History of the Kazakh Khanate

The formation of the Kazakh Khanate was complicated by the nature, long in time; it was a multi-dimensional process. It was also the natural result of the socio-economic and ethno-political events in the vast territory of East Desht-i Qipchaq, Zhetysu, and Turkestan (southern Kazakhstan). Formation of a single economic region in the XIV - XV centuries, on the basis of the natural integration of areas with a mixed economy, a nomadic pastoralist and sedentary agricultural, urban and with the direction on trade and craft sector, prepared the way for the unification of all the lands of the region into one political structure.


Establishment of the Kazakh Khanate

A specific course of formation of the Kazakh Khanate associated with a internal political state of two countries on the territory of Kazakhstan - Abulkhair Khanat (State of Uzbek nomads) and Mogolistan. In both countries, economic power of the nomadic elite increased, and its centrifugal aspirations grew. The most influential leaders of clans and tribes of East Desht-i Qipchaq and Zhetysu wanted political independence.

Back in the 20's of XV century, Kalmaks began to attack Zhetysu in search of grazing, mining, entering shopping malls. Abulkhair Khan suffered a severe defeat from them in 1457. Making peace with Abulkhair in heavy conditions, Kalmaks went through Chu to their land, and Abulkhair began with brutal measures restoring order in his uluses, including the south of Kazakhstan, where he cracked down does not recognizing his authority Juchids. Actions of Abulkhair and the inability of Mogolistan Khan to protect the population of Zhetysu from kalmak hordes, had led to even more frustration of the masses.

From the late 50s of the XV century, there was a mass shifting of the Kazakh population of East Desht-i Qipchaq, oases of Turkestan and the foothills of Karatau to the western part of the Zhetysu, the territory of Mogolistan, within a decade. It is especially intensified after the death of Abulkhair in 1468 and the collapse of his government. This action of the masses was the beginning of the subsequent unification of disparate groups of Kazakhs, including ones from Zhetysu in one state.

Kazakh Khanate was originally occupied the territory of the West Zhetusy, Chu and Talas valley. It combined both moved from the Central and Southern Kazakhstan Kazakhs and local tribes. A friendly disposition of Khan of mogols towards sultans from Uzbek uluses was due to the fact that, firstly, Esen-Bug did not have at that time strength to reflect raidings of the northern nomads, secondly, represented by Kerey, Janibek and their soldiers, he saw a stronghold for protection of the western borders from the possessions of his brother Yunus supported by the Timurid Abu Said.

Another reason that made Esen-Bug to take such a step could be the fact that the value of Khan both internally and externally is primarily determined by the number and strength of supporting him feudal nobility and ulus people. So, it was natural that he desired to attract the enemies of his powerful neighbors, and to use them if it was needed, against their fellow tribesmen. After the death of Esen Bug in 1462, anarchy came to Mogolistan. In these circumstances, the emergence and consolidation of the Kazakh Khanate in Zhetusy was quite natural. Mohammed Haydar Dulati considers the formation of the Kazakh Khanate in 870 year of the Hijra (1465 – 1466 years).

In the following decades of the XV century, Kazakh Khanate economically strengthened and expanded geographically. Its territory included a significant part of the territory of the ethnic Kazakhs. Abulkhair Khan’s Khanate got away from the scene in East Desht-i Qipchaq. At the end of XV and early XVI centuries, a military and political power of the Timurid state became the thing of the past as it  finally lost its power over Mawarannahr against the leader of the nomadic Uzbeks grandson of Abulkhair, Muhammad Shaybani. Mogolistan, actually, split out into several fiefdoms.

According to the ancestries placed in a number of sources, Janibek and Kerey were close relatives. Both were direct descendants of Urus Khan and had a right to rule, one as a direct descendant of the Barak Khan (Janibek - Barak Khan - Kuyruchuk oglan - Urus Khan), the other as the eldest (Kerey - Bulat Sultan - Sultan Tokhta Kyya - Urus Khan ).

