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Ages of Conquest: a Kings and Generals Podcast

May 24, 2021

Having now taken you to the end of Mongol rule in China, we move westwards in our histories of the Mongol Khanates. Our next stop is the middle Khanate: the ulus of Chagatai. Encompassing much of Central Asia, the Khanate ruled by the descendants of Chinggis Khan’s second son Chagatai is perhaps the most poorly known. In our first episode on the Chagatais, we’ll take you through their history in the 13th century, touched on often in previous episodes but now recieving its own focus. From efforts at reconstruction by Mahmud Yalavach and his son Mas’ud Beg, to stability under the regeny of the widow Orghina Khatun, to disasters  in battle at Herat to domination under Qaidu and the rise of Du’a Khan. I’m your host David, and this is Kings and Generals: Ages of Conquest.


    The territory which became the Ulus of Chagatai was conquered by the Mongols in two stages. The eastern half of the ulus, in what is now southeastern Kazakhstan and northwest Xinjiang, was taken largely peacefully when Jebe Noyan overran the empire of Qara-Khitai in 1218-1219. As covered back in episode 8, the fleeing Naiman prince Kuchlug had fled to Qara-Khitai and usurped power there. When Jebe invaded, Kuchlug ran for his life, leaving the cities of his new empire defenseless. The lack of defense was ironically beneficial, as they largely submitted peacefully, and the former Qara-Khitai troops joined their new Mongol overlords. The more densely populated western half of the empire was not so lucky. This region, including Transoxania and the Ferghana valley in modern southern Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan down to Turkmenistan, was controlled by  the Khwarezmian Empire, and was violently crushed by Chinggis Khan in the first years of the 1220s, as we saw in episode 9. 


    Each site that put up resistance fell victim to the Khan’s wrath. The destruction not just of cities, but of agriculture and irrigation canals. The toll on the population was horrific. Perhaps millions were killed in the course of the conquest. Perhaps as many died from the ensuing starvation, spread of disease and banditry. Thousands upon thousands were displaced from their  homes, or transported elsewhere on Mongol order. The initial governors set over the region and cities did little to help, simply bringing more taxation and material demands onto the population.


    Chinggis Khan’s second son, Chagatai, stayed in the region after the conquest. Contrary to popular belief, Chinggis did not divide his empire among his sons in order for them to become distinct states. Rather, they were each allotted territory within the empire in order to support themselves. Chagatai was granted much of the former Khwarezmian and Qara-Khitai realms, becoming the basis of the ulus of Chagatai. Stern and demanding, Chagatai had little care for city life or  the cultures of the people he ruled over. He was a man of the steppe, and his reign was spent in the steppe. Though he maintained a quasi-capital at Almaliq, near modern Kulja, northwestern Xinjiang on the Ili River, Chagatai resided in his summer and winter pastures. Almaliq served to collect tribute and house his treasures, his officials and received messengers from the court. Reconstruction of the conquered territories was not his concern. His engineers were used to build large pools for water fowl to flock to for Chagatai to hunt.


    This is not to say Chagatai had no interaction with his subjects. Chagatai was a strict upholder of the yassa and the yosun, the laws and customs of his father Chinggis Khan. We have mentioned in previous episodes that there was conflict on who these laws should apply to; that is, just nomads, or to the sedentarized populations of the empire as well. Well, Chagatai was of the opinion that everyone was subject to the laws, which were to be enforced as strictly as possible. Laws against theft were violently enforced. The Persian historian Juvaini, writing in the mid 1250s, who worked for the Mongols and spent quite some time in the Chagatai realm, wrote this famous passage you may have heard variations of:


     For fear of his yasa and punishment his followers were so well disciplined that during his reign no traveller, so long as he was near his army, had need of guard or patrol on any stretch of road; and, as is said by way of hyperbole, a woman with a golden vessel on her head might walk alone without fear or dread.


