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Marriage, Family and Politics: The Ilkhanid-Oirat Connection


The Chinggisids clearly favoured specific in-law clans through policies of repeated marriage over generations. This paper charts the fortunes of one such clan, the Oirats, who first joined the Chinggisids when Chinggis Khan and Börte's daughter Chechiyegen wedded an Oirat prince. Thereafter Chechiyegen's own daughters married back to the Toluid, Jochid and Chagatayid families. This paper follows those Oirats who intermarried with the Ilkhanids, beginning with Chechiyegen's daughter Güyük and ending with the Toluid-Oirat Ilkhan, Abū Sa‘īd (r. 1317-1335).

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1 See Rashiduddin Fazlullah's Jami‘u't-tawarikh: Compendium of Chronicles: A History of the Mongols, translated and annotated by W. M. Thackston (Cambridge, MA, 1998), page numbers in parentheses. Birth orders for the sons and daughters appear separately but clearly (pp. 146-147). Rashīd al-Dīn also mentions that Qojin was the oldest overall (347), that Alaqa was younger than Ögedei but older than Tolui (71), and that Tümelün was also older than Tolui (86), which allows us to construct an overall birth order.

2 These were Uighur territory (Al Altan married the idu-qut Barchuk); Önggüt territory (Alaqa married several Önggüt princes) and Oirat territory (through Chechiyegen). Meanwhile, Qojin married Chinggis Khan's Ikires follower, Butu, while Tümelün married one of Börte's Qongrat nephews. See Broadbridge, Imperial Women, Chapter 4, forthcoming.

3 See Broadbridge, Imperial Women, Chapter 5, forthcoming

4 This was exchange marriage, which came in two forms: first when “in exchange for” his wife a man married a daughter to his wife's brother's son, and second when he married a son to his wife's niece at the same time. See Uno, Nobuhiro, “Exchange-Marriage in the Royal Families of Nomadic States”, in The Early Mongols: Language, Culture and History. Studies in honor of Igor de Rachewiltz on the occasion of his 80th birthday, (eds.) Rybatzki, Volker et al (Indiana University, 2009), pp. 176 , 179-180. Zhao prefers “one-way” and “two-way” marriages. Zhao, George, Marriage as Political Strategy and Cultural Expression (New York, 2008), pp. 2425 .

5 Zhao, Marriage, pp. 5-21; Jagchid, Sechin and Hyer, Paul, Mongolia's Culture and Society (Boulder, 1979), p. 92 .

6 See examples in Tables 1–7. Also see Zhao, Marriage, p. 16.

7 A. H. Bittles et al, “Consanguinity, Human Evolution, and Complex Diseases,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, Vol. 107, Supplement 1: Evolution in Health and Medicine (Jan. 26, 2010), pp. 1779-1786; Lyons, Emily et al, “Consanguinity and susceptibility to infectious diseases in humans,” Biol. Lett. (2009) no. 5, pp. 574576 .

8 Other causes included dietary changes and alcoholism. Smith, John Masson, “Dietary Decadence and Dynastic Decline in the Mongol Empire,” Journal of Asian History 34 (2001), pp. 3552 .

9 For marriages between the Chinggisids and their entourages see Meville, Charles, “The Keshig in Iran: The Survival of the Royal Mongol Household”, in Beyond the Legacy of Genghis Khan, (ed.) Komaroff, Linda (Leiden, 2006), pp. 149150 .

10 If Chinggis Khan was born in 1167 (Paul Ratchnevsky, The Life and Legacy of Genghis Khan (Oxford, 1992), p. 18), and married at 15 to a 16-year-old Börte in 1182, and if we hypothesize dates from Ögedei, whose birth year (1186) is the only one known, and from the assumption that Tolui was at least 10 when he married Sorqaqtani of the Kerayits in 1203, we can extrapolate the births of their children thus: Qojin (1182; Börte was 16 or 17), Jochi (1183; Börte was 17), Chagatai (1184 or 1185; Börte was 18-19), Ögedei (1186, the only verifiable date; Börte was 20); Chechiyegen (1187 or 1188, Börte was 21 or 21); Alaqa (1189?, Börte was 23), Tümelün (1190 or 1191?, Börte was 24 or 25), Tolui (1192 or 1193?, Börte was 26 or 27) and Al Altun, the youngest (1194 or 1195?, Börte was 28 or 29). Broadbridge, Imperial Women, Chapter 2, forthcoming; Paul Pelliot, Histoire des campagnes de Gengis Khan: Cheng wou ts-in-tcheng lou, translated and edited by Paul Pelliot and Louis Hambis (Leiden, 1951), p. 266 for Ögedei's birth year (the red edition).

