Jaloliddin Manguberdi

Jaloliddin Manguberdi (Jalal al-Dunya wa-din Abu-l-Muzaffar Mankburni ibn Muhammad) (1199-1231) was the last Shah of Khorezmia (from 1220) and the eldest son of Ala al-Din Muhammad II and his Turkmen wife Aychichek.

Jaloliddin was nicknamed Mekburni (or Manguberdi), meaning “with a birthmark on his face”. The exact date of Jaloliddin’s birth is not known, but it is assumed that he was born in 1198.

At the influential insistence of his grandmother Turkan-Khatyn, a Kipchak queen respected at the court of Gurgandj, Jaloliddin’s younger brother Uzlaghan was appointed heir to the throne, contrary to existing traditions. Jaloliddin grew up in a military environment and learned the skills of a warrior at an early age. He was ruler of Ghazna (today Afghanistan), but his father feared a plot and kept his son with him in Gurganj. The young Jaloliddin tried to break out across the border, where there were endless battles with external enemies.

When Jaloliddin Manguberdi learned of Genghis Khan’s planned attack, he asked his father to raise troops at Syr Darya and confront the enemy there, but his father was convinced that the defensive walls and fortresses would prevent the enemy from entering the country and did not raise troops. The Mongols conquered the cities in no time. First Bukhara was conquered in 1220, then Samarkand, and Muhammad had to retreat to the west after a series of unsuccessful battles. According to legend, Muhammad walked onto the Caspian Sea and, gravely ill, summoned three sons and declared Jaloliddin heir to the throne, hung the sword on his belt, called the younger sons to obedience. After Muhammad’s death, Jalal al-Din succeeded to the throne, but the nobility of Gurganja did not recognise the new ruler despite the support of the people.

Jaloliddin gathered an army of three hundred loyal Turkmen jigits and moved to Khorasan. In the area of Nisa they met a Mongol detachment of seven hundred men and defeated them easily. This small victory inspired the people of Khorasan to resist the Mongol invaders and forced Genghis Khan to send an army to Khorezmia and Khorasan, which met the army of Jaloliddin’s younger brothers and brutally massacred them.

On the way to his hereditary province, Jaloliddin found allies in the person of the governor of Merv, Khan Malik, with his forty thousand men, and the Turkmen Khan Seif ad-Din, also with forty thousand men. Near Kandahar, the combined forces defeated the Mongols and Jaloliddin reached Ghazna.

At the headwaters of the Murghab, he was joined by Khan Malik, the former governor of Merv, and Seif ad-Din, a Turkmen Khan. Arriving in Ghazni, Jaloliddin soon assembled a force of ten thousand men, attacked and crushed the Mongol command besieging Kandahar. When the commanders of the defeated Khorezm units learned of their ruler’s successes, they began to assemble in Ghazni, and soon there were some 70,000 soldiers under Jaloliddin. His cousin Amin al-Mulk, the commander Temur Malik, the Khan of the Karluks Azam Malik and the leader of the Afghans Muzaffar Malik came under his leadership. Genghis Khan, who was not yet familiar with the forces of the Khorezm Shah, sent a 30,000-strong army under the command of Shigi Kutuku against him.

Battle of Parwan

In the spring, Jaloliddin’s advancing army met Shigi Kutuku’s advance troops near the village of Valian on the Gori River. The Mongol unit was almost completely wiped out: only a hundred warriors survived. Jaloliddin then went to the gorge, where he waited for the battle. Shigi Kutuku moved his entire army to this place. The two armies met in a rocky gorge enclosed by steep cliffs. The terrain was unfavourable for cavalry and both sides had to refrain from manoeuvring. Jaloliddin ordered Temurmalik to advance with foot archers. Shigi Kutuku held out on the first day, although the Khorezmians, who had discovered the enemy’s weak point, climbed the cliffs and fired on the Mongols from above, inflicting heavy damage on the Mongol army.

The next morning, Jaloliddin’s warriors looked across the gorge and saw that the Mongol army had grown in numbers. Shigi Kutuku had in fact ordered that straw figures wrapped in rags be placed on spare horses. Khorezmshah reassured his commanders and ordered the entire first line of his army to be dismounted. The Mongol attack on the enemy’s left wing ran into a hail of arrows. Shigi then ordered Kutuku to attack the enemy on the entire front. However, the hail of arrows and the rocky terrain prevented the Mongols from succeeding. Jaloliddin put his warriors in the saddle and launched a counterattack. The Mongols were surprised and fled. The warriors of Khoresmshah attacked the retreating enemy and Shigi Kutuku lost half his army. Many scholars note that the defeat of the Mongol forces under Parvan was the only major defeat for the Mongols during their entire military operations in Central Asia, Iran and Afghanistan during Genghis Khan’s campaign to the west.

