Find a Security Clearance Job!


Chagatai or Jagatai Khanate - 1225-1370

As for the history of Eastern Turkistan, the Chinese appear to have been masters of the country from the beginning of the Christian era up to the days of Chinghiz Khan, though their rule during that interval was subject to considerable fluctuations, at one time extending beyond the Bolor mountains as far as the shores of the Caspian Sea, at another receding within the territory of Khamil.

A new Turkish power was founded by the khans of Khiva, who are known as the Khwarizm-shahs. They were originally vassals of the Seljuks, with the title of tasdar or ewer-bearer, but became independent and conquered Khorasan and Irak. They had, however, to contend with yet another new arrival from the east, the KaraKitais. These also were probably Turks, and were pushed westwards from China by the Kins. They conquered Kashgar, .Khotan, Yarkand and later Transoxiana, pushing the Ghuzz tribes before them into Persia and Afghanistan. Their prince bore the title of gur-khan, and the Khwarizm shahs did homage to him till 1208, when they unsuccessfully revolted. But all these squabbling principalities were swept away in 1219 by the extraordinary wave of invasion which surged across Asia to Europe under Jenghiz Khan.

Never before had there reigned so profound a peace. the sovereign employed himself by establishing law and order among his great people; he founded the empire and the government on a solid basis, procured peaceful labour for his people, and increased prosperity to such a degree that nothing can compare with the happiness of the khakan and of his subjects." His sons, with the exception of Juji (the eldest), who had remained in the west, in Khwarezm, had rejoined him since the beginning of 1223. When Juji died at Sarai on the lower Volga, his son Batu received from the emperor the investiture of his father's dignities and power in Kiptchak. In Pe-lu Jenghiz Khan installed his younger son Jagatai, who took up his residence in Almalik; thence he governed Turkestan.

After the death of Jenghiz his conquests were divided, and Transoxiana, Kashgar, Badakshan, Balkh and Ghazni were given to his second son Chagatai or Jagatai. Jenghiz and his family must have been Mongols, but the name Jagatai passed to the population and language of the countries about the Oxus. It does not appear that they ever ceased to be Turkish in speech and customs. The hordes of Jennhiz must have comprised a considerable Turkish element; the Mongols had no inclination to settle in cities, and Jagatai himself lived near Kulja in the extreme east of his dominions.

Jagatai had received the investiture of Transoxania and Khorasan while his father was still alive. The struggle was plainly beginning between the Mongolian conception of a lay state based on nationality and the Moslem idea of a state founded on religion without distinction of nationality. With the great Timur, however, who was thoroughly Turkish in heart and spirit, the state founded on religion, that is to say, on the sheriat, the Moslem law, was to gain the victory. Under the vigorous administration of Jagatai the national idea became so prominent that it has been preserved in the most durable formthat of language. The Turkish dialect actually written and spoken in the countries governed by Jagatai in the thirteenth century is still called by his name, Jagatai Turkisi, or Turkish of Jagatai. If Jenghiz Khan was the father of a people, his son Jagatai was godfather to a language.

In the time of Kublai Khan the Chagatai Khanate, or Middle Empire of the Tartars, with its capital at Almalik, included the modern Dsungaria, part of Chinese Turkestan, Transoxiana, and Afghanistan. The Chagatai Khanate was surrounded by the three empires ruled by other branches of the Genghis clan: Yuan China, the Il-Khanate of Persia, and the Golden Horde of Russia.

Though the cities in western Central Asia suffered severely the people were not Mongolized, and Mahommedan learning even flourished. But otherwise the whole history of the Jagatai khanate, which lasted from 1234 to 1370, is a confused record of dissensions with frequent intervals of anarchy. In 1321 Jagatai's descendants, the Jagataids, divided his khanate into two sections, the western region - Transoxiana - with its capital at Samarkand, and the eastern region - Dzungaria- centering around Kashi (Kashgar). Often at war with one another, in 1370 the two domains were reunited by Timur (Tamerlane), who may have been related to the family ruling the western region. Timur-i-Leng, or Timur-i-Lang (i. e., Timur the Lame, corrupted by Europeans into Tamerlane), was the son of Teragai, the head of the Berlas tribe, and great grandson of Karachar Nevian, the minister of Jagatai, third son of Jenghis Khan. Timur was born in 1333, and after having been appointed governor of Transoxiana by the Jagatai Khan of Kashgar was proclaimed king at Balkh in 1369. He conquered Persia and northern India in 1397-9, Syria in 1400, and Asia Minor in 1402, defeating the Osmanli Sultan Bajazet I at Ancyra in 1404 and making him prisoner.

Even after the bulk of the Chagatai Khanate had been overrun by the Kalmuks, a descendant of Chagatai continued in power at Yarkund up to the middle of the seventeenth century. A prince of the Chagatai dynasty continued to rule at Yarkand, the capital of the country, till about the year 1677.

Join the mailing list