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A Mongol Princess Making hajj: The Biography of El Qutlugh Daughter of Abagha Ilkhan (r. 1265–82)

  • YONI BRACK (a1)

This study examines in detail the biographical entry of an Ilkhanid (the Mongol state centred in Iran) princess, El Qutlugh Khatun daughter of Abagha Ilkhan (r. 1265–82), in the biographical dictionaries of the Mamluk author Khalīl ibn Aybeg al-Ṣafadī (d. 1363). Al-Ṣafadī‘s biography of the lady provides a rare glance into the life of women of the Mongol royal household during the transitional period which followed the Ilkhanid conversion to Islam. It sheds light on issues such as the relations between the Mamluks and the Ilkhans in light of the latter's conversion to Islam and the influence of the process of Islamization on traditional Mongolian gender related practices. This paper also discusses the motivation of the Mamluk author in including El Qutlugh's unusual story in his biographical dictionaries showing how his choices might have been influenced not only by his own interests but also by what appealed to his readers.

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1 For example, Amitai-Preiss Reuven, Mongols and Mamluks: The Mamluk-Ilkhanid War, 1260–1281 (Cambridge, 1995); Amitai Reuven, The Mongols in the Islamic Lands: Studies in the History of the Ilkhanate (Aldershot, 2007); Melville Charles, “The year of the Elephant: Mamluk-Mongol rivalry in the Hejaz in the reign of Abū Saʿīd (1317–1335),” Studia Iranica, vol. 21 (1992), pp. 197213; ibid., “Pādshāh-i Islām: the conversion of Sultan Maḥmūd Ghāzān Khān,” in Charles Melville, (ed.) History and Literature in Iran (London, 1990), pp. 159–177. For a discussion of studies based on the Arabic-Mamluk sources, see Amitai Reuven, “Al-Nuwayrī as a historian of the Mongols”, in Kennedy H., (ed.) Historiography of Islamic Egypt (c.950–1800) (Leiden, 2001), pp. 2336 (especially 25–26); ibid., “An Arabic biographical notice of Kitbughā, the Mongol general defeated at ʿAyn Jālūt”, JSAI, vol. 33 (2007), pp. 219–220.

2 Roded Ruth, Women in Islamic Biographical Collections (Colorado, 1994).

3 Several studies have used al-Ṣafadī's biographies of male figures from the Mongol khanates. For the Ilkhanate, Amitai-Preiss Reuven, “Ghazan, Islam and the Mongol tradition: a view from the Mamluk sultanate,” Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, vol. 59, no. 1 (1996), pp. 110; ibid., “New material from the Mamluk sources for the Biography of Rashid al-Din”, in J. Raby and T. Fitzherbert, (eds.) The Court of the Il-Khans 1290–1340 (Oxford, 1996), pp. 23–37. For the Chaghadaid Khanate, Biran Michal, “The Chaghadaids and Islam: the conversion of Tarmashirin Khan (1331–34),” Journal of American Oriental Society, vol. 122, no. 4 (2002), pp. 742752.

4 Al-Wāfī bi-al-Wafayāt, (ed.) Helmut Ritter et al. (Wiesbaden, 1931), vols. 1–19,21–22, 24–25, 27–30. Aʿyān al-Aṣr wa-Aʿwān al-Naṣr, (ed.) ‘Alī Abū Zayd (Beirut, 1998), vols. 1–6. For the relations between the more comprehensive al-Wāfī and the shorter Aʿyān, which only includes the biographies of the author's contemporaries, see Little Donald P., “Al-Ṣafadī as Biographer of his Contemporaries”, in Little D. P., (ed.) Essays on Islamic Civilization (Leiden, 1976), pp. 190210.

5 Both ladies have entries in al-Wāfī and Aʿyān. For Baghdad Khatun: al-Wāfī, vol. 10, pp. 175–177; Aʿyān, vol. 1, pp. 695–697; Savory R. M., “Baghdad Khatun”, El2, vol. 1 (1986), pp. 908909; Melville C. and Zaryāb ʿAbbās, “Chobanids,” Elr, Vol. 5 (1992), pp. 497499. For Dilshadh Khatun: al-Wāfī, vol. 14, p. 24; Aʿyān, vol. 2, pp. 355–356; C. Melville, “Delšad Katun”, Elr, vol. 7 (1996), p. 255; “Chobanids”, p. 499.

6 El Qutlugh khatun has an independent entry only in Aʿyān: vol. 5, pp. 592–593. The content of the entry can also be found with a few changes in the Ilkhan Ghazan's (r. 1295–1304) biographical entry in al-Wāfī: vol. 25, pp. 232–233. The only study which refers to the lady is Melville's “The year of the Elephant”, p. 205, where her pilgrimage to Mecca is briefly noted.

7 Her name is written by al-Ṣafadī as Ylqṭlū, which can be read either as El Qutlugh or Yol Qutlugh, the latter being the name of another of Abagha's daughters from a different mother. However, since al-Ṣafadī names the lady's husband as Ghurbati, who was known as El Qutlugh's husband (below), it seems that El Qutlugh is the correct reading of this name.

8 Most of the entries in Aʿyān follow a similar pattern: a few introductory lines which summarise the biographee's achievements and outline his character followed by a number of anecdotes, each describing in detail an event from the biographee's life. Little Donald P., An Introduction to Mamluk Historiography (Wiesbaden, 1970), pp. 104105; ibid., “Al-Ṣafadī as Biographer”, p. 197.

9 During the Mamluk period, furūsiyya was used as a technical term to refer to “all that the horseman had to master, by systematic training, in order to become an accomplished knight”. The instruction of furūsiyya included a variety of sportive games such as lance exercises, polo, archery, fencing, wrestling, hunting and horse racing. The term furūsiyya, however, is also often used in the Mamluk sources as a synonym for bravery. Ayalon David, “Notes on the furūsiyya exercises and games in the Mamluk Sultanate”, in Heyd Uriel, (ed.) Studies in Islamic History and Civilization, vol. 9 (Jerusalem, 1961), pp. 3437, 46. Al-Ṣafadī often uses furūsiyya in the sense of bravery (for example, Aʿyān, vol. 1, pp. 590, 680; vol. 4, p. 156). In El Qutlugh's case, one might suggest that al-Ṣafadī uses the term furūsiyya in both meanings.

10 I read here akhadha yaktubu instead of akhadha kutub. This latter reading would render the translation: “and he took the letters of the sultan and Salār to her in his matter”.

11 On this important source for the history of the Mongols and his relation to El Qutlugh Khatun's biographical entry, see below.

12 The miḥaffa is associated in the Mamluk sources mostly with the common palanquin as opposed to the maḥmal, which refers to a more ceremonial and lavish palanquin. Behrens-Abouseif Doris, “The maḥmal legend and the pilgrimage of the ladies of the Mamluk court”, Mamluk Studies Review, vol. 1 (1997), p. 90.

13 Franke Herbert, “Women under the dynasties of conquest”, in Lanciotti L., (ed.) La donna nella Cina imperiale e nella Cina repubblicana ([Firenze, 1980] reprinted in H. Franke, China under Mongol Rule, Aldershot, 1994), p. 24; Rossabi Morris, “Khubilai Khan and the Women in his Family”, in Bauer Wolfgang, (ed.) Studia Sino-Mongolica: Festschrift für Herbert Franke (Wiesbaden, 1979), pp. 153154. Some even speak of the division of labour between men and women in Mongol society as a sign of gender equality and partnership between men and women. For example, Sinor Denis, “Some observations on women in early and medieval Inner Asian history,” in Veit Veronika, (ed.) The Role of Women in the Altaic World (Wiesbaden, 2007), pp. 266267.

14 Franke, p. 36.

15 Rossabi, pp. 154–172; Zhao George Q. and Guisso Richard W. L., “Female Anxiety and Female Power: Political Intervention by Mongol Empresses during the 13th and 14th Centuries in China”, in Gervers Michael et al. ., (eds) History and Society in Central and Inner Asia. “Toronto Studies in Central and Inner Asia,” no. 7 (Toronto, 2005), pp. 1723; Sečenmönke, “The role of women in traditional Mongolian society”, in Veronika Veit, (ed.) The Role of Women in the Altaic World, pp. 250–251. It should also be noted that the lives of women of the royal household did not include only privileges and that often their interference in court power struggles led to their loss of power and, in several cases, to a violent death as well. Zhao and Guisso, p. 40; Lambton Ann K. S., Continuity and Change in Medieval Persia: Aspects of Administrative, Economic and Social History, 11th–14th Century (London, 1988), p. 291.

16 Lambton suggests that this is due to the fact that in the Ilkhanate the interregnum between the death of the Ilkhan and the nomination of his successor was shorter than in the united empire, where it could take several years until a new khan was elected by the quriltai. Lambton, p. 289.

