From Academic Kids

KHAGAN, alternatively spelled Chagan, Qaqan etc, is a title of royal or imperial rank in Mongolian and Turkic languages.
In modern Mongolian it became Khaan.

  • As its etymological meaning 'Khan of Khans' indicates, it ranks above all other Khans in an empire or realm - as the sovereign, in the manner of a King of Kings (see that article for parallels).
  • The common western rendering as Great Khan of Grand Khan, notably in the case of Ghengis Khan's dynasty, is technically not quite correct, but established rather well by long-standing convention and reasonably clear in suggesting paramount status.

Mongolian Khagans

  • The first known use would be by the nomadic Juan Juan confederacy (4th-6th century AD) or the Xianbei, on China's northern border
  • By far the most famous incumbents were from the dynasty of the Mongol conqueror Genghis Khan, who united all Mongol nomad tribes and welded them is such an efficient military machinery that he outdid Alexander the Great's conquests greatly in founding the Mongol Empire His grandson Kublai Khan: founded the Yuan Dynasty in China.

The ruling descendents of (the senior line of the house of) Genghis Khan are often referred to as the Great (or Grand) Khans. These include ÷gedei Khan, GŁyŁk Khan, MŲngke Khan, Kublai Khan.

    • The Secret History of the Mongols, writen for that very dyunasty, clearly distinguishes Khaghan and Khan: only Genghis and his descendants are called Khaghan; other rulers are referred to as Khan. Over time, though, the distinction became blurred by the large number of rulers who claimed it.
    • The gh sound in "Khagan" later weakened and disappeared becoming Khaan in Modern Mongolian.
    • the other hordes
    • Timur
  • See also List of Mongol Khans

Among Turkic peoples

*It became associated with the Ashina rulers of the Gokturks and their dynastic successors among such peoples as the Khazars. Minor rulers were rather relegated to the lower title of Khan.
  • Interestingly, the Turkish form Hakan, with the specification in Arabic al-Barrayn wa al-Bahrayn (meaning literally "of both lands and both seas") was one of the prominent additional titles in the official full style of the Padishah of the Ottoman empire, reflecting the historical legitimation of the dynasty's rule as political successor to various conquered (often islamised) states

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