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Mirzhakyp Dulatuly

Political activities of Urus Khan and his place in the history of the Kazakh statehood

Political activities of Urus Khan and his place in the history of the Kazakh statehood  - e-history.kz
Mukhammad Urus khan was one of the famous rulers of Ak-Orda (White Horde). During his reign this state reached greatest power.

Mahomed Urus khan was the most famous governors of Ak Orda. During his reign this state reached greatest power. Political and military activities of Urus khan reached announcement in medieval sources. In the present source the author will try to outline in short the main stages of his activities with emphasis on the debatable moments, and also to designate a role and a place of this political figure in the history of the Kazakh statehood.

Origin of Urus khan

The question of the origin of ruling elite of this state, and more important Urus khan took in the important place in the history of the study of Ak Orda. The objective solution of this question has importance not only for history of Ak Orda, but also for history of the Kazakh statehood.

Urus khan was the founder of the dynasty of the Kazakh khans. Genealogies of both branches of the Kazakh dynasties belong to him. The first Kazakh khan Kerey was the descendant of Urus khan on the high line. He was the son of Bolat and grandson of Toktakii, the eldest son and the successor of Urus khan on a throne of Ak Orda. Co-ruler and the faithful associate of the Kerey khan the Kazakh khan Abu Said Zhanibek was from a low branch of descendants of Urus khan. His father Barak and the grandfather Kuyurchuk [1], the younger son of Urus khan, both were owners of khan’s title.

Already during lifetime of grandsons of Urus khan in neighboring Timurids Khurasan the first historiographical compositions devoted to the biography of Timur and his descendants was created. In 1414 at court of Timurid Iskander and his successor Shakhrukh the historical composition «Muntakhab at-tavarikh-i Mu’ini» («Muinovsky abbreviation of stories») introduced into scientific circulation by the orientalist v. Bartold and known under the name «Iskander Anonymous Author» was created. The author of this Persian composition Mu’in ad-Din of Natanzi devoted to reign of Urus khan the small paragraph where called him the son Chimtaya, the khan of Ak Orda.

So the author ranked Urus khan through his father to descendants of khan Orda (Ordu, Orda-Ezhen, Idzan), the eldest son Dzhuchi. Twelve years later, in 1426, at court of the same Shakhrukh and according to his instruction were created the genealogical composition («Nasab-nam») under the name «Muizz al-ansab fi shadzharat salatin mogul» («The book glorifying genealogies in a genealogical tree of the Mongolian sultan»). The anonymous author of this composition had other purposes than at his predecessor Natanzi. He explained a genealogy of Chingizids and Timurids.

We are interested in a small fragment where was told about Tuka-Timur’s descendants, the thirteenth son Dzhuchi. Among numerous offspring of this Dzhuchid the author «Muizz is scarlet-ansab» calls also our hero. Urus khan here Badyka (Badaka) appears as the son.

Afterwards there were some more Muslim compositions in different variations repeating one of the provided versions. Contradictions of medieval sources shared opinions of the modern researchers. Number of historians others read the founder of a dynasty of the Kazakh khans the descendant Ordy — Tuka-Timur.

The author after study of this question came to the conclusion that the judgment on Tuka-Timurids origin of Urus khan is not correct [2]. Other modern researchers of K. Pishulin [3], T.Sultanov [4], A. Grigoriev [5], Zardykhan Kinayatula [6], etc came to the same conclusion.

Union of East Desht-i Kypchak

Urus during lifetime of the father took the active part in political life of the country, tried to have impact on the foreign policy pursued by him. Urus was the supporter of extension of the territory of Joint stock company Horde at the expense of the cities of Lower Volga area. Circumstances of arrival of Urus to the power allegedly occurred as follows: complication of a foreign policy situation at a boundary 50–60’s of the 14th century led to narrowing in the territorial and political relation of influence of the power of Chimtaya in East Desht-i Kypchak.

His death caused the bigger splash of decentralization, which then led to loss of the old domain Ordaids — near Syrdarya cities.

The death of the khan forced a ruling clique to look for, probably, the new governor capable to stop this process. Urus, during lifetime of the father proved as the capable politician became that. In 1361 on wide Saryarka’s open spaces it was lifted by the khan of Ak Orda. However, combining of the former Ak Orda territory, resetting to the near Syrdarya cities and, first of all, to the traditional capital of Ak Orda the city of Sygnak, and also suppression of the tendencies existing the decentralized tendencies only by the end 60’s of the 14th century.

