Hulegu was the grandson of Chinggis Khan, son of Tolui, and established the Il-Khanate of Persia (also known as the Il-Khan, or Ilkhan). His bothers included Mongke (r. 1251-1259), Qubilai (r. 1260-1294), Arigh Boke (r. 1260-1264), and Bochek. Three of his brothers Mongke, Qubilai, and Arigh Boke were appointed as Great Khans and served in this capacity consecutively. The Il-Khanate, nevertheless, was established in western Asia and eventually included the territories of Iran, Afghanistan, Iraq, eastern Turkey, and the southern Caucasus. The Il-Khanate was a semiautonomous kingdom of the Mongol Empire and the kings that ruled there were referred to as the Il-Khan (subordinate Khan).
Hulegu was ordered by his brother and Great Khan, Mongke, in 1253 to attack western Asia. Huelgu made the Great Khan proud and defeated the Ismailis (the Order of the Assassins). He continued on to sack Baghdad in 1258, thus destroying the Abbasid Caliphate. Next Huelgu moved to attack the Mamluks in Syria. The Mamluks, also known as slave soldiers, were captured as children during battles that took place in central Asia and on, the Anatolian and African territory. The captured children were then reared in military camps and converted to Islam. The Mamluks became the ruling elite in Egypt from 1250-1517.
As Huelgu moved to attack the Mamluks, his brother Mongke died. Huelgu was called to attend a ceremony to appoint the next Great Khan. Huelgu left a small band of Mongol warriors behind to hold his position in Mamluk territory. Unfortunately, he had underestimated the Mamluks military prowess. The Mamluks defeated Hulegu’s forces in 1261 at Aym Jalut. This defeat ended Hulegu’s campaign in western Asia.
After the defeat, Hulegu then proclaimed himself the Il-Khan and established his capital at Tabriz. As the Il-Khanate solidified its power in the west problems arose with the Golden Horde. The Golden Horde maintained that Chinggis had granted the western territories of the empire (controlled and proposed) to them. The infighting within the Mongol Empire signified the dismantlement of Mongol unity. The Mongols ability to maintain such an expansive empire hinged on the unity between the various princes, princesses, Khans, and Great Khans.
After Hulegu died his sons, consecutively took up rule of the territory. In many ways his sons differed from Hulegu, especially in their ruling styles or lack thereof. The lack of political genius and leadership qualities found in Hulegu’s sons led to political instability in the Il-Khanate. His sons wrestled with how to maintain their Mongol identities, but still be able to rule over a largely Muslim population. Although they ultimately failed to keep alive Hulegu’s traditions in ruling as an Il-Khan, his sons kept alive his tradition of using Chinese medicine.
Hulegu relied on Chinese medicine as he continued his campaign in the west by bringing Chinese medicine men along for his journeys. Hulegu was treated, by the Chinese medicine men, with laxatives as a way to stop the progression of his illnesses until his eventual untimely death. His sons continued this tradition including his son Arghun, however, his reliance on this tradition led to his death. Arghun was prescribed a toxic dose of cinnabar and mercury sulfate. Arghun took the tonic believing it was the elixir of life. Regardless of his predecessors fates Ghazan, Hulegu’s grandson, also continued to rely on Chinese medicine.
However, more importantly, Ghazan was seen as the force of change for the Il-Khanate. Ghazan in 1295, when he took over the Il-Khanate, introduced new protocols and political strategies for how Mongol leaders could continue to rule over their multi-religious and cultural domains. He even changed his title from Il-Khan to Sultan. Unfortunately, the changes Ghazan implemented were done so too late. In 1304 when he died much of what was achieved fell apart leading to the Il-Khanates final collapse.