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The State of Aghqoyunlu

The state of Aghqoyunlu possessed special place in the history of Azerbaijan and the union of Aghqoyunlu played an essential role in the formation of Azerbaijan nation. Even in early medieval they lived in Eastern Anotolia, in the west of Azerbaijan and Iran, as well as in the territory of modern Irag. Differing from Karakoyunlu, there was described the drawings of white sheep on their sign. Urfa, Mardin, Karabakh, the regions around the Goycha lake, mountainous place of Alagoz were the places that settled by Aghqoyunlu tribes. There were included the tribes of Pornak, Mosullu, Afshar, Bayat and others to Aghqoyunlu. Among 24 mentioned tribes, mentioned by Mahmud Kashqari there were the names of the tribes of Qiniq, Kayi, Bayandur. Aghqoyunlu was oftenly mentioned as “Bayanduriyye”.

Rashidaddin (14th century), who was the vezir of Hulakids showed in his work that the tribe of Bayandur played an essential role in the life of Yabqu oghuzes, reigned on the shores of Sir-Darya in the 10th century.

Abu Bakr Tekhrani gave interesting information about the leader of Aghqoyunlu, Uzun Hasan in his creating, called “Tarikhi Diyarbakiriyye” (written in 1471). There were noticed the names of heroes of “My grandfather Korkud´s book” epic literature in that work, such as the bayandurs of Aghqoyunlu Union – Pehlevan bey (1370- 1388), Alaaddin Turali (1388-1392), Fakhraddin (1392-1394). During their leadership there oftenly happened strifes in Aghqoyunlu Union, which prevented the establishment of the state. Fakhraddin’s sons continued the difficult circumstances, began since the reign of their ancestors. Brothers Ahmed and Pirali arrested Gara Yuluq Osman, instead of uniting around him and shaping the state. According to some sources, the one of major representatives of the dynasty, Gara Yuluq Osman (1394-1435) was born at the result of the marriage of the predecessor of Uzun Hasan, Qutlu bey Aghqoyunlu and the sister of emperor Aleksis III, Maria, which was contructed in his campaign to Trabzon.

Gara Osman was appointed the chief commander of troops, fought with Karakoyunlu. Sivas, Erzincan, Mardin were included to the authority of Aghqoyunlu and Diyarbakir was choosen the centre of the union. Gara Yuluq Osman, who minted coins from his name, essentially strengthened the tribal union of Aghqoyunlu.

It is important to mention that the union of Aghqoyunlu bordered with the Ottoman Empire. This foundation assisted to the disturbance of Ottoman Sultan. Aghqoyunlu found the way out of this situation with approach to Teymurids. During the fight of Teymurids with Sultan Beyazid Ildirim Aghqoyunlu aided the first. Gara Osman participated in Syrian campaign with the sons of Teymur. Even for the brave and heroism in the battles, Gara Osman’s son got the city of Diyarbakir (Amin) from Teymur as an award. In the battle of Ankara (1402), taken place between Teymur and Beyazid, Gara Osman, together with his brothers helped to Teymur. In 1405, after the death of Teymur, the Ottoman Empire continued to be the great enemy for Aghqoyunlu.

Another dangerous enemy was Karakoyunlu as well. Gara Osman implemented his plans by treacherous way. He began to shape relations with the feudals that were under the subordination of tribal union of Aghqoyunlu. In 1408, he concluded the alliance with Mardin nobility, who were depended on Aghqoyunlu and take an active part in 20 day battle near Diyarbakir, which ended with the defeat of Gara Osman. This victory brought independence to Mardin and plenty of military trophies to Karakoyunlu. Qara Yusif again returned to Tabriz. But the battle of Sardrud, which occurred on April 21 of 1408, near Tabriz between Qara Yusif and Teymurid Abu Bakr shaped good conditions for Gara Osman. He entered to inequal battle with Mardin in which his son died but the battle ended with the victory of Aghqoyunlu. The relationship between Karakoyunlu and Aghqoyunlu continued to be strained during Gara Iskander’s reign.

In 1435, 90 years old Gara Yuluq Osman wounded in the battle with Karakoyunlu and died. After his death, the head of Aghqoyunlu union became his son, Ali bey (1435-1444). Although he attained some success in eternal and foreign life of union, he obliged to enter to the alliance with the Sultan of Egypt, Melik Ashraf against his brother, Hamza bey. In the confrontations, Hamze bey conquered Diyarbakir. Ali bey, who did not give up from his intensions, came to Egypt and asked for help from Sultan. But his appeals had not resulted with any success. On the way home he fell sick and died and his brother Hamza bey was killed. Ali bey’s son, Jahangir bey (1444-1453) utilized from this circumstances, gathered the Aghqoyunlu and strengthened in Diyarbakir.

