Siege of Baghdad (1258)

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Siege of Baghdad (1258)
Part of the Mongol invasions
Bagdad1258.jpg
Hulagu's army besieging the walls of Baghdad
Date29 January – 10 February 1258 (13 days)
Location
Baghdad, modern-day Iraq
Result Decisive Mongol victory
Belligerents

Il-Khanate Flag.svg Ilkhanate
(Mongol Empire)

Rubenid Flag.svg Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia [ citation needed ]
Sakartvelo - drosha.svg Kingdom of Georgia [ citation needed ]
Armoiries Bohemond VI d'Antioche.svg Principality of Antioch [ citation needed ]
Black flag.svg Abbasid Caliphate
Commanders and leaders
Il-Khanate Flag.svg Hulagu Khan
Il-Khanate Flag.svg Arghun Aqa
Il-Khanate Flag.svg Baiju
Il-Khanate Flag.svg Buqa-Temür
Il-Khanate Flag.svg Sunitai
Il-Khanate Flag.svg Kitbuqa
Il-Khanate Flag.svg Guo Kan
Il-Khanate Flag.svg Koke Ilge [1]
Sakartvelo - drosha.svg King David VI [ citation needed ]
Rubenid Flag.svg King Hethum I [ citation needed ]
Black flag.svg Al-Musta'sim   Skull and crossbones.svg
Black flag.svg Mujaheduddin Aybak Dwadar 
Black flag.svg Sulaiman Shah   Skull and crossbones.svg
Black flag.svg Qarasunqur 
Units involved
40,000+ Mongol, Manchurian, Han and Kazakh cavalry [2]
12,000 Armenian cavalry [3] [ unreliable source? ]
40,000 Armenian infantry [3] [ unreliable source? ]
Georgian infantry [ citation needed ]
1,000 Chinese bombardiers and engineers[ citation needed ]
Chinese, Turkic, Persian infantry
Cavalry
Infantry
Strength
120,000 [3] [ unreliable source? ]–150,000 [4] [ unreliable source? ] 50,000[ citation needed ]
Casualties and losses
Unknown but believed to be minimal 50,000 soldiers,
200,000–800,000 civilians (Western sources) [5]
2,000,000 civilians (Arab sources) [6]

The Siege of Baghdad, which lasted from January 29 until February 10, 1258, entailed the investment, capture, and sack of Baghdad, the capital of the Abbasid Caliphate, by Ilkhanate Mongol forces and allied troops. The Mongols were under the command of Hulagu Khan (or Hulegu Khan), brother of the khagan Möngke Khan, who had intended to further extend his rule into Mesopotamia but not to directly overthrow the Caliphate. Möngke, however, had instructed Hulagu to attack Baghdad if the Caliph Al-Musta'sim refused Mongol demands for his continued submission to the khagan and the payment of tribute in the form of military support for Mongol forces in Iran.

Investment (military) Military term for surrounding an enemy position

Investment is the military process of surrounding an enemy fort with armed forces to prevent entry or escape. It serves both to cut communications with the outside world, and to prevent supplies and reinforcements from being introduced.

Baghdad Capital of Iraq

Baghdad is the capital of Iraq. The population of Baghdad, as of 2016, is approximately 8,765,000, making it the largest city in Iraq, the second largest city in the Arab world, and the second largest city in Western Asia.

Abbasid Caliphate Third Islamic caliphate

The Abbasid Caliphate was the third of the Islamic caliphates to succeed the Islamic prophet Muhammad. It was founded by a dynasty descended from Muhammad's uncle, Abbas ibn Abdul-Muttalib, from whom the dynasty takes its name. They ruled as caliphs for most of the caliphate from their capital in Baghdad in modern-day Iraq, after having overthrown the Umayyad Caliphate in the Abbasid Revolution of 750 CE (132 AH).

