Our Article about Sultan Sati Bey Khan on MintPress
Read the introduction: A Forgotten Study Of Female Political Power In Islamic History
Sultan Sati Bey Khan is another forgotten Muslim female ruler in
history we would like to remember today. She was part of the Khan family
of the Moslem Ilhan branch of the Mongol Empire and ruled in the 14th
In this chapter, Bahriye Üçok first briefly summarises Ilhan
history, starting with Hulagu, grandson of Genghis Khan. Hulagu is
well-known for having marched on Baghdad where in November 1258 he put
an end to the Abbasid State.
Hulagu died in 1265 and, during the reigns of his successors, most of
the Mongols who lived in today’s Iran converted to Sunni Islam.
According to the author, thanks to the general Mongolian religious
tolerance, also under Islamic rule women maintained their important
political and social position they had had in the past. Gazan Khan also
showed great indulgence towards Shiites. Under his reign, the Empire
reached its peak.
After his death, in 1304, his brother and successor Hudabende Oljaytu
Khan was unable to continue his works of reform. In addition he
converted to Shia Islam and proceeded to take strict and harsh measures
against Suuni Muslim. Of course, this plunged the country into
discontent. His son and successor Ebu Said tried to shift the balance in
favour of the Sunnis, but because of his youth and inexperience, his
reign was noted for various intrigues.
In 1324 Ebu Said was poisoned, and the Ilhan Empire split up unto
various separate kingdoms reigned by emirs. They were also faced with
attack by the Golden Horde, and upon this the emirs chose Arık Boga’s
great grandson Arpa Khan as ruler. Arpa Khan immediately put a stop to
the dangerous raids, but when the emirs presented themselves before him,
he treated them so harshly that most of them now set their hopes on the
birth of a son to Ebu Said’s pregnant widow Dilşad Hatun. Thus, we see
that Arpa Khan’s sovereignty was shaken at the foundations.
A short while later, Ebu Said’s uncle Ali Padishah’s ambition to
obtain influence resulted in a civil war. Arpa was captured and put to
death and Ali Padishah, by putting Baydu’s grandson Musa on the throne
(1336) set up a rule that was in every way despotic. However this manner
of administration drove Hadji Togay, the Emir of Oyrat, to call upon
Prince Muhammed, a descendant of Mengü Timur, and bringing him from
Tabriz he proclaimed him as Sultan.
This action of Hadji Togay’s resulted in armed conflict and in 1336
Emîr Ali Padishah, together with his followers, was put to the sword;
Musa fled to Baghdad, and Muhammed established himself in Tabriz. Hasan,
the grandson of Choban who had risen to the post of chief emir of the
Ilhan Empire and had later been put to death, now emerged from hiding
and was immediately surrounded by his father’s former followers.
Hasan, who was a trickster by nature, found somebody who closely
resembled his father Timurtash, and pretending that this was indeed
Timurtash, spread word that he had escaped and returned from Egypt. This
sufficed to alarm Büyük Hasan, who was of the Jelâyirîs, even more than
had been hoped. For this deception, he used his slave Karacher, but he
was unable to keep for long the gains he had thus made. The truth was
soon discovered. This Hasan is referred to as Small Hasan to distinguish
him from Hasan Jelâyirî or İlkâni, known as “Hasan the Great”.
Before long, the influence of the two powerful emirs began to show
itself in the Ilhan territories. The Empire became divided into two
major zones of influence, one of Hasan the Great and the other of Small
Hasan. While Hasan the Great placed first Toqa Timur, descended from
Juchi Kasar, and then Keyhatu’s grandson Jihan Timur on the throne,
Small Hasan encouraged Oljaytu Khan’s daughter, Ebu Said Khan’s sister
Sati Bey to proclaim her sovereignty in 1338.
Since Sati Bey was a woman of the Khan family, as soon as Ilhan Arpa,
on becoming Khan, came to Tabriz, he married her. Sati Bey was in any
case no stranger to Small Hasan; after the death of Oljaytu’s daughter
Dolandı Hatun, Küçük Hasan’s grandfather Emîr Choban had asked for the
hand of her sister, that is to say Sati Bey, and had been accepted.
After Choban’s death, in 1335, his widow became betrothed to Arpa
Khan with the object of strengthening the latter’s position. This
marriage, which lasted for two years, ended when Arpa Khan was killed in
battle. In 1338 Small Hasan encourage Sati Bey to lay claim to the
throne. Disturbances and battles with Hasan the Great followed. But
Small Hasan eventually used his tricks to replace Sati Bey and take over
Sati Bey Hatun reigned for 9-12 months. Thus, the Ilhan Empire was
supposedly ruled by Toga Timur and Sati Bey Hatun, even if there was a
constant power struggle under the powerful emirs. History does not
relate what befell Sati Bey at this period. After she had been obliged
to relinquish the throne of the Khans, all her life remains in darkness.
Sati Bey Khan was not that kind of women who made a personal effort
to become empress. She lived in a very turbulent time, full of
disintegration and power struggles, as all other Muslim ruling dynasties
we have known until now in Üçok’s book. And she tried to affirm herself
in this complex stage of power, but never forced the situation like we
can see in other ruling women. She reached a very high position in the
State, as the Friday prayer was read in her name — an essential element
characterising the Islamic political leader of a State.
Happy to read your feedback.
Dr. phil. Milena Rampoldi – ProMosaik e.V.