Khanates of the Caucasus

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The Caucasus in the early 19th century following Russia's annexation of Georgia, based on Tadeusz Swietochowski (1985)
The South Caucasus in the last quarter of the 18th century (by George Bournoutian, 2021)
Map depicting the Caucasus in 1801. Created by the Tsarist authorities in 1901 (map is in Russian)

The khanates of the Caucasus,[1] or Azerbaijani khanates[2] or Persian khanates,[3] or Iranian khanates,[4] were various provinces and principalities established by Persia (Iran) on their territories in the Caucasus (modern-day Azerbaijan Republic, Armenia, Georgia and Dagestan) from the late Safavid to the Qajar dynasty.[5] The Khanates were mostly ruled by Khans of Turkic (Azerbaijani) origin[6][7][8] and were vassals and subjects of the Iranian shah (King).[9] Persia permanently lost a part of these khanates to Russia as a result of the Russo-Persian Wars in the course of the 19th century, while the others were absorbed into Persia.


The khanates ultimately absorbed by the Russian Empire were:

Apart from that, some remote parts of Dagestan were governed by largely independent rural communities/federations before the Russian conquest of the area:[16]

From ancient times until the arrival of the Russians most of the above area was part of the Iranian world,[17] and was under a large degree of Persian control (Transcaucasia and parts of Dagestan).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Cronin, Stephanie, ed. (2013). Iranian-Russian Encounters: Empires and Revolutions Since 1800. Routledge. p. 53. ISBN 978-0415624336. The shah's dominions, including the khanates of the Caucasus, included only about 5 to 6 million inhabitants against Russia's 500,000-strong army and estimated 40 million population.
  2. ^ The term Azerbaijani (or Azeri) khanates is used by several authors:
    Tadeusz Swietochowski. Russian Azerbaijan, 1905-1920: The Shaping of National Identity in a Muslim Community. Cambridge, UK, Cambridge University Press, 2004. ISBN 0521522455

    Azerbaijani khanates and the conquest by Russia

    In 1747 Nadir Shah, the strong ruler who had established his hold over Persia eleven years earlier, was assassinated in a palace coup, and his empire fell into chaos and anarchy. These circumstances effectively terminated the suzerainty of Persia over Azerbaijan, where local centeres of power emerged in the form of indigenous principalities, independent or virtually so, inasmuch as some maintained tenuous links to Persia's weak Zand dynasty.

    Thus began a half-century-long period of Azerbaijani independence, albeit in a condition of deep political fragmentation and internal warfare. Most of the principalities were organized as khanates, small replicas of the Persian monarchy, including Karabagh, Sheki, Ganja, Baku, Derbent, Kuba, Nakhchivan, Talysh, and Erivan in northern Azerbaijan and Tabriz, Urmi, Ardabil, Khoi, Maku, Maragin, and Karadagh in its southern part. Many of the khanates were subdivided into mahals (regions), territorial units inhabited by members of the same tribe, reflecting the fact that residue of tribalism was still strong.

    Tadeusz Swietochowski. Russia's Transcaucasian Policies and Azerbaijan: Ethnic Conflict and Regional Unity // In a collapsing empire. Feltrinelli Editore, 1993. Стр. 190.

    An Armenian oblast' (district) was created on the territory of the former Azerbaijani khanates of Erivan and Nakhichevan, yet remarkably there followed no large scale manifestation of ethnic strife in the countryside.

    Firouzeh Mostashari. On the religious frontier: Tsarist Russia and Islam in the Caucasus. I.B. Tauris; New York, 2006. ISBN 1850437718

    The Caucasian Campaigns and the Azerbaijani Khanates
    The success of the Russian campaigns in annexing the Transcaucasian territories was not solely due to the resolve of the generals and their troops, or even their superiority over the Persian military. The independent khanates, themselves, were disintegrating from within, helplessly weakening one another with their internal rivalries.

    Robert Strausz-Hupé, Harry W. Hazard. The idea of colonialism. Praeger, 1958. Стр. 77.

    In 1804 Russian troops occupied the khanate of Ganja, and this was followed by the surrender of several other autonomous Azeri khanates in western Azerbaijan.

    Alexander Murinson. Turkey's Entente with Israel and Azerbaijan. Routledge, 2009. Стр. 2.

    The core territory of modern-day Azerbaijan, i.e. Shirvan, Quba and other Azeri Khanates in the Caucasus, served historically as place of refuge for Persian and later Russian Jews.

    Galina M. Yemelianova. Radical Islam in the Former Soviet Union. Routledge, 2009. Стр. 149.