Contents

Hulagu began his campaign in Iran with several offensives against Nizari groups, including the Assassins, who lost their stronghold of Alamut. He then marched on Baghdad, demanding that Al-Musta'sim accede to the terms imposed by Möngke on the Abbasids. Although the Abbasids had failed to prepare for the invasion, the Caliph believed that Baghdad could not fall to invading forces and refused to surrender. Hulagu subsequently besieged the city, which surrendered after 12 days. During the next week, the Mongols sacked Baghdad, committing numerous atrocities and destroying the Abbasids' vast libraries, including the House of Wisdom. The Mongols executed Al-Musta'sim and massacred many residents of the city, which was left greatly depopulated. The siege is considered to mark the end of the Islamic Golden Age, during which the caliphs had extended their rule from the Iberian Peninsula to Sindh, and which was also marked by many cultural achievements. [7]

Nizari Non-twelver branch of Shia Islam

The Nizaris are the largest branch of the Ismaili Shi'i Muslims, the second-largest branch of Shia Islam. Nizari teachings emphasise human reasoning, pluralism and social justice. Aga Khan IV is their religious Imam and leader.

Assassins sect of assassins

Order of Assassins or simply Assassins is the common name used to refer to an Islamic sect formally known as the Nizari Ismailis. Based on texts from Alamut, their grand master Hassan-i Sabbah tended to call his disciples Asāsiyyūn, but some foreign travellers like Marco Polo misunderstood the name as deriving from the term hashish.

Alamut Castle mountain fortress in Iran

Alamut is a ruined mountain fortress located in Alamut region in the South Caspian province of Gilan near the Rudbar region in Iran, approximately 100 km (60 mi) from present-day Tehran.

Background

Baghdad had for centuries been the capital of the Abbasid Caliphate, the third caliphate whose rulers were descendants of Abbas, an uncle of Muhammad. In 751, the Abbasids overthrew the Umayyads and moved the Caliph's seat from Damascus to Baghdad. At the city's peak, it was populated by approximately one million people and was defended by an army of 60,000 soldiers. By the middle of the 13th century, however, the power of the Abbasids had declined and Turkic and Mamluk warlords often held power over the Caliphs. Baghdad still retained much symbolic significance, however, and it remained a rich and cultured city. The Caliphs of the 12th and 13th centuries had begun to develop links with the expanding Mongol Empire in the east. Caliph an-Nasir li-dini'llah, who reigned from 1180–1225, may have attempted an alliance with Genghis Khan when Muhammad II of Khwarezm threatened to attack the Abbasids. [8] It has been rumored that some Crusader captives were sent as tribute to the Mongol khagan. [9]

Muhammad prophet and founder of Islam

Muhammad was the founder of Islam. According to Islamic doctrine, he was a prophet, sent to present and confirm the monotheistic teachings preached previously by Adam, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and other prophets. He is viewed as the final prophet of God in all the main branches of Islam, though some modern denominations diverge from this belief. Muhammad united Arabia into a single Muslim polity, with the Quran as well as his teachings and practices forming the basis of Islamic religious belief.

Damascus City in Syria

Damascus is the capital of the Syrian Arab Republic; it is also the country's largest city, following the decline in population of Aleppo due to the battle for the city. It is colloquially known in Syria as ash-Sham and titled the City of Jasmine. In addition to being one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, Damascus is a major cultural center of the Levant and the Arab world. The city has an estimated population of 1,711,000 as of 2009.

Mamluk Muslim slave soldiers

Mamluk is an Arabic designation for slaves. The term is most commonly used to refer to slave soldiers and Muslim rulers of slave origin.

According to The Secret History of the Mongols , Genghis and his successor, Ögedei Khan, ordered their general Chormaqan to attack Baghdad. [10] In 1236, Chormaqan led a division of the Mongol army to Irbil, [11] which remained under Abbasid rule. Further raids on Irbil and other regions of the caliphate became nearly annual occurrences. [12] Some raids were alleged to have reached Baghdad itself, [13] but these Mongol incursions were not always successful, with Abbasid forces defeating the invaders in 1238 [14] and 1245. [15]

<i>The Secret History of the Mongols</i> medieval Mongolian literary work documenting Mongol history

The Secret History of the Mongols is the oldest surviving literary work in the Mongolian language. It was written for the Mongol royal family some time after the 1227 death of Genghis Khan. The author is anonymous and probably originally wrote in the Mongolian script, but the surviving texts all derive from transcriptions or translations into Chinese characters that date from the end of the 14th century and were compiled by the Ming dynasty under the title The Secret History of the Yuan Dynasty. Also known as Tobchiyan in the History of Yuan.

