The Turkmen Dynasties, from Cambridge History of Iran, Volume 6 (New York, 1986), Chapter 4, by H. R. Roemer This material is presented solely for non-commercial educational/research purposes.




With the conquest of Baghdad in 656/1258, the Mongols dealt a death- blow to the empire of the caliphate. This event, together with the dramatic circumstances that attended it, is often regarded as a dividing- line between two historical epochs. This view is justified only in so far as the fall of the caliphate destroyed the last tie which, up till that time, had with difficulty been holding together the world of Islam. Yet the historical significance of this event should not be over-estimated. It is true that, apart from the liquidation of the ‘Abbasids, it represented the prelude to new historical developments, such as the rise of the Il- Khanid dynasty, which was to be of great importance in the history of Persia. But its total effect on the history of the Islamic world was of a more or less superficial nature. For the political organisation of the caliphate which the Mongols had destroyed was little more than an outer shell, which had long been crumbling away, around hetero- geneous structures which as a whole had very little to do with the Islamic empire of the early 'Abbasids, and which indeed actually negated the raison d'étre of a common polity.

In spite of the catastrophic effect of the Mongol assault upon the people of that time, and in spite also of the changes which it caused and the traces which, here and there, it left behind it, eighty years later it already belonged to the past. Of distinctly greater historical signifi- cance were other developments which had begun long before. One of the most important of these, though not the earliest chronologically, was the influx of the Turks into the Islamic world which, by the sth/ııth century, had reached considerable proportions, but had in fact begun in a small way as early as the 3rd/9th. The advance of Turkish peoples has been likened to the Teutonic migrations because by in- vading a unified ancient culture the Teutons that of the West, the Turks that of Islam both movements created the necessary precon- ditions for the rise of national states. It should be remembered that the Turkicisation of Anatolia did not begin in the 7th/13th century, as was once supposed, but had already started in the 5th/11th century, or even earlier: there is mention in the 3rd/9th century of the Tourkopouloi as



auxiliary troops of the Byzantine emperor, presumably Oghuz Turkmens, who are known to have existed in Bukhara towards the end of the 4th/1oth century.!

Indeed, the political success of single Turkish groups and indi- viduals within the world of Islam which had thus begun more than two centuries before the Mongol onslaught, was one of the most important prerequisites for later developments. The Turkish invasion did not merely bring about the fall of the Byzantine empire. In addition, the arrival in the Holy Land of victorious Turkish hordes furnished the pretext for the crusading movement in the West; it was Turkish forces which marched against the Crusaders as they drew near their goal; Turkish troops, this time under the Mamlüks, who halted the hither- to irresistible advance of the Mongols in the Syrian approaches to Egypt; and Turkish initiative, again, that prevailed during the jockey- ing for political power in the Near East after the end of Mongol hegemony. In fact, if the 2oth century be disregarded, nearly all the later states of the Islamic world were of Turkish foundation. But of particular historical import in this connection were the events that took place during the 8th/14th and 9th/15th centuries, since they were the prelude to a development whose effects were to last until well into the 2oth century.

Great though the Turkish share in this process may have been, it would not be correct to describe it as being exclusively Turkish. To speak of an age as being entirely Turkish is possible only with reserve and within very restricted limits for the reason that there was another and very significant factor at work. Even before the Turkish migration had reached the highlands of Iran other, Iranian, forces had begun the work of undermining and subverting the ‘Abbasid caliphate, whose effective strength was by then already in decline. So the Turks in fact did nothing more than take over and continue the work that Persians had already begun: that work concerned the formation and develop- ment of indigenous forces in Iran, which in their turn succeeded in establishing political dominions without the central government in Baghdad being able to put a stop to their activities, but also without these forces having in view the removal of the caliphate. This political development was accompanied by a cultural one, for at about the same

1 W. Björkman, "Die altosmanische Literatur", in Philologiae Turcicae Fundamenta 11 (Wies- baden, 1964), 403.



time the New Persian literary language was reaching its zenith, and this manifested itself in literary achievements of the first order; it is but one example, though an especially striking one, of the cultural impulse then at work in Iran, which, together with its many other manifestations, is sometimes called Iranism.

