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(r. 1172-1200), ʿAlāʾ-al-Donyā wa’l-Din Abu’l-Moẓaffar, a ruler of the branch of Khwarazmshahs who descended from the Great Saljuq slave commander (ḡolām) Anuštigin Ḡarčāʾi.

TEKIŠ B. IL ARSLĀN, ʿAlāʾ-al-Donyā wa’l-Din Abu’l-Moẓaffar (r. 1172-1200; for his full name, see Ebn al-Aṯir XI, p. 377; for the meaning of tekiš Turk. “he who strikes in battle,” see Bayur), a ruler of the branch of Khwarazmshahs who descended from the Great Saljuq slave commander (ḡolām) Anuštigin Ḡarča’i (r. ca. 1077-97) and ruled in Khwarazm (see CHORASMIA).

Tekiš was the eldest son of Il Arslān (r. 1156-72), and, in accordance with Khwarazmshah customs, held the office of the governor of Jand. After the death of Il Arslan in March 1172 both Tekiš and his younger brother Solṭān Šāh, who was the favorite of their mother Terken Ḵātun, claimed the throne. Tekiš was able to succeed in the capital Gorgānj, though only with help from the Qara Khitay, the suzerains of the Khwarazmshahs (Ebn al-Aṯir, XI, pp. 377-78; Jovayni, pp. 289-91, 357; cf. “Kara Khitay,” in EI ² IV, p. 581). Solṭān Šāh fled southwards to Marv and the northern fringes of Khorasan, where he was to prove a thorn in his brother’s flesh. In 1187 Tekiš appointed his eldest son Malek Šāh governor of Nishapur, and wrested thus the city’s control from Solṭān Šāh who nevertheless kept his hold over towns such as Marv, Saraḵs, and Ṭus until his death in 1193.

Although Tekiš owed his throne to the Qara Khitay, he soon challenged their control and defied the excessive demands of their tax collectors. When the stipulated tribute fell into arrears, the Qara Khitay gür-ḵān Fu-ma, at the instigation of Solṭān Šāh, invaded Khwarazm in 1172 or 1173 to place the latter on the throne, but was repulsed (Ebn al-Aṯir, XI, p. 378; Jovayni, pp. 292-93). The following year, Tekiš took the offensive and temporarily occupied Bukhara.

Like other Khwarazmshah rulers, Tekiš could mobilize considerable numbers of Turkish fighters from the steppes for his armies, although the non-Muslim Turks beyond the borders of Khwarazm were often refractory. But his wife Terken Ḵātun was a Qanglï or Qïpčaq princess, and she provided him with access to the tribes on the Dašt-e Qïpčaq to the north of Khwarazm (Juzjāni, I, pp. 240-41). In the winter of 1195, Tekiš led an expedition to Sïḡnaq on the lower Jaxartes against Qayïr Buqu Khan and his people (Jovayni, I, pp. 304-5). Apart from holding his northern frontiers, much of Tekiš’s reign was occupied with fighting his brother Solṭān Šāh as well as the Qara Khitay and the Ghurids along the Oxus and in northern Khorasan.

The Ghurids were endeavoring to expand their power through Khorasan into northern Iran and so al-Nāṣer (r. 1180-1225), after his accession to the caliphate in 1180, supported Tekiš out of fear of a Ghurid advance into central Iran. After the death of Solṭān Šāh, the Ghurid sultan Ḡiāṯ-al-Din Moḥammad (r. 1173-1203) remained Tekiš’s main rival in Khorasan and the upper Oxus region (Jovayni, pp. 292-98). Conversely, Tekiš never had sufficient strength to break free from the overlordship of the Qara Khitay, and in 1194, he even had to appeal to the Qara Khitay for help to expel the Ghurids from Balkh. Only after Tekiš’s death in June 1200 did the Khwarazmshahs get the upper hand over the Ghurids.

In the last decade of his life, when the Great Saljuq sultanate neared its end, Tekiš embarked on a policy of expanding his power into northern and western Iran. With the approval of al-Nāṣer, who opposed the Great Saljuqs in Iraq, the forces of the Khwarazmshahs advanced in 1192 as far as Rayy, and in 1194 the last Great Saljuq sultan, Ṭoḡrïl III b. Arslān (r. 1176-94), was killed in battle at Rayy (Nišāburi, pp. 161-64; Ebn al-Aṯir, XII, pp. 106-8; Juzjāni, I, pp. 242-43; Jovayni, pp. 302-3). The subsequent occupation of western Iran reached as far as Hamadan, giving Tekiš control over ʿAbbasid territory in Iraq, and so the caliph was compelled to invest the shah with western Iran in addition to his Central Asian territories and Khorasan (Ebn al-Aṯir, XII, pp. 152-53). Relations, however, always remained uneasy. When Tekiš died, the hatred for his troops led to a general massacre in western Iran (ibid., p. 157), and under his successor, his second son ʿAlā’-al-Din Moḥammad (r. 1200-20), the confrontation continued for over several years.



ʿEzz-al-Din b. al-Aṯir, Ketāb al-kāmel fi’l-taʾriḵ, ed. Carl Johann Tornberg, 15 parts in 9 vols., Leiden, 1851-76; repr., 13 vols., Beirut, 1965-67, esp. vols. XI and XII.

ʿAlāʾ-al-Din ʿAtā-Malek Jovayni, The History of the World-Conqueror, tr. John Andrew Boyle, 2 vols., Manchester, 1958.

Ẓahir-al-Din Nišāburi, The History of the Seljuq Turks from the Jami al-Tawarikh: An Ilkhanid Adaptation of the Saljuq-nama, tr. by Kenneth A. Luther and ed. by C. Edmund Bosworth, Richmond, Surrey, 2001.

Menhāj-e Serāj Juzjāni, Ṭabaḳāt-i Naṣiri: A General History of the Muhammadan Dynasties of Asia, Including Hindustan, from A.H. 194 (810 A.D.) to A.H. 658 (1260 A.D.) and the Irruption of the Infidel Mughals into Islam, tr. Henry George Raverty, 3 vols., Calcutta, 1873-87, esp. vol. I.


W. Barthold, Turkestan down to the Mongol Invasion, ed. C. Edmund Bosworth, 3rd ed., London, 1968, pp. 337-49; original, St. Petersburg, 1900.

Yusuf Hikmet Bayur, “Harizmşah Alâü’d-Din “Tekiş” ’in adi hakkinda,”Belleten, 14/no. 56, 1950, pp. 589-95.

C. Edmund Bosworth, “The Political and Dynastic History of the Iranian World,” in Camb. Hist. Iran V, pp. 1-202, but especially pp. 163-64, 181-83, 188-92.

Idem, “Tekish,” in EI ² X, pp. 414-15.

Heribert Horst, Die Staatsverwaltung der Groβselğuqen und Horazmšāhs 1038-1231: Eine Untersuchung nach Urkundenformularen der Zeit, Veröffentlichungen der Orientalischen Kommission der Akademie der Wissenschaften und der Literatur 18, Wiesbaden, 1964; index s.v. Takaš. İbrahim Kafesoğlu, Harezmşahlar devleti tarihi (485-617/1092-1229), Ankara, 1956, pp. 84-146.

Cite this page
C. Edmund Bosworth, “TEKIŠ B. IL ARSLĀN”, in: Encyclopaedia Iranica Online, © Trustees of Columbia University in the City of New York. Consulted online on 16 July 2024 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/2330-4804_EIRO_COM_745>
First published online: 2020
First print edition: 20090306

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