Muhammad II of Khwarezm


Muhammad II of Khwarezm

Ala ad-Din Muhammad II (علاءالدين محمد ʿAlā al-Dīn Muḥammad) was the ruler of the Khwarezmid Empire from 1200 to 1220. His ancestor was a Turkic slave who eventually became a viceroy of a small province named Khwarizm. After his father died, Muhammad inherited his father's lands, and it was from there he began expanding outwards. By 1205 he had conquered all of Persia from the Seljuk Turks. When he had conquered all the lands from the river Jaxartes to the Persian Gulf he declared himself shah and demanded formal recognition from the caliph in Baghdad. When the caliph an-Nasir rejected his claim, Ala ad-Din Muhammad proclaimed one of his nobles caliph and marched towards Baghdad to depose an-Nasir. However, when crossing the Zagros Mountains, the shah's army was caught in a blizzard. Thousands of warriors died and with the army decimated the generals had no choice but to return home.

In 1218, a small contingent Mongols crossed borders in pursuit of escaped enemy general. Upon successfully retrieving him, Genghis Khan made contact with the Shah. Having only recently conquered two-thirds of what would one day be China, Genghis was looking to open trade relations, but having heard exaggerated reports of the Mongols, the Shah believed this gesture was only a ploy to invade his land. Genghis sent cities emissaries to Khwarezm (reports vary - one stating a group of 100 Muslim merchants with a single Mongol leading them, others state 450) to emphasize his hope for a trade road. The Shah, in turn, had one of his governors openly accuse the party of spying, their rich goods were seized and the party was arrested. Trying to maintain diplomacy, Genghis sent an envoy of three men to the Shah, to give him a chance to disclaim all knowledge of the governor's actions and hand him over to the Mongols for punishment. The shah executed the envoy (again, some sources claim one man was executed, some claim all three were), and then immediately had the Mongol merchant party (Muslim and Mongol alike) put to death. These events lead Genghis to retaliate with a force of 100,000 to 150,000 men that crossed the Jaxartes in 1219 and sacked the cities of Samarkand, Bukhara, Otrar and others, beginning what would one day been known as the Muslim Holocaust. Muhammad's capital city, Urgench, followed soon after. Ala ad-Din Muhammad fled and sought refuge throughout Khorasan, but died of pleurisy on an island in the Caspian Sea near the port of Abaskun some weeks later.

References

  • Blandford, Neil; Jones, Bruce (1985). The World's Most Evil Men. 
  • Cawthorne, Nigel (1999). The World's Worst Atrocities. 
  • Man, John (2004). Genghis Kahn - Life, Death and Resurrection. 
Preceded by
Ala ad-Din Tekish
Khwarazm Shah
1200–1221
Succeeded by
Jalal ad-Din Mingburnu

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