Abu Nasr Qara Yusuf ibn Mohammad Barani[1] (Azerbaijani: Qara Yusif قارا یوسف; c. 1356 – 1420) was the ruler of the Qara Qoyunlu dynasty[2] (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 Mahammad Töremish, a brother-in-law to Ahmad Jalayir.[3]

Qara Yusuf
Qara Yusif Bey leading Qaraqoyunlu army against Shirvanshahs.jpg
Modern picture of Qara Yusif leading Qara Qoyunlu army against Shirvanshahs in 1412
Sultan of Qara Qoyunlu
PredecessorQara Mahammad
SuccessorQara Iskander
Co-sultanPirbudag (1411–1418)
Died17 November 1420(1420-11-17) (aged 62–63)
Ujan pastures, Tabriz
Erciş, Turkey
DynastyQara Qoyunlu
FatherQara Mahammad
ReligionShia Islam

Rise to chiefdomEdit

After his father's death in rebellion by Pir Hasan, Qara Qoyunlu elders gathered to choose his brother Khwaja Misr, however more energetic Qara Yusuf prevailed in succession. He made short-term alliance with Qara Osman against Pir Hasan and crushed his forces.[1]

Early reignEdit

At the beginning of Qara Yusuf's reign, the Qara Qoyunlu established an alliance with the Jalayirid dynasty in Baghdad and Tabriz against Aq Qoyunlu. However, he was soon captured and jailed in Suşehri. Not long after, he was released after his aunt Tatar Hatun paid ransom to Qara Yuluq.[4] Soon Jalayirids and Qara Qoyunlu both were threatened by the Timurids from the east. In 1393 Timur conquered Baghdad and 3 years later appointed his son Miran Shah as viceroy of Azerbaijan. In 1394, Timur imprisoned Khwaja Misr and sent him to Samarkand.[5]

By collaborating on equal terms with the Sultan Ahmed Jalayir against the Timurids, Qara Yusuf effectively secured the independence of the Qara Qoyunlu.

The Timurid InvasionEdit

The Timurids began another campaign in 1400 and defeated both the Qara Qoyunlu and the Jalayirids. Qara Yusuf and Sultan Ahmed Jalayir both fled and took refuge with the Mamelukes first, then 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, also killing his brother Yar Ali[3] which made him to seek asylum in Damascus, which was then ruled by Mamelukes.[6]

Soon they were both imprisoned on the order of Nasir-ad-Din Faraj. 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. Ahmad also adopted his son Pirbudag. When Timur died in 1405 Nasir-ad-Din Faraj released them both. However, according to Faruk Sümer, they were released on the orders of rebellious wali of Damascus – Sheykh Mahmud.[3]

Qara Yusuf, having returned from exile in Egypt and went back to Anatolia. He forced Timur's governor in Van Izzaddin Shir to submit, while capturing Altamış, another viceroy set up by Timur and sending him to Barquq.[5] He later moved on to Azerbaijan.[7] He defeated the Timurid Abu Bakr at the Battle of Nakhchivan on 14 October 1406 and reoccupied Tabriz. In 1407 he raided Georgia, took 15,000 prisoners and killed Giorgi VII.[8] 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.[9]

In 1409 fall, he entered Tabriz and sent a raiding party to Shirvan, especially Shaki, which was fruitless. Another invasion force was sent to capture Sultaniyya and Qazvin under command of Bistam Beg. Same year, he marched to Anatolia and deposed Salih Şihabeddin Ahmed, thus ending Mardin branch of Artuqids.[3] Instead he was married to a daughter of Yusuf and sent to govern Mosul.[10]

Defeating JalayiridsEdit

Having firmly established as a ruler of Azerbaijan with Tabriz as his capital, Qara Yusuf fell foul of his former ally Sultan Ahmed Jalayir.[9] Sultan Ahmed Jalayir tried to seize Azerbaijan, but was defeated near Tabriz on 30 August 1410. He was captured and forced to abdicate in favor of Pirbudag (7 year old biological son of Qara Yusuf) and to appoint Shah Muhammad (another son of Qara Yusuf) to be governor of Baghdad. He was executed the next day passing Iraq into the hands of Qara Yusuf after Bistam Beg urged him. Qara Yusuf declared his son as "sultan" and crowned him in 1411, however he was still in charge as regent.[3][11][12]

Later reignEdit

Further consolidating his rule, he marched on Shirvan, where Shirvanshah Ibrahim, a loyal Timurid vassal was still reigning. Combined forces of Constantine I, Ibrahim and Syed Ahmed Orlat (lord of Shaki) were defeated on Battle of Chalagan, 1412. He later revoked governorship of Soltaniyeh from Bistam Beg and bestowed it on Jahan shah in 1415. He repeatedly defeated Qara Osman in 1417 and on 20 September 1418.[3] Also made raids to Aintab which was then under Mameluke rule in response of them granting asylum to Qara Osman.[13]

In October 1418, his son and nominal sultan Pirbudag died, which left Qara Yusuf in grief for days. He tried to forge an anti-Timurid alliance with Mehmed I in 1420 unsuccessfully.[14] According to Ghiyāth al-dīn Naqqāsh – Timurid envoy to Ming China, he also sent emissary to Yongle Emperor around same time.[15]