17 For a study of the political intervention of women in the Yuan successor state, see Zhao and Guisso, pp. 17–41.

18 “Mongol overlordship mitigated traditional prejudices against women rulers, including the prejudice against women leading troops into battle”. Gavin Hambly R.G, “Becoming Visible: Medieval Islamic Women in Historiography and History,” in Hambly , (ed.) Women in Medieval Islamic World: Power, Patronage and Piety (Houndmills, 1998), p. 13. For the capable Terken Khatun and her daughter Abïsh Khatun of the Salghurid dynasty of Fārs and the important role they played in the survival of the dynasty after the Mongol conquest of Iran, see Lambton, pp. 271–276; Lane George, Early Mongol Rule in Thirteenth-Century Iran: A Persian Renaissance (London, 2003), pp. 127149. For the influential Qutlugh Terken and her two daughters, Begi and Pādishāh Khatun, of the Qutlugh-Khānid dynasty of Kirmān, their successful rule over Kirmān and deep involvement in the politics of the Ilkhanid court, see ibid., pp. 96–122; Lambton, pp. 276–287; Biran Michal, The Empire of the Qara Khitai in Eurasian History (New York, 2005), pp. 166167.

19 For Hülegü's wife, Doquz Khatun, and her successful interference on behalf of several figures at the Ilkhanid court, see Lambton, p. 290; Melville Charles, “Dokuz (Doquz) Kātūn,” Elr, vol. 7 (1996), pp. 475476; Shai Shir, “‘The Chief Wife’ at the Courts of the Mongol Khans during the Mongol World Empire (1206–1260)” (in Hebrew). M.A. Thesis, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 2006, pp. 119–134. For Arghun's wife, Öljei Khatun, see Lambton, p. 291. About the two highly respected and influential Bulughan Khatuns, and the important role which the later Bulughan khatun played in Ghazan's rise to power, see Melville Charles, “Bologān Kātun,” Elr, vol. 4 (1990), pp. 338339. Lambton importantly notes that although these women “enjoyed respect and took part in the quriltais held to decide upon or to acclaim a new Ilkhan and appeared in public with the ruler, their influence was personal and not institutionalized”. Lambton, pp. 289–290.

20 Lambton's statement that “the wives and daughters of the Ilkhans nevertheless enjoyed a privileged position beside that of the Mongol princes, at least until the practices of the steppe were modified under Ghazan” (p. 289) requires further study.

21 Al-ʿUmarī, for example, writes that “these Khatuns participate with them [the sultan and wazir] in the government and they issue decrees just as they [the Sultan and wazir] do; the most in this [decreeing and interfering in the government] is Baghdād daughter of Chupan and wife of Abū Saʿīd [. . .] and we have not seen in our times nor have we heard from any one close to our days about a woman that ruled as she does”. Aḥmad b. Yaḥyā b. Faḍl Allah al-ʿUmarī, Das Mongolische Weltreich: Al-ʿUmari's Darstellung der mongolischen Reiche in seinem Werk Masālik al-abṣār fī mamālik al-amṣār, (ed.) and (trans.) K. Lech (Wiesbaden, 1968), p. 67 of the text in Arabic. Ibn Baṭṭūṭa makes a similar statement about the high status of the Ilkhan's wives and Baghdād Khatun's important position with Saʿīd Abū. The Travels of Ibn Baṭṭūṭa, (trans.) Gibb H. A. R. (Cambridge, 1962), vol. 2, p. 340. See also Baghdād and Dilshadh Khatun's entries in al-Ṣafadī's works referred to above.

22 Hambly, p. 13.

23 al-Dīn Rashīd, Rashīd uddin Fazlullah's Jami'u't-Tawarikh: A History of the Mongols, (trans.) Thackston W.M. (Cambridge, 1998–1999), vol. 3, p. 516. There seems to be some confusion between El Qutlugh and her half sister Yol Qutlugh daughter of Tödei Khatun. Rashīd al-Dīn writes that Yol Qutlugh was first married to Eljitei Qushchi and that after the latter's death, she married a Mongol commander named Elbasmish. However, according to the scheme of Abagha's children, which appears in the same page of Jāmi‘ al-tawārīkh (Karīmī's edition [Jāmi‘ al-tawārīkh, (ed.) Bahman Karīmī, Tehran, 1338/1959–60], vol. 2, p. 741; in Thackston's translation this does not appear), it was Yol Qutlugh, not her sister, that was married to Ghurbati. This mistake appears also in the Shuʿab-i Panjgānah (MS Topkapi Sarayi Ahmet 3, No. 2937), a genealogical work attributed to Rashīd al-Dīn, where Yol Qutlugh is married to Ghurbati while El Qutlugh's husband is not named (fol. 144). However, in the later genealogical work, Muʿizz al-Ansāb, which is largely based on the Shuʿab-i Panjgānah, the confusion between the two is sorted out: El Qutlugh is married to Ghurbati while her sister is married to Eljitei Qushchi and after him to Elbasmish (MS Bibliothèque Nationale A.F. Pers 67, fol. 68). For the relationship between the two genealogical works, see Quinn Sholeh A., “The Muʿizz al-Ansāb and Shuʿab-i Panjgānah as sources for the Chaghatayid period of history: a comparative analysis,” Central Asiatic Studies, vol. 33 (1989), pp. 229253. I am grateful to Professor Michal Biran for lending me copies of the microfilms of Shuʿab-i Panjgānah and Muʿizz al-Ansāb.

24 Rashīd al-Dīn/Thackston, vol. 1, p. 93; Rashīd al-Dīn/Karīmī, vol. 1, p. 132.

25 Rashīd al-Dīn/Thackston, vol. 3, p. 580; Rashīd al-Dīn/Karīmī, vol. 2, p. 830.

26 Rashīd al-Dīn/Thackston, vol. 3, p. 585; Rashīd al-Dīn/Karīmī, vol. 2, pp. 836–837. In the Shuʿab-i Panjgānah, Ghurbati appears in the list of the commanders under Geikhatu's rule and is identified as a Güregen (son-in-law, the title of those married to Chinggisid princesses) from the Hushin tribe, a commander (amīr) of a tümen (a division of 10,000 troops) and a loyalist (mukhliṣ) of Geikhatu (fol. 145). Both Shuʿab-i Panjgānah and Muʿizz al-Ansāb note that Ghurbati was a commander (amīr buzurg) under the Ilkhan Arghun (r. 1284–91) as well and that he became a Güregen during the latter's reign (Shuʿab-i Panjgānah, fol. 147; Muʿizz al-Ansāb, fol. 72). Therefore, his marriage with El Qutlugh probably took place during the second half of the 1280s. It is possible that Ghurbati was stationed in Baghdad or resided in its environs: according to Rashīd al-Dīn, Ghurbati learned about the conspiracy through the strife caused by the rebellious commanders in Baghdad and according to Waṣṣāf, he informed Geikhatu about the conspiracy by sending an envoy from Baghdad. ‘Ayātī Abd al-Muḥammad, Taḥrīr-i taʾrīkh-i Waṣṣāf (Tehran, 1993–4), p. 168.

27 They were Beglemish and Bitigchi. Rashīd al-Dīn/Thackston, vol. 1, p. 93; Rashīd al-Dīn/Karīmī, vol. 1, p. 132.

28 Pfeiffer Judith, “Reflections on a ‘double rapprochement’: conversion to Islam among the Mongol elite during the early Ilkhanate”, in Komaroff Linda, (ed.) Beyond the Legacy of Genghis Khan (Leiden, 2006), pp. 369389; Melville, “Pādshāh-i Islām,” pp. 159–177; Amitai Reuven, “The conversion of Tegüder Ilkhan to Islam,” JSAI, vol. 25 (2001), pp. 3943.

29 Ghurbati's second Chinggisid wife, Ula Qutlugh, was Geikhatu's daughter from his Muslim wife ‘A'isha Khatun and therefore, might have also been a Muslim. Rashīd al-Dīn/Thackston, vol. 3, p. 580; Rashīd al-Dīn/Karīmī, vol. 2, p. 830. Whether this is further proof for Ghurbati's adherence to Islam is debatable.

30 Geikhatu was pursued and then killed by the same commanders who were imprisoned on his orders after their names were delivered to him by Ghurbati. Boyle J. A., “Dynastic and Political History of the Il-Khans,” in Boyle , (ed.) The Cambridge History of Iran (Cambridge, 1968), Vol. 5: The Saljuq and Mongol Periods, pp. 375376; Rashīd al-Dīn/Thackston, vol. 3, pp. 585–586; Rashīd al-Dīn/Karīmī, vol. 2, pp. 837–838.

