By Michal Biran
Warfare in Inner Asian History, ed. Nicola Di Cosmo (Brill, 2002)
Introduction: While Mongol campaigns of conquest in Asia and Europe have long caught the imagination of military historians, far less attention has been given to the inter-Mongol rivalries after the dissolution of the Mongol empire. This is not because those conflicts seemed less engaging, but also because most of the inter-Mongol conflicts were merely raids or skirmishes which received only short notices in contemporary sources. In this context, the battle of Herat is an important exception.
When the armies of the Ilkhan Abaqa (r. 1265-1282) met the troops of the Chaghadaid Khan Baraq (r. 1266-1271) in 1270 at Herat in present-day Afghanistan, it was for a full-scale and decisive combat. Abaqa’s victory secured Ilkhanid rule in Khurasan and precluded any real threat to the Ilkhanate’s eastern frontier for several decades. Baraq’s defeat resulted in the loss of the independence of the Chaghadaids, who were obliged to submit to Qaidu (1236-1301), Ogodei’s grandson. Considering the role of the Golden Horde behind the scenes, the battle thus involved the four Chingissid uluses, and was influential in shaping the borders of the independent Mongol khanates.