Köke Temür

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Köke Temür (simplified Chinese: 扩廓帖木尔; traditional Chinese: 擴廓帖木爾; died 1375), also known as Wang Baobao (Chinese: 王保保), was a Bayid general of the Yuan Dynasty. His mother was of Turkic origin while his father was an ethnic Han Chinese with the surname Wang.[1] Before he was given the Mongolian name by the Yuan court in the early 1360s, he was known by his Chinese name as Wang Baobao.[2]


He lived in Henan province. His Turkic mother was either of Naiman or Uyghur origin, and the sister of Chaghan Temür. Köke Temür was adopted by his uncle Chaghan Temür, a Turkic pro-Mongol warlord who fought against the Red Turban Rebellion. When his uncle died in war in Shandong in 1362, he succeeded Chaghan Temür's post and corps, and soon demonstrated military talent in battles with the Red Turban Rebels in Shandong.

He intensified a feud with Bolad Temür a Datong-based warlord, and entered Taiyuan to confront him. He took the side of Crown Prince Ayushiridar against the faction of Toghun Temur Khan in a factional dispute in Dadu since Bolad Temür supported the anti-crown prince faction.

In 1364, Bolad Temür advanced from Datong on Dadu and seized the reins of the central government under the khan. Crown Prince Ayushiridar fled to Taiyuan to seek support from Köke Temür. The Crown Prince struck back with Köke Temür, and Bolad Temür was betrayed when Köke Temür attacked Dadu in 1365. He reinstated the Crown Prince, and was appointed as vice minister of the Secretariat and the king of Henan in return. However, this conflict helped Zhu Yuanzhang rise into power in southern China.

Köke Temür commanded the Yuan army against anti-Yuan rebels, but faced betrayal by subordinates including Chinese officers who had followed him since the very early stage. What was worse was that he got alienated from Ayushiridar, who was given political and military controls by Toghun Temür Khan. After two major defeats (he fled alone in both occasions), he lost Henan and Taiyuan to the rising Ming corps and fled to Gansu. The Yuan Dynasty was forced to retreat from China in 1368.

In 1370 when Toghun Temur died and Ayushiridar succeeded to the throne,[3] Koke Temur entered the Mongolian Plateau from Gansu and joined the new khan, who was based on Khara Khorum. He undertook the defense of the khan. Ming Emperor Hongwu invited him 7 times and offered bribes. But Koke Temur did not abandon his khagan in his misfortune.[4] The most notable service was an overwhelming desert victory over a Ming army led by Xu Da in 1372.[3] It is said that he killed 20,000 Ming soldiers. But in a further encounter against Xu Da in Gansu, Köke Temür's army was badly mauled by the Chinese and forced to flee across the Gobi desert.

He advanced southward with the Yuan troops to take China back for the Mongols, and expanded his influence to Shanxi. However, he died in 1375[5] and was followed by Ayushiridar in 1378. Their deaths radically weakened the Mongol state, extinguishing any hope of recapturing China.


  1. ^ Mote 2003, p. 522.
  2. ^ Historical Dictionary of the Mongol World Empire, by Paul D. Buell, 2003. ISBN 0-8108-4571-7
  3. ^ a b The Cambridge history of China, by Denis Twitchett et al., pp 99-100, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0-521-24332-7
  4. ^ Mingshi
  5. ^ Perpetual Happiness: The Ming Emperor Yongle, by Shih-shan Henry Tsai, p 23, University of Washington Press, 2001, ISBN 0-295-98124-5