3:11 pm - Wednesday November 24, 1734

Karabakh as independent khanate. Rise of Karabakh Khanate

On orders from Panah Ali-khan, the ancient castles of Asgaran and Shah-Bulag, where the centre of the khanate was moved, were restored. In 1751, the construction of another castle began on a high steep mountain. The  new  centre  of the Karabakh  khanate was surrounded by rocks and  high  walls and  was strongly fortified. initially, the castle bore the name of its founder – Panahabad, but then it adopted its previ- ous name Shusha or Shusha galasi and  quickly  turned  into  the  eco- nomic centre of Karabakh, becom- ing one of the major cities of trade and   craftsmanship  in  Azerbaijan. Caravan routes lied through Shusha, connecting  the South Caucasus to Iran. Relying on the impregnable capital of Panahabad-Shusha, the Karabakh khan started to unite neighbouring Azerbaijani lands. As a result of successful military and political actions by Panah ali-khan, his supremacy was recognized by the khans of iravan, Nakhchivan, Ganja, Garadag  and  Ardabil. The territory of the Karabakh khanate expanded significantly.
Less than one year after the construction of the new castle, the Karabakh   khanate   was   attacked by Muhammad  Hasan-khan gajar, one of the main contenders for the shah’s throne in iran. Deciding not to besiege  the strong castle, gajar and his troops stayed for a month far away from Shusha in the Khatun- arkhi area, for “he could not [even] approach the outskirts of the castle with such a [big] army” (Mirza Ja- mal Javanshir, ibid., p. 73). Having met with resistance and received news from iran about the start of a new fight for the shah’s throne, Gajar left Karabakh. His retreat was so hasty that he even left his cannons behind [ref]Mirza Adigozal-bey, ibid., p. 64[/ref].
Soon, Panah Ali-khan encountered a new threat from the south. in 1759, the Karabakh khanate was invaded by the 30,000-strong army of one of Nadir-shah’s famous military commanders – the ruler of Urmiya, Fatali-khan Afshar, who man- aged to subjugate all the southern regions of azerbaijan. He devastated a number  of areas in Karabakh. as soon  as the  enemy  troops  set foot in Karabakh soil, some meliks betrayed their suzerain and de- fected to Fatali-khan: “The meliks of Chilaburd (Jeraberd) and Talish, who were covertly hostile to Panah khan, joined Fatali khan. They stayed near the castle for six months…”  [ref]Mirza Jamal Javanshir, ibid., p. 74[/ref]. in a decisive battle, Fatali-khan’s troops suffered a major defeat.”
The military failures and the onset of the winter forced Fatali-khan to sign a peace treaty. The meeting between  the two prominent rulers took place on aga Bridge near Shu- sha [ref]Mirza Adigozal-bey, ibid., p.70[/ref]. on the pretext of exchanging prisoners and marrying his daugh- ter to the elder son of the Karabakh khan, Ibrahim Khalil-aga, Fatali-khan managed  to invite the  heir to the khan’s throne to his camp. after that, declaring Panah ali-khan his vassal, Fatali-khan took his son hostage [ref]Mirza Jamal Javanshir, ibid., pp.74–75[/ref].
Soon, power in iran was seized by Karim-khan Zand, who launched an offensive on Urmiya’s Fatali-khan and  won  over  Panah  ali-khan  of says: “Panah  ali-khan,  who  always sought an opportunity to destroy Fatali-khan, immediately created an enormous  army and  large cavalry and went to help Karim-khan” (Mir- za Adigozal-bey, ibid., p. 72). The allies managed to gain a victory.
after that, Karim-khan freed ibra- him  Khalil-aga  from  captivity and sent him to Karabakh as a khan, providing him with a special firman. as for  his former ally, Karim-khan treacherously kept  him  as  a  hos- tage. Panah ali-khan died in Shiraz in 1763. His body, according to his will, was buried in Agdam in a place called imaret.
Thus, the Karabakh khanate emerged   and  strengthened   in  a fierce fight. in the middle of the 18th century, it occupied a vast territory.

The khanate included the whole of Karabakh.  The  melikdoms,  as well as Zangazur, Hajisamli and Chalbair were  under  its jurisdiction. Panah ali-khan sought to expand the khan- ate at the expense of neighboring feudal possessions: he engaged in a lengthy fight for garadag, ganja and Nakhchivan. The Karabakh khanate always remained independent.  “He [Panah-khan]  did not serve anyone and did not put his neck under the yoke of obedience to anyone…” [ref]I. P. Petrushevskiy, Essays on the his- tory of feudal relations in Azer- baijan and Armenia in the 16th–19th    centuries,  Leningrad, 1949, p. 137[/ref].

Filed in: Karabakh during the XVIII cc.

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