Uzbeg Khan

Mikhail of Tver before Uzbeg Khan, by Vasili Vereshchagin.

Sultan Mohammed Öz-Beg, better known as Uzbeg or Ozbeg (1282–1341, reign 1313–1341), was the longest-reigning khan of the Golden Horde, under whose rule the state reached its zenith.[1] He was succeeded by his son Jani Beg.

He was the son of Toghrilcha and grandson of Mengu-Timur, who had been khan of the Golden Horde from 1267–1280.


Coronation and Conversion to Islam by the Horde

Ozbeg's father Togrilcha was one of Genghisid princes that overthrew Tode-Mengu (r.1280–1287). Later, he was executed by Tokhta (1291–1312). Tokhta took Togrilcha's wife and sent his son Ozbeg to exile on a distant region of the Golden Horde: Khorazm or the country of Circassians.

Converted to Islam by Ibn Abdul Hamid, a Sufi Bukharan sayyid and sheikh of the Yasavi order, Öz-Beg assumed the throne upon the death of his uncle Tokhta in January 1313 with the help of former khans vizier Temur Qutlugh and Bulaghan (or Bayalun) khatun. At first, Mongol nobles were against him and organized the plot to kill new Khan. Uzbeg found out the plot and crushed the rebels.[2] His adoption of Islam as a state religion led to a conspiracy of Shamanist and Buddhist princes, which he subdued severely. Ozbeg determinedly spread Islam amongst the Golden Horde and allowed missionary activities to expand in the surrounding regions. Ozbeg found out that his competitor was backed by the envoys of the Great Khan Ayurbarwada Buyantu and deteriorated his relationship with Yuan Dynasty.[3] The last of his rebellious relatives was shamanist khan Ilbasan of the White Horde, who was murdered in 1320. Uzbeg installed Muslim Mubarak Khwaja as a replacement to the throne of the White Horde, but he discouraged. In the long run, Islam enabled the Khan to eliminate interfactional struggles in the Horde and to stabilize state institutions. Russian scholar Lev Gumilev wrote that this manner did Ozbeg turn the khanate into a sultanate.[4]

Khan Ozbeg urged the Mongol elite to convert to Islam, but at the same time, he preserved the lives of Christians and pagans such as Russians, Circassians, Alans, Bulgars, Finno-Ugric people, Turks and Crimean Greeks as long as they continued to pay the jizyah in subjection to Islamic rule. From Uzbeg onwards, the khans of the Golden Horde were all Muslim.[5]

Uzbeg was very tolerant of Christians as exemplified by a letter of thanks he received from Pope John XXII in which the Christian leader thanks Uzbeg for his kind treatment of Christians.[6] Uzbeg had sent a letter to the Metropolitan Peter which stated:

By the will and power, the greatness and most high! Let no man insult the metropolitan church of which Peter is head, or his service or his churchman; let no man seize their property, goods or people, let no man meddle in the affairs of the church...Their laws, their churches and monasteries and chapels shall be respected; whoever condemns or blames this religion, shall not be allowed to excuse himself under any pretext, but shall be punished with death.[6]


Military and Politics

Öz-Beg maintained one of the largest armies in the world, which exceeded 300,000 warriors. He employed his military clout to conduct campaigns against the Ilkhanate in Azerbaijan in 1319, 1325 and 1335. Ilkhanid commander Chupan repulsed one Ozbeg's first two attempts and even invaded deep into Jochid Ulus in 1325. After he found an ally against the Ilkhanids in the shape of Mamluk Egypt, one of Cairo's squares was named after him. The Khan had the daughter of previous khan's sister, Princess Tulunbuya marry with a Mamluk sultan. But she died soon after and Uzbek was disappointed. In 1323, a peace treaty was signed between Egypt and Ilkhanate. The situation relieved the alliance and the Mamluks refused mannerly to invade Ilkhanate. Ozbeg's next incursion was coincided with Abu Said's death. However, the weather turned bad and new Ilkhan Arpa Ke'un came with a large force; Ozbeg's army were forced to withdraw.

Chagatai Khan Esen Buqa I attempted to gain the support of Uzbeg Khan against Buyantu, the Great Khan of the Mongol Empire and the Emperor of the Yuan Dynasty, in 1313 and 1316. Esen buqa warned Uzbek that the Great Khan would overthrow him from the throne of the Horde and install another khan from the Jochids instead. But Uzbek's vizier convinced him not to believe his words and the Khan refused to help him. Although, he tried his best to eliminate every influence and inspiration of Yuan Dynasty on Golden Horde. The Khan's diplomatic relationship with the Yuan improved in 1324.[7] By the 1330s, Ozbeg had begun sending tributes to Mongol Yuan Emperors and received his share from Jochid possessions in China and Mongolia in exchange.[3]

Öz-Beg was engaged in wars with Bulgaria and Byzantine from 1320 to 1332. He repeatedly raided Thrace, partly in service of Bulgaria's war against both Byzantium and Serbia that began in 1319. His armies pillaged Thrace for 40 days in 1324 and for 15 days in 1337, taking 300,000 captives.[8] After Ozbeg's death in 1341, his successors did not continue his aggressive policy and contact with Bulgaria lapsed.[9] His attempt to reassert Mongol control over Serbia was unsuccessful in 1330. Emperor Andronikos III gave his illegitimate daughter in marriage to Uzbek but relations turned sour at the end of Andonicus's reign, and the Mongols mounted raids on Thrace between 1320 to 1324 until the Byzantine port of Vicina Macaria was occupied by the Mongols. Andonicus's daughter, who adopted the name Bayalun, managed to escape to the Byzantine Empire due to fearing Islamic conversion.[10]

Ozbeg allowed Genoese, who had been harassed by Tokhta, to settle in Crimea. But the Mongols sacked Sudak under Khan Ozbeg in 1322 as a result of a clash between Christians and Muslims in the city. The Genoese merchants in the other towns were not molested in 1322. The Pope intervened and asked Ozbeg to restore the Roman Catholic churches that were destroyed. Ozbeg was friendly towards the Pope and exchanged letters and gifts. Khan Ozbeg signed a new trade treaty with the Genoese in 1339 and allowed them to rebuild the walls of Kaffa. In 1332 he had allowed the Venetians to establish a colony at Tanais on the Don.