Jahangir Mirza was not able to rule the Aghqoyunlu tribe till the end. The enemies of Aghqoyunlu used from the temporary stability. In the fight with these enemies, the brother of Jahangir khan, Uzun Hasan


took more active part. Uzun Hasan, who utilized from this situation entered to Diyarbakir on January 16 of 1453 and dethroned Jahangir khan, who firstly escaped to Mardin, then arrived in Tabriz for the creation of relationship with JahanShah.

Uzun Hasan (1453-1478), who centralized the authority over tribal union in his hands, did his best to abolish feudal strifes. Simultaneosuly, he was able to gain the sympathy of the nobility. The major goal of Uzun Hasan was the establishment of centralized Azerbaijan state of Aghqoyunlu. Uzun Hasan relied on the feudal aristocracy in laying down the state of Karakoyunlu and gave them high priveleges, promised and united them around himself.

The fight between Karakoyunlu and Aghqoyunlu aggravated in the mid of the 15th century. Each side did his best to utilize from inter- tribal strife.

In 1457, not far from Diyarbakir, Uzun Hasan overwhelmed Karakoyunlu. After this battle which ended with the victory of Aghqoyunlu, the beys began to call Uzun Hasan their elbey. Kurdistan and Armenia included to his authority too.

Major fight of Aghqoyunlu for the throne happened in the years of 1466-1467. JahanShah’s son, Pirbudagh was the vali of Baghdad.

When he rose uprising against his father, JahanShah besieged the city one and a half year. But, after that Pirbudagh gave up JahanShah assosinated him. Due to broke the military resistance of JahanShah to Herat, to Teymurid Abu Said and the head of his son, Muhammed to Istanbul, Mehmet II (1451-1481).

Neverthless, the Karakoyunlu did not want to retreat from the struggle. They liberated JahanShah’s son, Hasanali from the prison in the fortress of Maku and appointed him the ruler. Two brothers – Hasanali and Huseynali began to fight against each other for throne. In that fight, Huseynali was murdered and Hasanali had to continue the struggle against Aghqoyunlu. Due to attract poor peasants and craftsmen he gave them money, but they did not support Hasanali. At the result of it, Uzun Hasan captured the South of Azerbaijan, Karabakh in 1468 and dismissed Hasanali. The attempts of Karakoyunlu in order to restore their authority did not succeeded. Essential part of Karakoyunlu included to Aghqoyunlu.

Uzun Hasan was the historical person among the rulers of Azerbaijan, who possessed prominent place because of his wisdom, capability and rational activity. He conducted active foreign policy, where his mother – the first Azerbaijan woman diplomat – Sara Khatun assisted him. Uzun Hasan realized difficult battles with Teymurid Abu Said and Ottoman Empire.

As soon as the news about JahanShah’s death reached to Teymurid Abu Said, he began the struggle against Aghqoyunlu. Uzun Hasan sent his mother Sara Khatun with valuable and expensive gifts to him, but this act did not result successfully.

In the autumn of 1468, the troops of Abu Said settled in Southern Azerbaijan, Karabakh, Mughan, Gizilagac, on the shore of Caspian Sea; Uzun Hasan concluded alliance with ShirvanShah Farrukh Yasar and the owner of Ardebil, Safavid Sheikh Haydar. Abu Said, who understood the difficulty, offered peace and reconciliation, but Uzun Hasan refused and overwhelmed him. He sent the captivated Abu Said to Teymurid prince, Muhammed Yadigar, who wanted to occupy the Khorasan throne and he executed Abu Said.

So, Uzun Hasan was able to escape the danger of Teymurids on this way. After that Uzun Hasan began to the accuration of eternal life of the country as a sovereign. Due to stop and neutralize mass uprisings because of high tax system, he made the code of special orders, called “Qanun-name”. This action resulted positively, assisted to essential improvement of the condition of population. After that Uzun Hasan directed his forces to the fight for the subordination of nomadic tribes and military – feudal nobility to central authority. Uzun Hasan applied various measures for the establishment of centralized state.

