Astrakhan Khanate

Khanate of Astrakhan³
Xacitarxan¹ Xanlığı
Хаҗитархан² Ханлыгы
Astrakhan Khanate in 1466-1556
Capital Xacitarxan
Languages Turkic (Tatar4, Nogay)
Government Khanate
Astrakhan Khan
   First Makhmud Astrakhan
  Last Darwish Ghali
   Established 1466
   Disestablished 1556
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Golden Horde
Tsardom of Russia
Today part of  Russia
¹ Ästerxan
² Әстерхан
³ Xacitarxan (Khajitarkhan)
4 Astrakhan dialect

The Khanate of Astrakhan (Xacitarxan Khanate) was a Tatar Turkic 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 Astrakhan/Hajji Tarkhan is now located. Its khans were the patrilineal descendants of Toqa Temür (Tūqāy Tīmūr[1]), the thirteenth son of Jochi and grandson of Genghis Khan.

The Khanate was established in the 1460s by Mäxmüd of Astrakhan. The capital was the city of Xacítarxan, also known as Astrakhan 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 Kalmykia. The North-Western Caspian seaside 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 the 6th 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-al-Jadid 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. With its conquest by the Russians in 1556, Islam was largely replaced by Russian Orthodox Christianity, though the region to this day is home to a significant Muslim minority.


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 Kazan; 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 absorbed by Russians and abolished. Darwish Khan escaped to the castle of Azov. After the fall of khanate, Tatars were attacked by Kalmyks, that displaced Nogai nomads.

Many Nogay were transplanted in Kazakhstan and Daghestan. 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 Astrakhan.

Merchants and subjects of Mughal rule are known to have traded in Astrakhan.[2]

See also

External links


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