History Files
 

 

Far East Kingdoms

Central Asia

 

 

 

Khorasan / Khwarazm (Transoxiana / Sogdia / Sogdiana)

An ancient region, this was the home to one of the oldest series of states in Central Asia and was situated in and around the river basin of the lower Amu Darya where it empties into the Aral Sea, and north-eastern Persia. Its territory varied greatly depending on who was ruling it, but at its height it stretched into most of Afghanistan, eastern Persia, central Turkmenistan and southern Kyrgyzstan, plus central and southern Uzbekistan and all of Tajikistan (which together made up ancient Transoxiana). The name now belongs to a province in modern Iran and a region in north-western Uzbekistan.

Transoxiana, the crossroads between Central Asia, South Asia, and the Middle East, was located around the southern coast of the Aral Sea, and in the cities of Bukhara and Samarkand. The earliest known rulers in the region, when it was known as Sogdia or Sogdiana, to differentiate it from the neighbouring Bactria, are placed in the 600s BC, shortly before the warlike tribe of the Massagetae were recorded as bordering the area to the north in 530 BC. Then it was conquered by the Persians, and for the most part remained governed by them until the tenth century AD.

c.2200 - 1700 BC

A Bronze Age culture emerges in Central Asia between modern Turkmenistan and down towards the Oxus, the somewhat nebulous region known as Transoxiana. It is known as the Bactria-Margiana Archaeological Complex, or Oxus Civilisation, and is peopled by Indo-European tribes.

Climate change from around 2000 BC onwards greatly affects this civilisation, denuding it of water as the rains decline. The people are forced to migrate southwards, with some groups penetrating into central Anatolia as the Hittites, who conquer the indigenous peoples over the course of a century, and the Kaskans. Other groups cross the Afghan rivers and the Hindu Kush mountains and enter India between 1700-1500 BC.

7th cent BC

Sijavus / Siyavash

Son of Kai Kavoos of Persia, and son-in-law of Afrasiab.

Sijavus is a legendary Persian prince and the son-in-law of the mythical Afrasiab, the hero and king of Turan. Turan is the ancient Iranian name for Central Asia, 'land of the Tur', which is inhabited by Iranian peoples. Due to the treachery of his stepmother, Sudabeh, Sijavus exiles himself to Turan. There, he marries Farangis, the daughter of Afrasiab, but the king later orders Sijavus to be killed. His death is avenged by his son, who inherits the early Persian throne.

c.550 - 330 BC

The heartland of the region (known as Sogdia) is drawn into Cyrus the Great's Persian empire. It is also named Huvarazmish in Persian inscriptions. In 330 BC it becomes part of the Greek empire.

323 - 321? BC

Philip / Philippus

Greek satrap of Khorasan / Bactria & Sogdiana.

321 - 312 BC

Stasanor the Solian

Greek satrap of Indo-Greek territory & Khorasan (316 BC).

316 - 312 BC

Sogdiana is governed by the Argead satrap, Stasanor the Solian, for the Greek empire.

312 - c.140 BC

During the break-up of the empire, it appears that parts of the area become independent, but much of it falls to the kings of Bactria.

140 BC

After Bactria's destruction, the region is later inhabited by Zoroastrian Indians who use Aramaic script. Sogdiana is for the most part independent.

AD 552

The Western Kaghans expand their dominion towards Sogdiana and right up to the borders of the Islamic Emirate of Khorasan.

651 - 821

The region is absorbed into the Islamic empire as it takes Persia. Governors, or emirs, are appointed to control Islamic Emirate of Khorasan in the name of the caliph.

821 - 873

The Tahrid emirs are established in Khorasan, which includes northern and western Afghanistan up to the borders of the kingdom of Zabulistan, when the region is granted to them by the Abbasid caliph, al-Mamun.

873 - 900

The Tahrids are ousted as emirs of Khorasan by the Saffarids, but in 900 they are defeated by the Transoxianan Samanids and reduced in territory to Seistan in Persia, where they remain Samanid vassals. The Samanids install their own governors in Khorasan.

