The Mongol conquest of Tibet has been poorly understood. ‘Traditional’ Mongol and Tibetan accounts, in comparatively late sources, tell of a submission to Chinggis Khan by Tibetan chieftains. This version of history was rejected some time ago, and replaced with an account that begins with a Mongol invasion of Tibet in 1240. Problems with clarifying this issue include the often poor quality of Tibetan sources, the confusion of Tibet and Tangut (Xi Xia) in Persian sources, and misunderstanding by modern scholars of Chinese terms relating to Tibet. In fact, Chinese sources make clear that there was considerable contact between the Mongols and Tibet before 1240. Chinggis Khan may never have invaded Tibet, but undoubtedly had the intention of doing so. The picture that emerges is of a gradual conquest, with early incursions across the borders of Tibet followed by more penetrating invasions in the 1240s and 1250s.
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