31 Nor is Ghurbati mentioned along with the names of Geikhatu's supporters who joined Ghazan's forces against Baidu. For example, the commanders Qurumshi and Chupan, who according to Rashīd al-Dīn, supported the nomination of Geikhatu and after his death, joined Ghazan's camp. Rashīd al-Dīn/Thackston, vol. 3, pp. 580, 621, 624–625; Rashīd al-Dīn/Karīmī, vol. 2, pp. 830, 906, 911–912.

32 Rashīd al-Dīn explicitly states that when Baidu learned of Geikhatu's execution, “he rejoiced and killed a number of commanders with whom he was on bad terms”. Rashīd al-Dīn /Thackston, vol. 3, p. 586; Rashīd al-Dīn/Karīmī, vol. 2, p. 838.

33 Rashīd al-Dīn/Thackston, vol. 3, pp. 627–629; Rashīd al-Dīn/Karīmī, vol. 2, pp. 915–917.

34 Juwaynī ʿAlāʾ al-Dīn ʿAṭā-malik, Genghis Khan: the History of the World Conqueror, (trans.) Boyle J. A. (Seattle, 1997), pp. 174177; Juwaynī ʿAlāʾ al-Dīn ʿAṭā-malik, Taʾrīkh-i jahāngushā, (ed.) Qazwīnī Muḥammad b. ʿAbd al-Wahhāb (Leiden, 1912), vol. 1, pp. 137140. On the identity of Toghachar and his wife, the daughter of Chinggis Khan, see Juwaynī/Boyle, pp. 174–175 (note 11).

35 This might be connected to the special status of the son-in-laws (Güregen) of Mongol khans. Doerfer Gerhard, Türkish und Mongolische Elemente im Neupersischen, vol. 1 (Wiesbaden, 1963), p. 476; Lambton, p. 289. For the recurring theme of revenge in the Secret History and the role of “the settlement of a debt of vengeance” as “the essential mechanism of customary law” in Mongol society, see Clark Larry V., “The theme of revenge in the Secret History of the Mongols,” in Clark L. V. and Draghi Paul Alexander, (eds.) Aspects of Altaic Civilization (2). “Indiana University Uralic and Altaic Series,” vol. 134 (Bloomington, 1978), pp. 3357.

36 Interestingly, Juwaynī also notes that after Chinggis’ daughter slaughtered the survivors of Nishapur: “they severed the heads of the slain from their bodies and heaped them up in piles”. Juwaynī/Boyle, p. 178; Juwaynī/Qazwīnī, vol.1, p. 140. According to Mongol belief, the soul is found in the blood. The Mongols, therefore, considered deaths that did not include the shedding of blood more honourable and befitting nobility and preferred other methods of execution such as strangulation. In the Secret History, for example, Jamuqa requests Chinggis Khan to put him to death without shedding his blood. The Secret History of the Mongols: a Mongolian Epic Chronicle of the Thirteenth Century, (trans.) Igor de Rachewiltz (Leiden, 2004), vol. 1, p. 132; vol. 2, pp. 753–754 (commentary). Also, Meserve Ruth I., “The uses of blood in traditional Inner Asian societies”, in Gervers Michael and Schlepp Wayne, (eds.) Religion, Customary Law, and Nomadic Technology. “Toronto Studies in Central and Inner Asia”, no. 4 (Toronto, 2000), pp. 3738.

37 There is some evidence to support this later view. After his enthronement, Geikhatu started an investigation into the death of his brother Arghun and the deeds of the rebellious commanders. While most commanders were pardoned by the Ilkhan, the release of Toghan, who was among other things responsible for Ordu Qaya's death, met strong opposition. Örüg Khatun, Geikhatu's wife, convinced her husband that Toghan must pay with his life for the strife he caused and the commanders he killed. Word was then sent for Ordu Qaya's wives and sons to arrive at court and take retribution for their father by killing Toghan. Thus, the Ilkhan's verdict was carried out by the family members of the offended. It is possible that the retribution for El Qutlugh's husband was carried out in a similar manner. Rashīd al-Dīn/Thackston, vol. 3, p. 581; Rashīd al-Dīn/Karīmī, vol. 2, p. 831.

38 Rossabi, p. 154; Franke, p. 36; Golden Peter B., “War and warfare in the pre-Činggisid western steppes of Eurasia,” in Di Cosmo Nicola, (ed.) Warfare in Inner Asian History (500–1800) (Leiden, 2002), pp. 130–131; Morgan David, The Mongols (Oxford, 1986), p. 40; Biran, Qara Khitai, p. 166; Lane George, Daily Life in the Mongol Empire (Westport, 2006), p. 230.

39 Rossabi, pp. 172–173; Polo Marco, The Book of Ser Marco Polo the Venetian, (trans.) and (ed.) Yule Henry (London, 1871), vol. 2, pp. 393396. In Rashīd al-Dīn's account, it is Qaidu who cannot part from his daughter and refuses to marry her off. Rashīd al-Dīn/Thackston, vol. 2, pp. 309; Rashīd al-Dīn/Karīmī, vol. 1, p. 450. Another known example is Chinggis Khan's mother Hö’elun. When the followers of Chinggis’ father started abandoning his camp after the latter's death, she “got herself to a horse, raised her tugh [banner], had her soldiers mount, and went in pursuit of those who had fled in order to turn them back”. Rashīd al-Dīn/Thackston, vol. 1, p. 159; also vol. 2, p. 386.

40 Sinor, pp. 264–265 (especially Sinor's comment on Rossabi's study, p. 265, note 24). Shai Shir raised similar arguments in his paper “Female participation in fighting and warfare during the united Mongol empire period” read at the 7th annual Israeli conference of Asian Studies held at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (May 21–22, 2008). See also Shir's discussion on the question of the military authority of Mongol female regents in his ‘The Chief Wife’, pp. 89–98. Rashīd al-Dīn too briefly notes the lady's participation in her father's campaigns: “she went around like a boy and often went on military campaigns, where she performed valiant deeds”. Qutulun was also largely involved in matters of state and had some part in the handling of the administration during her father's reign. Interestingly, not all were pleased with the lady's involvement in state affairs: Rashīd al-Dīn writes that during the succession struggles following her father's death, Qutulun, who supported her brother's candidacy, was insulted by the following comment of her opponents: “you should mind your scissors and needles, what have you to do with kingship and chieftainship?” Rashīd al-Dīn/Thackston, vol. 2, pp. 309–310; Rashīd al-Dīn/Karīmī, vol. 1, p. 450. For Qutulun's part in the succession struggles after Qaidu's death, see Biran Michal, Qaidu and the Rise of the Independent Mongol State in Central Asia (Richmond, 1997), p. 70.

41 For example, Tayang, one of the commanders of the Naiman Khan says to the latter (after insulting him by calling him a ‘woman’): “Had we known that you would have lost your courage in this manner, shouldn't we have brought your mother Gürbesü, even though she is only a woman, and given her command of the army?” Secret History, vol. 1, p. 117. Shir argues that “the Secret History presents a basic male approach towards women in general which places them outside the masculine battlefield”. Shir, ‘The Chief Wife’, p. 93. Still, in Mongolian epics, female figures often play the role of warriors. Stewart Julie Ann, “Wife, mother, shamaness, warrior woman: the role of women in Mongolian and Siberian epic tales”, in Gervers Michael and Schlepp Wayne, (eds.) Continuity and Change in Central and Inner Asia. “Toronto Studies in Central and Inner Asia”, no. 5 (Toronto, 2002), pp. 313329 (especially 316–319).

42 “Even if some of the stories told about her [about Qutulun] are apocryphal, they enhanced her status as the ideal representation of Mongol womanhood”. Lane, Daily Life, p. 248. In several (non Mongol) ruling dynasties of Steppe origin, women played a pivotal role both in the political and military realms. Some are even reported to have had their own armies and to have led their forces in the battlefield. See, for example, Biran, Qara Khitai, pp. 164–166; Franke, pp. 25–26; David C. Wright, “The political and military power of Kitan empress dowagers”, in Veronika Veit, (ed.) The Role of Women in the Altaic World, pp. 325–335; Hillenbrand Carole, “Women in the Seljuq period,” in Nashat G. and Beck L., (eds.) Women in Iran from the Rise of Islam to 1800 (Chicago, 2003), pp. 114115. For two cases of later Mongol ladies who possessed their own armies, see Serruys Henry, “Two remarkable women in Mongolia: the third lady Erketü Qatun and Dayičing-beyiji”, Asia Major, vol. 19 (1975), pp. 191245. For female hunters of Steppe origin, see Allsen Thomas T., The Royal Hunt in Eurasian History (Philadelphia, 2006), pp. 129130. Armed female retainers (many of whom seem to have been of Mongol-Turkish descendant) played an important role in the protection of female members of the ruler's household and the ruler himself in Mughal India. Gavin R. G. Hambly, “Armed women retainers in the zenanas of Indo-Muslim rulers: the case of Bībī Fāṭīma”, in Hambly, (ed.) Women in Medieval Islamic World, pp. 429–467.

