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Far East Kingdoms

Central Asia


Khans of the White Horde (Golden Horde / Kipchak Khanate)

Following the death of Chingiz Khan, the Mongol empire of Asia was effectively divided into four sections, or ulus (inheritances), each governed by one of the sons of Chingiz. They remained politically united under the great khan, but their existence established the basis of future independent Mongol kingdoms. Ogedei was the selected successor to Chingiz, and was officially proclaimed great khan in 1229. While he and his successors still controlled the entire empire, they largely concentrated their attention on Mongolia and China. The rest was governed by the other sons of Chingiz. The north-western section was handed to the family of the deceased Jochi (the Golden Horde, alternatively known as the Jochid ulus as they became subdivided into several inheritances), thanks to which they inherited dominion over the Alani.

It was Jochi's son, Orda Khan, who inherited the easternmost section of this ulu as the White Horde (between Lake Balkhash and the Volga), with Batu leading the western section as the Blue Horde. Chagatai Khan (the second son) inherited Mughulistan, while Tolui governed Persia. The White Horde are sometimes referred to as the Ak-Orda, which refers directly to Orda himself. To its contemporary rulers it was more usually known as the Kipchak khanate.

The Kipchaks or Qıpčaqs were one of the most important Turkic peoples of this period, and under the Mongol khans they dominated the western and central Eurasian steppe. Kipchak (or Gypjak) lies just outside Ashgabat in today's Turkmenistan. The Kipchaks appear in the various Arabo-Persian, Byzantine Greek, Latin, Slavic, Mongol, Chinese, Georgian and Armenian accounts under several names, aside from variants of Qıvčaq, Qıbčaq, and Qıpčaq. Versions can be found such as Qaŋlı (Latin Cangle - or Cangitai for their eastern branch), and Cuman (Quman for their western branch), plus a version of the latter which entered into the Slavic languages: Половци (Polovtsy).

(Information by Peter Kessler, with additional information from International Orders in the Early Modern World: Before the Rise of the West, Yongjin Zhang, Shogo Suzuki, & Joel Quirk, and from External Links: Turcology and Linguistics, Éva Ágnes Csató (with editors), text by Peter B Golden, and The Shaping of the Cuman-Qïpchaqs, Peter B Golden.)

1223 - 1226

Juchi / Jochi

Son of Great Khan Chingiz Khan. Governed Central Asia.

1226 - 1227

Jochi's legitimacy as the eldest son of Great Khan Chingiz Khan has always been open to question, as he had been born shortly after the return of his mother, Börte, from captivity by the Merkits. It is probably thanks to this (at least in part) that he is overlooked as his father's successor as great khan. Jochi dies approximately six months before his father but his family are confirmed as rulers of the Golden Horde by Chingiz Khan himself. Between them, the Blue Horde and White Horde inherit just four thousand of the original Mongol troops and have to recruit heavily from amongst the population of their captured territories, which introduces a very heavy Turkic identity into the horde.

1226 - 1251

Orda Ichen / Orda Khan

Son. Gained the White Horde as his inheritance.


Shiban is too young when his father dies to gain any territories himself, despite being one of Jochi's sub-commanders of the subsidiary White Horde. Instead, his descendants, the Shaibanids (the Grey Horde), carve out their own territory in the fifteenth century in Turkestan when they conquer Transoxiana and Southern Khorasan which is centred around Herat. Orda's elder brother, Batu, commands the Blue Horde.

The White Horde ruled the territory between Lake Balkhash and the Volga, while initially continuing to push westwards as part of the greater Golden Horde

1238 - 1242

After devastating the already-subjugated Crimea and subduing Mordovia and Kipchaks on the steppes in 1238, Batu Khan and Subedei turn their attention to Europe in 1239. The Blue Horde Mongols enter Galicia, capturing the capital and destroying the cathedral there. Both Poland and Hungary are conquered in 1241, while Orda leads the White Horde on an attack against Lithuania's southern borders. However, the death of Ogedei Khan causes the Mongols to withdraw, with Batu Khan intent on securing his conquests in the lands of the Rus.


The election of Guyuk Khan as Great Khan confirms the fears of Batu Khan, so he consolidates his territories to the north of the Caspian Sea and establishes a capital at Sarai Batu (Old Sarai). He converts his territories into a khanate (the equivalent of a kingdom) which becomes known as the Blue Horde. Batu's brothers, Orda and Shiban had also participated in his European campaign, and they now form their own khanates. Orda's khanate, located to the east of the Blue Horde, becomes known as the White Horde, while Shiban's khanate is the relatively obscure Shaibanids. Although both the Blue Horde and White Horde are in effect independent, they still acknowledge the suzerainty of the great khan.

