The Golden Horde was originally a Mongol and later Turkicized khanate established in the 13th century and originating as the northwestern sector of the Mongol Empire. With the fragmentation of the Mongol Empire after 1259 it became a functionally separate khanate. It is also known as the Kipchak Khanate or as the Ulus of Jochi. After the death of Batu Khan (the founder of the Golden Horde) in 1255, his dynasty flourished for a full century, until 1359, though the intrigues of Nogai instigated a partial civil war in the late 1290s. The Horde's military power peaked during the reign of Uzbeg Khan (1312–1341), who adopted Islam.
The territory of the Golden Horde at its peak extended from Siberia and Central Asia to parts of Eastern Europe from the Urals to the Danube in the west, and from the Black Sea to the Caspian Sea in the south, while bordering the Caucasus Mountains and the territories of the Mongol dynasty known as the Ilkhanate.
The khanate experienced violent internal political disorder beginning in 1359, before it briefly reunited (1381–1395) under Tokhtamysh. However, soon after the 1396 invasion of Timur, the founder of the Timurid Empire, the Golden Horde broke into smaller Tatar khanates which declined steadily in power. At the start of the 15th century, the Horde began to fall apart. By 1466, it was being referred to simply as the "Great Horde". Within its territories there emerged numerous predominantly Turkic-speaking khanates.
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At his death in 1227, Genghis Khan divided the Mongol Empire amongst his four sons as appanages, but the Empire remained united under the supreme khan. Jochi was the eldest, but he died six months before Genghis. The westernmost lands occupied by the Mongols, which included what is today southern Russia and Kazakhstan, were given to Jochi's eldest sons, Batu Khan, who eventually became ruler of the Blue Horde, and Orda Khan, who became the leader of the White Horde.
The name Golden Horde is said to have been inspired by the golden color of the tents the Mongols lived in during wartime, or an actual golden tent used by Batu Khan or by Uzbek Khan, or to have been bestowed by the Slavic tributaries to describe the great wealth of the khan.
Mongol Conquest of the Khwarazmian EmpireCentral Asia
The Mongol conquest of Khwarezmia took place between 1219 and 1221, as troops of the Mongol Empire under Genghis Khan invaded the lands of the Khwarazmian Empire in Central Asia. The campaign, which followed the annexation of the Qara Khitai khanate, saw widespread devastation, including numerous war crimes, and marked the completion of the Mongol conquest of Central Asia.
Both belligerents, although large, had been formed recently: the Khwarazmian dynasty had expanded from their homeland to replace the Seljuk Empire in the late 1100s and early 1200s; near-simultaneously, Genghis Khan had unified the Mongolic peoples and conquered the Western Xia dynasty. Although relations were initially cordial, Genghis was angered by a series of diplomatic provocations. When a senior Mongol diplomat was executed by Khwarazmshah Muhammed II, the Khan mobilised his forces, estimated to be between 90,000 and 200,000 men, and invaded. The Shah's forces were widely dispersed and probably outnumbered — realising his disadvantage, he decided to garrison his cities individually to bog the Mongols down. However, through excellent organisation and planning, they were able to isolate and conquer the Transoxianan cities of Bukhara, Samarkand, and Gurganj.
Genghis and his youngest son Tolui then laid waste to Khorasan, destroying Herat, Nishapur, and Merv, three of the largest cities in the world. Meanwhile, Muhammed II was forced into flight by the Mongol generals Subutai and Jebe; unable to reach any bastions of support, he died destitute on an island in the Caspian Sea. His son and heir Jalal-al Din managed to mobilise substantial forces, defeating a Mongol general at the Battle of Parwan; he was however crushed by Genghis himself at the Battle of the Indus a few months later.
Mongol Invasion of Volga BulgariaBolgar, Republic of Tatarstan,
The Mongol invasion of Volga Bulgaria lasted from 1223 to 1236. The Bulgar state, centered in lower Volga and Kama, was the center of the fur trade in Eurasia throughout most of its history. Before the Mongol conquest, Russians of Novgorod and Vladimir repeatedly looted and attacked the area, thereby weakening the Bulgar state's economy and military power. Several clashes occurred between 1229–1234, and the Mongol Empire conquered the Bulgars in 1236.
Battle of the Kalka River 1223Kalka River, Donetsk Oblast, U
Following the Mongol invasion of Central Asia and the subsequent collapse of the Khwarezmian Empire, a Mongol force under the command of generals Jebe and Subutai advanced into Iraq-i Ajam. Jebe requested permission from the Mongolian emperor, Genghis Khan, to continue his conquests for a few years before returning to the main army via the Caucasus.
The Battle of the Kalka River was fought between the Mongol Empire, whose armies were led by Jebe and Subutai the Valiant, and a coalition of several Rus' principalities, including Kiev and Halych, and the Cumans. They were under the joint command of Mstislav the Bold and Mstislav III of Kiev. The battle was fought on May 31, 1223 on the banks of the Kalka River in present-day Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine, and ended in a decisive Mongol victory.
Mongol invasion of Kievan Rus'Kiev, Ukraine
The Mongol Empire invaded and conquered Kievan Rus' in the 13th century, destroying numerous cities, including Ryazan, Kolomna, Moscow, Vladimir and Kiev, with the only major cities escaping destruction being Novgorod and Pskov.
The campaign was heralded by the Battle of the Kalka River in May 1223, which resulted in a Mongol victory over the forces of several Rus' principalities. The Mongols retreated, having gathered their intelligence which was the purpose of the reconnaissance-in-force.
