Parvin Darabadi, D.Sc. (Hist.), professor at the Baku State University (Baku, Azerbaijan)



The author looks at the ups and downs of the military-political rivalry among the largest medieval powers for control over one of the key branches of the Great Silk Roadthe Caspian land and the Volga-Caspian water routesand discloses their geopolitical and geoeconomic importance in the political and economic contexts of the East and the West.


The Middle Ages brimmed with military-political events caused by the rivaling forces seeking control over the main trade routes that connected Europe with China, India, and Central Asia and intersected in the Caspian region. Their value in the world geoeconomic processes steadily rose. One of the stretches of the Great Silk Roadthe Caspian route along the western Caspian coastthe importance of which goes back to antiquity was of particular economic and military-strategic importance.

For over a thousand years, between the 3rd and the late 14th centuries, this region was living under the geo- and ethnopolitical pressure of the military-political forces that came and went in a kaleidoscope of changes. Throughout the 4th-8th centuries the Caspian region was inundated by consecutive powerful waves of numerous Turkic tribes (the Huns, Sabirs, Khazars, and others) pressing down from the northeast; in the 7th-8th centuries Arabs advanced from the west; in the 9th-12th centuries they were replaced by Eastern Slavs (Rus) who came from the northwest; in the 11th century Seljuks moved up from the southeast; in the 13th century came Mongols, and, finally, late in the 14th century, the hordes of Timur moved into the region. The main waves of the Great Migration of peoples, along with the invasions of Arabs, Rus people, Seljuks, Mongols, the Golden Horde Tartars, and the Timurids, pressed along the main world trade routes, the Caspian being one of them. It was obviously one of their strategic aims. In the 15th-17th centuries the Ottoman Turks, who began expanding toward the East, were locked in uncompromising rivalry with the Safavid empires in the Caucasus and the Caspian. At the same time the West European states awoke to the regions importance while the Russian state was obviously determined to spread its control along the entire Volga-Caspian water route to gain access to the Caspian and the Caucasus.

Military-Political Confrontation in the Caucasus and the Caspian in the Middle Ages

Back in the 2nd century the Huns who left the Asian mainland and crossed the Volga in the steppes of the northwestern Caspian settled there and found the Alans nearby. Their first conflict allowed the Hunnic nomads of the steppes between the Azov and Caspian seas to break the continuous chain of Alan settlements and nomadic camps and push some of the Alan tribes to the south, closer to the Caucasian piedmont; the other part was forced to retreat to the Don meander and its lower reaches. The Huns, however, did not remain long in the North Caucasian steppes; in 371 they, together with the Alans, invaded the Northern Black Sea area, the land of the Ostrogoths. Finally, by 377/8, the Huns settled on the Danube border of the Byzantine Empire.1 The fact that the bulk of the Hunnic tribes had moved to the Danube did not mean they had forgotten about the Caucasus. In 395 they crossed into the Caucasus through the Daryal pass and reached Mesopotamia and Syria only to be pushed back by the Persians; they turned back, reached the Northern Caucasus through the Derbent pass, and retreated further to the Danube.2

Not all the Hunnic tribes, however, left the North Caucasian steppes together with the bulk of the tribes that moved westward in 371. Some of them, the Hunnic-Bulgarian tribes that moved in the late 360s from the interfluve of the Ural and Volga rivers to the Caucasus, preferred to continue roaming the northwestern part of the Caspian steppes rather than follow the rest of the Hunnic hordes to Europe. On the whole, the Hunnic invasion and the collapse of the Iranian-speaking ethnic population that dominated in the Northern Caucasus caused a radical political and ethnic shift in the region. The general upswing in the Hunnic-Bulgarian tribes and their growing military-political might in the Northern Caucasus were caused by the arrival of new tribes from across the Volga who settled in the territory covered in the 2nd century by the first Hunnic wave. From that time on the tribal groups of different ethnic, linguistic, and cultural affiliation began uniting into an intertribal confederation and later moved to Iran and Byzantium.

In the 5th and 6th centuries the Central Caucasus remained the target of the tribal alliances of the Hunnic-Bulgarian tribes headed first by Onogurs and later by Sabirs that repeatedly (in 466, 503, 515 etc.) invaded it through the Derbent pass and moved on to the Byzantine domains in Mesopotamia and Asia Minor.

At the same time, Byzantium and Iran never missed military-political opportunities to use the Sabirs in their wars against each other: the Caspian nomads roamed in close proximity to the borders of these states and their common theater of war. In fact Iran, which was closer to the Northern Caucasus, could make much more frequent use of these advantages than Byzantium, its traditional rival, and with better results.

The Sassanian Empire (which consisted of Iran, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Baluchistan, Merv, and some other Central Asian territories), which replaced the Parthian state in 224, demonstrated more staunchness in the face of the strong military-political Hunnic unions that pressed in from the north. After conquering Atropatene, the Sassanids turned their gaze to the Caucasus and especially to Albania and the Derbent pass, which offered tempting military and strategic advantages. Late in the 4th century the Sassanids bitter rivalry with the Roman Empire was finally crowned with their influence in the western Caspian.

Throughout the 5th-6th centuries the Sassanian kings, Yazdigerd II (438-457), Peroz (459-484), and Chosroes I (531-539), fortified the western Caspian coast with a chain of defensive constructions in Beshbarmak, Gilgilchay, and Derbent. The Derbent pass in the Albanian region of Chora proved to be the key military-strategic point in the deeply layered defense system that stretched along the coast and blended perfectly with the terrain. This is where the Greater Caucasian Mountains come down to the sea leaving a narrow (3.5 km wide) coastal strip to be defended with a double row of fortifications. It was at that point that a sea port (the largest for this time) was set up.3 This was only natural: between the 6th and the early 9th centuries the most important trade routes that connected the Middle East with Southeastern Europe, the Lower Volga, and the Northern Caucasus were found in the Caspian basin.

In the 5th century the Sassanids, who had entrenched themselves on the Caspian shores, spread their control to the Great Silk Road, an important trade route via which China maintained contacts with Central and Hither Asia and Byzantium. The Sassanids tightened their grip on intermediary sea trade between the Middle East, India, and China.4

In the mid-5th century the larger part of todays Turkmenia (on the Caspian eastern coast) was conquered by the Hephthalites; a century later they were replaced by the Turkic Khaganate.

Meanwhile, in 558 in the Northern Caucasus the formerly strong Sabir alliance fell under Avar pressure and retreated to the Central Caucasus. Chosroes I seized this opportunity to seal off the Daryal pass from the north by settling belligerent nomads along the borders with Iberia.5 From that time on the Sassanids controlled two key communication routes between the Northern and Southern Caucasus: Derbent (the Albanian gates) and Daryal (the Alan gates); the empires northern borders were safe, a no mean military-strategic achievement in the 6th and early 7th centuries, a time of prolonged and bloody wars with Byzantium.

The events of 558 simultaneously destroyed two Hunnic-Bulgarian tribal unions (of Sabirs and Utigurs), which allowed the Khazars to gradually move to the forefront in the Eastern Caucasian Piedmont. Two khaganates succeeded one another: the Khazar Khaganate replaced the Western Turkic in 651.

