Kazan Khanate

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Kazan Khanate


a feudal state in the Middle Volga Region (1438–1552), established on the territory of what was formerly Bulgaria on the Volga as a result of the disintegration of the Golden Horde. The principal city was Kazan. The founder of the dynasty of Kazan khans was Ulu Muhammad (reigned from 1438 to 1445), who drove out the local prince. The people of the Kazan Khanate included the Kazan Tatars (descendants of the Bulgars), Mari, Chuvash, Udmurts, and some Mordvinians and Bashkirs. The principal occupation of the population was agriculture. There was also well-developed handicraft production in the cities. Trade with Rus’, Siberia, and the countries of the Caucasus and the Orient also played an important role in the state’s economy.

Supreme state authority in the khanate was vested in the khan, but it was directed by a council of the major feudal lords (divan). The upper stratum of the feudal nobility consisted of the karachi, representatives of the four leading clans (Shirin, Bargyn, Argyn, and Kypchak). Below them were the sultans and emirs, and, still lower, the murzas, ulans, and warriors. An important role was played by the Muslim religious leaders with their vast holdings of waqf lands. The bulk of the population consisted of free peasants (known as “black people”) who paid the iasak (tribute) and other taxes to the state and feudal nobility, feudally dependent peasantry, and serfs drawn from prisoners of war and slaves. For administrative purposes, the khanate was divided into darugas (districts) and uluses (corresponding to the Turkish vilayet ). The army consisted of the khan’s guard, units of various feudal lords, and a militia comprised of the tribute-paying population.

From the very beginning of its existence, the khanate carried out a continuing series of devastating raids against the Russian lands. In the 1460’s, however, the rising Russian state began an active struggle with Kazan. A campaign against Kazan and Viatka was organized in 1467–69. As a result of another Russian campaign in 1487, Ali Khan was removed from the throne of Kazan and replaced by Muhammad Emin, the candidate of Ivan III. The khanate thus found itself a vassal of Russia, a situation that continued until 1521. After the death of Muhammad Emin (1518), Shah Ali, a tsarevich of Kasimov (a Muscovite appanage held by Tatar vassals), was placed on the throne. In 1521, however, he was driven out by Sahib Girei, a brother of the Crimean khan. The Kazan Khanate then became an ally of the Crimean and Astrakhan khanates and the Nogai Horde, which were supported by Turkey. That same year, it joined the Crimeans in a devastating raid on the environs of Moscow. The Russians built the fortress of Vasil’sursk in 1523 as a defense against the Kazan Tatars. In 1524 the khanate declared itself to be a vassal of Turkey, and Safa Girei, who ruled with interruptions until 1549, was confirmed as khan.

In 1546, however, the “mountainous” (western) side of the Volga was lost to the Russians. Then, as a result of the Kazan campaigns of 1545–52 and the capture of Kazan in 1552 by Russian troops, the khanate lost its independence and the entire Middle Volga Region was annexed to the Russian state. Russian voevodas (military governors) were installed in Kazan and Sviiazhsk, and these, in turn, were subordinated to the Office of the Kazan Palace (Prikaz Kazanskogo Dvortsa).


Kazanskaia istoriia. Moscow-Leningrad, 1954.
Istoriia Tatarskoi ASSR, vol. Kazan, 1955.
Safargaliev, M. G. Raspad Zolotoi Ordy. Saransk, 1960.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
It was built in 1555-1561 by order of Tsar Ivan the Terrible to commemorate his victory over medieval state called Kazan Khanate which was absorbed into Russia.
The mix of non-Orthodox and non-Slavic peoples brought under Tsar Ivan IV's sovereignty with the conquest of the Kazan Khanate in 1552 could be considered as already more "prepared" for life as imperial subjects.
Matthew Romaniello's The Elusive Empire deals with the incorporation of the former Kazan Khanate into the Muscovite state over the period 1552-1671 --Tsar Ivan IV's conquest of the Kazan Khanate in 1552 is traditionally considered one of the great achievements of his reign and a mark of Muscovy's emergence as a multinational empire.
In contrast to the preceding Muscovite campaigns against Kazan, Ivan IV's campaign of "conquest" in 1552 brought quick and decisive victory in the sense that the military overthrow of the Kazan Khanate was achieved in just a few weeks, the noble faction supporting Girei candidates for the Kazan throne was soundly defeated, and the tsar's sovereignty was politically cemented as well as symbolically asserted by the installation of a Muscovite vicegerent.
The 1552 overthrow of the Kazan Khanate had occurred early in the Muscovite imperial project, as one of its opening acts, at a time when the Moscow state had just begun developing the mechanism for imperial rule: networks of frontier garrisons linked up along fortified defense lines, a central government apparatus of chancelleries (prikazy), and the chancellery-directed provincial government system of town governors (gorodovye voevody).
Chapter 1 describes the 1552 overthrow of the Kazan Khanate and argues that before Moscow could fully pacify the subject population it first had to define a border by building a defense line held by garrisons-the Arzamas Line, completed in 1578.