Talysh Khanate

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Khanate of Talysh

Persian: Khānāt-e Talesh

Azerbaijani: Talış xanlığı

Talysh: Tolışi xanәti
Talysh Khanate at its greatest extent
Talysh Khanate at its greatest extent
Under Iranian suzerainty[2]
Common languagesPersian (official),[3][4] Talysh[verification needed]
• Established
• Disestablished
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Afsharid dynasty
Russian Empire
Today part of Iran

The Talysh Khanate (Persian: خانات تالش‎ — Khānāt-e Tālesh, Azerbaijani: Talış xanlığı, Talysh: Tolışi xanəti), also known as the Lenkaran Khanate,[5] was a khanate of Iranian origin that was established in Persia and existed from the middle of the 18th century till the beginning of the 19th century, located in the south-west coast of the Caspian Sea.

It comprised the southeastern part of the modern day Republic of Azerbaijan and the eastern tip of north-western Iran. The capital of the khanate was its chief city, Lenkaran. Its population mainly consisted of Azerbaijanis and Talysh people.[6]

As a result of the Persian defeat in the Russo-Persian War of 1826-28, the khanate was dissolved and absorbed by the Russian Empire.


According to Mirza Ahmad Mirza oglu Khudaverdi, the founder of the Talysh Khanate, Seyyid Abbas,[7] his ancestors were members of the Safavid dynasty, who had moved into the Talish region during the 1720s during a turbulent period in Iranian history. When Seyyid Abbas died in 1747 he was succeeded by his son Jamaladdin, often remembered as Gara Khan (the 'Black King'), because of his dark skin. Because of his good service to Nader Shah, Nader officially awarded him the hereditary title of khan.[5] Gara Khan was pro-Russian in his foreign policy which upset the rulers of neighboring khanates notably Hidayat Khan of Gilan. In 1768 Hidayat Khan attacked the Talysh khanate. Seeking aid against the superior enemy, Gara Khan sent his brother Karbalayi Sultan to Fath Ali Khan, ruler of the Quba Khanate resulting in an alliance between Quba and Lenkaran. By 1785 the territory of the Talysh khanate had formally become a dependency of that much stronger Quba Khanate together with certain other Azerbaijani khanates. However, in 1789 following Fath Ali Khan's death, the Talysh Khanate regained its independence under Mir Mustafa, the son of Gara Khan who had himself died in 1786.

In 1794-5 the Persian Shah Agha Muhammad Khan Qajar called on the various khanates of the South Caucasus to form an alliance against the Russian Empire and mounted a military expedition against those who refused to join him. The Talysh khanate refused to do and was attacked in 1795. Mir Mustafa Khan's disparate army was not strong enough to resist and he sent his representatives to General Gudovich asking for Russian protection. However, the Russians took a long time to respond, only finally arriving in 1802 when the Talysh Khanate became a protectorate of the Russian Empire.

The khanate was to remain a pawn between the Persian and Russian empires over the subsequent two decades. In 1809 as a part of the Russo-Persian War (1804-1813), Iranian troops took the city of Lenkaran and expelled the Russian-leaning khan. In 1812, with Napoleon was attacking Moscow, the Russians were also battling again in the Caucasus. After a brief siege led by Pyotr Kotlyarevsky on January 1, 1813, 2,000 Russian troops managed to decisively take the citadel of Lenkaran from the Persian army. There were heavy losses on both sides, but this strategic capture of Lankaran led inexorably to the September 12, 1813 Treaty of Gulistan. This forced defeated Persia to cede many of the formerly independent khanates to Russia. In 1814 Mir Mustafa khan died and his son Mir Hassan Khan succeeded him but only in name.

With Russia busy in European wars, Persia attempted to reassert its hegemony in the area and to revert the Treaty of Gulistan and thus invaded the south Caucasus, starting the 1826-28 Russo-Persian war. In the campaign of 1826, Persia managed to regain all lost territories, but after the numerous defeats in the campaign of 1827, the war ended up with the even more humiliating Treaty of Turkmenchay which permanently ceded the Talysh Khanate to Russia.

Yermolov took over the khanates of eastern Transcaucasia one by one and deposed their khans: Shaki in 1819, Shirvan in 1820, and Qara-Bagh in 1822. Only Mir Hassan Khan of Talesh was allowed autonomy, Ermolov understanding him and his family to be implacably hostile to Iran. In fact Mir Hassan threw the Russians out in the year that hostilities reopened, and a strong Iranian force came to help him. He retained control of the khanate, in the name of the Shah, until he was forced to abandon it in 1828 by the Treaty of Turkmenchay.[1]

The Talysh Khans proved a stimulating subject for famed Azeri poet-playwright Mirza Fatali Akhundov (Mirza Fatali Akhundzade), nicknamed the Muslim Molière. A 1938 production of his Sərgüzəşti Vəziri-Xani Lənkəran ('The Adventures of the Lankaran Khan's Vizier'), starred the future president Heydar Aliyev, then just a teenager.[8]


No. Name Lifespan Took office Left Office Ref.
1 Mir Jamaladdin (Gara Khan) 1708 – June/July 1787 1747 June/July 1787 [9]
2 Mir Mustafa Khan 1747 – 7 August 1814 June/July 1787 7 August 1814 [9]
3 Mir Hassan Khan 1784 – 12 July 1832 August 1814 June 1828 [9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Tapper, Richard (1997). Frontier nomads of Iran: a political and social history of the Shahsevan. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 161. ISBN 0-521-58336-5.
  2. ^ Bournoutian, George A. (2016). The 1820 Russian Survey of the Khanate of Shirvan: A Primary Source on the Demography and Economy of an Iranian Province prior to its Annexation by Russia. Gibb Memorial Trust. p. xvii. ISBN 978-1909724808. Serious historians and geographers agree that after the fall of the Safavids, and especially from the mid-eighteenth century, the territory of the South Caucasus was composed of the khanates of Ganja, Kuba, Shirvan, Baku, Talesh, Sheki, Karabagh, Nakhichivan and Yerevan, all of which were under Iranian suzerainty.
  3. ^ Swietochowski, Tadeusz (2004). Russian Azerbaijan, 1905-1920: The Shaping of a National Identity in a Muslim Community. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 12. ISBN 978-0521522458. (...) and Persian continued to be the official language of the judiciary and the local administration [even after the abolishment of the khanates].
  4. ^ Petrushevsky, Ilya Pavlovich (1949). Essays on the history of feudal relations in Armenia and Azerbaijan in XVI - the beginning of XIX centuries. LSU them. Zhdanov. p. 7. (...) The language of official acts not only in Iran proper and its fully dependant Khanates, but also in those Caucasian khanates that were semi-independent until the time of their accession to the Russian Empire, and even for some time after, was New Persian. It played the role of the literary language of class feudal lords as well. |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  5. ^ a b ru:Талышское ханство
  6. ^ Dubrovin, Nikolai F. (1871). The history of war and Russian domination in Caucasus. Volume 1: Study on the Caucasus and the peoples inhabiting it. Book 2: Transcaucasia (in Russian). Saint Petersburg. p. 328.
  7. ^ Stuart Olsen et al. An Ethnohistorical Dictionary of the Russian and Soviet Empires Greenwood Publishing Group, 1 jan. 1994 ISBN 978-0313274978 p 620
  8. ^ "7.4 Azerbaijan's President, Heydar Aliyev Interview in Azerbaijan International". www.azer.com.
  9. ^ a b c "Azerbaijan". www.worldstatesmen.org.