43 Holmgren argues that in the rare occurrences when levirate was practiced among widows of Mongol elite society it was for political reasons and not economic or social reasons as it was in the middle ranks of Mongol society. In the case of Chinggisid princesses who were married to leaders of allied or subordinate tribes, levirate was practiced when Mongol control over the allied tribe was not secure or there was a need to legitimise the succession of tribal leadership. Holmgren also suggests that “levirate might occur when the Chinggisid princess had no son”. Holmgren Jennifer, “Observations on marriage and inheritance practices in early Mongol and Yuan society with particular reference to the Levirate”, Journal of Royal Asian History, vol. 20, no. 2 (1986), pp. 146167; Shir, pp. 36–44. Whether we can infer from this that Ghurbati's two above mentioned sons where in fact from El Qutlugh is debatable.

44 This part of the patrimony belonged to the youngest son and was the largest share of the father's property. It would pass on to the youngest son on the death of his mother. Holmgren, “Observations on marriage and inheritance”, pp. 146–153, 167. For Mongol women's right to own property, see Junko Miyawaki-Okada, “The role of women in the imperial succession of the nomadic empire”, in Veronika Veit, (ed.) The Role of Women in the Altaic World, pp. 143–149. For the accumulation of wealth by Mongol princesses, see for example, Lambton, pp. 140, 293–294.

45 Yol Qutlugh was the daughter of Abagha Ilkhan and Tödei Khatun from the Qunqirat tribe, who was one of his concubines. Rashīd al-Dīn/Thackston, vol. 3, pp. 515–516; Rashīd al-Dīn/Karīmī, vol. 2, pp. 740–741.

46 Rashīd al-Dīn/Thackston, vol. 3, pp. 576, 614; Rashīd al-Dīn/Karīmī, vol. 2, pp. 825, 886.

47 Rashīd al-Dīn/Thackston, vol. 3, p. 629; Rashīd al-Dīn/Karīmī, vol. 2, p. 917.

48 Rashīd al-Dīn/Thackston, vol. 3, pp. 516, 646; Rashīd al-Dīn/Karīmī, vol. 2, pp. 740–741, 940.

49 Shir, pp. 39, 42; Zhao George Qingzhi, Marriage as Political Strategy and Cultural Expression: Mongolian Royal Marriages from World Empire to Yuan Dynasty (New York, 2008), pp. 3440.

50 Ibid., p. 59; Lambton, p. 292.

51 Amitai Reuven, “Mamlūk espionage among Mongols and Franks,” Asian and African Studies, vol. 22, nos. 1–3 (November, 1988), pp. 174176; Reuven Amitai-Preiss, Mongols and Mamluks, pp. 140–144, 151–153; ibid., “Northern Syria between the Mongols and Mamluks: political boundary, military frontier, and ethnic affinities,” in D. Power and N. Standen, (eds.) Frontiers in Question: Eurasian Borderlands, 700–1700 (London, 1999), pp. 144–145.

52 This, of course, does not include Mongol refugees and immigrants to the Sultanate known as the Wafidiya. On this phenomenon, see Ayalon David, “The Wafidiya in the Mamluk kingdom,” Islamic Culture, vol. 25, no. 1 (1951), pp. 89104.

53 Al-Ṣafadī, Aʿyān, vol. 2, pp. 489–491; al-ʿAsqalānī Aḥmad Ibn Ḥajar, al-Durar al-kāmīna fī aʿyān al-miʾa al-thāmina, (ed.) al-Ḥāqq Muḥammad Sayid Jād (Cairo, Dār al-kutub al-ḥadītha, 1966), vol. 2, pp. 276278; Amitai Reuven, “Mamluks of Mongol origin and their role in early Mamluk political life,” Mamluk Studies Review, vol. 12, no. 1 (2008), p. 123.

54 Al-Afram died after the year 1320 and was buried in Hamadān. Ibn Ḥajar, al-Durar, vol. 1, pp. 424–5; al-Ṣafadī, Aʿyān, vol. 1, pp. 561–572. For a study of the intriguing figure of Qarā Sunqur and the reasons for his flight to the Ilkhanate, see Little, Introduction, pp. 100–135.

55 There appears to be some confusion about the identity of this Mongol lady. In al-Wāfī, al-Ṣafadī states that Qarā Sunqur received the hand of the daughter of the Mongol commander, Quṭlughshāh. In Aʿyān, however, al-Ṣafadī adds in Qarā Sunqur's entry that the latter came to Baghdad in the year 1315 accompanied by his wife, the daughter of the Ilkhan Abagha. Al-Wāfī, vol. 24, p. 219; Aʿyān, vol. 4, p. 100. As for al-Afram, it is unclear if he ever married a Mongol lady. According to Ibn Taghrī Birdī, he was married to the daughter of the Mamluk commander Aydemür al-Zardakāsh, who joined Aqqush al-Afram and Qarā Sunqur in their flight to the Ilkhanate. Ibn Taghrī Birdī Abū ’l-Maḥāsin, al-Manhal al-ṣāfī wa-al-mustawfa baʿda al-wāfī, (ed.) ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz Muḥammad (Cairo, al-Hayʾa al-miṣriya al-ʿāma li'l-kutāb, 1985), vol. 3, p. 13.

56 Al-Ṣafadī ends this paragraph by exalting al-Afram's secrecy when dealing with these matters. Aʿyān, vol. 1, pp. 569–570.

57 Qalawun's Mongol wife was the mother of the above mentioned Sultan al-Nāṣir Muḥammad. Holt P.M., “An-Nāṣir Muḥammad b. Qalāwūn (684–741/1285–1341): his ancestry, kindred and affinity,” in Vermeulen U. and de Smet D., (eds.) Egypt and Syria in the Fatimid, Ayyubid and Mamluk Eras (Leuven, 1995), p. 314. These Mongol wives were mostly daughters of Mongol immigrant commanders (known as Wāfidī) to the Sultanate. Amitai, “Mamluks of Mongol origin,” pp. 134–135; Ayalon, “The Wafidiya,” pp. 90, 100.

58 For this short lived marriage and its implications on the relations between the Sultanate and the Golden Horde, see Broadbridge Anne F., Kingship and Ideology in Islamic and Mongol Worlds (Cambridge, 2008), pp. 131137.

59 Only after the Chupan's fall of power and death, did the Ilkhanids propose that the groom would be Abū Saʿīd himself. The marriage was never consummated although later on, Abū Saʿīd showed some interest in this possibility. Ibid., pp. 106–110, 124, 129.

60 This is reinforced by the dismissing answer of Sultan Özbeg's Mongol commanders when they first heard of Al-Nāṣir Muḥammad's request (as recorded by al-Nuwayrī): “such a thing has not happened from before the appearance of Chinggis Khan until now. In return for what should a daughter of a king from the descendants of Chinggis Khan be sent to the lands of Egypt and cross seven seas?” al-Nuwayrī Shihāb al-Dīn AṢmad b. ‘Abd al-Wahhāb, Nihāyat al-arab fi funūn al-adab (Cairo, 1923–98), vol. 32, pp. 323324. Broadbridge suggests that al-Nāṣir Muḥammad was also interested in this marriage alliance in order to reinforce his “insecure genealogical status” being the son of a Mamluk, that is, a military slave (although, one should note, one who became a Mamluk sultan) and not of royal lineage as were the Chinggisids. Broadbridge, pp. 12–16, 101, 107. 133.

61 The governorship of Damascus was in itself one of the most important posts in the Sultanate. Gaudefroy-Demombynes , La Syrie a l'Epoque des Mamelouks d'aprés les Auteurs Arabes (Paris, 1923), pp. 141143.

62 Al-Afram, in fact, became so popular that the people of Damascus “used to decorate their garments and weapons with his heraldic symbol [rank]” and the concubines would tattoo it to their wrists and private areas. Al-Ṣafadī, Aʿyān, vol. 1, p. 571.

63 Ibid., vol. 1, p. 565.

64 That Aqqush al-Afram saw himself of as equal standing as the two other strongmen of the Sultanate, Salār and Baybars al-Jashnakīr, is learned from the following anecdote recorded by al-Ṣafadī. One day, al-‘Umarī's father was present when Aqqush al-Afram complained of Salār and Baybars’ treatment of him. Al-Afram then turned to al-ʿUmarī's father and said: “I swear that this Baybars, when we were in the citadel (burj), he used to serve me, scrub my feet in the ḥamām and pour the water over me, and when he would see me, I swear, he did not sit down unless I told him to do so. With regard to Salār, he is not from us [i.e. not a Mamluk of Circassian origin] and he has no power. What am I doing in Damascus? I swear, if not for this ablaq palace, the green square and this beautiful river, I would not have left them alone to rejoice in the kingship of Egypt”. Ibid., vol. 1, p. 564.