994

The Samanid ruler faces internal uprisings, and the Ghaznavid ruler goes to his assistance. The rebels are defeated at Balkh and then Nishapur, and Sebuktigin of Ghazni is granted the title 'Nasir ud-Din' ('Hero of the Faith'), while his son, Mahmud, is made governor of Khorasan.

994 - 998

Yamin-ud-Dawlah Mahmud

Governor. Son of Sebuktigin of Ghazni. King of Ghazni (998-1030).

995

The previous ruling Banu Iraq dynasty is overthrown in a coup. Areas of Khorasan are united under the emirs of North Khwarazm, who gain a level of autonomy from the weak Persian Buwayids.

997

Mahmud campaigns against the Qara-Khitai in Central Asia, but is ultimately defeated. The following year he lays successful claim to the Ghaznavid throne itself.

Emirs of North Khwarazm / Khorezm / Khorasan
AD 995 - 1390s?

Always under the influence of Persia, if not its direct control, Khwarazm was initially centred on ancient Samarkand and Bukhara. At its height, it extended to encompass almost all of modern Iran (except the western border area), eastern Azerbaijan, western Afghanistan, all of Turkmenistan, most of Uzbekistan, western Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, and the southern areas of Kazakhstan.

The emirs (and later, shahs) had their capital at Urgench (pronounced oorgyench), now Kunya-Urgench, the capital of Uzbekistan. The city became a major seat of Arabic learning and a centre of agriculture and trade, but it was destroyed by the Mongols in the early thirteenth century, partially rebuilt, and then abandoned in the sixteenth century, following the Uzbek conquest of the region.

1017 - 1040

Khwarazm is conquered by the Ghaznavids after the emir is killed in a rebellion, but it is unclear if the entire emirate is subjugated. In 1040 the Ghaznavids are defeated by Seljuq Turks at Dandanqan, and lose their western territories, including Khwarazm.

1098 - 1128

Qutb al-Din Muhammed

1128 - 1156

Ala al-Din Aziz / Shah Atsyz

Rebelled against the Seljuqs. Defeated & returned to vassal status.

1156 - 1172

Taj al-Dunya Arslan

1172 - 1193

Jalal al-Dunya Sultanshah

1193 - 1200

Ala al-Din Tekish / Tukush / Tekesh

Former Seljuq slave appointed governor of Khwarazm.

1194

The emirate gains independence from the Persian Seljuq Turks by overthrowing them and occupying much of the rest of Khorasan.

1200 - 1220

Ala ad Deen Muhammed (ibn Tekesh)

Son. Died a fugitive following the fall of Samarkand.

1205 - 1212

Khwarazm rapidly expands its rule. In 1210 it takes Samarkand from the Qara-Khitai and this becomes the capital. By 1212 it rules from the Caspian Sea to Bukhara and Samarkand, eliminating the Qara Khitai and controlling all of modern Iran and, by 1213, Ghurid Afghanistan too.

1218

Tiring of the Chinese campaign, Mongol Great Khan Chingiz sends his general, Chepe, westwards to overthrow the empire of the Qara-Khita and annexe its territory. This defeat also opens the way towards Mongol interaction with Khwarazm and Persia.

1220 - 1221

After the shah decapitates the Mongol ambassador from Chingiz Khan, the emirate is attacked twice by Chingiz Khan and the Golden Horde, along with Ghurid Afghanistan. Khwarazm is reduced to its western section covering northern Mesopotamia and western Persia. Bokhara and then Samarkand are captured by the Mongols and chaos results, with thousands being massacred or sold into slavery. Ala ad Deen flees west and dies a fugitive.

1220 - 1231

Jalal al-Din Mingburnu

Son.

1221

The rise of Jalal al-Din Mingburnu poses a challenge for the Mongols. The two sides come together at the Battle of the Indus and Jalal ad-Din is defeated. Khwarazm is occupied between Samarkand and the Indus, and Persia also falls. Jalal al-Din Mingburnu is an exile for a time, but returns to reclaim a reduced Khwarazm which is based around northern Mesopotamia, western Persia, and the lower Caucuses, and is centred on modern Azerbaijan.

