Kazakh Khanate

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Qazaq Khanate
Қазақ хандығы


Flag of the Qazaq Khanate

Capital Turkistan
Languages Kazakh language
Religion Islam
Government Monarchy
 -  1465–1480 Janybek Khan and Kerei Khan (first)
 -  Established 1456
 -  Disestablished 1847

Kazak Khanate (Kazakh: Қазақ хандығы, Qazaq xandığı) was a Turkic Kazakh state that existed in 1456–1847, located roughly on the territory of present-day Republic of Kazakhstan. At its height the khanate ruled from eastern Cumania (modern-day West Kazakhstan) to most of Uzbekistan, Karakalpakstan and the Syr Darya river with military confrontation as far as Astrakhan and Khorasan Province, which is now in Iran. The Khanate was later weakened by a series of Oirat and Dzungar invasions, devastating raids and warfare. Resulting in decline and further disintegration into three Jüz-es, which gradually lost their sovereignty and were colonized by the Russian Empire.


The Kazakh Khanate was founded in 1456-1465 by Janybek Khan and Kerey Khan, on the banks of Jetsu ("seven rivers") in the southeastern part of the present-day Republic of Kazakhstan. The founding of the Kazakh Khanate is considered the ethnogenesis of the Kazakh nation. The formation of the independent Kazakh Khanate began when several tribes under the rule of sultans Janybek and Kerey departed from the Khanate of Abu'l-Khayr Khan. The sultans led their people toward Mogolistan, eventually settling and founding an independent state. The new Khanate soon became a buffer state between the Mongolians and the Khanate of Abu'l-Khayr. From the sixteenth through the early nineteenth century, the most powerful nomadic people were the Kazakhs and the Oirats.[1]

Janybek Khan and Kerey Khan (1465–1480)[edit]

Although both Janybek Khan and Kerey Khan were considered the founding rulers of the Kazakh Khanate, it was Kerei Khan who initially wielded the most power. Upon the death of Kerei Khan in 1470, Janybek Khan became the sole ruler. The early years of the Kazakh Khanate were marked by struggles for control of the steppe against the Uzbek leader Muhammad Shaybani. In 1470, the Kazakhs defeated Muhammad Shaybani at the city of Turkistan, forcing the Uzbeks to retreat south to Samarkand and Bukhara.

Burunduk Khan (1480–1511)[edit]

In 1480 Karai Khan's son Burunduk became khan. During his reign the Kazakhs were able to muster an army of 50,000 men and to repeatedly defeat the forces of Muhammad Shaybani along the Syr Darya river.

Kasym Khan (1511–1518)[edit]

The manuscript of "Tarikh-Safavi", written in ancient Persian by Persian historians, wrote about Kasim Khan, ruler of Dasht-i-Kipchak. The manuscript describes how a Kazakh squad of soldiers helped Khan Sheibani of Bukhara annex the Iranian city of Khorasan. Kasim Khan committed a squad of eight thousand dzhigits and Khorasan was taken.[2]

Expansion of the Kazakh Khanate[edit]

Greatest extent of Kazakh Khanate.

During the reign of Kasym Khan, the territories of the Kazakh Khanate expanded considerably. As Mirza Muhammad Haidar Dughlat later wrote in his Tarikh-i-Rashidi, "Kasym Khan now brought the Dasht-i-Kipchak under his absolute control, in a manner that no one, with the exception of Jochi, had ever done before. His army exceeded a thousand thousand". Kasym Khan instituted the first Kazakh code of laws in 1520, called "Қасым ханның қасқа жолы" (transliterated, "Qasım xannıñ qazqa jolı" — "Bright Road of Kasym Khan"). Kasym Khan also ratified his alliance with the Timurid leader Babur, particularly after the fall of the Shaybanids, and was thus praised by the Mughals and the populace of Samarqand.

Mumash Khan (1518–1523)[edit]

Manṣūr Khān led an expedition against the Kazakhs in 1522 in response to their raids from Sayram into the Farghana.[3] Thereafter, Sayram remained out of the hands of the Uzbeks and came under the control of the Khazakhs.

Tahir Khan (1523–1529)[edit]

Buidash Khan (1529–1533)[edit]

Togym Khan (1533–1538)[edit]

Khak-Nazar Khan (1537–1580)[edit]

Under Khak-Nazar Khan, also known as Haq-Nazar Khan[4] or Ak Nazar Khan,[5] the Kazakh Khanate faced competition from several directions: the Nogai Horde in the west, the Khanate of Sibir in the north, Moghulistan in the east and the Khanate of Bukhara in the south. Initially, Khak-Nazar Khan led the Kazakhs in two major battles against Khanate of Bukhara at Tashkent, then against the Chagatai leader Abdur-Rashid Khan. In 1568, the Kazakhs successfully defeated the Nogai Horde at the Emba River and reached Astrakhan, but were repelled by Russian forces. [6] [7] [8]

Shygai Khan (1580–1582)[edit]

Tauekel Khan (1582–1598)[edit]

Tauekel Khan expanded the control of the Kazakh Khanate over Tashkent, Fergana, Andijan and Samarkand. In 1598, Kazakh forces approached Bukhara and besieged it for 12 days, but afterwards the Bukharan leader Pir-Muhammad and reinforcements under the command of his brother Baki-Muhammad pushed back the Kazakhs. In that battle, Tauekel Khan was wounded, and died during the retreat back to Tashkent.