    The presence of Chagatai was enough to discourage thievery, although the quote has often been taken out of context to suggest a woman could walk across all of Asia under Mongol rule and not face any  danger. While a strict enforcer of the yassa’s promulgations against theft, Chagatai was more infamous in the Muslim world for the anti-Islamic aspects of the yassa. Though the Mongols have a popular image as a beacon of religious liberty, this has been overstated. Though often tolerant in the most literal sense, as in they just tolerated certain religions seen as useful, the Mongols were less accommodating when they found that a religion conflicted with their own customs. The yassa, for instance, mandated the method in which an animal must be slaughtered: crushing the heart, and not letting any blood spill. Needlessly spilling blood on the ground was a great offense to the spirits. The halal method of slaughter perscribed by Islam though, requires cutting the throat and draining the blood. The two methods were inherently contradictory, and conflicts often arose from Mongols attempting to ban halal slaughter. Immediately after describing how Chagatai’s army dissuaded theft, Juvaini wrote the following:


“And he enacted minute yasa that were an intolerable imposition upon such as the Taziks, [so] that none might slaughter meat in the Moslem fashion nor sit by day in running water, and so on. The yasa forbidding the slaughter of sheep in the lawful manner he sent to every land; and for a time no man slaughtered sheep openly in Khorasan, and Moslems were forced to eat carrion.”


Chagatai may not have specifically hated Muslims or been a man of constantly boling rage, as he is often portrayed  by modern authors.  He certainly employed Muslims in the top ranks of his bureacracy. We should probably imagine him better as an uncomprosiming figure seeking to stringently enforce his father’s laws; it just so happened that this enforcement was quite harmful to Muslims caught in the crosshairs. From the Mongol point of view, you could still be a Muslim as long as you did not practice these certain customs the Mongols disliked, such as spilling blood or washing dirty things in running water.


The nuance made little difference to the Muslims of Central Asia, to whom Chagatai consistently appears as a tormenter in the sources. Juzjani, a Khwarezmian refugee to the Delhi Sultanate in India, wrote in the 1250s and describes Chagatai as a demonic figure who wanted to exterminate the Muslims. Often, Chagatai is used in these sources as a contrast to Ogedai, usually depicted as generous and a friend to Islam. 


Ogedai’s  enthronement as Khan of Khans in 1229 certainly was a benefit to the Muslims of the empire. At  the start of his reign Ogedai created another governmental layer, the Secretariat system- check out episode 13 for more on this. While the North China Branch Secretariat has received greater attention in our series, at  the same time a Branch Secretariat for Turkestan, or Central Asia, was established to oversee the populations under Chagatai’s rule, and strengthen the Great Khan’s authority there. The man  chosen to head the department was a good choice, a native of Khwarezm called Mahmud Yalavach.


Mahmud Yalavach, and his son Mas’ud Beg, were perhaps the two longest serving ministers of the Mongols, and the two have often weaved their way in and out of our series. Mahmud Yalavach’s early life is unknown, other than that he hailed from Khwarezm. The great Russian orientalist Vasili Bartold suggested that Mahmud Yalavach is identical to Mahmud Bey, the vizier of the final Gur-Khan of the Qara-Khitai. Yalavach first reliably appears as a part of Chinggis Khan’s 1218 embassy to the Khwarezmian Empire, where he is identified as Mahmud Khwarezmi. Taken aside by the Khwarezm-Shah Muhammad II, Mahmud deftly handled their interaction, and for the mission he earned the title of Yalavach, Turkic for messenger or ambassador. Staying in Mongol service, in 1229 Ogedai appointed him manager of the Branch Secretariat for Central Asia.


Yalavach, assisted by his son Mas’ud Beg, proved a very capable man, and under him the first genuine reconstruction efforts after the Mongol conquest were implemented. At his direction with the backing of Great Khan Ogedai, cities and irrigation systems were rebuilt, agriculture encouraged and revitalized, a new tax system implemented and efforts to clamp down on extra-ordinary levies on the part of Chagatai and his sons were enacted. His efforts were successful. Several contemporary sources agree to the restoration of prosperity to the region, corroborated by numismatic evidence.


Yalavach’s first decade in charge of the Central Asian Branch Secretariat was a much needed salve for the region, though he faced competition from Chagatai, who did not take kindly to his brother’s officer’s  interference. At the first opportunity he would get, Chagatai would undermine Yalavach.


In 1238, an unexpected crisis emerged from one of the chief cities of Transoxania, Bukhara. There, a sieve-maker named Mahmud Tarabi became a popular  figure on account of his supposed magical capabilities and ability to communicate with djinn. Juvaini says that, according to reputable individuals with whom he spoke with in Bukhara, one of Tarabi’s spells included making a medicine from dog feces and blowing it into the eyes of the blind, which restored their sight. Juvaini did not have a high opinion of him,  also remarking that in regards to his stupidity and ignorance Tarabi had no equal.


