Born: c. 1215
Best known as: Founder of the Mongol Dynasty in China
The grandson of marauding conqueror Genghis Khan, Kublai Khan is famous as the founder of the Yuan or Mongol Dynasty of China. Kublai Khan centralized taxes and administration, improved agriculture, and established a famously splendid court at Cambaluc (now Beijing). He also welcomed foreign traders, including the traveler Marco Polo. He was immortalized in Samuel Taylor Coleridge's 1816 poem Kubla Khan, which begins "In Xanadu did Kubla Khan a stately pleasure-dome decree."
Extra credit: Kublai Khan is no relation to actress Madeline Kahn (1942-1999).
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