A full-scale invasion of Rus' by Batu Khan followed, from 1237 to 1242. The invasion was ended by the Mongol succession process upon the death of Ögedei Khan. All Rus' principalities were forced to submit to Mongol rule and became vassals of the Golden Horde, some of which lasted until 1480. The invasion, facilitated by the beginning of the breakup of Kievan Rus' in the 13th century, had profound ramifications for the history of Eastern Europe, including the division of the East Slavic people into three separate nations: modern-day Russia, Ukraine and Belarus, and the rise of the Grand Duchy of Moscow.
Siege of RyazanStaraya Ryazan', Ryazan Oblast
In the autumn of 1237 the Mongol Horde led by Batu Khan invaded the Rus' principality of Ryazan. The Prince of Ryazan, Yuriy Igorevich, asked Yuriy Vsevolodovich, the prince of Vladimir, for help, but did not receive any. Ryazan, capital of the Principality of Ryazan, was the first Russian city to be besieged by the Mongol invaders under Batu Khan. The writer of the Rus chronicle described the aftermath of the battle with the words "There was none left to groan and cry".
Battle of the Sit RiverYaroslavl Oblast, Russia
After the Mongols sacked his capital of Vladimir, Yuri fled across the Volga northward, to Yaroslavl, where he hastily mustered an army. He and his brothers then turned back toward Vladimir in hopes of relieving the city before the Mongols took it, but they were too late. Yuri sent out a force of 3,000 men under Dorozh to scout out where the Mongols were; whereupon Dorozh returned saying that Yuri and his force was already surrounded. As he tried to muster his forces, he was attacked by the Mongol force under Burundai and fled but was overtaken on the Sit River and died there along with his nephew, Prince Vsevolod of Yaroslavl.
The Battle of the Sit River was fought in the northern part of the present-day Sonkovsky District of Tver Oblast of Russia, close to the selo of Bozhonka, on March 4, 1238 between the Mongol Hordes of Batu Khan and the Rus' under Grand Prince Yuri II of Vladimir-Suzdal during the Mongol invasion of Rus.
The battle marked the end of unified resistance to the Mongols and inaugurated two centuries of the Mongol domination of modern day-Russia and Ukraine.
Siege of KozelskKozelsk, Kaluga Oblast, Russia
Taking the city of Torzhok on 5 March 1238 after a two-week siege, the Mongols continued to Novgorod. However, they failed to reach the city, mainly because they had difficulties moving in the woods, and after advancing around 100 kilometers at the unknown place designated in the chronicles as the Ignach Cross, they abandoned the plans to conquer Novgorod, turned south, and divided into two groups. Some of the forces led by Kadan and Storms passed over the Eastern route through the Ryazan land. The main forces led by Batu Khan passed through Dolgomost 30 km east of Smolensk, then entered the Chernigov Principality on the upper Gums, burned Vshchizh, but then abruptly turned to the northeast, bypassing the Bryansk and Karachev, at the end of March 1238 went to the Kozelsk on the Zhizdra River.
At that time the city was the capital of the Principality at the head of twelve-year-old Prince Vasily, grandson of Mstislav Svyatoslavich of Chernigov, who was killed at the Battle of Kalka in 1223. The city was well fortified: surrounded by ramparts built on them walls, but the Mongols had powerful siege equipment.
The Siege of Kozelsk was one of the main events of the Western (Kipchak) March of the Mongols (1236–1242) and the Mongol invasion of Rus' (1237–1240) at the end of the Mongol campaign in North-Eastern Russia (1237–1238). The Mongols laid a siege in the spring of 1238 and eventually conquered and destroyed the town of Kozelsk, one of the subsidiary princely centers of the Principality of Chernigov.
Sack of ChernigovChernigov, Ukraine
The Mongol invasion of Rus' can be divided into two phases. In the winter of 1237-38, they conquered the northern Rus' territories (the principalities of Ryazan and Vladimir-Suzdal) with the exception of the Novgorod Republic, but in the spring of 1238 they retreated back to the Wild Fields.
The second campaign, aimed at the southern Rus' territories (the principalities of Chernigov and Kiev) came in 1239. The Sack of Chernigov was part of the Mongol invasion of Rus'.
Siege of KievKiev, Ukraine
When the Mongols sent several envoys to Kiev to demand submission, they were executed by Michael of Chernigov and later Dmytro.The next year, Batu Khan's army under the tactical command of the great Mongol general Subutai reached Kiev. At the time, the city was ruled by the principality of Halych-Volhynia. The chief commander in Kiev was Voivode Dmytro, while Danylo of Halych was in Hungary at that time, seeking a military union to prevent invasion.
The Siege of Kiev by the Mongols resulted in a Mongol victory. It was a heavy morale and military blow to Halych-Volhynia and allowed Batu Khan to proceed westward into Europe.
Mongol Invasions of AnatoliaAnatolia, Antalya, Turkey
Mongol invasions of Anatolia occurred at various times, starting with the campaign of 1241–1243 that culminated in the Battle of Köse Dağ. Real power over Anatolia was exercised by the Mongols after the Seljuks surrendered in 1243 until the fall of the Ilkhanate in 1335. Because the Seljuk Sultan rebelled several times, in 1255, the Mongols swept through central and eastern Anatolia. The Ilkhanate garrison was stationed near Ankara.
Battle of LegnicaLegnica, Kolejowa, Legnica, Po
The Mongols considered the Cumans to have submitted to their authority, but the Cumans fled westward and sought asylum within the Kingdom of Hungary. After King Béla IV of Hungary rejected Batu Khan's ultimatum to surrender the Cumans, Subutai began planning the Mongol invasion of Europe. Batu and Subutai were to lead two armies to attack Hungary itself, while a third under Baidar, Orda Khan and Kadan would attack Poland as a diversion to occupy northern European forces which might come to Hungary's aid.
Orda's forces devastated northern Poland and the southwestern border of Lithuania. Baidar and Kadan ravaged the southern part of Poland: first they sacked Sandomierz in order to draw the Northern European armies away from Hungary; then on 3 March they defeated a Polish army in the battle of Tursko; then on 18 March they defeated another Polish army at Chmielnik; on 24 March they seized and burned Kraków, and a few days later they tried unsuccessfully to capture the Silesian capital of Wrocław.
The Battle of Legnica was a battle between the Mongol Empire and combined European forces that took place at the village of Legnickie Pole (Wahlstatt) in the Duchy of Silesia. A combined force of Poles and Moravians under the command of Duke Henry II the Pious of Silesia, supported by feudal nobility and a few knights from military orders sent by Pope Gregory IX, attempted to halt the Mongol invasion of Poland. The battle took place two days before the Mongol victory over the Hungarians at the much larger Battle of Mohi.
Battle of MohiMuhi, Hungary
The Mongols attacked the eastern side of Central Europe with five distinct armies. Two of them attacked through Poland in order to protect the flank from Polish cousins of Béla IV of Hungary, winning several victories. Most notably, they defeated the army of Duke Henry II the Pious of Silesia at Legnica. A southern army attacked Transylvania, defeated the voivod and crushed the Transylvanian armies. The main army led by Khan Batu and Subutai attacked Hungary through the fortified Verecke Pass and annihilated the army led by Denis Tomaj, the count palatine, on 12 March 1241, while the final army under Batu's brother Shiban marched in an arc north of the main force. Prior to the invasion, King Béla had personally supervised the construction of dense natural barriers along Hungary's eastern border, intending to slow the Mongol advance and obstruct their movement. However, the Mongols possessed specialized units who cleared the paths with great rapidity, removing the obstacles in just 3 days. Combined with the extreme speed of the Mongol advance, called "lightning" by a European observer, the Hungarians lacked time to properly group their forces.
The Battle of Mohi was the main battle between the Mongol Empire and the Kingdom of Hungary during the Mongol invasion of Europe. It took place at Muhi (then Mohi), southwest of the Sajó River.
End of Westward ExpansionAstrakhan, Russia
Ögedei Khan died at the age of fifty-six after a binge of drinking during a hunting trip, which forced most of the Mongolian army to retreat back to Mongolia so that the princes of the blood could be present for the election of a new great khan. The Mongol forces retreat after receiving news of Ögedei Khan's death; Batu Khan stays at the Volga River and his brother Orda Khan returns to Mongolia. By mid-1242, the Mongols had completely withdrawn from Central Europe.
Mongol invasion of Bulgaria and SerbiaStari Ras, Sebečevo, Serbia
During the Mongol invasion of Europe, Mongol tumens led by Batu Khan and Kadan invaded Serbia and then Bulgaria in the spring of 1242 after defeating the Hungarians at the battle of Mohi and ravaging the Hungarian regions of Croatia, Dalmatia and Bosnia. Initially, the troops of Kadan moved south along the Adriatic Sea into Serbian territory. Then, turning east, it crossed the centre of the country—plundering as it went—and entered Bulgaria, where it was joined by the rest of the army under Batu. The campaigning in Bulgaria probably happened mainly in the north, where archaeology yields evidence of destruction from this period. The Mongols did, however, cross Bulgaria to attack the Latin Empire to its south before withdrawing completely. Bulgaria was forced to pay tribute to the Mongols, and this continued thereafter.
Death of Batu KhanAstrakhan, Russia
After Batu Khan's death, his son Sartaq Khan succeeds him as khan of the Golden Horde, but it was short-lived. He died in 1256 before returning from Great Khan Möngke's court in Mongolia, less than one year after his father, probably having been poisoned by his uncles Berke and Berkhchir. Sartaq was succeeded by Ulaqchi briefly in 1257, before his uncle Berke succeeded to the throne. Ulaghchi dies and Berke, a Muslim, succeeds him.
Mongol invasions of LithuaniaLithuania
The Mongol invasion of Lithuania in the years 1258–1259 is generally seen as a Mongol victory, as Lithuanian territories have been described as "devastated" following the Mongol incursion, in what was "possibly the most horrible event of the thirteenth century" for Lithuania. In the immediate aftermath of this invasion, Lithuania might have become a tributary or protectorate and ally to the Horde for several years or decades. A similar fate was likely met by the Lithuanians' neighbours, the Yotvingians. Some Lithuanian or Yotvingian warriors likely participated in the Mongol invasion of Poland in 1259, though there are no historical documents to clarify whether they did so with their leaders' permission, or as free mercenaries, or as forced troops.
Nonetheless, the invasion did not have major or lasting consequences for Lithuania, particularly as it was not directly incorporated into the Mongol Empire, nor subject to Mongol darughachi administration. Lithuanian defeat did however weaken the power of Lithuanian king Mindaugas who was eventually assassinated in 1263, which also marked the end of the short-lived, Christian Kingdom of Lithuania. The temporary shifting of the allegiance of its successor, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, toward Mongols, or at least, away from the Christian Europe, was also a short-term victory for the Mongols.
