Tolui: Youngest son of Genghis Khan (1191 - 1232) | Biography
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Youngest son of Genghis Khan


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Intro Youngest son of Genghis Khan
A.K.A. Tului, Beierzhijin Tuolei, Toci, Yuán Ruìzōn, Tuolei, Tolui Khan, T...
Was Khan Regent
From Mongolia
Field Military Royals
Gender male
Birth 1191
Death 1232, Mongolia, Mongolia (aged 41 years)
Mother: Börte
Father: Genghis Khan
Siblings: ChecheyikhenAlakhai BekhiHuochenbiejiJochiChagatai KhanWuluchiChawuerShuerche TümelünIl-AltunYeli'andunKölgenÖgedei Khan
Spouse: Sorghaghtani BekiLingqun khatun
Children: Kublai KhanHulagu KhanBochuoMogeSuigeduXuebietaiYesubuhuaDumuganJörike Möngke KhanQutuqtuAriq Böke
The details (from wikipedia)


Tolui (c.1191–1232) was the fourth son of Genghis Khan by his chief khatun Börte. His ulus, or territorial inheritance, at his father's death in 1227 was the homelands in Mongolia, and it was he who served as civil administrator until 1229, the time it took to confirm Ögedei as second Great Khan of the Mongol Empire (1206–1368). Before that he had served with distinction in the campaigns against the Jin dynasty, the Western Xia and the Khwarezmid Empire, where he was instrumental in the capture and massacre at Merv and Nishapur. He is a direct ancestor of most of the Ilkhanids.

Tolui never used the title of Khagan himself; neither Genghis Khan nor his immediate three successors would ever use any reigning titles unlike the neighboring Chinese dynasties in the south. Tolui was awarded the title of Khagan by his son Möngke and was given a temple name (Chinese: 元睿宗; pinyin: Yuán Ruìzōng; Wade–Giles: Jui-Tsung) by his other son Kublai, when he established the Yuan dynasty a few decades later.



During the rise of Genghis Khan, Tolui was too young to be involved in the battles. Tolui was almost killed by a Tatar when he was about five years of age. He was saved by his sister Altani and two companions of Genghis. In 1203, His father bestowed on Tolui his wife Sorghaghtani, the niece of Ong Khan (a friend of Tolui's grandfather Yesugei). Their first son Möngke was born in 1209.

Early career

He first entered combat against the Jin dynasty in 1213, scaling the walls of Dexing with his brother-in-law Chiqu.

In 1221, Genghis Khan dispatched him to Khorasan in Iran. The cities in this area had revolted several times. The defenders of Nishapur killed Toquchar, the brother-in-law of Tolui in November 1220. Tolui's army evacuated Nishapur onto the plains. He ordered the total massacres of Nishapur and Merv.

Genghis Khan's succession

When Genghis Khan was deciding who should succeed him, he had trouble choosing between his four sons. Tolui had amazing military skills and was very successful as a general, but Genghis Khan chose Ögodei, who was more capable politically. Genghis Khan felt that Tolui would be too cautious to be an effective leader. Tolui was with his father on campaign against Xi Xia in 1227.

After Genghis Khan's death, Tolui generally supervised the Mongol Empire for two years. The Mongol nobles accepted this partly because of the tradition that the youngest son inherits his father's properties, and partly because Tolui had the largest and most powerful army in central Mongolia at the time. Tolui supported the choice of the next Khagan by election, and Ögedei was chosen, fulfilling his father's wishes.

Tolui campaigned with Ögedei in north China, serving as strategist and field commander in 1231–32. Two armies had been dispatched to besiege Kaifeng, the capital of the Jin. After most of the Jin's defences were breached, they returned north.


According to The Secret History of the Mongols, Tolui sacrificed himself in order to cure Ögödei from a very severe illness during a campaign in China. The shamans had determined that the root of Ögödei's illness were China's spirits of earth and water, who were upset that their subjects had been driven away and their land devastated. Offering land, animals, and people had only led to an aggravation of Ögödei's illness, but when they offered to sacrifice a family member, Ögödei got better immediately. Tolui volunteered and died directly after consuming a cursed drink. However, Ata-Malik Juvayni says he died from alcoholism.