In view of updating of questions round date of arrival of Urus khan to the power in connection with ideas about Ak Orda as the first Kazakh state, we need obviously to repeat in short our main outputs [7]. First, 1368 (is much and other dates — 1366, 1369, 1371) as year of arrival of Urus to the power cannot be read by the correct. This year allegedly the first coin of Urus which is beaten out in Sygnak is dated. So far we have no strong reasons to refuse the former date offered Mu’in by ad-Din Natansi — 1361. Secondly, speaking about Ak Orda as the first Kazakh state [8] and Urus khan as about the first Kazakh khan, we shall mean, fair circumstance that years of board of Urus-hana «are remote from time of formation of actually Kazakh khanate the whole century» [9]. Therefore after A. Isin [10] we speak only about a pre-image (prototype) of national Kazakh statehood [11].

By the end 60’s Urus khan returned to Ak Orda North Priaral’e and the Western Kazakhstan. The possession Tuka-TimuridaTui-Hodge-oglana, the father Toktamysh who were settled down in the West of East Desht-i Kypchak in Mangyshlak became the last stronghold of resistance to distribution of the power of Urus khan. On a sentence of Urus khan to obey Tui-Hodge he refused and was devoted to execution.
The process of unification of the territory of East Desht-i Kypchak under the power of Urus khan came to the end with this event. Its result was that in the south under jurisdiction of Ak Orda the cities near Syrdayrya returned again, in the west of possession of Urus khan closely approached the Golden Horde, the old boundary — the river Zhayik (Yaik) separated them.

War in the West

Internal political stabilizing and the considerable centralization of the power in Joint stock company Horde at the end of 60’s — at the beginning of 70’s of the 14th century allowed Urus khan to begin implementation of the old foreign policy plans. On the agenda there was a question of a gain the cities of Golden Horde of in the Volga region.

Having appeared in 1372 from the places of Urus khan slowly only by 1374 reached a left bank of Volga. In the second half of 775 (spring of 1374) Urus’s army came to the Shed. In the city there was Shibanid Elbek (Elbek) who minted the coin there. Having seized the Shed, Urus-han started a gain of the single capital western Dzhuchids — Saray. In 775 and 776 Urus khan fully owned and mint the coin there. In 777 he left the Volga region, having left in the Saray military garrison and the deputy. By the way, the last one remained there before arrival to the Volga region of Toktamysh [12].

It is necessary to tell that Urus’s withdrawal from the Volga region was connected only to events in the near Syrdarya region where with assistance of the emir Timur young Toktamysh gained strength.

War in the South

Urus khan, having left the Golden Horde Volga region to deputies, Urus khan return to the main place of nomads — Ulytau and near Syrdarya region. The reason of the hasty resetting of Urus khan in the main domain was marked with actions of Mangyshlak ruler Toktamysh, the son of Tui Khodja oglan executed by Urus khan.

The concern of the Ak-Orda governor, certainly, not Toktamysh, but claims, standing behind his back, the barlassky emir Timur, on East Desht-i Kypchak caused his aspiration to put in Ak Orda of his protege. Till this time of the road of two great contemporaries weren’t crossed. Everyone was occupied with the business. However the aspiration of the governor Mavarannakhr to hegemony in the region shall face interests of Urus khan sooner or later. Urus khan did not pursue any aggressive aims here. The southern borders of the power Urus khan the period of its board included all main cities of the near Syrdarya region (conditionally they can be contoured an arc from Sygnak, through Sauran, Yassa, Otrar to Sayram and up to Taraz) and there was to begin no need military operations in this direction.

Further peripetias of fight of Toktamysh and his chief are known. It should be marked that the Timuridsky historiography distorted the course of opposition of Urus and Timur. In case of detail acquaintance to these compositions, and compositions of later time it is possible to note that the course of military operations occurred often not in favor of army of «chagatayets». Timur, in principle, avoided open military collision with the Ak-Orda khan. Fight against Urus khan was followed for Timur by crushing and repeated military defeats at first its groups headed by Toktamysh suffered a defeat, and then Timur and his commanders suffered «a terrible defeat» (according to the source 17th century) from Urus khan [13].

Death of Urus khan

According to indications of our main sources «Zafar-nam» Shami, «Zafar-nam» of Ali Yazdi, «Muntakhab the at-tavarikh» death of the ak-Horde khan Urus is the share Natanzi of the first half of 1377. The same date is called in two extensive compilations on a world history of «Nusakh-idzhakhan-ara» Gaffari and «Tarikh» of Haidar Razi. And the contents of the data interesting us in these two last compositions force to assume other, except «Muntakhab the at-tavarikh», information source. The author of prefaces to fragments of the translations of these compositions S.Volin paid attention to it.

