The Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368 AD) was founded by the Mongolian people and is seen as both a foreign dynasty and the first non-Han Chinese dynasty in Chinese history. It was established by Kublai Khan, the grandson of Genghis Khan, who conquered China and founded the Yuan Dynasty in 1271.
The Yuan Dynasty replaced the preceding Song Dynasty and was the first of the two foreign regimes in Chinese history, the other being the Manchu-led Qing Dynasty that was established in the 17th century. The Yuan Dynasty was another important period of Chinese history, during which many social, economic and political changes took place.
Kublai Khan chose Dadu (Beijing) as his capital city to rule from. He also encouraged trade with foreign countries, such as Persia and Arab countries, as well as developing diplomatic relations with Europe.
In terms of its administration system, the central government was divided into six ministries: civil service, revenue, rites, military, justice and public works. The government was further divided into provinces and prefectures and there were a number of posts set up for each province, such as an inspector, a censor and an administrator.
As for economy, the Yuan Dynasty adopted the socio-economic policy of Wang Anshi, who tried to reform the economic system of the Song Dynasty by developing agricultural production, improving social welfare as well as loosening restrictions on commerce. This policy of increasing production led to the emergence of private businesses and the growth of commercial activities.
Under the Yuan Dynasty, the population increased significantly, due to the influx of new immigrants such as the Han Chinese and other ethnic groups. People of different social classes enjoyed relatively equal benefits.
Culture wise, the traditional Chinese culture was inherited and covered a wide range of areas, such as literature and the arts. Buddhist, Taoist, Islamic and Confucian faiths coexisted peacefully. The Yuan Dynasty also saw the rise of drama and the development of opera.
Overall, the Yuan Dynasty was an influential period in China’s history. It was a multicultural period, with different cultures and beliefs, and a time of openness to foreign religions and ideas.