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Reforms of Ghazan Khan

If we give comparison to the political, socio-economic circumstances in the period when the dynasty of Hulakids came to the throne in the 80- 90s of the 13th century, then we will obviously see that the crisis reached to its apogee at the end of the 13th century. Unbearable tax system, heavy situation of working mass, internecine, feudal wars in the country caused to immediate fall of economy.

Heavy situation of population also decreased of profits of state Treasury and big feudals obliged the ruler of Hulakids, and Ghazan khan (1295-1304) realized reforms. The strengthening positions of Islam possessed special place among the measures, implemented by him. Due to strengthen the power of centralized state, he relied on local aristocracy and Muslim clergy, to those parts of nomadic aristocracy of Turkish-Mongolian origin that defended the centralization of authority. Ghazan khan either dismissed or made convert to Islam the military- nomadic nobility, which prevented to the centralization of authority. The role of prime vezir, scientist-historian, doctor and the closest assistant of Ghazan khan, Fazlullah Rashidaddin was great in the preparation and implementation of these reforms. The reforms of Ghazan khan examined the accuration of tax system, preventation of unauthorized behavior of tax collectors, the improvement of lifestock of population, development of rural and urban economy. The realization of reforms had great essence for Treasury too. These reforms, which were implemented in 1294-1304s strengthened the system of administrative governance. First of all, there was implemented the census of population, as well as accurate fixing of categories, amount and time of tax collection. All information about amount and time of tax collection was mentioned on plates and slabs, as well as on boards, which were constructed in major places of settlements. All state documents were kept in special libraries in Shanbi-Ghazan. There was determined wide information about kharac and kopchur. Kharac consisted 60% of harvest in state lands and 10% of harvest in private properties. Simultaneously there were presented privileges to arable- farmers, who planted deserted and left lands. After some time such arable-farmer became the landowner of this land on the rights of mulk.

According to the reforms of Ghazan khan, there occurred changes in the determining of mulks. In 1303, there was given an order about presenting lands of iqta to the Mongols, who were in military service from the foundation of state lands (divans). Distribution of iqta was related with the structure of Mongol troops. The sale of iqta was forbidden. The lands of Azerbaijan were shared especially as iqta during the reign of Hulakids.

After the reforms of Ghazan khan the distribution of vaqfs and mulks increased. At the result of it, there were concentrated large land properties in the hands of big feudals. Although it assisted to the rise of economy, this event caused to failure of small land-owners.

In 1303, Ghazan khan gave decree, according to which land- owners were able to return escaped peasants to their previous lands during 30 years. None of landowners had a right to accept and hide strange escaped peasants. Azerbaijanian peasants were firstly attached to their lands officially.

Ghazan khan took into account the urban economy too. There were implemented measures about unification of monetary system, accuration of collection of tamgha and bac, strengthening of security of trade ways. Hulakids shaped single monetary system, unificated system of weight and measures (1301-1302). The unification of weight and measures based on Tabriz units. The staff of kakhdars (road guard) was increased to the number of 10 thousand people.

The implemented measure assisted to the animation of trade and restoration of urban economy. But as these reforms were not realized completely, they did not resulted as they implied. So, the security of trade ways was not provided, the unification of the system of weight and measures was not completed.

In 1303, Ghazan khan gave special decree in the interests of military-feudal aristocracy. There were shared districts on the right of iqta to the nobility from state lands (divans). At the result of it Turkish- Mongolian feudal got large areas of iqta in Mughan, Shirvan and Arran.

Differing from iqta of 11th-12th centuries, which was conditional, the iqta of the 14th century became inherited property of feudals.

Iqtadar possessed the rights of immunity and wide privileges. At the result of decree of the year of 1303, the peasants were firstly attached to the land. But the land reforms, which was implemented for the centralization of the state, after a while caused to the decrease of central authority.

Craft production improved in Azerbaijan. In the 70s of the 13th century. Marko Polo wrote that the population of Tabriz were engaged entirely in craft and trade. There were lots of merchants and craftsmen in Sultaniyye – previous residence of Elkhanids.

In this period, more developed sphere in craft production of Azerbaijan was weaving. There were produced cotton, silk and wool clothes. Tabriz, Ganja, Nakhichevan, Beylagan, Khoy and Ardebil specially distinguished in this sphere.

There were attracted hundreds and thousands craftsmen from the countries of the East (China, India, Minor and the Middle Asia) to Azerbaijan in the period of Hulakids. There were shaped big craft workshops, where were prepared silk clothes, sewed from gold in Tabriz. Marko Polo noticed and described Shirvan with the same expressions and mentioned about its silk clothes, sewed from gold.