Tarabi developed quite a reputation for magic and miracles, encouraged by a local notable named Shams-ad-Din Mahbubi, who through his personal vendetta against Bukhara’s leadership and the Mongols, encouraged Tarabi’s pretensions. How the very planets were aligning in his favour! Mahbubi told him, even going as far, Juvaini says, speaking of a prophecy that a man from Tarabi’s home village of Tarab would conquer the world. Unfortunately for Tarabi, there was some very stiff competition for such a claim.


Mahmud Yalavach was alerted to the bubbling unrest in Bukhara gathering around Tarabi, and sought to lure the man out and kill him. Tarabi saw through the trap and evaded it, which escalated his troublemaking. His inflammatory speeches to the people of Bukhara riled them up, and his claims of support from the invisible hosts of heaven seemed to have been given some merit when a merchant with a shipment of swords had his wares fall into Tarabi’s hands. With his followers now armed, Tarabi, as all good prophets do, collected around himself riches and women. Convinced of their power, they killed or drove out the Bukharan government and Mongolian representatives.


A response force was rallied- likely local militia under the command of regional darughachi. Mahbubi and Tarabi marched out of Bukhara at the head of their army, convinced of their divine protection. Neither wore armour or weapon, and spread rumours that whoever rose a hand against them would be struck down parrarlyed. The response force was worried, and only set off a volley of arrows when the wind picked up a dust storm. Frightened that this was some trick of Tarabi, the response force fled, and Tarabi’s army doggedly pursued. They caught up to the response force and killed a great many. Upon returning to Bukhara, they were unable to find either Tarabi or Mahbubi. Juvaini asserts that both were struck by arrows in the volley set off by the government forces and killed, though it went unnoticed by both the Bukharan and the government forces. Regardless, under new local leadership, Tarabi’s army turned to looting and pillaging the countryside.


So they remained occupied for a week until a proper Mongol army arrived, either imperial troops or sent by Chagatai. The Bukharan forces went up confident towards them, believing defeating local  militia was the same as defeating the horsemen of the Great Khan.  The first volley of arrows killed  the leadership of the Bukharan forces, and within hours 20,000 of the late-Tarabi’s followers had joined them.  The following day, the Mongols were leading the citizens of Bukhara onto the plain before the city, preparing to unleash a horrific massacre as punishment. Only at the intervention of Mahmud Yalavach, with approval of Great Khan Ogedai, was this averted, and the population spared, probably to the displeasure of Chagatai. 


The Tarabi revolt however had undermined Yalavach’s credibility. Later in 1239 when Chagatai sought to transfer territory under Yalavach’s  supervision to another official -something which under the secretariat system, Chagatai lacked the power to do- Yalavach complained to Ogedai. Ogedai agreed with Yalavach’s complaint, but to smooth things over with his brother, removed Yalavach from his office. But to demonstrate that he was not doing this to allow imperial perogative to slip,  Ogedai immediaely appointed Yalavach’s  son Mas’ud Beg to his father’s position at head of the Central Asian Secretariat, while Yalavach would, in the final months of Ogedai’s life in 1241, be appointed to head the Secretariat in North China after Yelu Chucai’s [choots-eye’s] demotion. 


Mas’ud Beg was just as capable as his father, and dedicated himself to the reconstruction of Central Asia, but with little progress over the 1240s. Ogedai had little energy for governance in his final years, and when he died in December 1241, Chagatai was the chief figure of the empire, the senior Chinggisid. Chagatai’s support for the regency of Ogedai’s widow  Torogene helped ensure her position, but the last son of Chinggis Khan soon died of illness in 1242.  


Chagatai’s favourite son, Motugen, had died during the Khwarezmian campaign. He moved his choice of heir to another young son, but he too died early. Finally, Chagatai decided on a son of Motugen, Qara-Hulegu to be his heir. Qara-Hulegu was quickly confirmed into his father’s position in 1242, and largely cooperated in both financial policy and personnel with the regent Torogene Khatun. Therefore, Mas’ud Beg had to flee to Batu, chief of the Jochids, as Torogene threatened both him and his father Yalavach, men she saw as her enemies. This period we covered back in episode 20. Torogene’s son Guyuk became Great Khan in 1246, welcoming Mas’ud Beg and Mahmud Yalavach back to their positions, but deposing Qara-Hulegu. Instead, Guyuk Khan appointed his friend, a son of Chagatai named Yesu-Mongke, as the new Khan of the Chagatais.  Yesu-Mongke was good at exactly one thing, the sources agree: drinking. 


