Suluk (Turgesh khagan)

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


Main article: Turgesh

The Turgesh were a Turkic tribe (or a group of tribes) around Transoxiana. 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 Transoxiana, and Turgesh khans (leaders) were able to declare independence. However, after Ilterish Khagan re-established the Turkic Khaganate in 681, competition to control the Silk Road caused tension between the Khaganate and Turgesh khans. At the beginning of the 8th Century, Turgesh khans were subjugated by the Turkic Khaganate, but this was not long lasting. When the Ummayad Arabs invaded Transoxiana, the Turkic Khaganate was not able to defend Transoxiana and the Turks, along with the Sogdians, were defeated by the invaders. Furthermore, after the death of Kapagan Khagan, the Khaganate fell into 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]


The death of Suluk caused a civil war, which divided the Turgesh into two rival factions: the Yellow Turgesh and Black Turgesh. Bilge Khagan, the last of the able Turkic khagans, was already dead, and with the death of Suluk, Transoxiana was opened to Arabic conquest. Around this time there was a power shift in the Caliphate, as the Ummayad dynasty was supplanted by the Abbasid dynasty. The policy of the Abbasid Caliphs was more peaceful than that of the Ummayads and Arab control of Transoxiana was limited to the occupation 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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