Second Mongol invasion of PolandKraków, Poland
The second Mongol invasion of Poland was carried out by general Boroldai (Burundai) in 1259–1260. During this invasion the cities of Sandomierz, Kraków, Lublin, Zawichost, and Bytom were sacked by Mongols for the second time.
The invasion began in late 1259, after a powerful Mongol army had been sent to the Kingdom of Galicia–Volhynia in order to punish King Daniel of Galicia for his independent actions. King Daniel had to comply to Mongol demands, and in 1258, his forces joined the Mongols in the raid on the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. To weaken Daniel's position, the Golden Horde decided to attack his allies, Hungarian King Béla IV, and Duke of Kraków, Bolesław V the Chaste. The purpose of the invasion was to loot the divided Kingdom of Poland (see Testament of Bolesław III Krzywousty), and to weaken Duke of Kraków Bolesław V the Chaste, whose province, Lesser Poland, began a process of fast development.
According to the Mongol plan, the invaders were to enter Lesser Poland east of Lublin, and head towards Zawichost. After crossing the Vistula, the Mongol army was to break into two columns, operating north and south of the Holy Cross Mountains. The columns were to unite near Chęciny, and then head southwards, to Kraków. Altogether, Mongol forces under Boroldai were 30,000 strong, with Ruthenian units of King Daniel of Galicia, his brother Vasilko Romanovich, Kipchaks and probably Lithuanians or Yotvingians.
Toluid Civil WarMongolia
The Toluid Civil War was a war of succession fought between Kublai Khan and his younger brother, Ariq Böke, from 1260 to 1264. Möngke Khan died in 1259 with no declared successor, precipitating infighting between members of the Tolui family line for the title of Great Khan that escalated to a civil war. The Toluid Civil War, and the wars that followed it (such as the Berke–Hulagu war and the Kaidu–Kublai war), weakened the authority of the Great Khan over the Mongol Empire and split the empire into autonomous khanates.
Sack of SandomierzSandomierz, Poland
The siege and second sack of Sandomierz took place in 1259-1260 during the second Mongol invasion of Poland. The city was razed and residents massacred.
Sandomierz, the most important city of southeastern medieval Kingdom of Poland, and the second largest city of Lesser Poland, was captured by the invaders on February 2, 1260. The Mongol and Ruthenian armies completely destroyed the city, murdering almost all residents, including 49 Dominican friars with their abbot Sadok, who hid in the St. Jacob church.
Berke defeats Hulagu Khan on the Terek RiverTerek River
Berke sought a joint attack with Baybars and forged an alliance with the Mamluks against Hulagu. The Golden Horde dispatched the young prince Nogai to invade the Ilkhanate but Hulagu forced him back in 1262. The Ilkhanid army then crossed the Terek River, capturing an empty Jochid encampment. On the banks of the Terek, he was ambushed by an army of the Golden Horde under Nogai, and his army was defeated at the Battle of the Terek River (1262), with many thousands being cut down or drowning when the ice of the river gave way. Hulegu subsequently retreated back into Azerbaijan.
War against ByzantinesThrace, Plovdiv, Bulgaria
The Seljuk Sultan of Rûm Kayqubad II appealed to Berke, khan of the Golden Horde, to attack the Byzantine Empire in order to free his brother Kaykaus II.
The Mongols crossed the frozen Danube river in the winter of 1263/1264. They defeated the armies of Michael VIII in the spring of 1264. While most of the defeated army fled, the Byzantine Emperor escaped with the assistance of Italian merchants. After that Thrace was plundered.
Michael VIII was forced to release Kaykaus, and signed a treaty with Berke, in which he agreed to give one of his daughters, Euphrosyne Palaiogina, in marriage to Nogai. Berke ceded Crimea to Kaykaus as appanage and agreed that he would marry a Mongol woman. Michael also sent tribute to the Horde.
Byzantine-Mongol Allianceİstanbul, Turkey
A Byzantine-Mongol Alliance occurred during the end of the 13th and the beginning of the 14th century between the Byzantine Empire and the Mongol Empire. Byzantium actually tried to maintain friendly relations with both the Golden Horde and the Ilkhanate realms, who were often at war with each other. The alliance involved numerous exchanges of presents, military collaboration and marital links, but dissolved in the middle of the 14th century.
Soon after the Battle of Köse Dağ in 1243, the Empire of Trebizond surrendered to the Mongol Empire while the court of Nicaea put its fortresses in order. In the early 1250s, the Latin emperor of Constantinople Baldwin II sent an embassy to Mongolia in the person of the knight Baudoin de Hainaut, who, following his return, met in Constantinople with the departing William of Rubruck. William of Rubruck also noted that he met an envoy of John III Doukas Vatatzes, Emperor of Nicaea, at the court of Möngke Khan in circa 1253.
Emperor Michael VIII Palaiologos, after re-establishing Byzantine Imperial rule, established an alliance with the Mongols, who themselves were highly favourable to Christianity, as a minority of them were Nestorian Christians. He signed a treaty in 1266 with the Mongol Khan of the Kipchak (the Golden Horde), and he married two of his daughters (conceived through a mistress, a Diplovatatzina) to Mongol kings: Euphrosyne Palaiologina, who married Nogai Khan of the Golden Horde, and Maria Palaiologina, who married Abaqa Khan of Ilkhanid Persia.