1251 - 1280

Qun Quran

Son. No heir.

1256 - 1258

Qun Quran sends a contingent of the Golden Horde to assist Hulegu's Il-Khanate against the Abbasids in Mesopotamia. The contingent is commanded by Qun Quran's eldest brother, Kuli, and his death in uncertain circumstances in 1258 while besieging Baghdad causes some ill-feeling between the White Horde and the Il-Khanate.

1280 - 1302

Kochu / Konchi

Nephew. Son of Sartaqtay and Qujiyan of the Qongirat tribe.


With the death of Kublai Khan, the Yuan dynasty survives under his successor, but the Mongol empire effectively ceases to exist. There are no further khakhans (great khans), and command of the empire's territory is now permanently divided into four distinct and fully independent kingdoms: the Golden Horde (made up of the Blue Horde and White Horde), the Il-Khanate, Mughulistan, and Yuan China.

Kipchak mounted warrior
An illustration of a mounted Kipchack warrior, typical of the waves of westward migrants who swept in from the Kazak steppe during the eleventh and twelfth centuries, largely pushed that way by the sudden creation of the Mongol empire

1302 - 1309

Buyan / Bayan



Buyan's accession is far from universally accepted by his own relatives. Led by his cousin, Kobluk, they win support from Du'a of Mughulistan. Buyan fights them on several occasions and seeks help from Toqta of the Blue Horde as the senior khan of the Golden Horde. Toqta warns off the Chaghatayids, and supplies military help. In the end, Buyan is able to defeat his opponents and emerge victorious.

1302 - ?


Cousin and rival khan. Defeated.

1309 - 1315

Sasibuqa (?)

Son of Buyan. Executed?


Details about Sasibuqa's reign as Khan are obscure, and some scholars have even doubted his inclusion in the list of khans. It seems that he may resist the Islamicisation policy of Ozbeg Khan of the Blue Horde, and is possibly executed as a result. His successor, whose heritage is unknown, fully supports Ozbeg Khan.

c.1315 - 1320


Supported Islam.

1320 - 1344

Mubarak Khwaja

Brother. Threw off Ozbeg Khan's dominance. Deposed.


The act of declaring his independence of the dominance of Ozbeg Khan and his successor, Toni Beg, leads to the downfall of Mubarak Khwaja. Apparently it is Toni Beg who sends a force to dethrone him (before his own downfall in 1342), and install Chimtay in his place. Mubarak's fate is unclear, but he may be allowed to live on in retirement.

1344 - 1374


Son of Ilbasan.

1357 - 1359

With the assassination of Jani Beg, the political cohesion of the Golden Horde begins to disintegrate. Berdi Beg is probably behind Jani Beg's death, and his reign as khan is not universally accepted. 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.

White Horde
The White Horde found itself freed of dominance by the Golden Horde in the middle of the fourteenth century but political in-fighting destroyed any hope of real power

1372 - 1374

Urus Khan succeeds in dominating the fragmented Blue Horde for approximately two years, one of its longest periods of near-stability since the murder of Jani Beg. When Urus succeeds to the position of khan of the White Horde in 1374, the Blue Horde continues its internecine fighting once more. Urus is credited as being the direct ancestor of the later khans of Kazan.

1374 - 1376


Son? Former khan of the Blue Horde.


Urus defeats Toqtaqiya and expels him from Sabran, but dies soon afterwards. Toqtaqiya returns to claim the throne but he too dies shortly afterwards, perhaps of wounds sustained during his fight against Urus.

1376 - 1377




Temur Malik

Brother. Killed in battle against Toqtamish.

1377 - 1380

Toqtamish Khan / Toctamish

Cousin. Gained control of Blue Horde to reform the Golden Horde.


The Blue Horde is heavily defeated by the Muscovites under Demetrius Donski at the Battle of the River Vozha. Two years later the horde is defeated again by the Rus, at the Battle of Kulikovo. They begin putting together a retaliatory force but are defeated by Toqtamish Khan in a battle on the banks of the River Kalka. The horde is fully reunited with the White Horde to form a greater Golden Horde.

Khans of the Golden Horde (Kipchak Khanate)
AD 1380 - 1466

Although nominally united in the early days of the Mongol empire as the Golden Horde, the Blue Horde and White Horde were in effect independent of one another, pursuing their own separate agendas. With the collapse in leadership of the Blue Horde in 1357, it was Toqtamish Khan who reunited the two, forming a greater Golden Horde in the process. His efforts produced a resurgent Mongol presence in the region, and his defeat of the same Muscovites who had effectively destroyed the Blue Horde delayed their eventual independence by at least a generation.

