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post 09/25/05 10:26 AM
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Turkmen Tribes that constituted the Political Organisation of Karakoyunlu State

Some of the Turkmen groups that gathered around the Karakoyunlu tribe had provided a political identity to the Karakoyunlu State that was a Confederation of tribes. According to their levels of significance and influence, these Turkmen groups were as follows:

1. Karakoyunlu Tribe:
It is the tribe from which Karakoyunlu dynasty had emerged.

2. Sa'dlu Tribe :
It was one of the most significant tribes of Karakoyunlu State. This tribe was relative with the Karakoyunlu dynasty. They lived in the Southern Caucasus, Surmeli Çukuru, and the regions of Erevan and Nachicevan.

3. Duharlı Tribe:
This tribe that resided in the region of Erzurum and Bayburt was known as Tokarlu in the Ottoman resources.

4. Karamanlu Tribe :
This tribe had taken its name with reference to Emir Karaman, one of the emirs of Kara-Yusuf who had been the ruler of Karakoyunlu State. They had settled in the region of Gence and Berdaa. Pursuant to the collapse of the Karakoyunlu State, they opposed to the Akkoyunlu State and they played a significant role in the foundation of the Safevi dynasty. They were connectd to Çakırlu clan of Ustacalu tribe that was one of the seven Shiite organisations in the period of Safevi Ruler Shah Abbas. The geographical names in the form of Karaman and Karamanlu located in the regions of the Northern Azerbaijan today are the memoirs of this tribe.

5. Çakırlu (Çekirlü):
This tribe that settled in the region of Erdebil was of Kipchak Turks as stated by Velidi Togan although Faruk Sümer had alleged that this tribe was of Kurdish origin. Kipchak people had penetrated into the Caucasus in the capacity of the allies of Georgians and settled within the environs of Tabriz. Afterwards, the Kipchak Turks had converted to the religion of Islam and they established a tutor principality under the domination of Sems'ud-din Il-deniz in Azerbaijan. The tribes of Kengerlü, Karabörk, Karapapah, Becenek, Koman, Komanlu, Çoruk, Çakır and Çakırlu are the residual tribes of these Kipchak Turks.

6. Baharlu Tribe:
It was a significant tribe of the Karakoyunlu State with the secondary degree of importance. They were directly relative and related with the Karakoyunlu tribe. The Baharlu tribe that settled in the region of Hamedan had withdrawn to the east pursuant to the domination of Akkoyunlu State. Bayran Han, one of the descendants of Ali Şeker Bey who was a Baharlu chief was one of the close fellows within the retinue of Ekber Shah (1556-1605). Furthermore, Sultan Kulu (or Kuli) who was the founder of the Kutbshahiler State in Dekken (Dahkan) was from Karakoyunlu tribe. One of the groups from Baharlu tribe still lives in the province of Hamse that is located in the west of today's Kazvin.

7. Alpagut Tribe:
It is one of the Karakoyunlu tribes and the region of Hamedan was under the domination of Alpagut Turkmen people in the period of Kara-Yusuf. They settled in the region of Berdaa in Azerbaijan, Sa'd Hole and Shirvan in the period of Safevi State.

8. Âyinlü Tribe :

The existence of this tribe has been determined in Anatolia, but their homeland in which they had settled have not been definitely determined yet, they are of Kurdish roots.

9. Agaçeri Tribe:
The second Turkish migrations over the Caucasus to Anatolia had been carried out by Agaceri people that were connected to the European Huns. The Sassani resources call them as Ak-katlan while the Byzantine resources call them as Akatzir. Some of the Agaceri people that settled in Azerbaijan immigrated to the regions of Aleppo and Damascus between the years of 1180-1412. A group of Agaceri people connected to the Karakoyunlu State still lives in the region of Maras since the century XIII. Tatar Hatun, the sister of Kara Mehmed who was the founder of the Karakoyunlu State was married with the chief of this Maras Agaceri Turks. Agaceri people who maintain their existence in Kuh-giluye in Iran today must probably have been the descendants of these Agaceri people that were connected to the Karakoyunlu State.

