Toqto'a (Yuan dynasty)

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Toqto’a (Mongolian : ᠲᠣᠭᠲᠠᠭᠠ Toqtogha; Cyrillic: Тогтох; simplified Chinese :脱脱; traditional Chinese :脫脫; pinyin :Tuōtuō; 1314-1356), also known as "The Great Historian Tuotuo" was a Yuan official historian and the high-ranking minister of the Yuan dynasty of China. With his banishment and later murder, the Mongol Yuan court might have lost its last chance to defeat the Han Chinese Red Turban Rebellion, which started in the early 1350s against their rule. He was Bayan's nephew and Bayan Khutugh's brother.

Mongolian language language spoken in Mongolia

The Mongolian language is the official language of Mongolia and both the most widely-spoken and best-known member of the Mongolic language family. The number of speakers across all its dialects may be 5.2 million, including the vast majority of the residents of Mongolia and many of the Mongolian residents of the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. In Mongolia, the Khalkha dialect, written in Cyrillic, is predominant, while in Inner Mongolia, the language is dialectally more diverse and is written in the traditional Mongolian script. In the discussion of grammar to follow, the variety of Mongolian treated is Standard Khalkha Mongolian, but much of what is to be said is also valid for vernacular (spoken) Khalkha and for other Mongolian dialects, especially Chakhar.

Simplified Chinese characters standardized Chinese characters developed in mainland China

Simplified Chinese characters are standardized Chinese characters prescribed in the Table of General Standard Chinese Characters for use in mainland China. Along with traditional Chinese characters, they are one of the two standard character sets of the contemporary Chinese written language. The government of the People's Republic of China in mainland China has promoted them for use in printing since the 1950s and 1960s to encourage literacy. They are officially used in the People's Republic of China and Singapore.

Traditional Chinese characters Traditional Chinese characters

Traditional Chinese characters are Chinese characters in any character set that does not contain newly created characters or character substitutions performed after 1946. They are most commonly the characters in the standardized character sets of Taiwan, of Hong Kong and Macau, and in the Kangxi Dictionary. The modern shapes of traditional Chinese characters first appeared with the emergence of the clerical script during the Han Dynasty, and have been more or less stable since the 5th century.



Toqto’a was born to the Merkid aristocrat Majarday (also rendered as Chuan) in 1314. His uncle was Bayan (d. 1340), who had been raised to the rank of grand councillor during the reign of Toghon Temur (r.1333–1370), the last Yuan emperor.

The Mongolian nobility arose between the 10th and 12th centuries, became prominent in the 13th century, and essentially governed Mongolia until the early 20th century.

Toqto’a was given a Confucian education. Fearing that his uncle's ambitious character would harm their family's prestige, Toqto’a and his father, allied with the Khagan, organized a plot to dismiss Bayan. In March 1340, they closed the gates of the palace walls while Bayan was hunting in the nearby countryside. They refused to let him in and soon afterwards arrested him. Bayan was sent into exile and Toqto’a toppled him. In November Toqto’a replaced Bayan as grand councillor.

Khagan or Qaghan is a title of imperial rank in the Turkic, Mongolic and some other languages, equal to the status of emperor and someone who rules a khaganate (empire). The female equivalent is Khatun.

In 1343 Toqto’a led a team of officials to quickly compile dynastic histories of the Liao, Jin [1] and Song dynasties. [2] The immense work was done within a relatively short period (a few years), which caused a lack of proofreading and textual criticism. [3] The three works produced were:

The Twenty-Four Histories, also known as the Orthodox Histories are the Chinese official historical books covering a period from 3000 BC to the Ming dynasty in the 17th century.

Liao dynasty former empire in East Asia

The Liao dynasty, also known as the Liao Empire, officially the Great Liao, or the Khitan (Qidan) State, was an empire in East Asia that ruled from 916 to 1125 over present-day Northern and Northeast China, Mongolia and portions of the Russian Far East and North Korea. The empire was founded by Yelü Abaoji, Khagan of the Khitans around the time of the collapse of Tang China and was the first state to control all of Manchuria.

Song dynasty Chinese historical period

The Song dynasty was an era of Chinese history that began in 960 and lasted until 1279. The dynasty was founded by Emperor Taizu of Song following his usurpation of the throne of the Later Zhou, ending the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period. The Song often came into conflict with the contemporary Liao and Western Xia dynasties in the north. It was eventually conquered by the Mongol-led Yuan dynasty. The Song government was the first in world history to issue banknotes or true paper money nationally and the first Chinese government to establish a permanent standing navy. This dynasty also saw the first known use of gunpowder, as well as the first discernment of true north using a compass.

The History of Liao, or Liao Shi, is a Chinese historical book compiled officially by the Mongol Yuan dynasty (1271–1368), under the direction of the historian Toqto'a (Tuotuo), and finalized in 1344. Based on Khitan's primary sources and other previous official Chinese records, it exposes the Khitan people, Khitan's tribal life and traditions, and the Liao dynasty's official history.

