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Far East Kingdoms

Central Asia


Khans of the Grey Horde (Shaibanid Empire)
AD 1500 - 1534

The Shaibanids were Özbegs (Uzbeks or Uzbegs), a Turkic tribal people whose Mongol leaders were descended from Shiban, son of Jochi Khan of the Golden Horde. By the fifteenth century, they lived in the vast Central Asia region known as Turkestan, which covered eastern Scythia, Transoxiana, and Greater Khorasan. Today the heartland of this region is formed by Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.

For the most part, during the first two hundred years of the Grey Horde's existence under Shiban and his descendants it lived quietly in Siberia, dominated by the more powerful White Horde and Blue Horde. In 1380 the two hordes were reunited as a fresh Golden Horde, but by the mid-fifteenth century this was weak and fracturing, and its authority was increasingly being dismissed.

Amidst this fracturing, the Shaibanid (or Shaybanid) Uzbeks came to prominence in 1450. Mohammed Shaibani was the grandson of their then-current leader. He aided the Timurid prince, Abu Sa'id, to capture Samarkand and the Timurid crown.

Following the further fracturing of Timurid territories in 1469, the Shaibanids became more and more of a threat themselves. Just half a century after aiding the Timurids, Mohammed Shaibani overthrew the last of them, taking Samarkand in 1501 and Ferghana in 1505.

Another branch of the clan captured Transoxianan Khwarazm in 1511. The latter region included a small Timurid principality whose heir, Babur, was forced to move to Kabul and then India, where he founded the Moghul empire.

Under Mohammed Shaibani, Shaibanid territory quickly included various established populations, some long-established. It gradually absorbed them to create three ethnic layers to the later Uzbek population. This included the pre-Shaibanid Turkic tribes which remained within Shaibanid territory, having migrated there between the eleventh to fifteenth centuries (these tribes included Turks specifically to cover arrivals up to the thirteenth century, and Chagatais specifically to include Mongol tribes which had arrived as part of the Chaghatayid khanate of the thirteenth to fourteenth centuries).

It also included the surviving urban populations, especially those of the Ferghana, Khorezm, and Angren valleys. The people here had been established for millennia, largely being formed of a blend of Indo-Iranians and the earlier native stock which they had absorbed in the late second millennium BC and throughout the first millennium.

In the eighth to tenth centuries AD they had been Islamicised and, certainly before the twentieth century, most were bilingual, speaking Iranian and Turkic. The Shaibanids themselves converted to Islam in 1282.

The Central Asian steppe

(Information by Peter Kessler, with additional information from the Encyclopaedia Britannica, from History of the Mongols: From the 9th to the 19th Century, Henry H Howarth (1880), from A History of Inner Asia, Svat Soucek (2000), from Mannerheim, Stig Axel Fridolf Jägerskiöld, from The Russian Conquest of the Bukharan Emirate: Military and Diplomatic Aspects, A Malikov (Central Asian Survey, Volume 33, Issue 2, 2014), and from External Link: History of Khiva.)

1227 - ?

Shiban / Shayban / Shaibani / Xiban

Son of Jochi of the Golden Horde. Founder of the Shaibanids.


Shiban is too young when his father dies to gain any territories himself, despite being one of Juchi's sub-commanders of the White Horde. Instead, his descendants, the Uzbek Shaibanids, carve out their own territory in the fifteenth century in Turkestan when they conquer Transoxiana and Southern Khorasan which is centred around Herat. Until then they remain in Siberia where they gradually fracture into separate groups.

River Ob, Siberia
The River Ob in Siberia generally marked the eastern border of the later khanate of Sibir which was formed out of this Mongol territory, while the Shaibanids migrated southwards to found a khanate of their own


The election of Guyuk Khan as Great Khan confirms Batu Khan's fears, 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 (although 'khanate' in terms of the Shaibanids seems to be a very loose and almost unofficial description).

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 who fail even to remain a cohesive single entity during the next century or so. Although both the Blue Horde and White Horde are in effect independent, they still acknowledge the suzerainty of the great khan.