It is true that none of the Iranian sub-principalities survived for long. But the cultural movements which were inspired or encouraged under their aegis are all the more remarkable. They set their stamp upon wide areas of the Islamic world, though in varying forms. The Turks who later made their appearance from Central Asia showed themselves particularly receptive to this Islamic culture. These migra- ting bands need not be seen as completely uncivilised barbarian hordes; the Turkish immigrants in Anatolia consisted predominantly of nomads, but there were also some sedentary elements.! Nevertheless it may be conjectured that even after the adoption of Islam they brought with them to the west the lightest of cultural burdens and were there- fore quite remarkably open to new influences. At all events, the fact remains that Persian culture of that time exercised upon them a peculiar attraction to which they readily responded. Of course they did not take over everything that was proffered lock, stock and barrel, nor did they leave unchanged what they absorbed. In the place of the more or less unified Islamic culture which had been brought about by the ‘Abbasid empire, there arose something quite new, a Turco-Persian culture which is always to be found wherever Turks settled on Persian soil or wherever, after contact with Iranian lands and their cultural ema- nations, they appeared elsewhere. A new, and not uncontested, inter- pretation sees in this the initial phase of national political develop- ments, a question which will be discussed in greater detail in connec- tion with the Safavids.

Among the Turkish immigrants into the Near East the Oghuz, Turkmen peoples under leaders of the house of Saljüq, had been par- ticularly successful as a result of founding several kingdoms, of which that in Anatolia with its capital Qonya, the former Iconium, is of special interest in our particular context. From the start, these Saljüqs were not the only Turkish princes in Asia Minor with political ambi- tions, since under their dominion, or alongside them, there were other families of high standing who were awaiting their opportunity.

1 See Sümer, “Anadolu’ya yalniz gögebe Türkler mi geldi?”.



That had arrived with the downfall of the Saljūg kingdom in Asia Minor in 708/1308, which was followed soon after, through the decline and final extinction of Mongol power, by a political vacuum, a chal- lenge to men of enterprise. Among the principalities which were then formed or grew in strength was that of the Ottomans, later to take its place in world history, a destiny which at the time seemed by no means assured and indeed cannot yet have been envisaged. Seen in retro- spect, the rise and fall of most of these ruling houses, some twenty in all, belong to the sphere rather of Ottoman than of Persian history, although all of them, not excluding the Ottomans themselves, came under that influence of Iranian culture already mentioned.

Yet some of them are of primary significance in the history of Iran, not only because of cultural ties but also for political, dynastic and religious reasons. Two of them, the principalities of the Aq Quyünlü and Qara Quyünlü, which also fall within the immediate Ottoman context, are closely connected with Persia; at times individual rulers of these dynasties were able to bring large sections, even the whole, of Persian territory under their sway, and thus a róle very nearly devolved upon them which in the event was to be reserved for others. At any rate, in the eyes of contemporary European observers in the 9th/15th century it seemed certain that here were the eastern counterparts to the dangerously expanding Ottomans. The impressive reports of these informants led the European powers to enter into negotiations with the Türkmens with a view to an alliance. Under their rule there were also Shīī movements which were to have far-reaching historical conse- quences. It is a measure of their importance that those who followed them, the Safavids, are seen as the successors of these same Türkmen princes, as a collateral, that is, of the ruling house of Aq Quyünlü, with a different territorial area.!


While in recent times much new light has been shed on these Türkmens, their actual origin is still obscure.? The uncertainty begins with their very names. There is, indeed, nothing especially remarkable about

I The view of Aubin, “Etudes Safavides I”. 2 On the meaning of the word Turkmen, see Minorsky, “The Middle East”, p. 439; I. Kafesoğlu, “Türkmen adi, manası ve mahiyeti”, Jean Deny Armaganı, ed. J. Eckmann et al. (Ankara,

1958), pp. 121—533.



designations like Aq Quyünlü, “those (tribes) with white sheep (goyun)” and Qara Quyünlü, “those (tribes) with black sheep", among nomads whose flocks were among their most valuable possessions. But still the question remains as to how they should be interpreted. There is a tendency today to see them as referring to totem animals, to which, however, it must be objected that in ancient times at least according to Rashid al-Din Fazl-Allah Turks had been prohibited from eating the flesh of their totem animals. Had this proscription still been in force in this instance, such an interpretation would have to be rejected on grounds of practicality alone, in which case greater probability would accrue to a more mundane interpretation, namely that the designations in question are expressions of nothing more than the colour of the sheep exclusive to, or predominating in, their respective flocks. The designations must also have had an antithetical character in that they reveal the desire of the two groups to be clearly distinct one from the other. The dynastic emblems of the Aq Quyünlü and Qara Quyünlü found on coins, documents and tombstones have no recognisable con- nection with their names.!

