The Turkic Khaganate (green) in its earliest years.
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History of the Turkic peoples
|Turkic Khaganate 552–744|
|Khazar Khaganate 618–1048|
|Turgesh Khaganate 699–766|
|Uyghur Khaganate 744–840|
|Kara-Khanid Khanate 840–1212|
|Oghuz Yabgu State
|Shatuo Dynasties 923–979|
|Later Tang Dynasty|
|Later Jin Dynasty|
|Later Han Dynasty (Northern Han)|
|Ghaznavid Empire 963–1186|
|Seljuq Empire 1037–1194|
|Khwarezmian Empire 1077–1231|
|Seljuq Sultanate of Rum 1092–1307|
|Delhi Sultanate 1206–1526|
|Cairo Sultanate 1250–1517|
|Part of a series on the|
|History of Mongolia|
The Göktürks or Kök Türks (Old Turkic: ) (Celestial/Blue Turks) were a nomadic confederation of Turkic peoples in medieval Inner Asia. The Göktürks, under the leadership of Bumin Qaghan (d. 552) and his sons, succeeded the Rouran as the main power in the region and established the First Turkish or Türk Empire (552-581), which rapidly expanded to rule huge territories in Central Asia. The Türks interacted extensively with various dynasties based in north China, and for significant periods exercised considerable control over the lucrative Silk Road trade. The First Türk Empire collapsed in 581, and fifty years later Kutlugh (d. 692) established the Second Turkish or Türk empire (683-734), which controlled much of the eastern portion of the former First Türk Empire and produced the Orkhon inscriptions that have survived to the present.1
They were known in Chinese historical sources as Tujue (Tu-chueh; Chinese: 突厥; pinyin: Tūjué; Wade–Giles: T'u1-chüeh2; Middle Chinese: dʰuət-kĭwɐt). According to Chinese sources, the meaning of the word Tujue was "combat helmet" (Chinese: 兜鍪; pinyin: Dōumóu; Wade–Giles: Tou1-mou2), reportedly because the shape of the Altai Mountains, where they lived, was similar to a combat helmet.567
The Koreans called them Dol-kwols (돌궐).
The name Göktürk is said to mean "Celestial Turks".8 This is consistent with "the cult of heavenly ordained rule" which was a recurrent element of Altaic political culture and as such may have been imbibed by the Göktürks from their predecessors in Mongolia.9 Similarly, the name of the ruling Ashina clan may derive from the Khotanese Sakā term for "deep blue", āššɪna.10 The name might also derive from a Tungusic tribe related to Aisin.11
The Göktürk rulers originated from the Ashina clan, who first come to our attention in 439. The Book of Sui reports that in that year on October 18, the Tuoba ruler Emperor Taiwu of Northern Wei overthrew Juqu Mujian of the Northern Liang in eastern Gansu,131415 whence 500 Ashina families fled northwest to the Rouran Khaganate in the vicinity of Gaochang.616
According to the Book of Zhou and the History of the Northern Dynasties, the Ashina clan was a component of the Xiongnu confederation,57 but this connection is disputed,17 and according to the Book of Sui and the Tongdian, they were "mixed barbarians" (雜胡 / 杂胡, Pinyin: zá hú, Wade–Giles: tsa hu) from Pingliang.618 As part of the heterogeneous Rouran Khaganate, the Türks lived for generations north of the Altai Mountains, where they 'engaged in metal working for the Rouran'.619 According to Denis Sinor, the rise to power of the Ashina clan represented an 'internal revolution' in the Rouran confederacy, rather than an external conquest.20 According to Charles Holcombe, the early Tujue population was rather heterogeneous and many of the names of Türk rulers are not even Turkic.21
The origins of the First Türk Empire trace back to 546, when Bumin Qaghan made a pre-emptive strike against the Uyghur and Tiele groups who were planning a revolt against their overlords, the Rouran. For this service he expected to be rewarded with a Rouran princess, i.e. marry into the royal family. However Rouran khaghan Anagui sent an emissary to Bumin to rebuke him, saying, "You are my blacksmith slave. How dare you utter these words?". As Anagui's "blacksmith slave" (鍛奴 / 锻奴, Pinyin: duànnú, Wade–Giles: tuan-nu) comment was recorded in Chinese chronicles, some claim that the Göktürks were indeed blacksmith servants for the Rouran elite,22232425 and that "blacksmith slavery" may indicate a form of vassalage within Rouran society.26 According to Denis Sinor, this reference indicates that the Türks specialized in metallurgy, although it is unclear if they were miners or, indeed, blacksmiths.2728
