TOḠA TIMUR (TOḠA TEMÜR), the last of the Mongol Il-Khans of Iran (736-754/1336-1353); his name is often given as Taḡāy Timur, but the final ‘y’ never appears on his coins (Album, 1984, p. 94).  Descended in the sixth generation from Joči Qasar, a younger brother of Čengiz Khan, he emerged from obscurity in the upheavals after the death of the Il-Khan Abu Saʿid Bahādor Khan in 736/1335.  The notables of Khorasan, witnessing the chaos in Iraq and Azerbaijan and wishing to elect a khan of their own who would enforce his domination there, gathered in an assembly (which Faryumadi calls a qureltāy) at Solṭān Maydān, north of Nishapur, convened by Šayḵ ʿAli Qušči, the governor of the province.  Since they had no prince of Čengiz Khan’s progeny to hand, they summoned Toḡa Timur from Saraḵs, his family’s residence, proclaimed him khan, and enthroned him in Māzandarān in the winter of 737/1336-7 (Faryumadi, pp. 306-8).  Following Toḡa Timur’s first campaign in Iraq later that year (below), he was taken into custody by the amir Arḡun Šāh, the leader of the Jā’un-e Qorbān, who had Šayḵ ʿAli Qušči put to death.  Arḡun Šāh, however, subsequently rallied to Toḡa Timur and enthroned him a second time at Nishapur early in 739/the summer of 1338 (Faryumadi, pp. 309-10).

In order to fulfill his ambition of reuniting the fragmented Il-Khanate under his own rule, Toḡa Timur had to overcome Šayḵ Ḥasan-e Bozorg, the future founder of the Jalayerid dynasty, who was the power behind the shadow-Il-Khans in Iraq.  Advancing westwards in Šaʿbān 737/March 1337, his troops forced Šayḵ Ḥasan to withdraw into Arrān, overran much of Iraq, and even gained the alliance of Šayḵ Ḥasan’s puppet khan, Musā.  But when the two khans together confronted Šayḵ Ḥasan’s army at a locality which Ahri (p. 163) names as Soḡurloq, in mid Ḏu’l-qaʿda 737/mid-June, Toḡa Timur unaccountably took flight without striking a blow; his aim was possibly to engineer the removal of Musā, whom Šayḵ Ḥasan defeated and executed.  In Rajab 739/February-March 1339, Šayḵ Ḥasan, seeking an ally against his rival, the Chobanid Ḥasan-e Kuček, in turn offered his support to Toḡa Timur, who again moved west as far as ʿErāq-e ʿAjam.  Ḥasan-e Kuček, however, kindled Šayḵ Ḥasan-e Bozorg’s distrust of Toḡa Timur by divulging a letter in which the khan expressed his readiness to marry the Chobanids’ candidate, Sati Bik (Sati Beg), so that Toḡa Timur, with both Ḥasans ranged against him, was obliged to withdraw in the summer (Ḥāfeẓ-e Abru, Ḏayl, pp. 206-7).  This was his last attempt to obtain recognition in the western regions of the Il-Khanate, even though Šayḵ Ḥasan-e Bozorg, after briefly experimenting with another candidate, Jahān Timur, struck coins in Toḡa Timur’s name in Iraq and Ḵuzestān from 741/1340 until 743/1342-3 (Album, 1984, pp. 95, 97-98).  Otherwise, for the rest of his reign the khan’s authority was restricted to Khorasan and Māzandarān, with Astarābād as his power-base.