Military-Political Expansion of the Arabian Caliphate in the Caucasian-Caspian Region

Radical geopolitical shifts in the Near and Middle East caused by a new strong religious and military-political force, the Arabian Caliphate, occurred in the 630s-640s when the Arabs fighting under Islamic banners conquered Egypt, Syria, Mesopotamia, and Iran of the Sassanids. They found themselves on the western and southern Caspian coast. Having established their control over Derbent (Bab el-Abvab) in 643, the Arabs became the masters of the entire Caspian-Volga trade route and of all the Caspian ports.

Early in the 8th century the Arabs conquered Central Asia. By 716 they had the southern part of Turkmenia between the Caspian and Amu Darya under their control. Later, in the 9th and 10th centuries, Turkmenia was part of the Tahirid and Samanid states; in the 11th century it became part of the Seljuk Empire. Islam came to southern Kazakhstan in the 8th-10th centuries; throughout the 7th-8th centuries the Arabs remained at war with the Khazars with variable success, which meant that the Arabs could not feel at ease in this vast region.

Until the mid-9th century the Caliphate maintained trade contacts throughout the Mediterranean Sea and the Indian Ocean, however its trade with Europe received additional impetus when the western, southern, and southeastern Caspian coasts were conquered and trade routes via the Volga and the Don opened. The Caliphate used Azerbaijan as a transit route that connected it with the Khazars, Eastern Slavs, Baltic, and Scandinavian countries. The Caspian ports, from Abeskun and Astrabad in the south to Derbent in the west, helped maintain active sea traffic. In fact, antagonism between the Christians of the Caucasian isthmus, which tended politically and religiously toward Byzantium and the Muslims of the southwest of the Caspian, did not encourage the use of the land trade routes. The mountainous terrain and the belligerent tribes of the Caucasus made it ill-suited for transit trade.6 This made Derbent an attractive place for Caspian merchants.

Having undermined Byzantine trade across the Black Sea, the Arabs turned the trade routes to the east, toward the Caspian, and wrenched control over the Volga-Caspian route from Byzantium. As masters of the vast territory stretching from Tiflis to Derbent, the Arabs never lost sight of the flanks of the Caspian trade road. Indeed, they controlled all the Caspian ports while the recently defeated Khazars remained absolutely harmless for a while and presented no threat to the new trade route.7

Azeri and Arab merchants crossed Azerbaijan and went up the Volga to reach the Bulgars, who by that time had embraced Islam. The Rus merchants, in turn, went down the Volga to the Caspian and, after crossing it, used camels to bring their goods on to Baghdad. The merchants from the Caliphate used the Caspian basin to trade with Kiev. Trade in the Caspians southern part was encouraged by the proximity of large trade centersBaghdad, Bukhara, and Samarkandthe traditional trade partners of the numerous Asian countries and their thriving handicraft industry.8

At the same time, Lev Gumilev was probably right when he wrote that the southern, southwestern, and southeastern Caspian coasts were much more closely connected with the inland regions, Iran, Azerbaijan, and Sogdiana, brought together in the Sassanid Empire (224-651) and the Arabian Caliphate (632-1258) that treated the Caspian area as a periphery with little or no impact on the fates of these great powers.9 He explained this by their geographic location: the regions bordering on the southern CaspianDeylem (Gilan), Tabaristan (Mazandaran), and Jurjan (Gurgan)were separated from the Iranian Plateau by the Elburs Mts. This made their damp climate with excessive precipitation very different from arid Persia. The streams flowing down from the mountains formed mugabs (limans with stagnant water) separated from the sea by shallows, which made access to the open sea difficult.10 The western coast offered much better conditions: the large rivers that flowed into the sea (the navigable Volga and Kura) led to the north, to Eastern Europe, and into the heart of the Caucasian region.

Military-Political Rivalry in the Caucasian-Caspian Region for Control over the Caspian Route in the 9th-15th Centuries

Throughout the 9th century the territory of Azerbaijan, Iran, and Central Asia (earlier dominated by the now weakened Abbasid Caliphate) was gradually filled with the independent states of Shirvanshahs, Ajids, Salarids, Ravvadids, and Sheddadids in Azerbaijan; Tahirids in Horasan and the adjacent Central Asian regions; Saffarids in the southeast; and Buids in western and southwestern Iran. Central Asia and northeastern regions of Iran were part of the Samanid state.

The state of Shirvanshahs gradually came to the fore in the western Caspian; it survived until the mid-16th century. Late in the 10th century Baku developed into a large port with a good harbor and an important role to play in international transit trade across the sea and by land.

Famous Arab geographer, traveler, and writer of the 10th century Al Masudi, who visited Shirvan and traveled across the Caspian, left us information about the Apsheron Peninsula, its oil, islands, and the ever burning fires: Fountains of fire gush out; at night they are seen from far away.11 Between the 10th and 15th centuries Baku gained even more importance as one of the richest cities of Shirvan: its sea and land routes exported oil, salt, madder, silk, and other commodities from the south of the peninsula (Baku) and its northern part (Bilgya).12 At that time world trade, which connected Azerbaijan with India and China, proceeded along the southern land route via Central Asia and Iran, the southern part of Azerbaijan, and the northern route along the Caspian coast and past the Derbent pass to Khazaria and even further north. There was another important route from Barda to Ardabil and Iran and from Barda to Dvin and further on to Syria and Mesopotamia.13 There was another road leading to Syria and Mesopotamia along the Arax River via Armenia.14

China and India were connected with the Caspian by a caravan route that crossed Central Asia; the goods crossed the sea to the Kura and Rioni rivers, were brought to the Black Sea coast, and traveled further to Byzantium. The local caravan roads were used to connect Baku and Apsheron with the main trade routes. Some of the local roads followed the coastal line to reach the lower reaches of the Kura. Another road led from Baku to the northwest, to the central part of the peninsula, where it turned to the west, across Gobustan to Shemakha. There was also a third route that branched off the second to reach the northern part of the peninsula to join the main trade road leading to Derbent. These roads preserved their importance for several more centuries.15

This means that Baku, Shemakha, Derbent, Tabriz, Ardabil, and other cities of Azerbaijan scattered along the international trade routes connected the Arabian Caliphate with several countries in the North and the East and were themselves actively involved in trade activities. Merchants from Khazaria, Kievan Rus, Iran, Byzantium, and the far-away Oriental countries (India, China, Iraq, and Syria) exchanged their commodities (honey, wax, furs, weapons, Chinese silks, spices, porcelain, precious stones, etc.) for local products: oil, salt, fish, cattle (mules and horses), saffron, cochineal, madder, etc., as well as local handicrafts, such as raw silk, silk and woolen fabrics, rugs, and carpets, etc.16

In the 10th century the non-Caspian states first demonstrated their intention to penetrate the region by hook or by crook and become entrenched there. Kievan Rus maintained trade and political relations with the West and the East. Academician Bartold wrote at one time: It was trade that brought the Russians closer to the Oriental peoples.17 Long before the trade route from the Varangians to the Greeks gained prominence as the road that connected the countries in the northeast of Europe with Byzantium, the Caspian-Baltic trade route had been already functioning in the 9th-10th centuries. The northern and western countries went down the Volga to trade with the East. The Rus people were connected with the East by the Volga-Caspian route; Itil (Saksin since the 12th century), the capital of the Khazarian Khaganate at the Volga mouth, was an intermediary and a transshipment point. It was through this city that Southeastern Europe traded with the Caucasus, Iran, and particularly Central Asia.18 At that time Rus merchants did business with the countries on the southern and western Caspian coasts. They went down the Tanais (Don), portaged their ships to the Volga to go down it to the Khazarian capital where they paid tribute (one tenth of the cost of their goods), and entered the Caspian on their ships.19

