New Article by Dr. Rampoldi on MintPress: Türkan Hatun of Iran

Great Women In Muslim History: Türkan Hatun of Iran

An antique drawing of a sultan in flowing royal red robes and wearing a pointed, feathered hat.
Hajjâj of Kirman. Türkan Hatun allowed her stepson Hajjâj to rule as a
figurehead while she maintained her power behind the throne.
(Illustration from Dr. Bahriye Üçok’s “Female Sovereigns in Islamic

Previously in this series: Introduction: A Forgotten Study Of Female Political Power In Muslim HistorySultan Raziyye of Medieval IndiaShejer üd-Dür of Egypt and the Women of Khariji Islam.

This article is about a Turkish ruler presented by author and
feminist Bahriye Üçok in her book. I am very happy that the Turkish
author reminds us of this female ruler who would otherwise be buried in

Türkan Hatun reigned in the Muslim State of Kirman of Kutluk in
today’s Iran in the 13th century. First of all, let us take a brief look
at the history of the founding of this state in order to better
understand how it came about that a woman should rise to the position of
ruler in a newly formed Muslim state:
Barak Hâjib, one of the former emirs of the idol-worshipping
Karahitay, on taking possession of the Kirman region in 619/1222, set up
a state there. A short while later, Jelâlüddîn Harezmshah, on his way
through Kirman, married Barak’s daughter. At this time, Barak became
subject to the Harezmshahs. Jelâlüddîn Harezmshah, because of the
merciless pursuit of the Mongols, was compelled to retreat.

Realising that the supremacy had now passed from the Harezmis to the
Mongols, Barak Hâjib lost no time in proclaiming his allegiance to
Genghis Khan. In addition he gave one if his daughters, Sevinch Türkân,
to Genghis Khan’s son Jagatay. In this way, he received The title of
“Kutluk Khan.”
Barak, who took over the rule of the Kirman and Siistan territories,
in direct contrast to the political actions of the Harezmshahs,
announced to the Caliph that he had accepted Islam and requested that he
should be given the title of “Sultan,” whereupon the Caliph en-Nâsır
gave him the name of “Kutluk Sultan.”

Barak Hâjib had four daughters (among them Türkan Hatun) and one son.
Han Türkân was the wife of Barak’s nephew Kutbüddin Muhammed. Barak
Hâjib appointed Kutbüddîn as heir to the throne. Old historical accounts
note that the successes of Kutbüddîn, who died in 655/1257, were due to
the fact that he always showed the good sense of following the advice
of his wife Kutluk Türkân.
On the death of Kutbüddîn, many of the chief men and emirs of Kirman,
as well as some of the Mongol emirs, held a conference and unanimously
decided on the sovereignty of Türkân Hatun, to whom they swore
allegiance. Again we see the importance of allegiance in Islam. The
ruler must be accepted by people according to the principle of
shura-craty. And again, a female ruler was chosen because of her moral
and intellectual qualities.

Having listened to the request of this deputation, Hulagu Khan,
impressed by Türkân Hatun’s worth, passed a decree, leaving all the
affairs of the country, both major and minor, in the hands of this
provident woman. Türkan worked for the development or her country and
cared for the welfare of its people.
After 655/1257, Türkân Hatun took advantage of the youth of her
stepson Sultan Hajjâj to take over the administration of all the
country’s affairs. Although officially Hajjâj was the Sultan, in fact
power was in the hands of Türkân Hatun. For some years, they held the
throne together in the mutual trustfulness of a true mother and son: the
one being sovereign in name, the other in deed.

At about this time, Türkân Hatun sent Hajjâj with a large army to
join the army of Abaka Khan, the ruler of Ilhan, who had been attacked
by the Chagatay army and the Barakoqul with the intention of conquering
Iran and were on the point of crossing the Amu Derya. Abaka Khan,
brought to victory through this assistance, heaped Sultan Hajjâj with
rewards befitting a Sultan and sent him back to his country.
At this time certain individuals who supported Hajjâj began to incite
him to turn against his mother without achieving success. Indeed,
Türkân Hatun ruled Kirman for twelve years in complete independence and
maintained peace and security in the country.

In 1282 Abaka Khan died and was succeeded by Ahmed Teküdar. Türkân
Hatun accordingly ordered a mourning ceremony for her son-in-law which
was of a magnificence theretofore unparalleled in Kirman. Sultans Ahmed
and Soyurgatmısh enjoyed a long-standing bond of friendship, formed in
the time of Abaka Khan. Ahmed’s mother Kutay (or Kuti) Hatun played an
important part in persuading her son Ahmed Khan to have Soyurgatmısh
made Sultan of Kirman and to ensure Türkân Hatun’s fall from power.

Having achieved success with the army, Jelâlüddîn Soyurgatmısh set
out and came to a place called Siyeh Kuh (Karabaq), where he was met by
Türkân Hatun, who was accompanied by her daughter Padishah Hatun. There
and then and without any preliminaries, Soyurgatmısh read her the decree
he had obtained from Ahmed Khan. Kutluk Türkân, accustomed for years to
holding sway within the borders of Kirman in peace and without
interference, received such a shock on hearing this harsh news that she
lost consciousness. Sultan Soyurgatmısh proposed to the Kirman emirs who
were with Türkân that they should join him and, leaving her straight
away, should return with him to Kirman. Some of the emirs and notables
obeyed the new ruler and returned to Kirman.
In the same year, Soyurgatmısh reached Kirman and ascended to the
throne. He showed tolerance and generosity to Türkân Hatun’s emirs and
chief followers and they had no choice but to take an oath of
allegiance. However, Muizüddîn Melik Shah, always known as a
troublemaker, prepared to take his revenge on Soyurgatmısh. Kurch Melik
tried to foil Muizüddîn’s mischief-making, to maintain peace among the

Still, he could not prevent some of the emirs from plotting to kill
Soyurgatmısh and to put Türkân Hatun’s grandson Süyük Shah on the throne
in his place. As we have already seen in other biographies and
destinies of other female Muslim rulers, there were always plots from
factions of emirs trying to put on the throne one or another ruler by
intrigues and violence. Suyuk Shah, on receiving prior knowledge of this
secret, thought it prudent to immediately inform his uncle Sultan
Soyurgatmısh of what was afoot. Accordingly he called together the
leading emirs, and tried them in the public square, and put to death
those who confessed their guilt.
After parting from Soyurgatmısh, Türkân Hatun went straight to Ahmed
Khan. As was the custom, she brought with her a number of precious

Some of the chief men of Kirman, such as Hodja Zahîrüddîn Yemin
ül-Mülk and Tâjüddîn Satılmısh, did not attach themselves to Sultan
Soyurgatmısh but preferred to remain in the service of Türkân Hatun. On
this visit, Türkân Hatun was met with great respect by the army and a
royal decree was written to this effect: “Sultan Soyurgatmish and Türkân
Hatun should rule the state of Kutluk (Karahıtay) with equal rights.”

Türkân Hatun passed that winter in Zemistan (or Ber-daa). She was
received with great honour and regally entertained by Sâhib-i Divan
Shemsüddîn. When summer came, she went by way of Tabriz to Cherendab.
However, a short while later she fell ill from sorrow and died
She was a very important female ruler but, as with the others in this
series, she is not mentioned in many history books. Even Marco Polo,
who visited Kirman at that time, does not mention her as ruler in this
famous book “Il Milione.”