Although the name 'Golden Horde' was contemporary, it was known by other names, including the 'Kipchak Khanate'. The use of 'Golden Horde' is much more frequent amongst modern scholars, whilst 'Kipchak Khanate' was the much more usual appellation for contemporary rulers.

(Information by Peter Kessler, with additional information from International Orders in the Early Modern World: Before the Rise of the West, Yongjin Zhang, Shogo Suzuki, & Joel Quirk.)

1380 - 1395

Toqtamish Khan / Toctamish

Former White Horde khan. Reunited the Golden Horde.

1380 - 1386

Now resurgent under the leadership of Toqtamish Khan, the Golden Horde defeats the Muscovites (in 1382) in retaliation for their attack against the Blue Horde. This delays their fight for independence, and Toqtamish also sets about restoring Mongol rule over all of the former Blue and White Horde lands from the Crimea to Lake Balkhash. However, an ambitious attack on the Chobanids who rule northern Persia and the disputed Caucasus region allows Timur to fill the power vacuum and found the Timurid dynasty.

Mongol dirham
Shown here are two sides of a dirham coin issued from Sarai during the reign of Toqtamish Khan, who was instrumental in reuniting the Golden Horde


The Golden Horde is beaten by Timur of Persia, allowing him to claim complete control of the Caucasus, which probably includes the Alani to its north. Moscow benefits from the disaster by asserting its independence.

The horde's capital at Sarai is sacked by Timur - along with the city of Astrakhan - while the horde itself is forced to accept vassalage and a puppet ruler in the form of Temur Qutlugh. His long-time supporter, Edigu, gains the powerful position of vizier, and during the early 1400s he re-founds the Nogai Horde as his own independent fiefdom.

1395 - 1399

Temur Qutlugh

Son of Temur Malik of the White Horde. Puppet.

1395 - ?


Lesser khan of the Blue Horde subject to Temur's authority.

1395 - 1419


Vizier. Later re-founded the Nogai Horde.


Temur Qutlugh is killed at the Battle of the River Vorskla while fighting a rebellion by the son of Toqtamish Khan. The fate of Koirichak is unknown (although his son appears as a contender for power in 1422), but the Blue Horde does not retain an independent status by this time, being governed merely as a subject division of the Golden Horde. Temur's successor remains in the shadow of the powerful Edigu.

1399 - 1407

Shadî Beg

Brother of Temur Qutlugh. Removed by Edigu for rebelling.


After the death of Timur, none of the Timurid royalty accept his choice of successor and Pir Muhammad is unable to enforce his rule in Transoxiana, splitting the empire in two. The western portion is ruled by Shah Rukh from Herat in Southern Khorasan, and his wife, Goharshad moves the capital there from Samarkand. The eastern portion of Transoxiana is ruled from Samarkand. The confusion also acts as a prompt for the Ottomans to re-invade Greater Armenia and annexe it to their own empire while the subservient Golden Horde fractures into separate states. The waning power of the khans leads the state into decline and records from this point become increasingly patchy.

Map of the Timurid empire AD 1400
Timur effectively recreated the ancient Persian empire through his various conquests over the course of almost forty years, subduing many competing clans and khanates that would begin competing again after his death (click or tap on map to view full sized)

1407 - 1410

Pulad Khan

Brother. Dethroned.

1410 - 1411

Temur Khan

Son of Temur Qutlugh.


Jalal ad Din, son of the powerful Toqtamish Khan who had reunified the Golden Horde, has been in exile for some years. Fighting alongside the Lithuanians, he has taken part in the Battle of Tannenberg to defeat the Teutonic Knights and it is with Lithuanian support that he is able to overthrow Temur Khan. Unfortunately, after a brief reign in which he writes a history of the Mongol empire, he is murdered by his brother, Karim Berdi.

1411 - 1412

Jalal ad Din

Son of Toqtamish. Known as 'The Green Sultan'.

1412 - 1417

The untimely death of Jalal ad Din and the seizure by his murderous brother of the throne triggers some years of violent dispute, not only amongst the many sons of Toqtamish Khan but also against the power-hungry Edigu, who has his own puppet contenders for the throne.

1412 - 1414

Karim Berdi



Kebek Khan


1414 - 1417

Chokra Khan

Son of Akmyl. Supported by Edigu.

1417 - 1419

Yeremferden / Jabbar Berdi Khan

Brother of Kebek Khan. Brought relative peace to the horde.