In the 9th-11th centuries Kievan Rus was obviously trying to reach the coastal areas of the Black, Azov, and Caspian seas and become entrenched there. Its ships appeared in the Black Sea and at approximately the same time sea-going and river vessels of Eastern Slavs reached the Caspian. They gradually mastered another great trade route that ran almost parallel to the first: from the Baltic to the Black seas via Novgorod and Kiev. The new route started in the Caspian, went up the Volga, and reached the Baltic via the Oka-Volga interfluve; there was another route along the Kama, up to the Severnaya Dvina and the White Sea.20

Several trade routes that followed the parallels were used together with the river routes that ran along the meridians. One of them was the route from the Dnieper mouth around the Crimea to the Azov Sea and up the Don, from which the ships were portaged to the Volga and down this river to the Caspian. Eastern merchants went up the Volga from the Caspian, while Russian merchants traveled along the Don and Volga to reach the Caspian and its southernmost coast. In the Black Sea and the Caspian peaceful trade was frequently disrupted by inroads and wars waged by those who sought trade preferences. The Khazars, who had no ships, limited their forays to the Caspian coasts while the Rus people had enough ships to fight in the Caspian. Arab sources date the first Rus naval invasion to 880; they attacked the coasts of Tabaristan and the city of Abeskun. In 909 they reappeared on 16 ships and captured the cities of Abeskun and Makale (Miankale) in the Astrabad bay. A year later they attacked Sari, Deylem, Gilan, and the adjacent coasts.21 In 912-913 the Rus people moved in large numbers from the Dnieper mouth across the Black and Azov seas to the mouth of the Don; they traveled up the river, crossed to the Volga in the habitual manner, and traveled down to the Caspian. According to Masudi, there were 500 ships with 100 warriors in each.22 This time the Rus invaders reached an agreement with the Khazar kagan, whom they promised half of the future spoils for unhindered passage to the Volga and Caspian. They set up a base on one of the islands opposite Baku to attack the southern and southwestern Caspian coastsGilan, Deylem, Tabaristan, and Abeskun.

According to Masudi, the tactic proved successful because the peoples that lived in the Caspian littoral areas were confused: no enemies had ever come from the sea before, which was used by merchants and fishermen alone.23 At that time, the Shirvanshahs with their sufficiently large and well-trained armies kept no navy on the Caspian, which remained free for merchants to use. Despite the fairly successful start, the march proved a failure. On the way back the Rus invaders were first attacked by Khazars and later, while retreating up the Volga, they were defeated by Volga Bulgarians. In 943-944 the Rus hordes repeated their attempt to attack the Caspian using larger forces. They went up the Kura and captured the city of Barda, but failed to become entrenched there and had to retreat. In 1030 38 Rus ships attacked Baku.24

It should be said that the repeated Rus attacks forced the Shirvanshahs to start a navy of their own. This happened in the 12th century when Shirvanshah Akhsitan I (1160-1196) built several dozen ships; in the first half of the 13th century a Sabail naval fortress, a naval base for the local navy, appeared in the Baku bay. The next Rus attack from the sea, which took place in 1175, was successfully rebuffed and their flotilla of 73 ships dispersed.25

Meanwhile, the vast Mongolian conquests of the first half of the 13th century changed the political map of Eurasia and the Middle East beyond recognition; the changes echoed in world history for many centuries. The ancient southern road that ran from China via Central Asia, Iran, and Azerbaijan to the west did not lose its importance even when the lands between Eastern Europe and China became part of Genghis Khans Eurasian empire that created a new trade route from Europe across Russia and the Golden Horde to China.

In the late 13th and early 14th centuries international trade in the Caspian basin became much wider; naval trade also developed. During this period Genoa and Venetian merchants, who had been trading in the Black Sea, began mastering the new routes and setting up their trading posts on the Caspian shores. They even sailed in the Caspian on their ships. Gilan and Shemakha silks were the main commodities, which added importance to Baku as the best Caspian port. This fact was entered into the Catalonian atlas of 1375 in which the Caspian was called the Baku Sea; this name remained very popular among Europeans for several centuries.26

Until the end of the 14th century silk fabrics, carpets, spices, and other commodities produced by the coastal states were exported through Baku and Derbent to Astrakhan, the Golden Horde, Russia, and Europe, mainly to Italy and France. The cargoes were sent from Baku to Astrakhan, then up the Volga and Don, from where Venetian merchants moved them across the Azov Sea on their ships to Europe. When Timur (1370-1405) captured Astrakhan in 1395, the trade route was turned toward Iran and Syria,27 from where Eastern products reached Europe. Having captured the vast territories of Hither Asia with its numerous caravan routes, Timur intended to establish his control over them to monopolize trade between Europe and Asia. In his letter to Turkish Sultan Ildrym Bayazid I (1389-1402) Timur mentioned that he intended to ensure the safety of the trade routes.28 To gain a tighter grip on European-Asian trade Timur deemed it necessary to destroy the trade centers along the northern caravan routes in the Black Sea and Caspian steppes: Urgench, Saray, Berke, Azov, and others.29

In the 15th century, with the Kara Koyunlu and Ak Koyunlu states in the south of Azerbaijan and the state of the Shirvanshahs in the north, the caravan routes became much safer than before. Asia Minor, Iran, Syria, and Italy readily bought the best silk (J. Schiltberger in his Travel Book) from the state of Shirvanshahs.30 At the same time, Tabriz acquired an even more important role to play in international caravan trade because Timur had destroyed Astrakhan and Baghdad.31

In the mid-15th century, when the Ottoman Empire replaced Byzantium, the situation changed radically once more. By the 1470s-1480s the struggle for domination over the main transit routes and centers of international trade between Ak Koyunlu and the still emerging Ottoman Empire came to the fore in their military-political relations. By capturing Constantinople in 1453 and Trabzon in 1461 and raising a sales duty, Sultan Mehmet II (1451-1481) undermined trade between Europe and Asia. European merchants, mainly from Venice, had to seek new routes to the East to avoid the state of the Ottoman Turks. Venice, which by that time had monopolized trade with the East, tried to capitalize on the disagreements between the Ottoman state and Ak Koyunlu. In the latter half of the 15th century it established close trade and diplomatic relations spearheaded against the Ottomans with Uzun Hassan (1453-1478). It even convinced Ak Koyunlu to join the war against the Ottoman state in 1472-1473. Uzun Hassan was expected to fight his way to the Mediterranean to join forces with the navies of the Venetian Republic and other European countries carrying huge quantities of firearms and artillerymen. However, the members of the anti-Turkic coalition (the Pope, the Kingdom of Naples, the German Empire, Poland, and Hungary) failed to act synchronously with Uzun Hassan. Sultan Mehmet II moved faster to capture Karaman, the only military-strategic point on the Mediterranean where his adversary could join the European armies. In 1472, when Uzun Hassan and his army fought their way close to Karaman, its European allies, Venice in particular, contrary to the expected, extended essentially no effective, in particular naval, support. In 1473 his second attempt to reach the coast and become entrenched there failed. On the whole, this attempt at knocking together an anti-Ottoman coalition of European states and Ak Koyunlu was undermined by Venice, which at the height of the war between Ak Koyunlu and the Ottoman Empire entered into secret negotiations with the sultan in the hope of acquiring trade privileges32 by capitalizing on the military successes of his enemy at the early stage of the war. The repercussions came promptly: during the war of 1499-1502 the Ottoman Empire delivered a crippling blow at Venice and its domination in the Mediterranean and replaced it as a fairly strong naval power.

