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An Empires
of History

Khanate of the Golden Horde

Starting Resource: 18
-- From Land: 14
-- From Trade: 4

Capital Territory: Sarai
Nation Class: Small

Total Starting Military
Infantry: 7
Cavalry: 10
Knights: 0
Artillery: 0
Generals: 1
Merchantmen: 0
Frigates: 0
Ships of the Line: 0

Click on the map to view your nation's position and starting troops

At his death, Genghis Khan divided the Mongol Empire amongst his four sons. Jochi was the eldest, but he was already dead and his paternity was in doubt, so the westernmost lands trodden by the Mongol hoof, then southern Russia, were divided among his sons, Batu leader of the Blue Horde (East), and Orda, leader of the White Horde (West). Batu then succeeded in establishing control over Orda's territorial endowment and subjugated the northern littoral of the Black Sea, incorporating the indigenous Turkic peoples into his army. In the late 1230s and early 1240s, he conducted his brilliant campaigns against the Volga Bulgaria and against the successor states to Kievan Rus, bringing their ancient prosperity to an end.

Batu's Blue Horde continued west, raiding Poland and Hungary after the Battles of Legnica and Muhi. In 1241, however, the Great Khan Ogedei died in Mongolia, and Batu turned back from his siege of Vienna to take part in disputing the succession. The Mongol armies would never again travel so far west. In 1242, Batu established his capital at Sarai, commanding the lower stretch of the Volga River. Shortly before that, the Blue Horde split when Batu's younger brother Shayban left Batu's army to set up his own horde east of the Ural Mountains along the Ob and Irtysh Rivers.

The Horde quickly lost its Mongol identity. While the descendants of Batu's original Mongol warriors constituted the upper class of society, most of the Horde's population were Kipchaks, Bulgar Tatars, Kyrghyz, Khwarezmians, and other Turkic peoples. The Horde developed as a settled rather than nomadic culture, with Sarai evolving into a populous and prosperous metropolis. In the early 14th century, the capital was moved considerably upstream to Sarai Berqe, which became one of the largest cities of the medieval world, with a population estimated at 600,000.

The Horde exacted tribute from its subject peoples - Russians, Armenians, Georgians, and Crimean Greeks. The territories of Christian subjects were regarded as peripheral areas of little interest as long as they continued to pay tribute. These vassal states were never incorporated into the Horde, and Russian rulers early obtained the privilege of collecting the Tatar tribute themselves. To maintain the control over Russia, Tatar warlords carried out regular punitive raids to Russian principalities (most dangerous in 1252, 1293, 1382).

Sarai carried on a brisk trade with the Genoese trade emporiums on the Black Sea littoral - Soldaia, Caffa, and Azak. Mamluk Egypt was the khans' long-standing trade partner and ally in the Mediterranean. After Batu's death in 1255, the prosperity of his empire lasted for a full century, until the assassination of Jani Beg in 1357. The White Horde and the Blue Horde were effectively consolidated into a single state by Batu's brother Berke. In the 1280s, the power was usurped by Nogai, a kingmaker who pursued a policy of Christian alliances. The Horde's military clout peaked during the reign of Uzbeg (1312-41), whose army exceeded 300,000 warriors. Their Russian policy was one of constantly switching alliances in an attempt to keep Russia weak and divided. In the 14th century the rise of Lithuania in North East Europe posed a challenge to Tatar control over Russia. Thus Uzbeg Khan began backing Moscow as the leading Russian state. Ivan I Kalita was granted the title of grand prince and given the right to collect taxes from other Russian potentates.

The Black Death of the 1340s was a major factor contributing to the Golden Horde's eventual downfall. Following Jani Beg's assassination, the empire fell into a long civil war, averaging one new Khan per annum for the next few decades. By the 1380s, Khwarezm, Astrakhan, and Muscovy attempted to break free of the Horde's power, while the lower reaches of the Dnieper were annexed by Lithuania and Poland. Mamai, a Tatar general who did not formally hold the throne, attempted to reassert Tatar authority over Russia. His army was defeated by Dmitri Donskoi at the Battle of Kulikovo in his second consecutive victory over the Tatars. Mamai soon fell from power, and in 1378, Tokhtamysh, a descendant of Orda Khan and ruler of the White Horde, invaded and annexed the territory of the Blue Horde, briefly reestablishing the Golden Horde as a dominant regional power. He sacked Moscow as punishment for its insubordination in 1382.

A fatal blow to the Horde was dealt by Tamerlane, who annihilated Tokhtamysh's army, destroyed his capital, looted the Crimean trade centers, and deported the most skillful craftsmen to his own capital in Samarkand. In the first decades of the 15th century, the power was wielded by Edigu, a vizier who routed Vytautas of Lithuania in the great Battle of the Vorskla River and established the Nogai Horde as his personal demesne. In the 1440s, the Horde was again wracked by civil war. This time it broke up into eight separate Khanates: Siberia Khanate, Qasim Khanate, Khanate of Kazan, Khanate of Astrakhan, Kazakh Khanate, Uzbek Khanate, and Khanate of the Crimea all seceding from the last remnant of the Golden Horde - the Great or Big Horde.

None of these new Khanates was stronger than Muscovite Russia, which finally broke free of Tatar control by 1480. By 1483 the once great Golden Horde has been reduced to the size of a small nation and not even the largest of the Khanates that broke away in the civil war. The Golden Horde faces a number of old foes, each more potent than itself. Poland, Russia, the Ottoman Turks and the Uzbeck Khanate are all serious threats and the chance of renewed war with the succession Khanate of Kazan is also a risk. The Golden Horde's best chance lay with forging and alliance between all of the old khanates so they can wield the power they collectively once had. But the addition of allies on the far side of Russia and Poland is always a good idea.

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