Erivan Khanate

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Erivan Khanate
Persian: خانات ایروان‎‎


Erivan Khanate c. 1800.
Capital Erivan
Languages Persian (official),[1] Azerbaijani, Kurdish, Armenian
Political structure Khanate
 •  Established 1736
 •  Disestablished 1828
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The Erivan Khanate (Persian: خانات ایروان‎‎ — Khānāt-e Īravān; Azerbaijani: İrəvan xanlığı — ایروان خانلیغی; Armenian: Երևանի խանություն —Yerevani khanut'yun) also known as Čoḵūr Saʿd,[2] was a khanate that was established in Safavid Persia in the eighteenth century. It covered an area of roughly 19,500 km2,[2] and corresponded to most of present-day central Armenia, most of the Iğdır Province and of Kağızman district of the Kars Province of present-day Turkey, and the Sharur and Sadarak districts of the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic of present-day Azerbaijan.

As a result of the Persian defeat in the last Russo-Persian War, it was occupied by Russian troops in 1827[3] and then ceded to the Russian Empire in 1828 in accordance with the Treaty of Turkmenchay. Immediately following this, the territories of the former Erivan Khanate and the Nakhichevan Khanate were joined to form the "Armenian Oblast" of the Russian Empire.


During Persian rule, the Shahs appointed the various khans as beglerbegī to preside over their domains, thus creating an administrative center. These khans from the Qajar tribe,[4][5] of Turkic origin,[6][7] also known as the sirdar (Pers. sardār, “chief”), governed the entire khanate, from the mid-seventeenth century until the Russian occupation in 1828.[2] The khanate was divided into fifteen administrative districts called maḥals.


Many events led to the demise of the Armenian population from the region. Shah Abbas I's deportation of much of the population from the Armenian Highlands in 1605 was one event, when as many as 250,000 Armenians were removed from the region.[8] To repopulate the frontier region of his realm, Shah Abbas II (1642–1666) permitted the Turkic Kangarli tribe to return. Under Nadir Shah, when the Armenians suffered excessive taxation and other penalties, many emigrated, particularly to India.[9] Later on, large number of Armenians were kept captive in Iran since 1804 or as far back as 1795,[10] others were scattered around the world (Russia failed to resettle them) due to the Iranian-Russian wars of 1804 and 1813,[11] including 20,000 who moved to Georgia.[12] At the time of the Russian annexation Armenians formed about less than 20% (about 15,000) of the population of the Erivan Khanate in 1828, while the remaining 80% was made up of Muslims (Persian, Azeri, Kurdish),[2][13] forming a total population of 102,000.[14]

Following the resettlement of Persian Armenians in the newly conquered Russian territories afte 1828, significant demographic shifts were bound to take place. The Armenian-American historian George Bournoutian gives a summary of the ethnic makeup prior to the 1828 events:[15]

After the incorporation of the Erivan khanate into the Russian Empire, Muslim majority of the area gradually changed, at first the Armenians who were left captive were accouraged to return.[16] As a result of which an estimated 57,000 Armenian refugees from Persia returned to the territory of the Erivan khanates after 1828, while about 35,000 Muslims (Persians, Turkic groups, Kurds, Lezgis, etc.) out total population of over 100,000 left the region.[17]

Partial Armenian autonomy[edit]

Armenians in the territory of the Khanate lived under the immediate jurisdiction of the melik of Erivan, from the House of the Melik-Aghamalyan family, who had the sole right to govern them with the authorization of the shah. The inception of the melikdom of Erivan appears only after the end of the last Ottoman-Safavid war in 1639 and seems to have been a part of an overall administrative reorganization in Persian Armenia after a long period of wars and invasions. The first known member of the family is a certain Melik Gilan but the first certain holder of the title of "melik of Erivan" was Melik Aghamal and it may be from him that the house had taken its surname. One of his successors, Melik-Hakob-Jan, attended the coronation of Nāder Shah in the Mughan plain in 1736.[2]

Under the melik of Erivan were a number of other meliks in the khanate, with each maḥall inhabited by Armenians having its own local melik. The meliks of Erivan themselves, especially the last, Melik Sahak II, were among the most important, influential and respected individuals in the khanate and both Christians and Muslims alike sought their advice, protection and intercession. Second in importance only to the khan himself, they alone among the Armenians of Erivan were allowed to wear the dress of a Persian of rank. The melik of Erivan had full administrative, legislative and judicial authority over Armenians up to the sentence of the death penalty, which only the khan was allowed to impose. The melik exercised a military function as well, because he or his appointee commanded the Armenian infantry contingents in the khan’s army. All the other meliks and village headmen (tanuters) of the khanate were subordinate to the melik of Erivan and all the Armenian villages of the khanate were required to pay him an annual tax.[2]