Military-Political Confrontation between the Ottoman and Safavid States in the Caucasus and the Caspian

In the 16th century the Ottoman Empire, spurred on by its desire to control the main trade caravan routes that crossed the territory of the Safavid state and reach the western Caspian coast, launched its eastward expansion. It moved against the Shirvan and planned to capture Baku.

In the meantime, the Safavid Empire, which appeared in 1501 and was vaster than Ak Koyunlu and stronger in the military-political respect, was a stumbling block on the road to the East. Shah Ismail I and all the other Safavid shahs who came after him sought alliances with European states to defeat the Ottoman Turks and gain access to the Mediterranean and Black seas. In fact, the military-political rivalry in the Middle East between the Sunni Ottoman Empire and the Shia Safavid state made the prolonged and bloody wars of the 16th and 17th centuries between them inevitable. On the other hand, these wars drew off the Ottoman Empires large military force and weakened its pressure on Europe. This meant that the deep and still deepening political and economic, as well as religious, contradictions between the two Muslim states created conditions conducive to the West European colonial conquests in the East.

West European diplomacy could not ignore the fact that the Safavid state was developing into a powerful military-political force. Venice and the Pope remained the most active actors: they called on the West European states to seize the opportunity.33 Shah Ismail I, the founder of the Safavid state, also sought broader trade relations with Europe; he was especially interested in Western firearms for his army. Another anti-Ottoman opposition fell through while the shah was defeated in the first Ottoman-Safavid war of 1514-1515.

Having captured Syria and Egypt in 1515-1517, along with vast territories in Northern Africa and Arabia, the Ottoman state developed into a mighty empire with large territories on land and at sea on the boundaries of Asia, Africa, and Europe and tight control over the caravan routes between Europe and the East.

In the meantime, the Portuguese, who moved into the basin of the Indian Ocean and, most importantly, established control over Aden in the early 16th century, blocked off the famous trade route between the Indian Ocean (via the Red Sea and Egypt) and the Mediterranean. When the Portuguese navy captured the Strait of Hormuz leading to the Persian Gulf, the second main caravan route that tied the Indian Ocean through the Strait and the Gulf with the Mediterranean coast was just as effectively sealed off. This limited the scope of trade contacts between the Safavid state and the countries in the basin of the Indian Ocean and undermined its economic ties with Russia and Europe, maintained in the past with the help of the trade route via the Hormuz, Tabriz, Shemakha, Baku, the Caspian, and the Volga. The Ottoman and Portuguese conquerors left the Safavids in an economic blockade.34

In the first half of the 16th century the caravan routes were further undermined because of the unfavorable political situation in Shirvan while Baku gained even more weight as the main port of international transit silk sea trade. Russian merchants, who came to the Caspian back in the 15th century, were also actively involved in the process. In the 1560s a lull in the hostilities between the Safavid and Ottoman states encouraged trade turnover to the extent that a Russian trade office appeared in Shemakha. The Russians were mainly interested in salt, oil, saffron, and silk. Russia used Baku to bring expensive furs, leather, sabers, coat of mail, and various metal objects to Shirvan. In the 16th century Russian merchants exported Baku oil through Astrakhan to Russia, where it was used for military purposes and paint thinners, as well as to Western Europe. Gilan merchants exported oil from Baku by sea to Mangyshlak and then on camels across the desert to Khiva, Bukhara, and other Central Asian cities. The Ottoman conquests of 1578 on the western Caspian coast (from Baku to Derbent) did not disrupt the Gilans business while the Russians had to travel by sea to Iran along the eastern Caspian coast.35

At that time, Indian merchants were very active in international silk trade; they kept their caravan sarays in Shemakha and Baku.36 In the 16th century Western Europe, particularly France and England, actively exported velvet, purple, satin, brocade, and expensive English woolen cloths to Shirvan.37

Sultan Suleyman Qanuni (1520-1566) captured Belgrade in 1521 and Buda in 1526 in the course of a successful European campaign of the 1530s. This gave the Ottoman Empire control over a long stretch of the famous Istanbul trade route that connected Western and Central Europe with the East. Having occupied Rodos in 1522, the Ottoman Turks firmly established themselves in the Mediterranean. They even planned to oust Portugal from the Indian Ocean and seize control over the Persian Gulf and the Caspian by defeating the Safavids to emerge as the only intermediary in trade between Europe and Asia. It should be said that some of the Italian states, the victims of the prolonged Italian wars of 1494-1559 in which the German Empire, Spain, and France were also involved, regarded the Ottoman Empire as a guarantor of their independence. This and the powerful Reformist movement that split the formerly united European world were partly responsible for the failure of the plans to create a united anti-Ottoman coalition with the Safavid state nurtured throughout the 16th century.

The Volga-Caspian Water Route: Russia Reaches the Caspian and the Caucasus

By the late 16th century, when the Ottoman conquests and the Age of Discovery had shifted the international trade roads, it became clear that Europe and Asia needed alternatives for their mutual trade. In the latter half of the 16th century the Volga-Caspian water route became the main one.

The Mongol conquests weakened the trade and economic contacts between Russia and the East, however this period proved to be relatively short. In the 14th-15th century a new trade road from Tver to Astrakhan and further on to Central Asia, the states on the Iranian Plateau, and India gradually emerged. The Volga opened the Caspian; from that time on the Eastern route became the main one for Russia. English traveler and merchant Anthony Jenkinson, who in the 1560s traveled from Muscovy to Persia, left us the first ever detailed description of the Volga-Caspian route. He departed from Moscow, the capital of the Russian state, and went down the rivers Moskva and Oka to reach the Volga at Nizhniy Novgorod; from there he went down the Volga past Kazan and Astrakhan to the Caspian Sea, then to Derbent and Shabran. He continued his voyage by land from Shemakha, past Ardabil to Qazvin, the capital of the Safavid state.38 By the mid-16th century the Russian state had completed the centralization process and began expanding far and wide, to the west, east, and south.

Deprived of free access to the seas (the mouths of the rivers falling into the White, Baltic, Black, and Caspian seas were outside its control) and unable to freely export its goods to the foreign markets, Russia spent three centuries, from the 16th to 18th, resolving the problem by incessantly fighting the Livonian Order, Lithuania, Poland, Sweden, the Ottoman Empire, and the Crimea, Kazan, and Astrakhan khanates. Russia could only become a great power by coping with this ambitious geopolitical task.