Republic of Genoa establishes KaffaFeodosia
In the late 13th century, traders from the Republic of Genoa arrived and purchased the city from the ruling Golden Horde. They established a flourishing trading settlement called Kaffa, which virtually monopolized trade in the Black Sea region and served as a major port and administrative center for the Genoese settlements around the Sea. It came to house one of Europe's biggest slave markets. Kaffa was at the western terminus for the great Silk Road, and the sacking of Constantinople by Crusaders in 1204 left a vacuum that was filled by the Venetians and the Genoese.
Ibn Battuta visited the city, noting it was a "great city along the sea coast inhabited by Christians, most of them Genoese." He further stated, "We went down to its port, where we saw a wonderful harbor with about two hundred vessels in it, both ships of war and trading vessels, small and large, for it is one of the world's celebrated ports."
Reign of Mengu-TimurAzov
Berke left no sons, so Batu's grandson;Mengu-Timur;was nominated by Kublai and succeeded his uncle Berke. In 1267, Mengu-Timur issued a diploma – jarliq – to exempt Rus' clergy from any taxation and gave to the Genoese and Venice exclusive trading rights in Caffa and Azov. Mengu-Timur ordered the Grand prince of Rus to allow German merchants free travel through his lands. This decree also allowed Novgorod's merchants to travel throughout the Suzdal lands without restraint. Mengu Timur honored his vow: when the Danes and the Livonian Knights attacked Novgorod Republic in 1269, the Khan's great basqaq (darughachi), Amraghan, and many Mongols assisted the Rus' army assembled by the Grand duke Yaroslav. The Germans and the Danes were so cowed that they sent gifts to the Mongols and abandoned the region of Narva.The Mongol Khan's authority extended to all Rus' principalities, and in 1274–75 the census took place in all Rus' cities, including Smolensk and Vitebsk.
Conflict with Ghiyas-ud-din BaraqBukhara, Uzbekistan
Kaidu defeated Baraq near Khujand with the assistance of Mengu-Timur, the Khan of the Golden Horde who sent 3 tumens under his uncle Berkhe-Chir. Transoxiana was then ravaged by Kaidu. Baraq fled to Samarkand, then Bukhara, plundering the cities along the way in an attempt to rebuild his army. Baraq loses a third of Transoxiana.
The Kaidu–Kublai war was a war between Kaidu, the leader of the House of Ögedei and the de facto khan of the Chagatai Khanate in Central Asia, and Kublai Khan, the founder of the Yuan dynasty in China and his successor Temür Khan that lasted a few decades from 1268 to 1301. It followed the Toluid Civil War (1260–1264) and resulted in the permanent division of the Mongol Empire. By the time of Kublai's death in 1294, the Mongol Empire had fractured into four separate khanates or empires: the Golden Horde khanate in the northwest, the Chagatai Khanate in the middle, the Ilkhanate in the southwest, and the Yuan dynasty in the east based in modern-day Beijing. Although Temür Khan later made peace with the three western khanates in 1304 after Kaidu's death, the four khanates continued their own separate development and fell at different times.
Dual KhanshipAstrakhan, Russia
Mengu-Timur was succeeded in 1281 by his brother Töde Möngke, who was a Muslim. However Nogai Khan was now strong enough to establish himself as an independent ruler. The Golden Horde was thus ruled by two khans.
Töde Möngke made peace with Kublai, returned his sons to him, and acknowledged his supremacy. Nogai and Köchü, Khan of the White Horde and son of Orda Khan, also made peace with the Yuan dynasty and the Ilkhanate. According to Mamluk historians, Töde Möngke sent the Mamluks a letter proposing to fight against their common enemy, the unbelieving Ilkhanate. This indicates that he might have had an interest in Azerbaijan and Georgia, which were both ruled by the Ilkhans.
Second Mongol invasion of HungaryRimetea, Romania
The 1282 Cuman rebellion may have catalyzed the Mongol invasion. Cuman warriors driven out of Hungary offered their services to Nogai Khan, de facto head of the Golden Horde, and told him about the perilous political situation in Hungary. Seeing this as an opportunity, Nogai decided to start a vast campaign against the apparently weak kingdom.
The results of the invasion could not have contrasted more sharply with those of the 1241 invasion. The invasion was repelled handily, and the Mongols lost much of their invading force due to several months of starvation, numerous small raids, and two major military defeats. This was mostly thanks to the new fortification network and the military reforms. No major invasion of Hungary would be launched after the failure of the campaign of 1285, though small raids from the Golden Horde were frequent well into the 14th century.;
Third Mongol invasion of PolandKraków, Poland
Compared to the first two invasions, the raid of 1287–88 was short and much less devastating. The Mongols did not capture any significant cities or castles and lost a significant number of men. They also took fewer prisoners and loot than in the previous invasions.
Polish historian Stefan Krakowski credits the relative failure of the Mongol invasion to two main causes. First, while 30,000 men was larger than the previous incursions into Poland, the rivalry between Talabuga and Nogai meant that the two columns didn't cooperate well, with the former withdrawing by the time the latter entered Poland. Second, the Poles' upgraded fortifications made their settlements much harder to take, which enabled Leszek and his nobles to put into action a simple three-stage defensive plan. The first stage was passive defense by garrisons, the second was the fight against small Mongol detachments by local sallying forces, and the third stage was a counterblow of a large Hungarian-Polish army against the dispersed and reduced Mongols. This contrasted quite sharply with the first invasion.