Disappointed in his hopes, Bumin allied with the Wei state against the Rouran, their common enemy. In 552 (February 11 – March 10, 552), Bumin defeated the Rouran Khan Anagui north of Huaihuang (in the region administered by present-day Zhangjiakou, Hebei).5
Having excelled both in battle and diplomacy Bumin declared himself Illig Qaghan of the new khaganate at Ötüken but died a year later. His son Muqan Qaghan defeated the Hephthalite (厭噠),29 Khitan (契丹) and Kyrgyz (契骨).30 Bumin's brother Istämi (d. 576) bore the title yabghu of the west and collaborated with the Persian Sassanids to defeat and destroy the Hephthalite, who were allies of the Rouran. This war tightened the Ashina clan's grip on the Silk Road and drove the Avars into Europe.citation needed
Istämi's policy of western expansion brought the Göktürks into Europe.31 In 576 the Göktürks crossed the Cimmerian Bosporus into the Crimea. Five years later they laid siege to Chersonesos Taurica; their cavalry kept roaming the steppes of Crimea until 590.32 As for the southern borders, they were drawn south of the Amu Darya (Oxus), bringing the Ashina into conflict with their former allies, the Sassanids of Persia. Much of Bactria (including Balkh) remained a dependency of the Ashina until the end of the century.32
This firstcitation needed Turkic Khaganate split in two after the death of the fourth Qaghan, Taspar Qaghan (ca. 584). He had willed the title Qaghan to Muqan's son Ahina Daluobian, but the high council appointed Ishbara Qaghan in his stead. Factions formed around both leaders. Before long four rival qaghans claimed the title of Qaghan. They were successfully played off against each other by the Sui and Tang dynasties of China.citation needed
The most serious contender was the Western qaghan, Istämi's son Tardu, a violent and ambitious man who had already declared himself independent from the Qaghan after his father's death. He now titled himself as Qaghan, and led an army to the east to claim the seat of imperial power, Ötüken.citation needed
In order to buttress his position, Ishbara of the Eastern Khaganate applied to the Chinese Emperor Yangdi for protection. Tardu attacked Chang'an, the Sui capital, around 600, demanding from Emperor Yangdi to end his interference in the civil war. In retaliation, Chinese diplomacy successfully incited a revolt of Tardu's Tiele vassals, which led to the end of Tardu's reign in 603. Among the dissident tribes were the Uyghur and Syr-Tardush.citation needed
The civil war left the empire divided into eastern and western parts. The eastern part, still ruled from Ötüken, remained in the orbit of the Sui Empire and retained the name Göktürk. The qaghans Shibi (609-19) and Illig (620-30) of the East attacked China at its weakest moment during the transition between the Sui and Tang dynasties. On September 11, 61533 Shibi Qaghan's army surrounded Emperor Yang of Sui at Yanmen (in present day Dai County, Xinzhou, Shanxi).34
In 626, Illig Qaghan took advantage of the Incident at Xuanwu Gate and drove on Chang'an. On September 23, 62635 Illig Qaghan and his iron cavalries reached the bank of the Wei River at the north of Bian Bridge (in present day Xianyang, Shaanxi). On September 25, 62636 Li Shimin (Emperor Taizong) and Illig Qaghan formed an alliance with slaying a white horse on Bian Bridge. Tang paid compensation and promise further tributes, Illig Qaghan ordered to withdraw their iron cavalries (Alliance of Wei River, 渭水之盟 or Alliance of Bian Qiao 便橋會盟 / 便桥会盟).37 All in all, 67 incursions on Chinese territories were recorded.32
Before mid-October 627 heavy snows on the Mongolian steppe covered the ground to a depth of several feet, preventing the nomads' livestock from grazing and causing a massive dying-off among the animals.38 According to the New Book of Tang, in 628, Taizong mentioned that "There has been a frost in midsummer. The sun had risen from same place for five days. The moon had had the same light level for three days. The field was filled with red atmosphere (dust storm)."39
Illig Qaghan was brought down by a revolt of his Tiele vassal tribes (626-630), allied with Emperor Taizong of Tang. This tribal alliance figures in Chinese records as the Huihe (Uyghur).citation needed
