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Mongol History rewritten and relived

L'histoire mongole réécrite et revécue.
Beatrice Forbes Manz
p. 129-149

Résumés

L'Histoire fut une base importante de légitimation et de précédents pour le Moyen-Orient médiéval, à la fois pour les gouvernants et pour leurs sujets. En Iran et en Asie centrale, l'histoire la plus récente et la plus riche d'enseignement fut celle de la conquête et de la souveraineté mongoles ; ceci fut vrai pour les Iraniens comme pour la classe dirigeante turco-mongole. Dans l'histoire dynastique comme dans l'histoire régionale, nous percevons une constante élaboration des données, en particulier sur le problème de la division de l'empire mongol, et sur celui de l'islamisation. Dans cet article, l'auteur examine l'utilisation de l'histoire par divers dirigeants qui tentèrent d'accroître leur prestige et de légitimer leur gouvernement par une imitation active des souverains anciens et par la manipulation des souvenirs historiques. Par leurs actions publiques, Tamerlan et son rival Jötchide Tokhtamish, se réfèrent à la fois à la carrière de Gengis Khan et aux anciennes rivalités entre les Ilkhans et la Horde d'Or. Shāhrukh, qui utilisa l'islam comme partie intégrante de sa légitimisation, imita Ghazan, le khan islamisateur. Pour comprendre la carrière de ces chefs, nous devons comprendre les précédents historiques auxquels se référaient leurs actions et la façon dont ils voyaient l'histoire mongole.

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Notes de la rédaction

Avertissement :
Ce document est issu d'une numérisation par OCR (reconnaissance optique de caractères), il peut contenir des erreurs.

Texte intégral

  • 1 I want to thank my colleagues Louise Marlow of Wellesley College and Wheeler Thackston of Harvard U (...)

1Those of us who study the history of the medieval Middle East are professional historians, and most of the sources we read are the productions of similar professionals. It is natural for us to look at the production of history within the small world of writer, patron and learned authority. Here I want to break out of this circle and look at the meaning of history for a wider audience ; to understand to whom the past mattered and why, how it was talked about, and how this affected not only the writing of history but also the living of it.1

  • 2 For examples, see Meisami, 1993, p. 247-251, 253, 259-260, 264, 266-267, and Humphreys, 1991, p. 14 (...)

2It is quite clear that history mattered to the rulers and bureaucrats of the Islamic Middle East as a source for ethical instruction, dynastic legitimation and cultural cohesion. It was common for historians to present the actions of past rulers as a source of instruction, offering models for rulers to imitate and cautionary examples to avoid. Past rulers further presented a challenge of glory to be equalled or surpassed.2 The ruler thus found himself face to face with history. What opportunities did this give him, and how could he use them ?

3Before we can answer this question, we have to consider how the populations beyond the court circle thought about history. We understand a good deal about the writing of history and its formal patronage, but what has remained problematical is the identity of its audience. We are first of all uncertain about the readership of our most central sources — the major dynastic histories. The number of early copies surviving can give us a clue as to the level of popularity that a history enjoyed, but even the existence of a hundred manuscripts cannot tell us who the readers were. We are not always certain even that the recipient of the author's praise in the preface took the trouble to read the composition. The prestige of works over time can be gauged by their subsequent use in the compositions of later scholars — this however tells us only about their influence on professional historians.

4The great historical compilations written for Mongol and Timurid rulers served as a formal statement of legitimation and of the dynasty's place in history, but in their original form they probably reached only a small proportion of the politically active population. They could justify the dynasty to its intellectual elite, and perhaps more importantly, to the reading audience of the future, but they probably did not have a wide impact on the present. To discover broadly based historical traditions and debates, it is useful to go to sources which preserve more informal traditions, those which have been less stringently selected and edited : correspondence, local histories and geographical works incorporating reports by travellers and merchants. What is illuminating in such sources is not the accuracy of accounts but the variety of different versions of the same story, and the way in which important questions reappear with ever increasing numbers of answers offered. A particularly rich example is the geographical work by the Mamluk author, al-'Umari (p. 17, 29-37), based in part on conversations with a wide variety of people outside the court circle, some of whom are explicitly named in the text. What we see here is the echo of conversations, of claims and counterclaims, within a population whose involvement with history was not confined to the reading of a standard canon.

5If a ruler was to reach this broader audience, he had to go beyond the written word, and resort to action. To a population which revered the great figures of the past and which considered precedence an important justification for action, the imitation of past rulers was a language both understandable and powerful. I suggest that if we look at the actions of three people in the late Mongol world — Temür, his Jöchid rival Tokhtamish, and his son Shāhrukh, we will see that they followed the advice of their historians. They took models from the great rulers of the past and by imitating their actions, claimed some share in their legitimacy and charisma.

6To understand the actions and motivations of these rulers, we should first try to gain an understanding of how history was understood at their time by the people whose support they required — not only ulama and bureaucrats, but also military figures and local dynasties. When we reconstruct the drama of the past as it was perceived by this population, we are better able to appreciate the historical precedents to which the actions of contemporary rulers refer and to understand the resonance these actions held for contemporaries.

The Audience for Mongol History

7If we consider history as an instrument to explain and justify the status quo, then to identify its consumers we should look for those whose position depends on it. In the society of 14th-15th century Iran and Central Asia, Turkic and Iranian alike, the events which had shaped the present most immediately were those of Mongol conquest and rule. The drama of the Mongol invasion, the administration of the great khans, and the rivalries of the Chinggisid uluses mattered to many people beyond the Chinggisid dynasty itself.

  • 3 See for example : Rashid al-Din, I, p. 49-50, 52, 63, 65.

8For the Mongols, like the Arabs, the conquest of a large territory had both created a new world order and dictated the idealization of tribal origins and lifestyle. It is worth noting that when Rashid al-Din wrote down the genealogy of the Turkic and Mongolian tribes in the early fourteenth century, he included at the end of each section an account of the tribal members currently active ; this was information which mattered at the time he wrote.3 Even more important than tribal origin was participation in the great triumphs of the Mongols, and it is clear mat descent from one of the commanders of Chinggis Khan's army or those sent by later Great Khans to open up new territory, continued a source of prestige and position in the twilight of Chinggisid rule.

