Töregene Khatun

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Töregene Khatun
Töregene Khatun coin.png
A coin probably made in Caucasia during the reign of Töregene Khatun
Regent of Mongol Empire
Regency1242–1246
PredecessorÖgedei
SuccessorGüyük
Khatun of Mongols
Tenure1241–1246
PredecessorMöge Khatun
SuccessorOghul Qaimish
Died1246
SpouseDayir Usun
Ögedei
IssueGüyük
Godan Khan
Posthumous name
Empress Zhaoci (昭慈皇后)
HouseNaiman by birth
Borjigin by marriage

Töregene Khatun (also Turakina, Mongolian: Дөргөнэ, ᠲᠥᠷᠡᠭᠡᠨᠡ) (d. 1246) was the Great Khatun and regent of the Mongol Empire from the death of her husband Ögedei Khan in 1241 until her oldest son Güyük Khan became the Great Khatun in 1246.

Background[change | change source]

Töregene was from the Naiman tribe. Her first husband was a part of the Merkit clan. Some people say that his name was Qudu (d. 1217), son of Toqto'a Beki of the Merkits.[1][2] However, Rashid-al-Din Hamadani called her first husband as Dayir Usun of the Merkits.[3] When Genghis conquered the Merkits in 1204, he gave Töregene to Ögedei as his second wife. While Ögedei's first wife Boraqchin had no sons, Töregene gave birth to five sons, Güyük, Kötän, Köchü, Qarachar, and Qashi (father of Kaidu).

She became more important than all of Ögedei's wives and slowly became a more powerful person in court. But Töregene still did not like Ögedei's officials and the rules of the government being managed more by the ruler and lowering tax. Töregene paid for the reprinting of the Taoist canon in North China.[4] Through the power of Töregene, Ögedei made Abd-ur-Rahman a tax farmer in China.

Great Khatun of the Mongol Empire[change | change source]

After Ögedei died in 1241, power first passed to Möge Khatun, one of Ögedei's widows and one of Genghis Khan's wives before that. With the help of Chagatai and her sons, Töregene took complete power as regent in spring 1242 as Great Khatun[5] and removed her old husband's ministers and made new people she liked ministers, the most important of whom was Fatima, a Tajik or Persian woman who was a prisoner of war from the Middle Eastern campaign. She was a Shiite Muslim who was moved from the city of Meshed to Mongolia even though she did not want to.

She tried to put some of Ögedei's main officials in jail. Her husband's chief secretary, Chinqai, and another important person in the government, Mahmud Yalavach went to her son Koden in North China while an important Turkestani, Masud Begh, ran to Batu Khan in Russia. In Iran, Töregene put Korguz in jail and handed over him to the wife of Chagatai, whose husband was dead, and Korguz he had not agreed with Chagati. The Chagatayid Khan Qara Hülëgü killed him. Töregene made Arghun Aqa of the Oirat as governor in Persia.

She made Abd-ur-Rahman ruler in North China, and Fatima became even more powerful at the Mongol court. This made the rich Mongols into ask for a lot of money for their work.

Role in Mongol conquests[change | change source]

Töregene was friends with Ögedei's commanders in China. The fighting between the Mongols and the Song soldiers was in Chengdu. Töregene sent people to make peace, but Song put them in prison.[6] The Mongols put Hangzhou in prison and attacked Sichuan in 1242. She then told Zhang Rou and Chagaan (Tsagaan) to attack the Song Dynasty. When they attacked the Song territory, the Song court sent somebody to ceasefire. Chagaan and Zhang Rou went north back to their homes after the Mongols accepted the term.[7]


During the reign of Ögedei, the Seljuks of Rum wanted friendship and gave money Chormaqan every year.[8] Under Kaykhusraw II, however, the Mongols began to pressure the Sultan to go to Mongolia himself, give people whom he put in jail, and accept a Mongol darughachi. Mongol raids began in 1240. The Seljuk Sultan Kaykhusraw made a large army to meet them. The king of Cilician Armenia was required to give 1400 lances and the Greek Emperor of Nicaea 400 lances. Both rulers met the Sultan in Kayseri to talk. The Grand Komnenos of Trebizond gave 200 lances, while the young Ayyubid prince of Aleppo gave 1000 horsemen.[9]In addition to these, Kaykhusraw told the Seljuq army and Turkmen cavalry, though both had been weakened by the Baba Ishak rebellion. However, Baiju and his Georgian helpers defeated them at the battle of Köse Dağ in 1243. After that battle, the Sultanate of Rum, the Empire of Trebizond and the Lesser Armenia quickly declared their allegiance one by one to the Mongol Empire ruled by Töregene Khatun.