11 The Secret History of the Mongols: A Mongolian epic chronicle of the thirteenth century, edited and translated by Igor de Rachewiltz (Leiden and Boston, 2006), p. 239. Juvaynī, Atā-Malik, The History of the World Conqueror, translated by J. A. Boyle (Cambridge, MA, 1958), p. 38; Rashīd al-Dīn / Thackston, Compendium, 55. For Mongol-Oirat cooperation see Rachenevsky, Genghis Khan, 102, 116-118.

12 The sons were Inalchı and Törolchi; the Oirat daughter was Oghul Qaimish, not to be confused with Güyük Khan's (r. 1246-48) wife of the same name. The Secret History suggests that Chechiyegen married Inalchı, but Rashīd al-Dīn and the Yüan Shih suggest she wedded Törölchi. Secret History, 239; Rashīd al-Dīn / Thackston, Compendium, 55, 147, 472, 476; also Yüan Shih 109, 2762, according to de Rachewiltz, “Commentary on the Secret History, 854-855”; also see Pelliot, Paul, Notes critiques d'histoire kalmouke (Paris, 1960 ), I:61-62 n. 59; Zhao, Marriage, pp. 130-131, 138-139.

13 Broadbridge, Imperial Women, Chapter 1, forthcoming.

14 Rashīd al-Dīn first claims that Chechiyegen had two daughters, Elchiqmish and Orqina, then corrects this to four. Rashīd al-Dīn / Thackston, Compendium, 55-56, 352 (for Köchü, albeit calling her Buqa Temür's daughter (sic), not sister) and 472 (for Güyük); Rashīd al-Dīn / Boyle, Successors, 109-110 (for Köchü); also Zhao, Marriage, p. 130. The name Güyük is surprising here, given its associatation with the far better known (male) Grand Khan Güyük (r. 1246-48), her first cousin. No other female Güyüks have yet surfaced; it is also likely that her confusing name, her early death in Mongolia and that of her son, and the far greater fame of her successor, Dokuz, combined to doom her to relative obscurity despite her status as Hülegü’s first chief wife. The name of her sister, Köchü, also appears only once for that princess and cannot be verified elsewhere.

15 See Rashīd al-Dīn / Thackston, Compendium, 472.

16 Rashīd al-Dīn / Thackston, Compendium, 55-56, 352, 460, 472; Rashīd al-Dīn / Boyle, Successors, 109-110.

17 Juvayni / Boyle, World-Conqueror, 608; Gregorius Bar Hebraeus, The Chronography of Gregory Abū’l-Faraj, the son of Aaron, the Hebrew physician, commonly known as Bar Hebraeus, translated by. E. A. W. Budge (London, 1932), 419 and Bar Hebraeus / Ibn al-‘Ibrī, Târîkh Mukhtaṣar al-duwal, (ed.) Fr. Anton Ṣalaḥānī, (Beirut, 1958 edition), 460.

18 Güyük's son Jumghur had four children by his death in the mid-1260s, implying he was born no later than the mid-1240s. Rashīd al-Dīn / Thackston, Compendium, 57, 473, 519.

