Dietary Decadence and Dynastic Decline in the Mongol Empire
Smith, Jr., John Masson
Journal of Asian History, vol. 34, no. 1, (2000)
Most Mongol rulers lived short lives. Those in the Middle East died, on average, at about age 38, and the successors of Qubilai (Khubilai) in the Far East at 33 (adding in Qubilai raises the average since he lived, atypically, for 78 years; Chinggis lived into his 60s; for the rest, few passed 50). Comparison of the Mongol and Manchu (Qing) dynasties shows the importance of longevity. In each of the Mongol realms of China, the Middle East and the Golden Horde, an average of eleven Mongols ruled for an average of about a century (107 years): Qubilai and nine successors ruled China for 110 years (1260-1370); the Golden Horde had twelve khans in 132 years (1227-1359); and nine Mongols held the Middle East for 80 years (1255-1335). Nine Manchus, with an average reign of 29 years, occupied the throne of China for over two and a half centuries (1644 -1908).
The Middle Eastern Mongol dynasty had further problems: high infant mortality and infertility. Ann Lambton considers that “the possibility cannot be ruled out that once the Mongols settled in Persia, they ceased to be good breeders.” I suggest that the Mongols’ difficulties stemmed in large part from dietary inadequacies and improprieties.