Other selections from this series: Introduction: A Forgotten Study Of Female Political Power In Muslim History, Türkan Hatun of Iran, and Padishah Hatun of Iran.
Ebesh Hatun Of The Fars Princedom Of Salgur
Ebesh Hatun (also known as Abish Hatun) was a Turkish woman renowned as the recognized sovereign of the State of Salgur, in the Fars province in the second half of the 13th century (1283-1287).
A brief history of Salgur
In this chapter of her book, historian Bahriye Üçok briefly introduces the founding history of this state to make us understand under which condition a woman was able to come to power.
The name of the princedom originates from Salgur, who was the leader of one of the Turcoman communities and then became chamberlain to Tuqrul of the Iraq Seljuks. One of Salgur’s grandsons, Sungur bin Mevdut, rose against the Seljuks in 1147-8 following the murder of an emir related to him, and proclaimed independence in the province of Fars.
So Salgur became independent and Shiraz its capital. However, this independence was not to last for long. The Salgurs started to pay taxes at first to the Seljuks of Iraq, and later, in the time of Atabey I Sa’d to the Harezmshah.
The sixth ruler, Ebubekir, feeling himself at risk by the Mongols, announced his allegiance to Hakan Ögedey and Ilhan Hulagu in 1256 by paying taxes to them. Under Ebubekir, the Salgurs prospered and expanded until his death. His son Sa’d II followed him.
After his death, the people of Shiraz put his young son Muhammed on the throne. Türkan Hatun, his mother, acted as regent. This is one of various examples we find in Üçok’s book: indeed, many female rulers got the chance to rule because the male successors were too young or not competent enough. To protect herself from the Mongols, Türkân Hatun sent letters declaring her allegiance to Hulagu, together with gifts befitting a prince, and received from him, written to her son’s name, a decree of formal recognition.
Türkân Hatun, with the help of her viziers Nizamüddîn Ebubekir and Shemsüddîn, administered the country in the name of her son Muhammed until he died in 1261-2. She offered the throne to Muhammed Shah, the son of Muhammed’s uncle, Salgur Shah, a man of courage but lacking statesmanlike qualities and a drunkard. Muhammed Shah had gained the favour of Hulagu because of the great courage he had shown when fighting near Baghdad. Türkân Hatun hoped that his courage would bring stability to the country, but this was not the case.
So Türkan Hatun conspired against him and in the end put him to death. Again we see how women use intrigues and chess games to maintain their power, by contemporaneously finding diplomatic adjustments with their male supporters.
The Shol Emirs reached an agreement with Türkân Hatun to bring Seljuk Shah to the throne. Selçuk Shah thereupon increased his influence still further by marrying Türkân Hatun, a similar story we have already seen in Egypt with the slave Aybek marrying the ruler Shajarat ad-Durr.
Enter Ebesh Hatun
For, since the Mongol prince Mengü Timur was betrothed to one of Türkân Hatun’s daughters, Ebesh Hatun, Türkân Hatun was related to the Mongols through her daughter. Nevertheless, this relationship was not sufficient to save her from destruction at the orders of her drunken husband during the course of a night of festivities. Seljuk Shah had Türkân killed, either in order to completely destroy the influence she still retained from the time of her regency, or to avenge his brother.
It is very important to mention that Ebesh’s rule was supported by the Mongols. Thus in 1263-3, by the decree of Hulagu, Ebesh Hatun was brought to the throne of Fars without encountering any more opposition than a male heir would have done; her name was read in the Friday prayer and money was also minted inscribed with her name and ranks. So she was an official ruler according to Islamic Law.
She married Hulagu’s son Mengü Timur as second wife. Because of the discontent in Fars caused by the high taxes, Ebesh after her marriage moved to Ordu, considered as her husband’s home. Here she spent some years before returning to Shiraz where she was warmly welcomed by her people.
Her supporters assassinated her rival, the regent of Fars Seyyid Imadüddin Ebn Ya’la on 21st shevval 683. But his son took a violent revenge. Only Ebesh Hatun, by virtue of her position as Hulagu Khan’s daughter-in-law, which was vouched for by her mother-in-law Oljay Hatun, was able to escape trial and punishment.
Ebesh was the last of her line, while also being the daughter-in-law of Hulagu Khan. With her death, the state of Fars would be annexed directly to the Ilhan Empire. It was therefore necessary to ensure that no new dynasty should appear at this juncture to form a fresh obstacle to the Empire.
Ebesh died in 1286-87 after having ruled for 22-23 years. They buried Ebesh Hatun at Cherendap, which was the summer camping ground for Tabriz, with gold, silver and wine, according to Mongol custom; but they did not leave her there for long and she was later taken to her own city of Shiraz where she was buried in the Adûdiyye Medrese her mother Türkân Hatun had had built.
It is clear that the people of Fars were extremely contented during the reign of Ebesh Hatun. However, a train of political events, added to the refusal of the Mongol Khans to leave small states like this in peace, condemned Fars to be annexed by the Ilhans and to the misfortune of being administered as a province by the Mongol Baskaks.
So the successful reign of this female ruler Ebesh Hatun was destined to fall into oblivion, and the same happened to the idea of independence of Salgur.
This entry is based on “Female Sovereigns in Islamic States.” You can find it on Amazon here.
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