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Eretnid dynasty

Eretnid dynasty
The Eretnids under Eretna
The Eretnids under Eretna
CapitalSivas and Kayseri
• 1335–1352
Ala al-Din Eretna
• 1352–1366
Ghiyath al-Din Muhammad I
• 1366–1380
Ala al-Din Ali
• 1380–1381
Muhammad II Chelebi
• Established
• Independence
• Disestablished
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Kadi Burhan al-Din
Ottoman Empire
Emirate of Erzincan

The Eretnids (Turkish: Eretna Beyliği) were a dynasty that ruled a state spanning central and eastern Anatolia from 1335 to 1381. The dynasty's founder, Eretna, was an Ilkhanid officer of Uyghur origin, under Timurtash, who was appointed as the governor of Anatolia. Sometime after the latter’s downfall, Eretna became the governor under the suzerainty of the Jalayirid ruler Hasan Buzurg. After an unexpected victory at the Battle of Karanbük, against Mongol warlords competing to restore the Ilkhanate, Eretna claimed independence declaring himself the sultan of his domains. His reign was largely prosperous earning him the nickname Köse Peyghamber (lit.'the beardless prophet').

Eretna's son Ghiyath al-Din Muhammad I, although initially preferred over his older brother Jafar, struggled to maintain his authority over the state and was quickly deposed by Jafar. Shortly after, he managed to restore his throne, although he could not prevent some portion of his territories from getting annexed by local Turkoman lords, the Dulkadirids to the south, and the Ottomans to the west. In 1365, when he had recently put an end to the revolt of his vizier (chief minister), he was murdered by his emirs (vassals) in Kayseri, the capital.

His 13-year-old son, Ala al-Din Ali, was largely not allowed to interfere in administrative matters by the local emirs, who had been enjoying a substantial degree of autonomy since Eretna's demise. Ali lacked nthe ecessary skills of governance and was described to have only cared for personal pleasures. The state's borders continued to shrink, and the capital temporarily came under Karamanid control. Kadi Burhan al-Din rose to power as the new vizier and further dispatched Ali to command several largely unsuccessful campaigns. Ali died of the plague in August 1380 amidst one of those expeditions. The fourth Eretnid sultan, Muhammad II Chelebi was 7 years old when his father died. His regent Burhan al-Din toppled him in less than a year and proclaimed himself as the new sultan by January 1381, ending the Eretnid dynasty's political presence.

There is a scant number of surviving buildings and literary works identified with the rule of the Eretnids. This contrasts with tneighbouringing contemporary statwhich who left a greater architectural legacy.



The Ilkhanate emerged in West Asia under Hulagu Khan (r. 1256–65) as part of the division of the Mongol Empire that started with Möngke Khan's reign (r. 1251–59). After half a century, the death of the seventh Ilkhan, Ghazan (r. 1295–1304), marked the height of the state, and while his brother Öljaitü was capable of maintaining the empire, his conversion to Shiism sped up the impending fall and civil war in the r egion.[1]

Eretna (1335–1352)

Of Uyghur stock,[2] Eretna was born to Jafar[3] or Taiju Bakhshi, a trusted follower of the second Ilkhanid ruler Abaqa Khan (r. 1265–82), and his wife Tükälti.[4] His name Eretna is popularly explained to have originated from the Sanskrit word ratna (रत्न) meaning 'jewel'.[5] This name was common among the Uyghurs following the spread of Buddhism,[6] and Eretna may have come from Buddhist parentage.[7]

Service under the Ilkhanate and Viceroy of Anatolia (1335–1343)

Eretna migrated to Anatolia following his brothers' execution due to a rebellion they joined[8] and his Chobanid master Timurtash's appointment as the Ilkhanid governor of the region by Ilkhan Abu Sa'id[6] and his father, Chupan.[9] Eretna's master Timurtash eventually rebelled against the Ilkhanate in 1323,[9] during which time Eretna went into hiding.[6] However, the Ilkhan's weak authority and influence over the state of Timurtash's father, Chupan, led to the pardoning of Timurtash and the restoration of his position as the governor of Anatolia. He later led an extensive series of campaigns against the Turkoman emirates in Anatolia.[9] Upon the news of his brother Demasq Kaja's death on 24 August 1327, Timurtash retreated to Kayseri,[10] and following his father's death, he fled to Mamluk Egypt in December while also planning to come into terms with Abu Sa'id.[11] He was later killed on the orders of the Mamluk sultan.[9] Fearing punishment during Timurtash's absence, Eretna took refuge in the court of Badr al-Din Beg of Karaman.[12] Timurtash was replaced by Emir Muhammad from the Oirat tribe, who was the uncle of Abu Sa'id.[13]