    With the fall of the Safawid empire in 1722, a number of independent khanates emerged on the territory of modern Azerbaijan. Among them were the khanates of Bakı, Gəncə, Qarabağ, Quba, Naxçıvan, Şirvan, Şəki, and Şamaxı. By 1805, the khanates of Qarabağ and Şirvan had become protectorates of the Russian Empire. In two wars between Russia and Qajār Persia in 1804–1813 and 1826–1828, the Russians conquered other Azerbaijani khanates.

    Henry R. Huttenbach. Soviet Nationality Policies. Mansell, 1990. Стр. 222.

    The pattern of the Russian conquest varied: in some cases, notably in the Azerbaijani khanate of Ganja, the emirate of Bukhara, the khanate of Kokand and Turkmenistan, violence and bloodshed were involved.

    Bohdan Nahaylo, Victor Swoboda. Soviet Disunion. A History of the Nationalities Problem in the USSR. Simon and Schuster, 1990. Стр. 12.

    Its inhabitants being Shiite, the Azerbaijani khanate was more closely linked with Persia than with their Turkish kin. Peter the Great defeated Persia and annexed the Derbent and Baku regions of Azerbaijan in 1724.

    Stephen K. Batalden. The Newly Independent States of Eurasia. Greenwood Publishing Group, 1997. Стр. 110.

    The 1812 Treaty of Gulistan and the 1828 Treaty of Turkmanchai ended the two Russo-Persian wars and brought Azerbaijani khanates north of the Aras River under Russian control.

    Edward Allworth. Muslim Communities Reemerge. Historical Perspectives on Nationality. Duke University Press, 1994. Стр. 47.

    One of the first consequences of the conquest was the gradual dismantling of the Azerbaijani khanates, the principalities that had formed the political structure of the country. The khanates of Ganja, Shirvan, Talysh, Baku, Karabagh, Sheki, Nakhchivan, Derbent, and Kuba disappeared, one after the other, for the most part during the 1830s and the 1840s, and the process of breaking up these traditional polities contributed to the weakening of deeply rooted local particularisms