Ögedei Khan second Great Khan of the Mongol Empire

Ögedei, was the third son of Genghis Khan and second Great Khan of the Mongol Empire, succeeding his father. He continued the expansion of the empire that his father had begun, and was a world figure when the Mongol Empire reached its farthest extent west and south during the Mongol invasions of Europe and East Asia. Like all of Genghis' primary sons, he participated extensively in conquests in China, Iran, and Central Asia.

Chormaqan was one of the most famous generals of the Mongol Empire under Genghis Khan and Ögedei Khan. He was also a member of the keshik.

Despite their successes, the Abbasids hoped to come to terms with the Mongols and by 1241 had adopted the practice of sending an annual tribute to the court of the khagan. [13] Envoys from the Caliph were present at the coronation of Güyük Khan as khagan in 1246 [16] and that of Möngke Khan in 1251. [17] During his brief reign, Güyük insisted that the Caliph Al-Musta'sim fully submit to Mongol rule and come personally to Karakorum. Blame for the Caliph's refusal and for other resistance offered by the Abbasids to increased attempts by the Mongols to extend their power was placed by the khagans on Chormaqan's lieutenant and successor, Baiju.

Güyük Khan Third Great Khan of the Mongol Empire

Güyük was the third Great Khan of the Mongol Empire, the eldest son of Ögedei Khan and a grandson of Genghis Khan. He reigned from 1246 to 1248.

Möngke Khan Fourth Great Khan of the Mongol Empire

Möngke was the fourth khagan of the Mongol Empire, ruling from July 1, 1251, to August 11, 1259. He was the first Khagan from the Toluid line, and made significant reforms to improve the administration of the Empire during his reign. Under Möngke, the Mongols conquered Iraq and Syria as well as the kingdom of Dali.

Al-Mustasim Abbasid caliph

Al-Musta'sim Billah was the Last Caliph of the Abbasid Caliphate in Baghdad; he ruled from 1242 until his death.

Hulagu's expedition

Planning

In 1257, Möngke resolved to establish firm authority over Mesopotamia, Syria, and Iran. The khagan gave his brother, Hulagu, authority over a subordinate khanate and army, the Ilkhanate, and instructions to compel the submission of various Muslim states, including the caliphate. Though not seeking the overthrow of Al-Musta'sim, Möngke ordered Hulagu to destroy Baghdad if the Caliph refused his demands of personal submission to Hulagu and the payment of tribute in the form of a military detachment, which would reinforce Hulagu's army during its campaigns against Iranian Ismaili states.

Ilkhanate breakaway khanate of the Mongol Empire

The Ilkhanate, also spelled Il-khanate, was established as a khanate that formed the southwestern sector of the Mongol Empire, ruled by the Mongol House of Hulagu. It was founded in the 13th century and was based primarily in Iran as well as neighboring territories, such as present-day Azerbaijan and the central and eastern parts of present-day Turkey. The Ilkhanate was originally based on the campaigns of Genghis Khan in the Khwarazmian Empire in 1219–24 and was founded by Hulagu Khan, son of Tolui and grandson of Genghis Khan. With the fragmentation of the Mongol Empire after 1259 it became a functionally separate khanate. At its greatest extent, the state expanded into territories that today comprise most of Iran, Iraq, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkmenistan, Turkey, western Afghanistan, and the Northwestern edge of the Indian sub-continent. Later Ilkhanate rulers, beginning with Ghazan in 1295, converted to Islam.

