Edited by  H. B. Paksoy

Table of Contents:

H. B. Paksoy "Ibadinov's Kuyas Ham Alav"
Peter B. Golden (Rutgers) "Codex Comanicus"
Richard Frye (Harvard) "Narshaki's The History of Bukhara"
Robert Dankoff (Chicago) "Adab Literature"
Uli Schamiloglu (Wisconsin-Madison) "Umdet ul Ahbar"
Kevin Krisciunas (Joint Astronomy Centre) "Ulug Beg's Zij"
Audrey Altstadt (UMass-Amherst) "Bakikhanli's Nasihatlar"
Edward J. Lazzerini (New Orleans) "Gaspirali's Tercuman"
David S. Thomas (Rhode Island) "Akcura's Uc Tarz-i Siyaset"

ISBN: 975-428-033-9
Library of Congress Card Catalog: DS329.4 .C46 1992
173 Pp. (paperback)  US$20 

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Please refer to the published version for footnotes.

The Umdet ul-ahbar and the Turkic Narrative Sources 
for the Golden Horde and the Later Golden Horde 

Uli Schamiloglu 

in memory of Tibor Halasi-Kun (1914-1991) 
           A series of Turkic narrative sources have come down to
us from the Later Golden Horde, the period of the successor
states to the Golden Horde including the xanates of the Crimea,
Kasimov, Kazan, and other political units in the 15th-18th
centuries. These narrative sources, mostly chronicles, are of
fundamental importance for the study of the history of Western
Eurasia in the 13th-18th centuries. As most of these works are
still available only in the original Turkic, they remain
inaccessible and sometimes even unknown to the mainstream of
modern scholarship.  It seems appropriate, therefore, to briefly
survey these historical writings together with a closer
examination of one particular work, the Umdet ­l-ahbar. It is
hoped that such a survey will encourage the integration of Turkic
sources into the study of the history of the states of Western
           If we consider the various factors which might be seen
as contributing towards the development of a major tradition of
court historiography in this period, the Golden Horde did, in
fact, incorporate some of these. One may argueßcontrary to the
view of Schurmannßthat a strong centralized state power did
develop. Numerous urban centers, including over time several
capitals, also existed. Finally, we know from the famous
traveler Ibn Batûtßtûa and other sources that these urban centers
served as home to religious institutions and the learned groups
usually associated with them. At the same time, certain factors
worked against the florescence of a literary culture and its
preservation. The Black Death, which struck the territories of
the Golden Horde late in the 1340s, must have included a very
high proportion of the learned groups in its heavy human toll.
The attacks on urban centers in the second half of the 14th
century, the final Russian conquest of many cities, and the later
history of fires in cities such as Kazan were also devastating in
terms of the survival of a literary heritage. This may help
explain why much of what survives of the literary culture of the
cities of the Golden Horde has come down to us from outside the
territories of the Golden Horde. 
           When enumerating the products of the Turkic literary
culture in Western Eurasia in this period, the best-known
examples are the edicts and diplomatic correspondence
collectively known as yarlÔqs. These are not strictly speaking
narrative sources and survive in original Turkic versions only
from the end of the 14th century. This does not mean, however,
that there were no internal documents written before the end of
the 14th century.  YarlÔqs issued as early as the 13th century
are preserved in translations into Russian and other languages
from the original "Mongolian" (which could also mean Turkic in
the Mongolian script which the Mongols borrowed from the Uy*urs).
These translated documents offer the best evidence of an earlier
literary culture which has not survived in the original. 
           A small number of bellettristic and religious works
are also connected by various scholars with Old Saray or New
Saray (the successive capitals of the Golden Horde) or with some
of its other cities. These include Qutb's reworked Turkic
translation of the romantic poem Xusrev u 3irin (dedicated to the
Golden Horde xan TÔnÔbeg, r. 1341-2); Xwarezmi's romantic poem
Mahabbetname; and the religious treatise Nehc ­l-feradis
(generally considered to have been written in 1358 or 1360 by one
Mahmud b. Ali). Seyf-i Serayi's G­listan bi-t-t­rki (a
reworking of the Persian work by Sa`dß) falls into a somewhat
different category as a work written in Mamlßk Egypt in 1391 by a
native of Saray. There is also the oral literary work
(destan) C­mc­me sultan (also known as the C­mc­mename)
whose relationship to the Kesikbaß kitabÔ deserves further
           Yet, there is no extant work written in the 13th-14th
centuries which can be called a history of the Golden Horde. As
just described, a literary culture clearly existed. There was
even a pre-13th century historiographical tradition in one or
more of the regions of the Golden Horde which could have
contributed to the further development of a historiographical
tradition in the 13th-14th centuries. In the north, Volga