Nogai-Talabuga ConflictShymkent, Kazakhstan
Nogai and Talabuga had never gotten along. In autumn of 1290 Talabuga, thinking Nogai was conspiring against him, decided to muster an army and march against his general. Nogai decided to feign ignorance, though he knew full well Talabuga's distaste for him; he also sent letters to Talabuga's mother, saying he had personal advice to give to the khan that he could only do alone, essentially requesting a formal meeting of princes. Talabuga's mother advised him to trust Nogai, and subsequently, Talabuga disbanded most of his forces and showed up for a meeting with Nogai with only a small retinue.
However Nogai was duplicitous; he had arrived at the designated meeting spot accompanied by a large group of soldiers and Tokhta, as well as three sons of Mengu-Timur. While Nogai and Talabuga met, Nogai's men sprung out in an ambush, quickly capturing Talabuga and his supporters; Nogai, with the help of protégés, then strangled Talabuga to death. After this, he turned to the young Toqta and said: "Talabuga has usurped the throne of your father, and your brothers who are with him have agreed to arrest you and put you to death. I deliver them up to you, and you may do with them as you will." Toqta subsequently had them killed.
For his role in placing Toqta on the throne, Nogai received the revenues of the Crimean trade cities. Nogai then beheaded many of the Mongol nobles who were supporters of Talabuga, in order to consolidate the rule of his supposed puppet khan. Toqta was declared khan in early 1291.
Serbian conflict with the Nogai HordeVidin, Bulgaria
The Mongol (Tatar) clique of Nogai Khan, a part of the larger Golden Horde, was heavily involved in the Kingdom of Serbia in the 1280s and 1290s. A serious invasion was threatened in 1292, but was averted when Serbia accepted Mongol lordship. The Balkan push of Nogai's clique was broader than just Serbia. In 1292, it resulted in the deposition and exile of King George I of Bulgaria. The sporadic conflict with the Golden Horde was the second major confrontation of the Serbs with the Mongols after the Mongol invasion of Serbia in 1242.
Nogai-Toqta ConflictAstrakhan, Russia
Nogai and Tokhta soon found themselves embroiled in a deadly rivalry; while they cooperated in raids against rebellious Rus' principalities, they remained in competition. Tokhta's father-in-law and wife often complained that Nogai seemed to consider himself superior to Tokhta, and Nogai repeatedly rejected any demands Tokhta made of him to attend his court. They also disagreed over the policy of trading rights for the Genoese and Venetian cities in Crimea. Two years after Nogai installed Tokhta, their rivalry came to a head and Tokhta set out to gather his supporters for a war against Nogai.
Battle of Nerghi PlainsVolgograd, Russia
Tokhta, with more control over the eastern portions of the empire, managed to gather a massive force, larger than Nogai's but reportedly less able at arms owing to the experience of Nogai's men in their wars in Europe. The two rulers made camp ten miles from each other on the plain of Nerghi in 1297, halfway between Nogai's lands and Tokhta's. One day's rest later, a hard battle ensued lasting most of the day, in which Nogai and Tokhta both personally distinguished themselves in battle (despite the former's age). In the end Nogai was victorious in spite of his numerical disadvantage. Reportedly 60,000 of Tokhta's men were killed (nearly a third of his army), but Tokhta himself managed to escape.
Reign of Öz Beg KhanNarovchat, Penza Oblast, Russi
After Öz Beg Khan assumed the throne in 1313, he adopted Islam as the state religion. He built a large mosque in the city of Solkhat in the Crimea in 1314 and proscribed Buddhism and Shamanism among the Mongols in the Golden Horde. By 1315, Öz Beg had successfully Islamicized the Horde and killed Jochid princes and Buddhist lamas who opposed his religious policy. Under the reign of Öz Beg, trade caravans went unmolested and there was general order in the Golden Horde. When Ibn Battuta visited Sarai in 1333, he found it to be a large and beautiful city with vast streets and fine markets where Mongols, Alans, Kypchaks, Circassians, Rus', and Greeks each had their own quarters. Merchants had a special walled section of the city all to themselves. Öz Beg Khan moved his residence to Mukhsha.
Wars with Bulgaria and the Byzantine EmpireBulgaria
Öz Beg was engaged in wars with Bulgaria and the Byzantine Empire from 1320 to 1332. He repeatedly raided Thrace, partly in service of Bulgaria's war against both Byzantium and Serbia that began in 1319. His armies pillaged Thrace for 40 days in 1324 and for 15 days in 1337, taking 300,000 captives. After Öz Beg's death in 1341, his successors did not continue his aggressive policy and contact with Bulgaria lapsed. His attempt to reassert Mongol control over Serbia was unsuccessful in 1330. Byzantine Emperor Andronikos III purportedly gave his illegitimate daughter in marriage to Öz Beg but relations turned sour at the end of Andonikos's reign, and the Mongols mounted raids on Thrace between 1320 and 1324 until the Byzantine port of Vicina Macaria was occupied by the Mongols. Andonikos's daughter, who adopted the name Bayalun, managed to escape back to the Byzantine Empire, apparently fearing her forced conversion to Islam. In the south-east of the Kingdom of Hungary, Wallachia and its ruler Basarab I became an independent power with the support of Öz Beg after 1324.