10. Hacılu Tribe:
It is one of the Doger Turkmen communities. They had settled in the region of Kerkük-Erbil.

11. Doger Tribe :
Although they played a role in the political activities of the Karakoyunlu State, they remained as a separate organisation in Syria.

12. Avsar Tribe:
Avsar Turks are frequented and observed among the Karakoyunlu Turkmen groups.

13. Bayramlu Tribe:
It is the Turkmen community under the command and chief office of BAYRAM Bey who was the bey of Hoy.

14. Others:
The others are the Bucolic/Turkish/(Kurdish Turks) communities such as Süleymanî, Zırkî, Mahmudî, etc.

Karakoyunlu State (1365-1469)

We have observed that the Karakoyunlu State and Akkoyunlu State got on the stage of the history when the Ilhanli domination inclined to decline as a result of the civil turmoil and conflicts. In the period of Ilhanli State, the Eastern Anatolia was divided into two military regions such as the province of Van region with the centre of Ahlat and the regions including Diyarbakir, Mardin and Mosul with the centre of Mosul. Diyarbakir governor Sutay's (died in 1332) son, Haci-Giray and Ibrahim-shah, his grandson who was the son of his other son, Barimbay were involved in a struggle in order to capture the province that had extended from Mosul towards Erzurum. In the course of this struggle, Karakoyunlu State had supported Haci-Tugay while the Akkoyunlu State supported Ibrahim-shah. Haci-Tugay lost this struggle for the throne and he was killed by his nephew in the year of 1343. As a result of this struggle, the Karakoyunlu State established dominion in Mosul, the environs of Van Lake and Erzurum while the Akkoyunlu State established dominion within the environs of Diyarbakir.
Upon the death of Ibrahim-shah in the year of 1350, his nephew, Pir Muhammed who was the son of Haci-Tugay replaced him. When he was killed by a Turkmen emir named as Hüseyin Bey, the Mongolian domination came to an end in the region. From that date on, the Turkmen domination started to take a shape around the Karakoyunlu tribe upon the murder of Huseyin Bey by Karakoyunlu Bayram Hodja in the year of 1351.

Within the resources, there is not any information about Bayram Hodja who established the dominion of Karakoyunlu tribe over the Turkmens until the year of 1365. However, it has been understood from the following events in the history that the Turkmens had established dominion in the Eastern and Southeastern Anatolia, Mosul and its environs. The Karakoyunlu State had played an important role in the provision of the Eastern and Southeastern Anatolia and Azerbaijan to adopt the Turkish identity. They had also took an important place in the history due to their successful struggles at the same time. It can be stated that there has not been any other community but the Karakoyunlu State that showed great resistance against Tamburlaine who was a superior conqueror.

The principal ruler of the Karakoyunlu State that had become a khanate between the years of 1365-1469 are as follows:

1. Bayram Hodja (1365-1380?)
2. Kara Mehmed Bey Durmuş (1380-April 1389)
There is information about the allegation that he was the son of Bayram Hodja or his brother's son. But these allegations have not been proved yet.
3. Kara Yusuf Bey Bahadır (Nisan 1389-13/11/1420). Kara Mehmed's son.
4. Iskender Bey (13/11/1420-1/4/1437). Kara Yusuf's son.
5. Sultan Muzafferüddin Cihân Shah (1/4/1437-11/11/1467). Kara Yusuf's son.
6. Sultan Hasan Ali (11/11/1467-April 1469). Cihan-shah's son.

Kara-Yusuf who was the main founder of the Karakoyunlu State was the greatest ruler of this dynasty beyond doubt. At the same time, Yusuf has been one of the significant characters of the Turkish history. He was a tall man with a large construction of body and he was an extremely brave, powerful and active man with a strong determination. At the same time, he had an intelligent, prudent, trustworthy and generous character. The resources state that he had attached great significance to justice and provided the public order and discipline in his country and endeavoured great efforts for the development of agriculture.

