Amir Chupan, also known as Choban or Coban (امیر چوپان سلدوز), (d. November 1327), was a Chupanid noble of the Ilkhanate, and nominal general of the Mongol Empire. His father was named the Malek of the Mongol Suldus clan. His ancestor was Chilaun (Чулуун), who was one of Chingis Khan's four great companions.
Rise to Power
Amir Chupan was first mentioned as a supporter of Gaykhatu during the latter's successful campaign for the Ilkhanid throne. During Ghazan's fight with Baydu for the throne in 1295, Chupan met with him near the Ustunavand castle. Chupan served under Ghazan, participating in the campaign against the rebel Nauruz. He acted as a senior commander during Ghazan's three campaigns against Syria, then under the rule of the Mamelukes. During one of these campaigns, Chupan's army, under the command of Ghazan's chief military officer Qutlugh Shah, was defeated by the Mamelukes in the battle of Marj al-Saffar (1303). When Qutlugh Shah fled, Chupan stayed with the army, and reached Ghazan in June. Ghazan, furious at the defeat, punished both Qutlugh Shah and Chupan, though the latter was dealt with more leniently.
In 1305 Chupan married the daughter of Ghazan's successor Öljeitü, Dowlandi Katun. In 1307 he was given command of one of four armies assigned to quell the rebellious province of Gilan. Marching from Ardabil, he convinced the rulers of Astara and Gaskar to surrender peacefully, and then met up with Öljeitü. Qutlugh Shah's army, however, did not fare so well, and he was killed by the Gilakis. Following his death, Öljeitü made Chupan his chief military commander or Amir of the Ulus (nation). Chupan was now a major influence behind the throne, though he had to contend with the court viziers. When Öljeitü died in 1316, his son Abu Sa'id confirmed Chupan's status as Amir of the Ulus, despite attempts by the Amir Sevinch to gain the position for himself.
Height and Fall Under Abu Sa'id
Chupan attempted to neutralize the influence of the viziers. In 1318, he convinced the discredited former vizier Rashid-al-Din Hamadani to return to the Ilkhanid court. Rashid, who had many enemies, was accused of poisoning Öljeitü soon after he returned. Chupan promptly turned on him, and Rashid-al-Din was put to death in July of that year.
In 1319, armies under the command of the khan of the Blue Horde, Öz-Beg, invaded the Ilkhanate. Abu Sa'id led a campaign to stop the invasion. Chupan was on his way to assist Amir Husain (the father of the founder of the Jalayirids, Hasan Buzurg) against the raids of the Chagatai prince Yasa'ur, who was devastating Khurasan, but then turned around to support Abu Sa'id upon receiving word that the latter's position across the Kur River was in danger. Several of Abu Sa'id's officers had deserted, leaving his army weakened. He rushed to his master's position, only to find the troops of the Blue Horde already in flight. Nevertheless, Chupan inflicted heavy casualties upon the enemy.
The matter of Abu Sa'id's officers fleeing still needed to be addressed. When the amir enacted punishment against Qurumshi (also a potential rival), as well as several other officers, for their military negligence, a conspiracy was then launched against him. The conspirators included Abu Sa'id's uncle Irenjin, who Chupan had dismissed from the governorship of Diyarbakr. With the full support of the Ilkhan, Chupan dealt with them. Irenjin was defeated near Mianeh in June 1319. Following these events, Chupan gained almost complete influence over the Ilkhan, and his sons gained prominent positions as the Ilkhanate was parceled out between them. He also married Abu Sa'id's sister Sati Beg, whom he had been betrothed to since 1316. His sons quickly took advantage of their power; during the winter of 1322 Chupan, who was suffering from gout, had to convince his son Timurtash, governor of Rum, to end his rebellion against the Ilkhanate.
As Chupan had reached the height of his power, he had also sown the seeds of his fall. While Abu Sa'id lacked a treasury, Chupan's son and administrative representative Demasq Kaja spent his wealth extravagantly. This situation annoyed the Ilkhan, who was further influenced against him by his viziers, particularly Rukn al-Din Sa'in, Chupan's own protégé. Chupan's efforts to keep Abu Sa'id from marrying his daughter Bagdad Katun, who was already married to Hasan Buzurg, did not help the situation.
In 1325 Chupan defeated another force led by Öz-Beg, and even invaded the Blue Horde. Early in 1326, Chupan led an army to defend against an imminent invasion of Khurasan. By the request of Abu Said, the Khagan Yesün Temür awarded his custodian Chupan the nominal title of a chief-commander of all Mongol Khanates. In the autumn of that year, the Chagatai Khan Tarmashirin crossed the Oxus River, and was defeated by Chupan's son Hasan near Ghazna. The vizier Rukn al-Din Sa'in had traveled with Chupan, leaving Demasq Kaja in effective control at the Ilkhanid court. It was at this time that Abu Sa'id decided to make his move. In August 1327 Abu Sa'id had Demasq Kaja killed, ostensibly for the latter's activities with a former concubine of Öljeitü's.
Abu Sa'id then undertook a campaign against the other Chupanids. The Khurasanis gained word of the plot, but pretended to act friendly toward Chupan. The latter marched west; on his way, he convinced the local religious leader of Simnan, Shaikh 'Ala' al-Daula, to try to negotiate a truce, and then camped near Qazvin. When the shaikh failed, he continued west, with his troops pillaging on the way. Upon reaching Quha, he was a day's journey away from Abu Sa'id's camp, but as night fell, most of his army deserted him for the Ilkhan. Instead of facing the Ilkhanid army, he withdrew. Upon reaching Saveh, he sent his wife Sati Beg back to Abu Sa'id. He then traveled in the direction of Tabas, with the intention of finding refuge in Transoxiana.
Upon reaching the Murghab River, he changed his mind and headed for Khurasan. He was given a friendly welcome into Herat by the local Kartid ruler, Ghiyath ud-Din. However, when he received an order by the Ilkhan, his master, to execute Chupan, Ghiyath had no choice but to obey. Chupan and his son Jela'u Khan were both killed. As Chupan's friend, Ghiyath ordered that he be killed by strangulation, which was considered an honorable way to die. The Kartid leader then sent one of Chupan's fingers to Abu Sa'id as proof of the deed. Many of Chupan's sons were to also die in the next few years. He was buried in Medina, in the cemetery of Baqi, under the supervision of his daughter Bagdad Katun.
By Dowlandi Katun:
- Jela'u Khan
By Korducin (probably second wife):
- Yagi Basti
By Sati Beg:
- Thomas T. Allsen-Culture and Conquest in Mongol Eurasia, p.39
- Charles Melville and 'Abbas Zaryab. http://www.iranica.com/articles/search/searchpdf.isc?ReqStrPDFPath=/home1/iranica/articles/v5_articles/chobanids&OptStrLogFile=/home/iranica/public_html/logs/pdfdownload.html
- J. A. Boyle (1968). The Cambridge History of Iran, Volume Five: The Saljuq and Mongol Periods. ISBN 0-521-06936-X