Saturday, August 21, 2021

The French King and the Mongol Queen

When Guyuk Khan (the son of Genghis Khan’s eldest son Ögedei Khan) died on April 20, 1248, his Christian wife, Oghul Ghaimish became the regent of the Mongol territories that he used to control in the Levant. At that time, the Mongol Empire was at its height—they had proved that they were capable of defeating any foe in battle. The King of France Louis IX saw a military opportunity in the rise of a Christian Mongol Queen in the Levant. He felt that the Mongols under her leadership could be persuaded to join France in an alliance against the Islamic states.

In 1250, Louis IX’s envoy to Oghul Ghaimish, a Dominican Monk named Andrew of Longiumeau, arrived in her court in Western China, along the Emil River. He had arrived to negotiate a Mongol-European alliance in the Levant, but the Mongols had the impression that he had arrived on the orders of his King to surrender Christian Europe to her. Oghul Ghaimish knew about the bad performance of the Western crusaders and the Byzantines in the Levant, and she saw no value in entering into a military alliance with them. Her response to Louis IX was rude and undiplomatic. 

She sent him a list of rulers that she claimed that she had executed because they failed to pay tribute to her, and she commanded the French King to start sending her tribute. She wrote: “send us so much of your gold and of your silver each year, if you hold it back from us, we shall do what we did to those whom we named before.” When Louis IX saw her response, he simply said, “I feel sorry that I sent a mission to her court.” Oghul Ghaimish was unable to keep the Mongol throne in her branch of the family, and in 1251 Mongke Khan became the Great Khan.

No comments: