Kurt dynasty

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Kurt dynasty

The Kurt dynasty at its greatest extent
Status Monarchy
Capital Herat
Common languages Persian
Sunni Islam
Malik Rukn-uddin Abu Bakr (first)
Ghiyas-uddin Pir 'Ali (last)
Historical era Middle Ages
 Foundation by Malik Rukn-uddin Abu Bakr
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Ilkhanate in 1256-1353.PNG Ilkhanate
Timurid Empire TimuridEmpire1400.png
Today part ofFlag of Afghanistan.svg  Afghanistan
Flag of Iran.svg  Iran
Flag of Turkmenistan.svg  Turkmenistan
Part of a series on the
History of Afghanistan
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Associated Historical Regions
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History of Greater Iran

The Kurt dynasty, also known as the Kartids, was a Sunni Muslim [1] dynasty of Tajik origin, [2] that ruled over a large part of Khorasan during the 13th and 14th centuries. Ruling from their capital at Herat and central Khorasan in the Bamyan, they were at first subordinates of Sultan Abul-Fateh Ghiyāṣ-ud-din Muhammad bin Sām, Sultan of the Ghurid Empire, of whom they were related, [3] and then as vassal princes within the Mongol Empire. [4] Upon the fragmentation of the Ilkhanate in 1335, Mu'izz-uddin Husayn ibn Ghiyath-uddin worked to expand his principality. The death of Husayn b. Ghiyath-uddin in 1370 and the invasion of Timur in 1381, ended the Kurt dynasty's ambitions. [4]

Sunni Islam denomination of Islam

Sunni Islam is the largest denomination of Islam, followed by 75-90% of the world's Muslims, and is arguably the world's largest religious denomination. Its name comes from the word sunnah, referring to the behaviour of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. The differences between Sunni and Shia Muslims arose from a disagreement over the succession to Muhammad and subsequently acquired broader political significance, as well as theological and juridical dimensions.

Greater Khorasan historical region of Persia

Khorasan, sometimes called Greater Khorasan, is a historical region lying in northeast of Greater Persia, including part of Central Asia and Afghanistan. The name simply means "East, Orient" and loosely includes the territory of the Sasanian Empire north-east of Persia proper. Early Islamic usage often regarded everywhere east of so-called Jibal or what was subsequently termed 'Iraq Ajami', as being included in a vast and loosely-defined region of Khorasan, which might even extend to the Indus Valley and Sindh. During the Islamic period, Khorasan along with Persian Iraq were two important territories. The boundary between these two was the region surrounding the cities of Gurgan and Qumis. In particular, the Ghaznavids, Seljuqs and Timurids divided their empires into Iraqi and Khorasani regions.

Herat City in Afghanistan

Herāt is the third-largest city of Afghanistan. It has a population of about 436,300, and serves as the capital of Herat Province, situated in the fertile valley of the Hari River in the western part of the country. It is linked with Kandahar, Kabul, and Mazar-i-Sharif via Highway 1 or the ring road. It is further linked to the city of Mashhad in neighboring Iran through the border town of Islam Qala, and to Mary in Turkmenistan to the north through the border town of Torghundi.


Vassals of the Ghurid dynasty

The Kurts trace their lineage to a Tajuddin Uthman Marghini, whose brother, 'Izzuddin Umar Marghini, was the Vizier of Sultan Ghiyāṣ-ud-din Muhammad bin Sām (d.1202-3). [5] The founder of the Kurt dynasty was Malik Rukn-uddin Abu Bakr, who was descended from the Shansabani family of Ghur. [6]

Malik Rukn-uddin Abu Bakr married a Ghurid princess. [4] Their son Shams-uddin succeeded his father in 1245.

