Ilkhanate: Wikis


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سلسله ایلخانی
State of the Mongol Empire



Ilkhanate at its greatest extent
Capital Maragheh, Tabriz, and Soltaniyeh
Language(s) MongolOfficial:
civil administration, court, diplomatic talks, governmental announcements, international contacts, theological discourse, court-based religious posts[1]

PersianOfficial: educational, high court, military usage, literary, spoken by majority of public[1]

Religion Buddhism, Shamanism, and then later Islam
Government Monarchy
 - 1256–1265 Hulagu Khan
 - 1316–1335 Abu Sa'id
Legislature Kurultai
 - Established 1256
 - Disestablished 1335
 - 1310 est. 3,750,000 km2 (1,447,883 sq mi)

The Ilkhanate, also spelled Il-khanate or Il Khanate (Persian: سلسله ایلخانی, Mongolian: Ил Хан улс), was a Mongol khanate established in Persia in the 13th century, considered a part of the Mongol Empire. The Ilkhanate was based, originally, on Genghis Khan's campaigns in the Khwarezmid Empire in 1219–1224, and founded by Genghis's grandson, Hulagu, in what territories which today comprise most of Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkey, and western Pakistan. The Ilkhanate initially embraced many religions, but was particularly sympathetic to Christianity, and sought a Franco-Mongol alliance with the Crusaders in order to conquer Palestine. Later Ilkhanate rulers, beginning with Ghazan in 1295, embraced Islam.


Early Mongol rule in Persia

When Muhammad II of Khwarezm executed the merchants dispatched by the Mongols, Genghis Khan declared war on Khwārazm-Shāh dynasty in 1219. The Mongols overran the whole empire, occupying all major cities and centers between 1219 to 1221. Although, Persian Iraq was ravaged by the Mongol detachment under Jebe and Subedei, they left the area in ruin. Transoxiana came under the Mongol control after the invasion. The area west of the Transoxiana was undivided inheritance of Genghis Khan's Borjigin family.[2] Thus, families of the latter's four sons appointed their officials under the Great Khan's governors, Chin-Temur, Nussal and Korguz, there.

Muhammad's son Jalal ad-Din Mingburnu returned to Iran in c.1224 after his exile in India. Rival Turkic states remained of his father's empire quickly declared their allegiance to him. He repulsed the first Mongol attempt to take Central Persia. However, Jalal ad-Din was overwhelmed and crushed by Chormaqan's army sent by the Great Khan Ögedei in 1231. During the Mongol expedition, Azerbaijan and southern Persian dynasties in Fars and Kerman voluntarily submitted to the Mongols and agreed to pay tributes.[3] To the west, Hamadan and the rest of Persia was secured by Chormaqan. The Mongols turned their attention to Armenia and Georgia in 1234 (or 1236). They completed the conquest of the Kingdom of Georgia in 1238; however, the Mongol Empire began to attack western parts of Greater Armenia which was under the Seljuks the next year.

A Mongol horse archer in the 13th century.

In 1236 Ogedei commanded to raise up Khorassan and populated Herat. The Mongol military governors mostly made their camp in Mughan plain, Azerbaijan. Realizing the danger of the Mongols, rulers of Mosul and Cilician Armenia submitted to the Great Khan. Chormaqan divided the Transcaucasia region into three districts based on military hierarchy.[4] In Georgia, the population were temporarily divided into eight tumens.[5] By 1237 the Mongol Empire had subjugated most of Persia, excluding Abbasid Iraq and Ismaili strongholds, and all of Afghanistan and Kashmir[6].

After the battle of Köse Dağ in 1243, the Mongols under Baiju occupied Anatolia, and the Seljuk Sultanate of Rûm and the Empire of Trebizond became vassals of the Mongols.[7]

Guyuk Khan abolished decrees, issued by the Mongol princes, had given orders on the revenue of districts in Persia and given also orders of exemption to others in c.1244.[8]

In accordance with the governor Arghun the Elder's (Arghun agha) complaint, Mongke Khan prohibited ortog-merchants and nobles to abuse relay stations, yam (route), and civilians in 1251.[9] He ordered a new census and decreed that each man in the Mongol ruled-Middle East must pay in proportion to his property. Persia was divided between four districts under Arghun. Mongke Khan granted the Kartids authority over Herat, Jam, Bushanj, Ghor, Khaysar, Firuz-Kuh, Gharjistan, Farah, Sistan, Kabul, Tirah, and Afghanistan (the Sulaiman Mountains) all the way to the Indus River.[10]

First Ilkhan

Hulagu Khan, Genghis Khan's grandson and founder of the Ilkhanate

The actual founder of the Ilkhanate dynasty was Hulagu Khan, grandson of Genghis Khan and brother of both Möngke Khan and Kublai Khan. Möngke dispatched him to establish a firm Toluid control over the Middle East, and ordered him return to Mongolia when his task was accomplished.[11] Taking over from Baiju in 1255 or 1256, he had been charged with subduing the Muslim kingdoms to the west "as far as the borders of Egypt." This occupation led the Turkmens to move west into Anatolia to escape from the Mongolian tribes. He established his dynasty over the southwestern part of the Mongol Empire that stretched from Transoxiana to Syria. He destroyed the Ismaili Nizari Hashshashins and the Abbasid Caliphate in 1256 and 1258 respectively. After that he advanced as far as Gaza, briefly conquering Ayyubid-Syria.

