|GIzz al-Din Kaykaus II
Rukn al-Din Kiliç Arslan IV
Alauddin Kayqubad II
|Alâeddin Kayqubad I
Kaykhusraw II was a sultan of the Seljuqs of Rûm, a Turkish dynasty that ruled over Anatolia in the 13th century. He reigned from 1237 to 1246, during a turbulent period marked by internal rebellions and external invasions.
He was the last Seljuq sultan to exercise any real power, as he became a vassal of the Mongols after his defeat at the Battle of Köse Dağ in 1243.
Kaykhusraw II was born as Ghīyāth al-Dīn Kaykhusraw, the son of Kayqubad I and his Greek wife Mahpari Khatun. He had two younger half-brothers, Izz al-Din and Rukn al-Din, who were the sons of Kayqubad’s Ayyubid princess consort Adila Khatun.
Kayqubad had designated Izz al-Din as his heir, but Kaykhusraw contested his succession with the support of some powerful emirs. He killed his half-brothers and their mother, along with many other rivals, and ascended the throne in 1237.
Kaykhusraw II inherited a vast but unstable realm that stretched from the Mediterranean coast to the borders of Iran and Iraq. He faced several challenges from within and without. One of them was the Babai uprising, a revolt of the nomadic Turkmen tribes who followed a charismatic religious leader named Baba Ishak.
The Turkmen were dissatisfied with the Persianized Seljuq elite and their taxation policies, and sought to establish a more egalitarian and Islamic society. The uprising lasted from 1239 to 1241, and was suppressed by Kaykhusraw with great difficulty and brutality.
Another challenge was the Mongol invasion of Anatolia, which began in 1241 under the command of Baiju, a general of Genghis Khan’s grandson Hulagu. The Mongols had already conquered most of Central Asia and Persia, and were eyeing the rich lands of Anatolia. Kaykhusraw tried to resist them with a coalition of his Christian vassals, such as the Armenians, Georgians, and Cilician Crusaders. He also married Gurju Khatun, a Georgian princess, to strengthen his alliance with her father King George IV.
However, these measures proved futile when Kaykhusraw faced the Mongol army at the Battle of Köse Dağ on June 26, 1243. The Seljuq-Christian coalition was outnumbered and outmatched by the Mongol cavalry and archers. Kaykhusraw’s army was routed and he barely escaped with his life.
The battle marked the end of Seljuq independence and dominance in Anatolia. Kaykhusraw had to acknowledge Mongol supremacy and pay tribute to them. He also lost control over most of his territories, which were divided among his three sons: Izz al-Din Kaykaus II, Rukn al-Din Kilij Arslan IV, and Alauddin Kayqubad II.
Kaykhusraw II died in 1246, leaving behind a weakened and fragmented Seljuq state that would soon be eclipsed by other Turkish dynasties, such as the Karamanids, Ottomans, and Mamluks. His legacy is mixed: he was a brave but reckless ruler who tried to preserve his ancestral heritage but failed to adapt to changing circumstances.
He was also a patron of culture and learning, who supported poets, scholars, and architects. He is remembered for his coinage, which featured a sun symbolizing his wife Gurju Khatun and a lion symbolizing himself.