On March 27, 63040 a Tang army under the command of Li Jing defeated the Eastern Turkic Khaganate under the command of Illig Qaghan at the Battle of Yinshan (陰山之戰 / 阴山之战).414243 Illig Qaghan fled to Ishbara Shad. But on May 2, 63044 Zhang Baoxiang's army got advance to Ishbara Shad's headquarter. Illig Qaghan was taken prisoner and sent to Chang'an.43 The Eastern Turkic Khaganate collapsed and was incorporated into the Jimi system of Tang. Emperor Taizong said that "It's enough for me to compensate my dishonor at Wei River."42
The Western qaghan Shekuei and Tung Yabghu constructed an alliance with the Byzantine Empire against the Persian Sassanids and succeeded in restoring the southern borders along the Tarim and Oxus rivers. Their capital was Suyab in the Chui River valley, about 6 km south east of modern Tokmok. In 627 Tung Yabghu, assisted by the Khazars and Emperor Heraclius, launched a massive invasion of Transcaucasia which culminated in the taking of Derbent and Tbilisi (see the Third Perso-Turkic War for details). In April 630 Tung's deputy Böri Shad sent the Göktürk cavalry to invade Armenia, where his general Chorpan Tarkhan succeeded in routing a large Persian force. Tung Yabghu's murder in 630 forced the Göktürks to evacuate Transcaucasia.citation needed
The Western Turkic Khaganate was modernized through an administrative reform of Ishbara Qaghan (reigned 634–639) and came to be known as the Onoq.45 The name refers to the "ten arrows" that were granted by the khagan to five leaders (shads) of its two constituent tribal confederations, Dulo and Nushibi, whose lands were divided by the Chui River.45 The division fostered the growth of separatist tendencies, and soon the Bulgarian tribes under the Dulo chieftain Kubrat seceded from the khaganate. In 657, the eastern part of the khaganate was overrun by the Tang general Su Dingfang, while the central part had emerged as the independent khaganate of Khazaria, led by a branch of the Ashina dynasty.citation needed
Emperor Taizong of Tang was proclaimed Khagan of the Göktürks.
In 659 the Tang Emperor of China could claim to rule the entire Silk Road as far as Po-sse (Chinese: 波斯; pinyin: bōsī, Persia). The Göktürks now carried Chinese titles and fought by their side in their wars. The era spanning from 659-681 was characterized by numerous independent rulers - weak, divided, and engaged in constant petty wars. In the east, the Uyghurs defeated their one-time allies the Syr-Tardush, while in the west the Turgesh emerged as successors to the Onoq.
On May 19, 63946 Ashina Jiesheshuai and his tribesmen assaulted Tai zong at Jiucheng Palace (九成宮, in present day Linyou County, Baoji, Shaanxi). However, they didn't succeed and fled to the north, but were caught by pursuers near the Wei River and were killed. Ashina Hexiangu was exiled to Lingbiao.47 After the unsuccessful raid of Ashina Jiesheshuai, on August 13, 63948 Taizong instated Ashina Simo as the Yiminishuqilibi Khan and ordered the settled Turkic people to follow Ashina Simo north of the Yellow River to settle between the Great Wall and the Gobi Desert.49
In 679, Ashide Wenfu and Ashide Fengzhi, who were Turkic leaders of Shanyu Protectorate (單于大都護府), declared Ashina Nishufu as qaghan and revolted against the Tang dynasty.50 In 680, Pei Xingjian defeated Ashina Nishufu and his army. Ashina Nishufu was killed by his men.50 Ashide Wenfu made Ashina Funian a qaghan and again revolted against the Tang dynasty.50 Ashide Wenfu and Ashina Funian surrendered to Pei Xingjian. On December 5, 68151 54 Göktürks including Ashide Wenfu and Ashina Funian were publicly executed in the Eastern Market of Chang'an.50 In 682, Ashina Kutlug and Ashide Yuanzhen revolted and occupied Heisha Castle (northwest of present day Hohhot, Inner Mongolia) with the remnants of Ashina Funian's men.52
Despite all the setbacks, Ashina Kutluk (Ilterish Qaghan) and his brother Qapaghan Qaghan succeeded in reestablishing the Khanate. In 681citation needed they revolted against the Tang Dynasty Chinese domination and, over the following decades, steadily gained control of the steppes beyond the Great Wall of China. By 705, they had expanded as far south as Samarkand and threatened the Arab control of Transoxiana. The Göktürks clashed with the Umayyad Califate in a series of battles (712–713) but the Arabs emerged as victors.