However, this message of east the authors who spoke in Persian language, were well informed in affairs of the relations between Timur and Urus khan contradicts numismatic material which is still not considered by experts in details. The Dzhuchidsky numismatics of this period (the second half of the 14th century) still waits as fairly I marked E. Davidovich [14], the special reviewing. Beforehand, the author of the present message accepts T. Sultanov’s judgment that after death of Urus khan in 1377 his successors occupied with constant soldiers continued to mint coins of an old sample [15]. In A. Isin’s operation the date of death of Urus khan given above is called into question. The historian is inclined to the assumption that this governor died in 1378 or 1379 [16]. Probably, the problem is delivered and remains open.

One more important point in connection with the touched issue — circumstances and a place of death of Urus khan. In some late Turkic compositions contradictory data on it express. The study of sources and research literature allows assume that the death found Urus khan in one of numerous stationary ancient settlements of nomads to Kyshtama — in the cold winter or at the beginning of early spring of 1377. Perhaps the illness became the reason of his death. Opinions on his violent death are rejected.

After Urus khan

Finishing reviewing of a question, it is necessary to mark the following: activities of Urus khan played a defining role in military-political history of East Desht-i Kypchak, its results had essential impact on process of formation of the ethno political territory of Ak Orda. In the period of board of Urus khan there is a combining within uniform territorial boundaries of its state, in essence, of the developed Kazakhs ethnos. Urus khan’s Ak Orda, except for Zhetysu, the most part of the ethnic territory of Kazakhs.

To the middle 70’s of the 14th century of boundary of the Ak-Orda power Urus khan enveloped huge steppe open spaces of East Desht-i Kypchak. Limits of the territory subject to it can be designated only allegedly — from Ertis’s left bank on north-east and the East, through Zhaysan and Ayakoz, on northern coast of Balkash, to Shue-Talasky Entre Rios and average Syrdarya in the southeast and the South, thus the most southern cities in the region were Taraz, Sairam and Otrar. The composition of possession of Ak Orda also periodically joined the cities located on the southern coast of Syrdariya — Uzgend, Barchanlygkent and Dzhend. Southwest and western possession — all Aral-Kaspi region, Mangyshlak in the South and Volga-Yaiksky Entre Rios to a left bank of Volga inclusively in the West. Determination of northern boundary of Ak Orda is complicated. Steppes of Western Siberia were under the power of Shibanids.

The designated political boundaries of Ak Orda, in principle match boundaries ethnic. Characteristic of statehood of East Desht-i Kypchak consisted in unity of her ethno political community. In other words for Ak Orda of this period in the ethnic relation was, more than in other uluses Chingizids, homogeneity of its population is characteristic.

The study of military-political history of Joint stock company Horde 60 70’s of the 14th centuries testifies to aspiration of a dynasty Ordaids to integrate uniform ethnic group of East Desht-i Kypchak under the power. In general, this political doctrine received the practical implementation in military activities of Urus khan when boundaries of its state were accurately designated by the most important river arteries of the region — Ertis and Volga (Edil), Syrdariya and Tobol, Esil, center of possession Torgay and Sarysu with a complex of mountains of Ulytau appear here.

Thus, it is possible to say absolutely definitely that the power Urus khan was a pre-image of the Kazakh national statehood. In its frames there was a combining in many respects of already uniform ethnic collective — the Kazakh nationality. However, the internal political fight among descendants of different lines Dzhuchids which began after Urus’s death, and large-scale aggression of Timur slowed down natural process of formation and solidifying of national statehood of Kazakhs in East Desht-i Kypchak.



[1] In A. Grigoriev’s representation traditional judgment that Kuyurchuk the youngest son of Urus «seemed improbable». In set by it, based on new reading of the genealogical composition «Muizz is scarlet-ansab…», an order of layout of names in the list of sons of Urus Kuyurchuk wins first place, i.e. is the eldest son of Urus (See: Grigoriev A.P. «Mu’izz is scarlet-ansab» about Toktamysh’s descendants//Oriental studies: Philological researches. Vyp. 25. Interhigher education institution. sb./Response. edition v. B. Kasevich. SPb: Publishing house of St. Petersburg State University, 2004, page 120). It contradicts known circumstances of political history of Ak Orda 14th century and needs further check by materials of other sources.
[2] K. Uskenbay M. Tynyshpayev about some controversial issues of the Kazakh Middle Ages and the modern historiography//Otan of a tarikha, 2000, No. 1–2, page 119–123.

