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Devastating results of the Mongol conquest in Azerbaijan

The 13th-14th centuries were a disturbed period for the socio- economic life of Azerbaijan due to the Mongol invasions and the supremacy of the Hulakids caused devastation to the state economy of the country. Ganja, Maragha, Sarab, Shamkir, Nakhichevan, Barda, Qazvin and other cities were destroyed. Ardebil and Beylagan were devastated.

The invasions inflicted damage to agriculture. The irregative systems, which possessed essential place in agriculture were destroyed.

There destruction caused to the fall of arable-farming. Most part of useful lands were not planted and cultivated.

The population increased at the expense of Turkish-Mongolian tribes, which were engaged in nomadic cattle-breeding. Nomadic tribes oftenly made robbery campaigns to the settlements.

Fazlullah Rashidaddin wrote that because of the increasement of taxes, the population migrated to other countries. Cities, which had been great trade centres, fell and such cities as Beylagan, Shiz, Khalkhal, Miana and others became villages.

There also increased slavery at that time. The captivated craftsmen and peasants were exploited in feudal and state workshops, in agricultural works as slaves. In two gardens had worked 1200 slaves, next to Tabriz, which belonged to Fazlullah Rashidaddin; he created 5 villages, where worked more than 80 slaves.

At the result of the destruction of irregative system, the production of technical cultures, especially cotton decreased (Nakhichevan, Maragha, Marand, Neylan and down regions of the Kura).

The gardening of Azerbaijan, where were planted various kinds of fruits probably was destroyed. Apple, pear, grape, abricot, peach, mulberry, cherry, olive gardens in Nakhichevan, Tabriz, Khoy, Maragha, Barda, Meshkin, Ordubad, Salmas and etc. were transferred into pastures. Kitchen-garden, where planted various vegetables, melon, watermelon, pumpkin were also under the heavy duties.

There was not inflicted damage only to cattle-breeding. Marko Polo wrote that, “There were excellent horses, these horses were exported for sale and they were very excellent”.

There were existed subsequent forms of ownership in Azerbaijan during 13th-14th centuries: 1. State lands-divans; 2. Lands, which were the property of ruling dynasty – khasse (in the period of Hulakids – incu or khass incu); 3. Mulks; 4. Lands of religious institutions and charity organizations – vaqf; 5. Lands of iqta (which was given for state service and it was inherited land); 6. Camaats – communal lands; In the period of Hulakids all land foundation was divided among the ruling dynasty and military-nomadic aristocracy from Turkish- Mongolian origin.

There were shaped heavy taxes in the territories, which were conquered by Mongols in the mid of the 13th century. Supreme Mongol khagan Munke implemented general census in 1254.

At the end of 50s of the 13th century there was accounted tax system in the period of Mongolian governance of Hulakids – Elkhanids; there were realized several measures for its centralization and perfection.

The old tax system was also preserved along with the new one.

Major land tax was called kharac (except of the beginning of the 14th century). The amount of kharac consisted of 60-70% and sometimes – 70-80% of the harvest. Kharac was collected twice a year: during the holiday of Novruz it was collected with money and during the harvest period with money or with natural kind; 1/3 part of kharac went to the Treasury and 1/3 part – to tenant.

The heavest tax was kopchur (“pasture” in Mongolian language), which was specially collected from nomadic cattle-breeders (a cattle from each 100 cattle). Later kopchur began to be collected from settled population of the cities and villages too. The collection of kopchur was contrary to shariat (muslim law), as according to this low poll-tax had to be collected only from non-muslim people. During Ghazan khan’s reign, there were collected 10 kopchur, in some places even 20-30 kopchurs from raiyyets. The reform of Ghazan khan forbade arbitrary increasement of kopchur.

Another heavy tax, which was brought by Mongols was tamgha. Tamgha was collected with money. There were existed two types of tamga-big and small. The first one was collected from imported goods in city gates and customs. Due to confirm the justice of the tax, there were utilized big scales for weighing the goods. Small tamgha was collected in markets during the sale goods. Tamgha was the most stable profit of the Treasury of Elkhanids.

At the end of the 13th century, only in the city of Tabriz tamgha constituted 5% of Treasury profit of the state of Hulakids. But during Ghazan khan’s reign tamgha was either abolished or abridged till 50% in order to improve the urban life.

There was collected sale tax of bac from trade caravans. This tax was collected in city customs. Bac was taken especially from such goods, which should be sold in other cities. The one of the biggest customary house for the collection of bac was located on the bridge of Khudaferin through the river of Aras.

The tax, which was taken from urban and rural population for military officers was called ikhracat. Another heavy tax, which was encountered with the disagreement of population was avariz that was collected by feudals and state in order to provide various extra expences.

Peasants and urban population observed post (yam) obligation, according to which they should accept and greet supreme people, military officers and emirs. The abolishment of post obligation by Ghazan khan played positive role in the improvement of economy in Azerbaijan and neighnourhood countries. But in the mid of the 14th century this obligation again became ordinary appearance.

There was collected special tax from gardens, which was called baghbashi. There was also existed the form of tax, which was collected behalf on supreme officers and the sovereign. This tax was taken in a case of different holidays and ceremonies and was called peshkesh.

Another heavy obligation was tarkh – obligatory sale of various products, which were kept in Treasury warehouses with higher prices to the population. Simultaneously, tarkh was a privilege of state and feudal, which gave them a chance to buy agricultural products with lower prices.

In 13th-14th centuries the population of Azerbaijan suffered from taxes and obligations. There circumstances aggravated because of both heavy taxes and unauthorized behavior of tax collectors.

The situation was so unbearable that 5/6 of houses in Nakhichevan devastated. The circumstances of population aggravated at the result of the epidemic of plague too.

About Ismayil bey Zardabli

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