JOČI (in Persian and Turkic also Tuši, Duši, ca. 1184-1227), the eldest son of Čengiz Khan (d. 1227, q.v.) and the ancestor of the khans of the Golden Horde (q.v., the westernmost Mongolian khanate), as well as of the khans of its successor states (the khanates of Crimea, Kazan, and Astrakhan) and its successor peoples, such as Uzbeks, Kazakhs, and Tatars.

Joči was born around 1184, approximately nine months after his mother, Čengiz Khan’s wife, Börte, had been kidnapped by the Merkid tribesmen. While Čengiz Khan always treated Joči as a legitimate son, doubts about his paternity, reflected even in his name (in Mongolian, joči means visitor, unexpected guest), haunted Joči and were among the reasons that prevented him from succeeding his father. His relations with Čaḡadai (d. 1241), Čengiz Khan’s second son and the presumed heir should Joči be disowned, were particularly strained (de Rachewilz, I, pp. 184-88, par. 254-55).

Joči might have taken part in his father’s battles to unify Mongolia (Desmaisons, p. 89), but his first independent campaign was the submission of the forest people of Siberia in 1207. Proud of his son’s success, Čengiz Khan gave him the territory of the forest people, thereby making the Irtish River the center of his appanage (de Rachewilz, I, pp. 163-65, par. 239). Later on, Joči campaigned, together with his brothers, against the Jin dynasty in northern China, Inner Mongolia, and Shanxi in the autumn of 1211, and then in Hebei and Henan in the autumn of 1213 (Rašid-al-Din, ed. Karimi, I, pp. 322, 325; Rašid-al-Din, tr. Thackston, I, pp. 215, 219; Song Lian, I, pp. 15, 17). In 1216-17 Joči was sent to fight against the rebellious remnants of the Merkid tribe. On the way back, after having subjugated them (or perhaps about a year later, when he was chasing Gü-chülüg, the Naiman prince who headed the Qara Khitay empire), Joči’s troops seem to have encountered the forces of the Khwarazmshah ʿAlāʾ-al-Din Moḥammad b. Tekeš (r. 1200-20). Having not been ordered to fight the enemy, the Mongol army retreated after a few skirmishes, an event which may account for the Khwarazmshah’s haughty attitude towards Čengiz Khan’s envoys, which paved the way to future atrocities of the Mongols (Rašid-al-Din, tr. Thackston, I, p. 53; Jovayni, ed. Qazvini, I, p. 31; Jovayni, tr. Boyle, I, p. 69; Nasawi, pp. 51-53). In 1218-19 Joči was sent to quell the rebellion of the forest people, and he subjugated them and the Qirghiz on the Yenisei River (de Rachewilz, I, p. 164, par. 239; Rašid-al-Din, ed. Karimi, I, pp. 83-84; Rašid-al-Din, tr. Thackston, I, p. 59). Despite these successes, when Čengiz Khan elected his heir on the eve of his departure to Khwarazm (see CHORASMIA), he preferred his third son Ögedei (d. 1241) over the two eldest sons, Joči and Čaḡadai, both of whom accepted their father’s choice (de Rachewilz, I, p. 187, par. 254-55).

Joči played an important role in Čengiz Khan’s campaign against Khwarazm. In 1219-20, Joči commanded the Mongol right flank that was sent down the Jaxartes (Syr Daryā) River to the towns at its lower course (such as Jand and Yanjikent) and against the Qangli who resided to the north of the Aral Sea and were close allies of Khwarazm. The campaign lasted until spring 1221, when Joči had to quell a rebellion on the upper Jaxartes (Jovayni, ed. Qazwini, I, pp. 64 ff.; Jovayni, tr. Boyle, I, pp. 83 ff.; Song Lian, I, p. 21; Rašid-al-Din, ed. Karimi, I, pp. 354-55; Rašid-al-Din, tr. Thackston, II, p. 242). After the uprising was suppressed, Čengiz Khan ordered Joči to join Čaḡadai in attacking Urgenč, the capital of Khwarazm. The initial attack failed partly due to the tension between Joči and Čaḡadai, but with Ögedei coming to lead the attack and pacify his brothers, the city fell in late 1221. Khwarazm then became part of Joči’s appanage, and he appointed bāsqāqs (governors) to administer it (Jovayni, ed. Qazwini, II, p. 282; Jovayni, tr. Boyle, II, p. 482; Rašid-al-Din, ed. Karimi, I, pp. 371-74, 522; Rašid-al-Din, tr. Thackston, II, pp. 253-55, 359; Nasawi, pp. 170-73).

