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Commercial Queens: Mongolian Khatuns and the Silk Road 1

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  10 May 2016

TIMOTHY MAY*
Affiliation:
University of North Georgia Timothy.May@ung.edu

Abstract

Three women dominated the politics and government of the Mongol Empire in the decade of the 1240s. Töregene and Oghul-Qaimish ruled as regents and are credited with corruption and petty politics throughout their regencies, while Sorqoqtani Beki became a paragon of virtue throughout the world for her adherence to the yasa of Chinggis Khan. Curiously, very little attention has been paid to this period to verify the accuracy of the statements. This study examines the role of all three women, but also attempts to place their actions in context, examine their role in commerce and how that affected their activities and their legacies. It argues that while the overall depiction of Töregene and Oghul-Qaimish may not be inaccurate, it overlooks some crucial elements and motives in their actions which also reveal that Sorqoqtani's actions were not as virtuous as the sources state.

Type
Part II: The Mongol World
Copyright
Copyright © The Royal Asiatic Society 2015 

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Footnotes

1

I would like to thank Scott Jacobs for his support of my research.

References

2 See May, Timothy, The Mongol Conquests in World History (London, 2012)Google Scholar, passim.

3 The Secret History of the Mongols, § 198 [henceforth SHM]. There are many translations of the The Secret History of the Mongols. The most authoritative is de Rachewiltz, Igor (editor and translator), The Secret History of the Mongols (Leiden, 2003)Google Scholar, but we also have Onon, Urgunge (editor and translator), The Secret History of the Mongols (London, 2001)Google Scholar, and, of course, Cleaves, Francis W. (editor and translator), The Secret History of the Mongols (Cambridge, MA, 1982)Google Scholar. Rather than cite page numbers for each edition, I will cite the section number of the Secret History. Rashīd al-Dīn, however, states that she was the wife of Dayir Usun rather than Qudu: Rashīd al-Dīn, Jāmi‛ al-tawārīkh, (ed.) B. Karīmī (Teheran, 1983), p. 444; al-Din, Rashid, Jami’u’ut-tawarikh: Compendium of Chronicles, translated by W. M. Thackston (Cambridge, MA, 1998–9)Google Scholar, II, p. 304. [henceforth these works will be cited as RD/Karīmī and RD/Thackston respectively.] In this instance, The Secret History of the Mongols was written closer to the events and certainly began to be compiled during the lifetime of Ögödei and should be considered more reliable, particularly as Rashīd al-Dīn expresses his own uncertainty about the matter.

4 RD/Karīmī, p. 564; RD/Thackston, II, p. 390.

5 Juwaynī, Aṭā-Malik, Genghis Khan: The History of the World-Conqueror, translated by J. A. Boyle (Seattle, 1997)Google Scholar, p. 240 [henceforth Juwaynī/Boyle]; Aṭā- Malik Juwaynī, Tarīkh-ī Jahān-gushā, ed. Mīrzā Muḥammad Qazwīnī, 3 vols (Leiden, 1912–37), I, p. 196 [henceforth Juwaynī/Qazwīnī].

6 Juwaynī/Boyle, p. 240; Juwaynī/Qazwīnī, I, p. 196.

7 RD/Karīmī, p. 445; RD/Thackston, II, p. 305.

8 Juwaynī/Qazwīnī, I, p.196; Juwaynī/Boyle, p. 240; RD/Karīmī, p. 564; RD/Thackston, II, p. 390.

9 Juwaynī/Qazwīnī, 1912, p. 196; Juwaynī/Boyle, p. 240; RD/Karīmī, p. 564; RD/Thackston, II, p. 390.

10 Ibid .

Ibid

11 For more on Yelu Chucai, see de Rachewiltz, I., “Yeh-lü Ch’u-ts’ai”, in de Rachewiltz, Igor et al. (eds.), In the Service of the Khan: Eminent Personalities of the Early Mongol-Yuan Period (1200–1300) (Wiesbaden, 1993)Google Scholar, pp. 136–172.

12 Grousset, R., The Empire of the Steppes, translated by N. Walford (New Brunswick, 1970), p. 268 Google Scholar.

13 For more on Yalavach, see T. Allsen, “Maḥmūd Yalavac”, in De Rachewiltz et al. (eds.), In the Service of the Khan, pp. 122–127.

14 Juwaynī/Qazwīnī, I, p. 197; Juwaynī/Boyle, pp. 241–242; RD/Karīmī, p. 564; RD/Thackston, II, p. 390. For more on Chinqai, see P. Buell, “Cinqai”, in De Rachewiltz et al. (eds.), In the Service of the Khan, pp. 95–111.