After Guyuk’s  death in 1248, the former Khan Qara-Hulegu and his clever wife Orghina wisely backed the new contender for the throne, Tolui’s son Mongke. When Mongke became the Khan of Khans in 1251, he undertook a massacre of princes of the line of Ogedai and Chagatai who had opposed him and plotted against him. As we saw in episode 21, Mongke essentially dissolved the ulus of Ogedai, and while the territory of the Chagatais remained intact, their ranks were thinned. Guyuk’s appointed Chagatai Khan Yesu-Mongke was deposed and eventually killed on Mongke’s order, and Qara-Hulegu was rewarded for his loyalty with the khanate again. Mas’ud beg and Mahmud Yalavach were reconfirmed in their positions in Central Asia and China. Everyone set out from Karakorum to return to their posts, except for Qara-Hulegu, who died en route. His young son Mubarak-Shah was duly enthroned as Khan of the Chagatais, with his mother, Qara-Hulegu’s widow Orghina Khatun, as regent. 


She was a good choice, an intelligent and shrewd woman who understood the dynamics of the Chagatai realm well. She was well respected, as she had been held in esteem by Chagatai himself, and as a granddaughter of Chinggis Khan via his daughter Checheyigen and a prince of the Oirats, she was of distinguished lineage. Over the 1250s, Orghina Khatun in cooperation with Mas’ud Beg furthered the reconstruction of Central Asia. According to Juvaini in the 1250s Transoxania finally reached the level of prosperity it had before the Mongol conquest. Fully backed by Mongke Khan, who also married her aunt, strengthening their connection, Orghina may as well have been the Chagatai Khan herself. The Mongol Empire saw a number of female regents  over the 1240s and 50s, and Orghina may well have been the most capable. She gave Mas’ud Beg full support and materials to restore the economic power of the region. Both became quite wealthy through their efforts, as they had enough money to persoally endow madrassas. When Mongke Khaan’s brother Hulegu passed through the region in 1253 en route to his Iran campaign, Orghina Khatun hosted lavish banquets for Hulegu and his wives, who happened to be Orghina’s sister and half-sister. 


The height of the Chagatai Khanate was probably this decade under Orghina Khatun and Mas’ud Beg’s governance. The Chagatayids enjoyed their best relationship with the imperial government, having the full backing of Grand Khan Mongke, the trade routes prospered, cities were rebuilt, their economies restored and the region had a period of relative peace, and the horrors of the  conquest began to slip into the past. There is some indication that the realm may have been, in this time, called something like the ulus of Oghina. The Franciscan Friar William of Rubruck, who passed through the region in the early 1250s, reported that he heard it called Organum. The term is of uncertain origin. Rubruck himself didn’t know where it came from, and there is debate in the scholarship if it actually refers to Orghina, with a number of alternative suggestions made, such as it coming from the name of Urgench, the capital of Khwarezm. But it is terribly coincidental though, that Rubruck would use such a rare term with more than a passing similarity to the name of the lady ruling the area skillfully at the exact same time. 


As with so many things, this came to a crash with Mongke Khan’s death on campaign in 1259. Orghina Khatun and her kinsmen supported Mongke’s brother, Ariq Boke, in his declaration as Khan of Khans, which put them at odds with Mongke’s other brother, Khubilai. Khubilai in 1260 sought to place a more amenable figure on the Chagatayid throne in order to deny Ariq an ally, and sent a great-grandson of Chagatai named Abishqa to depose or marry Orghina Khatun. Ariq Boke arrested and executed Khubilai’s Chagatai prince, but soon decided he needed his own man leading the Chagatayids. Orghina was a skilled administrator, but no miltiary leader, and she may not have been willing to allow Ariq to use her realm as a supply depot for war against Khubilai, who had access to all the materials of north China. In 1261 Ariq had Orghina removed and placed Alghu, another grandson of Chagatai, onto the throne. Orghina came to Ariq’s  court and basically spent the next two years criticizing him for the action. 


As you undoubtedly know by now, as we covered it in episode 32, the war between Ariq Boke and Khubilai did not go well for Ariq. Alghu turned out to be unreliable, denying Ariq his supplies and backing Khubilai. Soon after, Orghina Khatun left Ariq Boke, returning to the Chagatai Khanate where Alghu forced her into marriage. Orghina was very popular among the Chagatayids, and it seems Alghu struggled for legitimacy. Marrying the influential Orghina was Alghu’s best solution. To seal the agreement, Alghu made her young son Mubarak-Shah his designated heir and once more confirmed the great administrator Mas’ud Beg over Transoxania. 