There worked lots of weaving workshops in Rabi-Rashidi. The workshops belonged to the state and prime-vezir, Fazlullah Rashidaddin. They brought very high profits.

There were widely enlarged the production of silk and cotton curtains and bedspreads, wool tents, decorative middle-work and other fields of craft in Azerbaijan.

Original and specialized sphere of craft in Azerbaijan was carpet weaving. Elkhanid Treasury and big feudal gained high profits from carpet weaving by collecting high taxes. The carpets of Azerbaijan were exported to lots of countries of the world.

There were revealed plenty of labour tools, also the samples of craft makings during archaeological excavation in Beylagan and Gabala.

There were largely utilized from makings of copper and bronze in life. There were prepared cold weapons in Ganja, copper guns – in Khoy and knifes – in Shamkir; There were extracted the gold and lead. Despite of great fall in Shiz at the result of Mongol conquest, metallurgy improved only in Tabriz.

After Mongol conquest, in the period of Elkhanids the captivated masters – gun makers were obliged to work in workshops. The reform of Ghazan khan improved their conditions. State Treasury began to buy the makings of gun-makers, which increased the interest to gun production.

Despite of great fall of pottery at the result of Mongol conquest, the ceramic production did not loose its importance. There were buildings in Tabriz and Sultaniyye, which attracted the attendance with their ceramic cladding. Ceramic art of Tabriz preserved its Eastern style.

Ceramic mosaic of Mercaniyye mosque, which was constructed in Baghdad in 1357, was made by Tabriz master, AhmedShah. The ceramic cladding of Pir-Hussein building, constructed in Shamakha, near the shore of the river of Pirsaqat in 1256, is a great sample of the art of decorative ceramics of the Middle East. In this period, there were big pottery workshops in Ardebil.

Tabriz and Maragha were major centres of leather production in the Middle East. The demand of Elkhanid rulers to leather makings were implemented at the expense of local production. There was existed special leather market in Tabriz, special workshop in Maragha and the district of Khiyav, near Ardebil was specialized centre on the production of leather makings. There was also improved the production of shoes in the city.

In 13th-14th centuries, joiner and carpentry were the major spheres in wood-working in Azerbaijan. There were made special doors, windows and etc. Ardebil and Nakhichevan especially distinguished in these fields. Glass dishes and glass decorations were prepared in the workshops of Tabriz and Khiyav.

There was extracted copper in Kafan and Nakhichevan, gold and lead-in Shiz, oil and salt-in Baku, iron-in Dahskesen.

Due to guard their interest, craftsmen and small merchants organized religious, social-political organizations, called akhi and professional unions (asnaf, mokhtarifa, ozan – in the period of Mongols). There were existed secret organizations of akhi in Ganja, Beylagan, Ardebil and Baku. Akhies were goodwill, which united low stratum of urban population. These organizations possessed difficult interior structure. Akhies were governed by sheikh. The leaders of small groups and organizations of akhi subordinated to sheikh. The members of the organization should be irreproachable in religious relationship. These rules were reflected in special charter of the organization of akhi – futuvvatname. The number of the organization should gird on special tie. Depending on time and place, the members of akhi organization were called igid (couregous) and comerd (generous). Akhies should be hospitable too. Facts about it we can meet in the work of “Isgendername” by Nizami and in the notes of Arabic traveler and scientist, Ibn Batuta (14th century). But, sometimes despotic feudals killed the members of akhi.

Despite of the reforms of Ghazan khan, the rights of craft guilds in the cities were liquidated during Mongolian authority. The heads of guilds, who had been choosen before, were appointed by elkhans.

Sometimes they were not appointed from local settlers, but from the supreme Mongol feudals.

The tendency in urban self-governance, shaped by Mongols prevented the development of cities. Feudal strife and conflicts made  the working people of cities unite in social-political and professional organizations.

Mongol conquests inflicted damage to the trade as well. There was destroyed a line of cities and villages. Economic destruction influenced not only to interior market, but also to international trade.

Nevertheless, at the beginning of the 14th century there began to rise metallurgy, weaving, silk-weaving, glass-making, jewelry spheres, also in the production of shoes, carpets, fur makings and etc.

In the economy of Azerbaijan of that period raw-silk, raw-cotton, grain, wool, cotton clothes, clothes from camel wool, wool bed-spreads, chukha, chalma, leather makings, shoes, carpets, pottery and wood makings, copper dishes, musical instruments, decorations played the role of goods. Ganja, Barda, Sheki, Shamakha were specialized in silk production, Beylagan – in pottery and made of candies, Baku – in oil and salt production, Tabriz, Shirvan, Khursan- in carpentry, Shamkir – in leather production, Ardebil – in the production of colourful clothes, Barzand – in the production of special bed-spreads.