In considering the genesis of such groups it should be remembered that these are nomad confederations of which, in the course of time, the composition changes frequently under the influence of political, geographic or economic factors. A strong tribe may, by the successes it achieves, attract other tribes, absorb them into its alliance and eventu- ally through such accretions become a major constellation. But the opposite process is also possible when an important tribe loses its renown, its power, its magnetism; until, perhaps, it finally disintegrates altogether, while its various components achieve independence or seek to join other tribes that are on the upward climb. This explains how one and the same name may attach now to a kinship, now to a tribe or even to a confederation of several tribes. It is obvious that some part is played in this by rivalry, feuds and military struggles. It is not always possible to trace the underlying events, because history scarcely records them if indeed they are recorded at all unless they are preserved in oral tradition or in legendary accounts. Not until a tribe

! For the Aq Quyünlü, see Hinz, Irans Aufstieg, pp. 105ff.; for the Qarä Quyünlü, Burn, “Coins of Jahän-Shäh”; Rabino, “Coins of the Jala'ir", p. 102; Minorsky, “The Clan of the Qara-qoyunlu rulers”. On the interpretation of these tamghas generally, see Uzungarsili, Anadolu beylikleri, pl. 49; H. Jänichen, Bildzeicben königlichen Hobeit bei den iranischen Völkern (Bonn, 1956), pl. 28, no. 24; L.A. Mayer, Saracenic Heraldry (Oxford, 1933), pls. 5o, 51.



or confederation achieves prominence does its destiny attract the atten- tion of historians, whereupon the question of its origin and provenance arises, but often without any satisfactory answer being found. What is discovered, then, in the sources is all too often con- fused, incomplete and contradictory.

Thus it is with the beginnings of the Aq Quyünlü and Qarä Quyünlü. It is not impossible that they once belonged to the same confederation, or perhaps even formed one tribe, later to separate and seek their fortunes, in both cases successfully, as independent tribes. By the time when they are clearly discernible historically, in the 8th/14th century, their names are no longer those of mere tribes, but of two confederations with numerous sub-tribes. Some of the names of these latter are known from earlier times, from the catalogue of the original twenty-four Oghuz tribes found in Rashid al-Din and from other legendary accounts.! We are thus concerned with two confederations formed from various Türkmen tribes those, in fact, which in all probability came with the Oghuz to Western Asia in the 5th/11th century, some of them no doubt getting as far as Anatolia. The sources give no direct information concerning these associations, but they must have been formed in the 8th/14th century after the fall of the Anatolian Saljūg dynasty and to some extent out of the latter's bank- ruptcy. At that precise moment, too, the disintegration of the Mongol hegemony by which they and their member tribes had been contained enabled them to pursue their aspirations in the area of the resulting power vacuum, namely eastern Anatolia, northern Mesopotamia and north-west Persia.

Thete is, indeed, no record of the names of the Aq Quyünlü and the Qarà Quyünlü in the pre-Mongol period, though there does exist a record of the principal kin-groups which were later to become the ruling families among their subjects: the Bayindir (Bayundür) with the Aq Quyünlü, and the Baharlü, sometimes called Bäräni, with the Qara Quyünlü. |

Bayindir is found in Rashid al-Din’s index of tribes mentioned above as the designation of one of the twenty-four Oghuz tribes, whereas in the Kizab-i Dede Qorqud, a Turkish epic that was recorded about 1400, it is the name of an Oghuz ruler. It is supposed that the Aq Quyünlü were a clan of the Bayindir tribe, but in the sources Bayindir or

1 Cf. E. Rossi, I/ ‘Kitab-i Dede Qorqut (Rome, 1952), pp. 16ff.



Bayindiriyya is also found as a synonym for Aq Ouyūnlū; at any rate the tribal name Bayindir is met with in the 8th/14th century in Asia Minor. Certain central Anatolian place-names which must go back to the Oghuz conquest give rise to the supposition that the Bayindir took part in the Saljūg conquest of Asia Minor. After the fall of the Aq Quyünlü dynasty, the Bayindir settled in Tripoli and Aleppo, and also to the south of Sivas.

