Bilge Khagan

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Bilge Khagan
Old Turkic: 𐰋𐰃𐰠𐰏𐰀 𐰴𐰍𐰣
Chinese: 毗伽可汗
Fourth Khagan of the Second Turkic Khaganate
ReignFebruary 717 – 25 November 734
PredecessorInel Qaghan
SuccessorYollıg Khagan
BornAshina Mojilian
Died25 November 734(734-11-25) (aged 50–51)
SpouseEl Etmish Bilge Khatun
IssueYollıg Tigin
Tengri Tigin
Princess Daluo
Two unnamed sons
HouseHouse of Ashina
FatherIlterish Khagan
MotherEl Bilga Khatun

Bilge Khagan (Old Turkic: 𐰋𐰃𐰠𐰏𐰀 𐰴𐰍𐰣, Bilge qaγan; Chinese: 毗伽可汗; pinyin: píjiā kěhàn)[1] (683 – 25 November 734) was the khagan of the Second Turkic Khaganate. His accomplishments were described in the Orkhon inscriptions.


As was the custom, his personal name and the name after assuming the title khagan were different. His personal name was recorded in Chinese characters as 阿史那默棘連 (pinyin: Ashǐnà Mòjílián). His name after assuming the title was Bilge qaγan. (Old Turkic: 𐰋𐰃𐰠𐰏𐰀 𐰴𐰍𐰣‬, Bilge qaγan,[1] Chinese: 毗伽可汗; pinyin: píjiā kěhàn). His official title: 𐱅𐰭𐰼𐰃𐱅𐰏 𐱅𐰭𐰼𐰃𐰓𐰀 𐰉𐰆𐰞𐰢𐱁 𐱅𐰇𐰼𐰜 𐰋𐰃𐰠𐰏𐰀 𐰴𐰍𐰣‬, Teŋіriteg Тeŋiride bolmuš Türük Bilge qaγan.[2]

Early years[edit]

He was born in 683, just in early years of Second Khaganate. He campaigned alongside his father from early years as a child. He was created as Tardush shad and given command over western wing of empire in 697 by Qapaghan. He managed to annihalate Wei Yuanzhong's army in 701 with his brother. He also reconquered Basmyl tribes in 703. He also subdued Yenisei Kyrgyz forces in 709, after their disobedience had to reconquer and kill their khagan in 710. He killed Sakal in his invasion of Turgesh in 711 and had submission from Beshbaliq in 713.

In later years of Qapaghan, he had to fight 4 battles in a year starting from 714, resubduing tribes and nearly was killed in an ambush from Huige forces in 715.[3]


In 716, Qapaghan Qaghan, the second khagan, was killed in his campaign against the Toquz Oghuz alliance and his severed head was sent to Chang'an.[4] Although his son Inel Khagan succeeded him, Bilge's brother Kul Tigin and Tonyukuk carried out a coup d'état against Inel Khaghan. They killed him and made him Bilge khagan.[4] His name literally means "wise king".

He appointed his brother Kul Tigin to be Left Wise Prince, which made second most powerful person in realm. He resubdued Huige in 716. Also appointed his father-in-law Tonyukuk to be Master Strategist.

New reforms and stabilization of regime caused tribes that fled Tujue to come back. Tang chancellor Wang Jun, believing that the Göktürks who surrendered would try to flee back to the Göktürk state, suggested that they be forcibly moved into the heart of the empire to prevent them from doing so. Before Wang's suggestion could be acted upon, however, there was an uprising by the Göktürks who surrendered, under the leadership of Xiedie Sitai (𨁂跌思泰) and Axilan (阿悉爛). Xue and Wang tried to intercept them and dealt them defeats, but they were able to flee back to the Göktürk state anyway. This defeat led to Xue Ne's retirement.