There is known from sources that silk of Barda was exported to Pars and Khuzistan and from Baku and Shirvan there were exported fur, oil, rise, cotton, maize, Greece nuts, raisins, chestnut, saffron, also various fruits (pomegranate, pear, peach, abricot, mulberry, graip) and so on.

There were existed big markets in Baku, Beylagan, Nakhichevan, Ganja, Maragha, Shemkir and Tabriz. There were existed bazaars in local essence too.

Bazaar was located in the centre of the city. Various craftsmen opened their own small-shops in bazaars. There were constructed many caravanserais, connected with the extension of caravan trade. The largest caravanserai was Zubeyda and located in Tabriz. Big caravanserais were also in Culfa, Salyan (14th century), Baku (Icheri- sheher (Old city)) and Garadagh.

In 13th-14th centuries, Azerbaijan maintained trade relations with China, India, Iran, Irag, Egypt, Georgia, Daghestan and Russian realms. There were exported oil, copper, salt, raw silk, rise, chestnut, carpets, wood and pottery makings, red paint to these countries. There were exported thin silk clothes, cotton clothes, elephant’s bohe, metallic makings, paint, medicine, cattle and fur from foreign countries to Azerbaijan.

The merchant of Venesia and Genuya, who oftenly visited to Azerbaijan, especially to Tabriz, Baku and Shamakha, played great role in the trade between East and West. These merchants kept trade ships in the Caspian Sea.

The archaeological excavations in such cities as Ganja, Tabriz, Nakhichevan, Sultaniyye, Beylagan and Shamakha testified the imported goods, brought from India, Iran, Russian realms and other countries. These goods were brought to Azerbaijan through Middle Asia and Iran and through Indian Ocean, Persian Gulf and then Bahgdad way.

In 13th-14th centuries, more important branchs (sakhrakh) of trade ways, passing through the state of Hulakids laid in the territory of Azerbaijan. Northern way, passed through Tabriz-Marand reached to the river of Aras. Trade ways also passed through Sultaniyye, Zenjan, Kaghizkonan (Khunanc), Miane, Ucan, Corab, Ardebil, Bilesuvar, Mahmudabad, Baku, Shamakha and Derbend. Another branch of this road laid by the river of Aras through Baciravan, Beylagan, Lemberan, Barda, Ganja, and Shamkir till Tabriz, Western way passed from Tabriz, through Marand, Khoy, Nakhichevan, Dabil (Dvin), Archish, Khilat, Malazgird, Arzerum, Erzincan, Sivas and Trabzon. The road till the shore of the Black Sea, which connected the West and the East laid through Tabriz, Sarab, Ardebil, and then – till the Caspian seaside in Talish. There were existed the ways from Tabriz to Ahar, Baciravan and Arran too.

Trade ways, which laid by Southern province began in two areas – in Hamadan and Sultaniyye. Tabriz road, which reached to Zenjan, divided into two ways, which passed from Zenjan to Taram, till Khalkhal and Ardebil, the other – by Safidrud, through Gilan to Enzeli, which was connected Baku to marine way.

Road from Zenjan to Miana divided into three ways:
1. Northern way; Ardebil, Mughan, Beylagan, Baku, Derbend (Bab al-Abvab);
2. North-Western way; passed from Uchan to the northern shore of Urmiyya lake, through Armenia to the shore of the Black Sea and to the Minor Asia;
3. Western way; from Maragha till the Southern shore of Urmiyya lake, through Reveduz, Mosul, Haleb, the shore of the Black Sea, by Volga it reached to Astara and Tabriz. Trade caravans passed from Tabriz to Trabzon in 30 days.

Baku was the best port of the Caspian Sea in the transite trade with Shamakha. Trade way, which began from Chine and India passed through Middle Asia and Iran to Azerbaijan and then by the shore of the Caspian Sea it continued to the North and reached to the shore of the Black Sea. For the trade of goods, imported from the East, the most important roads were: the way by the rivers of Kura and Rioni to the shore of the Black Sea, also  ancient way, passed by Aras, through Armenia, Syria (Sham) and Mesopatamia.

In the north of Azerbaijan there was a special caravan way to Astrakhan (Hashtarkhan), Gold Orda and China. Great Silk way, which connected China and the West, passed through Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan played the role of bridge between the East and the West. There were shaped political, diplomatic and cultural relations through this international trade way.