65 It was the authority of the governor of Damascus in some cases to assign the posts in secondary governorships (niyāba) such as Homs. Gaudefroy-Demombynes, pp. 143–144. For the governorship of Homs under that of Damascus, see pp. 173–183 (especially p. 182).

66 It is also possible although less likely that Aqqush al-Afram's marriage proposal was part of a plan to defect to the Ilkhanate and persuade the Ilkhan to launch an attack on Syria. Once Syria was conquered, al-Afram would have requested the governorship of it and would have been able to award El Qutlugh Homs. A similar thing was, in fact, done by the previous Mamluk governor of Damascus, Qibjaq al-Manṣūrī. He defected to the Ilkhanate and played a role in persuading Ghazan to invade Syria in 1299. The Ilkhanid forces vanquished the Mamluks, Syria was conquered and Ghazan awarded Qibjaq the governorship of Damascus. However, in the year 1300, Qibjaq returned to the Mamluk camp and Mamluk rule over Syria was restored. Qibjaq's defection is discussed by Amitai-Preiss in “Northern Syria between the Mongols and Mamluks,” pp. 147–148, and by Boyle in “Il-Khans,” pp. 386–389.

67 Broadbridge argues that this sense of superiority stood behind the Ilkhanid refusal to arrange a marriage between the Qalawunids and the Ilkhanid dynasty. Broadbridge, pp. 101, 109. For the theme of Mamluk slave origin in Ilkhanid messages to the Sultanate, see ibid., pp. 13, 29 (for Hülegü), 32–34 (for Abagha), 65, 74–75 (for Ghazan).

68 Amitai-Preiss, Mongols and Mamluks, p. 144.

69 Wa-mattat bihi ilā mulūk al-islām wa-kanāt tukātibuhum. There are two ways to understand this sentence: either the author is interested in explaining that El Qutlugh was already corresponding with the Mamluks and that through this correspondence she brought this story to their attention or that this is how El Qutlugh began to correspond with the Mamluks. Whatever the case may be, it is reasonable to assume that this correspondence took place not too long after Ghazan's death at 1304 thus providing us with further evidence for the dating of El Qutlugh's contacts with the Mamluks.

70 Kāna lahā hawā lam takhlu fīhi min arab. In Aʿyān, the order of arab and hawā is reversed thus reading: kāna lahā arab lam tahklu fīhi min hawā. Arab could mean guile, cunningness or wickedness but also similarly to hawā, desire, passion or need. It can be inferred from this sentence that El Qutlugh claimed that Bulughan Khatun had a secret love affair or a hidden passion which she wished to conceal from Ghazan.

71 Al-Ṣafadī, al-Wāfī, vol. 25, p. 232. According to Aʿyān, this information was transmitted to the author by al-ʿUmarī, on whose relation to El Qutlugh's biography see below. Aʿyān, vol. 4, pp. 14–15. I would like to thank Professor Meir Bar-Asher and Professor Ella Landau-Tasseron for kindly helping me with the translation of this paragraph.

72 For example, Mufaḍḍal Ibn Abī ’l-Faḍāʾil, al-Nahj al-sadīd wa'l-durr al-farīd fīmā baʿd ibn al-ʿamīd, (ed.) and (trans.) E. Blochet as “Histoire des Sultans Mamlouks” in Patrologia Orientalis, vols. 12, 14, 20 (Paris, 1919–1928), part 3, pp. 93–94; Ibn al-Dawādārī Abū Bakr b. ‘Abd Allāh, Kanz al-durar wa-jāmiʿ al-ghurar, vol. 9: al-Durr al-fākhir fī sīrat al-malik al-nāṣir, (ed.) Haarmann U. (Cairo, 1971), p. 112; al-ʿAynī Badir al-Dīn Maḥmūd b. ʿAli, ʿIqd al-jumān fi taʾrīkh ahl al-zamān, vol. 4: ʿaṣr salāṭīn al-mamālīk (Cairo, 1987–92), pp. 218219; Ibn Iyās, Badāʾiʿ al-zuhūr fi waqāʾiʿ al-duhuūr, (ed.) Muḥammad Muṣṭafa (Cairo, 1982–4), vol. 1, p. 417. Melville refutes this “implausible story” bringing as evidence the fact that Bulughan regularly visited Ghazan's grave and was highly esteemed by his successor. Melville, “Bologān Kātun,” p. 339. Interestingly, this accusation is also repeated by Ibn Baṭṭūṭa with regard to Baghdād Khatun and Abū Saʿīd's death. Ibn Baṭṭūṭa, vol. 2, p. 340.

73 Boyle, “Il-Khans,” p. 395.

74 It was mostly the Mongols who were responsible for the enduring war although the Mamluks too had their share in this. Amitai-Preiss Reuven, “Mongol imperial ideology and the Ilkhanid war against the Mamluks,” in Amitai-Preiss R. and Morgan David O., (eds.) The Mongol Empire and its Legacy (Leiden, 1999), p. 57.

75 Amitai Reuven, “The resolution of the Mongol-Mamluk war,” in Amitai R. and Biran Michal, eds. Mongols, Turks, and Others: Eurasian Nomads and the Sedentary World (Leiden, 2005), pp. 377378; Amitai-Preiss, “New material,” pp. 29–31; Al-Ṣafadī, Aʿyān, vol. 2, pp. 169–171. It should be noted that Chupan, who during the first years of Abū Saʿīd's reign was the strongman of the Ilkhanate, was also the one responsible for initiating and conducting the peace negotiations with the Mamluks at a later stage. Amitai, “The resolution,” pp. 364, 374–375. Chupan might have also been corresponding with the Mamluks: according to Ibn al-Dawādārī, Qarā Sunqur threatened Chupan at court that he will reveal incriminating letters of the latter addressed to the Mamluk sultan if he were to stand in QarÁ Sunqur's way. Little, Introduction, p. 120; Ibn al-Dawādārī, vol. 9, pp. 270–271.

76 Amitai, “The resolution,” pp. 374–378.

77 Pfeiffer, “Reflections,” pp. 371–372.

78 Amitai-Preiss, “Ghazan, Islam and Mongol tradition,” pp. 1–10; Ibid., “Mongol imperial ideology”, pp. 66–69.

79 “Only afterwards – gradually and perhaps never fully – were the elements of Mongolian tradition weeded out”. Ibid., “Ghazan, Islam and Mongol tradition”, p. 9. For the gradual aud assimilative nature of Islamisation under and amongst the Mongols and in Central Asia in general, see DeWeese's Devin important study, Islamization and Native Religion in the Golden Horde (University Park, Pennsylvania, 1994).

80 Yet, as Amitai importantly notes, the influence of the Mongol ladies in the Ilkhanid court should not be discounted. Amitai, “The resolution”, p. 377.

81 Abū Saʿīd's delegation arrived at al-Nāṣir Muḥammad's court in order to sign on the peace treaty on 14 Jumāda 2 723/20 June 1323. El Qutlugh arrived at Damascus in order to join the hajj during Ramadan that same year (below). For the dating of the peace negotiations, see Broadbridge, pp. 106–111; and Amitai, “The resolution,” pp. 366–371.

82 The two worked together in the Mamluk bureaucracy in Damascus and in Cairo and were on friendly terms. Al-Ṣafadī often refers to information conveyed to him during conversations between the two. Among other virtues, al-Ṣafadī also praises al-ʿUmarī for his expertise in the history of the Mongol empire and its successor states. Little Donald P., “Al-Ṣafadī as Biographer of His Contemporaries,” in Little Donald P., (ed.) Essays on Islamic Civilization: Presented to Niyazi Berks (Leiden, 1976), pp. 199206. Al-ʿUmarī's great knowledge of Mongol history is also evident in the section of his encyclopedia devoted to the Mongols published by K. Lech as Das Mongolische Weltreich.