In preparation for his invasion, Hulagu raised a large expeditionary force, conscripting one out of every ten military-age males in the entirety of the Mongol Empire, assembling what may have been the most numerous Mongol army to have existed and, by one estimate, 150,000 strong. [18] Generals of the army included the Oirat administrator Arghun Agha, Baiju, Buqa Temür, Guo Kan, and Kitbuqa, as well as Hulagu's brother Sunitai and various other warlords. [19] The force was also supplemented by Christian forces, including the King of Armenia and his army, a Frankish contingent from the Principality of Antioch, [20] and a Georgian force, seeking revenge on the Muslim Abbasids for the sacking of their capital, Tiflis, decades earlier by the Khwarazm-Shahs. [21] About 1,000 Chinese artillery experts accompanied the army, [22] as did Persian and Turkic auxiliaries, according to Ata-Malik Juvayni, a contemporary Persian observer.

Early campaigns

Hulagu led his army first to Iran, where he successfully campaigned against the Lurs, the Bukhara, and the remnants of the Khwarezm-Shah dynasty. After subduing them, Hulagu directed his attention toward the Ismaili Assassins and their Grand Master, Imam 'Ala al-Din Muhammad, who had attempted the murder of both Möngke and Hulagu's friend and subordinate, Kitbuqa. Though Assassins failed in both attempts, Hulagu marched his army to their stronghold of Alamut, which he captured. The Mongols later executed the Assassins' Grand Master, Imam Rukn al-Dun Khurshah, who had briefly succeeded 'Ala al-Din Muhammad from 1255-1256.

Capture of Baghdad

Hulagu's march to Baghdad

After defeating the Assassins, Hulagu sent word to Al-Musta'sim, demanding his acquiescence to the terms imposed by Möngke. Al-Musta'sim refused, in large part due to the influence of his advisor and grand vizier, Ibn al-Alkami. Historians have ascribed various motives to al-Alkami's opposition to submission, including treachery [23] and incompetence, [24] and it appears that he lied to the Caliph about the severity of the invasion, assuring Al-Musta'sim that, if the capital of the caliphate was endangered by a Mongol army, the Islamic world would rush to its aid. [24]

Although he replied to Hulagu's demands in a manner that the Mongol commander found menacing and offensive enough to break off further negotiation, [25] Al-Musta'sim neglected to summon armies to reinforce the troops at his disposal in Baghdad. Nor did he strengthen the city's walls. By January 11 the Mongols were close to the city, [24] establishing themselves on both banks of the Tigris River so as to form a pincer around the city. Al-Musta'sim finally decided to do battle with them and sent out a force of 20,000 cavalry to attack the Mongols. The cavalry were decisively defeated by the Mongols, whose sappers breached dikes along the Tigris River and flooded the ground behind the Abbasid forces, trapping them. [24]

Siege of the city

Persian painting (14th century) of Hulegu's army besieging a city. Note use of the siege engine Persian painting of Hulegu's army attacking city with siege engine.jpg
Persian painting (14th century) of Hülegü's army besieging a city. Note use of the siege engine

The Abbasid caliphate could supposedly call upon 50,000 soldiers for the defense of their capital, including the 20,000 cavalry under al-Musta'sim. However, hastily assembled these troops were poorly equipped and poorly disciplined. Although the caliph technically had the authority to summon soldiers from other Muslim empires to defend his realm, he either neglected to do so or lacked the ability to. His taunting opposition had lost him the loyalty of the Mamluks, and the Syrian emirs, who he supported, were busy preparing their own defenses. [26]

On January 29, the Mongol army began its siege of Baghdad, constructing a palisade and a ditch around the city. Employing siege engines and catapults, the Mongols attempted to breach the city's walls, and, by February 5, had seized a significant portion of the defenses. Realizing that his forces had little chance of retaking the walls, Al-Musta'sim attempted to open negotiations with Hulagu, who rebuffed the Caliph. Around 3,000 of Baghdad's notables also tried to negotiate with Hulagu but were murdered. [27] Five days later, on February 10, the city surrendered, but the Mongols did not enter the city until the 13th, beginning a week of massacre and destruction.

