Ariq Boke: Khagan of the Mongol Empire


Ariq Boke (after the year 1219 to the year 1266) was Tolui's seventh and youngest son and a grandson of Genghis Khan. The components of his name were variously spelt Arigh, Arik, and Bukha, Buka. Ariq Boke assumed the title of Great Khan of the Mongol Empire when his brother, the Great Khan Mongke, died and temporarily usurped control while his brothers Kublai and Hulagu were away from Mongolia. When Kublai had returned for an election in the year 1260, competing groups could not reach an agreement. Kublai and Ariq Boke were chosen to the throne, culminating in the Toluid Civil War, which split the Mongol Empire. The traditionalists of the Mongol Empire backed Ariq Boke, while the elite princes of North China and Manchuria backed his brother Kublai.

Early Tears

Ariq Boke was the son of Sorghaghtani Beki and Tolui, Genghis Khan's youngest son. When Genghis died in 1227, the Empire was passed down to Genghis' third son, gedei (Ariq Boke's uncle). He calmly attended both his uncle, Great Khan Ogedei and his uncle's successor and oldest son, Güyük's, elections. His family grew even more prominent among the Chingisids after his elder brother Mongke was crowned in 1250. Ariq Boke's mother was a devout Christian, and he was renowned for sympathising with Christians, according to Franciscan William of Rubruck, an ambassador of Louis IX of France, who saw Ariq Boke make the sign of the cross and declare, "We know that the Messiah [Jesus] is God." Ariq Boke was sent a Confucian tutor at his elder brother Kublai Khan's request, but Ariq Boke did not take to Chinese intellectuals as well as his elder brother.

Succession Struggle

Great Khan

After Ogedei Khan's death, a power struggle occurred, with authority falling to Ogedei's son Güyük in 1246; however, Güyük died only two years later in 1248. The sons of Tolui, Ogedei's brother, gained control after another battle. Mongke, the first of Tolui's sons to become Great Khan, conquered Southern China and the Southern Song Dynasty with Kublai. Hulagu, their elder brother, spearheaded the Mongol march westward, capturing Baghdad and continuing to Syria and Palestine. All matters of the Heartland were left in the hands of their brother Ariq Boke during this period. When Mongke died in 1259, Ariq Boke was elected Khan in the absence of his brothers, with the support of most of the existing ministers and powerful families in Karakorum's capital, including Mongke's family and other princes of the Golden family, as well as other forces in Karakorum's capital, such as Torguud royal bodyguards and White Horde elites, as well as the Oirats. When Kublai and Hulagu learned of Mongke's death, they called off their wars and returned to the city to settle the succession issue. Kublai was chosen by Khan by his followers in May 1260, defeating Ariq Boke's claim. Following this, a civil war erupted between the brothers for control of the Empire. When the Chagatai Khanate required a new leader, Kublai sought to send Abishqa, a loyalist. Ariq Boke, on the other hand, had Abishqa kidnapped and executed and replaced him with his own buddy Alghu. Ariq Boke tasked Alghu with defending the area from Hulagu's soldiers and the possibility of a visit by Berke of the Golden Horde. Alghu, on the other hand, left Ariq Boke, murdering his envoys in the name of riches, but Kaidu stayed faithful to Ariq Boke. Alghu and Ariq Boke soon found themselves in confrontation, with Alghu winning the first encounter but Ariq Boke winning the second, forcing Alghu to retreat westward.


As the conflict between Ariq Boke and his brother Kublai dragged on, the former's soldiers dwindled. Kublai possessed a large Mongol cavalry force and Mongolian, Manchurian, Han, Kipchak, and Chinese and Goryeo infantry. Ariq Boke's force under General Alandar was crushed by Kublai's supporter Kadan, a son of Ogedei, and Ariq Boke lost control of Karakorum twice. To reduce the food supply, Kublai also blocked all commerce from North China to Mongolia. In the year 1263, Ariq Boke eventually surrendered to Kublai Khan. However, he was imprisoned by Kublai and unexpectedly died a few years after his surrender, prompting speculation that he had been poisoned.


"Ariq Boke may be viewed as embodying an important school of thinking among the Mongols, which Kublai, via his actions and attitudes after 1260 rejected," says researcher David Morgan. Some Mongols saw a dangerous softening trend, exemplified by Kublai, who believed there was much to be said for established civilisation and the Chinese way of life. Traditionalists believe that the Mongol centre should stay in Mongolia and that the nomadic lifestyle of the Mongols should be preserved. Traditionalists believe that the Mongol centre should stay in Mongolia and that the nomadic lifestyle of the Mongols should be preserved. China should just be exploited. Ariq Boke became known as the leader of this group." Kaidu carried on the tradition (Khaidu). Ariq Boke's relatives became prominent leaders in the Ilkhanate and the Northern Yuan dynasty after losing power. The genealogy of both Ilkhan Arpa Ke'un and Yesüder can be traced back to Ariq Boke.

Last updated: 2021-October-19
Tags: Mongol Empire
Share this Article
Facebook Google+ Twitter