9We expect the preservation of Mongol genealogies in works commissioned by rulers depending directly on Mongol tradition, such as that of Rashid al-Din or its continuation by Hāfiz-i Abrü in the Timurid period. What is less expected is the importance given to the Mongol elite in histories presenting regional events. The historians of provincial origin, Sayfi Haravi and Muhammad Shabānkāra'i from the early to mid-fourteenth century, Faryümadï and Natanzi from the later fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries, who include in their compendiums a regional view of history, illustrate strikingly how deeply Mongol rule had penetrated Iranian politics.

10We find, for instance, in Faryūmadi's rescension and continuation of Shabānkāra'i's work, written in the 1380s for the vizier Najm al-Din al-Bayhaqi in Māzandarān or Khorāsān, the history of several Mongol lineages — the descendants of the great Mongol commanders, Buqa, Arghun, Qutluqshāh and others. These lineages had remained powerful in the Iranian provinces, sometimes independently, sometimes serving one or another local ruler (Shabānkāra'i, p. 322-325, 345).

  • 4 See for instance Cambridge History of Iran, V, Cambridge, 1968, p. 416, 601 ; Potter, 1992, preface (...)
  • 5 For accounts of the the Kartids of Herāt, the Injuids and Muzaffarids of Fārs and other minor dynas (...)

11One did not have to be a Mongol or a Turk to be involved in Mongol history. The Mongols left many local dynasties intact, and a number of these were Iranian. Dynasties such as the Karts and the Muzaffarids are sometimes seen as preserving the traditions of Iranian society against Mongol pressure.4 While recognizing this function, we must remember that being a vassal to the Mongols was not a passive occupation. In the constant political contest which made up Chinggisid rule, subservience and payment of taxes was not sufficient. To survive, one had to choose the winning side, not once, but repeatedly. The local dynasties which ruled under the Mongols in Fārs, Kermān and Khorāsan, the individuals within those dynasties who succeeded in taking the throne, and the dynasties which survived the Chinggisids or benefited from their fall to seize power, all owed their position to Mongol rule, and to their skill in working within the Mongol system. These men may not have liked their overlords, but for the local rulers of Iran in the late 14th century, the history of the Mongols was also the history of their dynasty, and to ignore the Mongol system was to sacrifice some part of their own past and legitimacy.5

  • 6 Shabānkāra'i, p. 316, 324-325 ; Nizām al-Din Shāmi, II, p. 58-59 ; Aubin, 1976, p. 50 ; Hāfiz-i Abr (...)
  • 7 See for instance, Juvayni, p. xxix-xxxv ; Fletcher, 1986, p. 26.
  • 8 Aubin, 1995, p. 25-26, 29, 83.

12If we pass from the dynasties ruling in Iran to the men who served them, once again we find the clients and personnel of Mongol rule. We can take as examples two of the more explicitly Iranian dynasties of the 14th century, the Karts of Herāt and the Muzaffarids of Fārs. These dynasties had expanded their territories at the expense of neighboring powers and, in doing so, had ingested new military manpower, including Mongol emirs and tribes.6 The Mongol and Iranian dynasties of Iran staffed their administration with Persian bureaucrats, who composed their documents and not infrequently wrote their histories. In reading these histories, we have often reminded ourselves that we are reading accounts written by outsiders and that we should allow for the distortion and misunderstanding inevitable in accounts written by foreigners.7 But how foreign were these men to the Mongol tradition ? Jean Aubin has pointed out that most of the great vizieral families of Mongol and post-Mongol Iran rose to eminence through service to the Ilkhans and were little less involved in Mongol politics than were me Mongol emirs. Rashid al-Din was not me only Persian bureaucrat knowledgeable about Mongol traditions. Numerous others were versed in yasa and yosun, able to write in Uighur as well as Persian. We can take as an example the Qazvini notable Malik Iftikhār al-Din Bakri Qazvini, who translated Kalila wa Dimna into Mongolian. Such competence makes excellent sense. Pursuing a career within the Mongol court, bureaucrats had every reason to try to understand what was going on.8

  • 9 For the account of the ancestry of the vizier Qivām al-Din in Mu'in al-Din Zamchi Isfizāri, see al- (...)

13What we see in 14th century Iran therefore is a large and varied group of political actors, almost all of whom had been intimately involved in Mongol rule. The Mongol past was to some extent their past, a past that still mattered. It was not only Turco-Mongolian rulers who owed position and prestige to the Mongol state, but also local dynasties and their followers, emirs tracing a lineage back to prominent ancestors and bureaucrats of families distinguished through service to the Mongols, even occasionally inheriting offices granted to their forbears by the Ilkhans.9

The Living Dramas of Mongol History

  • 10 See for exemple : Shabānkāra'i, p. 170-178 ; al-Isfizāri, 1959, II, p. 118-122.
  • 11 See for example, Ayalon, 1971, p. 151-180 ; Jackson, 1978, p. 186-244.

14The history of Mongol rule provided dramas of interest to different groups. Contests for power among Mongol emirs, succession struggles within each ulus, and rivalries over the collection of taxes in jointly ruled areas had provided danger, challenge and opportunity to subject and ruling population alike and thus remained active in memory.10 What was most central and alive were the large issues which could be cast as dramas of right against wrong. Two controversies in particular remained open questions debated and developed throughout the long course of Mongol history. The first of these was an internal Mongol issue, but one of great regional import. This was the question of the rights of the four Chinggisid houses, or whether the status quo in the disposition of Mongol lands truly represented the will of Chinggis and subsequent Great Khans. The other unresolved question was of interest to all of Islamic society, within and beyond Mongol frontiers : this was the relation between Mongol and Islamic traditions and laws. The ever increasing variety of statements concerning these problems, the continuation of claim and counterclaim through centuries of Mongol and Turco-Mongolian rule and their revival in the scholarship of the 20th century show how much they continued to matter.11

15There are two striking features about later Mongol consciousness as it emerges from Islamic historical works. One is the long life of its central controversies and their continuous elaboration over time. The other is the extent to which people remained involved in the Mongol Empire as a whole, long after it had broken up into separate states. When we look at the histories written in the late 14th century, we still find an active interest in the whole of the Mongol Empire, and when we examine the actions of Chinggisid and Turco-Mongolian rulers, we find the same consciousness at work. An ambitious man might rise to power within one Mongol successor state, but the stage on which he acted and the audience to which he appealed represented the whole of the Mongol heritage.