Eretna was later involved in a plot against the Ilkhan in 1334 but received a pardon and returned to Anatolia from the Ilkhanid court in Iran.[11] With Abu Sa'id's death in 1335, the Ilkhanid period practically came to an end, leaving in its place continuous wars between several warlords from princely houses, namely the Chobanids and Jalayirids.[1] Back west, Eretna came under the suzerainty of the Jalayirid viceroy of Anatolia, Hasan Buzurg,[6] but had already established his supremacy in the region to a considerable degree.[11] Hasan Buzurg left Eretna as his deputy in Anatolia when he departed east to oppose the Oirat chieftain Ali Padishah's attempt to occupy the Ilkhanid throne. Eretna was officially appointed as the governor of Anatolia by Hasan Buzurg following his victory against Ali Padishah.[10] However, shortly after, Hasan Kuchak gained power in the Ilkhanid domains in the east in 1338.[14] Hasan Kuchak was the son of Timurtash and had effectively become the pretender of his father's legacy. He defeated the Jalayirids near Aladağ and pillaged Erzincan.[15]

Due to constant upheavals in the east, alliedlliance with the Mamluks, who confirmed him as the Mamluk governor of Anatolia. On the contrary, Eretna did very little to uphold Mamluk sovereignty, minting coins on behalf of the new Chobanid puppet Suleiman Khan in 1339. Thus, the Mamluks started viewing the rising Turkoman leader Zayn al-Din Qaraja of Dulkadir more favorfavourably1338–9, Eretna lost Darende to Qaraja, who was continuing to enlarge his realm at the expanse of Eretna. Having been robbed of the wealth he had stored in the latter city, Eretna confronted the Mamluk sultan, who brought up his failure to declare Mamluk sovereignty. In return, Eretna finally minted coins for the Mamluks in 1339–40. Despite the loss of Darende, Eretna was able to gain control of Konya from the Karamanids as well as Sivas on an unknown date.[16]

Eretna's attempt to be on good terms with the Chobanids was hindered by Hasan Kuchak's capture of Erzurum and siege of Avnik. He still insisted on his obedience to Suleiman Khan, although by 1341, he had gained enough power to be able to issue his coins in his own .[17] He first declared his independence in 1341 as it was when he first used the title sultan in his coins.[18] Though, he did not hesitate to send his ambassadors to Cairo to secure Mamluk protection and his status as a na'ib (viceroy) amidst political turmoil within the Mamluks. This elicited a new expedition by Hasan Kuchak in Eretna's lands.[18][19]

Choosing to stay in Tabriz, Hasan Kuchak dispatched his army to Anatolia under Suleiman Khan's command. The battle took place in the plain of Karanbük (between Sivas and Erzincan) in September–October 1343. Eretna initially faced defeat but was able to flank Suleiman Khan and his guards. The Chobanid army disintegrated when Suleiman Khan fled the scene. Eretna's victory was unexpected for most actors in the region.[20] This victory resulted in the Eretnid annexation of Erzincan and several cities further east, also marking the beginning of Eretna's independent reign.[21] Hasan Kuchak's death at the hands of his wife prevented any retaliation for Eretna's earlier victory.[22]

Eretnid dynasty is located in Turkey
The locations of towns in Anatolia.