Yeremferden's death sees the horde divided over its next ruler. Ulugh Muhammad claims power, but this is contested by the son of Yeremferden, Dawlat Berdi (and by several other would-be khans). Ulugh initially controls Sarai and is therefore seen more as the legitimate contender, but he is captured by Dawlat in 1422 and imprisoned for two years.

1419 - 1422

Ulugh Muhammad / Olug Moxammat

Nephew. Disputed claimant for the khanate. Exiled.

1419 - 1422

Dawlat Berdi / Devlet

Son of Yeremferden. Rival for the khanate. Exiled.


Dervish Khan

Rival, supported by Edigu.


Qadeer Berdi

Son of Toqtamish. Rival.


Hajji Muhammad Khan

Son of Oghlan Ali. Rival, supported by Edigu.


Both the imprisoned Ulugh Muhammad and the successful Dawlat Berdi are defeated and driven out by yet another claimant, Baraq. The only positive result is that the horde is reunited under one ruler, although peace is far from restored. (It is his son, Janybeg Khan, who goes on to found the Kazakh khanate in 1465.)

1422 - 1427

Baraq Khan

Son of Koirichak. Assassinated.


Following the assassination of Baraq, Dawlat Berdi establishes a base in the Crimea, which he is able to defend even against an attempted invasion by Ulugh Muhammad in 1430. This defeat is claimed as the reason for the otherwise mysterious death of Vytautas the Great of Lithuania in his role as Ulugh's main supporter. However, despite the best attempts by Dawlat, he is never entirely able to defeat Hajji Giray, a powerful local khan in the Crimea who goes onto establish his own independence as the first khan of the Crimea.


Dawlat Berdi / Devlet

Restored. Reduced to the Crimea only. Assassinated.

1427 - 1437

Ulugh Muhammad / Olug Moxammat

Restored, and ruled at Sarai initially. Founded Kazan khanate.

c.1433 - 1435

Sayyid Ahmad (I)

Descendant of Temur Malik. Rival, supported by the Lithuanians.

c.1435 - 1459

Kuchuk Muhammad

Rival. Gained control of the Golden Horde.


Facing pressure from his various opponents, Ulugh Muhammad loses control of the khanate and heads east, where he captures Kazan and founds the Kazan khanate as a splinter state of the disintegrating Golden Horde. This re-uses territory which had previously formed the heartland of Volga Bulgaria.

Kazan khanate and Ivan IV
The short-lived Kazan khanate was conquered by the resurgent Rus under the leadership of Ivan IV just over a century after Ulugh Muhammad had founded it


The constant efforts of Hajji Giray to gain either dominance in the horde or independence from it finally bear fruit. He is able to form the khanate of the Crimea as a splinter state of the disintegrating Golden Horde.


The Byzantine capital at Constantinople is finally captured by Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II, bringing to an end the last vestiges of the Roman empire and making Greece an Ottoman province. The loss is viewed as a disaster for the Christian world, but it also completely realigns the balance of power amongst the Turkic tribes and kingdoms to the east and north.

Hajji Giray of the Crimean khanate moves quickly to establish a military alliance with Sultan Mehmed, someone he sees as a potential partner in his wars against the Golden Horde. The first instance of Crimean Tatars and the Ottoman military cooperating occurs only a year later, when Giray Khan sends seven thousand troops to assist in Mehmed's siege of the Genoese colony of Kaffa, which is situated on the southern Crimean coast. Although it is ultimately unsuccessful, the expedition sets a precedent for future Ottoman-Tatar cooperation.

1459 - 1465

Mahmud Astrakhani

Son. Formed the Astrakhan khanate in 1465.


Mahmud may be the recognised khan, but he faces years of rivalry and contention for the throne from Ahmad, his own brother. In 1465, he gives up the fruitless conflict and forms his own independent power base carved out of territory belonging to the Golden Horde. Located along the north-western shore of the Caspian Sea, it is known as the Astrakhan khanate.

c.1465 - 1466

Ahmad / Akhmat Khan

Brother. Last khan, surviving with just the Great Horde.

1465 - 1466

With the success of Ahmad in gaining power, the Kazakh khanate is formed by Jaybeg Khan, son of Baraq Khan, and the following year the Astrakhan khanate is also formed as a splinter state of the disintegrating Golden Horde. With Hajji Giray of the Crimean khanate also dead in 1466, the Golden Horde's remnants become known as the Great Horde.