Kazakh khans immediately intervened in the struggle for power in the stepp eafter the death of Abulkhair Khan. Their main opponents were the heirs of Abulkhair Khan - his son Shaykh - Haidar and grandchildren Muhammad Shaibani and Mahmud - sultan. After the death of Shaykh - Haydar, Abulkhair’s grandchildren escaped to Turkestan, where they received help from the Timurid governor Mazid-tarkhan. The main events in the history of the Kazakh Khanate in the last third of the XV century that determined the fate of the young state played out in this region.

Syr Darya and Karatau district were the closest to the possessions of the Kazakh khans in West Zhetysu. Janibek and Kerey Khan primarily sought to have a right to these lands as they owned them by inheritance, including the city of Suzak, Sygnak, etc. But the main reason of Khans-Juchids fight for power over East Desht-i Qipchaq waged not so much in the steppe, but in Turkestan, was the economic and strategic importance of the region.

There were several major battles - under Sauran, Suzak, near the Sogunluk pass in the mountains Karatau, and among other places in the 70-ies. Yasa (Turkestan), Sygnak was captured by Kazakh khans, then by Muhammad Shaybani.

One of the prominent leaders of Kazakh troops in this period was the Kerey Khan’s son, Burunduk. The circumstances and the exact time of the transition of the power in the hands of the Burunduk khan is not known. Ibn Ruzbikhan, speaking of the events of the early 70-ies of the XV century, notes that "in Kazakh Uluses sultans claimed the khan's authority. After a while this rank belonged to several persons, turn to be khan got Burunduk Khan."

In the 80th - 90th years struggle for cities of Syr Dariya and their oases continued with varying success. Kazakhs as Uzbeks-shaybanids repeatedly besieged Sygnak and Yasa, Arkuk and Sauran, and often the siege lasted for several months. The outcome of the fight by the end of the XV century was the inclusion in the Kazakh Khanate Suzak, Signak, Sauran cities. Mohammed Shaibani kept in his hands Otyrar, Yasi, Uzgend, Arkuk.

Joining of the oases near Syr Darya to the Kazakh Khanate was the key to the success in the unification of the country by the Kazakh khans. By the end of the XV century, the original boundaries of the state expanded. It includes in addition to West Zhetysu and the above-mentioned cities in South Kazakhstan region, Karatau with surrounding steppe areas, the lower reaches of the Syr Darya and Northern Aral Sea, a large part of central Kazakhstan. 

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Socio-economic and political situation of the Kazakh Khanate in XVII - XVIII centuries

After the death of Tauekel Khan, Esim Khan (1598 - 1628) became the Khan of the Kazakhs. After the death of Abdullah Khan in 1598, domination of the dynasty of Shaybanids in Bukhara virtually ceased. a new dynasty of Ashtarkhanids came to power; it traces its origins to the Astrakhan khans - descendants of Tukai-Timur (son of Jochi). The subject of repeated and prolonged dispute between Kazakh rulers and Ashtarkhanids became Tashkent - an important commercial and economic center. Power over Tashkent constantly passed from hand of Esim Khan to hand of Ashtarhanid Khan (Wali Muhammad Khan, ruled from 1606 to 1610; Imamkuli Khan from 1611 to 1642), and from Esim to another Kazakh ruler, Tursun Khan.

Relations with Kalmaks, moving at the end of the XVI century far to the west, began to take in the XVII century an important place in the foreign policy of the Kazakh rulers. The absence of natural boundaries between their possessions and the constant competition for the possession of nomadic territories caused frequent clashes and wars.

The Chinese sources called western Mongols as elyuts. Words Kalmaks, Oirats, Elyuts and term Dzhungars (people of the "left side”, "left-wing") - these are different names of the West Mongol Choros, Hoshout, Torgouts, Derbet tribes. They are orginized "Oirat alliance" of tribes in the second half to XIV and went out from the power of Khan of All Mongols and became being managed by their leaders (Taishi). At the end of the first half of the XV century, Kalmaks were headed by Esen Taishi. He managed to combine all of the Oirat tribes and generations in one union, and even extend his authority over Eastern Mongolia. However, with the death of Esen Taishi (1455) ended political power of Kalmaks for some time. Only at the beginning of the XVII century, among Oirats reappeared vigorous and warlike leaders. The first of these leaders was Choros Hara-Hula-Taishi, who managed to unite most of the Oirats. He led the campaign of all oirats against the Kazakhs, and it was his energetic actions that eventually led to the establishment of the state, called the Dzhungar Khanate. Hara-Hula Taishi died in 1634, his son huntayshi Batur ruled after hime, and, 1635 year is recognized in the science as the year of formation of Dzhungar Khanate.

