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By Michael Burgan
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Eating small, round cakes during this festival was a long tradition in China. But the role of the cakes in supposedly spreading the message of rebellion against the Mongols gave them new importance. The Mid-Autumn Festival is still celebrated, and people still eat moon cakes, but historians doubt they actually played a part in the rebellion. (Source: Chan, Hok-Lam, China and the Mongols: History and Legend under the Yüan. indd 58 7/31/09 10:02:10 AM F i n a l Ye a r s o f t h e K h a n a t e s In 1325, peasants in the south revolted.
In 1276, some of the commanders under Nomukhan plotted against him. They kidnapped the Mongol prince, his brother, and cousin, bringing Nomukhan and his brother to the khan of the Golden Horde and their cousin to Khaidu. Although he welcomed the action, Khaidu did not take an active part in the plot. The kidnapping added to Khubilai’s troubles in the region. Rebels in Mongolia perceived him as being weak in the western part of his empire. In 1277, the rebels looted Karakorum, the old Mongol capital.
The Mongol general agreed. But the Great Khan refused to meet Rukn-ad-Din, and his Mongol guards killed Rukn-ad-Din and his family. The Drive West Hülegü’s army then continued west, heading for Baghdad. For centuries, this city in what is now Iraq had been a center of Islamic culture and politics. Its ruler was called a caliph. A caliph was both a political and a religious leader, and he had great authority. The Abbasid caliphate, or kingdom, was based in Baghdad. It had been founded in 750, and at its peak the Abbasid dynasty controlled an empire that stretched from North Africa to Afghanistan.