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Karabakh as independent khanate

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At the time of the Safavid state, the  entire  territory of  Azerbaijan was  made  up  of four  beylerbeydoms: Shirvan, Karabakh (or Ganja), Chukhursaad (or iravan) and Azerbaijan (or Tabriz) 1. These regions were headed by the shah’s governors-general who were called beylerbeys.

The  first beylerbey  of  Karabakh was Shahverdi-Sultan from the  Ziyad-oglu clan  of the  Azerbaijani Gajar  tribe,  who  was  appointed by Shah Tahmasib I in the 1540s. The nobility of the tribe was granted  pastures and land plots in Karabakh 2. The power  of the  Karabakh beylerbey covered a vast territory – from the Georgian  border near “Sinig Korpu” Bridge  (currently “red  Bridge”)  to Khudafarin Bridge on the Araz river 3.

The descendants of Shahverdi-Sultan were  Karabakh  beylerbeys with  a khan’s title until 1736 when Nadir- shah  took  Karabakh  proper  from Ziyad-oglu, leaving him with ganja and a county, which he and his heirs owned until 1804 4. in 1747, Nadir-shah was killed as a result of a conspiracy. His empire split up into independent  feudal possessions. “Before Persian troops withdrew from this region,  indepen- dent rulers emerged in every province” 5.

Thus, sovereign feudal state entities – 20 khanates – emerged  in Azerbaijan.
The Karabakh   khanate,   which was  one  of  the  most  significant ones, emerged on the lands between the Kura and the Araz. Most of its population  was made  up of the Azerbaijani tribes of otuziki, Javanshir and Kabirli, who were “indigenous ilats of the Karabakh vilayet” and inhabited lowland areas. These tribes were forcibly resettled to Khorasan under Nadir-shah 6. after his death, they returned to Karabakh, “and everyone who arrived in their former camp started to live quietly” 7.

The founder of the Karabakh khanate was Panah Ali-bey Javanshir (1747–1763) from the Sarijali oymag of the Javanshir tribe, who “was one of the most significant statesmen of Azerbaijan in the 18th century” 8. The future Karabakh khan was the leader of the otuziki tribe and emir of 20,000 courts of Javanshir and Gazakh 9. He served Nadir for some time, but “fearing for his life”, he  fled Khorasan to  Kara- bakh together  with a group of his supporters and close circle in 1738. There, he took charge of armed detachments  that  fought Iranian oppression  10.

Karabakh Meliks, Their roots,origin and role in Karabakh.


  1. Rahmani  A. A. Azerbaijan in the  late  16th and 17th  centuries (1590–1700). Baku, 1981,  pp.  87–89[]
  2. A collection  of articles on the history of Azerbaijan, edi- tion  1, Baku, 1949,  p. 250[]
  3. Mirza Adigozal-bey,  Karabakh- nameh,  Baku, 1950,  p.  47[]
  4. A collection of articles…, p. 250[]
  5. A. K. Bakikhanov, Gulistan-i Iram, Baku, 1991, p. 154[]
  6. Mirza Adigozal-bey,  ibid., p. 47[]
  7. Mirza Jamal Javanshir, The History of Karabakh, Baku, 1959, p. 67[]
  8. I. P. Petrushevskiy, The Khanates of Azerbaijan and  the  Emergence of Russian Orientation. News of the  Academy of Sciences  of the Azerbaijan SSR (department  of general science), edition 2, 1946, No 5, p. 100[]
  9. G. Abdullayev, Azerbaijan in  the  18th century and its mutual relations with Russia, Baku, 1965, p. 91[]
  10. Mirza Jamal  Javanshir, ibid., pp. 66–67[]
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