From the first decades of the XVII century, the balance of power of the Kazakh Khanate that was torn by internecine strife and by Oirat group, united in a single union, changed and became unfavorable for the Kazakhs.

After the death of Esim Khan, strife began again and continued for several years in the Kazakh Khanate. In the end, Esim Khan’s son, Jangir (Jahangir,Yangir, Yangar) was proclaimed Khan. His whole life was spent in the fight against Kalmaks because of the possession of nomadic territories in Zhetysu.

In this war, the leader of the Kazakhs, Jangir was captured by Kalmaks but, by some chance, he regained his freedom. Freed from captivity, he became a lifelong Oirats’ implacable enemy and did not cease to trouble them by partial raids.

From his part, huntayshy Batur, wanting to pacify troublesome neighbor, brought together army of 50 thousand people and, in 1643, invaded to the territories of Kazakhs. A firstly successful campaign ended in defeat of Huntayshy and retreat of Kalmaks with heavy losses. In this war on the side of the Kazakhs were Kyrgyz militia and detachment of the Emir of Bukhara Khanate, Yalangtush-bey.

Jahangir Khan died in one of the battles with Kalmaks. He is buried in the Turkestan city, near the mosque of Khoja Ahmat Yssawi.

In the XVII - XVIII centuries, Kazakhs of steppe regions have remained their historically established sector of the economy - the nomadic and semi-nomadic pastoralism. The main types of livestock were sheep, horses, and camels. Cattle bred in small numbers, mainly in the areas of settlement.

Previously established routes and annual cycles of nomadism with the change of seasonal pastures (cockteu dzhaylyau, kuzdeu, kystau) entrenched. Herding was dependent on natural conditions. Fodder had not been made, in the winter, cattle was at grazing. A massive loss of livestock often happened in severe winters, nomadic pastoralists were ruined, and many become settled. The forms of doing nomadic herding and its productivity improved slowly. Maintained and continuously improved livestock management skills. Kazakh dwelling - yurt, and farm implements were well adapted to the nomadic and processing of livestock products. Life of Kazakh family has been largely dependent on the nomadic pastoral economy. It gave the Kazakhs food, materials for clothing and shoes, appliances and furniture of the yurt, vehicles for migrations.

Nomadic pastoralists were engaged in domestic fisheries, mainly in processing of animal raw materials. The produced felts, carpets, clothing, shoes, leather ware, harness, and etc. Although the Kazakh economy has remained largely natural, it contained a surplus of production and exchange of goods and products produced by urban residents and farmers. Nomads pastoralists cattle ranchers, brought leather, wool, and things made of them, as well as cold steel, wood products, sold furs, fur coats and hats to the markets of Turkestan towns like Signak, Sauran  and etc. Pastoralists, in exchange, received cotton and silk fabrics, articles of pottery and metal production, finished fabrics and leather, weapons and much more.

Kazakhs knew settled and semi-settled agriculture and urban culture. Constant communication between nomadic economy of steppe areas and areas of settled agriculture and urban farming has been an integral feature of the economic life of the Kazakh society. Nomads created centers of agriculture, settled and semi-settled villages in the wintering grounds.

The economic system of the Kazakh Khanate is based on two complementary economic structures - nomadic pastoral and settled agricultural, urban structures.

