Güyük Khan Biography

Güyük Khan, the grandson of Genghis Khan, was a prominent ruler of the Mongol Empire. He played a crucial role in expanding the empire through his military training and service in the armies of his father and grandfather. After a five-year wait, Güyük ascended to the throne with the support of his mother, Toregene Khatun, who served as regent. Despite his abilities as an administrator, Güyük’s reign was short-lived, lasting only two years.

Quick Facts

  • Also Known As: Güyük
  • Died At Age: 42
  • Family:
    • Spouse/Ex-: Oghul Qaimish
    • Father: Ögedei Khan
    • Mother: Töregene Khatun
    • Siblings: Godan Khan, Kadan Khan
    • Children: Babahaer, Khoja, Khokhoo, Naqu, Yelimishi
  • Born Country: Mongolia
  • Died on: April 20, 1248
  • Place of Death: Xinjiang, China

Childhood & Early Life

Güyük Khan was born on March 19, 1206. He was the eldest son of Ögedei Khan and his second wife, Toregene Khatun. He was trained in warfare and served under Genghis Khan and later under Ögedei Khan. He had six siblings: Godan, Khochu, Khorachar, Khashi, Kadan, and Melig.

Military Expeditions

In 1233, Güyük Khan, aided by his cousin Alchidai and the Mongol general Tangghud, defeated Puxian Wannu, a rebellious Jin warlord who ruled the Dongxia Kingdom. In December 1237, under the leadership of his cousin Batu Khan, he attacked the principality of Ryazan and besieged its capital, executing its inhabitants. He also attacked and destroyed the capital city of Ossetia in early 1239. Two years later, he attacked Transylvania and prevented the Transylvanian nobility from helping King Bela IV of Hungary.

Power Struggles and Reign

Differences between Güyük and Batu surfaced during the invasion of Europe, leading to a confrontation between the two. Ögedei recalled both of them to Mongolia, initially planning to execute Güyük. However, he changed his mind and reprimanded Güyük instead. After Ögedei’s death, Güyük’s mother, Toregene, assumed power as the regent and ensured the throne was transferred to Güyük in 1246. During his reign, Güyük lobbied for his coronation as the “Great Khan” and discontinued his mother’s unpopular laws and policies.

Rule and Actions

As the “Great Khan,” Güyük fell out with his mother and had her favorite, Fatima, executed. He also killed several officers of the previous regime for treason, which earned him disapproval from his citizens. He appointed Eljigidei to wage war on Baghdad and the Ismailis and continued the fight against the Song dynasty. He sent Mongol troops to support the ascension of Rukn ad-Din Kilij Arslan IV to the throne of the Sultanate of Rum. He bisected the Kingdom of Georgia and imposed taxes and collected head-tax in various regions. Uyghur officials rose to prominence during his tenure.

Family, Personal Life, & Death

Güyük married Oghul Qaimish and had two sons, Khoja and Naqu, as well as another child, Khokhoo, with another wife. He was an alcoholic, and his addiction led to his health deteriorating. He died on April 20, 1248, while on his way to confront Batu. Some sources claim he might have been poisoned, but current historians believe his death was natural due to his failing health.

Leave a Comment