Khiva Campaigns of 1839–40 and 1873

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Khiva Campaigns of 1839–40 and 1873


Russian military expeditions undertaken to subjugate the Khiva Khanate.

The tsarist government repeatedly attempted to bring the Khiva Khanate under its influence because the khanate was hindering the expansion of Russia’s commercial ties with Middle Asia, which was a source of raw materials and a market for Russian industrial goods. The campaigns of individual military detachments in, for example, 1605, 1717, and 1739 were unsuccessful because of the resistance of the Khivans.

In November 1839 a detachment of 5,000 men under the command of V. A. Perovskii, the governor-general of Orenburg, set out from Orenburg with the intention of marching to the Emba and then advancing to Khiva. The campaign was poorly organized, however; the lack of warm clothing and shortage of fuel together with the effects of an unusually severe winter compelled the detachment to return to Orenburg in the summer of 1840. More than 3,000 men were lost owing to disease and the cold.

By the 1870’s tsarism had conquered much of Middle Asia, so that Russian possessions bounded the Khiva Khanate on three sides. Partially motivated by Great Britain’s increasing intrigues in the region, the tsarist government decided to subjugate the khanate. In the spring of 1873, separate detachments of 2,000 to 5,000 men each, with a total of 12,000 men and 56 artillery pieces, set off from Tashkent, Orenburg, Mangyshlak, and Krasnovodsk under the command of the governor-general of Turkestan, General K. P. Kaufman. The Orenburg and Mangyshlak detachments joined forces and approached Khiva from the north on May 26, and the Turkestan detachment from Tashkent approached from the southeast. (The Krasnovodsk detachment had been forced to return to Krasnovodsk because of a lack of water.) On May 27 and 28 the tsarist troops on the outskirts of Khiva broke the feeble resistance of the Khivan troops, which surrendered on May 29. In accordance with the Gendemian Peace Treaty of 1873, the Khiva Khanate became a Russian protectorate.

Despite the expansionist, unjust character of the Khiva campaigns, the incorporation of the Khiva Khanate into Russia had an objectively progressive significance, since it promoted the development in Khiva of capitalist relations and the establishment of closer ties with the Russian people and culture.


Ivanin, M. Opisanie zimnegopokhoda v Khivu 1839–1840 gg. St. Petersburg, 1874.
Lobysevich, F. I. Opisanie Khivinskogo pokhoda 1873 g. St. Petersburg, 1898.
Sadykov, A. S. Ekonomicheskie sviazi Khivy s Rossiei vo vtoroipolovine XIX-nachale XX vv. Tashkent, 1965.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.