Tolui, (Classic Mongolian: ᠲᠥᠯᠦᠢ Toluy, Tului, (Mongolian: Тулуй хаан), Tolui Khan (meaning the Khan Tolui)) (1192–1232) was the youngest son of Genghis Khan by his chief khatun Börte. His ulus, or territorial inheritance, at his father's death in 1227 was the homelands in Mongolia, and it was he who served as civil administrator in the time it took to confirm Ögedei as second Great Khan of the Mongol Empire (1206–1368). Before that he had served with distinction in the campaigns against the jin dynasty, the Xi Xia and the Khwarezmid Empire, where he was instrumental in the capture and massacre at Merv and Nishapur. He is a direct ancestor of most of the Emperors of Mongolia and the Ilkhanids.

Tolui never used the title of Khagan himself. Although, Genghis Khan and his immediate three successors never used any reigning titles unlike the neighboring Chinese dynasties in the south. Tolui was awarded the title of Khagan by his son Möngke and was given temple name (Chinese: 元睿宗; pinyin: Yuán Ruìzōng; Wade–Giles: Jui-Tsung) by his other son Kublai, when he established the yuan dynasty a few decades later.

Early years

During the rise of Genghis Khan, Tolui was too small to be involved in the battles. Tolui was almost killed by a Tatar when he was about five. He was saved by his sister Altani and two companions of Genghis. In 1203, His father bestowed on Tolui as wife Sorghaghtani, the niece of Ong Khan. Their first son Mongke was born in 1209. He first entered combat against the jin dynasty in 1213, scaling the walls of Dexing with his brother-in-law Chiqu.

In 1221, Genghis Khan dispatched him to Khorasan in Iran. The cities in this area had revolted several times. The defenders of Nishapur killed Toquchar, the brother-in-law of Tolui in November 1220. Tolui's army evacuated Nishapur onto the plains. He ordered the total massacres of Nishapur and Merv.

Genghis Khan's succession

When Genghis Khan was deciding who should succeed him he had trouble choosing between his four sons. Tolui had amazing military skills and was very successful as a general, but Genghis Khan chose Ögodei because Ögodei was more capable politically. Genghis Khan felt that Tolui would be too cautious to be an effective leader. Tolui was with his father on campaign against the Xi Xia in 1227.

After Genghis Khan's death, Tolui generally supervised the Mongol Empire for 2 years. The Mongol nobles' moves were partly influenced by the tradition that the youngest son inherits his father's properties and partly because Tolui had the largest and most powerful army in central Mongolia at the time. Tolui supported the election of the Khagan and Ögodei was chosen as the Emperor, fulfilling his father's wishes.

Tolui campaigned with Ogedei and Mongke in North China, serving as both strategist and field commander in 1231–32. After most of the Jin's defences were breached, they returned north.

Death and legacy

According to the Secret History of the Mongols, Tolui sacrificed himself in order to cure Ögödei from a very severe illness during a campaign in China. The shamans had determined that the root of Ögödei's illness were China's spirits of the earth and the water, who were upset that their subjects had been driven away and their land devastated. Offering land, animals and people had only led to an aggravation of Ögödei's illness, but when they offered to sacrifice a family member, Ögödei got better immediately. Tolui volunteered and died directly after consuming a cursed drink. However, Ata Malik Juvaini says he died from alcoholism.

Perhaps more important than himself was the role his family, the Toluids, had in shaping the destinies of the Mongol Empire. Through his Christian wife Sorghaghtani Beki, Tolui fathered Möngke, Kublai, Ariq Boke, and Hulagu, and thus was the progenitor the Great Khans, Emperors of the yuan dynasty, and of the Il Khans. During the civil war of the Mongol Empire, the Toluids supported the court of the Great Khan. However, it was the rivalry between Tolui's own sons, Kublai and Ariq Boke, that fragmented the power of the empire and set the western khanates against each other in the early 1260s.

Rivalry between the Toluids and the sons of Ögedei and Jochi caused stagnation and infighting during the regency periods after the deaths of Ögedei and his son Güyük. Mongke posthumously awarded his father the title of Khagan in 1252. When Kublai Khan established the yuan dynasty in 1271, he had his father Tolui placed on the official record as Ruizong.

Tolui's line ruled Outer and Inner Mongolia from 1251 to 1635, and Outer Mongolia only until 1691. The last of his descendant with the title Khan was murdered in 1923. in addition to their empire in Mongolia, they ruled Persia, China, Korea, Georgia, Armenia, Anatolia and Afghanistan.


Tolui had many concubines and wives. But the chief one was Sorghaghtani who was the mother of Tolui's four ruling sons.

Tolui's sons included:

Mongke Khan, the Great Khan of the Mongol Empire.



Kublai, the Great Khan of the Mongols and the Emperor of the yuan dynasty.

Hulegu, the first Ilkhan of Mongol Persia.

Arik Boke, Khagan claimant who was supported by the traditionalist Mongols against Kublai.

Bujek. He died earlier. Nothing is known much about him except his role in Mongol invasion of Europe in 1236-41 and Mongke's election in 1250.




Last update 17-06-2012

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