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Conquest of Azerbaijan by Mongols

There was shaped Mongol state led by Chingiz khan (1206-1227) in the Central Asia at the beginning of the 13th century. The invasions and attacks of Mongol state, which possessed powerful military potential to neighborhood countries encountered these countries with great danger. Mongols were shaped by the alliance of tribal unions of tatars, naymans, kereits, merkits, taycuts and onkuts.

Due to the conquest of neighborhood states Chingiz khan firstly strengthened military troops, conducted cruel discipline and improved such weapons as bow, axe and spear. Chingiz khan, who utilized from the feudal conflicts inside of neighborhood countries began to the realization of his conquer plans.

The circumstances in the Central Asia, Iran and Azerbaijan were hard in the eve of Mongolian invasion. Local feudal nobility did not manage to stop local conflicts and disorders and was not able to unite against Mongols. Each city did its best to resist with its own forces and that is why couldn’t prevent the invasion of Mongolian troops. Mongol troops destroyed the captured cities, killed and turned their people to slaves, plundered their property.

The circumstances in Azerbaijan was also hard in the eve of Mongol campaigns. There was not sole state in the territory of Azerbaijan, there led feudal disorder.

Chingiz khan began the conquests and extension of his territories at the expense of the lands of neighborhood countries since the beginning of his reign. Mongol army, led by Chingiz khan conquered northern China in 1211, and Pekin (Khanbalek), Eastern Turkustan in 1215. In 1219, Mongols attacked to the lands of their major enemy in the Central Asia – Kharezm state, which possessed huge territory, but divided into several parts at the result of local conflicts and internecine fought.

Mongol army conquered and destroyed the cities of Central Asia- Otrar, Bukhara, Samarkand. KharezmShah Muhammed and his son Jalaladdin couldn’t resist to Mongols enough; Jalaladdin escaped firstly to Northern India and then came to Iran with the remainings of his army. By the order of Chingiz khan, Mongol generals – nayon Cebe and Bahadur Subutay began to the campaign to Azerbaijan after the destruction of Khorasan and Persian Irag.

Mongol troops captured and plundered Zencan, Ardebil, Serab and other cities. Then Mongols besieged the city of Tabriz, which was the residence of last ruler of Azerbaijan Atabeys, Ozbek (1210-1225).

Ozbek, who could not resist to Mongols, concluded agreement with them. He presented lots of dress, cattle and gold to Cebe and Subutay.

Mongols, which collected big kharac from Ozbek freed the besiege of Tabriz and directed to Mughan for winter. They directed to Georgia from there and destroyed the country. In 1221, the troops of Cebe and Subutay again attacked to Azerbaijan. They destroyed lots of cities and directed to Tabriz. The governor of Tabriz, Shamsaddin Turghai paid big kharac, consisted of money, dress and cattle and was able to save the city from destruction. Later Mongols directed to Maragha. The governor of the city put Maragha without leadership and hid in the fortress of Ruivic. But the settlers of the city resisted and did their best to defend Maragha. Mongols managed to capture Maragha only by the vehicle of trick. They made captives shout: “Mongols retreated”. Mongols used from well-known weapons and entered to the city, murdered the civil population. At that time, Hamadan rose against Mongols. Cebe and Subutay pressed this uprising in Hamadan, then suddenly attacked to Ardebil and captured it.

After the conquest of Ardebil Mongols again directed to Tabriz.

Ozbek, who learnt about the approach of Mongols to the city escaped to Nakhichevan. Tabriz people began to the defence of their city under the leadership of the governor of city, Shamsaddin Turghai. Cebe and Subutay, who saw that Tabriz was ready to strict resistance, satisfied only taking kharac from Tabriz people (for the third time).

Mongols freed Tabriz from besiege and directed to Serab. They captured Serab and then directed to Beylagan. Although Beylagan settlers resisted strictly to Mongols, the city was conquered, destroyed and burnt by invaders.

Cebe and Subutay made plundering raid to Georgia from Beylagan. After some time Mongols invaded to Shirvan. ShirvanShah hid in one of his fortresses. Although the settlers of besieged Shamakha resisted to Mongols, the second, ones who were more by number conquered the city.

Cebe and Subutay implemented the same actions in Shamakha, as in Beylagan.

Major aim of Mongols was to cross to the North from Derbend passage. In 1222, they directed from Shamakha to Derbend. Mongols, which understood the difficulty of passage from this strengthened city made a trick. They sent message to ShirvanShah about their preparance to negotiations.