New Sarai

During the reign of Uzbeg, Sarai (literally meaning "palace" in Turkish) was more quickly becoming a main commercial center and industrial trading center of the country rather than just a political center. The expression of Mongol camp mentality, following Ash and the nearby absence of some structures.

To successfully spread Islam, it was necessary to build a mosque and other "elaborate places" requiring baths, an important element of Muslim culture. Sarai attracted merchants from European, Asian and Islamic countries as well as Middle East. Slave trade flourished due to strengthening ties with Mamluk Sultanate. Successful commercial revolutions require new markets, caravans: "places where merchants find their way." Growth of wealth and increasing needs of production always produce population growth. Unfortunately this did not passover in Sarai. The increase of the regions dwelling places transformed the capital into a center of a large Muslim government, giving it the appropriate aspect and status. Uzbeg actually came to build a new city, which received the official name Saray al-Jedid or New Sarai.

Relationship with Russian princes

Öz-Beg supported the earliest princes of Muscovy - his brother-in-law Yury of Moscow and Yury's successor Ivan Kalita - against the westward-leaning Princes of Tver. Three of these - Mikhail of Tver, his son Alexander and grandson Theodor - were killed in Sarai at Öz-Beg's behest.

In 1317, Mikhail Yaroslavich defeated Yuri at a village called Bortenevo. Mikhail captured Yuri's wife, who was the Khan's sister. Unluckily, Yuri's wife died when she was in the custody of Mikhael. He was summoned to the court of Golden Horde and beheaded in December of 1318.

Following Yury's machinations, the Khan granted the yarlik to Moscow and their father's execution at the Horde, Dmitry killed Yuri in Sarai four years later. Ozbeg waited to punish Dmitri and eventually he arrested the prince of Tver for the murder, executing him in 1326.

When the Khan's cousin, the Baskak Shevkal and his Tatars were killed in Tver and a rebellion erupted there, Alexander Mikhailovich fled to Pskov to escape a punitive expedition of 50,000 Mongol-Tatars, who was headed by his cousin Ivan Daniilovich. Tver's uprising against the Horde was bloodily suppressed by Muscovite and Tatar forces in 1327. But Aleksandr traveled to the Horde with tribute and was given the yarlik to Tver in 1337. The Khan pardoned him. Unfortunately, his enemy Ivan again set the Horde's Khan against him with the aid of intrigue. Alexander was summoned to the Horde again and was executed at the hand of Khan Uzbek; Tver was then pillaged and many of its citizens massacred. Ozbeg appointed Ivan to position of Grand Duke of Vladimir. That was the beginning of the rise of Muscotives.

Ozbeg welcomed Ivan's sons and made Simeon Grand Prince (duke) in 1340. Simeon was given more powers by the Khan to counter Lithuania's growing power. And Ozbeg launched military expeditions into Lithuania that threatened Mongol dominance in Russia.

Relationship with Ruthenian Princes

Although Ozbeg's army killed Lev II and Andrew of Galicia in 1323, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the Kingdom of Poland had a great influence on Galicia-Volhynia. Lithuanians defeated Rus' boyars and occupied Kiev and its surrounding areas in 1330. As a result of losing direct rule over Kiev, Wallachia and its ruler Basarab I had become de facto independent from Ozbeg since 1324. But Ozbeg was still able to threaten Byzantium, Lithuania and Bulgaria.


  1. ^ Sinor, 178.
  2. ^ Rene Grousset - Central Asia: Empire of Steppes
  3. ^ a b Encyclopedia of Mongolia and Mongol Empire, see: Golden Horde
  4. ^ Л.Н.Гумилев - Великая степь и Древняя русь
  5. ^ The new Islamic dynasties: a chronological and genealogical manual By Clifford Edmund Bosworth, pg. 253
  6. ^ a b The preaching of Islam: a history of the propagation of the Muslim faith By Sir Thomas Walker Arnold, pg.200-201
  7. ^ Encyclopedia of Mongolia and Mongol Empire, see: Golden Horde, J. J. Saunders - the history of Mongol conquests
  8. ^ H.H.Howorth-History of the Mongols, d.II: pt.II
  9. ^ Christopher P. Atwood-Encyclopedia of Mongolia and the Mongol Empire, p.73
  10. ^ J. J. Saunders - The history of Mongol Conquest, Ibn Battuta


  • Atwood, Christopher P. Encyclopedia of Mongolia and the Mongol Empire. New York, NY: Facts On File, 2004.
  • Bor, Zhu̇gdėriĭn. Mongol khiĭgėėd Evroaziĭn diplomat shastir. Ulaanbaatar: [Olon Ulsyn Kharilt︠s︡aany Surguulʹ], 2001. (Mongolian)
  • Morgan, David. The Mongols. Oxford: Blackwell, 1990.
  • Sinor, Denis. Inner Asia: History, Civilization, Languages; A Syllabus. Bloomington: Indiana University, 1969.

See also

Preceded by
Khan of Blue Horde and Golden Horde
Succeeded by
Tini Beg

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