Hulagu Khan, grandson of the founder of the Mongol Empire, was born in 1217 AD, his brother Monko "the Great Khan" appointed him governor and general of the western region of the empire, eliminating the Abbasid Caliphate, then founded the "Ilkhanid State" on the lands of Persia after the fragmentation of the Mongol Empire, ruled Iraq for 10 years, and died in 1265.

Persian manuscript showing Hulagu Khan sitting on his throne (Getty Images)

Birth and upbringing

Hulagu Tolui Genghis Khan was born in 1217, the fifth son of Tului Khan, and from a young age was known for his obsession and keen interest in Persian civilization.

Although he received a Christian education from a priest, Hulagu did not become a Christian, but remained in the Mongol religion like his father, yet he was known to be loyal, supportive, and protector, also because his mother Sarghagtani Beki and his wife Duquz Khatun were Christians.

Political experience

Commissioned by the Great Khan

Since the inception of the Mongol Empire, Hulagu's elder brother Monko assumed the position of "Great Khan" and Hulagu conquered the western region of Asia, suppressed the Ismaili sect known as the Assassins who had barricaded themselves in the fortress of "Alamut" and attacked the Abbasid Caliphate, by order of the Council of Mongol princes "Koroltai" in 1251.

In 1253, Hulagu set out with a large army of 800,1256 fighters from Mongolia, first crossing the Gihon River in Central Asia, then the borders of the "Jagatay Khanate" headed by Gengiz's second son, until he reached Persia in <>.

By the end of 1256, Hulagu had captured the fortress of Alamut, conquered most of the castles of the Ismaili community, arrested its imam Rukn al-Din Khurshah ibn Aladdin, sent him to Mongolia, where he was executed by order of the "Great Khan" and then a mass massacre of followers of the sect followed.

Capture of Baghdad

On his way to Baghdad, Hulagu Khan carried with him the will of his brother Monko, in which he said, "Keep Genghis Khan's laws and laws in colleges and parts, and single out those who obey your orders and avoid your prohibitions with your kindness and kindness, but those who disobey you drown him in humiliation and humiliation with his wives, sons, relatives and everything related to him."

The commandment adds, "If the caliph of Baghdad takes the initiative to offer obedience, do not be exposed to him at all, but if he is arrogant and disobeys, he will inflict it on others who are lost."

Hulagu began diplomatic correspondence with the Abbasid caliph "Al-Musta'sim" in Baghdad in 1257 asking for his surrender, but Al-Musta'sim, despite the weakness of his capabilities at the time, refused to submit, and responded to Hulagu with a message that angered the other, where he said, "O young wannabe short life, and who thought himself surrounding and overcoming all the world, alienated by two days of turnout."

Hulagu replied, "When I lead the army to Baghdad in anger, if you are hidden in heaven or earth, I will bring you down from the revolving ark, I will throw you from your height down like a lion, I will not let alive in your kingdom, I will make your city, your province and your lands taste for fire."

Hulagu went out with his army from his headquarters in "Hamadan" towards Baghdad, and began to bombard it after crossing the Tigris River, and his catapults targeted the city surrounded by the wall from the side of the Ajami tower (one of the towers of the Baghdad wall) until he made a hole in it.

Hulagu abused Baghdad for 40 days, and killed its people and wreaked havoc and destroyed it greatly, so Al-Musta'sim felt God at the time of danger, and deliberately appealed to Hulagu asking him to implement his brother's will to dream and have mercy on them, but Hulagu refused to listen to him, especially since he did not implement his request when he sent him asking for his support to eliminate the Assassins.

Caliph al-Musta'sim was defeated in battle on January 17, 1258, Baghdad fell on February 10, and al-Musta'sim was killed.

It was the custom of the Mongols not to shed the blood of a prince or king at the time of their conquests, so they wrapped Al-Musta'sim in a rug, then ordered Hulagu to beat him or trample him to death, and his death was the end of the Abbasid Caliphate.

Baghdad falls to Hulagu Khan's forces in 1258 (Getty Images)

Ibn Kathir filmed the bloody scene in Baghdad, saying, "Many people entered the wells and places of crowding and dirty canni, and ambushed as well as days do not appear, and it was people who meet in bars, and close the doors on them, and the Tatars open them either by breaking or by fire, and then enter them and flee from them to the top of the place, and kill them in the roofs, until the gutters of blood run in the alleys."

Because of the intensity of Hulagu's violence at the time of his invasion of Baghdad (the cultural and religious capital of Islam at the time), its people thought that it was the resurrection, as he demolished buildings and hospitals, and threw books into the river until it was said to be black from the abundance of liquefied ink, and the Mongols set fire to libraries, burning manuscripts and rare books.

