Successors of Chinggis, 1228-59
Ogedei and Continuing Conquests
In compliance with the will of the dead khan, a
kuriltai at Karakorum in 1228 selected Ogedei as khan. The
kuriltai also decided to launch a campaign against the
Bulghars, Turks in the region of Kazan on the middle Volga River,
and to complete the conquest of the outlying Western Xia
territories. By 1229 Batu Khan, grandson of Chinggis, had
defeated most of the Bulghar outposts, and in 1231 Ogedei sent an
expedition to conquer the Korean Peninsula.
That same year, Ogedei decided to destroy Jin. He formed an
alliance with the Song, then sent Tului southward with a large
army into Jin territory. In 1232 in the middle of the campaign,
Tului died, and Subetei took command. He continued on to besiege
Kaifeng, the Jin capital. Despite the defenders' skillful use of
explosives, the city fell to the Mongols after a year's siege.
Subetei then completed the conquest of the Jin empire, driving
many of the Jurchen back into their original homeland, but
absorbing others into the Mongol army for the further conquest of
China. Ogedei refused to divide the conquered region with the
Song, which in 1234 attempted to seize part of the former Jin
empire. This was the signal for another war, which lasted fortyfive years.
Ogedei committed the Mongols, whose total population could
not have exceeded 1 million, to an offensive war against the most
populous nation on earth, while other Mongol armies were invading
Iran, Anatolia, Syria, and the steppes of western Siberia and
Russia. By this time, ethnic Mongols were a minority of the
Mongol armies. The remainder were Turks, Tatars, Tangut, Cumans,
Bulghars, and other Inner Asian peoples. Nonetheless, the
confidence with which the Mongol armies embarked on these farflung wars was almost as remarkable as the invariable success of
In compliance with the wishes of Chinggis, as expressed
presumably in his legal code, the
yasaq (see Glossary),
his vast empire had been apportioned among his sons (only three
survived; the eldest, Jochi, had died in 1227), and his sons'
descendants, subject to the overall authority of the khan at
Karakorum, which was rebuilt in 1235 by Ogedi. Jochi's son, Batu,
ruled the region to the north and the west of Lake Balkash.
Chagadai, the second son of Chinggis was given the southwestern
region that includes modern Afghanistan, Turkestan (now in the
Soviet Union), and central Siberia. He and his successors were
known as the khans of the Chagadai Mongols. By implication, this
realm extended indefinitely to the southwest, as Batu's did to
the northwest. Ogedei and his progeny were awarded China and the
other lands of East Asia. Tului, the youngest of the four
principal heirs, was to have central Mongolia, the homeland, in
accordance with Mongol custom. He and his descendants, however,
were to share Mongolia's precious fighting manpower with the
other three khanates.
The kuriltai of 1235 authorized at least two more
major offensive operations: one against Tibet, the other in
Eastern Europe. The Tibetan expedition was led by Godan, son of
Ogedei, and the conquest was completed in 1239.
Data as of June 1989