Aware of the developments in the west,2 and of Qaidu's emergence as potentially "serious border problem"3 and thus a threat to the Mongolian homeland itself - "the rising place of the ancestors",4 Qubilai in 1271 sent a coalition of princes under his fourth son Nomuqan (Nanmuhan) to Almaliq, in order to guard against the danger posed by Qaidu.5 In 1266, Nomuqan had been appointed as the "Prince of the Pacification of the North" (Beiping wang), and was sent to Mobei (North of the desert),6 in order to oversee the princes who dwelt in this region. Mobei, formerly under Tolui's rule, was inhabited mainly by the sons of Mangke and Arigh Bake. Since Arigh Bake's surrender, Qubilai had distributed appanages, titles, and money in an intensive effort to acquire the support of these princes, among other reasons because of the importance of the control of

Mongolia for his legitimization as Qa'an. When Nomuqan set out for Almaliq, by then one of the western posts of Qubilai's state, these princes accompanied him.7