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Far East Kingdoms

Central Asia


Qara-Khitaï Empire (Samarkand)
AD 1125 - 1211/1218

The Qara-Khitaï are often shown as Qara-Khitai, without the accented 'i'. Khitans had forned a sizable minoroty group in the late seventh century Korean kingdom of Barhae.

In 997, Mahmud of Khwarazm campaigned against the Qara-Khitaï in Central Asia, but ultimately was defeated.

The Tartars became a major force during the Mongol expansion, and the name still survives today in several major communities in far Eastern Europe. They were originally the Ta-ta (Ta-tan, or Da-Dan of Chinese records) of the north-eastern Gobi desert in the fifth century, but were subjugated by the Khitans in the ninth century (who went on to form their own Qara-Khitaï empire in the twelfth century).

In the 1120s China's Liao Dynasty was ousted by the Manchurian Jurchen, which became the Jin dynasty of Tartars in China. The Liaos, or Khitans (known by the Chinese as Western Tartars), were driven west into Central Asia, where, after defeating the Seljuq Turks of Persia under the Sultan Sanjar in 1141, they founded the Qara-Khitaï empire with Samarkand as its capital.


Mahmud of Khwarazm campaigns against the Qara-Khitaï in Central Asia, but is ultimately defeated. His failure is a harbinger of problems to come where the Qara-Khitaï are concerned.


The Qara-Khitaï are ousted from China.

1124 - 1144


1144 - 1151

Kan'Tien Hou

1151 - 1163


1163 - 1178

Ch'eng-T'ien Hou

1178 - 1211



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

1205 - 1212

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

1210 - 1211

The Qara-Khitaï empire loses Transoxiana to the Khwarazm shahs, who previously held the status of vassals. The following year Mo-Chu's control of the empire is usurped by the Naimans, under Kuchlug Khan. Arab writers consider this to be the end of the Qara-Khitaï empire.

1211 - 1218

Kuchlug Khan Naiman

1217 - 1218

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

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