Destruction

Hulagu (left) imprisons Caliph Al-Musta'sim among his treasures to starve him to death. Medieval depiction from Le livre des merveilles, 15th century HulaguInBagdad.JPG
Hulagu (left) imprisons Caliph Al-Musta'sim among his treasures to starve him to death. Medieval depiction from Le livre des merveilles, 15th century

Many historical accounts detailed the cruelties of the Mongol conquerors. Baghdad was a depopulated, ruined city for several centuries and only gradually recovered some of its former glory.

The Mongols looted and then destroyed mosques, palaces, libraries, and hospitals. Priceless books from Baghdad's thirty-six public libraries were torn apart, the looters using their leather covers as sandals. [28] Grand buildings that had been the work of generations were burned to the ground. The House of Wisdom (the Grand Library of Baghdad), containing countless precious historical documents and books on subjects ranging from medicine to astronomy, was destroyed. Survivors said that the waters of the Tigris ran black with ink from the enormous quantities of books flung into the river and red from the blood of the scientists and philosophers killed. [29]

Citizens attempted to flee, but were intercepted by Mongol soldiers who killed in abundance, sparing neither women nor children. Martin Sicker writes that close to 90,000 people may have died. [30] Other estimates go much higher. Wassaf claims the loss of life was several hundred thousand. Ian Frazier of The New Yorker says estimates of the death toll have ranged from 200,000 to a million. [31]

The caliph Al-Musta'sim was captured and forced to watch as his citizens were murdered and his treasury plundered. According to most accounts, the caliph was killed by trampling. The Mongols rolled the caliph up in a rug, and rode their horses over him, as they believed that the earth would be offended if it were touched by royal blood. But the Venetian traveller Marco Polo wrote that Al-Musta'sim was locked in a tower with nothing to eat but gold and "died like a dog". [32] All but one of Al-Musta'sim's sons were killed, and the sole surviving son was sent to Mongolia, where Mongolian historians report he married and fathered children, but played no role in Islam thereafter (see The end of the Abbasid dynasty).

Hulagu had to move his camp upwind of the city, due to the stench of decay from the ruined city.

The historian David Morgan has quoted Wassaf describing the destruction: "They swept through the city like hungry falcons attacking a flight of doves, or like raging wolves attacking sheep, with loose reins and shameless faces, murdering and spreading terror...beds and cushions made of gold and encrusted with jewels were cut to pieces with knives and torn to shreds. Those hiding behind the veils of the great Harem were dragged...through the streets and alleys, each of them becoming a plaything...as the population died at the hands of the invaders." [33]

Causes for agricultural decline

Some[ who? ] historians believe that the Mongol invasion destroyed much of the irrigation infrastructure that had sustained Mesopotamia for many millennia. Canals were cut as a military tactic and never repaired. So many people died or fled that neither the labour nor the organization were sufficient to maintain the canal system. It broke down or silted up. This theory was advanced by historian Svatopluk Souček in his 2000 book, A History of Inner Asia.

Other historians point to soil salination as the primary cause for the decline in agriculture. [34] [35]

Aftermath

Hulagu left 3,000 Mongol soldiers behind to rebuild Baghdad. Ata-Malik Juvayni was later appointed governor of Baghdad, Lower Mesopotamia, and Khuzistan after Guo Kan went back to Yuan Dynasty to assist Kublai conquest over the Song Dynasty. The Mongol Hulagu's Nestorian Christian wife, Dokuz Khatun successfully interceded to spare the lives of Baghdad's Christian inhabitants. [36] [37] Hulagu offered the royal palace to the Nestorian Catholicos Mar Makikha, and ordered a cathedral to be built for him. [38]

Initially, the fall of Baghdad came as a shock to the whole Muslim world, but the city became an economic center where international trade, the minting of coins and religious affairs flourished under the Ilkhans. [39] The chief Mongol darughachi was thereafter stationed in the city. [40]

