Ayurbarwada Buyantu Khan: Fourth Emperor of the Yuan Dynasty


Buyantu Khan, commonly known as Renzong, was the fourth emperor of the Yuan dynasty and was born in Ayurbarwada. Apart from becoming Emperor of China, he is known as the Mongol Empire's eighth Great Khan, albeit this title was primarily nominal due to the Empire's partition. In Mongolian, his name translates to "fortunate Khan." In contrast to Emperor Wuzong's name Qaian, his name "Ayurbarwada" was derived from the Sanskrit compound "Āyur-parvata," which meaning "mountain of longevity." Ayurbarwada was the first Yuan emperor to promote the incorporation of Confucian concepts into Mongolian governance actively. The Emperor, who Confucian educator Li Meng mentored, ascended to the throne peacefully and overturned the policies of his older brother Khayisan. More crucially, Ayurbarwada reinstituted the Yuan dynasty's civil service examination system.

Ayurbarwada Buyantu Khan

4th Emperor of the Yuan Dynasty


From 7 April 1311 to 1 March 1320


On 7 April 1311


Külüg Khan


Gegeen Khan


On 9 April 1285


1 March 1320 at the age of 34 years old



Era dates

  • Huangqing: 1312–1313
  • Yanyou: 1314–1320








Dagi Khatun

Struggle for Succession

Ayurbarwada was a great-grandson of Kublai Khan and the second son of Darmabala and Dagi of the Khunggirat. Since his early teens, he had been instructed by Confucian scholar Li Meng, who had a significant influence on his future political ideas. Bulugan Khatun dismissed Ayurbarwada from the court in 1305 and appointed him the prince of Huai-ning in Honan. His uncle Temür Khan, on the other hand, died deprived of an successor on 2 February 1307, as his son Tachu had died a year before. Bulugan of the Bayaud tribe, Temür's widow, had kept the Khunggirad-mothered brothers of Khayishan and Ayurbarwada at bay and attempted to install her choice, the Muslim Ananda, their uncle and governor of Ningxia. When the government's right chancellor, Darkhan Harghasun, learned of Bulugan's scheme, he summoned Ayurbarwada and Li Meng from Huaizhou to Dadu. They devised a plan to imprison both Ananda and Bulugan with success. After that, Ayurbarwada welcomed his older brother Khayishan to the throne, still far away from Dadu. In June 1307, Ayurbarwada was appointed Crown Prince after the latter's coronation. The brothers pledged to each other that their heirs would govern in order.

Early Occupation under Kulug Khan and Coronation

Under his brother and ancestor, Khayishan Külüg Khan, Ayurbarwada was appointed to the top central administrative apparatus known as the Zhongshu Sheng. He surrounded himself with Chinese philosophers Chen Hao, Wang I, Zhao Mengfu, Wang Yueh, Shang-ye, Wang Chieh, Yao Sui, Chan Yaoho, and Hsia Ku; artists Shang cheng and Wang Cheng-peng; and Uyghur lyricist Haiya. In addition to his extensive understanding of Confucianism and Chinese history, he could read and write Chinese and admire Chinese paintings and calligraphy. He was certainly opposite to his brother's exploitative policies, as Confucian political principles strongly inspired him. Khayishan's supporters said Li Meng persuaded Ayurbarwada to keep the throne for himself, and Li Meng abruptly left the court after Khayishan's succession. Ayurbarwada spoke up in Li Meng's defence but was ultimately ineffective. Until his enthronement, his dissatisfaction with his brother's senior officials was kept hidden.

In January 1311, Khayishan died. In contrast to the Yuan royal succession dispute of 1307, Ayurbarwada's ascension to his elder brother Khayishan's sovereignty in April 1311 was a peaceful and straightforward transition in Yuan imperial history. This was greatly aided by Khayishan's designation of him as the heir apparent in June 1307, as per their prior arrangement, and his subsequent appointment as the titular leader of the Zhongshu Sheng, comparable to Kublai Khan's grooming of Zhenjin to be his successor. Moreover, in his accession to kuriltai, he was given the title of Buyantu.


Given the fraternal love between Khaishan and Ayurbawada and the peaceful manner in which one succeeded the other, one might expect a general continuity in policy and personnel between the two reigns. However, what happened early in Ayurbarwada's reign was exactly the opposite: (1) a political expel of Khaishan's chief ministers and (2) a reversal of much of his policies. Ayurbarwada's cultural and ideological orientation, as well as his tight political connection with his late brother, may be related to these policy shifts. He was certainly opposite to the exploitative policies carried out by the Department of State Affairs under Khaishan, as Confucian political principles strongly inspired him. Ayurbarwada was lauded for his efforts to reform the Yuan administration based on Confucianism principles, even though these reforms were implemented to the chagrin of some Mongol aristocracy. He dismantled the Department of State Affairs, which had been established under Khayishan's reign and resulted in the execution of five high-ranking officials as soon as he ascended to the throne. He also eliminated the Khayishan court's Zhida paper notes and coins, replacing them with Zhongtong and Zhiyuan notes as the sole official currency. The bureaucracy was reduced to 1293, and new high posts were given the same importance as they had during Kublai's reign. Khayisan's many public-building initiatives have been halted. He appointed others, notably Mongols and Semuren, as grand councillors and Li Meng and Zhang Kui. With the Semuren's attempt at abolition, the Office of Market Taxes, which was established to supervise merchants, was disbanded. His most notable reform was the restoration of the imperial examination system for public officials, comparable to that used in earlier Chinese dynasties. Even though the imperial examination system had been debated numerous times during Kublai's reign, it had not been implemented until this time. It was now totally based on Neo-Confucianism, established as China's state philosophy for several centuries. For these exams, race-based quotas were established, allowing a specific proportion of Mongol and Han Chinese to join the government as civil servants.

