Qara Yusuf

Abu Nasr Qara Yusuf Nuyan (died 1420) was the ruler of the Kara Koyunlu dynasty (or "Black Sheep Turkomans") from c.1388 to 1420, although his reign was interrupted by Tamerlane's invasion (1400–1405). He was the son of Qara Muhammad.

The Jalayirid link broken

At the beginning of Qara Yusuf's reign, the Kara Koyunlu established an alliance with the Jalayirid dynasty in Baghdad and Tabriz, however, both were threatened by the Timurids from the east. In 1396 Tamerlane appointed his son Miran Shah as viceroy of Azerbaijan. By collaborating on equal terms with the Sultan Ahmed Jalayir against the Timurids, Qara Yusuf effectively secured the independence of the Kara Koyunlu.

The Timurid Invasion

The Timurids began another campaign in 1400 and defeated both the Kara Koyunlu and the Jalayirids. Qara Yusuf and Sultan Ahmed Jalayir both fled and took refuge with the Ottoman Sultan Bayezid I. In 1402 they returned together with an army. However, once they had retaken control of Baghdad they quarreled, and Qara Yusuf expelled Sultan Ahmed Jalayir from the city. Sultan Ahmed Jalayir took refuge with the Nasir-ad-Din Faraj the Sultan of Mamluk Egypt, but he imprisoned him out of fear of Timur. In 1403 the Timurids defeated Qara Yusuf at the Battle of Algami Canal and drove him out of Baghdad again. He too sought asylum with Nasir-ad-Din Faraj, and was imprisoned by them along with Ahmed. Together in prison, the two leaders renewed their friendship, making an agreement that Sultan Ahmed Jalayir should keep Baghdad while Qara Yusuf would have Azerbaijan. When Timur died in 1405 Nasir-ad-Din Faraj released them both.

Qara Yusuf, having returned from exile in Egypt, went back to Azerbaijan, defeated the Timurid Abu Bakr at the Battle of Nakhchivan in 1406 C.E., and reoccupied Tabriz. Abu Bakr and his father Miran Shah tried to recapture Azerbaijan, but on 20 April 1408, Qara Yusuf inflicted a decisive defeat on them at the Battle of Sardrud in which Miran Shah was killed. This battle, one of the most important in the history of the Orient, nullified the results of Timur's conquests in the West.[1]

Conquest of Baghdad; Wars with the Timurids

Having firmly established as a ruler of Azerbaijan with Tabriz as his capital, Qara Yusuf fell foul of his former ally Sultan Ahmed Jalayir, Sultan of Baghdad.[1] Sultan Ahmed Jalayir tried to seize Azerbaijan, but was defeated near Tabriz on 30 August 1410, and executed the next day passing Iraq into the hands of Qara Yusuf. Within few months, Qara Yusuf ruled Turkoman Kingdom of Qara Qoyunlu extending from the Georgian frontier to Basra, with Tabriz and Baghdad as its capitals. After the death of Qara Yusuf in December 1420, Shahrukh Mirza tried to take Azerbaijan from Qara Yusuf's son Qara Iskander. Despite defeating Iskander, twice in 1420–21 and 1429, only in the third expedition of Shahrukh Mirza in 1434–35 did the Timurids succeed, when he entrusted the government to Iskander's own brother, Jahan Shah as his vassal.[1]

Preceded by
Qara Muhammad Turemish
Kara Koyunlu Beys
Succeeded by
Qara Iskander


  1. 1 2 3 René Grousset. "The Empire of the Steppes: A History of Central Asia", translated by N. Wallford. Rutgers University Press, 1970, ISBN 0-8135-1304-9, p. 458

See also

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