1231

The reduced shahdom has been flourishing for a decade since losing its eastern territory, and has even conquered Georgia and Azerbaijan, but now it is completely overrun by a renewed Mongol invasion. Control of the shahdom is inherited by the Il-Khans in Persia while Transoxiana passes to the Chaghatayids. Elements of forces from Khwarazm migrate to Syria where they engage in the battles against the Crusaders in Jerusalem, but also in politics against the Ayyubids In Damascus and Egypt.

1244 - 1245

Chagatai's death leaves the Chaghatayids weakened, and dominated by the Mongol great khans. They appoint Chaghatayid khans as they please. Although Transoxiana is considered part of the khanate's territories, the governors of the cities there are appointed directly by the great khan. This subservience to Karakorum lasts until the accession of Alughu.

In the same year, 1244, the forces of Khwarazm sack Christian Jerusalem, and Sultan as Salih II Ayyub of Egypt allies himself with the former emirate against Ismail of Damascus. At the Battle of La Forbie, they defeat Ismail and Ayyub is able to reclaim the sultanate for himself. The following year, Ayyub defeats Khwarazm itself for failing to recognise him as its overlord.

1260 - 1264

The Mongol empire is engulfed in two simultaneous civil wars: Hulegu of the Il-Khanate and Berke of the Blue Horde in the west, and Kublai and Ariq-Boke in the east. Both Kublai and Ariq-Boke are elected great khan in 1260 at two separate 'khuriltai', with Kublai basing himself in China and Ariq-Boke at Karakorum. When Kublai is victorious in 1264, he retains China as his main base, implying (or perhaps establishing) it as the most important Mongol possession.

1262

After several battles between Alughu of the Chaghatayids, who has sided with Kublai Khan, and Orqina and one Masud Beg, who are fighting on the side of Ariq-Boke, the latter arranges peace negotiations between the two sides. Alughu then takes advantage of the unstable situation by revolting against Ariq-Boke's rule of the west and gaining the allegiance of the governors of Transoxiana. He also ends up marrying Orqina, and Masud Beg is appointed viceroy of Central Asia, probably with a seat in Transoxiana as the very governor that Alughu needs to support him.

1262 - ?

Masud Beg

Viceroy of Central Asia for the Chaghatayids.

1267 - 1268/69

Khan Baraq repudiates the overlordship of Kublai Khan and ravages Khotan. The size of his standing army makes a military intervention by Kublai impossible, so in 1268 he secures a peaceful agreement with Baraq so that the problem presented by Kaidu can be faced. That problem advances on Baraq, but the Chaghatayid khan sets a trap that inflicts defeat on Kaidu's forces on the banks of the Jaxartes. A second battle near Khujand sees Kaidu the victor while he is allied with Mengu-Timur of the Blue Horde. He is then able to ravage Transoxiana, and Baraq flees first to Samarkand and then Bukhara, plundering cities along the way as he rebuilds his forces.

An alarmed Kaidu agrees a temporary truce between the two, in 1269 (although 1267 is proposed as an alternate date). Baraq retains control of two-thirds of Transoxiana while Kaidu and Mengu-Timur control the rest as the sometimes fragile peace continues. Baraq dies in 1271 following an ill-fated attack on the Il-Khanate, and Kaidu adopts a dominant position over the Chaghatayids, appointing his own puppet khans for the rest of his life.

1334

Tarmashirin is deposed. Taking flight, he is killed by princes of the eastern Chaghatayids while near Samarkand. The khanate becomes increasingly unstable under his successors.

1346

Qazan is killed by Qazaghan, a tribal chieftain. His death marks the end of effective Chaghatayid control of Transoxiana. Instead local Turko-Mongol tribes tribes rise to prominence and establish a loose coalition of power under the dominance of Qazaghan. His control of the region is given a semblance of legitimacy when he raises Danishmendji, a member of the Mongol nobility, to the figurehead throne. Jani Beg of the Blue Horde takes the opportunity to achieve dominance over the Chaghatayids.