  • 12 For the controversy, see Jackson, 1978, p. 186-244.

16Within a purely Mongol framework, the great unresolved question was what belonged to whom. What had been the will of Chinggis Khan about the disposition of the Great Khanate and of the settled territories of the Middle East ? In particular, was it right that Möngke, the son of Chinggis Khan's youngest son Tolui, should have come to the throne, ousting the line of Ögedei, whom Chinggis Khan had placed there ? Once Mongke had taken power, and thus achieved some sort of legitimate authority, was it by his will that Hülegii and his descendants held Iran ? Even if they held indisputable control over central Iran, had they rights over Khorāsān and Azarbāijān, or did these territories belong to other Chinggisid houses ?12 The pot was kept boiling through repeated invasions of Azarbāijān by the Golden Horde and of Khorāsān by the Chaghadayids.

  • 13 Shabānkāra'i, p. 245, 247, 256, 259.

17The continuing importance of these controversies to the inhabitants of Iran is attested by the number of legitimizing stories reported in the writings of the 14th century. Shabānkāra'i, writing in Iraq in the 1320s-30s, repeats much of Juvayni's formulation of early Mongol history, but adds the novel statement that Tolui was not of the same mother as Chinggis Khan's other three major sons ; he had a nobler mother, probably the daughter of Ong Khan. Furthermore, Chinggis Khan had assigned to him the lands of the west, from the Oxus to Syria and Baghdad.13 Sayfi Haravi, who wrote for the Kartid kings a little later, was highly unfriendly to Tolui in his description of the Mongol conquest of Khorāsān, but nonetheless stated that Tolui was Chinggis Khan's favorite son and strongly suggested that he held Iran by fiat of Chinggis (Sayfi, p. 49-50).

  • 14  Al-'Umari, p. 91, 100-104, 143-144 ; Ayalon, 1951, p. 89, 98-104.

18Peter Jackson has brilliantly dissected the family lines of Mongol historiography, showing the differences, in particular, between the Jochid and Toluid versions of contested events. One might expect these versions to crystallize in different regions and to become set over time, but in fact we find the opposite. In late Ilkhanid and Timurid times, the central dynastic histories usually present a predictable and consistent line, but local histories and correspondence sometimes show an extraordinary variety of viewpoint. Al-'Umari, writing in the Mamluk sultanate in the mid-fourteenth century, repeats a variety of stories on the theme of territorial legitimacy, representing several sides of the controversy. He collected these stories from travellers, merchants and ulama, and from people who had served under the Ilkhans as well as the Mamluks. The list of his informants reminds us that many people — ulama, emirs and others — came into Mamluk territories from the Ilkhanate, bringing with them their own views of Mongol history.14

  • 15 Natanzi, p. 68-72.
  • 16 Woods, 1990, p. 103-109 ; Manz, 1988, p. 111-114.

19Mu'in al-Din Natanzi, writing in Fārs in the early Timurid period, seems to tap a fund of Chaghadayid oral history, a logical possibility since several Timurid governors of Fārs had served earlier in Andijān, in the northeast comer of the Timurid realm. At the same time, we find Natanzi bringing in other traditions which suggest a more Toluid or Jöchid bias.15 Temür's correspondence with his neighbors, particularly those he planned to attack, likewise shows a wide-ranging command of historical arguments favoring Tolui, Chaghadai and Ögedei.16

20This variety of viewpoints within individual Mongol states reflects their paths of development within Mongol history as a whole. We should remember that each important Mongol conquest army had included personnel from the four major Chinggisid houses, and that settled lands were administered in common, with agents representing each house. Frequent disagreements over territorial and fiscal rights kept partisanship alive within these areas. After the division of the Mongol empire into separate states, exchanges of populations continued. Borders changed, dissident princes, tribes and emirs found a ready welcome from rival Mongol rulers, ulama and others sought refuge in more settled or congenial territory, and prisoners of war served in new places under new masters. In the fourteenth century the division of the Chaghadayid state and its expansion into eastern Afghanistan, the collapse of the Ilkhanid dynasty and, finally, the Timurid conquests, all brought political upheavals and large exchanges of population. The territorial division of the Mongol realm then did not end the concerns of a common culture and a common history ; indeed the controversies surrounding this division kept them alive. In almost any area of the Middle East and Central Asia, a person asking about Mongol history would hear versions representing several different Chinggisid houses.

The Duel between Temür and Tokhtamish

21The careers of the two great Turco-Mongolian leaders and rivals of the late fourteenth century — Temür and Tokhtamish — illustrate clearly both their conciousness of acting within the Mongol Empire as a whole, and their manipulation of its symbols for an audience still concerned with the controversies of Mongol history. They were able to evoke in their own actions the success and grandeur of past Mongol leaders and, in so doing, to claim a right to the full heritage of their models.

22Temür and Tokhtamish had of course some natural resemblance to earlier Mongol rulers, a likeness of lifestyle, goals and circumstance. This can account for some similarities, but I would argue that many of their actions were deliberate imitations designed to profit from the charisma of a ruler whom they wished to resemble. We should consider when judging their behavior that we see these people from a long distance in time and space. Our distance makes Mongol history appear shorter than it was in the living, and the differences between generations smaller than they may actually have been. It may seem natural to us that the nomad ruler of late fourteenth-century Transoxiana should act like the early thirteenth-century conqueror from Mongolia, but in fact these men arose in distant and very different societies. Nor were Iran and the Qipchaq steppe quite the same in 1 400 as they had been in 1 220. If, then, men of the late fourteenth and fifteenth century acted like their forbears of the thirteenth, they may have done so deliberately. They may in fact have known about these men approximately what we know — what has come down to us through the writings of their time.

  • 17 Safargaliev, 1960, p. 140-142. Note that Safargaliev here corrects the dates given by the Timurid h (...)

