King Mas'ud




The Assyrian of today wishes to make himself  known. He searches for his living memories,  keys of his cultural ethnic, political identities. The Syriac Chronicles are a good source  to the understanding of his History. For instance, the Assyrians, sometimes, complain to have had no king in the Christian era.  However, during the Mongolian empire, they had a great king in Mwsil (Mosul), a Mesopotamian city. His name was Masud.

The Mongols in the Thirteenth Century             

In 1206, The Mongols- the nomadic tribes of central Asia- joined forces, headed by the famous  Temujin  (Gengis Khan) and dashed into a series of conquests. In the East, they seized China of Song and the Tibet. In the west, they captured and plundered the city of Baghdd, in 1258, putting an end to the dynasty of the Arabic khalfahs.

The Mongol Khns established a great empire, which extended from the China Sea to the Euphrates River in Mesopotamia and the Volga River in Russia.


The Christians of Syria, Palestine, Mesopotamia and Asia Minor had waited for the arrival of the Mongols, hoping for an improvement of their condition. They expected greats changes: no longer to be considered  Dimmi or lesser citizens. As the believers of the others religions, they met considered themselves equal in right,  in front of the authority of King of King, in a Khanat where they encountered greater tolerance. Correspondence  was established with China and with Europe. They lived under the first IL-Khans of Persia for a peaceful and prosperous period. They built  churches, spread some missions, increased a literary production.    



Persian church :

In red the Baghdad Patriarch, in green the Metropolis (Le Coz, Histoire de l'Eglise d'Orient) Source

The Chronography
The story of king Masd is inspired by The Chronography, written  by Gregory Abl Faraj (1226-1286), a doctor, a patriarch, a great Syriac writer.  He lived in the court of the Mongols. He was known to Europeans as Bar Hebraeus
The Chronography, written in the Syriac language, begins from the creation of the world until the Mongolian period. It is divided into two parts, Chronicum Syriacum, dedicated in political and civil history, and Chronicum Ecclesiastical, which deals with the patriarchs of the Church of the East. After the death of Gregory Abl Faraj, on the 30th of July, another writer, perhaps his brother Bar Swm Sfi, wrote, in the following years, the political history of the world.


Ilkhan Abaqa's coin


Masd Bar Kwt 's reign

 In the year A.D. 1276, under the reign of Abk (1265-1282), the son of Hlk and the Il-khan of Persia, Masud of Bar  Kawths rule was established. He was the son of a rich, Christian trader who traveled on a caravan to Pekin (modern Beijing) in China and wanted to visit the great Kbli Khn. The trader was accompanied by his sons and by the Amr Ashmt, a man from the tribe of Ighry, who led an ascetic life :

     At this time, Alm Ad-Din Yakb, a great merchant and a Christian, a native of Bar Kawth, a village in the country of Arbl, coming from doing homage to Kbli Khn, died on the road in the country of Khrsn. Then Ashmt, the ambassador who was appointed [to go] with him, who was himself a great man and an honourable man of the race of the Ighry [one of the Mongol tribes], and who led the ascetic (or monastic) life, took his sons and brought them to do homage to the King of Kings Abk. And the King of Kings received them kindly, and he made Masd, the eldest son, ruler over Mwsil and Arbl; and Ashmt became the administrator of the Amr. (in Ernest.A.Wallis Budge, The Chronography of Gregory Abl-Faraj 1225-1286, known as Bar Hebraeus, translated from the Syriac into English, London, 1932, APA-Philo Press, Amsterdam, 1976. P. 456.  ).  


The government of Masd 

Governor Masd had soon to deal with the Kurdish neighbors in the mountains who, since 1260, had been attacking the Christians villages of the region.

On 7 June, in the year 1277, the Kurds made a new raid against the western Syrian monastery of Mr Matta, near Mwsil, and kidnapped ten monks.

The next year, the troubles, the rivalries began. Masd  was libeled by the Persian Nasir  al-Din Pp, the former governor of Mwsil.  Masd and Asmt were dismissed after a board of inquiry. Pp  ruled over Mwsil in  their place.