19 The wives were Güyük, Öljei, Qutui, Dokuz and Yesünjin; the concubines were Boraqchin, Noqachin, Arighan and Yeshichin (from Qutui's camp); Ajuja, El Egechi, Dokuz's niece Tukitani and two unnamed others from Dokuz's camp; and Irqan and Mengligech, whose camps are unknown. Rashīd al-Dīn / Thackston, Compendium, 65 and 515 (just Tuqitani), 471-472, 474-476 (for the rest); Anonymous, Mu‘izz al-Ansāb, British Library OR467, fol. 61. For the ordos and the preference for a few ordos controlled by the seniormost wives, with lesser wives and concubines living in them, see Bruno de Nicola, “Ruling from tents: some remarks on women's ordos in Ilkhanid Iran,” in Ferdowsi, the Mongols and the History of Iran: Art, Literature and Culture from early Islam to Qajar Persia, (ed) Robert Hillenbrand, A. C. S. Peacock and Firuza Abdullaeva (London, 2013), p. 128.

20 He was the son of Arghun Agha, an Oirat commander and scribe to Hülegü, but not a descendant of Chechiyegen. Rashīd al-Dīn / Thackston, Compendium, 476.

21 This was Yesünjin. Rashīd al-Dīn / Thackston, Compendium, 472.

22 Rashīd al-Dīn / Thackston, Compendium, 57, 473.

23 This was Joma, son of a Tatar prince, Jochi, who married a daughter of Chinggis Khan's brother Temüge. Jochi went to Iran with Hülegü, where his sister Nuqdan married Abagha and bore Geikhatu. Rashīd al-Dīn / Thackston, Compendium, 49, 476.

24 For the troops, initially led by Buqa Temür, see Juvayni, World-Conqueror, 608; Bar Hebraeus / Budge, Chronography, 419 and Bar Hebraeus / Ṣalaḥānī, Mukhtaṣar, 460. For Buqa Temür's participation in the campaign against Baghdad in 1257-58, see Rashīd al-Dīn/ Thackston, Compendium, 483, 487, 493, 495, 499. son and grandson as commanders see Rashīd al-Dīn / Thackston, Compendium, 56-57. Note also John Masson Smith, “High Living and Heartbreak on the Road to Baghdad,” in Beyond the Legacy of Genghis Khan, (ed.) Linda Komaroff (Leiden, 2006), pp. 123, 128.

25 Tödögech's mother was in Dokuz's ordo. For Tödögech's several marriages and children see Table 6. Rashīd al-Dīn / Thackston, Compendium, 476, 561.

26 Her death date is unknown: Rashīd al-Dīn claims she died in Mongolia and Hülegü gave Qutui her camp, implying that Hülegü was still there. Rashīd al-Dīn / Thackston, Compendium, 472. But Bar Hebraeus states that Hülegü left Güyük, the “Great Queen,” and Jumghur (alive) in Mongolia when he departed, implying that her death was after 1253. Or did Bar Hebraeus confuse Güyük with Qutui as the “Great Queen”? Bar Hebraeus / Budge, Chronography, 419; Bar Hebraeus / Ṣalaḥānī, Mukhtaṣar, 460.

27 Her parentage is unclear: a confusing reference suggests she was a daughter of Börte's fourth daughter Tümelün, who had married Börte's nephew. Rashīd al-Dīn / Thackston, Compendium, 472, 515.

28 The sons of concubines were: Yoshmut and Tubshi, whose mother, Noqachin, was Chinese [Cathaian]; Taraghai, whose mother, Boraqchin, was of unknown clan; Ajai, whose mother Arighan was the daughter of the Oirat son-in-law Tankiz; Yesüder, son of Yeshichin, a Kürlü’üt, and Taghai Temür, whose mother's name and clan are lost. All lived in Qutui's ordo. Rashīd al-Dīn / Thackston, Compendium, 472-476. See note 31 for inhabitants of Dokuz's ordo.

29 See Melville, Charles, “Dokuz (Doquz) Kātūn,” in Encyclopedia Iranica, (ed.) Yarshater, Ehsan (Costa Mesa, 1996), 7 , pp. 475-476.

30 Rashīd al-Dīn / Thackston, Compendium, 471.

31 Dokuz married Tolui in 1203, and Hülegü 50 years later in 1253. She never bore children. As for the children of her camp: One was Hülegü’s daughter, Tödögech, mother of the junior Oirat line (see note 25 and Table 6). Three were sons: Qonqurtai, son of a Chinese [Cathaian] concubine, Ajuja; and Hulachu and Shiba'uchi, whose mother, El Egechi, was a Qongrat. Rashīd al-Dīn / Thackston, Compendium, 474, 475-476. See note 28 for inhabitants of Qutui's ordo.

