Mongol Empire, empire founded in the early 13th century by Genghis Khan (1167?–1227). Superb horseriders and archers, the Mongols of Central Asia were united into a well-disciplined, highly mobile army that conquered northern China by 1215 and then swept west through the Middle East and southern Russia, establishing a vast empire with its capital at Karakorum, in Mongolia. After Genghis Khan's death, the Mongol invasions were continued under his son Ogotai. During 1237–40 the Mongol general Batu Khan, a grandson of Genghis Khan, crossed the Volga, crushed the Bulgars and Kumans, and invaded Poland and Hungary. Baghdad, seat of the Abbasid caliphate, was sacked in 1258. The Mongol troops had a reputation for great ferocity, in particular when attacking and destroying cities.
By about 1260 the Empire was organized into four Khanates, centered in Persia, southern Russia, Turkestan, and China. Kublai Khan's rule in China (1260–94) saw the foundation of the Yüan Dynasty. The Mongol tradition of conquest was revived by Tamerlane in the 14th century and by Babur (founder of the Mogul Empire) in the 16th century.