In the east a very different and far more dangerous enemy had arisen (736/1336) in the shape of the Sarbedārs, a popular movement in all likelihood provoked by years of heavy taxation of the province, which had been further exacerbated by Toḡa Timur’s own military adventures.  Initially they acknowledged Toḡa Timur’s sovereignty, but they subsequently aroused his enmity by attacking his ally Arḡun Šāh.  The khan repeatedly moved against them; on one occasion, in an engagement near Bayhaq, probably in 742/1341-2, his army was routed, and his brother, ʿAli Kā’un (Ke’ün), was killed.  Over the next few years the Sarbedārs, after transferring their nominal allegiance for a time to Ḥasan-e Kuček and his puppet khan Solaymān, suffered a number of defeats and periodically recognized Toḡa Timur.  On the other hand, the khan suffered the defection of Moʿezz al-Din Ḥosayn, the Kartid ruler of Herat, and of the Jā’un-e Qorbān; but although his authority was thereby greatly circumscribed, he still presided over a force totaling 50,000 Turco-Mongol horsemen, according to Ebn Baṭṭuṭa (III, p. 70; tr. Gibb, III, p. 578).  He thus remained a threat to the Sarbedārs, whose leader, Yaḥyā Karāwi, resolved to eliminate him.  In Ḏu’l-qaʿda 754/November-December 1353, at the head of a band of 300 men, Karāwi arrived in the khan’s camp as if to renew his allegiance and gained access to Toḡa Timur’s tent with just three of his followers.  The khan was treacherously struck down, and his amirs and troops slaughtered by the rest of Karāwi’s force (Faryumadi, pp. 328-9; Ḥāfeẓ-e Abru, Cinq opuscules, pp. 6-8).

A contemporary poet dismisses Toḡa Timur as stupid (Aubin, 1991, p. 191).  Faryumadi’s more favorable verdict (p. 327) is that, despite the turbulence that characterized his reign even in Khorasan and his failure to establish himself in the west, he was a just monarch and one worthy to rule as a successor of Čengiz Khan and that in his time the people of Māzandarān, at least, enjoyed comfort and ease.  It is uncertain how easily this can be reconciled with his alleged desire to restore the observance of Mongol law (Naṭanzi, p. 145).  Although no further members of the dynasty would be recognized as Il-Khan, Toḡa Timur’s son Loqmān, who had escaped death at the hands of the Sarbedārs, later sought the aid of Timur-e Lang and was by him appointed governor of Astarābād in 786/1384. 


Ḥāfeẓ-e Abru, Ḏayl-e Jāmeʿ al-tawāriḵ, ed. Ḵānbābā Bayāni, 2nd ed., Tehran, 1350/1971, pp. 199-201, 205-7.

Idem, Majmuʿa, partially ed. F. Tauer as Cinq opuscules de Ḥāfiẓ-i Abrū concernant l’histoire de l’Iran au temps de Tamerlan, Prague, 1959, pp. 5-8, 23-4.

Abu Bakr Qoṭbi al-Ahri, Tāriḵ-e Šayḵ Oways, ed. and tr. J. B. Van Loon, The Hague, 1954, text pp. 163-64, 166-68.

S. Album, “Studies in Ilkhanid History and Numismatics, I.  A Late Ilkhanid Hoard (743/1342),” Studia Iranica 13/1, 1984, pp. 49-116.

J. Aubin, “Le quriltai de Sultân-Maydân (1336),” JA 279/1, 1991, pp. 175-97.

J. A. Boyle, “Dynastic and Political History of the Īl-Khāns,” in The Cambridge History of Iran V. The Saljuq and Mongol Periods, Cambridge, 1968, pp. 303-421.

Faryumadi, Ḏayl to Šabānkāra’i’s Majmaʿ al-ansāb, ed. Mir Ḥāšem Moḥaddeṯ, Tehran, 1363/1984, pp. 306-11, 327-29.

P. Jackson, “Togha Temür,” in EI2 X, 2000, p. 552.

Moʿin al-Din Naṭanzi, ed. J. Aubin, Extraits du Muntakhab al-tavarikh-i Mu’ini, Tehran, 1336/1957.

H. R. Roemer, “The Jalayirids, Muzaffarids and Sarbadārs,” in The Cambridge History of Iran VI: The Timurid and Safavid Periods, Cambridge, 1986, pp. 1-41.

J. Masson Smith, Jr., The History of the Sarbadār Dynasty, 1336-1381 A.D., and Its Sources, The Hague and Paris, 1970; index s.v. ‘Taghāytimūr’.

Bertold Spuler, Die Mongolen in Iran : Politik, Verwaltung und Kultur der Ilchanzeit 1220-1350, 4th ed., Leiden, 1985.

(Peter Jackson)

Originally Published: November 9, 2016

Last Updated: November 9, 2016

Cite this entry:

Peter Jackson, “TOḠA TIMUR,” Encyclopædia Iranica, online edition, 2016, available at (accessed on 09 November 2016).