The Qaraqoyunlu (Baharly) is an Oghuz-Turkic originated dynasty of Azerbaijan. The ruling family of Qaraqoyunlu derived from Baharly clan, so alongside with Qaraqoyunlu, the dynasty so-called Baharly as well. The tribal union of Qaraqoyunlu consisted of such clans as Alpoud, Jakirlu (Jayirli), Agajeri and etc. According to some researches, they belonged to Yive Turks who arrived from Central Asia to the Middle East together with the Seljuks. I.P. Petrushevski assumes that the name Qaraqoyunlu or Karakoyunlu derives from the symbol of black sheep on the flag of the Qaraqoyunlu. Faruq Surmer writes that, the name of the Qaraqoyunlu tribe was linked with their totems: sheep, rams. By the way there were found many sheep-shaped graves, belonging the period of the Qaraqoyunlu in Azerbaijan.
Replacing semi-Mongol Jalairid dynastic rule, the Qaraqoyunlu state became a turning point in the history of Azerbaijan. It was founded in 1410 by Kara Yusif, a strong warlord, who was capable to defeat Timurids, with the capital city Tabriz. Yusuf Ziya Ozer wrote that: “Timur’s struggle with the head of the Qaraqoyunlu (Baharly), Kara Yusif, was difficult, because the Qaraqoyunlu fought so heroically and there was no doubt that the Timurids would soon be defeated.”
Kara Yusif, the son of Kara Muhammad and was the grandson of Bayram Khoja, was born in 1335. His father Kara Muhammad was the founder of the Qaraqoyunlu tribal union. He was a great warlord of his time, who defeated Tamerlane in the Chapakchur battle in 1387.
During the leadership of Kara Yusif, the Qaraqoyunlu vanished the Timurids’ troops in the Shanbi-Qazan battle in 1406 an in the Sardrud battle in 1408. According to I.P. Petrushevski, the Qaraqoyunlu was established on the basis of Azerbaijan and he indicates that the language of the Qaraqoyunlu was nearly identical with Azerbaijani.
During the Qaraqoyunlu’s struggle against the Timurids, the Qaraqoyunlu had a good relationship with the Ottomans.
In 1417, Shirvanshah Ibrahim I died, and his son Khalilullah I came to power. So, he didn’t recognize the power of Kara Yusif and used politics, approached with Timurid Shahrukh I. The power of Qaraqoyunlu increased year by year that is why Shahrukh worried about it. In 1420 he faced Kara Yusif in the battle Uchan, as a result of which Kara Yusif was wounded and died. After his death, Shahrukh launched campaign against the Qaraqoyunlu. Shahrukh reached Karabakh, which was the important and ancient part of the modern and ancient Azerbaijan, and he met with Shirvanshah Khalilullah I, and then sewed alliance with him in 1421. Kara Yusif’s son, Iskender who replaced him in the throne, was defeated in the Alashkert battle. As a result of this battle, the Qaraqoyunlu became a vassal of Timurid Shahrukh. This was a harmful time for Kara Iskender, because, he fought simultaneously time with Timurids, Shirvanshahs and with his brother, Jahanshah, who was allied with Timurids. Jahanshah Qaraqoyunlu came to power as a vassal of Shakhrukh, however after his death, the Qaraqoyunlu refused vassalage of Timurids. In 1457 and 1459 Jahanshah captured Gurcan, Khorasan and Heart (capital city of Timurids).
In 1467, in the battle of Mush Jahanshah was defeated by Akkoyunlu Uzun Hasan. After death of Jahanshah, a harm struggle began between his sons Hasanali and Huseynali for the power. Hasanali murdered his brother and came to throne. In 1468, in the Merend battle Hasanali was defeated by Akkoyunlu and he ran to Timurid Abu Said. So, the Qaraqoyunlu state was destroyed and in its land, was created the Akkoyunlu state.
The administrative structure of the Qaraqoyunlu was the same as many Muslim states of the Middle East. Padishah, Ali Divan, Kenqash, Grand Vizier, Emir ul-umara, Sedr-ezem are main notions of this structure. The ruler of state held the title of “Padishah”.
Amir ul-umara – this title was given personally by the ruler to the commander of army. They held an important position in the state after the ruler. His rule was legal for emirs and other military officials.
Sedr-ezem was a the spiritual leader of the Muslims.
Grand Vizier managed state revenues and postal affairs.
Ali Divan (Supreme Divan) was an advisory body to the ruler.
Kengash was a closed advisory body composed of members of the dynasty and emirs.
The main taxes of the Qaraqoyunlu were maljehet, behre, chobanbeyi, tamgha, bac. There were the state possessions and land tenures of feudal lords, such as divan (state possession), khass (for dynasty), mulk (hereditary lands), waqfs (lands of the Muslim clergymen, mosques and madrasas) and soyurgal (lands, granted for military service by the ruler).
The Karakoyunlu kings paid attention to culture, despite the fact that they spent most of their times in the wars. There were architectural buildings in the Van, Tabriz and in other palaces, build by the Qaraqoyunlu. One of them is “Goy Mescid” (Blue Mosque) in Tabriz, created by Jahanshah. Also “Ulu mosque” in Van and “Jumah mosque” in Isfahan are historical heritage of of Qaraqoyunlu state.
KEYWORDS: Qaraqoyunlu (Karakoyunlu), Baharly (Baharlu), Qara Yusif (Kara Yusuf), Jahanshah
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