Found in: History of Iran
The Khwarezmian Empire, more commonly known as the empire of the Khwarezm Shahs was a PersianateBosworth in Camb. Hist. of Iran, Vol. V, pp. 66 & 93B.G. Gafurov & D. Kaushik, "Central Asia: Pre-Historic to Pre-Modern Times"; Delhi, 2005; ISBN 8175412461M.A. Amir-Moezzi, "Shahrbanu", Encyclopaedia Iranica, Online Edition, : "... here one might bear in mind that non-Persian dynasties such as the Ghaznavids, Saljuqs and Ilkhanids were rapidly to adopt the Persian language and have their origins traced back to the ancient kings of Persia rather than to Turkish heroes or Muslim saints ..." Sunni Muslim dynasty of Turkic mamluk origin which ruled Greater Iran, first as vassals of the Seljuqs and later as independent rulers in the 11th century. The empire survived until the Mongol invasion in 1220. The dynasty was founded by Anush Tigin Gharchai, a former slave of the Seljuq sultans, who was appointed the governor of Khwarezm. His son, Qutb ud-Din Muhammad I, became the first hereditary Shah of Khwarezm.
The date of the founding of the empire is uncertain. Khwarezm was a province of the Ghaznavid Empire from 992 to 1041. In 1077 the governorship of the province, which now belonged to the Seljuqs, fell into the hands of Anush Tigin Gharchai, a former Turkic slave of the Seljuq sultan. In 1141, the Seljuq Sultan Ahmed Sanjar was defeated by the Kara Khitay (Kara-Khitan Khanate) and Anush Tigin's grandson Ala ad-Din Aziz was forced to submit as a vassal to the Kara Khitay.
Sultan Ahmed Sanjar was killed in 1156: when the Seljuk state fell into chaos, the Khwarezms expanded their territories southward. In 1194, the last Sultan of Great Seljuq state, Togrul III, was defeated and killed by the Khwarezm ruler Ala ad-Din Tekish who also freed himself of the Kara Khitay. In 1200, Tekish died and was succeeded by his son, Ala ad-Din Muhammad, who by 1205 had conquered all of Great Seljuq and declared himself Shah (Persian for king) - he became known as the Kwarezmshah. In 1212 he defeated the Gur-Khan Kutluk and conquered the lands of the Kara Khitay, now ruling a territory from the Syr Darya almost all the way to Baghdad, and from the Indus River to the Caspian Sea.
In 1218, Genghis Khan sent a trade mission to the state, but at town of Otrar the governor suspected them to be spies and confiscated their goods and had them executed. Genhis Khan then demanded reparations which the Shah refused to pay. Genghis retaliated with a force of 200,000 men, launching a multi-pronged invasion. In February 1220 the Mongolian army crossed the Syr Darya and launched the Mongol invasion of Central Asia. The Mongols stormed Bukhara, Samarkand, and the Khwarezmid capital Urgench. The Shah fled and died some weeks later on an island in the Caspian Sea.
In Great Captains Unveiled of 1927, B.H. Liddell Hart gave details of the Mongol campaign against Khwarezm, underscoring his own philosophy of "the indirect approach," and highlighting many of the tactics used by Genghis which were to be subsequently included in the German Blitzkrieg tactics, inspired in part by Liddell Hart's writings.
The son of Ala ad-Din Muhammad, Jalal ad-Din Mingburnu became the new Sultan (he rejected the title Shah) but he had to flee to India, the Mongols caught up with him before he got there, and he was defeated at the Battle of Indus. He escaped and sought asylum in the Sultanate of Delhi. Iltumish however denied this to him in deference to the relationship with the Abassid caliphs. Returning to Persia he gathered an army and reestablished a kingdom. He never consolidated his power however, and he spent the rest of his days struggling against Mongols, pretenders to the throne and the Seljuk Turks of Rum. He lost his power over Persia in a battle against the Mongols in the Alborz Mountains and fled to the Caucasus and captured Azerbaijan in 1225, setting up his capital at Tabriz. In 1226 he attacked Georgia and sacked Tbilisi. Following on through the Armenian highlands he clashed with the Ayyubids, capturing the town Ahlatalong the western shores of the Lake Van, who sought the aid of the Seljuk Sultanate of Rum. The Sultan Kayqubad I engaged him at Arzinjan on the Upper Euphrates at the Battle of Yassi Chemen in 1230, from where he escaped to Diyarbakir while the Mongols captured Azerbaijan in the ensuing confusion. He was murdered in 1231 by an assassin hired by the Seljuks or possibly by Kurdish highwaymen.
Though the Mongols had destroyed the Khwarezmian Empire in 1220, many Khwarezmians survived by working as mercenaries in northern Iraq. Manguberdi's followers remained loyal to him even after his death in 1231, and raided the Seljuk lands of Jazira and Syria for the next several years, calling themselves the Khwarezmiyyas. Ayyubid Sultan Salih Ayyub, in Egypt, later hired their services against his uncle Salih Ismail. The Khwarezmiyyas, heading south from Iraq towards Egypt, invaded Christian-held Jerusalem along the way, on July 11, 1244. The city's citadel, the Tower of David, surrendered on August 23. This triggered a call from Europe for the Seventh Crusade, but the Crusaders would never again be successful in retaking Jerusalem. After being conquered by the Khwarezmian forces, the city stayed under Muslim control until 1917, when it was taken from the Ottomans by the British.
After taking Jerusalem, the Khwarezmian forces continued south, and on October 17 fought on the side of the Egyptians at the Battle of Harbiyah, northeast of Gaza, killing the remains of the Christian army there, some 1,200 knights. It was the largest battle since the Battle of the Horns of Hattin in 1187.Riley-Smith The Crusades, p. 191
The remains of the Muslim Khwarezmians served in Egypt as Mamluk mercenaries until they were finally beaten by Mansur Ibrahim some years later.
Rulers of Khwarezm
Abu Ali Mamun I 992-997
Abu al-Hasan Ali 997-1009
Abu al-Abbas Mamun II 1009-1017
Altun Tash 1017-1032
Ismail Khandan 1034-1041
Shah Malik 1041-1042
Anush Tigin Gharchai 1077-1097
Qutb ad-Din Muhammad I 1097-1127
Ala ad-Din Aziz 1127-1156
Sultan Shah 1172-1193
Ala ad-Din Tekish 1172-1200
Ala ad-Din Muhammad II 1200-1220
Jalal ad-Din Mingburnu 1220-1231
Full list of Persian Kingdoms
M. Ismail Marcinkowski, Persian Historiography and Geography: Bertold Spuler on Major Works Produced in Iran, the Caucasus, Central Asia, India and Early Ottoman Turkey, with a foreword by Professor Clifford Edmund Bosworth, member of the British Academy, Singapore: Pustaka Nasional, 2003, ISBN 9971-77-488-7.