BEGTOḠDÏ (Turkish, lit. “a prince has been born, has arisen,” Persian Baktoḡdī), Turkish slave commander of the Ghaznavid sultans Maḥmūd and Masʿūd, d. 431/1040. His career must have begun in the reign of Maḥmūd, though it is only in the time of his son Masʿūd (421-32/1031-41) that he achieved prominence and commands. He was appointed commander-in-chief in Khorasan at a time when the depredations of the Oghuz Turkmen were becoming acute there and headed a powerful army, including Turkish, Indian, Arab, and Kurdish troops and a body of war elephants, which went from Nīšāpūr via Ṭūs towards Nasā and the steppes in 426/1035. After negotiations at a so far unidentified place called Sepandānqān (?), Begtoḡdï rejected the Saljuq leaders’ offer of submission and in a battle lasting two days, though at first victorious, was in the end defeated, with an immense loss of baggage and materiel to the nomads. Begtoḡdï himself fled back to the sultan, but his katḵodā or adjutant, Raʾīs Abū ʿAbd-Allāh Ḥosayn b. ʿAlī Mīkālī, from the leading Nīšāpūr family, fought on until captured by Čaḡrï Beg Dāvūd, subsequently casting in his lot with the Saljuqs.
Begtoḡdï was then replaced as commander in Khorasan by another general, Sübašï/Sobāšī, but the two commanders were defeated together on the road to Saraḵs in 429/1038 by the Saljuqs, again through being impeded by heavy baggage as compared with the highly mobile steppe cavalrymen. Begtoḡdï was also a commander in Masʿūd’s army at the crowning disaster of Dandānqān in 431/1040, after which Khorasan was finally lost to the Saljuqs. Shortly afterwards the two generals and ʿAlī-e Dāya were executed by the sultan as scapegoats for the defeat.
The main primary sources are Bayhaqī, passim, and Gardīzī, ed. Nazim, pp. 100-02, 108.
Of secondary sources, see Bosworth, Ghaznavids, pp. 181, 242, 247-49, and idem, Later Ghaznavids, p. 139.
(C. Edmund Bosworth)
Originally Published: December 15, 1989
Last Updated: December 15, 1989
This article is available in print.
Vol. IV, Fasc. 1, p. 86