23Let us then look at the contest between Temür and Tokhtamish, played out during the first two thirds of Temür's reign and the whole of Tokhtamish's. Temür had the good fortune to achieve power within the Ulus Chaghadai at a time when the Chinggisid dynasty had lost effective control over most of the Mongol empire. Having enthroned a puppet Ögedeyid khan and secured himself a Chaghadayid wife, Temür was free to pursue an aggressive foreign policy in Khorezm and Moghulistān without risking disrespect to the Chinggisid house or inviting reprisals in the name of Chinggisid legitimacy. In 777/1376 he was offered an excellent opportunity to enhance his prestige in the Mongol world ; Tokhtamish, a Chinggisid pretender to the throne of the Blue (or White) Horde north of the Oxus, appealed to him for help in achieving the throne. After two years of effort, Temür succeeded in installing him on the throne in the winter of 1379.17

  • 18 Manz, 1988, p. 118-119, and for later accounts of Mongol campaigns in Khorāsān, al-Isfizāri, I, p.  (...)

24Temür could now pose as protector and promoter of two Chinggisid khans, and it was shortly after this that he produced his first theatrical show of strength : his destruction of Khorezm to punish its ruler Yūsuf Sūfi for plundering Bukhārā. The conquest of the city was done in the grand Chinggisid manner, with the razing of its buildings and the removal of scholars, sayyids and skilled workers to his birthplace of Kesh (Yazdi, p. 216-221). The systematic ferocity of Khorezm's destruction seems natural enough in light of Temür's later actions, but it presents a sharp contrast to his earlier campaigns, in which violence was kept to a minimum (Manz, 1989a, p. 64). Temür's systematic destructiveness should not be written off as nomadic upbringing ; both he and his soldiers were familiar with settled ways, and the people they destroyed were not strangers to them. This was probably an evocation of Chinggis Khan, whose campaigns were recorded in riveting detail and preserved in local traditions.18

  • 19  Aubin, 1974, p. 105 ; for the Mongol actions see al-Isfizāri, I, p. 255 ; Juvayni, I, p. 132-133.

25Tokhtamish, once established on his throne, lost no time in expanding his power and, within a short period, was master of the Golden Horde. By 1382, he was ready to reassert the Horde's control over Russian lands and to extort tribute from Lithuania (Safargaliev, 1960, p. 143-145). While Tokhtamish reunified the Ulus Jöchi and reaffirmed its rights over its non-Chinggisid subjects, Temür expanded towards the south, into the territories formerly disputed between the Chaghadayids and the Ilkhans. Here again, he added Chinggisid touches such as his massacre in the village of Khūrāsha, near Juvayn, as vengeance for the killing of the former Barlas chief Hājji Beg in 1362. This echoed the well-remembered Mongol destruction of Bāmyān and Nishāpūr in vengeance for the killing of members of Chinggis Khan's family.19

  • 20 Nizām al-Dïn Shāmi, II, p. 54 ; Natanzi, p. 327-328 ; Yazdi, I, p. 409.

26Among the powers that Temür subjugated in eastern Iran was Amir Vali, the Turco-Mongolian emir who had gathered power in Māzandarān in the late 1350s and 1360s, after the murder of the last pretender to the Ilkhanid throne, his former sovereign, Taghay Temür. Amir Vali had shown himself to be no friend to the Chinggisid house in its adversity. He had refused to recognize the claims of Taghay Temür's son, Lughmān, and in the 1360s when Lughmān came against him with the help of the Chaghadai forces, he had successfully repulsed them. Now, he proved to be an unsatisfactory vassal to Temür, and Temür began to attack his territories soon after his conquest of Herat in 783/1381. In Shawwāl 786/November-December 1384, Temür put Amir Vali to flight and granted Māzandaràn to the Chinggisid Lughmān, who was allowed to retain the traditional Ilkhanid title Padshah, and even to pass it on to his son.20

  • 21 For the symbolic importance of Sultāniyya to the later Ilkhans, see DeWeese, 1994, p. 191.

27Temür thus added a « protégé » from the Ilkhanid ulus to his collection, and it is not surprising that after pursuing Amir Vali towards the west, he established his hold over Sultāniyya, the site of Öljeitii's magnificent tomb and of the enthronement of the later Ilkhans.21 Temür had now openly staked his claim to the Ilkhanid territories, a claim immediately perceived and resented by Tokhtamish. Tokhtamish's actions at this time are revealing. At the end of this year, in 1384, the emissaries of his Crimean governor arrived at the Mamluk court, followed early the next year by those of Tokhtamish himself (Zakirov, 1966, p. 93-95.). In the following winter, after Temür had returned to Transoxiana, Tokhtamish attacked Tabriz with a large army and plundered the city. In describing this event, the Timurid historian Sharaf al-Din 'Ali Yazdi states that most of Tokhtamish's army was pagan, and that he had within it twelve members of Jochi's lineage (Yazdi, I, p. 286 ; Safargaliev, 1960, p. 146).

28In this way Tokhtamish recreated the Golden Horde policy of alliance with the Mamluks and enmity against the Ilkhans, also reasserting Jöchid claims over the Caucasus and Azarbāijān. This is a logical policy, but we should remember that it had been in abeyance for some time. Uzbek Khan had maintained close, though not always cordial, relations with the Mamluks, and at the same time had strongly asserted Jochid claims over Azarbāijān. After his death in 1341 both these policies became less central to Golden Horde rulers, in part due to the disappearance of the Ilkhans. Uzbek's son and successor Janibeg was the last to practice either ; he sent an embassy to Egypt on his accession, and again when he took Tabriz in 1357. Aside from these embassies, relations between the Mamluks and the Golden Horde seem to have languished during Janibeg's reign. After Janibeg's death on his return from Tabriz in 1357, the Golden Horde succumbed to internal struggles, and its khans ceased to meddle in the Middle East (Zakirov, 1966, p. 74-92).

  • 22 Manz, 1988, p. 113 ; Yazdi, I, p. 445. In the one source written during Temür's lifetime, the Zafam (...)