The name Baharlü borne by the ruling family of the Qara Quyünlü is sometimes connected with Bahädur,! but is almost certainly linked with the locality of Bahar north of Hamadan, the seat of a powerful Turkmen family also represented at Irbil, Maragha and Akhlat: from the basin of Lake Urmiya, that is, to that of Lake Van, as well as considerably to the north and south of these. The pressure of the Mongol invasion may have driven them completely into the area north of Lake Van, where later the confederation of the Qara Quyünlü was to form. This connection can be deduced from the name Īvā'i which is recorded as early as 629/1230 at Akhlat and again with one of the last ‘Abbasid caliph’s most famous ministers, who came from the village of Bahar and was executed in 656/1258 in Baghdad by the Mongols. Iva’i is merely a derivative of Iva or Yiva, which is the name of another of the original Oghuz tribes. The connection between the Qarä Quyünlü and the Yiva is proved by the dynastic emblem common to both, and which the Qara Quyünlü dynasty must have taken over from the Yiva.? The designation Bäräni, as used in respect of the Qara Quyünlü, has not yet been satisfactorily explained. It has been supposed that it is the name of the tribe's ruling family, or that it 1s connected with a place-name,? two interpretations which need not be mutually exclusive.

The early history of the two Türkmen groups with which we are here concerned is closely bound up with the “social sickness", as a Turkish scholar has called the period of decline,* which set in with the end of Mongol hegemony throughout a large part of the Near East. Freelance mercenaries and adventurers, basing themselves upon nomadic tribes and robker bands, disrupted economic life in town and

1 Sümer, "Kara-Koyunlular”, p. 292, mentions a Bahädurlu tribe. There is no mention of the transition from bahadur to bahar amongst the many references collected by Doerfer, TMEN 11, s.v. bahadur, apart from the ba har occurring in Caucasian languages (p. 373).

2 Minorsky, “The Clan of the Qara-qoyunlu rulers"; idem, “Bahärlü”, EP. On the Yiva tribe, see Sümer, ‘““Yiva Oguz boyuna där",

3 See respectively Sümer, "Kara-Koyunlular", p. 292, and Minorsky, “The Clan of the Qara-qoyunlu rulers", p. 392. 4 Yinang, "Akkoyunlular”, p. 258.



country, often bringing it to a complete standstill. They offered their services, or allied themselves, to any prince who seemed likely to succeed, but they never hesitated to abandon master or ally as soon as fortune beckoned elsewhere. Lust for booty, a thirst for power and a striving for territorial dominion, such were their motives. Only the successful could count on the following that perhaps might enable them to achieve political authority.

It was in these circumstances that the two confederations evolved, and under these conditions that they prospered, so that during the second half of the 8th/14th century they were both able to found dynasties, that of the Aq Quyünlü in Diyarbakr, with its centre at Amid, that is in the lands of the Tigris and Euphrates with Urfa and Mardin in the south and Baiburt in the north; that of the Qara Quyünlü immediately to the east, with a centre at Arjish on the north-east shore of Lake Van, and spreading north to Erzerum and south to Mosul. The territories of both confederations were then occupied, as they had long been already, by a predominantly sedentary population, consist- ing of Armenians, Kurds, Aramaeans and Arabs, but at first including no Persian elements. While no doubt exploited and much oppressed by the Türkmens, these peoples were never driven out or exterminated. Individuals, families, and sometimes even much larger groups, might fall victim to circumstances, abandon their homes, or marry into one of the oppressor’s tribes, but the ethnic pattern remained much the same, with groups surviving Türkmen overlordship and persisting in their own locality, in some cases actually until the present day. Their róle in the political developments we have to consider was, with rare excep- tions, non-existent; they were the suffering witnesses of events upon which, generally speaking, they could have no influence whatsoever.

The rise of the two confederations was accompanied, not only by endless conflicts with their neighbours, but also by mutual jealousies and rivalries: the destruction of Erzerum in 733-5/1332-4 resulted from the feud between them.! These quarrels and conflicts determined their policies of alliance and their choice of enemies, in other words, their entire destiny, until eventually the Aq Quyünlü triumphed, destroyed the dominion of the Qara Quyünlü, assimilated not only their lands, but also many of their sub-tribes, and entered the ranks of the major powers of the Near East. In spite of certain peculiarities

1 Ibn Battūta, trans. Gibb, ri, 437.



distinguishing the two groups from one another, they have so much in common ethnically, politically, historically, culturally and economic- ally, that their history is best considered in conjunction.

