Jumi’u’t-Tawarikh, The Conquest of Aleppo and the surrender of Damascus in 1259-1260

The conquest of Baghdad was not the end of the Mongol invasion of the Middle East.  The following section relates Hulagu’s invasion of modern-day Syria, where he captured the city of Aleppo and gained the surrender of Damascus.

Hulagu Khan goes to Syria and conquers Aleppo and the realm of Damascus 

The sultan of Aleppo had sent his vizier, Sahib Zaynuddin Hafizi with regal gifts and presents to the Khan’s court, and he had acquired a great reputation there and was awarded a yarligh and paiza.  When Hulagu arrived in Iran, he secretly pledged his allegiance to him, and he was accused of this before the sultan of Syria and an attempt was made on his life.  He fled and took refuge with Hulagu Khan, and no sooner had he arrived than the padishah’s desire for an expedition to Aleppo increased.

In advance he sent emissaries to Badruddin Lu’lu’, saying, “Since you are over ninety years old, I exempt you from participating militarily, but you must send your son Malik Salih to ride with the imperial banners to conquer Syria and Egypt.” In accordance with this command he sent his son, and when he arrived at Hulagu Khan’s court he was given one of Sultan Jalaluddin’s daughters in marriage.

In the vanguard was dispatched Ket Buqa Noyan with a large army. In the right wing was Shiktur and Baiju, and in the left wing were Su’unchaq and other commanders. Hulagu himself set out for Syria in the qol[center] on Friday the 22nd of Ramadan 657 [September 12, 1259] with Scorpio in the ascendant.

When he reached Bala Tagh, he liked the meadow there and named it Labna Saghut. Then he entered Akhlat and the mountains of Hakkari, which were nests of outlaw Kurds, and they killed all they found.

When he reached Diyarbekir, first he conquered Jazira [Cizre] and assigned his son Yoshmut in the company of Sonitai Noyan to lay siege to the fortress at Mayyafariqin. He sent Malik Salih with a contingent to conquer Amid, and he himself set out for Ruha [Edessa], which he conquered. From there he went to Dunaysir, Nasibin, and Harran, all of which he took in battle and then massacred and plundered. Crossing the Euphrates, he surrounded Aleppo without warning. The inhabitants, trusting in the impregnability of their citadel, refused to surrender and continued to do battle.

At the Jews’ Gate was Uruqtu Noyan, at the Anatolia Gate was Ket Buqa Noyan, at the Damascus Gate was Su’unchaq, and Hulagu Khan was camped at the Antioch Gate.

chapar [stockade] was assembled around the city, and catapults were installed. For a full week the battle was fought hard by both sides, but in the end, in Dhu’l-Hijja 657 [November 19-December 17, 1259], it was taken from the Iraq Gate and a full week of massacre and pillage ensued, during which many people were killed. For forty days and nights they battled against the defenders in the citadel, and catapult stones and arrows rained from both sides. Amir Qorchan, Achu Siikdrchi, and Sadun Gurji were wounded several times in the face, for which the padishah gave them large rewards, saying, “just as rouge is an adornment to women’s faces, red blood is a cosmetic adornment to the faces and beards of men.”

In the end the citadel was also conquered. Many artisans were made prisoner, and untold olja [booty] was taken. For a long time they were occupied with a siege of the Harim Fortress, but in the end the defenders asked for quarter. When Fakhruddin, known as “Sagi,” swore an oath, they came down under amnesty, but Hulagu Khan was extremely angry with them and ordered them killed at once along with their wives and children. [720] Only an Armenian goldsmith was spared.

When the Aleppo citadel was taken, Hulagu Khan turned it over to Fakhruddin Saqi and installed Tukal Bakhshi as shahna.

After he departed from Aleppo, the people complained of Fakhruddin and an order was given for him to be executed, and the governance of Aleppo was transferred to Zaynuddin Hafizi.

The people of Damascus were apprehensive over attack by the Mongol army, and since they knew that everything surrounding Syria was entirely under Hulagu Khan’s control, the dignitaries and grandees came to court bearing all sorts of gifts and the keys to the city gates as a show of surrender. Hulagu Khan ordered Ket Buqa Noyan to go to Damascus and test them. The inhabitants turned out to greet him and asked for amnesty. Ket Buqa sent the nobles and dignitaries to Hulagu Khan, who had mercy on them and granted their requests. The Mongols entered the city without having to lay siege or do battle. A Mongol shahna and three Tajik liege men were assigned. Ala’uddin Hashi, Jamaluddin Qaraqai Qazwini, and Qazi Shamsuddin Qummi were appointed to consolidate Damascus. In brief, in a short time Baghdad, Diyarbekir, Diyar Rabi’a, and Syria were completely conquered and brought under the control of Hulagu Khan’s deputies.

He also took over the realms of Anatolia, and while he was engaged there emissaries arrived from the east with Shiktur Noyan at their head. He had set out from here in all haste to announce Manggii Qa’an’s death. Hulagu Khan was sorely grieved, but he did not show it. Stationing Ket Buqa Noyan to protect Syria, he withdrew from Aleppo and arrived in Akhlat on Sunday the 24th of Jumada II 658 [June 6, 1260].

When Hulagu Khan had arrived in Aleppo, Malik Nasir, the sultan of Aleppo and Syria, had fled to the fortress at Karak. Ket Buqa wanted to lay siege, but he asked for quarter and came down. Ket Buqa sent him to court, and the padishah promised that when he took Egypt he would give him the governorship of Syria.

This translation is from Jumi’u’t-Tawarikh (Compendium of Chronicles): A History of the Mongols, translated by W.M. Thackston (Sources of Oriental Languages and Literatures 45, 1998-9).  We thank Professor Thackston and the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations of Harvard University for their permission to republish this section.

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