Esim Khan (1598–1628)[edit]

After the death of Tauekel Khan came Esim Sultan, son of Sheehan Khan. His reign was the time of the next (third) strengthening of the Kazakh Khanate after Kasim Khan and Khak-Nazar Khan. Esim Khan moved the capital of the khanate to Sygnak in Turkestan and suppressed the revolts of Karakalpaks.

There followed a 15-year period of calm between the Kazakh Khanate and the Khanate of Bukhara.

Esim Khan established peace with the Khanate of Bukhara and returned to them control of Samarkand. However, Bukhara was still bitter about the loss of Tashkent, and that led to additional conflicts. Starting in 1607, the Khanate of Bukhara engaged in several battles and eventually obtained control of Tashkent.

Esim Khan united the Kazakh army and began a campaign against the Tashkent Khan Tursun Muhammad and Khan of Bukhara. In 1627, he defeated the enemy. Esim Khan abolished the Tashkent Khanate and the war finally ended.

Salqam-Jangir Khan (1629–1680)[edit]

During Salqam-Jangir Khan's reign, a new and powerful rival for the Kazakhs appeared in the east, known as the Zunghar Khanate. The Zunghar had recently converted to Mahayana Buddhism and their Erdeni Batur believed he could reestablish the 13th-century empire of Genghis Khan. However, much had changed since the days of the Mongol Empire and the Kazakhs, like the Kirghiz and the Tatars, had almost entirely converted to Islam under the authority of Emir Timur, who also reestablished new centers of power such as Samarqand and Bukhara, which had greatly influenced the founding of the Kazakh Khanate.

In 1652, the Zunghar leader Erdeni Batur attempted to eliminate the Kazakh Khanate and its inhabitants; he dispatched more than 50,000 Zunghar warriors against the Kazakh Khanate, which refused to submit to him. The early stages of their ferocious conflict took place in the Altai Mountains and later battles were fought on the vast steppes. Unable to halt the advance of the Zunghars, the Kazakh Ghazis and their leader Salqam-Jangir Khan's forces were defeated. Unfortunately in the year 1680, Salqam-Jangir Khan died in a battle, protecting his people against the Zunghars.

Tauke Khan (1680–1718)[edit]

Tauke Khan was elected as the leader of the Kazakh Khanate, immediately after the death of Salqam-Jangir Khan, and he led the battered Kazakh warriors across the steppes to resist the advance of the Zunghars. Unfortunately the already weakened Kazakhs were once again faced with defeat at Sayram and soon lost many major cities to the Zunghars.

Tauke Khan soon sought alliances with the Kirghiz in the south-east who were also facing a Zunghar invasion in their Issyk-Kul Lake region and even the Uyghurs of the Tarim Basin. In 1687, Zunghars besieged Hazrat-e Turkestan and were forced to retreat after the arrival led by Subhan Quli Khan.

In 1697, Tsewang Rabtan became the leader of the Zunghar Khanate, and he dispatched several of his commanders to subjugate Tauke Khan and many major wars between the Zunghars and the Kazakh Khanate continued into the following years: 1709, 1711—1712, 1714 and 1718. The Kazakh Khanate had indeed been weakened by the confrontation and nearly one-third of their population had been lost by the ensuing conflict. With Tauke Khan's death in 1718, the Kazakh Khanate splintered into three Jüz — the Great jüz, the Middle jüz and the Little jüz. Each Jüz had its own Khan from this time onward.

Tauke Khan is also known for refining the Kazakh code of laws, and reissuing it under the title "Жеті Жарғы" (transliterated, "Jeti Jarği"—"Seven Charters").

Ablai Khan (1771–1781)[edit]

Ablai Khan was a khan of the Middle jüz or Horde who managed to extend his control over the other two jüzes to include all of the Kazakhs. Before he became khan, Ablai participated in the wars against the Zunghars and proved himself a talented organizer and commander. He led numerous campaigns against Kokand Khanate and the Kyrgyz. In the last campaign his troops liberated many cities in Southern Kazakhstan and even captured Tashkent. During his actual reign, Ablai Khan did his best to keep Kazakhstan as independent as possible from the encroaching Russian Empire and the Chinese Qing dynasty. He employed s multi-vector foreign policy to protect the tribes from Chinese, Tatar and Dzungar aggressors. He also sheltered the Dzungar Oirat taishas Amursana and Dawachi from attacks by the Khoshut-Orait King of Tibet, Lha-bzang Khan, as the Dzungar Khanate fractured following the death of Galdan Tseren in 1745. However, once Amursana and Dawachi were no longer allies, Ablai Khan took the opportunity to capture herds and territory from the Dzungars.[9]

Kenesary Khan (1841–1847)[edit]

Kenesary was the last Kazakh Khan, and the leader of national liberation movement that resisted colonization of Kazakh lands and segregation policies by Russian Empire. The grandson of Ablai Khan and largely regarded as the last ruler of Kazakh Khanate.

