The Arab Conquest
In 7th century after tough inter-tribal wars a town of Medina became the center of unity of Arab tribes. In no time the leaders of nomadic tribes united their forces and focused their attention on conquering of neighboring oases and cities. Victory after victory, Syria, Palestine and Iran were quickly invaded, by 651 the Arabs were already by Merv which was later taken over with no resistance. The main reason behind Arab victories was not their military superiority but rather the weakness of states conquered. The first Arab to cross the Amudarya was Ubaydullah ibn Ziyad who was sent by Caliph Muaviya in 674. He besieged and conquered Paykent, beat rulers of Bukhara in a fierce battle as a result of which Bukhara was plundered by Arabs leaving many people homeless and turned to slaves. The governors of neighboring Sogd, Kesh, Nasaf united to help Bukhara against invaders but, as Narshahi wrote, Sogd soldiers were so impressed by the size and power of Arab army as to flee the battlefield. Another Arab historian Belazuri wrote that all people who participated in resistance against Arabs and survived in Bukhara were turned to slaves. Freedomloving people of Bukhara could not resign themselves to Arab rule. They attacked the castle of Seid ibn Osman and killed him. In 704 Kutaiba ibn Muslim was appointed as a governor of Khorasan, who has led the all-out invasion of Maveraunnakhr, that is all the land on the right bank of Amudarya. While in 705-706 he conquered Balh, Paykent. He met strong resistance by Sogdians and Turks led by Bagdice Nizak Tarhan who has managed to make Arabs to retreat. The year 709 was the turning point for the Arab conquest. The much-acclaimed Tarhan was killed and Bukhara was again taken without much fight. Soon after Shoumen, Nasaf and Kesh were also brought to control. Arabs were moving in closer to the heart of Sogd -Samarkand and it seemed that Samarkand would be the next target on Kutaiba's agenda diverting much of the forces and delayed the fall of Samarkand for two more years. In 711 Kutaiba restored the ruler of Khorezm to power thus making him vassal of Caliphate. The siege of Samarkand began in 712. The governor of Samarkand Gurek was able to deliver Arabs much pain and inflict considerable damage. Despite all these effort the city of Samarkand fell under Arab control thanks to the wall-destroying equipment. After much resistance the world famous city was conquered. A huge levy was imposed on the people of the city. Meanwhile, Kutaiba continued with his mission and took Khojent, Ferghana, Shash. In 715 after the death of Caliph Walid, his own soldiers killed Kutaiba when he attempted a plot against the new Caliph.
The Samanids Dynasty
In early ninth century Asad ibn Saman with his sons stood out among many local dynasties and increased his influence by helping Arabs to clamp down on rebels led by Rofe ibn Lays. Their forefather Saman came from one of the rich families of Ferghana. In return for their service under the orders of Caliph al- Mahmur governor of Horasan Gassan ibn Abbas appointed the sons of Asad as governors of important cities. Nuh was given Samarkand, Ahmad - Ferghana, Yahya-Shash and Usturshona, Ilyas -Herat. The head of family was Nuh, after his death - Ahmed ibn Asad. During Ahmed's rule Samanids gained full autonomy from the Arab Caliphate and Tahirids -another local dynasty. Ahmed united all the cities and territories under his brothers' control and formed a big state. His son Nasr, who ruled Samarkand, continued Ahmed's policy of self-rule. In recognition of Nasr's independence the Caliph Mutadim accepted Nasr's sovereignty over Maveraunnakhr with the capital in Samarkand. In 892 Ismail - Nasr's brother, became the Amir of Maveraunnakhr. He was given Bukhara in 874. In the year 900 Ismail won a decisive battle against Saffarids (another local dynasty). Later Khorasan, Seyistan were incorporated into Samanids state. Till 999 Khorasan was retained under Samanids rule. His son Ahmed (907-914) succeeded Ismail. During the reign of Nasr II (914-943) the teachings of Karmad spread all over the country against which Nuh II (943-954) fought aggressively. During Samanids' reign in Maveraunnakhr the handcraft and culture prospered. Many majestic buildings were erected. International trade became important. The Great Silk Road was revived and many cities were reconstructed. New weaving centers, pottery and carpentry centers developed. Inside the cities ever-present caravansaries, madrasah and mosques were built. The great scholars al-Khorezmi, Al-Ferghani, Al-Farabi, Ibn Sina, Beruni,Narshahi and many others also lived during that time. During the reign of Mansoor and Nuh (954-964) the state slowly but surely weakened. In 999 Karakhanids wrested away all the power from Samanids. The Samanids dynasty ceased to control Maveraunnakhr. The last representative of the dynasty Al-Muntasir was assassinated in1005.