Möngke's death forced Hulagu to return from the Persian heartland for the preparation of Khuriltai (selection of a new leader). He left a small force behind to continue the Mongol advance, but it was halted in Palestine in 1260 by a major defeat at the battle of Ain Jalut at the hands of the Mamluks of Egypt. Due to geo-political and religious issues and deaths of three Jochid princes in Hulagu's service, Berke declared open war on Hulagu in 1262 and possibly called his troops back in Iran. According to Mamluk historians, Hulagu might have massacred Berke's troops and refused to share his war booties with Berke.

Faravahar background

History of Iran
see also Kings of Persia · Timeline of Iran

Hulagu with his Christian queen Doquz Khatun.

According to the historian Rashid-al-Din Hamadani, Kublai granted Hulagu the title of Ilkhan after his defeat of Ariq Boke. The term il-Khan means "subordinate khan" and refers to their initial deference to Möngke Khan and his successor Great Khans of the entire empire. The Kublaids in the east retained suzerainty over the Ilkhans (obedient khans) until the end of its regime.[12][13] Hulagu's descendants ruled Persia for the next eighty years, tolerating multiple religions including Shamanism, Buddhism, and Christianity, ultimately adopting Islam as a state religion in 1295. However, despite this conversion, the Ilkhans remained opposed to the Mamluks (who had defeated both Mongol invaders and Crusaders). The Ilkhans launched several invasions of Syria, but were never able to gain and keep significant ground against the Mamluks, eventually being forced to give up their plans to conquer Syria, along with their stranglehold over their vassals the Sultanate of Rum and the Armenian kingdom in Cilicia. This was in large part due to civil war in the Mongol Empire, and the hostility of the khanates to the north and east. The Chagatai Khanate in Moghulistan and the Golden Horde threatened the Ilkhanate in the Caucasus and Transoxiana, preventing expansion westward. Even under Hulagu's reign, the Ilkhanate was engaged in open warfare in the Caucasus with the Mongols in the Russian steppes.

Hulagu took with him many Chinese scholars, astronomers, and the famous Persian astronomer Nasir al-Din al-Tusi learned about the mode of the Chinese calculating tables.[14] The observatory was built on a hill of Maragheh.

Franco-Mongol alliance

Many attempts towards the formation of a Franco-Mongol alliance were made between the courts of Western Europe and the Mongols (primarily the Ilkhanate) in the 13th and 14th centuries, starting from around the time of the Seventh Crusade. United in their opposition to the Muslims (mainly the Mamluks), the Ilkhanate and the Europeans were still never able to satisfactorily combine their forces against their common enemy.[15]

Conversion to Islam

Circular piece of silk, Iran or Iraq, early 14th century

In the period after Hulagu, the Ilkhans increasingly adopted Tibetan Buddhism. Christian powers were encouraged by what appeared to be a favoring of Nestorian Christianity but this probably went no deeper than their traditional evenhandedness.[16] Thus the Ilkhans were markedly out of step with the Muslim majority they ruled. Ghazan, shortly before he overthrew Baydu, converted to Islam and his official favoring of Islam coincided with a marked attempt to bring the regime closer to the non-Mongol majority. Christian and Jewish subjects lost their equal status with Muslims and again had to pay the poll tax. Buddhists had the starker choice of conversion or expulsion.[17]

In foreign relations, the conversion to Islam had little to no effect and Ghazan continued to fight the Mamluks for control of Syria. But the Battle of Wadi al-Khazandar, which was the Mongols' only major victory over the Mamluks, disproved his control over Syria, which lasted but a few months. For the most part, Ghazan's policies continued under his brother Öljeitü despite suggestions that he might begin to favor the Shi'a brand of Islam after he came under the influence of Shi'a theologians Al-Hilli and Maitham Al Bahrani.[18] Öljeitü succeeded in conquering Gilan on the Caspian coast and his magnificent tomb in Soltaniyeh remains the best known monument of Ilkhanid rule in Persia.


The mausoleum of Öljaitü in Soltaniyeh.