In 13th century, there were minted various coins: silver and golden coins in Azerbaijan. The highest face value was tuman, golden and silver balish. Golden dinar, silver dirhem and copper fells played an important role in monetary. There began to be minted silver dinar at that time too.

There were utilized golden coins of foreign countries in Azerbaijan. Due to prevent financial crisis, which began during Ahmed khan’s reign (1282-1284), Keykhatu khan put in circulation new paper money – chao in 1299. This reform, which aimed to fill up stock the Treasury and was examined for interior circulation, also had a goal to the obligatory collection of golden and silver money, which went to the foreign countries to the Treasury. But the population refused from paper money. This attempt, which was implemented in order to prevent financial crisis, much more aggravated the financial circumstances of the state.

So, Ghazan khan accurated the coin minting along with other measures. There was established single monetary system in the state of Hulakids. The implemented monetary reform, which had secret rules assisted to the extension of the trade. This caused to the increasement of demand to money and the opening of new coin palaces. In the period of Hulakids’ governance, there were 75 coin palaces in Azerbaijan.

The urban construction was also taken into account in the period of Hulakids’ governance. There were built palaces, observatories and mosques in the cities. For instance in 1290 there was laid the foundation of the city of Arquniya near Tabriz. Later, during Ghazan khan’s reign this city was renamed and was called Shanbi-Ghazan. During Argun khan’s reign there was laid the foundation of the city of Sultaniyye, the length of its fortress walls was 12 thousand steps (11,5 km). Tabriz, which much more developed at that time, became the one of the biggest trade and cultural centres of the East.

The foundation of cities after the reforms of Ghazan khan influenced to the economy. The number of urban population increased. One of the foreign travelers – monk Jurden de Severak described Tabriz  at the beginning of the 14th century: “In the city, called Tabriz, there were 200 thousand houses”. There were 30 thousand houses, 24 caravanserais, 1500 small trade shops, three – storeyed caravanserais, mosques, bazaar, bath, coin-palace, school with 7 thousand students and 450 teachers in the city of Rabi-Rashidi, which was founded by Fazlullah Rashidaddin. Italian Oderik Perdenon, who was in Tabriz in 1321, expressed his impressions with such words: “Tabriz is awesome city. It is irreplaceable from the viewpoint of trade. Because, there were not such goods, which could not be found in the stocks of Tabriz. The location of the city was also good. That is why people come here for trade. The Christians, who lived in Tabriz told me that the profits of Shah, brought from this city are much more than the profits of France king, brought from whole France”. Ghazan khan laid the foundation of the city of Mahmudabad on the seaside of the Caspian Sea. Although the cities of Azerbaijan possessed semiagrarian character, there were developed trade and craft too.

During Mongolian conquest and the yoke of Hulakids the population of Azerbaijan, which suffered from land and tax policy, as well as exploitation rose against conquerors. In 60s of the 13th century, the popular movement extended. At this time the mountainous part of Karabakh was pressed and the governor of Khachin, Hasan Jalal was subordinated. Hulaku khan personally took part in the neutralization of these uprisings.

In 1275, when Abaga khan was in hunting in Arran military rebels attacked to him. Although the uprising was pressed, Abaga khan was scared. During Ghazan khan’s reign there happened uprising in mountainous part of Shirvan. There was organized special troops for the suppression of this uprising. The soldiers of these troops were freed from taxes. They were called tarkhans. The circumstances in the country was strained even after coming to the throne the dynasty of Chobanids in 1338. Hamdullah Qazvini, who described this situation, wrote that, at that time these areas were inhabited by wolves and foxes. After the death of Hasan Choban, Melik Ashraf tried to come to the throne. Major goal of the uprisings were to put the end to the cruelty, unauthorized behavior of Chobanid emirs, but the forces were not equal rebels were not able to resist and had to retreat and escape at the end.

In 1347, the population, which suffered from the yoke of Melik Ashraf, escaped to Georgia, Anatolia, Syria and Baghdad. After 10 years, in 1357, the exploited population by Malik Ashraf sent request to the ruler of Gold Orda, Janibey by the vehicle of greatest scientist Qazi Mahiyaddin Bardai and ShirvanShah Kavus and asked him to come and save the population from the yoke of the dictator. This suggestion coincided to the goals of Janibey. Janibey who came to Azerbaijan, conquered Tabriz and captured Malik Ashref, whom he did not want to assosinate at first. Population disagreed with this. When Janibey ordered to execute Malik Ashraf the people took away him from executioners and cut Malik Ashraf’s head with dagger.

About Ismayil bey Zardabli

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