The Islamisation of Hülegü: Imaginary Conversion in the Ilkhanate

Michal Biran*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


As is well known, Hülegü, Chinggis Khan's grandson and the founder of the Ilkhanate (r. 658-664/1260-65), never converted to Islam. Moreover, as the man who annihilated the Abbasid Caliphate (750-1258), that had led the Islamic umma for more than half a millennium, Hülegü was often portrayed - albeit mainly outside his realm - as one of the great destroyers of Islam. Yet around the mid-seventh/fourteenth century we find at least two different conversion stories relating to Hülegü in both Ilkhanid and Mamluk sources, both allegedly originating in Baghdad. This paper aims to present these narratives and analyse their origin and use in the context of the later or post-Ilkhanate period. I may say already at this stage that I have more questions than answers, and that my explanations as to why such stories were invented are rather speculative.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)79-88
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of the Royal Asiatic Society
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © The Royal Asiatic Society 2016.


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