Tamerlane Besieges Baghdad
Tamerlane beseiges Baghdad

JALAYIRIDS (1336-1432 AD)
(DBA IV/67)

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The Jalayirs (Jelairs) were one of the Mongol tribes that supported the Il-Khan Hülegü's rise to power. The Jalayirid amirs were assigned to rule as governors of Anatolia, in the region that comprised the former Sultanate of Rum. Following the death of the last Il-Khan Abu Sa'id (1335 AD), internecine warfare raged amongst the various nomadic tribes vying to rule as Il-Khans, with eight Khans deposed or murdered in rapid succession. The Jalayirs under Hasan Buzurg (the Great) emerged along with their rivals, the Chupanids (Chopanids), as the principal regional powers. Hasan established his Jalayir capital at Baghad in 1336 AD, marking the start of the Jalayirid DBA list.

The Chupanids under Hasan Kücük ("the Small") seized Jalayirid holdings in Armenia (1338 AD), Diyarbakr (1340 AD) and Karin/Erzerum and Sebastia/Silvas (1343 AD). Following the Chupanid Hasan's murder in 1344 AD, his brother and successor Malik-Ashraf launched feroious campaigns against the remaining Armenian noble houses and the Jalayir holdings in Armenia/Georgia and cracked down throughout his realm, prompting both a western migration and an appeal from subject Mongols in Azerbaijan to the Khan Jani-Beg of the Golden Horde for liberation.

In 1357 AD, the Golden Horde overran Azerbaijan, expelling the Chupanids and appointing their own governors. Hassan's heir, Sheik Uwais (Uways) saw his opportunity, and in 1358 AD, his Jalayir armies were able to expel the Golden Horde from Tabriz, Naxijewan and Qarabagh, annexing much of the Chobanid's former holdings in Armenia. By 1360 AD, the Jalayirds controlled Ajerbaijan. Uwais then established suzerainty over the Mozaffarid principality of Fars (1361-1364 AD), effectively bringing the region of Iraq Ajami into the Jalayirid fold. With his conqests and control over the Il-Khan administrative capital of Tabriz, Uwais lay claim to the Il-Khan legacy. On his death in 1374 AD, however, the uneasy federation of tribal alliances amongst the various Mongol, Turkic and Kurdish tribes broke apart and local wars erupted within and on the frontiers of the Jalayirid realm.

New migrations also unsettled Jalayirid rule. The Qara Qoyunlu (Black Sheep Turkmen) had established themselves as an independent principality at Van in central Armenia in 1379 AD, expanding their rule and raiding heavily in southern Armenia in the 1380s. For now, the Qara Qoyunlu were content to serve as clients of the Jalayirids in exchange for a free hand. During the same period, the Ottoman Ghuzz tribe was emerging as the predominant state in the former Sultanate of Rum and was expanding its influence into western Armenia.

In 1384 AD, the Central Asian Khan Timur Barlas (aka Timur i-Lenk, Timur the Lame or Tamerlane) invaded Iraq Ajami, forcing the Sultan Adhmad Jalayir to flee Sultaniyeh for Tabriz. Sensing Jalayirid weakness, Khan Tokhtamysh launched his Golden Horde into Azerbaijan via Darband and Shirvan in 1385 AD in a massive raid that took an estimated 200,000 slaves. Timur followed-up his 1384 campaign with a full invasion of Azerbaijanin 1387 AD, forcing Ahmad to flee Tabriz for the safety of Baghdad. Again Timur retired after widespread famine made it impossible for him to sustain his army. Timur renewed his western campaigns in 1393-1394 AD, overrunning Baghdad and Tikrit. The Sultan Ahmad Jalayir was forced to flee yet again, narrowly escaping Timurid horsemen at Karbala, and abandoning his realm to take exile with the Mameluk Sultan Burquq. After the departure of Timur's army, Ahmad was able to return to Baghdad, deposing Timur's governor Khwaja Mas'ud.

Miranshah, Timur's half-mad son, was appointed the Timurid governor of Iran, Iraq, Armenia and the Caucasus. With Miranshah preoccupied with rebellions in Georgia, Ahmad returned to rule over a much reduced Jalayird sultanate comprised mainly of Iraq Arabi. Miran's reverses prompted Timur to launch a new invasion of the region in 1401-1402 AD, which ravaged Ottoman controlled western Armenia, and defeated the Mameluks at Aleppo, Damascus and Merdin before prompting Ahmad to take flight again. His officers remained to defend Baghdad, but were quickly overwhelmed and a bloodbath ensued as Timur's soldiers took the heads of an estimated 90,000 inhabitants, sparing only the Imans, scholars and children.

