BORĀQ, ruler of the Chaghatay khanate in Transoxiana (664-70/1266-71); properly Baraq, the pronunciation Borāq having been assimilated to the name of the Prophet Moḥammad’s mount on his meʿrāj (night journey to heaven).
Borāq was a great-grandson of Jengiz Khan and a son of Yesün-Toʾa. Together with his father he was banished to China after involvement in a plot against the Great Khan Möngke (q.v.). In 664/1266 the Great Khan and emperor of China Qubilai sent Borāq to Transoxiana to govern the country jointly with his cousin Mobārakšāh. Borāq spent a long time making preparations and encountered resistance from Mobārakšāh. After defeating and capturing the latter at Ḵojand in September, 1266, he assumed sole power.
Before long, Borāq’s own insubordination brought him into conflict with Qubilai. He expelled the Great Khan’s resident commissioner from Turkistan, repulsed an imperial army, and plundered Khotan. These moves alarmed Qāydū (q.v.), the head of the line of Ögedei (q.v.) in the Mongol royal family, even though he too was an opponent of the Great Khan. With help from the Khan of the Golden Horde, Qāydū defeated Borāq in a battle on the Syr Darya and forced him to withdraw to Transoxiana, where he tried in vain to raise funds for continuance of the war. After a time the two rivals came to terms; at a qurïltai in the spring of 667/1269 they agreed on a pact of “blood brotherhood” (anda) whereby Borāq kept two thirds of Transoxiana, which he was to govern jointly with Qāydū as his overlord. The two princes also vowed that they would not harass the sedentary population, whose protection was entrusted to Masʿūd Beg (q.v.), son of Maḥmūd Yalavāj, and would not let their flocks graze anywhere except in the mountains.
Later Borāq sent Masʿūd Beg to the court of the il-khan Abaqa (q.v.) for the two purposes of dissuading him from aggressive designs and spying out the land. No sooner had Masʿūd Beg departed from the il-khan’s court than Borāq attacked, crossing the Oxus and heading for Nīšāpūr. The il-khan attempted to catch Masʿūd, but without success. Despite Borāq’s efforts to incite the il-khan’s brother Nīkūdār (Teküder), then serving in Caucasia, to revolt, Abaqa managed to launch a campaign in the east and advanced rapidly, while Borāq got no help from his “blood-brother” Qāydū. Confused by a stratagem, Borāq suffered a crushing defeat on 1 Ḏu’l-ḥejja 668/22 July 1270. He lost many of his troops and had to retreat to Transoxiana.
Borāq’s subsequent adventures are differently reported in the sources.
According to Rašīd-al-Dīn, several princes who had been supporters turned against him after the defeat. He again sought help from Qāydū, but the latter in effect deserted him. Later, when Borāq had subdued the unfaithful princes, Qāydū marched against him and besieged him in his camp. On entering the camp next morning, Qāydū learned that Borāq had died “of fright” (probably in August, 1271). In compliance with Mongol custom, Qāydū caused Borāq’s remains to be buried on a high mountain.
According to Waṣṣāf, Borāq embraced Islam after the defeat and took the name Solṭān Ḡīāṯ-al-Dīn. His next move was to invade Sīstān. Only then did the princes who had been his officers turn against him. After this he appealed to Qāydū for help, but Qāydū caused him to be poisoned.
In the following years Borāq’s sons engaged in further fighting against the il-khans.
Tārīḵ-eWaṣṣāf, ed. J. Hammer, pp. 134ff.
Rašīd-al-Dīn, Jāmeʿ al-tawārīḵ, ed. E. Blochet, II, pp. 168-80.
W. Barthold, Four Studies, ed. V. Minorsky, I, Leiden, 1956.
Idem, Turkestan3, pp. 491-93.
W. Barthold and J. A. Boyle, “Burāḳ Khān,” in EI2 I, pp. 1311f.
Spuler, Mongolen 4, index.
Idem, “Mittelasien,” in HO I/V, 5, 1966, pp. 213f.
Originally Published: December 15, 1989
Last Updated: December 15, 1989
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Vol. IV, Fasc. 4, pp. 366-367