Another area where Ayurbarwada's efforts to reform the Yuan Dynasty yielded the intended results was the codification of the law. He ordered the Zhongshu Sheng to codify the ordinances and regulations published since Kublai's reign began in 1311, the same month he was crowned. This compilation and editing were completed in 1316. Yet, the process of examining the collection took until 1323, when it was publicly issued under the title Da Yuan Tong Zhi by his son and successor Shidibala (the comprehensive institutions of the Great Yuan). In several ways, the new code reflected Mongolian practices and institutional characteristics unique to the Mongol reign in Chinese history. He argued that the Mongol elites and the Semuren needed to learn from Confucian political philosophy and Chinese historical experience to manage China. Several Chinese literature and works were translated or published with Ayurbarwada's permission during his reign. This could also reflect his admiration for Chinese culture and his and his officials' desire to gain from Confucian political knowledge and Chinese historical experience, particularly among the Mongols and Central Asians. In the winter of 1311, Ayurbarwada abolished the jarghuchi of the royal installations, which Gedei Khan had established, and brought all Mongolian violators under the authority of chienbu while aiming to limit the use of independent appanage judges. He limited the role of the jarghuchi to judicial matters and placed it under the Imperial Clan's Court.

Ayurbarwada emphasized agriculture early in his rule to boost the state's revenue. Temuder, his senior councillor, took harsh steps, including collecting monopoly taxes on salt and iron and the state's monopoly over overseas trade through the Maritime Trade Supervisor. Despite expanding commercial relations with Europe, Ayurbarwada's administration, led by Temuder, sought and failed in 1314 to conduct a new cadastral survey known as Yanyou Jingli, which entails a comprehensive land survey. This survey, if effectively implemented, would have resulted in a significant boost in state revenue and a more efficient tax structure. However, the survey's ineffective implementation by corrupt authorities resulted in widespread misery and discontent. As a result, in the fall of 1315, a major insurrection erupted in Jiangxi. Although the uprising was put down within two months, it forced the administration to stop the survey program entirely to alleviate the situation. In 1314, Ayurbarwada issued a diploma exempting the Franciscans from all taxes. On ceremonial occasions, the friars were still expected to pray for the Emperor's life and provide their blessing. Temuder eroded the princely appanages' autonomy by assassinating Confucian opponents. Because Confucians saw Temuder as a wicked minister, opponents of fiscal centralization accused him of corruption, and Buyantu Khan was forced to dismiss him in 1317. Ayurbarwada was unable to remove Temuder because he refused to oppose his mother, Dagi. Ayurbarwada followed his ancestors' imperialistic tendencies on the international stage. He reminded the vassal states of his accession, telling them to remember and submit their tribute on time and assuring them that he would take punitive action if they did not. Champa, Annam, an island near Japan, Malabar, and kingdoms on the borders of Yunnan are among the tributary rulers to whom he announced his accession to the throne. During Ayurbarwada's reign, the Chagatai Khanate under Esen Buqa I and the Ayurbarwada's Yuan dynasty and its ally the Ilkhanate under Öljaitü fought the Esen Buqa–Ayurbarwada war. The battle ended in victory for the Yuan and the Ilkhanate, but peace did not come until Esen Buqa died in 1318.


On March 1, 1320, Ayurbarwada died. After Khayishan's death, Ayurbarwada broke his vow by appointing his son Shidibala as Crown Prince in 1316. As a result, his son, rather than one of Khayisan's sons, replaced him. His death sparked a two-decade period of political upheaval. Temuder and Dagi's Khunggirat party grew even more powerful at the palace. However, none of Shidibala's descendants controlled the Empire after his assassination in 1323.


He had three wives, but only two of them bore him children.

SL No.




Wife: Radnashiri Khatun

Son: Shidibala, later Gegeen Khan

Radnashiri Khatun is from Khongirad tribe


Wife: Dharmashiri Khatun

Son: Udus Buqa, King of An from 1315 and Prince of Shunyang from 1320

Dharmashiri Khatun is a Korean from the Kim clan


Wife: Bayan Qutugh Khatun

Bayan Qutugh Khatun is a Korean from Wang clan

Princess Kokelun, one of his daughters, married Duoluben Küregen, a descendant of Dai Setsen, the Khongirad tribe leader and father of Börte.

Last updated: 2021-October-26
Tags: Mongol Empire Yuan Dynasty
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