Bulgaria had been a center of literacy, literary traditions, and
even historical traditions dating back to the first millenium.
The literary culture of this sedentary area continued through the
time of the xanate of Kazan (15th-16th centuries) as known from
original works produced in the xanate itself. For the southern
area, Omeljan Pritsak reminds us that the Crimea had been a
center of unbroken literary activity since classical times.
Finally, Xwarezm and its rich literary culture also formed an
integral part of the territory of the Golden Horde until the
second half of the 14th century. An important question, then,
is what happened to historiography in the Golden Horde? 
       The absence of an independent work devoted solely to the
13th-14th centuries should not be understood to mean that no
historical works or historical traditions existed in this
period. Instead, I would like to argue that one should look to
the historical traditions of the Later Golden Horde (15th-18th
centuries). In many instances, the data for the 13th-14th
centuries contained in these later works can be considered the
direct continuation of historical traditions from the earlier
period of the Golden Horde (even though not all the states of the
Later Golden Horde were directly descended from the western half
of the earlier Golden Horde). Only when these different extant
traditions are fully studied and compared can we have a better
notion of the full extent of historical writing and historical
traditions in the earlier Golden Horde. 
           Turning to the narrative sources from the 15th-18th
centuries, one of the outstanding historical works from the Later
Golden Horde is the Cami ­t-tevarix, written in the xanate of
Kasimov by QadÔr Ali Calayir. According to the received
interpretation, this unusual political unit in the service of the
Russian grand duke was founded in 1452 when Vasiliy II granted
QasÔm b. Ulu* Muhammed the town of Gorodets (or Meßßerskiy
gorodok) as an appanage. The work itself, produced in 1602,
begins with a condensed Tatar translation of portions of Raßßd
ad-Dßn's CÄmi` at-tavÄrßx. Familiarity with Raßßd ad-Dßn's
universal history is evidence that even a state in the service of
Russia could maintain a historical consciousness linking it with
the earlier Cingisid states as well as the greater Turkic and
Islamic cultural world. Appended to the translation of the
earlier source is a series of destans or accounts of
personalities and events from the end of the earlier Golden Horde
leading up to the time of the xanate of Kasimov. It includes
separate sections on the following figures, many of whom date
from the 14th century (no doubt based on sources or traditions
dating back to the 14th century): Urus Xan, ToqtamÔß Xan, Tem­r
Qutlu Xan and his descendants, Haci Giray Xan, Edigey, Haci
Muhammed Xan, Abu l-Xayr Xan, Yadigar Xan, and Uraz Muhammed
Xan. This final section, a unique indigenous source for the
xanate of Kasimov, provides valuable information on the
organization and tribal composition of the xanate of Kasimov.
QadÔr Ali Calayir was himself qaraßÔ bey of the Calayir "ruling
tribe" in that xanate, and one can therefore be sure that some of
the information in the source is cast from the perspective of the
tribal establishment of the state (the "land"), rather than from
the opposing perspective of the ruling ¿ingisid line. 
        In sharp contrast to Kasimov, the only Turkic narrative
source to be connected with the xanate of Kazan is a brief
account relating to its conquest discovered by Zeki Velidi
Togan. Given the active relations between the various xanates
of the Later Golden Horde (one only need recall the many figures
that served as ruler in more than one xanate), it is likely they
shared many of the same traditions regarding the period up to the
foundation of the individual xanates. Written works could also
have been shared. Usmanov speculates, for example, that the work
of Raßßd ad-Dßn might have found its way to Kasimov through the
xanate of Kazan. It has also been suggested that C­mc­me
sultan, which the Crimean xan Sahib Giray ordered translated into
Turkish, may have found its way to the Crimea from Kazan. 
           Given the limited number of narrative sources
available for
the xanates of Kasimov and Kazan, historians interested in these
states should pay special attention to the Crimean xanate. The
most dramatic reason for this is the rather large number of
Turkic narrative sources which survive from this xanate. In
addition to the Umdet ­l-ahbar, which will be described in
greater detail below, there is a series of other important works
which have also been published: 
         The Es-seb ­s-seyyar was written by Seyyid Muhammed RÔza
(a member of the Crimean aristocracy, d. 1756). It was edited by
Mirza Kazembek in the first half of the 19th century and used
by V.D. Smirnov in his history of the Crimean xanate. 
         The G­lb­n-i hanan was composed in 1811 by Halim Giray
Sultan (d. 1823), a ¿ingisid descended from Mengli Giray. 
         The Tarih-i ðslam Giray Han was written by Haci Mehmed