List of Khans[edit]

Palace of Erivan khans, early 19th-century painting
  • 1736–40 Tahmasp-qulu khan (Tahmasp II)
  • 1740–47 Nader Shah
  • 1745–48 Mekhti-khan Qasımlı
  • 1748–50 Hasan Ali-khan
  • 1750–80 Huseyn Ali Khan
  • 1752–55 Khalil Khan
  • 1755–62 Hasan Ali Khan Qajar
  • 1762–83 Huseyn Ali Khan
  • 1783–84 Qulam Ali (son of Hasan Ali)
  • 1784–1804 Muhammed Khan
  • 1804–06 Mekhti-Qulu Khan
  • 1806–07 Muhammed Khan Maragai
  • 1807–28 Huseyn Qulu Khan Qajar

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Homa Katouzian, "Iranian history and politics", Published by Routledge, 2003. pg 128: "Indeed, since the formation of the Ghaznavids state in the tenth century until the fall of Qajars at the beginning of the twentieth century, most parts of the Iranian cultural regions were ruled by Turkic-speaking dynasties most of the time. At the same time, the official language was Persian, the court literature was in Persian, and most of the chancellors, ministers, and mandarins were Persian speakers of the highest learning and ability"
  2. ^ a b c d e f Hewsen, Robert H. and George Bournoutian. "Erevan." Encyclopedia Iranica. Accessed January 3, 2009.
  3. ^ History of the Erivan Khanate on Accessed October 22, 2013.
  4. ^ Abbasgulu Bakikhanov. Golestan-e Eram. Period V
  5. ^ Bournoutian, George A. "Hosaynqolikhan Sardār-e Iravani." Encyclopedia Iranica.
  6. ^ Abbas Amanat, The Pivot of the Universe: Nasir Al-Din Shah Qajar and the Iranian Monarchy, 1831–1896, I.B. Tauris, pp 2–3; "In the 126 years between the fall of the Safavid state in 1722 and the accession of Nasir al-Din Shah, the Qajars evolved from a shepherd-warrior tribe with strongholds in northern Iran into a Persian dynasty.."
  7. ^ Choueiri, Youssef M., A companion to the history of the Middle East, (Blackwell Ltd., 2005), 516.
  8. ^ An Ethnohistorical Dictionary of the Russian and Soviet Empires, James S. Olson, Greenwood(1994), p. 44
  9. ^ An Historical Atlas of Islam by William Charles Brice, Brill Academic Publishers, 1981 p. 276
  10. ^ The Cambridge History of Iran, William Bayne Fisher, Peter Avery, Ilya Gershevitch, Gavin Hambly, Charles Melville, published by the Cambridge University Press, 1991 p. 339
  11. ^ The Turks: Turkey (2 v.), Murat Ocak, Yeni Türkiye, 2002
  12. ^ Akty sobrannye, docs. 559, 564, 568, 570, 573, 582, 586, 614; and S. Glinka, Sobranie aktov otnosiashchikhsia k obozrenii istorii Armianskogo naroda, II (Moscow, 1838), pp. 163-166.
  13. ^ The land was mountainous and dry, the population of about 100,000 was roughly 80 percent Muslim (Persian, Azeri, and Kurdish) and 20 percent Christian (Armenian). Firuz Kazemzadeh. Reviewed Work(s): Eastern Armenia in the Last Decades of Persian Rule, 1807—1828 by George A. Bournoutian. International Journal of Middle East Studies, Vol. 16, No. 4. (Nov., 1984), pp. 566—567.
  14. ^ Hewsen, Robert H. (2001). Armenia: A Historical Atlas. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. p. 168. ISBN 0-226-33228-4. 
  15. ^ Bournoutian, George A. (1982). Eastern Armenia in the Last Decades of Persian Rule, 1807 - 1828. Malibu: Undena Publications. pp. xxii + 165. 
  16. ^ The Cambridge History of Iran by William Bayne Fisher, Peter Avery, Ilya Gershevitch, Gavin Hambly, Charles Melville, Cambridge University Press, 1991 p. 339
  17. ^ Potier, Tim (2001). Conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh, Abkhazia and South Ossetia: A Legal Appraisal. Martinus Nijhoff Publishers. p. 2. ISBN 90-411-1477-7. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Bournoutian, George, "Dangerous Trends in Azeri Historiography: The Use and Abuse of The Khanate of Erevan under Qajar Rule, 1795-1828 by Azeri Scholars," Journal of the Society for Armenian Studies 22 (2013), pp. 301-08.