Zemfira Hajiyev THE HISTORY OF THE YEREVAN KHANATE IN THE CONTEXT OF RUSSIA, GEORGIA, IRAN AND OTHER COUNTRIES
In the modern history of Russia, the period of the Azerbaijani khanates is described in the works of I.P. Petrushevsky. The author, who researched Azerbaijan’s history beginning in the late Middle Ages, including the history of the khanates period, is not always correct in what he writes. He affirms that the Armenians were destroyed as a nation during the wars of Amir Teymur (known as Tamerlaine), and their territory was settled by Turkic tribes coming from Central Asia.
For instance, the author described the history of the Yerevan khanate as the history of Armenia (although during the khanates period, there was no such thing as an Armenian state), and he referred to the events which took place on this territory in the name of the Armenians. Petrushevsky writes: “A large part of Caucasian Armenia consists of the Yerevan or Chukhursad province, whereas the other part (Sharur, Daralayaz and Zangezur), together with several northern parts, consist of the Karabagh province”. As one can see, in trying to describe the Yerevan khanate the researcher ascribes Azerbaijani land to an imaginary Armenian territory, while presenting other ancient Azerbaijani lands also as Armenian.
In the works of Petrushevsky, the fact that all the events connected with the Armenians do not go beyond the Echmiadzin Church, and all the issues raised are connected with this church and the property belonging to it, can be clearly traced. Regardless of these distortions, the works of Petrushvsky have a certain significance for the history of the Yerevan khanate.
The Russian-Soviet historian Markova, while researching the history of the Yerevan khanate, adopted a more objective position compared to the Azerbaijani-Soviet historians. In the map appearing on page 311 of her book, she had accepts that Yerevan had been an Azerbaijani khanate, linked to the Georgian Kingdom, along with the Ganja and Nakhchivan khanates. Markova had researched the political relations of the Yerevan khanate with the Kartli-Kakhetia Kingdom, Russia, Iran (South Azerbaijan) and the Ottoman states during the second half of the eighteenth century, at a time when there was a confrontation in the interests of the major states in the South Caucasus. It should be pointed out that the author does not show a consistently objective attitude towards the history of the Yerevan khanate. She looks upon the attempts by the Russian Empire to create an Armenian state, at the expense of Yerevan and other Azerbaijani khanates, as the restoration of the Armenian state. The author assesses the activities of Emin, in accordance with the traditional falsifications of the Armenians, as the liberation of Armenia. On the other hand, Markova emphasizes the collapse of resistance in the Yerevan khanate during Agha Mahammad Khan Qajar’s invasion of the South Caucasus in 1795, whereas in fact the Yerevan khanate strongly resisted the troops of Agha Mahammad Khan during this campaign.
The work of H. Ibrahimbeyli, which was published in Moscow in 1969, examined the occupation of the Azerbaijan khanates by the Russian Empire during the first thirty years of the nineteenth century. In his book, the first and second Russo-Persia and Russo-Ottoman wars are described in detail, and brief information is given about the battles that took place on the territory of the Yerevan khanate. Unfortunately, lack of knowledge about the available sources has resulted in the expression of the wrong conclusions by the author. He isolates the Yerevan khanate from the Azerbaijan khanates, describing this khanate as an Armenian state, and mistakenly presents Hasan Khan as the last Yerevan khan.
The misrepresentation of the history of the Yerevan khanate can also be found in various encyclopaedias. In the ninth volume of The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, which consists of thirty volumes, information is presented about the history of the Yerevan khanate. The khanate is presented as the territory of Eastern Armenia. It is as if the Yerevan khanate was founded at the beginning of the seventeenth century, and the town of Yerevan is simply called as an Armenian city.
In the encyclopedia, numerous misrepresentations can be identified not only in comments made about the campaign of Nadir Shah in the South Caucasus, but also about the conquest of the Yerevan Fortress. Once again, Hasan Khan is wrongly described as the last Yerevan khan.
In the Georgian-Soviet historiography, the attitude towards the Yerevan khanate was always controversial. Totally false assumptions can be observed in the second edition of the textbooks on Georgian History published in 1946 and 1962. In both of these publications, the events related to the Yerevan Khanate are repeated. In the first edition, Yerevan is presented as a Muslim, i.e. an Azerbaijani, khanate, whereas in the second edition, a slightly different position is adopted. The plans of Armenian politicians for the liberation of “Armenia”, i.e. the Yerevan khanate, and the activities of I. Emin connected with the establishment of a united Georgian-Armenian state, are highlighted.
