1) was the second emperor of the Yuan dynasty, ruling from May 10, 1294 to February 10, 1307, and is considered as the sixth Great Khan of the Mongols in Mongolia. He was an able ruler of the Yuan, and his reign established the patterns of power for the next few decades.[1] His name means "blessed iron Khan" in the Mongolian language.

Temür was a son of the Crown Prince Zhenjin (真金) and the grandson of Kublai Khan. During his rule, the Tran, Pagan, and Champa dynasties and western khanates of the Mongol Empire accepted his supremacy.

Early life[edit]

Temür was born the third son of Zhenjin of the Borjigin and Kökejin (Bairam-Egechi) of the Khunggirad on October 15, 1265. Because Kublai's first son Dorji died early, his second son and Temür's father, Zhenjin, became the crown prince. However, he died in 1286 when Temür was 21 years old. Kublai remained close to Zhenjin's widow Kökejin, who was high in his favor. Like his grandfather Kublai, Temür was a follower of Buddhism.

Temür followed his grandfather Kublai to suppress the rebellion of Nayan (Naiyan) and other rival relatives in 1287. Then he and Kublai's official, Oz-Temür, came to guard the Liao River area and Liaodong in the east from Nayan's ally, Qadaan, and defeated him. Kublai appointed Temür the princely overseer of Karakorum and surrounding areas in July 1293.[2] Three Chagatai princes submitted to him while he was defending Mongolia (they fled to Chagatai Khanate soon and returned to Yuan Dynasty again during the reign of Temür).

After Kublai Khan died in 1294, Kublai's old officials urged the court to summon a kurultai in Shangdu. Because Zhenjin's second son Darmabala had already died in 1292, only his two sons, Gammala and Temür, were left to succeed. It was proposed that they hold a competition over who had better knowledge of Genghis Khan's sayings. Temür won and was declared the emperor.[3]


Temür Khan was a competent emperor of the Yuan Dynasty. He kept the empire the way Kublai Khan left it though he did not make any great achievements. He continued many of Kublai Khan's economic reforms and tried to recover the economy from the expensive campaigns of Kublai Khan's reign. He allowed the empire to heal from the wounds of particularly the Vietnam Campaign. Many other high posts of his empire were filled with people of different origin, including Mongols, Han Chinese, Muslims and a few Christians.

Jinan Great Southern Mosque was completed during the reign of Temür.

Ideologically, Temür's administration showed respect for Confucianism and Confucian scholars. Shortly after his accession, Temür issued an edict to revere Confucius. Temür appointed Harghasun, who was particularly close to the Confucian scholars, right grand chancellor in the secretariat.[4] Nevertheless, the Mongol court did not accept every principle of Confucianism.[5] Temür bestowed new guards and assets on his mother and renamed her ordo (great palace-tent or camp) Longfugong palace, which became a center of Khunggirad power for the next few decades. Mongol and westerner statesmen were assisted by an array of Chinese administrators and Muslim financers. The most prominent Muslim statesman was Bayan (Баян), great-grandson of Saiyid Ajall Shams al-Din, who was in charge of the Ministry of Finance. Under Mongol administrators Oljei and Harghasun, the Yuan court adopted policies that were designed to ensure political and social stability. Orders were given that portraits be painted of the khagans and khatuns during the reign of Temür.[6]

The number of the Tibetans in the administration gradually increased. The Khon family of Tibet was honored, and one of them became an imperial son-in law in 1296. Temür reversed his grandfather's anti-Taoist policy and made Taoist Zhang Liusun co-chair of the Academy of Scholarly Worthies. In 1304, Temür appointed the Celestial master of Dragon and Tiger Mountain as head of the Orthodox Unity School. He banned sales and distillation of alcohol in Mongolia in 1297, and the French historian René Grousset applauded his activity in the book, The Empire of Steppes.

Temür was opposed to imposing any additional fiscal burden on the people. Exemptions from levies and taxes were granted several times for part or all of the Yuan. After his enthronement, Temür exempted Dadu and Shangdu from taxes for a year. He also exempted the Mongol commoners from taxation for two years. In 1302 he prohibited the collection of anything beyond the established tax quotas.[7] The financial state of the government deteriorated, however, and the draining of monetary reserves greatly weakened the credibility of the paper currency system. Corruption among officials of the Yuan became a problem.