The Ottoman Sultan Mehmet II Fateh aimed to conquer Azerbaijan and the whole South Caucasus. There was existed one more questionable issue between Ottoman Sultan and Azerbaijan – Trapezund Greek state. Sultan did not give up and refuse from his aims, despite of events that were taken place between Aghqoyunlu and Ottoman Empire. Both sons of Tur Alibey, Gutluq bey and Gara Yuluq Osman was in relative relationship with Trapezund place. Uzun Hasan also married to the daughter of Trapezund Emperor, Ioann IV Komnen Feodora – Despine Khatun. Because of these ties, they considered Trapezund their ownership. According to Evliya Chelebi, Uzun Hasan fought for Trapezund with Genuya, prospered the city and attained great achievements in the trade. The merchants of Aghqoyunlu possessed profits from all of these, which assisted to the shape of wide connection between the East and the West. Sultan Mehmet II, which understood this well, first of all, aimed to conquer the Trapezund. He knew that Uzun Hasan certainly would aid to his ally. Firstly, Uzun Hasan acted by diplomatic measures and sent her mother, Sara Khatun  to the palace of Sultan. But she couldn’t persuade the Sultan. Except of it, Sultan brought the envoys of Aghqoyunlu during Trapezund campaign.

Battle between Aghqoyunlu and the Ottoman Empire, which took place in Qoyluhisar (1461) reminded Uzun Hasan that the enemy, in front of him – is the great empire, which put an end to the existence of Byzantine (1453 – conquer of Constantinopleus). So, the embassy of Sara Khatun about Trapezund issue did not result successfully: In 1461, the last part of Byzantine in Minor Asia – Trapezund realm was collapced.

Uzun Hasan hoped to the shape of alliance of European countries, which suffered from customary politics of Mehmet II and which wanted to be saved from the Ottoman Empire (Venesia, Poland, Hungary, the Kingdom of Neapolus, also the Cyprus and the possession of Karamanly). Simultaneously, European states did not want the shape of close relations between two Turkish states. Uzun Hasan wanted to conduct trade without the Ottoman Empire too.

The war of 1463-1479 between Ottoman Empire and Venesia pushed to the approchement of Aghqoyunlu and Venesia. In his foreign relations, Uzun Hasan take into account the relations with other countries of Empire. There were concluded various agreements and shaped alliances. The envoys of various European kings and emperors, also the Rome Pope came to the palace of Aghqoyunlu padiShah.

There began popular movement against the Ottoman Sultan Mehmet II in 1471. Sultan sent his vezir, Mehmet pasha to the borders of his country in order to press this movement. For the victory over Sultan, the emirs of Karaman union, Pir Ahmed and Qasim entered to an alliance with Uzun Hasan. The battles in Tokat disturbed Mehmet II. On August 18 of 1472, he sent major part of his army, commanded by his son, Mustafa to Konya. In this new battle the troops of Aghqoyunlu were defeated, Uzun Hasan’s son Yusif Mirza and his two brothers were captivated and assosinated.

The major reason of this defeat was the unimplementation of obligations of European allies, who made separate negotiations in Istanbul, utilizing from hard circumstances of the Ottoman Empire. After that 60 thousandth army of the Ottoman Empire, commanded by the son of Sultan Mehmet II, prince Mustafa destroyed small cavalry of Aghqoyunlu and captured Karaman.

Sultan, who attained his aims about Karaman and mobilized his forces began the decisive fought against Aghqoyunlu, in the spring of 1473. With the support of artillery he directed to Erzincan. Uzun Hasan decided to appeal to Venesia. Now the main goal of Mehmet II was to prevent the unification of forces of allies. The Ottoman army moved on the right shore of Euphrates to Malatya and the troops of Uzun Hasan waited for them on the left shore. Two prominent generals of the 15th century confronted face to face. Ottoman army cutnumbered their enemy: even Uzun Hasan, who looked at the camp was frightened. The troops of Uzun Hasan was commanded by great generals of that time, his sons Ughurlu Muhammed, Khalil bey, Zeynal bey. But none of the sides wanted to begin the fight first. Uzun Hasan, who utilized from his old tactics let his son, Ughurlu Muhammed go forward. This operation, which began on August 1 of 1473 and known as the battle of Malatya ended (on August 4) with the defeat and death of general Mehmet II, Khasmurad. But, generally the hostilities of Uzun Hasan did not result successfully. Uzun Hasan, who did not agree with peace suggestion of Mehmet II, approached to unlucky end of the war. One of the major reasons of Uzun Hasan’s defeat was his unsuccessful attempt to use the forces of Egypt and Syria. He was in alliance even with closest Georgians.