See also

Notes

  1. John Masson Smith, Jr. Mongol Manpower and Persian Population, pp. 276
  2. John Masson Smith, Jr. - Mongol Manpower and Persian Population, pp.271-299
  3. 1 2 3 L. Venegoni (2003). Hülägü's Campaign in the West - (1256-1260) Archived 2012-03-12 at WebCite , Transoxiana Webfestschrift Series I, Webfestschrift Marshak 2003.
  4. National Geographic , v. 191 (1997)
  5. Andre Wink, Al-Hind: The Making of the Indo-Islamic World, Vol.2, (Brill, 2002), 13.   via  Questia (subscription required)
  6. The different aspects of Islamic culture: Science and technology in Islam, Vol.4, Ed. A. Y. Al-Hassan, (Dergham sarl, 2001), 655.
  7. Matthew E. Falagas, Effie A. Zarkadoulia, George Samonis (2006). "Arab science in the golden age (750–1258 C.E.) and today", The FASEB Journal 20, pp. 1581–1586.
  8. Jack Weatherford Genghis Khan and the making of the modern world, p.135
  9. Jack Weatherford Genghis Khan and the making of the modern world, p.136
  10. Sh.Gaadamba Mongoliin nuuts tovchoo (1990), p.233
  11. Timothy May Chormaqan Noyan, p.62
  12. Al-Sa'idi,., op. cit., pp. 83, 84, from Ibn al-Fuwati
  13. 1 2 C. P. Atwood Encyclopedia of Mongolia and the Mongol Empire, p.2
  14. Spuler, op. cit., from Ibn al-'Athir, vol. 12, p. 272.
  15. "Mongol Plans for Expansion and Sack of Baghdad". alhassanain.com. Archived from the original on 2012-04-26.
  16. Giovanni, da Pian del Carpine (translated by Erik Hildinger) The story of the Mongols whom we call the Tartars (1996), p. 108
  17. "Wednesday University Lecture 3". depts.washington.edu. Retrieved 1 May 2018.
  18. "European & Asian History". telusplanet.net.
  19. Rashiddudin, Histoire des Mongols de la Perse, E. Quatrieme ed. and trans. (Paris, 1836), p. 352.
  20. Demurger, 80-81; Demurger 284
  21. Khanbaghi, 60
  22. L. Carrington Goodrich (2002). A Short History of the Chinese People (illustrated ed.). Courier Dover Publications. p. 173. ISBN   0-486-42488-X . Retrieved 2011-11-28. In the campaigns waged in western Asia (1253-1258) by Jenghis' grandson Hulagu, "a thousand engineers from China had to get themselves ready to serve the catapults, and to be able to cast inflammable substances." One of Hulagu's principal generals in his successful attack against the caliphate of Baghdad was Chinese.
  23. Zaydān, Jirjī (1907). History of Islamic Civilization, Vol. 4. Hertford: Stephen Austin and Sons, Ltd. p. 292. Retrieved 16 September 2012.
  24. 1 2 3 4 Davis, Paul K. (2001). Besieged: 100 Great Sieges from Jericho to Sarajevo. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 67.
  25. Nicolle
  26. James Chambers, "The Devil's Horsemen," p. 144.
  27. Fattah, Hala. A Brief History of Iraq. Checkmark Books. p. 101.
  28. Murray, S.A.P. (2012). The library: An illustrated history. New York: Skyhorse Publishing, pp. 54.
  29. Frazier, I., "Invaders: Destroying Baghdad," New Yorker Magazine, [Special edition: Annals of History], April 25, 2005, Online Issue Archived 2018-06-12 at the Wayback Machine
  30. (Sicker 2000, p. 111)
  31. Frazier, Ian (25 April 2005). "Annals of history: Invaders: Destroying Baghdad". The New Yorker . p. 4. Archived from the original on 2017-10-10. Retrieved 2012-01-01.
  32. Marozzi, Justin (16 August 2014). "In Threatening Baghdad, Militants Seek to Undo 800 Years of History" . Retrieved 1 May 2018 via www.thedailybeast.com.
  33. Marozzi, Justin (29 May 2014). Baghdad: City of Peace, City of Blood. Penguin Books. pp. 176–177. ISBN   978-0-14-194804-1.
  34. Alltel.net Archived 2006-06-22 at the Wayback Machine
  35. "Saudi Aramco World : The Greening of the Arab East: The Planters". saudiaramcoworld.com. Archived from the original on 2006-01-25. Retrieved 2006-02-03.
  36. Maalouf, 243
  37. Runciman, 306
  38. Foltz, 123
  39. Coke, Richard (1927). Baghdad, the City of Peace. London: T. Butterworth. p. 169.
  40. Kolbas, Judith G. (2006). The Mongols in Iran: Chingiz Khan to Uljaytu, 1220–1309. London: Routledge. p. 156. ISBN   0-7007-0667-4.