Urban life continued to develop in Southern Kazakhstan. Each of the cities was the center of a vast agricultural area with developed irrigated agriculture, commodity production of grain and other agricultural products. Artificial irrigation continued to develop on a large scale and was based on the canals and irrigation ditches. There were artisan quarters in the cities; ceramics, blacksmithing, woodworking, glass-blowing, weaving, leather, jewelry and civil engineering crafts also developed. The fortification system was developed too in the cities. Dwellings, places of worship and public buildings, mosques, shrines, baths, covered markets, caravanserais, were constructed.

Most researchers believe that public relations of the Kazakhs in the XVII - XVIII centuries were patriarchal-feudal ones. Communal form of land use dominated in the steppe regions. Cattle were in a private and in family-owned forms and were the main measure of wealth and material status of nomads. Supreme Khan was a land steward.

Stable form of feudal conditional land tenure and land ownership has established in the southern regions of Kazakhstan. The sources referred to such forms of land tenure and property rights, as Soyurgal, Iqta‘, Mielke, Waqf.

The basis of division of the Kazakh society on caste laid not so much on property, but on social origin. Ak suyek (White Bone), the highest aristocratic estate, were treated descendants of Genghis Khan: khans and sultans. All the rest of the population belonged to the Khanate’s lower classes - Kara suyek (Black Bone), regardless of wealth.

The grandson of the famous Esim Khan, the son and successor of Jangir Khan, Tauke was the head of the Kazakh society for about 35 years (1680 - 1715/18's), and the era of his reign forever etched in the historical memory of the nomadic people of that region as the "golden age" of the history of the Kazakh people. According to the historian A. Levshina: "This golden age is the age of the reign of the famous Tauke Khan, who, according to legend, was really genius in his kind, and in the annals of the Cossack must stand together with Solon and Lycurgus. He curbed worried labor and generations, and did not only introduce them to order, but also gave them many laws. "

In terms of territorial fragmentation and isolation of nomads in the vast areas of territory, Tauke stand in front of a difficult task to strengthen economic and political ties between jüzs and overcome the political collapse of the Kazakh Khanate.

Tauke Khan is called the creator of "Jety Zhargy” with reference to Kazakh legends. He seemed to be gathered for the council three beys, Tole bey of the Great jüz, Kazybek bey of the Middle jüz, Aiteke bey of the Junior jüz, and discussed with them why Kazakhs frequently fighted with each other; knowing this helped him toapprove some laws. According to another legend, Tauke Khan gathered seven beys in the tract of Kul-Tobe (Syr Darya region) and these beys joined the old customs of the Kasym and Ishim khans in new customes called "Jety Zhargy". Therefore, "Jety Zhargy" known in the scientific literature as the "Code" of Tauke Khan as well "Laws" of Tauke Khan.

Jety Zhargy most likely appeared in the 70th of the XVII century. It was a difficult time in the history of the Kazakh Khanate. Tauke had to wage a war on two fronts with the Ashtarkhanids for towns near Syr Darya and with Dzhungars in the south-east. In addition, fights within the Khanate did not stop. In order to strengthen Khanate internally these laws were adopted.

The main principles and rules of law of the medieval Kazakh society were written in the "Jety Zhargy”. "Code" of Tauke Khan legally secured norms of administrative, criminal and civil law, and the provisions on taxes and religious beliefs, which mean they covered almost all aspects of life.

According to the "Jety Zhargy" the supreme power in the state was concentrated in the hands of Khan. Management was carried out by the sultans and tribal elders, through public meetings, kurultais, where attending people had to carry a weapon with them. However, Tauke sought to limit the power of the sultans, to strengthen the centralization by control of three jüzs through responsible beys.

Criminal law provisions included the following crimes: murder, mutilation, rape, beatings, insults, non-filial duty, theft, adultery, and etc. The penalties provided for vendetta: blood for blood, injury for injury.  Kun, the payoff of the punishment was installed. The death penaltyapplied in the form of hanging and stoning for killing husband by wife, the murder by a woman of illegally begotten child, wife adultery, blasphemy, etc.

Kunasize depended on the social status of the victim and the offender. So, for the murder of a simple man a murderer could pay off by giving his family 1000 sheep, of the woman - 500, for the murder of Sultan or Khodjy, kun was charged as per seven simple people. In general, the customary laws have been adapted for the protection of property and protection of the privileges of the Kazakh elite.

