Primary Source

Sorghaghtani Beki in the eyes of court historians

  • Document icon

Annotation

Sorghaghtani Beki, the wife and then widow of Chinggis Khan’s youngest son Tolui, appears in many contemporary written sources about the Mongol Empire, and is always viewed positively. Here the two court historians and officials ‘Ata-Malik Juvaini and Rashid al-Din describe how Chinggis Khan’s immediate successor Ogedei relied on her advice, and how the success of her sons was the result of her actions.

This source is a part of the Masculinity and Femininity in the Mongol Empire teaching module.

Ata-Malik Juvaini, The History of the World Conqueror, c.1250; Rashid al-Din, Compendium of Chronicles, c.1310

Text

Now in the management and education of all her sons, in the administration of affairs of state, in the maintenance of dignity and prestige and in the execution of business, [Sorghaghtani] Beki, by the nicety of her judgment and discrimination, constructed such a basis and for the strengthening of these edifices laid such a foundation that no turban-wearer [i.e. man] would have been capable of the like or could have dealt with these matters with the like brilliance. In any business which [Ogedei] Khan undertook, whether with regard to the weal of the Empire or the disposal of the army, he used first to consult and confer with her and would suffer no change or alteration of whatever she recommended... For the report of her wisdom and prudence and the fame of her counsel and sagacity had spread to all parts, and none would gainsay her word. Furthermore, in the management of her household and in the ceremonial of her court she laid for kinsmen and stranger such a foundation as the khans of the world had not been capable of.
‘Ata-Malik Juvaini, The History of the World Conqueror

Extremely intelligent and able...the most intelligent woman in the world. There is no doubt that it was through her intelligence and ability that she raised the station of her sons above that of their cousins and caused them to attain to the rank of khans and emperors…The bringing of the Khanate to the house of Tolui Khan and the placing of the right in its due place were due to the competence and shrewdness of Sorqoqtani Beki and the help and assistance of Batu, because of their friendship for one another...[Her sons] became khans and rulers through the efforts and endeavors of their mother and as the result of her ability and intelligence.
Rashid al-Din, Compendium of Chronicles

How to Cite This Source
Sorghaghtani Beki in the eyes of court historians in World History Commons,