The Ilkhanate, also spelled Il-khanate was a khanate established from the southwestern sector of the Mongol Empire. The Ilkhanid realm was ruled by the Mongol House of Hulagu. Hulagu Khan, the son of Tolui and grandson of Genghis Khan, inherited the Middle Eastern part of the Mongol Empire after his brother Möngke Khan died in 1260.
Its core territory lies in what is now part of the countries of Iran, Azerbaijan, and Turkey. At its greatest extent, the Ilkhanate also included parts of modern Iraq, Syria, Armenia, Georgia, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Pakistan, part of modern Dagestan, and part of modern Tajikistan. Later Ilkhanate rulers, beginning with Ghazan in 1295, converted to Islam. In the 1330s, the Ilkhanate was ravaged by the Black Death. Its last khan Abu Sa'id died in 1335, after which the khanate disintegrated.
Table of Contents / Timeline
When Muhammad II of Khwarazm executed a contingent of merchants dispatched by the Mongols, Genghis Khan declared war on the Khwārazm-Shāh dynasty in 1219. The Mongols overran the empire, occupying the major cities and population centers between 1219 and 1221. Iran was ravaged by the Mongol detachment under Jebe and Subutai, who left the area in ruin. Transoxiana also came under Mongol control after the invasion.
Muhammad's son Jalal ad-Din Mingburnu returned to Iran in c. 1224 after fleeing to India. He was overwhelmed and crushed by Chormaqan's army sent by the Great Khan Ögedei in 1231. By 1237 the Mongol Empire had subjugated most of Persia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, most of Georgia, as well as all of Afghanistan and Kashmir. After the battle of Köse Dağ in 1243, the Mongols under Baiju occupied Anatolia, while the Seljuk Sultanate of Rûm and the Empire of Trebizond became vassals of the Mongols.
In 1252, Hulagu was tasked with conquering the Abbasid Caliphate. He was given a fifth of the entire Mongol army for the campaign and he took his sons Abaqa and Yoshmut along with him. In 1258, Hulagu proclaimed himself Ilkhan (subordinate khan).
Mongol campaign against the NizarisAlamut, Qazvin Province, Iran
The Mongol campaign against the Nizaris of the Alamut period (the Assassins) began in 1253 after the Mongol conquest of the Khwarazmian Empire of Iran by the Mongol Empire and a series of Nizari–Mongol conflicts. The campaign was ordered by the Great Khan Möngke and was led by his brother, Hülegü. The campaign against the Nizaris and later the Abbasid Caliphate was intended to establish a new khanate in the region—the Ilkhanate.
Hülegü's campaign began with attacks on strongholds in Quhistan and Qumis amidst intensified internal dissensions among Nizari leaders under Imam Ala al-Din Muhammad whose policy was fighting against the Mongols.
In 1256, the Imam capitulated while besieged in Maymun-Diz and ordered his followers to do likewise according to his agreement with Hülegü. Despite being difficult to capture, Alamut ceased hostilities too and was dismantled. The Nizari state was thus disestablished, although several individual forts, notably Lambsar, Gerdkuh, and those in Syria continued to resist. Möngke Khan later ordered a general massacre of all Nizaris, including Khurshah and his family. Many of the surviving Nizaris scattered throughout Western, Central, and South Asia.
Siege of Gerdkuh CastleGerdkuh, Gilan Province, Iran
In March 1253, Hülegü's commander Kitbuqa, who was commanding the advance guard, crossed Oxus (Amu Darya) with 12,000 men (one tümen plus two mingghans under Köke Ilgei). In April 1253, he captured several Nizari fortresses in Quhistan and killed their inhabitants, and in May he attacked Qumis and laid siege to Gerdkuh with 5,000 men and build walls and siege works around it. Kitbuqa left an army under amir Büri to besiege Gerdkuh.
In December 1253, Girdkuh's garrison sallied at night and killed 100 (or several hundred) Mongols, including Büri. In the summer of 1254, an outbreak of cholera in Gerdkuh weakened the garrison's resistance. However, unlike Lambsar, Gerdkuh survived the epidemic and was saved by the arrival of reinforcements from Ala al-Din Muhammad in Alamut.