It was said that the number of dead was in the hundreds of thousands, but the greatest catastrophe for Muslims was in their scholars, books and manuscripts, and Ibn Battuta counted 24 thousand scientists killed by the Mongols in general, while researcher Abdel Moneim Hamid Abd Ali limited in a study published in the magazine "Midad Al-Adab" the names of 62 scientists killed by the Mongols when invading Baghdad.

Ain Goliath. First defeat

Hulagu left Baghdad heading to Azerbaijan, and from there to Syria, starting from Aleppo and destroying it with a catapult after its people refused to submit, until he reached Damascus, which was handed over by its owners so that what happened to the people of Aleppo would not befall them, until he reached Gaza on the border of Egypt in mid-1260.

Then he sent a message to Seif al-Din Qutuz with 4 messengers, and asked him to submit and surrender, and threatened to fight and eliminate his women, his family and everyone who has a connection with him and his country and his subjects.

But the Mamluks declared jihad and responded to Hulagu by cutting off the heads of his messengers and hanging them on the door of Zuweila, and when the news of the beheading of the four ambassadors reached Hulagu, his deputy in the Levant ordered Kutbga Noyan to equip his army to respond to the Mamluks and avenge the four messengers.

But he did not expect that his army, exhausted from the long invasion, had surprised the Mamluks with a tactical plan in the battle of Ain Jalut, so his soldiers' forces were proud and their resolve collapsed, and they began to flee to the neighboring hills after seeing their commander Kutbagha fall on the battlefield at the hands of a Muslim commander.

Nicolo and Maffeo Polo (left) in Bukhara where they stayed 3 years after an invitation from the envoy of Hulagu (Getty Images)

His latest campaign

After his terrible defeat, which Hulagu did not like until his death, he headed to the Caucasus between 1262-1263, trying to seize the area ruled by his Muslim cousin, the leader of the "Golden Horde" Baraka Khan.

Battles took place between Hulagu and Baraka, and Hulagu's forces reached the Terek River and victory was his ally until then, and then most of his forces sank into the river after an avalanche collapsed under the hooves of their horses, incurring great losses that made him retreat and write the end of the history of his conquests.

The country of the Ilkhaniya

Hulagu founded the state of "Ilkhanate Mongols in Persia" based in Iran and its capital Maragheh, which belongs to the Mongol Empire in name only, and soon his state expanded to include states from the South Caucasus, Iraq and eastern Turkey, and he bore the title of Ilkhan and his successor, which means "Khan subordinate" to the Great Khan, and his state became independent with the beginning of the fragmentation of the Mongol Empire in 1259 AD.

His strong passion for Persian influenced its civilization, literature and Persian style of architecture and art, as soon as Hulagu became a khan on Muslim Persia, he gathered in his office many Persian philosophers, scientists and sages, and made Persian the dominant instead of Arabic.

During his reign, he built the Maragha Observatory, where Muslim, Christian and even Far Eastern scholars conducted their research, and it was Nasir al-Din al-Tusi's idea.

The other side of Hulagu

It was said that Hulagu was a lover of science and scientists, as historians such as Rashid al-Din al-Hamadhani and Ata Malak al-Juwayni described him as a lover of architecture and science, and Juwayni said about him in his book "The History of the Conqueror of the World" that Hulagu "has a passion and a tendency to reconstruct ruins" and said that he was destroying and rebuilding.

Hulagu ordered the reconstruction of the city of Khabshushan, and its people were able to return to it after years of devastation. Al-Hamadhani also mentioned in his book "Jami' al-Tawarikh" that he was a lover of science and scientists, so he brought them closer to him and invited them to his council, and he was very fond of Persian civilization, and inclined to chemistry and philosophy, although history had quoted stories about the destruction of Baghdad, and the killing of its scientists after entering the capital of the Abbasids.

Baghdad fell to Hulagu forces on February 10, 1258 (Getty Images)


Hulagu died on January 9, 1265 at the age of 48, leaving behind 15 sons, and was succeeded by his son Abaqa in the rule of the Ilkhanid state.

Two accounts were said about Hulegu's death, the first that he died after suffering from epilepsy, and the second that Baibars' successive victories over him in 1261 AD saddened him so much that he suffered a stroke in the brain as a result of which he died.

Hulagu was buried on top of a rock about 300 meters high, on the coast of Shahi Island in Lake Urumieh in northwestern Iran, and the tradition of the Mongols was to bury his maidservants with him to serve him in the afterlife as they believe, and Hulagu was the last prince buried according to Mongol tradition.