[3] K. Pishchulina The Kazakh khanate in the 15th century//History of Kazakhstan (since the most ancient times up to now). In five volumes. T. 2. And., 1997, page 312–361; Mingulov N. N., Pishchulina K. A. Ak-Orda in the 14th century//In the same place, page 103–116.

[4] T. Sultans Governors of the First Kazakh state (1470–1718). Astana, 1993, page 24; T. I. Podnyatye’s Sultans on a white koshma. Descendants Chinghiz khan. And., 2001, page 144.

[5] A. Grigoriev Collection hanskikh of labels to the Russian metropolitans: Source study analysis zolotoordynskikh of documents. SPb., 2004, page 162.
[6] Zardykhan Kinayatula. State of Kazakhs and Zhoshy khan. (tarikhi-saraptamalyk to a zertte). Astana, 2004, page 227–231.

[7] See: K. Uskenbay, Some moments of the political biography Urus khan (medieval and modern historiography)//Otan of a tarikha. 1999, No. 3, page 103–109; It. Eligibility of foreign policy priorities: from the Ak-Ordyurus-hana to the Kazakh khanate//Otan of a tarikha. 2001, No. 3, page 129–134.

[8] For the first time G. Dakhshleyger spoke about existence of such point of view in 1969: «… The joint stock company horde on the ethnic composition was preferentially Kazakh, but the self-name of the people was defined and entered sources later…» (G.Dakhshleyger Historiography of the Soviet Kazakhstan (sketch). And.: Science, 1969, page 99). In more detail in the same the 60th, and then and in the 70-80th of 20 century this question K. A. Pishchulina (A subject of Mogulistan and origin of the Kazakh statehood in a domestic historiography of the 1970th years (About K. A. Pishchulina’s monograph «Southeast Kazakhstan in the middle of 14th — the beginning of the 16th century», Alma-Ata, 1979)//«Researched Tugan olke. Tarikh. Olketan. Muragat». («Native land». Local history and archive log). 2004. No. 2, 3 (4–5), page 51–62.) . Only after long and laborious source study and historical researches it could is more assured to declare that «The joint stock company Horde shall be recognized by the Kazakh state» (Pishchulina K. The Kazakh khanate in the 15th century, page 331). See: also my theses about it: Ak Orda — a pre-image of the first Kazakh state//Kazakhstan on the way to the state independence: history and present. Materials International conference. On April 11 — 13, 2001 Semipalatinsk, 200, page 181–183.

[9] T. Sultanov, History of Kazakhstan of the 70th years of the 14th century//Izv. AN KAZSSR. Series of general sciences, 1976, N 5, page 52.

[10] A. Isin, Explanation of political history Kok Orda//Bulletin of University of «Semei», 1997, No. 1, page 102.

[11] Zardykhan Kinayatula. State of Kazakh and Zhoshy khan. (tarikhi-saraptamalyk to a zertte). Astana, 2004, page 240; K.Uskenbay, Zhoshy Ulysynyn to a kuryly//Abay, 2002, No. 1, page 14.

[12] A Kaydarova, K. Uskenbay Ibn Haldun about stay of Urus khan in the Golden Horde of Volga region in 70’s of the 14th century//Questions of history of Kazakhstan. 5th Ed. / Scientific editors: K. S. Aldazhumanov, E. Zh. Valikhanov. And., 2004, page 74–84; K.Uskenabay Golden Horde campaign of Urus khan of 1372–1375//Interaction of Kazakhstan with the adjacent countries in 18th — the beginning of the 20th centuries: the modern view on a problem. Aktobe, 2004, page 95–98.

[13] K.Uskenbay, East Desht-I Kypchak in 13th — the first third of the 15th centuries. From history of Ak Orda//Questions of history of Kazakhstan. Part III. And., 2002, page 32–33.

[14] Davidovich E. A. About reliability of dates on coins with arabografichesky texts (difficulties and valuation methods)//East historical source study and special historical disciplines: Collection of articles.1st ed. M.: Science, 1989, page 194–218.

[15] T.Sultanov, To the history of Kazakhstan, page 50.

[16] A. Isin, Amir Temirge karsy turgan kaharmandar (14th century dulat, zhalair, kypchak, argyn, kereit’s revolutions) //Abay, 1999, No. 1, 34–42.