Encyclopedia  |   World Factbook  |   World Flags  |   Reference Tables  |   List of Lists     
   Academic Disciplines  |   Historical Timeline  |   Themed Timelines  |   Biographies  |   How-Tos     
Sponsor by The Tattoo Collection
Golden Horde
Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index

Golden Horde


Russian History series
Early East Slavs * Kievan Rus' * Volga Bulgaria * Khazaria * Mongol invasion * Golden Horde * Muscovy * Imperial Russia * Revolution of 1905 * Revolution of 1917 * Civil War * Soviet Union * Russian Federation

The Golden Horde (also known as Kipchak Khanate) was a Tatar state established in Russia by Batu Khan, a grandson of Genghis Khan. It was one of the four Mongol successor kingdoms in the wake of the Mongol empire, the others being the Ilkhanid Dynasty of Persia, the Chagatai Khanate in Central Asia, and the Yuan Dynasty of China.

At his death, Genghis Khan divided his empire amongst his four sons. Jochi was the eldest, but he was already dead and his paternity was in doubt, so his son, Batu, was given the most distant lands trodden by the Mongol hoof, then southern Ruthenia. Chagatai was next eldest son of Genghis, but he was considered a hothead, and so was given central Asia and northern Iran. Ogedei, third oldest was made Great Khan and given China. Tolui, the youngest, was given the Mongol homeland.

Batu conquered the Volga Bulgaria in 1236.

Batu commenced the Mongol invasion of Russia in 1237. The Mongols quickly gained control of the steppe regions incorporating the local Turkic people into their army. There he overran much of Kievan Rus', the Ruthenian state. He sacked its capital Kyiv in 1240, ending its prosperity. All of Kievan Rus except Novgorod was captured, and even Novgorod under Alexander Nevsky acknowledged the Khan's supremacy. Unlike the central Asian steppe Ruthenia was not incorporated into the Golden Horde, but was an independent vassal state paying tribute to the Khan. The Horde regarded Ruthenia as a peripheral area of little interest as long as it continued to pay tribute.
This article is part
of the series:
History of Mongolia
Before Chinggis Khan
Mongol Empire
Chagatai Khanate
Golden Horde
Yuan Dynasty
Northern Yuan
Jüün Ghar Empire
Qing Dynasty
Modern History
Independent Mongolia
Inner Mongolia
Buryat Republic
In 1242, Batu established the Golden Horde at Sarai. In 1255 Batu died and passed the Horde on to his heir. The Horde quickly lost its Mongol identity. Most of its population were Turks, Uzbeks and other indigenous nomads. It became a settled rather than nomadic culture, with Sarai becoming a large and prosperous metropolis. The Horde also quickly adopted Islam, abandoning the animist Mongol beliefs.

The Horde's Ruthenian policy was one of constantly switching alliances in an attempt to keep Ruthenia weak and divided. In the 14th century the rise of Lithuania in North East Europe posed a challenge to Tatar control over Ruthenia. Thus the Khan began backing Moscow as the leading Ruthenian state. Ivan I Kalita was granted the title of grand prince and given the right to collect taxes from the other Ruthenian princes.

In 1357, the Khan was assassinated and the empire fell into a long civil war, averaging one new Khan per annum for the next few decades. During this time Dmitri Donskoy of Moscow attempted to break free of the Horde's power. Mamai, the Tatar general who held the throne, attempted to reassert Tatar authority over Ruthenia. His army was defeated by Dmitri at the Battle of Kulikovo in the first Ruthenian victory over the Tatars. Mamai soon fell from power and Tokhtamysh, a true heir of Genghis Khan, rebuilt the Horde's power. He sacked Moscow as punishment for its insubordination in 1382

In the 1440s, the Horde was again racked by civil war. This time it broke up into five separate Khanates: the Siberia Khanante, the Khanate of Kazan, the Khanate of Astrakhan and the Khanate of the Crimea

None of these new Khanates were stronger than Muscovy, which finally broke free of Tatar control about 1480 (see Great standing on the Ugra river). Each Khanate was eventually annexed by it. Both Kazan and Astrakhan were annexed by Ivan the Terrible, who renamed the state Russia, in the 1550s. By the end of the century the Siberia Khanate was also part of Russia. The Khanate of the Crimea allied itself with the Ottoman Empire, however, and remained outside of Russias control until the reign of Catherine the Great.