Tokhtamysh (Tatar: Тухтамыш/Tuqtamış),[n 1] (c. 1342–1406) a prominent khan of the Blue Horde, briefly unified the White Horde and Blue Horde subdivisions of the Golden Horde into a single state. He descended from Genghis Khan's grandson, Tuqa-Timur.

Tokhtamysh and the armies of the Golden Horde rally in front of Moscow, 1382.
Khan of the Golden Horde
Eastern Half (White Horde)
Reign1376 – 1380
Successorhimself of the Khan of the Golden Horde
Khan of the Golden Horde
Reign1380 – 1397
Predecessorhimself of the Khan of the Golden Horde
SuccessorTemür Qutlugh
Khan of the Tatar Siberian Khanate
Reign1397 – 1406
SuccessorChekre Khan
Bornc. 1342
White Horde
FatherTuli Kwadja

Early campaigns

Tokhtamysh appears in history in 1376, trying to overthrow his uncle Urus Khan, ruler of the White Horde, and fleeing to the great Timur. Tokhtamysh outlived Urus and both his sons, and forcefully ascended to the throne of the White Horde in 1378, with Timur's backing.

Tokhtamysh dreamed of emulating his ancestors and made plans to reunite the Golden Horde. In 1380, he invaded the Blue Horde by fording across the Volga, and defeated Mamai during the Second Battle of the Kalka River. The ruler of the Blue Horde, Mamai, was killed shortly after the Battle of Kulikovo, marking Tokhtamysh's victory and the reunification of the Golden Horde.

Campaign against Moscow

Dmitry Donskoy had raised a large army to defeat and suppress the MongolTatar hordes, and, after defeating Mamai during the Battle of Kulikovo, could not raise another army against Tokhtamysh Khan.

Having reunited the Blue and White Hordes into the Golden Horde, in 1382, Tokhtamysh led a successful campaign against Russia as a punishment for the Kulikovo defeat - setting back, though not ending, the Russian aspiration to free themselves of Tatar rule. In just six years, Tokhtamysh had reunified the lands of the Golden Horde from Crimea to Lake Balkhash.

After three days of siege, Tokhtamysh was faced with a stalemate, until Donskoy's brothers-in-law prince of Nizhnii Novgorod Dmitry of Suzdal tricked citizens into surrendering the city.[1] The destruction of Moscow led to Dimitry's surrender to the authority of Tokhtamysh at the end of 1382. Tokhtamysh also took Donskoy's son Vasily I of Moscow hostage.[2]


Tokhtamysh started to act as a sovereign ruler, which must have worried his former suzerain Timur, who as a result invaded Tokhtamysh twice; 1391 and in 1395, eventually dethroning him and imposing Temür Qutlugh as a khan of Golden Horde. Tokhtamysh took refuge in Lithuania, at the court of grand duke Vytautas.[3]

In 1397 both rulers signed treaty in which Tokhtamysh confirmed Vytautas as a rightful ruler of Ruthenian lands that were once part of Golden Horde, and now belonged to Lithuania, in exchange of military assistance. It is possible that treaty required Vytautas to pay tribute from this lands once khan will regain his throne. Vytautas probably was planning to establish himself as overruler in Tatar lands.[4] Joint expedition, supported by Polish volunteers under Spytek of Melsztyn, was defeated on 12 August 1399 in the battle on the Vorskla river by forces let by Temiir Kutlugh and Nogay emir Edigü. Defeat was disastrous, ending Vytautas ambitious policy in Pontic steppe and forcing Tokhtamysh too seek refuge again, this time in Siberia.[5] About seventy-four princes, among them Andrei of Polatk and Dmitry of Briansk were killed, the same goes with many prominent lords, like Spytko.[6]

Tokhtamysh died in Siberia in 1408.

Wars against Tamerlane

Believing he could defeat the Ilkhanate Chobanids and capture the disputed territories of the Caucasus since the days of Berke Khan, in 1385 Tokhtamysh, with an army of 50,000 (or five tumens), invaded Persia and took Tabriz. Returning north they took 200,000 slaves from the Caucasus, including tens of thousands of Armenians from the districts of Parskahayk, Syunik, and Artsakh.[7] This proved to be a fatal error for Tokhtamysh, who moved north from the Caucasus, thus allowing his Ilkhanate rivals to side with Timur, who annexed Persia to his own expanding kingdom. Furious, Tokhtamysh turned back and made war on his former ally.

Eventually, Tokhtamysh conceded defeat and withdrew to the steppe. However, in 1387 he suddenly invaded Transoxiana, the heart of Timur's realm. Unfortunately for Tokhtamysh, heavy snow forced him back to the steppe.

In 1395, the scenario reached its climax as Timur attacked the Golden Horde and defeated Tokhtamysh at the Terek. Timur sacked cities of the Golden Horde such as Azov (Tana), Astrakhan[8] and Tokhtamysh's capital, Sarai Berke. Timur captured artisans and craftsmen of the Golden Horde, and placed a puppet ruler, Koirichak, on the throne of the White Horde and appointed Temür Qutlugh khan of the Horde.

Tokhtamysh escaped to the Ukrainian steppes and asked for help from the Grand Duke Vytautas of Lithuania. In the great Battle of the Vorskla River (1399) the combined forces of Tokhtamysh and Vytautas were defeated by two of Timur's generals, khan Temur Qutlugh and emir (murza, visir) Edigu. The defeated Tokhtamysh was killed near present-day Tyumen by Edigu's men in 1406.

He was the last khan who minted coins with Mongolian script.


He had 8 sons;


See also


  1. The spelling of Tokhtamysh varies, but the most common spelling is Tokhtamysh. Tokhtamısh, Toqtamysh, Toqtamış, Toqtamıs, Toktamys, Tuqtamış, and variants also appear.


  1. Halperin 1987, p. 56.
  2. Halperin 1987, p. 57.
  3. Kołodziejczyk 2011, p. 6-7.
  4. Kołodziejczyk 2011, p. 7-8.
  5. Kołodziejczyk 2011, p. 8.
  6. Frost 2015, p. 86.
  7. The Turco-Mongol Invasions IV, Medieval Armenian History, Turkish History, Turkey
  8. Martin, Janet (2007-12-06). Medieval Russia, 980-1584. ISBN 9780521859165.


House of Qiyat (1206–1635)
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Arab Shah Muzaffar
Khan of the Golden Horde
Succeeded by
Temür Qutlugh
Preceded by
Khan of the Blue Horde
Succeeded by
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