29Tokhtamish therefore was not continuing a current policy, but resurrecting an old one, closely connected with the last two powerful khans of the Golden Horde. He was asserting before the world what he had already demonstrated to the Russian and Lithuanian rulers — that he was truly khan of the Golden Horde and that the house of Jöchi had returned to its former position within the Mongol world. Tokhtamish was likewise asserting his independence from Temür and implicitly placing him in the role of Ilkhan. Temür did indeed lay claim to the Ilkhanid succession, but this was only part of his dominion ; indeed it was a section which he granted to his son Amirānshāh in 795/1393.22

  • 23 Yazdi, I, p. 286-302 ; Safargaliev, 1960, p. 146-147. Safargaliev calls into question Temür's defea (...)
  • 24 Spuler, 1943, p. 102 ; Safargaliev, 1960, p. 147.

30Temür's response to Tokhtamish's aggression was delayed and cautious. In 788/1386, he set out on his so-called three-year campaign to Iran, in which he took Azarbāijān and campaigned in Georgia. Tokhtamish again prepared to attack in early 1389, but now Temür reacted, attacked Tokhtamish in the Caucasus and, according to the Timurid sources, defeated him.23 Tokhtamish turned east and attacked Temür's eastern holdings, Khorezm and Transoxiana, just as Janibeg had sent forces into Khorāsān from Khorezm during his attack on Azarbāijān in 1357.24 Temür was not strong enough at this point to challenge Tokhtamish directly and had to spend some years consolidating his position in Iran and on his northern and eastern borders. In fall-winter 792-3/1390-91, he was ready to assert himself more decisively. In his own eyes, Temür was not Ilkhan, but both Chinggis Khan and Great Khan ; Tokhtamish was an ungrateful subordinate, to be punished as an example. He therefore pursued Tokhtamish deep into the territory of the Golden Horde, defeated him decisively and celebrated his victory in Saray, capital of the Golden Horde.

  • 25 Safargaliev, 1960, p. 160-161 ; Zakirov, 1966, p. 95-96.
  • 26 Yazdi, I, p. 552-553 ; Khwāfi, III, p. 111.

31Tokhtamish, though badly defeated, was not destroyed, and managed a second rise as precipitous as the first. By 1393 he had retaken most of the Golden Horde and again marked this with an embassy to the Mamluks suggesting an alliance against Temür, and with another invasion of Azarbāijān.25 This time Temür's response was truly decisive — a crushing defeat to Tokhtamish, the destruction of the major cities of the Horde, and the enthronement of his own « protégé » as khan in Saray. The destruction of the capital of the Golden Horde was presented by Sharaf al-Din 'Ali Yazdi as vengeance for Tokhtamish's earlier destruction of the late Chaghadayid khan's seat in Zanjir Saray, where Temür himself sometimes wintered.26 For a short time, Temür had « protégé » khans of three Chinggisid successor states — an Ögedeyid as figurehead, a pretender to the Ilkhanid throne, and a Jöchid in Saray.

32In the latter part of his career Temür displayed himself clearly as a second Chinggis Khan — in his ceremonial, his exemplary destruction of recalcitrant cities and even in the division of his realm into four sections, one for the family of each son. He died on his way to China, the one section of the Mongol Empire that he had not yet conquered.

The Drama of Islamization

  • 27 DeWeese, 1994, passim, and for Berke, p. 83-85 ; also Vasary, 1990, p. 227-240.

33After Chinggis Khan and the Mongol conquest, perhaps the greatest event within the western Mongol Empire was the conversion of the Mongol elite to Islam. This was a gradual process but nonetheless a dramatic one, marked by the public conversion of rulers, by the destruction of pagan temples, and sometimes by a backlash from those opposed to the change. The importance of this process to the population is shown by the broad and lasting popularity of conversion stories and the speed with which they entered the realm of folk narrative. The conversion of the Golden Horde ruler Berke in 1257 had already taken on legendary traits by the time that Jûzjāni recounted it in his Tabaqāt-i Nāsiri in 1260.27

34By the mid-fourteenth century the conversion of the Mongol ruling class was relatively complete, but Mongol rule had given new life to the constant issue of Islamization. It is clear from the histories of the late Mongol period that the question of how to accommodate the claims of Islam with Mongolian legitimacy, of shari'a and yasa, remained an important issue for Iranians and Turco-Mongolians alike. This arose over and over again, treated in different ways according to the views of the author and the exigencies of the moment. There were various ways of recognizing the present Turco-Mongolian rulers both as Mongols and Muslims. One solution to the problem was to suggest that the Mongolian tradition, if properly understood, was compatible with Islam. One finds Chinggis Khan as a man singled out and blessed by God, who, had he only been Muslim, could have been regarded as having an element of prophecy (va agar ū rā sharaf-i islām hāsil budi, mitavānast guft ki az nabwat bā bahra būda ast). He had prayed to God despite his non-Muslim status (Shabānkāra'i, p. 223-224, 227).

  • 28 Juvayni, I, p. 201, 204-207, 225 ; Jūzjāni, p. 1107-1114, 1144-1148, 1181, Shabānkāra'i, p. 247 ; S (...)

35It was more common to portray the conversion to Islam as a gradual recognition of the superiority of Islam, helped along by the better pagan Mongol ruler, and opposed by the wicked. The portrayal of Ögedei as favoring Islam over other religions found in Juvayni and Jûzjāni, both writing about 1260, was repeated and elaborated in later sources. Here, the potential of conflict between yasa and shari‘a is admitted, through the enmity of Chaghadai towards Muslims, constantly combatted by Ögedei. This however was a conflict among Mongols and within the Mongol tradition ; neither Ögedei nor Mongke, who was also seen as friendly to Muslims, forfeited Mongol legitimacy by espousing the Muslim cause.28

36The conflict between Ögedei and Chaghadai was echoed numerous times within the Mongol states, as rulers converted to Islam and tried to bring Mongol rule into conformity with Islamic norms without sacrificing their attachment to the Mongol yasa. Some rulers, such as the Ilkhan Ahmad Khan and the Chaghadayid Tarmashirin Khan, failed to achieve a balance and lost their positions, sometimes their lives. Others, like the later Ilkhan Ghazan and Uzbek Khan of the Golden Horde, succeeded brilliantly, in part probably because substantial numbers of their followers had already converted. These men then became the initiators of a new Islamic age. To many within the system the conformity of yasa and shari‘a, — at any rate the absence of conflict — was a possibility, and respect for both was quite feasible. In the Ilkhanid move towards Islamization, we find powerful Mongol emirs just as strongly involved as Persian viziers (Aubin, 1995, p. 59-60, 68). It was not only the Mongols who adjusted to coexistence. Iranians, on their side, sometimes found it useful to call on the yasa. The early Kartid ruler, Shams al-Din, was noted for his knowledge of Mongol law, and in one of his braver moments, he even punished a young Mongol emir for trespassing against it (Sayfi, p. 151-152,192-194).