  3. ^
    • Ronald G. Suny. "They Can Live in the Desert but Nowhere Else": A History of the Armenian Genocide", (Princeton University Press, 2015), 70; "In 1828 the Russian army took the Persian khanate of Erevan (which nearly a century later would become the capital of independent Armenia) and established a new frontier on the Arax River".
    • Rouben Paul Adalian. "Historical Dictionary of Armenia", (Scarecrow Press, 2010), 471; "(...) in the town of Ashtarak in Eastern Armenia during the period of the Persian khanates."
    • David Marshall Lang. "The Last Years of the Georgian Monarchy, 1658-1832", (Columbia University Press, 1957), 153; "(...) and to obtain the Persian regent Kerim Khan's recognition of Georgian suzerainty over the Persian khanates north of (...)"
    • Alexander Bitis. "Russia and the Eastern Question: Army, Government and Society, 1815-1833", (Oxford University Press, 2006), 223; "(...) Persian khanates north of the Arax."
    • S. Frederick Starr. "The legacy of history in Russia and the new states of Eurasia", (M.E. Sharpe, 1994), 259; "(...) to welcome the Russian armies and the annexation of the Persian khanates north of the Araxes River between 1806 and 1828."
    • Britannica online, "Azerbaijan", History section (link); "Persian-ruled khanates in Shirvan (Şamaxı), Baku, Ganja (Gäncä), Karabakh, and Yerevan dominated this frontier of Ṣafavid Iran. (...) After a series of wars between the Russian Empire and Iran, the treaties of Golestān (Gulistan; 1813) and Turkmenchay (Torkmānchāy; 1828) established a new border between the empires. Russia acquired Baku, Shirvan, Ganja, Nakhichevan (Naxçıvan), and Yerevan.
  4. ^
    • George A. Bournoutian. "The 1819 Russian Survey of the Khanate of Sheki: A Primary Source on the Demography and Economy of an Iranian Province Prior to Its Annexation by Russia", (Mazda Publishers, 2016).
    • George A. Bournoutian. "The 1820 Russian Survey of the Khanate of Shirvan: A Primary Source on the Demography and Economy of an Iranian Province prior to its Annexation by Russia", (Gibb Memorial Trust, 2016), pp. xvi-xvii, 6 (amongst many others);
      • "Following the conquest of the former Iranian khanates of Baku, Shirvan, Sheki, Karabagh and Talesh, the Russians combined them into (...)"
      • "In 1827, Tsar Nicholas I finally replaced Yermolov with General Ivan Paskevich, who roundly defeated the Iranians and forced them, in 1828, to sign the Treaty of Turkmenchay (Torkmanchay), by which the last two remaining Iranian khanates of Yerevan and Nakhichevan, as well as (...)."
      • "In 1840, tsarist policy, which favored a more uniform system for the region, consolidated all of South Caucasus into two provinces (...) were made part of the Georgian-Imeretian Province, while the rest of the former Iranian khanates formed the Caspian Province."
      • "In the 1930s, a number of Soviet historians, including the prominent Russian Orientalist, Ilya Petrushevskii, were instructed by the Kremlin to accept the totally unsubstantiated notion that the territory of the former Iranian khanates (except Yerevan, which had become Soviet Armenia) was part of an Azerbaijani nation."
    • Encyclopædia Iranica. AZERBAIJAN, (1987); "This new entity consisted of the former Iranian Khanates of Arrān, including Karabagh, Baku, Shirvan, Ganja, Talysh (Ṭāleš), Derbent (Darband), Kuba, and Nakhichevan (Naḵjavān), which had been annexed to Russia by the treaties of Golestān (1813) and Torkamānčāy (1828) under the rubric of Eastern Transcaucasia."
    • George A. Bournoutian. "The 1829-1832 Russian Surveys of the Khanate of Nakhichevan (Nakhjavan): A Primary Source on the Demography and Economy of an Iranian Province Prior to Its Annexation by Russia", (Mazda Publishers, 2016).
    • George A. Bournoutian. "Armenia and Imperial Decline: The Yerevan Province, 1900-1914", (Routledge, 2018), 6; "(...) After establishing Tiflis as its administrative and military headquarters in the region, Russia attacked the Iranian Khanate of Ganja (Ganjeh) and began the First Russo-Iranian War (1804-1813). (...) By 1813, the restraints of these other military engagements were removed, and following a number of defeats, Iran was forced to sign the Gulistan (Golestan) agreement. The treaty, which the Iranians considered to be only an armistice, handed the former Iranian khanates of Ganja, Derbent (Darband), Kuba (Qobbeh), Shirvan, Karabagh (Qarabagh), Sheki (Shakki) and parts of Talysh (Talesh) to Russia (...)"
  5. ^ George Bournoutian. The Khanate of Erevan Under Qajar Rule: 1795-1828. (Mazda Publishers, 1992), p. xxiii; "The term khanate refers to an area that was governed by hereditary or appointed governors with the title of khan or beglerbegi who performed a military and/or administrative function for the central government. By the nineteenth century, there were nine such khanates in Transcaucasia (...)"
  6. ^ World and Its Peoples: Middle East, Western Asia, and Northern Africa. Marshall Cavendish Corporation, 2006. ISBN 0761475710. Стр. 751.

    The Azeris.
    In a series of wars with Persia at the beginning of the nineteenth century, Russia gained the Azeri khanates north of the Araks River, which still forms the frontier between Azerbaijan and Iran.

  7. ^ Russian Azerbaijan, 1905–1920 By Tadeusz Swietochowski page 272
  8. ^ Russia and Iran, 1780-1828 By Muriel Atkin, Page 16-20
  9. ^ Encyclopedia of Soviet law. Ferdinand Joseph Maria Feldbrugge, Gerard Pieter van den Berg, William B. Simons. p. 457.
  10. ^ possibly Akhmedkent west of Derbent, see Samuel Gottlieb Gmelin.
  11. ^ Marie Broxup, The North Caucasus Barrier: The Russian Advance Towards the Muslim World, C. Hurst & Co. Publishers, 1996, p. 31ff
  12. ^ Oberling, Pierre (1995). DONBOLĪ. Encyclopedia Iranica. VII.
  13. ^ Petrushevsky, Ilya Pavlovich (1949). Очерки по истории феодальных отношений в Азербайджане и Армении в XVI-начале XIX вв (in Russian). Saint Petersburg State University.
  14. ^ Tapper, Richard (2010), "Shahsevan", Encyclopedia Iranica
  15. ^ Arthur Tsutsiev, Atlas of the Ethno-Political History of the Caucasus, Map 3, 2004
  16. ^ Hans-Heinrich Nolte (ed.), Innere Peripherien in Ost und West, Verlag Franz Steiner, 2001, p. 151 (German)
  17. ^ Multiple Authors. "Caucasus and Iran". Encyclopædia Iranica. Retrieved 2012-09-03.