Senai, who flourished in the 1640s. This work was edited and
translated into Polish by Z. Abrahamowicz as the History of Islam
Giray Han III. 
        The Tarih-i Sahib Giray Han was written by Remmal Hoca, a
physician to Sahib Giray who later entered the service of Sultan
Selim II. This work, which has been made available by ß.
Gßkbilgin in a transcription accompanied by a French translation,
pays particular attention to the upheaval in the system of
"ruling tribes" in the early Crimean xanate. 
         The Tarih-i Said Giray Han, a work from the 17th century
which has been studied by B. Kellner-Heinkele. 
       The Tevarih-i Deßt-i KÔpßak, composed ca. 1638, includes a
brief survey of the earlier Golden Horde as well as the later
period until the early 17th century. It has been made available
by A. Zajaßczkowski together with its 18th-century French
       Other sources include the Telhis ­l-beyan fi kavanin al-Ô
Osman, which was utilized by Smirnov in his history of the
Crimean xanate, and the Tarih-i Muhammed Giray Han, which
covers the period 1684-1703. Although this listing is not
exhaustive, it is clear that the Crimean xanate offers a wealth
of narrative historical sources to a degree simply not available
for the other states of the Later Golden Horde. 
       Let us turn now to a closer look at one of these sources,
the Umdet ­l-ahbar, and some examples of the kind of information
it can offer. This work, which covers the rise of the Mongol
empire and the history of the Crimean xanate, was written in
Ottoman Turkish (but with some Crimean Tatar elements) by
Abd­lgaffar b. el-Hac Hasan b. el-Hac Mahmud b. el-Hac
Abd­lvehhab el-KÔrÔmi, a member of the Crimean ulema banished
from his home in A.H. 1157/1744-5 A.D. One partial edition of
this work, published by Necib AsÔm earlier this century under the
title Umdet ­t-tevarih (Istanbul, A.H. 1343/1924-5 A.D.),
appeared as a supplement to the T­rk tarih enc­meni mecmuasÔ.
This edition was prepared on the basis of the manuscript of about
166 folia preserved in Istanbul in the S­leymaniye Library (Esad
Efendi no. 2331). Though the manuscript begins with a
substantial section surveying the history of the earlier Islamic
states, the printed edition includes only the final portion of
the original work covering in detail the rise of the Mongol world
empire, the Golden Horde, and the Crimean xanate. The work has
not been made available in any other language. 
           The Umdet ­l-ahbar is based on a wide range of Arabic,
Persian, and Turkic sources for the different periods it
covers. One of Abd­lgaffar KÔrÔmi's most important sources for
the 13th-14th centuries was the Tarih-i Dost Sultan. This work,
supposed to have been written in Xwarezm in the 16th century,
survives in the library of Zeki Velidi Togan. (Another copy of
this work is the incomplete Tashkent manuscript known as the
ßtemiß Haci tarihi or as the "¿ingizname of ßtemiß Haci b.
Mevlana Muhammed DostÔ"). For the later periods, Abd­lgaffar
KÔrÔmi draws on various Crimean and Ottoman sources as well as on
his own first-hand knowledge. 
      The Umdet ­l-ahbar has been utilized as a historical source
by only a handful of scholars. For the earlier period, Berthold
Spuler made use of the edition by Necib AsÔm in his history of
the Golden Horde, though he concludes that many of the accounts
in this work pertaining to the 13th-14th centuries are
legendary. More recently, Mustafa KafalÔ has relied on the
data contained in the the Umdet ­l-ahbar as the basis of his
recent work on the the Golden Horde. (Both Spuler and Mustafa
KafalÔ were also able to consult the Togan manuscript of the
Tarih-i Dost Sultan.) Coming to the later period, the foremost
modern scholar of the various Turkic chronicles for the history
of the Crimean xanate has been Halil Inalcik. He has incorporated
the Umdet ­l-ahbar and other Crimean sources in his now-classic
articles on the history of the Crimean xanate, which may serve as
a model for research based on the Turkic narrative histories and
diplomatic correspondence preserved for this period.
Otherwise, the Umdet ­l-ahbar has been neglected in most studies
of the Golden Horde and the Later Golden Horde. 
     In its survey of the history of the 13th-14th centuries, the
Umdet ­l-ahbar offers accounts of the reign of each of the rulers
of the Golden Horde, sometimes in great detail. It includes
descriptions of the role of the tribal nobility in the selection
and elevation of the various ¿ingisid xans of the Golden Horde.
For example, it refers to negotiations of the Golden Horde emirs
with H­leg­ prior to the accession of Berke Xan (r. 1255-
His two princes [the sons of Batu] SarÔtak 
and Togan were left, but 
SarÔtak then died. Since Togan was a small 
child, the consultation of 
the celebrated emirs decided at this point 
to inform H­leg­, one of the 
sons of Toluy from the party of the xan 
(z­mre-i kaan). They sent him 
according to the habit of Mongol custom a 
lock of hair and a sword 
without a scabbard, and a shirt without a 
collar as though the ulus of 
Coci had no ruler. 

