In the second half of the 18th century, there were small feudal principalities- khanates in the territories of all former provinces of the Safavid Empire as well as in Azerbaijan.
As known, Nadir Khan Afshar, putting an end to the power of the Safavid dynasty in 1736, for a short time created his own state. But as a result of Nadir Shah’s assassination in 1747, this state disintegrated into independent or semi-independent state formations. One of the most powerful principalities was Quba Khanate, which played an important role in the history of Azerbaijan, trying to unify Azerbaijani lands. Its ruler Fatali khan of Quba, a wise statesman and great commander, was a provider of this policy.
At the last quarter of 17th century the Quba khanate’s territory was as semi-independent administrative unity under the Safavid dynasty. As known, Peter the Great of Russia launched the Caspian campaign in 1720s. During this campaign the Russian troops attacked and captured Quba in 1722. At this time Hussainali khan was appointed naib of Quba mahal accepting the protection of Russians in 1726-1727. In 1730s Russia left the Western Caspian coast of Azerbaijan. Then Nader khan Afshar occupied Azerbaijan and Quba became the part of his empire. After collapse of Nadir’s empire, in the absence of central authority, about 20 khanates appeared in Azerbaijan and among them was the Quba khanate.
Hussainali khan of Quba sent his son Fatali to Salyan to conquer in 1756. He successfully completed his father’s task. In 1758 Hussainali khan appointed his 22 years old young and brave son Fatali as his successor and soon died.
Coming to the power after his father death, Fatali khan (1758-1789) started to incorporate the northeast lands of Azerbaijan. In 1759 he successfully incorporated Darband and this fortress became the capital of the khanate. During Fatali khan’s march in Darband the struggle began between the Shirvan and Quba khanates. In 1758, Aga Razi Asgar oglu from Shirvan attacked the Barmak district of Quba, and after the plundering, 200 families were resettled from there to Shirvan. A. Bakikhanov wrote: “… Fatali khan moved to Shirvan to take revenge. Aga Razi bey came forward and was defeated and killed outside the old city. Fath Ali Khan after a siege of a few months and after killing and plundering returned again with his tribe.” After this event Fatali khan’s authority and respect increased among other khanates.
Mainly, Fatali khan’s policy during his reign could be summarized in three directions: tax and administrative reforms, resettlement of population and unification policy, using military forces. He limited the power of mahals’ governors, and made a regular order in the collection of taxes and provided the incensement of receipts of the treasury. For strengthening borders, Fatali khan settled military representatives of Shahseven tribe from Mughan to the boundaries of Quba. And Fatali khan settled here the population from southern regions of Azerbaijan in order to increase the number of civil population in Quba khanate.
Fatali khan did his best to extend his territories by the vehicle of occupation of neighboring lands. He used from marriage diplomacy, and in 1767, Baku and Absheron fell under the ruling of Quba khanate. So, Fatali khan included all pre-Caspian lands (Derbend, Baku and Salyan) to the structure of Quba khanate. After this, Fatali khan signed an alliance with Shaki khan, made campaign to Shamakha and captured it in 1768. In the same year the Javad khanate recognized the authority of Fatali khan. So, Quba khanate united all northeastern lands of Azerbaijan in the 1760s.
Fatali khan did not plan to abolish the rule of khanates, but only to succeed the recognition of his power by khans. When he got negative response, Fatali khan started the war. Local Azerbaijani khans and Daghestani feudal lords, who opposed Fatali Khan’s unification policy in 1770s united to defeat him. In 1774, in the field of Gavdushan, where took place the battle, they faced the forces of Quba khan. Fatali Khan lost this battle and lost all his lands, excepting Baku, Darband and Salyan. In these conditions he asked for support from Russia. With the help of Russia, Fatali khan succeeded to return back Quba and Shirvan.
After that Fatali khan restored his position, Fatali khan continued his policy of unification. Diplomatically he tried to make the Karabakh khanate dependent. In 1780-1781 Fatali khan launched a campaigns in Karabakh. However, these campaigns were unsuccessful. In 1784, Fatali khan started his campaign to the Southern khanates of Azerbaijan. He entered to Ardebil and Meshkin. But he could not strengthen there. At that time, Catherine II requested Fatali Khan to return back, as the strengthening of Quba khanate would be a great obstacle in front of the expansive policy of Tsarism in Caucasus.
Fatali khan suddenly fell ill and died in 1789, was buried in the courtyard of Bibiheybat mosque of Baku. The collapse of united khanates, which facilitated the conquest of Northern Azerbaijan by Russia, makes clear that the assassination could take place.
After his death Quba khanate gradually began to weaken. After the death of Fatali khan Ahmed khan (1789-1791) and Sheikh Ali khan (1791-1810) came to the power. But they could not preserve the borders of khanate, established by their father. The khanates, subordinated to Quba, restored their independence.
In 1790s the Russians and Muhammad Hasan khan Qajar attacked to the khanates of Azerbaijan. From 1801 the Russians started their campaign. In 1802 the treaty was signed between the Russians and Quba khanate. At this time the ruler of Quba was Sheikh Ali khan. His great historical service was to create a serious resistance to the Russian invaders. But in 1806 they captured Quba and abolished the local rule in 1809. Even after the invasion of the khanate, Sheikh Ali khan waged a long partisan war (1806-1811) against foreign invaders. The peak part of this war is uprising of 1810. But it was suppressed by the Russians authorities. Later “Gulustan” treaty and “Turkmenchay” treaty were signed and all the northern territories of Azerbaijan, including Quba were given to Russia and all the southern territories of Azerbaijan given to the Qajars.
The period of khanates, which is “period of political fragmentation and chaos”, can be considered as one of the stages in the history of Azerbaijani statehood to learn a lesson. The history of Quba khanate is significant in the context that it tried to create the unity of the state.
Khanates of Azerbaijan, the Quba Khanate, Hussain Ali Khan, Fatali Khan, the Gavdushan battle