Ukhaantu Khan, Emperor Huizong of Yuan

Toghun Temür (Mongolian Cyrillic: Тогоонтөмөр), also known as Ukhaantu Khan (Mongolian: Ухаант хаан, Uhaγantu haγan), or Emperor Huizong of Yuan (Chinese: 元惠宗, May 25, 1320 – May 23, 1370), was a son of Kuśala to rule as Emperor of the yuan dynasty, and he is considered as the last Khagan of the Mongol Empire. During the last years of his reign, the Mongols lost effective control over China to the ming dynasty. He was a Buddhist student of Karmapas and is considered as a previous incarnation of Tai Situpa. His name means "smart/bright Khan" in the Mongolian language.

Before succession

Toghun Temür was born to Kuśala when he stayed Central Asia in evacuation. Toghun Temür's mother was Mailaiti, descendant of Arslan, the chief of the Qarluq tribe.

Following the civil war broke out after Yesün Temür Khan's death in 1328, he attended his father Kuśala and entered Shangdu via Mongolia. But after Kuśala died and Kuśala's younger brother Tugh Temür was restored to the throne, he was kept from the court and was banished to Goryeo and then to Guangxi . While he was in exile, his stepmother Babusha was executed.

In 1332 when Tugh Temür died, his widow Budashiri Khatun respected his will to make Kuśala's son succeed the throne instead of his son El Tegüs. But it was not Toghun Temür but his younger half-brother Rinchinbal who became the emperor. Rinchinbal died in two months, and the de facto ruler El Temür attempted to install El Tegüs again, but it was rejected by Budashiri. As a result, Toghun Temür was summoned back from Guangxi .

El Temür feared that Toghun Temür, who was too mature to be a puppet, would take against him since he was suspected of the assassination of Toghun Temür's father Kuśala. The enthronement of Toghun Temür was postponed for six months by El Temür. He managed to succeed to the throne in 1333 when El Temür died.


Struggles during the early reign

Toghun Temür appointed his cousin El Tegüs as Crown Prince, and was in ward to El Tegüs's mother Budashiri. But he was controlled by warlords even after El Temür's death. Among them, Bayan became as powerful as El Temür had been. He served as minister of the Secretariat and crushed a rebellion by El Temür's son. During his despotic rule, he made several purges and also suspended the imperial examination system.

As Toghun Temür grew, he came to disfavor Bayan's autocratic rule. In 1340 he allied Bayan's nephew Toghtogha, who was in discord with Bayan, and banished Bayan by coup. He also kicked El Tegüs and Budashiri out of the court. He managed to purge officials that had dominated the administration with the help of Toghtogha

Administrations during the middle reign

With the dismissal of Bayan, Toghtogha seized the power of the court. His first administration clearly exhibited fresh new spirit. The young leader was quick to distinguish his regime as something wholly different from Bayan's. A new reign title Zhizheng (Chinese: 至正) was decreed to show this. Bayan's purges were called off. Many of the great Chinese literati came back to the capital from voluntary retirement or from administrative exile. Also, the imperial examination system was restored.

Toghtogha also gave a few early signs of a new and positive direction in central government. One of his successful projects was to finish the long-stalled official histories of the Liao, Jin and Song dynasties, which were eventually completed in 1345.

Yet, Toghtogha resigned his office with the approval of Toghun Temür in June 1344, which marked the end of his first administration. The several short-lived administrations that followed from 1344 and 1349 would develop an agenda very different from Toghtogha's. In 1347 Toghun Temür drove him into Gangsu with assistance from former officers of Kuśala and Yesün Temür. But he called Toghtogha back in 1349, which began Toghtogha's second, and a different-styled administration.

Disorder during the late reign

Since the late 1340s, people in the countryside suffered from frequent natural disasters; droughts, floods and the ensuing famines. The government's lack of effective policy led to a loss of the support from people. Illicit salt dealers who were disaffected with the government's salt monopoly raised a rebellion in 1348. It triggered many revolts around the empire. Among them, the Red Turban Rebellion, which started in 1351, grew into a nationwide turmoil.