Chingiz Khan
This portrait shown Chingiz Khan in his later years, by which time he had built up an empire which covered much of eastern and Central Asia, as well as stretching into Eastern Europe

1357 - 1405

Southern and eastern Persia and Iraq are controlled directly by the Jalayirids during a period of unrest in the Near East and Central Asia. This lasts until 1401, when the former Persian empire is largely recreated by Timur - ostensibly a servant of the Chaghatayids who dominate the eastern edges of the region - when he conquers Baghdad.

In fact he is an empire builder who ends up commanding the Chaghatayids and all others in the region. He creates the Timurid dynasty, while his rise to power may be the trigger which sparks Shaibanid expansion.


Ibrahim Oghlan

Descendant of Shiban.



Brother and chieftain. Progenitor of the Arabsahid dynasty.


The two brothers, Ibrahim Oghlan and Arabshah, agree to divide their father's territories between them, thereby founding two main branches of the family or clan. Ibrahim and his descendants remain supreme chiefs of the Desht Kipchak - the divided groups - and his grandson Abu'l-Khayr Khan is one of the greatest of their number.

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 which would begin competing again after his death (click or tap on map to view full sized)

The branch under Arabshah remains important, however, leading the conquest of territories which later form part of the shortlived Shaibanid empire and, in 1501, carving out a khanate of their own.

? - 1428/9


Son of Ibrahim.


Haji Tuli / Tughuluk Haji

Son of Arabshah. Shaibanid chieftain in the Shaibani Nameh.

1428/9 - 1468

Abu'l-Khayr Khan / Abulkhair

Grandson of Ibrahim. A bey of the White Horde. Khan of Sibir.

1428 - 1430

The White Horde and Blue Horde are fracturing under the weight of ongoing civil wars, external defeats, and territorial fragmentation. The Shaibanids under Abu'l-Khayr Khan begin unifying the Central Asian tribes which formerly had been part of the Shaibani (Shaybani) ulus.

The Grey Horde has splintered into several nomadic groups by this time, but Abu'l-Khayr Khan establishes himself as ruler of western Siberia after killing Kazhy-Mohammed, khan of Sibir.

Steppe warriors
While the White Horde and Blue Horde were busy ripping themselves apart in civil wars, the Shaibanids were beginning to reunify and threaten the regionally dominant Sibir khanate


Timur Shaykh

Son of Haji Tuli. Shaibanid chieftain. Killed fighting Kalmuks.


Timur Shaykh is killed by Kalmuks. His father, Haji Tuli, is maddened by this raid on his camp and he pursues the Kalmuks without waiting for his troops to assemble in sufficient numbers. He too is killed - without leaving any other heir or successor - and his followers, those of the half of the divided territories which had formerly been taken by Arabshah, are scattered without a leader.

The Aksakals (or 'grey beards' of the Uighurs), who have been loyal to Haji Tuli, discover that they are six months away from the birth of their dead leader's son so they remain. Another tribe, the Naimans, halts its departure and pitches its tents, waiting for the birth. Upon the safe arrival of Yadegar Khan, the rest of his people return.

1450 - 1451

Sultan Abu Sa'id, nephew of nephew of Ulugh Beg of Timurid Transoxiana, is one of the claimants for the Timurid crown. After failures in Samarkand and Bukhara, he conquers much of Turkestan in 1450, and in June 1451 takes Samarkand with the aid of the Shaibanid Uzbeks under Mohammed Shaibani (Abu'l-Khayr Khan's grandson), who remains allied to him for his lifetime.

Mohammed is clearly not a ruler in his own right at this time. Instead he is probably acting in the name of his grandfather and only becomes ruler of a Shaibanid state from 1500.

Timurid troops
Timurid troops included people from all over his conquered territories, including Turks, Persians, and Indo-Iranian Central Asians, all of whom were organised into a decimal system of units

1468 - ?

Shah Budagh

Son of Abu'l-Khayr but not khan of Sibir.

? - c.1467/8

Yadegar Khan

Son of Timur Shaykh. Shaibanid chieftain.

1468 - 1500

Following the death of the powerful Abu'l-Khayr Khan, 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 - 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 which remains behind in Siberia now dominates the khanate of Sibir.