Following the Ashina tradition,citation needed the power of the Second Khaganate535455 was centered on Ötüken (the upper reaches of the Orkhon River). This polity was described by historians as "the joint enterprise of the Ashina clan and the Soghdians, with large numbers of Chinese bureaucrats being involved as well".56 The son of Ilterish, Bilge, was also a strong leader whose deeds were recorded in the Orkhon inscriptions. After his death in 734 the Second Turkic Khaganate declined. The Göktürks ultimately fell victim to a series of internal crises and renewed Chinese campaigns.
When Kul Bilge Qaghan of the Uyghurs allied himself with the Karluks and Basmyls, the power of the Göktürks was very much on the wane. In 744 Kutluk seized Ötükän and beheaded the last Göktürk khagan Ozmysh Qaghan, whose head was sent to the Tang Dynasty Chinese court.57 In a space of few years, the Uyghurs gained mastery of Inner Asia and established the Uyghur Khaganate.
Origin of Achinas or Ashinas
In 439 in Central Asia a distinctive clan called “Achina” or “Ashina” lived in the territory now located in north-west China, Xinjiang province or Eastern Turkistan. They spoke either a Turkic or Mongolic language and they were the remnants of the aristocracy of the steppes’ former Xiongnu Empire which had been destroyed by the China Han dynasty in circa 100. Their name, according to the prominent historian “Lev Gumilev” is derived from the Mongolian word for wolf “chono”, “china” or “shina” with a Chinese prefix of “A” which means the respectful, elder, important. In combination it means Noble Wolf or simply “The” Wolf.
- Political system
Peter B. Golden points out that there is the possibility that the leaders of the Göktürk Empire, the Ashina, were themselves originally an Indo-European-speaking (possibly Iranian) clan who later adopted Turkic, but inherited their original Indo-European titles.58 German Turkologist W.-E. Scharlipp writes that many central terms are Iranian in origin.59
- Language and character
The Göktürks were the first Turkic people known to write their language in the Old Turkic script. Life stories of Kul Tigin and Bilge Qaghan, as well as the chancellor Tonyukuk were recorded in the Orkhon inscriptions.
The Khaganate received missionaries from the Buddhists religion, which were incorporated into Tengriism. Later most of the Turks settled in Central Asia, Middle East and Europe adopted the Islamic faith.
- Ethnic groups in Chinese history
- Göktürk family tree
- Historic states represented in Turkish presidential seal
- History of the Turkic peoples
- Horses in East Asian warfare
- Khöshöö Tsaidam Monuments
- Kürşat (hero)
- Orkhon script
- Qaghans of the Turkic khaganates
- Timeline of Turks (500-1300)
- Turkic peoples
- Christian, David (1998). A history of Russia, Central Asia and Mongolia, Vol. 1: Inner Eurasia from prehistory to the Mongol Empire. Blackwell. pp. 247–64.