Ariq Boke was furious at Alghu’s  betrayal, and in his frustration invaded the Chagatai Khanate, attacking Almaliq, but was soon, due to famine and desertion, forced to surrender to Khubilai. His victory complete, Khubilai confirmed Alghu and Orghina as the masters of the Chagatayids. With the war between the Toluids settled but the Great Khan’s influence severely curtailed in Central Asia, Alghu was free to strengthen himself as an independent monarch. He had to deal with an upstart Ogedeid prince on his northern border, however, a young man named Qaidu. Qaidu managed to defeat Alghu’s forces in a first battle, but Alghu regrouped and defeated Qaidu late in 1265. Poised to invade Qaidu’s small dominion, matters seemed bleak for Qaidu until Alghu suddenly died at the start of 1266. This much needed reprieve for Qaidu would define the Chagatais for the rest of the 13th century.


As per their agreement, on Alghu’s death Orghina Khatun finally placed her son Mubarak-Shah on the Chagatayid throne in March 1266. This is the last known event of Orghina Khatun’s life, and it seems she died soon after enthroning her son. Apparently this was done without the approval of Khubilai Khan, as when Khubilai learned of this he sent another grandson of Chagatai from his court, Baraq. Only months into his reign, and some 15 years since his father’s death, Mubarak-Shah Khan was captured by Baraq and made his prisoner. 


    The new Chagatai Khan, Baraq, won his first victory over Qaidu, but when Qaidu returned backed with troops from the Golden Horde sent by the Jochid Khan Mongke-Temur, Baraq was sent onto the backfoot. He pillaged Bukhara and Samarkand to fund  a new army, starting the first round of undoing Mahmud Yalavach and Mas’ud Beg’s work. Even worse, it was for naught; Qaidu and Mongke-Temur sent emissaries for a truce. And so, either in 1267 on the Qatwan Steppe, or in 1269 at Talas, Chagatai Khan Baraq, the Ogedeid Prince Qaidu and representatives of the Jochid Khan Mongke-Temur made peace. They divivded the revenue of Transoxania between them, with ⅔ going to Baraq and ⅓ to be split between Qaidu and Mongke-Temur. Pastures were divided between them, princes and troops were forbidden to enter cities, Mas’ud Beg was to be placed in control of administering the sedentary population and Baraq and Qaidu became anda, blood brothers. Promising to support Baraq in an invasion of the Ilkhanate, they apparently also sent a joint letter to Khubilai criticizing his sinicization. The peace of Talas can be considered a definitive end to Mongol imperial unity, for now the princes ignored divided the empire between themselves.


    Though a  peace, it was an uneasy one, and one dependent on turning their energies against other Mongols. Late in 1269 in preparation for his invasion of the Ilkhanate, Baraq encouraged a Chagatayid prince who served the Ilkhans to desert. Ilkhan Abaqa, son of Hulegu, swiftly crushed the prince’s attempt near Derband. 


    In 1270 Baraq entered Ilkhanid territory in Khurasan, in what is now northeastern Iran and Afghanistan. Accompanying him were a large body of soldiers from Qaidu. Baraq’s army devastated much of Khurasan, overruning Badakhshan, Shaburghan, Taliqan, Merv and Nishapur in the first months of 1270, undoing much of the recovery these places had had since the invasion of Chinggis fifty years prior. Baraq won a victory over Abaqa Ilkhan’s  brother Tubshin and the long serving governor of the region, Arghun Aqa, causing them to flee to Abaqa and warn him of the danger. But Qaidu had given explicit orders to his own men; after the victory over Tubshin, a disagreement between Qaidu’s commanders and Baraq’s was used as pretext for Qaidu’s men to abandon Baraq. Baraq was incensed and sent some men to pursue, all the while giving valuable time for Abaqa Ilkhan to mobilize his forces.


Baraq then turned his attention on Herat in northern Aghanista in July of 1270. But Abaqa, was already on the march, and  the Georgian forces in Abaqa’s vanguard surprised and destroyed Baraq’s advance force. Baraq pulled his men back after the brief clash, with Abaqa keeping his large army mostly hidden. Abaqa then sent a peace embassy to Baraq, and Baraq seems to have momentarily considered; then promptly sent a small group of spies to find and track Abaqa’s army.