In the book, the attack of Azad Khan, ruler of Tabriz (in fact, he was in the service of Fatali Khan Afshar), on Yerevan in 1751, and the activities of the Tsar during the wars with Irakly II are exaggerated and contradict the historical truth. It is wrongly stated that Azad Khan was defeated and returned back. In fact, Azad Khan won this battle and appointed one of his relatives as the ruler of Yerevan.
Another falsehood in the textbooks is connected with the attack of Irakly II on the Yerevan khanate in September 1779. It is stated that the khan of Yerevan had asked Irakly II to forgive him, and the Tsar, having accepted the khan’s request about the incident in Kartly, quickly returned to Tiflis. However, during the known events, the Yerevanis led by Mahammad Khan had strongly resisted the Georgian troops and did not surrender.
The temporary dependence of the Yerevan khanate on the Kartli-Kakhetia kingdom is wrongly represented in the textbooks.
Certain aspects of the history of the Yerevan khanate are researched in the work of the Georgian-Soviet historian G. Kikodze entitled Irakly II. This book examines the life and achievements of the Kartli-Kakhetia king Irakly II and his dealings with the Yerevani khanate. The author considers the territory of the Yerevani khanate to be the territory of Armenia. Kikodze stresses the impact of the defeat of the Georgian kings by Haji Chelebi of Shaki on the peoples of Dagestan and Azerbaijan, and the growing movement in Ganja, Irevan, Qazakh and Borchaly to separate from Georgia. Like the other Georgian researchers, the author distorts the facts connected with the fighting between the commander of Nadir Shah, Azad Khan, and Irakly II on the territory of the Yerevan khanate.
The work of G. Paychadze, The Georgievsk Treaty, is dedicated to the 1783 treaty signed between Russia and Kartli-Kakhetia. The author also examines relations between Yerevan and Kartli-Kakhetia, expressing contradictory and wrong assumptions. He states that the Yerevan khanate was founded by Shah Abbas I on the territory of “East Armenia” in 1604, that the Yerevani khanate was an Armenian state. The main cause of these wrong assumptions by Russian and Georgian historians comes from the unswerving policies of Tsarist Russia and the Soviet authorities towards Azerbaijan. The study of numerous sources indicates that for centuries Armenians have been employed in important positions in organizations where historical facts could be falsified, i.e. in archives, libraries, museums, printing houses, translation centres and news agencies. The most unforgiveable thing is the support given to the representatives of this nation, and the fact that (either knowingly or unknowingly) they have become participants and victims in political games.
In the book of the Iranian historian Samad Sardarinia, devoted to the history of the Yerevan khanate entitled Yerevan was a Muslim Land, the history of Yerevan is described from ancient to modern times. The author writes in the preface: “The city which is now the capital of the Armenian Republic and known as the city of Yerevan, the population of which consists of the Armenians, was for centuries one of many regular provinces of Iran [using the geographical name used since 1935], and a land of Muslim residents, as well as a strong fortress standing on the way of foreign invaders.”
In the chapter entitled “Chukhurzad”, the author gives detailed information about the creation of the Chukhurzad province (beylerbeyliyi), its borders, administrative divisions, the origin of its name, stressing the fact that the population of the province consisted mainly of Azerbaijani Turks, and the power in the province belonged to the Sadly tribe, which was a member of the Qaraqoyunlu tribal confederation. Thereafter, the author presents historical details about the city of Yerevan dating back to the period of the Safavids.
There is a separate section in the work entitled “Yerevan during the Khanate Period.” Sardarinia gives information about the creation of the Yerevan khanate, that the khanate was divided into twelve mahals (districts) and writes mistakenly that the first Yerevani khan was Huseynali Khan Qajar”. He affirms that Huseynali Khan died in 1793 and Mahammad Khan ascended to the throne.
It is mentioned that in the spring of 1751, Fatali Khan Afshar, with a large part of his army, moved towards Yerevan and besieged the city, but due to the fact that the ruler of Kartli, Irakly II, sent aid to the Yerevanis, the Urmian troops gave up the siege of Yerevan and attacked Kartli instead –– the Urmianis won this battle.