After the fall of Khwarazm, Joči returned to the north and was ordered to begin the conquest of the lands of the Pontic steppe, namely to fight against the Qepčāqs, Alans, Bulghar, and Rus. However, instead of going westward as his father demanded, Joči moved eastward into the Qangli domain and drifted further east towards his main camp on the Irtish River, occupying himself with hunting, his favorite pastime. Yet, he retained a substantial body of his troops in the vicinity of the eastern Qepčāqs. These troops seem to have successfully fought the Qep-čāqs, imprisoning many of them, but the area was never submitted completely to the Mongols at this stage (Allsen, pp. 10-14). In 1223 Joči apparently joined his father and brothers in Qulān Bāši near Samarqand, bringing wild asses from the Qepčāq steppe and many horses, thereby strengthening his reputation as the family’s best hunter (Jovayni, ed. Qazvini, I, pp. 110-11; Jovayni, tr. Boyle, I, p. 140). After a big hunt, the other sons of Čengiz Khan returned eastward, but Joči retired back to his appanage. There is no confirmation to Juzjāni’s statement that Joči, opposed to his father’s destructive policies and identifying himself with the Muslim population under his realm, planned a mutiny against his father, or that the furious Čengiz Khan poisoned his eldest son, but Joči’s leisurely approach to his commission of conquest seemed to have greatly angered his father (Juzjāni, II, p. 150; Rašid-al-Din, ed. Karimi, I, pp. 513, 522-23; Rašid-al-Din, tr. Thackston, II, pp. 352, 359-60). A complete break between the two was averted only by the premature death of Joči in 1227, a few months before that of Čengiz Khan himself. After his death Joči received the title ulus-idi (master of the realm; Jovayni, ed. Qazvini, I, pp. 66-67; Jovayni, tr. Boyle, I, pp. 86 ff.; Boyle, 1956, 148-52). (Rašid-al-Din, ed. Karimi, I, pp. 354-55; Rašid-al-Din, tr. Thackston, II, p. 242).

Joči’s appanage was defined by Jovayni as stretching from the borders of Qayaliq (in modern Kazakhstan) and Khwarazm in the east to the remotest parts of Saqsin and Bulghar on the Volga River in the west, and “from that side as far as the hoof of Tatar horse had advanced” (Jovayni, ed. Qazvini, I, p. 31; Jovayni, tr. Boyle, I, p. 42). According to the Jočid point of view, these territories also included Arrān and Azerbaijan, and perhaps more territories in Khorasan and northern Persia; indeed, in Ögedei’s (r. 1229-41) and Möngke’s (r. 1251-59) time, Joči’s descendants seemed to have enjoyed a special position in Persia and Azerbaijan (Waṣṣāf, p. 50; ʿOmari, p. 15; ʿOmari, tr. Lech, p. 100; Juzjāni, II, p. 176; Jackson, pp. 212-16). After 1260 Persia and Azerbaijan became the core territories of the Il-khanids (q.v.), the Mongol dynasty established by Joči’s nephew Hülegü (Hulāgu, r. 1256-65, q.v.), and the territorial dispute over these regions became a major bone of contention between the Jočids and the Il-khanids. It created a rivalry that ended only with the fall of the Il-khanids in 1335, and was later revived by Timur (1336-1405, q.v.).

Although a few later authors manipulated Joči’s biography to legitimize their claim for ruling over a part of the Uzbek territories (Ḵᵛārazmi and Āḡāʾi, p. 85; Bregel, pp. 381-97), all in all, Joči remained a rather shadowy figure in the sources. Some of his descendants, such as his sons Bātu (the conqueror of Europe, d. 1255?), Berke (the first Mongol prince to adopt Islam, r. 1257-67), and Šibān (the ancestor of the Uzbeks), as well as Joči’s descendant in the 5th generation Moḥammad Özbeg (r. 1313-41), whose conversion to Islam led to the Islamization of the Golden Horde (see DeWeese, pp. 67-158), received much more attention than Joči in both Muslim sources and modern research literature on the Golden Horde.



Sources. P. I. Desmaisons, ed. and tr., Histoire des Mongols et des Tatares par Aboul-Ghazi Behâdour Khân, souverain de Kharezm et historien Djaghataï, 1603-1644 A.D., 2 vols., St. Petersburg, 1871; repr. St. Leonards, 1970, Amsterdam, 1970, Frankfurt am Main, 1994.