At the time, Tauke Khan managed to overcome internal strife and restore calm in jüzs thereby secure nomadic territories of Kazakh tribes from outside intruders.

Kazakh Khanate in the XVI century

Kazakh Khanate reached its greatest power in the first quarter of the XVI century, especially under the rule of Kasym Khan (1512 - 1521 years). In fact, he started to govern while Burunduk was still a Khan.

Name of sultan Kasym was mentioned for the first time in the sources in connection with the description of the wars of Muhammad Shaybani with Kazakh rulers back in the 80's of the XV century, where it is spoken  about him as one "of the famous sultans and glorious Bahadur" of Kipchak and leaders of cavalry troops of Burunduk Khan.

The rivalry of the two most powerful men in Khanate ended with the victory of vigorous sultan Kasym. Not earlier than in autumn 1511, Burunduk Khan went with a bunch of close people to Maverannahr. The supreme power in the Khanate passed to the descendants of Janibek.

In 1509 - 1510 years, Muhammad Shaybani made ​​several trips to the territory of the Kazakhs. The result of these campaigns was his ability to temporarily displace the Kazakh rulers outside the oases of Turkestan.

In 1510, Muhammad Shaibani again came to Sygnak, but suffered a crushing defeat of the troops of the sultan Kasym; the remains of Uzbeks escaped to Samarkand. At the end of that year, Muhammad Shaybani died in Khorasan under the Merv, in a battle with the Shah of Iran.

Kasym Khan did not fail to take advantage of these circumstances to consolidate his power in southern Kazakhstan. Soon, under the authority of the Kazakh Khan passed the most southern city of Syr Darya, Sairam.

In the second decade of the XVI century, Kasym Khan finally asserted his dominance over the vast expanses of the Kazakh steppe territory. At this time, the south boundaries of the Khanate went out on the right bank of the Syr Darya and included part of the cities of Turkestan, in the south-east they covered most of the foothills and valleys of Zhetysu, in the north and north-east went through the Ulutau mountains and Balkhash lake, reaching spurs of the Karkaraly mountains, in the north-west reached the basin of Yaik river.

Kazakh Khanate was gradually drawn into the international relations of that time. One of the first countries that joined the diplomatic relations with the Kazakh Khanate was Moskow state that was the reign of Grand Prince Vasily III (1505 - 1533 years). The history of the Kazakh Khanate under the reign of Kasym Khan is also notable for the fact that in those years the Kazakhs became known as an independent ethnic group in Western Europe: Austrian diplomat Sigismund Gerberstein wrote about the Kazakhs in his records, he visited Moscow several times (in 1517 and 1526 years).

According to the sources, the population of the Kazakh Khanate under Kasym Khan reached 1 million. Kazakh folk tradition associates with the name of Kasym creation of laws known as "Kasym Khannyn Kaska Joly".

Despite the significant consolidation, the Kazakh Khanate under Kasym Khan was not, however, a centralized state. It showed up immediately after his death, when separatism of sultans is manifested and strife began. The negative effects of civil wars on the position of the Khanate particularly sharply affected the unfavorable foreign environment. Moghul and Uzbek khans created an alliance against the rulers of the Kazakh Khanate.

According to Mouhamadou Haidar, after the death of Kasym Khan his son Mamash (1521-1522 years) established himself on the throne. Takhir Khan ruled in about 1523/24- 1531/32 years.

Takhir Khan was so influential like his uncle Kasim. He was distinguished by extreme cruelty and had neither diplomatic nor military talents, as evidenced by his repeated military defeats and diplomatic failures. External and domestic policy adopted by Khan was detrimental to the fate of the Khanate and Takhir himself. After the rise of the Kazakh Khanate came years of disaster and confusion.

Almost until the end of the XVI century, towns near Syr Darya, Sygnakm Sauranm Otyrar, and Turkestan (Yasi city was called so from the XVI century) and others were part of the state of Shaybanids of Maverannahr.