83 In fact, one might suspect that al-Ṣafadī transmitted the entire entry orally from al-‘Umarī or perhaps even copied it from the latter's notes. This suspicion arises when one compares El Qutlugh's entry in Aʿyān to the paragraph devoted to her in Ghazan's entry in al-Ṣafadī's earlier work, al-Wāfī (vol. 25, pp. 224–236). The wording is identical in both works and it is quite clear that al-Ṣafadī copied El Qutlugh's entry almost without change from Ghazan's earlier entry. However, there are several important differences. In al-Wāfī, her story begins with the vicious rumor about Ghazan. Al-Ṣafadī did not incorporate this into his new entry of El Qutlugh and it can be found only in Ghazan's entry in Aʿyān. The second major change is that nowhere in Ghazan's entry in al-Wāfī is al-ʿUmarī named as the source for the information on the lady: her paragraph begins with qultu, “I said,” which is usually used to distinguish between the words of the author and those of his informants/predecessors. Moreover, the anecdote of El Qutlugh's hajj does not begin with “qāla [said] al-Qāḍī Shihāb al-Dīn Aḥmad b. Faḍl Allah” as it does in Aʿyān but again with “qultu” which is followed by “I was making the hajj that same year” (exactly like in Aʿyān). This is quite puzzling since in Aʿyān it is clearly stated that it was al-ʿUmarī who made the hajj that year and witnessed El Qutlugh's pilgrimage. The best solution seems to be that al-ʿUmarī is the one referred to by “qultu”. The second paragraph of Ghazan's entry in al-Wāfī begins by al-Ṣafadī quoting directly from al-‘Umarī (“qāla al-Qāḍī . . .”) on the Ilkhan. Al-Ṣafadī then continues and brings statements on Ghazan from several sources distinguishing these statements from his own (or rather al-ʿUmarī’s) statements by qāla (so and so said) or saʾltu (I asked so and so) and qultu (I said). It is, therefore, possible that after a short introduction on Ghazan written by al-Ṣafadī, the rest of the entry is actually al-ʿUmarī's words. This conjecture finds further reinforcement in the fact that all three sources (not including al-‘Umarī) who are named in Ghazan's entry are mentioned by al-‘Umarī as his sources for the section dealing with the Mongols in Masālik al-abṣār (two of whom, Niżām al-Dīn Yaḥyā b. al-Ḥakīm and the commander Sayf al-Dīn Ṭayir Bugha appear only once, in Ghazan's entry, as sources for al-Ṣafadī). Lech, Das Mongolische Weltreich, pp. 29, 36–38.

84 Abū ʿImād al-Dīn Ismāʿīl b. ʿAlīal-Fidāʾ, al-Mukhtaṣar fī taʾrīkh al-bashar (Beirut, 1997), vol. 2, pp. 439440; ibid., The Memoirs of a Syrian Prince: Abu'l-Fidāʾ, Sultan of Ḥamāh (672–732/1273–1331), (trans.) P. M. Holt (Wiesbaden, 1983), p. 83. My translation of this paragraph slightly differs from Holt's translation.

85 During the Mamluk Baḥrī period, those joining the Syrian caravan to the Ḥijāz from outside Damascus would arrive at the city towards the end of the month of Ramadan and the caravan would depart from Damascus at the tenth day of the following month, Shawwāl. ʿAnkawi Abdullah, “The pilgrimage to Mecca in Mamluk times,” in Serjeant R. B. and Bidwell R. L., (eds.) Arabian Studies (London, 1974), vol. 1, pp. 148149.

86 Ibn al-Kathīr Abū al-Fidāʾ ʿAbd Allāh, al-Bidāya wa'l-nihāya (Beirut, 1988), vol. 13, pp. 105106. El Qutlugh's pilgrimage is also mentioned briefly by al-ʿAynī, ‘Iqd al-jumān fī taʾrīkh ahl al-zamān (MS. Topkapi Sarayi, A 2912/4), fol. 349, and by Muḥammad b. Aḥmad al-Dhahabī, al-ʿIbar fī khabar man ghabar, (ed.) Muḥammad Zaghlūl (Beirut, 1985), vol. 4, p. 64. I am grateful to Professor Reuven Amitai for lending me a copy of the microfilm of ‘Iqd al-jumān.

87 As the governor of Damascus, the Mamluk officer, Tankiz, appears to have had the chance to welcome and accommodate a number of Ilkhanid dignitaries. His conduct according to diplomatic protocol during these occasions and furthermore, his manipulation of this protocol, played an important role in conveying the sultan's high position. Broadbridge, pp. 107–109, 119. Interestingly, al-Ṣafadī notes that Tankiz treated El Qutlugh with such great honour that she entered Damascus without a parasol (jitr) over her head (above). In Mongol society, the parasol was considered a symbol of high standing and both royalty and high ranking officers were seen carrying lavish parasols; yet, according to Mamluk customs, the parasol was a sultanic insignia and only the sultan would ride shaded by a parasol. The Mamluks were posed with somewhat of a problem when Mongol dignitaries arrived at the Sultanate carrying parasols. While in some cases, the Mamluks insisted on the removal of the parasol, in other cases, when they saw it in their best interest, they provided the Ilkhanid officials with lavish parasols (Broadbridge, pp. 43, 108). Tankiz must have persuaded El Qutlugh not to enter Damascus with her parasol so as not to offend the sultan. P. M. Holt, “Miżalla: 2. In the Mamluk Sultanate,” El2, vol. 7, p. 192; P. A. Andrews, “Miżalla: 4. In the Persian, Indian and Turkish lands,” ibid., pp. 192–194; Thomas T. Allsen, Commodity and Exchange in the Mongol Empire: a Cultural History of Islamic Textiles (New York, 1997), p. 19.

88 One might say that her contacts with the Mamluks finally paid off.

89 ʿAnkawi, ibid. For examples of Iraqi hajj caravans during the first decades of Mongol rule, see Amitai-Preiss, Mongols and Mamluks, pp. 212–213.

90 Still the next Iraqi caravan left only in 725/1325. Melville, “The year of the elephant,” pp. 197–206; Broadbridge, pp. 100–104, 115–117, 125–131. For earlier Ilkhanid attempts to intervene in Arabian affairs, see Amitai-Preiss, Mongols and Mamluks, p. 124.

91 “The revival of the Iraqi rakb [caravan], and the presence of Mongol notables as well as Persians, also indicates the extent to which Islam was taking hold in the newly converted Ilkhanate”. Melville, “The year of the elephant,” p. 211.

92 Ibid., p. 203; Broadbridge, p. 103.

93 Amitai, “The resolution,” p. 366.

94 Already at the beginning of the peace negotiations there was a dramatic increase in the number of visitors from Ilkhanid territories to the Sultanate. These early contacts played an important role in warming the relations between the two parties. Ibid., p. 369. That the Mamluks probably saw great importance in her visit to the Sultanate has already been mentioned above. The fact that a few pro-Mamluk sources deemed her visit to Damascus and her travel to Mecca worthy of mentioning in their historical annals further reinforces this point.

95 Allsen, The Royal Hunt, pp. 119–124.

96 Ibid., pp. 124–129.

97 Ibid., pp. 26–28; Lane, Daily Life, pp. 107–114. Allsen also notes that this technique was very adaptable and the ring hunts could vary tremendously both in size and terrain (pp. 27–28). It is, therefore, quite possible that although the different terrain and the probably limited number of men at her service, El Qutlugh entertained herself and her entourage by arranging these ring hunts along the way.

98 For examples, see Allsen, The Royal Hunt, pp. 129–130.

99 The differences between Ilkhanid elite women and Mamluk women seem to have also troubled the Mongols and the Mamluks or at least, the historian Ibn al-Dawādārī, who in his account of the audience of the Mamluk commander Ḥusām al-Dīn Özdemir with the Ilkhan Ghazan records the following conversation between the two: “Ghazan said to his chamberlain: ask him [Ḥusām al-Dīn]: what do you say about our women and your women? He [Ḥusām al-Dīn] said [to the narrator]: and I knew for sure that he wanted to execute me and I said to myself the shahada and prepared to meet Allah to whom belong all mighty and majesty and so I said [to Ghazan]: may Allah guard the Khan! You are King of the East and it is improper to mention women in this audience! Our women are ashamed from Allah, exalted be his name, and from the people and they veil their faces. As for your women, you know about them and about their state more than I do [. . .] and he [Ghazan] ordered the chamberlain: take them outside! Cast them in the catapults!.” Ibn al-Dawādārī, Kanz al-durar, vol. 9, p. 74. For a full review of the audience between the two, see Broadbridge, pp. 88–90.

100 Behrens-Abouseif, “The Maḥmal legend,” pp. 92–96; Kortantamer Samira, “Women in Mamluk society,” in Guzel H. C. et al. ., (eds.) The Turks, vol. 2 (Ankara: Yeni Turkiye, 2002), pp. 281–2; Marina Tolmacheva, “Female patronage in the medieval ‘Ḥajj’,” in Hambly, (ed.) Women in Medieval Islamic World, pp. 164–170. For the royal pilgrimages of sultans’ wives in late Mamluk period, see Johnson Kathryn, “Royal pilgrims: Mamluk accounts of the pilgrimages to Mecca of the Khawand al-Kubra (senior wife of the sultan),” Studia Islamica, no. 91 (2000), pp. 107131.

