Amir Chupan, also known as Choban or Coban (امیر چوپان سلدوز), (d. November 1327), was a Chupanid noble of the Ilkhanate, and nominal general of the Mongol Empire. His father was named Malek of Mongol Suldus clan. His ancestor was Chilaun (Чулуун) who was one of Chingis Khan's four great companions.
Rise to Power
Amir Coban was first mentioned as a supporter of Gaykhatu during the latter's successful campaign for the Ilkhanid throne. During Ghazan's march to the throne in 1295, Coban met with him near the Ustunavand castle. Coban served under Ghazan, participating in the campaign against the rebel Nauruz. He acted as a senior commander during Ghazan's three campaigns against Syria, then under the rule of the Mamelukes. During one of these campaigns, Coban's army, under the command of Ghazan's chief military officer Qutlugh Shah, was defeated by the Mamelukes in the battle of Marj al-Saffar (1303). When Qutlugh fled, Coban stayed with the army, and reached Ghazan in June. Ghazan, furious at the defeat, punished both Qutlugh and Coban, though the latter was dealt with more leniently.
In 1305 Coban married the daughter of Ghazan's successor Öljeitü, Dowlandi Katun. In 1307 he was given command of one of four armies assigned to quell the rebellious province of Gilan. Marching from Ardabil, he convinced the rulers of Astara and Gaskar to surrender peacefully, and then met up with Öljeitü. Qutlugh Shah's army, however, did not fare so well, and he was killed by the Gilakis. Following his death, Öljeitü made Coban his chief military commander (amir of the ulus). Coban was now a major influence behind the throne, though he had to contend with the court viziers. When Öljeitü died in 1316, his son Abu Sa'id confirmed Coban's status as amir of the ulus, despite the attempts of an Amir Sevinch to gain the position for himself.
Height and Fall Under Abu Sa'id
Coban attempted to neutralize the influence of the viziers. In 1318, he convinced the discredited former vizier Rashid-al-Din Hamadani to return to the Ilkhanid court. Rashid, who had many enemies, was accused of poisoning Öljeitü soon after he returned. Coban promptly turned on him, and Rashad was put to death in July of that year.
In 1319, armies under the command of the khan of the Blue Horde, Öz-Beg, invaded the Ilkhanate. Abu Sa'id led a campaign to stop the invasion. Coban was on his way to assist Amir Husain (the father of the founder of the Jalayirids, Hasan Buzurg) against the raids of Chagatai prince Yasa'ur, who was devastating Khurasan, but then turned around to support Abu Sa'id upon receiving word that the latter's position across the Kur River was in danger. Several of Abu Sa'id's officers had deserted, leaving his army weakened. He rushed to his master's position, only to find the troops of the Blue Horde already in flight. Nevertheless, he inflicted heavy casualties on the enemy.
The matter of Abu Sa'id's officers fleeing still needed to be addressed. When the amir enacted punishment against Quromsi (also a potential rival), as well as several other officers, for military negligence, a conspiracy was launched against him. The conspirators included Abu Sa'id's uncle Irenjin, who Coban had dismissed from the governorship of Diyarbakr. With the support of the Ilkhan, Coban dealt with them. Irenjin was defeated near Mianeh in June 1319. Following these events, Coban gained almost complete control over the Ilkhan, and his sons gained prominent positions as Persia was parceled out between the family. He also married Abu Sa'id's sister Sati Beg, whom he had been betrothed to since 1316. His sons quickly took advantage of their power; in the winter of 1322 Coban, who was suffering from gout, had to convince his son Timurtash, governor of Rum, to end a rebellion against the Ilkhanate.
While Coban was reaching his height in power, he was also sowing the seeds of his fall. While Abu Sa'id lacked a treasury, Coban's son and administrative representative Demasq Kaja spent his wealth extravagantly. This situation annoyed the Ilkhan, who was further influenced against him by his viziers, particularly Rukn al-Din Sa'in, Coban's protégé. Coban's efforts to keep Abu Sa'id from marrying his daughter Bagdad Katun, who was already married to Hasan Buzurg, did not help the situation.
In 1325 Coban defeated another force led by Öz-Beg, and even invaded the Blue Horde. Early in 1326, Coban led an army to defend against an imminent invasion of Khurasan. By the request of Abu Said, the Khagan Yesün Temür awarded his custodian Chupan the nominal title of a chief-commander of all Mongol Khanates. In the autumn of that year, the Chagatai Khan Tarmashirin crossed the Oxus River, and was defeated by Coban's son Hasan near Ghazna. Vizier Rukn al-Din Sa'in had traveled with Coban, leaving Demasq Kaja in effective control at the Ilkhanid court. Abu Sa'id decided to make his move at this time. In August 1327 Abu Sa'id had Demasq Kaja killed, ostensibly for the latter's activities with a former concubine of Öljeitü's.
Abu Sa'id then undertook a campaign against the other Chobanids. The Khurasanis gained word of the plot, but pretended to act friendly toward Coban. The latter marched west; on his way, he convinced the local religious leader of Simnan, Shaikh 'Ala' al-Daula, to try to negotiate a truce, and then camped near Qazvin. When the shaikh failed, he continued west, with his troops pillaging on the way. Upon reaching Quha, he was a day's journey away from Abu Sa'id's camp, but as night fell, most of his amir deserted him for the Ilkhan. Instead of facing the Ilkhanid army, he withdrew. Upon reaching Saveh, he sent his wife Sati Beg back to Abu Sa'id. He then traveled in the direction of Tabas, with the intention of finding refuge in Transoxiana.
Upon reaching the Murghab River, he changed his mind and headed for Khurasan. He was given a friendly welcome into Herat by the local Kartid ruler, Ghiyath ud-Din. However, when he received an order by the Ilkhan, his master, to execute Coban, Ghiyath had no choice but to obey. Coban and his son Jela'u Khan were both killed. As Coban's friend, Ghiyath ordered that he be killed by strangulation, which was considered an honorable way to die. The Kartid leader then sent one of Coban's fingers to Abu Sa'id as proof of the deed. Many of Coban's sons were to also die in the next few years. He was buried in Medina, in the cemetery of Baqi, under the supervision of his daughter Bagdad Katun.
By Dowlandi Katun:
- Jela'u Khan
By Korducin (probably second wife):
- Yagi Basti
By Sati Beg:
- Thomas T. Allsen-Culture and Conquest in Mongol Eurasia, p.39
- Charles Melville and 'Abbas Zaryab. http://www.iranica.com/articles/search/searchpdf.isc?ReqStrPDFPath=/home1/iranica/articles/v5_articles/chobanids&OptStrLogFile=/home/iranica/public_html/logs/pdfdownload.html
- J. A. Boyle (1968). The Cambridge History of Iran, Volume Five: The Saljuq and Mongol Periods. ISBN 0-521-06936-X