Pinyin Acento chino

Hanyu Pinyin, often abbreviated to pinyin, is the official romanization system for Standard Chinese in mainland China and to some extent in Taiwan. It is often used to teach Standard Mandarin Chinese, which is normally written using Chinese characters. The system includes four diacritics denoting tones. Pinyin without tone marks is used to spell Chinese names and words in languages written with the Latin alphabet, and also in certain computer input methods to enter Chinese characters.

The History of Jin is a Chinese historical text, one of the Twenty Four Histories, which details the history of the Jin dynasty founded by the Jurchens in northern China. It was compiled by the Yuan dynasty historian and minister Toqto'a.

At the time some Chinese scholars argued that as the Khitans were former non-Chinese Barbarians, their Liao dynasty did not deserve a compiled standard official history. [3] Due to the dispute over whether the Liao dynasty should be considered a legitimate dynasty, the Liao Shi was not officially compiled until 1342–1343, when Toqto’a finally decided to treat the Liao, Jin, and Song dynasties all as legitimate dynasties in Chinese history. The compilation of the Liao Shi was finished in one year [3] by highly skilled imperial historians, but without elaborate proofreading and textual criticism. [3] Because of this double time and lack of supporting context, the Liao Shi is known for its technical errors, naiveness, lack of precision and over-lapsing. It has been argued the compilation team did not have suitable contextual material to provide an in-depth analysis, and audacious comments. [3]

In 1344, however, a grand plan to divert the Yongding River to facilitate water transport to the capital of Dadu (modern Beijing) generated heavy opposition, and Toqto’a resigned, joining his father in Gansu. During the 1330s, plague and famine devastated the Huai River area, while unrest appeared in South China, Manchuria, and the Sino-Tibetan borderlands. Massive flooding of the Yellow River inundated more than a decade of cities, putting the Grand Canal out of service and beginning the river’s migration to a new channel north of the Shandong peninsula. Meanwhile, piracy made the sea route for transporting South Chinese grain to the capital increasingly risky. Toqto'a's successor, the new councillor, Berke-Buqa, was too weak to handle all those issues. In August 1349, Toqto’a was recalled to the imperial capital and reappointed grand councillor.

In the winter of 1350–51, Toqto'a's attempt to suppress the activities of the pirate chief Fang Guozhen failed. With the support of Emperor Toghan-Temür, Toqto’a advocated rerouting the Yellow River back to its southern channel as a way to repair the Grand Canal. In April 1351, he began his great project, employing 150,000 civilian workers, 20,000 soldiers, and 1,845,636 yastuq of paper currency. Earlier issues of paper currency had been limited by silver reserves, but Toqto’a issued 2 million ding of unbacked paper currency to pay for labor and materials. This certainly affected the empire's overall economy.

When the religiously oriented Red Turban Rebellion broke out in Yingzhou in 1351, the Yuan attacks failed. Toqto'a was ordered to march against them and assembled an army of mostly Chinese volunteers in 1353–54. He was successful in defeating the rebels. On October 23, 1352, he retook the strategic city of Xuzhou after a six-day siege. Other provincial officials raised Chinese, Mongol, and Miao armies to attack the rebels. By winter of 1353–54, the “Red Turban” movement was virtually extinct. Even so, piracy and the occupation of the Grand Canal at Gaoyou by the salt smuggler Zhang Shicheng still blocked grain shipments from the south and caused hunger in the capital. Toqto’a proposed another grand plan for rice farming in central Hebei, importing 2,000 South Chinese farmers and spending 5 million ding of currency, all the while assembling another army to attack Gaoyou and reopen the Grand Canal.

However, Toqto'a's former protégé and now court rival Hama of the Qanqli and the heir apparent, Ayushiridara, backed by the Emperor's Korean consort Lady Ki, falsely accused him of corruption and induced the Khagan to strip him of his dignities in 1354. They quickly arranged his dismissal and banishment by imperial decree, just as the siege of Gaoyou was nearing victory.

Although Toqto’a had a vast number of loyal troops under him, on January 7, he accepted the Khagan (Emperor)'s decree and gave instructions to his soldiers that they must respect their new commander who had come to replace him. Because of his popularity, many of the troops under his command refused to serve under a new commander and left the army or joined the rebels. While Toqto'a was in exile in Yunnan, he was poisoned by Hama's assassins on January 10, 1356.

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  1. Heming Yong; Jing Peng (14 August 2008). Chinese Lexicography : A History from 1046 BC to AD 1911: A History from 1046 BC to AD 1911. OUP Oxford. pp. 382–3. ISBN   978-0-19-156167-2.
  2. p. 177.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 Xu Elina-Qian, p.22