ʿAlāʾ-al-Din ʿAṭā-Malek Jovayni, Tāriḵ-e jahāngošā, ed. M. M. Qazvini, 3 vols., Leiden and London, 1906-37; tr. J. A. Boyle as The History of the World Conqueror, 2 vols., Manchester, 1958; repr. 1997.

Menhāj-al-Din ʿOṯmān b. Serāj-al-Din Moḥammad Juzjāni, Ṭabaqāt-e Nāṣeri, ed. ʿA. Ḥabibi, 2 vols., 2nd ed., Kabul, 1963-64.

Šir-Moḥammad Mirāb Moʾnes Ḵᵛārazmi and Moḥammad-Reżā Mirāb Āḡāʾi, Ferdows al-eqbāl, tr. and annot. Y. Bregel as Firdaws al-iqbal: History of Khorezm, Leiden, 1999.

Moḥammad b. Aḥmad Nasawi, Sirat al-solṭān Jalāl-al-Din Mankuberti, ed. A. Ḥ. Ḥāfeẓ, Cairo, 1935 and 1953.

Šehāb-al-Din Aḥmad b. Fażl-Allāh ʿOmari, Masālek al-abṣār fi al-mamālek al-amṣār, ed. S. A. Foʾād, Cairo, 1985; ed. and tr. K. Lech as Das Mongolische Weltreich: al-ʿUmarī’s Darstellung der mongolischen Reiche in seinem Werk Masālik al-abṣār fī al-mamālik al-amṣār, Wiesbaden, 1968.

I. de Rachewiltz, tr., The Secret History of the Mongols: a Mongolian Epic Chronicle of the Thirteenth Century, 2 vols., Leiden and Boston, 2004.

Rašid-al-Din Fażl-Allāh, Jāmeʿ al-tawāriḵ, ed. B. Karimi, 2 vols., Tehran, 1959; tr. W. M. Thackston as Rashiduddin Fazlullah’s Jamiʿut-tawarikh: Compendium of Chronicles, 3 vols., Cambridge, Mass., 1998-99.

Song Lian, Yuan shi (The official history of the Yuan), 15 vols., Beijing, 1976.

ʿAbd-Allāh b. Fażl-Allāh Waṣṣāf, Tajzeyat al-amṣār wa tazjeyat al-aʿṣār (Ketāb-e tāriḵ-e Waṣṣāf al-Ḥażrat), Bombay, 1852-53; ed. M.-M. Eṣfahāni, 5 vols. in 1, Tehran, 1959; partial translation in Josef von Hammer-Purgstall, Geschichte Wassafs, Vienna, 1856.


Studies. Th. T. Allsen, “Prelude to the Western Campaigns: Mongol Military Operations in the Volga-Ural region in 1217-1237,” Archivum Eurasiae Medii Aevi 3, 1983, pp. 5-24.

Ch. P. Atwood, “Jochi,” in Idem, Encyclopedia of Mongolia and the Mongol Empire, New York, 2004, pp. 278-79.

V. V. Barthold, Turkestan down to the Mongol Invasion, tr. V. Minorsky, ed. C. E. Bosworth, 3rd ed., London, 1968.

J. A. Boyle, “On the Titles Given in Juvaini to Certain Mongolian Princes,” Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 19, 1956, pp. 146-54.

Idem, “Djuči,” EI2 II, 1965, p. 571. Y. Bregel, “Tribal Tradition and Ethnic History: The Early Rulers of the Qongrat according to Munis,” Asian and African Studies 16, 1982, pp. 357-98.

D. A. DeWeese, Islamization and Native Religion in the Golden Horde: Baba Tükles and Conversion to Islam in Historical and Epic Tradition, University Park, Pa., 1994.

P. B. Golden, “Tuši: The Turkic Name of Joči,” Acta Orientalia Hungarica 55, 2002, pp. 143-51.

P. Jackson, “The Dissolution of the Mongol Empire,” Central Asiatic Journal 95, 1980, pp. 481-513.

P. Pelliot, Notes sur l’histoire de la Golden Horde, Paris, 1953.

P. Ratchnevsky, Genghis Khan: His Life and Legacy, tr. Th. N. Haining, Oxford, 1991, repr. 2005.

B. Spuler, Die Goldene Horde: Die Mongolen in Russland 1223-1502, 2nd ed., Wiesbaden, 1965.

(Michal Biran)

Originally Published: June 15, 2009

Last Updated: April 17, 2012

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