Vassals of the Mongol Empire

Shams-uddin Muhammad succeeded his father in 1245, joined Sali Noyan in an invasion of India in the following year, and met the Sufi Saint Baha-ud-din Zakariya at Multan in 1247-8. Later he visited the Mongol Great Khan Möngke Khan (1248–1257), who placed under his sway Greater Khorasan (present Afghanistan) and possibly region up to the Indus. In 1263-4, after having subdued Sistan, he visited Hulagu Khan, and three years later his successor Abaqa Khan, whom he accompanied in his campaign against Darband and Baku. He again visited Abaqa Khan, accompanied by Shams-uddin the Sahib Diwan, in 1276-7, and this time the former good opinion of the Mongol sovereign in respect to him seems to have been changed to suspicion, which led to his death, for he was poisoned in January 1278, by means of a water-melon given to him while he was in the bath at Tabriz. Abaqa Khan even caused his body to be buried in chains at Jam in Khorasan.

Sali Noyan

Sali Noyan also known as Sali Bahadur or Sali the Brave, was an important Mongol general of Möngke Khan, Khagan of the Mongol Empire. He was instrumental in the 13th century CE, in keeping control over most of Afghanistan where a permanent garrison of Mongol troops was quartered in the Kunduz-Baghlan area, and in 1253 fell under the jurisdiction of Sali Noyan. In 1252-3 Sali Noyan of the Tatar clan was sent to the Indian borderlands at the head of fresh troops, and was given authority over the Mongols later known as Qara'unas. Sali himself was subordinate to Möngke's brother Hulagu Khan.

India Country in South Asia

India, also known as the Republic of India, is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh largest country by area and with more than 1.3 billion people, it is the second most populous country as well as the most populous democracy in the world. Bounded by the Indian Ocean on the south, the Arabian Sea on the southwest, and the Bay of Bengal on the southeast, it shares land borders with Pakistan to the west; China, Nepal, and Bhutan to the northeast; and Bangladesh and Myanmar to the east. In the Indian Ocean, India is in the vicinity of Sri Lanka and the Maldives, while its Andaman and Nicobar Islands share a maritime border with Thailand and Indonesia.

Multan City in Punjab

Multan is a city in Punjab, Pakistan. Located on the banks of the Chenab River, Multan is Pakistan's 7th largest city, and is the major cultural and economic centre of southern Punjab.

Fakhr-uddin was a patron of literature, but also extremely religious. He had previously been cast in prison by his father for seven years, until the Ilkhanid general Nauruz intervened on his behalf. When Nauruz's revolt faltered around 1296, Fakhr-uddin offered him asylum, but when an Ilkhanid force approached Herat, he betrayed the general and turned him over to the forces of Ghazan. Three years later, Fakhr-uddin fought against Ghazan's successor Oljeitu, who shortly after his ascension in 1306 sent a force of 10,000 to take Herat. Fakhr-uddin, however, tricked the invaders by letting them occupy the city, and then destroying them, killing their commander Danishmand Bahadur in the process. He died on 26 February 1307. But Herat and Gilan were conquered by Oljeitu.

Nawrūz was a son of governor Arghun Agha, and was a powerful Mongol Oirat emir of the 13th century who played an important role in the politics of the Mongol Ilkhanate. He was a convert to Islam; the history of Bar Sawma's voyages and Mar Yaballaha III's Patriarchal tenure portrays him as a ferocious enemy of Nestorian Christians.

Sham-suddin Muhammad was succeeded by his son Rukn-uddin. The latter adopted the title of Malik (Arabic for king), which all succeeding Kurt rulers were to use. By the time of his death; in Khaysar on 3 September 1305, effective power had long been in the hands of his son Fakhr-uddin.

Malik, Melik, Malka, Malek, Malick, or Melekh is the Semitic term translating to "king", recorded in East Semitic and later Northwest Semitic and Arabic.

