GAYḴĀTŪ KHAN, fifth Mongol Il-khan of Persia (690-94/1291-95); his coins also bear the name Īrinjīn Dūrjī (Tibetan Rin-chen rDo-rje “Jewel Diamond”) bestowed upon him by Buddhist lamas. He was the son of the Il-khan Abaqa (q.v.) by Nūqdān Ḵātūn of the Tatar tribe; the date of his birth, which is garbled by Rašīd-al-Dīn (p. 230), is unknown. On the accession of his brother Arḡūn (q.v.) in 683/1284, Gayḵātū was sent to govern Anatolia (Rūm). After Arḡūn’s death in 690/1291, his candidature carried the day against his nephew Ḡāzān (q.v.) and his cousin Bāydū (q.v.), who had initially enjoyed majority support, and he was enthroned near Aḵlāṭ on 24 Rajab 690/23 July 1291. A second enthronement at Alātāḡ on 12 Rajab 691/29 June 1292 (Rašīd-al-Dīn, p. 236) possibly signals the arrival of confirmation from Gayḵātū’s nominal suzerain, the great khan Qubilai in China.
In external relations, the reign was undistinguished. Gayḵātū’s relieving force arrived too late to prevent Qalʿat-al-Rūm from falling to the Mamlūk Sultan Ašraf Ḵalīl in June 1292, though the Mamluks did not follow up their victory and there were no further hostilities with them during the reign. Peace overtures were received from another enemy, Toqtaʾa, khan of the Golden Horde (q.v.), in the spring of 693/1294 (Rašīd-al-Dīn, pp. 238-39).
Gayḵātū is uniformly described in the sources as an extravagant and debauched monarch, much given to sexual intercourse with the children of the Mongol nobles (continuator of Bar Hebraeus, p. 494; Tārīḵ-e Waṣṣāf, pp. 268, 275): indeed Abu’l-Fedā (pp. 18, 24) blames his overthrow exclusively on the hostility aroused by these practices. But his neglect of the government, together with his generosity and clemency, were clearly instrumental in his downfall. He was influenced by the verdict of soothsayers that Arḡūn had reigned for only seven years because he had shed so much blood (Tārīḵ-e Waṣṣāf, p. 267). The ringleaders in a conspiracy to replace him with a cousin, Anbārjī, were therefore spared: one of them, the amir Taḡāčār, was given a military command and another, Ṣadr-al-Dīn Zanjānī, became ṣāḥeb-e dīvān and vizier, acquiring unprecedented control over financial affairs (Tārīḵ-e Waṣṣāf, p. 268); it was under Ṣadr-al-Dīn’s aegis that the ill-starred experiment with paper money (see ČĀV) was made in 693/1294.
Gayḵātū’s greatest blunder was to insult Bāydū while drunk and then, out of remorse, to seek to placate him, contrary to the advice of amirs who urged him to destroy his cousin (Tārīḵ-e Waṣṣāf, pp. 275-76; continuator of Bar Hebraeus, pp. 494-95). Bāydū seized his opportunity to revolt in the winter of 694 /1294-95, killing Gayḵātū’s governor of Baghdad. Taḡāčār was sent against him, but went over to the enemy. Instead of taking refuge in his power-base in Rūm, the Il-khan made the mistake of fleeing to Ahar and Pīlsovār, where he was seized by supporters of Bāydū whom he had imprisoned in Tabrīz but who had been released on Taḡāčār’s orders. Gayḵātū was put to death on 6 Jomādā I 694/24 March 1295, apparently without Bāydū’s knowledge or approval. Of his three sons, Alāferang, who was executed in the reign of Öljeitü (Ūljāytū), was the father of the later Il-khan Jahān Temür (1339-40).
Abu’l-Fedā, al-Moḵtaṣar fī aḵbār al-bašar, tr. P. M. Holt, as The memoirs of a Syrian prince, Wiesbaden, 1983.
J. A. Boyle, “Dynastic and Political History of the Īl-Khāns” in Camb. Hist. Iran V, pp. 372-76.
Continuator of Bar Hebraeus (Ebn al-ʿEbrī), The Chronography of Gregory Abu’l Faraj, Commonly Known as Bar Hebraeus, tr. E. A. Wallis Budge, London and Oxford, 1932, I, pp. 491-500.
Rašīd-al-Dīn, Jāmeʿ al-tawārīkò III (Baku), pp. 227-45.
Spuler, Mongolen4, pp. 75-79.
Tārīḵ-e Waṣṣāf, pp. 259-79.
Originally Published: December 15, 2000
Last Updated: February 3, 2012
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Vol. X, Fasc. 4, pp. 344-345