32 Rashīd al-Dīn / Thackston, Compendium, 472, 479. Also Masson Smith, “High Living”, pp. 131-133.

33 Rashīd al-Dīn / Thackston, Compendium, 473, 519. Also Masson Smith, “High Living”, pp. 131-133.

34 Rashīd al-Dīn / Thackston, Compendium, 479.

35 See Table 2 and note 23 above for Joma. Rashīd al-Dīn / Thackston, Compendium, 476.

36 Rashīd al-Dīn / Thackston, Compendium, 479.

37 Rashīd al-Dīn / Thackston, Compendium, 499.

38 Rashīd al-Dīn / Thackston, Compendium, 515.

39 This was in 1265-66. Rashīd al-Dīn / Thackston, Compendium, 519.

40 She once intervened on behalf of the Juvaynī brothers. See Rashīd al-Dīn / Thackston, Compendium, 542-543; also Boyle's introduction to World-Conqueror, xxii-xxv, although he identifies Öljei only as “Abagha's favourite wife” on xxiv. In 1277 Abagha gave Öljei Diyarbakr and the Jazira. Rashīd al-Dīn / Thackston, Compendium, 541.

41 Rashīd al-Dīn / Thackston, Compendium, 475, 476 (on Buqa Temür, in the entry on Öljei's daughter Menggügen).

42 Rashīd al-Dīn / Thackston, Compendium, 475.

43 Rashīd al-Dīn / Thackston, Compendium, 56–57, 476.

44 Rashīd al-Dīn states that Möngke Temür was a child, and two senior commanders made campaign decisions; then contradictorily quotes a commander claiming that Abagha chose Möngke Temür to succeed him as Ilkhan. Rashīd al-Dīn / Thackston, Compendium, 544, 558. Boyle noted that Rashīd al-Dīn sometimes described adult princes as children to diminish their importance. Juvayni / Boyle, World-Conqueror, 180-181, and note 7. By contrast, Mamluk sources state that Möngke Temür actually convinced Abagha to send him on the campaign; Amitai finds this problematic. Reuven Amitai, Mongols and Mamluks: The Mamluk-Ilhānid War, 1260–1281 (Cambridge, 1995),p. 189.

45 For the battle in excellent detail see Amitai, War, pp. 187-201; also in brief, Boyle, “Il-Khans”, p. 363.

46 Ibn al-Dawadārī, Kanz, 8:248; Rashīd al-Dīn / Thackston, Compendium, 545.

47 Boyle, “Il-Khans”, p. 364.

48 Rashīd al-Dīn / Thackston, Compendium, 548.

49 Rashīd al-Dīn / Thackston, Compendium, 548. Causes of death ranged from epilepsy to poison. For poison see Ibn al-Dawādārī, Kanz, 8:248; Baybars al-Manṣurī, Zubdat al-Fikrah fī Ta'rīkh al-Hijrah, (ed.) Donald S. Richards (Beirut, 1998), 213; Hetoum, A Lytell Chronicle, (ed.) Glenn Burger (Toronto, 1988), 48; Bar Hebraeus / Budge, Chronography, 465-66 and Bar Hebraeus / Fr. Ṣalaḥānī, Mukhtaṣar, 505. For epilepsy see Quṭb al-Dīn al-Yūnīnī, Dhayl Mir’āt al-zamãn (Hyderabad, 1961), 4:177. Ibn al-Furāt, Muḥammad, Ta'rīkh Ibn al-Furāt or Ta'rīkh al-duwal wa al-mulūk, (ed.) Costantine K. Zurayk (Beirut, [1936-42]), 7:234-235, notes both possibilities.

50 The other Qongrat wives were Tödegü and Tödai. The other wives were Baytekin the daughter of Ḥusayn, possibly a Jalayirid; and the Oirat, El Qutlugh. See Rashīd al-Dīn / Thackston, Compendium, 515, 547, and 38 for Baytekin's father.