101 Al-Ṣafadī, Aʿyān, vol. 2, p. 600.

102 Behrens-Abouseif, “The Maḥmal legend,” p. 93.

103 Hunting appears to have also been part of the leisure activities of the Mamluk sultans during their pilgrimages to Mecca. Al-Nāṣir Muḥammad, for example, started his journey to Mecca in the year 719 with a short hunting expedition. Allsen, The Royal Hunt, p. 191; Abū al-Fidāʾ, vol. 2, p. 432.

104 Therefore, al-Ṣafadī's description of El Qutlugh's performance of the hajj bears resemblance to ibn Baṭṭuṭa's “assimilative portrayal” of the integration of Mongol and Muslim features in the Ramadan Celebrations of Özbek Khan's Court, DeWeese, pp. 221–230. In this, El Qutlugh appears to have differed from the later Timurid women, who according to Soucek, followed Turko-Mongol gender related traditions in their personal lives and within their families while following Islamic precedents in their personal piety. Priscilla P. Soucek, “Timurid women: a cultural perspective,” in Hambly, (ed.) Women in the Medieval Islamic World, pp. 199–226.

105 Biran reaches a similar conclusion: “the Muslim religion of the Khwārazmian, Saljūq, Kirmānid, Ṭabaristānid and perhaps also Oghuz women did not prevent their active participation in warfare and politics”. Biran, Qara Khitai, p. 166.

106 According to Roded, three percent of the entries in al-Wāfī are devoted to women. Roded, Women in Islamic Biographical Collections, p. 3 (Table 1). For Aʿyān, see below.

107 Ibid., p. 20. On the biographies dedicated to the sahabiyyat (female companions of the Prophet Muhammad) in al-Wāfī and other biographical compilations, see ibid., Chapter 2.

108 On women of knowledge in the biographical collections, see ibid., Chapter 4; on women of elite society, Chapter 6; on concubines and slaves, see throughout the book; on female poets and signers, especially, pp. 55–56, 125–126.

109 Ibid., pp. 23, 53, 121.

110 Ibid., p. 127. Kinship relations and personal acquaintance with the author were also the principal criterion for including women in biographical dictionaries of tenth and eleventh century Iran. Bulliet Richard W., “Women and the urban elite in the pre-Mongol period,” in Nashat G. and Beck L., (eds.) Women in Iran from the Rise of Islam to 1800 (Urbana and Chicago, 2003), pp. 6879 (especially 74).

111 Aʿyān was not included in Roded's comparative study. The number of biographical entries of women amount to about two percent of the entries in this work.

112 Aʿyān, vol. 2, p. 403.

113 Roded, pp. 9, 35.

114 Aʿyān, vol. 4, pp. 28–9; Roded, pp. 82, 105–106.

115 Al-Ṣafadī writes that she was known as a “second Rābiʿa”. Aʿyān, vol. 4, pp. 24–25.

116 Aʿyān, vol. 1, p. 696. In al-Wāfī there is one historical precedent for El Qutlugh's biography. This is the biography of Terken Khatun, the Qara Khanid princess and the wife of the Seljuk Sultan Malik Shāh, who was greatly involved in matters of the state during the reign of her husband and all the more so, after his death. Al-Ṣafadī writes that “she was sharp minded and vigorous; she led the armies and had at her service ten thousand horsemen until her death in the year 487[/1094]; she arranged the matters after the death of Malik Shāh [her husband] [. . .] and she was the ruler of Isfahan and conducted the battles herself; it is said that she was poisoned on the road”. As far as I can tell, except for Terken Khatun, none of the women who achieved great political power, not even the famous Shajarat al-Durr, is described by al-Ṣafadī in similar terms to El Qutlugh. For Terken Khatun, see al-Wāfī, vol. 10, p. 381; Roded, p. 118; Bosworth C. E., “Terken Khātūn,” El2, vol. 10 (2000), p. 419. For Shajarat al-Durr's entry in al-Wāfī: vol. 16, p. 120. Al-Ṣafadī also mentions two women who killed Byzantine soldiers with their tent poles in the battle of Yarmouk (636); however, they were not trained in warfare and participated in the battle only when the Muslim forces were on the verge of losing. Ibid., vol. 9, p. 54; vol. 13, p. 132.

117 I base this on Roded's comprehensive survey of women's biographies in Islamic biographical collections. This conclusion appears to be correct also for other Arab literary genres although there are several exceptions. For example, the famous female Sultan of Delhi, Raḍiyya daughter of Iltumish (r. 1236–40), who according to Baṭṭūṭa Ibn, “used to ride abroad just like the men, carrying bow and quiver and (qurbān) and without veiling her face”. The Travels of Ibn Baṭṭūṭa (Cambridge, 1971), (trans.) Gibb H. A. R., vol. 3, p. 631. See also Peter Jackson, “Sultan Raḍiyya bint Iltumish,” in Hambly, ed. Women in the Medieval Islamic World, pp. 181–197. Ibn Baṭṭūṭa also reports of women who “ride horses, understand archery and fight just like the men” in the account of his visit to the yet to be satisfactorily identified country of Ṭawālisī, where he stopped on his way from Java to the South China coast. According to Ibn Baṭṭūṭa, the country is ruled by queen Urdujā, who “goes out among her troops of men and women, invades the territory of her enemies, is present at the fighting, and engages the champions”. Ibn Baṭṭūṭa relates that in one of her battles, “she reached the king against whom she was fighting, pierced him with a lance thrust which caused his death, whereupon his troops fled, and she brought his head on a spear”. The Travels of Ibn Baṭūṭa (London, 1994), (trans.) H. A. R. Gibb, vol. 4, pp. 884–887. For different theories about the location of this kingdom, see also Dunn Ross E., The Adventures of Ibn Battuta (Berkeley, 1986), p. 264 (note 34).

118 Roded, pp. 34–35.

119 Ibid., p. 35; Ibn Saʿd Muḥammad, Kitāb al-ṭabaqāt al-kubrā (Beirut, 1960–8), vol. 8, p. 72. The figure of ʿĀʾisha and her role in the battle of the camel (656), the first Islamic civil strife (fitna), occupied in later generations an important place in traditions (hadiths) which condemned the involvement of women in politics, government and combat. When the Prophet Muhammad, for example, states that “men perish if they obey women”, he does it while resting his head on ʿĀʾisha's breast, hence, predicting, according to Islamic commentary, the destructive outcome of the battle of the camel. And when the famous Zubaida, the pious wife of the Abbasid Caliph Hārūn al-Rāshid (d. 809), was advised after her son's death to act as ʿĀʾisha did in the battle of the camel, she responded: “it is not for women to seek vengeance and take the field against warriors”. Rather than follow ʿĀʾisha's negative example of political action, Zubaida retired to mourn her dead son in seclusion. Spellberg Denise A., “Political action and public example: ʿĀʾisha and the battle of the camel,” in Keddie Nikki R. and Baron Beth, (eds.) Women in Middle Eastern History (New Haven, 1991), pp. 4557.

120 The jurists give several reasons for their objection while using various examples from the life of the Prophet. They write, for example, that the enemies of the Muslims might see this as a sign of weakness, which will encourage them to fight against the Muslim forces, that women are not fit for fighting and that only males are obliged to exercise the principal of jihad, or that the presence of young women at the battlefield might cause internal rivalries within the Muslim forces (fitna). See, for example, al-Shaybānī Muḥammad b. al-Ḥasan, Sharḥ kitāb al-siyar al-kabīr, (ed.) al-Munjid Ṣalāḥ al-Dīn (Cairo, 1971), vol. 1, pp. 184186; Muwaffaq al-Dīn ʿAbd Allah b. Aḥmad b. Muḥammad b. Qudāma, Al-Mughnā, (ed.) ʿAbdallah b. ‘Abd al-Muḥsin al-Tarkī et al. (Cairo, 1986–90), vol. 13, pp. 8–9, 35–36. For a survey of different juristic opinions on this and related subjects, see Muḥammad Khayr Haykal, al-Jihād wa'l-qitāl fī al-siyāsa al-sharʿiyya (Beirut, 1993), vol, 2, pp. 1013–1024.

121 Remke Kruk, “The bold and the beautiful: women and ‘fitna’ in the ‘Sīrat Dhāt al-Himma’: the story of Nūrā,” in Hambly, (ed.) Women in the Medieval Islamic World, p. 99.

122 For a survey of female warriors in the Arabian epics and a discussion of different types of warrior women, see Lyons M. C., The Arabian Epic: Heroic and Oral Story Telling (Cambridge, 1995), vol. 1, pp. 109118; Kruk Remke, “Warrior women in Arabic popular romance: Qannāṣa bint Muzāḥim and other valiant ladies,” Journal of Arabic Literature, vol. 24 (1993), pp. 213230.

123 Ibid., pp. 219–220. On Sīrat al-amīra Dhāt al-Himma, see Canard M., “Dhu ‘l-Himma,” El2, vol. 2 (1991), pp. 233239. For a summary of the narrative of the romance, Lyons, The Arabian Epic, vol. 3, pp. 301–505.