When the Golden Horde withdrew from the scene in the early 15th century, the northeastern Caspian fell apart into several states, the largest of them being the Nogai Horde and the Uzbek Khanate. The former occupied the Yaik (Ural) and Volga interfluve; the latter covered the expanse between the Aral Sea and the Yaik in the west, the Tobol in the north, and the Irtysh in the east.

In the mid-16th century Russia consecutively conquered the Kazan (in 1552) and Astrakhan (in 1556) khanates, which brought it to the northern Caspian coast, and made its involvement in international trade through the Volga-Caspian route more active. Russian historian Nikolay Karamzin commented on the great importance of these events by saying: By expanding its domains to the Caspian Sea, Russia not only covered itself with glory and splendor but also discovered new sources of wealth and strength by extending its trade and political influence.39 This deprived the Ottoman Empire of its transit services and cut short its geopolitical ambitions of reaching Muscovys borders from the Dnieper to the Urals. On the whole, wrote General of the Russian Army V. Potto, who studied the history of the Caucasian Wars: the idea of domination in the Caucasus became a hereditary one in Russian history.40 Ivan IV the Terrible was the first Russian statesman to grasp the military-political and economic importance of the Caucasus; it was at that time that Russias expansion in the region began. His marriage, in 1561, to a daughter of Kabardinian Prince Temriuk allowed him to place Kabarda (the most developed country in the political and military-political respects among the regional states) under Russias patronage. Russia, in turn, acquired a pivot for its southward expansion.41

By conquering Kazan and Astrakhan, Russia entered into direct contact with the Safavid state and could pool forces with it against the Ottoman Turks. The process began under Ivan the Terrible (1533-1584) and Safavid Shah Tahmasib I (1524-1576): the latter needed allies in his struggle against the Ottoman Empire while the former wanted to open trade with the East along the Volga-Caspian route, which promised huge profits. In the latter half of the 16th century both countries were in a difficult military-political situation. The Safavid state was being torn apart by feudal strife and was engaged in perpetual wars with the Ottoman Empire in the west and the north; it also fought with the Crimean Khanate, a vassal of the Ottoman Empire in the south; while in the east there was another enemy, the Sunni state of the Sheybanids. The Russian state, likewise, was also challenged in the west and the north by Rzeczpospolita and Sweden; in the south there were the Ottoman Turks and the Crimean Khanate. In the 1570s-1580s Russia, which had lost the Livonian War, could not more or less actively oppose the Ottoman Empire in the Caspian. In 1583 the Ottoman Turks took their revenge for the defeat at Astrakhan in 1569: they occupied Baku and Derbent, established their control over the Volga-Caspian route, and deprived Astrakhan of its role as the center of Russian trade in the East. Even more important was the fact that Moscow found itself blocked off in the south and southeast, which disrupted its land contacts with the Safavids.

At that time, the two states established regular diplomatic relations. In 1586 Gadi Bek sent an embassy to Moscow to ask, for the first time, for military assistance against the Ottoman Empire in exchange for Baku and Derbent (still occupied by the Ottoman Turks). For certain historical reasons the plan was never implemented: Russia was gradually sinking into the Time of Troubles while the Safavids were engaged in strife caused by the ascension to the throne of Shah Abbas I (1587-1629), which transformed the Turkic state into an Iranian one. The shah restored the former military-political might of the Safavid state but he never sought a military agreement against the Ottoman Empire. Earlier the Safavids received military assistance from Russia yet never offered territorial compensation.

As a strong-willed, fairly sagacious, and purposeful politician and diplomat, Shah Abbas I had his own reasons to fear the powerful northern neighbor and its active policies in the Northern Caucasus. When inviting Moscow to pool forces to fight the Ottoman state, the shah merely wanted to impress Murad III (1574-1595) with the possibility of a military alliance with Russia to be able to enter a peace treaty on better conditions.

In the latter half of the 16th century the Ottoman Empire stepped up its activities in the Caspian area. In the Middle East it pursued the strategic aim of gaining access to the Caspian Sea. The Turks moved in two directions: through Azov to Astrakhan and through Shirvan to Baku and Derbent. Success would have brought the Ottoman Turks into direct contact with the Sunni states of Central Asia and would have offered the chance of creating a bloc against the Safavid state, their common rival.

In the war of 1548-1555 the Ottoman Empire pursued several strategic tasks: first, to move from the Azov to the North Caucasian route in order to move on to Shirvan from the north and attack the Qizilbash troops from the rear; second, to draw Crimean Khan Devlet Giray into the war and, finally, third, to find allies among the Uzbek rulers in Central Asia. Shah Tahmasib I was especially worried by this: the Uzbek rulers were his old enemies.42 It was then that Turkish ships first appeared in the Caspian to prevent the Russians from sailing to the south.43

The Ottoman Empire and its Crimean ally, which in the 1540s-1550s had tried to gain a foothold in Astrakhan, failed to accomplish this aim because of the Nogai Horde that roamed the Volga area and spent the winter at its mouth. This helped Moscow to conquer Astrakhan in 1556. It should be said that in the late 1550s the Volga between Kazan and Astrakhan was Moscows strategic aim.44 Occupation of Astrakhan disrupted the contacts of the Ottoman Empire with Central Asia; it became much harder to use the North Caucasian route for military purposes in future wars in the Central Caucasus.

The Ottoman Empire could not accept the unfavorable military-political situation in the Caspian. Sultan Selim II (1566-1574) and his Grand Vizier Magomed Sokolli nurtured ambitious plans: to halt Russias advance to the south and push the Turks to the east, as well as undertake one of the most original projects of the Middle Ages: a canal between the Don and the Volga at the site where the two rivers were separated by a mere 30 miles. This would have helped the Ottoman navy to move across the Azov Sea, the Don, the Volga, and the Caspian to Iran, opened a new road to the Caucasus and roads leading to Central Asia, and disrupted the contacts between the Safavid state and Russia. The canal would have revived the historic intercontinental road (Central Asian-Astrakhan-Crimea), something that Seleucus Nicator had wanted to realize eighteen centuries earlier.

Selim II tried to use the respite offered by the peace treaty of 1562 between his country and Austria; he insisted that the Crimean khan should work together with the Ottoman Turks in the canal project and begin preparations.45 In 1568, 20 thousand workers guarded by 5 thousand janissaries began digging the canal and had completed one-third of it before the project was abandoned because of inadequate technical facilities at the time, the harsh climate and, to a great extent, the latent resistance of highly ambitious and independent Khan Devlet Giray who planned to march on Moscow and realized his intention in 1571.46 The joint Ottoman and Crimean march on Astrakhan in 1569 was likewise unsuccessful. At that time Russia was busy expanding to the east, to the vast and fabulously rich Siberia.