    Abaqa captured the spies, executing all but one when he had a terribly clever idea. Absolutely devious, in fact. Leaving one spy tied up but near feasting troops, Abaqa had his troops in a panic abandon their camp and make much noise that an army of the Golden Horde had crossed the Caucasus and Abaqa needed to pull back to deal with it. The spy was allowed to escape and report his news back to Baraq, who was positively delighted. He quickly advanced, crossing the Herat river and plundered Abaqa’s deserted camp then moved leisurely onto a nearby plain… where he found Abaqa’s larger army drawn up for battle. Baraq had fallen into the trap, but he was not going to roll over for Abaqa. Baraq’s Chagatayid horsemen led the first charge, unleashing a volley of arrows into the Ilkhanid forces.  Devastating cycle charges of a thousand  horse archers ravaged the Ilkhanid lines, the apparently lighter equipped Chagatais too mobile for the heavier Ilkhanid cavalry. One of Baraq’s chief commanders was struck down by an arrow, but they resumed the attack and their repeated charges pushed back the Ilkhan’s centre and left.


    Abaqa considered retreating, but was encouraged by his generals to stick to the field. Redeploying his forces, gradually the Ilkhan encircled Baraq’s army. In a last attempt, Baraq personally led charges against the Ilkhan, until knocked from his horse. According to Rashid al-din, the grounded Baraq shouted at his men, “I am Baraq, give me a horse!” until finally acquiring a horse and riding off the field, pursued by the Ilkhanid troops for two days. One of Baraq’s commanders continued to fight, holding off the Ilkhans long enough to allow a number of Chagatayid troops to escape as well. So ended the battle of Herat, July 1270, ensuring Ilkhanid dominaion of Khurasan. Abaqa’s preoccupation with Baraq allowed the Mamluks to take Tripoli, and the defeat of Baraq ended up allowing Qaidu to dominate Central Asia for the next 30 years.


    Baraq reached Bukhara, where he soon fell deadly ill. Qaidu sent troops to capture Baraq, but in August 1271 found that Baraq had succumbed to his illness. The captive Mubarak-Shah used this opprounity to plunder Baraq’s camp and steal his possessions, even the jewelry of his widows, before fleeing to the Ilkhanate with his sister.


    Qaidu was now the dominant power in the Chagatai Khanate, a period we largely covered in episode 41. Only a month after Baraq’s death, Qaidu was declared Khan of the Ogedeids, and appointed his first Chagatai Khan. His initiall efforts to instill control were difficult, as sons of Alghu, Baraq and the puppet Chagatai khan himself rebelled. It would not be until 1282 when Qaidu was able to impose his authority,  placing Du’a, a son of Baraq, onto the throne of Chagatai. Du’a and Qaidu had a very effective partnership, and channeled the energies of their combined khanates against the Yuan Dynasty, Ilkhanate and even India. It brought much needed peace to the region internally, even if the overland trade routes, the famed silk roads, were disrupted by their warfare. The aging Mas’ud Beg was heart broken when Abaqa Ilkhan preemptively attacked and sacked Bukhara in 1273, and the city was sacked again in 1276 by the rebellious sons of Alghu and Baraq. Mas’ud Beg must have been pleased for some sense of stability with Du’a and Qaidu’s partnership, and continued to do what he could to rebuild until his death in 1289. So honoured was he that Qaidu and Du’a had Mas’ud’s son immediately take his stead. Du’a and Qaidu certainly did what they could to encourage trade and growth, and even constructed cities, though they did not live in them. Their direction of the energies of their warriors against their foes must have helped keep  rapacious nomads away from the fragile economic centres within the khanates.


    It certainly allowed for expansion of their influence. In the 1290s Du’a with Qaidu’s support exerted his authority over Ghazna in Afghanistan, and the fearsome Neguderis there. His eldest son Qutlugh Khwaja was appointed to head them, and from that base conducted raids on northern India at the same time as Du’a and Qaidu led their armies into Yuan territory in northwestern China. Chagatai raids on the Ilkhanate in the 1290s reached as far as Mazandaran, Fars and Kirman, and they even tried to put their own claimant on the throne of the Blue Horde, between the Caspian and Aral Seas.

    The final years of this effective partnership, as we covered in quite some detail in episode 41, ended in 1301 with Qaidu’s death against Yuan forces. At the start of the 14th century, Du’a was master of Central Asia and the Chagatai Khanate. Our next episode picks up with Du’a’s reign and the long shadow he cast over the Chagatais, namely in the form of all of his sons who basically each took a turn being Khan. So be sure to subscribe to the Kings and Generals podcast to follow. If you enjoyed this, and would like to help us continue bringing you great content, please consider supporting us on patreon at This episode and researched and written by our series historian, Jack Wilson. I’m your host David, and we’ll catch you on the next one!