He died on his way to battle Shahrukh (who demanded his submission) on 17 November 1420. According to Ahmad Faridun Bey's "Munshat-us-Salatin" Shahrukh's Fathnama ("term used to denote proclamations and letters announcing victories in battle or the successful conclusion of military campaigns" according to Encyclopædia Iranica[16]) sent to Mehmed I, right after Qara Yusuf's death his treasury was stolen by his nephews Qazan beg (Khwaja Misr's son) and Zeynal beg and taken to Avnik. Shah Muhammad and Qara Iskander retreated to Ganja and Barda. While Jahan Shah took his father's body to be buried in his ancestral town Erciş.[14]


After the death of Qara Yusuf in December 1420, Shahrukh Mirza tried to take Azerbaijan from Qara Yusuf's son Qara Iskander, using the fact that none of his sons was accompanying his father. 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.[9]


He was married to a daughter of Manuel III of Trebizond.[17][failed verification] He was also married to Timur's great-granddaughter, a daughter of Abu Bakr, son of Miran Shah. Following Qara Yusuf's death, she was remarried by Shah Rukh to Khalilullah I of Shirvan.[18][19]




  1. ^ a b Ṭihrānī, Abū Bakr (2014). Kitāb-ı Diyarbekriyye. Öztürk, Mürsel (Birinci baskı ed.). Ankara: Türk Tarih Kurumu. p. 34. ISBN 9789751627520. OCLC 890945955.
  2. ^ Minorsky, Vladimir (2010). The clan of the Qara Qoyunlu rulers / 60. doğum yılı münasebetiyle Fuad Köprülü armağanı = Mélanges Fuad Köprülü (Doǧumunun 120. yılı münasebetiyle tıpkıbasım ed.). Ankara. ISBN 9789751623393. OCLC 890340135.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Sümer, Faruk. "KARAKOYUNLULAR – TDV İslâm Ansiklopedisi". islamansiklopedisi.org.tr. Retrieved 22 August 2018.
  4. ^ Toksoy, Ahmet (1 January 2009). "Karayuluk Osman Bey Based on the Kitab-? Diyarbekkiryye". Journal of Turkish Studies. 4 (3): 2133–2158. doi:10.7827/TurkishStudies.773.
  5. ^ a b Sümer, Faruk (1984). Kara Koyunlular (in Turkish). Ankara: Türk Tarih Kurumu. pp. 57, 296. OCLC 23544001.
  6. ^ Ismail Aka, "Shahrukh's campaigns against Kara Koyunlu" (in Turkish), E.Ü. Tarih İncelemeleri Dergisi, pp. 4, 1989
  7. ^ Shahmoradi, Seyyed; Moradian, Mostafa; Montazerolghaem, Asghar (22 March 2013). "The Religion of the Kara Koyunlu Dynasty: An Analysis". Asian Culture and History. 5 (2): 95. doi:10.5539/ach.v5n2p95. ISSN 1916-9655.
  8. ^ Kouymjian, Dickran, and Dickran Kouymjian. 1998. Armenia from the fall of the Cilician Kingdom (1375) to the forced emigration under Shah Abbas (1604) ; and, A critical bibliography for the history of Armenia from 1375 to 1605. [Fresno]: Armenian Studies Program, California State University, Fresno.
  9. ^ a b c 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
  10. ^ Ṭihrānī, Abū Bakr (1993). Kitāb-i Diyārbakriyya : Ak-Koyunlular tarihi. Lugal, Necâti., Sümer, Faruk. (2nd ed.). Ankara: Türk Tarih Kurumu Basımevi. pp. 53–54. ISBN 978-9751605207. OCLC 79217723.
  11. ^ History of Azerbaijan (in Azerbaijani). A.A. Bakıxanov adına Tarix İnstitutu. Bakı: Elm. 2007–2008. p. 81. ISBN 9789952448368. OCLC 473170399.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  12. ^ Tevhid, Ahmet (1904). Müze-yi Hümayun Meskûkât-ı Kadime-i İslâmiye kataloğu. Istanbul, Turkey: Müze-yi Hümayun. pp. 450–455. OCLC 1030059221.
  13. ^ ÇAKMAK, Mehmet Ali (21 November 2014). "Fights Between Akkoyunlu and Karakoyunlu". Gazi Üniversitesi Gazi Eğitim Fakültesi Dergisi (in Turkish). 25 (3).
  14. ^ a b Fazil., Fărzălibăi̐li, Shaḣin (1995). Azărbai̐jan vă osmanly imperii̐asy. Baku: ADN. p. 12. ISBN 978-5552013982. OCLC 39091665.
  15. ^ Bellér-Hann, Ildikó. (1995). A history of Cathay : a translation and linguistic analysis of a fifteenth-century Turkic manuscript. Bloomington, Ind.: Indiana University, Research Institute for Inner Asian Studies. p. 172. ISBN 0-933070-37-3. OCLC 33871338.
  16. ^ "FATḤ-NĀMA – Encyclopaedia Iranica". iranicaonline.org. Retrieved 24 August 2018.
  17. ^ Dennis, George T. (1973). "The Last Centuries of Byzantium. 1261–1453. By Donald M. Nicol. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1972, xii + 482 pp. $14.95". Church History. 42 (4): 558. doi:10.2307/3164977. ISSN 0009-6407. JSTOR 3164977.
  18. ^ Minorskij, V. (1958). A history of Sharvan and Darband in the 10th – 11th centuries by V. Minorsky. Cambridge: W. Heffer & Sons Ltd. p. 137.
  19. ^ Manz, Beatrice Forbes (2007). Power, Politics and Religion in Timurid Iran. Cambridge University Press. p. 35. ISBN 978-1-139-46284-6.

See alsoEdit

Preceded by Sultan of Qara Qoyunlu
Succeeded by