By the second half of the XVI century, Kazakh Khanate experienced strong attenuation due to the endless wars, civil strife, but under the reign of Hak-Nazar Khan, it reached a certain rise in the domestic and foreign political life. Entering the imperial throne, Hak-Nazar Khan (1538 - 1580 years) battled Oirats and Abdur-Rashid Khan of Mogulistan, and had stood for the time the Kazakh lands to the east and south of Zhetysu. Tenacious struggle began in Mogulistan in 1560. In the middle of the XVI century, Kazakhs occupied not only the middle reaches of Syr Darya River, but also the nomadic territories of Mogulistan. The desire ofAbd ar-Rashid Khan to oust Kazakhs from Mogulistan was the cause of the struggle. Under the rule of Hak-Nazar Khan, Kazakh-Mogul relations were tense and often Mogul khans got the advantage in this fight.

After accession of Kazan city to Russia in 1552 and Astrakhan in 1556 - under the authority of the Russian state moved the whole basin of the Volga. During the XVI century, Bashkirs, the Siberian Khanate were attached to the Russia. The consequence of this was that the Nogai Horde retreated to the south and east. In the second half of the XVI and XVII centuries, their nomadic territories stretched from the Volga to the Irtysh. Bashkirs and Siberian Tatars also pushed them into the Kazakh steppes. During the second half of XVI century, Karakalpaks appeared in Central Kazakhstan and in the lower reaches of the Syr Darya.

In the middle of the XVI century, Hak-Nazar Khan managed to take control of the land from the Syr Darya to the Aral Sea and along the left bank of Emba and Yaik, taking under his own power part of the Nogay uluses.

In folk tales name of Hak-Nazar Khan is surrounded with glory. Memory of him was not safed only by Kazakhs themselves, which include the formation of three Kazakh jüzs to the time of his reign, but even by Bashkirs and Nogays.

After the death of Hak-Nazar Khan, Shigay became a khan; he was the son of Zhadik Sultan, grandson of Janinek Khan. Shigay and his sons took an active part in the fight of Shaybanid Abdallah Khan against Nauruz-Ahmad Khan and his sons. For substantial assistance provided by Shigay Khan in this fight, Abdallah Khan, in June 1581, awarded Shigay with Khujand in inheritance. For the last time name of Shigay Khan is mentioned in 1582 according to the sources. He died at the age of about 80 years. He was buried in the village Kumushkent, near Bukhara.

Tauekel Khan ruled after Shigay Khan. Exact starting year of his reign is not defined in sources. Being very energetic, ambitious and enterprising, Tauekel could not nourish hopes of becoming an independent ruler of his people, while remaining under the patronage of Abdallah. On the other hand, with the completion of a victorious war with the Sultan Baba a common goal did not exist: the surrounding areas to the nomadic territories of Kazakhs finally recognized the authority of Bukhara, and with it, disappeared the need to support the Kazakh rulers, whom Abdullah regarded only as useful allies. Kazakhs, in turn, has long sought to acquire Turkestan cities and Tashkent, and only seen Abdallah not as a patron but a rival.

Abdullah Khan died in 1598 and in the summer of that year, his son Abd al-Mumin was killed by a rebel emirs, and in the realm of Shaybanids came troubled times. Monarchy of Abdallah finally was falling apart. At different ends of the former vast state - in Bukhara, Herat, Balkh and Khiva - different independent sovereigns cane out. Tauekel Khan used this piece of sharp political crisis for his re-invasion in the Shaybanid’s state.

In a short time, he mastered Sairam, Tashkent, Turkestan, Samarkand and went with the army in the direction of Bukhara. However, the movement of Kazakhs to the deep oases of Central Asia has been suspended under the walls of Bukhara.

In one of the next battles, Tauekel Khan was seriously wounded, went to Tashkent and died there in 1598. After some time, peace was achieved: Kazakhs refused to have Samarkand, but retained Tashkent, Sairam, and Turkestan.

Source 550 Years of Kazakh Khanate