A son of Khutughtu Khan Kusala, who ruled as emperor of the Yuan dynasty, was Toghon Temür, also known by the temple name Huizong bestowed by the Northern Yuan dynasty in Mongolia and by the posthumous name Emperor Shun bestowed by the Hongwu Emperor of the Ming dynasty in China.
BornMay 25, 1320DiedMay 23, 1370 (aged 49)
Father: Khutughtu Khan Kusala
Mother: The Karluks’ Mailaiti
Religion: The Buddhism of Tibet
His reign ( explained briefly)
The new emperor named his cousin El Tegüs Crown Prince as the ward of Empress Dowager Budashiri’s mother El Tegüs, but he was controlled by warlords even after the death of El Temur. Bayan became as influential among them as El Temür had been. He served as the Secretariat minister and crushed the revolt of El Temur’s uncle, Tang Ki-se. He carried out many purges during his despotic reign and suspended the imperial examination system as well. When Toghon Temür attempted to promote Lady Ki to a secondary wife, which was counter to the normal practise of only taking secondary wives from Mongolian clans, this unheard of promotion for a Korean woman generated such resistance in court that he was forced to back down. When Lady Ki gave birth in 1339 to a son whom Toghon Temür decided would be his successor, in 1340, he was finally able to have Lady Ki declared his secondary wife.
As Toghon Temür matured, he came to reject the autocratic rule of Bayan. He allied with Bayan’s nephew Toqto’a in 1340, who was at odds with Bayan, and exiled Bayan in a coup d’état. El Tegüs and Empress Budashiri were both excluded from the court. He also managed to purge officials who had controlled the government, with the help of Toqto’a.
Late reign of Toghon Temür
People have suffered from regular natural disasters, droughts, floods, and subsequent famines in the countryside since the late 1340s. The absence of successful government policy has contributed to the loss of people’s support. In 1348, illegal salt merchants who were disaffected by the salt monopoly of the government raised a rebellion, sparking several revolts across the empire. The Red Turban Revolt, which began in 1351 and developed into a national revolution, was among them.
Toghon Temür lost interest in politics steadily and stopped engaging in political struggles. His son, Biligtü Khan, who became Crown Prince in 1353, tried to seize power and came into conflict with the aides of Toghon Temür, who dominated politics rather than the Khan. Lady Ki exercised power more and more during this period. Chief Empress Lady Ki and his minister persuaded Biligtü Khan to overthrow the latter. Toghon Temür was unable to resolve the conflict, but the minister was executed. Bolad Temür, the Shanxi-based warlord, invaded Khanbaliq in 1364 and expelled the Crown Prince from the winter base. In the following year, Biligtü Khan defeated Bolad Temür in alliance with the Henan-based warlord Köke Temür. This internal struggle has led to a further weakening of the central government’s political and military strength. Toghon Temür eventually promoted his beloved Lady Ki to the First Empress in 1365, and declared that her son would be the first in the succession line.
Zhu Yuanzhang, crowned as the Hongwu Emperor, conducted military expeditions to North China and defeated the Yuan army in 1368 after absorbing the Chen Han dynasty, capturing Southern China, and creating the Ming dynasty. Toghon Temür left Khanbaliq and fled to his summer base, Shangdu, when Köke Temür lost battles against the Ming General Xu Da and Ming troops approached Hebei.
Toghon Temür fled northward to Yingchang in 1369, which was located in present-day Inner Mongolia, when Shangdu also came under the occupation of the Ming. In 1370, he died there; his son succeeded him as Biligtü Khan Ayushiridara and in the same year he retreated to Karakorum. Mongolia was ruled by the Yuan remnants and continued to claim the title of Emperor of China, from which point they are referred to as the dynasty of Northern Yuan. After Kublai Khan, he was the longest-lived Mongolian Emperor of Yuan China.
The empire based in Mongolia retained its influence at the time of his death, spreading its power from the Sea of Japan to the Altai Mountains. In Yunnan and Guizhou, too, there were pro-Yuan, anti-Ming forces. While its power over China had not yet been secure, the Ming found that when it abandoned Khanbaliq, the Yuan lost the Mandate of Heaven, and that the Yuan was overthrown in 1368. After 1368, Toghon Temür and his successor, Ayushiridar, were not considered by the Ming as rightful emperors.
There was still Yuan resistance to the Ming in the south even after Toghon Temür. In southwestern China, in Yunnan and Guizhou, Basalawarmi, the self-styled “Prince of Liang” founded a Yuan resistance movement that was not put down until 1381.
South korean actor Ji chang wook portrayed Toghon Temür in the famous South korean drama EMPRESS KI.
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