Battle of Baghdad (1258)

Battle of Baghdad (1258)

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{{more footnotes|date=February 2011}} The '''Siege of Baghdad''', which occurred in 1258, was an [[invasion]], [[siege]] and sacking of the city of [[Baghdad]], the capital of the [[Abbasid Caliphate]] at the time and the modern-day capital of [[Iraq]], by the [[Ilkhanate]] [[Mongol]] forces along with other allied troops under [[Hulagu Khan]]. The invasion left Baghdad in a state of total destruction. Estimates of the number of inhabitants massacred during the invasion range from 100,000 to 1,000,000. The city was sacked and burned. Even the libraries of Baghdad, including the [[House of Wisdom]], were not safe from the attacks of the [[Ilkhanate]] forces, who totally destroyed the libraries and used the invaluable books to make a passage across [[Tigris|Tigris River]]{{Citation needed|date=August 2010}}. As a result, Baghdad remained depopulated and in ruins for several centuries, and the event is widely regarded as the end of the [[Islamic Golden Age]]. ==Background== [[Baghdad]] was the [[capital (political)|capital]] of the [[Abbasid Caliphate]], an [[Islamic]] state whose heart became the modern state of [[Iraq]]. The Abbasid caliphs were the second of the Islamic dynasties, having in 751 toppled the [[Umayyads]], who had ruled from the death of [[Ali]] in 661. At Baghdad's peak it had a population of approximately one million residents and was defended by an army of 60,000 soldiers. By the mid-13th century the caliphate had been long on the wane and was now a minor state; however, although its caliph was a figurehead, controlled by [[Mamluk]] or [[Turkic peoples|Turkic]] warlords, he still had great symbolic significance, and Baghdad remained a rich and cultured city. It is said that the Caliph an-Nasir li-dini’llah (r. 1180–1225) attempted to ally with Chinggis Khan and sent his envoy to [[Mongolia]] when the Turkic Shah [[Muhammad II of Khwarezm]] Dynasty threatened to attack the caliphate. There is also rumour that he sent a few crusader captives to the Mongols. According to the [[Secret History of the Mongols]], Genghis Khan and his successor, Ogedei, ordered their [[kheshig]] member, [[Chormaqan]], to invade Baghdad. In 1236, one division of the Mongol army under Chormaqan invaded Irbil, the sphere of the Caliphate. Since then, Mongol raids on Irbil and the caliphate, even down to the walls of Baghdad, became an almost annual occurrence. The armies of the caliphate defeated Mongol detachments in 1238 and 1245. Despite these successes the caliph hoped to come to terms with the Mongols, and by 1241 they were sending a rich annual tribute to the Mongols. Envoys from the caliphate were present at the coronation of [[Guyuk Khan]] in 1246 and that of [[Mongke Khan]] in 1251. Guyuk Khan insisted the Caliph fully submit and come to his court, [[Karakorum]], in person. Both Guyuk and Hulegu blamed Chormaqan's successor, [[Baiju]], for the irritated resistance of the Abbasid Caliphate. ==Composition of the besieging army== In 1257 Mongol ruler [[Möngke Khan]] resolved to establish firm imperial authority over Iraq, Syria and Persia. The Khagan sent his brother Hulegu to Iran, demanding that the caliph come to meet Hülegu personally and send troops to assist his army in reducing the Ismaili strongholds. Mongke told Hulegu that if the caliph refused, then he was to destroy Baghdad. He conscripted one out of every ten fighting men in the empire for the invasion force, knowing that Baghdad, Ismaili strongholds and Syria were large and powerful in the region. This force--by one estimate 150,000 strong--was probably the largest ever fielded by the Mongols.