This book relates the fact that the Yerevani Huseynali Khan, along with other Azerbaijani khans, was deceived and taken to Shiraz, while Karim Khan Zad was attacking the city of Urmia.
In the chapter entitled “Yerevan during the Rule of Agha Mahammad Qajar” it is emphasized that, after a thirty-five-day siege, the fortress of Yerevan fell under the rule of Agha Mahammad Khan. The author points out that there is evidence for the dependence of Mahammad Khan. Qajar withdrew him from power for his secret connections with the Ottoman Sultan, and appointed Aligulu Khan instead. After the assassination of Agha Mahammad Khan, Aligulu Khan was ousted from Yerevan.
In the chapter titled “Yerevan during the Russo-Persia Wars”, the author writes: “During both stages of the Russo-Persia wars, the Muslim population of Yerevan, faced with the aggressive forces of Tsarist Russia, had demonstrated such bravery and patriotism that their resistance and courage wrote a golden page in the modern history of Iran [South Azerbaijan – Z.H.]”. The author’s affirmation that the Yerevan khanate was a golden page of Iranian history is not correct. The credit he gives to the brave resistance of the Yerevanis is correct. Nevertheless, at that time the Muslim population of the Yerevan khanate consisted only of Azeri Turks, and therefore only they can be proud of these lines written in the historical record in the most expensive ink.
The author is wrong in considering the Azerbaijani lands to the north of the Araz River, which were annexed by Russia under the Gulustan Treaty, as the territory of Iran.
The author, who states that the brave resistance of the Yerevanis really worried Tsar Nicholas I, draws this information from the French writer Jean Younir. He conveys to the reader those details which cannot be found in other sources: “When Tsitsianov moved on Yerevan in 1804, the Russian commander Dalov managed to penetrate into the western part of Yerevan. The Muslims who became angry with this action, revenged by praying (reading azan), and after that, with the help of the Quran, sent by Abbas Mirza, they managed to force out the invaders from of the city.”
In order to withstand the attacks of the Russians, Amin Pasha of Erzrum tried to reach an agreement with the Yerevanis on a joint struggle against their common enemy. Huseyngulu Khan of Yerevan and Amin Pasha met on 30 August 1811, on the right bank of the Arpachay River in the Magizborda Fortress. During the meeting, at the order of Gara Bey of Magizborda, a Kurdish horseman, dressed in a local robe, killed Amin Pasha by shooting him into his head with a pistol. The pasha’s soldiers turned back.
According to what the author wrote, after the city of Yerevan was occupied by the Russians, most of the buildings in the city were destroyed. Pashkevich ordered one of the city’s mosques to be converted into a church.
The resistance of Huseyngulu and Hasan Khans of Yerevan, as well as Karim Khan, the former ruler of Nakhchivan, made Nicholas I very angry. Because of this, Article 12 of the Turkmenchay Treaty, which granted a three-year period to persons who had estates on the northern bank of the Araz River to sell or exchange their estates, was not applied to these persons. The author affirms that Huseyngulu Khan died in 1828 at the age of 88.
The author also gives information about the massacre carried out against the Muslims of Yerevan, and the families who survived this genocide.
In a special chapter entitled “The Economic Outlook for Yerevan on the Eve of the Nineteenth Century”, the author, referring to Charles Isavy, gives information about the economic situation of Yerevan and describes the relationship between masters and apprentices. The number of cobblers, potters, blacksmiths, tailors, shoemakers, silversmiths, iron workers, carpenters, wood masters, saddlers and others are indicated. It is mentioned that in some trades (e.g. bakers), workers were used instead of the apprentices. All in all, it is mentioned that 722 masters and 667 apprentices worked in Yerevan.
Taking into account the fact that cotton-growing was developed in Yerevan, cotton was exported. Since the city also stood on the ancient Silk Road, many visitors and merchants frequently visited the city. Thus, we know that the capital of the khanate was an important centre for trade.
Sardarinia stresses that, from an architectural point of view, the Yerevan Fortress was considered to be one of the important Turkic cultural centres settlements in the East. He states that the city’s historical monuments, including the Khan Sarayi (Khan’s Palace) and Goy Masjid (The Blue Mosque), among the unique and precious architectural pearls of the eighteenth century, made a big impression on travellers. The author also mentions that in addition to that there were seven other mosques, several two- and three-storied houses, a number of karavansarays and other buildings, and also the Gurju, Julfa, Serdar, Tagli, Sulu, Susuz, Hajali karavansarays, each with a shop inside it.