We are better informed regarding the political inception of the Aq Quyünlü than about the first stages of the Qara Quyünlü. No doubt this is due to the nature of one of their first objectives, the Comnenian empire of Trebizond, which they set out with great determination to attain, their raids and conquests for the rest not being confined to eastern Anatolia, but extending into Mesopotamia and Syria. Their often repeated attacks on Trebizond after 741/1340 gave the Byzantine chroniclers every cause to write about them. Thus they mention Tur ‘Ali Beg, lord of the “Turks of Amid", who had already attained the rank of amir under the Tl-Khàn Ghazan (694—703/1295—1304). When in 749/1348, under his leadership, the Turkmens reappeared before Trebizond, they again failed to take the town, but the youthful John Comnenus, soon to ascend the throne as Alexios III but never to achieve military fame, had evidently been so terrified that he, and no doubt also his advisers, deemed it politic to betrothe his sister, Maria Despina, to Fakhr al-Din Qutlugh Beg, son of the Turkmen leader, thus finally warding off the danger.! The calculation proved correct: Trebizond was spared for the time being, and later generations witnessed several other such unions between Comnenian princesses and Aq Quyünlü chiefs. It may well be to these that the empire of Trebizond owed the respite which enabled it to survive until 865/1461, eight years after the fall of Constantinople. However this may be, we know that Uzun Hasan intervened with Mehmed the Conqueror on Trebizond’s behalt?

From the Türkmen- Trebizond marriage of 75 3/1352, the first to be attested, was born the founder of the Aq Quyünlü dynasty, Qarä Yoluq? ‘Usman Beg who, in 791/1389, followed his brother Ahmad Beg as head of the Aq Quyünlü. The chief chronicle of the dynasty, TihrānTs Kzzab-i Diyarbakriyya, not only mentions his grandfather, Tur ‘Ali Beg, the besieger of Trebizond, and his father, Qutlugh Beg, who presumably succeeded the latter in 764/1363, but traces his lineage

! Fallmerayer, pp. 208ff.; Miller, Trebizond, pp. 57-60.

? Minorsky, "La Perse au XVe siécle", p. 322; Babinger, Mehmed the Conqueror, p. 190.

3 The form Kara Yoluk adopted by Minorsky, "Ak Koyunlu”, is corroborated by the contem- porary European transcriptions “Caro Jolucho” and “Korolock” or “Karolackes”: see P. H. Dopp, L’ Egypte au commencement du quinzième siècle d'après le Traité d Emmanuel Piloti de Crète (Cairo, 1950), p. 103, and Stromer von Reichenbach, “Diplomatische Kontakte".



through 51 generations back to Oghuz Khan, the legendary eponym of the Oghuz.! Such genealogical trees are, of course, notoriously unreli- able, yet this is a significant point, revealing as it does the view which the Aq Quyünlü held of themselves, since around 875/1470, the time of the chronicle, when they were in their heyday, they may well have regarded this genealogy not only as mere flattery but also as political legitimation. We do not know indeed it is doubtful whether this claim was made at the time of the dynasty's foundation, or in fact whether it could be made at all. At that time, a family alliance with the Comneni may in itself have represented political capital. In any case, Qara ‘Usman followed the example of his father by marrying a Trebizond princess.

Seldom were the many conflicts in which the Aq Quyünlü engaged so romantically resolved. Generally these were feudal struggles with neighbouring and usually local rulers, in which territorial expansion and spheres of influence were involved. In the course of his long life, Qara “Usman carried out many more of these than his far from peace- able father, always impelled by the belief that he would succeed in establishing his tribal lands of Diyarbakr as a stable dominion. It is not necessary, nor possible, to describe in detail these never-ending quar- rels, if only because accounts in the sources differ from each other in many respects and most have not yet been critically assessed. Yet they cannot be completely ignored, for in them can sometimes be discov- ered the lines of later development. This is usually so when one of the majot powers is involved, as could of course happen even in a mere quarrel with any princeling whatsoever. This was the case with the rulers of Sivas, to whose assistance the Ottoman Turks willingly hast- ened because the rise of the Aq Quyünlü had filled them with forebod- ing and mistrust, especially when, as here, it was a question of lands in which they themselves were interested. The struggle ended in the year 800/1397 with the defeat and death of Qazi Burhan al-Din, a man renowned as a poet, who had risen from being a lawyer to the rank of sultan of Sivas.

There was also friction with the rulers of Egypt, the Mamlüks, whose possessions in northern Syria and southern Armenia were threatened by Qara ‘Usman. This did not lead to more serious conse- quences at the time, perhaps because Barqüq (784—801/1382—1399), the

! For the genealogy, see also Ghaffari, as cited in Hinz, Irans Aufstieg, p. 128.



sultan of Cairo, was compelled by a serious rising in Syria to devote all his energies to the preservation of that country, and even to the protec- tion of his own throne and person.

