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Muhammad Khodabandeh
Majma' al-Tavarikh 001.jpg
Öljeitü and ambassadors from the Yuan Dynasty, 1438, "Majma' al-Tavarikh"
Reign13 July 1304 - 16 December 1316
Predecessor Ghazan
Successor Abu Sa'id
Born(1282-03-24)24 March 1282 [1]
Died16 December 1316(1316-12-16) (aged 34)
Sulayman Shah
Abu'l Khayr
Abu Sa'id
Ilchi (alleged)
Dowlandi Khatun
Sati Beg
Sultan Khatun
Dynasty Ilkhanate
Father Arghun
MotherUruk Khatun
Religion Islam

Öljeitü, Oljeitu, Olcayto or Uljeitu, Öljaitu, Ölziit (Mongolian : ᠦᠯᠵᠡᠢᠲᠦ ᠺᠬᠠᠨ, romanized: Öljeitü Ilkhan, Өлзийт хаан), also known as Muhammad Khodabandeh (Persian : محمد خدابنده - اولجایتو, khodābandeh from Persian meaning the "slave of God" or "servant of God"; 1280 – December 16, 1316), was the eighth Ilkhanid dynasty ruler from 1304 to 1316 in Tabriz, Iran. His name "Ölziit" means "blessed" in the Mongolian language.


He was the son of the Ilkhan ruler Arghun, brother and successor of Mahmud Ghazan (5th successor of Genghis Khan), and great-grandson of the Ilkhanate founder Hulagu.


The mausoleum of Oljaitu at Soltaniyeh, Iran. Soltaniyeh exterior.jpg
The mausoleum of Öljaitü at Soltaniyeh, Iran.

Oljeitu was the son of Arghun's third wife, the Christian Uruk Khatun. [2] Oljeitu was baptised as a Christian and received the name Nikolya ( Nicholas ) after Pope Nicholas IV. [3] During his youth he converted to Buddhism and later to Sunni Islam along with his brother Ghazan. He later converted to Shi'a Islam after coming into contact with Shi'a scholars, [4] although another source indicates he converted to Islam through the persuasions of his wife. [5] He changed his first name to the Islamic name Muhammad. Some of his relatives and companions gave him a nickname of Khutabanda. Rashid al-Din wrote that he adopted the name Oljeitu following Yuan emperor Oljeitu Temür enthroned in Dadu. Some Muslim sources mention that it rained when he was born, and the delighted Mongols called him by the Mongolian name Öljeitu (Өлзийт), meaning auspicious.

After succeeding his brother, Öljeitu became influenced by Shi'a theologians Al-Hilli and Maitham Al Bahrani. [6] In 1306, Oljeitu founded the city of Soltaniyeh, [7] and upon Al-Hilli's death, Oljeitu transferred his teacher's remains from Baghdad to a domed shrine he built in Soltaniyeh. Later, alienated by the factional strife between the Hanafis and the Shafis, Oljeitu changed his sect to Shi'a Islam in 1310. [8] However, it has also been reported that he reconverted to Sunni Islam prior to his death. [9] In 1309, Öljeitu founded a Dar al-Sayyedah ("Sayyed's lodge") in Shiraz, Iran, and endowed it with an income of 10,000 Dinars a year.

He died in Soltaniyeh, near Zanjan, in 1316, having reigned for twelve years and nine months. [7] Afterwards, Rashid al-Din Hamadani was accused of having caused his death by poisoning and was executed. Oljeitu was succeeded by his son Abu Sa'id. His magnificent tomb in Soltaniyeh, 300 km west of Tehran, remains the best known monument of Ilkhanid Persia.

Relations with Europe

Trade contacts

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). [10] According to Marco Polo, Tabriz was specialized in the production of gold and silk, and Western merchants could purchase precious stones in quantities. [10]

Military alliance

Mongol soldiers at the time of Oljeitu, in Jami al-Tawarikh by Rashid-al-Din Hamadani, 1305-1306. Mongol soldiers by Rashid al-Din 1305.JPG
Mongol soldiers at the time of Öljeitü, in Jami al-Tawarikh by Rashid-al-Din Hamadani, 1305-1306.
Letter of Oljeitu to Philippe le Bel, 1305. In classical Mongolian script, with the Chinese script seal of the Great Khaan in Mongolian Quadratic Script (Dorboljin Bichig). The huge roll measures 302x50 cm. OljeituToPhilippeLeBel1305.jpg
Letter of Öljeitu to Philippe le Bel, 1305. In classical Mongolian script, with the Chinese script seal of the Great Khaan in Mongolian Quadratic Script (Dörböljin Bichig). The huge roll measures 302x50 cm.
Translation of Oljeitu's message by Buscarello de Ghizolfi, on the back of the letter (visible here). OljeituLetterToPhilippeLeBel1305.jpg
Translation of Öljeitu's message by Buscarello de Ghizolfi, on the back of the letter (visible here).
Ghazan and his brother Oljaitu. Ghazan et Oldjeitu.jpg
Ghazan and his brother Öljaitü.

