Hulegu Khan was the brother of Möngke Khan, the 4th Khagan of the Mongol Empire. In 1251, Mongke Khan ascended the throne of the Mongol Empire. He summoned his brother Hulagu Khan and entrusted him to achieve the incomplete mission of Genghis Khan of conquering the world.
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Hulegu Khan’s expedition
The immediate objective of Hülagü’s expedition was the destruction of the Nizari Ismailis – the Assassins based in the Alburz mountains and Quhistān. Hulegu Khan left his encampment in Mongolia in October 1253 for Central and West Asia with highly qualified soldiers and commanders, such as Mongke’s personal steward KetBuqa (Ked Bukha). The army included a thousand engineers and infantry from Northern China. The Mongol forces have been estimated at around 150,000.
Hulagu crossed the Oxus in January 1256. From there he first moved to Quhistan in April of 1256 and gradually eliminated the Ismaili state from Alburz mountains. During the operations against the Ismailis, Hulagu demanded reinforcements from the Abbasid Caliph. Caliph Al- Musta‛ṣim’s instinct was to comply; but because of internal disagreements among his amirs and ministers, he failed to send any troops.
Sack of Baghdad
In 1258, he sacked Baghdad and put an end to the Abbasid caliphate. But his invasion would be checked at the Battle of Ain Jalut by the Mamluks. Shortly before the battle, Hulegu withdrew from the Levant and left Kitbuga there. The victory was sealed when Kitbuga was captured and executed by the Mamluks. This caused the remaining Mongols to retreat.
Founder of Ilkhanate
Hulegu proclaimed himself Ilkhan (subordinate khan) in 1256. After Mongke Khan’s death in 1259, it became an independent Khanate. The Seljuqs of Anatolia became the vassals of the Mongol Empire after their defeat in the Battle of Köse Dağ in 1243. So, when Hulagu laid the foundation of Ilkhanate, he continued his control over the Seljuqs.
In 1308, the Seljuqs Sultan Mesud II was murdered and thus the Seljuqs of Anatolia were overthrown by the Mongols completely. But soon in 1335, the Ilkhanate was also disintegrated. After Ilkhanate’s fall, several independent petty dynasties and principalities emerged to power in Iran and Anatolia.
Hulegu ruled Ilkhanate from 1256 to 1265. He died on 8 February 1265 because of an illness.
Last updated on February 29th, 2024 at 02:14 am
Sarim Ashrafi is the founder and editor-in-chief of Islamic Chronicles. With an unwavering love for Islamic history, he weaves captivating narratives that transport you through the rich tapestry of the Islamic world.