Khans of the Great Horde
AD 1466 - 1502

The Golden Horde suffered greatly from internal dissent and fragmentation during the fifteenth century. When the Kazakh khanate and Astrakhan khanate were created in 1465 and 1466 respectively, it sounded the death knell for the once-powerful horde. Its diminished remnant became the Great Horde, clinging to its steppe-living existence between the Dnieper and the Yaik (roughly on the border between modern Russia and Kazakhstan). The capital was at Sarai, and the diminished horde continued to claim continuity from and the authority of the Golden Horde. By the 1470s, their lack of military power to back up that claim was evident, with the Nogais to the north of the Caspian Sea especially aggressive in their hostility towards the horde. With this threat lying to their east and the growing power of Poland to the west, the horde's days were numbered.

(Additional information from An Introduction to the History of the Turkic Peoples, Peter B Golden (1992), from the Encyclopaedia Britannica: Or, A Dictionary of Arts, Sciences, and Miscellaneous Literature, Enlarged and Improved, Volume 3, from The Encyclopaedia of Islam (New Edition), C E Bosworth, E van Donzel, B Lewis, & Ch Pellat (Eds), and from External Links: Encyclopaedia.com, and World of Royalty.)

1466 - 1481

Ahmad / Akhmat Khan

Last khan of the Golden Horde. Killed by the Siberian khan.


Following the death of the powerful Abu'l-Khayr Khan of the Shaibanids, khan of Sibir, the clan appears to divide and struggle for control and supremacy there. This serious factional split witnesses a westwards migration towards Transoxiana of one group - under Shah Budagh of the Shaibanids - where it adopts the name Uzbek (Özbeg) after its famous former Blue Horde ruler, Uzbeg Khan (1313-1341). The rise of another powerful leader from their ranks, Mohammed Shaibani, towards the end of the century witnesses the growing strength of these Shaibanid Uzbeks. The faction that remains behind in Siberia now dominates the khanate of Sibir.


In alliance with the khans of the Crimea, Ivan III refuses tribute to the Great Horde. The horde, now allied to Lithuania, attempts an invasion of Moscow's territory but this fails. The independence of Moscow is confirmed.

Ivan III tears up the Mongol demand for tribute
Ivan III of Moscow tears up the Mongol demand for tribute in front of his own court and the Mongol messengers, ending once and for all Mongol dominance over the Rus


Ahmad Khan is killed by the Nogais. His son, Shaykh Ahmad, succeeds him, but dissention by other sons of Ahmad Kahn causes conflict within the Great Horde which weakens it.

1481 - 1498

Shaykh Ahmad / Shaikh 'Ali (II)


1481 - 1499

Murtada Khan / Mortaza Beg

Rival. Ultimately successful, briefly.


The Crimean khanate apparently seizes all of the Great Horde's horses, and encourages Moscow to deliver the death blow as a result. Both Moscow and the Ottomans dispatch forces which include Russian cavalry, Tartars, and Janissaries. This causes part of the horde to secede in November 1491 which goes on to form the Sibir khanate, while the remainder is routed by its enemies. Murtada Khan may be weakened by this but he clings on to power for a further eight years (and his son, Aq Köbek, goes on to seize the Astrakhan khanate in 1532).

1499 - 1502

Shaykh Ahmad


1500 - 1501

The Great Horde is defeated by the Kabardinians and is in a poor condition by this stage. Harried from pillar to post it is now reported to be located near the Kuban region on the north-east coast of the Black Sea. By 1501 Shaykh Ahmad Khan has led the horde to the northern side of the River Don. By now they number approximately 20,000, but this number is falling constantly as people drop out of the group as it migrates.

Map of the Tartar Khanates AD 1500
The Mongol empire created by Chingiz Khan gradually broke up over the course of three hundred years until, by around AD 1500, it had fragmented into several more-or-less stable khanates which each vied with the others for power and influence, while having to fend off the growing power of the Ottoman empire to the south and Moscow Sate (Muscovy) to the north - in the end it was an unwinnable fight (click or tap on map to view full sized)


Much of the Great Horde's people and horses are captured by the khan of the Crimea and forcibly relocated to the Crimea itself, while Shaykh Ahmad flees with about 4,000 horsemen. It is not clear whether this is a repetition of the events of 1491 or a separate event. While Shaykh Ahmad attempts to come to amicable terms with first Moscow and then khan of Astrakhan, the Nogais kick him out in 1504. Ahmad is forced to flee again, trying negotiation with Poland and then with the Ottomans at the former Genoese fortress of Mauro Castro (later Akkerman, and at Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyi on the Black Sea coast near Odesa in what is now Ukraine). He apparently ends his days as a prisoner of the Lithuanians in Vilnius. By then the Great Horde is but a memory. However, his son Qasim succeeds as ruler of the Astrakhan khanate in 1504, and the Mongol heartland continues to survive farther east as the Northern Yuan.

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