Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The Astrakhan Khanate was a predominantly Turkic (Tatar) state which existed in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries in the area adjacent to the mouth of the Volga, where the contemporary city of Astrakhan is now located.
The area surrounding the lower Volga was populated by various Turkic tribes since at least the fifth century AD. Following the invasion of Mongol tribes from the east and the splintering of their empire, the area came under the rule of the Golden Horde. This empire, too, was wracked by civil war, and the semi-independent Astrakhan Khanate was established by Qasim Khan around 1466. Its location at the mouth of the Volga, an important trade route, allowed it to accumulate significant wealth, but also attracted the attention of neighbouring states and nomadic tribes, subjecting the khanate to numerous invasions. Mengli Ghirai, the khan of the Crimea who had destroyed the Golden Horde's capital of Sarai Batu, brought significant destruction to the khanate.
In 1552 Tsar Ivan IV of Russia, also known as Ivan the Terrible, captured Kazan, and also dispatched soldiers to Astrakhan, establishing Darwish Khan as a vassal ruler of the Astrakhan Khanate in 1554. It is believed that Darwish Khan conspired with the Crimean Khanate to drive the Russians out of the region. In 1557, Ivan IV sent an army again and this time annexed the khanate directly to Russia. Darwish Khan escaped to the castle of Azof.
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