{{Citation needed|date=July 2009}} The caliphate rejected the Mongol demands while Hulegu was fighting busy with the Nizari Isamilis. In November of 1257, under the command of [[Hulagu]] it set out for Baghdad. Generals of this Mongol army included the Oirat administrator [[Arghun Agha]], Baiju of the [[Besud]], Buqa-Temur of the [[Oirats]], the Chinese commander [[Guo Kan]], the [[Jalayir]] general Koke Ilge, [[Kitbuqa]] of the [[Naiman]], Tutar and Quli from the [[Golden Horde]] and Sunitai of the [[Borjigin]] (thus Hulegu's brother). It also contained a large contingent of various units from Christian vassals, chief among them apparently the [[Georgians]], who were eager to avenge the sacking of their capital, [[Tiflis]], decades earlier by Jalal al-Din Khwarazmshah. Other participating Christian forces were the Armenian army, led by their king, and some Frankish troops from the [[Principality of Antioch]]. The contemporary Persian observer [[Ata al-Mulk Juvayni]] reports as participants in the siege about 1,000 Chinese artillery experts and Armenians, Georgians, Persians and Turkic soldiers.Hulegu's missile battallions formerly under the [[Barga]] commander Ambaghai used fire arrows during the invasion of Iraq. One thousand northern Chinese engineer squads accompanied the Mongol Khan Hulegu during his conquest of the Middle East. ==The Siege== {{Campaignbox Mongol invasions}} Prior to laying siege to Baghdad, Hulagu Khan easily destroyed the [[Lurs]], [[Khwarezm-Shah]]s and [[Bukhara]]. In response to the [[Mongol Invasion]]s, the [[Hashshashin|Assassins]] Grand Master of [[Alamut]] [[Imam ‘Ala al-Din Muhammad]] (1221–1255), sent his forces to assassinate [[Möngke Khan]] and [[Kitbuqa]] but both attempts were unsuccessful. [[Hulagu Khan]] and hundreds of thousands of [[Mongol]]s then began an assault on the mountains near [[Alamut]] after capturing dozens of decoy fortresses the Mongols finally sacked [[Alamut]] and executed the last Grand Master [[Imam Rukn al-Din Khurshah]] (1255–1256). [[Hulagu Khan]] and his forces were left unchallenged and began their assault upon [[Baghdad]]. Mongke Khan had ordered his brother to spare the Caliphate if it submitted to the authority of the Mongol Khanate. Upon nearing Baghdad, Hulagu demanded surrender; the caliph, [[Al-Musta'sim]], refused. By many accounts, Al-Musta'sim had failed to prepare for the onslaught; he neither gathered armies nor strengthened the city's walls. He was unwilling to surrender the city of Baghdad to the ''Non-Muslim Barbarians'' ([[Mongols]]) and believed they would slaughter the inhabitants of the city unchallenged if they were allowed to enter, he greatly offended Hulagu Khan by threats he made, and thus assured his destruction. Hulagu positioned his forces on both banks of the Tigris River, dividing them to form a pincer around the city. The caliph's army repulsed the first attack of the Mongols going before the main army and attacking from the west, but were defeated in the next battle. [[Baiju]] broke some dikes and flooded the ground behind the caliph’s vanguard army, trapping it. Thus were many troops slaughtered or drowned. The main Mongol army arrived and then laid siege to the city starting January 29, constructing a palisade and ditch, and employing siege engines and catapults. The battle was swift by siege standards: by February 5 the Mongols controlled a stretch of the wall. Al-Musta'sim begged to negotiate, but was refused. On February 10, Baghdad surrendered. The Mongols swept into the city on February 13 and began a week of massacre and destruction. ==Destruction== [[Image:HulaguInBagdad.JPG|thumb|[[Hulagu]] (left) imprisons Caliph [[Al-Musta'sim]] among his treasures to starve him to death. Medieval depiction from "Le livre des merveilles", 15th century.]] Many historical accounts detailed the cruelties of the Mongol conquerors. * The [[House of Wisdom|Grand Library of Baghdad]], containing countless precious historical documents and books on subjects ranging from medicine to astronomy, was destroyed. Survivors said that the waters of the Tigris ran black with ink from the enormous quantities of books flung into the river and red from the blood of the scientists and philosophers killed. * Citizens attempted to flee, but were intercepted by Mongol soldiers who killed with abandon. Martin Sicker writes that close to 90,000 people may have died (Sicker 2000, p. 111). Other estimates go much higher. [[Wassaf]] claims the loss of life was several hundred thousand. Ian Frazier of ''[[The New Yorker]]'' says estimates of the death toll have ranged from 200,000 to a million. * The Mongols looted and then destroyed