- Kultegin's Memorial Complex, Türik Bitig Khöshöö Tsaidam Monuments (English)
- Bilge Kagan's Memorial Complex, Türik Bitig Khöshöö Tsaidam Monuments (English)
- Tonyukuk's Memorial Complex, Türik Bitig Bain Tsokto Monument (English)
- Linghu Defen et al., Book of Zhou, Vol. 50. (Chinese)
- Wei Zheng et al., Book of Sui, Vol. 84. (Chinese)
- Li Yanshou, History of the Northern Dynasties, Vol. 99. (Chinese)
- Macdonald, et al, Peoples of Western Asia, Marshall Cavendish Corporation, 2006, ISBN 978-0-7614-7677-1, p. 545. (English)
- Wink 64.
- Findley 39.
- Zhu 68-91.
- American Heritage Dictionary (2000). "The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition - "Turk"". bartleby.com. Retrieved 2006-12-07.
- Wei Shou, Book of Wei, Vol. 4-I. (Chinese)
- Sima Guang, Zizhi Tongjian, Vol. 123. (Chinese)
- 永和七年 (太延五年) 九月丙戌 Academia Sinica (Chinese)
- Christian, p. 249.
- Christian, p. 249
- 杜佑, 《通典》, 北京: 中華書局出版, (Du You, Tongdian, Vol.197), 辺防13 北狄4 突厥上, 1988, ISBN 7-101-00258-7, p. 5401. (Chinese)
- Sima Guang, Zizhi Tongjian, Vol. 159. (Chinese)
- Denis Sinor, "The Establishment and Dissolution of the Turk Empire", The Cambridge History of Early Inner Asia, Page 295. (English)
- Charles Holcombe, The Genesis of East Asia, 221 B.C.-A.D. 907, University of Hawaii Press, 2001, ISBN 978-0-8248-2465-5, p. 114.
- 馬長壽, 《突厥人和突厥汗國》, 上海人民出版社, 1957,p. 10-11 (Chinese)
- 陳豐祥, 余英時, 《中國通史》, 五南圖書出版股份有限公司, 2002, ISBN 978-957-11-2881-8, p. 155 (Chinese)
- Gao Yang, "The Origin of the Turks and the Turkish Khanate", X. Türk Tarih Kongresi: Ankara 22 - 26 Eylül 1986, Kongreye Sunulan Bildiriler, V. Cilt, Türk Tarih Kurumu, 1991, s. 731. (English)
- Burhan Oğuz, Türkiye halkının kültür kökenleri: Giriş, beslenme teknikleri, İstanbul Matbaası, 1976, p. 147. «Demirci köle» olmaktan kurtulup reisleri Bumin'e (Turkish)
- Larry W. Moses, "Relations with the Inner Asian Barbarian", ed. John Curtis Perry, Bardwell L. Smith, Essays on Tʻang society: the interplay of social, political and economic forces, Brill Archive, 1976, ISBN 978-90-04-04761-7, p. 65. '"Slave" probably meant vassalage to the Juan Juan [=Ruanruan or Rouran] qaghan, whom they [the Türks] served in battle by providing iron weapons, and also marching with the qaghan's armies.' (English)
- Denis Sinor, Inner Asia: history-civilization-languages : a syllabus, Routledge, 1997, ISBN 978-0-7007-0380-7, p. 26. Contacts had already begun in 545 A.D. between the so-called "blacksmith-slave" Türk and certain of the kingdoms of north China,
- Denis Sinor, ibid, p. 101. 'Beyond A-na-kui's disdainful reference to his "blacksmith slaves" there is ample evidence to show that the Türks were indeed specializing in metallurgy, though it is difficult to establish whether they were miners or rather blacksmiths.' (English)
- Li Yanshou, History of Northern Dynasties, Vol. 99.
- Sima Guang, Zizhi Tongjian, Vol. 166.
- Walter Pohl, Die Awaren: ein Steppenvolk im Mitteleuropa, 567-822 n. Chr, C.H.Beck (2002), ISBN 978-3-406-48969-3, p. 26-29.
- Grousset 81.
- 大業十一年 八月癸酉 Academia Sinica (Chinese)
- Sima Guang, Zizhi Tongjian, Vol. 182. (Chinese)
- 武德九年 八月癸未 Academia Sinica (Chinese)
- 武德九年 八月乙酉 Academia Sinica (Chinese)
- Sima Guang, Zizhi Tongjian, Vol. 191. (Chinese)
- David Andrew Graff, Medieval Chinese warfare, 300-900, Routledge, 2002, ISBN 978-0-415-23955-4, p. 186.
