Golden Horde, Empire of the

Golden Horde, Empire of the,

Mongol state comprising most of Russia, given as an appanage to Jenghiz Khan's oldest son, Juchi, and actually conquered and founded in the mid-13th cent. by Juchi's son, Batu KhanBatu Khan
, d. 1255, Mongol leader; a grandson of Jenghiz Khan. In 1235 Batu became commander of the Mongol army assigned to the conquest of Europe; his chief general was Subutai. Batu crossed the Volga, sending part of his force to Bulgaria but most of it to Russia.
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, after the Mongol or Tatar (see TatarsTatars
or Tartars
, Turkic-speaking peoples living primarily in Russia, Crimea, and Uzbekistan. They number about 10 million and are largely Sunni Muslims; there is also a large population of Crimean Tatar descent in Turkey.
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) conquest of Russia. The name was derived from the Russian designation Zolotaya Orda, used by the Russians to designate the Mongol host that had set up a magnificent gleaming tent camp along the Volga River. The empire, also called the Kipchak Khanate, had its capital first at Sarai Batu near Astrakhan on the lower Volga and later at Sarai Berke on the Volga near present-day Volgograd. Its ascendancy terminated the rise of Kievan RusKievan Rus
, medieval state of the Eastern Slavs. It was the earliest predecessor of modern Ukraine and Russia. Flourishing from the 10th to the 13th cent., it included nearly all of present-day Ukraine and Belarus and part of NW European Russia, extending as far N as Novgorod
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 (Kiev was razed in 1240) and ultimately, although indirectly, contributed to the predominance of Muscovite Russia (see Moscow, grand duchy ofMoscow or Muscovy, grand duchy of,
state existing in W central Russia from the late 14th to mid-16th cent., with the city of Moscow as its nucleus.
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). Under the Empire of the Golden Horde, the Russian principalities retained their own rulers and internal administration. However, they were tributaries of the khan, who confirmed princely succession and exacted exorbitant taxes. Until the disintegration of the Mongol empire (14th cent.) the khans themselves were under the suzerainty of the great khan at Karakorum. In the early 14th cent. the empire of the Golden Horde adopted Islam as its official religion. Thus, Russia was exposed to both Muslim and Asian civilization. Internecine warfare among the Tatar leaders and attempts by the Russian princes, such as Dmitri DonskoiDmitri Donskoi
, 1350–89, Russian hero, grand duke of Moscow (1359–89). He successfully resisted Lithuanian attempts to invade Moscow, and was the first Russian prince since the Mongol conquest who dared to wage open war on the Tatars.
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, to end tributary payments contributed to the decline of the Empire of the Golden Horde in the late 14th cent. The state was conquered by TimurTimur
or Tamerlane
, c.1336–1405, Mongol conqueror, b. Kesh, near Samarkand. He is also called Timur Leng [Timur the lame]. He was the son of a tribal leader, and he claimed (apparently for the first time in 1370) to be a descendant of Jenghiz Khan.
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, who in 1395 dealt a final blow by sacking Sarai Berke. After his death the empire broke up into the independent khanates of Astrakhan, Kazan, Crimea, and Sibir.


See studies by C. J. Halperin (1985) and E. D. Sokol (1989).

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