Upon the death of Kara-Yusuf, Shahruh who was the ruler of Timurlu state penetrated into Azerbaijan that was abandoned by Kara-Koyunlu people and then, he withdrew to Karabag for the winter residence. Meanwhile, Ispend who was one of Kara-Yusuf's sons was declared as the ruler by Sa'dlu tribe. His other son, Ebu Sa'id who was in Erzincan was forced to get out of the city by the people and Mutaharten's grandson, Yar Ali replaced him. Cihan-shah went to Baghdad to the Shah Mehmed. As for Iskender, he defeated the army of Akkoyunlu State that attacked to Mardin (1421). Shahruh who heard of the news about the defeat of Kara-yülük Osman passed over the Aras River with a crowded army and captured some of the castles. He encountered the troops of Iskender and Ispend that had taken up position in Yahsi within the environs of Eleshkird. In the severe war that lasted for two days (28th-29th July 1421), the Kara-Koyunlu forces could not get rid of the defeat against Shahruh's army that was much larger than their army although they showed great heroism.

Iskender and Ispend retreated to their former winter residences between Mosul and Mardin pursuant to the war. Despite this victory, Sharruh left Azerbaijan to its former possessors, and returned to Khorasan. Upon this event, Ispend captured Tabriz. Meanwhile, Iskender who was in Kerkuk came to Tabriz with a great speed and recaptured the city from him and established his dominion in Azerbaijan.

Timurlu ruler Shahruh spent the winter of 1436 in Karabag and came to Ucan in the spring and enthroned Cihan-shah with the sovereignty of the countries of Azerbaijan and Erran. Then, he returned to Khorasan. Iskender who heard of the return of Shahruh came to Tabriz and encountered Cihan-shah in the place of Sufiyan in the north of the named city after a while. However, he was defeated by the betrayal of some of his emirs and he took shelter in the castle of Alincak.

Cihanshah besieged the castle; in the course of the blockade, Iskender was killed by his son, Shah Kubad (21st April 1438). Shah Kubad was taken out of the castle through tricky means and he was killed.

Iskender who ruled the Karakoyunlu State for 17 years was an extremely brave man. His struggles with Shahruh who had strong armies and a great empire clearly indicate this characteristics of him. Iskender could not develop the state that he inherited from his father and caused the decline and attenuation of the state.

Pursuant to the slaying of Iskender, Cihan-shah who was one of Kara Yusuf's sons became the only sovereign of all the countries of the Karakoyunlu State apart from Iraq. In the following year pursuant to his enthronement, Cihan Shah organised a big military expedition towards Georgia and he returned to Tabriz after the capture of Tbilisi. The second military expedition against Georgia was carried out in the year of 1444. Ispend who had dominated Baghdad and its environs for twelve years died in the year of 1445 and he bequeathed the government of the state by his nephew, Elvend since his son, Fulad was so young then. But most of the emirs preferred Fulad. Cihan Shah opposed to this situation, and he decided to organise a military expedition towards Baghdad upon the encouragement of some emirs who took shelter in him. Pursuant to a severe blockade of seven months, Baghdad was captured in June 1446.

Upon the death of Timurlu ruler Shahruh in the year of 1447, Cihan Shah became an independent ruler, and started to use the titles of sultan and khan. At the same time, the Timurlu Empire benefited from the struggles among the princes and captured the cities of Sultaniye and Kazvin.

From that date on, Cihan Shah was involved in a struggle against the Akkoyunlu State who was a merciless enemy of the Karakoyunlu State from of old. These struggles that lasted until the year of 1451 caused both sides to suffer from terrible casualties and losses.

