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Ilkhan Mongols

In the later years of the 12th century the Mongols began their westward march and, after the conquest of the ancient the territory of the Khwarizm shahs, which was at once overwhelmed. In the early years of the thirteenth century, a powerful Mongol leader named Temujin brought together a majority of the Mongol tribes and led them on a devastating sweep through China. At about this time, he changed his name to Chinggis (Genghis) Khan, meaning "World Conqueror." In 1219 he turned his force of 700,000 west and quickly devastated Bokhara, Samarkand, Balkh, Merv (all in what is now the Soviet Union), and Neyshabur (in present-day Iran), where he slaughtered every living thing. Before his death in 1227, Chinnggis Khan, pillaging and burning cities along the way, had reached western Azarbaijan in Iran.

Jenghiz Khan died in 1272, and the Mongol Empire stretching from the Caspian to the Yellow Sea was divided up among his sons. Persia itself fell partly in the domain of Jagatai and partly in that of the Golden Horde. The actual governor of Persia was Tului or Tule, whose son Hulagu or Hulaku is the first who can be rightly regarded as the sovereign of Persia.

After Chinggis's death, the area enjoyed a brief respite that ended with the arrival of Hulagu Khan (1217-65), Chinggis's grandson. The accession of Hulagu Khan occurred in 1256, and henceforward Persia became after 600 years of spasmodic government a national unit. Hulagu at once proceeded to destroy a number of nascent dynasties which endeavored to establish themselves on the ruins of the Khwarizm Empire; about 1255 he destroyed the dynasty of the Assassins by the capture of their stronghold of Alamut (Eagle's Nest).

In 1258 Hulagu Khan seized Baghdad and killed the last Abbasid caliph. While in Baghdad, Hulagu made a pyramid of the skulls of Baghdad's scholars, religious leaders, and poets, and he deliberately destroyed what remained of Iraq's canal headworks. The material and artistic production of centuries was swept away. Iraq became a neglected frontier province ruled from the Mongol capital of Tabriz in Iran. The thirty-eighth and last Abtasid caliph, Mostasim, was brutally murdered, and thus the Mahommedan caliphate ceased to exist even as an emasculated pontificate.

The Persian Empire under Hulagu and his descendants extended from the dominions of Jagatai on the north to that of the Egyptian dynasts on the south, and from the Byzantine Empire on the west to the confines of China. Its rulers paid a nominal homage to the Khakhan (Great Khan) in China, and officially recognized this dependence in their title of Ilkhan, i.e. provincial or dependent khan. From 1258 to 1335 the Ilkhans were not seriously challenged. Hulagu fixed his capital at Maragha (Meragha) in Azerbaijan, where he erected an observatory for Nasir ud-din Tusi, who at his request prepared the astronomical tables known as the Zidj-i-Ilkhani.

Hulagu died in 1265 and was succeeded by his son Abagha or Abaka, who married the daughter of Michael Palaeologus, the Byzantine ruler. Abagha was a peaceful ruler and endeavored by wise administration, to give order and prosperity to a country torn asunder by a long period of intestine war and the Mongol invasion. He succeeded in repelling two attacks by other Mongolian princes of the house of Jenghiz Khan; otherwise his reign was uneventful.

His brother Nikudar (originally Nicolas) Ahmad Khan succeeded him in 1281. This prince was converted to Islam, an event of great moment both to the internal peace and to the external relations of Persia, His persecution of the Christians led them into alliance with the Mongols, who detested Islam; the combined forces were too strong for Nikudar, who was murdered in 1284. The external results were of more importance.

The Ilkhans, who had failed in their attempt to wrest Syria from the Mameluke rulers of Egypt, had subsequently endeavored to effect their object by inducing the European Powers to make a new crusade. The conversion of Nikudar put an end to this policy and Egypt was for some time free from Persian attack.