Because his only son Teshou died a year earlier (January 1306), Temür died without a male heir, in the capital Dadu on February 10, 1307.[8]

South East Asia[edit]

Imperial edict regarding the protection of the Temple of Yan Hui in Qufu, year 11 of the Dade era (AD 1307). The text is in both Chinese and Mongol ('Phags-pa script).

Soon after his enthronement in 1294, Temür called off all preparations for further expansions to Japan and the Đại Việt, whose new ruler ignored his grandfather's envoy in 1291. Temür sent his messengers to Japan and Champa to demand submissions. Champa accepted the terms, but Kamakura shogunate declined, and the Japanese Wokou attacked Ningbo in Zheijiang province late in his reign.[9] The rulers of Đại Việt, Burma, and Sukhotai visited Khanbalik to greet him as their overlord in 1295, 1297, and 1300. In response to the visit from the prince of Burma, he aborted the Burmese campaign and said to all his ministers: "They are our friendly subjects. Do not attack their people". Temür also released envoys of Đại Việt to show his goodwill, and the Tran court began to send tributary missions. But Temür's government had to quell rebellions in the southwestern mountainous area, led by tribal chieftains like Song Longji and female leader Shejie in 1296. It took long months for the generals Liu Shen and Liu Guojie to suppress these rebellions.

By the request of the Burmese prince, Tribhuvanaditya, Temür dispatched a detachment of the Yuan army to Burma in 1297. They successfully repelled the Shans from Myanmar. Temür also received envoys from Siam and Cambodia. He dispatched Zhou Daguan to Khmer Cambodia in 1296, and Zhou wrote an account about his journey.[10] In 1299 Athinkaya murdered his brother Tribhuvanaditya, who submitted to Temür in 1297. In 1300, a punitive expedition was launched against Burma for dethroning Temür's protectorate, Tribhuvanaditya. The Shan warlords of Babai-Xifu, who were quarreling over the royal succession of Pagan, also raided the Yuan realms. Temür sent his Yunnan-based force in turn to halt the advance of Babaixifu (Lanna Kingdom of Chiangmai) in 1301–03. Although those campaigns were fruitless, Athinkaya and the Shan lords offered their submission.[11] The costly expedition spurred rebellions of a Yunnan official, Song Longji, and the Gold-Tooths (ancestors of the Dai people) in 1301–03. The revolts were eventually suppressed. After Temür Khan ordered to withdraw his army from Burma, Central and southern Burma soon came under the Tai rulers who paid nominal tribute to the Yuan Dynasty.

Relation with other khanates[edit]

The Mongol Empire, ca. 1300. The gray area is the later Timurid empire.

Ghazan Khan of the Ilkhanate converted to Islam after his enthronement in 1295. He actively supported the expansion of Islam in his empire and renounced all relationship with the "paganish" Yuan Dynasty. In 1296 Temür Khan dispatched Baiju, the military commander, to Mongol Persia, the western region of the Mongol Empire.[12] Ghazan was very impressed with Baiju's abilities. But three years later, he changed his policy and sent his envoys with precious gifts such as cloths, jewels and gold to greet Temür who was the most respected person of the House of Tolui at time. In response, Temür said "Descendants of Chingis Khan shall be friendly to each other forever" and sent Ghazan a seal reading "王府定國理民之寶" in Chinese script, meaning "Precious seal certifying the authority of his Royal Highness to establish a state and govern its people" (as a prince below Khagan). The Ilkhanid envoys presented tribute to Khagan Temür and inspected properties granted to Hulagu in North China.[13] They stayed at the ordo of Temür Khagan in Dadu for 4 years. Ghazan called upon other Mongol Khans to unite their will under the Khagan Temür. Kaidu's enemy Bayan Khan of the White Horde strongly supported his appeal. However, the envoys returned to Persia after the death of Ghazan.