ShirvanShah, who believed to this trick, accepted their suggestion and sent envoys from 10 people to Mongols. Mongols made envoys pass them through secret ways of Derbend. So, first intelligence campaign of Mongols to Azerbaijan was over in 1222, Mongols left the territory of Azerbaijan and through Eastern Europe returned to Mongolia.

Political strife, led in the territory of Azerbaijan in the eve of this campaign, absence of sole front of fought against the enemy assisted to the victory of Mongols. First campaigns of Mongols turned probably all Azerbaijan into ruins and stroke the socio-economic and cultural life of the country. In Azerbaijan and in all other territories, where Mongols passed, the cultural monuments and trade ways were destroyed, peasantry industry was destroyed – plants and fields were burnt, cattle were taken, part of the population were killed or captivated and used as slaves in Mongolia.

Soon, after Mongols, the troops of Kephchaks invaded to Azerbaijan passing from Derbend passage in 1223. Kepchaks captured Gabala and directed to Ganja. After the negotiations with the governor Kepchaks settled around of Ganja. The population of Arran and Shirvan, which made alliance against them, defeated kepchaks.

After a year, Azerbaijan was invaded by Georgians and later by the son of kharezmShah Muhammed, Jalaladdin. Jalaladdin directed to Tabriz after the conquest of Maragha. Atabey Ozbek escaped from Tabriz to Ganja and from there to the castle of Alinca in Nakhichevan, where he died soon. At the result of the death of Ozbek, the state of Eldenizds collapsed in 1225. On July 25, 1225 Jalaladdin conquered Tabriz and appointed Nizamaddin Turghai the governor of the city.

Jalaladdin, who conquered all territory of Azerbaijan, ended the existence of the state of Aghsungurids. As Jalaladdin oftenly made campaigns to Irag and Georgia he entrusted the governance of Azerbaijan to his vezir, Sharaf al-Mulk.

At that time there happened several uprisings under the leadership of governors, Shamsaddin Turghai, Nizamaddin Turghai and Bakhaaddin Muhammed ibn Beshir Yarabek in Tabriz. Shamsaddin Turghai and Bakhaaddin Yarabek were put into dungeon and Nizamaddin Turghai was executed.

The culmination of popular-liberation movements in Azerbaijan against new conquerors was the Ganja uprising of the year of 1231. In Ganja, which was the residence of Jalaladdin, the revolt spirit against kharezmians was strong. During the absence of Jalaladdin the settlers of Ganja rose against him under the leadership of craftsmen Bandar. The rebellors destroyed Kharezm garrison, destroyed the palace of city governor and beat the officers. Although the people knew about his cruelty and wildness, they attacked to the army of Jalaladdin, who offered to make negotiations with the city population. But the army of Kharezm defeated rebellors and retreated to the city. Jalaladdin entered to the city from open gates after rebellors and pressed the uprising.

Thirty participants of the revolt were assassinated and Bandar was hacked to pieces.

The uprisings against kharezmShah Jalaladdin were arisen in Khoy, Marand, Nakhichevan and in other cities too. Popular – liberation movement spread in the whole territory of Azerbaijan. Mongols, who utilized from the weakness of Azerbaijan in the period of Jalaladdin’s reign attacked to Azerbaijan for the second time in 1231. Mongol army was led by Cormogon Noyon. Mongols captured the cities of Rey, Hamadan, Maragha, put heavy taxes over their population. Then they besieged the city of Tabriz. After the negotiations between Mongols and Tabriz people, Mongols got valuable presents and Tabriz was saved from the next bloody destruction again. By the demand of Mongols, most of prominent masters of Tabriz were sent to the capital of Mongolia-Karakorum. After the long-lasted fought Mongols conquered Ganja and plundered the city. During four years after this conquest Ganja was in ruins. After Ganja, Mongols captured Shamkir, Baku and Tovuz. The conquest of Azerbaijan was over by the capturing of Derbend in 1239.

The second campaign of Mongols differed from the first one. The goal of the second campaign was not only a robbery, but also the fortification in the territory of Azerbaijan. So, Mongols did not return to Mongolia, and settled in South Caucasus and Iran.

In 1239-1256s South Caucasus and Azerbaijan was ruled by the governors of Great Mongol Khagan. Arghun aga was appointed as the governor of Azerbaijan, Georgia, Lur, Kerman and Armenia. The governors strengthened the dependence of local feudals from nomadic Mongol aristocracy, took the lands from the most of them. The territory of Mughan was governed by 110 Mongol noyons.

About Ismayil bey Zardabli

Author of t extbook for the higher educational institutions "THE HISTORY OF AZERBAIJAN, from ancient times to the present day"