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The Khanate of Astrakhanmarker (Xacitarxan: Khanate) was a Tatar feudal state that appeared after the collapse of the Golden Horde. The Khanate existed in the 15th and 16th centuries in the area adjacent to the mouth of the Volga river, where the contemporary city of Astrakhanmarker/Hajji Tarkhan is now located.

The Khanate was established in the 1460s by Mäxmüd of Astrakhan. The capital was the city of Xacítarxan, also known Astrakhanmarker in Russian chronicles. Its territory included the Lower Volga valley and the Volga Delta, including most of what is now Astrakhan Oblast and the steppeland on the right bank of Volga in what is now Kalmykiamarker. The North-Western Caspian seasidemarker was a southern boundary and the Crimean Khanate bounded Astrakhan on the west.

Before the Khanate

The area surrounding the lower Volga was populated by various Turkic tribes since at least the 5th century AD. There were, for example, the Khazars. Following the invasion of Mongol tribes from the east and the splintering of their empire, the area came under the rule of the Golden Horde. This empire, too, was wracked by civil war, and the semi-independent Astrakhan Khanate was established by Qasim I around 1466. Its location at the mouth of the Volga, straddling important trade routes, allowed it to accumulate significant wealth, but also attracted the attention of neighbouring states and nomadic tribes, subjecting the khanate to numerous invasions. Meñli I Giray, the khan of the Crimea who had destroyed the Big Horde's capital of Sarai Batu caused significant destruction to the khanate.

Demography and society

Most of the population of the Astrakhan khanate were Astrakhan Tatars and Nogays. Merchants carried on a transit trade between Muscovy, Kazan, Crimea Central Asia, and the Transcaucasus region.

The nobility consisted of feudal ranks, which were, from highest to lowest: the khan, sultans, begs and morzalar. The rest of the population were known as qara xalıq, black people (or more accurately in Old Turkic, "great creation" implying 'the creatures at large" or common folks, when "qara" stood for "big" and "great" not just black, and "aq" (white), stood also for delicate, small, dainty etc)- the standard Turkic designation for commoners. The state religion was Islam.


In the 1530s Astrakhan cooperated with the Crimean Khanate and the Nogay Horde in a campaign against Russia. Later, Astrakhan was involved in conflicts against its erstwhile Tatar allies. In 1552 Tsar Ivan IV of Russia, better known as Ivan the Terrible, captured Kazanmarker; shortly thereafter a pro-Muscovite party took power in Astrakhan.

Ivan dispatched soldiers to Astrakhan, establishing Darwish Khan as a vassal ruler of the Astrakhan Khanate in 1554. Pro-muscovite nobles and Nogay tribesmen supported Russian forces occupying Astrakhan. After the threat of Crimean raid against Astrakhan had subsided, Darwish Khan conspired with the Crimean Khanate to drive the Russians out of the region. Ivan IV sent Russian Strelets and Cossack armies, who conquered and annexed the region in 1556. Xacitarxan was besieged, burned; the khanate was adsorbed by Russians and abolished. Darwish Khan escaped to the castle of Azovmarker. After the fall of khanate, Tatars were attacked by Kalmyks, that displaced Nogai nomads.

Many Nogay were transplanted in Kazakhstanmarker and Daghestanmarker. However, approximately 70,000 Astrakhan Tatars still live in Astrakhan Oblast.

The capital of the khanate was Xacitarxan (or Khadjitarkhan), located about 12 km from modern Astrakhanmarker.

See also

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