51 She had a daughter, Toghachaq, from an earlier relationship. The source is unclear, calling El Qutlugh a daughter both of Jumghur's daughter Orghutaq, and son Kingshü. See Table 5. Rashīd al-Dīn / Thackston, Compendium, 473; 547, 575.

52 This table is modified from the excellent work of Charles Melville, “The Fall of Amir Chupan and the Decline of Ilkhante, 1327–37: A Decade of discord in Iran”, Papers on Innner Asia, No.30 (Bloomington, 1999), 17.

53 Rashīd al-Dīn / Thackston, Compendium, 561; Qāshānī, Uljaytū, 7-8.

54 Masson Smith, “Decline”, pp. 35-52; also see note 7 above on consanguinity.

55 Boyle, “Il-Khans”, pp. 364-368.

56 This was Tödai, Abagha's concubine and then Tegüder's wife. See Rashīd al-Dīn / Thackston, Compendium, 515, 547, 562, 591. In 1286 Arghun married another Qongrat, Bulughan (the younger), not to be confused with the Baya'ut wife Bulughan (the elder). See Charles Melville, “Bologan (Būlūgān) Ḵātūn,” Encyclopedia Iranica, (ed.) Ehsan Yarshater (London and New York, 1990), 4:338-339; also Rashīd al-Dīn / Thackston, Compendium, 515, 561, 566.

57 Öljei refused to harbour a rebel against Arghun in 1288-89. See Rashīd al-Dīn / Thackston, Compendium, 570, 571.

58 Arghun's mother, Qaitmish, was a concubine from the Önggüts, into whose ruling family Börte's daughter Alaqa had married. Rashīd al-Dīn / Thackston, Compendium, 71, 516, 561.

59 She was a daughter of the Oirat Tankiz, but perhaps not of Tödögech. Rashīd al-Dīn / Thackston, Compendium, 561.

60 Rashīd al-Dīn / Thackston, Compendium, 561, 567, 641.

61 See Table 6. Rashīd al-Dīn / Thackston, Compendium, 561.

62 Örüg was the daughter of Dokuz's brother Saricha, and sister of the commander Irinjin. She had two sons, Yesü Temür (who died in infancy), and Öljeitü, and three daughters: Öljetei (not the same as Arghun's Oirat wife of this name), Öljei Temür and Qutlugh Temür. Rashīd al-Dīn / Thackston, Compendium, 561-562.

63 Rashīd al-Dīn / Thackston, Compendium, 575.

64 He had six wives: two Jalayirids (Ā’ishah and Dondi); two Qongrats (Eltüzmish and Bulughan), the Kereyit Örüg, and Pādishāh, the daughter of the ruler of Kirman. See Rashīd al-Dīn / Thackston, Compendium, 579-580.

65 Baidu was the son of Hülegü’s son Taraghai. Rashīd al-Dīn / Thackston, Compendium, 474; see also note 28.

66 Rashīd al-Dīn / Thackston, Compendium, 56-57.

67 Boyle, “Il-Khans”, pp. 372-379.

68 Rashīd al-Dīn / Thackston, Compendium, 57, 473, although Günjüshkāb is not listed among Ghazan's wives. See also Qāshānī, Uljaytu, 7. For her see Charles Melville, “Decline” pp. 14-15 and note 30.