The author affirms that the Blue Mosque was built by Huseynali Khan. To build it, craftsmen were invited from Tabriz. Concerning the construction of the mosque, the author tells us: “After the foundations of the mosque were laid, all of the craftsmen disappeared. Even though Huseynali Khan invited other craftsmen to complete the construction, nobody wanted to undertake this responsibility. After some time, the craftsmen from Tabriz returned and explained the reason for their sudden disappearance –– the foundations needed one year in order to settle. Since they did not believe that the khan would agree to give them such a long vacation, they left without permission”. Thus, the work of Sardarinia, Yerevan was a Muslim Land, contributes valuable information to our knowledge of the history and reveals new facts that could not be found elsewhere.
We also come across information about the history of the Yerevan khanate in works by historians from Western European countries.
In 1836 Sir John McNeil wrote a book entitled Russia’s Progress and Current Position on the East, which contained seven chapters and a concluding section. John McNeil had been appointed to Tehran as an ambassador in 1800.
The author, who describes the beginning of the First Russo-Persian war, states that in 1804 Fatali Shah Qajar sent his army against Mahammad Khan of Yerevan to punish him for disobedience. Having asked General Tsitsianov, the commander of the Russian troops in the Caucasus, for assistance, Mahammad Khan promised to allow a Russian garrison to be stationed in the fortress. Taking advantage of this situation, Tsitsianov attacked Yerevan. Even though the Russian commander seized Echmiadzin in Armenia, Mahammad Khan refused to surrender the Yerevan Fortress. Faced with food shortages and attacks by the enemy, the Russians gave up the siege and withdrew.
McNeil mistakenly calls Yerevan –– the ancient land of the Azerbaijani people –– as Armenia, and he does it without reference to any sources. In the fifth chapter, the author tries to analyse, to some extent, the political issues, stressing that the South Caucasus becoming a protectorate under Russian rule was a big threat to the Ottoman Empire and Persia. He states that certain parts of Georgia, Smeretia, Mingrelia, Derbend, Baku, Persian Dagestan, Shirvan, Shaki, Ganja, Qarabagh, Mughan and Talish all fell under Russian influence. McNeil affirms that in the first three aforementioned geographical locations and in Garabagh, the number of resident Christians was negligible, whereas, as a whole, Muslims occupied the other territories. He confirms the dominance of Muslims in these provinces.
The author explains that the government system of khanates was similar to the government system applied by a feudal baron in Western Europe. He mentions numerous drawbacks in the civil administration system. As Russian rule strengthened, the Russians were at first seen as a more progressive nation. Ultimately, however, the Russian ruled with unbelievable severity. They even managed to stop the religious ceremonies of the Muslims; mosques were turned into stables and canteens; the influence of the mullahs was reduced; forms of government that contradicted the interests of the Muslims were introduced.
Thus, in his book Russia’s Progress and Current Position in the East dating from 1836, Sir John McNeil stresses that after the Russian conquest Muslims were oppressed in all khanates; their religious beliefs were demeaned; furthermore, Muslims in Crimea were completely oppressed, and there was a danger of this process spreading to the South Caucasus.
1. I. Petrushevsky. Stories about the history of feudal relationships in Azerbaijan and Armenia in the XVI – XIX centuries. Leningrad, Printing House of Leningrad State University, 1949.
2. O. Markova. Russia, Transcaucasia and international relations in the nineteenth century. Nauka, 1966.
3. H. Ibrahimbeyli. Russia and Azerbaijan in the first third of the nineteenth century Moscow. Nauka, 1969. (Military-political history).
4. The Great Soviet Encyclopedia. Vol. 9. Moscow, Printing House “Sovetskaya Encyclopedia”, 1972, p. 89-90.
5. The history of Georgia. Vol. I, 1946, p. 432; 1962, p. 391-392; 1946, p. 402-403; 1962, p. 359.
6. G. Kikodze. Irakly II. Tbilisi, “Zarya Vostoka”, 1948.
7. G. Paychadze. The Georgievsk Treaty. Tbilisi, “Meynireba”, 1983.
8. S. Sardarinia. Yerevan was a Muslim land [in Persian]. Tehran (Hijra) 1380 (Gregorian, 2002).
9. John McNeil. Progress and Current Position of Russia in the East. London, J. Murray, 1836.