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Socio-economic life of Azerbaijan in the period of Khanates

Feudal strife and the leadership of national industry in Azerbaijan influenced negatively to the economy of the country. Nevertheless rich lands and the liberation of these areas from foreign invaders shaped determined conditions for the development of agriculture, craft and trade. There existed the division of labour among several spheres of the country.

There was cultivated grain in Quba, Shamakha, Sheki, Garabakh and Ganja khanates, rice in Talish kanate, shaafroon in Quba, Derbent and Baku khanates, silk in Sheki, Shamakha and Ganja khanates.

There were increased growing grapevines, gardening and bee keeping in Azerbaijan. The population, settled in the shores of the Caspian Sea and the Kur were engaged in fishing.

There was utilized artificial irrigation in farming, especially in Karabakh. There were located such canals as Kurek, Mugaddas, Meymana, Qamchi, Sari, Azay, Taymagh here. Karabakh khans restored an ancient kanal-Gavur arkh. There were constructed many irregative systems in other khanates as well.

Cattle breeding played an important role in agriculture. There were plenty of cattle in winter and summer pastures.

Craft also developed very much. There were produced silk clothes in the villages of Baskal and Mudji of Shamakha khanate, as well as there were produced copper dishes, fighting and cold weapons and other items in Lahij. There was developed copper field, jewelry, weaving and other spheres of craft in Sheki and Ganja. There were weaved carpets and palaces in all regions of Azerbaijan. The carpets of Quba were much more famous in internal and foreign markets.

Oil industry, which were characterized for Azerbaijan for centuries fall at that time. Oil springs were digged by hand and oil was gathered by baskets. Oil was utilized both as fuel and medicine means. The obtained oil was exported to Russia, Tiflis, Istanbul, Iran and India.

Azerbaijan was famous for its natural resources, Garabakh and Nakhichevan were famous for its silver, copper and other resources.

There was obtained copper and iron in Dashkesen, in Ganja there was obtained copper and alum. There was exported salt from Baku and Nakhichevan to many regions of South Caucasus.

There occurred serious changes in agrarian relations in the period of khanates. As in previous times, the major form of the property of feudals was mulk at that time. Conditional form was tiyul. Khans gave tiyuls for the military service with the right of utilizing for life. But if in the period of Safavids tiyul was not given to inherit and when the owner of tiyul-tiyuldar died, his property was returned to the state, in the period of khanates this rule was changed. The land of tiyuldar was oftenly passed to his successor by special decree of the khan. So, tiyul lands began to obtain inherited character. As in previous times, clergy and their institutions owned the lands of vaqf, which were freed from the payment of any taxes.

There was not the division of lands into state lands-divan and dynasty lands-khasse. Khan and his family utilized from all land foundation for themselves.

The landsof camaats had been existing at this time.

As in previous times, most part of the population was consisted of peasants at this time. There were divided into raiyyats, rancbars and elats.

Raiyyats constituted major part of the peasants. They had their own housekeeping, they cultivated the lands of khans, land-owners and tiyuldars with their own labour tools and payed taxes and fulfilled obligation for this. Major obligation was biyar.

Differing from raiyyats, rancbars did not possess their own economy and labour tools. They worked in the housekeeping of feudal and got food, dress and etc. for this. Such peasants were called akers in Talish khanate.

Elats, who conducted semi-nomadic life-stock and who were engaged in cattle-breeding were also concerned to peasants. They were directly depended on the head of tribes – elbeyi.

Maafs played an important role in social stratum of Azerbaijan. The title of maaf was given to the group of elats, who served in military service of khan and they were freed from taxes. Maafs constituted the basics of the troops of khan. Maafs’ title was passed by legacy from father to son.

As in previous times, main part of taxes was paid by natura. Major tax was malcehet. Besides of it, there were paid such taxes as dargalig, bayramlig, atarpasi, baghbashi, zekat, khums, rusum and etc.

The peasants fulfilled such obligations as biyar and evrez behalf on land-owners. Evrez was realized twice a year. In the days of evrez the peasants repaired roads, bridges, castle walls and etc. by the order of feudal. Elats implemented various works, related with cattle breeding. They paid taxes to feudals for using from pastures.

In the second half of the 18th century, leading stratum were khans, Sultans, meliks, clergy, beys, aghalars, elbei. Khan was in the head of the country. Although the titles of Sultan and melik were given by legacy, they should be confirmed by khan every time. The title of bey was given to the owner of land. In Kazakh, Shamshaddil and Borchali the feudal, who possessed the status of bey were called agha. Beys and aghas had administrative reign over peasants. Elbeyi, who bought lands, gradually became the owner of these lands. They fulfilled military obligation. The clergy was freed from taxes. They existed by the vehicle of profits from vaqf lands and collected taxes of khums and zekat (sadaqa), which namely paid Muslim people. There existed high and low clergy too.

Urban population suffered because of the permanent wars and the invasions of foreigners in the period of khanates. As before, the cities were governed by darga at this time. They possessed the function of police. Due to make an order in cities they were given wide functions. Khans shaped special tax of dargalig for them. Naibs, kalantars, qalabeies also played an important role in the governance of cities. Craft guilds in the cities were called asnaf. The asnafs were led by ustabashi. There existed primitive produce of craft guilds in Azerbaijan at that time. Craftsmen were oftenly engaged with producing in home conditions, without participation of pupils.

Craftsmen produced their items for bazaars and caravanserais. This was proved by the development of commodity-monetry relations.

There was applied high custom duties to all types of goods. Internal custom duty-rahdar-was the most profitable source for khan.

Simultaneously, rahdar decreased the development of trade. Another obstacle for the development of the trade was the existence of individual money coins in each khanate at that time. After the foundation of khans, there were created monetary palaces in each of them. There occurred changes in monetary system too.

Major coins in khanates were abbasi, tumen, Shahi, irani and etc. By the order of khans the weight of copper and silver in coins were decreased and that is why, abbasi differed from one another in each khanate. It shaped great obstacles in the development of trade too.

There were applied the coins of other states in khanates, as well as the coins of some khanates were utilized abroad. For instance, Karabakh panahabad was utilized both in internal bazaar of Azerbaijan and in other countries.

There were difference in the measures of weight and measure among khanates.

Palace officers played an important role in the governance of khanates. Most influencive one among them was vezir. Besides of vezir, eshik aghasi, sandiqdar aghasi, anbardar aghasi, sarkarali and others also served in the place of khan.

Khans possessed unlimited reign. There worked divans and khan’s council, which possessed consultative character in several khanates.

Court organs also played essential role in the administrative system of khanates. The court-organs was divided into divan, shariat and asnaf at that time.

The court of Divan obeyed directly to khan. The shariat court was led by gazi. The court of Asnaf were led by ustabashi.

All above-mentioned facts were concerned to all Azerbaijanian khanates, but in Car-Balaken (at present time, the territory of Zagatala) the governance was different. Car-Balaken camaats consisted of six communities. There was legal equality here and the lands were divided equally, they were cultivated by all members of families. Although there existed equality in camaats, some of them fall under the dependence. Lezgies and Tsakhurs, who settled here in the 17th century were real feudal-keshke owners. Local population-mughals and ingiloys had to pay them tribute. All issues inside of camaats were discussed and decided in the national assembly. The adopted decisions in the assmebly were obligatory for all members of the community.

About Ismayil bey Zardabli

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