Tolui Khan

Tolui Khan – 1192-1232

Tolui was the fourth son of Genghis Khan and Borte. Tolui grew up as Genghis Khan was expanding his power in Mongolia. At the age of five he was almost killed by a Tartar assassin who took Tolui from his grandmother’s ger. He was rescued by his sister Altani.

Tolui Khan
Tolui Khan in an illustration from Rashid-al-Din

In 1203 he married the niece of Ong Khan, Sorghatani Beki. Their four sons, Mongke, Kublai, Hulagu and Ariq Borke would inherit the Mongol empire. Tolui first saw military service during the campaign against the Jurchen dynasty. With his brothers he also served in the invasion of Central Asia. Tolui proved an able commander and personally commanded the brutal sieges of Nishapur and Merv. As the youngest son of Genghis Tolui was awarded the traditional Mongolian homeland as his inheritance. Between 1227 and 1229 he acted as regent of the empire until his brother Ogodei could be confirmed as Great Khan.

He served as commander of the Mongol forces in the campaign against the Jurchen. While on campaign he became ill and died. The traditional telling has Tolui sacrificing his life to save the ailing Ogodei by drinking a cursed drink. According to the Shamans only the sacrifice of a family member cold cure the Great Khan. However, other accounts suggest Tolui died of alcoholism.

Although never Great Khan, two of his three sons, Mongke and Kublai would hold the office.


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