BEGTUZUN, Pers. Baktūzūn (tuzun being from the Orkhon Turkish tōḏun, a title of high military rank in the Gök Turkish empire, see G. Clauson, An Etymological Dictionary of Pre-Thirteenth Century Turkish, Oxford, 1972, pp. 350-51), a Turkish slave general of the Samanids prominent in the confused struggles for power during the closing years of the Samanid amirate (end of the 4th/10th century). Already influential, in 396/996 he was, with the vizier ʿAbd-Allāh b. Moḥammad b. ʿOzayr, a mainstay of Nūḥ II b. Manṣūr I b. Nūḥ I’s power in Bukhara. Then in the next year, after that amir’s death, he became supreme commander (ḥājeb-e bozorg) of the army in Khorasan in succession to Maḥmūd b. Sebüktigin, who had been obliged to relinquish control there in order to wrest control of Ḡazna from his brother Esmāʿīl on his father’s death in 387/997. Begtuzun defeated his rival Fāʾeq Ḵāṣṣa in 388/998, but the two generals, feeling threatened by the new amir Manṣūr II b. Nūḥ II’s approaches to Maḥmūd, deposed the amir in 389/999 in favor of his brother ʿAbd-al-Malek. Maḥmūd was temporarily compelled, from military inferiority, to recognize Begtuzun’s control of Khorasan, but later in that year defeated the united forces of ʿAbd-al-Malek, Begtuzun, and other Turkish commanders, thereby acquiring control of Khorasan, while Begtuzun fell into the hands of the Qarakhanids or Ilig Khans, who marched into Bukhara from the north and overthrew Samanid power there; Begtuzun is no more heard of and presumably died at their hands.
The primary sources for these events in Khorasan and Transoxania are Abū Naṣr Moḥammad ʿOtbī, al-Taʾrīḵ al-yamīnī, with commentary of Aḥmad Manīnī, Cairo, 1286/1869; Gardīzī, Zayn al-aḵbār; Ebn al-Aṯīr, Kāmel, years 387-89; with a few extra details in Helāl b. Moḥassen Ṣābeʾ, Taʾrīḵ, years 389-890 in Margoliouth and Amedroz, Eclipse III. These sources are utilized in Barthold, Turkestan3, pp. 264-68; M. Nāẓim, The Life and Times of Sulṭān Maḥmūd of Ghazna, Cambridge, 1931, pp. 42-45; Bosworth, Ghaznavids, pp. 45-46.
(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