As Hülegü's main army was advancing in Iran, Khurshah ordered Gerdkuh and fortresses of Quhistan to surrender. The Nizari chief in Gerdkuh, Qadi Tajuddin Mardanshah, surrendered, but the garrison continued to resist. In 1256, Maymun-Diz and Alamut surrendered and were destroyed by the Mongols, resulting in the official disestablishment of the Nizari Ismaili state.
Siege of Maymun-DizMeymoon Dej, Shams Kelayeh, Qa
The siege of Maymun-Diz, an unlocated fortress and the stronghold of the leader of the Nizari Ismaili state, Imam Rukn al-Din Khurshah, occurred in 1256, during the Mongol campaign against the Nizaris led by Hülegü. The new Nizari Imam was already engaged in negotiations with Hülegü as he was advancing toward his stronghold. The Mongols insisted that all Nizari fortresses be dismantled, but the Imam tried to negotiate a compromise.
After several days of fighting, the Imam and his family capitulated and were received well by Hülegü. Maymun-Diz was demolished, and the Imam ordered his subordinates to surrender and demolish their fortresses likewise. The subsequent capitulation of the symbolic stronghold of Alamut marked the end of the Nizari state in Persia.
Siege of BaghdadBaghdad, Iraq
The Siege of Baghdad was a siege that took place in Baghdad in 1258, lasting for 13 days from January 29, 1258 until February 10, 1258. The siege, laid by Ilkhanate Mongol forces and allied troops, involved the investment, capture, and sack of Baghdad, which was the capital of the Abbasid Caliphate at that time.
The Mongols were under the command of Hulagu Khan, brother of the khagan Möngke Khan, who had intended to further extend his rule into Mesopotamia but not to directly overthrow the Caliphate. Möngke, however, had instructed Hulagu to attack Baghdad if the Caliph Al-Musta'sim refused Mongol demands for his continued submission to the khagan and the payment of tribute in the form of military support for Mongol forces in Persia.
Hulagu subsequently besieged the city, which surrendered after 12 days.During the next week, the Mongols sacked Baghdad, committing numerous atrocities. The Mongols executed Al-Musta'sim and massacred many residents of the city, which was left greatly depopulated. The siege is considered to mark the end of the Islamic Golden Age, during which the caliphs had extended their rule from the Iberian Peninsula to Sindh, and which was also marked by many cultural achievements in diverse fields.
Toluid Civil WarMongolia
The Toluid Civil War was a war of succession fought between Kublai Khan and his younger brother, Ariq Böke, from 1260 to 1264. Möngke Khan died in 1259 with no declared successor, precipitating infighting between members of the Tolui family line for the title of Great Khan that escalated to a civil war. The Toluid Civil War, and the wars that followed it (such as the Berke–Hulagu war and the Kaidu–Kublai war), weakened the authority of the Great Khan over the Mongol Empire and split the empire into autonomous khanates.
Siege of Aleppo: End of Ayyubid DynastyAleppo, Syria
After receiving the submission of Harran and Edessa, Mongol leader Hulagu Khan crossed the Euphrates, sacked Manbij and placed Aleppo under siege. He was supported by forces of Bohemond VI of Antioch and Hethum I of Armenia. For six days the city was under siege. Assisted by catapults and mangonels, Mongol, Armenian and Frankish forces overran the entire city, except for the citadel which held out until 25 February and was demolished following its capitulation. The ensuing massacre, that lasted six days, was methodical and thorough, in which nearly all Muslims and Jews were killed, though most of the women and children were sold into slavery. Also included in the destruction, was the burning of the Great Mosque of Aleppo.
Battle of Ain JalutʿAyn Jālūt, Israel
The Battle of Ain Jalut was fought between the Bahri Mamluks of Egypt and the Mongol Empire in southeastern Galilee in the Jezreel Valley near what is known today as the Spring of Harod. The battle marked the height of the extent of Mongol conquests, and was the first time a Mongol advance was permanently beaten back in direct combat on the battlefield.