The Mongol troops under general Baiju probed the forces of Abbasid Iraq and Ayubid ruled Syria in 1244–46.

Güyük's coronation[change | change source]

She was an powerful person in a society that was usually led only by men. She was able to control the many powers within the empire, and even within the family of Genghis Khan, over a 5-year period in which she not only ruled the empire, but helped her son Güyük as Great Khan become ruler. During Töregene's reign, people arrived from the far away parts of the empire to her capital at Karakorum or to her moving imperial camp. The Seljuk sultan came from Turkey—as did people from the Caliph of Abbasid in Baghdad. So did two people wanting the throne of Georgia: David Ulu, the son of the old king that could not legally take the throne—and David Narin, the son of the same king who could. The highest-ranking European was Alexander Nevsky's father, Grand Prince Yaroslav Vsevolodovich of Vladimir and Suzdal, who died just after eating dinner with Töregene Khatun.

The Mongols did polygamy, meaning they married many people each. Ögedei Khan's favorite son was Kochu, who was his son but not Töregene's, rather another wife of his. He had chose Kochu's son Siremun to become ruler after him because his father suddenly died in China in 1237. But some sources say that Khoch was a son of Töregene and she did not want Shiremun to succeed.[1] Töregene did not agree the choice in favor of Güyük, but despite the huge influence she had on him, she was not able to make Ögedei to change his mind. She did what she wanted through clever planning and trickery. When the lesser Khans made her regent after her husband died, she gave her favorite people high positions in the imperial household and started what was a good plan to make her son Güyük become ruler. When Temüge Otchigen, the youngest brother of Genghis, made an army and tried to take the throne, though he did not, Güyük quickly came to meet him. Töregene managed to keep a Kurultai from happening until it was sure her son Güyük was liked by the most people. Töregene gave power onto her son Güyük in 1246. She retired west to Ögedei's appanage on the Emil.

Despite her planning in making sure Güyük's election as Khagan, the relationship between Töregene and her son eventually became bad. Güyük's brother Koden said Fatima was using witchcraft to make him sick; when Koden died a few months later, Güyük continuously said that his mother let Fatima be killed. Töregene threatened her son Güyük that she would commit suicide to spite him. Güyük's men took Fatima and killed her by sewing up her nose, mouth and ears and drowning her; People who helped or liked Töregene in the imperial household were also killed.[10] After 18 months of Fatima's death, Töregene herself died because of unknown reasons. She was later called Empress Zhaoci (Chinese: 昭慈皇后; literally: "Brilliant kind empress") after her death by Kublai in 1265-1266.[11]

In popular media[change | change source]

References[change | change source]

Citations[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 C.P. Atwood Encyclopedia of Mongolia and the Mongol Empire, p. 544
  2. Broadbridge, Anne F., ed. (2018), "Töregene", Women and the Making of the Mongol Empire, Cambridge Studies in Islamic Civilization, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 164–194, doi:10.1017/9781108347990.007, ISBN 978-1-108-44100-1, retrieved 2021-02-01
  3. Fazlullah, Rashiduddin (1998). Jami`u't-tawarikh: Compendium of Chronicles (A History of the Mongols). Harvard University. p. 53.
  4. Australian National University. Institute of Advanced Studies East Asian History, p. 75
  5. The journey of William of Rubruck to the eastern parts of the world, 1253–55, p. 62
  6. Jeremiah Curtin The Mongols A History, p. 343
  7. J. Bor Mongol hiiged Eurasiin diplomat shastir, vol. II, p. 224
  8. C.P. Atwood Encyclopedia of Mongolia and the Mongol Empire, p. 555
  9. Simon de Saint-Quentin, Histoire des Tartares, xxxi. 143–44.
  10. Man, John (2006). Kublai Khan: From Xanadu to Superpower. London: Bantam Books. pp. 76–77. ISBN 978-0553817188.
  11. "Book of Yuan". www.guoxue.com (in Chinese). Archived from the original on 2011. Retrieved 2021-02-01.

Sources[change | change source]