By the mid 19th century, Kazakhs fell into full control of Russian Empire and were banned from electing their own leader or even representative into the empire's legislative powers. All fiscal/tax collections were also taken away from local Kazakh representatives and given to Russian colonial administrations. Kenesary Khan's fought against the Russian imperial forces until his death in 1847.

In 1841, on all-Kazakh Kurultai Kenesary was elected as Khan(supreme leader) by all Kazakh representatives. The ceremony of coronation took as per all Kazakh traditions.

As a freedom fighter and popular as a leading voice against the increasingly aggressive and forceful policies of the Russian Empire, Kenesary was ruthless in his actions and unpredictable as a military strategist. By 1846, however, his resistance movement had lost momentum as some of his rich associates had defected to the Russian Empire, having been promised great riches. Betrayed, Kenesary Khan grew increasingly suspicious of the remaining members of the Resistance, possibly further alienating them. In 1847, the Khan of the Kazakhs met his death in Kyrgyz lands during his assault on northern Kyrgyz tribes. He was executed by Ormon Khan, the sarybagysh tribe leader who was subsequently rewarded by the Russians with a larger estate and an official administrative role, but was still widely regarded as a traitor by most nomadic tribes. Kenesary Khan's head was cut off and sent to the Russians.

During the last decade, Kenesary Khan has become increasingly regarded as a hero in Kazakh literature and media. Kenesary Khan can be seen on the shore of the river Esil in the capital of Kazakhstan, Astana.

Disintegration of Khanate and Russian colonization[edit]

Approximate areas occupied by the three Kazakh Jüzes in the early 20th century. Green represents the Junior Jüz, orange represents the Middle jüz and red represents the Senior Jüz.

Gradual decline, disintegration and accession of Kazakh territories into Russian Empire began in mid 18th and ended in the second part of the 19th century.

By the mid 18th century, as a result of long lasting armed conflicts with Dzungars and Oirats, Kazakh Khanate starts to decline and further disintegrate into three Jüz-es, which formerly constituted Kazakh Khanate in a confederate form.

Battered by the warfare, seeking external military support the Khan of the Junior Jüz Abul Khair signs a protectorate agreement with Russian Empire. Preserving him as a ruler and all other powers, he pledges the allegiance to the Russian Crown.

By the mid 19th century some tribes of Middle Jüz, started accepting Russian protectorate as well. However process was long and filled with lots of minor and major armed conflicts and resistance.

Russian colonial policies/strategies brought military fortresses, lots of settlements as well as externally imposed rules into Kazakh lands. Series of laws by Russian Empire were introduced, that abolished local indigenous government in the form of Khan rule, instituted segregative settlement policies and etc. Resulting in numerous uprisings against colonial rules. Significant resistance movements were led by leaders such as Isatay Taymanuly (1836 - 1837), Makhambet Utemisuly (1836 - 1838) and Eset Kotibaruli (1847 - 1858).

Meanwhile, Senior Jüz sided with Emirate of Bukhara and Khanate of Kokand from south, and started opposing to the expansion of Russian Empire.

Full rule of Russian Empire over entire Kazakh lands was established in the second half of the 19th century, after southern towns of Ak-Mechet, Shymkent, Aulie-Ata and others were taken by Russian Imperial Army.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Middle East, western Asia, and northern Africa. By Ali Aldosari
  2. ^ In the Persian manuscript of the "Tarikh-Safavi" revealed new information about the "king of Dasht-i-Kipchak" Kazakh Khan Kasymov [1]
  3. ^ Tārīkh-i Rashīdī, tr. Elias and Ross, 79, 358
  4. ^ http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/254780/Haqq-Nazar
  5. ^ A History of the Moghuls of Central Asia: The Tarikh-i-Rashidi
  6. ^ http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/254780/Haqq-Nazar
  7. ^ A History of the Moghuls of Central Asi: The Tarikh-i-Rashidi By Mirza Muhammad Haidar Dughlt, N. Elias, Sir E Denison Ross page 121
  8. ^ http://books.google.com.pk/books?id=1pkeWqq7pdgC&pg=PA121&dq=sultan+Abdul+rashid+khan&hl=en&sa=X&ei=poyNUMidMZKZhQen54DoCA&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=Ak%20nazar%20khan&f=false
  9. ^ Perdue, Peter C (2009). China Marches West: The Qing Conquest of Central Eurasia. Harvard University Press. p. 274. ISBN 978-0-674-04202-5.