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KAZAN KHANATE. A Chinggisid successor state to the so-called “Golden Horde”, the patrimony granted to Chinggis Khan’s oldest son Jochi in the early thirteenth century CE, the Kazan Khanate was centered on the city of Kazan, located in present-day Tatarstan on the eastern bank of the Volga River north of its confluence with the Kama. This territory had once formed a part of Volga Bulgaria, the first Muslim state in eastern Europe (already converted to Islam by the time of Ibn Fadlan’s visit in 922; it later formed a part of the territories of the Golden Horde. Islam became the state religion of the Golden Horde in the first half of the fourteenth century, and the Kazan Khanate continued its tradition of a Muslim Turkic high culture and literature (forming the basis of the Kazan Tatar culture that emerged in this period), although less survives from the Kazan Khanate than from its contemporary sister states.

The foundation of the Kazan Khanate (1438 or 1445 are traditional dates) followed Ulug Muhammed’s flight north from the Crimea, where he had ruled previously. One of Ulug Muhammed’s sons, Mahmud (r. 14461466), succeeded his father as khan. Another son, Kasim, founded the Kasimov Khanate, which was a client state in the service of Muscovy. As early as 1468 Muscovy attempted to interfere in the dynamic relationship between the khan (the sovereign descended from Chinggis Khan) and the four karaci beys (the leaders of the four main tribes, the Sirin, Barm, Argin, and Kipcak) to support Kasim’s bid to assume leadership of the khanate. It was not until 1487, with the installation of the Muscovite client Muhammed Emin as khan for a second reign, that the balance tipped in favor of Muscovy. The four main tribal leaders, who traditionally controlled succession and other affairs of state, became dissatisfied with this arrangement and in 1496 sought an alternative ruler in the person of Mamuk of the Sbanid line. This proved disastrous for the local tribal leadership, and they had to agree in 1497 that a new Muscovite client, `Abdullatif, younger brother of Muhammed Emin, would become the new khan. The arrest of `Abdullatif and the reinstallation of Muhammed Emin by Muscovy in 1502 is evidence of Muscovite control over affairs in the khanate during this period. Muhammed Emin’s unexpected break with Muscovy during 1505-1507, however, apparently allowed the khanate to reassert its independence.

With the death of Muhammed Emin in 1518 and the end of the line of Ulug Muhammed, the Crimean Khanate became more actively involved in the affairs of the Kazan Khanate. Sahib Giray, brother of the Crimean khan, helped the local tribal leadership depose the young Muscovite client Sah ‘Ali (r. 1518-1521). Sahib Giray was then installed as khan against Muscovite wishes and was later succeeded by his nephew Sefa Giray (r. 1525-1532). Kazan served as an important mercantile center, but as relations with Muscovy worsened during this period, the latter began to remove commercial activities from Kazan to competing centers under its own control in order to deprive the khanate of revenue. Under pressure from Muscovy, Sefa Giray was later replaced by Can ‘Ali, brother of Sah ‘Ali, but was reinstated a few years later (r. 1536-1546). In the meantime, the former khan Sahib Giray had become a powerful ally of Kazan as the new Crimean khan. While relations between the khans of the two states were very close, the local leadership of the Kazan Khanate complained that many revenues were being assigned to Crimeans. Sefa Giray was temporarily deposed by the tribal leadership in favor of Sah ‘Ali, only to be reinstated soon afterward. During his final reign (1546-1549), Sefa Giray undertook a purge of the local nobility, favoring closer ties with Muscovy. Following Sefa Giray’s death, his wife Suyun Bike acted as regent for his young son Otemis Giray (r. 1549-1551) Muscovy’s ongoing eastward expansion finally reached the khanate and in 1551 forced the local leadership to accept Sah `Ali as khan for a third time under harsh terms. The Kazan Khanate was finally conquered on 2 October 1552. Much of the population was then resettled, and Orthodox Christian settlers were introduced into the territory. Over the following centuries numerous campaigns would be undertaken to convert and assimilate the local Muslim Turkic population.

[See also Crimea Khanate.]


Keenan, E. L. “Muscovy and Kazan: Some Introductory Remarks on the Patterns of Steppe Diplomacy.” Slavic Review 26 (1967): 548558. Offers important insights into the role of the tribal aristocracy in relations between Muscovy and the Kazan Khanate.

Khudiakov, Mikhail. Ocherki po istorii Kazanskogo khanstva (1923). Reprint, Moscow, 1991. Standard treatment.

Pelenski, Jaroslaw. Russia and Kazan: Conquest and Imperial Ideology, 1438-1560s. The Hague and Paris, 1974. The most authoritative

work in English on the Kazan Khanate, including a revised chronology and detailed study of Russian sources.

Rorlich, Azade-Ayse, The Volga Tatars: A Profile in National Resilience. Stanford, Calif., 1986. Useful survey down to the twentieth century; contains a chapter on the history of the Kazan Khanate, including cultural information.

Smith, R. E. F. Peasant Farming in Muscovy. Cambridge, 1977. Includes an excellent chapter on agricultural conditions in the territory of the former Kazan Khanate a half-century following the conquest.


Azhar Niaz Article's Source: http://islamicus.org/kazan-khanate/

  • writerPosted On: July 20, 2014
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