Jaloliddin enjoyed support not only among the warriors but also among the population as a just and legitimate ruler. After their defeat at Parwan, the Mongols left the territory of Afghanistan. Genghis Khan himself then decided to engage in a new battle with Khorezmshah. But disagreements arose among the commanders who supported Jaloliddin, and the Kipchaks, Karluks and Afghans left Jaloliddin just as he was preparing for an important battle with Genghis Khan.

After the defeat of the Mongols at Parvan, Genghis Khan himself moved to Jaloliddin at the head of the main force. On 9 December 1221, he caught up with him on the banks of the Ind River. Khorezmshah built an army in the shape of a crescent with both flanks in the river. The Mongols attacked the flanks, which were soon defeated. The centre tried to break through but most of the warriors were destroyed. Jaloliddin ordered his harem to be drowned in the river, and then threw himself and his horse off a great cliff into the waters of the Indus to avoid capture. The Shah of Khwarezm managed to reach the other bank of the Indus with 4,000 horsemen and even threatened the Mongols with his sword. In the battle, Jaloliddin’s family was captured and executed, and he himself went to India. Legend has it that Genghis Khan, who admired the young sultan’s courage, said to his sons: “Such a father should have a son. Genghis Khan sent a force led by the Temniks Balo-Noyon and Durban to pursue him. But when they reached the city of Multan, the Mongols lost track of the sultan.

The local Indian Rana from the Shatra district in the Jude Mountains, who had learned of Jaloliddin’s appearance with the remnants of his army, gathered 5,000 infantrymen and 1,000 horsemen and marched against him. Suddenly Jaloliddin himself attacked the enemy. He personally shot the wounded man, whose troops fled after a short fight. Jaloliddin spent three years before 1224 in India, campaigning in Iran and Mesopotamia and conquering large areas. For four years, Jaloliddin fought in India against the Mongols.

He assembled a new army of Turkmen and moved from western Iran to the Caucasus. In 1225, Jaloliddin invaded northern Iran from the south. After capturing Maraga, which offered no serious resistance, the Sultan moved to Tabriz and captured the city. Atabek Uzbek fled to Hanzak and from there to the impregnable fortress of Alindja, where he died. In a short time, Ganja, Barda, Shamkir and other cities of Arran recognised the power of Jaloliddin. In 1225, Jaloliddin’s troops occupied part of Georgia and Armenia. On 8 August 1225, a battle took place between the Georgian-Armenian army and the army of the Jaloliddin near the town of Dvin in eastern Armenia, which went down in history as the Battle of Garni. Khorezmshah was victorious in this battle. In 1226, he conquered the Georgian capital of Tbilisi, where Khorezmshah destroyed all the churches and sacked the Georgian capital of Tbilisi. Only the inhabitants of Tbilisi who had converted to Islam survived. During the conquest of Eastern Transcaucasia by Jalol ad-Din, the Ildeghizid state collapsed. The Shirvanshahs also recognised themselves as vassals of Jaloladdin.

In 1227, Jaloliddin defeated the Mongol forces near Ray. In the same year, the Khorezmshah, called to the aid of the people of Isfahan, won the battle against the Mongols near the city of Isfahan. Jaloliddin fought on two fronts simultaneously: against Mongol troops in western Iran and against Armenians and Georgians in Transcaucasia. In 1228, however, the Rum Sultan Aladdin, the Cilician-Armenian King Getum I and the Egyptian Sultan Ashraf allied against Khorezmshakh. The troops of Khorezmshakh could not withstand this onslaught and were defeated.

Jaloliddin Manguberdi sent a letter to the Kipchak Khans offering to unite and resist the Mongol conqueror, and received a letter in reply from his sister, who had been captured by Genghis Khan’s son Jochi in 1220 and had a child by him. In the letter, she tried to persuade Jaloliddin to cooperate with the Mongols, who offered him possessions near the Amu Darya River. However, Jaloliddin did not reply to this letter.

Jaloliddin offered desperate resistance to his enemies. After capturing the fortress of Hilat in Iraq in 1230, he was defeated by the united rulers of Mesopotamia and Asia Minor. The final defeat of Jaloliddin’s army was suffered by the Mongol force of Ugedei led by Commander Charmaghan. Jaloliddin was seriously wounded in the battle and then tried to hide in the mountains of Kurdistan, where he was killed.

Jaloliddin Manguberdi is one of the “national heroes”. In 1999, his 800th birthday was celebrated in a big way. Several monuments were erected to him in Uzbekistan, and a memorial complex was built in the Khorezm region in honour of Jaloliddin Manguberdi.

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