  • 29 Isfizāri, I, p. 255 ; II, p. 56-57, 59-60.
  • 30 Ibn Battūta, p. 551-562 ; Shajarat al-atrār, fol. 70a.

37Other people, both Iranian and Mongol, denied the compatibility of the two traditions and strove to preserve the purity of their own. For these people, the existence of both Perso-Islamic and Turco-Mongolian norms remained an unresolved struggle. Thus while Shabānkāra'i showed Chinggis Khan almost as a Muslim « manqué », we find that in the late fifteenth-century Khorasanian history of Isfizāri, earlier Mongol armies are characterized unequivocally as unbelievers and the successes which the Khorasanians achieved are gleefully recorded.29 Both Ibn Battūta and later the anonymous author of the Tārikh-i arba ' ulūs written for Ulugh Beg, while accepting the legitimacy of later Mongol rulers, nonetheless found it necessary to distance them from their pagan ancestors and the evil person of Chinggis Khan.30 The Mamluks, presenting themselves as the bastion of Islam against the infidels, refused to recognize the Mongols or their Turco-Mongolian successors as full-fledged Muslims. On the other side, the more conservative Mongols, or those wishing to overthrow a Muslim ruler, saw Islam as an innovation threatening to the Mongol system (Aubin, 1995, p. 38).

  • 31 See, for example, Nizām al-Din Shāmi, I, p. 230, and for further discussion, Manz, 1988, p. 111-112

38The Timurid rulers governed a society in which the issues of Islamification and assimilation were still alive and they had to appeal to a range of opinions about them. Temür had presented himself as both the restorer of the Mongol empire and warrior for the faith of Islam, balancing his Mongol adventures with forays into the Christian Caucasus. In his actions and in his rhetoric, there was no admission of incompatibility between his Mongolian and his Islamic heritage and he used both to justify his conquest and rule.31

  • 32 Navā'i, p. 164, and for titles and the Ilkhanid connection : Hāfiz-i Abrū, Majma', fol. 2a, 3a.

39Although he might present himself as a second Chinggis Khan, Temür left behind a much smaller and more settled realm, consisting only of the Ilkhanid and western Chaghadayd regions. When his son Shāhrukh succeeded in establishing control over Temur's dominions in 1409, he did so not from Transoxiana, but from Khorāsān, a region much closer to the center of Temür's dominions. The model of legitimation which Shāhrukh chose was well suited to his inheritance. He retained both the Chaghadayid and the Ilkhanid connections that Temür had promoted, but since he ruled from Herāt, he presented himself most strongly as successor to the Ilkhans. We find that he uses the title Pādshāh-i Islām for himself and, in 818/1416, he lectured the Ottoman sultan Mehmet b. Beyezit on the superiority of Ilkhanid rules over Ottoman ones.32

  • 33 Bartol'd, vol. II/2, p. 446 ; Ibn 'Arabshāh, p. 290.
  • 34 Melville, 1990, p. 164, 170. Orders for the destruction may in fact have come from Nawrûz, but the (...)

40As the renewer of Temür's realm within Iran, Shāhrukh patterned himself after another Mongol ruler — the founder of Mongol Islam in Iran, Ghazan Khan. It is in this light that we should understand his display of Islamification. His actions on taking over his father's capital of Samarqand in the spring of 811/1409 are an example. Shāhrukh visited Temür's grave, renewed the organization of Qur'ān reading, and removed the weapons, clothing and jewelry which decorated it, putting these into his own treasury.33 These actions recall the dramatic beginning of Ghazan Khan's reign when, after converting to Islam, he proceeded to Tabriz and destroyed churches and temples.34

  • 35  al-Qāyini, fol. 1b-2a. This ms. is dated 820/1417 in the colophon.

41During the next few years, Shāhrukh several times reiterated his intention of renewing the shari‘a and emphasized its supremacy over the yasa. This policy is not just a trick of court historians presenting Shāhrukh as an Islamic ruler, because, interestingly, it is not recorded directly in dynastic histories. We find it reported in the mirror for princes written for Shāhrukh during his early reign, as occurring in Dhû'l Qa'da 813/February-March 1411. At the same time, we are told, he wrecked wine houses and poured out the wine.35 There are echoes of this action in two letters from Shāhrukh's early reign. In Jumādā I, 814/Aug. 1411, Ulugh Beg, in the name of Shāhrukh, issued an order allowing the captive intellectuals and artisans of Samarqand to return to their homes, since the law of Islam was being restored (Woods, 1990, p. 115). In 815/1412-3, Shāhrukh wrote to the emperor of China, stating that the shari‘a had been restored and the yasa abrogated. In this letter, however, Shāhrukh took pains not to distance himself from Temür, whom he presented as a Muslim ruler, and he also pointed out that many of the Mongol ulus had by this time adopted Islam. It was time for the Chinese emperor to do likewise (Hāfiz-i Abrū, Majma‘, fol. 486a-487b).

42It is clear that Shāhrukh wished to present himself as a restorer of the Islamic order. Nonetheless, we still find him retaining the Mongol tradition. In this he was also following the precedent of his model, Ghazan, who, while restoring Islam, saw no need to abandon the Mongol order. Rashid al-Din presented Ghazan as another Abraham — a man breaking with the traditions of his ancestors to found a new religious order, and also, we should note, a new and blessed lineage. At the same time, Rashid al-Din emphasized Ghazan's expertise in Mongol tradition and his desire to preserve and record this heritage (Rashid al-Din, I, p. 40-70).