Religious policy[edit]

At some point in his life, he wanted to convert to Buddhism, settle in cities. However, Tonyukuk discouraged him from this, citing Tujue's small numbers and vulnerability to Chinese attack. While Turks' power rested on their mobility, conversion to Buddhism would bring pacifism among population. Therefore, sticking to Tengriism was necessary to survive.[5][6][4]

Later reign[edit]

The Bilge Khagan monument with inscriptions, Mongolia

In 720, Wang believed that the Pugu (僕固) and Xiedie tribes of the region were planning to defect to Eastern Tujue and attack with Eastern Tujue troops. He thus held a feast and invited the chieftains, and, at the feast, massacred them. He then attacked the Pugu and Xiedie tribes in the area, nearly wiping them out. He then proposed a plan to attack khagan along with the Baximi, Xi, and Khitan.[4] Emperor Xuanzong also recruited Qapaghan Khagan's sons Bilge Tigin and Mo Tigin, Yenisei Kyrgyz khagan Kutluk Bilge Khagan and Huoba Guiren to fight against Tujue. Tonyukuk cunningly launched first attack on Baximi in 721 autumn, completely crushing them. Meanwhile, Bilge raided Gansu, taking much of the livestock. Later that year Khitans, next year Xi were also crushed.

In 726, his father-in-law and chancellor Tonyukuk died.

In 727, he sent Buyruk Chor (Chinese: 梅錄啜/梅录啜; pinyin: Méilù Chuò) as en emissary to Xuanzong to send 30 horses as gift. He also alarmed him of Me Agtsom's proposal of anti-Tang alliance. This alarm proved to be true when Tibetan general We Tadra Khonglo invaded Tang China in 727, sank Guazhou (瓜州, in mordern Gansu), Changle (常樂, in south of mordern Guazhou County), Changmenjun (長門軍, in north of mordern Yumen) and Anxi (安西, mordern Lintan).

On 27 February 731, Kul Tigin died, for which khagan mourned and ordered a great funeral ceremony.[7]

In 733, he defeated rebellious Khitan tribes.[1]


Just after sending an emissary to Xuanzong to gain heqin alliance, he was poisoned by Buyruk Chor.[8] He didn't die immediately and he had time to punish the family of Buyruk Chor with death.[4] He died on 25 November 734, his burial ceremony took place on 22 June 735.


He was married to El Etmish Bilge Khatun, Tonyukuk's daughter. He had several issues:

  • Ashina Yiran (阿史那伊然)
  • Ashina Kutluk (阿史那骨咄)
  • 2 unnamed sons who both became puppet khagans under Kutluk Yabgu Khagan
  • A daughter who was married to Suluk
  • Princess Daluo (大洛公主) - submitted to Tang after 744.


After his death from poisoning, several steles were erected in the capital area by the Orkhon River. These Orkhon inscriptions are the first known texts in the Old Turkic language.


  1. ^ a b c Bilge kagan’s Memorial Complex, TÜRIK BITIG
  2. ^ Ethno Cultural Dictionary, TÜRIK BITIG
  3. ^ Ahmet., Taşağil, (1995). Gök-Türkler. Atatürk Kültür, Dil, ve Tarih Yüksek Kurumu (Turkey). Ankara: Türk Tarih Kurumu Basımevi. ISBN 975161113X. OCLC 33892575.
  4. ^ a b c d e Old Book of Tang, Vol. 194-I
  5. ^ Wenxian Tongkao, 2693a
  6. ^ New Book of Tang, vol 215-II
  7. ^ "Kultegin's Memorial Complex". Retrieved 2018-07-29.
  8. ^ Erkin Ekrem, "Sarı Uygurların Kökeni", Modern Türklük Araştırma Dergisi, Vol. 4, No. 3, 2007, p. 175.


Encyclopædia Britannica, Micropaedia, Vol. II, pp. 16–17


External links[edit]

Bilge Khagan
Preceded by
Inel Khagan
Khagan of the Second Eastern Turkic Khaganate
Succeeded by
Yollıg Khagan