1500 - 1510

Mohammed Shaibani / Shaybani

Son of Budagh. Former Timurid military supporter. Killed.


Buraka Khan / Bereke / Burka

Son of Yadegar Shaykh. Shaibanid chieftain.

1501 - 1507

Following the Shaibanid conquest of Transoxiana, Southern Khorasan centred around Herat is now threatened. Its ruler does nothing initially, although one of his princes, Babur of Ferghana, attempts to fight back. Finally deciding to mobilise in 1506, Husayn dies before he can achieve anything, and the crown is disputed between his sons.

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)

Babur withdraws to Kabul to continue the fight but without success until his supporter, the Safavid shah of Persia, takes Samarkand and adjoins it to his own Persian kingdom. The Shaibanids now hold much of former Khwarazm, effectively ending Timurid rule of Transoxiana.

1508 - 1510

Mohammed Shaibani carries out a number of raids to the north against the Kazakh khanate, but is killed on one of them in 1510, bringing the prominence of his short-lived empire to an end. He seemingly has no son to succeed him, leaving the way open for his uncle to become khan of the Shaibanids. For a time his cousin, Janibeg Sultan, acts as regent for the Shaibanids.

1510 - 1531

Kochkunju Muhammad

Son of Abu'l-Khayr Khan.

1510 - 1511

Upon the death of Mohammed Shaibani, Babur of Samarkand is able to retake much of his former territory with Safavid Persian help from his base in Kabul. However, he is unable to retain it.

The Shaibanids in the form of Sultan Ibars and Sultan Balbars re-conquer the city just eight months later, shortly after capturing Old Urgench, and they assume control of its governance as the khanate of Khwarazm (Khiva).

Old Urgench
Old Urgench had provided the former emirate of Khwarazm with a capital, and for the early years of its existence it did the same for the khanate before being abandoned - today its remnants lie within Uzbekistan's borders

They are members of the junior branch of the Shaibanid family, one which is known as the Arabxàhida (Arabsahid) dynasty thanks to its descent from Arabshah, brother of Ibrahim Oghlan. Both Ibars and Balbars are the sons of Buraka, himself one of four sons of Yadegar Khan.

The rest of the Shaibanid khanate is divided into fiefdoms by the princes of the royal clan. Janibeg Sultan, cousin of Mohammed Shaibani and son of Khoja Muhammad, receives Kermineh (Karmina) and Miankal after having acted temporarily as regent for the Shaibanids following the death of Mohammed Shaibani.

1511 - 1518

Sultan lbars I

Son of Buraka Khan. Shaibanid chieftain. Gained Khwarazm.

? - 1529

Janibeg Sultan

Cousin of Mohammed Shaibani. In Karmina & Miankal.


The Shaibanid subject, Ubayd Allah Sultan Khan (known as Ubaidullah) of Bukhara in Transoxiana, is at war against Shah Tahmasp of Iran, and the Uzbeks of Khwarazm support Bukharan attacks by advancing to Pil Kupruki.

The border cities of Khodjend (in Khorasan) and Asferain (near Astarabad) are also stormed. As Tahmasp also has to face the Ottomans, he negotiates with the Khwarizmi Uzbeks and effectively hands them Khwarazm.

Map of the khanate of Khiva
The khanate of Khwarazm (Khiva) covered the western territory of three modern states, namely Turkmenistan at the bottom of the yellow highlighted area on the map, Uzbekistan in the middle, and Kazakhstan at the top and along a large slice of the Caspian coastline (click or tap on map to view full sized)

1531 - 1534

Muzzaffaruddin Abu-Sa'id

Son of Kochkunju. Succeeded by Abu'l-Ghazi at Bukhara.


The Shaibanid empire has already been divided into fiefdoms around 1510-1511, although the senior khan has retained at least nominal command over them. Muzzaffaruddin Abu-Sa'id is the last of them to have his capital elsewhere other than Bukhara, or not to have a permanent capital at all.

His successor, Abu'l-Ghazi Ubaidullah, very much favours Bukhara as he has already been based there for some years, In fact it can be said that during his reign the khanate of Bukhara truly is born.

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