Independent reign (1343–1352)

After the battle and Hasan Kuchak's death, Eretna assumed the title sultan, dispersed coins in his name, and formally declared sovereignty as part of the khutbah (sermon). He took the laqab (honorific nickname) Ala al-Din,[23] which was attested in his coins and the Maghrebi traveller Ibn Battuta's Rihla.[24] Eretna additionally expanded his borders beyond Erzurum.[23] He faced a reduced number of threats to his rule in this period: Despite the intentions of the new Chobanid ruler Malek Ashraf (r. 1343–57) to wage a war against him, such an expedition never came to be. The political vacuum in Mamluk Egypt, following the death of Sultan Al-Nasir Muhammad (1341; r. 1293–94, 1299–1309), allowed Eretna to take Darende from the Mamluks. The Dulkadirid ruler Qaraja's focus in pillaonng the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia and tensions with the Mamluk emirs also made an attackedth unlikely.[25] Eretna further took advantage of the Karamanid ruler Ahmed's death in 1350, capturing Konya. Overall, Eretna's realm extended from Konya to Ankara and Erzurum,[26] also incorporating Kayseri, Amasya, Tokat, Çorum, Develi, Karahisar, Zile, Canik, Ürgüp, Niğde, Aksaray, Erzincan, Şebinkarahisar, and Darende,[27] with the capital initially situated in Sivas and later Kayseri.[3]

Silver dirham minted in the name of Eretna in 1351 in Erzincan. It includes an inscription in the Uyghur script that reads sultan adil.[28]

Eretna benefited from the support of the significant population of Mongol tribes in Central Anatolia (referred to as Qara Tatars in sources) in asserting his rule. He thus highlighted his succession to the Mongol tradition despite his Uyghur origin.[29] When he stopped referring to an overlord after 1341–2 and issued his own coins, he utilithe Uyghur script, which was also used for Mongolian,[28] to underline the Mongol heritage he sought to represent.[30] Eretna's identification with the Mongol tradition and hesitancy to enact Mamluk sovereignty is in parallel with theareverall character of other local rulers, who responded to the downfall of traditional concepts of legitimacy by practicing substantialpractisingnt means to justify their rule.[31] Still, instead of the Mongols, who were numerous in the region from Kütahya to Sivas, Eretna appointed mamluks (slave-soldiers) and local Turks in administrative positions fearing the rebirth of the Mongol rule.[32]

Eretna was a fluent Arabic-speaker according to Ibn Battuta[31] and was considered a scholar among the scholars of his era. He was famously known as Köse Peyghamber (lit.'the beardless prophet') by his subjects who looked upon him favorably because his favourablyerved order in a region that was politically crumbling apart.[6] He promoted and reinforced the sharia law in his domains and showed an effort to respect and sustain the ulama, sayyids, and sheikhs (Islamic dignitaries). An exception to the praise he received was al-Maqrizi's accusation that he allowed the state to later fall apart.[33] Eretna passed away in February,[34] March,[27] or August[33] 1352 and was buried in the kumbet (dome) located in the courtyard of Köşkmedrese in Kayseri.[27]

Muhammad I (1352–1366)

Muhammad was liked by most Eretnid emirs (regional feudal lords), and upon his father's death, Eretna's vizier (chief minister), Khoja Ali, secretly invited Muhammad to Kayseri to become the new sultan, although Muhammad's older brother Jafar was already residing there. Jafar was imprisoned by Muhammad for some time, but he eventually escaped to Egypt. However, Muhammad's rule did not fare well due to his debaucherous behaviour and unfair treatment of his siblings. Since he was young, authority came into the hands of his emirs.[35] Turkoman tribes took control of the northern region of Canik near the Black Sea coast.[36] Although the Dulkadirids to the south expanded their borders at the expense of the Eretnids, the Dulkadirid beg Zayn al-Din Qaraja would soon seek protection in Muhammad's court fleeing from the Mamluks, who were preparing to prosecute him for the rebellion he led. On 22 September 1353, Muhammad deported Qaraja to Mamluk-controlled Aleppo in exchange for a payment of 500 thousand dinars by the Mamluks, who would later transport Qaraja to Cairo for his execution.[37] This did not affect the fate of Muhammad, as he was deposed by his emirs in 1354, and his half-brother Jafar reigned for a year (until 1355).[38]