But there was one adversary who, above all others, was dangerous to the Aq Quyünlü and the political aims they pursued, namely their tribal kinsmen of the Türkmen Qara Quyünlü confederation. Their leader, Qarä Muhammad, it is true, did not long survive ‘Usman Beg’s father, against whom he had often fought. His successor, Qara Yusuf, however, showed himself uncommonly active and was, of course, de- termined to keep up the traditional feud. At first the issue remained undecided. Only when Timür appeared in the Near East did a change seem imminent. The Qara Quyünlü, the first to encounter his troops, ignored his demands for surrender, opposed him and suffered defeat every time that battle was joined. This gave rise to a feud that persisted with Timür's successors. There appear to have been many different accounts current at the time concerning the conqueror's character and his military methods. Whereas in Cairo he was still being referred to in 788/1386 as “a Mongol rebel by the name of Timür", who was on his way to Tabriz, in Persia and Mesopotamia his advance aroused so intense a state of terror as sometimes to induce a kind of paralysis. Qara Yusuf did not wait for a final military decision, but chose rather to seek refuge with the Ottoman Turks. Returning later, he again had to flee, this time to Syria where he was interned in a castle near Damascus by the governor because of his earlier activities against the Mamlüks.

His conduct, and the attitude of hostility towards Timür adopted by the other Qara Quyünlü chiefs, may have been the incentive that determined the Āg Quyünlü leader to join the conqueror and to offer him his services. This took place in 801/1399, in the Transcaucasian camp at Qaräbägh, where Qara ‘Usman paid homage to Timür. During the first campaign in Anatolia he was made commander of the vanguard, and his name is also mentioned in connection with the subsequent Syrian campaign. Next, in 804/1402, he took part in the battle of Ankara. The defeat and imprisonment of Bayezid I brought about a serious crisis in the Ottoman empire. Timür awarded the title of amir to the leader of the Aq Quyünlü as a reward for his services, and conferred on him all the lands of Diyārbakr in fief.

Thus it seemed that the Áq Quyünlü's dream of a principality had come true, for at that time there was no greater feudal lord in the Near East than Timür. But their joy was shortlived; for when Timür died



in February 1405 during a campaign in the east, it was immediately apparent that the vast empire he had accumulated by his conquests lacked internal stability. The anarchy following his death saw the rise of a number of rulers. One of the main causes for the rapid decline of so great an empire was undoubtedly the fact that the princes of Timür’s house, scattered throughout the dominions as governors and ruling their provinces with virtually unlimited power, although they had submitted to the supreme authority of the conqueror, did not feel bound to any successor. This phenomenon has its parallel in the ori- gins of many Turkish states and is also found, as we shall see, among the Türkmens. Notwithstanding these upheavals, a considerable empire survived, mainly in eastern Persia and in Afghanistan, under the rule of Timür's son, Shah Rukh, as it continued to survive under his successors for the next hundred years. But exert themselves as they might, these rulers were unable to overpower the Türkmens. The immediate effect of Timür's campaigns is apparent in the fact that neither the Timurids nor the Ottomans nor yet the Egyptian Mamlüks succeeded in containing the political ambitions of the two Türkmen confederations, a circumstance that was to play a significant róle in their subsequent development.

In the sorely afflicted countries of the Near East, the struggle con- tinued after Timür’s death. Qara ‘Usman, whose successes at Timür’s side had earned him considerable prestige in the eyes of his confedera- tion and had won over a number of tribes of doubtful allegiance, waged war, usually with success, against many of the neighbouring princelings. His relations with Egypt were initially peaceful, but later he again attacked her possessions. In nearly all his undertakings against the Qarä Quyünlü, .still his main adversaries, he was unsuccessful, probably because in Qara Yüsuf he had encountered an equal, if not a superior, antagonist. He remained loyal to Timür's house, however, though the patronage of Shah Rukh (807—50/1405—47) was very far from being as significant as that of his father, so that the alliance was therefore of small advantage to Qarä ‘Usman and was partly respon- sible for bringing about his death. During Shah Rukh's three Azar- bāījān campaigns (823/1420, 832/1429, 838—9/1434—5), all conducted against the Qara Quyünlü, Qara “Usmän is found each time fighting on the Timurid side. Although Qara Yusuf had died at the very start of the first expedition, his troops had been dispersed, and Iskandar Beg, his second son and eventual successor, had been beaten, the Qara



Quyünlü were quick to recover. During the third campaign, when this same Iskandar fled before Shah Rukh to take refuge with the Turks, Qara ‘Usman, now almost eighty years old, tried to cut off his retreat. During a fight near Erzerum he was severely wounded, and died as a result in Safar 839/at the end of August 1435. Returning from exile, Iskandar Beg passed through the town, had the Aq Quyünlü leader’s grave opened and the corpse decapitated, characteristically sending the skull to the sultan of Egypt, who caused it to be publicly displayed in Cairo.