mosques, palaces, libraries, and hospitals. Grand buildings that had been the work of generations were burned to the ground. * The caliph was captured and forced to watch as his citizens were murdered and his treasury plundered. According to most accounts, the caliph was killed by trampling. The Mongols rolled the caliph up in a rug, and rode their horses over him, as they believed that the earth was offended if touched by royal blood. All but one of his sons were killed, and the sole surviving son was sent to Mongolia, where Mongolian historians report he married and fathered children, but played no role in Islam thereafter (see [[Abbasid#The_end_of_the_dynasty|Abbasid: The end of the dynasty]]). * Hulagu had to move his camp upwind of the city, due to the stench of decay from the ruined city. Baghdad was a depopulated, ruined city for several centuries and only gradually recovered some of its former glory. ===Comments on the destruction=== :"Iraq in 1258 was very different from present day Iraq. Its agriculture was supported by canal networks thousands of years old. Baghdad was one of the most brilliant intellectual centers in the world. The Mongol destruction of Baghdad was a psychological blow from which Islam never recovered. Already Islam was turning inward, becoming more suspicious of conflicts between faith and reason and more conservative. With the sack of Baghdad, the intellectual flowering of Islam was snuffed out. Imagining the Athens of Pericles and Aristotle obliterated by a nuclear weapon begins to suggest the enormity of the blow. The Mongols filled in the irrigation canals and left Iraq too depopulated to restore them." (Steven Dutch) :"They swept through the city like hungry falcons attacking a flight of doves, or like raging wolves attacking sheep, with loose reins and shameless faces, murdering and spreading terror...beds and cushions made of gold and encrusted with jewels were cut to pieces with knives and torn to shreds. Those hiding behind the veils of the great Harem were dragged...through the streets and alleys, each of them becoming a plaything...as the population died at the hands of the invaders." (Abdullah Wassaf as cited by [[David Morgan (historian)|David Morgan]]) ===Causes for agricultural decline=== Some historians believe that the Mongol invasion destroyed much of the irrigation infrastructure that had sustained [[Mesopotamia]] for many millennia. Canals were cut as a military tactic and never repaired. So many people died or fled that neither the labor nor the organization were sufficient to maintain the canal system. It broke down or silted up. This theory was advanced by historian [[Svat Soucek|Svatopluk Souček]] in his 2000 book, ''A History of Inner Asia'' and has been adopted by authors such as Steven Dutch. Other historians point to [[soil salination]] as the culprit in the decline in agriculture. ==Aftermath== Hulagu left 3,000 Mongol soldiers behind to rebuild Baghdad. [[Ata al-Mulk Juvayni]] was appointed governor of Baghdad, Lower [[Mesopotamia]], and [[Khuzistan]]. At the intervention of the Mongol Hulagu's [[Nestorian Christian]] wife, [[Dokuz Khatun]], the Christian inhabitants were spared. Hulagu offered the royal palace to the Nestorian [[Catholicos]] [[Mar Makikha]], and ordered a cathedral to be built for him. Initially, the fall of Baghdad was a shock to the whole Muslim world, but the city became one of economic centers where international trade, money minting and religious affairs flourished under the Ilkhans. Chief of Mongol [[darughachi|darugas (overseer)]] stationed in the city. ==See also== * [[Seljuk siege of Baghdad 1157]] * [[Abbasid]] * [[History of Baghdad]] * [[Islamic Golden Age]] * [[Mongke Khan]] * [[Mongol Empire]] * [[Soil salination]] * [[Tigris-Euphrates river system]] ==External links== * [http://www.newyorker.com/fact/content/articles/050425fa_fact4 NewYorker.com], article describing Hulagu's conquest of Baghdad, written by [[Ian Frazier]], appeared in the April 25, 2005 issue of ''[[The New Yorker]]''. * [http://www.uwgb.edu/dutchs/WestTech/xmongol.htm UWGB.edu], Steven Dutch article {{Coord missing|Iraq}} {{DEFAULTSORT:Siege Of Baghdad (1258)}}