After losing the throne to his half-brother, Muhammad fled to Konya,[35] which had been regained by the Karamanids,[27] and later moved north to Sivas. The governor of Sivas, Ibn Kurd, recognized him and assisted him in the restoration of his rule.[35] In April 1355, Muhammad faced Jafar at the Battle of Yalnızgöz.[27] Muhammad came to terms with the vizier Ali Khoja and killed Jafar, reclaiming his rule.[35] In 1361, as a reprisal to a raid by Tatars of the Chavdar [tr] tribe, Ottoman ruler Murad I captured Ankara Castle from the Eretnids. Muhammad allied himself with the Dulkadirids in September 1362 in a joint campaign successfully driving the Mamluks from Malatya. The Mamluk governor of Damascus, Yalbugha, and his 24 thousand-strong force marched north and raided Eretnid and Dulkadirid lands. However, this effort failed to regain Mamluk control.[39]

In 1364, Khoja Ali Shah led an uprising against Muhammad and marched towards Kayseri. Muhammad was defeated and had to request assistance from the Mamluk Sultan Al-Kamil Sha'ban. Upon a decree by the Mamluk Sultan, the governor of Aleppo sent his forces to aid Muhammad, with which he subdued and executed Khoja Ali Shah in 1365. Soon after, other emirs who wanted to preserve their autonomy, such as Hajji Shadgeldi and Hajji Ibrahim,[27] killed Muhammad in Kayseri before he could reinforce his authority, enthroning his son Ali.[40] Around that time, the eastern part of the realm, including Erzincan, Erzurum, and Bayburt, had come under the rule of a local figure, Ahi Ayna.[41]

Ali (1366–1380)

Ala al-Din Ali was crowned at 13 years old, following the murder of his father.[42] Ali was particularly known to have solely cared for pleasure[6] and lacked the skills to consolidate his authority. He was largely disregarded in political matters.[43] After Muhammad's death, local emirs obtained control of much of the region with the former vizier Khoja Ali Shah's son Hajji Ibrahim in Sivas, Sheikh Najib in Tokat, and Hajji Shadgeldi Pasha in Amasya. The Karamanids invaded Niğde and Aksaray, and local Mongol tribes started disrupting the public order.[44]

In 1375, when Ali was in the midst of a feast in his hammam in Kayseri, the Karamanids captured the city with the help of the Mongol tribes of Samargar and Chaykazan, prompting Ali to flee to Sivas. The local judge Kadi Burhan al-Din tried to fend off the Karamanids, in hopes that he could claim Kayseri for himself. He wasn't successful, getting arrested when Ali uncovered his true intentions.[43] In addition, the Dulkadirids gained control of Pınarbaşı.[42] The Emir of Sivas, Hajji Ibrahim, who allied with the leader of Samargar, Hizir Beg, rescued Burhan al-Din and imprisoned Ali instead.[45] Hajji Ibrahim further appointed Hizir Beg as the governor of Kayseri and kept Ali in isolation in Sivas. Although Ali was released for a brief period of time, he waperiodnce again by Hajji Mukbil, who was the mamluk of the recently-deceased Hajji Ibrahim.[46] Ali was liberated by Burhan al-Din in 1378. In June of that year, Burhan al-Din was made vizier by the emirs to prevent a possible revolt of peasants disgruntled by Ali's incompetence.[47]

Kadi Burhan al-Din later dispatched Ali to lead several campaigns. One was aimed at subduing Burhan al-Din's rival Hajji Shadgeldi of Amasya, but this proved to be futile and further reinforced Shadgeldi's influence over the region. Another expedition consisted of efforts to reclaim Niğde, which was largely fruitless except for Karahisar's capture. After raiding the Turkomans near Niğde in 1379, Ali took advantage of the death of Pir Husayn Beg, Emir of Erzincan, through a campaign to retake the city, which was also unsuccessful. Ala al-Din Ali died in Kazova [tr] in August 1380 from the plague amidst another attempt to crush Shadgeldi.[47] His body was transferred to Tokat and then to Kayseri. He was buried in Köşkmedrese beside his father and grandfather.[48]

Muhammad II Chelebi and usurpation by Kadi Burhan al-Din

Muhammad II Chelebi was crowned when he was 7 years old.[49] His regent was Kadi Burhan al-Din, who proclaimed himself as the ruler by January 1381. According to Ibn Khaldun and Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani, Muhammad was killed by Kadi Burhan al-Din in 1390.[50]