On August 11 of 1473, two mignificant generals met in Uchaghizly, located between Erzincan and Erzurum. This battle was known under the name of “Tarcan” or “Otlugbeli” in the history. In the case of failure, Mehmet II might loose even Istanbul. At the beginning of the battle, all priveleges were in the side of Aghqoyunlu, but the absence of fire-arms was the major reason of their defeat. The reasons of the defeat of Aghqoyunlu were as below-mentioned: Ottoman Empire possessed regular army with firearms and artillery.

Allies did not give promised aid to Aghqoyunlu. Despite of these, the Ottoman army did not completely attain their aims, because of courage of Aghqoyunlu soldiers.

Aghqoyunlu was entirely in other condition. The increasing distrust of feudals to central authority assisted to feudal internecine wars. There was shaped dangerous circumstances for Aghqoyunlu.

There was increased separate activity of more than 20 fortresses of Bitliss principality, whose major part of population were kurds. This principality was under the subordination of Aghqoyunlu state. Geographic location of the principality assisted to this too. Aghqoyunlu was also disturbed by robbery raids of kurds to the caravan ways of Aleppo, Damascus, Beyrut, Bursa and so on. One of goals of Uzun Hasan was the broke of their union and forces, as well as drawing of Kurdish feudals away from their fortresses. The battle of Otluqbeli assisted to activization of Kurds, which required political independence.

Aghqoyunlu maintained trade and diplomatic ties with Europeans.

During the departure of one of Aghqoyunlu embassy in April of 1474, kurds plundered and killed them. And in May of 1474, one of the big revolts of feudals in Shiraz was led by the son of Uzun Hasan, Ughurlu Muhammed. Uzun Hasan destroyed the forces of his son and wounded Ughurlu Muhammed hid in Turkey.

After the Otluqbeli battle, Uzun Hasan strengthened the relations with European countries much more. In this case, Ottoman Sultan chose action that was more suitable for himself. He rose the governor of Khorasan, Hussein Baykara against Aghqoyunlu and married his daughter, Govhar khan- Sultan with Ughurlu Muhammed, whom he met with great ceremony. Ahmed, who was born at the result of this marriage, put short, but bright trace in the history of Azerbaijan, with the name of Godek Ahmed. Later Sultan appointed Ughurlu Muhammed the governor of Sivas. Although Uzun Hasan strengthened his eastern frontiers, he could not restore the previous circumstances in western frontiers.

After some time Uzun Hasan revenged his son, Ughurlu Muhammed. Long-lasted wars weakened the economy of the state, formed by the wisdom and dillegence of Uzun Hasan. The people disagreed with heavy taxes in the country and the foreign policy of the state, which enriched with wars. Uzun Hasan’s son, Maksud bey confronted with the protest of Tabriz population, especially craftsmen, trademen and the owners of workshops, when he prepared to neutralize Kurdish revolt in 1474.

Uzun Hasan implemented essential reforms in the economic sphere. He was called as “Sultan-ul-qalib Hasan PadiShah” (“Sultan- winner Hasan PadiShah”) in historical sources. In internal policy, he made special “Kanun-name” in order to punish willful military feudals and accuration of taxes, which were collected from population. Sharaf khan Bitlisi wrote about it: “He was the guard of his people. There was shaped law and justice by him. There was made “Kanun-name” by him, in order to collect taxes from the obeyed people. The padiShahs of Iran, Fars, Azerbaijan were being ruled by him”.

Another historian, Khondemir mentioned that at the result of internal policy, conducted by Uzun Hasan, Arran, Azerbaijan, Kurdistan, Pars, Kirman, Acem, Arabic Irag revived. It is important to mention that Uzun Hasan aimed to abolish tamgha, which was preserved from Mongolian period. This tax was negatively influenced to the life of trademen and craftsmen. Although the amount of tamgha was decreased twise, because of disagreement of military nobility this tax was not been able to liquidate at all.

The one of most important directions of the internal policy of Uzun Hasan was the high value, which he gave to science, knowledge and education. Hasan bey Rumlu wrote that Uzun Hasan possessed deep knowledge and high level of culture. In high assemblies (mejlises) he appreciated scientific men, rewarded and collected them around himself.

Sultan of Egypt utilized from the defeat of Uzun Hasan on Otluqbeli and inclined to an alliance with Turkey.

Even Georgian princes refused to enter to this alliance. At the result of it Uzun Hasan made campaign to Georgia in 1474-1477. There were captured Tiflis, Qori and other cities and fortresses. Whole Eastern Georgia was subordinated to Aghqoyunlu authority together with Tiflis. In 1477, the Aghqoyunlu troops overwhelmed Egypt mamluks near Amid and Urfa (Edessa).