1346 - 1358

Qazaghan

Ruler of the Qara'unas. Assassinated.

1357 - 1359

With the assassination of Jani Beg, the political cohesion of the Golden Horde begins to disintegrate. The khanate goes from being able to claim titular dominance over the three ulus (Blue Horde, White Horde, and Chaghatayids) and actual dominance over the Rus to internecine warfare and the possibility of complete dissolution. Under the dominance of the Qara'unas in Transoxiana the Chaghatayids throw out his administrators to reassert 'their' independence.

1358 - c.1359

'Abdullah

Son. Deposed and forced to flee. Died soon after.

c.1359

'Abdullah retains Samarkand as his capital, but the local Barlas and Suldus tribes are vehemently opposed to this Qara'unas presence. The leaders of these tribes, Hajji Beg and Buyan Suldus, revolt and drive out 'Abdullah. He dies in his own tribal lands soon afterwards. Buyan Suldus is installed as the amir of the ulus, giving him effective control over the Chaghatayids.

c.1359 - 1362

Buyan Suldus

Ruler of the Suldus. Executed by Tughlugh Temur.

1363 - 1370

Tughlugh Temur's attempts to quell the tribes of Transoxiana are eventually unsuccessful, despite two invasions of the region. His death ends Chaghatayid hopes of restoring control of western Mughulistan. Instead, two tribal leaders, Amir Husayn and Tmr-i Lang contest for control of Transoxiana. The latter is ultimately successful, taking Transoxiana and Khorasan in the name of the Chaghatayids, but effectively forming his own Timurid khanate. Samarkand falls in 1366, Balikh in 1369, and Timur is recognised as the region's ruler in 1370. He places a figurehead Mongol on the throne to legitimise his rule while he governs from behind the throne as amir.

Timurid Transoxiana (in Samarkand)
AD 1363 - 1500

From 1363, Timur began to conquer large areas of Transoxiana and Khorasan, supposedly in the name of the Chaghatayid khans of Mughulistan. Samarkand fell in 1366, and Herat (in the west of modern Afghanistan) by 1381. Timur was recognised as the region's ruler in 1370, by which time he had placed a puppet Mongol as the ruler of western Mughulistan. Notably, this puppet was a member of the gedeids (descendants of the former great khan), not the Chaghatayids. From 1380, Timur extended his new-found empire by taking southern and western Persia. He entered Persia proper in 1382 and an ambitious attack on the Chobanids and the disputed Caucuses region by the Golden Horde allowed Timur to fill the power vacuum and found the Timurid dynasty.

In 1405, the Timurid empire split in two, with the western, Persian, portion being ruled from Herat in southern Khorasan while the eastern portion was governed from Samarkand (technically also in what was known as Greater Khorasan, but the regional name of Transoxiana is usually used to distinguish the two Timurid divisions).

1364 - 1370

Khabul Shah

Chaghatayid puppet for the western khanate.

1370 - 1384

Soyurghatmsh Khan / Suurgatmish

Son of Danishmendji of the Chaghatayids. Puppet khan.

1384 - 1402

Sultan Mahmud

Son. Chaghatayid puppet khan.

1390s

Khwarazm and its vast irrigation system is destroyed by Timur.

1402

The death of Sultan Mahmud in Transoxiana marks the end of the puppet Chaghatayid khans here. In Mughulistan, khans continue to be appointed, perhaps dominated by the Timurids. Many of them are entirely unknown, although one of them, Satuk Khan, attempts to establish the independence of Mughulistan, without success. The Chaghatayids survive as a minor state until they are annexed by the Chinese Ching dynasty in the eighteenth century.

1405

After Timur's death, none of the Timurid royalty accepts his successor. Timur's viceroy in Farghana asserts his own independence and rules from Samarkand as if he is the new ruler of the empire. Technically, this half of the empire is also known as Greater Khorasan, but the regional name of Transoxiana is usually used to distinguish the two Timurid divisions.

1405 - 1409

Khalil Sultan

In Transoxiana. Former viceroy of Farghana. Died 1411.