After his predecessor Arghun, Öljeitu continued diplomatic overtures with the West, and re-stated Mongol hopes for an alliance between the Christian nations of Europe and the Mongols against the Mamluks, even though Öljeitu himself had converted to Islam.

1305 embassy

In April 1305, he sent a Mongol embassy led by Buscarello de Ghizolfi to the French king Philip IV of France, [11] Pope Clement V, and Edward I of England. The letter to Philip IV, the only one to have survived, describes the virtues of concord between the Mongols and the Franks:

We, Sultan Oljaitu. We speak. We, who by the strength of the Sky, rose to the throne (...), we, descendant of Genghis Khan (...). In truth, there cannot be anything better than concord. If anybody was not in concord with either you or ourselves, then we would defend ourselves together. Let the Sky decide!

Extract from the letter of Oljeitu to Philip the Fair. French national archives. [12]

He also explained that internal conflicts between the Mongols were now over:

Now all of us, Timur Khagan, Tchapar, Toctoga, Togba and ourselves, main descendants of Gengis-Khan, all of us, descendants and brothers, are reconciled through the inspiration and the help of God. So that, from Nangkiyan (China) in the Orient, to Lake Dala our people are united and the roads are open.

Extract from the letter of Oljeitu to Philip the Fair. French national archives. [13]

This message reassured the European nations that the Franco-Mongol alliance, or at least attempts towards such an alliance, had not ceased, even though the Khans had converted to Islam. [14]

1307 embassy

Another embassy was sent to the West in 1307, led by Tommaso Ugi di Siena, an Italian described as Öljeitu's ildüchi ("Sword-bearer"). [15] This embassy encouraged Pope Clement V to speak in 1307 of the strong possibility that the Mongols could remit the Holy Land to the Christians, and to declare that the Mongol embassy from Öljeitu "cheered him like spiritual sustenance". [16] Relations were quite warm: in 1307, the Pope named John of Montecorvino the first Archbishop of Khanbalik and Patriarch of the Orient. [17]

European nations accordingly prepared a crusade, but were delayed. A memorandum drafted by the Grand Master of the Knights Hospitallers Guillaume de Villaret about military plans for a Crusade envisaged a Mongol invasion of Syria as a preliminary to a Western intervention (1307/8). [18] A corps of Frank mangonel specialists is known to have accompanied the Ilkhanid army in the conquest of Herat in 1307. [19] Mongols besieged the castle in Gilan for so long, that epidemic and lack of food supply forced Gilans to submit to them. He punished Kartids in Herat as well.

Military operation of 1308

Byzantine Emperor Andronicus II gave a daughter in marriage to Oljeitu and asked ilkhan's assistance against growing power of the Ottomans. In 1305, Oljeitu promised his father in law 40,000 men, and in 1308 dispatched 30,000 men to recover many Byzantine towns in Bithynia and the Ilkhanid army crushed a detachment of Osman I. [20]

1313 embassy

On April 4, 1312, a Crusade was promulgated by Pope Clement V at the Council of Vienne. Another embassy was sent by Oljeitu to the West and to Edward II in 1313. [21] That same year, the French king Philippe le Bel "took the cross", making the vow to go on a Crusade in the Levant, thus responding to Clement V's call for a Crusade. He was however warned against leaving by Enguerrand de Marigny, [22] and died soon after in a hunting accident. [23]

Öljeitu finally launched a last campaign against the Mamluks (1312–13), in which he was unsuccessful, though he reportedly briefly took Damascus. [7] A final settlement with the Mamluks would only be found when Oljeitu's son signed the Treaty of Aleppo with the Mamluks in 1322.



