Suluk (Turgesh khagan)

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Suluk,[1] Sul-lu[2] or Sulu was a Turkic tribe leader and a warlord who defended Transoxania against Ummayad Arab armies in the early 8th century (?-738).


Main article: Turgesh

Turgesh was a Turkic tribe (or a group of tribes) around Transoxania. Although their territory was a part of the Turkic Khaganate, defeat of Western Turkic Khaganate by Tang China in 658 caused a power vacuum in Transoxania and Turgesh khans (leaders) were able to declare independence. However, after Ilterish Khagan re-established the main khaganette in 681, competition to control the silk road caused tension between the khaganate and Turgesh khans. At the beginning of 8th century Turgesh khans were subjugated by the main khaganate. But this was not long lasting. When Ummayad Arabs invaded Transoxania, the main khaganate was not able to defend Transoxania and Turks as well as Sogdians were defeated by the invaders. Further more, after the death of Kapagan Khagan, the khaganate was engaged in a civil war.


Suluk was elected as the new khan in 717 by the tribal chiefs. Backed by other local powers (including the Sogdians) against invading Arabs, he began acting independently of the main khaganate. His army was much smaller than that of Arabs. But unlike Arabs, they were at home in the deserts of the area. His success in the deserts gained him fame. He married to the daughters of both the Turkic khagan and the Chinese Emperor.[3]

Beginning by 721 Suluk fought against the Arab armies for ten years. His operations were generally hit and run operations [3] and his manoeuvres were aimed at the depriving the invading army of water. Many times the invading Arab army had to withdraw to find fresh water (cf. the so-called "Day of Thirst" in 724, but also the Battle of the Defile in 731).

Suluk was killed in 737 or 738 by Baga Tarkhan, one of his relatives .[4][5]


Death of Suluk caused a civil war which weakened Turgesh who were divided into two rival sections so called yellow Turgesh and black Turgesh. Meanwhile, Bilge Khagan the last of the able Turkic khagans was already dead and with the death of Suluk Transoxinia was opened to Arabic conquest. However, by this time there were also problems in Caliphate. Ummayed dynasty was replaced by Abbasid dynasty and the policy of the new rulers was more peaceful than that of the Ummayads. So Arabs never controlled Transoxiana with the exception of a few forts.


  1. ^ Christopher I. Beckwith, Empires of the Silk Road: a history of Central Eurasia from the Bronze Age to the present, Princeton University Press, 2009, ISBN 978-0-691-13589-2, p. 113.
  2. ^ Hasan Celāl Güzel, Cem Oğuz, Osman Karatay (ed.), The Turks: Middle Ages, Yeni Türkiye, 2002,[page needed]
  3. ^ a b L.M.Gumiliev:Eski Türkler (Translation:D.Ahsen Batur), Selenge Yayınları, İstanbul, 2003, ISBN 975-7856-39-8 pp.429-431
  4. ^ S.G.Klyashtorny-T.I.Sultanov: Türkün üç bin yılı (trans:Ahsen Batur), Selenge yayınları,İstanbul,2003, ISBN 975-8839-03-9 p 109
  5. ^ Melek Tekin:Türk Tarihi, Milliyet yayınları, 1991, İstanbul

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