69 Ibn Aybak al-Dawādārī, Kanz al-Durar wa jāmi‘ al-ghurar, (ed.) Ulrich Haarmann (Cairo, 1971), 8, pp. 361-362; Baybars al-Mansūrī, Zubdah, 309-310 and Kitāb al-tuhfah al-mulūkiyah fī al-dawlah al-turkīyah, (ed.) ‘Abd al-Hamīd Ṣālih Hamdān (Cairo, 1987), p. 146; al-Nuwayrī, Aḥmad, Nihāyat al-arab fī funūn al-adab, (ed.) Sa‘īd ‘Āshūr (Cairo, 1992), 31, pp. 296-299; Ibn al-Wardī, Ta'rīkh Ibn al-Wardī, (ed.) Muḥammad al-Khurāsānī (Al-Najaf, 1969), p. 344; Ibn al-Furāt, Ta'rīkh, 8:203-204; Abū al-Fidā’, The Memoirs of a Syrian Prince: Abū'l-Fidā, Sultan of Hamah (672-732/1273-1331), translated and edited by P. M. Holt (Wiesbaden, 1983), 26; Author Z, Beiträge zur Geschichte der Mamlūkensultane in den Jahren 690-740 der Jigra nach Arabischen Handschriften, (ed.) K. V. Zetterstéen (Leiden, 1919), pp. 38-39; Bar Hebraeus / Budge, Chronography, 508. See also P. M. Holt, The Age of the Crusades: The Near East from the Eleventh Century to 1517 (London and New York, 1986), p. 108; Robert Irwin, The Middle East in the Middle Ages: The early Mamluk Sultanate 1250-1382 (Carbondale, 1986), pp. 91, 94.

70 Ibn Aybak al-Dawādārī, Kanz, 9:15; Baybars al-Mansūrī, Zubdah, 330 and Tuhfah, 156; Nuwayrī, Nihāyah, 31:383; Author Z, Beitrage, 58; Irwin, Mamluk Sultanate, p. 100.

71 Nuwayrī, Nihāyah, 31:299.

72 Qutlugh Shah was the daughter of Örüg's brother Irinjin, and received Dokuz's ordo in 1304. Rashīd al-Dīn / Thackston, Compendium, 472, 660; Qāshānī, Uljaytu, 43. For a Kereyit-Toluid family tree see Charles Melville, “Abū Sa‘īd and the Revolt of the Amirs in 1319,” in L'Iran face à la domination Mongole, (ed.) Denise Aigle (Tehran, 1997), p. 117.

73 Qāshānī, Uljaytu, 7; Rashīd al-Dīn / Thackston, Compendium, 57, 473; Abū Bakr al-Quṭbī al-Ahrī, Tarīkh-i Shaykh Uways (History of Shaikh Uways): An Important Source for the History of Adharbaijan in the Fourteenth Century, translated by J. B. van Loon (The Hague, 1954), p. 153 / tr. 55; Davud Banākatī, Ta'rīkh-i Banākatī or Rawḍ al-albāb fī tawārīkh al-akābir wa al-anṩāb, (ed.) Ja‘far Shi‘ār (Tehran, 1969), 473. See the helpful table in Melville, “Decline,” p. 15, although he omits Ḥajjī, Abū Sa‘īd's mother.

74 Qāshānī, Uljaytu, 7, 43; Rashīd al-Dīn / Thackston, Compendium, 57, 476 for Lagzi, her Oirat father.

75 There is some disagreement about Öljetei's parentage: Rashīd al-Dīn claims she was Sülemish's daughter (as represented in the table), but Qāshānī presents her as Ḥajji's full sister (and therefore Chichek's daughter) instead. See Table 7; also notes 24, 28; also Qāshānī, Uljaytu, 7-8; Rashīd al-Dīn / Thackston, Compendium, 476, 561.

76 Öljetei's son was Abū al-Khayr. Öljeitü Khan's third son, Sulaymān Shāh, from a wife named ‘Ādilshāh, died as a child. The Qongrat Eltüzmish bore three boys who died in infancy, and a girl, Sātī Beg, who married the Sulduz commander Choban. Qāshānī, Uljaytu, 7-8, 89; Rashīd al-Dīn / Thackston, Compendium, 515, 580, 658; Qazvīnī, Gūzīdeh, 615.

77 See the meticulous work of Melville in “1319,” entire and “Decline,” entire.

78 This table is modified from the excellent work of Charles Melville in Decline, 15 on Günjishkab.

79 The Oirat son of the commander Arghun Agha, a scribe for Hülegü. See Qāshānī, Uljaytu, 7, 43; Rashīd al-Dīn / Thackston, Compendium, 57, 476 for Lagzi, her father.

80 She was from the Oirat junior line; see Table 5.

81 She was from the Oirat junior line; see Table 5.

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