In the last decades of the 16th century the Ottoman Empire was quite successful in the Central Caucasus. In the 1580s it established its complete control over the Shirvan and moved its warships to the Caspian Sea. The Turks built them in Niyazabad, halfway between Baku and Derbent. They could not reach Central Asia via the Northern Caucasus because of the recently built Terek and Sunzha Russian fortresses and had to use Shirvan and the ports on the western coast of the Caspian to communicate with Bukhara across the sea. They even discussed a military agreement with Abdullah II of Bukhara.47

In 1595 the Russians promptly built a wooden fortress at the mouth of the Yaik to prevent the Bukhara khan from doing the same to threaten Astrakhan.48

By the 1590s the Russians had set up a system of fortresses along the northwestern, north, and northeastern Caspian coasts, stretching from the mouths of Yaik, Volga (Astrakhan), Terek (the Terek fortifications), Koysu Sulak (the Koysu fortress), and the Sunzha fortress at the pivotal pointthe river crossing at the Ottoman road. They dotted the road covered by Osman Pasha in 1583 when he marched from Derbent to the Crimea. The Russian fortresses in the Northern Caucasus did not merely make it harder for the Ottoman generals to follow their strategic designs and simplified the task for the Safavid troopsthey laid the foundation of Russias domination in the region in the 17th century.

Throughout this century the importance of the Volga route and the fact that Russia had reached the Caspian became absolutely clear. Its trade with the East, the Caucasus, Iran, and Central Asia became regular. Russia was pushing the countries of the Central Caucasus and Central Asia toward the all-Russian market. In future this, and the political and economic factors, allowed the Russian Empire to finally conquer the region. The Russian market for Azeri, Iranian, and Central Asian commodities cushioned Russias military expansion in these countries in the 18th and 19th centuries.

On the whole, in the 16th-17th centuries in the Caucasus Russia consistently resisted the Ottoman Empires military-political expansion by widening its own trade and economic and military-political contacts with the local states, a military-political alliance with Persia which feared the Turks in the region as much as Russia.49

The First Signs of Anglo-Russian Rivalry in the Caucasus and the Caspian

By the early 17th century the fairly radical reforms of the state system and the military sphere of Shah Abbas I had strengthened his state enough to capture, after several years of the war with the Ottoman Turks that began in 1603, the whole of Azerbaijan, eastern Georgia, Kurdistan, Luristan as well as Baghdad, Mosul, and Diarbekir. In 1623, with the help of the British navy, he captured the Hormuz Strait to gain dominance in the Gulf and open a stretch of the silk trade route. In fact, the Safavid state and England had common interests in the Strait. The Brits needed Iran as a possible foothold on the road to India and a silk trade route. This was behind the alliance between Shah Abbas I and the East India Company of England spearheaded against Portugal. At the same time Abbas I never lost sight of the Caspian; he even built a large road along the seas southern coast (in Mazandaran) about 270 km long.50

On the whole, at the turn of the 17th century the Safavids were busy building an anti-Ottoman alliance. In his letter to King James I dated around 1607 Abbas I confirmed his readiness to attack the Ottomans with a large army; they might be defeated and our borders will become common. We shall live in perpetual friendship like good neighbors.51

The Brits, who early in the 16th century after establishing trade contacts with Moscow on the White Sea had tried to reach the Safavid state via the Volga, were closely watching Russias maneuvers when it reached the Caspian in the mid-16th century.

In the latter half of the 16th century England used the right of transit across Russia it had obtained under Ivan the Terrible to establish trade contacts with the Safavids. For twenty years in the 1560s and until the 1580s, the Muscovy Company (founded in 1555) traded in this market. Between 1558 and 1580 it organized nine trade expeditions to the Safavid state.52 By allowing the English to use his country as transit territory Ivan the Terrible hoped to disrupt the economic blockade maintained by Poland and Sweden and to launch regular trade with Western Europe in the north. He planned to ally England by marrying Elizabeth I. The English had different designs: they sought control over the Volga-Caspian route and monopoly over eastern trade with the Safavid state, India, and China in particular. Russia, in turn, was holding fast to its lucrative monopoly over Volga-Caspian trade. England, which was obviously avoiding an allied treaty with Russia, lost the Muscovy Companys transit rights in 1586 under Czar Fedor Ivanovich (1584-1598). At the same time, Russia stepped up its diplomatic contacts with the Safavid state, which reached their peak in 1586-1612 when the two states exchanged 17 embassies and missions (12 Iranian and 5 Russian).53

In the 1560s and 1570s the Muscovy Company likewise demonstrated much greater trade and diplomatic involvement in the Safavid state. Several missions (A. Jenkinson in 1562, A. Edwards in 1566, and others) that negotiated with Shah Tahmasib I and Shirvan ruler Abdulla Khan gained the monopoly on exporting raw silk from Gilan and Shirvan along the Volga-Caspian route and the right to tax-free trade in the Safavid territory.54 The English, however, never monopolized trade with the Near and Middle East via the Volga-Caspian route and Arkhangelsk mainly because the Ottoman Empire had scored enough victories in the 1580s to control the western Caspian coast and because Russia was jealous of Britains plans in this part of the world. The English failed to establish trade contacts with India on land, across Azerbaijan and Iran, another important task, which, if accomplished, would have undermined Portugal-Indian trade along the Hormuz-Indian Ocean sea route.

The English also failed to organize trade contacts with India via the Volga-Caspian route: it proved to be too long and too dangerous on sea, river, and land. This made the goods much more expensive than those brought by the shorter traditional land and sea routes that connected the Middle East with Europe and the Asian countries.

In the early 17th century, however, the Safavid-Ottoman wars and the high dues the Ottoman Turks later imposed on merchants made the Volga-Caspian route very important in East-West transit trade. It became much more profitable for the West and Russia; the latter became an intermediary in trade between Europe and Asia. Trade proceeded along the following routes: Isfagan-Qazvin-Rasht-Astara-Lenkoran-Baku-Derbent-Astrakhan and then up the Volga and Tabriz-the Mugan steppe-Shemakha-Shabran-Niazabad-Astrakhan and on to the north.55

In the 17th century the Azeri cities of Tabriz, Ardabil, and Shemakha played an important role in trans-Caspian trade. Ardabil was connected to Rasht on the southern coast of the Caspian; the goods then crossed the sea via Lenkoran or were moved by land to Shemakha, Derbent, and Astrakhan and further on to large trade centers in Russia along the Volga. Caravans from Ardabil, other Azeri cities, and neighboring countries reached the northeastern cities of Iran (Astrabad, Meshed, etc.) and Central Asia by a cobbled road. The most important trade roads between Europe and Asia started in Tabriz and followed one of several routes: Ardabil-Isfahan-Bander Abbas (or Hormuz) and India; Nakhchyvan-Ardabil-Iravan-cities on Ottoman territory; Van-Diiarbekir-Aleppo (in Syria) and then by sea to Europe, or Nakhchyvan-Ganja-Shemakha, from which some of the goods were sent to Russia by the Volga-Caspian route.56

Shemakha played an important role in transit trade: it was a commodities exchange and a storage site for those engaged in European-Asian trade along the Volga-Caspian water route. It ran from Shabran to Derbent-Tarki-Astrakhan and further along the Volga to Moscow and back. It was much easier to go down the Volga; it was used to bring goods to Derbent (or even to Niazabad and Baku) where they were loaded on camels to be brought to Shemakha.57

Early in the 17th century the European capital, which in the previous century sought markets in the Safavid state, stepped up its efforts. The rivalry between the English, Portugal, Dutch, and Venetian capitals ousted the latter from the eastern markets. Later, in the mid-17th century, France joined the fracas over the eastern markets. The trade agreements between the Safavid state and the Dutch (in 1623), English (1629), and French (1674) East India companies added vigor to the European-Asian trade in raw silk on conditions highly favorable for the Safavids. The Holstinian trade company, which tried in the 1630s to send raw silk bought in Shirvan and Gilan up the Volga-Caspian route to Moscow and to Germany by the Baltic Sea, suffered defeat: its financial resources proved inadequate; Germanys political fragmentation was another negative factor.58