There are no surviving mosques, madrasas, caravanserais, hospitals, or bridges dated back to Eretna's rule, except for tombs. Similarly, the overall Eretnid period in Anatolia was unproductive in terms of architectural legacy. This contrasts with the large legacy produced by the Turkoman contemporaries of the Eretnids, who ruled comparably smaller realms.[51] Köşkmedrese is a khanqah that was used as the burial place of the Eretnid sultans and consorts. According to the now-vanished inscriptions on the building, it was built by Eretna in memory of his consort Suli Pasha in 1339.[52] The name Kaluyan, possibly that of an Armenian architect, appears on the building.[53]


There is a scant number of surviving literary works that were dedicated to the Eretnids. One such text was a short Persian tafsir in al-As'ila wa'l-Ajwiba by Aqsara'i commissioned by the Eretnid emir of Amasya, Sayf al-Din Shadgeldi (died 1381). Another instance was an astrological almanac (taqwim) created for the last Eretnid ruler Ala al-Din Ali in 1371–2.[31]

A Quran scroll commissioned for Ghiyath al-Din Muhammad I, circa 1353–54

Family tree

Eretna's parents were Jafar[3] or Taiju Bakhshi and his wife Tükälti.[4] Eretna's elder brothers were Emir Taramtaz and Suniktaz.[54] There were possibly two additional brothers of Eretna. Emir of Erzincan, Mutahharten was Eretna's nephew among others.[55] Eretna had a sister who married the Chobanid prince Timurtash.[56] According to the work of history commissioned by the Karamanids, Karamanname, Eretna had a paternal uncle named Ali.[24]

Eretna's wives included Suli Pasha (died 1339),[57] Togha Khatun[a] and Isfahan Shah Khatun.[58] He was known to have had three sons: Hasan, Muhammad, and Jafar. The oldest son,[57] Sheikh Hasan was the governor of Sivas[27] and died in December 1347[27] or January 1348[34] due to sickness shortly after he wed an Artuqid princess.[34] Eretna's successor and youngest son, Ghiyath al-Din Muhammad I was born to Isfahan Shah Khatun, who was a relative of the Jalayirid ruler Hasan Buzurg.[57]

Muhammad's son Ala al-Din Ali succeeded him after his murder. According to Karamanname, Muhammad also had an older son named Eretna. He was at some point declared as the ruler but was defeated and imprisoned by the Karamanids. While he held the throne for some time, he was eventually killed by Ala al-Din of Karaman. Muhammad's son Eretna had two sons named Esenbogha and Ghazi, the first of which is reputed to have a tomb in Niğde. However, he is not mentioned by any sources of that era other than Karamanname.[59]

Ali's only known son was Muhammad II Chelebi.[60] Khuvand Islamshah Khatun was either the mother or consort of Ali. She appears in records as a noble carrying weight in the Eretnid court, where she ordered a copy of the Ilkhanid Tavarikh-i Jahangusha-yi Ghazani. The possibility that she was Ali's consort is supported by a reference to him as the person of the highest authority, or Shahzada-yi Jahan, along with her, Khuvandegar Khatun, and the remark "may their dominion live on and their majesty be eternal." There, she was described as "the Bilqis of the age and time," "Banu of Iran-zamin of the time," and "pride of the illustrious family (urugh) of Chingiz Khan."[61]

Muhammad is reputed to have had 2 sons, Yusuf Chelebi (died 1434) and Ahmad (d. 1433), and 3 daughters, Neslikhan Khatun (d. 1455), Aisha (d. 1436), and Fatima (d. 1430). Ahmad had a son named Muhammad (d. 1443) and grandson Ahmad, who was attested to be living in 1477.[62]

The family tree of the Eretnid dynasty
TükältiTaiju Bakhshi or Jafar
SonTimurtashDaughterTogha Khatun, Suli Pasha, Isfahan Shah KhatunAla al-Din EretnaTaramtazSuniktazSon
FeridunAn Artuqid princessSheikh HasanIzz al-Din
Muhammad I
Pir MuhammadDaughterMutahhartenDas. of Alexios III and Ahmad Beg
EretnaIslamshah KhatunAla al-Din AliShah AliDaughter
EsenboghaGhaziMuhammad II ChelebiYar Ali
Yusuf ChelebiAhmadNeslikhanAishaFatima
Legend:   Eretnid sultans   Emirs of Erzincan