43Shāhrukh likewise took steps to preserve his Turco-Mongolian heritage, and it is here that his evocation of Ghazan's memory becomes most obvious. Shāhrukh's major act of literary patronage was to collect the manuscripts of Rashid al-Din's Jāmi' al-tawārikh, and commission its continuation by Hāfiz-i Abrū in 820/1417-8 ; some years later Hāfiz-i Abrū produced a new synthetic version of this compilation. The early manuscripts of the resulting work, the Majma' al-tawārikh, were illustrated so solidly within the Ilkhanid style that modern scholars until recently misdated them (Ettinghausen, 1955, p. 30-44). Shortly after this, in 830/1426-7, Shāhrukh ordered an updated rescension of Rashid al-Din's other major work for Ghazan, the Mongol genealogy Shu‘ab-i panjgāna (Mu‘izz al-ansāb, fol. 1b-3b). This genealogy, whose author is unknown, is called the Mu‘izz al-ansāb fi shajarāt al-ansāb ; it traces the four major Chinggisid lineages up to the time of writing and gives the genealogy of the Barlas tribe from its ancestor Qarachar, whose close connection with the Chaghadayid house is emphasized.

44Shāhrukh imitated Ghazan likewise in his more visible actions. One of these was his attempt to gain influence in the Hijāz and, in particular, to send a kiswa (cover) for the Ka'ba as Ghazan had tried to do. During the early Mongol period, the Mamluks had positioned themselves as the protectors of Islam within the Middle East ; this claim had not challenged the pagan Ilkhans, but an Islamic Mongol dynasty could not let it go uncontested. Ghazan, when he turned Iran back into a Muslim power, ended the division of the Middle East into Muslim and non-Muslim spheres, but instead of bringing peace with the Mamluks, he opened up a new theater of conflict in the Hijāz. In 702/1303, just before his final invasion of Syria, Ghazan issued a decree in favor of the guardians of the Ka'ba and prepared a magnificent caravan with a large guard and a cover for the Ka‘ba. This expedition was attacked and never arrived, but the Ilkhanids continued through the reign of Abû Sa'id sporadically to push their claims in the Hijāz and their right to contribute a cover (Melville, 1992, p. 197-211).

  • 36  Darrag, 1961, p. 205, 381-385, 396 ; Navā’i, p. 146-149.
  • 37  Darrag, 1961, p. 400-401 ; Samarqandi, II/2, p. 721-724, 792-793 ; Aka, 1994, p. 181-182.

45At the very end of his life Temür, according to the Mamluk sources, sent a caravan to the holy cities with orders to measure the Ka‘ba for a cover, which his troops would install the next year (Darrag, 1961, p. 162). Shahrukh pursued this ambition publicly and with vigor through most of his reign. In 828/1424, he wrote to the Mamluk sultan expressing his desire to send a kiswa in fulfillment of a vow. Relations with the Mamluks were tense at this time since the sultan refused to consider himself a vassal of the Timurids, and Shāhrukh's request was not well received. Nevertheless, or because of this, Shāhrukh continued to assert his interest in the affairs of the holy cities. He objected several times to the Mamluk collection of duties at Jedda and wrote in Sha'bān 843/January 1440, to complain that brigands holding up pilgrimage caravans were going unpunished, and warning that he planned to administer justice himself.36 Although Shāhrukh repeated his request to send a Ka‘ba cover several times and often adopted a threatening attitude towards the Mamluks, it was not until 847/1443-4, after the accession of the more conciliatory sultan Chaqmaq, that his request was finally granted. A magnificent cover and equipage were sent off, but it is not certain that the cover was actually installed.37

46Shāhrukh's identification with the Ilkhans was probably one reason why he was willing to expend so much effort on the thankless task of holding Azarbāijān. While he left the defense of his eastern frontiers to the increasingly ineffectual Ulugh Beg, and left his son Ibrāhim Sultān to campaign in southern Iran, Shāhrukh undertook the Azarbāijān campaigns in person, and with a large army. Real control over Azarbāijān was beyond his grasp, as it had been beyond Temür's, but he succeeded fairly constantly in keeping his own governor over Sultāniyya and in maintaining a nominal overlordship over Azarbāijān. It is interesting that the rulers of that region in particular routinely referred to Shāhrukh and his government as « Ilkhāni » (Navā'i, p. 165,171-172, 176).

  • 38 Manz, 1989, p. 26. For further views of Shāhrukh's Islamizing policies, see Subtelny, s.d., p. 14-1 (...)
  • 39 Mu'izz al-ansāb, fol. 133b ; Subtelny, s.d., p. 20, Samarqandi, II/2, p. 729-731, 839.

47If we look at Shāhrukh's reign within the Mongol context, as an evocation of Ghazan Khan's career, a number of apparent contradictions disappear. Scholars have disagreed in their assessment of Shāhrukh's loyalties — some considering him a purely Islamic ruler who rejected his Turco-Mongolian heritage, and others placing him still within the Turco-Mongolian tradition.38 The model that Shāhrukh followed allowed for a dual loyalty — to the Islamic and to the Mongol world order. Ghazan Khan had balanced his official adoption of Islam with measures to strengthen the Ilkhanid hold on Iran and to codify Mongol tradition. The symbols and precedents which Shāhrukh manipulated allowed him to promote fuller Islamification while retaining the institution of a yarghu court and non-Islamic taxes, even punishing infringements against the yasa.39 Indeed, if Shāhrukh was to resemble Ghazan, he had to show loyalty to the dynasty and the order that Ghazan represented ; his active Islamification and his codification of the Turco-Mongolian tradition were part of the same policy.

Conclusion

48The rulers of the late Mongol period lived in a society highly conscious of history and accustomed to turn to historical precedents to justify their own actions and to understand those of others. The most recent, vivid, and encompassing history was that of Mongol conquest and rule, which had molded the lives of Iranians, Turks and Mongols alike.

49In an age where the written word circulated slowly, rulers had to use a variety of methods to legitimize their rule in the eyes of their followers. The erection of public buildings and the arrangement of magnificent ceremonies were important factors in creating an image, and have been appropriately studied. I suggest that beyond this, rulers could and did evoke historical precedent through their actions, and sought a share in the charisma of earlier rulers by imitating their lives. To understand fully the motivation of these men, we should consider not only the tactical considerations and accepted practice of the time. We will understand best if we examine actions within a specific historical tradition whose heroes, controversies and images were familiar and important to leaders, followers and subjects alike. This was a history which was manipulated not only in books, but also in actions, not only rewritten but also relived.