‘Usman Beg’s fearlessness and military fame were immensely ad- mired by his contemporaries, yet when the results of his turbulent career are considered, it 1s found that he did little more than make a first attempt at founding a state. It is true that he had achieved royal status, had extended his dominions by the conquest of numerous lands including important places such as Rühä (formerly Edessa, now Urfa), Sivas and Toqat, and had consolidated his sovereignty shortly before his death by victories over al-Malik al-‘Adil Jikam, the governor of Aleppo and Damascus, as well as over al-Malik al-Zahir ‘Isa, the com- mander of Mardin, but these achievements were to a large extent nullified by the violent disputes that broke out between his sons after his death. For a time their dynasty was eclipsed by that of the Qara Quyünlü, though it was later to make a brilliant recovery. Thus the initiative had now passed to the Qara Quyünlü, who entered on the period of their greatest expansion. Before considering their subsequent history, something should be said of the early years of this confedera- tion, which have not been dealt with before because less significant than the founding of the Aq Quyünlü state.

In the decades following the death of the Il-Khän Abū Said (716-736/1316-1335), which brought Hülegü's dynasty to a close, various Mongol princes and other potentates attempted to subdue the Il-Khanid empire, or portions of it. The ensuing struggle for power quickly brought about the disintegration of the Mongol empire, part of which re-emerged as the dominion of the Jalayirids, extending across Mesopotamia, Āzarbāījān and, later, Shirvän. During the reign of Shaikh Uvais (757—776/1356—1374), an energetic and successful rep- resentative of this dynasty, the Qara Quyünlü emerged for the first time as an undoubted political force. In the sources, their name is mentioned in connection with Bairam Khwaja and two of his brothers, who belonged to the Bahärlü tribe, of which we have already spoken



as the sometimes unruly followers of Shaikh Uvais!. Although after the latter’s death Bairam Khwaja did not shake off Jalayirid authority, he succeeded in acquiring Arjish, Mosul and Sinjar, as well as some places in Transcaucasia, so that on his death in 782/1380, Qara Muhammad, presumably his son but according to some sources his nephew, succeeded to dominions extending from Erzerum to Mosul.

Qara Muhammad, whom we have already encountered as the antag- onist of Qutlugh Beg Aq Quyünlü, the son-in-law of the Comneni, is generally regarded as the founder of the Qara Quyünlü ruling house, and rightly so 1f we consider the strength of his influence in the above- mentioned lands. His successes against the Artuqids, a dynasty of Türkmen origin that had existed for something like two centuries in and around Mardin, against the Aq Quyünlü and against the Syrian nomadic Türkmen tribe of the Dógher under their leader Salim?, were threatened by Timür's conquest of western Iran in 788/1586 and his campaign against the Qara Quyünlü in the very next year.

At the very beginning of his reign, Qara Muhammad had secured for the Jalayirid Ahmad the succession against other pretenders; thus, though the dependent position of his dynasty vis-à-vis the Jalayirids was not actually reversed, it was at least converted into one of alliance, and hence of independence. In any event, there was now nothing to prevent him from trying to establish friendly relations with the Egyptian Mamlüks, and the report of Egyptian chroniclers that on the occupation of Tabriz in 790/1388 he paid allegiance to Sultan Barqüq, declaring that the latter's name was to be mentioned in the Friday prayers and on the coinage, seems highly probable, since this ruler would appear to have been a perfect ally, both against the Ag Quyünlü and against Timür. However, his policy towards Egypt had to be temporarily abandoned for several reasons, not least because as early as the spring of 791/1389 Qara Muhammad was killed in a struggle with rival Türkmens.