Shortly after this, Hulagu returned to Mongolia with the bulk of his army in accordance with Mongol customs, leaving approximately 10,000 troops west of the Euphrates under the command of general Kitbuqa. Learning of these developments, Qutuz quickly advanced his army from Cairo towards Palestine. Kitbuqa sacked Sidon, before turning his army south towards the Spring of Harod to meet Qutuz' forces. Using hit-and-run tactics and a feigned retreat by Mamluk general Baibars, combined with a final flanking maneuver by Qutuz, the Mongol army was pushed in a retreat toward Bisan, after which the Mamluks led a final counterattack, which resulted in the death of several Mongol troops, along with Kitbuqa himself.
First Battle of HomsHoms, Syria
The first Battle of Homs was fought between the Ilkhanates of Persia and the forces of Egypt. After the historic Mamluk victory over the Ilkhanates at the Battle of Ain Jalut in September 1260, Hulagu Khan of the Ilkhanate had the Ayyubid Sultan of Damascus and other Ayyubid princes executed in revenge, thus effectively ending the dynasty in Syria. However, the defeat at Ain Jalut forced the Ilkhanate armies out of Syria and the Levant. The main cities of Syria, Aleppo and Damascus were thus left open to Mamluk occupation. But Homs and Hama remained in the possession of minor Ayyubid princes. These princes, rather than the Mamluks of Cairo themselves, actually fought and won the First Battle of Homs.
Due to the open war between Hulagu and his cousin Berke of the Golden Horde during the civil war of the Mongol Empire, the Ilkhanate could only afford to send 6,000 troops back into Syria to retake control of the lands. This expedition was initiated by Ilkhanate generals such as Baidu who was forced to leave Gaza when the Mamluks advanced just before the battle of Ain Jalut. After attacking Aleppo, the force travelled southwards to Homs, but were decisively defeated. This ended the first campaign into Syria by the Ilkhanate.
Berke–Hulagu WarCaucasus Mountains
The Berke–Hulagu war was fought between two Mongol leaders, Berke Khan of the Golden Horde and Hulagu Khan of the Ilkhanate. It was fought mostly in the Caucasus mountains area in the 1260s after the destruction of Baghdad in 1258. The war overlaps with the Toluid Civil War in the Mongol Empire between two members of the Tolui family line, Kublai Khan and Ariq Böke, who both claimed the title of Great Khan (Khagan). Kublai allied with Hulagu, while Ariq Böke sided with Berke. Hulagu headed to Mongolia for the election of a new Khagan to succeed Möngke Khan, but the loss of the Battle of Ain Jalut to the Mamluks forced him to withdraw back to the Middle East. The Mamluk victory emboldened Berke to invade the Ilkhanate. The Berke–Hulagu war and the Toluid Civil War as well as the subsequent Kaidu–Kublai war marked a key moment in the fragmentation of the Mongol empire after the death of Möngke, the fourth Great Khan of the Mongol Empire.
Battle of the Terek RiverTerek River
Berke sought a joint attack with Baybars and forged an alliance with the Mamluks against Hulagu. The Golden Horde dispatched the young prince Nogai to invade the Ilkhanate but Hulagu forced him back in 1262. The Ilkhanid army then crossed the Terek River, capturing an empty Jochid encampment. On the banks of the;Terek, he was ambushed by an army of the Golden Horde under Nogai, and his army was defeated at the Battle of the Terek River (1262), with many thousands being cut down or drowning when the ice of the river gave way. Hulegu subsequently retreated back into Azerbaijan.
Mosul and Cizre rebelMosul, Iraq
The Mongol protectorate and ruler of Mosul, Badr al-Din's sons sided with the Mamluks and rebelled against the rule of Hulagu in 1261. This led to the destruction of the city state and the Mongols finally suppressed the rebellion in 1265.
Hulagu Khan dies, Reign of Abaqa KhanMaragheh، Iran
Hulagu fell ill in February 1265 after several days of banquets and hunting. He died on 8 February and his son Abaqa succeeded him in the summer.
Invasion of Chagatai KhanateHerat, Afghanistan
Upon Abaqa's accession, he immediately faced an invasion by Berke of the Golden Horde, which ended with Berke's death in Tiflis. In 1270, Abaqa defeated an invasion by Baraq, ruler of the Chagatai Khanate, at the battle of Herat.