The State of Ephtalites
The state of the Ephtalites came into being on the territory of the Kushan Empire after its decline. The majority of the population engaged in agriculture. The rest led a nomadic mode of life. The sources reveal information about the E. since 457 AD when their ruler Vahshunvar conquered Chaganian, Toharistan and Badahshan. The Sasanide king Peroz feared the growing expansion of the Ephtalites and started campaigns against them but was captured and appealed to Byzantium for help stating that nomadic invasions would be a threaten to it too. As a result, Peroz was set free for a ransom granted by the Byzantine emperor. Peroz promised the E. to give a frontier town Talkan but didn't keep to his promise and launched his second campaign, which also ended in a failure.
Abandoning his small son with the Ephtalites as a hostage he had paid a large tribute. In 484 Pervoz organized another campaign. This time he and his troops were tracked by the Ephtalites and fell dead. After crushing Peroz completely, the Ephtalites burdened Iran with a heavy contributions and occupied Merv, later the Kabul Valley, Pendiap, Karashar, Kucha, Kashgar and Khotan. So, they integrated Central Asia, Eastern Iran, Northern India, Eastern Turkestan into a single powerful empire. Under Peroz's son Kavad who spent his children by the E. court as a hostage, Iran was paying a tribute to the Ephtalites.
The Ephtalites actively participated in international trade through the Great Silk Route. They dealt with Iran, Byzantine, India, and China. The epic legends of the Ephtalites about Persian wars are contained in "Shah-name" That reflects a battle of the E. with the Turks in a story about an E. king Galferd. The academician V. Bartold supposes to see Gatferd as historical Katulf from Byzantine sources. Katulf out of spite injured to his wife by the king, escaped to Iran betraying his country to the Turks. Politically the Ephtalites created a single unified state bringing together many nations of various religious backgrounds. Zoroastrianism intertwined with local beliefs of Anahita, Sigarush, Mitra, and Buddhism.
The Turkic Khanate
In the middle 6th century Turkic tribes of Altai entered into alliance with neighboring tribes and established "the most powerful nomadic empire in the pre-Mongolian period". Two brothers Tumin and Istemi read a vast state formation. While Tumin expanded his dominions in the eastern Khanate, his brother Istemi engaged himself in the West of the country with unification of tribes of the area of Seven Rivers of Eastern Turkestan. A westward expansion made him approach the dominions of Ephtalites. In 563-567 the Turks defended the Ephtalite Empire and collided with Sasanide Iran on the Amu-Darya. When the Turks and Iran had a common opponent as the Ephtalite, their relations were friendly natured. The King Hasrov Anushirran even married a Turkic queen. After the Turks defeated the Ephtalites there arose a conflict between them and Iran. The Turk's aspirations to own the most vital trade routes contributed to the tension in relations with Iran. The mission of Istemi to Iran on trade issues failed, and the second and last members of the mission were poisoned. Following that, the Turks launched a struggle against Iran in an alliance with Byzantium. In 568-569 the first successful mission to Constantinople led by Maniah. The mutual struggle of Byzantium and Iran diverted their attention from the Khanate, which, in its turn, promoted a flourishing growth of semi-nomadic state of Turkic Khanate the Turks made several successful raids upon China once weakened by internal conflicts and achieved a big annual silk tribute. In 588 a Turkic King Kara-churin in alliance with Byzantium and Hazars, attacked Iran but was defeated and killed by a Sasanide General Bahram-Chubin. This defeat served as an impetus for the true fall of the Khanate and its disintegration in the 80s of sixth century AD into eastern and western parts. In the first half of the 7th century AD the Western Khanate saw its rise. There was an up growth. Its frontiers reached the banks of the Ind River. The trade links with China and Iran prospered. The caravan route along Merr-Chardjuy-Buhara-Samarkand-Chach flourished.