Öljaitü had thirteen consorts:


Öljaitü had six sons:

Öljaitü also allegedly had an additional son, Ilchi who was claimed as an ancestor of the Arghun and Tarkhan dynasties of Afghanistan and India. [27]


Öljaitü had three daughters:


See also


  1. Linda Komaroff, Beyond the Legacy of Genghis Khan (2012), p. 19
  2. Ryan, James D. (November 1998). "Christian wives of Mongol khans: Tartar queens and missionary expectations in Asia". Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society. 8 (9): 411–421. doi:10.1017/s1356186300010506.
  3. "Arghun had one of his sons baptized, Khordabandah, the future Öljeitu, and in the Pope's honor, went as far as giving him the name Nicholas", Histoire de l'Empire Mongol, Jean-Paul Roux, p.408
  4. Alizadeh, Saeed; Alireza Pahlavani; Ali Sadrnia. Iran: A Chronological History. p. 137.
  5. The preaching of Islam: a history of the propagation of the Muslim faith By Sir Thomas Walker Arnold, pg. 197
  6. Al Oraibi, Ali (2001). "Rationalism in the school of Bahrain: a historical perspective". In Lynda Clarke (ed.). Shīʻite Heritage: Essays on Classical and Modern Traditions. Global Academic Publishing. p. 336.
  7. 1 2 3 Stevens, John. The history of Persia. Containing, the lives and memorable actions of its kings from the first erecting of that monarchy to this time; an exact Description of all its Dominions; a curious Account of India, China, Tartary, Kermon, Arabia, Nixabur, and the Islands of Ceylon and Timor; as also of all Cities occasionally mentioned, as Schiras, Samarkand, Bokara, &c. Manners and Customs of those People, Persian Worshippers of Fire; Plants, Beasts, Product, and Trade. With many instructive and pleasant digressions, being remarkable Stories or Passages, occasionally occurring, as Strange Burials; Burning of the Dead; Liquors of several Countries; Hunting; Fishing; Practice of Physick; famous Physicians in the East; Actions of Tamerlan, &c. To which is added, an abridgment of the lives of the kings of Harmuz, or Ormuz. The Persian history written in Arabick, by Mirkond, a famous Eastern Author that of Ormuz, by Torunxa, King of that Island, both of them translated into Spanish, by Antony Teixeira, who lived several Years in Persia and India; and now rendered into English.
  8. Ann K.S. Lambton, Continuity and Change in Medieval Persia, ed. Ehsan Yarshater, (Bibliotheca Persica, 1988), 255.
  9. Curatola, Giovanni; Gianroberto Scarcia (2007). Iran: The Art and Architecture of Persia. Perseus Distribution Services. p. 166. ISBN   9780789209207.
  10. 1 2 Jackson, p.298
  11. Mostaert and Cleaves, pp. 56-57, Source
  12. Quoted in Jean-Paul Roux, Histoire de l'Empire Mongol, p.437
  13. Source
  14. Jean-Paul Roux, in Histoire de l'Empire Mongol ISBN   2-213-03164-9: "The Occident was reassured that the Mongol alliance had not ceased with the conversion of the Khans to Islam. However, this alliance could not have ceased. The Mamelouks, through their repeated military actions, were becoming a strong enough danger to force Iran to maintain relations with Europe.", p.437
  15. Peter Jackson, p.173
  16. Peter Jackson, The Mongols and the West, p.171
  17. Foltz, p.131
  18. Peter Jackson, p.185
  19. Peter Jackson, The Mongols and the West, p.315
  20. I. Heath, Byzantine Armies: AD 1118–1461, pp. 24–33.
  21. Peter Jackson, p.172
  22. Jean Richard, "Histoire des Croisades", p.485
  23. Richard, p.485
  24. Lambton, Ann K. S. (January 1, 1988). Continuity and Change in Medieval Persia. SUNY Press. p. 293. ISBN   978-0-887-06133-2.
  25. Hillenbrand, Robert; Peacock, A. C. S.; Abdullaheva, Firuza (January 29, 2014). Ferdowsi, the Mongols and the History of Iran: Art, Literature and Culture from Early Islam to Qajar Persia. I. B. Tauris. p. 131. ISBN   978-1-780-76015-5.
  26. Korobeinikov, Dimitri (2014). Byzantium and the Turks in the Thirteenth Century. Oxford University Press. p. 212. ISBN   978-0-198-70826-1.
  27. Mahmudul Hasan Siddiqi, History of the Arghuns and Tarkhans of Sind, 1507-1593 (1972), p. 249

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Regnal titles
Preceded by
Mahmud Ghazan
Ilkhanid Dynasty
Succeeded by
Abu Sa'id