Second Mongol Invasion of SyriaSyria
The second Mongol invasion of Syria took place in October 1271, when 10,000 Mongols led by general Samagar and Seljuk auxiliaries moved southwards from Rûm and captured Aleppo; however they retreated back beyond the Euphrates when the Mamluk leader Baibars marched on them from Egypt.
Bukhara sackedBukhara, Uzbekistan
In 1270, Abaqa defeated an invasion by Ghiyas-ud-din Baraq of the Chagatai Khanate. Abaqa's brother Tekuder sacked Bukhara in retaliation three years later.
Battle of ElbistanElbistan, Kahramanmaraş, Turke
On April 15, 1277, the Mamluk Sultan Baibars marched from Syria into the Mongol-dominated Seljuk Sultanate of Rûm and attacked the Mongol occupation force in the Battle of Elbistan (Abulustayn). Upon reaching Elbistan with at least 10,000 horseman, Baibars made ready for battle with the Mongols, expecting them to be around 30,000. However, although the Mongol forces were smaller than the Mamluk army, there were the Georgians and Rum Seljuks that bolstered their numbers.
The Mongols attacked first and charged the Mamluk heavy cavalry. At the start of the battle many of the Bedouin irregulars in the Mamluk army were also killed. Their attack was concentrated on the left flank of the Mamluk army. This resulted in the Sultan's standard bearers (sanjaqiyya) being killed. The Mamluks however were able to regroup and launch a counter-attack. Baibars himself went with a few troops to deal with the Mongol right flank that was pounding his left flank. Baibars ordered a force from the army from Hama to reinforce his left. The large Mamluk numbers were able to overwhelm the Mongol force. The Mongols instead of retreating dismounted from their horses. Some Mongols were able to escape and took up positions on the hills. Once they became surrounded they once again dismounted, and fought to the death. During the battle, the Mongols destroyed the Mamluk left wing, consisting of many Bedouin irregulars, but were ultimately defeated.
It seems that both sides were expecting assistance from the army of the Pervâne and his Seljuks. The Pervâne had attempted to ally himself with both factions to keep his options open, but fled the battle with the Seljuk Sultan to Tokat. The Seljuk army was present near the battle, but did not take part. After the battle many Rumi soldiers were taken captive. Others joined the Mamluks willingly. Pervane's son Muhadhdhab al-Din was captured. In addition many Mongol officers and common soldiers were taken prisoner. Two of the soldiers captured, Qipchaq and Salar, would become mamluks of Qalawun and would become very important amirs. The Mongol officers' lives were spared as well.
Third Invasion of SyriaHoms, Syria
On 20 October 1280, the Mongols took Aleppo, pillaging the markets and burning the mosques. The Muslim inhabitants fled for Damascus, where the Mamluk leader Qalawun assembled his forces.
On 29 October 1281, the two armies met south of Homs, a city in western Syria. In a pitched battle, the Armenians, Georgians and Oirats under King Leo II and Mongol generals routed and scattered the Mamluk left flank, but the Mamluks personally led by Sultan Qalawun destroyed the Mongol centre. Möngke Temur was wounded and fled, followed by his disorganized army. However, Qalawun chose to not pursue the defeated enemy, and the Armenian-Georgian auxiliaries of the Mongols managed to withdraw safely.
The following year, Abaqa died and his successor, Tekuder, reversed his policy towards the Mamluks. He converted to Islam and forged an alliance with the Mamluk sultan.
Reign and Death of ArghunTabriz, East Azerbaijan Provin
Abaqa's death in 1282 triggered a succession struggle between his son Arghun, supported by the Qara'unas, and his brother Tekuder, supported by the Chinggisid aristocracy. Tekuder was elected khan by the Chinggisids. Tekuder was the first Muslim ruler of the Ilkhanate but he made no active attempt to proselytize or convert his realm. However he did try to replace Mongol political traditions with Islamic ones, resulting in a loss of support from the army. Arghun used his religion against him by appealing to non-Muslims for support. When Tekuder realized this, he executed several of Arghun's supporters, and captured Arghun. Tekuder's foster son, Buaq, freed Arghun and overthrew Tekuder. Arghun was confirmed as Ilkhan by Kublai Khan in February 1286.