Tver Uprising of 1327Tver, Russia
The Tver Uprising of 1327 (Russian: Тверское восстание) was the first major uprising against the Golden Horde by the people of Vladimir. It was brutally suppressed by the joint efforts of the Golden Horde, Muscovy and Suzdal. At the time, Muscovy and Vladimir were involved in a rivalry for dominance, and Vladimir's total defeat effectively ended the quarter-century struggle for power. The Golden Horde later became an enemy of Muscovy, and Russia did not become free of Mongol influence until the Great stand on the Ugra river in 1480, more than a century later.
Reign of Jani BegAstrakhan, Russia
With the support of his mother Taydula Khatun, Jani Beg made himself khan after eliminating his older brother and rival Tini Beg at Saray-Jük in 1342; he had already killed another ambitious brother, Khiḍr Beg. He is known to have actively interfered in the affairs of Rus principalities and of Lithuania. The Grand Princes of Moscow, Simeon Gordiy and Ivan II, were under constant political and military pressure from Jani Beg. The reign of Jani Beg was marked by the first signs of the feudal strife which would eventually contribute to the demise of the Golden Horde.
Siege of KaffaFeodosia
The Mongols under Janibeg besieged Kaffa and the Italian enclave at Tana, following a brawl between Italians and Muslims in Tana. The Italian merchants in Tana fled to Kaffa. The siege of Kaffa lasted until February 1344, when it was lifted after an Italian relief force killed 15,000 Mongol troops and destroyed their siege machines. Janibeg renewed the siege in 1345 but was again forced to lift it after a year, this time by an epidemic of plague that devastated his forces. The Italians blockaded Mongol ports, forcing Janibeg to negotiate, and in 1347 the Italians were allowed to reestablish their colony in Tana.
The spread of the plague through the ranks of the Mongols demoralized the army, and a large bulk of them lost interest in the siege. However, the Mongols would not back off, not without giving Kaffa a piece of their own torment. They put the corpses of their dead on their catapults and flung them over the defensive walls of Kaffa. The dwellers of Kaffa watched as rotten bodies fell from the skies, crashing on their soil, spreading their putrid smell in all directions. The Christians could neither hide nor flee from the havoc that rained down upon them. They moved as many rotten bodies as they could, dumping them into the sea as quickly as they could. But by then, it was too late; the Black Death was already in Kaffa. Fleeing inhabitants may have carried the disease back to Italy, causing its spread across Europe.;
Plague was reportedly first introduced to Europe via Genoese traders from their port city of Kaffa in the Crimea in 1347. During a protracted siege of the city, in 1345–1346 the Mongol Golden Horde army of Jani Beg, whose mainly Tatar troops were suffering from the disease, catapulted infected corpses over the city walls of Kaffa to infect the inhabitants, though it is more likely that infected rats travelled across the siege lines to spread the epidemic to the inhabitants. As the disease took hold, Genoese traders fled across the Black Sea to Constantinople, where the disease first arrived in Europe in summer 1347.
Battle of Blue WatersTorhovytsia, Ivano-Frankivsk O
The Battle of Blue Waters was a battle fought at some time in autumn 1362 or 1363 on the banks of the Syniukha river, left tributary of the Southern Bug, between the armies of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the Golden Horde. The Lithuanians won a decisive victory and finalized their conquest of the Principality of Kiev.
Turning Point: Battle of KulikovoDon River, Russia
The Battle of Kulikovo was fought between the armies of the Golden Horde, under the command of Mamai, and various Russian principalities, under the united command of Prince Dmitry of Moscow. The battle took place on 8 September 1380, at the Kulikovo Field near the Don River (now Tula Oblast, Russia) and was won by Dmitry, who became known as Donskoy, 'of the Don' after the battle. Although the victory did not end Mongol domination over Rus, it is widely regarded by Russian historians as the turning point at which Mongol influence began to wane and Moscow's power began to rise. The process eventually led to Grand Duchy of Moscow independence and the formation of the modern Russian state.
Battle of the Kalka River 1381Kalka River, Donetsk Oblast, U
The Battle of the Kalka River in 1381 was fought between the Mongol warlords Mamai and Toqtamish for control of the Golden Horde. Toqtamish was the victor and became sole ruler of the Horde. Mamai previously had de facto control over the Horde however his control began to crumble when Toqtamish of the White Horde invaded. At the same time the Rus princes rebelled against Mongol rule, removing a valuable source of tax income from Mamai. Mamai invaded the Rus but was defeated at the famous Battle of Kulikovo. Meanwhile Toqtamish in the east had seized the Golden Horde's capital, Sarai. Mamai used his remaining money to raise a small army and met Toqtamish at the region around the northern Donets and Kalka Rivers. No details of the battle remain but Toqtamish, who probably had a larger army, won a decisive victory. He subsequently took over the Golden Horde.
Restoration of Power: TokhtamyshAstrakhan, Russia
Tokhtamysh had become a powerful monarch, the first khan in over two decades to rule both halves (wings) of the Golden Horde. In the space of a little over a year, he had made himself master of the left (eastern) wing, the former Ulus of Orda (called White Horde in some Persian sources and Blue Horde in Turkic ones), and then also master of the right (western) wing, the Ulus of Batu (called Blue Horde in some Persian sources and White Horde in Turkic ones). This promised to restore the greatness of the Golden Horde after a long period of division and internecine conflict.;
Siege of MoscowMoscow, Russia
The Siege of Moscow in 1382 was a battle between the Muscovite forces and Tokhtamysh, the khan of the Golden Horde supported by Timur.
