Ata-Malik Juvayni

Atâ-Malek Juvayni (1226–1283) (Persian: عطاملک جوینی‎), in full, Ala al-Din Ata-ullah (علاءالدین عطاءالله), was a Persian historian who wrote an account of the Mongol Empire entitled Tarīkh-i Jahān-gushā (History of the World Conqueror).

Ata Malik Juvayni
Ruler of Baghdad
In office
1259 – unknown
Preceded byGuo Kan[1][2][3][4][5]
Personal details
Juvayn, Greater Khorasan
Military service
AllegianceMongol Empire, Ilkhanate

He was born in Joveyn [fa; it], a city in Khorasan in eastern Persia. Both his grandfather and his father, Baha al-Din, had held the post of sahib-divan or Minister of Finance for Muhammad Jalal al-Din and Ögedei Khan respectively. Baha al-Din also acted as deputy c. 1246 for his immediate superior, the emir Arghun, in which role he oversaw a large area including Kingdom of Georgia.

Juvayni too became an important official of the empire. He visited the Mongol capital of Karakorum twice, beginning his history of the Mongols conquests on one such visit (c. 1252–53). He was with Ilkhan Hulagu in the 1256 campaign at the taking of Alamut and was responsible for saving part of its celebrated library. He had also accompanied Hulagu during the sack of Baghdad in 1258, and the next year was appointed governor of Baghdad, Lower Mesopotamia, and Khuzistan. Around 1282, Juvayni attended a Mongol quriltai, or assembly, held in the Ala-Taq pastures northeast of Lake Van. He died the following year in Mughan or Arran in Azerbaijan.

150 years after the castle of Alamut became the headquarters of the Nizaris, ʿAṭā-Malik Juwaynī, who was Hūlāgū Khān’s attendant and historian, visited the well-known Alamut library. He tells us about the plethora of Ismaili religious books and texts he found there, writing about the extensive literary production. However, when the Mongols invaded Alamut and destroyed the Ismaili capital, the library of Alamut was burned. Only copies of the Qurʾān and a few other treatises were saved. [6]

Juvayni's brother was the powerful Shams al-Din Mohammad Sahib-Divan, who had served as Minister of Finance under Hulagu and Abaqa Khan. A skillful leader in his own right, Shams al-Din also had influential in-laws: his wife Khoshak was the daughter of Avag Mkhargrdzeli, Lord High Constable of Georgia, and Gvantsa, a noblewoman who went on to become queen of Georgia.

Juvayni's own position at court and his family connections made him privy to information unavailable to other historians. For unknown reasons Juvayni's history terminates in 1260, more than twenty years before his death.

While Juvayni’s history is valuable, it is important to recognize the discrepancies, bias and errors present. For instance, his biases and selectivity are present in his description of what he believes to be the pinnacle of the Mongol conquest, the obliteration of the Ismailis, while neglecting to mention the fact that the Mongols sacked Baghdad and overthrew his Sunni ‘Abbasid co-religionists in 656/1258. Furthermore, his conclusion that “of [the Nizari Imam’s] stock no trace was left, and he and his kindred became but a tale on men’s lips and a tradition in the world” is rebuked when we later learn that the descendants of the Imam were still alive. In fact, a son by the title of “Naw Dawlat” or “Abu Dawlat” managed to reconquer Alamut in 674/1275. The integrity of Juvayni's narrative is also questioned as it contradicts his own testament about a single son of the Nizari Imam Rukn al-Din.[7]

The standard edition of Juvayni's history is published under the title Tarīkh-i Jahān-gushā, ed. Mirza Muhammad Qazwini, 3 vol, Gibb Memorial Series 16 (Leiden and London, 1912–37). An English translation by John Andrew Boyle The History of the World-Conqueror was republished in 1997.


  1. ^ Colin A. Ronan (1995). The Shorter Science and Civilisation in China. Volume 5 of The Shorter Science and Civilisation in China: An Abridgement of Joseph Needham's Original Text (illustrated ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 250. ISBN 0-521-46773-X. Retrieved 2011-11-28. Moreover, many Chinese were in the first wave of the Mongolian conquest of Iran and Iraq - a Chinese general, Guo Kan, was first governor of Baghdad after its capture in ad 1258. As the Mongols had a habit of destroying irrigation and |volume= has extra text (help)
  2. ^ Original from the University of Michigan Thomas Francis Carter (1955). The invention of printing in China and its spread westward (2 ed.). Ronald Press Co. p. 174. Retrieved 2011-11-28. The name of this Chinese general was Kuo K'an (Mongol, Kuka Ilka). He commanded the right flank of the Mongol army in its advance on Baghdad and remained in charge of the city after its surrender. His life in Chinese has been preserved
  3. ^ Thomas Francis Carter (1955). The invention of printing in China and its spread westward (2 ed.). Ronald Press Co. p. 171. Retrieved 2010-06-28. Chinese influences soon made themselves strongly felt in Hulagu's dominions. A Chinese general was made the first governor of Baghdad,5 and Chinese engineers were employed to improve the irrigation of the Tigris-Euphrates basin
  4. ^ Jacques Gernet (1996). A history of Chinese civilization. Cambridge University Press. p. 377. ISBN 0-521-49781-7. Retrieved 2010-10-28.
  5. ^ Lillian Craig Harris (1993). China considers the Middle East (illustrated ed.). Tauris. p. 26. ISBN 1-85043-598-7. Retrieved 2010-06-28. The first governor of Baghdad under the new regime was Guo Kan, a Chinese general who had commanded the Mongols' right flank in the siege of Baghdad. Irrigation works in the Tigris-Euphrates basin were improved by Chinese engineers(Original from the University of Michigan)
  6. ^ Virani, Shafique N. (2018-04-16). "Alamūt, Ismailism and Khwāja Qāsim Tushtarī's Recognizing God". Shii Studies Review. 2 (1–2): 193–227. doi:10.1163/24682470-12340021. ISSN 2468-2462.
  7. ^ Virani, Shafique. "The Eagle Returns: Evidence of Continued Isma'ili Activity at Alamut and in the South Caspian Region following the Mongol Conquests". Journal of the American Oriental Society. doi:10.2307/3217688.


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