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Uzbekistan - Independent Khanates

In 1501 the Uzbeks began a wholesale invasion of Mawarannahr. Extending his control over Bukhara and Samarkand by the early 16th century, Shaibani captured Khoresm in 1505 and Gerat in 1507; thus he put an end to the reign of the Timurids in the region. By 1510 the Uzbeks had completed their conquest of Central Asia, including the territory of the present-day Uzbekistan. The only ruler who put up able resistance to the invaders was Babur, descendant of Amir Temur in the fifth generation. However, after his defeat in 1512 Babur retreated to Hisar, and from there made a number of raids to Kabulistan and India. Finally, in 1525, he began a decisive campaign in India which resulted in the creation of the Mughal Empire.

Of the states the Uzbeks established, the most powerful, the Khanate of Bukhoro, centered on the city of Bukhoro. The khanate controlled Mawarannahr, especially the region of Tashkent, the Fergana Valley in the east, and northern Afghanistan. After the collapse of the Timurid empire all of Maverannahr was divided between kindred Uzbek dynasties. Its major portion was included in a state consolidated by khan Shaibani, which flourished under khan Ubaidulla (1534-1540) and especially under Abdulla II (1583-1598). The death of Abdulla occasioned violent internal strife for power, which led to the rise of the Janid rulers (named after Jani Muhammad, founder of the dynasty).

A second Uzbek state was established in the oasis of Khorazm at the mouth of the Amu Darya. The Khanate of Bukhoro was initially led by the energetic Shaybanid Dynasty. The Shaybanids competed against Iran, which was led by the Safavid Dynasty, for the rich far-eastern territory of present-day Iran. The struggle with Iran also had a religious aspect because the Uzbeks were Sunni Muslims, and Iran was Shia.

Khoresm, the lower Syrdarya valley and parts of modern Turkmenistan were controlled by another kindred dynasty founded by sultan Ilbars in 1511. When Khiva was made the capital of this domain in 1596, the state itself became known as the khanate of Khiva. In the end of the 17th century beginning of the 18th century the region suffered a severe economic and political crisis, aggravated by continuous raids by the nomadic Kalmyks, and especially by the 1740 Persian invasion by shah Nadir. The frequently shifting khans became essentially nominal rulers backed by the leaders of various Uzbek tribes. In the mid-18th century isolationist trends in the region promoted the formation of new states.

Near the end of the sixteenth century, the Uzbek states of Bukhoro and Khorazm began to weaken because of their endless wars against each other and the Persians and because of strong competition for the throne among the khans in power and their heirs. At the beginning of the seventeenth century, the Shaybanid Dynasty was replaced by the Janid Dynasty.

Another factor contributing to the weakness of the Uzbek khanates in this period was the general decline of trade moving through the region. This change had begun in the previous century when ocean trade routes were established from Europe to India and China, circumventing the Silk Route. As European-dominated ocean transport expanded and some trading centers were destroyed, cities such as Bukhoro, Merv, and Samarqand in the Khanate of Bukhoro and Khiva and Urganch (Urgench) in Khorazm began to steadily decline.

The Uzbeks' struggle with Iran also led to the cultural isolation of Central Asia from the rest of the Islamic world. In addition to these problems, the struggle with the nomads from the northern steppe continued. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, Kazak nomads and Mongols continually raided the Uzbek khanates, causing widespread damage and disruption. In the beginning of the eighteenth century, the Khanate of Bukhoro lost the fertile Fergana region, and a new Uzbek khanate was formed in Quqon.

In 1747 Muhammad Rakhim, emir of the tribe of Mangits, rose to power in Bukhara, thus establishing the dynasty of the Mangits. The khanate of Bukhara became an emirate which existed until 1920. It attained its peak of power during the reign of the emirs Shahmurad (1785-1800) and Narsulla (1826-1866), who controlled most of Maverannahr, northern Afghanistan including Balkh and part of Turkmenistan.

In the beginning of the 18th century Fergana became a separate domain under Shahrukh-biy from the Uzbek tribe of Mings. One of the later rulers of this state, Alambek, assumed the title of khan in 1805, and the state became known as the khanate of Kokand (after its capital). From 1808 the khanate included Fergana, Tashkent and an area lying along the Syrdarya.

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Page last modified: 14-03-2013 16:54:33 ZULU