1409

Unpopular with the people and only supported by his father and brother in Azerbaijan, Khalil Sultan's reign ends when Shah Rukh enters the city on 13 May. Shah Rukh gives Transoxiana and Khorasan to his son as viceroy while he rules the reunited Timurid empire from Herat. Khalil Sultan is given governorship of Ray, where he dies in 1411.

1409 - 1449

Ulugh Beg

Son of Shah Rukh. Viceroy, and Timurid ruler (1447-1449).

1449

Ulugh Beg's death at the hands of his son, Abd al Latf, leaves a power vacuum which is filled in central Persia by Sultan Muhammad, while Abd al Latf rules in Samarkand, now one of three Timurid claimants to overall control (the third being in Herat in southern Khorasan).

1449 - 1450

Abd al Latf

Son. In Transoxiana.

1450 - 1451

Abdallah / Abdullah

Son of Ibrahim of southern Khorasan. In Transoxiana. Executed.

1450 - 1451

Abu Sa'id, nephew of Ulugh Beg, is one of the claimants for the Timurid crown, along with Abdallah, who seizes Samarkand in 1450. After failures in Samarkand and Bukhara, Abu Sa'id conquers much of Shaibanid Turkestan in 1450, and in June 1451 takes Samarkand with the aid of the Shaibanid Uzbeks.

1451 - 1469

Sultan Abu Sa'id Gurgan

In Transoxiana & Khorasan (and later in Persia too). Executed.

1454

Babur Ibn-Baysunkur invades Transoxiana from Khorasan in retaliation for Abu Sa'id's seizure of Balkh (now in northern Afghanistan). The two Timurid rulers agree a border on the River Oxus, which remains in force for the remainder of Babur's lifetime.

1457

Abu Sa'id has Queen Goharshad, the power behind the Timurid throne, executed on 19 July.

1457 - 1459

While southern Khorasan is locked in a power struggle, Abu Sa'id invades. Balkh is occupied but he is unable to take Herat until a Black Sheep invasion defeats the ruler, Ibrahim and then withdraws. Khorasan is taken by Abu Sa'ad, reuniting the remaining Timurid provinces. An attempt by Ibrahim to unite with another Timurid prince, Sultan Sanjar is defeated at the Battle of Sarakhs in March 1459. Sanjar is executed. Ibrahim dies in 1460, and 'Ala' al-Daula dies in 1461, ending all opposition to a sole Timurid ruler in Transoxiana.

1461

Abu Sa'id completes his conquest of much of Khorasan and eastern Iran, agreeing with the Black Sheep emir, Jahan Shah, to divide Iran between the two of them.

1467 - 1469

Following the death of the Black Sheep emir at the hands of the White Sheep emir, his son is supported by Abu Sa'id. However, in 1468, the Black Sheep emirate is conquered, and the following year Abu Sa'id is captured in the Azerbaijan mountains on campaign against the White Sheep emirate, and is subsequently executed. The Timurid rule of Transoxiana and Khorasan again fractures. A weakened Transoxiana is now watched over with interest by the growing power of the Shaibanid Uzbeks to the north, especially as it is now sub-divided into Samarkand, Badakshan, and Farghana by Abu Sa'id's sons.

1469 - 1494

Sultan Ahmad

In Transoxiana.

1494 - 1495

Sultan Mahmud

Brother. In Transoxiana.

1495 - 1500

Sultan Baysonqur / Baysunqr

In Transoxiana.

1495 - 1500

Masud

In Transoxiana.

1495 - 1500

Sultan Ali Murza / Mirza

In Farghana.

1494

Far to the east of Khorasan, the Bengal sultan, Shamsuddin Muzaffar Shah, is assassinated by his wazzir, Alauddin Husain Shah, the son of the Afghan Sharif of Makka in Khorasan. Husain is subsequently elected shah by the leading nobles.

1495 - 1504

Babur

Son. In Farghana (Uzbekistan). Expelled by Shaibanid conquest.