Russias trading capital was much weaker than West European trade and industrial capital. Supported by the state and due to Russias territorial proximity to the Caspian region and the adjacent countries of the Near and Middle East, the Russian merchants were protected against potential foreign competitors. This was registered in the New Trade Charter of 1667, under which foreign merchants could travel from Arkhangelsk to Moscow and further on only if they had special documents signed by Czar Alexey Mikhailovich (1645-1676).59 When the Ottoman Empire was elbowed out of the Central Caucasus in the latter half of the 17th century, trade between Russia and the Safavid state gained momentum. At the same time the Cossack raids (in particular under Stepan Razin) on the western and southern Caspian coasts in 1667-1669 graphically demonstrated that the Safavid state had no navy, which left it vulnerable to the military-political developments in the Caspian that unfolded there in the early 18th century.

In this way, by the mid-15th century the main Caspian caravan and sea routes that connected China, India, and Central Asia with the Mediterranean and Black sea basins and the Persian Gulf with the Volga khanates and the Moscow state had made the Caspian region a pivot of international Asia-Europe trade. The military-political situation there radically changed when, in the mid-15th century, the powerful Ottoman Empire and strong Azeri states (first Ak Koyunlu and then the Safavid state in the early 16th century) appeared in the region. It became one of the main elements in the relations between Asia and Europe, which by that time could be better described as a military-political confrontation. The Ottoman Empire, which had chosen the road of wide-scale conquests in Europe, North Africa, and Asia and which had established its control over the traditional trade centers in the eastern Mediterranean used by the West and the East, demonstrated, in the second half of the 16th century, its intention to reach the Caspian basin and become entrenched there. Once there, it would establish direct contact with the Sunni Central Asian states, form a bloc against its principal rival, the Shia Safavid state, and acquire full control over trade between Asia and Europe.

In the 15th-16th centuries the very real Ottoman threat in Europe forced several West European states (Venice, Portugal, Spain, England, the Pope, the German states, etc.) to join forces in an anti-Turkish military-political coalition with Ak Koyunlu and later with the Safavid state. They, in turn, wanted to restore their traditional trade contacts with the West and reach the Black and Mediterranean seas. The West had much more ambitious, geopolitical, aims in view: by setting one of the Asian powerful monarchies against another it weakened them, thus paving the way for its own colonial expansion in Asia. The Western powers relied on their naval force to realize the geopolitical anaconda maneuver: control over the coastal areas of the African and Asian countries to stifle them. They realized their designs later, in the 18th and 19th centuries, where the capitalist West, thanks to the industrial revolution, surged forward and left the feudal East far behind.

Meanwhile, the Russian state, which had reached the Caspian thanks to the conquest of the Kazan and Astrakhan khanates in the mid-16th century, opened the era of Russian penetration of the Caucasus and the entire Caspian region.

Russia needed the Caucasus not only for the safety of its southeastern borders but also because some of the military-strategic and trade routes of economic and political importance ran across this territory. The southern (land) stretch of the main Volga-Caspian trade route that connected Eastern Europe and the Near and Middle East ran along the Caspians western coast. It was directly connected with another military-trade road that linked the Caspians Caucasian coast with the Black Sea-Azov coast along the Temriuk-Piatigorie-Elkhotovo-Tarki-Derbent line. Its final stretch coincided with the Daghestan-Shirvan part (the Ottoman road) of the Volga-Caspian water trade route.

In the Central Caucasus three roads branched off from the North Caucasian road that led to the Central Caucasus. One of them ran along the Terek Gorge across North Ossetia to the Kingdom of Kartli; the second crossed Ingushetia and followed the upper reaches of the Assa River to reach the Kartli and Katekhi; and the third followed the Argun River across Chechnia and along the Alazani River to reach the Kingdom of Kakheti across Tushetia.60

Even later, in the latter half of the 17th century, Russia never abandoned its efforts to establish its complete control over the North Caucasian trade routes, which were rapidly gaining international value. The system of Russian fortresses in the Eastern Caucasus (the fortified Terek settlement at the mouth of River Terek in particular) and the active Terek-Grebensky Cossacks were the main factors that brought Russia domination in the region. In 1557 the Larger Nogai Horde finally allowed, under Moscows pressure, the Adighes and Kabardins to accept Russias patronage. This was going on against the background of bitter military-political rivalry between the Safavid state and the Ottoman Empire for domination in the Caucasus. The Sublime Porte and the Crimean Khanate could not establish their control over the Northern Caucasus because of the Russian fortresses and Russian armed units on the Terek and Moscows alliances with the North Caucasian potentates. On the other hand, Russia, preoccupied with the Livonian War in the northwest, could not be more actively and more aggressively involved in the Caucasus.

In the 17th century Russia, which was bogged down in a prolonged war with Poland, could not pay enough attention to the Northern Caucasus; the Ottoman Empire and the Crimean Khanate tried to capitalize on this by stepping up their involvement in the region and especially in Russia-oriented Kabarda.

In turn, the Ottoman Empire, forced by its defeat in the war of 1683-1699 and the Treaty of Karlowitz to preserve peace with the European powers, tried to compensate for its losses in the West by gaining new lands in the East. This explains why early in the 18th century the Ottoman Empire and its ally, the Crimean Khanate, revived their military-political activities in the Caucasus. In the first decades of the 18th century the Ottoman and Crimean troops invaded the Northern and Central Caucasus on several occasions. Peter the Great, who was building up the Russian Empire, did not allow them to remain in the region long.

Simultaneously, Russia moved forward to revive and develop the main Volga-Caspian water trade route across eastern and northern Europe from the White Sea along the Northern Dvina, Volga, and the Caspian across Azerbaijan and Iran to India. In the 17th century it became one of the most valuable transit routes in European-Asian trade.


The stormy military-political events in the Caucasian-Caspian region during the Middle Ages, especially in the 16th-17th centuries, completely belonged to the worldwide context, the developments in which radically changed the geopolitical image of the world. The economic and closely related political and cultural decline of Muslim Asia at the turn of the 18th century was brought about by the development of the naval trade routes controlled by the West Europeans (the process started in the 15th century) and the decline of caravan trade. The latter disrupted the centuries-old traditional trade and economic contacts of the Near and Middle East with Europe, India, and China. There was another fairly important geostrategic factor: the Muslim countries that remained at the Sinbad the Sailor level failed to acquire the Sea Power elements described by A. Mahana navy, a merchant fleet, and military naval bases. Bernard Carra de Vaux pointed out: Muslims on the whole are not great enthusiasts of the naval warfare.61

Thalassic Western Europe with its small territory, which by that time had built up a powerful naval force, won the geopolitical fight against the vast telluric East which, for objective and subjective reasons, fell into a lethargic sleep that lasted for many centuries and from which it was awakened by the frightening reverberations of the 20th century.