124 Lyons, vol. 1, pp. 114–115; Kruk, “Warrior women,” pp. 219–220.

125 Lyons, vol. 1, p. 115.

126 For this set pattern in the Sīrat al-amīra Dhāt al-Himma, see Kruk, “Warrior women,” pp. 220–226; Lyons, vol. 1, pp. 112–114. For the fearsome and ruthless al- Qannāṣa, the princess of a mountain castle, see Kruk Remke, “Warrior women in Arabic popular romance: Qannāṣa bint Muzāḥim and other valiant ladies: part two,” Journal of Arabic Literature, vol. 25 (1994), pp. 1633; for the Byzantine princess Nūrā, ibid., “The bold and the beautiful”; and for Maymūna, the daughter of an Ethiopian king, ibid., “The princess Maymūna: maiden, mother, monster,” Oriente Moderno, vol. 22 (2003), no. 2: Studies in Arabic Epics, pp. 425–442.

127 Canard, “Dhu ‘l-Himma,” p. 238.

128 This possibility, however, should not be completely dismissed. While most often Medieval Arab writers held popular historical romances such as Sīrat al-amīra Dhāt al-Himma in contempt claming such tales to be no more than ludicrous fabrications of ignorant storytellers, a few appear to have been inspired and influenced by these popular stories and their heroic characters. Ibn al-Dawādārī, for example, compared the acts of bravery done by Aqqush al-Afram and the other Mamluk defectors in the battle between Öljeitü Ilkhan and Khan Toqta of the Golden Horde (1313) to those described by “the authors of romances in Delhemma wa'l-Baṭṭāl [Sīrat al-amīra Dhāt al-Himma]”. Ibn al-Dawādārī, vol. 9. p. 276; Shoshan Boaz, “On popular literature in medieval Cairo,” Poetics Today, vol. 14, no. 2 (1993), pp. 352354, 356–358; Connelly Bridget, Arab Folk Epic and Identity (Berkeley, 1986), pp. 1012.

129 For example, al-Ṣafadī's appliance of dream anecdotes in his biographical dictionaries is often influenced by Islamic cultural patterns. Malti-Douglas Fedwa, “Dreams, the blind, and the semiotics of the biographical notice,” Studia Islamica, vol. 51 (1980), pp. 137162 (especially 148).

130 Kruk, “The bold and the beautiful,” p. 100. Interestingly, this characteristic can also be found in other epics, for example, the Oghuz epic, The Book of Dede Korkut. In the story of Kan Turali, the only suitable wife for the hero is the daughter of the Christian king of the city of Trebizond, beyond the lands of Islam. She was beautiful just as she was skilled in warfare and could “stretch the strings of two bows at the same time”. After Kan Turali wines her over from her father the King, the two bravely fight off her father's army and the princess ends up saving her husband's life. F. Sumer et al., (trans.) and (eds.), The Book of the Dede Korkut: a Turkish Epic (Austin, 1972), pp. 98–114; Geoffrey Lewis, “Heroines and others in the heroic age of the Turks,” in Hambly, (ed.) Women in Medieval Islamic World, pp. 155–157.

131 Kruk, “The bold and the beautiful,” p. 101.

132 See, for example, the description of the permissive sexual behavior of Turkish women in the Eurasian Steppe in Yehoshua Frenkel, “The Turks of the Eurasian steppes in medieval Arabic Writing,” in R. Amitai and M. Biran, (eds.) Mongols, Turks, and Others, pp. 215–216. For Arab views and fantasies about European women in the modern period, see Hopwood Derek, Sexual Encounters in the Middle East: the British, the French and the Arabs (Reading: Ithaca Press, 1999), pp. 245287.

133 It is perhaps not only the image of the female warrior which appealed to the readers in this case but also that of the beautiful and seductive female ruler. In the biographies of the Ilkhanid Khatuns Baghdād and Dilshadh, al-Ṣafadī takes much pleasure in describing their irresistible beauty, the power they had over their husbands and their great independence in the management of state affairs. For their entries in Al-Wāfī and Aʿyān, see above.

134 Ibn al-Athīr ʿIzz al-Dīn ʿAlī, al-Kāmil fī‘l-taʾrīkh (Beirut: Dār Ṣādir, 1965–6), vol. 12, p. 378.

135 al-Dhahabī Shams al-Dīn Muḥammad b. Aḥmad, Taʾrīkh al-islām, (ed.) Maʿrūf B. ʿA. (Beirut, 1988) vol. 61, p. 59.

136 Reports and rumours about the participation of fearsome Mongol women in the fighting and descriptions of their skills and their brutality on the battlefield were also very popular in Europe during the Mongol expansion westwards. Johannes Giessauf, “Mulieres Bellatrices oder Apis Argumentosa? Aspekte der Wahrnehmung mongolischer Frauen in Abendländischen Quellen des Mittelalters,” in Veronika Veit, (ed.) The Role of Women in the Altaic World, pp. 83–92. For example, in a letter written to the Bishop of Perugia probably in 1237 it is stated: “It is also said that their women, like themselves, are warlike, and shoot arrows and ride horses and mares like men, but that they are more spirited than men in battle. For while men sometimes turn tail, they in no circumstances take to flight, but expose themselves to every risk”. Sinor, pp. 264–265.

137 Little, An Introduction, p. 112; Gibb Hamilton, “Islamic biographical literature,” in Lewis Bernard and Holt P. M., (eds.) Historians of the Middle East (Oxford, 1962), pp. 5458. Perhaps one should also add to this the recording of individuals who had an impact on the Muslim community. This would explain biographical entries of enemies to the Muslim polity.

138 Little shows this through al-Ṣafadī's lengthy biography of the Mamluk commander Qarā Sunqur; yet, other examples can be brought to support this view. Little, An Introduction, pp. 102–106, 112–113.

139 Ibid., p. 105.

140 Conermann Stephan, “Tankiz ibn ‘Abd Allāh al-Ḥusāmī al-Nāṣirī (d. 740/1340) as seen by his contemporary al-Ṣafadī (d. 764/1363),” Mamluk Studies Review, vol. 12, no. 2 (2008), pp. 1617.

141 Roded reaches the same conclusion in some cases. Roded, p. 53.

142 For the process of popularisation and literarisation (Literarisierung) in historical writing of the Mamluk period, that is, the deviation from traditional narrative by incorporating vivid anecdotes and literary elements in order to amaze and amuse the reader, see Haarmann Ulrich, “Auflösung und Bewahrung der klassischen Formen arabischer Geschichtsschreibung in der Zeit der Mamluken,” Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenliindischen Gesellschaft, vol. 121 (1971), pp. 4660. Haarmann also suggests that there might be some connection between the growing interest of readers of lower social classes in historical writing and the popularity of folk romances during the Mamluk period (p. 59).

143 On the nature of Ibn Ḥajar al-ʿAsqalānī's borrowing from al-Ṣafadī and his efforts in reducing the latter's lengthy biographical entries by removing the many detailed anecdotes, see Little, An Introduction, pp. 106–108.

144 Ibn Ḥajar, al-Durar, vol. 5, p. 218.

145 For Ibn Ḥajar's life and career, see Rosenthal F., “Ibn Ḥajar al-ʿAsqalānī,” El2, vol. 3 (1986), pp. 776778. For Ibn Ḥajar's legalistic approach in his biographical writing, see Little, An Introduction, ibid. For al-Ṣafadī's life and career, Little, “Al-Ṣafadī as Biographer,” pp. 205–210.

146 Haarmann argues that the sons of Mamluks (awlād al-nās) were a cultural bridge between the ruling Mamluk Turkish class and the Arab civilian elite society. Haarmann Ulrich “Joseph's law – the careers and activities of Mamluk descendants before the Ottoman conquest of Egypt,” in Philipp Thomas and Haarmann U., (eds.) The Mamluks in Egyptian Politics and Society (Cambridge, 1998), pp. 7783; ibid., “Arabic in speech, Turkish in lineage: Mamluks and their sons in the intellectual life of fourteenth-century Egypt and Syria,” Journal of Semitic Studies, vol. 33 (1988), pp. 81–114. For al-Ṣafadī's important contribution to the preservation of Mamluk Turkish culture, see ibid., pp. 110–113; ibid., “Joseph's law,” pp. 80–81.

I would like to express my gratitude to my teachers Professor Michal Biran and Professor Reuven Amitai for reading earlier drafts of this work and making valuable comments. This study would not have been made possible without their support and encouragement. I am also grateful to Mr Shai Shir and other readers for making useful suggestions. An earlier draft of this paper was read at the 7th annual Israeli conference of Asian Studies held at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (May 21–22, 2008). E-mail: .

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