The Mongol Empire (Mongolian Mongol-yn Ezent Güren; Cyrillic: Монголын эзэнт гүрэн, in Russian chronicles also Horde - Russian: Орда) existed during the 13th and 14th centuries, and was the largest contiguous land empire in human history. Beginning in the Central Asian steppes, it eventually stretched from Central Europe to the Sea of Japan, covering Siberia in the north and extending southward into Indochina, the Indian subcontinent, the Iranian plateau, and the Middle East.
The Mongol Empire emerged from the unification of Mongol and Turkic tribes of historical Mongolia under the leadership of Genghis Khan. Genghis Khan was proclaimed ruler of all Mongols in 1206. The empire grew rapidly under his rule and then under the rule of his descendants, who sent invasions in every direction. The vast transcontinental empire which connected the east with the west with an enforced Pax Mongolica allowed trade, technologies, commodities and ideologies to be disseminated and exchanged across Eurasia.
The empire began to split as a result of wars over succession, as the grandchildren of Genghis Khan disputed whether the royal line should follow from Genghis's son and initial heir Ögedei, or one of his other sons such as Tolui, Chagatai, or Jochi. The Toluids prevailed after a bloody purge of Ögedeid and Chagataid factions, but disputes continued even among the descendants of Tolui. After Möngke Khan died, rival kurultai councils would simultaneously elect different successors, the brothers Ariq Böke and Kublai, who then not only had to defy each other, but also deal with challenges from descendants of other of Genghis's sons. Kublai successfully took power, but civil war ensued, as Kublai sought, unsuccessfully, to regain control of the Chagatayid and Ögedeid families.
The Battle of Ain Jalut in 1260 marked the high-water point of Mongol conquests, and was the first time a Mongol advance had ever been beaten back in direct combat on the battlefield. Though the Mongols launched many more invasions into Levant, briefly occupying it and raiding as far as Gaza after a decisive victory at the Battle of Wadi al-Khazandar in 1299, they withdrew due to various geopolitical factors.
By the time of Kublai's death in 1294, the Mongol Empire had fractured into four separate khanates or empires, each pursuing its own separate interests and objectives: the Golden Horde khanate in the northwest, the Chagatai Khanate in the west, the Ilkhanate in the southwest, and the Yuan Dynasty based in modern-day Beijing. In 1304, the three western khanates briefly accepted the nominal suzerainty of the Yuan Dynasty, but when it was overthrown by the Han Chinese Ming Dynasty in 1368, the Mongol Empire finally dissolved.