  1. ^ Ibn Battuta wrote about having met her in Kayseri.[27]


  1. ^ a b Spuler & Ettinghausen 1971.
  2. ^ Bosworth 1996, p. 234; Masters & Ágoston 2010, p. 41; Nicolle 2008, p. 48; Cahen 1965; Sümer 1969, p. 22; Peacock 2019, p. 51.
  3. ^ a b c Bosworth 1996, p. 234.
  4. ^ a b Sümer 1969, p. 22.
  5. ^ Bosworth 1996, p. 234; Nicolle 2008, p. 48; Cahen 1965.
  6. ^ a b c d e f Cahen 1965.
  7. ^ Nicolle 2008, p. 48.
  8. ^ Sümer 1969, pp. 23, 93.
  9. ^ a b c d Peacock 2019, p. 50.
  10. ^ a b Melville 2009, p. 91.
  11. ^ a b c Melville 2009, p. 92.
  12. ^ Sümer 1969, p. 93.
  13. ^ Sümer 1969, p. 92.
  14. ^ Sümer 1969, p. 101.
  15. ^ Melville 2009, p. 94.
  16. ^ Melville 2009, p. 94–95.
  17. ^ Melville 2009, p. 95.
  18. ^ a b Sinclair 2019, p. 89.
  19. ^ Sümer 1969, p. 104.
  20. ^ Sümer 1969, p. 105.
  21. ^ Sinclair 1989, p. 286.
  22. ^ Sümer 1969, p. 104–105.
  23. ^ a b Sümer 1969, p. 110.
  24. ^ a b Uzunçarşılı 1968, p. 164.
  25. ^ Sümer 1969, p. 111.
  26. ^ Sümer 1969, p. 113.
  27. ^ a b c d e f g h i Göde 1995.
  28. ^ a b Peacock 2019, p. 182.
  29. ^ Peacock 2019, p. 51.
  30. ^ Peacock 2019, p. 61.
  31. ^ a b c Peacock 2019, p. 62.
  32. ^ Sümer 1969, p. 115.
  33. ^ a b Melville 2009, p. 96.
  34. ^ a b c Sümer 1969, p. 121.
  35. ^ a b c d Uzunçarşılı 1968, p. 177.
  36. ^ Uzunçarşılı 1968, p. 177–178.
  37. ^ Alıç 2020, pp. 85–86.
  38. ^ Çayırdağ 2000, p. 444.
  39. ^ Uzunçarşılı 1968, p. 178–179.
  40. ^ Uzunçarşılı 1968, p. 179–180.
  41. ^ Sinclair 2019, link.
  42. ^ a b Çayırdağ 2000, p. 450.
  43. ^ a b Uzunçarşılı 1968, p. 182.
  44. ^ Uzunçarşılı 1968, p. 181.
  45. ^ Uzunçarşılı 1968.
  46. ^ Çayırdağ 2000, p. 451.
  47. ^ a b Uzunçarşılı 1968, p. 183.
  48. ^ Uzunçarşılı 1968, p. 184.
  49. ^ Uzunçarşılı 1968, p. 183–184.
  50. ^ Uzunçarşılı 1968, p. 186–187.
  51. ^ Sümer 1969, p. 114.
  52. ^ Durukan 2002.
  53. ^ Jackson 2020, link.
  54. ^ Sümer 1969, p. 84.
  55. ^ Uzunçarşılı 1968, p. 189.
  56. ^ Uzunçarşılı 1968, pp. 164, 189.
  57. ^ a b c Uzunçarşılı 1968, p. 175.
  58. ^ Uzunçarşılı 1968, p. 175; Göde 1995.
  59. ^ Uzunçarşılı 1968, p. 180–181.
  60. ^ Uzunçarşılı 1968, p. 184–186.
  61. ^ Melville 2010, p. 137.
  62. ^ von Zambaur 1927, p. 155.


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Eretnid dynasty
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