Golden Horde

Golden Horde
Ulus of Jochi[a]

Зүчийн улс
1240s–1502[citation needed]
Flag of Golden Horde
Flag as shown in Dulcert’s 1339 map (other sources illustrate that the Golden Horde was known for the yellow color of the khan's flag and trappings[2]).
CapitalSarai Batu
Common languages
GovernmentSemi-elective monarchy, later hereditary monarchy
• 1226–1280
Orda Khan (White Horde)
• 1242–1255
Batu Khan (Blue Horde)
• 1379–1395
• 1435–1459
Küchük Muhammad (Great Horde)
• 1481–1498, 1499–1502
Shaykh Ahmad
Historical eraLate Middle Ages
• Established after the Mongol invasion of Rus'
• Blue Horde and White Horde united
• Disintegrated into Great Horde
• Last remnant subjugated by the Crimean Khanate
1502[citation needed]
1310[3][4]6,000,000 km2 (2,300,000 sq mi)
CurrencyPul, Som, Dirham[5]
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Mongol Empire
Cuman-Kipchak Confederation
Volga Bulgaria
Crimean Khanate
Qasim Khanate
Khanate of Kazan
Astrakhan Khanate
Uzbek Khanate
Kazakh Khanate
Khanate of Sibir
Khanate of Khiva
Timurid Empire
Nogai Khanate
  1. ^ Their state came to be known in historiography as the Golden Horde or the ulus ("people" or "patrimony") of Djochi, while the contemporaries simply referred to it as the Great Horde (ulu orda).[1]
  2. ^ Official language since the inception of the Golden Horde, used in chancery.
  3. ^ Especially the western Kipchak dialects, this language spoken by the majority of the inhabitants of the Black Sea steppe who were non-Mongol Turks, and those in the Khan's army. Shift from Mongol to Turkic occurred in the 1350s, or earlier, also used in chancery.

The Golden Horde, Ulug Ulus (Mongolian: Алтан Орд, romanized: Altan Ord; Kazakh: Алтын Орда, Altın Orda; Tatar: Алтын Урда, Altın Urda; Russian: Золотая Орда, romanizedZolotaya Orda) was originally a Mongol and later Turkicized khanate established in the 13th century and originating as the northwestern sector of the Mongol Empire.[6] With the fragmentation of the Mongol Empire after 1259 it became a functionally separate khanate. It is also known as the Kipchak Khanate or as the Ulus of Jochi.[7]

After the death of Batu Khan (the founder of the Golden Horde) in 1255, his dynasty flourished for a full century, until 1359, though the intrigues of Nogai did instigate a partial civil war in the late 1290s. The Horde's military power peaked during the reign of Uzbeg (1312–1341), who adopted Islam. The territory of the Golden Horde at its peak included most of Eastern Europe from the Urals to the Danube River, and extended east deep into Siberia. In the south, the Golden Horde's lands bordered on the Black Sea, the Caucasus Mountains, and the territories of the Mongol dynasty known as the Ilkhanate.[7]

The khanate experienced violent internal political disorder beginning in 1359, before it briefly reunited (1381–1395) under Tokhtamysh. However, soon after the 1396 invasion of Timur, the founder of the Timurid Empire, the Golden Horde broke into smaller Tatar khanates which declined steadily in power. At the start of the 15th century, the Horde began to fall apart. By 1466, it was being referred to simply as the "Great Horde". Within its territories there emerged numerous predominantly Turkic-speaking khanates. These internal struggles allowed the northern vassal state of Muscovy to rid itself of the "Tatar Yoke" at the Great Stand on the Ugra River in 1480. The Crimean Khanate and the Kazakh Khanate, the last remnants of the Golden Horde, survived until 1783 and 1847 respectively.


The name Golden Horde is said to have been inspired by the golden color of the tents the Mongols lived in during wartime, or an actual golden tent used by Batu Khan or by Uzbek Khan,[8] or to have been bestowed by the Slavic tributaries to describe the great wealth of the khan. But the Mongolic word for the color yellow (Sarı/Saru) also meant "center" or "central" in Old Turkic and Mongolic languages, and "horde" probably comes from the Mongolic word ordu, meaning palace, camp or headquarters, so "Golden Horde" may simply have come from a Mongolic term for "central camp".[9] In any event, it was not until the 16th century that Russian chroniclers begin explicitly using the term "Golden Horde" (Russian: Золотая Орда) to refer to this particular successor khanate of the Mongol Empire. The first known use of the term, in 1565, in the Russian chronicle History of Kazan, applied it to the Ulus of Batu (Russian: Улуса Батыя), centered on Sarai.[10][11] In contemporary Persian, Armenian and Muslim writings, and in the records of the thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries such as the Yuanshi and the Jami' al-tawarikh, the khanate was called the "Ulus of Jochi" ("realm of Jochi" in Mongolian), "Dasht-i-Qifchaq" (Qipchaq Steppe) or "Khanate of the Qipchaq" and "Comania" (Cumania).[12][13]

The eastern or left wing (or "left hand" in official Mongolian-sponsored Persian sources) was referred to as the Blue Horde in Russian chronicles and as the White Horde in Timurid sources (e.g. Zafar-Nameh). Western scholars have tended to follow the Timurid sources' nomenclature and call the left wing the White Horde. But Ötemish Hajji (fl. 1550), a historian of Khwarezm, called the left wing the Blue Horde, and since he was familiar with the oral traditions of the khanate empire, it seems likely that the Russian chroniclers were correct, and that the khanate itself called its left wing the Blue Horde.[14] The khanate apparently used the term White Horde to refer to its right wing, which was situated in Batu's home base in Sarai and controlled the ulus. However, the designations Golden Horde, Blue Horde, and White Horde have not been encountered in the sources of the Mongol period.[15]