ABSTRACT

Galdan was a seventeenth-century ruler of a group of Mongols known as the Zunghars who claimed control over areas including parts of what are now Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Tibet and the Chinese provinces of Qinghai, Xinjiang and Qinghai. The Zunghars recognised the Dalai Lama as their spiritual leader and under the leadership of Galdan, began asserting their growing power over the trade routes linking China to the Mediterranean world. Galdan, given the title of ‘Bushuktu Khan’ by the Fifth *Dalai Lama (who hoped to use him as a counter-weight against the Qing’s growing power in the East), pushed with his armies to the east in 1688 and defeated the Khalkha Mongols, and by 1690 had skirmished with Qing outposts in the Inner Mongolian region. The *Treaty of Nerchinsk (1689), between Russia and the Qing, was desirable, in part, to the Qing due to worries about a possible alliance between Galdan and the Russians. The *Kangxi Emperor (r. 1661–1722) himself, after signing the Treaty of Nerchinsk and some years of fighting, led a major expedition comprised of approximately 80,000 troops across the Gobi desert against Galdan. The Kangxi Emperor’s armies defeated Galdan in 1696 at the battle of Jao Modo (Zuunmod in Mongolian). Galdan died a year later in unexplained circumstances, possibly murder or possibly suicide.