- Ouyang Xiu, New Book of Tang, Vol. 215-I (Chinese)
- 貞觀四年 二月甲辰 Academia Sinica (Chinese)
- Book of Tang, Vol. 3. (Chinese)
- Ouyang Xiu et al., New Book of Tang, Vol. 93. (Chinese)
- Sima Guang, Zizhi Tongjian, Vol. 193. (Chinese)
- 貞觀四年 三月庚辰
- Gumilev 238.
- 貞觀十三年 四月戊寅 Academia Sinica (Chinese)
- Sima Guang, Zizhi Tongjian, Vol. 195. (Chinese)
- 貞觀十三年 七月庚戌 Academia Sinica (Chinese)
- Ouyang Xiu et al., New Book of Tang, Vol. 215-I.
- Sima Guang, Zizhi Tongjian, Vol. 202 (Chinese)
- 開耀元年 十月乙酉 Academia Sinica (Chinese)
- Sima Guang, Zizhi Tongjian, Vol. 203 (Chinese)
- Elena Vladimirovna Boĭkova, R. B. Rybakov, Kinship in the Altaic World: Proceedings of the 48th Permanent International Altaistic Conference, Moscow 10–15 July 2005, Otto Harrassowitz Verlag, 2006, ISBN 978-3-447-05416-4, p. 225.
- Anatoly Michailovich Khazanov, Nomads and the Outside World, Univ of Wisconsin Press, 1984, ISBN 978-0-299-14284-1, p. 256.
- András Róna-Tas, An introduction to Turkology, Universitas Szegediensis de Attila József Nominata, 1991, p. 29.
- Wink 66.
- Grousset 114.
- Peter B. Golden, An Introduction to the History of the Turkic Peoples, O. Harrassowitz, 1992, p. 121-122
- „(...) Über die Ethnogenese dieses Stammes ist viel gerätselt worden. Auffallend ist, dass viele zentrale Begriffe iranischen Ursprungs sind. Dies betrifft fast alle Titel (...). Einige Gelehrte wollen auch die Eigenbezeichnung türk auf einen iranischen Ursprung zurückführen und ihn mit dem Wort „Turan“, der persischen Bezeichnung für das Land jeneseits des Oxus, in Verbindung bringen.“ Wolfgang-Ekkehard Scharlipp in Die frühen Türken in Zentralasien, p. 18
- Christian, David. A history of Russia, Central Asia and Mongolia, Vol. 1: Inner Eurasia from prehistory to the Mongol Empire. Blackwell, 1998.
- Findley, Carter Vaughin. The Turks in World History. Oxford University Press, 2005. ISBN 0-19-517726-6.
- Great Soviet Encyclopaedia, 3rd ed. Article "Turkic Khaganate" (online).
- Grousset, René. The Empire of the Steppes. Rutgers University Press, 1970. ISBN 0-8135-1304-9.
- Gumilev, Lev (2007) (Russian) The Gokturks (Древние тюрки ;Drevnie ti︠u︡rki). Moscow: AST, 2007. ISBN 5-17-024793-1.
- Yu. Zuev (I︠U︡. A. Zuev) (2002) (Russian), "Early Türks: Essays on history and ideology" (Rannie ti︠u︡rki: ocherki istorii i ideologii), Almaty, Daik-Press, p. 233, ISBN 9985-4-4152-9
- Wink, André. Al-Hind: The Making of the Indo-Islamic World. Brill Academic Publishers, 2002. ISBN 0-391-04173-8.
- Zhu, Xueyuan (朱学渊) (2004) (Chinese) The Origins of the Ethnic Groups of Northern China (中国北方诸族的源流). Beijing: Zhonghua Shuju (中华书局) ISBN 7-101-03336-9
- Xue, Zongzheng (薛宗正) (1992) (Chinese) A History of the Turks (突厥史). Beijing: Chinese Social Sciences Press (中国社会科学出版社) ISBN 7-5004-0432-8
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