Free «Late Imperial China: Khubilai Khan Lost Fleet» Essay Paper

Late Imperial China: Khubilai Khan Lost Fleet

Historical records reveal that when Khubilai Khan, the Mongol leader, managed to successfully achieve that which his grandfather Genghis could not in conquering China when he gracefully inherited the most sophisticated and largest navy in the whole world. Nevertheless, his stupendous efforts amounted into attempts to use this military endowment and strength to expand his empire to Vietnam, Java and mainly Japan. Surprisingly he lost the whole armada over few years. Khubilai’s power was limited to Mongolia and China even though he still had the capacity to extend his influence in Ilkhanate as well s Golden Horde though in a lesser degree. An estimate count indicate that Mongol Empire during that period entirely reached from Pacific to Siberia to Black sea and to the present day Afghanistan which forms one fifth of the total inhabited land area on earth. Khubilai Khan tried twice to attack Japan but evidence indicates that the two attempts were thwarted due to adverse weather condition which hampered the invasion. Also, it is explained that the attempts were flaw in the way the ships were designed which made them vulnerable to destruction (river boats without keels). Despite enjoying political stability in his empire, Khan still proceeded with efforts to invade Japan (Delgado, 80). Therefore, Khans decision to invade Japan twice speaks volumes about his main agenda hence this essay would argue that eagerness to justify the legitimacy of his title as Khan prompted him to send invasion fleet to Japan.

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Khan wished to justify the legitimacy of his title as Khan by salvaging his rule which was deteriorating in 1279. In relation to this, Khan intended to use these successive attacks to demonstrate the point that he ruled the whole world. In simple terms, it was one way of keeping up his egos and authority to his subjects as well as to other nations which recognized his rule. This is demonstrated by the fact that 1279 was his highest point of his rule and thus it was important that he maintained his status which could be under threat. For instance, it is during this year that he managed to fully establish himself as the Chinese Emperor and as a skilled and intellectual warrior. Besides, with the company of intellectuals and scholars, the sanest thing to do was to justify his legitimacy when it was on the verge of deteriorating especially having worked out a new script with them. This invasion was to enforce his strength in maintaining his ideals such as seeing wisdom in taxing people instead of putting them to death. Khubilai was familiar with significance of fair laws which prohibited issuing of bribes to people. He came to a realization that only enough money was available to satisfy some that even with minority, their greed is endless thus justice becomes the best solution. Among other qualities underlining his title that he desired to demonstrate is tolerance of different religious groups. He managed to appeal to all and sundry belonging to diverse social and occupational groups as well as different religions in his empire. In addition, Khubilai created a capital in China and proceeded to re-establish rituals linked with Confucianism. These shows that as Khan, he accomplished greatly and enjoyed support of Chinese people hence with his rule deteriorating, it was imperative for him to use attacks on Japan to justify the holding legitimacy of his title by salvaging his smooth rule amidst Chinese people and Mongolians and indirectly backing his achievement and ideals required of a person upholding his title(Delgado, 46).

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Eagerness to justify the legitimacy of his title as Khan is supported by his unquenched desire to maintain and redeem his image and reputation. For instance, he hoped that he could use the victory as leverage in supporting his imaged more so as a triumphant world conqueror and absolutely not a Chinese bureaucrat. In fact those twenty five thousand men who went to fight against Japan were defeated greatly by typhoon. He persisted in 1281 and sent fourteen thousand men together with additional troops from Korea giving hand. To the best of knowledge of Japanese, the gods protected them for another time by sending divine wind they call “Kami kazi” which ended up demolishing whole of Mongol fleet hence none of their troop ever fought physically (Delgado, 78). Undoubtedly, the aftermath of all these double defeat is damaged image of Khubilai more so in terms of invincibility and campaigns he launched in Southeast completely failed to recover. As a result, he broke his ideals and taxed people above the normal set limits for the purpose of helping raise money that he lost in the unsuccessful attacks launched against Japan. One of the most affected people was the Peasants.

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On the same note, he had registered massive successes hence needed to defend and prove his great legacy by to justify the legitimacy of his title. It is important to note that Khubilai was proclaimed the great Khan eight years following the death of this brother, Mangu Khan who did not succeed to garner supremacy over China. As a result, he charged himself the task of convincing China to accept the rule of foreign people, specifically; the Mongol. The intensity of this accomplishment is evidenced when his legacy were brought to the European and Western society for the first time in the Marco Polo writing (a Venetian traveler who resided in China for two decades). This elucidates the fact that he wanted to justify the legitimacy of his title by going down again in history books for registering another great victory against a great nation like Japan. Also, having defeated Southern Song Dynasty hence successfully bringing the rest of China under their rule, he went down on records as the first man to bring China under a foreign rule. He dubbed it dynasty Yuan to mean; “origin of universe” signifying the start of long era of reign of Mongol power (Delgado, 24). Therefore, there are no records showing that he attempted to make his regime more Chinese since Chinese soldiers did not play a notable part of the tried conquest. Even though he adapted the typical Chinese way of governance, he carefully guarded culture and customs of Chinese people. The main reason for following bureaucratic system noted in Chinese dynasties was to enforce the help of some Chinese aristocrats but reluctant in employing the use of Chinese people in governance. In fact, Chinese talent was completely excluded from key positions of power as well as discriminative legal and social laws were in place to limit their freedom. It all asserts that they needed Chinese people to rule China hence adopted part of their customs but hardly formed reason for invading Japan.

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In conclusion, Khubilai sent invasion fleet to conquer Japan due to his eagerness to justify legitimacy of his title and not to make his regime more Chinese. It is important to note that even though he tried to reign as a scholarly emperor, Mongols hardly adjusted to Chinese ways. Mongols strongly opposed any kind of adjustment and tried to isolate themselves from the Chinese people. They conceived the idea that Confucianism was totally anti-foreign. Mongols favored Buddhism while Chinese intellectual repelled it hence Buddhism cold hardly draw the duo closer. Therefore, the eagerness for justification of their legitimacy is illustrated by Khubilai need to salvage his deteriorating rule, to redeem his image and reputation in West and Europe and to defend his legacy.

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