The Russian defeat reasserted the Horde's rule over some of Russian lands, which overthrew Tatar rule 98 years later by the great stand on the Ugra River. Tokhtamysh also re-established the Golden Horde as a dominant regional power, reunified the Mongol lands from Crimea to Lake Balkash and defeated Lithuanians at Poltava in the next year. However, he made the disastrous decision to wage a war against his former master, Tamerlane, and the Golden Horde never recovered.
The Tokhtamysh–Timur war was fought from 1386 to 1395 between Tokhtamysh, khan of the Golden Horde, and the warlord and conqueror Timur, founder of the Timurid Empire, in the areas of the Caucasus mountains, Turkistan and Eastern Europe. The battle between the two Mongol rulers played a key role in the decline of the Mongol power over early Russian principalities.
Battle of the Kondurcha RiverPlovdiv, Bulgaria
The Battle of the Kondurcha River was the first major battle of the Tokhtamysh–Timur war. It took place at the Kondurcha River, in the Bulgar Ulus of the Golden Horde, in what today is Samara Oblast in Russia. Tokhtamysh's cavalry tried to encircle Timur's army from the flanks. However, the Central Asian army withstood the assault, after which its sudden frontal attack put the Horde troops to flight. However, many of the Golden Horde troops escaped to fight again at Terek. Timur had previously assisted Tokhtamysh in taking the throne of the White Horde in 1378. In the following years both men grew in power, with Tokhtamysh taking full control of the Golden Horde while Timur expanded his power all over the Middle East. However Timur took Azerbaijan, which Tokhtamysh believed was rightfully Golden Horde territory. He invaded Timurid territory, briefly besieging Samarkand before being chased off by Timur. Timur pursued Tokhtamysh until the latter turned to fight him next to the Kondurcha River.
Battle of the Terek RiverTerek River
The Battle of the Terek River was the last major battle of Tokhtamysh–Timur war and took place at the Terek River, North Caucasus. The result was a victory for Timur.
Battle of the Vorskla RiverVorskla River, Ukraine
The Battle of the Vorskla River was a great battle in the medieval history of Eastern Europe. It was fought on August 12, 1399, between the Tatars, under Edigu and Temur Qutlugh, and the armies of Tokhtamysh and Grand Duke Vytautas of Lithuania. The battle ended in a decisive Tatar victory.
In entering into and exacerbating the conflict with his former protector Timur, Tokhtamysh set a course for the undoing of all his achievements and for his own destruction. Tokhtamysh's authority was dealt severe setbacks by the two great invasions of Timur into the core territories of the Golden Horde in 1391 and 1395–1396. These left Tokhtamysh competing with rival khans, ultimately driving him out definitively, and hounding him to his death in Sibir in 1406. Tokhtamysh's relative solidification of the khan's authority survived him only briefly, and largely due to the influence of his nemesis Edigu; but after 1411 it gave way to another long period of civil war that ended in the disintegration of the Golden Horde. Moreover, Timur's destruction of the Golden Horde's main urban centers, as well as the Italian colony of Tana, dealt a severe and lasting blow to the trade-based economy of the polity, with various negative implications for its future prospects for prosperity and survival.
After 1419, the Golden Horde functionally ceased to exist. Ulugh Muhammad was officially Khan of the Golden Horde but his authority was limited to the lower banks of the Volga where Tokhtamysh's other son Kepek also reigned. The Golden Horde's influence was replaced in Eastern Europe by the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, who Ulugh Muhammad turned to for support.
Battle of LipnicLipnica, Poland
The Battle of Lipnic (or Lipnica, or Lipniţi) was a battle between the Moldavian forces under Stephen the Great, and the Volga Tatars of the Golden Horde led by Ahmed Khan, and which took place on the August 20, 1470.
End of Mongol YokeUgra River, Kaluga Oblast, Rus
The Great Stand on the Ugra River was a standoff between the forces of Akhmat Khan of the Great Horde, and the Grand Prince Ivan III of Muscovy in 1480 on the banks of the Ugra River, which ended when the Tatars departed without conflict. It is seen in Russian historiography as the end of Tatar/Mongol rule over Moscow.
Last KhanKaunas, Lithuania
In 1500, the Muscovite–Lithuanian War resumed. Lithuania once again allied with the Great Horde. In 1501, Khan Sheikh Ahmed attacked Muscovite forces near Rylsk, Novhorod-Siverskyi, and Starodub. Lithuanian Grand Duke Alexander Jagiellon was preoccupied with his succession in the Kingdom of Poland and did not participate in the campaign. A harsh winter combined with burning of the steppe by Meñli I Giray, Khan of the Crimean Khanate, resulted in famine among Sheikh Ahmed's forces. Many of his men deserted him and the remainder was defeated on the Sula River in June 1502.
Sheikh Ahmed was forced into exile. He sought refuge at the Ottoman Empire or an alliance with the Grand Duchy of Moscow, before turning to the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Instead of helping its former ally, the Grand Duchy imprisoned Sheikh Ahmed for over 20 years. He was used as a bargaining chip in negotiations with the Crimean Khanate: if the Khanate did not behave, Sheikh Ahmed would be released and would resume his war with the Khanate.;
After the Battle of Olshanitsa in January 1527, Sheikh Ahmed was released from prison. It is said that he managed to seize power in the Astrakhan Khanate. He died around 1529.;
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