Kublai Khan was born in 1215 (the same year that his father the Great Genghis Khan took over Peking, China). Having a life of relative ease, when he was 20 – his was granted lands in China to rule. His brother (Mangu), was Khan at this time (1253). Chosen to lead an attack against The Sung Dynasty (in Southern China), Kublai outflanked The Chinese from the Southwest by going through Tibet and coming down the Upper Yangtze Valley. He did not stop until he captured the Capitol (Dali). Building his brother a summer Palace their, it one day become – Beijing (and alluded to as “Xanadu”, centuries later). The Mongols reached The Tangking Delta around 1257. Continuing his pressure, Kublai's brother eventually controlled all of North China – before he was killed in battle (1259). Kublai was summoned by Council (other Mongol Princes). In 1260, he was made “Great Khan”.
His Empire stretched from The Balck Sea to The Pacific Ocean at one point. However Khan's younger brother, Arigh Boke felt his military achievements warranted the throne. This led to a civil war between the two. Khan defeated his brother (but did not kill him). Turning his attention back to The Sung War, he needed to take their more fertile lands. Khan realized that by incorporating a string agricultural base to his “Warrior Empire” - they would be self-sufficient. After 15 years of hard fight, Khan took Canton. He was now truly “The Great Khan of all China”.Although Mongols have a reputation for being ruthless, Khan was also a shrewd administrator. He under stood that he needed to delegate authority.
He also understood the importance of trade (especially with Europe). He set about launching a Fleet of Merchant Ships (even welcoming the “barbarian” Marco Polo). The two would become fast friends. Kublai Khan divided his people into 4 categories: Mongol, Northern Chinese, Southern Chinese and Foreigners. He imposed strict ethnic laws to separate the classes. Inter-marriage was punishable by death. Continuing his Empire expansion, Kubali extended a more friendlier approach to Korea (subdued years prior and treated harshly).
So much so, he married off one of his daughters to a Korean Prince. Khan even tried to extend diplomatic overture to Japan (who wished nothing do to with him). Khan never realized his dream of one day conquering Japan. Moving into Cambodia and other Regions, Khan spent monies he could ill afford in taking that Kingdom. Strangely, Kubali's most trusted adviser was his wife (Chabi). She had a skill for diplomacy Khan never did. When she died in 1281, he took it hard. Unable to really relate to his new crop of Commanders and Advisers, his administration began to falter. He died an old man at 78, just before his Empire would splinter again and fade away to the rising Imperial Chinese Dynasty.