Congrès Mondial des Études sur le Moyen-Orient et l'Afrique du Nord

Barcelone du 19 au 24 Juillet 2010


THE MONGOLS AND THE TRANSFORMATION OF THE MIDDLE EAST - 1/3: Mongol kingship and politics in the Middle East (411) - NOT_DEFINED activity_field_Panel

· NOT_DEFINED institution: University of Cambridge (United Kingdom)

· NOT_DEFINED organizer: Bruno De Nicola and Dr. Siddharth Saxena

· NOT_DEFINED language: English

· NOT_DEFINED description: The arrival of the Mongols to the Middle East represents a breaking point in the history of the region. For the first time since the spread of Islam, the area was ruled by a non-Muslim ruler, a political circumstance that triggered several transformations in the region and allowed processes of change along with the persistence of pre-Mongol patterns It had to integrate the values and believes of the eastern Mongol nomads with that of the mostly, but not only, Muslim sedentary population of the Middle East. This panel explores patterns of continuity and transformation in different aspects of Mongol rule in the Middle East. Starting from an analysis of the end of the Saljuq domination of Iran and west Asia, the contributors will investigate the strategy behind the Mongol military conquest, the characteristics of their army and aspects of gender interaction in Mongol/Middle East politics.

Chair: Prof. Peter Jackson, Keele University

Paper presenter: Timothy May, North Georgia College & State University, “Mongol Conquest Strategy in the Middle East”
The Mongol campaigns in the Middle East often appear to be haphazard and piecemeal. While this is partially true, the Mongols also developed a larger strategy in their conquest of the Middle East which dictated which polities were conquered and when they became targets. Two powers in particular play key roles in understanding the Mongol plans for the Middle East.
In the late 1230’s the Seljuk Sultanate of Rum abruptly found itself bordering the Mongol Empire. The two powers had held a common enemy in the form of Jalal al-Din Khwarazmshah. While their actions against the latter were not in concert, neither could help but be pleased with the other’s success against the Khwarazmshah. However, with Jalal al-Din’s death and the subsequent Mongol conquest of Armenia and Georgia, Seljuk-Mongol relations changed. Initially hostilities were minor at best; however the Seljuk defeat at Kose Dagh in 1243 brought the Seljuks Sultanate into the Mongol Empire. Thereafter the position of the Seljuks in the Mongol Empire was altered perceptibly as one of a client, yet at the same time contained subtle nuances as two sultans ruled over the remnants of the Sultanate, often in conflict with each other. At the same time, while they remained loyal to the Qaghan, they challenged local Mongol generals such as Baiju.
In 1258, the Abbasid Caliphate came to an end when Hulegu’s army captured Baghdad. However, prior to this final onslaught, the Abbasid Caliphate and the Mongols had several other encounters. There were rumors that the Mongol invasion of the Khwarazmian Empire in 1218 occurred because the Caliph invited Chinggis Khan to do so. Less fanciful events include Mongol skirmishes with the Caliphate. Despite large Mongol armies on Baghdad’s frontiers, the Mongols never attempted to conquer the area, even though Chinggis Khan, according to the Secret History of the Mongols, gave orders to conquer it to Chormaqan Qorci during the Khwarazmian invasion. This paper will examine the political and military encounters between Baghdad and the Mongols prior to Hulegu’s conquest to determine what exactly was the Mongol policy towards Baghdad during the Mongol Empire.
In this paper I will explore these nuances and also attempt to demonstrate that Mongol actions in Rum and Baghdad must be placed in the context of their greater strategy in the Middle East in order to be properly understood.

Paper presenter: Shai Shir, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, “An Improvised Queen for a Questionable King: Doquz Khatun and the Establishment of the Ilkhanid Dynasty in Iran"
Doquz Khatun (d. 1265) is known as the chief wife of Hülegü khan (d. 1265), the founder of the Il-khanid dynasty in Persia and the surrounding countries. The paper examines Hülegü’s row of royal wives and shows that in spite of her prominence and influence on Hülegü, Doquz could not have been his chief wife. After revealing the true identity of the chief khatun, the motivation behind Doquz Khatun’s presentation as the chief wife in the sources will be explored.

Paper presenter: Prof. Reuven Amitai, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, “The Mongol Army of the Ilkhanate: Long-term Nomadic Continuity in the Midst of a Sedentary Society and the Effect on Military Capability”
In recent years that has been some important new research on the nature of Mongol society in Iran and the surrounding countries in the 13th and early 14th century. The topic of the Mongol army has received some attention within this general discussion, particularly in the realm of tactics and strategy, as well as logistic matters. There has, however, been little discussion how the Mongol army may have changed over the generations of residence outside of the original Steppe stomping grounds, i.e. in a region primarily. In this paper, I will attempt to show that in spite of transformations in many important areas in social and cultural life, the majority of the Mongols remained nomads in the Middle East. This, in turn, permitted them to maintain a great deal of continuity in military structure, logistics, strategy and tactics, at least until the beginning of the 14th century. This paper will be based heavily on material from the Mongol-Mamluk war, using evidence from both the Arabic and Persian sources.

Paper presenter: Bruno De Nicola, Pembroke College, University of Cambridge, “Continuity and Transformation in Female Political Involvement in Iran under Mongol Rule”
The prominent role that women occupied in nomadic societies has been commonly observed among scholars during the twentieth century. However, it was not until very recently that more comprehensive studies about the status of women in pre-modern nomadic societies started to be conducted. The period of Mongol expansion in Central Asia, Russia and the Middle East offers a suitable historical setting to explore the role of these nomadic women in a society coming into contact with sedentary and long-established Muslim populations. This is a rich period of cultural exchange, conflict and opportunities in which the sudden irruption of the Mongol military machine broke the established social structure and connected the “Far East” with Western parts of the continent. In this context, this paper will explore how the Mongols changed some of their traditional conceptions of female rule in order to accommodate to the Persian-Islamic understanding of queenship. This presentation seeks to illustrate the “adaptability to rule” developed by the Mongols in Iran in the 13th and 14th centuries. The example of female rule serves here to show us how the Mongols tolerated, supported and even encouraged women to rule in southern Iran while prevented them to assume their pre-established position as regent and empresses in central and north-western Iran. In analysing these different attitudes, we expect to contribute to a better understanding of the Mongol conception of womanhood, their attitude towards kingship and the undergoing process of acculturation experienced by the Mongols in Iran during this period.