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Notes

1 I want to thank my colleagues Louise Marlow of Wellesley College and Wheeler Thackston of Harvard University for their help with this article.

2 For examples, see Meisami, 1993, p. 247-251, 253, 259-260, 264, 266-267, and Humphreys, 1991, p. 143 ; Hāfiz-i Abrü, Majmù'a, fol. 4a. Mirrors for princes were another important genre which connected rulers of the present to those of the past. See for example, Marlow, 1995, p. 101-120.

3 See for example : Rashid al-Din, I, p. 49-50, 52, 63, 65.

4 See for instance Cambridge History of Iran, V, Cambridge, 1968, p. 416, 601 ; Potter, 1992, preface, p. vii.

5 For accounts of the the Kartids of Herāt, the Injuids and Muzaffarids of Fārs and other minor dynasties, and their relations with the Mongols, see Aubin, 1995, p. 34-35, 39, 41, 64 ; Roemer, 1986, p. 11, and for further discussion, Manz, 1997 ; also Sayfi, p. 148-152, 162-169 ; Shabānkāra'i, p. 172-174.

6 Shabānkāra'i, p. 316, 324-325 ; Nizām al-Din Shāmi, II, p. 58-59 ; Aubin, 1976, p. 50 ; Hāfiz-i Abrû, p. 32, 3 ; Kutubi, p. 50-58, 70, 75, 142.

7 See for instance, Juvayni, p. xxix-xxxv ; Fletcher, 1986, p. 26.

8 Aubin, 1995, p. 25-26, 29, 83.

9 For the account of the ancestry of the vizier Qivām al-Din in Mu'in al-Din Zamchi Isfizāri, see al-Isfizāri, I, p. 215.

10 See for exemple : Shabānkāra'i, p. 170-178 ; al-Isfizāri, 1959, II, p. 118-122.

11 See for example, Ayalon, 1971, p. 151-180 ; Jackson, 1978, p. 186-244.

12 For the controversy, see Jackson, 1978, p. 186-244.

13 Shabānkāra'i, p. 245, 247, 256, 259.

14  Al-'Umari, p. 91, 100-104, 143-144 ; Ayalon, 1951, p. 89, 98-104.

15 Natanzi, p. 68-72.

16 Woods, 1990, p. 103-109 ; Manz, 1988, p. 111-114.

17 Safargaliev, 1960, p. 140-142. Note that Safargaliev here corrects the dates given by the Timurid historian Sharaf al-Din 'Ali Yazdi.

18 Manz, 1988, p. 118-119, and for later accounts of Mongol campaigns in Khorāsān, al-Isfizāri, I, p. 177-179, 255 ; II, p. 56-65.

19  Aubin, 1974, p. 105 ; for the Mongol actions see al-Isfizāri, I, p. 255 ; Juvayni, I, p. 132-133.

20 Nizām al-Dïn Shāmi, II, p. 54 ; Natanzi, p. 327-328 ; Yazdi, I, p. 409.

21 For the symbolic importance of Sultāniyya to the later Ilkhans, see DeWeese, 1994, p. 191.

22 Manz, 1988, p. 113 ; Yazdi, I, p. 445. In the one source written during Temür's lifetime, the Zafamāma of Shāmî, Amirānshāh's section of the realm is simply described geographically, while in Yazdi's later Zafamāma, the connection with Hiilegii is made explicit.

23 Yazdi, I, p. 286-302 ; Safargaliev, 1960, p. 146-147. Safargaliev calls into question Temür's defeat of Tokhtamish, pointing out that coins from Bākū, Darband and several other cities continued to bear Tokhtamish's name for several years after this.

24 Spuler, 1943, p. 102 ; Safargaliev, 1960, p. 147.

25 Safargaliev, 1960, p. 160-161 ; Zakirov, 1966, p. 95-96.

26 Yazdi, I, p. 552-553 ; Khwāfi, III, p. 111.

27 DeWeese, 1994, passim, and for Berke, p. 83-85 ; also Vasary, 1990, p. 227-240.

28 Juvayni, I, p. 201, 204-207, 225 ; Jūzjāni, p. 1107-1114, 1144-1148, 1181, Shabānkāra'i, p. 247 ; Sayfi, p. 95-99 ; Isfizāri, II, p. 102-106.

29 Isfizāri, I, p. 255 ; II, p. 56-57, 59-60.

30 Ibn Battūta, p. 551-562 ; Shajarat al-atrār, fol. 70a.

31 See, for example, Nizām al-Din Shāmi, I, p. 230, and for further discussion, Manz, 1988, p. 111-112.

32 Navā'i, p. 164, and for titles and the Ilkhanid connection : Hāfiz-i Abrū, Majma', fol. 2a, 3a.

33 Bartol'd, vol. II/2, p. 446 ; Ibn 'Arabshāh, p. 290.

34 Melville, 1990, p. 164, 170. Orders for the destruction may in fact have come from Nawrûz, but the Persian sources attribute the action to Ghazan's piety and zeal (see p. 176, notes 59, 61.)

35  al-Qāyini, fol. 1b-2a. This ms. is dated 820/1417 in the colophon.

36  Darrag, 1961, p. 205, 381-385, 396 ; Navā’i, p. 146-149.

37  Darrag, 1961, p. 400-401 ; Samarqandi, II/2, p. 721-724, 792-793 ; Aka, 1994, p. 181-182.

38 Manz, 1989, p. 26. For further views of Shāhrukh's Islamizing policies, see Subtelny, s.d., p. 14-16 ; Woods, 1990, p. 115-116.

39 Mu'izz al-ansāb, fol. 133b ; Subtelny, s.d., p. 20, Samarqandi, II/2, p. 729-731, 839.

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Beatrice Forbes Manz, « Mongol History rewritten and relived », Revue des mondes musulmans et de la Méditerranée [En ligne], 89-90 | juillet 2000, mis en ligne le 12 mai 2009, consulté le 17 novembre 2017. URL : http://remmm.revues.org/276

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Beatrice Forbes Manz

Tufts University, Medford, Mass.

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