Perhaps more important than himself was the role of his family, the Toluids, in shaping the destinies of the Mongol Empire. Through his Nestorian Christian wife Sorghaghtani Beki, Tolui fathered Möngke, Kublai, Ariq Böke, and Hulagu. The first three of these would all go on to claim the title of Great Khan, while Hulagu founded the Ilkhanate and Kublai the Yuan dynasty of China. It was the rivalry between Tolui's own sons, Kublai and Ariq Böke, that fragmented the power of the empire and set the western khanates against each other in the Toluid Civil War between 1260 and 1264.

Rivalry between the Toluids and the sons of Ögedei and Jochi caused stagnation and infighting during the regency periods after the deaths of Ögedei and his son Güyük. Möngke posthumously awarded his father the title of Khagan in 1252. When Kublai Khan established the Yuan Dynasty in 1271, he had his father Tolui placed on the official record as Ruizong. Tolui's line ruled Mongolia and south Mongolia from 1251 to 1635, and Mongolia until 1691.

He and his wife are honored beside Genghis Khan at the mausoleum constructed in the 1950s by the Chinese Communists in Inner Mongolia.


Tolui had many concubines and wives including Lingqun khatun , but the chief one was Sorghaghtani Beki who was the mother of Tolui's four ruling sons.

Tolui's sons included:

  • Möngke, the Great Khan of the Mongol Empire.
  • Qutuqtu
  • Kublai, the Great Khan of the Mongols and the Emperor of the Yuan Dynasty.
  • Hulagu, the first Ilkhan of Mongol Persia.
  • Ariq Böke, Khagan claimant who was supported by the traditionalist Mongols against Kublai.
  • Bujek. He died earlier. Nothing is known much about him except his role in Mongol invasion of Europe in 1236–41 and Möngke's election in 1250.
  • Mukha
  • Satukhtai
  • Sabukhtai


Yesugei Baghatur
Temüjin (Genghis Khan)
The contents of this page are sourced from Wikipedia article on 12 Feb 2020. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Who was Tolui?
A: Tolui was the fourth son of Genghis Khan, the founder and first Great Khan of the Mongol Empire. He was born to Genghis Khan's chief wife, Börte, and played a significant role in the expansion and governance of the Mongol Empire.
Q: What role did Tolui play in the Mongol Empire?
A: Tolui played a crucial role in the Mongol Empire, especially in the expansion and administration of the empire. He led numerous military campaigns, including the subjugation of the Tangut Western Xia dynasty. He also held various important positions within the Mongol administration, contributing to the empire's governance and stability.
Q: Did Tolui have any notable descendants?
A: Yes, Tolui had several notable descendants. His sons, Möngke Khan and Kublai Khan, went on to become Great Khans of the Mongol Empire. Kublai Khan, in particular, established the Yuan dynasty in China and became one of the most influential rulers in Chinese history. Additionally, many subsequent generations of rulers and nobility in Mongol-ruled regions such as China, Persia, and Central Asia claimed descent from Tolui.
Q: What was Tolui's relationship with his brothers?
A: Tolui had a close relationship with his brothers and was considered a loyal and capable member of Genghis Khan's inner circle. He was known for his diplomacy and mediation skills, often playing a pivotal role in resolving conflicts between his brothers. Tolui's death in 1232 was a significant loss for the Mongol Empire and left a void in the leadership.
Q: What was the significance of Tolui's death?
A: Tolui's death in 1232 had significant consequences for the Mongol Empire. His death sparked a succession crisis among Genghis Khan's sons and ultimately led to a power struggle for control of the empire. This instability persisted for several years until Tolui's son, Möngke Khan, emerged as the Great Khan and succeeded in uniting the empire once again.
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