Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Tolerant Khan

There were many Khans in the Mongol Empire, but none quite like Tëmur. Tëmur was a grandson of Kublai Khan, born on 15 October, 1265; his father was crown prince, but died before Kublai, and when Kublai died in February 1294, the choice to succeed him was between Tëmur and his brother Gammala. A competition was held between them to see which one knew better the sayings of Genghis Khan; Tëmur won.

Over the next 13 years, Tëmur continued the policies and economic reforms of his grandfather. His personal accomplishments were few, and mostly in the realm of cultural diversity and tolerance. A Mongol and a follower of Buddhism, he expanded the presence of various other religions and ethnic groups in his administration.

Besides Mongols and Han Chinese, he had Muslims and a few Christians working for him. He declared that Confucians were to be respected; he hired a Confucian, Hargashun, as grand chancellor. He increased the number of Tibetans in the administration, and a Tibetan even married into his family. Kublai had been anti-Taoist, but Tëmur appointed a Taoist as head of his Orthodox Unity School.

He also relaxed the burden of taxes on his subjects, and gave exemptions for taxes several times. Mongol commoners, for instance, were at one point given two years free from paying taxes to the crown. (Unfortunately, this largesse would have a bad effect on the economy, since the loss of revenue weakened the paper currency.)

Everything passes, however. Tëmur Khan died on 10 February 1307.

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