Temür also treated Ochicher, a descendant of Borokhula (one of Genghis Khan's "4 steeds"), as an elder statesman and dispatched him to Karakorum to assist his brother Gammala in pacifying the threat from the House of Ögedei and the Chagatai Khanate. While Ochicher and Gammala never achieved the final surrender of Kaidu, head of the Ögedeid and Chagatayid families, they neutralized him by skillfully exploiting their divisions and reviving military farms up to the Altai Range. In 1293 Tutugh occupied the Baarin tumen, who were allies of Kaidu, on the Ob River. From 1298 on the Chagatayid Khan Duwa increased his raids on the Yuan. He launched a surprise attack against the Yuan garrison under Temür's uncle Kokechu in Mongolia and captured Temür's son-in-law, Korguz of the Ongud when he and his commanders were drunk.[14] However, Duwa was defeated by the Yuan army under Ananda in Gansu and his son-in law and several relations were captured. Although, Duwa and the Yuan generals agreed to exchange their prisoners, Duwa and Qaidu executed Korguz in revenge and cheated the Yuan officials. To reorganize the Yuan defence system in Mongolia, Temür appointed Darmabala's son Khayisan to replace Kokechu. The Yuan army defeated Qaidu south of the Altai Mountains. However, in 1300, Kaidu defeated Khayishan's force. Then Kaidu and Duwa mobilized a large army to attack Karakorum the next year. The Yuan army suffered heavy losses while both sides could not make any decisive victory in September. Duwa was wounded in the battle and Qaidu died soon thereafter. Duwa assisted Kaidu's son Chapar to succeed his father as head of the House of Ögedei and insisted him to recognize Temür's supremacy as Khagan of all Mongols. Because Duwa was more interested in foreign expansion, especially to India, and tired of the civil strife of the Mongols.

Letter of Oljeitu to Philip IV of France that announces the general peace of the Mongol Empire, 1305.

In 1304, Duwa, Kaidu's son Chapar, Tokhta of Golden Horde and Ilkhan Oljeitu negotiated peace with Temür Khan, in order to maintain trade and diplomatic relations, and agreed him to be their nominal overlord.[15] According to the ancient custom which was inherited from the time of Hulagu, Temür thus deigned Oljeitu as the new khan of the Ilkhanate, and sent him a seal reading "真命皇帝和順萬夷之寶" in Chinese script, meaning "Precious seal of the Emperor truely mandated [by Heaven] to pacify ten thousand foreign peoples/barbarians", which was later used by Oljeitu in his letter to the French king Philip IV of France in 1305.[16] Soon after that the fighting between Duwa and Chapar soon broke out over the question of territory. Temür backed Duwa and sent a large army under Khayisan in the fall of 1306, and Chapar finally surrendered. Tokhta Khan of the Golden Horde also sent his overlord Temür two tumens to buttress the Yuan frontier.



  1. ^ René Grousset The Empire of the Steppes, p.320
  2. ^ Yuan shi, t8, p.381
  3. ^ John Man, Kublai Khan p.407
  4. ^ The Cambridge History of China: "Alien Regimes and Border States", p497-498
  5. ^ Jack Weatherford Genghis Khan and the making of the modern world
  6. ^ Jan Stuart, Evelyn Sakakida Rawski, Freer Gallery of Art, Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Worshiping the ancestors, p.41 ISBN 9780804742627
  7. ^ The Cambridge History of China: "Alien regimes and border states, 907–1368", p.497
  8. ^ The Cambridge History of China: "Alien regimes and border states, 907–1368", p.505
  9. ^ Marvin C Whiting Imperial Chinese Military History, p.408
  10. ^ René Grousset The Empire of the Steppes, p.291
  11. ^ Praphatsō̜n Sēwikun, Sirindhorn, Thanākhān Kasikō̜n Thai From the Yellow River to the Chao Phraya River, p.273
  12. ^ Yuan Chueh Chingjung chu-shih chi, ch.34. p.22
  13. ^ Culture and Conquest in Mongol Eurasia by Thomas T. Allsen, p.34
  14. ^ The Cambridge History of China: "Alien regimes and border states, 907–1368", p.502
  15. ^ Д.Цэен-Ойдов – Чингис Богдоос Лигдэн хутагт хүртэл 36 хаад
  16. ^ Cleaves, Mostaert and Hung argued in a paper in 1952 that the Chinese seal used in Ilkhan Öljeitü's letter was made by Öljeitü himself because he perceived himself on an equal level to Temür Khan. But actually the Ilkhans were obedient to the Great Khans until the end of the Ilkhanate.


  • René Grousset The Empire of Steppes
  • Цэен-ойдов Чингис Богдоос Лигдэн Хутаг хүртэл 36 хаад
  • Man, John (2006). Kublai Khan: From Xanadu to Superpower. London: Bantam Books. ISBN 9780553817188. 


Temür Khan
Born: 1265 Died: 1307
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Kublai Khan
Emperor of the Yuan dynasty
Succeeded by
Külüg Khan, Emperor Wuzong
Great Khan of the Mongol Empire
Emperor of China