Cihan Shah wanted to overwhelm Uzun Hasan who was the Akkoyunlu Bey submissive to him and then to undermine the Akkoyunlu State that was the enemy of the nation heretofore.

He set in motion from Tabriz with a great army on the date of 16th May 1466, and came to the basin of Van Lake. While he was in this site, he learned that Uzun Hasan Bey had moved for raids with twelve thousands of cavalryman and he got furious with this news. On the other hand, Uzun Hasan who got suspicious of the intention of Cihan Shah towards the organisation of a military expedition against him had waylaid the passages and paths in the mountains. Although the envoys had been exchanged between them, a conclusion could not be attained due to the heavy provisions and conditions asserted by Cihan-Shah. Cihan Shah who placed his military encampment in the savanna of Mus could not give the recision for the firm order of attack due to the transition of the season. Finally, he decided to withdraw to the winter residences upon the complaints of his army. While he spent the night at a place on the war, Uzun Hasan totally defeated the few forces of Cihan-Shah with a sudden attack on the date of 11th November 1467.

Cihan Shah was killed on the way while he tried to run away. In the period of Cihan Shah, the Karakoyunlu State had reached to its widest and the most extensive borders. The state established dominion in Azerbaijan, Erran, Iraq-ı Arab,Fars, Kirman and the Western Anatolia and the neighbouring states had become submissive to Karakoyunlu State. Cihan Shah who was one of the greatest rulers of the state was a firm and brave person. He was fond of alcoholic drinks and entertainment. Upon his death, the glorious period of the state came to an end and the Karakoyunlu State was dissolved after a short period.

Hasan Ali who was the last Karakoyunlu ruler was a mentally retarded and greedy person. Pursuant to his death, Cihan Shah'^s son, Ebu Yusuf whose eyes were burnt out by Uzun Hasan tried to establish dominion in Farsi city, but he was caught by the Akkoyunlu prince, Ugurlu Mehmed. Therefore, the Akkoyunlu State abolished the dominion of the Karakoyunlu State that was their traditional enemy and possessed their countries.

There have been few works of art that survived from the period of the Karakoyunlu State. The principal for this lack was the fact that the period of Karakoyunlu State was a kind of settlement period by Turkmens. It seems that the hostility of the Akkoyunlu Turkmens had prevented the architectural activities of the Karakoyunlu rulers in addition to the struggles with Tamburlaine's-sons, and the conflicts with the Mameluke Sultanate. However, some works pertaining to the period Cihan Shah who was the great ruler of Karakoyunlu State (1437-1467) have survived until nowadays. The theological school named as Gökmedrese and Muzafferiye theological school that were constructed in the name of Cihan Shah in Tabriz that was the centre of the throne was the most significant work of Karakoyunlu State.

Karakoyunlu State had established dominion in the Eastern and Southeastern Anatolia, the Caucasus, Iran and Iraq and even in the region of Herat for a specific period between the first half of the century XIV and the last quarter of the century XV. Karakoyunlu State has been a large Turkmen confederation that united various Oguz communities within its structure. The name of Karakoyunlu that had been the name of a Turkmen group in the beginning turned into a political name for a great empire and for all the Turkmens within the structure of the great empire.

Although it has been alleged that the name of Karakoyunlu tribe was related with their totem of sheep, this name must have been related with the colour of the sheep herds pertaining to these people since it was prohibited to eat the meat of the animal that was considered as totem in the ancient Turks. Karakoyunlu tribe was one of the principal branches of Eastern Turkmens that set in motion pursuant to the decline of the Mongolian domination. We do not have any definite information about the specific tribe that the Karakoyunlu people were member of among 24 Oguz tribes. In the researches carried out upon this issue, it has been emphasised that this tribe could be a member of Tıva or Yazır tribe although it has not been certified as definite yet.


Some Karakoyunlu related architecture in from around Erzerum

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Çifte Minareli Medrese - Twin Minaret Seminary

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Emir Saltuk Mausoleum, Erzurum, Turkey
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