We have already mentioned the flight of his son, Qara Yusuf, to the Ottomans, and it should be added that his stay in Turkish territory was Timür's main incentive for his second Anatolian campaign, although by that time Qara Yüsuf was already on his way back. Ahmad Jalāyir had also taken refuge with the Ottomans, and the paths of the two princes crossed for the second time when, after their return from

1 See above, pp. 7-8. 2 See Sümer, "Dēģerlere dāir”.



Anatolia, they again fled before Timür’s troops, this time to Syria, in the domain of the Mamluks. Here they received a welcome less kindly than that of the Ottomans; indeed they were interned in a castle near Damascus for having some time previously attacked and defeated Egyptian governors of northern Syria, and an order for their execution actually arrived from Cairo, having its origin either directly or indirectly in Timür; but it was not carried out. Their imprisonment together led to a renewal of their former friendly relations, differences that had sprung up in the meantime were ironed out and an agreement was reached regarding spheres of influence that was intended to eliminate all dispute. According to this, Mesopotamia with Baghdad was to be an area of Jalayirid influence, and Āzarbāījān with Tabriz an area of Oarā Quyünlü influence.

When the two princes regained their freedom in the spring of 806/1404, this agreement turned out to be little more than a pro- gramme, for both dominions had meanwhile been incorporated into Timür's empire and made over to one of his grandsons, Mirza Aba Bakr b. Miran Shah, a prince who had already on a previous occasion defeated Qara Yüsuf in battle. But circumstances soon changed. The Qarä Quyünlü leader's personal renown and the successes that he soon achieved again won him a considerable following which increased on the death of Timür: for this we have the evidence of the Spanish ambassador Clavijo, who encountered his troops in the summer of 1406 in the region of Khüy.! In the struggle against Aba Bakr he was victorious first in 809/1406, again in 810/1408, and on several subse- quent occasions. The news that his former fellow prisoner, Ahmad Jalàyir, had occupied Tabriz was a severe blow, however, for not only was it a violation of the treaty we have mentioned, but it also put in jeopardy his eastward expansion which, in view of Ottoman resur- gence and the tenacious resistance of the Aq Quyünlü in the west, might well prove to be a question of life and death. Thus the occu- pation of the town of Tabriz cut across Qarà Yüsuf's most vital plans and represented a pretext for war. He therefore marched against Ahmad Jalayir, who was defeated, taken prisoner and executed in 813/1410.

During the time of his Syrian imprisonment, a son, Pir Büdaq, had been born to Qara Yusuf. This boy had been adopted at the time of his

! Clavijo, Embajada, pp. 239ff., trans. Le Strange, pp. 329ff. (especially p. 363, n.2).



birth in 1403 by Ahmad Jalayir, probably to demonstrate the sincerity of his friendship. It was probably owing to legitimist considerations that Qara Yusuf nominated this particular son, while still of tender years, lord of Tabriz, even getting his adoptive father to appoint him by royal decree as his successor, while he himself retained only the regency. The Turkmen leader, not in other respects a scrupulous man, obviously had sufficient reason for thus reasserting his claims to inde- pendence when he made Tabriz his capital city. He had repeatedly occupied it since 793/1391, but never held it firmly in his grasp.

With the elimination of the Jalayirids, the power of the Qara Quyünlü moved rapidly towards its zenith. The very next year, in 815/ 1412, Shah Muhammad, another of the prince’s sons, conquered Mesopotamia and Baghdad which he retained, in spite of some dis- putes with his father, under the latter’s overlordship, until driven out in 836/1433 by his younger brother, Aspand. Qara Yusuf himself fought successfully against the Aq Quyünlü in eastern Anatolia, conquering parts of Georgia and Shirvan, whose rulers had owed allegiance to the Jalayirids. While an advance into Persia, namely to Sultaniyya, the former capital of the Il-Khäns, and to Qazvin, Isfahan and Fars, increased his military fame, it was a move that had serious consequences, for it made Shah Rukh aware of the full extent of the danger that was threatening from the Türkmens. We have already seen that he did not remain idle in the face of that threat but led an expedi- tion against Āzarbāījān. Qara Yūsuf, though mortally ill, went out to meet him, but death overtook him before battle had even been joined.

In spite of the crisis brought about by Shah Rukh’s attack and the death of their leader, the Oarā Quyünlü dynasty had foundations stable enough to withstand these perils. That this was so was due in large measure to the achievements of Qara Yusuf, who had not only created an efficient army and repeatedly held his own on the field of battle, but had so successfully conducted his internal affairs with justice and liberality, at the same time keeping a close watch over the conduct of his wayward governors and showing concern for his dominions' agri- culture, that he is extolled as the most able statesman of his house.

His successor, Qarä Iskandar, while victorious in his battles against the Kurdish amirs and the Shirvan-Shah, did not succeed in adding appreciably to the power of his confederation, though he was relatively successful in