During Arghun's reign, he actively sought to combat Muslim influence, and fought against both the Mamluks and the Muslim Mongol emir Nawruz in Khorasan. To fund his campaigns, Arghun allowed his viziers Buqa and Sa'd-ud-dawla to centralize expenditures, but this was highly unpopular and caused his former supporters to turn against him. Both viziers were killed and Arghun was murdered in 1291.
Decline of the IlkhanateTabriz, East Azerbaijan Provin
The Ilkhanate started crumbling under the reign of Arghun's brother, Gaykhatu. The majority of Mongols converted to Islam while the Mongol court remained Buddhist. Gaykhatu had to buy the support of his followers and as a result, ruined the realm's finances. His vizir Sadr-ud-Din Zanjani tried to bolster the state finances by adopting paper money from the Yuan dynasty, which ended horribly. Gaykhatu also alienated the Mongol old guard with his alleged sexual relations with a boy. Gaykhatu was overthrown in 1295 and replaced with his cousin Baydu. Baydu reigned for less than a year before he was overthrown by Gaykhatu's son, Ghazan.
Ilkhan Ghazan converts to IslamTabriz, East Azerbaijan Provin
Ghazan converted to Islam under influence of Nawrūz and made Islam the official state religion. Christian and Jewish subjects lost their equal status and had to pay the jizya protection tax. Ghazan gave Buddhists the starker choice of conversion or expulsion and ordered their temples to be destroyed; though he later relaxed this severity. After Nawrūz was deposed and killed in 1297, Ghazan made religious intolerance punishable and attempted to restore relations with non-Muslims.
Ghazan also pursued diplomatic contacts with Europe, continuing his predecessors' unsuccessful attempts at forming a Franco-Mongol alliance. A man of high culture, Ghazan spoke multiple languages, had many hobbies, and reformed many elements of the Ilkhanate, especially in the matter of standardizing currency and fiscal policy.
Mamluk-Ilkhanid WarHoms, Syria
In 1299, nearly 20 years after the last Mongol defeat in Syria at the Second Battle of Homs, Ghazan Khan and an army of Mongols, Georgians and Armenians, crossed the Euphrates river (the Mamluk-Ilkhanid border) and seized Aleppo. The Mongol army then proceeded southwards until they were only a few miles north of Homs. The Sultan of Egypt Al-Nasir Muhammad who was in Syria at the time marched an army of 20,000 to 30,000 Mamluks (more, according to other sources) northwards from Damascus until he met the Mongols two to three Arab farsakhs (6–9 miles) north-east of Homs at Wadi al-Khaznadar on the 22nd of December 1299 at 5 o'clock in the morning. The battle resulted in a Mongol victory over the Mamluks.
Battle of Marj al-SaffarGhabaghib, Syria
The Battle of Marj al-Saffar was between the Mamluks and the Mongols and their Armenian allies near Kiswe, Syria, just south of Damascus. The battle has been influential in both Islamic history and contemporary time because of the controversial jihad against other Muslims and Ramadan related fatwas issued by Ibn Taymiyyah, who himself joined the battle. The battle, a disastrous defeat for the Mongols, put an end to Mongol invasions of the Levant.
Reign of OljeituSoltaniyeh, Zanjan Province, I
Oljeitu received ambassadors from the Yuan Dynasty, Chagatai Khanate and Golden Horde in the same year, establishing an intra-Mongol peace. His reign also saw a wave of migration from Central Asia during 1306. Certain Borjigid princes, such as Mingqan Ke'un arrived in Khorasan with 30.000 or 50.000 followers.
Venetian TradeVenice, Metropolitan City of V
Trading contacts with European powers were very active during the reign of Öljeitu. The Genoese had first appeared in the capital of Tabriz in 1280, and they maintained a resident Consul by 1304. Oljeitu also gave full trading rights to the Venetians through a treaty in 1306 (another such treaty with his son Abu Said was signed in 1320). According to Marco Polo, Tabriz was specialized in the production of gold and silk, and Western merchants could purchase precious stones in quantities.