            And in this winter[A.D. 1278], the Persian Pp  (Bb), who had put an end to Masd, the son of Kwt, in the kingdom of Mwsil, calumniated ( i.e. brought an accusation against) Masd, saying that he was destroying the country of Mwsil,  and that he did not know how to rule. Then the King of Kings commanded certain nobles, and they came with the Pp to Mwsil. And the Pp set up false witnesses against Ashmt and Masd, and they bribed the judges, and perverted the judgement ( i.e. obtained a verdict by fraud). And they  (i.e. the Ttrs) condemned those Christians, and made and end of them, and they appointed the Pp governor.     (P. 459-460)

  Masud and the noble Ashmut accused Pp and his judges of corruption. In the year 1280, they went to Abk Khan and asked him to reopen the inquiry which lasted one month

 And in the year fifteen hundred and ninety-one [of the Greeks (A.D. 1280)], Ashmut , the Igrian Amr, and Masd, the son of Kwt, approached Abk, the King of Kings, and they showed [him] that the judges who had been sent with Pp (Bb) the Persian had wronged them, and that the judgement against them had been brought about by  bribery. Then Abk commanded that his brother and his son-in-law should be the judges and that they should see which of the two parties was the innocent one. And having passed about a month of days in investigating [the matter], Pp was found guilty and these former judges were exposed, and they confessed to the bribe which they had taken from Pp. And the command went forth, and the head of Pp was cut off with the sword on the fifth day [of the week], on the eighth day of the month of b (August) of the year aforesaid, and brought to Mwsil. And those Christian governors again ruled over Mwsil and Arbil and they triumphed nobly. (P. 462)

Papa  the traitor was executed around the same time than a Persian,  Jell  Ad-Dn Trn, on August 8, was beheaded and whose head was brought to Mwsil and exhibited.   

In the summer A.D.1281, the Persians of the house of Jell Ad-Dn  Trn , and of the house of Pp stirred up a quarrel against Massd . They claimed that he had carried off a great quantity of treasure from Jell Ad-Dn, gold and precious stones. Masd was arrested, tortured and condemned. He was brought back to Mwsil but he fled by night.  


A Moghol at Ibn Battuta's time


Masd, King of Mwsil

  Later, in the year A.D. 1284,  Arghn, the son of Abk, , sat on the throne of the  King of Kings. He did not forget his friends.

     For Arghn , the King of Kings, at the beginning of his kingdom made Masd Bar Kwt  king of Mwsil and the districts thereof, and there was gladness for all the Christians. But they were grieved because The sons of Jall ad-Dn Trn killed the Igrian monk, the Amr Ashmt, in avenging the cause of their father. (P. 472)

  In the year A.D. 1286, on the 17 day of the month of June, four thousand mounted robbers and brigands, Krds, Trkmns and Arabs, and three hundred horsemen from the Egyptian slaves, gathered together and went to the country of Mwsil. They spoiled the villages along the road,  and finally burst upon the city at dawn.

      Then King Masd and the other horsemen who were found in the city mounted and rode out to engage them in battle. And when they saw how great was their number, and that they themselves had no force equal  to theirs, they turned back and went into the city.(P. 475)

The marauders brought the spoil from the city all day long, they looted and robbed the whole of the people. They plundered Mwsil s commercial districts and took by leaving 500 slaves.  Masd, in the citadel, had not been able to prevent this looting.  



The Death of Masd

   Arghn appointed a treasurer, Amr Bk, for his service who boasted of his power.

The others Amrs, his opponents, complained against him. Bk began to concoct a secret rebellious against Arghn. Masud neglected the submission and obedience to those Amrs who were permanently in the Royal Service :

And because Masd  Bar Kwt, (Kt), and his brethren, and his kinsfolk, knew no one besides Bk in the Royal camp, and they considered the service of the other Amrs as of no account, they were unwilling to make a meaning-less salutation to these others. And because the command of Bk over all the Amrs was superior and sublime, they neglected them all. And they accepted Bk only, although through this [behaviour] they were condemned  and blamed by every man. (P. 480-81)

  Bk who had acted treacherously against the king, was arrested.  This could land  Masd much difficulties, for he was not helped by the others Amrs. The Mongols set guards over the king of Mwsil.       

And  because Masd , the son of Bar Kwt, was sick they did not inflict blows upon him. They feared lest he should die and his money perish with him. And verily they employed empty promises in dealing with him, saying that if he would give them ten myriads of gold [dnrs] , he should remain in his honourable office, and that no man should harm him. Now Masd himself  thought that since he had not been beaten by them they would confer some honour upon him, and he was exceedingly avaricious, and he used severe words in converse with them. Nevertheless, they, in their artfulness, partly by means of stripes and blows and partly by threats and curses, took that amount of money from him. And they carried him off with them to Arbil and there they killed him on the second day of Passion Week,  on the fourth day of the month of Nsn (April) of that year. And they placed wooden fetters on his son , and shut him up. (P. 481)


Hereupon Masd s story finished sadly; his monarchy lasting only five years.


The kings of the Huns (Ttrs)


Hlk (1256-1265)

 Abk (1265-1282)

Tkdr Ahmd (1282-1284)

Arghn.( 1284-1291)