1500 - 1507

The Timurids are overthrown by the Shaibanids, who conquer Transoxiana and now threaten Khorasan. The remnants of Khwarazm become an independent Muslim Uzbek state, known as the khanate of Khiva. The Timurid prince, Babur of Farghana makes many attempts to recapture Samarkand from Khorasan, without success.

1511

Following the death of the Shaibanid ruler, Babur is able to recapture Samarkand with Safavid Persian help from his base in Kabul, but is unable to retain it. The Shaibanids re-conquer the city just eight months later.

Khanate of Khiva
c.AD 1511 - 1924

An independent Uzbek state, the capital was at Khiva. Originally an evolution of Khwarazm, by the mid-sixteenth century it was entirely Muslim Uzbek. It flourished in the early nineteenth century until Russian ambitions ended its independence.

1598

From this point, Khiva gradually takes over the former zbeg empire in Samarkand.

1750

Southern Khorasan is officially renamed Afghanistan by the Durrani dynasty.

1865

Russia takes Bukhara, Tashkent, and Samarkand (all of which go into forming Uzbekistan in 1924).

1873 - 1878

Khiva is conquered by Russia. The khans continue to rule under Russian 'protection'.

1878

Russia annexes the khanate.

1920 - 1924

Under the imposition of communism in Russia, the territory now comprises the Kwarazem / Khorezm Soviet People's Republic.

1924

Khiva is divided between the Uzbek SSR and Turkmen SSR.

Modern Turkmenistan
AD 1924 - Present Day

Modern Turkmenistan is made up mainly of desert, and has the smallest population of the five Central Asian ex-Soviet republics. Its western border lies on the Caspian Sea. To the north it almost reaches the Aral Sea and is mainly bordered by Uzbekistan, while Iran and Afghanistan fill its southern and south-eastern borders.

The Black Desert region, or Karakum, was home for a while to Indo-European tribes from further north in Central Asia in the third millennium BC. Living here in vast mud-brick fortress citadels, herding cattle, and worshiping fire in rituals controlled by an early form of Brahmin, they also domesticated and worshipped the horse. They were forced southwards by climate change between about 2000-1500 BC, and re-emerged in India as the Aryans who created the first documented states there.

Eastern Turkmenistan once formed part of the Persian satrapy of Bactria, which was invaded by Alexander the Great's Greek empire, and which became independent in 256 BC. Following that the region was occupied by Indo-Scythians and Tocharians, and was controlled by the Kushans and then the Persian Sassanids. From the end of the tenth century AD it was part of the emirate of Khwarazm, before being divided between the Mongol Il-Khanate and Mughulistan. Timurid Transoxiana claimed it next, and then it formed part of the region of Turkestan which was ruled by the Shaibanid empire in the sixteenth century.

1924

The Soviet-controlled Turkmen SSR is formed by dividing the former khanate of Khiva.

1991

Turkmen SSR achieves independence as the Soviet empire collapses.

Modern Uzbekistan
AD 1924 - Present Day

Positioned on the ancient Silk Road between Europe and Asia, majestic cities such as Bukhara and Samarkand, famed for their architectural opulence, once flourished here as trade and cultural centres. With its capital at Kunya-Urgench, modern Uzbekistan is the most populous Central Asian state with the largest armed forces. Kazakhstan lies to the north, Turkmenistan is to the south, and Tajikistan and Afghanistan lie to the east and south-east.

Southern Uzbekistan once formed part of the Persian satrapy of Bactria, which was invaded by Alexander the Great's Greek empire, and which became independent in 256 BC. Following that the region was occupied by Indo-Scythians and Tocharians, and was controlled by the Kushans and then the Persian Sassanids. From the end of the tenth century AD it was part of the emirate of Khwarazm, before being divided between the Mongol Il-Khanate and Mughulistan. Timurid Transoxiana claimed it next, and then it formed part of the region of Turkestan which was ruled by the Shaibanid empire in the sixteenth century.

1924

The Soviet-controlled Uzbek SSR is formed by dividing the former khanate of Khiva and incorporating the emirate of Bukhara.

1991

Uzbek SSR achieves independence as the Soviet empire collapses.