The State of the Temur Dynasty (1405-1450)
During five years after Amir Temur's death the long dynastic war took place in Maveraunnakhr. In 1409 Temur's son Shahrukh (1376-1447) gained an upper hand over his brother Miranshakh's son Halil-Sultan and became the head of united state of the Temur Dynasty. But, in fact, it had already consisted of two states. Shahrukh ruled in Horasan with its center in Herat, and Shahrukh's son Mirzo Ulugbek (1394-1449) governed Maveraunnakhr. Both states consisted of small fiefdoms governed by Temur descendants. Many of them aspired "for the larger portion of the cake" pretended on the larger part. Shahrukhs grandson, Sultan-Muhammad, who was appointed to rule Iran, began to demonstrate such level of independence that Shahrukh had to establish the order with the help of his army. Ulugbek was conducting an independent external policy. He was alertly following the situation in the Lower Syrdarya, from where the Uzbeks of Dashti-Kipchak were raging attacks at Khorezm. In 1419 he supported Barak and helped him to become the Khan of the nomadic Uzbeks. In Mongolia after long discords Shirmuhammad secured victory, but he made it with the help of Mirzo Ulugbek. But soon Ulugbek had to struggle with his protegees (those who were appointed by him). In 1425 Ulugbek crashed the Moguls. In 1427 after the relations with Barak had been spoiled, Ulugbek went to Lower Syrdarya and was defeated. After Shakhrukhs's death in 1447 Ulugbek made an attempt to conquer Herat and Horasan, but failed. In 1448 Ulugbek with his son Abdullatif tried again to conquer Herat, and this time being the successful. However, he couldn't conquer Horasan because of the riot of rulers of Horasan and incursions of nomadic Uzbeks led by Abulkhairkhan to Maveraunnakhr. In 1449 Abdullatif got to intrigue against his father, which has ended with Ulugbek's death. Abdullatif became the ruler, but he was killed in May 1450. Abdulla, who did try to revive Ulugbek's policy, took the power.
The State of the Temur Dynasty (1451-1507)
In counterweight to Abdulla, who was supported by Turks, the Emirs of Bukhara, supported by Nakshbandiya movement by Hoja Akhror, promoted their own claimant to the throne. It was Abu-Sayid (1451-1468), Miranshakh's grandchild, who was the son of Amir Temur. Abu-Sayid attracted at his side the khan of nomadic Uzbeks - Abulhair. In the summer of 1451 not far from Samarkand the great battle occurred. The nomadic Uzbeks won, Abdulla was killed. Abu-Sayid seized power over Samarkand and Maveraunnakhr. Hoja Akhror became his closest counselor. Abu-Sayid failed in securing Horasan, because Abul-Kasim Bobur had possessed the throne of Herat since 1452 till 1457. Relations between two governors were hostile. In 1457 Abu-Sayid seized the throne of Herat, temporarily uniting two states. But another Temur descendant - Sultan Husein Boikaro, Omar-sheikh's great-grandson, who was the son of Amir Temur - tried to gain power in Herat. In 1468 Abu-Sayid went to conquer Iran and didn't come back. Sultan Husein (1469-1506) used the situation and seized the power. Abu-Sayid's sons declined from struggle for the throne and went to Maveraunnakhr. In the second half of the 15th century there was the period of political split in Maveraunnakhr. From 1469 to 1494 Sultan Ahmed, Abu-Sayid's son, ruled in Samarkand (the power in fact was in the hands of Hoja Akhror and Nakshbandiya religious teaching), Sultan Ali-mirza - in Bukhara, Zakhiriddin Muhammad Bobur - in Ferghana. It was Bobur who made the fierce resistance against the invasion of nomadic Uzbeks led by Sheibany-khan. In 1497 the Andijan army headed by Bobur took over Samarkand. In spring 1501 Bobur failed in battle with Sheibany-khan on the Kuhak River. Bobur had to go to Kabul. From 1501 till 1506 Sheibany-khan conquered Samarkand, Tashkent, Kyat and Buldumsaz, Urgench, and Balh. Meanwhile, weak Sultan-Husein couldn't make a serious resistance against Sheibany-khan. Only after Sheibany-khan had seized Horezm, Sultan-Husein decided to set out, but soon he died. In Herat his sons Badi az-Zamin and Muzaffar Husein - where appointed as successors. The discord between them only accelerated the fall of Herat. In 1507 Sheibany-khan conquered Herat.
||Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Uzbekistan
9, Uzbekistan Street, Tashkent, 100029
Phone: +(998 71) 233-64-75
Fax: +(998 71) 239-15-17
Consular department: (+998 71) 233-45-01, 232-17-30