Fakhr-uddin's brother Ghiyath-uddin succeeded him upon his death; almost immediately, he began to quarrel with another brother, Ala-uddin ibn Rukn-uddin. Taking his case before Oljeitu, who gave him a grand reception, he returned to Khurasan in 1307/8. Continuing troubles with his brother led him to visit the Ilkhan again in 1314/5. Upon returning to Herat, he found his territories being invaded by the Chagatai prince Yasa'ur, as well as hostility from Qutb-uddin of Isfizar and the populace of Sistan. A siege of Herat was set by Yasa'ur. The prince, however, was stopped by the armies of the Ilkhanate, and in August 1320, Ghiyath-uddin made a pilgrimage to Mecca, leaving his son Shams-uddin Muhammad ibn Ghiyath-uddin in control during his absence. In 1327 the Amir Chupan fled to Herat following his betrayal by the Ilkhan Abu Sa'id Bahadur Khan, where he requested asylum from Ghiyath-uddin, whom he was friends with. Ghiyath-uddin initially granted the request, but when Abu Sa'id pressured him to execute Chupan, he obeyed. Soon afterwards Ghiyath-uddin himself died, in 1329. He left four sons: Shams-uddin Muhammad ibn Ghiyath-uddin, Hafiz ibn Ghiyath-uddin, Mu'izz-uddin Husayn ibn Ghiyath-uddin, and Baqir ibn Ghiyath-uddin.

Independent principality

Four years after Mu'izz-uddin Husayn ibn Ghiyath-uddin's ascension, the Ilkhan Abu Sa'id Bahadur Khan died, following which the Ilkhanate quickly fragmented. Mu'izz-uddin Husayn, for his part, allied with Togha Temür, a claimant to the Ilkhanid throne, and paid tribute to him. Up until his death, Mu'izz-uddin Husayn's main concern were the neighboring Sarbadars, centered in Sabzavar. As the Sarbadars were the enemies of Togha Temür, they considered the Kurts a threat and invaded. When the Kurts and Sarbadars met in the Battle of Zava on 18 July 1342, the battle was initially in the favor of the latter, but disunity within the Sarbadar army allowed the Kurts to emerge victorious. Thereafter, Mu'izz-uddin Husayn undertook several successful campaigns against the Chagatai Mongols to the northeast. During this time, he took a still young Timur into his service. In 1349, while Togha Temür was still alive, Mu'izz-uddin Husayn stopped paying tribute to him, and ruled as an independent Sultan. Togha Temür's murder in 1353 by the Sarbadars ended that potential threat. Sometime around 1358, however, the Chagatai amir Qazaghan invaded Khurasan and sacked Herat. As he was returning home, Qazaghan was assassinated, allowing Mu'izz-uddin Husayn to reestablish his authority. Another campaign by the Sarbadars against Mu'izz-uddin Husayn in 1362 was aborted due to their internal disunity. Shortly afterwards, the Kurt leader welcomed Shia dervishes fleeing from the Sarbadar ruler Ali-yi Mu'ayyad, who had killed their leader during the aborted campaign. In the meantime, however, relations with Timur became tense when the Kurts launched a raid into his territory. Upon Mu'izz-uddin Husayn's death in 1370, his son Ghiyas-uddin Pir 'Ali inherited most of the Kurt lands, except for Sarakhs and a portion of Quhistan, which Ghiyas-uddin's stepbrother Malik Muhammad ibn Mu'izz-uddin gained.

