Who Was Sultan Jalaluddin Khwarazmshah?

Who Was Jalaluddin Khwarazmshah?

Jalal al-Din Mangburni also known as Jalal al-Din Khwarazmshah, was the last Khwarazmshah of the Anushteginid dynasty. The eldest son and successor of Ala ad-Din Muhammad II of the Khwarazmian Empire, Jalal al-Din was brought up at Gurganj, the wealthy capital of the Khwarazmid homeland. An able general, he served as second-in-command to his father in at least one battle; however, since he was the son of a concubine, he was challenged as successor by a younger brother, whose cause was supported by the powerful Queen Mother, Terken Khatun. Nevertheless, after the Mongol conquest of the Khwarazmian Empire led to his father’s flight and death on an island in the Caspian Sea, Jalal-al Din gained the loyalty of the majority of Khwarazmian loyalists.

History Of Jalal al-Din Mangburni:

The new Shah moved to Gurganj, but departed eastwards after Terken Khatun moved against him; evading Mongol patrols, he gathered a substantial army at Ghazni. He managed to inflict an excellent defeat on Shigi Qutuqu at the Battle of Parwan, but soon lost a good portion of his army in a dispute over spoils. He was defeated by a vengeful Genghis Khan at the Battle of the Indus, and fled across the river. Now essentially a warlord, Jalal al-Din managed to establish a succession of short-lived states: first in the Punjab, from 1222–24, and then in northwest Iran and Georgia, after 1225.

Jalal al-Din did not have the political ability needed to underpin his martial exploits, and he was forced to combat several large revolts and increasing pressure from Mongol forces. Eventually, he was killed in August 1231. The army he had gathered would continue to terrorize the Levant as the mercenary Khwarazmiyya until its final defeat in 1246.

Jalal al-Din was reportedly the eldest son of the KhwarazmshahAla ad-Din Muhammad II (r. 1200–1220), while his mother was a concubine of Turkmen origin, whose name was Ay-Chichek. Due to the low status of Jalal al-Din’s mother, his powerful grandmother and Qipchaq princess Terken Khatun refused to support him as heir to the throne, and instead favored his half-brother Uzlagh-Shah, whose mother was also a Qipchaq.

Jalal al-Din first appears in historical records in 1215, when Muhammad II divided his empire among his sons, giving the southwestern part (part of the former Ghurid Empire) to Jalal al-Din. Jalal al-Din had won several victories against the Mongols in 1221, and after the Battle of Parwan, independent insurgency groups emerged in multiple cities inspired by his deeds. Kushteghin Pahlawan launched a revolt in Merv and ousted the Mongol administration; he then made a successful attack on Bukhara, while Herat also rebelled. These revolts would be crushed by the Mongols, and many atrocities perpetuated as retribution.

Genghis Khan, now at Bamiyan, did not take this defeat lightly. After executing that fortress, he made his way eastwards to confront Jalal al-Din, using his powers of organisation to send detachments out to prevent the disparate Khwarazmid factions from uniting, one of whom al-Din managed to isolate and defeat. Al-Din knew he had no chance of winning against Genghis in a pitched battle with his diminished army and after attempts to win back Ighrak and his men failed, he marched towards India. 

The Khan’s army managed to surround al-Din’s army on the banks of the River Indus and crushed them in the ensuing battle in November 1221. The Shah escaped the battle by jumping into the river fully armed, and reaching the other shore. This act of desperation is said to have drawn the admiration of Genghis Khan, who forbade Mongols to pursue the Shah or shoot him with arrows. The Shah’s surviving troops were however slaughtered, along with his harem and children.

Jalal ad-Din rode to Gurganj, a city reportedly housing 90,000 soldiers, and found the city in turmoil. The city’s nobility, like Terken Khatun, were not prepared to accept Jalal ad-Din as Shah, preferring the more malleable Uzlaq, and planned a coup against al-Din. Al-Din left the capital after being warned of the coup, accompanied by Timur Malik and 300 cavalry. Crossing the Karakum desert, he attacked the garrison of a Mongol detachment at Nesa, killing most of the force including two brothers of Toghachar, son in law of Genghis Khan.

 The Mongols pursued, past Nishapur and Herat, but lost the trail before Ghazni, where al-Din found 50,000 loyalists waiting for him. After a few days, he was joined by his maternal uncle Temur Malik, who brought an additional 30,000 veterans – al-Din now had a sizeable force with which to strike back at the Mongols. Meanwhile, back in Khwarazm, Gurganj, Merv, Balkh, and Nishapur had all been taken by the Mongol forces.


Through the ruler of Alamut, the Mongols learned that Jalal ad-Din had recently been defeated; the Nizari Ismaili Assassins sent a letter to Ögedei Khan, proposing joint operation against Jalal al-Din. Ögedei Khan sent a new army of 30,000 – 50,000 men under the command of Chormagan and the remaining Khwarazmians, whose numbers were in hundreds, were swept away by the new Mongol army, which occupied Northern Iran. Jalal ad-Din took refuge in the Silvan mountains and there in August he was killed by a Kurd who claimed that he was avenging his brother, who had been killed in Ahlat.

Some pretenders to the name of Jalal al-Din arose after his death. In 1236, the founder and the leader of an insurgency in Mazandaran claimed he was Jalal al-Din. After he was defeated, the Mongols verified that his claim was false, and he was executed. In the year 1254, a leader of a merchant group claimed he was Jalal al-Din; detained and tortured, he asserted he was truthful until his death.

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