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The Berke–Hulagu war was fought between two Mongol leaders, Berke Khan of the Golden Horde and Hulagu Khan of the Ilkhanate. It was fought mostly in the Caucasus mountains area in the 1260s after the destruction of Baghdad in 1258. The war overlaps with the Toluid Civil War in the Mongol Empire between two members of the Tolui family line, Kublai Khan and Ariq Böke, who both claimed the title of Great Khan (Khagan). Kublai allied with Hulagu, while Ariq Böke sided with Berke. Hulagu headed to Mongolia for the election of a new Khagan to succeed Möngke Khan, but the loss of the Battle of Ain Jalut to the Mamluks forced him to withdraw back to the Middle East. The Mamluk victory emboldened Berke to invade the Ilkhanate. The Berke–Hulagu war and the Toluid Civil War as well as the subsequent Kaidu–Kublai war marked a key moment in the fragmentation of the Mongol empire after the death of Möngke, the fourth Great Khan of the Mongol Empire.

Guo Kan or Kuo K'an, (1217–1277) was a famous general of Han descent who served the Mongol Khans in their Western conquests and the conquest of China itself. He was descended from a lineage of Chinese generals. Both his father and grandfather had served the Khan, while his forefather Guo Ziyi, a famed general of the Tang Dynasty. He was not a senior Mongol commander but was in charge of Chinese artillery units under the Mongol Empire. He was one of the foreign legions that served the Mongol Empire, and some of the later conquests of the Mongols were done by armies under his command. The biography of this Han commander in the Yuan Shi said that Guo Kan's presence struck so much fear in his foes that they called him the "Divine Man".


Al-Mustansir Abu al-Qasim Ahmad was a member of the Abbasid house who was imprisoned by his nephew the Caliph al-Musta'sim in Baghdad. Following the sack of Baghdad by the Mongols in 1258, he escaped to the Arab tribes in the desert, where he hid out for a couple of years, until the Mamluks drove the Mongols from Syria in 1260. After making his way to Cairo, Mamluk Egypt, al-Mustansir was installed as Caliph there by the Mamluk Sultan Baybars I in 1261. He was sent with an army to the east to recover Baghdad, but was killed in a Mongol ambush near Hīt in 1261, and was succeeded by his rather distant Abbasid kinsman Al-Hakim I. Though he was not the direct ancestor of any of them, the line of Cairo caliphs he founded lasted until the Ottoman conquest of Egypt in 1517, but they were little more than religious figureheads for the Mamluks.

Mongol conquest of China 13th century conquest

The Mongol conquest of China was a series of major military efforts by the Mongol Empire to invade China proper. It spanned six decades in the 13th century and involved the defeat of the Jin dynasty, Western Xia, the Dali Kingdom and the Southern Song. The Mongol Empire under Genghis Khan started the conquest with small-scale raids into Western Xia in 1205 and 1207. By 1279, the Mongol leader Kublai Khan had established the Yuan dynasty in China and crushed the last Song resistance, which marked the onset of all of China under the Mongol Yuan rule. This was the first time in history that the whole of China was conquered and subsequently ruled by a foreign or non-native ruler.

Mongol invasions of India

The Mongol Empire launched several invasions into the Indian subcontinent from 1221 to 1327, with many of the later raids made by the unruly Qaraunas of Mongol origin. The Mongols occupied parts of modern Pakistan and other parts of Punjab for decades. As the Mongols progressed into the Indian hinterland and reached the outskirts of Delhi, the Delhi Sultanate led a campaign against them in which the Mongol army suffered serious defeats.

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Coordinates: 33°20′00″N44°26′00″E / 33.3333°N 44.4333°E / 33.3333; 44.4333