The Kara Koyunlu Turkomans at one point established their capital in Herat in eastern Persia, and were vassals of the Jalayiriddynasty in Baghdad and Tabriz from about 1375, when the leader of their leading tribe, ruled over Mosul. However, they rebelled against the Jalayirids, and secured their independence from the dynasty with the conquest of Tabriz by Qara Yusuf. In 1400, the armies of Tamerlane defeated the Kara Koyunlu, and Qara Yusuf fled to Egypt seeking refuge with the Mamluks. He gathered an army and by 1406 had taken back Tabriz. In 1410, the Kara Koyunlu captured Baghdad. The installation of a subsidiary Black Sheep Turkomans line there hastened the downfall of the Jalayirids whom they had once served. Despite internal fighting amongst Kara Yusuf's descendants after his death in 1420, and the increasing threat of the Timurids, the Black Sheep Turkomans maintained a strong grip over the areas they controlled.
Jahān Shāh made peace with the Timurid Shāh Rukh Mirzā, however, this soon fell apart. When Shāh Rukh died in 1447, the Black Sheep Turkomans annexed portions of Iraq and the eastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula, as well as Timurid controlled western Iran. Though much territory was gained during his rule, Jahān Shāh's reign was troubled by his rebellious sons and the almost autonomous rulers of Baghdad, whom he expelled in 1464. In 1466, Jahān Shāh attempted to take Diyarbakir from the White Sheep Turkomans, however, this was a catastrophic failure resulting on Jahān Shāh's death and the collapse of the Black Sheep Turkomans' control in the Middle East. By 1468, at their height under Uzun Hasan (1452–1478), Aq Qoyunlu Turkomans defeated the Qara Qoyunlu and conquered Iraq, Azerbaijan, and western Iran.
Armenia fell under the control of the Kara Koyunlu in 1410. The principal Armenian sources available in this period come from the historian Tovma Metsopetsi and several other contemporary colophons. According to Tovma, although the Kara Koyunlu levied heavy taxes against the Armenians, the early years of their rule were relatively peaceful and some reconstruction of towns took place. This peaceful period was, however, shattered with the rise of Qara Iskander, who reportedly made Armenia a "desert" and subjected it to "devastation and plunder, to slaughter, and captivity." Iskander's wars with and eventual defeat by the Timurids invited further destruction in Armenia, as many Armenians were taken captive and sold into slavery and the land was subjected to outright pillaging, forcing many of them to leave the region. Iskander did attempt to reconcile with the Armenians by appointing an Armenian, Rustum, from a noble family, as one of his advisers.
When the Timurids launched their final incursion into the region, they were able to get Jihanshah, Iskander's brother, to turn on his brother. Jihanshah pursued a policy of persecution against the Armenians in Syunik and Armenian colophons record the sacking of the monastery of Tatev by his forces. But he, too, sought a rapprochement with the Armenians, allotting land to feudal lords, rebuilding churches, and approving the relocation of the Armenian Catholicosate to Echmiadzin in 1441. For all this, Jihanshah continued to attack Armenian towns and take Armenian captives as the country saw further devastation in the final years of Jihanshah's failed struggles with the Aq Qoyunlu.
^V. Minorsky. "Jihān-Shāh Qara-Qoyunlu and His Poetry (Turkmenica, 9)", Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, Vol. 16, No. 2 (1954), p. 277
^Quiring-Zoche, R. "AQ QOYUNLŪ". Encyclopedia Iranica. Retrieved 2009-10-29.
The argument that there was a clear-cut contrast between the Sunnism of the Āq Qoyunlū and the Shiʿism of the Qara Qoyunlū and the Ṣafawīya rests mainly on later Safavid sources and must be considered doubtful.
^Armenia from the fall of the Cilician Kingdom (1375) to the force emigration under Shah Abbas, Dickran Kouymjian, The Armenian People from Ancient to Modern Times, Richard G. Hovannisian, (Palgrave Macmillan, 2004), 4.
^Stearns, Peter N.; Leonard, William (2001). The Encyclopedia of World History. Houghton Muffin Books. p. 122. ISBN0-395-65237-5.
^Kouymjian, Dickran (1997), "Armenia from the Fall of the Cilician Kingdom (1375) to the Forced Migration under Shah Abbas (1604)" in The Armenian People From Ancient to Modern Times, Volume II: Foreign Dominion to Statehood: The Fifteenth Century to the Twentieth Century, ed. Richard G. Hovannisian, New York: St. Martin's Press, p. 4. ISBN 1-4039-6422-X.
Bosworth, Clifford. The New Islamic Dynasties, 1996.
(Armenian) Khachikyan, Levon. ԺԵ դարի հայերեն ձեռագրերի հիշատակարաններ, մաս 1 (Fifteenth Century Armenian Colophons, Part 1). Yerevan, 1955.
Morby, John. The Oxford Dynasties of the World, 2002.
Sanjian, Avedis K. Colophons of Armenian manuscripts, 1301-1480: A Source for Middle Eastern History, Selected, Translated, and Annotated by Avedis K. Sanjian. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1969.