FYI November 24, 2022

On This Day

1221 – Genghis Khan defeats the renegade Khwarazmian prince Jalal al-Din at the Battle of the Indus, completing the Mongol conquest of Central Asia.[3]
The Battle of the Indus was fought on the banks of the Indus River, on 24 November 1221, by two armies commanded by Shah Jalal ad-Din Mingburnu of the Khwarezmian Empire, and Genghis Khan of the Mongol Empire. The battle, which resulted in an overwhelming Mongol victory, was the concluding engagement in the Mongol conquest of the Khwarazmian Empire.

After his father Muhammad II had died on an island in the Caspian Sea, Jalal al-Din assumed the title of Khwarazmshah and travelled eastwards. Escaping the Mongols several times, he reached Ghazni and started assembling a large force; he then defeated the Mongol commander Shigi Qutuqu at the Battle of Parwan. This upset victory drew the attention and ire of Genghis Khan, who gathered a force of at least 50,000 and moved towards the Shah, who had lost a large proportion of his force because of a dispute over plunder. Now unable to effectively combat the Khan, he retreated eastwards towards the Indus river; the Mongols caught up on the morning the Khwarazmians were due to cross.

The Shah’s army, now numbering around 30,000, assumed a strong defensive position on the banks of the river. They acquitted themselves well in the early fighting, managing to drive back the Mongol forces despite being heavily outnumbered. However, after an elite Mongol detachment managed to outflank the Khwarazmians, the Shah realized the battle was lost; in full armour, he rode his horse off a cliff into the Indus. As a mark of respect for his enemy’s bravery, the Khan ordered his archers not to fire, and so the Shah managed to gain the opposite bank; however, his harem and nearly all his army were slaughtered.



Born On This Day

1273 – Alphonso, Earl of Chester (d. 1284)
Alphonso or Alfonso (24 November 1273 – 19 August 1284), also called Alphonsus and Alphonse and styled Earl of Chester, was an heir apparent to the English throne who never became king.[1]

Alphonso was the ninth child of King Edward I of England and his Castilian wife Eleanor. He was born in Bayonne, Gascony, a duchy claimed by his maternal uncle King Alphonso X of Castile until his parents’ marriage in 1254. Edward and Eleanor’s friendship with the King of Castile was also confirmed when they named their son in his honour, a “remarkable choice” given the name’s rarity in England. Queen Eleanor even persuaded her brother to travel to Gascony and serve as godfather at the young prince’s baptism.[1]

Alphonso’s eldest brother, John, had died in 1271; the death of another older brother, Henry, in 1274, made Alphonso the couple’s only son up until the last months of his life.[2] As his parents were often required to travel, Alphonso had a household of his own. Queen Eleanor was nevertheless invested in the upbringing of her son, who even had a Spanish cook.[1]

At the age of ten, Alphonso was engaged to Margaret, daughter of Floris V, Count of Holland. An opulent psalter was being prepared for the marriage when he fell ill[2] and died a few months before the wedding was to take place. The king and queen greeted the death of their son with deep sadness; at the same time, the historian M. Prestwich noted that in memory of the king’s nephew Henry of Brittany, who died a month later, Edward and Eleanor ordered more masses than in memory of their son.

The Alphonso Psalter was completed a decade later when his sister Elizabeth married Margaret’s brother, John I, Count of Holland, making the pairing of arms again appropriate.[3]

Alphonso’s death at Windsor occurred shortly after the birth of his younger brother Edward, who became the oldest surviving male heir of Edward I. Alphonso was interred in The Confessor’s Chapel at Westminster Abbey, although the exact location is unknown. His heart, however, was buried at the priory of Blackfriars, London (now destroyed).

As heirs apparent to the throne, both Alphonso and Edward bore the arms of the kingdom, differenced by a label azure.[4]



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