Vassals of the Timurids

Ghiyas-uddin Pir 'Ali, a grandson of Togha Temür through his mother Sultan Khatun, attempted to destabilize the Sarbadars by stirring up the refugee dervishes within his country. 'Ali-yi Mu'ayyad countered by conspiring with Malik Muhammad. When Ghiyas-uddin Pir 'Ali attempted to remove Malik Muhammad, 'Ali-yi Mu'ayyad flanked his army and forced him to abort the campaign, instead compromising with his stepbrother. The Sarbadars, however, soon suffered a period of internal strife, and Ghiyas-uddin Pir 'Ali took advantage of this by seizing the city of Nishapur around 1375 or 1376. In the meantime, both Ghiyas-uddin Pir 'Ali and Malik Muhammad had asked for the assistance of Timur regarding their conflict: the former had sent an embassy to him, while the latter had appeared before Timur in person as a requester of asylum, having been driven out of Sarakhs. Timur responded to Ghiyas-uddin Pir 'Ali by proposing a marriage between his niece Sevinj Qutluq Agha and the Kurt ruler's son Pir Muhammad ibn Ghiyas-uddin, a marriage which took place in Samarkand around 1376. Later on, Timur invited Ghiyas-uddin Pir 'Ali to a council, so that the latter could submit to him, but when the Kurt attempted to excuse himself from coming by claiming he had to deal with the Shia population in Nishapur, Timur decided to invade. He was encouraged by many Khurasanis, included Mu'izzu'd-Din's former vizier Mu'in al-Din Jami, who sent a letter inviting Timur to intervene in Khurasan, and the shaikhs of Jam, who, being very influential persons, had convinced many of the Kurt dignitaries to welcome Timur as the latter neared Herat. In April 1381, Timur arrived before the city, whose citizens were already demoralized and also aware of Timur's offer not to kill anyone that did not take part in the battle. The city fell, its fortifications were dismantled, theologians and scholars were deported to Timur's homeland, a high tribute was enacted, and Ghiyas-uddin Pir 'Ali and his son were carried off to Samarkand. Ghiyas-uddin Pir 'Ali was made Timur's vassal, until he supported a rebellion in 1382 by the maliks of Herat. Ghiyas-uddin Pir 'Ali and his family were executed around 1383, and Timur's son Miran Shah destroyed the revolt. That same year, a new uprising led by a Shaikh Da'ud-i Khitatai in Isfizar was quickly put down by Miran Shah. The remaining Kurts were murdered in 1396 at a banquet by Miran Shah. [7] The Kurts therefore came to an end, having been the victims of Timur's first Persian campaign.


Titular NamePersonal NameReignNotes
Malik Rukn-uddin Abu Bakr ?-1245
Shams-uddin Muhammad bin Abu Bakr 1245-1277
Shams-uddin -i-Kihin
Rukn-uddin ibn Sham-suddin Muhammad 1277–1295
Fakhr-uddin ibn Rukn-uddin
Ghiyath-uddin ibn Rukn-uddin
Shams-uddin Muhammad ibn Ghiyath-uddin 1329-1330
Hafiz ibn Ghiyath-uddin 1330–1332Hafiz, a scholar and the next person to take the throne, was murdered after two years.
Mu'izz-uddin Husayn ibn Ghiyath-uddin 1332–1370
Ghiyas-uddin Pir 'Ali
& Malik Muhammad ibn Mu'izz-uddin under whom were initially Sarakhs and a portion of Quhistan
Conquest of Greater Khorasan and Afghanistan by Amir Timur Beg Gurkani.

The colored rows signify the following;

See also


  1. Farhad Daftary, The Ismāī̀līs: Their History and Doctrines (Cambridge University Press, 1999), 445.
    • Martijn Theodoor Houtsma (1993). "E.J. Brill's first Encyclopaedia of Islam, 1913-1936, Том 1". E.J. Brill p.546 pp.154. Retrieved 2017-08-21.
      "The Kurt dynasty which ruled Afghanistan under the Persian Mongols were also Tadjiks. In the south, spreading into BalocistBn the population of Tadjik origin goes by the name of DehwSr or Dehkan, i. e. villager, and north of the Hindn- kush ..."
    • Mahomed Abbas Shushtery (1938). "Historical and cultural aspects". Bangalore Press pp.76. Retrieved 2017-08-21.
      "The inhabitants of Seistan are a mixture of Tajiks and Baluchis. Some of them ... The Ghori and Kurt dynasties who ruled in Afghanistan were Tajiks ... "
  2. M.J. Gohari, Taliban: Ascent to Power, (Oxford University Press, 2000), 4.
  3. 1 2 3 C.E. Bosworth, The New Islamic Dynasties, (Columbia University Press, 1996), 263.
  4. Edward G. Browne, A Literary History of Persia: Tartar Dominion 1265-1502, (Ibex Publishers, 1997), 174.
  5. Kart, T.W. Haig and B. Spuler, The Encyclopaedia of Islam, Vol. IV, ed. E. van Donzel, B. Lewis and C. Pellat, (Brill, 1997), 672.
  6. Vasiliĭ Vladimirovich Bartolʹd, Four Studies on the History of Central Asia, Vol.II, (Brill, 1958), 33.

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