The Ilkhanid Mongols, the Christian Armenians, and the Islamic Mamluks: a study of their relations, 1220-1335
By Lauren Prezbindowski
MA Thesis, University of Louisville, 2012
Introduction: In many ways, the thirteenth century CE can be characterized as ‘the Mongol century.’ By the middle of the century, most of Asia and large parts of Europe were under Mongol control, ruled by the four main branches of Chinggis Khan’s family (the Chinggisids).
Chinggis’ four sons by his first wife, Borte, formed the four Chingissid houses. After Chinggis’ s death, the sons fought over who would control the empire, even though Chinggis had designated his third son, Ogedei, as his successor. The eldest son, Jochi, led the Jochids and his successor Batu formed the Golden Horde, which controlled Russia and the northern Caucasus. Chinggis’ s second son, Chagatai, founded the Chagatids and ruled the lands in Central Asia nestled between China and Persia. The third son, Ogedei, assumed the mantle of Great Khan, a position which ruled over all the other khans, and ruled from the Mongol capital in Karakorum [Qaraqorum]. He also controlled the lands in China. The fourth and youngest son, Tolui, ruled the lands to the west, which included Persia and the southern Caucasus.
Inter-familial war remained a constant feature of the Mongol Empire and it was not until the mid 1200s that the Great Khan was able to order the consolidation, and in some cases reconquest, of Mongol-controlled lands. The Great Khan Mongke of the Toluids set his two brothers, Kublai and Hillegfi, to this task. Kublai would rule in the East (China) and Hillegu would rule in the West (Persia).
This thesis focuses on Hiilegu and his founding of the Ilkhanate. On his march west, the Mongol prince came into contact with numerous peoples and these relationships greatly defined how he would rule his new kingdom and how the Ilkhanate would exist in this political landscape. Mongol rule in Persia cannot be studied in a vacuum; scholars must understand the types of relationships the Ilkhans were involved in, what choices were available to them, and ultimately what defmed their relationships with each of the region’s peoples.