With the aid of Qara Yusuf and the Black Sheep Turks, Ahmad was able to return to Baghdad after Timur's departure in 1402 AD, but he was expelled from his own kingdom after quarreling with Yusuf. In 1403, Timur's grandson Abu Bakr drove the Black Sheep Turks out of Baghad, and adminstered the region until Timur's death in 1405. Both Admad and Yusef took refuge with the Mameluks in Egypt (whether they were given sanctuary or were imprisoned by the Mameluk Sultan is not clear). While in exile together, they agreed to a division in which Ahmad would rule Iraq Arabi with Baghdad as his capital, while Qara Yusuf would rule Azerbaijan with Tabriz as his capital. With Timur's death, they returned to reclaim their former kingdoms. Qara Yusuf's Black Sheep Turks defeated the Timurids at Nakhichevan, reoccupied Tabriz and then decisively defeated the army of Miranshah and Abu Bakr on 20 April 1408 AD. Then, Ahmad broke his bargain with Yusuf by invading Azerbaijan, briefly occupying Tabriz until the Black Sheep Turks defeated the Jalayirids in August 1410. Ahmad was either captured and executed or assassinated. Yusuf named his son Shah Muhammad to rule in Baghdad in 1412 AD. The remnants of the Jalayirid dynasty were pushed south into lower Iraq, ruling over the towns of Al-Hillah, Wasit, and Basra until extinguished by the Qara Qoyunlu in 1432, bringing an end to the DBA Jalayirid list.

The Jalayir Dynasty: Tajuddin Hasan Buzurg (1336-1356), Uwais I (1356-1374), Jalaluddin Hussein I (1374-1382), Ghiyathuddin (aka Ahmad) Hussein I (1382-1410), Bayazid (1382-1383), Shah Walad (1410-1411), Mahmud (1411-1415), Uwais II (1415-1421), Mohammed (1421-1422), Mahmud (1422-1424), Hussein II (1424-1432).


The Jalayirid list includes the following element types:

1x 3Cv (Gen) Commander in chief leading Jalayir Mongol armoured cavalry or Ghulam household cavalry.
2x 3Cv Ghulams (1x 3Cv Mongol armoured cavalry if using Ghulam CnC).
8x 2Lh Jalayir horse archers. 2-4 elements can also be depicted as Bedouin horsemen.
1x 7Hd or 2Lh Bedouin or Turkomen horse or rabble foot. The provenance of the Jalayird horde is not clear and can be attributed to conscripted Kurds and/or Armenians, Anatolian Akhiya town militias, or just plain camp followers and local Turkoman levies.

Enemies and Allies

At various times, the Jalayirids fought the Georgians (III/70c), Cilician Armenians (IV/2), Islamic Persians (IV/42), Mameluk Egyptians (IV/45), Ilkhanids (IV/46), Anatolian Turkoman (IV/49), Timurids (IV/75) and Black/White Sheep Turkoman (IV/77).

In Big Battle, the Jalayirids can ally with the Georgians (III/70c) or with the Black Sheep Turkoman (IV/77), representing alliances at different points in their history.


With their kingdom based in Iraq Arabi, it is strange to see this army classed as Steppe, although it can be justified since many of the Jalayirid battles were fought in Azerbaijan. Their low aggression allows the Jalayir commander to choose his battlefield most of the time; selecting a terrain layout that suits a Cv-LH army.

The Jalayirids are one of a handful of armies that can be fielded as an entirely mounted force. A highly mobile army requires highly mobile tactics, and against similarly mobile armies like the Ilkhanids, Timurids and Turkoman, the advantage will lie with the more skilled and/or luckier general. The Georgian Knights and Georgian/Armenian Spear must be somewhat wary of the Jalayir LH and their quick-kill capability. The Jalayir Horde option provides no particular benefit unless there is a terrain feature that needs to be held.


There is no specific Jalayirid miniature range, but any Mongol horse of the Ilkhanid or later period should do. Similarly, typical ghulam horse of the Islamic period can be employed for the Jalayirid Ghulam cavalry. Donnington and Essex offer 15mm Jalayrid DBA army packs.

Darren Buxbaum reports that the Essex Jalayirid pack is comprised of the following figure codes:  1 EMED62, 1 EMED62a, 1 EMED59, 3 CRU38a, 3 CRU39a, 4 MOG4, 4 MOG5a, 4 CRU17, 4 CRU19, 7 CRU47 and 2 AEA4.

Other Resources

The Jalayirids receive limited treatment in published sources, primarily in titles on the Timurids and general histories of the region such as Grousset's Empire of the Steppes.

For general painting guides, see Stephan Turnbill's The Mongols (Osprey Men-at-Arms 105) and David Nicolle's The Age of Tamerlane (Osprey Men-at-Arms 222). Other Osprey titles on the Steppe Nomads, including the forthcoming title on Horse Archers of the Steppes only cover the period up to 1300 AD.

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54mm Ghulam figure by Pegasus. Comments, questions or suggested additions to this page can be sent to Chris Brantley, IamFanaticus@gmail.com.

Last Updated: 1 Sept. 2004