In reality, during all of these confrontations, Uzun Hasan considered that his major enemy was namely Teymurids. During the struggle for throne and after the victory of Uzun Hasan over Teymurid Abu Said in 1469, the Aghqoyunlu leader supported the successor of Shahrukh, Yadigar Muhammed, who wanted to use from the situation.

Although whole Iran, except of Khorasan, Gilan and Mazandaran was under the subordination of Uzun Hasan, his aim was to capture Khorasan but was not resulted successfully. Hussein Baykara did not provide it: as soon as Uzun Hasan left Khorasan, he assosinated Yadigar Muhammed and governed this region for 36 years.

Uzun Hasan maintained close relationship with ShirvanShah Farrukh Yashar and Safavid Sheikh, Haydar, married his daughter with Haydar. There was born the founder of mignificant Azerbaijan state of Safavids, Shah Ismail Khatai from this marriage.

Uzun Hasan died on January 6 of 1478, during the preparation to the campaign to Georgia.

His death appeared the internal weakness of Aghqoyunlu. On July of 15, 1478, his son Yaqub Mirza killed his own brother, Khalil Mirza in the battle near Khoy and became the sole ruler of the state. During his reign, Yaqub Mirza (1478-1490) prevented the conquest of Azerbaijan by the Sultans of Egypt and Ottoman Empire. The battle of Urfa, in 1480, ended with the victory of Yaqub Mirza and Egypt and Syria were preserved under the subordination of Aghqoyunlu. Yaqub Mirza, who continued the policy of his father, maintained relationship with ShirvanShah but was not able to keep former relations with Safavids.

There was born Baysunqur from the marriage of Yaqub Mirza and the daughter of ShirvanShah Farrukh Yahar.According to some sources, Malika Seldjuk AlemShahbeyim, Yaqub’s mother aided him in the governance of the state.

The wars happened for the throne, negatively reflected to the state. After the death of Sultan Yaqub, his 9 years old son – Sufi Baysunqur, who was born from the daughter of ShirvanShah came to the throne by the aid of his lele (tutor), Suden Khalil Mosullu. But, by the initiative of Bayandur bey, the representative of bayandur tribe, the son of Ughurlu Muhammed and the grandson of Uzun Hasan – Mahmud was put to the throne in Hamadan. Neverthless, Sufi Khalil put to the dungeon Meseh Mirza, Mahmud, another son of Rustam in the fortress of Alinca. After some time, Bijanoghlu killed Suden Khalil and Baysunqur had to escape to his grandfather, Farrukh Yasar. In May of 1492, the grandson of Uzun Hasan, Rustam Mirza was put to the throne. Amir-al-Umara Abikh-Sultan helped him during the five years of his governance. But he betrayed his ruler too. During his reign, Rustam Mirza (1492-1497) shared lots of soyurgals, which assisted to the strengthening of feudals. At that time, Rustam padiShah decided to utilize from the influence of sheikhs of the “order of Sefi” by the vehicle of Sultanali, the son of Sheikh Haydar, whom he liberated from the fortress of Istakhr in Iran together with his mother and brothers (they were put into dungeon by the order of their uncle, Sultan Yaqub). This event shaped good condition for Godek Ahmed, the son of Ughurlu Muhammed. In the last days of December of 1496, Godek Ahmed defeated the troops of Rustam Mirza near Nakhichevan, captivated him, entered to Tabriz in the beginning of 1497 and on May 3, he came to the throne of Aghqoyunlu. As he was apprehensive from Abikh Sultan (Eyba Sultan), Godek Ahmed gave him the environs of Kirman. But, dissatisfied and treacherous Abikh Sultan rose the revolt against Godek Ahmed. Due to prevent the economic weakness, Godek Ahmed abolished about 20 taxes and obligations, which were not examined by Shariat, during seven-month governance. Abikh Sultan proclaimed himself legal governor and Murad (in December of 1497) the padiShah of Aghqoyunlu in the city of Kum, began to mint coins from his name.

Alvend Mirza – the son of Murad’s uncle, Yusif also inclined to this struggle for throne tighter with Murad and Abikh Sultan. So, the Tabriz throne was replaced by eight padiShahs of Aghqoyunlu during ten years, after Sultan Yaqub’s death.

In 1499, the state of Aghqoyunlu was divided into two parts between Alvend Mirza and Murad padiShah; after two years this state compromised his place to Safavid state.

About Ismayil bey Zardabli

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