History / National history


Latanova M., Mustafa D.S.

S.Seifullin Kazakh Agro Technical University, Astana, Kazakhstan

The formation of the first separate state of the Kazakhs


This year Kazakhstan is celebrating its ancient roots with around 100 events across the Republic marking the 550th anniversary of the Kazakh Khanate. Founded by Genghis Khans descendants in the 15th century, the Khanate was the first separate state of the Kazakhs a Turkic-speaking, formerly nomadic people inhabiting the vast Eurasian steppe plains. The unification of Turkic tribes into a Kazakh Khanate was held in 1465 under the leadership of Khans Zhanibek and Kerey. That historical event is described in details in the ancient Book of Kypchaks (Codex Cumanicus) archived at the Library of St.Marc in Venice since 1362 a unique record that affords a privileged glance into history and shatters ingrained stereotypes of barbaric culture of nomads. So a new type of centralized state, and new civilization, which gave a colossal impetus to the development of world trade, economy, and culture was founded.

The formation of the Kazakh Khanate was complicated by the nature, long in time; it was a multi-dimensional process. It was also the natural result of the socio-economic and ethno-political events in the vast territory of East Desht Qipchaq, Zhetysu, and Turkestan (southern Kazakhstan). Formation of a single economic region in the XIV - XV centuries, on the basis of the natural integration of areas with a mixed economy, a nomadic pastoralist and sedentary agricultural, urban and with the direction on trade and craft sector, prepared the way for the unification of all the lands of the region into one political structure. A specific course of formation of the Kazakh Khanate associated with an internal political state of two countries on the territory of Kazakhstan - Abulkhair Khanat (State of Uzbek nomads) and Mogolistan. In both countries, economic power of the nomadic elite increased, and its centrifugal aspirations grew. The most influential leaders of clans and tribes of East Desht-i Qipchaq and Zhetysu wanted political independence.

Back in the 20's of XV century, Kalmyks began to attack Zhetysu in search of grazing, mining, entering shopping malls. Abulkhair Khan suffered a severe defeat from them in 1457. Making peace with Abulkhair in heavy conditions, Kalmyks went through Chu to their land, and Abulkhair began to put things in order with brutal measures in his uluses, including the south of Kazakhstan, where he cracked down not recognizing his authority Juchids. Actions of Abulkhair and the inability of Mogolistan Khan to protect the population of Zhetysu from kalmyk hordes, had led to even more frustration of the masses.

Kazakh Khanate originally occupied the territory of the West Zhetusy, Chu and Talas valley. It combined both moved from the Central and Southern Kazakhstan Kazakhs and local tribes. A friendly disposition of Khan of mogols towards sultans from Uzbek uluses was due to the fact that, firstly, Esen-Bug did not have strength to reflect raidings of the northern nomads at that time, secondly, represented by Kerey, Janibek and their soldiers, he saw a stronghold for protection of the western borders from the possessions of his brother Yunus supported by the Timurid Abu Said.

In the following decades of the XV century, Kazakh Khanate economically strengthened and expanded geographically. Its territory included a significant part of the territory of the ethnic Kazakhs. Abulkhair Khans Khanate got away from the scene in East Desht-i Qipchaq. At the end of XV and early XVI centuries, a military and political power of the Timurid state became the thing of the past as it  finally lost its power over Mawarannahr against the leader of the nomadic Uzbeks grandson of Abulkhair, Muhammad Shaybani.

Although both Janybek Khan and Kerey Khan were considered the founding rulers of the Kazakh Khanate, it was Kerey Khan who initially wielded the most power. Upon the death of Kerei Khan in 1470, Janybek Khan became the sole ruler. The early years of the Kazakh Khanate were marked by struggles for control of the steppe against the Uzbek leader Muhammad Shaybani. In 1470, the Kazakhs defeated Muhammad Shaybani at the city of Turkistan, forcing the Uzbeks to retreat south to Samarkand and Bukhara.

Kazakh Khanate reached its greatest power in the first quarter of the XVI century, especially under the rule of Kassym Khan (1512 - 1521 years). In fact, he started to govern while Burunduk was still a Khan. Name of sultan Kassym was mentioned for the first time in the sources in connection with the description of the wars of Muhammad Shaybani with Kazakh rulers back in the 80's of the XV century, where it is spoken about him as one "of the famous sultans and glorious Bahadur" of Qipchaq and leaders of cavalry troops of Burunduk Khan.
The manuscript of "Tarikh-Safavi", written in ancient Persian by Persian historians, wrote about Kassym Khan, ruler of Dasht-i- Qipchaq. The manuscript describes how a Kazakh squad of soldiers helped Khan Shaybani of Bukhara annex the Iranian city of Khorasan. Kassym Khan committed a squad of eight thousand dzhigits and Khorasan was taken.

During the reign of Kassym Khan, the territories of the Kazakh Khanate expanded considerably. As Mirza Muhammad Haidar Dughlat wrote later in his Tarikh-i-Rashidi, "Kassym Khan now brought the Dasht-i- Qipchaq under his absolute control, in a manner that no one, with the exception of Jochi, had ever done before. His army exceeded a thousand thousand". Kassym Khan instituted the first Kazakh code of laws in 1520, called "Қ ң ққ " (transliterated, "Qasım xannıñ qasqa jolı" "Bright Road of Kassym Khan"). Kassym Khan also ratified his alliance with the Timurid leader Babur, particularly after the fall of the Shaybanids, and was thus praised by the Mughals and the populace of Samarqand.

The Kazakh Khanate was founded in 1456-1465 by Janybek Khan and Kerey Khan, on the banks of Jetysu ("seven rivers") in the southeastern part of the present-day Republic of Kazakhstan. The founding of the Kazakh Khanate is considered the ethno genesis of the Kazakh nation. The formation of the independent Kazakh Khanate began when several tribes under the rule of sultans Janybek and Kerey departed from the Khanate of Abulkhair Khan. The sultans led their people toward Mogolistan, eventually settling and founding an independent state.


1. "Kazakh Khanate 550th anniversary". http://e-history.kz.

2. "Kazakhstan to Celebrate 550th Kazakh Statehood Anniversary in 2015". http://astanatimes.com

3. In the Persian manuscript of the "Tarikh-Safavi" revealed new information about the "king of Dasht-i-Kipchak" Kazakh Khan Kasymov