1 See: Yu.R. Jafarov, Gunny i Azerbaijan, AGI, Baku, 1993, p. 28. Back to text
2 See: Ibid., pp. 36-37. Back to text
3 See: A.A. Kudriavtsev, Drevniy Derbent, Nauka Publishers, Moscow, 1982, pp. 42, 55. Back to text
4 See: M.S. Ivanov, Ocherk istorii Irana, GIPL, Moscow, 1952, p. 26. Back to text
5 See: Yu.R. Jafarov, op. cit., pp. 98-99. Back to text
6 See: Z.M. Buniyatov, Izbrannye sochinenia v trekh tomakh, Vol. 1, Elm Publishers, Baku, 1999, p. 180. Back to text
7 See: Ibid., p. 181. Back to text
8 See: Ibid., pp. 179-180. Back to text
9 See: L.N. Gumilev, Tysiacheletie vokrug Kaspia, AGI, Baku, 1991, p. 62. Back to text
10 See: Ibidem. Back to text
11 Quoted from: N.K. Kerimov, Zhizn v puti, Mysl Publishers, Moscow, 1973, p. 43. Back to text
12 See: S.B. Ashurbeyli, Istoria goroda Baku. Period srednevekovia, AGI, Baku, 1992, p. 112. Back to text
13 See: Ibid., p. 74. Back to text
14 See: Ibid., p. 113. Back to text
15 See: Ibidem. Back to text
16 See: Ibid., p. 72. Back to text
17 V.V. Bartold, Mesto prikaspiyskikh oblastey v istorii musulmanskogo mira, Baku, 1925, p. 72. Back to text
18 See: P.P. Bushev, Istoria posolstv i diplomaticheskikh otnosheniy Russkogo i Iranskogo gosudarstv v 1586-1612 gg., Nauka Publishers, Moscow, 1976, pp. 30-31. Back to text
19 See: S.B. Ashurbeyli, op. cit., p. 73. Back to text
20 See: Russkie moreplavateli, Moscow, Voenizdat, U.S.S.R. Ministry of Defense, Moscow, 1953, pp. 3-4. Back to text
21 See: Khronika vazhneyshikh sobytiy voennoy istorii russkogo flota s IX v. do 1917 g., Voenzidat, Moscow, 1948, p. 10. Back to text
22 See: S.B. Ashurbeyli, Gosudarstvo Shirvanshakhov (VI-XVI vv.), Elm, Baku, 1983, p. 76. Back to text
23 Quoted from: S.B. Ashurbeyli, op. cit., p. 76. Back to text
24 See: Ibid., p. 87. Back to text
25 See: N.A. Aliev, Voenno-morskaia istoria Azerbaijana, Baku, 2003, pp. 27-28, 32. Back to text
26 See: S.B. Ashurbeyli, Istoria goroda Baku, p. 118. Back to text
27 See: Ibid., p. 119. Back to text
28 See: M.Kh. Geydarov, Torgovlia i torgovye sviazi Azerbaijana v pozdnem srednevekovie, Elm, Baku, 1999, p. 7. Back to text
29 See: Istoria Irana s drevneyshikh vremen do kontsa XVIII v., Leningrad, 1958, p. 331. Back to text
30 See: Johann Schiltberger, Puteshestvie po Evrope, Azii i Afrike s 1394 goda po 1427 god, Elm, Baku, 1984, pp. 33, 41. Back to text
31 See: S.M. Onullahi, History of the City of Tabriz in the 14th-17th centuries, Elm, Baku, 1982, p. 67 (in Azeri). Back to text
32 See: Ya.M. Makhmudov, Vzaimootnoshenia gosudarstv Akkoyunlu i Sefevidov s zapadnoevropeyskimi stranami (vtoraia polovina XV-nachalo XVII vv.), BSU Press, Baku, 1991, pp. 83-103. Back to text
33 See: Ibid., pp. 130-135. Back to text
34 See: Ibid., p. 138. Back to text
35 See: M.F. Fekhner, Torgovlia Russkogo gosudarstva so stranami Vostoka v XVI v., Moscow, 1966, pp. 26, 50. 84. Back to text
36 See: S. Ashurbeyli, Ekonomicheskie i kulturnye sviazi Azerbaijana s Indiey v srednie veka, Elm, Baku, 1990, p. 32. Back to text
37 See: Angliyskie puteshestvenniki v Moskovskom gosudarstve v XVI v., Pechatny dvor, Leningrad, 1938, pp. 226-227. Back to text
38 See: Ibid., pp. 167-172, 198-207. Back to text
39 N.M. Karamzin, Istoria gosudarstva Rossiiskogo, Vol. VIII, Book 2, St. Petersburg, 1842, p. 139. Back to text
40 V.A. Potto, Kavkazskaia voyna. In 5 volumes, Kavkazskiy kray, Stavropol, Vol. 1, 1994, p. 14. Back to text
41 See: L.G. Ivashov, Rossia ili Moskovia? Geopoliticheskie izmerenia natsionalnoy bezopasnosty Rossii, EKSM Algoritm, Moscow, 2002, p. 97. Back to text
42 See: E.N. Kusheva, Narody Severnogo Kavkaza i ikh sviazi s Rossiey (vtoraya polovina XVI-30-e gody XVII veka), Publishing House of the U.S.S.R. Academy of Sciences, Moscow, 1963, pp. 184-185. Back to text
43 See: Ibid., p. 186. Back to text
44 See: Ibid., p. 194. Back to text
45 See: A.N. Kurat, The Turkish Expedition to Astrakhan in 1569 and the Problem of the Don-Volga Canal, The Slavonic and East European Review, London, December 1961, Vol. XL, No. 94, pp. 7-23. Back to text
46 See: Lord Kinross, Rastsvet i upadok Osmanskoy imperii (Ottoman Centuries: The Rise and Fall of the Turkish Empire), Kron Press, Moscow, 1999, pp. 283-284. Back to text
47 See: E.N. Kusheva, op. cit., p. 275. Back to text
48 See: Ibid., p. 283. Back to text
49 See: L.G. Ivashov, op. cit., p. 101. Back to text
50 See: M.S. Ivanov, op. cit., p. 71. Back to text
51 Quoted from: B. Akhmedov, Mesto gosudartsva Sefevidov v ekspansionistskikh planakh Anglii k nachalu XVII v., Istoria i ee problemy, No. 1, 1999, p. 68. Back to text
52 See: P.P. Bushev, op. cit., p. 37. Back to text
53 See: Ibid., p. 443. Back to text
54 See: Angliyskie puteshestvenniki, pp. 202-206; 269-280; Ya. Makhmudov, op. cit. pp. 171-176. Back to text
55 See: S.M. Onullakhi, op. cit., p. 143. Back to text
56 See: M.Kh. Geydarov, op. cit., p. 71. Back to text
57 See: Ibid., p. 59. Back to text
58 See: Ibid., pp. 71-72. Back to text
59 See: E.S. Zevakin, Ocherki po istorii Azerbaijana i Irana v XVI-XVIII vv., Part 1, Baku, 1938, p. 31. Back to text
60 See: Istoria narodov Severnogo Kavkaza s drevneyshikh vremen do kontsa XVIII veka, Nauka Publishers, Moscow, 1988, p. 316. Back to text
61 Carra de Vaux, Arabskie geografy, Leningrad, 1941, p. 23. Back to text

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