The Mongol leaders put on the throne a son of Abagha, by name Arghun. His reign was troubled. His first minister Shams ud-din was suspected of having poisoned Abagha, and was soon put to death. His successor, the amir Bogha, conspired against Arghun and was executed. Under the third minister (1289-1291), a Jewish doctor named Sa'd addaula (el-Dowleh), religious troubles arose owing to his persecution of the Mahommedans and his favoring the Christians. The financial administration of Sa'd was prudent and successful, if somewhat severe, and the revenue benefited considerably under his care. But he committed the tactical error of appointing a disproportionate number of Jews and Christians as revenue officials, and thus made many enemies among the Mongol nobles, who had him assassinated in 1291 when Arghun was lying fatally ill. It is possible that it was Sa'd's diplomacy which led Pope Nicholas IV. to send a mission to Arghun with a view to a new crusade. The reign of Arghun was also disturbed by a rebellion of a grandson of Hulagu, Baidu Khan.

Arghun died soon after the murder of Sa'd, and was succeeded by his brother Kaikhalur or Gaykhatu, who was taken prisoner by Baidu Khan and killed (1295). Baidu's reign was cut short in the same year by Arghun's son Chazan Mahmud, whose reign (1295-1304) was a period of prosperity in war and administration. Chazan was a man of great ability. He established a permanent staff to deal with legal, financial and military affairs, put on a firm basis the monetary system and the system of weights and measures, and perfected the mounted postal service. Chazan fought with success against Egypt (which country had already from 1293 to December 1294 been ruled by a Mongol usurper Kit boga), and even held Damascus for a few months. In 1303, however, his troops were defeated at Merj al-Safiar, and Mongol claims on Syria were definitely abandoned. It was even suggested that the titular Abbasid caliphs (who retained an empty title in Cairo under Mameluke protection) should be reinstated at Bagdad, but this proposal was not carried into effect. Chazan is historically important, however, mainly as the first Mongol ruler who definitely adopted Islam with a large number of his subjects. He died in 1304, traditionally of anger at the Syrian fiasco, and was succeeded by his brother Uljaitu.

The chief events of the reign of Uljaitu were a successful war against Tatar invaders and the substitution of the new city of Sultana as capital for Tabriz, which had been Ghazan's headquarters. Uljaitu was a Shi'ite and even stamped his coins with the names of the twelve Shi'ite imams. He died in 1316, and was succeeded by Abu Sa'id.his son. The prince, under whom a definite peace was made with Malik al-Nasir, the Mameluke ruler of Egypt, had great trouble with powerful viziers and generals which he accentuated by his passion for Bagdad-Khatun, wife of the amir Hosain and daughter of the imir Chupan. This lady he eventually married, with the result that Chupan headed a revolt of his tribe, the Selduz. Abu Sa'id died of fever in 1335, and with him the first Mongol or Ilkhan dynasty of Persia practically came to an end.

The real power was divided between Chupan and Hosain the Jelair (or Jalair), or the Ilkhanian, and their sons, known respectively as the Little Hasan (Hasan Kucliuk) and the great Hasan (Hasan Buzurg). Two puppet kings, Arpa Khan, a descendant of Hulagu's brother Arikbuhga, and Musa Khan, a descendant of Baidu, nominally reigned for a few months each. Then Hasan Kuchuk set up one Sati-beg, Abu Sa'id's daughter, and wife successively of Chupan, Arfa Khan and one Suleiman, the last of whom was khan from 1339 to 1343; in the same time Hasan Buzurg set up successively ?? hummed, Tugha-Timur and JahanTimur. A sixth nonentity, Nushirwan, was a Chupani nominee in 1344, after which time Hasan Buzurg definitely installed himself as the first khan of the Jelairid or Ilkhanian-Jelairid dynasty.

The Mongols founded no permanent dynasty on Islamic territory, and had no influence on Islamic civilization; their only connexion with Islamic civilization was that when the Islamic Empire was in its last stage of weakness and decline, owing to the incursions of Franks, Georgians, Armenians, and Alani, they, the Mongols, came and weakened it still further, and removed the last relics of the 'Abbasid Caliphate in Baghdad. They then went home, leaving the Islamic Empire in articulo mortis, being all dispersed, without any living dynasty capable of combining the elements. This task, however, was accomplished by the Ottoman dynasty in the second Turkish period, and the dynasty of the Shahs of Persia in the second Persian period, and these empires compose the second period in the history of Islam.

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Page last modified: 09-07-2011 02:45:34 ZULU