Campaigns against the KartidsHerat, Afghanistan
Öljaitü undertook an expedition to Herat against the Kartid ruler Fakhr al-Din in 1306, but succeeded only briefly; his emir Danishmend was killed during the ambush. He started his second military campaign in June 1307 towards Gilan. It was a success thanks to combines forces of emirs like Sutai, Esen Qutluq, Irinjin, Sevinch, Chupan, Toghan and Mu'min. Despite initial success, his commander-in-chief Qutluqshah was defeated and killed during the campaign, which paved way for Chupan to rise in ranks. Following this, he ordered another campaign against Kartids, this time commanded by the late emir Danishmend's son Bujai. Bujai was successful after a siege from 5 February to 24 June, finally capturing the citadel.
Esen Buqa–Ayurbarwada warChina
The Yuan emperor Ayurbarwarda maintained friendly relations with Öljaitü, ruler of the Ilkhanate. As for the relations with the Chagatai Khanate, the Yuan forces had, in fact, already for a long time been entrenched in the east.
Ayurbarwada's emissary, Abishqa, to the Ilkhanate while travelling through Central Asia, revealed to a Chaghadayid commander that an alliance between the Yuan and the Ilkhanate had been created, and the allies forces were mobilizing to attack the khanate. Esen Buqa ordered Abishqa to be executed and decided to attack the Yuan because of these events, thus breaking the peace that his father Duwa had brokered with China in 1304.
The Esen Buqa–Ayurbarwada war was a war between the Chagatai Khanate under Esen Buqa I and the Yuan dynasty under Ayurbarwada Buyantu Khan (Emperor Renzong) and its ally the Ilkhanate under Öljaitü. The war ended with the victory for the Yuan and the Ilkhanate, but the peace only came after the death of Esen Buqa in 1318.
Invasion of HijazHijaz Saudi Arabia
Öljaitü's reign is also remembered for a brief effort at Ilkhanid invasion of Hijaz. Humaydah ibn Abi Numayy, arrived at the Ilkhanate court in 1315, ilkhan on his part provided Humaydah an army of several thousand Mongols and Arabs under the command of Sayyid Talib al-Dilqandi to bring the Hijaz under Ilkhanid control.
Reign of Abu SaidMianeh, East Azerbaijan Provin
Öljaitü's son, the last Ilkhan Abu Sa'id Bahadur Khan, was enthroned in 1316. He was faced with rebellion in 1318 by the Chagatayids and Qara'unas in Khorasan, and an invasion by the Golden Horde at the same time. Golden Horde khan Özbeg invaded Azerbaijan in 1319 in coordination with Chagatayid prince Yasa'ur who pledged loyalty to Öljaitü earlier but revolted in 1319. Prior to that, he had Amir Yasaul, governor of Mazandaran killed by his subordinate Begtüt. Abu Sa'id was forced to send Amir Husayn Jalayir to face Yasa'ur and while himself marched against Özbeg. Özbeg was defeated shortly thanks to reinforcements by Chupan, while Yasa'ur was killed by Kebek in 1320. A decisive battle was fought on 20 June 1319 near Mianeh with Ilkhanate victory. Under the influence of Chupan, the Ilkhanate made peace with the Chagatais, who helped them crush the Chagatayid revolt, and the Mamluks.
End of IlkhanateSoltaniyeh, Zanjan Province, I
In the 1330s, outbreaks of the Black Death ravaged the Ilkhanate and both Abu-Sai'd and his sons were killed by 1335 by the plague. Abu Sa'id died without an heir or an appointed successor, thus leaving the Ilkhanate vulnerable, leading to clashes of the major families, such as the Chupanids, the Jalayirids, and new movements like the Sarbadars.
On his return to Persia, the great voyager Ibn Battuta was amazed to discover that the realm which had seemed to be so mighty only twenty years before, had dissolved so quickly.
Ghiyas-ud-Din put a descendant of Ariq Böke, Arpa Ke'un, on the throne, triggering a succession of short-lived khans until "Little" Hasan took Azerbaijan in 1338. In 1357, Jani Beg of the Golden Horde conquered Chupanid-held Tabriz for a year, putting an end to the Ilkhanate remnant.
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