15 Juwaynī/Qazwīnī, I, pp. 197–198; Juwaynī/Boyle, p. 242.

16 Juwaynī/Qazwīnī, I, p. 198; Juwaynī/Boyle, p. 243. For more on Mas‛ūd Beg, see T. Allsen, “Masʿūd Beg”, in De Rachewiltz et al. (eds), In the Service of the Khan, pp. 128–130.

17 Juwaynī/Qazwīnī, 1912, p. 199; Juwaynī/Boyle, p. 243; RD/Karīmī, p. 565; RD/Thackston, II, p. 391.

18 Ibid .

Ibid

19 For more on Chormaqan's authority and actions in the region, see May, T., “The Conquest and Rule of Transcaucasia: The Era of Chormaqan”, in Tubach, J. et al. (eds.), Caucasus during the Mongol Period-Der Kaukasus in der Mongolenzeit (Wiesbaden, 2012), pp. 129152 Google Scholar.

20 Juwaynī/Qazwīnī, II, p. 275; Juwaynī/Boyle, p. 540.

21 RD/Karīmī, p. 445; RD/Thackston, II, p. 305.

22 SHM, §277. Also see Kim, H., “A Reappraisal of Güyüg Khan”, in Amitai, R. and Biran, M. (eds.), Mongols, Turks, and Others: Eurasian Nomads and the Sedentary World (Leiden, 2005), pp. 309338 Google Scholar.

23 RD/Karīmī, p. 565; RD/Thackston, II, p. 391.

24 Juwaynī/Qazwīnī, I, p. 206; Juwaynī/Boyle, p. 251.

25 RD/Karīmī, p. 566; RD/Thackston, II, p. 391.

26 Juwaynī/Qazwīnī, I, pp. 201–202; Juwaynī/Boyle, p. 245.

27 RD/Karīmī, p. 564; RD/Thackston, II, p. 390.

28 Ibid .

Ibid

29 RD/Karīmī, p. 566; RD/Thackston, II, p. 391.

30 Ibid .

Ibid

31 Kim, “A Reappraisal of Güyüg Khan”, pp. 318–320.

32 Juwaynī/Qazwīnī, I, p. 217; Juwayni/Boyle, p. 262.

33 RD/Karīmī, p. 571; RD/Thackston, II, p. 395.

34 RD/Karīmī, p. 571–572; RD/Thackston, II, p. 395.

35 Juwaynī/Qazwīnī, I, p. 218; Juwaynī/Boyle, p. 264.

36 Juwaynī/Qazwīnī, I, p. 219; Juwaynī/Boyle, p. 264.

37 RD/Thackston, II, p. 395; RD/Karīmī, p. 572. Juwaynī/Boyle, p. 265; Juwaynī/Qazwīnī, I, p. 219.

38 Juwaynī/Qazwīnī, I, p. 220; Juwaynī/Boyle, p. 265.

39 RD/Karīmī, p. 572; RD/Thackston, II, p. 395.

40 Ibid .

Ibid

41 RD/Karīmī, p. 581; RD/Thackston, II, p. 401.

42 RD/Thackston, II, p. 403; RD/Karīmī, p. 584.

43 Juwaynī/Qazwīnī, III, pp. 27–28; Juwaynī/Boyle, p. 567.

44 Juwaynī/Qazwīnī, III, pp. 39–42; Juwaynī/Boyle, pp. 574–576; RD/Karīmī, p. 587; RD/Thackston, II, p. 405.

45 Juwaynī/Qazwīnī, III, pp. 54–55; Juwaynī/Boyle, pp. 585–586; RD/Karīmī, p. 592; RD/Thackston, II, p. 408.

46 RD/Karīmī, p. 593; RD/Thackston, II, pp. 408–409.

47 RD/Karīmī, p. 593; RD/Thackston, II, p. 409.

48 See Kim, “A Reappraisal of Güyüg Khan”, pp. 324–325, for an extended discussion of the question of legitimacy, both of Möngke and of Güyük.

49 RD/Karīmī, p. 593; RD/Thackston, II, p. 409; Juwaynī/Qazwīnī, III, pp. 58–59; Juwaynī/Boyle, p. 588.

50 RD/Karimi, p. 593; RD/Thackston, II, p. 409.

51 RD/Karimi, p. 593; RD/Thackston, II, p. 409.

52 RD/Karimi, p. 594; RD/Thackston, II, p. 409. Shiremün was also sent to the front along with Naqu with Qubilai's army.

53 Mention of these taboos are recorded by a number of observers, but Riasanovsky, V. A., Fundamental Principles of Mongol Law (Bloomington, 1965)Google Scholar, remains useful as a compilation of a number of decrees. For taboos on polluting water, see Riasonovsky, pp. 83–84.