At the beginning of the reign of T­de Meng­ (r. 1280-1287), it is
described that the emirs of the Deßt-i QÔpßaq had to swear an
oath of fealty to him, after which they participated
in the installation ceremony of ritual elevation. Similar
statements are made for other rulers as well, including the
accession to the throne of ßzbek Xan (r. 1313-1341):
   Then two notable emirs seated the xan on a (rug of) white felt 
          according to cingisid custom and, raising him,
installed him on the 
           throne. All the tribes came and gave the oath of
fealty in groups one 
           after the other. 

The Umdet ­l-ahbar relates other information on the rulers as
well, including major source traditions on the piety of Berke and
the conversions to Islam of ßzbek Xan and
    The Umdet ­l-ahbar is notable for offering information on
individuals connected with the major socio-political units
("ruling tribes") of the Golden Horde on which the traditional
sources for the earlier period are usually silent. One account
relating to the first half of the 13th century describes how Batu
sent 3iban with 30,000 soldiers and Bor Altay of the TaraqlÔ
QÔyat as his atalÔq against Mankup in the Crimea: 
In the province of the Crimea there were all sorts of different 
peoples, but most of them were Genoese infidels, and from among
the Tatars there were also some people called the As. These
soldiers attacked the fortress called Mankup, but the
aforementioned fortress was very strong. Since it was (situated)
on very steep mountains and its conquest was not an easy matter,
they entered it by ruse. He ordered that each of the soldiers
should take two stirrups in his hands apiece and begin beating
them together. Such a frightful clamor issued forth that those
who heard it were amazed. They did not cease this tumult for a
whole month and they refrained from fighting. The infidels of the
fortress heard this melodic noise and they were ready to neglect 
the defense and protection of the ramparts of the fortress.
Following this manner of deception, with the rest of his troops
not stopping their clamor, he selected four-five thousand brave
and courageous young men and appointed Bor Altay bey as
commander-in-chief. In the middle of the night they advanced well
concealed. The As infidels were surprised and did not find a
place of refuge, and the fortress was captured, they say. 