In 1354, when Toghtogha led a large army to crush the Red Turban rebels, Toghun Temür suddenly dismissed him for fear of betrayal. It resulted in Toghun Temür's restoration of power on the one hand and a rapid weakening of the central government on the other. He had no choice but to rely on local warlords' military.

He gradually lost his interest in politics and ceased to intervene political struggles. His son Ayushiridar, who became Crown Prince in 1353, attempted to seize power and came to conflict with Toghun Temür's aides who dominated politics instead of the khan. Chief Khatun Öljei Khutugh and his minister persuaded Ayushiridar to overthrow the latter. Toghun Temür was unable to conciliate the dispute but executed the minister. In 1364 the Shangxi-based warlord Bolad Temür occupied Dadu and expelled the Crown Prince from the winter base. In alliance with the Henan -based warlord Köke Temür, Ayushiridar defeated Bolad Temür in the next year. This internal struggle resulted in further weakening of political and military power of the central government.

Relations with other nations

Holy See

Pope John XXII and Pope Benedict XII successfully extended a network of Catholic churches all over the Mongol Empire, from the Crimean peninsula to China between 1317 and 1343. The archbishop of Khanbaligh, John of Montecorvino, died in 1328. With the backing of the Khagan and last Yuan Emperor, Toghan-Temur, the Alans wrote to Pope Benedict XII in 1336 asking for a new metropolitan. In 1338, the pope sent back the embassy headed by John of Marignolli who spent 3 years in China. They brought the gifts included the fine European horse to Toghan-Temur.

Delhi Sultanate

In around 1338, Sultan Muhammad bin Tughluq of Delhi Sultanate appointed Moroccan traveller Ibn Battuta an ambassador to the Yuan court of Togan Temur in China. The gifts he was to take included 200 Hindu slaves. On the Doab plain they were attacked by Hindu insurgents; the imperial cavalry killed all 4,000 of them while losing 78 men, according to Battuta, who was separated, captured, and barely escaped being killed by brigands. Battuta also luckily escaped to China. However, he said when he came to China, the Qaghan was dead. It is not appropriate because Toghan Temur died in 1370.


When the Koreans captured the spying fish ship from Japan, the Goryeo court sent it to their overlord, the Yuan emperor Toghan Temur, who then sent the Japanese fishers back to Japan. In reply, the Ashikaga shogunate sent an embassy Monk expressing its thankfulness.

Retreat to the north

Unifying rebel groups in Southern China and establishing the ming dynasty, Zhu Yuanzhang conducted military expeditions to Northern China and defeated the Yuan army in 1368. When Köke Temür lost battles against Ming General Xu Da and the Ming troops approached Hebei , Toghun Temür gave up Dadu and fled to the summer base Shangdu.

In 1369 when Shangdu also fell under the Ming's occupation, Toghun Temür fled northward to Yingchang, which was located in present-day Inner Mongolia . He died there in 1370, and his son Ayushiridara succeeded to the throne and retreated to Karakorum in present-day Mongolia in the same year. The Yuan remnants ruled Mongolia and continued to claim the title of Emperor of China. It was called the Northern Yuan by Chinese and Mongols.

At the time of his death, the Mongolia-based empire maintained its influence, stretching the domination from the Sea of Japan to Altai Mountains. There were also pro-Yuan, anti-Ming forces in Yunnan and Guizhou . Even though its control over China had not been stable yet, the Ming considered that the Yuan lost the Mandate of Heaven when it abandoned Dadu, and that the Yuan was overthrown in 1368. The Ming did not treat Toghun Temür after 1368 and his successor Ayushiridar as legitimate emperors.

The Ming gave Toghun Temür the posthumous name Shundi (順帝), which implied that he followed the Mandate of Heaven ceded emperorship to the Ming. But the Northern Yuan gave their own posthumous name Xuanren Pu Xiao Huangdi (宣仁普孝皇帝) and temple name Huizong (惠宗) to him.

Even after Toghun Temür, there was still Yuan resistance to the Ming in the south. In southwestern China, Basalawarmi, the self-styled "Prince of Liang", established a Yuan resistance movement in Yunnan and Guizhou that was not put down until 1381.


Mongolian chronicles such as the Erdeni-yin tobchi include a poem known as the Lament of Toghun Temür. It deals with his grieving after the loss of Dadu.

Last update 17-06-2012

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