54 Jamāl al-Dīn ‘Abd-Allaāh b. ‘Alī Qāshānī, Ta’rīkh-i Uljāītu Sulṭan, (ed.) Mahin Hambly (Tehran, 1348 Sh./1969), p. 40. Qāshānī mentions that the husband and sons of Qutulun, Qaidu's daughter, were put to death in this manner. My thanks to Peter Jackson for pointing this out.

55 William of Rubruck, The Mission of Friar William of Rubruck, translated by P. Jackson (Indianapolis, 2009), p. 249 [henceforth Rubruck/Jackson].

56 Ibid .

Ibid

57 SHM, § 186. Sorqoqtani's sister Ibaqa became one of Chinggis Khan's wives, although she was later given to a Mongol general, Jürchedei, in 1206 as a reward for his outstanding service. Although Ibaqa was no longer the wife of Chinggis Khan, she maintained the standing of a khatun as a result of their three-year marriage. SHM, § 208.

58 RD/Karīmī, p. 561; RD/Thackston, II, p. 387.

59 Rossabi, M., Khubilai Khan: His Life and Times (Berkeley, 1988), p. 13 Google Scholar.

60 Rubruck/Jackson, pp. 224–225. Rubruck gives the impression that Ariq Böke was a Christian, but the other sources are inconclusive.

61 Rossabi, p. 13.

62 RD/Karīmī, p. 560; RD/Thackston, II, p. 386.

63 Rossabi, p. 13.

64 Juwaynī/Qazwīnī, I, p. 211, and III, pp. 5, 8; Juwaynī/Boyle, pp. 255, 550, 552; RD/Karīmī, pp. 480, 568–569, 580; RD/Thackston, II, pp. 330, 392–394, 401.

65 Juwayni/Qazwīnī, III, p. 8; Juwaynī/Boyle, p. 552.

66 John of Plano Carpini, “History of the Mongols”, translated by A Nun of Stanbrook Abbey, in C. Dawson (ed.), The Mongol Mission (Toronto, 1980), p. 26.

67 RD/Karīmī, p. 571; RD/Thackston, II, p. 395.

68 Juwaynī/Qazwīnī, I, p. 205; Juwaynī/Boyle, p. 249; RD/Karīmī, p. 568; RD/Thackston, II, p. 392.

69 RD/Karīmī, pp. 572, 581; RD/Thackston, II, pp. 395, 401; Juwaynī/Qazwīnī, I, p. 217; Juwaynī/Boyle, pp. 262–623.

70 Juwaynī/Qazwīnī, I, p. 199, and II, p. 242; Juwaynī/Boyle, pp. 243, 504.

71 Allsen, Thomas, “Technologies of Govenance in the Mongolian Empire: A Geographic Overview”, in Sneath, D. (ed.), Imperial Statecraft: Political Forms and Techniques of Governance in Inner Asia, Sixth-Twentieth Centuries (Bellingham, 2006), p. 123 Google Scholar.

72 Allsen, T., “Mongolian Princes and Their Merchant Partners, 1200–1260”, Asia Major 2 (1989), pp. 87 Google Scholar, 111.

73 For Ögödei's actions, see Juwaynī/Qazwīnī, I, pp.165–171; Juwaynī/Boyle, pp. 208–214; Allsen, “Mongolian Princes and Their Merchant Partners”, p. 104. For Oghul Qaimish's time spent with merchants, see Juwaynī/Qazwīnī, I, p. 220; Juwaynī/Boyle, p. 265.

74 Juwaynī/Qazwīnī, II, pp. 218–219; Juwaynī/Boyle, p. 482.

75 Juwaynī/Qazwīnī, III, pp. 7–8; Juwaynī/Boyle, p. 552.

76 Juwaynī/Qazwīnī, III, p. 3; Juwaynī/Boyle, p. 459.

77 RD/Karīmī, pp. 444–451; RD/Thackston, II, pp. 304–311

78 RD/Karīmī, p. 451; RD/Thackston, II, pp. 310–311.

79 T. May, The Mongol Conquests in World History, pp. 119–122, provides a summary. For a more detailed study, see Allsen, T., Mongol Imperialism: The Policies of the Grand Qan Möngke in China, Russia, and the Islamic Lands, 1251–1259 (Berkeley, 1987)Google Scholar.

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