This is just one example in which an individual is described as
having a specific tribal affiliation, and there are other
references to individuals connected with the QanglÔ, the Sicivut,
and especially the QÔyat. In another example, the 14th-century
figure Mamay is called the nephew of QÔyat Astay bey of the right
      The most important of the socio-political units functioning
as a "ruling tribe" in the various xanates of the Later Golden
Horde was the 3irin. The 3irin remained throughout the history of
the Crimea the dominant among the four (later five) "ruling
tribes" of the xanate up until the Russian annexation of the
Crimea at the end of the 18th century. Even when 3ahin Giray
intended to streamline and centralize his administration in the
1770s by downgrading the role of the qaraßÔ beys (whose role in
electing the ¿ingisid xan is identical with that of the qurÔltays
in the earlier period) by usurping for himself the power of
designating his successor, he could not fully ignore the
importance of the 3irin and the Mansurs (earlier known as the
MangÔts). Abd­lgaffar KÔrÔmi, who was a strong partisan of the
3irin "ruling tribe", depicts the 3irin "ruling tribe" defending
the interests of the "land" against the interests of the ¿ingisid
Giray dynasty throughout the history of the Crimean xanate. As
such, the Umdet ­l-ahbar is the history of the 3irin in the
Crimea, offering information which is particularly valuable for
the origins and later history of the leadership of the 3irin
"ruling tribe". It states, for example, that the 3irin are
descended from a particular branch of the As with a *ßßm­ß brand
or tam*a. This is a unique statement in the sources regarding
the origin of this most important socio-political unit in the
states of the Later Golden Horde. By the expression As kabilesi
it is not clear, however, whether it is meant that they are
therefore descended from the Iranian Alans of the medieval Pontic
steppe (there is certainly no other "ruling tribe" with a similar
origin) or that the name has a geographical connotation. 
           The Umdet ­l-ahbar describes the leaders of the 3irin,
BarÔn, Ar*Ôn and QÔpßaq as joining ToqtamÔß as his has nßkers or
"special companions". From this period on it is a rich source
for following the earliest leaders of the 3irin in the Crimea.
The first 3irin leader to cooperate with ToqtamÔß was ßrek Tem­r
b. DangÔ bey, whose son Tegine was just as important in the Deßt-
i QÔpßaq (or Kipchak steppe) as his rival, the MangÔt leader
Edig­. Beyond the genealogical information contained in the
narrative itself, there is a separate genealogical appendix at
the end of this work. Thus, the Umdet ­l-ahbar is
indispensable for understanding the greater socio-political and
cultural unity beginning with the Golden Horde itself and
continuing through the time of the component states constituting
the Later Golden Horde. 
      It is only with the help of the Umdet ­l-ahbar that it is
possible to understand that these later states continued certain
earlier ¿ingisid traditions, the most outstanding of which was
the ¿ingisid system of state organization. In this pattern of
state organization which I have termed the "four-bey system",
four socio-political units shared fully in the governing of the
state. The leaders of these four "ruling tribes" were
collectively known as the four qaraßÔ beys; their direct
predecessors in the earlier Golden Horde were known as the ulus
beys. Another well-known passage in the Umdet ­l-ahbar describes
the functioning of this system of government. I have published
a translation of this passage elsewhere and have argued that this
description is, in fact, the key which allows us to piece
together and reinterpret partial accounts of state organization
found in diverse sources for the 13th-14th centuries as well.
     There are many questions regarding the history of both the
earlier Golden Horde, the Crimean xanate itself, and even the
other xanates of the Later Golden Horde to whose discussion the
Umdet ­l-ahbar makes a contribution beyond these few illustrative
examples. Of course, I do not insist that all of the information
in this work is to be corroborated by information in other
sources. Nevertheless, this work and the other Turkic narrative
sources from the later period represent a contribution to the
preservation of historical traditions from the 13th-14th
centuries about which sometimes very little else is known. Some
of these traditions survive exclusively through works written in
Xwarezm, others survive through works written in the xanates of
the Later Golden Horde, and some survive as oral traditions, a
topic which I have not even considered in this essay. Taken
together, however, they represent what survives of the indigenous
historical traditions of the Golden Horde. It may be premature to
offer a bold new hypothesis on the state of historiography in the
Golden Horde. It is not too soon, however, to insist that the
study of the Turkic narrative sources mentioned in this essay is
essential for any study of the history of Western Eurasia in the
period of the Golden Horde as well as in the period of the Later
Golden Horde. 

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