After Abu Sa'id's death in 1335, the khanate began to disintegrate rapidly, and split up into several rival successor states, most prominently the Jalayirids. Khasar's descendant Togha Temür, who was the last of the obscure Ilkhan pretenders, was assassinated by Sarbadars in 1353. Timur later carved a state from the Jalayirids, ostensibly to restore the old khanate. The historian Rashid-al-Din Hamadani wrote a universal history for the khans around 1315 which provides much material for their history.


History of Mongolia
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This article is part of a series
Early History
Mongolic peoples
Age of nomadic empires
The Xianbei
Nirun Qaghanate
The Khidan
Medieval Mongolia
Khamag Mongol
Mongol Empire
(Qubilaid, Jochid,
Ilkhan, Chagatayid)
Period of the small kings
Northern Khalkha
Zunghar Khanate
Foreign rule and independence
Qing Mongolia
National independence of 1911
Theocratic period
Inner Mongolia
The Beiyang’s brief occupation
Bogd Khaanate under Baron Ungern
Mongolian revolution of 1921
Modern Mongolia
Mongolian People's Republic
Battle of Khalkhin Gol
World War II
Yalta conference
Democratic Revolution of 1990
Timeline of Mongolian history
Culture of Mongolia
Geography of Mongolia

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The Ilkhanate State helped to pave the way for the later Safavid dynastic state, and ultimately the modern country of Iran. Hulagu's conquests had also opened Iran to both European influence from the west and Chinese influence from the east. This, combined with patronage from his successors, would develop Iran's distinctive excellence in architecture. Under the Il Khans, Iranian historians also moved from writing in Arabic, to writing in Persian.[19]


House of Hulagu (1256-1335)

Map showing the political situation in southwest Asia in 1345, ten years after the death of Abu Sa'id. The Jalayirids, Chobanids, Muzaffarids, Injuids, Sarbadars and Kartids took the Ilkhanate's place as the major powers in Iran.

After the Ilkhanate, the regional states established during the disintegration of the Ilkhanate raised their own candidates as claimants.

House of Ariq Böke

House of Hulagu (1336-1357)

House of Qasar

Claimants from eastern Persia (Khurasan):

  • Togha Temür (c. 1338–1353) (recognized by the Kartids 1338–1349; by the Jalayirids 1338–1339, 1340–1344; by the Sarbadars 1338–1341, 1344, 1353)
  • Luqman (1353–1388) (son of Togha Temür and the protege of Timur)

See also


  1. ^ a b Rahiminejad, Sadegh: IRAN: Tarikh (2006). Languages of the Persian [Section]
  2. ^ Jeremiah Curtin-The Mongols: A history, p.184
  3. ^ Timothy May-Chormaqan, p.47
  4. ^ Grigor of Akanc-The history of the nation of archers, (tr. R.P.Blake) 303
  5. ^ Kalistriat Salia-History of the Georguan Nation, p.210
  6. ^ Thomas T. Allsen-Culture and Conquest in Mongol Eurasia, p.84
  7. ^ George Finlay- The history of Greece from its conquest by the Crusaders to its conquest by the Ottomans, p.384
  8. ^ C.P.Atwood-Encyclopedia of Mongolia and the Mongol Empire, see:Monqe Khan
  9. ^ M. Th. Houtsma-E.J. Brill's first encyclopaedia of Islam, 1913-1936, Volume 1‎ , p.729
  10. ^ Ehsan Yar-Shater- Encyclopaedia Iranica‎, p.209
  11. ^ P.Jackson-Dissolution of the Mongol Empire, pp.222
  12. ^ Christopher P. Atwood - Ibid
  13. ^ Michael Prawdin, Mongol Empire and its legacy, p.302
  14. ^ H.H.Howorth-History of the Mongols, vol.IV, p.138
  15. ^ "Despite numerous envoys and the obvious logic of an alliance against mutual enemies, the papacy and the Crusaders never achieved the often-proposed alliance against Islam". Atwood, Encyclopedia of Mongolia and the Mongol Empire, p. 583, "Western Europe and the Mongol Empire"
  16. ^ Medieval Persia 1040–1797, David Morgan p64
  17. ^ Medieval Persia 1040–1797, David Morgan p72
  18. ^ Ali Al Oraibi, Rationalism in the school of Bahrain: a historical perspective, in Shīʻite Heritage: Essays on Classical and Modern Traditions By Lynda Clarke, Global Academic Publishing 2001 p336
  19. ^ Francis Robinson, The Mughal Emperors and the Islamic Dynasties of India, Iran and Central Asia, Pages 19 and 36


  • Atwood, Christopher P. (2004). The Encyclopedia of Mongolia and the Mongol Empire. Facts on File, Inc. ISBN 0-8160-4671-9.
  • C.E. Bosworth, The New Islamic Dynasties, New York, 1996.
  • R. Amitai-Preiss: Mongols and Mamluks: The Mamluk-Ilkhanid War 1260–1281. Cambridge, 1995

External links

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