Tokhta (Toqta, Tokhtai,or Tokhtogha) (Тохтога, Тохтох) (died c. 1312) was a khan of the golden horde, son of Mengu-Timur and great grandson of Batu Khan.

His name "Tokhtokh" means "hold/holding" in the Mongolian language.

Early reign under Nogai

In 1288, Tokhta was ousted by his cousins. In 1291, he reclaimed the throne with the help of Nogai Khan. Tokhta gave Crimea to Nogai as a gift. And Nogai beheaded many Mongol nobles, who were supporters of Tulabuga, thanks to his new puppet khan.

Tokhta wanted to eliminate Russian princes' semi-independence and, therefore, sent his brothers - Dyuden (Tudan) to Rus lands in 1293, whose army would devastate fourteen towns and Tokhta-Temur (probably he himself) to Tver, finally forcing Dmitry Alexandrovich (Nogai's ally) to abdicate. Russians wrote the event in their chronicle as "The harsh-time of Batu returns". Some scholars claimed that Tokhta and Nogai did it together.

Soon, Tokhta and Nogai began a deadly rivalry. The Khan's father in law Saljiday of the Khunggirads, his wife Bekhlemish , the granddaughter of Tolui and other Chingisids in the Horde also complained about Nogai's contrariness to him. Nogai refused to come to the court of the Khan. And they disagreed on trade rights of Venetians and Genoese merchants as well.

The Khan's force lost the first battle with Nogai in 1299-1300. Nogai did not chase him and returned. Tokhta asked Ghazan his aid. The latter refused because he did not want to mix himself up with their quarrels. In 1300, Tokhta finally defeated Nogai at the battle of the Kagamlyk River near Poltava and united the lands from the Volga to the Don under his authority. But Nogai's son Chaka fled to at first Alans then to Bulgaria and reigned as emperor there. Soon after it enraged Tokhta, Theodore Svetoslav sent Chaka's head to the Khan to show his allegiance. Tokhta divided Nogai's land which streched from Crimea and Russian principalities to modern Romania into brother Sareibugha and his sons.

Late reign

When Tokhta was busy with Nogai, Bayan asked his assistance against rebels in White Horde. But Tokhta was unable to send him military forces. In 1301, Bayan fled to Tokhta. Tokhta helped him to reassert the throne of White Horde from Kuruichik who was backed by Kaidu. The army of golden horde won the armed force under Chagatai Khan Duwa and Kaidu's son Chapar.

After stabilizing his control over Russia Principalities and Kipchak steppes, he demanded Ghazan give back Azerbaijan and Arran. But Ilkhan refused and replied, "That land was conquered by our ancestors Indian steel sword." Then Tokhta turned to Mamluks to restore the former alliance and sent them his envoys. During the reign of Oljeitu, their border troops engaged in a small conflict, but another event changed Tokhta's mind soon after.

In 1304, messengers from Chagatai Khanate and yuan dynasty arrived in Sarai. They introduced their masters' plan and idea of peace. Tokhta accepted the nominal supremacy of the Yuan Khaan Temür Öljeytü Chengzong, the grandson of Kublai Khan; at the same time Muhammad Khudabanda Öljeitü ruled Ilkhanid Persia and Duwa retained nominal sovereignty in the Khanate of Chagatai. Postal system and trade routes restored again. golden horde sent 2 tumens (20,000) to buttress the Yuan frontier.

Tokhta arrested the Italian residents of Sarai, and besieged Caffa in 1307. The cause was apparently Tokhta's displeasure at the Italian trade in Turkic slaves who were mostly sold for soldiers to the Egyptian Mamluk Sultanate. The Genoese resisted for a year, but in 1308 set fire to their city and abandoned it. Relations between the Italians and the golden horde remained tense until 1312 when Tokhta died during preparations for a new military campaign against the Russian lands. Some sources claimed that he died without a male heir. But Yuan shi and some muslim sources says that he had at least 3 sons and one of them was murdered by Ozbeg's supporters.

Although he was Shamanist, he was interested in Buddhism. He was the last non-muslim khan of golden horde.

Last update 17-06-2012

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